‘You’ve been most helpful Constable Moody. I’d like to write a letter of thanks.’
Constable Moody checked his watch again. Two minutes until his shift ended. ‘There’s really no need.’
‘I like writing letters,’ Fandel added as the police officer opened the station door.
‘Like I said, I’m just doing my job. I’ll file the report and if we hear any news on your nephew we’ll be in touch.’
‘Likewise,’ Fandel said, stifling a snigger in the knowledge that Zach would never be returning home.
Constable Moody shut the door behind Fandel. He glanced at his watch again. One minute to go. Running up the stairs to the locker room, he pulled his clip-on tie from his throat. Placing the missing person report on top of his locker, Constable Moody got changed out of his uniform.
Fandel thrust his hands deep into his coat pockets. How fortunate I’ve been dealt with by such an incompetent and lazy police officer, he thought to himself. He wouldn’t even file that report, but that wouldn’t be Fandel’s fault. He had done the dutiful thing and reported his beloved nephew missing. Content, he smiled to himself and made the cold walk back to his cottage.
Slamming his locker closed, Constable Moody left the changing room. He got to the top of the stairs and then slapped his forehead with the flat of his hand. Running back to the changing room, he snatched the missing person’s report from the top of his locker. Despite making himself late for kick-off, he dashed up two flights of stairs to the force intelligence office and handed in his report.
Without thinking, Zach fastened his seat belt as the pilot had instructed. Then it dawned on him where he was. ‘I’m on a plane!’
Looking to his right, and if it hadn’t been for the seatbelt, Zach would have jumped from his seat. Sitting beside him was the biggest dog he had ever seen. The dog had a long white snout, with black rings of fur around its eyes and ears. Its nose was black and wet looking and long grey whiskers gathered around it. The animal’s eyes were bright red with piercing black pupils. The dog looked like a cross between a wolf and a Siberian husky.
‘What you gawping at?’ the wolf/husky-thing asked Zach.
Fumbling for the clasp on his seatbelt, Zach tried to distance himself from this animal.
‘Did you just say something?’ he gasped.
‘What’s got into you Zach Black?’ the wolf/husky asked.
Hearing its voice again, Zach realised he recognised it. ‘Will…William is that you?’
‘Of course it’s me. Who else could it be?’
Looking at William in disbelief, he said, ‘William have you seen yourself?’
‘What do ya mean have I seen myself?’ William said, raising one giant white paw in front of his face. Barking with surprise, he added, ‘what’s happened to me?’
‘I think coming through that doorway has changed you. Like I changed coming through to Endra. I think this is how you’re meant to look in my world,’ Zach added.
Placing the paw across his eyes, William said, ‘where are my spectacles? How comes I can see without them.’
‘Perhaps you don’t need them in Earth,’ Zach suggested.
‘What about Neanna? Where is she?’ William asked.
Peering past Williams’s huge frame, Zach could see Neanna bent double in the seat closest to the window. At first glance, she appeared unchanged, but then Zach noticed her back. It seemed hunched up; as if she was hiding something beneath the black coat she was now wearing.
‘Neanna, are you ok?’ Zach asked her.
Turning her head to look at him, Neanna’s face seemed as beautiful as ever.
If not more beautiful, Zach thought.
Her pale blue eyes shone and her pink coloured freckles lit up her impish face like splashes of sunlight. Neanna’s hair framed her face in thick, black curls which sparkled so bright that Zach had to close his eyes for a moment.
‘I feel fine,’ Neanna beamed.
It was then that Zach and William both noticed her teeth. Where she once had a perfect set, now sat a pair of gleaming white fangs.
‘What’s happed to your teeth?’ Zach asked.
‘What do you mean?’ she said, popping her thumb into her mouth and prodding about.
‘Ouch!’ she cried, withdrawing her thumb which was now bleeding. Seeing the blood, she mopped it up with her tongue and licked her lips as if savoring some gastronomic delicacy.
‘You’ve got fangs!’ William barked.
‘You can talk!’ Neanna said, looking at the wolf’s red gapping mouth and gleaming teeth. ‘At least mine aren’t covered in saliva!’
‘What’s wrong with your back?’ Zach asked, checking out her rounded shoulders.
‘I don’t know,’ Neanna replied, twisting in her seat.
‘Does it hurt?’
