Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chapter Nine

The Sowing Unravels
By Melinda Szymanik
The door shut behind them with a definitive click. Mote rubbed at his eyes, but now they were all inside the well lit security office there was no mistaking the identity of the person with the pistol.
“You,” he squeaked.
“Is that a polar bear…costume?” Deb gasped.
“Yes it is and it stinks of red herring,” Bizet Finnegan said. “And I’m jolly annoyed that your father shot me with a tranquilizer dart.” She massaged an angry looking puncture wound on her forehead.
“Bizzy?” Mendelssohn said coming up behind Mote and Deb. “What are you doing here? And who’s minding the farm? And what’s that on your forehead?”
“Kate! So good to see you here.” Bizzy waved at Captain Pejalmer who stood just behind Mendelssohn with a very grumpy expression on her face.  “And Mendelssohn, in answer to your question - you shot me, darling. Don’t worry. I’ve locked up at the farm. Fred and Trev are down at the cow cockies cottage watching over everything. And I’m here because I had a phone call saying things were getting out of hand and you needed my help...And what’s with these straw guards? That’s terribly dangerous with so many fireworks going off all the time around here. They’re highly flammable you know.”
As if her words were sparks, the smell of smoke began drifting in through the air conditioning ducts.
“It’s a bit warm in here,” Bizzy said, pulling at the neck of the polar bear suit.
“Mum, why have you got a gun?” Deb said.
“What this old thing?” Bizzy waggled the pistol around haphazardly. “I couldn’t find my semi-automatic so I had to bring this instead. Don’t worry. It’s not a real gun.”
“I think we’re on fire,” Mendelssohn shrieked.
“Oh darling, yes we are a great couple,” Bizet Finnegan purred.
“No Bizzy! The building’s on fire. Someone’s trying to burn us alive,” Mendelssohn cried pointing at the window. They could all see long tongues of flame leaping up outside, even one storey up. Mendelssohn yanked on the door handle but it seemed to be locked.
“Well that makes a mockery of the idea of a fire exit, don’t you think?” Bizzy said.
Deb rushed over to the fire alarm and breaking the glass, reached in and flicked the switch. An ominous click was followed by an even more ominous silence. She glanced over at the bracket on the wall where the fire extinguisher should be but the bracket was empty.
“The hose,” Mote called. He ran out into the corridor and walked back in seconds later holding the fire hose nozzle in his hands, the hose itself just a few wisps of shredded rubber hanging off the nozzle. Bizzy started fanning herself with a manila folder she’d grabbed off the top of a filing cabinet.
“Sabotage” Mendelssohn said bleakly. “Kate you were right. I should have used the security company you suggested. You get what you pay for.”
“More like you reap what you sow,” Deb said drily.
“What are we going to do?” Mote said.
“We’re all going to die,” Kate Pejalmer said. “Because you were too cheap to hire proper security guards.”
Mendelssohn hung his head.
“Don’t talk to my dad like that,” Mote said. “You stay away from him.”
“Not to worry,” Bizzy said, extracting a cell phone from the pocket of her bear suit. She flipped it open and stabbed at the keypad.
“Fred, I need you and Trev to scramble the Blue Angels,” Bizzy barked into the phone. “Full payload. Get them good and soaked pronto and let them out over the the north corner of the Main Stadium....”
The flip phone squawked back at Bizzy.
“Yes. All seventy. At the same time,” she replied. “Use the special net parachute.” 
Bizzy closed her phone and turned back to her family, and Kate Pejalmer. “Right. They’re on their way.”
“What are the Blue Angels?” Mote asked.
“Just some sheep I bred specially. Their wool is blue. And fire retardant. You’ll see...Anyway, so what’s all this about then?”
Deb pulled the notes out of her pocket. All the clues and red herrings. She checked they were all there and handed them to her mother.
“Someone’s been trying to kill us,” Deb said. “And sabotage the Titanic Games. You know Mum, for a minute when I saw you in the polar bear suit holding a gun, I thought it was you.”
“Me? I’m just a sheep breeder,” Bizzy said.
“And a part time ninja,” Mendelssohn muttered.
“Well yes, true,” Bizzy said smiling. “But it’s the genetic engineering that takes up most of my time.”
“Did you say genetic engineering?” Deb asked.
“Of course honey. But it’s all a bit top secret. And I do it under the name I had before I married your father – Bizet Wolf.”
Deb turned and stared at Mote. “It all makes sense.” She grabbed the scraps of paper back.  “What was the first message, shorn into the sheep?”
Mote frowned. “Um ‘To protect the sheep, you um... have to catch the wolf?”
“That’s right,” Mendelssohn gasped.
“Here, look,” Deb held out one of the clues. She read it out. “It takes a wolf to catch a wolf. And then there was the jar of wolf spiders. And then there was this, A sheep for a sheep, A scrambled surprise, Is an egg just an egg, Or GrenadE in disguise. They didn’t mean like a chicken’s egg at all. And the G and E are capitals because it’s all about genetic engineering.”
Without warning Kate Pejalmer lunged at Bizet.
“Oww,” Bizet cried.
“That’s right, little miss clever clogs,” Captain Pejalmer now stood with her back to the fire exit, Bizet Finnegan’s gun in her hand, pointed at the Finnegan family. “Genetic engineering is wrong! These stupid games are wrong. Blindfolded cake-decorating? Belly flopping? Floss flicking? Are you kidding me? Actually, no, I get the floss flicking. That stuff is always getting caught in my teeth...Anyway. I’ve always disapproved of what you do, Bizet. Genetic engineering isn’t natural. And the last straw was when your husband wouldn’t see sense and hire my security company to cover the games. Even the members of my spy team, Le Zard, Byrd and Barker, all victims of Wolf Laboratory engineering, were a huge clue and you couldn’t see it. When I’ve disposed of you lot I’m going to set fire to all those carefully placed scarecrows and these games will be a full-fledged disaster. Games over.” She cocked the gun and aimed at Bizet. “You first,” she hissed.
Suddenly the fire exit flew open and a soaking-wet, blue woolled sheep wearing a crash helmet rolled in the doorway and into the back of Captain Pejalmer like a bowling ball hitting the last skittle in a bowling alley. As Pejalmer fell her finger grasped the trigger and a shot rang out, a trickle of water dribbling from the end of the barrel.
“It’s my water pistol,” Bizzy said, picking it up off the floor as she prodded the unconscious captain with the toe of her shoe. “I did say it wasn’t real. You villains never listen. Well at least the fire’s out. And I’m really surprised you didn’t figure this out sooner Mendelssohn. Something … or someone must have been distracting you.”
Mendelssohn looked a little sheepish.

