Continuing The Pond People. If you missed the beginning, click here to Meet the Mirlings
Pond People is suitable for family viewing
Flash recruited his team from the mirlings who trained at the pump, reasoning that their superior strength would help them spit further. He heard that Molly was taking on anyone who wanted to join.
He had never relied on anyone but himself, never been part of any team. This would be an opportunity to collect followers.
After the Lightning Strikers finished their training sessions, he continued to practise. He had to be best at everything. That’s what leaders were.
During training he criticised poor performance. Some members were discouraged and left – good riddance if they couldn’t improve. Some of these joined Molly’s team. He called them ‘Molly’s Misfits’ and the name stuck. Apparently Eddy was coaching them.
It was generally assumed that Eddy was his strongest rival, but nobody had yet seen Molly shoot. He didn’t trust her. Was she the Misfits’ secret weapon?
He couldn’t allow Molly to beat him.
Grandad was sharpening a blade of snail shell when Molly walked into his hollow.
‘Molly, lass. Do you think this’ll do for a trophy?’ He showed her a solid horn-shape made of bone, with two holes through it.
‘It fell in the pond ages ago. I kept it because I liked it, but I never found a use for it. The teams could compete for it each year.’
She admired its smooth surface. ‘We’ll have three teams next year. Eddy’s beginners are as good as the others now.’
‘Why not this year?’ asked Grandad.
‘And lose my best shooter? What’s that shell for?’
‘I’ve sharpened a new shell for trimming reeds as prize for the most accurate shooter. And I’ve carved this crown from a mature chunk of reed for the mirling who shoots the furthest.’
Flo arrived, and as they greeted each other a fish darted past. It dived steeply, and a mirling toppled off. Arms and legs thrashed in a bright orange blur which twisted to land on its feet.
‘Look who’s taken up rough riding,’ said Molly. ‘Now, why am I not surprised?’
With its burden gone, the fish had slowed to settle among the lily stems. They watched Flash swim in a circle to approach it from behind and hover, ready to drop into riding position.
Flo said, ‘He’s landing too fast. Eddy could give him some tips.’
‘He’ll want to do it by hisself,’ said Grandad. ‘I reckon he’s here ‘cos Eddy’s at the deeps and won’t see him fall off.’
‘It’s a shame.’ Flo’s thought hung between them.
Grandad looked at her. ‘What is?’
‘It’s a shame Flash won’t ask for help. It would do w-wonders for his confidence.’
‘He’s quite arrogant enough.’ Molly sniffed.
‘She doesn’t mean Flash.’
Flo explained. ‘Eddy was always smaller than the other tiddlers, but the bullies left him alone when he m-made them laugh. He started rough riding because they laughed when he fell off. Then he got to choose when he fell off and whether he fell off. It’s the only thing he’s good at.’
‘He’s good at reed shooting,’ said Molly.
Flo stared at her friend. ‘He practises a lot.’
‘It’s paid off. He’s good at training others too. Because he knows what he’s talking about they listen to him, and because they listen, he doesn’t clown around.’
Grandad was watching the rough riding. ‘Looks like Flash’s practice is paying off too.’
They watched the fish hurtle towards the deeps, darting, diving and twitching in vain, trying to shake off its squatter.