Juliet’s fingers shook as she opened the laptop, and she stopped for a few minutes to let the trembling subside. It did not help that Mr Thomas and Steven had told them about meeting their doubles in the village. The light from the battery-powered lantern was dim, and for a moment, shadows surrounded her. Logging on, she clicked on to her mother’s name and waited for her to answer the call over the internet.
“Juliet,” her mother’s face appeared on the screen. “How are you, my darling? I expected to hear from you sooner”
“I’m good, mom. My battery ran down, and I had to wait to recharge it. I did not want to use my mobile, it is too expensive. It’s all a bit unsettled now, but we started digging today.”
Juliet throat grew tight, as her mother filled her in on what was happening at home. She wished she could reach out and touch her mother’s face and breathe in the familiar scent of her body. She intended telling her all about Biddy and the story about the girl who looked like her, but she decided against it. The circles around her mother’s eyes were so dark she looked like a raccoon. Was it the way the shadows fell, Juliet wondered or did her mother look sicker than ever?
“We’ve been talking about your 18th,” her mother said. “Dad thinks he’ll have a few of the bedrooms ready by then and you can invite some friends to stay. What do you think?”
“That sounds great, mom. I have made a new friend here. His name is Corey, and we like a lot of the same things.”
“Rick won’t be pleased,” her mother teased.
“He’s just a friend, mom, nothing more,” Juliet rolled her eyes. “I have to log off now. Corey needs to use my computer to call home, and I do not want the battery to run down again. Give my love to everyone,”
“Will do, my pet, love you. Have a great time and stay in contact.”
“Love you too. Mom.”
The feeling of loneliness when her mother’s face faded from the screen was overwhelming. Juliet wanted to put her head down and howl.
She clicked on Rick’s name next and he answered on the second ring.
“How’s my girl?”
. They talked for a while, mostly about what he was doing to pass the summer vacation and the usual stuff. She was sorry when she had to log off, but she knew how anxious Corey was to contact his family. Pushing aside the laptop; she crawled out of the tent and went in search of him.
“Great!” He said, when she told him the computer was free. “I won’t stay on long, promise.”
Corey’s family did not have the benefit of having a video phone, and he hoped Rasher or Stew was online on one of the social sites.
“Great, Rasher’s here,” his fingers flew over the keys, as he asked how everything was going.”
Everything is fine, Rasher informed him. Nothing new or strange was happening.
“There’s loads of weird stuff going on here,” Corey wrote. “I’ll send you an email and you can read it for the others. You’re going to think I’m mad, but I swear everything I tell you is true.”
“Cool,” Rasher said. “Jamie is here, and he wants to say hello.”
The writing changed as Jamie tried to tell him all about the hens and how many eggs they laid. His writing was like trying to decipher hieroglyphics as he had never spent much time in school, but the childish words made Corey smile. A few of the homeless, who used the internet cafes, sent their best wishes. They told Corey how much they missed him, but it was not just his friends who read every word he wrote. Someone else read it and wondered what the “weird stuff” was all about. After sending the email, Corey logged off.
“Want to take a walk?” He asked Juliet.
There was nothing else to do until bedtime. The village had no attractions other than a pub, and they were underage.
“You seemed a bit upset by what Mr Thomas and Steven said.”
“It kind of freaked me out,” Juliet said. “The whole thing with Biddy and our doubles is too weird.”
“Yeah, but we’ll find out the truth soon. She said it wouldn’t be long.”
“How you can be so cool about it,” she glared at him. “I mean with all this stuff happening you don’t seem to care.”
“I don’t,” he said. “I keep thinking that I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“What about the Erebans, you believe in them?”
“I saw one of them,” Corey gulped, as the image of the dark figure came rushing to his mind.
“So, if they’re real then the other things she talked about must be as well.”
“I don’t know,” he muttered. “I suppose. What’s really bugging you?”
“Sorry, it’s my mother,” Juliet said. “She looks sicker than before, but she says she’s ok.”
“If there is such a place as the hidden world, with all its magic and all,” Corey said. “Maybe they can help her?”
“I never thought of that,” Juliet felt hope soar within her, and she prayed he was right.