Volume 7 – Meadow Bay Fair

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Welcome to the 7th book of ‘All The Pieces’. Here’s the first chapter, where Tamsin (12 years old now) discovers that she is a sharp shooter and spots a prize that she must have…

If you fancy buying it, click on the picture of the cover above.

Chapter 1 – The challenge

The fair arrived towards the end of the summer holiday. Jake (Tamsin’s younger brother) had been waiting eagerly, pointing at brightly painted posters that appeared on walls and fences. But when he read out the details they told him that this or that fair was coming to another town or another borough – never his.

His father, Michael, wondered out loud if the fair would give their town a miss this year; perhaps they hadn’t  made much money last time because of the rain that fell over the bank holiday weekend. Jake asked Tamsin her opinion, but she did not seem particularly interested. She was getting older now, and was excited about other things.

“Will you come with me though?” asked Jake, “If the fair does visit this year.” Tamsin nodded. Of course she would. She wasn’t that grown up!

Tamsin was twelve now. Jake was seven going on eight. It was a year after the adventure of the School In The Sky. Strange though it seems, Tamsin had almost forgotten about it. The importance of what she had discovered – about her future child Annabelle for instance – was too great for a twelve year old to carry about in her head. Her mind had decided to hide that fact away for a while. And the rest, about the sun-funnels, the lasers, the auto-bots… well, who could say, I mean be 100% sure, that this was the future? There was no proof. So Tamsin’s mind dealt with all that she had seen and heard as though it was a long, vivid dream. Easier to forget for the majority of the time.

Tamsin and Jake were already five weeks into their school summer holiday. Other distractions and entertainments kept them busy. The weeks had passed pleasantly. They went away with their parents for a fortnight (not Croatia). They came back. There were two weeks of holiday left. Jake remembered the fair. He looked longingly at the common whenever they walked past; this was where the fair usually set up. One morning he spotted another poster and pulled his mother towards it. Lucy read it before Jake had a chance to get to the end.

“The fair! A ‘vintage’ fair, whatever that means, coming next weekend. Hooray!!” she exclaimed.

“Do you want to go too Mum?”

“Not really, but at least you’ll stop worrying about it now.”

It didn’t matter what she thought as far as Jake was concerned. The fair was coming, and he was going, that was all that mattered.

The following week dragged. Jake saw lorries and caravans arrive and turn off the road onto the common. They parked around the edge and up at one end, next to the trees. Some carried the rides that had been designed to fold up and pack away into much smaller space. Jake glimpsed a spaceship under a tarpaulin, and on the way back from a walk to the river he spotted a huge, scary face being carried off a lorry – part of the Ghost Train he presumed. They built the rides and stalls from the ground up, and by Thursday night the work was done. The rides had an old fashioned look. Metal girders and supports were decorated with elaborate curls and foils. But the suggestion of antiquity was superficial – underneath there were up to date motors and thoroughly modern safety precautions. And not all the rides looked old – a  tall, crane-like structure had appeared from nowhere. At the top was a pivoting chair for two people; a whole ride just for two people! It was too high for Jake to even think about going on it. Not even Tamsin would dare to put herself in that contraption.

During the week Jake kept on asking his parents how much money he would be allowed to spend. He had started receiving one pound a week over the long holiday, and he had saved five. He was worried because he knew that even the simple rides could cost as much as £2.50 or £3.00. Before bed on Friday night his father whispered,

“Don’t worry Jake, I’ll give you the same amount that you have saved, you’ve been a good boy this holiday.” This wasn’t entirely true, but his father must have been in a good mood. So that was £10.00. A very reasonable amount!

The family walked down to the fair at teatime on Saturday. The sun shone. Jake wrapped his hot hand around the five pound coins in his pocket. And Tamsin? We’ve been ignoring her. Unusually, she was thinking about her role as a Piece Finder. This was because the northern edge of the fair was situated just a few metres away from the oak sapling under which she had buried the Red Heart marble. She spotted the young tree but did not stop. The family walked on, towards the fair’s main entrance.

Once they had entered the booming music, the clatter of carriages speeding around metal tracks and the atmosphere of general excitement took hold of her. She was more than happy to be there.

There was discussion about what rides to go on and what stalls to visit. Jake pointed to the flying spaceships, eight of them attached to thick spokes. He knew that small levers at the front allowed the rider to control the height of the capsules. Last time he had gone up and down about twenty times. He had to go on this ride.

“And you Tamsin?” asked Lucy.

“Dodgems please.”

“Later Tamsin. Jake’s a bit too small for them, let’s do something he can go on his own first.”