The End

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chapter Eight

The last straw?  

by Kyle Mewburn

There was no time to lose. Mote had to escape the choking smoke before he ... well, choked. He stumbled forward with his arms held out before him like a zombie. The packed stadium was buzzing with disquiet. The spectators were beginning to suspect the thick, pink smoke wasn't actually part of the egg-throwing event.
As the sound intensified, Mote's feet began moving faster. If the crowd decided to panic, he could be trampled in the stampede. And if he got trampled, who was going to find his dad and Deb? He'd been waiting all his life for a chance to be a hero. There was no way he was going to miss it now it was here.

But first he had to find the exit.

When he glimpsed a row of shadowy silhouettes through the swirling smoke, Mote smiled. Despite the explosions and drama, the line of security guards had maintained their position along the bottom of the stands, preventing the crowd from spilling onto the field.

Dad's recruited an awesome security team, Mote thought proudly as he veered towards them. Being a hero was going to be a lot easier with a crack team of professionals beside him.

"Hey, guard! Over here!" he yelled as he neared the first guard.

The guard remained motionless with his back towards Mote.

"Hey!"Mote yelled louder. It wasn't that noisy in the stadium. There was no way the guard hadn't heard him. When the guard still didn't turn, Mote grabbed the sleeve of the guard's coat and yanked it roughly. "Hey! My dad and sister are in trouble! You have to come and ..."

