Klukelunnen scrambled up the next set of stairs, unable to keep up with young Daisy despite her constant chatter must have slowed her. She was bringing him ‘up to speed’ on her family, she said.
“Me and Fleur, we share a father. Chris Doley—I don’t suppose you’ve heard of him? No, most people haven’t. He’s a musician. Guitar mostly. He used to play with a resident band at one of the holiday camps—Butlins, but I don’t suppose that means anything to you? That was before he scooped the biggie on the Lottery and bought this place. That’s also where he met Flirty Fleur’s whore of a mother. Sheryl—Sheryl Broadman. She was singer with the band and already sleeping with him—so Mum says. But as soon as he was stinking rich she wanted the ring, the bank account and everything.
“It didn’t last long. Their millions slid down the drain in a frenzy of spending—the whoring Sheryl was a shopaholic. Looking at imminent broke, Pops got a job. Session musician, like he still does, for Lynx Studios—that’s just down the road, in Cambridge—but that didn’t suit Sheryl. She fucked off with her personal trainer. Went to Tenerife, where the trainer left her and she, forced to fall back on her talents, became a singer in one of the hotel bars. Now she’s supporting her spending habits by servicing the hotel guests, after hours.
“So, you see, we mustn’t blame Fleur for her depravity—and she is depraved. I caught her, once, with Helas. You know, fiddling with him? She wasn’t doing that to you, was she? I mean, if she did, that’s abuse, and there are laws against that. Did she … touch you? Like, down there? Only you don’t have to be quiet and put up with it. We blow the whistle on her, she’ll get put into nick, and the world’ll be a sweeter place.”
Klukelunnen tried to digest everything the young giantess said, but a great deal of it skimmed over his head. But this of the touching … Yet she didn’t allow him the chance to say. Off she went again with more family history.
“Me and Jason share a mother—we don’t know who his father is; Mum’s never said, at least not to me. Probably some Shakespearian bit-actor—that’s what Mum used to do before the sitcom that’s raked her in a considerable income over the years. Karen Kaye, but I don’t suppose you’ve heard of her either. Ah, and here we are. My room.”
She opened the door with considerably less violence than had the black-eyed, black-encased lascivious Fleur Doley. “Like?”
Klukelunnen blinked at the kaleidoscope of colours. He stood just into the room, his jaw dropped nigh to his knees. Surely here he had stumbled upon a cave of gems, everything sparkling, everything bright in emerald greens, sapphire blues, topaz and citrines, amethysts, rubies . . . all hectically mixed with none of the obsessive order Klukelunnen had seen in the giants’ lower rooms.
“I call it my Aladdin’s Cave,” Daisy said with a noticeable stride of pride. “Mum says as long as I keep it tidy—by which she means I have to pick up my knickers and things. But there’s more. This is my room; now I’ll show you what’ll be yours.”
She led the way, Klukelunnen stumbling over his feet as he gawked at the gem-stones that hung from every projection and studded, in profusion, everything else. He wanted to touch them. He wanted to smell them. He wanted to talk with them. But he didn’t suppose, for any one moment, that any would know of his home land. These would know only of Giant Gems in the Giants Land.
Daisy had opened another door, this through to the room she’d said would his. Light flooded the uncluttered space. Uncluttered, except for …
“Will you fit in it alright?” Daisy asked him. “Only, lengthwise you might be the same size as Flopsy and Peeps, but they were quadrupeds while you move bipedally—like a proper human. You might have to crawl to get around. But, hey, you’ll be far from the reach of that Flirtatious Fleur. Did she touch you? You haven’t said. Well, if she did you’re to say, no need to be shy. I shan’t tell Mum or no-one. There’s a phoneline for kids, you see. No one else needs to know.”
