The day was fast becoming surreal for Amber and Sabba. After the meeting with Mr Thomas, they were left confused and a little scared. They thought about closing the offices and going home, but Pierce Nolan phoned to say he would be in that afternoon and he sounded irate. It did not take a genius to guess that the call from the archaeologist had upset him.
“I am really bored,” Amber picked at her nails to hide the tears in her eyes.
“Me too,” Sabba kept his head down and pretended to read.
Something strange was happening and they needed to be back in the hidden world. At lunchtime they were in no mood to eat, so took a walk along the village street.
“Oh, nice one,” a boy came up to them and glared at Amber. “You got me to carry the lap top all the way here and you were coming yourself.”
He thrust the bag at her, as Amber shied back.
“I am sorry, I do not know what you are talking about,” she looked from the boy to Sabba.
“I charged it in the café,” he said. “But I’m not carrying it all the way back.”
“Stand back,” Sabba ordered the boy.
The two boys stood face to face. Amber grabbed Sabba’s arm and pulled him away.
“I know what is happening,” she whispered, as they stood waiting on the pavement.
The boy was watching them.
“There has been a mistake,” Amber gave him her sweetest smile. “You are with the dig up at the castle, yes?”
“I am,” the boy muttered.
“We met your Mr Thomas this morning and he made the same mistake. I am Amber and this is Sabba. Look at us,” she urged.
The boy slipped the handle of the bag over his shoulder and walked closer to them.
“I am told we are like people on your dig,” Amber said. “But we are not them, I assure you.”
“Now that you come to mention it,” the boy narrowed his eyes. “There is a subtle difference. Wow, that is so weird,” he laughed and held out his hand to Sabba. “Sorry about that, I thought you were taking me for a fool.”
“No problem,” Sabba shook his hand. “It is the second time today that has happened.”
“I’m Steven. Juliet, the girl who looks like you,” he said to Amber. “She asked me to charge her laptop. She said she wasn’t coming into the village today and I thought she’d just used me to carry it.”
They stayed talking for a few more minutes before saying their goodbyes.
“It’s uncanny,” Steven called after them. “Wait until you meet Juliet and Corey. You won’t believe your eyes.”
Neither of them spoke, as they made their way back to the office. Amber did not want to share her feeling of foreboding or tell him about the pain that was gnawing at her gut. The arrival of Pierce Hogan was a welcome distraction, as he floundered in the door in his usual state of fluster. He spent the next few minutes complaining about the call from Ger Thomas and the nerve of the man.
“The sooner they knock that accursed place the better,” he raged.
“Is the castle cursed?” Amber asked. “I would love to hear about that.”
“I haven’t time to tell you about that now,” he tightened the knot in his tie. “I have to go and meet that Thomas fellow. Show willing if nothing else. I don’t want him reporting back to the historical society that I was unhelpful.”
“Will you be back later?” Sabba asked.
“No, you can lock up,” he rubbed his forehead. “All this upset is giving me one of my migraines.”
“What do you make of that?” Sabba asked when he had gone. “I have never heard mention of a curse.”
“Brag would have told us about it if there was one. You know how he loves to embellish all the folklore.”
“What is the matter,” Sabba asked. “You are not upset by Hogan and his stupid story, are you?”
“No, it is Juliet and Corey, our shadow selves. I cannot stop thinking about them and the reason they are here. We must call on Biddy and find out what she knows.”