FOUR

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Sammy repeated it back under her breath. It was a pretty cool rhyme.

“I have had this bracelet for many years and I’ve never been able to unlock it,” Esther said. “Will you help me?”

She wasn’t the chosen one, but at least she had a gift. She shrugged. So, she’d be Chewbacca. That was better than nothing. “I suppose.”

Esther didn’t acknowledge the response. She stared off into the market, her eyes wide. “They’ve found me!”

She snatched the bracelet from the table, thrust it into a bin liner and dumped it under the stall. Then she pulled the tablecloth corners over the rest of the contents and hoisted the bundle over her shoulder.

“The bracelet’s in the bag under the table,” she said. “Keep it safe. Don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t lose it. And, most importantly, don’t try to work the dial yourself. I will find you again.” Then she shoved her way out past the stalls and was gone.

As Sammy gazed after Esther a black shape entered the clearing behind her. She turned to face a finely cut black jacket stretched over a barrel chest. A large man with hair sprouting out over his shirt collar peered down at her from behind a pair of mirrored aviators.

“Who was that woman you were talking to?” he asked. Sammy just stared. He was a very big man.

He bent down so that Sammy could see her oddly stretched face in his sunglasses. He gritted his teeth. “Is she a friend of yours?”

“I… I’ve never met her before.” Sammy’s mouth went dry. Was he threatening her? “I don’t…”

A mobile phone buzzed quietly inside the man’s jacket pocket. He stood up straight, pulled it out, tapped the screen and held it to his ear.

“Gone,” he said. “She’ll try to go into hiding again. Yes, I’ve got someone on her.” He watched Sammy while listening to the person on the other end of the phone. “No one. Just a girl. She doesn’t have it.”

The man listened to the phone a while longer, then tapped the screen off and dropped it in his pocket.

“If the old woman contacts you again,” he said, “call me.” Then he handed Sammy a card and walked off. Sammy turned the card over. It was blank except for a single mobile number printed in the centre. She climbed onto the table and watched the man go as she swung her legs back and forth like ‘just a girl’ would do. When she was sure he’d gone, she got down and crawled under the table to fetch the bin liner.

“Sammy!”

She leapt up, slamming her head into the underside of the table. She spun round to see a pair of tan leather boots and the underside of two carrier bags waiting for her.

“What are you doing down there?” asked her mum. “And what’s in that dirty bin bag? Give it here.” She bent down and took it.

“Don’t,” Sammy said. “I need it.” She crawled out from under the table.

Her mother removed the bracelet and her mouth dropped open.

“This is gorgeous,” she said.

“Don’t get it out! I’m looking after it for the woman.”

 

Page 12

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