Extract from TOM O’KELL & THE PAPANUK

The children lay still in the bottom of the Eagle’s nest, cosy and warm in the thick layers of feathery down. Mad Mick murmured restlessly, stuck his wrinkled thumb back into his mouth and comforted himself back to sleep, gripping Anaemic Ben tightly into his chest like an old battered teddy bear. Agatha lightly snored, grabbed Ben’s chin towards her and mumbled dramatically, ‘Alas poor Yowick! I knew him, Howatio,’ She then cracked her neck, sighed contentedly and buried her head deeper into the feathery nest.

Eagle looked down warmly at the young chicks in his care, reluctant to wake them up from their sound slumber but the day was dawning and the sky was clear. Better to make tracks before the dark entities spun another dark storm cloud around the towering tor.

‘Ahem…’ Eagle coughed gently. The children didn’t stir, ‘Ahem…Ahem,’ he tried again – Nothing. Not a movement. Eagle huffed – nothing else for it – ‘WAKEY!!! WAKEY!! RISE AND SHINE!!’ he bawled.

‘W-What? Eh?’ Mad Mick threw Ben to the other side of the nest and jumped to his feet. Ben bounced off the twigs and wooden stalks weaved into the side of the nest and landed on top of Agatha.

‘Waaaarrggghhh!’ she squealed, blinking her owl eyes rapidly, frantically searching for her spectacles in the feathers like a prize in a lucky dip tub at one of Pater’s Church Fairs. Small downy feathers stuck to her lips and covered her hair, ‘Ah-choo! Ah-choo!’ she sneezed, spattering Ben’s face in a fine spray.

‘Uurrrgghh!’ Ben groaned, wiping his arm across his wet face.

‘Found them!’ Agatha exclaimed and perched the round wire glasses up her nose. Two large eyes peered questioningly into Ben’s white face. ‘Oh!’ Agatha huffed, ‘It’s you Benjamin. I thought you were a blood sucking vampire – Not that you look like one,’ she quickly added.

‘Good morning ma bonnie lads and lass,’ Eagle stooped his large head into the nest.

‘Eagle!’ Agatha shrieked, ‘I’d almost forgotten. You will have to forgive me, Eagle, ‘ she smiled apologetically, ‘Did you sleep well?’

‘Like a log,’ Eagle replied, ‘I woke up with splinters all over ma body.’

Ben and Agatha chuckled. Mad Mick’s brain hadn’t woken up yet so he just grunted not wanting to be left out of whatever it was they all found amusing.