Chapter Five – Running - Jacob
I hardly noticed how long I’ve been here. I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow and I was so hungry when I woke up. The chips were fantastic. Fiona was being a heartless cow again, but there’s no change there. I chatted with Ben and Theo for a while and then I watched Lydia to see if she looks robotic when she’s moving about. She doesn’t. The last time I checked, it was nearly midnight and now, all of a sudden, it’s almost time for lunch. More chips, apparently. I have decided to stay for lunch, but then I’m going. I want to get back home to mum and dad and Grace. She ran off after Luke when Lydia gave us all the option of leaving. I miss her already. I know that David has guessed that I have a crush on her, but I don’t think he’s worked out the depth of our friendship. It’s kind of hard to believe that we have been dating for almost two years now. The most impressive part is that we’ve managed to keep it completely secret this whole time. I don’t think that anyone suspects a thing! But still. I had better let Lydia know about my plan of staying for lunch. Hang on. But where is she getting the chips from? I’ll ask and then I will only stay if they are legal and safe. Oh, to think that only two years ago I wouldn’t have cared if they were legal or not! Wow. People really change each other, don’t they?
Hmm… Fiona and Theo had a little private chat earlier and now he looks a bit nervous and she gives him funny looks each time she catches him watching her. I wonder what that’s all about… Oh well, I guess it’s none of my business. Ooh, Lydia’s free!
“Lydia, Lydia. Can I talk to you a minute?” She looks up at me and frowns slightly. I guess she wasn’t expecting me to talk to her. Oh, and I think people called each other by their sir-names when she was alive, or something like that…
“Of course, Sir. What is it you need?” Sir doesn’t suite me.
“Well, first of all, you can call me Jacob. Second, where do the chips come from?”
“They come from a fish and chip shop near the edge of your town. It is called ‘Grey’s Fish And Chip Shop’.” Grey’s fish and chip shop. I wonder if they know that they sold to the woman who stole their daughter’s skin and eyes.
“Okay then. Thirdly and lastly, I would like to ask if you would mind if I stayed for lunch and then left?” She smiles as if she’s overjoyed and nods enthusiastically.
“Oh, yes, Sir. Sorry, Jacob. Yes of course. You are welcome to stay here for as long as you want!” I grin at her. She is very nice, I suppose, but unless Grace wants to stay here then I am leaving. I chat with Lydia for a while and she seems to be finding it hard to get used to being called by her first name. I have noticed that Fiona calls her 'Turner' and David calls her 'Miss Turner'. The other two follow David's lead, as usual, and I am the only one who calls her 'Lydia'. I don't think she realises that Fiona's use of just her sir-name is evidence of her dislike.
Lunch. Chips. Food. Eat. Yum. Full. Relax. Happy. Oh, It's time to go. Just let me sit here for a minute.
Well, I guess I should get going now.
"Alright everyone, I'm off." Everyone looks a little upset, like they don't want me to leave. I don't think it has much to do with me. It's probably just that they don't want to be left alone with Lydia...
The large oak doors are hard to open and Fiona and Lydia work together to open it. Fiona obviously isn't very fond of this situation, but they are the two strongest people here and they soon have it open enough for me to squeeze through. I say goodbye to everyone and bow to Lydia who looks like she might have blushed if she could have. Getting through the door is actually quite painful and I am relieved to finally be out in the open again. I look back over my shoulder when I get to the edge of the slope. Lydia is standing half inside the house watching me. She seems kind of sad and I find myself feeling slightly guilty for leaving. Then I remember Grace waiting for me back at home and I wave goodbye one last time before turning back and starting to make my way down the hill.
The sky is almost clear today and the few clouds that are in the sky are pure white. The grass is completely dry and shows no hint of last night's rain. I sigh happily as I walk. I have always loved the country. I can walk for hours around here and I vow to visit this particular area more often. I might even visit David and Lydia every once in a while. As the town comes into view I see Grace, Luke, Amy and Blake standing nervously by the footpath. I grin and wave at them, quickening my stride. They stop fidgeting and run to meet me. There is a confusing minute of hugs and laughter then we all walk together back to town. I am attacked with questions about Lydia and the others and I tell them everything I can think of. I say how nice she is and how she hates that she has to dig people up and use their skin the way she does and how much Fiona hates her and how she refuses to leave. I tell them about the Chips and the way Theo looks at her like he's known her all his life and she doesn't know him. I mention how well David and Lydia get along and how Ben seems to have stuck himself to her at the same time as trying to avoid speaking to her or actually spending time with her. Finally, I tell them how she had been sad to see me go and how she had stood at the door and waved me out of sight. I finish off with the news of my plan to visit at some point and maybe even stay for a night or two in the future. A social visit, I tell them. Too see some friends. They all look at me like I'm crazy but they seem to think I'm quite brave for staying for so long, as well.