Tamsin agreed. She would go on the spaceships, but mainly to keep Jake company. They walked towards the spaceship ride and watched the arms swing up and down as the children within each capsule toggled the lever. As the capsules changed altitude a hissing sound came out of the machinery in the centre of the ride – hydraulic pistons powered by a generator that chugged away behind the nearest lorry. Pop music pounded from speakers positioned at the top of the central pillar, music that Jake did not recognise but Tamsin did. The capsules slowed down and settled to ground level in unison. A few of the children looked disappointed and wanted to stay for longer, while others seemed eager to leap out onto the ground before the ride had come to stop, keen to spend their money elsewhere. When all the capsules were empty the young woman running the ride nodded to indicate that they could go on now. Jake ran around; he wanted to go on the same spaceship – a purple one – that he had spotted on the lorry a few days ago. Tamsin walked around leisurely. She was attracted to a copper coloured one. When she climbed in an electric shock, static,  made her jump. It had touched her arm just where the marble tattoo was. She thought nothing of it. It was one of those hot days when static seems to come off anything.

The ride passed uneventfully. Jake looked a tiny bit let down as he climbed out. His capsule had not been very responsive to the movements of his lever, and he had only been able to go up and down five times.

Next – Tamsin’s choice. She pointed to a stall where you fired air rifles at targets.

“Why?” asked her father. “You don’t know the first thing about guns? And they are far too big for your arms.”

“Please!” she said.

“It’s up to you Tamsin,” said Lucy. “We just don’t want you to waste your money. They make these things very difficult to win you know.”

Despite the warnings Tamsin took them all to the rifles. They watched for a few minutes. An older man with a deeply tanned, wrinkled face and sparse wisps of white hair stood to one side as children and adults tried to knock down a series of small, man-shaped metal targets. There were five metal men in each alley. Nobody won anything while they watched.

A man paid three pounds, received three pellets, and took aim. He seemed to know how to hold a rifle. The first pellet struck the metal housing around the man-shaped targets and pinged off somewhere. The second hit the edge of a target but not squarely enough to knock it over on its hinge. The third pellet zinged high into the wooden planking at the back of the stall. He put down the rifle and muttered “Fix! The sights are wonky.”

“All’s fair and honest here Sir!” responded the man who owned the stall.

“Are you sure about this?” asked Jake.

“Yes.” Tamsin handed over three pounds.

“Six pellets for five pounds, better chance of winning,” suggested the man.

“No thanks. Three will be fine.”

She chose an alley, placed the tiny metal pellets in a metal saucer that was nailed to the wooden ledge, and struggled to open the rifle. Her father walked forward to help but just as he approached she succeeded. Having learned how to insert the pellets while watching a few moments ago she now readied herself for the first shot. Her arms were just long enough for her to cradle the barrel, hold the trigger and nestle the stock (the wooden butt) against her shoulder. Then she tilted her head to line the sights up with a metal man. She chose one and concentrated. A tingling sensation in her arm, where the static electricity had stung her, caused her to pause. While she paused the gun remained absolutely still. It seemed to straightforward. She pulled the trigger. The target fell, accompanied by a ringing sound. The second pellet knocked over the second target. Tamsin looked over at her family. Her father was clapping and smiling. Her mother looked worried. Jake’s mouth hung open in confusion or admiration or both. She inserted the third, but before firing she asked the owner what the prize was. He pointed to some plastic buckets on the ground,

“Three hits, anything in the buckets.”

“What about the stuff hanging up there?” She pointed to the larger, brighter tobjects on the walls.

“They’re for the challenge only.”

“What challenge?”

“Ten out of ten. Ten hits from ten pellets. Ten pounds.”

“Just concentrate on getting three!” called her father.

Tamsin fired the third and last pellet. Zingggg! Down went the target. Three out of three. She looked at the buckets and chose a plastic car to give to Jake.

“Hey thanks Tam!” he shouted, surprised by her generosity.

“It’s OK, there was nothing I wanted.” But Tamsin looked back and caught the owner’s eye as the family walked away. She had seen something she wanted hanging on the side wall. A sword – plastic and cheap yes, but interesting. Something about its design attracted her.

They went on the dodgems, the mini-rollercoaster, the inflatable slide, the horse track… and finally the penny slot machines that were housed in temporary hut with low ceilings and mud on the floor. Their money lasted for an hour and a half, and it was now time to go home. Tamsin asked,

“Mum, Dad… I know you won’t agree with this, but I want to do the challenge on the air rifles.”

