Petal and Ben’s
Adventures in Thailand
3 exciting stories stories for children
Na Gah – The Nine-Headed Snake
and Book Two
What a Load of Rubbish
and then Book Three
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Published by dark-novels.com
‘No Worries’ series of adult thrillers by the same author
NOT FAR ENOUGH FROM WORRIES
WORRY NO MORE
CHILDREN WITH NO WORRIES
WE HAVE MORE WORRIES
Written by the same author, but these dark thrillers are for adults. Set in Hua Hin, Thailand, from the late 1980s till the present date.
Violence, murder, romance, how could two young friends have so many worries living near the beach in paradise?
As eBook or in paperback, from Amazon – amazon.com/author/colindevonshire
Paperback – Posted from Thailand
Published by dark-novels.com
These tales are for my children to enjoy.
You watched me write your books, now you must read them!
I am honoured to be your father, but please read more!
Petal and Ben’s Adventures in Thailand
The Nine-Headed Snake
What A Load of Rubbish!
Christmas Day 1980
“Come out of the water – now!”
A lady dressed in a pink blouse and black knee-length skirt screamed from the beach. The lady was the mother of one child playing in the sea. The young mother was in a panic, she was jumping up and down. But she would not venture further into the sea.
The gang of boisterous children, who a minute ago were happily splashing and playing, were now running for the sandy beach as fast as their legs would carry them. They had not noticed that one of their friends had disappeared beneath the waves.
Little Ben had just celebrated his eighth birthday. He was wearing his new T-shirt. Wow, he loved that shirt. His best friend and sister had chosen it for him. She knew he loved blue.
Ben’s sister, Petal; she was a big girl now; she had reached double figures, the grand old age of ten.
The children’s father had enjoyed working for a newspaper in the small town where they lived in the south of England. But it was time for a move, their Dad was adventurous he wanted a big change. And a big change he got. They were moving from their house, their friends, their Granny and the school they loved.
Their Dad sat them down and told them about his exciting new job. They weren’t so sure it was exciting. They didn’t want to leave everything they knew.
He told them they had offered him a new job in a country called Thailand. They would move soon, to a new house, a new school and new friends. Ben said he had never heard of Thailand, but Petal knew all about the place.
“It’s near Turkey, where we get our Christmas dinner from.”
Her father, named Jack, said, “No, Petal dear, I think I confuse you. Thailand is in Asia, and most people there donʼt celebrate Christmas.”
Both children stared at their father. Can this get any worse?
“If there is no Christmas, we donʼt want to go!”
“We can have our own Christmas donʼt worry. Just think, every day will be like summer holidays on the beach.”
They looked at each other, then at their father.
“Okay then, let’s go.”
Petal thought for a minute and said, “If we have to leave Granny behind, can we have a dog?”
Petal’s Mum tried to cover a smile, Dad stuck for words for a minute, then said, “I’m not sure about the rules in our new house, let me find out.”
The children ran up to their rooms smiling.
Thailand – and a new home
They had landed at Bangkok’s new airport. Bangkok is Thailand’s capital city, it is huge and extremely busy. They all stayed in a grand hotel for one night because their father had to meet his new boss. The new boss was editor of Thailand’s best known English language newspaper.
The children, tired because of their flight. Twelve hours on a plane was a long time for anybody, especially if you have never been on a flight before.
“Daddy, we donʼt like it here. It’s hot and noisy.”
“Donʼt worry children, tomorrow we are going to our new house, where it is quiet except for the crashing of the waves on the beach and sea birds squawking at each other.”
Sure enough, when their father had finished his meeting, they set off for their new home.
“I will work at home most days, but one day each week I have to go to the newspaper office in Bangkok. So for most of the time, we can play in the garden or on the beach, and I can spend time with you two and mummy.”
“It has been very difficult for mummy, you know?”
Mummy has to ride in a wheelchair because she had a nasty accident and now could not walk, but she never lost her temper with Petal or Ben.
Young Petal has a new Tablet, a present that her Granny given her, “You must send me all the news from your new home in Thailand,” she had said.
The children missed their Granny, but at least with the Tablet, they could see her whenever they wanted to.
Petal and Ben would soon live in an old wooden house on the beach. All their friends in England were jealous when Petal had shown them pictures of the place they would live in – right on the beach.
“Can we come on holiday?” they asked.
“Wow, wow, wow,” were the delighted cries from the children. Their mother seemed pleased when they all gaped at their new home. They pulled off from the narrow road onto a large driveway surrounded by a neat garden. There was one step from the drive to the house, but somebody had been very thoughtful and built a ramp just wide enough for mother’s wheelchair.
They disturbed an old dog who was sleeping under a bush as the car pulled to a halt.
“Wow,” again as they started the tour of their new house.
“Wow, super wow,” they called out when they saw the sea and beach. The children ran straight to the beach without even looking inside their house.
An old lady was waiting in the house for the new tenants. She was a small lady with grey hair and a big smile.
“Hello, my name is Yai, I am here to look after you all and keep the house tidy.”
She glanced up with a very concerned look on her face, “Where are the children going?”
“They are running down there,” said their mother, pointing out to sea.
The old lady ran to the balcony. She had lost the big smile and shouted, “Children, quick, quick, come back here.”
The children plodded slowly back to the balcony.
“Please donʼt do that again, you gave me a fright,” said Yai, shaking her head. Petal and Ben’s father and mother looked at each other. Did they wonder what ever could the matter be?
Then as Yai patted her grey hair she said, “Over the years, every so often, there is a dreadful accident in the sea,” she looked anxious and then carried on, “and now, an accident is due, we haven’t had one for some time.” With that, she disappeared into the kitchen.
As the children ran off to look at their bedrooms. Mother and father were wondering what the problem could be down at the seaside.
The children did not have to go to school because it was holiday time at their new school, so they were free to explore until next week.
The next day Petal and Ben decided they wanted to have a look at the mountain next to the beach. Yai was listening to the children talking to their mother.
“Mummy, can we go to the mountain over there, we will be careful, please, please, can we, can we?”
Yai came bursting in, “Do anything you fancy, but whatever you do, you must not go into the sea!” Then she walked out briskly.
Mother made sure they wore sunscreen and cool cotton clothes with a cap each to make sure the sun did not give them a headache or make their skin pink. She then gave them each a bottle of water and off they went.
First Visit to the Hill
Their mountain was not really a mountain, it was more like a big hill. But when you are small, it was huge. The sea was out, so they could walk on the sand, but it quite a long way before they had to climb.
The children’s breathing became more like panting. They huffed and puffed. All the romping tired them. Their mother was watching them from the living room through binoculars. She knew they could not be away for too long. The children sat and rested on a smooth rock. Seabirds swooped low over their heads. It sounded like the birds were talking to them.
“Cor, Cor, Cor”, they said.
Then they heard someone say, “Donʼt worry about them, they like to scare people.”
The children jumped and looked around. There was nobody there. There was, however, a big scruffy monkey.
“Donʼt worry it’s only me, I wonʼt hurt you. It has been a long time since anybody came to this hill.”
“You can talk!”
“Yes, and as you can hear, I speak English.”
“Can all the monkeys here speak?”
“No, I’m very sorry. Not all of them can talk. Some can, but not all in English.”
“Oh, I see,” said Ben. “You mean the others speak Thai.”
The monkey tried to tidy his hair and had a scratch, “Not only Thai but German, Russian, Italian and French.”
“Is there a language school for monkeys here then?” Petal asked.
“No, it’s not like that. We could speak a language before we became monkeys.”
Now that confused the children.
“Petal, Ben, come here please,” Father shouted. Their new friend quickly hid behind a large rock.
The children scampered down to join their father on the beach. He kicked a new football to Ben, and they soon forgot about the monkey.
Later, their father was busy working on his laptop. Mother and Yai were in the kitchen preparing the evening meal. Nobody could hear them, so brother and sister talked about the monkey.
“Whatever did he mean when he said, ‘before they became monkeysʼ. What were they before something turned them into monkeys?”
