In Search of the Time and Space Mach

In Search of the Time and Space Mach by Deborah Abela

Book: In Search of the Time and Space Mach by Deborah Abela Read Free Book Online
Authors: Deborah Abela
complaining.
    â€˜Stupid, half-witted, ridiculous …’
    Valerie pulled Linden, Ella and Max behind her.
    They jumped as they heard footsteps clumping towards them. Then there was a thump against the door and a gruff voice shouted, ‘What do you want?’
    â€˜Francis? Is that you?’ Valerie was shocked. It sounded like Francis, only older and very angry.
    The voice yelled back, ‘Who wants to know?’
    â€˜It’s Valerie Liebstrom, and I’ve brought some people to see you.’
    There was a pause before the angry voice yelled again.
    â€˜Well I don’t want to see anybody, so why don’t you all just turn around and go back to where you came from?’
    The hall went quiet and Max looked at Valerie.
    â€˜Maybe if he knows Ben’s my uncle, he’ll listen to me,’ she said.
    Max stepped closer to the door.
    â€˜Mr Williams, my name is Max and I’ve come all the way from Australia …’
    Before she could finish, Francis shouted again.
    â€˜Are you still there? I thought I told you to go away?’
    Valerie put her hand on Max’s shoulder.
    â€˜Maybe we should leave,’ she said.
    But something in Max fired up and she suddenly lost her patience for this rude man and wanted him to know it. She and Linden had come too far and done too much to find Francis and now they were here, she wasn’t sure he was even worth it. If this was how their mission was going to end, she was at least going to tell him what she thought.
    â€˜Now you listen here. You may be sick of the world, but there are some people who’d like to talk to you. If it was up to me I’d have nothing to do with you because you sound like a mean and cranky old man, but Ben and Eleanor do care. But if that’s the way you want to treat …’
    â€˜Ben and Eleanor?’ the voice barked, but this time less loudly.
    Max and Valerie looked at each other.
    â€˜They’re my uncle and aunt and I just wanted …’ Max began.
    â€˜Well why didn’t you say Ben was your uncle instead of just raving on?’ Francis interrupted.
    Ella, Linden, Valerie and Max stared at the door as the hall echoed with the sound of bolts being drawn. They had no idea what to expect and stood back apprehensively, waiting to see what this man looked like. When the final bolt was released, the door opened with a tired creak and the shadow of a man appeared from the darkness of the flat.
    â€˜Well don’t just stand there,’ he said. ‘Come in.’
    They filed in slowly and when Francis flicked on a small lamp, the whole place took on a dim, blurry focus. The flat was just one small room which was the kitchen, bedroom and lounge room all in one. On the floor near the lamp was a brokentea cup, which Francis stepped over as he lowered himself into a large, dusty-looking lounge chair. There were piles of yellowing newspapers everywhere and frayed curtains covering the windows. The fireplace was filled with soot and ashes below a mantelpiece strewn with cups, papers, unopened mail and apple cores. In the corner was a small, unmade bed, scattered with twisted blankets and discarded clothes. In the kitchen area, the table was covered with sauce bottles, cups, plates, salt and pepper shakers and gooey leftovers from breakfast. Dishes piled in the sink like a crooked tower about to topple over. There was a small fridge with a broken handle and next to this, garbage bags sat like obedient pets, waiting to be taken out.
    Max and Linden stared with open mouths. They’d never seen such a mess.
    â€˜You might as well sit down,’ offered Francis gruffly.
    When Valerie and Ella sat on the two-seater lounge, a small cloud of dust ballooned around them. Linden perched on the armrest next to Ella and sneezed.
    â€˜Bless you,’ she said, smiling up at him.
    Max rolled her eyes and moved away from them to sit on a wobbly kitchen chair near Francis.She studied his face

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