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Part 5 - A New Adventure

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 “Where am I?”

Peaches squeezed her eyes shut then blinked repeatedly as she tried to open them once again, but she was finding it difficult to get them accustomed to the blast of unexpected light. One eye opened then the other, alternately revealing the warm rays of sun idly filtering through graceful lace curtains that were fluttering lazily in a cooling breeze. She was in a bedroom. It was brilliant, a young teen’s paradise. A smile lit the redhead’s face as she slowly rose on one elbow from the canopied bed and scanned the room with all its eye candy delights: a teakwood dressing table neatly outfitted with exquisite glass bottles, hair adornments and other toiletry; an ornate writing desk topped by what looked like a laptop with a funky design and a scatter of remote controls one of which had the appearance of a Wii Nintendo wireless; artwork very much like the ones she had admired on her last visit to the Tate in London; a large framed picture that seemed to take up most of the far wall with changing scenes which she finally recognized as being a plasma screen tv; and on the artsy table by her bed a delicately carved wooden tray with tiny sandwiches, a large pitcher and a glass goblet coated with beads of sweat which were filled with ice and a lime coloured drink.

Bertie stared back at Bette, momentarily paralyzed by an overpowering chill that had in that instant crept through his large frame, prompting his heart to skip a beat. It just couldn’t be. Bette swung around to face her brother and saw in his face a kaleidoscope of emotions; his weary eyes in a dynamic monologue spoke of relief decayed to rot and admiration overcome by fear. There was not a moment to lose as the pair quickly scanned their surroundings. They were surrounded by people hurrying this way and that, meeting and greeting and busying themselves with the details of arrival and travel. There was a couple and a young baby reviewing the map where they expected their loved one to have been, but no Peaches.

“Bette, you check the luggage area! I’ll check outside.”

The plan was immediately put into action. Bertie took off full haste in the direction of Yousef’s departure while Bette carelessly wove her way through the slowly dissipating mass of travelers, fright gradually replacing hope with each footstep. As he neared the exit, Bertie stumbled into a man holding a sign who wore a crisply pressed chauffeur’s double breasted uniform complete with a shiny brimmed hat. He was uttering quick apologies when he noticed the name on the sign, “Brandman.”

“I am Mr. Brandman.” The seasoned diplomat collected his wits about him and asked in more controlled tones, “Did you see a young girl go by here, red hair, long and wavy?” He felt certain that his daughter’s looks would catch any man’s eye.

Tran, the driver assigned to the Brandmans for the duration of their stay, knew that he would have remembered and relished such a sight. Afterall, it’s not everyday that a man is graced with the sight of such a diversity in a country composed of dark-haired beauties. In truth, he did recall seeing one redhead that day, but she was clearly many years beyond the label of ‘young girl,’ so he responded in earnest.

“No Sir. I have not seen anyone fitting that description today.”

Bertie, undeterred, hurriedly muttered that his family would be along shortly and quickly dashed through the sliding glass doors still hopeful of catching a glimpse of his Peaches before it was too late. Something sinister was afoot. It was such an odd coincidence to bump into Yousef there today; he had not been briefed about such a meeting and there was no denying that someone had tagged his child – but, who? A rush of hot air slammed him, further disarming him, as he stepped from the comforts of the air conditioned airport building. Life as a double agent had its perks but it certainly was laced with danger, and Bertie knew he had worked too hard all those years, even missing out on his child’s growing up, in order to protect his family from harm for it all to come to this.

Peaches took a bite of one of the sandwiches.


She gobbled down a few before taking a sip of the cool lime drink; it was equally as delicious. The refreshment hit the spot and replenished the young girl’s energy enough for her to go wandering about her new environment. She wasted no time in confirming that it was a Wii remote that had been spotted from a distance and joyously succeeded in locating the game console in a nearby wall compartment. The plasma screen was amazing and seemed to have been set to display changing landscapes which thrilled the young burgeoning artist to no end. The room was marvelous and was only matched by the view from the window which was absolutely stunning. Peaches rushed over to the dressing table to continue her explorations and was rewarded by the opportunity to review up close all the expensive lotions, potions and scents that were to be found there. She trailed her hand over a tortoise shell brush and was comforted by the sight of that lotion that had become a part of her nightly ritual.

Each night for as long as she could remember, Aunt Bette would brush her hair for her and massage the sweet smelling lotion into her skin. Peaches thought she would never grow too old for such tender loving care. The knowledge of this fact continued to warm the young girl’s heart as she opened the cedar wardrobe to find all her clothes hanging neatly in a row - colour coordinated at that. She felt comforted by these little details as they were just the kind of things that she had grown accustomed to in her happy life with her Aunt Bette. In fact, it is because of these special touches that she never felt unnerved by her lapses in memory, such as the one she had experienced just before waking up in this wonderful room. Somehow, she always knew that Aunt Bette would be there at the other end of her darkness and that her caretaker would help her to understand what had gone on during those moments beyond her own recall. A smile grew on Peaches’ lips as she recalled the last moments she could remember before waking up in this adorable room. The memory of the kind ginger-haired woman who had offered to help her locate her family lingered on. The lady had seemed so very familiar, and they had laughed comfortably as they had strolled through the airport. Despite the difference in their ages, Peaches had felt as though she was in the company of an old friend, though she knew she had never met her before and would probably never ever see her again.