“Yes, Petal, I wondered that too.”
They quickly changed the subject as their food arrived.
Bright and early the next morning father was already working hard, he was busy tapping away at his laptop. He was writing a story about mysteries in Thailand. There were a lot of weird and wonderful tales. Then he had a good idea. He would ask Yai if she knew of any examples of mysteries that happened near their home.
“Yai, excuse me, but I need to ask you something.”
“Okay, sir, you can ask me anything. I know a lot about the area. I have lived here a long time, ever since I was born, in fact.”
“I am writing an article about strange happenings. Did anything inexplainable happen here?”
“No, no, no,” she said and rushed away.
Father thought nothing of her odd reaction and carried on working.
Fruit and more
When the children came in to ask for their breakfast, “I have just finished my work for today, how about we go for a walk after you have had something to eat?”
While they tucked into fried rice and fresh orange juice, their mother was preparing herself as she fancied joining them on the beach.
Father pushed mother down the ramp and joined Petal and Ben on the beach. It was not too difficult pushing the wheelchair on the sand as it was wet. It is much harder to push when the sand is dry because the wheels sink in. It is a superb exercise for their father; he was feeling fitter.
They kept on walking for a long way, eventually; they came to a small market next to a temple. Ben wanted fruit, so they went to see what they had.
“Wow, they have got everything! Bananas both big and small, funny little oranges that were green! And what are those?”
Ben had never seen most of the fruit on sale. There were big and spiky Durian, and little round pink berries, and many more varieties of strange smelling things. Petal said, “I am going to try everything!”
“Even the durian?” asked her mother.
When they were talking to the stall-holder, an orange-clad monk walked by. He looked at them all as if he wanted to talk to them.
Father hooked up the fruit they had bought on to the wheelchair as they were about to set off when the monk surprised them all by jumping out from between two large trees.
“It is best not to be too curious around here!” said the bald man in flowing orange robes as he disappeared between the trees.
“Whatever did he mean?” they wondered.
The shopping was complete, bags and bags of fruit. Mother said it would be better if they returned home the long way on the road because with her weight and all the heavy fruit she would sink into the sand if they went to the beach. That made them all smile. They had all worried about what the monk had said. It was good to relax again.
When they got home, they sampled the fruit they had bought. A big favourite was the pineapple, another fruit they all loved was ‘mankhootʼ. They had never seen it before, but it tasted wonderful. Father looked it up on Google, they called it mangosteen in English. After their fruit tasting session, the children asked if they could play on the mountain again.
Something worried mother, she did not know why. Maybe the monk had scared her, but their father said it was okay to go, but not for too long.
They smoothed on sun cream once again and got their enormous hats, and off they went. They climbed over some rocks, and then they saw what looked like a footpath. How could that be, if no-one came here, why was there a path? Anyway, it made the walk easier; they wandered along until they saw the monkey they had met yesterday.
“Hello, you two. Where are you going?”
“Weʼre just walking along to see where this footpath goes.”
“Are you sure you want to do that? You donʼt know what’s at the end.”
Ben got nervous, but Petal told Ben not to listen. She wanted to carry on.
“Just a few minutes further, then we can go home, okay?”
“All right, come on.”
After five minutes of walking, they reached the top of the hill. The monkey trailed behind.
“Wow, wow, wow.”
“Wow, what a view,” said Ben.
“You had better not go any further,” said the monkey.
The children turned and waved towards their house because they knew their mother would watch. They then both jumped up and down to make sure she could see them.
“Stop it, stop it now,” screamed the monkey.
More monkeys appeared all around them. Springing and bouncing up and down, round and round.
“What do you mean, stop it?” shouted Ben.
“And donʼt shout,” said the monkey.
Petal spoke quietly, “Why? There is no-one to hear us.”
“Oh yes, there is. Now go home,” ordered the monkey.
The puzzled pair returned home.
Petal is always happy to try new kinds of food, but Ben only likes chicken and eggs, however, after their main course they both had more fruit. Yai had cooked a spicy curry for the children’s parents, a bit too spicy but tasty.
“Please pass the water,” said father.
It was bedtime for Petal and Ben and when no adults could hear, “What did the monkey mean when he said, ‘Oh yes there isʼ, I think he means other monkeys, what about you Petal?”
“Stop worrying, shall we look further down the path tomorrow?”
“I donʼt know, Iʼm a bit scared now.”
Along the Path
The next morning both children woke up early. As always, their father was busy on his laptop. He smiled, “Good morning, what are you two up to today?”
“Can we swim in the sea?”
“Well, I donʼt know. People seem worried about swimming here, how about today you go up the hill, and I’ll try to find out why nobody goes into the sea? Iʼm writing a mystery story, maybe this could be another strange mystery?”
“Okay, Dad, what’s for breakfast?”
Their mother was still in bed. She was reading a guidebook about Thailand. She put the book down, made sure the children had sun protection and had not forgotten their hats.
“Have a marvellous adventure, but donʼt get lost, I will watch you,” she said laughing.
Once again Petal and Ben ran over the beach and jumped up to the rocks on the hill. They soon reached ‘their’ footpath and walked along with it. In front of them were monkeys, lots of them. They were just sitting there, looking at them.
The monkey they had met before pushed his way through the others to the front.
“Did you not hear what I said yesterday? I said it is not a good idea to go any further along this path.”
Hundred of seagulls swooped and shrieked, “Cor, Cor, Cor.”
The monkeys did not move out of the way of the birds; they did not even duck. But the children had to cover their heads. The birds flew nowhere near the monkeys, but they were very near to hitting the children.
The next wave of birds had paper and bits of plastic coffee cups and torn shopping bags in their beaks, which they dropped on the heads of the children.
Without thinking, Petal and Ben cleaned up the rubbish.
One bird flew overhead again, this time without threatening injury. The bird dropped a complete plastic bag. So Ben held the bag open and Petal put all the rubbish inside it.
When they had finished tidying up the children stood up and noticed that the birds were flying in formation, they were flying in the shape of a large circle above the children, round and round they went and all the monkeys were clapping.
The monkey they knew came forward once more.
“We are friends now, you can call me Maurice from now on. Your mother is signalling you had better go home. See you tomorrow.”
The children looked over at their house and sure enough, their mother was on the balcony waving her arms.
They rushed home.
“Children, are you okay?” said their mother.
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“First, I saw all the monkeys coming close to you, and then the birds started dive-bombing you, and then what looked like a circle in the sky made of birds. It was all strange.”
“Maurice the monkey was telling us to, eh!”
“Shush Ben,” warned Petal.
Their mother looked puzzled but told them to clean up and get ready for their meal.
The next morning the children were up and dressed early, but their father had beaten them again. He was already tapping, tap, tap on his laptop.
“Daddy, why do you get up so early every day?”
“Because it is cool in the morning, a good time to type. Later in the day when it’s warmer, it is a good time to think.”
“So is it a good time to walk in the morning?”
“That is right, Petal.”
“In that case, we can walk now and come back for breakfast later, bye.”
With that off, they ran. Their father thought it would be okay as they would be hungry soon and come back quickly.
This time Ben had thought to bring a bag in case there was rubbish to collect. They soon came across Maurice.
“Where are you going so early in the morning?”
“We are walking and will collect any rubbish we find.”
“Ha, ha,” said Maurice, “you wonʼt find any litter, we monkey always clear it up.”
“But what about yesterday? The birds threw loads of paper at us.”
“They were just testing you, to see what you would do.”
That explains it. They had seen no rubbish on the hill, only when the birds had scattered some.
The children walked further up the path; they reached the brow of the hill. They stopped and looked at each other; they knew this was as far as they had ever been.
They looked around.
“Well, Maurice, shall we go on?” asked Ben.
“If you dare” was the monkey’s answer.
“What do you mean?” asked Ben.
“Come on,” said Petal as she walked ahead.