After a while, Blake and Amy go to wait for the others and Luke goes home. Me and Grace go to my flat and we chat for a few hours before her worry for the others gets too strong for her to sit and do nothing. I tell her that there is nothing to fear but she can't seem to sit still. Finally, she turns to me and places her hands on my shoulders. I can tell that she is about to tell me something I won't like.
"Listen to me Jacob. I am not worried about David and the others. I am worried about Lydia Turner. You obviously like her a lot and I am starting to regret letting Blake do something stupid."
"What? What did he do?" I ask nervously. I dread the answer but I have to know.
"He went to the Mayor. He told him about her. He said about the skin and eyes and about the hair. they might try to find her. I remember the last time this happened, Jacob. I remember the woman dying and her skin and eyes and hair being stolen. I remember seeing her picture in the newspaper. She was ginger, Jacob. Lydia still has her hair on. Not only that, she has Diana Grey's skin and eyes now, so if the police do go up to the manor, then it will be obvious that she is the thief. They are after her. If they go, then it will probably be at first light tomorrow, as soon as the fog starts to clear. If you want to save her then you will either have to risk being thought of as her accomplice in crime and try to dissuade the police, or go to her and tell her to take all her stuff and make a run for it. Either way, you are risking a lot. I will help you, though. I promise you, I will try to be there for you throughout the whole thing, whichever option you chose." I sit in silence for a minute with just the words 'Lydia might end up in prison. Lydia might get killed' going around my head. Then I make my decision. I get up and grab Grace by the arm.
"We are going to see the Mayor, Grace." I tell her.
"We are going to make him see this our way, and if he won't... Well then we will run for our lives to the manor and explain everything to the mistress of the house. But first, we are getting Blake." She nods and follows me out of the building.
We run to the footpath out of town and find Blake, Amy and Luke lingering by the kissing gate. We explain our decision and Amy jumps in saying she'll help us. Blake looks very guilty and agrees that it wasn't the best decision he had ever made, but refuses to help save Lydia. Luke agrees to follow his sister into battle, but he obviously doesn't like the danger that is now following us around, hovering thick and low in the air. He also doesn't like all the running. He complains the whole way to the town hall and stands panting outside when me and the two girls rush in to confront the Mayor.
"We're here to see the Mayor." Amy pants when we reach the reception desk. The woman looks up at us and then slowly picks up an old Victorian telephone. They're the only type of phones we have here. She informs the Mayor that there are three young people here to see him before falling silent for a minute. Then she says that there is one boy and two girls and then falls silent again.
"What are your names?" She asks us politely. We tell her and she tells him. After a while she puts the phone down and sends us in. We all thank her and hurry into to the waiting Mayor.
The room we now enter is massive and it reminds me of the foyer at Lydia's place, but without the stairs and the doors. There are two doors in this room other than the one we have come through. There is one on either side of the room near the back. Both are closed. The walls are covered in 70's wallpaper and the desk is old and varnished. The doors are quite new and made of a light brown wood. The desk is a darker wood and is longer than my bed is wide. It has lots of draws and has pictures sitting on the surface. They are facing away from us. The carpet in this room is dark green with soft patterns that curve and curl and dance with each other. The windows are large and show off-y and take up most of the far wall. The Mayor himself is probably the fattest person in this town and he has a constant red glow to his face. He is short tempered and unforgiving. Nobody likes him and we all regret voting him in. I voted against him, personally. Still, he is our best chance. And to think that Lydia and David and the others are all wandering around that big old place with no idea of the threat that they are in. Although, to tell the truth, I wouldn't really care if Fiona ended up in prison. The Mayor looks up at us all and his face gets even redder than it already was.
"And what do you three children want that's important enough to waste my time for?"
"Please, sir." Amy starts. She has the most charisma out of all of us, so she has the best chance at winning him over.
"We heard about Lydia Turner. Blake said that he told you something about her. We just thought that we had probably better tell you that he hit his head recently and hasn't really been making much sense for the past few days. He's getting much better, now, but we didn't want you and the police to waste any of your time, when you could be doing more important things than searching an abandoned, falling down old manor." She smiles at him hopefully. He stares at her in silence for a full minute before picking up his telephone and informing his secretary to call off the search.
"Thank you for bringing this to my attention, miss. Have you anything else to tell me?
"No, sir. Nothing else." He looks suspiciously at us and I get the horrible feeling that he will call the search back on again as soon as we've gone.
"Good. Now, be off, the lot of you." We all walk out sensibly and break in to a run as soon as we leave the building. We are at the gate out of town within five minutes. We rush past Blake, who is still looking guilty, and hurry on across the field, Luke lagging behind, trying to complain but lacking the air to do it with.
