Staring at his reflection, he brushed his newly cut hair back and then shook the stuff out. I look…
‘I found the boy, Issy,’ he said importantly.Issy was horrified. She had dashed out on to the main road, expecting to see a terrified mother running up and down searching frantically for her little boy, but there was just the usual queue of frozen-looking early commuters. She said hello to her friend Linda and asked if she’d seen anyone looking for a child. Everyone had looked confused, but shaken their heads. Issy told them that if anyone did come looking for him, he was safe with them, then dashed back to the shop.
Old Mrs Hanowitz, one of their regular customers, was at the door already. She gasped when she saw the little boy, in his cream-coloured pyjamas, cradled in Pearl’s arms.‘The Christkind,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Look at him.’She came closer and put her fingers through his golden curls.
‘A child at Christmas,’ she whispered.‘Don’t be daft,’ said Pearl. ‘This child is lost. What’s your name, sweetheart?’
By the time Issy got back, the child was wrapped up warmly in a tartan blanket that normally sat on the back of one of the old leather sofas. The child, who looked to be barely eighteen months, seemed too shocked even to cry. He grabbed the label on the blanket and started to rub it gently between his thumb and forefinger, then stuck his other thumb in his mouth. He looked rather comfortable.
‘He needs a cake,’ said Louis. ‘And an Advent chocolate. OH NO, THERE AREN’T ANY, AUNT ISSY.’A door opened right beside them all, and as a stiff, cold breeze came at them, he smelled the outdoors.
Whatever was on the other side was dark.Who goes first, Paradise asked.
I will, the pierced, Goth-looking male answered. Nothin’ to lose.Craeg frowned as the sudden silence around them began seeming like a bad omen: The shooting had stopped. Which could mean that that part of the test was over … or the Brothers were taking aim again.