At first, they could see nothing different. There were rocks and grass just like the rest of the hill. As they continued step by step, the sky became darker and darker. Black clouds surrounded them. It was dark now. Little Ben held his sister’s hand. Petal was glad she had a hand to hold.
The clouds rumbled, then lightning lit the sky. Now both children were getting frightened.
They kept on dawdling along but always moving ahead. Then they saw what looked like a shelter in the rocks. It rained. Petal pulled Ben forward towards the cover. As they moved under the rock overhang, Ben noticed a hole in the rock at the back. He was very curious, so he crawled on his hands and knees.
“Look, Petal, look at what I have found.”
Petal joined him. She bent down and when she too was on her knees; she looked around. They both peered into the hole. It was dark, but they could see it went down and down. It seemed a long way down.
“Petal, Ben, where are you?”
Their father was shouting behind them. The children stood quickly and ran towards where the shouting came from. As they ran back towards their father, they heard, “Cor, cor, cor.”
The birds were swooping at their father, faster and faster, more and more birds were attacking their Dad.
He was ducking behind an open umbrella at the same time he was swinging a closed umbrella at the birds.
The children ran to their father. They raised their arms shouting, “Leave him alone, that’s our father.”
The birds flew one following another in a line preparing to dive-bomb the intruder. The lead bird saw the children and pulled out of the dive, one after another bird followed their leader. They all flew away.
Petal and Ben ran up to their father, who was looking very relieved. He opened the other umbrella and handed it to Petal. Ben joined her under the shelter. They all walked off together towards home. As they went downhill, they all saw Maurice sat on a rock, soaking wet. He was wagging his finger at them.
They ran across the beach; the tide was coming in fast and the waves crashed down around them.
They ran as fast as they could. They had to hold on tightly to the umbrellas as the wind tried to blow them out of their hands.
The sea was now nearly up to Ben’s knees. They made it to their garden gate and into their house. Wet and dripping seawater and sand all over the place.
The children spotted Yai making her way towards them; they were expecting a telling off because there was so much mess, sand and water all over the floor.
Instead, Yai ran up to them and hugged them so hard.
“Never, never scare me like that again,” she said.
Father helped Ben take off his wet clothes and showered him in scorching water. Mother and Yai did the same for Petal. When they were all clean and in dry clothes, they sat down for a hot drink and some eggs on toast in the kitchen. Father, who was also now dry, joined them.
“Now children, did you see the birds?”
“Yes, father we did.”
“And have you ever seen a monkey wagging his finger before?”
“No, father we have not.”
“All super strange,” said father.
Yai without speaking quickly walked away.
It kept on raining for the rest of the day. Mother had been busy on the internet and she found out a lot of information about their new school. She found out what books they would read next term. There was lots of news about sports and many other interesting things. It included newspaper clippings from down the years. Somebody had scanned them into the school Facebook page. One item which caught their mother’s eye.
“Christmas Day 1980, it was a sad day for the school when the school captain, feared lost at sea. A group of pupils were playing in the waves. 12-year-old Khun Markie was playing, shouting and laughing in the sea when he vanished beneath the water and disappeared.”
Next to the article was a photograph which showed Markie wagging his finger from side to side and with a huge grin on his face and his mother, who looked a lot like a younger Yai, pictured next to him.
Mother took Yaiʼs hand and showed her the picture and the article. Yai cried and said.
“That’s where it happened,” pointing out to sea towards the hill.
Dad not at home
It stopped raining that evening, and the following morning the sun was shining. Their father had already left for Bangkok. The children asked their mother if it was okay to go outside and play. Their mother on the verge of panic now she knew what had happened to Yaiʼs son, but she thought it unfair to keep the children indoors on such a nice day. So dressed and creamed off they went.
The children clambered up the rocks, and before they had got very far, they met Maurice.
“I thought you would not come here today, after all that noise your father made yesterday. It was lucky for him there was thunder so that Markie did not hear him.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“I thought you would have worked it out by now. Children today are not as clever as when I was a boy.”
“That is vulgar. We are clever,” said Ben.
“Wait a minute, you said – when you were a boy?”
“Well, yes, I was a boy once. All the monkeys who can speak were children before.”
The children were so surprised they could not speak.
Instead of asking more questions, Petal marched towards the hole in the rock they found the day before. Ben was not so sure about looking for the hole. But when he saw Petal getting further ahead, he ran after her. Maurice was also having trouble keeping up with Petal. Ben wanted to shout at her, but he did not dare.
Eventually, Petal stood in front of the hole, Maurice and Ben caught up with her. Maurice put a finger to his lips and said, “Markie does not like noise, you already know he does not like rubbish, but he hates noise.”
“But why?” Both children said at once.
Na Gah appears
Then it came along and a scary, “Hissss, hissss,”
The children were standing like church statues, as at first, a slinky head came out of the hole. It was a snake’s head, but with a strange marking on his skin, a face like a boy, in a snakeskin pattern. Then came another snake’s head, then another and another until nine heads were showing, but with only one body. A snakes body with nine heads!
Back at home mother had a strange feeling, the feeling mothers sometimes get if they sense their children are in danger. Yai had the same feeling. What could happen?
“Yai we have to go to the hill, I have a terrible feeling, we must go.”
“You get in the wheelchair I will push you across the sand, then Iʼll attempt to carry you up the rocks.”
So off they went. The sand was fairly dry and hard work for Yai; she was sweating when they reached the bottom of the hill. Now, what do we do? The ladies thought about this problem.
The children’s mother would be too heavy for Yai. The older lady put her arm underneath our her legs and tried to lift her out of the chair, but try as hard as she could, she was not strong enough; she cried and was just about to give up when she saw birds flying in formation towards them.
What did this mean? Then she saw a dozen monkeys moving as quickly as they could towards them. The birds and the monkeys all arrived at the same time. The birds used their beaks to poke into the mother’s shirt and began lifting her. The monkeys gathered around and using their arms and the teamwork of the birds to lift and carry the children’s mother up the hill and over the rocks.
Back at the hole, the nine-headed snake was looking at the children closely, first one head, then the next set of eyes was studying the children. Petal and Ben too terrified to speak. The snake’s nine tongues flicked in and out.
Their mother closely followed by Yai arrived and they both stared at the scene in shock. The birds and the monkeys carefully placed a stunned mother on a large flat rock.
Petal was the first one to speak, “Who and what are you? And donʼt hiss at me.”
Yai leapt forward and answered, “He can only speak Thai. That is my son. His name is Markie. He is the Na Gah. A nine-headed snake with magical powers.”
“Well, Markie, why are you so beastly to everyone,” said Ben.
Yai then translated Ben’s question and the snake’s answer.
“He does not like noise or rubbish because he was sucked under the waves when he was young, he can remember the rubbish all swirling around him and the noise of the sea was deafening, so now everyone who annoys him with rubbish or loud noise gets changed into a monkey.”
“What is so wrong with a little rubbish, it can soon clear away,” said Ben.
“People only make a noise when they get excited, so what’s wrong with that?” said Petal.
Then after a lot more hissing, Yai explained, “The book says it is wrong! That is why he changed from a boy to Na Gah.”
“Let me see this book, I bet it says nothing of the sort.”
With that Na Gah turned and went into his hole. Just a few seconds later, he appeared with a few sheets of paper. The paper was all scrunched up; it was damp and some words or letters were missing.
Petal took the pages and carefully studied them.
“If Markie canʼt understand English, how does he know what it says because they wrote it in English?”
Maurice stepped forward and said, “I was the first child Markie turned into a monkey, I helped him with reading.”
“Oh, really?” said Petal. She carried on, “You said, we were not as clever as you.”
Petal was smiling when she carried on, “It does not say, ‘quiet’, it says, ‘would be quite niceʼ, quiet and quite are not the same. Then it says, ‘waist’ not ‘wasteʼ, this is your waist,” both Ben and Petal put their hands on their hips.
“Not waste, like yesterday’s rubbish,” said Ben with a gigantic smile.
Both of the children pointed at Maurice and said together.
“So who is not clever now?”