The guard's arm pulled loose with a weird rustling sound.

For a wild-eyed, frozen moment, Mote stared in horror at the uniformed limb dangling from his left hand. Then his instincts kicked in. His hand shot skyward, sending the guard's arm looping through the air. Mote's mouth opened wide as he backed away. But his scream shattered into a series of retching coughs as his lungs filled with pink smoke.    
The arm made a graceful arc then thumped into the top of the guard's head.
Mote groaned. The guard was going to be really angry now. As if rippng his arm off wasn't bad enough, Mote had to go and whack him in the head with his own dismembered limb. 
But the guard didn't turn. Or even make a sound. He wobbled slightly forward, then silently toppled sideways. His head smacked against the neighbouring guard ... then broke loose. As the first guard's head rolled away across the artificial grass, the next guard toppled sideways, setting off a chain reaction.
Mote watched the line of guards falling like dominoes. The crowd, thinking it was part of the show, started a mexican wave. Loud cheers resounded around the stadium and the sky rained confetti as Mote inched towards the fallen guard. He took a deep breath to steel himself. He didn't like blood. And one thing he knew for certain - if someone lost an arm and a head, there would be masses and masses of blood. 
With his face set in a grimace, Mote carefully turned the guard over.
Mote shook his head, blinking furiously all the while. There was no blood soaking the guard's uniform. No veins and sinew hanging from the gaping wound where his arm used to be. No severed muscles and spinal cords sticking out between the collar of his shirt. There was just ... straw.
Mote gasped. In a way, it was the last thing he expected. But it all made sense, too, in a nonsensical, not-quite-real, weird story kinda way. No wonder they were able to evade security all the time. There was never any real security. Just an army of scarecrow deterrents.
But that meant ...
"Hey, Mote! Over here!"
Mote jerked round.
"Deb!" he yelled, rushing towards his sister. He was surprised, and a little embarrassed, by how relieved he was to see her. If he'd been just a teensy bit more relieved, he might have even hugged her. "The security guards ... they're all scarecrows! That's why ..."
"Shhhhhhh!" Deb scolded as Mote halted beside her. "You don't have to tell the whole world, do you?"
"I wasn't," said Mote, feeling offended. "I was just telling you and ..." He halted with a frown. "Hey, how come you're not surprised?"
Deb rolled her eyes. "There's one sitting outside the exit. When I followed Dad I expected the guard would try and stop me. But he didn't. So on my way back here I checked him out. He's just a dummy in uniform."
"Sounds like Inspector Barker," muttered Mote, trying to disguise his disappointment. He'd been looking forward to making his shocking revelation in front of the assembled suspects. Just like in one of those old crime movies.
"You can mope later, Mote," said Deb, shaking her head. "Right now Dad needs our help. Come on!"
They sprinted out the emergency exit and raced across the stadium carpark.
"Where ... are ... we ... going?" puffed Mote
"Shhhhhhh!" hissed Deb. "We're almost there!"
Mote's head spun one way, then the other, trying to get his bearings. The main gate was off to his right, beneath the giant iceberg that was the Titanic Games' (slightly ironic) symbol. In the distance off to his left was the giant frosted tower of the Blindfolded Cake-Decorating venue. So that meant they were heading ... where, exactly?
"The security command centre!" Mote gasped as Deb started climbing the narrow fire-escape winding around the outside of the main stadium. "Of course!"
"Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!" Deb hissed again. "Do you want to get us all killed?"
"Sorry," gulped Mote. He hadn't thought about them getting killed. But whoever was trying to disrupt the Games wouldn't hesitate to kill two pesky kids, would they?
Deb finally paused outside the fire exit door and waited for Mote to catch up.
"Ready?" she whispered.
Mote nodded.
Deb held her breath and eased the door open. Muffled voices drifted through the narrow crack.
"I know the company was called 'Scarecrow Security', but how was I supposed to know they were going to use actual scarecrows?"
They recognised their dad's voice right away. He sounded scared.
But the second voice was too faint to offer any clues. They couldn't even understand the words.
"Of course I wouldn't have sacked your company if I'd known," said Mendelssohn Finnegan. "But they put in the cheapest tender and I've got a budget to worry about."
"What now, Deb?" whispered Mote.   
Deb's answer was drowned out by an evil chuckle coming from right behind them.
"Eavesdropping is very rude you know," said a familiar voice. "Why don't we all just go in and join the conversation?"
It was impossible to argue with that. Especially when the words were punctuated with the sound of a cocking pistol.

