On their second night at Culdoplin Castle, Corey did as Juliet asked. He waited until everyone was asleep and tip-toed over to her tent. It was weird being out alone in the darkness, and he jumped when an owl hooted its strange cry to the night. The sound was eerie and unsettling. He stopped for a moment and watched as it hovered like a white ghost over the field. Then swooping low, it took once more to the air with a small rodent between its claws.
“Great, you’re here,” Juliet said, when he pulled back the tent flap.
“Yeah, it took ages for the others to get off. Rob was telling ghost stories, and I think they were afraid to close their eyes,” Corey laughed.
“There are worse things than ghosts,” Juliet hugged the top of her sleeping bag closer.
“Tell me about it,” Corey sat down beside her. “I wonder how Biddy is getting on.”
“It’s all a bit far-fetched, don’t you think?” Juliet asked. “I mean we’re in the twenty first century and yet we’re quite prepared to believe in elves and fairies.”
Corey frowned, and stared down at the ground sheet.
“I’ve been thinking the same thing, but how else can you explain it?”
“I don’t know,” Juliet shrugged. “We’ll have to see what Biddy says. I mean, if we see something with our own eyes then…” she let the words trail off.
Corey yawned, and its sound was contagious as within minutes, Juliet joined in and soon their eyes began to droop. The noises outside the tent unnerved them, as rabbits and other small creatures crept towards the camp, attracted by the light of the lanterns. Shadows crept across the canvas roof like silent, grey ghosts. The darkness seemed to ebb and flow around them, as though it had a life of its own. Somewhere out in the intense night a rabbit screamed, and a fox shook blood from its face.
“We can open my sleeping bag and put it over us,” Juliet’s teeth chattered.
Despite their fright they fell asleep in minutes, comforted by the warmth of each other’s body. When Juliet woke it was morning and the place where Corey slept was empty.
Mr Thomas, despite his best efforts, had not met with the councillor and had to go back to the village. He wanted to get the formalities out of the way before starting the dig. Steven and some of the others decided to accompany him and have a look round.
“Will you take my laptop with you?” Juliet asked Steven. “The battery’s low and I need to speak to my mother.”
“Why don’t you come with us?” He asked.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” Corey answered for her. “And we’ll give Miss Williams a hand with the clearing up.”
“Whatever,” Steven shrugged, and waited as Juliet ran off to her tent.
“Thanks,” she said, as she handed over the computer. “My mother’s not been feeling well and I’m a bit worried.”
“No biggie,” he put the strap of the laptop bag over his shoulder.
The offices of councillor Pierce Hogan were as quiet as ever. Amber and Sabba sat doodling at their desks and waited for the phone to ring. Their parents refused to tell them why Biddy had come into the hidden world. They were anxious for the day to be over, so they could question her about it.
“Hello,” a man came in.
“Hello, how can we help you,” Amber gave him her most charming smile.
“How did you change your clothes and get here before me. You said you were staying behind to help with the clearing up, and now I find you here. This is very odd if I didn’t know you better,” he looked at Amber. “I’d say you were spying for our Mr Hogan. You’d better explain yourself,” Mr Thomas’s mouth was a thin line of anger.
“We have no idea what you are talking about,” Amber looked at Sabba to confirm this. “I am Amber, and this is Sabba. Who do you think we are?”
“I don’t believe it,” he said. “I’ve heard everyone has a twin, but I’ve never seen it until now. I’m so sorry for the confusion,” he smiled. “I’m Ger Thomas. I am leading the archaeology dig at Culdoplin Castle. I have a couple, two cousins who are mirror images of you,” Mr Thomas shook his head in wonder. “Could you give me Hogan’s cell number?”
“You mean they look a little like us?” Sabba asked, as he scribbled down the number.
“No, you could be twins,” he studied the piece of paper in his hand. “I’ll just go outside and make the call.”
They watched him go and when the door slammed shut, they looked at one another.
“It cannot be, can it?” Juliet asked.
“The ones you call shadow self?” Sabba said. “But if that is the case, why here and why now?”
Life was growing stranger by the minute, and so was the terrible feeling of foreboding.