Everyone, people, monkeys and birds all laughed, they laughed and laughed, so loud, the noise got louder and louder, even Markie tried to make a sound other than a hiss. They were making so much noise they did not even notice a cloud whistling above their heads. The cloud dropped until it covered everyone. Then a sudden crash of thunder made everyone jump. Everything went dark for a few seconds, then the sun shone brightly again.
The birds flew off happily, if a bird could smile you would see a big grin on their beaks.
The Na Gah was now the boy Markie. Who ran to hug his mother.
The monkeys had transformed back to the little boys and girls they once were. The children they were before they had met Na Gah.
Maurice was once again a boy, but this time he had a dunce’s hat firmly placed on his head.
And the biggest and happiest surprise for Petal and Ben – their mother could walk again.
Petal and Ben in
What a Load of Rubbish!
“Shall we go to the mountain?” asked Ben. “We haven’t been for a few days.”
“Or shall we swim?” said Petal, “Or both!”
So they decided it – both.
The brother and sister loved living by the sea. Sure, they missed their friends in England, but they had found some new pals here in Thailand.
Best of all was when they went exploring together. Thailand was a lovely place with lots to see and do, even better if you were lucky enough to live by the sea. The children already had a very exciting adventure. Who knows what will happen next!
Dad was working in Bangkok today, so their mum joined them on the beach for a splash around. And splash around they did. The children both had plastic buckets, which they filled with seawater. They then both tipped the water over their mum. She didn’t mind at all because the water was nice and warm. The children continued throwing bucketfuls of water at their playful mum. They didn’t know, but their mum had had just about enough of being soaked. She manoeuvred the children until they were directly opposite each other. Just as they were about to throw another bucket load, the quick mum ducked out of the way. The water missed their mum. Instead, Petal’s water hit Ben in the face and Ben’s water hit Petal in the face. All three fell into the sea, laughing so much they couldn’t stand up.
Time for food. They had a picnic on the beach; they lay a big blanket out on the sand. Rice and chicken for Ben, his favourite, and fried rice with various extras for Petal. Mum just had a sandwich. All three enjoyed freshly squeezed fruit juice. Better than any restaurant, they all agreed.
It was time to go indoors; they had to finish their homework before school in the morning.
“Please, please, please mummy let us stay for a little while, we want to go up the mountain, please, please, please.”
“I’ll clear these things away and take everything home and you two can go for a walk for a little while, not for too long, mind.”
“Thanks, Mum, see you soon.”
So off went the children, running and jumping up the hill. There were still monkeys living there, they were playing on the rocks, but they could not speak, unlike some monkeys they had met before. They still had good fun watching them playfully poking each other and dashing away. The children sat and watched for a while longer until Petal decided it was time to continue with their walk.
“It all looks the same, but it doesn’t feel the same,” moaned Petal.
“Yes,” said Ben, “I don’t know why, but I feel scared.”
“Don’t be so silly, Ben. Come on.”
With that, Petal ran ahead. Ben arrived at the rock just after his sister. She had her hands on her hips, looking very puzzled.
“What is the matter? You look worried.”
“Look into the hole. What do you see?”
“Yes, how can it be bigger, we are the only ones who come here? Or are we?”
“Now you are making me scared.”
Ben hugged himself, looking for his sister to say something soothing to calm him and take away the fear.
“Come on, Ben, we are going in.”
“You mean in the hole?”
Just as Petal looked like moving towards the entrance birds landed on the rim of the hole, they were shaking their heads, slowly from side to side. Then their mother shouted from the beach.
“Come on children, your dad’s home. He has something for you.”
Petal and Ben almost fell over each other in the race to get home. They scampered down the hill, onto the beach, and ran all the way home.
Dad is home
“Right you two have a shower, your dad wants to talk to you.”
The children rushed to the bathroom. Petal was becoming quite the young lady. She was happy to shower and wash her hair, Ben looking for an escape route – no chance. His big sister dragged him by the hair and pointed the way to the water! Soon both Petal and Ben were clean and smelling of talc. They went out to the veranda to greet their father.
“Hello, children. Close your eyes.”
They both did as they were told. Their dad stood slowly and quietly. He slid silently behind them and picked up a large cardboard box. The children were facing away from their father; he knew them too well. Both Petal and Ben looked through slits in their eyes. Nothing in front of them!
They couldn’t turn, it would give the game away, so they stood still.
“Okay, turn round!”
Both turned and saw the box in their father’s hands. Excitedly, they rushed to see its contents.
The quiet yelping from inside made Ben jump backwards, but Petal rushed to open the top. Her scream of delight made Ben dashed forward. Inside the box was a black and white puppy. She was sitting wagging her tail so hard her backside was moving from left to right. Ben sat down on the floor as Petal carefully lifted the puppy out of the box, giving her a squeeze and a cuddle before she sat the pup on Ben’s lap.
They both said, “What’s her name?”
“That is up to you, what do you want to call her?”
This led to both children screaming out names, looking for approval from the puppy, and their father and mother. All three seemed to shake their heads with each suggestion. Blackie, Whitey, and Wiggly were no good. With all the excitement, Widdly would also not fit the bill as a small wet patch formed in Ben’s lap. The family all laughed. So they called the dog Giggles!
Ben had to rush for another shower. They all giggled at him!
Back to the hill
Petal, Ben and Giggles raced on the beach. Giggles loved running backwards and forwards to the sea. She jumped over the small waves. She was wagging her tail so hard her back legs left the ground, which made the children laugh so much their legs almost left the beach! Ben decided it would be fun to copy Giggles, which made Giggles jump on top of him. Soon they were all wet and covered in sand!
“Come on, let’s take Giggles up the hill.”
“Great idea Petal, let’s go.”
The children ran up the hill with Giggles dashing in and out of tiring legs. All three of them needed a rest. They found a spot to sit down. Giggles spread her legs out front and back with her panting tummy on the ground.
As they rested, the birds circled overhead.
Ben looked up, “Look, Petal, what are they doing?”
“I think they want to see Giggles.”
“But why are they flying in circles? Remember, they did that before?”
“Yes, they appeared scared or worried about us, I think.”
“But what do they need to be frightened about now?”
“I don’t know, maybe they are pleased to see Giggles?”
The merry trio set off. Ben had spotted the monkeys gathering on rocks near them. He didn’t know why, but he was getting scared. It relieved him when their mother came to the bottom of the hill shouting for them to go home.
There was no argument as the children and the puppy were all tired, and all, particularly Giggles, were starving.
The birds had flown away, and they could see no monkey.
“Strange,” thought Ben, Petal was more interested in a snack.
Giggles went straight to her bowl, munching on puppy biscuits with her tail wagging. She soon curled up on her blanket and fell asleep. When the children had enjoyed their food, their father wanted to talk to them, so they sat with him on the sofa. He explained about looking after dogs, how she has had injections to keep her healthy. Giggles needed a bath after playing in the sea, but like Ben, she had escaped this time!
“Don’t worry,” said father, “I’ll get her when she wakes up. Just like you, Ben.”
Then, our father looked at each of them and saw they were fast asleep. One by one dad carried them to their beds.
Giggles woke up in fright. She didn’t know where she was. It was her first day in a new house, and she was young, so it was not surprising she felt alone and worried. She stood up, had a good shake, and off she walked. Like all dogs, she followed her nose. She could smell Ben, now, where was he? Soon enough she was scratching at his door. A very sleepy Ben opened the door. Uninvited Giggles padded past Ben, jumped up on the bed, well she tried, but the bed was too high, Ben lifted her, she curled up and was soon asleep. Ben eased himself next to her and he too was soon asleep.Early the next morning their mother was arranging coffee. Something was wrong! She was sleepy. In a daze, she got mugs from their hooks. Something was wrong. It was only then she realised no Giggles! There was no food in her bowl.
“Oh no! She must have gone in search of food,” she said to herself.
