Continuing The Pond People. If you missed the beginning, click here to Meet the Mirlings
All was quiet in the kitchen. Molly moved nearer to the three who had arrived in the bucket before them.
‘It’s Sylva and Walter, isn’t it? How did you get here?’
The water quivered around Sylva whose lustrous scales had dulled to leaden grey. It was the youngest of the three who answered. What was her name? Amy? Amber – that was it.
‘We didn’t see it coming!’ She shook her head earnestly. It seemed too large a head to belong to her tiny body.
‘We spotted Flash and we were going to follow him to the prizegiving and there was a big “whoosh,” and everything was black and we were dragged backwards.’ She looked around her. ‘And then we were here.’
Flash joined Molly, and Sylva’s back straightened. She ran a hand through her silvery hair and tossed her head. Flash stared at the sallow yellow mirling beside her, ‘I’ve seen you at training, haven’t I?’
The youngster dipped his head, as if Flash were King Neptune. ‘I’m Walter.’ His friend elbowed him. ‘And this is Sylva.’
‘Triffic!’ Sylva simpered.
‘And I’m Amber,’ the little one added. ‘Wally’s my brother and Sylva’s his girlfriend.’
‘Don’t talk rot, Amber.’ Walter glanced nervously at Sylva whose trembling had stilled. But her words still wobbled.
‘What’s ha-appening?’ she gulped. ‘How are we going to get ho-ome?’
Flo could understand the humans better than any of them. ‘I think these fish are here to be kept indoors. In a b-bowl, whatever that is.’
‘I think you’re right, lass.’ Grandad nodded. ‘What we have to decide is if we want to go with them or take our chances in this bucket.’
‘We must stay together,’ Sylva wailed. ‘Walter?’ But Walter was still awed by the presence of Flash. Eddy was unusually quiet too, as if in shock.
Flash’s thinking followed Grandad’s. ‘And what we decide depends on what happens to the water when the fish are taken out.’
Seven pairs of eyes turned towards him. ‘They might empty it back in the pond, but I think that’s unlikely.’ He looked at Grandad for confirmation.
The old mirling nodded. ‘It’s nearer for them to tip it down the sink or the nearest drain.’
Molly was relieved when Flash didn’t elaborate on where drains went and what happened in sewers. She looked up at the orange and black shapes circling the bucket.
‘Looks like we’d be safer staying with the fish then.’
A jug moved across the sky, blocking the light. It was lowered into the bucket until water swamped its rim, pouring in until the jug was almost full, and it rose again.
The surface lightened briefly and dimmed again as a face looked down. A tiny fishing net slid down the side of the bucket and the orange fish was netted before they’d had time to plan.
Flash called, ‘Come on!’ and sped towards the net, seizing Flo’s hand as he passed her. He dragged her slight figure into the net with him as its top entered the water.
Eddy followed too late to make it over the top. ‘Flo,’ he shouted, grabbing the net as it rose through the water.
Flo thrust her arms through the net to grab his. ‘Eddy, hold on.’
The netted goldfish left the bucket along with Flash, Flo and Eddy. Sylva moaned. Amber stood transfixed, swaying like pondweed in a current.
‘You don’t need to ride the fish,’ Grandad pointed out. ‘Just get close enough to be caught with it.’
‘We’ll only have one more chance.’ Molly was brisk. ‘Walter, take Amber and Sylva with you. Get up there with the fish. Hang on to it if you can. If you can’t do that, stay above it, but get inside that net somehow. Amber, can you manage that?’
Amber nodded. ‘I’ll be all right. Come on Sylv.’
Grandad trailed after them. The water darkened and the net appeared again. Molly powered upwards, grabbing Grandad’s hand to pull him with her.
The black fish flipped violently against the side of the bucket to escape. It swooped in terror around the bucket, and the net stilled to wait for it to settle again. This gave the mirlings above time to get in and hang on, but the plunging fish had churned Molly and Grandad aside to drift like leaves to the bottom.
When Molly sat up, sick and disoriented, she and Grandad were alone in the bucket.