Bored, Klukelunnen paced. Three days, three chuffing days, held in this high-security unit. Days broken only by Dr Ireson’s visits—the Iron Man—and the attentions of Bessy and her ‘oppo’, Night-shift Louisa.
Bessy was day shift, Bessy explained. Very chatty was Blessed Bessy. Blessed because Grandma had blessed her with ample curves, blessed because with her chattiness she divulged more than she ought. That first day in this high-security unit, Blessed Bessy had let slip that she was having what she called a ‘thing’ with Dwayne over at Anthropology. Blessed Bessy: Iron Man Ireson might want to keep secret the location of this ‘facility for holding illegal aliens and questionable little fellows’. But it didn’t take much in deductive powers for Klukelunnen to work out its location. Cambridge.
Blessed Bessy was a good’un. He’d heard that said of things and peeps several times since his miss-worded spell had landed him here in the Land of Giants, or of Man and his Kind. Good’un: aye, that’s a good’un, said with affection. Still, he’d had to train Bessy in the basics.
“Seeds, I only eat cold chuffing seeds,” he had shouted at her the second time she brought him a dish of steaming hot food. He didn’t know what the food was. Not seeds. Who’d ever heard of serving hot seeds? Not even the devious Pixies did that.
But she’d taken it well. Nodded, put dish and tray down by the door, and scribbled a while on her clipboard.
By careful observation of her, he had discovered a discernible pattern to her use of that board. When she ‘came on duty’, and again when she left for the night, she jotted on the first page. She jotted on the last page when, at two hourly intervals, she checked on his padded pants. Oh yea, that was a delight (not!) and a humiliation.
“What’s this?” he’d asked the first day, pulling at the teddy-patterned padded pants that hugged his hips and padded his crotch as if he was hung like a giant.
“That’s so you don’t mess—catches your doings.” Not a blush to Blessed Bessy’s fair freckled cheeks.
“My …?” Klukelunnen had gulped and told her sternly. “I would prefer that you provided a pot. Daisy provided a pot.”
“A pot is easily overturned. Or thrown.”
He stared at her, his cheeks burning like they were chasing embers through the spectrum. “Do I look the sort to play with my poop? Huh?”
She stuttered what might have become an explanation. Had he allowed it.
“Just because I’m small, doesn’t mean I’m a baby. Would you wrap these ‘things’ around a man-sized—” But he didn’t know what word to use. ‘Aliens and little fellows,’ that’s what Iron Man Ireson had said.
Blessed Bessy had opened her mouth. But closed it again and nodded.
“What, you do make them wear these!?” He pulled at the offending plastic. “By the cringe!”
“We have to collect it,” she said, very apologetic though not abashed. “It’s for the lab. It has to be analysed.”
He scrunched up his mouth and clenched his fists. He had to get out of this place.
She jotted what she explained were her observations of what he ate, how much, and if he asked for more.
She jotted again when he banged his head against the door. No handle, no visible lock, just an unmarked block of high-sheen metal.
She jotted when he pushed his ‘cot’ closer to the window. But the bed was way below the level of the windowsill and he still couldn’t see out. It didn’t take him long to solve that. He bounced on the bed till, woohey, with enough momentum gained he jumped and landed on the sill. That panicked her.
“Chill, Bessy. I’m an ace-climber, me.” He cursed at how quickly he’d caught her speech.
He craned sideways out of the window—that frightened her further, fair peeing herself. “Well look at this!” Four windows stacked like a ladder. He must be on the fifth floor. Haps a mite too far for him to jump it.
Blessed Bessy jotted on her clipboard whenever Klukelunnen spoke. He fast-jabbered a string of non-words and watched her try to keep up. She laughed when she realised the joke was on her. Then she jotted that too.
“But at least you speak English,” she said.
Oh, aye, he spoke English. And wasn’t that as well with the number of questions Iron Man Ireson asked him. Over. And over. But at least the irksome man only popped in in the morning.
Where was he from, Dr Ireson asked him. How did he get here? Did he have help? Did more of his people come with him? Was he the norm amongst his people, or was he the only size-challenged man? At first, Klukelunnen complied, in the hope he’d then be released. But next morning, the irksome Iron Man returned and asked the same cringing questions.