Why did she keep asking him that, then giving him no time to reply? But anyway, no, the Lascivious Fleur hadn’t touched him, not there. Though all that stripping and teasing had made things … hard for him. Even now he could feel the heat surge in his face, just at the thought. Yet he did appreciate Daisy’s timely rescue. But if she was expecting him to stay in there … he knew a prison when he saw one. Doors that fastened from the outside only. Metal fencing with a grid too small for him to squeeze through.
“They’ll be calling me down for tea soon, so we need to hurry this. I thoroughly cleaned the hutch after … the deaths. Jason helped me. We sterilised it. So now there’s no bedding, but not to worry about that. I’ll fetch you some from my doll’s cot—I don’t play with it now; I’m too. And you’ll need something to use as a lavvy, preferably something disposable—I don’t fancy having to clean that. I’ll see what I can purloin from the kitchen. Baking cases or … whatever. And I expect you’ll want a bath? Let’s get that sorted first.”
She disappeared off into another room. Klukelunnen started to follow but she called back to stay put, that she wouldn’t be long. She returned with a pink bowl slopping with foam-topped water.
“I’ll put it here, in the run. That’ll give you plenty of room. Besides, in there it’ll stand on plastic matting, so it won’t matter if we spill it. I’ve added some of my bubbles, I expect you’ll like them. And you’ll want clean clothes to put on after.”
Klukelunnen looked at the bubble-filled bowl she’d stood inside ‘the run’ with disdain. No privacy there, all open and everything seen despite the walls which, anyway, were only metal gridded. And was he to strip off his clothes with her watching? Yet she did seem caring of him. Thinking of everything he could possibly need.
“Here,” she dropped some clothes beside where he stood, still looking at the deceased Flopsy and Peeps’ pink cage, not wanting to enter. “The knickers I’ve borrowed from Griselda, but she won’t notice them gone.” The young giantess laughed. “No way, she’s only an old rag doll. The Jimmies are Ted’s but … oh, you don’t need to know. I think they’ll fit. Then I thought one of my towels would be enormous for you, so I’ve brought you a face-flannel. It is clean. Do you shave? Only I’m not sure about purloining razors.”
“I … no,” Klukelunnen said. It would be complicated, explaining about his side-beards; those never were shaved and, despite the eons lived, he was too young yet to grow a chin-beard.
“Oh good. Next, food. You must be starving, poor thing. What do you eat? I’ll see what I can find in the kitchen.”
“Seeds,” Klukelunnen said quickly before she could run again to something other.
“Seeds, just seeds? What sort? I can get you poppy seeds, sesame, pumpkin, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp and sunflower seeds. What if I get you a tub of mixed seeds? Do you drink? I don’t mean wine, I can’t get you that. But milk? Water? Coke?”
“By the way,” she said, just as he heard her name being called (it was muted by the stairs and the several intervening rooms), “what’s your name? No one has said. I’m Daisy Doley. Well, my real name is Dahlia, but I refuse to answer to that. And you are …?”
“Klukelunnen,” Klukelunnen said.
“Nice to meet you, Kluk-kel-lunnen. Is that right? So now, let’s get you inside your pink palace cos I’ll be deep in shit if I’m late to the meal, cos Fleur is bound to have told Mum about Jazzy’s barbeque being rained-off.”
Klukelunnen heaved a sigh of relief as Daisy vacated the room, and the one beyond it, allowing all to collapse into welcome silence—even if he was now inside that metal grid with all exits bolted.
“So, my boy,” he spoke to himself, “a bath, no less.” He’d heard of those in the jawmen’s tales but never expected to enjoy the pleasures of such for himself. He supposed it was safe to shed the clothing now? The family’s mealtime, that meant Fleur would be occupied.
He sat in the slippery bubbly water. So now he’d the leisure to review his situation. As he understood it, no one would be taking him to the geeks at Anthropology for several days yet. While he was probably safe in Daisy’s care—at least protected from the Lascivious Fleur and her antics to trick him into wedding her—it still meant a few days delay before he’d any chance of returning Home. He sighed, then shuddered, thinking of a hundred nasty things that could happen in the next few days.