“Don’t even think about it Tamsin!” answered her father. “It’s a con. You got lucky. Ten pounds, straight into that chap’s pocket. It’s not even down to the accuracy of the person shooting… the rifles are so old and broken it’s impossible to aim straight ten times in a row.”

“But I have my own money. I bought some extra with me.”

Her mother and father looked at each other. There was little argument to be made if their daughter had her own money… except for the fact that it was time to go home and feed Jake before his bath.

“Sorry Tamsin darling,” said Lucy. “But it’s getting late. You’ve had a good time, and it’s a silly waste of ten pounds. You cannot win.”

“I can come back later, on my own…”

“No you cannot young lady.” insisted Michael. “I’m not having you wandering around here on your own…”

“With you then. “

“Oh…” snapped Lucy, “Just go and do it… and quickly!”

They walked back to the air rifles. Jake, although hungry for his tea, was pleased. He had enjoyed the excitement first time. Tamsin caught the grumpy, older man’s eye and stood in an empty position. He waited for another child to finish his pellets (the targets remained upright, no prize), then walked to the front of the stall.

“Ten pellets please,” asked Tamsin.

The man hesitated. “Ten. For the challenge?”

“Yes. Here,” and Tamsin put a ten pound note on the ledge, which was at waist height. The man, who was called Bill McReady, fished around in the pocket of his brown trousers for pellets and delivered a small handful into the metal dish next to Tamsin. He counted them carefully and took four away, leaving ten.

“Ten out of ten, you understand? Not nine, ten.” he explained.

“I remember.” Tamsin glanced at the walls to see the prizes. They did not look particularly good, but the sword was still there, and she would be happy with that. A strange design, similar in style to the structures underpinning some of the vintage rides. Then she told herself off; what chance was there, really, of winning? One in a thousand? One in a million? She regretted handing over the money now. Her family stood behind her. The sun had gone in. Her mother and father were talking to each other about something else entirely. Jake looked bored, it was all taking too long. Better get on with it.

She opened the gun and put the first pellet it. She held it up and sighted the first target.

Zingggg! The target fell.

Number two. Zinggggg!

Three. Zingggg!

Four, five… down they went. All the metal men were down.

“Excuse me!” she called. The man looked up from his mobile phone and came over.

“I’ve done the first five. Can you put them up again?”

Bill McReady looked down at her pellet dish. There were five left. He said nothing.

“Yes. Wait a moment.” He pulled a lever on the side of the metal box and the targets swung up into a standing position once again. Then he shuffled back to the edge of the stall, keeping an eye on Tamsin. She watched him carefully. Something about his expression had caught her attention. He was obviously getting worried that she would win. He tapped his phone. Tamsin could tell that he was sending a text. She took her time reloading. There was a movement to the right. Another fair-hand arrived, a middle aged lady. She had bright blonde hair that had been crimped into waves. They exchanged a few words and watched Tamsin as she brought the rifle up for shot number six.

Zingggg!

Seven, eight – zingggg, zingggg!

The gun felt heavy now. Her young arms were not used to it. As she aimed at number nine the rifle wandered, and it was harder to keep the sights on the metal target. She put the rifle down and rubbed her muscles. When she picked it up again and tucked the butt into her shoulder her arms were shaking. She turned around. Her mother and father were watching carefully now.

“Go on Tamsin. Amazing!” called her mother.

“Go on Tamsin!” echoed Jake. “You can do it!”

She focussed all her energy into her arms. Looking down the barrel of the gun she saw the skin that overlay her muscles twitch with the effort. Her tattoo rested just a centimetre from the black metal. She straightened her arm slightly, bringing her skin closer to the gun barrel. The tattoo tingled again. The target stood in her sights. She pulled the trigger.

Zingggg! Nine down.

The owner moved. He was standing on tiptoe. His head obscured the sword. Tamsin reloaded for the last time.

Zingggg! Ten out of ten.

Tired now, she put the rifle down and smiled at Bill McReady.

“Well done young lady! Incredible. What skill! You must have had practise. Does your family own a shooting range or something? You should have said.”

“Can I have my prize now?” She did not trust this man entirely.

“Of course! Anything that you see on the walls.”

She looked across to the right hand wall. The sword had gone!

“I wanted the sword.”

“Oh, sorry, somebody won it earlier. Anything else though, anything you like.”

“It was there when I started the challenge, I’m sure of it.”

“No I don’t think so young lady.”

Tamsin looked back. Her father was watching passively. Beyond him she saw the blonde hair of a middle aged lady walking away with a plastic bag dangling from one of her hands. She disappeared into the cabin of a large red lorry.

