CHAPTER NINE

THREE MONTHS LATER . . .

Mckey once again stood infront of a fly-blown mirror in another dingy hotel room. But this time, she turned sideways and ran her hands over her slightly curving belly.

"Hello in there" she whispered. The door to the room opened and Jethro entered, he smiled and bent to kiss her growing bump.

"Ready to go?" he asked. Mckey nodded, snagged her bag and whistled for the dogs as they walked out into the moonlight. Ash and Ferelith seemed to be doing a strange version of the Waltz around the van.

"What are you doing?" said Mckey, throwing her bag into the back of the blacked out van.

"We decided on what to call your baby and are celebrating!" cried Ash. They didn't worry about how much noise they were making anymore. The Smilers and Squirrel-Horses ran the other way when Jethro approached.

"And?" asked Jethro. He climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine while Mckey climbed into the passenger seat, the dogs jumped into the back with Ash and Ferelith.

"Jack for a boy and Hope for a girl" said Ferelith. She leaned between the two front seats as she spoke. Both Mckey and Jethro groaned, shaking their heads.

"I owe you a pint" said Jethro. Mckey laughed at the expression on Ash and Ferelith's faces.

"I said one of you would choose Hope, it's such a cliché." The van pulled away and they were flying through the darkness towards who knew where.

"What name's did you pick then?" asked Ash.

"We haven't picked any and we're not going to until the Jelly-Baby is born" said Mckey. The van suddenly stopped and Jethro reached out in a lightening quick movement to stop Mckey from being thrown forward.

"Jesus dude, who taught you to drive?" cried Ash. Jethro ignored him and pointed to a sign, the word Village was just about there but they couldn't see the name.

"If it's off the beaten track we could hole up there, take down the sign so nobody else gets in and wait for the Jelly-Baby" said Jethro.

"It's worth checking out I suppose. It might be nice to stay in one place for longer than a night" said Mckey. Jethro turned the van onto a dirt road that wound through a dense patch of trees. They were driving for nearly thirty minutes before they found the village.

"Well, it's definitely off the beaten track" muttered Ferelith. Another signpost greeted them but it was clearer now.

END VILLAGE

"Never heard of it" said Ash. All the windows were dark and the houses looked deserted. There were only about twelve of them plus a post office, a tiny grocers and a pub. The buildings were very old fashioned, like something you would see in a postcard of a model village. Jethro drove the van to the village square and stopped between a dilapidated bandstand and a moulded over fountain. Jethro climbed out of the van, he stopped and his nostrils quivered.

"Maybe it's less creepy in the daylight" whispered Ferelith. Mckey was just moving around the back of the van to let the dogs out when Jethro uttered a deep growl. She turned but everything suddenly changed too quickly for them to do anything about it. People appeared from every corner and grabbed them, Jethro could have easily freed himself but he didn't like the idea of leaving the others on their own.

"More interlopers!" cried a man. He was so tall and gaunt he almost looked like a walking skeleton.

"The hunt begins tomorrow!" Jethro pulled Mckey to his side as the people dragged them across the square.

"Why does this shit always happen to us?" growled Ash. Nobody answered as they were pushed into a stone building. There were bars on the windows and the heavy door slammed shut behind them.

THE END