Reads: 49


The Old Mill


The next Saturday morning, I shot out of my garage, down the driveway and on to the main road, narrowly missing a little terrier poodle thing that was jumping at my wheels and trying to eat my delivery bag. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky that morning, yet my mum still forced me to wear my tent coat - not for the rain, but just in case I fell off so someone could call her number. My mum also forced me to wear a helmet, so as soon as my house was out of sight, I took it off and hung it on the handlebars. Mr. Lewis was at the bus stop again, and I reached out to him for another high-five. 

“You know what that helmet is for, don’t you?” he yelled as I reached for his hand. “It’s for scooping up your brains when you fall off!”

I cycled to the bottom of the hill, where I saw the house that the Magnipoopifier had crashed into. What the hell was a Magnipoopifier anyway? I wondered. Someone had covered the hole in the house with bricks, despite the house being made of stone. In the front yard was a skip filled to the top with rubbish and scrap. I saw the greenish brown pieces of the burned and bent Magnipoopifier. One particular piece caught my eye. Written on it was ‘Mark Two’ in white paint. I took the charred piece and put it in my bag. It was a piece of memorabilia from that interesting day. My own slice of history.

When I arrived at the delivery warehouse, I noticed something on the wall. There was a clumsily torn and taped-together poster, and all over it was the handwriting of a nervous spider in a hurry. It read:

Help Wanted. Experience not necessary. Must be capable, not clumsy. Pay not much, but work is fun. Interested? A little bit crazy? Prepared for DANGER? Please call in person to the Old Mill, Hillview Avenue. Don’t phone because I’m a bit deaf. Knock loudly or shout.

Just as I finished reading the advertisement, a thick hand cruelly ripped it from the wall. Mr. Trenchbog tore it again, and again and again, and once more, before throwing the confetti pieces into the air.

“Idiots,” he said. “Coming here, sticking their adverts on our wall. I say if you can’t do something by yourself, then don’t bother asking for help! Now, young fungus. I have a special package for you once you’re finished. The address on this one is a fair distance away, out beyond the fields.”

The last thing I wanted was extra work. I had almost completed my sorting machine. With just a few tweaks and twists, it would be ready for the coming school invention competition. 

“You’ve got a lovely bicycle and a young set of legs," said Trenchbog. "The countryside air couldn’t be any fresher or healthier for you, and I know your generation loves staying indoors and playing computer games. What a treat! Enjoy the bike ride and the great weather, lad. Oh, and I hear it’s going to rain later!”

“So do I get paid extra for this delivery?” I said. "Considering the dangers of riding in the rain."

Trenchbog held his stomach as he laughed. The ogre left me with this strangely shaped package. I wondered what it was. Shoes? Boots? Two elephant trunks crammed into a parcel? Then I noticed the poor wrapping skills, the dodgy tape, the scrunched up, rushed packing job, and the way the presents had been forced inside. Whoever had done this had lost their temper trying to pack the gifts. Whoever did this didn’t have patience or a gentle touch. It was so tightly wrapped that even the best magician would have struggled to escape from inside. I looked at the stamp. It was dated three weeks ago, and the postmark read 'Hawaii'. But it was the postal address that surprised me the most.

The Old Mill, Hillview Avenue.

The same address as the job advert?

After finishing my last delivery, I cycled out of town and along the country lane, searching for Hillview Avenue. I went a good four miles and stopped to catch my breath after climbing a steep hill. Filled with intrigue about the job, and about who could possibly live at the address, I continued for another mile until I reached a dead straight road bouncing up and down into the distance. I found an area with a long stone wall going around a large property, like a country estate or a park. I saw chopped down trees and old bonfire remains. A stone road was behind a large black gate. Then I saw the property.

It was a bit like Buckingham Palace, if Buckingham Palace had been haunted and abandoned a hundred years ago. It was wide with several floors, and most of the windows were boarded up. I doubted that anyone would live there. A sign at the gate read, The Old Mill, though someone had painted over the letters, and now it read, The MOUldy Mill.

I pushed the gate, not expecting it to move. But as I did, the top section of the gate came off its hinges, and it began to lean backwards. The lock fell off and the gate opened fully, hitting the stone wall and collapsing to the ground. Upon entry, I saw another sign that read POOL IN THE REAR, though someone had crossed out the ‘L’, and it now read POO IN THE REAR.

Walking along the avenue, I passed shards of glass and metal, an aeroplane wing, about a hundred old giant balloons, and some horrid smelly yellow goo that had oozed from the road on to the grass. There was a broken toilet, half a bath, and a kitchen sink which had somehow landed in a tree. As I began to wonder what kind of crazy person lived in an ancient ruin like The Old Mill, I heard a door slam shut in the distance. A short, chubby officer climbed into a car.

It was Smasher!

As the police car pulled away, I dropped my bicycle and dived into some bushes, rummaging around for a place to hide. The police car turned around and sped up along the drive, coming right towards me. My heart jumped into my throat and I tried to slow my breathing so I wouldn't make a sound. The car slowed as it approached my position. It stopped next to my bicycle. The window came down and a head peered out. It was Jittery. I held my breath and closed my eyes.

“Doesn’t that bike look familiar?” I heard Jittery say. “I’ve seen it somewhere before.”

“Nah, it’s old and rusty,” said Smasher. “There’s a hundred other bikes just like it. I'm hungry. Let’s get some lunch!”

I heard them drive away and go through the gate, which I remembered had fallen down! Then they pulled out on to the main road and disappeared from my view. I cursed at myself for being so careless. Why didn't I throw my bike in the bushes too? Just as I was about to climb out, I heard a buzzing noise which made me open my eyes. That sound. That threatening cry. I looked and saw about a dozen of them circling my head, painted in yellow and black, and there was nothing they hated more than a bear who wanted their hive.



Submitted: December 23, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Richard C. Parr. All rights reserved.


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