chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
chapter 4
chapter 5
chapter 6
chapter 7
chapter 8
chapter 9
chapter 10
chapter 11
chapter 12
chapter 13
chapter 14
chapter 15
chapter 16
chapter 17
chapter 18
chapter 19
chapter 20
chapter 21
chapter 22
chapter 23
chapter 24
chapter 25
Chapter 21
Final Preparations.

The four children went off to do the shopping, buzzing with excitement. A hardware store for the nylon rope and torches, and a shoe shop for the Wellington boots.
    While the others were busy purchasing the five pairs of Wellington boots, Elké managed to sneak off to find a pet shop and buy a choker chain.
    "It's going to be a long time before this fella needs one of these," said the shopkeeper, looking at Aitch.
    "Oh no! Its not for him," said Elké. "No, this is meant for a much bigger animal than Aitch."
    The shopping was soon finished and the children arrived back at the Buccaneer Cafe, just in time for dinner. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and Karen, the waitress, made up a special plate for Aitch. It looked and smelled so nice Aitch was not quite sure whether it was meant for him. But yes it was. Elké told him so.
    After dinner, Biffer and Skin poured over the printout of the sewers running under The Avenue, Hollyoak Lane and Impala Lodge while Elké and Rebecca sketched out as much as they could remember of the actual mansion itself.
    Captain Friddle breezed into the Buccaneer Cafe, smiling. "That's what I like to see," he said. "People hard at work. And I see you have the shopping," he added, crossing to the pile in the corner. "Wellington boots," he murmured, before opening a bag. "And plenty of rope and torches. Good, good."
    Captain Friddle joined them at the table. "Well, I have not been idle myself. Our Mr. Fugg has a long criminal record and is still wanted by the Yorkshire police for armed robbery. Less luck on Mr. Woodhead, I'm afraid. There is a large contingent of Woodheads in the Leicester area, for some reason, but none with any criminal record to speak of.
    "I had a quick look at the manhole cover down Hollyoak Lane. I was a little concerned that one might need a special tool to lift it up. But no such worries. A good strong finger is all that's needed."
    Captain Friddle noted the pile of dirty plates in the centre of the table. "I see you've already had dinner," he said. "I think I'll order myself a roast beef sandwich with plenty of English mustard."
    When Elké and Rebecca had finished the plans of the mansion, the other three gathered around with interest.

impala lodge

"We have split it into two," explained Rebecca. "The ground floor and the first floor. The left hand side of the house runs along Hollyoak Lane. In fact there is no wall here. The outside of the house itself is the boundary.
    "This is the scullery and I've put in the manhole where we should be coming up. The kitchen is next door. We will cross the kitchen into the passage and out into the entrance hall."
    Rebecca paused to see if everyone was happy, before continuing. "The door to The Rat Squad's rooms is here and Mr. Fugg's door is on the other side of the stairs."
    Captain Friddle studied the drawing a long time before he spoke. "This is what I think," he said. "I want you four to take care of The Rat Squad and let me deal with Mr. Fugg. First, one of you must go to The Rat Squad's door, slowly open it and feel to see if there is a key on the other side. If there is, take it out and lock the door from the outside."
    "And what if there is no key?" asked Biffer.
    "Ah! I thought you might ask that tricky little question," said Captain Friddle, with a smile. "The answer is simple. You rush in and tie them all up before they realise what is going on."
    "Are you being serious?" asked Skin.
    "In a way, yes, Skin," said Captain Friddle. "I've found in the past that planning the simplest solution sometimes works and if it does, all's well and good. If not, we'll just have to play it by ear. What I will say is this: If you hear me shout 'go, go, go' forget all other plans and switch to an all out attack."
    Captain Friddle turned back to the drawing. "O.K., let's pretend we have The Rat Squad and Mr. Fugg all safely tied up. How do we get to the butler and Fat Cat?"
    "That we do not know for certain," said Elké. "What we do know is that Fat Cat lives on the top floor at the front of the house and we think the stairs leading there can be found in Fat Cat's Den. I've marked that on the plan. It's at the end of the corridor on the right."
    "And what about a telephone? Did either of you notice a telephone while you were there?"
    "Yes, I did," said Rebecca. "There is one in the workshop over by the window. I heard Mr. Fugg talking to his accountant once." She picked up a pen and drew a cross on the plan. "It's somewhere about here."
    Captain Friddle picked up the other plan showing the first floor. "Ah! Very interesting," he said at once. "This will come in extremely handy for the end game. It shows me exactly where all the kidnapped children are being held and the office where they are forced to work." He looked up at Elké. "Can I take these two plans with me?"
    "Sure," said Elké. "We can easily draw up another set for Biffer and Skin later."
    "At what time do we plan to invade?" Biffer wanted to know.
    "It is common knowledge in the British army," said Captain Friddle. "That the best time to mount an attack on the enemy is at one o'clock in the morning. So that is what we will do. My car is parked in a side street just up the road. I will drive you back to your place now so you can get some shuteye. Set your alarm for eleven o'clock tonight and have a cup of sweet tea and a chocolate bar to give yourselves plenty of energy. After that, try and keep active. Practice tying each other up or something. I will call for you at twelve o'clock sharp. Is that clear?"
    Everybody nodded.
    "O.K., let's go!"

chapter 22