She forgot the coffee. Mother searched everywhere, all she found was a small puddle. So Giggles had been here. But where was she now? She called her father. He too searched cupboards, the sofa, behind kitchen units. They both put their hands on their hips, shaking their heads. They were both worried about telling the children about the disappearing dog.
Petal usually woke before Ben. Sure enough, she did that day. She came out rubbing her eyes, expecting to greet Giggles. But where was she? Petal’s mum and dad had moved out to the garden to find Giggles out there.
Petal with tears in her eyes said, “Where is she?”
Her mother was also crying, “Oh darling, we don’t know where she is, we have looked everywhere.”
“There is one place you haven’t looked at.”
With that, Petal runs off towards the house.
“Mum, Dad, please come here quietly.”
Petal was standing outside Ben’s open door. She was pointing at the sleeping pair. Giggles lifted her head, turned around and went back to sleep. Ben didn’t stir.
Petal, mum and dad moved back to the kitchen very relieved. At last, the father got his coffee.
To the hole
“Come on, Ben, let’s take Giggles to the hill.”
“Okay, but I think she likes to play in the sea best.”
Giggles looked at both of them. It was as if she was weighing what to do; she didn’t want to upset either child, so she ran around in circles. Her rear end was going faster than her front. She lost control and tumbled over, making the children laugh.
Soon enough Petal took the lead and off she strode up the hill. Ben and Giggles following close behind.
They soon reached the hole. It seemed even bigger! The birds came and made a terrific noise. The trio looked up, wondering what was going on. Then the monkeys, who it seemed had appeared from nowhere, jumped up and down. Ben cuddled Giggles.
Petal, hands-on-hips, shouted, “What is the matter with you lot?”
She received no answer. The birds flew faster, and the monkeys jumped higher!
Petal shook her head, grabbed Ben’s hand and pulled him towards the hole. Giggles looked at the children, stopped wagging her tail, turned and ran home. Ben turned and watched to make sure Giggles was safe. She was running as fast as she could through the waves and on to the beach. Petal was shouting at Ben, trying to get his attention.
Ben turned, Petal had gone. Ben looked into the hole and saw his sister as she climbed down further and further.
At home, Giggles had reached the house and was running on to the verandah looking around for someone, anyone. She spotted the children’s mother and ran round and round.
“What is the matter with you?”
The puppy wished she could speak, but all she did was jump, bound round and round. Mother sensed something must be wrong, as mothers do.
“Come on, Giggles, show me.”
They ran back to the hill, birds circling above. When the pair reached the hill they climbed, they then noticed the monkeys who made such a noise, screeching louder and louder. The birds swooped lower and lower. Mother was anxious.
Back in the hole, Ben said, “Come on Petal, I want to go back.”
“Okay, I think we are too tired, we can come back next time. And then go further!”
The children retraced their steps up and out of the hole. Just in time.
Mother was not looking happy! “What have you been doing? Why did you scare Giggles? And why are the birds and monkeys so flustered?”
Petal had her innocent face firmly in place. She kicked her brother.
“Nothing mum, we were just walking. Weren’t we Ben?”
“Um, yes,” said Ben.
The birds had flown away; the monkeys had disappeared.
“All extraordinary! Why don’t I quite believe you Petal?”
“I don’t know mum, look Giggles is fine. We are dirty, that’s all.” Petal put on her best smile at the same time as staring at Ben.
Their mother is a clever lady. She knew something was going on but did not know what. Petal was a smart girl too, she had thought to move some rocks in front of the hole, the mother could not see the hole. Her hole!
Once again down!
“Morning mum, good morning dad. What’s for breakfast?”
Petal woofed down her peanut butter on toast. She waved and called over her shoulder, “Ben is still asleep, I’m going for a walk, he can catch me later.”
With that, she rushed off before her parents could say a word.
Her head up and determined, she strode across the beach, up the hill. Until she reached the top in double-quick time. Birds were gathering, monkeys were chattering. Petal took no notice. She slowed her pace until she reached the little mound of stones she had built the day before. She could feel a tingling in her legs and fingers.
“No need to be nervous, Petal.” She said to herself.
With a glance behind, and ignoring the birds and monkeys, she entered the hole!
It slowly got darker and murkier. She forced herself not to worry. At least that’s what she was thinking. The hole was not much bigger than her and sloping steeply down and down. She had to be careful. There were ugly lumps of rock sticking out. Her father had told her they called the rock on this hill sandstone. She slowly went deeper, rock after rock. Eventually, she came to a small cavern. It was big enough for their family car.
“Maybe this is where Na Gah used to sleep, it looks smooth and comfortable, at least if you are a snake!” She was talking out loud to herself. “I am scared, I wish Ben was here.”
Petal carried on. Then she could hear the sea. The waves nuzzled their way underneath her. She could not see the water or the sand from where she was. The reason soon became clear. There was a huge rock in the way.
She reached the larger sandstone, Petal was glad because she could get more comfortable. There was more room, she could stretch out and rest against the large rock.
Petal looked around. If she moved either left or right, she could continue with her climb downwards. If she went one way, she would soon have to drop to the sea below. She realised she had no way of telling how deep the water was. And she wouldn’t be able to get back up! If she went the other way, it seemed the hole went further backwards, again she could not see if she could get to the bottom. She rested longer. It was then she could hear sounds.
Ben was up, and soon he worried about his sister.
Petal heard noises. They sounded like whispers, like at school, a classroom full of children talking quietly, hoping the teacher could not hear.
Petal peered and strained to see what or who was making the hushed sound. Then something strange happened.
The sea below her moved in quicker and quicker circles. Normally the sea moves in and out. Here, the water was going round and round.
Gradually, beneath the little girl, lumps of plastic rose to the surface of the water. Bottles and plastic bags were swirling in faster and faster clockwise motions. Not only that, but the rubbish was getting higher above the water. The whispers got louder.
“What are you doing here?”
Petal was sure she heard the plastic talking. Then …
“Petal, Petal, where are you, come on, don’t play games, I’m scared! Where are you!”
She heard her brother from above. All the plastic crashed back into the seawater. Petal climbed as fast as her legs would take her.
“I’m coming, don’t worry.”
Petal was now the one worrying. She finally pulled herself out of the hole. She glanced over her shoulder, calmed herself and said, “Have you been up here for long?”
“Mum-mum. Mummy told me to come and get you, we are going outttt.”
Ben was talking so fast he could barely get the words out. He had been anxious about his big sister.
Petal decided not to tell anyone what had happened, at least not yet. She pretended she was calm, but her tummy was whirling like their mummy’s spin dryer.
Giggles ran up to Petal and jumped up and down, wagging so hard she fell over. Giggles had noticed her change, but everything was calm again.
“There were more birds than I’ve ever seen, the monkeys were going fan-frat, frantic, I mean crazy. What happened?”
“Oh nothing, just a little excitement, I guess.” She carried on, “Where are we going?”
“We are going to Phetchaburi to see a temple. Come on, mum and dad are waiting.”
The temple and the monk
Giggles was jumping and running in circles so excited, but she didn’t know why, just that something was about to happen. Mummy said she thought they shouldn’t take dogs to temples. Daddy said he didn’t want to leave her alone. So they decided it; she was going on her first family trip. If there was a problem, dad would sit with her in the car. So off they went.
Phetchaburi was about 45 minutes’ drive north of Hua Hin. Father passed the town every time he went to his office in Bangkok. He had never stopped there, so he was keen to see all the temples and other sights the old part of the town offered.
They had a pleasant drive around. When Ben saw the temple monkeys he shouted, “Oh no, not more monkeys!”
Phetchaburi was famous for its sweets, so mother bought some, they could eat some on the way home.
“There is one more place I want to visit,” he pointed up, “that temple, up there.”
It was an ancient temple, with fantastic views. You could see right across the town, across rice fields and all the flat land surrounding the built-up area. They wandered around enjoying the sightseeing. Giggles was being well behaved. She was enjoying her day out too.