~ Aria



These thoughts of hers were disturbed by a noise, which lasted for such a short time that she could not define it. She wished it would be repeated, but no such luck, so she replayed it in her mind several times and her conclusion was,”It was a dog!”

- Jera


The sound was coming from beyond the door next to the wardrobe. Yes, yes, she was sure. It was a dog whimpering.

"Ooh a puppy! Just when I thought this gal had it all! Woohoo! Lucky me!” The young girl was beside herself with glee. “How perfect this holiday will be! All hail to ye dad! Thanks my mom!”

Peaches bowed to her absent parents and twirled with dramatic flare. She simply couldn’t believe her luck. One minute she was playing cosy home with Aunt Bette, which was always happy times, but the next, she found herself in the company of a beautiful red haired woman who seemed so stylish and full of class that she had quickly begun to feel as though she was on a welcomed fairy tale adventure. That woman was more than just her mother; she was a passport to a world of sophistication and romantic fancy. Then to be whisked away to a faraway land, though the teen was no stranger to travel – she had already seen many shores – she couldn’t help but feel like one of the vacationers on Fantasy Island.

“De plane! De plane!” Peaches chorused as she skipped towards the door pointing her forefinger in the air filled with excitement; she had seen the old show on the tele.

Find out more about the American television show "Fantasy Island" here

“Come here little doggie!”

The red-head’s face was sunny and bright. The door swung open and green eyes met brown. Peaches’ face immediately iced over. The blood drained from her rosy cheeks leaving them ashen, a frightening pasty white; and in that instant that robust smile froze on her face and transformed into a blue-lipped, tight-jaw grimace. The girl struggled to loosen her white-knuckled grasp on the brilliant burnished gold door handle and when she finally succeeded in doing so, she clutched at the burning crimson square on her neck in agony. The pain was excruciating. With the door now ajar, her panic stricken eyes could not help but take in the sight of the Alsatian who in that moment had begun to run around in circles on the glossy black marble tile of the bathroom floor, whelping and howling as its unsteady legs slid frantically all over the place. Its unexplained frenzy and blood curdling yowls stood in stark contrast with the cold silence of the human that it barely took notice of, so great was its moment of anguish.

Elsewhere in the building, an alarm sounded. Bertie turned to Bette, a look of dismay on his face.

“Just what do we have here? What is going on?”

Bette looked back at him, worry and fear emanating from her eyes. No sooner had they recovered Peaches at the airport, than Bertie had put his quickly hatched plans into action. They no longer had the leisure of taking the time to investigate further. Something was gravely amiss and it was more than clear that whatever it was, Peaches was in imminent danger. Bette had been the one to find her. Well, she had been one of many really as she had discovered the young girl in the midst of a curious and steadily growing crowd. Seems the young girl had been busy scratching away at the floor in the airport which had attracted the attention of alarmed passersby. By the time she had come upon the scene, Bette had barely taken notice of the person who had been asking for the girl’s mother, the woman with flaming hair who had been by the youth’s side, but somehow was now nowhere in sight. Bette had quickly identified herself and her audience of worried onlookers had let out a general sigh of relief when Peaches had looked up and exclaimed, ”Aunt Bette!” while giving the older woman a gentle hug and flashing her a welcoming smile. The teen, oblivious to the events that had taken place just minutes before, had simply begun to rattle on about all the adventures she was looking forward to having in this exciting new place.

“You’ve had another moment, my dear,” Maude had quickly quieted her niece with simple words.

Peaches had immediately understood and had recognized then that she must have caused some excitement. She had smiled sweetly, had innocently taken hold of her aunt’s hand and the two had walked on towards the luggage claim area with as much normalcy as possible. By the time they had run into Maude who had already removed two carrying cases from the conveyor belt, Peaches and Bette had been almost doubled over in laughter as they had amused themselves at the other travelers’ expense: “Did you see that woman’s face?” “Oh dear, what must they have been thinking?” “I suppose it wouldn’t be half as funny if we were in their shoes.” Maude had been so pleased to have been greeted by those two jovial faces that she hadn’t mind that they had taken so long in getting there. After the connections she had made with her daughter during the transcontinental flight, she no longer suffered from pangs of insecurity and jealousy. What she had needed then and there though was someone, these two, to give her a hand with the collection of the luggage. She had not even been bothered by the sudden changes Bertie had made in their plans. They would be staying in a new undisclosed location, which to Maude’s delight, turned out to be an amazing castle in the countryside.

But now, as team members scattered to set everything right and Bertie and Bette looked on in shock through the two-way mirror at the scene unfolding before them, at the horrendous and unexpected chaos of the reunion of Peaches and Pluto, Maude, none the wiser, was fast asleep in her canopied bed, happily dreaming about the days ahead, about fun times exploring one of her favourite places in the world as though for the very first time because she would have her daughter by her side.

~ Aria

Return to Part 4     |   Continue to Part 6

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