3 What's the Time Mr. Wolf? (continued)
I was still a long way from the road into our estate and I’d never reach it before the thing caught me. My chest burned, my legs felt like lead, and stumbling off the kerb at the road junction I turned into the deserted High Street, looking desperately for somewhere to hide.
Seeing a small shopping arcade, I dived into it, but it soon came to a dead end. Looking frantically around, I noticed the grocer’s shop doorway furthest from the street and threw myself down on the icy step. Pressing my back against the door, I heard a tremendous crash above my head, a startled squawk, something heavy sliding rapidly down the roof tiles, and then a horrible silence.
Was it the gargoyle? Had the creature fallen off the roof? Where was it? I started to imagine it shuffling towards me with its ugly wings scraping the floor. I looked along the arcade, but it was too dark to see. The shops had closed for the night and there was only one light left on in the post office window.
I had to keep calm – think what to do. It might be ages before my stepmother wondered where I was. She’d look for Thomas, but he would be safe home by now having his tea, the gargoyle wasn’t chasing him. I wondered if Thomas would tell his mum what had happened to me. Even if he did she wouldn’t believe him, she’d think he was making up another of his pretend stories.
I listened but couldn’t hear a thing. It had been quiet for a long time. I was beginning to hope the frightening creature had given up searching for me and had gone back to the church, but I had to find out. I couldn’t stay there much longer for I was freezing to the step. If I crept quietly along the arcade, I might be able to take a quick look into the street without the gargoyle seeing me, but what if the thing was still out there, waiting to grab me?
Struggling to stand, my body so cold it was painful to move, I heard running footsteps coming towards me, something cannoned into me, and I fell backwards, banging my head on the floor. A cord wrapped tight round my neck, and as I fought to free myself I heard a small fierce voice say, ‘Let go, Alice, it’s my shoe bag.’
Cursing under my breath, I pulled the string of Thomas’s bag from my throat. Hissing at him to keep quiet, I clamped my hand over his mouth and he bit me. Dragging my hand away, I was angrily shaking him when I heard high-pitched, excited squeakings.
‘Now look what you’ve done,’ I whispered fiercely. ‘You’ve brought more of them, there’s more than one gargoyle on the roof now!’
‘Let’s shout for them to go away,’ Thomas said.