“What’s the matter Tamsin?” asked Michael.

“The prize I wanted has been taken down.”

“Well they’re all the same I’m sure. Just pick something.”

She pointed to a large, cuddly dolphin and received it with a thin smile. She didn’t want it. Bill McReady nodded down to her from his position on the raised boards of the stall.

“Good shooting,” he whispered. He sounded apologetic, as though what had happened was not his fault. Tamsin turned away, and muttered something. He did not hear. It might have been ‘Cheat.

All in one!

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This summer I was inspired by a visit to the Roald Dahl museum in Berkshire to write a story for my children, ‘The Cloud Marble’. Then I wrote another (‘The Diamond Rivet’), then another (‘The Meteorite’), and another (‘The Mosaic Tile’)…until it threatened to distract me from real world duties. I have now completed the fifth and final volume (‘The Spot and the Spiral’) of a series called ‘All The Pieces’.

What’s it all about?

Tamsin, age 7, finds a chipped old marble at the bottom of a sandpit. Possession of it makes her smarter at school, a better ballet dancer, and, weirdly, lends the power of speech to the neighbour’s surprisingly judgmental cat. Whatever the marble touches seems to get ‘better’ in some way. When a not-so-close school friend becomes ill Tamsin must decide whether to give her prize away. If Tamsin is to help, she must make her way into central London with nothing more than feline assistance and sneak into a huge hospital…

Subsequent volumes reveal the existence of other ‘Pieces’ (a translucent rivet in the Eiffel Tower, a mosaic tile under the dome of St. Paul’s cathedral) each of which have the potential to impart great power. However, there is danger. Tamsin sets off a minor earthquake beneath London by carrying a Piece fragment into the Natural History Museum. The tube train in which she and her friend’s family are travelling races out of control, and Tamsin must use her newfound skills and intrinsic bravery to avert disaster. The catastrophic potential of the Pieces becomes clearer still when Tamsin is transported to 17th century London and witnesses an explosion in Pudding Lane… With the help of a impoverished French pickpocket called Tomas, and the Chilean astronomer Alejandro, Tamsin must work out what role these Pieces have played in history, and why a shadowy gang called the ‘Stone Splitters’ have been seeking to shatter the meteorite from which the mysterious objects were fashioned.

The 5 volumes are available as separate paperbacks with colour illustrations, but cost £9.99 each (£1.99 on Kindle). A single paperback edition containing all 5 volumes (470pages, but big writing!) is available for £9.99, and this has black and white illustrations.

My Amazon author page has links to all the volumes, and other books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Philip-Berry/e/B008EE69WW

I hope you enjoy them!

Volume 4 – The Mosaic Tile

Welcome to the fourth part of All The Pieces.

After discovering the true source of the Cloud Marble, the Diamond Rivet and the potent, havoc-creating fragment, Tamsin waits to be told what she must do. As a committed Piece Finder (with a tattoo to prove it) she has pledged to help protect the meteorite, whatever it takes. Perhaps if she had known what this promise would require from her, she would have been less agreeable!

A talking rocking horse, an almost impossible task in the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul’s cathedral, an ingenious solution to being in two places at once, and a death-defying, ten minute underwater swim (could you do that?!)… this is Tamsin’s most dangerous adventure yet.

 

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Sample chapter: How long can you hold your breath for?

Tamsin sat undisturbed on a bench with a view of the Dead Sea until sunset. She watched the other families leave, and noticed that a few mothers and fathers looked down at her wondering why a young girl was sitting on her own. She found an abandoned English novel, and although it was a bit too hard for her, it kept her occupied. Nobody questioned her.

At sunset she saw movement on the cliff beyond the Dead Sea. A dark figure had climbed up from the rocky shelf beyond. He must have swum from the fishing boat, and had probably used the same ladder to come ashore as Tamsin’s mother. Tamsin now walked around the Dead Sea and up onto the cliff, so that she could look down. She was wrong. The man had come ashore in a small dinghy. This was tied to a metal chain further along the shelf.

From her new position she could see all three men. They were waiting on the cliff, sledgehammers in hand. The few remaining visitors to the island probably thought that they were workmen.

Tamsin watched them tie a rope around a rock. It dangled down to the opening that allowed sea water to enter and refresh the Dead Sea. Leaning over the edge of the cliff, Tamsin saw the opening in more detail. Now she recognised it. This was the cave of her vision.