So one week left. Time to tie up some of those loose ends and finish with something memorable. Will there be a twist or a shocking revelation? I can't wait to read the final entries. Good luck!

You can read the winning child's chapter and the judge's report on the Winning Writing Page.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chapter Seven

A Theory and a Big Bang 

By Tania Hutley

While he was swimming, Mote was thinking hard. What was with all these weird animal clues the saboteur was leaving, warning them of his plans for ruining the games? It was almost like he was playing chicken with them.

Wait a minute. Playing chicken? The egg-throwing event was about to begin!

No time to wait for Debussy to catch up. Mote pulled himself out of the swimming pool and raced to the arena. Sure enough, the egg throwers were limbering up. Pricilla Byrd was sitting right in the front row, her head cocked to one side, her eyes bright.

Could Byrd be the one doing all this? Mote slid into the chair next to her. If she tried anything, he'd be right there to stop her. And his gut told him egg-throwing was just the type of event that would be a target for the saboteur.

The timer was counting down the seconds before the event started. In front of him, the Black Scramblers had their slings loaded and ready to fire. All their spare eggs were in one basket, but one of those eggs glinted as it caught the light. Mote squinted at it. What on earth?

"Mote!" Debussy came running into the arena, waving her arms and screaming. "There's a grenade! He's planted a grenade!"

Mote gaped at her for just a second, then her words connected in his brain. He leapt from his chair and dived for the basket. He meant to grab the grenade and throw it as far away as he could, but his feet tangled in the chair legs and instead he fell heavily right on top of the basket, crushing all the eggs - and the grenade - underneath him.

He lay still, heart thudding, eyes scrunched closed, waiting for the grenade to go off. Too scared to move in case he triggered an explosion.

"Are your brains scrambled?" The angry shout came from just above him and Mote cracked open one eye to peer upwards. One of the egg-tossers stood over him, arms folded, face red. Byrd was beside him, an unreadable expression on her face. Was she trying to hide a smile?

"Mote!" Deb skidded up. "What are you doing?"

"I saw something sparkle in the basket." Mote said.

"My lucky, championship-winning, gold-glittered egg!" The tosser's voice rose into a furious roar. He grabbed Mote by his collar and hauled him off the crushed basket. A colourful egg-mash decorated the front of Mote's shirt. There was no grenade.

"Sorry," said Mote, picking bits of gold glitter out of the mess on his front.

"Sorry," called Deb over her shoulder, as she grabbed Mote's arm and hustled him away from the glares of the egg-throwing teams. As they reached the edge of the main stadium she said, "If there was no grenade, then I guess the egg clue must have been a red herring."

"First sheep, then wolves, a polar bear... and now herrings!" Mote snapped. "What kind of evil plot is this? It's way too random. Like someone's just making it up as they go along!"

"There's got to be a pattern," said Deb. "If we can figure it out, we can work out where they're going to strike next."

"Wait a minute!" Something sparked in Mote's brain and he grabbed Deb's arm to stop her. "Do you remember hearing something about before the first Titanic Games, someone was trying to start a different kind of games?"

"Oh yeah, that's right." Deb nodded. "It didn't have cool events like floss-flicking and belly-flopping, but weird ones... what were they again?"

"Wolf wrestling. And wasn't there sheep hurdling?"

"Who'd want to watch lame events like that?" snorted Deb.

"What if whoever wanted to start those games is angry they didn't get the chance, and that the Titanic Games got started instead?"

"You reap what you sow!"

Mote grinned. "Let's go tell Dad."