‘No, it just feels as if I’ve got something stuffed up my coat. Where did this coat come from?’‘The same place my crossbows, boots and…’ Zach checked himself out to discover he was now wearing the trainers, jeans and jumper he’d had on the day he came across the doorway on the beach.
‘Where have my crossbows gone?’ he asked no-one in particular.
‘Never mind your crossbows, what’s that hideous humming sound? It’s hurting my ears,’ William woofed.
‘Oh, that’s the engines,’ Zach told him.
‘Engines? What are engines?’
‘They’re the things that are keeping us up in the air.’
‘In the air?’ William yelped.
‘Yeah, we’re on a plane?’
‘What’s a plane?’ Neanna asked, flashing her fangs at him.
‘An airplane,’ Zach said dumbfounded, realising his friends had never heard of a plane before. ‘It’s a machine that flies through the sky.’
‘You mean we’re flying through the sky?’ William asked.
‘We’ll…yeah,’ Zach added still bewildered that William had no knowledge of an airplane.
‘I don’t like the thought of that,’ William yelped like a puppy and then started shifting in his seat. ‘How high are we?’
‘It’s hard to say,’ Zach said, glancing around the cabin. ‘This looks like a jumbo-jet so we could be flying as high as forty thousand feet!’
‘Forty thousand feet!’ Neanna exclaimed.
‘I don’t like it!’ William began to howl. ‘I want to get off!’
‘You can’t get off until we land,’ Zach told him with a bemused smirk on his face. ‘Everything you’ve seen in Endra – the zombies, the Radan, those ghost-knights and you’re frightened of a bit of flying!’ Zach teased. ‘You’re a werewolf for crying-out-loud!’
Looking at him with his fierce red eyes, William growled, ‘it’s a shame you wasn’t this cocky back in Endra.’
‘We’ll perhaps you can understand now what it was like for me to step into some strange world where I knew nobody, where I was being chased by a bunch of hoodies riding dead-ape-looking-things and then found myself in some god-forsaken forest, where zombies were dropping out of the sky and popping up from beneath my feet…’
‘They’re Slath, not Zombies!’ Neanna corrected him.
‘Whatever!’ Zach said. ‘Now you know what it was like for me, so quit complaining. You’re gonna draw attention to us. Besides, we’ll be landing soon!’
‘I think it’s too late for that,’ Neanna whispered.
‘Too late for what?’ Zach asked with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Neanna nodded in the direction of the aisle, and Zach looked up to see a member of the cabin crew rushing towards them dressed in a shocking mustard coloured uniform.
‘How did you get that animal on board?’ the flight attendant demanded.
‘Oh…erm…this is my pet dog William,’ Zach said with a nervous grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.
‘In fact how did any of you get on the flight? I’ve worked this plane since we left Orlando eight hours ago and I haven’t noticed any of you before. Where did you come from?’ she asked, her face a mask of confusion.
‘We’ve felt sick since take-off and spent most of the time in the toilet,’ Zach said.
‘What’s wrong with your teeth?’ she asked, spotting Neanna’s fangs.
‘Yeah, well my friend is waiting to have a brace…’ Zach started.
‘I’m not happy about this. Not one little bit,’ the stewardess said shaking her head from side to side. ‘There’s something wrong about you three. I’m going to have to contact the captain.’
Before Zach could say anything else (although what else could he have said to explain the sudden appearance of a teenage boy, a werewolf and a vampire on an airplane forty thousand feet above the earth) the crew member had swirled around in a blaze of mustard and gone running back down the aisle.
‘I think we’re in trouble,’ Zach said to his friends, his stomach somersaulting as the plane lost altitude and raced towards the runway.
As soon as the airplane’s wheels screamed across the tarmac, Zach released his seatbelt and jumped up.
‘Somehow we’ve got to get off this plane or that’s the end of our journey,’ he hissed at his friends.
‘Why?’ William barked.
‘Why?’ Zach said exasperated. ‘Because that lady has gone to tell the captain about us, and he will now be radioing the control tower who will be calling the cops to meet us on our arrival.’
Cops?’ Neanna asked.
Zach sighed and said, ‘peacekeepers.’
‘About time someone with some authority turned up. The peacekeepers won’t harm us,’ William said with a misguided confidence.
‘I don’t think they’re gonna be like the peacekeepers in Endra,’ Zach warned him. He then looked at William and Neanna and said, ‘God knows what they’ll make of you two!’