When all three men had descended to the cave the rope was taken down. Tamsin was not going to be able to use it herself. The only way for her to enter the channel was to approach it from the Dead Sea itself, and this meant swimming into the dark hole that had frightened her earlier. She walked back to the place where she and her family had sat when they arrived earlier in the day. Now she wished she was back in the apartment with them, having tea. She felt jealous of Tamsin2, who would be safe and happy, having taken her place. But Tamsin had started… and she must finish the job.

Tamsin stood facing the Dead Sea. The dark opening was getting harder to see. She strained her ears but could not hear the men.

She had to jump into the water and swim.

She jumped, still wearing all her clothes. The water was cooler now, but bearable. As she approached the opening a voice called to her from the side of the pool. Treading water, she looked around. It was Tomas!

“Hi Tamsin!” he called, “You are brave!”

“I can’t get in there,” replied Tamsin, getting straight to the point. She had no time for Tomas’s games.

“I know. You have to swim underwater to get into the true cave, where the meteorite is. How long can you hold your breath for?”

Tamsin knew this, because she had practised it.

“Forty seconds at most.”

“That’s not long enough. The channel is twisty and it will be dark. You’ll have to feel your way around.”

“So what do we do?”

“We time-freeze it. You’ll have your forty seconds, but they will last for five minutes. I’m outside so I can’t keep it frozen for too long. Too difficult.”

“OK. Do it!

Tamsin took some extra breaths, held it, and ducked her head into the dark water. She trusted Tomas to keep her safe.

swim

She could not tell if time was frozen or not under water. There were no clues, no people to watch or sounds to monitor. Tamsin swam as hard as she could, and after a short while her hands felt the edge of the channel. It was entirely underwater here; if she had tried to swim to the surface her head would have struck rock. There was no air.

She continued, using her feet to propel her and her hands to guide her. The sense of panic that builds up inside you when your breath begins to run out had not yet started. Tomas’s plan was working.

After another minute Tamsin got a little worried. The channel seemed to be going on forever. The water was completely black. Suddenly she felt desperate for air. The time-freeze was over! Yet still she was nowhere near the other end…

Tamsin swam faster, using her hands now instead of just her feet. Her head banged the side of the rock. She had to breathe! She had to!

She began to tumble in the water. Her eyes remained open. There, some ten metres ahead, the colour of the water seemed to lighten. There was an orange glow. The end! But she did not have the breath to get her that far. Why had Tomas broken the time freeze?       Losing consciousness now, Tamsin rolled and floated towards the lighter patch of water. Her feet flapped weakly, her arms continued do underwater breaststroke as best they could. Then her head broke through the surface and she tasted warm, moist air. Her lungs filled themselves hungrily. Her fingers grasped the edge of the rock. For a minute she could not see anything, as her vision was fogged by the lack of oxygen. But she knew she was alive, and she felt stronger with every passing second.

She could now survey the scene. One man stood over a hole in the ground. Two men heaved on a rope that was attached to a pulley. The pulley, fixed to a sturdy metal frame that must have been constructed some weeks before, hung over the hole in the ground, and the same rope descended from it into the darkness below. With each heave the rope moved up a few inches.

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“Keep going!” ordered the man in charge.

After a few more pulls an object appeared at the top of the hole – a metal pincer clasped around a spherical rock. Tamsin recognised the rock. It was as though her vision was now repeating itself.

To her left a fourth man entered the cave. He held a boy by the neck – Tomas! He had been captured. He wriggled and struggled but could not release himself.

“Found this spy!” shouted the man.

“Tie him up. He could be one of them. Has he got a tattoo?” said the leader.

“Let’s have a look.” The man examined Tomas’ arms, then smiled and said, “Oh yes. A nice one. What is it boy?”

“Nothing.”

The man struck him. “Tell me boy!”

“A rivet.”

“Ah. The rivet. I’ve heard about that one,” said the leader, but he did not have time to ask more questions. His attention was focussed on the stone. “Put him in the corner. Let’s get this job done, and finish off what they should have done hundreds of years ago.”

Tomas was thrown to one side. He rolled over, and Tamsin found herself staring up at the back of his head.

The pincers were pulled to one side and released, leaving the meteorite to fall onto the ground with a thump. The men lost no time, and started hammering at the it.

Tamsin touched Tomas’ hair. There was blood on his cheek where he had landed on a sharp stone. He turned around slowly. He didn’t want to attract attention.

“You made it!” he said, overjoyed.

“Only just. I ran out of air.”

“Sorry. The time freeze stopped when they grabbed me. I didn’t see him coming, I couldn’t keep my concentration.”

“Never mind, I’m OK. What do we do?”

