Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 15


Smudgie Vanishes

Just before six o’clock that evening the boys were gathered in great excitement in their underground headquarters. Titch, in a very business-like manner, was checking on the equipment.

“Now, have we all got our torches?” A chorus of yeses assured him that they had, and a series of flashes assured him that they were all in good working order. Bunny had a torch that fixed around his head with a strap thus leaving his hands free.

“Have you got your axe, Bunny?”

“Yes, Titch.”

“Good! That might come in handy. How many penknives do we have?” All except Miff showed that they were the proud owners of penknives.

“Mmmm . . . good. And I’ve brought my rope,” said Titch. After other items, such as mobile phones, were checked Titch looked at the others with a smile of satisfaction. “We’ve collected a handy lot of equipment. We might need it or we might not, but it’s best to be on the safe side. It’s starting to get dark so we’d better get moving.”

On the way to the ruins Titch outlined his plan. “This time Miff and I will climb up on the wall where we were last time. We’ll be able to keep a sharp watch all around from there. You other three go down into the cellar and have a good look round for a secret passage. Tap and push the walls all over to see if you can find one. If we see that car coming we’ll run down and warn you so that you can come out again before the men arrive.”

Bunny, Smudgie and Gogs waited by the ruined church wall until Titch and Miff had climbed above their heads. It was by then almost dark. Titch scanned the Straight Mile as far as he could but there was no car in sight. “Nothing about!” he shouted to the others. “You can go down now.”

Gogs hesitated. “W . . . W . . . Would you like me to stay and help you Titch?” he asked hopefully.

“Don’t be a cissy,” broke in Bunny before Titch could answer.

“But what if those men come again?” asked Gogs.

“Don’t worry Gogs,” reassured Titch. “We’ll be down to give you plenty of warning if they come.”

“Come on Gogs,” ordered Bunny. “We don’t have any time to lose.” The three boys were watched by Titch and Miff as they disappeared into the gloom.

When they reached the entrance to the passage which led to the cellar, the three boys halted.

“I’ll go first,” announced Bunny. “You come next Gogs, and Smudgie can come last.” He shone his torch down the passage and the boys advanced cautiously examining the wall as they went. They saw nothing.

There was a clatter of footsteps as they went down the worn stone steps. At the bottom Bunny looked around the corner into the dark depths of the cellar. He swept the beam of his torch around to examine their surroundings.

Bunny looked around the corner into the dark depths of the cellar

    “Now we’ve got to search quickly,” he said in an urgent whisper. “I’ll try that far wall. Gogs, you search this one and Smudgie, you . . . Smudgie!” Bunny whirled around and shone his torch. Their companion was nowhere to be seen. Both boys ran to the foot of the steps but the beam of Bunny’s torch revealed nothing. Smudgie had completely disappeared.

“That’s funny Gogs!”

“Wh . . . Wh . . .  What’s happened?” quivered Gogs clinging on to Bunny. “Wh . . . Wh . . . Where’s he gone?”

“No idea,” returned Bunny flashing his torch in every direction in the vain hope of finding their lost friend. “Perhaps he went back out for something, Gogs.”

“He might have. But I know he was behind me when we were at the top of the steps. Let’s go and look for him.”

“We’ll have to,” replied Bunny. “He must be about somewhere. Come on!”

They went back up the steps and along the passage. They looked around outside but could see nothing. Bunny flashed his torch around in the darkness in the hope of finding Smudgie. Meanwhile, up on the wall, Titch and Miff had been keeping watch. They saw no approaching car and heard and saw nothing of their friends until, suddenly, the darkness near the cellar was illuminated by Bunny’s flashing torch.

This puzzled Titch who immediately called out, “What’s the matter? Found anything?”

“No!” came Bunny’s reply through the darkness. “Smudgie’s disappeared. We can’t find him anywhere. Have you seen him?”

“No,” Titch replied. “We haven’t seen anything.”

“We can’t find him anywhere Titch,” put in Gogs.    “He’s just gone.”

Titch frowned at Miff, then looked in the direction of the cellar once more.

“When did you last see him?” he shouted. There was no reply.

“Hi! Bunny!” Still no reply. Titch looked distinctly worried.” Something odd is going on over there Miff. I don’t like it. Let’s go over to the cellar and see what’s happened.” Using Titch’s rope the pair were soon down the side of the wall and making their way silently through the grass. When they reached the entrance to the passage they stopped and listened. Titch whispered to Miff.

“We’d better not use our torches. Try not to make any noise.” They went down the steps on their toes to avoid making any sound and felt their way along the wall. Eventually Titch’s hand reached the end of the wall and he knew they were at the bottom of the steps. He slowly peered around the corner but all he could see was inky blackness.

“Ssssh!” whispered Titch. “Listen!” They heard a slight tapping sound from the wall around the corner to their left. “What’s that noise?” They stood riveted to the spot. Suddenly a faint ray of light swept across the floor of the cellar. Titch cautiously peered around the corner to see where it was coming from and was amazed at what he saw. A man with a torch was emerging from a stone doorway. There was a rumble as the door was closed, then the man started to cross to the other side of the cellar. When he reached the wall Titch watched as, in the torchlight, he saw the man’s hand press on a section of stone moulding. A door swung inwards and the man went through it. He turned to close the door and the light of his torch momentarily lit up his face. Titch let out a gasp as he recognised it. The door closed with a thud.

Titch turned to whisper to Miff. “Did you see who that was?”

“No. You were in the way,” replied Miff. “Who was it?”

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