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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 8.
Vivien Has a Frightening Experience.

Vivien went to her room, had a shower, put on her nightdress and sat at her dressing table brushing her hair in front of the mirror. And thought about her day.
   She was enjoying her stay in London much more than she thought she would. Meeting the four other children was the main reason for this. She enjoyed their company immensely. Even Timmy was not like other dogs. He was very intelligent and seemed to understand everything that was being said to him. Vivien yawned, making her realise how tired she was. The last few days had been very hectic. She jumped into bed and was soon fast asleep.

A sharp rapping on the door woke Vivien up with a jolt. She rolled over and switched on her bedside lamp. The sudden brightness hurt her eyes. The clock said 12.05. Just past midnight. She padded to the door.
   "Who is it?" she asked, nervously.
   "It is Mr Tyler, the hotel manager," came back the reply. "Your father has been taken ill and is asking for you."
   Vivien quickly slid back the bolt. This was what the man in the corridor was waiting for and immediately leapt into action. He thrust open the door with such a force that Vivien was sent sprawling to the floor, knelt down and pressed a certain spot on the side of her neck... and for Vivien everything went black.
   The man stood up. He was wearing a long, dark overcoat and a trilby hat to match. He had a neatly trimmed black beard and thick, horn rimmed glasses. It was the same person Anne had noticed in the dining room the previous morning. From his pocket he pulled out a piece of moulded plastic with two thin strips of natural coloured leather attached to each end. He lent over, forced open Vivien's mouth and pushed between her teeth a plastic strip protruding from the moulding. Lifting up her hair he tied the strips tightly behind her neck. Turning her face round he grunted with satisfaction. The moulding was shaped and coloured to resemble a closed, girl's mouth. It acted as a perfect gag, but would fool anyone's casual glance.
   The man picked up the holdall he had dropped on his dramatic entrance, pulled out a long overcoat, a blonde wig and lay them on the bed. He then turned his attention to the chest of drawers in the corner of the room, quickly found a pair or Vivien's jeans, two woollen tops, stuffed them in the holdall and closed the zip. A moaning sound came from behind. Vivien was coming too.
   The man put his mouth close to her ear. "Listen to me carefully," he said in a clear, firm voice that had a distinct Scottish accent. "We do not wish to harm you but you must do exactly as you are told. I have knowledge of various pressure points on the body, as you are no doubt aware. If you give me any trouble I can cause you immense pain. Do I make myself clear?"
   Vivien nodded, her petrified eyes clouding with tears.
   "OK, stand up and put on this coat, wig and pair of shoes."
Vivien did as she was told.
   The man opened the door, cautiously put his head outside and looked up and down the corridor. He came back into the room, picked up the holdall and grabbed Vivien firmly by the arm. "Right, no funny business," he hissed.
   Vivien was frogmarched along the corridor to the waiting lift. The two descended to the ground floor in silence. The man led Vivien across the almost empty foyer towards the exit.
   "Have a good night, Mr. McLeod," called out the porter at the reception desk.
   "You can be sure of that," replied the man, casually.
   There was a van with the words 'Evening Standard' emblazoned on its side parked down a side street close by. Vivien had seen many similar to this careering the streets of London. The man pushed back the passenger door and thrust Vivien roughly inside. He then slid into the driving seat next to her.
   "It is important for your own safety that you do not know where I am taking you. So put this on." He handed her a black mask. "You can take that wig off now," he added.
   They drove for about fifteen minutes making various turns. Vivien had no idea where she was when they finally came to a halt.
   "Sit quietly for a minute," whispered the man.
   Vivien heard voices and footsteps of people passing by. When all was clear the man leapt out. Vivien heard what sounded like the clang of an iron gate. The van door slid open and the man lifted her out. The ground was hard and smooth. After a few steps Vivien could hear and feel they were walking on a gravel path. Then came a short trek across some soft, uneven ground.
   "Stop here," ordered the man.
   In the distance she heard the sound of traffic then, closer at hand, some metallic clicks and a grating noise.
   "Go careful! There are some steps here," said the man, taking Vivien by the arm and leading her down. "Wait here," ordered the man again and rushed back up the steps.
   More grating noises, followed by a dull thud. Vivien stood at the bottom of the steps shaking with fear. What was going to happen to her? The journey continued in silence. Vivien felt she was in some kind of little used underground passage, for the air smelt stale and nasty. After a few minutes they came to another halt. More metallic clicks and faint sliding noises. The man put his hand on the back of Vivien's neck and pushed her down and forward. She stumbled, but managed to keep on her feet. A further short walk and a slamming sound of a door closing.
   "You can take off your mask now."
   Vivien found herself in a small, stone, windowless room lit by a solitary lamp on a table. Two basic single beds were pushed against the walls and in the corner stood a portable toilet.
   The man removed Vivien's gag.
   "Why do you bring me here?" she burst out, tears filling her eyes. "What do you want from me?"
   The big man looked at her through his thick, horn-rimmed glasses, a faint smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "We do not want anything from you," he said, "but we need your father to do a little job for us. You areā€¦ how can I put it? The lever of persuasion. He will be joining you in a few days, hence the second bed. A few days after that, if all goes well, you will both be released unharmed. You can scream as much as you like, nobody will hear you. There is a bowl and a jug of water under the table. Soap, towel, toothbrush and toothpaste on the bed. I will bring you food in the morning. Enjoy your stay!" he added sarcastically and left, bolting the door securely after him.
   Vivien fell on the bed and burst into tears.