“You’ve done the hard part. Just throw the tile at the rock. It will set off a mini-quake. If these men start to split the stone there will be another huge disaster. The worst. We can’t let that happen.”

“I just throw it?”

“Yes!”

“Help me get out of the water. I’m cold.”

“Not yet. Give me the tile. But don’t drop it.” said Tomas.

Tamsin reached into her pocket, which was zipped. The water made this difficult, but she managed to find it and hold it up to Tomas.

“You do it,” suggested Tamsin.

“No. It must be you. Look, it’s glowing, it’s shaking. It knows it’s nearly home!”

“Help me out of the water!”

Tomas put the tile in his own pocket and reached down to help Tamsin. She struggled out of the water and flopped down onto the hard ground, still exhausted from the underwater swim. Once she had shaken off the water from her clothes and swept the hair out of her eyes, she knelt before Tomas and held out her hand,

“Give it to me then. It’s time to stop this.”

An ear-splitting bang caused her to turn round. A new crack had appeared in the stone, under the onslaught of repeated hammer blows. Tamsin took the tile and crawled to within a few metres of the meteorite. It should be easy, she thought, because once she had thrown it the Mosaic Tile should fly towards the meteorite as though attracted by a strong magnet.

She was just about to throw it when the ground moved beneath her knees. The solid ground seemed to be turning to sand. She lost her balance and rolled over…and she couldn’t help screaming! The Stone Splitters heard her. One of them threw down his sledgehammer and ran over. With a powerful arm he picked her up by her hair,

“Another one. Another kid. Why do they get kids to do their dirty work? Too late missy! Just a few more strikes! Now…get away!”

He readied himself to throw her in the direction of Tomas. But they were all distracted by a sudden change. The dark cave lit up, the walls glowed pink, and a squat pillar of pink mist appeared halfway between the meteorite and Tamsin (who was still in the hands of her assailant).  The mist swirled and began to form a shape… a human shape… that of an even younger child. Tamsin stared hard, and began to recognise the shape of the head. It was Jake!

“Quick, throw it to me!” he shouted, once his mouth had been formed.

Tamsin lobbed the Mosaic Tile in his direction. He caught it, and immediately threw it at the meteorite.

“NOOOOOOO….” shouted the head Stone Splitter. The Mosaic Tile landed on the meteorite, glowed red for an instant, and became a part of it. The rumblings in the ground that had been building up grew more intense. Now the earth really shook. All the Stone Splitters fell over. Tamsin was released, and she rolled towards Tomas. Jake turned, smiled, and disappeared into mist as quickly as he had appeared. Tomas and Tamsin slipped back into the water.

“This time we’ll swim together,” said Tomas, “And I promise you won’t run out of time. I can time-freeze and swim at the same time, I’m sure I can.”

They left the cave, and a few minutes later were back in the Dead Sea. Rocks trembled all around them, but they were safe. The mini-earthquake seemed to be limited to the cave. Tamsin and Tomas scrambled up a path to the top of the cliff. They saw the Stone Splitters’ boat at anchor, but it was rocking violently. The quake was causing the waves to build up, and soon the boat began to break up as it was thrown against the rocks. The Stone Splitters had managed to escape from the cave, but they could not reach their boat. Tamsin did not want to think about what happened to them.

The two friends turned away and tried to work out how to get off the island.

 

– – –

Coming soon, the final volume – The Spot And The Spiral; it’s going cosmic…

Volume 3 – The Meteorite

Welcome to the third part of ‘All The Pieces’.

It starts with a simple request – take the stone fragment to the Natural History Museum. Little does Tamsin know that carrying it to within a few metres of a hidden meteorite will cause an earthquake beneath London. She must use all her powers to avert disaster on a tube train, a dramatic event that brings her into the company of Piece Finders and their arch enemies the Stone Splitters. With the help of the pickpocket Tomas she will learn of the meteorite’s crucial role in history, and be transported back to Pudding Lane on the very day that the Great Fire of London started…

 

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Read an excerpt here…

 

  1. The ice pool

Katie and Tamsin were actually pretty good at skating. Being quite short they did not lose their balance often, and the helper-penguins were soon discarded.

Katie’s parents had put on skates too, and they moved slowly around the perimeter holding onto the sides. As they grew more confident one or other of the adults might skate into the main flow of people, but the two children were always ahead, weaving and ducking with ease.

tam skating

However, Tamsin was finding it harder and harder to stay upright as time went on. She had expected it to get easier and easier…who wouldn’t? She kept leaning over to the left and having to straighten herself up again. It was as though a weight was pulling her down. Once she slipped, and because she was holding hands with Katie the two of them toppled.