“Nah, Docky-Man” – he’d learned that from Bessy – “I answered those questions yester-morn. And I saw that you noted my answers then. So why ask me again?”
Klukelunnen knew the answer. Because Iron Man Ireson didn’t believe him.
Was Dr Ireson the professor’s servitor? Sure, must be, yeah? Nix.
“So, Bessy, this Docky-Man Ireson, he’s in the pay of Professor Angelus Margev, right?” Klukelunnen adopted a clued-up wise-guy’s stance like he’d seen on the Dooleys’ magic-movie-box.
“Yeah, like you’re winding me, huh? Like, who’s this professor geezer?”
Seemed Blessed Bessy didn’t know Angelus. But Klukelunnen figured it. Must be that the professor’s role now played in disposing of him, he’d bucked out. That suited Klukelunnen fine. But what to do about the Iron Man?
“Where were you born?” Docky-Man asked. “In which country? You know its name, I suppose?”
“Dolstone,” Klukelunnen repeated yesterday’s answer.
“Is that Cornwall?” the irksome doctor asked. Again.
“No, it’s chuffing Rock Wall. It’s a chuffing cave,” Klukelunnen was ready to pull out his hair.
Iron Man Ireson jotted on a clipboard that looked like Blessed Bessy’s, except hers was dark blue and his was black. Also, his had a cover that folded over to resemble one of those books Daisy had shown him.
“All right, we’ll leave that for now. Now, how did you get here? In a boat? Hidden in a crate?”
Klukelunnen thought of the trunk in the attic that held Mrs Dooley’s theatrical costumes. Was it possible he had arrived through that? Yet he distinctly remembered hurting his fingers as he dug them into the crevasses between the floorboards.
‘I told you. A spell went wrong. But you, you spell-less spawn of a black dawn, can’t get your gigantic head around that!”
Docky-Man Ireson nodded to Blessed Bessy who then scribbled again on her board.
“Sarcasm and anger will get you nowhere around here,” the doctor chided him.
“Neither will telling the truth,’ Klukelunnen snarled.
“That’s another we’ll try tomorrow,’ said the doctor. “Next, did anyone help you? Organise the transport for you, perhaps? Who? And who met you this end?”
The first time asked, Klukelunnen had answered “Grandma”, and “Fleur”, this being as close to an answer as he could come.
Next time he answered in an exaggerated long-suffering tone, “Nay, my kind and patient doctor. I did it all on my own.”
Although the doctor’s left-side gingery eyebrow rose, he nodded and noted it down. “That’s better. Now, did you come here alone? Or with, say, your friends or your kin?”
“Nah, neither friends nor kin. My cousins were expecting me to arrive at Gruff’s Cavern so how could they come with me?”
“Gruff’s Cavern,” Docky-Man Ireson repeated and nodded significantly to Blessed Bessy who scribbled away on her board. “And where is Gruff’s Cavern?”
Klukelunnen rolled his eyes in exaggerated fashion. “In Dolstone—how else would my cousins gain it? Oh, you want me to be more precise? So it’s part-way into Dolfernan, but we’ve never been called for the trespass.”
Every morning, that’s how it went. This morning Iron Man Ireson had started thumping on about his size. All apologetic of course. “Are you the only one in …” cough “… Dolstone of such…” cough “… diminutive size?”
“I’m a Stone; what other size should I be?”
“We’ve taken samples—to check for growth hormone disorder,” the doctor informed Blessed Bessy. “But I can’t help but think he’s one of those homo floresiensis. Oh, think if he is …?! We’ll be able to name our grants. Oh, but if news of this leaks … Why must the lab take so long with the results of his DNA test? Another three weeks. Three BLOODY weeks!”
Klukelunnen didn’t know about DNA. Nor what might happen following the results in three BLOODY weeks. But he did know what would happen if his presence here was leaked. He’d become ‘high profile’. Then he’d have Professor Angelus Margev attacking again with his wild accusations that he belonged to a cult that sacrificed babies (as if …). He needed to speak with Daisy. A word dropped to Blessed Bessy to say something to her ‘friend’ Dwayne, that Dwayne could repeat to Jase? And Dwayne would oblige because, despite the thing he was having with Bessy, Dwayne had the hots for Fleur. Now, what would the best word be? Help!?