Can We Help?
“Well Mr Starbird what can we do to help you?” asked Archie.
Starbird explained that the main spaceship was out in space, but they needed to get the small probe together with its modules back to his hidden base off shore. He reminded them that his spacecraft was called Explorer.
Archie again asked, “Where is Explorer, also where is your secret base?”
Starbird explained the base was out to sea about two miles at a place called Smugglers Rocks. However he was not sure where Explorer was, as it could have already been found by other space ships that operated from the main mother spacecraft.
“I need to get this scouting probe and myself back to our base so that I can make contact with our fleet commander to be rescued and returned to the fleet.”
Starbird took the children back across the cave to the power source, where the two scouting modules, firmly fixed back into their notches on the probe, were still emitting the green light that illuminated the cave. Starbird explained that normally probe with its modules would be able to fly, and that he would be back inside to pilot it.
“How could you do that?” Sally wanted to know. “There is no door I can see and anyway Starbird, you are far too big to get inside the probe.”
Deep down Sally still thought of the probe as a large strangely marked rock.
Starbird explained he could transmute himself inside, but it would be too difficult for Sally to understand exactly how he did it.
Archie was standing close to the probe, looking at it with a worried look on his face. “How heavy is it. Can it lift itself using its own power, or will we have to try and lift it ourselves?”
Sally stood on the other side of the probe from Archie and together they tried to lift it without any success. Starbird explained that he was sorry he was unable to help them much, as his powers since the crash were far too limited.
Archie scratched his head as he considered the problem. He suggested, “Let’s get Jack to come down and help lift. He is bigger and stronger that either Sally or me.”
He also suggested to Starbird, “Why don’t you change back into the white bird again, or Jack will die of fright if he walked in and saw you as you are now?”
Starbird again made his laughing sound, agreeing with Archie’s plan but adding that Sally should stay in the cave with him, and see if she could think of any human method of moving the probe and its modules.
Archie left the cave and, blinking at the bright sunlight, scrambling back across the rocks until he could see Jack and Jane’s worried faces looking down to him.
Archie shouted up, “Jack I need you to climb down to help us with what we had found in the cave.”
On the cliff top Jane turned to Jack, “Archie is completely mad to think that you could climb down the cliff safely on your own.” She also added, “I could not possibly hold your weight on the rope on my own!”
Jack argued, “You won’t have to, I keep telling you all I can climb down any old cliff on my own.”
Jane suddenly had a great idea. She explained, “If we tie the end of the rope as a sling around your waist, I will tie the other end of the rope to the milk float, after I move it back further into the field.”
“Why do you have to move Sunbeam back further into the field?” asked Jack with a puzzled look on his face.
“It is so we have enough length of rope to lower you down when you go over the edge of the cliff stupid!”
“Oh right” Jack replied. “Let’s get on with it then. Archie sounded desperate down there.”
Jack did not think the rope was long enough, but Jane explained that they could use both the ropes, that Archie and Sally had used, tied together. Jack finally agreed that it was a wonderful plan and shouted down to Archie explaining what they were planning to do, and he also quickly agreed that it was a good idea.
Jane shouted down to Archie, “We will have to use both the ropes that are still hanging down the cliff face. Make sure that the ends were not snagged up in the rocks so that we can pull them back up to the top of the cliff.”
Jack and Jane stood up and pulled one rope each up the cliff face. Once they had managed to sort out the ropes at the top of the cliff, Jack tied two ends of the ropes together. Then he and Jane pulled hard on each rope to ensure that the double knot Jack had tied was strong enough to support his weight. Once they were satisfied that the join in the ropes were safe, Jack tied another knot at one end of the rope to create a noose that he could put under his arms. This would enable him to swing safely out from the rope end as he dangled in space on his way down the cliff face.
They passed the other end of the rope through the hedge into the field where Sunbeam stood still happily munching away at the oats in his nosebag. Jack tied the rope to the milk float, pulling with all his might to make sure the knot was tight and safe to take his weight.
Jane then removed Sunbeam’s nosebag and led him and the milkfloat away from the hedge into the field, pulling the rope behind them.
Quickly Jane shouted “good luck” to Jack as he scrambled once more through the hedge and up to the cliff edge, where he slipped the noose over his head shoulders and arranged it comfortably under his armpits. Sunbeam continued to pull the rope through the hedge until Jack shouted to Jane to stop, as he had just enough slack in the rope for him to venture over the cliff edge.
Jane carefully turned Sunbeam around until they were facing the hedge again. She then picked up the rope and gave it a tug to make sure it was ready for Jack to start his descent. They were ready for the first and most dangerous part to the plan.
Then Jane shouted, “OK I am ready.” Jack then added to himself, “No wonder they call me mad!”
Jack got down on his knees and slowly wriggled towards the cliff edge until his feet and legs were over the cliff edge.
From below Archie saw Jack’s legs appear and shouted up to him to be careful.
Jack tugged on the rope and found it was now tight back through the hedge. He then once again lived up to his nickname of Mad Jack as he pushed himself backward over the cliff with a wild yell. He dropped a few feet until he found himself hanging in space as the rope took the strain. The rope cut into his armpits a bit but apart from that he was safely dangling on the end of the rope.
He shouted up to Jane to start lowering him down and she told Sunbeam to walk slowly forward towards the hedge. The plan worked perfectly and, apart from a few hard bumps, Jack was soon safely down on the rocks with Archie holding on to steady him.
Jack was jumping up and down wildly shrieking, “That was great! I loved the feeling swinging through the air on the rope. I almost wish I could go back up and do it again.”
They both shouted together for Jane to stop which she did, putting the brake on the milk float, and once more slipping Sunbeams nosebag on as she gave him a pat and kiss telling him he was a good boy.
Archie helped Jack remove the rope, and led the way over the rocks towards the cave entrance.
Before they got ready to crawl into the cave Archie told Jack, “I am not going to tell you what is going on inside the cave. I will explain when we are in there.”
“Why not tell me now?”
“You will find out soon enough,” Archie replied. With that, he once more got down on his knees and crawled back into the tunnel.
“Anyone would think I am going to be frightened by the bogeyman, “muttered Jack as he too got down on his hands and knees.
Archie whispered to himself, “Don’t be too sure you’re not!”
However, Jack did feel far more frightened than he would ever let on to his younger friend as he stared into the darkness of the tunnel ahead.