“Hey, why do you keep falling over?” asked her friend.

“I don’t know. I feel all off balance.”

“Is it your boots?”

“No. I’ll take off my coat. Perhaps it’s got wet and heavy.”

That was a good idea, but when she took her coat off it made no difference. Then she tapped her left hand trouser pocket. Could it be…the fragment?

She twirled to a stop, took out the thin black stone, and realised that it had become a lot heavier. In fact it pulled her hand down. Then it slipped. Her fingers, numb with cold, could not hold onto it any longer.

Katie did not notice (she was busy looking out for passing skaters) but Tamsin watched in fascination as the fragment fell onto the ice and sank. It melted the surface and disappeared.

Tamsin knelt down, desperate to retrieve it, but it was too late. The fragment was no longer visible.

She gave up looking and carried on skating. It had done nothing special since she had brought it home from Paris, and she had come to regard it as no more interesting than a pebble that one might find on the beach .

Round and round went the skaters. Those watching from the other side of the barriers or through the windows of the nearby cafe might have noticed that they seemed to be moving more slowly as the minutes passed. People seemed to be having more difficulty getting round the circuit.

skate puddle

Katie looked down and saw that water was sloshing over her toe-caps. The two girls heard a loud scream and looked across the rink. A parent and child had fallen and were struggling to get up. They were lying in six inches of water. The ice was melting!

People in the middle of the rink tried to make their way to the sides, but by the time the first of them had reached the barrier the ice had completely liquefied.

Tamsin and Katie, still trying hard to skate (or wade) to the edge, now found themselves up to their thighs in water…and the water was warm.

Parents, supervisors and passing tourists jumped into the pool to help the youngsters who weren’t strong enough to help themselves. Katie’s parents  spotted the two girls and came to help them. Soon the four of them were together again, standing outside the rink. Both the girls were soaking wet, but neither of them shivered. The moisture evaporated from their clothes within minutes. The water in the rink evaporated too. There was no steam; there were no bubbles. The liquid had just disappeared.

The base of the rink was now visible. A smooth grey surface on which lay random objects – sweet wrappers, hair clips, a few coins, a single glove, a scarf, and a tiny speck of black…the fragment.

 

High above the now abandoned ice rink a man turned away from his window and returned to his collection of rare stones. He worked in the Natural History museum, and he had observed the entire episode with a great deal of interest.

oOo

Available as ebook or paperback

Don’t miss Volume 1 – The Cloud Marble and Volume 2 – The Diamond Rivet

Volume 2 – The Diamond Rivet

pavementAfter Tamsin saved an ill friend by sneaking into the hospital and dissolving the magical cloud marble in a glass of water, life returned to normal. Until now…

During a family trip to Paris she meets a pickpocket on the Eiffel Tower. He points out a plain rivet, one of millions, but when Tamsin looks at it carefully it seems to rattle in its place. It wants to escape!

Thus begins Tamsin’s second adventure, one that finds her able to measure love on the bridge of padlocks, recreate paintings with the touch of a finger, and risk all by taking the source of these powers from its rightful place…

This book is for 6-8 year olds.

Click the cover picture to explore on Amazon…

 

amazon cover

 

Read a sample chapter here…

 

  1. Don’t touch!

 

Tamsin held Jake’s hand and walked with him through the gallery. They played games, mainly hide and seek, around the benches. Their parents looked at every picture. So many! Some they liked, some they did not. Occasionally one of them would come over and take Tamsin to see a special one. They would talk about it. Tamsin had been given a little notebook and a set of coloured pencils to copy the ones she liked most. This kept her busy, but Jake soon fell asleep when he was put in his pushchair.

“Look at this one!” said Lucy, “It’s so colourful!”

Tamsin agreed. She loved it. The picture showed a circus ring, with a fearless lady standing on a galloping white horse. An acrobat was somersaulting behind her, the ring master was directing it all with a long whip, and the audience stared with awe from their seats in the background. So much speed, and so beautiful!

Tamsin stood as close as she could to the canvas, but a thin wire some inches above the ground ensured that people did not get near enough to touch the paint itself. A guard sat by the door, keeping an eye on the visitors.

“I really like this one.” said Tamsin.

“Stay and draw it if you like.” said Lucy. “We’ll be in the next room. You’ll be fine here.”