That very same night, George was having a vivid dream. She was lazing on a golden, sun-drenched beach. A clear blue sea lay before her filled with myriad tiny sailing boats to the distant horizon. Behind, palm trees swayed gently in the breeze. Faint Hawaiian music teased her ears. A chilled fruit cocktail sat on a table within easy reach and a brightly coloured parasol gave protection from the direct rays of the sun. Aaah paradise... A low rumbling sound made her turn. Dark storm clouds were forming above the mountains in the distance. The rumble of thunder turned to a growl... a dog's growl... TIMMY!
   George woke up immediately and turned on her bedside lamp. She saw Timmy standing by the door, the hair bristling on the back of his neck and a low growl emanating from deep within his throat.
   George put on her dressing gown. "What's wrong Tim?"
   Timmy looked up at her. His tail, tucked between his legs, moved slightly from side to side. George looked across at Anne. She was still fast sleep. George opened the door, followed Timmy to the stairs and down to the fourth floor.
   They were just in time to see the lift doors at the end of the corridor close. The lights above flashed 3, 2, 1 and finally G, for Ground floor.
   "Well, whoever it was has gone now," whispered George.
   But Timmy was not convinced. He ran over to the lift and sniffed the floor. Then back to Room 421, Vivien's room, and whined quietly, looking up at George. George went over and knocked gently at Vivien's door.
   "She will be asleep, Timmy. I must not wake her. Let's go back to bed." Timmy reluctantly followed George back to their room.    George lay in bed for a while, thinking, before finally falling sleep.

The next morning George was up first, as usual, to take Timmy down to the kennels. She came back up by way of the stairs. A large athletic man, with a neatly trimmed black beard and thick, horn-rimmed glasses, was a few steps ahead. When he got to the fourth floor, George saw him turn left along the corridor and knock at Professor Dandashi's door. The door opened, a few words were exchanged, and the man entered.
   Anne was dressed when George returned.
   "There are some strange goings on in this Hotel," said a concerned George.
   She went on to tell Anne about the events of the night and morning.
   "It is not unusual for people to wander about at midnight in a London hotel," remarked Anne, when George had finished her story.
   "Yes, but why was Timmy growling?" returned George. "He is normally the first one to sense trouble."
   "O.K. George. There does seem to be something queer going on," conceded Anne, "but I cannot make any sense of it at the moment. Shall we go down to breakfast and see if Vivien or the boys heard anything last night?"
   Julian and Dick were already at breakfast, but of course Vivien had not been seen.
   "Why don't you two girls go up to Vivien's room and hurry her up?" suggested Julian, after hearing George's story.
   The two girls rushed back up the stairs and knocked on her door. No answer. George tried the handle. The door opened easily.
   "Vivien," called out George. Silence.
   The room looked and felt strangely quiet. The bed covers were pushed back on one side as if Vivien had just stepped out. Her teddy bear lay alone in the bed, looking kind of sad. The dressing table neatly displayed Vivien's brush, comb and make-up. Her suitcase stood against the wall by the chest of drawers.
   Anne peeked into the bathroom. Here again she had the same eerie feeling. Vivien's toothbrush was standing alone in a glass. Her deodorant and toothpaste lay on the shelf and a towel was neatly folded on the rail. Anne felt the towel. It was dry. "Vivien has not had a shower this morning," thought Anne, "how queer."
   "Maybe she is next door with her father," called out George, "or maybe she has gone down to breakfast using the lift and we missed her."
   "I get a very funny feeling in here," said Anne, with a shiver. "I now know how the men must have felt when they boarded the 'Marie Celeste' and found the ship empty of sailors, but everything else intact."
   "Yes. I get the same feeling," said George, quietly, "but it's probably just our imagination."
   Anne absentmindedly picked up Leo the teddy, affectionately cradling him in her arms, before the two girls left Vivien's room, gently closing the door behind them. George knocked at Professor Dandashi's room. Again, no answer. This time she found the door locked.
   "Come on," she said, "let's go down. We will probably find Vivien tucking into a big plate of eggs and bacon."
   But of course, she wasn't. When they returned, Julian and Dick were alone at the table supping tea.
   "We can't find Vivien anywhere," said a still worried Anne.
   "The mystery has already been solved," retorted Dick. "I am afraid the news is a bit sad. Professor Dandashi has just been over. His sister, Vivien's favourite Auntie, has been taken ill. Vivien has gone down to Brighton to be with her."
   "But that is impossible!" blurted out Anne. "Vivien told us she has no other relatives living in England."

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