We run over the hills getting slower and slower before reminding ourselves of Lydia and speeding up again. Adrenaline is a powerful thing. Finally, the manor comes in to view. We get to the door just as it starts to move. Someone is opening it from the inside. We start pulling it and helping to get it open. Finally it's open enough and we squeeze in and stand panting in the entrance hall for a few minutes getting our breath back. Luke is just panting in to the room when me and Grace start talking. We explain everything that's happened so far and Lydia looks scared but understanding. It's like she has been waiting for this to happen. Me and Grace look at each other worriedly. David moves over to Lydia to talk quietly with her. Fiona looks at Theo and Ben, who are muttering together. She smiles slightly and I wonder what she's here for. She catches my eye and her smile disappears. She glares at me like I am next on her 'to die' list. I find myself worrying that Lydia beat me to it. I look away again and I can almost hear the smugness in Fiona's smile. She just loves scaring people, doesn't she? I don't imagine she ever gets scared. I really don't like her. I never have. I don't think I ever will. I don't think anyone likes her. I heard that she used to be nice. I didn't know her back then, though. Actually, I think she was friends with Diana Grey. She's the one whose skin and eyes Lydia is wearing. Well, no wonder she's in a bad mood! I would be if my best friend's skin was being worn by someone I hated. Although, knowing Fiona, she probably thinks of Lydia as a thing, rather than a person. I'm really starting to get curious as to why she's here, now.
Lydia is saying something and David has started to shake his head, not waiting for her to finish. I look around the room. Fiona is glaring at anyone who dares to look at her, Luke is still panting, Grace, Ben and Amy are watching David, waiting for an answer. Theo is watching Fiona silently. He doesn't seem bothered by her glares, at all. In fact, they seem to make him want to stare even more. I don't think he likes her, but he also seems quite loyal to her. I wonder where he comes in to all this. Why is Fiona here? Why is Theo here? Why is David shaking his head like that? How was Lydia made in a time without mechanics even nearly as complicated as she is? Why is Luke still out of breath? There are so many questions to be answered!
"You can't just give yourself in!" David interrupts Lydia's suggestions.
"We don't even know if the police are actually after you!"
"Yes, David. I know that, but it does not matter. If the police come, then you can all hide in the old chapel in the grounds and I will give myself in. When we are gone then you can all come out, I will tell the police that the people they know are involved were my escaped prisoners and you all go free. I can destroy myself."
"No! No, no, no, no, no! You can't do that, Miss Turner! I know that you are dying and it doesn't matter to you, but I can't just let you get yourself jailed for the remainder of your life!"
"Oh, don't be like that. I heard you talking to James." Lydia gasps quietly and she takes a step away from David. We all stare at him. This is very unusual. David never loses his cool. He is always in control of himself, never a wrong word. Lydia looks like she might cry. I don't think that it is physically possible for her to cry, but it's obvious that she would be if she could. David looks slightly lost. He has grown very fond of her very quickly. He sighs heavily and hangs his head.
"I'm sorry, Miss Turner. That was uncalled for. I shouldn't have raised my voice at you like that and I apologize. I didn't mean to hear you talking to James. I had just woken up and I heard talking outside my door, so I went to the door to find out who it was and what they were doing up. I only heard part of your conversation, but it was enough to know that you are dying. I am sorry." The tension calms a little and Lydia takes a cautious step towards him. In a few moments they are hugging awkwardly. Fiona grimaces. Theo sighs gently. Everyone else smiles. When all is well again, we get back to planning our escape.
The chapel sounds like a good idea and we all agree that we will hide there if the police do turn up. Fiona seems to like Lydia's original idea of just giving herself in, but she doesn't say anything. I guess she doesn't want to be pushed out of the group. God knows why she, of all people, would want to be in our group, though. Still. Me, Grace and Amy make sure that everyone knows what we told the Mayor, and Luke points out that we never told Blake our excuse. It's probably the cleverest thing he has ever done, pointing that out to us. There is momentary panic, before David proves that he is himself, again.
"Luke. You keep watch out of the window by the front door. If you see anyone coming, tell us who it is and from which direction they came from. Understand?"
"Yes sir!" Luke salutes and turns to the window. He is bored of guard duty within about five minutes. Quite a long time for him, really.
"Now. Lydia. If the police do come, and we
all hide in the chapel, then they will find your machine and know that it has
something to do with you. They would be searching as though they had seen you,
rather than an old machine they don't know how to work. We would have to find
some way of hiding it. How do you think we should go about doing this, if the
situation should arise?" David sure is wordy. Lydia looks utterly lost. I
can see the hope drain out of her eyes. I still have hope, though. I hope the
police don't come, and I hope that if they do, then Blake can get it together
for long enough to distract them.