So Tamsin settled down on the floor in front of the picture and began to copy it. Because the artist had used thousands of tiny dots to create the picture Tamsin used the same method. Her pencil tap-tap-tapped on the paper.

 touchcircus

A few minutes later she noticed that the guard had left. And, for once, there were only a handful of tourists in the room. Tamsin stood up, leaned forward, and touched the corner of the painting. Her ears were filled with noisy applause. Her nostrils twitched with the smell of horse, sweat and sawdust (which covered the floor of the circus). She felt dizzy and disorientated. The floor beneath her was moving violently. She looked down and saw that her shoes had changed to cracked leather slippers, and that the floor was nothing of the sort…it was a pale horse’s back! Tamsin was in the circus, standing one-legged on the swift, eager beast.   The ring master called out, in French,

“Vite! Vite!” (meaning ‘Faster! Faster!”) Tamsin lost her balance and began to fall to the ground. She saw a look of concern on the ring master’s face.

Just before she landed on the ground the scene changed…back to the calm of the museum. Her finger was no longer touching the canvas. She looked for the guard, and saw a new one taking her place on the chair. Tamsin collected her notebook and pencils and hurried to join her parents.

lastlock

 

oOo

Volume 1 – The Cloud Marble

Welcome to the first in a series of adventures for 6-8 year olds!

Objects that glow and hum with the power of nature, perhaps earthly, perhaps not! They have been lying around for centuries, waiting to be found. Each imparts its discoverer with powers that are short lived but addictive. The source of their potency is a mystery that is waiting to be revealed.

When Tamsin finds an old marble at the bottom of a sand-pit she senses at once that it is special…an impression confirmed by the fact that when her neighbour’s cat licks it, he begins to talk!

T and coco

This is just the beginning, and soon Tamsin must decide whether to sacrifice the marvellous powers that the marble gives her to help a school friend in need.

front cover

The Cloud Marble is available as an ebook on Kindle, or in paperback via Amazon.

marble tablet

Excerpt:

Chapter 11: Four foxes and a flock of pigeons

 

That night Coco visited again. He wanted to talk. Tamsin opened her bedroom window as far as it would go (which wasn’t very far because there were bolts in place to stop babies falling out) and held the marble so that Coco could lick it. After a couple of licks from that darting tongue his eyes glowed pink in the dark, and he spoke.

“You have to go tonight.”

“My Mummy and Daddy won’t take me, I tried.”

“Then you must go on your own.”

“How? That’s impossible!”

“Nothing is impossible young lady. Put your clothes on.”

Tamsin did as she was told. Coco slid through the gap in between window pane and window sill, jumped onto her floor, slunk out of the bedroom and returned thirty seconds later with something between his teeth. Tamsin took it, and recognised it as the key to the window.

Without waiting for to be asked she undid the two bolts in the window frame and slid the window open further. The air was warm outside.

“I can’t climb down there.” she complained.

“Yes you can. It’s safe, I have tried it out, pretending to be human.”

Coco went first, stepping cautiously from window sill to drainpipe, and Tamsin saw that it was actually quite easy. She didn’t look down, and in four or five moves she was only a couple of feet above the ground. She jumped onto the backyard and waited.

“Now what?”

“Follow me.”

 

They walked up the road towards a bus stop.

“I haven’t got any money. And anyway, they won’t let me on without a grown up.” she said.

“Wait here. Hide behind this sign.”

A few minutes later the night bus arrived. A passenger got off. Tamsin could not just walk through the door, could she? Just as she began to consider walking home again – and by now she was very nervous about what her parents would say – there was a great kerfuffle. Four urban foxes ran along the pavement and jumped into the bus! The driver shouted,

“Oi! Get out!” but two foxes scurried up the stairs and the other two bounded onto the back seat on the ground level. The driver left his compartment, hesitated (not knowing which foxes to chase first) and ran up the stairs. Tamsin heard a passenger scream, then saw the two upstairs foxes run down again, the driver right behind them clapping, gesticulating and shouting.

The two foxes did not leave the bus however; they just went to join their friends on the back seat. Now the driver stormed up the aisle between the seats and tried to chase them off, and as he moved along the bus Coco told Tamsin to get on board and run up the stairs.

“Crouch low when you get up there, or he’ll see you in his camera.”

So Tamsin followed Coco’s orders and scurried upstairs, while the driver succeeded in getting rid of his four unwanted visitors.

 

 

On the top floor Tamsin ducked down low. The other passenger did not notice her (it was a woman listening to music, with her eyes closed). The bus started up the road, and Coco, who had curled up next to Tamsin, popped his head up now again to see where they were.

 

For some reason Tamsin did not feel scared. She rolled the marble in her hands, and felt it buzz as they approached the centre of the huge city of London.

— Coming soon, Volume 2 – The Diamond Rivet —