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epilogue
chapter 23
chapter 22
chapter 21
chapter 20
chapter 19
chapter 18
chapter 17
chapter 16
chapter 15
chapter 14
chapter 13
chapter 12
chapter 11
chapter 10
chapter 9
chapter 8
chapter 7
chapter 6
chapter 5
chapter 4
chapter 3
chapter 2
chapter 1

The Famous Five: The Final Adventure.
A Tribute to Enid Blyton.

Chapter 15.
Professor Dandashi's Story.

On the morning of Vivien's disappearance, Professor Dandashi was adjusting his tie in the mirror and whistling a popular tune of the day when there came a sharp knock at the door. It was a large man dressed in a dark suit. A man with a full, black beard and horn rimmed glasses.
   Unbeknown to the two men, George was watching from the stairwell.
   "My name is McLeod. I have some important news for you. May I come in?" The big man spoke in a soft, Scottish accent.
   The Professor stood back and invited Mr McLeod to 'come in'.
   "I am a member of a small, powerful consortium," announced Mr McLeod. "We have, how shall I put it, 'kidnapped' your daughter."
   Professor Dandashi went completely white and collapsed into the chair behind him. "What do you want from me? I do not possess huge sums of money," stammered the Professor, in a state of shock.
   Mr McLeod sat in a chair opposite the Professor and smiled. "It is not money we are after, Professor. We just need to borrow you and your laser for a short time.
   "I want you to listen very carefully to what I have to say. Do exactly as you are told and no harm will come to your daughter. You will inform Professor Kirren, together with anyone else you feel is necessary, that your sister has been taken seriously ill. Say she is a favourite auntie of your daughter, and that Vivien wanted to be at her side.
   "Tonight, at around ten o'clock, you will lock yourself inside the conference room and tomorrow morning, at 2.00 a.m. precisely, you will unlock the side door. I shall be waiting outside with a van. Together we will load the laser into the van and transport it to a different venue. We require a large hole to be inserted in some inch thick 'osmium alloy'. Your demonstration of yesterday, Professor, was very convincing.
   "When this operation is complete, you will be re-united with your daughter. Do not even contemplate going to the Police. As I have said before, you are dealing with a powerful consortium. We have members in high places. Do I make myself clear, Professor? "
   "Yes," replied Professor Dandashi, still in a state of shock. "I will do as you say."
   "You have made the correct decision," said the big man, rising. He left as quickly as he had come.
   The Professor rushed into Vivien's room, hoping beyond hope that she would be there. But of course she was not. He noticed that there was no sign of a struggle and that only a few of her clothes were missing. He sat down on the edge of her bed and put his head in his hands, full of despair. He knew he had to do all that McLeod had ordered.
   Professor Dandashi went down to the breakfast room and spoke to Professor Kirren and his wife. He told them the lie about his sister being ill and of Vivien's sudden departure.
   Seeing Julian and Dick together at their table, Professor Dandashi went over and told them the same story. Everyone was very sympathetic and wished his sister a speedy recovery.
   Professor Dandashi needed to be alone. He wandered aimlessly through Hyde Park, deep in thought. It was obvious he was being blackmailed into doing something illegal. "But I will draw the line at causing anyone an injury," he emphatically decided.
He spent the rest of the day roaming the streets of London, hopping on this bus, meandering around that gallery, anything to keep his mind occupied.

That evening Professor Dandashi sat down to dinner with Quentin and Fanny, but found his appetite missing and conversation forced. At just after 9.45 pm, he excused himself saying he was tired and would be going to bed. He took the lift to the fourth floor, but did not go to his room. Looking both ways to make sure he was alone, Professor Dandashi descended the back stairway to the conference room and prepared the laser ready for transportation. He set the alarm on his watch, locked the door from the inside, turned off the lights, settled himself in an armchair and promptly fell fast asleep.

The Professor was awoken by the bleeping of his wristwatch alarm and fumbled for his torch. 1.55 a.m. Mr McLeod was already waiting outside when the Professor opened the side door.
   "OK, let's get this show on the road," announced McLeod, in his soft, Scottish brogue.
   Loading the van proved to be a piece of cake. The big man seemed strong enough to do it all on his own. McLeod took the wheel and they drove off into the night. The vehicle was the same newspaper van that had ferried Vivien to her unknown destination the night before. A vehicle such as this could roam the streets anytime of night and not arouse suspicion.
   McLeod drove straight to St. Katherine's Dock and parked in the shadows next to the boathouse. The laser was carried inside and laid on the table that was now positioned in front of the sacking.
   "Here put these on," said McLeod, throwing the Professor a pair of overalls. "Things may start to get a little dirty from now on."
   McLeod tied back the sacking to reveal the shaft. "You push from behind," he ordered. "I will get into the shaft to pull. There are rails embedded in the bottom of the shaft, so the laser should slide quite easily."
   Soon the two men were carrying the laser down the tunnel that George was to explore in a few days time. In front of the next shaft were two solid wooden trestles, positioned ready to take the laser.
   "You seem to have thought of everything," remarked Professor Dandashi, after the laser was in place.
   "Let's hope so," murmured McLeod.
   The Professor quickly scrutinised his surroundings, hoping to find a clue to what this man McLeod was up to. He saw the piles of earth further up the passage and behind him, two wheelbarrows tucked close against the wall. The tunnel at this point was lit by a solitary, naked light bulb dangling from the ceiling. The extension lead on the floor, terminating in a multi-way socket, provided the power.
   "It is nearly five o'clock," McLeod was saying. "I have rented an apartment close by. We will return tonight and finish the job."
"W   hen do I get to see my daughter?"
   "Only after you have cut a hole in the 'osmium alloy' wall at the end of this shaft," replied McLeod, with venom.
   The apartment was above one of the shops that lined the docks and was entered via steps at the rear. The front door opened straight into the sparsely furnished living room, with a small adjoining kitchen. McLeod gave the Professor the only bedroom while he settled down on the couch in the living room.

