Wednesday, 18 February 2009 - 4:03 pm


The sharks didn’t bother us again until this morning. It was early – barely light outside, an orange glow eking in through the gaps in the roof. Sally was on watch and rushed in to wake us.

We all piled out of our night’s hideyhole and assembled at the edge of the balcony. The sharks were already inside, but this time they couldn’t get to us; the advantage was on our side for once.

They stopped below us, looking stiff-jawed and angry. One of them was missing his forearm; from the ground-meat look of his elbow, he lost it to the rain. He looked pale and sweaty. One of his more capable cohorts took up the task of talking to us.

“You took somethin’ of ours.”

We looked at each other, wondering what the hell they were talking about. Thorpe was the one who made a guess, hefting his favourite bit of heavy pipe in his hand. “Your pride?”

I had no idea that Thorpe could be funny. I almost laughed in surprise.

Of course, the sharks didn’t think it was funny. “No. Him.” The speaker pointed at Matt, who was standing at the edge of our group, and my stomach tightened. Of course that’s what they were talking about. “We want him back.”

“He doesn’t belong to you.” I couldn’t keep quiet; their attitude and that idea made me angry.

“Actually, he does.” There was something smug about the smile the speaker gave me that I wanted to slap right off his face. I had my broomhandle gripped tight and wished for a second that he would come within reach.

Matt touched my elbow lightly and said, “Mac, I don’t want to cause trouble.” I met his eyes and couldn’t let him do what he was about to. He was trying to hide it, but he looked scared. That knot in my stomach knew that he was scared of them, and not for my sake.

“You’re not,” I told him firmly and turned to face the sharks again. “If he wants to go with you, he can. Otherwise, he’s welcome to stay with us.”

“And if you want to take him, you’re welcome to try.” Again, Thorpe’s words surprised me. I’m not used to his support, especially when I just invited someone to stay with the group without asking any of them. But what was I supposed to do? Just let him go when he didn’t want to? To them?

The sharks eddied about beneath us, growling to each other, as if their feet might chew at the cracks in the floor and undermine us. Then one of them flinched and turned to glare at one of the stretches of balcony. Another small object was launched over and at them – the bobbly head of a doll, taken from the toy store nearby. The sharks shouted, which only prompted a stream of plastic heads, hurled by little hands over the balcony. Dillon and Nugget both had pretty good aim.

Outnumbered, outgunned and with no way up to us, the sharks snarled a few threats and backed off. After a few steps, they turned tail and ran off, arms lifted to fend off the decapitated rain.


We all laughed, quietly so they wouldn’t be tempted to turn around again. I glanced at Matt, and he looked unhappy and apprehensive. He’s safe, though, and that’s what matters.

Since then, we’ve been too busy getting our stuff together to move out. Time to go again.