As our father was leading the family to the steps down again to the exit, an ancient monk dressed in orange robes waved a shaky hand at Petal. She jumped back. She knew females could not touch monks. The old man did not catch her he wanted her to stop. He shooed mother, father and Ben away, but he allowed Giggles to stay. Petal’s parents, alarmed, but stood back, staying in hearing range.
“Now young lady, I have been a monk for fifty years, before that I trained in London as an architect, that’s why I can speak English. Never mind all that, I need to speak to you.”
He signalled for Petal and Giggles to move nearer. He then whispered, “There is something strange happening, I know you can feel it too. I mean both of you, girl and dog, I don’t want to scare you, but you must beware of anything out of the usual, anything that seems odd, be very careful. Your little dog can guide you, I know she is young, but she has a special sense. Now go to your family. Give this paper to your father. Farewell.”
Giggles wagged her tail, but Petal was thinking hard as she handed the folded paper to her father as she had been told.
Father got down on one knee, put his hands on the girl’s shoulders, looked into her eyes and said, “What was all that about?”
“Oh nothing dad, here this is for you.”
Dad looked at the paper. It said: Anytime you need me just call 032 555 555! Father folded the paper and put it in his pocket. There was no sign of the old monk.
Mother and father looked at each other, they then looked at their children, and then at their pet. All were happy. Time for home. Giggles and Ben fell asleep after just a few minutes in the car. Petal was deep in thought. One thing she knew, she would go back to the hole. With Ben, if he would go. And Giggles, but there was a problem. How could the dog get down the hole? Petal wanted to get home and into bed. She knew an idea would come to her there.
Petal was not sure if she was keen to get to her ‘hole’ or if she was too nervous. She decided she wanted Ben to go with her.
“Only if Giggles can come!” her brother said.
“Okay, but take a long rope.”
“And I’ve got a feeling we will need a sack.”
“Never mind, if you want to come, do what I say. I had a funny dream last night, about the old monk we met. In the dream, he said I should keep a sack handy.”
“Is one of mum’s rice sacks what you mean, or the one dad uses at Christmas?”
“I don’t know, just bring both!”
Giggles was jumping about, knowing something was happening. She was expecting a snack, maybe a walk, or a game on the beach. She did not understand what would happen. Or maybe she knew?
Petal led the way, Ben just behind with Giggles running round and round, in and out of the brother and sister’s legs. Nobody tripped up, “That is amazing” Petal thought.
Up the rocky hill, they went, along the pathway, until they reached… the hole. Birds were swooping and Cor, Cor, Coring for all they were worth. Monkeys were jumping between rocks and swinging round and round like circus chimps.
“Ignore them,” ordered Petal.
Ben found that difficult as a bird only just missed his head. Giggles was crouching with her tail firmly between her legs. She too could not ignore them.
“Be careful going down here, I’ll go first, Giggles in the middle, then you at the back. It will not be easy for a puppy, I’ll hold her rope in case she slips. As I’ve been before, I know the ropes as Granny would say!” Petal laughed at her humour.
Ben had too much to think about without trying to work out Petal’s joke. She was right; it was far from easy, Ben found the climb down very tricky. He had to concentrate. Both children had empty sacks strapped to their backs. Having the sacks didn’t help. Giggles was having no problem. Maybe it was easier having four feet.
Gradually and carefully they made their way to Na Gah’s old bedroom. Giggles jumped across and into the opening. The lead was long enough, making the swing onto the smooth rock easy without stretching the rope. But… Ben stuck solid!
“I can’t let go Petal. How can I get in with you two?”
“Don’t worry, but you must watch where you are going. Let go with one hand, then reach out with one leg, you will feel the rock beneath your foot.”
Ben did as instructed. His foot touched the rock. Safe at last! The three friends made themselves as comfortable as possible. Then the noise started.
“Who are youssssh!”
“What was that – I want to go home!”
“Be quiet, Ben, I want to know what is happening.”
“You are not welcomesssh!”
Then another voice joined in, “Get awayssssh!”
“Oh, I don’t like it.”
The water swirled rounds and round, getting higher and higher.
Giggles was barking louder than she had ever done before. She ran round and round. The rope came loose from Petal’s grip, Giggles jumped.
Dad was stalking up and down, “Mother, what is going on? I’ve got a funny feeling, something is not right.”
“Come on, get your shoes on, we had better run to the hill, I have a feeling, and it is not funny. Our children are in danger.”
Mother and father were holding hands as they sprinted across the beach. They jumped up to the rocks. They clambered for all they were worth. Birds and monkeys added to the panic. If only the creatures could talk?
“Where are our children?” wailed mother. Father could only shake his head.
The whooshing got louder, the water swirled faster. The voices now screamed.
“Go, now, before it’ssssss too late.”
But even worse, Giggles had gone. There was no sign of her. From the circling water came a large plastic person, followed by three smaller plastic people. All made of plastic rubbish. The children could see water bottles, shopping bags, and oddly enough, clothes pegs all tangled together, making figures of various sizes. As the water swished about so did the plastic, before there was one large and three smaller figures, now there were dozens of small ones. The noise got louder and louder; the children had to cover their ears. Then …
A huge plastic man was growing out of the water.
Petal grabbed Ben’s arm and said, “Come on, we have to save Giggles.”
With that, the pair jumped. They did not know how deep the water was, they just wanted to save their pet. Down they went, getting tangled in plastic. They still had the sacks secure on their backs.
A big splash greeted them as they hit the seawater. The huge plastic creature towered above them, screeching, twisting and turning above them.
Ben looked around him. He spotted Giggles paddling for all she was worth. She had a plastic water bottle in her mouth.
Ben found he could touch the sand with his feet, so he tried to wade across to the pup. Because the water was going round and round so fast, it was difficult to make any progress. Petal had the same problem, but worse because the plastic was covering her. Strips of discarded rubbish were sticking to her body.
At the top!
“Where can they be?” the children’s mother screamed.
Birds and monkeys continued making a racket, so much so that father slipped and nearly fell. Mother was trying to chase away the animals. She had birds getting tangled in her hair. It was all very frightening.
Until… silence. The monkeys were no longer in sight. The birds flew to the edge of the hill, then they dived towards the sea. What is going on?
Father and mother hugged each other. Calmed, they moved towards the hole. It was now in sight as Ben had moved the stones away. They took it in turns to peer down. Looking at each other and shaking their heads.
“They wouldn’t, couldn’t, would they?”
“Oh, no! Please no.”
Wet and scared!
Ben tried his hardest to get near his sister, who was slowly getting covered in the plastic rubbish. Then he had a horrible feeling. He could feel plastic getting tangled around his legs. Tighter and tighter it wrapped around his knees. He looked for Giggles, who was making her way back to Ben. But the plastic was slowly pulling her deeper into the water.
Then there was splashing all around them as monkeys were dropping into the water.
Birds swooped in under the overhanging cave rocks at the front. A whoosh as birds flew in, more and more, whoosh, whoosh in they came! The birds picked at plastic, shaking their heads with small pieces sticking out of their beaks.
The monkeys made their way to Giggles, splashing and waving arms and legs striking out at every bit of plastic they saw.
Ben still with Santa’s sack strapped to his back was making his way to his puppy. She was free from plastic now and swimming hard. Petal could guess what was happening. She loosened the sack from her back, opened it and collected any loose water bottles. As she grabbed a bottle, it seemed to wobble and wiggle in her hands. The screeching continued but was quieter now. The plastic now was saying, “Help ussssh.”
Petal didn’t feel sorry for the noisy rubbish. She snatched up every piece she could reach and stuffed it forcefully into the sack.
Santa would be proud of Ben. He had collected even more plastic than Petal. As the sacks filled the cave quietened, the birds were busy collecting small pieces and flying out, only to come back for more. The monkeys who were smashing lumps with their fists were now busy collecting bits and putting them into the sacks.
The seawater was gently moving backwards and forwards. All was quiet.
The puppy, Petal, Ben and their friends made their way to the entrance of the cave. The children had to duck under the rock and out to the sea. Petal and Ben had their full sacks, the birds had mouthfuls, and the monkeys carried bits of plastic.
