The Castle

Craig looked at the building in the distance and waited for what he knew was coming next.

`Aw Warden do we have to go in there? Asked Goniff.

Craig turned and looked at him.

`That's where are contact is Goniff , so yes ,if you want to get home we do have to go there `. He said patiently.

Goniff shuddered.

`Don't like the look of the place`. He said sulkily.

Craig sighed.

`Do we really have to do this every year ? He asked. `It's only Halloween . Doesn't mean that ghosts or werewolves or anything else for that matter

are going to jump out at you, unless of course it's Casino, so please just this once can we get the job done and go home?

`Whatever you say Warden`. said Goniff looking round suspiciously.

Craig shook his head and hoped that the others wouldn't be too long in meeting up with them.

Craig stood quietly and tried not to smile as he watched Goniff twitch at every sound that he heard from the trees that surrounded them.

`You hear that? Goniff asked nervously.

`Probably just owls Goniff`, he said quietly

`Ain't you gonna make sure?

Craig look at him and shrugged his shoulders.

`Sure I will Goniff so long as you don't mind being left on your own while I check it out`. He said.

Goniff swallowed hard.

`Naw that's okay . You're probably right , just owls`. He said as he once more started to look around.

`Their bats`, said a quiet voice behind Craig.

Goniff almost jumped out of his skin , much to Chief's amusement.

`That's not funny mate, could have given a bloke an 'art attack creeping up on him like that,` said Goniff visibly shaken.

Craig smiled

`The others with you? He asked hopefully.

`Yeah caught up with them a while back`, he said as he nodded towards the trees.

`Everything go okay? He asked as Actor and Casino appeared.

Actor nodded

`Everything went according to plan` he said.

`Great, then lets get going, we have a contact to meet in a couple of hours`. Said Craig as he watched Goniff pale visibly.

`You okay? He asked

Goniff just looked at him

`It's an old castle Goniff , nothing more, and we won't be there long, we just meet our contact and leave, okay?

`Yeah well if you say so. But I don't like the look of that moon. Too damn bright if you ask me.` he said

`Moon ain't gonna hurt you man`. Said Chief `

That's what you say but it means thing can see us clearer now don't it? He asked

Chief grinned

`Not if I see them first`. He said as he walked passed Goniff and headed towards the castle.

Goniff shuddered once more and then looked at Craig.

`Shall we go? Craig asked

Goniff turned and followed Chief.

`Maybe next year we could give Halloween a miss `, said Actor grinning

Craig couldn't help but grin back

`I'll see what I can do`, he said.

`You find anything? Asked Craig looking at each of them.

`No-one here but us`, said Casino.` You sure this fella knows when he's supposed to be here?

Craig nodded.

`Yeah he knows, but we are early,`

`Well I suppose all we can do is wait then`, said Casino as he launched himself onto the sofa.

Craig looked at him.

`You want to take first watch?

`Aw come on Warden, I've just walked miles`, grumbled Casino.

Chief looked at them

`I'll take it`, he said and watched as Casino started to grin.

Chief grinned in return.

`Gonna rain later so this time you can get wet`. He said as he headed for the door.

`Aw gee , thanks Indian , you're all heart.` groused Casino

`See ya in four hours pappy`, he said before closing the door behind him

Casino snorted and closed his eye, just as Goniff's stomach let out a loud rumble.

`You hungry Goniff? Asked Craig sarcastically.

`Haven't eaten for hours Warden, you know that`. Said Goniff sheepishly.

Craig smiled.

`Take a look in the rucksack , see what you can find and then check out the kitchen, we might get lucky`.

`I'll get a fire started,` said Actor

Goniff coughed

`You want to give me a hand checking the kitchen mate? He asked Casino hopefully.

Casino feigned sleep.

`Move it Casino`, said Craig.

Casino opened his eyes.

`So now I gotta play babysitter? He asked

Craig smiled at him benignly

`No Casino, now you gotta play cook`, he said.

Casino snorted and sneered at Craig

`Okay Limey let's get going.` he said

With relief showing all over his face Goniff followed Casino.

…...

Chief sat with his back to a tree and looked around him.

Goniff had been right about the sky, it had been a long time since he had seen so many stars and the moon had been this bright, almost hypnotic.

It really was a beautiful night.

It was the kind of night that you should be walking with a girl on your arm, a special girl.

He smiled to himself, not that he had one of course.

But maybe, sometime.

There had been a time when he had never imagined that anyone would ever care for him like that, when he had believed that no woman would ever want to spend the rest of

their life with him, making a home with him , but things had changed a lot since then. People had started to believe in him, and because of that he had come to believe in

himself.

He had hope.

That was what they had given him , these new people that were beginning to be so special to him, They had given him friendship and hope for the future.

He heard a noise in the bushes and was instantly on the alert and angry with himself for letting his mind wander.

`Didn't mean to frighten you`, the soft voice said.

Chief looked at the woman that stood in front of him.

`Who are you? He asked,

`No-one special ,` she said `Just someone who would like to talk to you`.

`We should head back to the others`, he said

`There is no need`, she said,` You are the one who protects them, aren't you?

`Guess so`, he said not taking his eyes off her. `You aren't our contact are you? he asked

``She shook her head and her long black hair shimmered in the moonlight.

`No, I'm only here to help you`, she said

`Chief took a step towards her , knowing that he should keep his distance , but unable to stop himself.

`What do you mean? he asked softly

She smiled at him

`I was sent to help you`. She said, `To keep you safe so you can protect the others`.

Chief looked at her not understanding anything she was telling him.

`Sent by who? He asked

`By a friend who helped me, let's call it a gift to you`.

She turned sharply .

`There are men coming,` she said as she continued to look into the bushes.

` Can't hear anything` said Chief

`They are there`, she said softly.` It would be better if you did not trust them, one of them is not what he seems`.

Chief followed her gaze.

`I hear them`. He said quietly.

There was no answer.

He turned to look at the woman but she had disappeared.

He looked for her footprints in the grass but could find no trace of her.

He heard the two men coming closer and began sprinting towards the castle to warn the others.

He opened the door and looked at Craig.

`We got company , two of 'em`, he said as he headed for the window.

`How long? Asked Craig

`Bout five minutes away`, said Chief to turning from the window.

`Then let's get ready for them, Actor go get the others and then get back here`, he said

Craig looked at Chief

`Well , guess all we can do is wait`, he said

Chief continued to look into the darkness and said nothing.

.