They spotted their father and Kate Pejalmer standing near one of the stadium exits, talking intently. When he saw Mote and Deb racing towards them, Mendelssohn looked guilty. He said something to Pejalmer, who nodded and walked quickly away.

Mote lost his grin. His father had too many secrets! What was it his father had said right after the sheep went splat on top of the bellyflopper? Something about it being his fault and that he should have told them everything. By 'them' had he meant Mote and Debussy?

"Don't say anything for a moment," hissed Mote. "Dad knows more about this than he's let on. Before we tell him what we suspect, I'm going to get some answers!"

Just as they reached him, an announcement came over the loudspeaker.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we apologise for the delay of the egg-throwing event. The event is now starting. Please return to your seats."

Their father looked at Mote with concern. "What's that mess on your shirt?"

"Never mind that," said Mote. "Was there was something you were going to tell us? You said all this was your fault!"

His father nodded, wearing a grave expression. "You're right, Mote. There's something I should have told you a long time ago. I can't keep it a secret anymore." The look on his father's face was so serious, Mote knew at once that it would be something big. "I'm only sorry you have to find out like this." His father took a deep breath, as though preparing to give them terrible news. "I have to tell you that-"

From the direction of the egg throwing event, a starting gun suddenly went off. A moment later there was another explosion, and Mote was surrounded in bright pink smoke. It billowed around him, burning his throat and making his eyes sting. He coughed and spluttered, his lungs full of the foul smoke. He couldn't see!

"Dad?" he croaked. "Dad, are you there?"

There was no answer.


Silence. Mote's heart pounded as he frantically tried to see something, anything, through his streaming eyes and the thick pink smoke. What had just happened? Where were his father and sister? Why weren't they answering him?

Chapter Eight next week, and we're almost at the end! (There'll be nine chapters in total). Chapter Eight should either contain, or work up to, the big climax. The chapter should be fast and exciting, and it should set things up for the final chapter in which all questions are finally answered!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chapter Six

Exploding Eggs
By Elena de Roo

Deb swam to the far side of the pool where she'd seen her father, the polar bear and Captain Pejalmer disappear. Vicious or not, she hoped the stunned polar bear was awake enough to know it should hold its breath underwater. She trod water and turned to see how far behind her brother was. Only minutes before he'd been swimming right on her heels, but now, the pool was empty.

"Mote! Mote! MOTE!!!! Where are you! If you're playing a trick on me, I'll, I'll ..."

Bubbles floated to the surface an arm's length away. So, that was it. Typical Mote. Showing off again. He must have swum down ahead of her to find the underground entrance. She didn't want to contemplate the other option. Either way, there was no time to waste.

Making sure the lid was screwed on tightly, Deb buttoned the spiders into the leg pocket of her cargo pants, took a few deep breaths and dived down. Under the water, it was quiet. There was only the distant hum of the pump. No more bubbles followed. Far below, she could see a grate lying crookedly at the bottom of the pool. It looked a long way down. She was relieved when the entrance turned out to be only a few metres away from her, in the pool wall.

It took more courage than she had thought to swim into the tunnel mouth, even though it was easily wide enough for a person, a polar bear even. Could she make it in one breath? It helped that she could already see light from the other end, and to know Mote and her father had done it before her. One stroke ... two strokes ... she pushed the water behind her ... three strokes ... she was through. She kicked upwards, lungs bursting and swam towards the light.

Deb grabbed the metal ladder, allowing herself some time to gasp in air, before hauling herself up the steps and over the side. She wiped the water out of her eyes. No sign of Mote, her father or Captain Pejalmer. She was standing at the junction of three dimly lit underground tunnels.

"Mote! Mote!" Deb's voice echoed down the tunnel, but there was no answer. Then she heaved a sigh of relief. She'd spotted several sets of wet footsteps leading into the tunnel directly in front of her. One set was about Mote's size. There were some animal prints as well, bear prints, which went down the tunnel to her left. The polar bear must have recovered and broken free. She shivered. She wouldn't be going down that tunnel.