Back at the top
Mother and father were peering into the hole, shouting the children’s names. Neither of the adults could fit into the hole. They didn’t know what to do.
“Shall we get the police, or the rescue people, or the army, what shall we do?” Mother was in a panic. Father was thinking hard, scratching his head.
Then behind them, they heard barking, not too loud, more of a puppy’s yelp. Mother looked at the children’s father. A smile appeared on her face. She ran to Giggles, followed by her husband. He was eagerly looking past their little dog.
Sure enough, here came the children, filthy, wet, but with the brightest warmest smiles you have ever seen!
The birds flew above in the formation of a capital V. The monkeys marched behind the children, all wet but happy as they lined up and saluted as parents and children hugged each other. Not forgetting their new family member who was wagging her tail so hard she toppled over.
Father was busy dialling the number the old monk gave him.
The voice of the old man said, “The children did well. They have asked a gang of monkeys to bury all the plastic in a big hole. We have now covered it. In the future, we will know how to get rid of all waste plastic for good. I advise you use glass water bottles from now on!”
They ended the call with their father having a very puzzled look on his face.
Ben shouted, “It’s called a rubbish can. Not rubbish cannot!”
“Sorry Petal, you cannot take your phone to school,” mum said.
“But mum, everyone has got a mobile but me,” said the unhappy girl.
“What about me?” asked Ben.
“No. Neither of you. They ban phones at school. We received a letter from the head-teacher. He said that too many went missing and caused too much trouble. So, sorry, no, and that’s final.”
“That’s not fair,” echoed along the hallway as the siblings trudged off to school.
“It’s no good asking me,” said their father as he started the car.
Their pet dog, Giggles, felt nothing like giggling. She hated it when ‘her’ family argued.
Petal and Ben entered the school gates, “That’s funny, why is everyone looking at us?” asked Petal.
Their school, like every school, was a place where you met your friends, a place of fun, and a place of noise, lots of it, at least until the school bell rang, but today it was different. Where was the noise, the running, the squabbles and all the chatter?
Everybody was looking at Petal and Ben… in silence.
“What’s wrong?” she said as she checked her uniform. Ben was making sure his zipper was up.
Then… as quickly as it started, all their friends were running, shouting and playing as normal.
A gang of Petal’s friends pulled her off to join their gossip about who had forgotten their homework. Ben’s buddies invited him to join one team engaged in the FA Cup Final under the basketball hoops.
Later at home, Petal pulled Ben out of earshot of their parents, “What happened earlier at school?”
“Dunno, weird, wasn’t it?”
School – as normal?
“I wonder what will happen at school today?” said Ben.
“What do you mean?” asked his dad.
“Oh, nothing, I was talking to Petal.”
Petal kicked her brother in the backseat of their car.
“Sssh,” she whispered.
“Come on you two, what’s going on?”
“You know mum said we can’t take our phones to school?”
“Yes, I remember what she told you,” said their dad.
“All our friends still have their phones.”
“That is up to them if they want to get in trouble and have their mobiles confiscated.”
“Yes, but dad, no one is losing theirs.”
“They will, I expect.”
“Not only that…” started Ben, as his sister kicked him again.
They were nearing the school dad was losing his patience, “And?”
Petal put her hand over Ben’s mouth to stop him from answering.
“Nothing really,” she said. “They looked at us funny, that’s all.”
Petal and Ben quickly jumped out of the car and waved a hasty goodbye to their father as they entered the school drive. As the car slowly moved off, their father was watching.
The same thing happened as the day before. Silence, stillness and everyone had turned to look at Petal and Ben.
“I don’t like this,” said Ben.
“Nor do I,” agreed his sister.
They continued walking towards their classrooms, then shouting, playing and jumping continued, but this time it took longer to return to normal.
Petal approached one of her friends, “What was all that about?”
“What do you mean?” she answered.
“The silent treatment to my brother and me?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Forget it,” Petal groaned.
They lined up for the morning assembly.
“It has come to my attention that some students are still using their phones at school,” said the head teacher.
“All except us,” whispered Ben to no-one in particular.
“You were all told, and your parents received a letter,” continued the head.
Petal looked around. All the children were tapping messages into the phones. Nobody was listening to the speaker on stage.
The teaching staff were oblivious, in fact, most of them were checking their phones.
As soon as assembly was over Petal ran to find her brother, “Keep your eyes open, I feel something odd is going to happen today.”
“Come to my office,” bellowed the head teacher.
“You mean now,” said the science master Herr Hoffenheim.
“Yes, this minute,” said the head as he waltzed through his door.
“What can I do for you, Sir?”
“Your appointment was a mistake, I blame myself. The children can’t understand your English.”
The science teacher smiled.
“What is so funny?”
“Oh, nothing, trust me and I’ll sort it out.”
“What are you talking about?” The head teacher was fidgeting in his chair. The meeting was not going as he had planned.
Herr Hoffenheim leant back in his chair and lit a cigarette.
“What are you doing? You know there is no smoking in school.”
The science master blew out a long cloud of smoke.
“See you later,” he said, as he dropped the cigarette and marched to the science block.
Ben was looking over the second-floor balcony. There was a great deal of rushing around by pupils. He could hear Herr Hoffenheim bellowing orders.
“What is going on?” Ben said to himself. As his classmates pushed passed him and rushed to the staircase. Just then he saw his sister looking perplexed.
“Petal,” he shouted. “Wait there, I’m coming down.”
Brother and sister watched in wonder. Their friends, classmates and other students were all walking in the same direction with their arms stretched in front. All were looking at their phones.
“Let’s follow them,” suggested Petal.
“I wish we could phone mum,” said Ben.
“I don’t know why, but I’m glad we haven’t got our phones with us.”
The column of school children stretched all the way to the gates, with Herr Hoffenheim at the front. Everyone was skipping from one leg to the other. The security man guarding the entrance was too busy with his mobile to even look upwards.
Herr Hoffenheim halted the traffic by raising his arms. Drivers on both sides of the road were unhappy, having to wait for the long line of children to cross to the beachside of the road. Eventually, they entered a small Soi, or lane as we know it in England. This narrow road starts as concrete, but as it nears the sea, it is a dusty narrow footpath on to the sand.
Nobody was speaking. The only sounds heard were the slap of school shoes as they skipped from foot to foot.
“Where are we all going?” whispered Ben.
“Look, they are turning right at the beach,” said Petal.
“Maybe they are going to our house?”
“I hope they are not. Mum will go mad.”
“Where then?” asked Ben.
Back at the school, the head teacher was busy writing a note to parents. He looked up.
“Miss Yangaluk, come into my office, please.”
The door did not open. The head teacher slid his chair back angrily and marched across the office. He pulled the door open.
“I asked you to come in.”
The lady continued tapping the keys on her phone. The head teacher shouted, “Why is there no noise? What is going on?”
The secretary ignored him again. The master tried to snatch her phone.
First, she glared, then she growled. The man let go instantly. The lady continued to tap tap tap.
The head teacher went to the window and looked out. There was nobody in sight, no noise, nothing. He checked his watch and ran down the stairs to the ground floor.
The skipping column of boys and girls was nearing Petal and Ben’s house. Ben grabbed his sister’s arm.
“They are going to ‘our mountain’, I want to keep it as our secret place,” he said.
“I think you are right, they went that way, but why?”
“Petal, look up there,” Ben pointed to an enormous circle of birds flying round and round above the rocks. “I think I can hear the monkeys squabbling?”
“Yes, I can hear them too.”
In Petal and Ben’s house, their mother was folding the washing as she saw all the children coming along the beach.
“How lovely. They must have a school excursion. I wonder if our two are with them?” she called to her husband. He left his laptop to check.
“I can’t see them, they are too far away, but getting nearer quickly.”
“Is that them? Near the back.”
“The school didn’t inform us about a day out of the classroom.”