Both slept soundly until two o'clock in the afternoon when McLeod shook the Professor to wake him.
   "I am just popping out to get some food," growled McLeod. "Don't forget that we still have your daughter, so no funny business."
   He soon returned with two portions of fish and chips plus a couple of cans of beer.
   The Professor noticed that McLeod always wore a thin pair of leather gloves, even when eating. "Obviously to avoid leaving fingerprints."
   The afternoon dragged slowly for Professor Dandashi. McLeod seemed to be brooding on something and would not be drawn into conversation.
   At precisely eight thirty that evening, the big man leapt from his chair. "OK, time to make a move," he said.
   "How big do you want the hole?" asked the Professor, now that they had arrived back at the shaft.
   "As large as you can make it," came back the reply.
The Professor plugged the laser into the extension lead and began the lining-up procedure by making low powered test burns into the metal wall at the end of the shaft. "How about 1.5 metres diameter, will that suit you?" asked the Professor, when he was certain the laser beam was running parallel with the shaft.
   "Yeh, that should do," answered McLeod, casually.
   "There is one question I would like to ask," said the Professor, earnestly.
   "Fire away."
   "I would like to know what is on the other side of this metal wall. There will be plenty of excess radiation going through so if there is anyone on the other side they will get badly burnt."
   "Don't worry yourself on that score, Professor," replied McLeod, with a grin. "The room on the other side is totally empty."
   "In that case, if you would stand clear, I will begin cutting."
   Soon, the only sounds to be heard were the low hum of the laser and a crackling coming from the end of the shaft as the fine focussed laser beam cut into the 'osmium alloy'. The optics mounted on the front of the laser turned slowly and smoothly. The two men looked on in silence.
   After about fifteen minutes a full circle had been described and the equipment automatically turned itself off.
   "Now comes the moment of reckoning," said McLeod.
   He unplugged the laser from the socket, took out a pair of cutters from his overall pocket and deftly removed the plug from its cable.
   "Having that laser pointing my way would make me a little nervous." He confessed, picking up a coil of rope lying inside one of the wheelbarrows and disappearing into the shaft.
   In the centre of the metal wall was a special ring McLeod himself had glued into place a few days earlier. By the light from his torch, he tied one end of the rope to the ring and scrambled back down the shaft. Once again in the tunnel, he picked up the rope and gave one huge tug. There came a loud clanging noise from the end of the shaft as the metal billet struck the floor. He continued pulling, dragging the billet along the ground, until it reached the lip of the shaft. Effortlessly, McLeod picked up the billet and rolled it down the tunnel past the mounds of earth.
   He turned to the Professor, giving him a big, satisfied grin. "So far so good."
   He entered the shaft again and let out a low whistle as he stuck his head and shoulders through the neatly cut hole and observed the strange, round, metallic room.
   "Time to clear up," ordered McLeod on his return.
   The laser was carried along the tunnel past the mounds of earth, quickly followed by the trestles.
   When everything was packed away to McLeod's satisfaction, he looked at his watch. "Eleven twenty five. Time to get back."
   "What was beyond the metal wall?" Professor Dandashi ventured to ask, on the walk back along the tunnel.
   "Patience, my dear Professor, patience," came the reply. "The whole world will be aware in a few days."
   Back again inside the van, McLeod handed the Professor a black mask and ordered him to put it on. "It is important for your daughter's safety that you do not know the location of our next destination," he explained.
   Professor Dandashi experienced the same baffling journey as Vivien had taken two nights before, finally being pushed through a doorway.
   "OK, you can take that mask off now," said McLeod and lit the lamp on the table.
   Vivien, who had been asleep on one of the beds, turned and saw her father. "Daddy, daddy," she cried, leaping up and hugging him. "I'm so glad you are here."
   McLeod silently left, bolting the door top and bottom. He made his way back to the van, drove along the embankment, over Chelsea Bridge to Battersea and parked on some wasteland. His house was a middle terraced, Victorian dwelling. He went straight to the bathroom, removed the horn-rimmed spectacles and then proceeded to peal off his beard and moustache. It was the hammer thrower the five had seen on their first day in Green Park.

McLeod slept soundly until eleven the next morning. The sharp, shrill ringing of the telephone dragged him from his sleep.
   "Colin?"
   "Hi! David."
   It was David West the MP. Only first names were used on these telephone conversations and nothing was discussed in detail. Phone calls could so easily be tapped.
   "How did things go?" asked the MP.
   "As smooth as silk," came the reply.
   "Good, good. Peter wants to check out the situation, but he won't be available until tomorrow. It looks like the party will be on either Friday or Saturday night, so keep the whole week free. Congratulations on your success. I will be in touch." With that, David West rang off.
   Colin Johnson smiled, turned over and resumed his sleep. "Soon we will all be rich. Very, very rich," he could be heard to murmur.

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