The air was damp and her clothes dripping, but with no towel, the best she could do was to squeeze the water out of the ends of her pants. She took the jar of spiders out of her pocket, where it had been banging annoyingly against her shin. The wolf spiders seemed unbothered by their journey and were busily crawling over a small roll of paper. Another message? Why hadn't she noticed it before? Maybe it had been wedged under the lid and come loose during the swim.

There was no way she was putting her hand into a jar full of spiders. Deb unscrewed the top, watching as the spiders scuttled for cover in the dark crevices and corners of the tunnel, before extracting the roll of paper. There was just enough light to make out the words written inside.

A sheep for a sheep
A scrambled surprise
Is an egg just an egg
or GrenadE in disguise?

She wished now she'd asked her father more about his past. Like, why he had an old lab coat hanging in his wardrobe? Then, maybe she'd have some idea what that whole Katie-Kat thing was about. Or why her father thought everything was his fault? One thing was clear though. With the words egg and grenade in the same sentence, this threat had egg throwing event all over it.

Deb pulled the games guide from her top pocket and prised apart the wet pages. She checked her watch. The egg throwing would be starting any moment now in the main stadium. If she was quick she could warn them, stop the event. Her intuition told her the tunnel straight ahead should take her in the right direction. It was also the direction the trail of footsteps was leading, and since no one had come back that way yet, Deb reasoned, there must be another exit.

She was right. The tunnel sloped gradually upwards, ending in a solid looking metal door. She tried the handle. It wasn't locked. No wonder bad things were happening if security was this slack. Deb opened it a crack and saw the dark outlines of mops and buckets. The tunnel ended in a cleaner's cupboard.
There was no time for mucking around. Even as the door clicked shut behind her, she already had her next step sussed. A crack of light was coming from under a door on the opposite wall. On the other side, she could hear the hum of people and muffled bursts of applause.

A few seconds later Deb emerged into a side corridor next to the ladies' toilets in the main stadium. She shouldn't have complained, it was working in her favour that nobody seemed to lock anything around here. Everything was going to plan. Except for the fact she didn't actually have a plan.

Deb raced into the packed arena. She'd cut it finer than she'd thought. The egg timer was already counting down. Only sixty seconds to go. The two teams, The Gold Yolks and The Black Scramblers, were already lined up on opposite sides of the arena. Each team stood with slingshots at the ready, about to launch a barrage of eggs - yolks appropriately dyed team colours - at their opponents, just as soon as the timer sounded.

It was down to her. Thirty seconds left. Somehow she needed to stop the event without causing mass panic. But what if she'd got it all wrong? Then Debussy saw something which was both wonderful and terrible at the same time. It was Mote. He was in the front row of spectators, wet hair plastered behind his ears ... and about as close as you could get to the Gold Yolk's line of fire. Not only that, but Priscilla Byrd was sitting right next to him, her beady hen-like eyes darting from left to right.

Okay, now it was personal. She'd been wrong about the mass panic. Mass panic was exactly what this situation called for.


Now it's your turn to write Chapter 7. Another major turn in the story should up the stakes for the kids and put them in immediate danger. They may find out the truth behind the villain's plans for the games, and it is a diabolically clever and evil twist that no one saw coming.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chapter Five

