“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” yelled Rowan. All three Dodds looked at her in surprise, and then back at the way they’d come. The bull, grazing peacefully, half-lifted his head and rolled a lazy eye at them. Even Rose had run through his field without giving him a passing glance. “Just because he’s quiet now, doesn’t mean you can take him for granted like that!” Rowan fumed, about to give them a right royal dressing down.
“Sorry Rowan.” “We won’t do it again.” “But we had to..” chorused the Dodds variously, and ran off before Rowan could get up any more steam.
A couple of minutes later they were running up the Shippen steps and barging in the door, without knocking. Peter yelped and jumped up awkwardly, knocking the off button on his tablet hastily.
“You’re supposed to knock,” he snapped.
“It’s on the rafters, look!” crowed Fob, joyously.
Peter glowered at Phoebe, who like Chas was gazing as Rose tapped at her phone. At least none of them was asking what he’d been doing, or noticing his now diminishing trouser-bulge. “Out!” he said, crossly. “This is my place and it’s strictly invitation only.” But his words fell on deaf ears, as Chas and Rose were already clattering down the stairs, and for once Fob too didn’t want to linger, casting Peter the briefest of suspicious glances as she followed the others.
“Is it in the stables?” suggested Chas. And they stopped as one, just inside the stable-yard gateway.
“There!” breathed Rose happily, not even noticing the normally unnerving sounds of horses rustling and stamping. Ginty and Lawrie were in two of the boxes, tacking up the Idiot and Catkin.
Ginty, ramming on her hat, led Catkin out. Catkin, as usual, snorted exaggeratedly, blowing bits of hay and horse-snot all over the yard.
“Are you lot going to get out of the way?” Ginty asked, impatient and unfriendly, as Catkin tried to whirl at the end of his rein. Chas and Rose obediently pulled Fob over to the other side of the yard, and stood watching. Catkin spooked and skittered, his hooves sparking on the concrete, refusing to be led across towards the mounting block.
Ginty grasped the reins, put her foot in the stirrup and swung lightly up into the saddle where she was. Once she was on board, Catkin consented to be ridden in the direction of the gate, but half-way there he leapt vertically in the air as if jumping an invisible object. Even Ginty was taken by surprise, and was uncomfortably close to being unseated. Recovering her reins, stirrups and poise as she pulled Catkin up outside the yard-gate, she called, “Buck up, Lawrie. Aren’t you ready?”
Lawrie led the Idiot out, and noticed the Dodds. Fob was beaming complacently, while Rose and Chas were trying to suppress giggles.
“What’s up?” asked Lawrie, wondering what she was missing out on.
Rose, who was less convulsed than Chas, tried to answer, “We can see what Ginty’s horse is scared of.”
“Show me,” demanded Lawrie. Chas held out the phone, and Lawrie looked at the purple wavy monster gaily bobbing in the middle of the stable yard.
“That’s not fair,” she said crossly. “I’m only on Level Five. How have you got to Level Ten already?”