“I’d better ring the secretary and check alls okay. Oddly, all the children left school together. Do you know the teacher at the front?”
“It’s that German fellow. Why is there only one person looking after such a vast group? My goodness, it looks like the entire school.”
Petal’s mum looked worried as she put her mobile on the ironing board.
“No answer from the school secretary, I tried Ben’s class teacher, no answer from her too.”
“This is strange, we had better keep our eyes on them all.”
“There, I can see them, the only ones without arms sticking ahead.”
Yes, what are they doing? And why are our children not copying the rest? Look, our two are not skipping in time with the rest. We had better try phoning some parents.”
Herr Hoffenheim clambered over the rocks at the base of the hill, followed by the leaders of the pack. The birds were now squawking louder and louder. The large circle had now broken into half-a-dozen smaller circles. It was as if the rings were bouncing on the children’s heads. The kids didn’t seem to notice, all except for Petal and Ben, who were ducking as each bird dived at them. Monkeys were jumping and waving their arms like cave dwellers hollering as loud as they could.
Giggles came rushing from home barking. She rushed up to Ben and tried to knock him over, Ben remained on his feet so she tried Petal. She was stronger than her brother, Giggles failed again. She jumped and bit into Petal’s school shirt, and pulled for all she was worth.
“Giggles, stop it, you’ll tear my blouse.”
Giggles was shaking her head with a mouth full of uniform. By slowing the two down, they were now at the back of the line. The leaders were halfway up the rocks.
The parade kept skipping forwards over rocks, marching higher and higher.
Monkeys got noisier with their screeching, bouncing higher and higher. The birds flew closer and closer to the unaware children.
“I don’t like this, Petal, let’s go home,” said Ben as he tugged his sister’s arm. It was as if Giggles nodded in agreement.
“No, we’ll follow them to see what they will do.”
Call the police
“Should I ring the police?” asked the children’s mum.
“I don’t think they have broken any law.”
“What about an ambulance?”
“No one has injured themselves, yet,” answered her husband.
“We must do something!”
“Our children are there, possibly in danger. I’m going to catch them. You stay here. When I wave my arms, ring the police. Okay?”
“I don’t want to stay here. I’m coming too.”
“Right, grab your mobile, let’s go.”
Petal’s mum and dad put on sensible shoes to prepare for the climb. They raced to the hill.
Herr Hoffenheim and the leading children were now out of sight at the top of the hill. Petal and Ben were halfway up. The birds tried to fly between them and the rest.
“It’s okay birds, thanks, but we need to see what is happening to our schoolmates,” said Petal.
The birds flew back to the front. The monkeys were also at the front, making themselves as noisy and distracting as they could.
Ben pulled his sister to a stop, “Look, they are going into our hole.”
Giggles bark to a halt. She knew what the hole meant, danger. A year ago, when Giggles was a puppy, she had gone into the hole and faced danger with the plastic monster. She wasn’t keen to do it again.
“Don’t worry, Giggles, the rubbish has all gone away,” said Ben.
“But what is in its place?” wondered Petal. “Come on!”
“I don’t like this,” said Ben as Giggles was pulling him backwards.
“If you want to go home, go,” said Petal.
The children’s parents were now jogging across the sand, they could no longer see the children as they had all reached the top and disappeared behind the rocks.
“Nearly there, are you ready for a climb?” called their father.
Ben and Giggles were both in two minds. Shall we go, stay, or run home? They both thought.
“Come on, I’m with you Petal,” Ben and Giggles climbed on and up.
“Look,” she pointed, “They are going down the hole.”
“Then what?” asked Ben.
There was a queue at the hole. Gradually the children were dropping from view. Petal and Ben knew only too well that after clambering down the rocks inside, then you have to drop into the sea. They could hear, splash, splash as their friends were entering the waves.
“Quick, quick, we are nearly there,” shouted their father.
Mum grabbed his arm with a terrified look, said, “What, what if we lose our children?” Tears were running.
“Come on, let’s rush.”
They ignored the screaming animals and screeching birds and raced forwards as quick as they could move.
Petal, Ben and Giggles were at the entrance of the hole, “Now or never,” called Petal as she went down, followed by Ben and Giggles.
Where are they?
“Where are the children? Our children and the rest?”
“What was that teacher thinking of, bringing hundreds of young ones up here?”
“Oh, God, they must have gone down the hole!”
“Quick, let’s go,” they rushed to the edge and looked in.
“Petal, Ben, stay where you are, do not move another step,” shouted their father.
“We are not going with them, we just want to see where they go,” called up Petal.
“Stay where you are, then gradually turn and get up here,” screamed their mother.
By the sound of her voice, she meant it, no arguing.
Petal knew she was risking big trouble. Petal lay down and peered through the hole.
“What is it, Petal? What can you see?” called her brother.
“They are jumping into the sea, and… and…”
“You two, get back up here now! I mean it!” shouted their father.
Petal looked terrified, “Dad, run around the rocks to where you can see the sea. Are the children there?”
“What does she mean?” asked her mum.
Father ran around the big rock to the edge of the cliff. He peered at the gently waving sea. The birds were now flying in their giant circle formation out to sea.
He put his hands to his mouth and bellowed, “There are no children here, none I can see.”
He rushed back to his wife and children.
Ben helped Giggles back to the top, then climbed out of the hole. Petal followed him. The only sounds you could hear was the lapping of waves at the bottom.
The children were full of questions. Dad only said he would ring the police and then the school. It delighted giggles her family were safe. A worried mother put her arms around her children and guided them home.
Here come the police
Both mother and father’s mobiles were hot all the way home. Petal kept looking around to see if her friends were following, they weren’t. Ben’s eyes were red and puffy from tears.
Soon sirens screeched and father rushed out to meet the police chief and the ambulance team.
When he came home, he had slumped shoulders and said, “Sorry, children, there is no sign of Herr Hoffenheim or any children. I must meet the head teacher and tell him what we saw. Cheer up. I may have some better news later.”
An hour passed. Our Mother tried to brighten the mood of brother and sister. They didn’t even want to look at their phones.
Dad came home. He shook his head and gathered his thoughts.
“Have you ever heard the story of the ‘Pied Piper’?” he asked.
Mother knew the story, but only the Disney version. Giggles settled down for a long rest.
“Many years ago in Europe, I think it was Austria. Rats and all the germs they bring invaded a town. The town folk insisted the mayor did something.”
“What has that got anything to do with our town?” asked Petal.
“Let’s see if you can tell me. When I finish telling you the folktale, okay?”
“The mayor employed a rat catcher. This man played a pipe. The rats were at first transfixed and then followed the ‘Pied Piper’. They tailed him all the way to the outskirts of the town. The town-folk and the mayor were all so happy. No more rats. All was well until the ‘Pied Piper’ asked for his payment. The mayor laughed at him and refused to pay. The ‘Pied Piper’ walked out.”
“Just walked out? Wasn’t he annoyed?” asked Ben.
“I haven’t finished,” said dad, “The ‘Pied Piper’ started playing his pipe… All the town’s children followed him, off and away, never to return. It is an ancient tale, but historians say there is a lot of truth to it.”
Petal spoke up, “How has that got anything to do with what happened here?”
Mother understood, Giggles grunted and turned over, Ben was scratching his chin. Petal was deep in thought.
“So, you are saying, Herr Hoffenheim was our ‘Pied Piper’?”
“Yes, he has had the sack by your head teacher.”
A little while passed with Petal and Ben deep in thought.
“The rats are today’s mobile phones?”
Tears were rolling down Petal’s cheeks, “Did those children ever come back?”
“It was a long time ago. We don’t know what happened.”
“Was it not on the news?” asked Ben.
“They had no Wi-Fi then,” answered dad.
Also, adult thrillers by Colin Devonshire
NOT FAR ENOUGH FROM WORRIES
WORRY NO MORE
CHILDREN WITH NO WORRIES
WE HAVE MORE WORRIES
All in the ‘No Worries’ series – available from
All in the ‘No Worries’ series – Available from