By Johanna Knox

Priscilla Byrd flew in and – with a vigour unusual in one so close to retirement – jumped in front of the bear and pointed a handgun.
Inspector Barker bounded in next, taking up a similar stance several metres away.
Last came Inspector Le Zard, hefting an assault rifle to firing position.
‘Where’s Captain Pejalmer?’ whispered Mote to Deb.
His sister didn't take her eyes off the scene below. ‘Sh!’
The polar bear continued devouring the desk, glancing now and then at the three humans waving interesting black things at it. Wood splinters stuck to its chin, mixing with the blood like a strange beard.
‘Ready …’ called Byrd.
 ‘Aim …’ growled Barker.                 
‘STOP!’ came a voice. Mendelssohn rushed in, toting the biggest gun of all. ‘You don’t kill a polar bear!’
Inspector Le Zard regarded him unblinking. ‘Well, what would you suggest, Monsieur?’
Mendelssohn lifted his gun, fixed the bear in his sights, and fired. A dart struck the forehead of the bear who promptly went cross-eyed and toppled backwards.
 ‘Stun it,’ said Mendelssohn with satisfaction. ‘Now, we have to think how to get it out and … where’s Pejalmer?’
‘Exactly,’ whispered Mote, squirming to try and get more comfortable on the ventilation tube.
Below him, Barker, Byrd, and Le Zard looked around uneasily, then all three froze, staring at the entrance.
A slim woman in a trenchcoat stumbled in –- Captain Pejalmer. She stopped, swayed, groaned, and collapsed. A bear-sized claw mark on her neck gushed blood.
 ‘Katie!’ gasped Mendelssohn. He ran to her and dropped to his knees.
 ‘Katie?’ whispered Mote. ‘Dad calls her Katie?’
‘Just shush!’ said Deb.
Their father put his head to the Captain’s chest. ‘She’s still breathing!’ He gazed into her face, pushing her hair back from her forehead.
Then Mote saw something astonishing. Captain Pejalmer opened her eyes, looked up at their father, and winked before closing her eyes again.
Mote looked at Deb. ‘Did you see …?’
 ‘Yes! But I’ll miss what happens next if I have to keep answering you … Whoa, look at her hand.’
From their vantage point, the children could see that, concealed from the other three members of the security team, Captain Pejalmer’s fingers were working at the phone protruding from her trenchcoat pocket.
A few seconds later, the national-anthem ringtone tinkled from their father’s phone.
He answered it swiftly: ‘Yes? … I see …Well, I’ve got a bit of a situation myself, but I’ll send the others.’
He looked around at Byrd, Barker, and Le Zard. ‘There are reports of violence breaking out in the floss-flickers’ quarters. I’ll stay with Pejalmer and call the medics. You three go sort those darned floss-flickers*.’

