Tuesday 1st May 2012
An agreement all but reached
GIVE the Pry Minister due credit. He knew precisely what was happening at Broadoaks, wanted to ensure that Emily’s last days were as comfortable for her as possible, offered to provide whatever was needed in the way of help, and suggested that discussions regarding my own future be put aside for the time being.
“I hope, Virgulle, that you will be persuaded by our actions that we intend you no harm. The truth of the matter is that we want you to feel welcome here.”
“That’s it then,” Tom decided, picking up his skateboard.
“Not quite. My one concern is the Me Dear. For these proposals to work, it is an absolute pre-wreck-wizz-it that nobody… nobody, Tom… says anything at all to the press.”
“Please,” I intervened. “What is the word pre-wreck-wizz…?”
“Er, a condition; an essential requirement. If news of any of this gets out, it could prove to be extremely awkward for us all. You don’t want that. Nor do we.”
“Why?” asked Tom.
Quinn, who had been silent throughout, took a few steps forward.
“Sir, if I could perhaps explain…”
“Thank you, Mister Quinn,” Bilton stopped him. “I have read the brief.”
I could see what Tom meant. Quinn’s stare was a pointed finger, a silent accusation. But the boy did not rise to the sudden intervention. He was looking beyond Quinn, his eye caught by movement in the distance. I too glanced towards the roadway, where yet another cage was coming up the hill, approaching the two parked vehicles.
“It’s like this, Tom,” the Pry Minister continued. “Certain things have to be conducted in private. The whole world wants to know all about your friend Virgulle, but––”
“Sir!” shrieked Quinn.
I could see it too. The cage had turned off the road and was accelerating towards us, bouncing across the grass. There were shouts from the figures by the parked cages, some of whom started running in our direction.
“Take cover, sir!”
And Quinn took a small device from his pocket, into which he loudly shouted various unintelligible commands…