The minute the rest of of the security team had left, Captain Pejalmer sat up. ‘I thought you might remember that trick,’ she said, smiling at Mendelssohn.
He clutched her hands. ‘Katie-Kat, I was so scared ….’
‘Katie-Kat?’ Mote was appalled.
‘Would I bail on you, Felix?’ asked Captain Pejalmer.
‘Felix?’ Mote spluttered.
‘Felix is Latin for cat,’ Deb whispered, puzzled.
‘So they have cat-themed pet names for each other, that’s …’
‘Weird … disturbing, gross, I know, but …’
Below, Captain Pejalmer was now explaining to their father: ‘I was doing the last security check round the pool complex when that bear came out of nowhere. And it was so focused. It was me it wanted!’
 ‘That swipe must’ve hurt,’ said Mendelssohn, lifting his hand gingerly to her neck. ‘I really will call the medics.’
 ‘No!’ said Captain Pejalmer. ‘It’s fake. When the bear came at me, I knew I had to get it out of public sight fast. So I threw it a big piece of juicy, raw pork.’
Their father looked concerned. ‘Free range?’
 ‘Of course! Then while it was busy eating, I shoved the bear inside the complex and onto the travelator. I checked round to see where it could have come from, called you, then quickly applied this fake wound.’
‘Where did you get pork at such short notice?’
Captain Pejalmer opened her trenchcoat to reveal enormous pockets in the lining. ‘These days I always carry a hunk of meat, just in case … Not to mention blood capsules for feigning injury.’
Mendelssohn looked impressed. ‘You haven’t changed, Katie-Kat. Although most women have handbags, you know.’
‘Handbags,’ said Captain Pejalmer, ‘are a tool of patriarchal oppression. Real women have pockets.’
 ‘Well you certainly are a …’
 ‘Oh, yuck. No!’ hissed Mote.
 ‘I’m worried about something else,’ said Deb. ‘Why didn’t she call Dad as soon as the bear was in here? Why did she go looking round for where the bear had come from first?’
‘Wait, look!’ said Mote.
Captain Pejalmer was pulling something else from a pocket. A note. ‘This was attached to the bear’s collar,’ she said.
Their father read it aloud: There are several endangered species around here, aren’t there. Shall we count?
 ‘Some wolves are endangered …’ Deb murmured.
 ‘Felix,’ said Captain Pejalmer to their father. ‘This was why I needed to get you alone. I think one of the security team is involved in this plot. At least one. I faked the injury so they’d think they’d succeeded in putting me out of action.’
Mendelssohn looked stricken. ‘Do you think it has to do with when I worked at …’
 ‘Highly likely,’ she cut in. But right now we’ve got to contain this bear before it wakes.’  
The next thing to emerge from Captain Pejalmer’s pockets was a long rope. Mote and Deb watched as she and their father bound the great beast and then, at Captain Pejalmer’s urging, dragged it to the pool’s edge.
 ‘I’ll jump in first. You follow,’ the Captain instructed.
Their father paused. ‘Are you telling me there’s a secret underwater exit? How did I not know that?’
‘Oh, there’s always plenty the boss doesn’t know,’ said Captain Pejalmer.
Their father hesitated.
 ‘Come on, Felix,’ said the Captain. ‘Let’s see those almost-Titanic belly-flopping skills,’ She herself made a neat dive into the pool, fully clothed.
Mendelssohn took a deep breath and leapt after her, hitting the water with a thwack, before beginning to swim, dragging the unconscious bear behind him.
The submerged figures reached the far wall and vanished.
Deb looked at Mote: ‘Follow them?’
As the children jumped down from the ventilation tube to the table, Mote remembered how much he needed to go to the toilet. Then he had a brainwave, which made him forget again. 
‘Deb!' said Mote. 'She didn’t call him Felix as a cat name! It’s because it was the first name of Mendelssohn, the composer who Dad’s named after! Felix Mendelssohn! And  …' He felt himself filling with excitement, importance, and terror. ‘Deb, you know who I’m named after.’
 ‘Funnily enough, you’re named after the composer Mozart, Mozart.’ said Deb.
 ‘But he wasn’t just Mozart! He was called Wolfgang Mozart! Deb, what if all this is about me? Wolfgang means walk like a wolf!’
Deb looked at him for several seconds then said slowly, ‘You have really got to get over yourself.’
Mote ignored that. He trailed after her to the pool, dazed. This was huge!
His foot caught something that went skidding over the tiles, and he picked it up. ‘Deb! A jar of spiders!’
She turned back, curious. ‘Do you think it fell out of Captain Pejalmers' pockets? Can I see?’
Mote handed it to her. ‘Anyone who was in here could have dropped it,’ he said. ‘Even that camera guy.’
Deb turned the jar in her hands. ‘Guess what kind of spiders these are?’ She looked faintly triumphant. ‘They’re wolf spiders.’
Still holding the jar she dived into the pool.
Mote followed. He suddenly hoped there wasn’t any of that stuff in the water that went coloured when you peed.

* In floss-flicking, each competitor eats a cob of corn, then uses dental floss to flick out stuck bits from between their teeth - sending those bits as far across a field as possible. Once an under-funded and seldom-watched sport, floss-flicking has been revitalised by the advent of night-time tournaments held under black lights, using fluorescent corn and fluorescent floss. Despite its new popularity, the sport continues to be marred by the behaviour of its players who have a reputation as temperamental and aggressive.

Now it's your turn to write Chapter 6. There is even more danger ahead. At the same time, the kids must stay alert to solve the mystery. Clues are accumulating. And isn't is funny how animals keep cropping up? Is this significant? Or is the most numerous species the Red Herring? You have one week to write this.

Instead of (or as well as) Chapter 6, write your own side story about any minor character in the story - absolutely any you like. (Perhaps the woman who won the golden ticket? Or the ill-fated belly-flopper from Chapter 2? Perhaps another athlete? Or maybe a person who doesn't appear in the story but is connected in some interesting way to someone who does?)

You have two weeks to write this side-story. A winner will be chosen, but we may publish more than one entry on the Fabo site.