The Three Tecs
by Brian Taylor.
Much to his own amazement, Nick set off like a greyhound. 'Limp Along Leslie' was no match for him. Karl went for Fancy thinking the boys wouldn't desert her and that she'd be the easiest one to catch. He was wrong on both counts. He didn't know the boys, they didn't give Fancy a second thought. They were too interested in saving their own skins. Furthermore, Fancy was too athletic for lumbering Karl. All three children got away and, as planned, met up in Nicks' garden shed. It didn't take them long to decide that after their brush with the law the previous Friday, the best thing to do was go and see Joe Sweeper, the school caretaker.
"There shouldn't be anyone in the school." said Joe on hearing the friends' news. "Just wait there," he said, "I'll get my keys and we'll take a look."
When he opened the main door of the school Joe knew immediately something was wrong: the security alarm didn't start to beep as it should have done. It had been disabled. "Keep behind me," said Joe, "just in case those men are still here." As they walked down the corridor heading for the Computer Room, Joe halted for a second to take a Rounders bat from a sports bag. "Just in case!" he said before walking on. As soon as he opened the door, he saw that the room was empty: twenty four computers had gone.
When the police arrived, the Sergeant was not happy to see Fancy, Nick and Choo for a second time in only three days. However, he was pleased that they were able to give them a description of the two men they'd seen.
"It's a start," said the Sergeant, "but I'm guessing that there would have been more than two. There may have been one or more inside the building when you came face-to-face with the man with the limp."
The police carried out a thorough search of the school and its grounds. "They knew what they were after. It doesn't look as if they've been anywhere else in the school and we've found tyre tracks in Pig Wood." Pig Wood was a little copse beside the Watson Drive playground.
"That'd be why we didn't see Karl at first," said Fancy.
The Headmistress, who had been called by Joe immediately after he rang the police, thanked her ex-students for their vigilance.
The following day, when everyone returned to Oversands Comprehensive, after the Bank Holiday, the friends told all their classmates about their adventure. The other children thought they were heroes and that what they'd done had been "real cool".
For the next few days, the trio basked in their new found status. On Friday afternoon, as the three left school together, Nick said,"‘It looks like it's going to be a really warm evening for early May. Let's meet up early and go and sit on the front for 15 mins before going to choir-practice."
The three friends sat together on their usual bench overlooking the harbour. They sucked on the ice-lollies they'd just bought from Mama Maria Masatori's and listened to the sea lapping against the harbour wall and watched the boats bobbing up and down in the swell and the seagulls gliding effortlessly in the evening sunshine.
They'd been sitting there for only a few minutes when Choo noticed a while Transit van drive out along the harbour. "Isn't that the van we saw at the school last Friday?" said Nick, "It looks as if it's got those fake bullet holes down the side."
"I think you could be right," said Fancy.
"And look who's getting out," said Nick, choking on his lolly."‘It’s 'Limp Along Leslie'. And there are three guys with him. I bet one of them is Karl."
They watched intently as the men opened the back of the van and started to unload boxes which they then carried on board a motor boat moored by the harbour wall. "I bet they contain the school's computers," said Choo.
Once they had unloaded the van, the men climbed back into the Transit and drove off. "
"Let's go and have a look. See if we can find out what they've been unloading." said Nick.
When the threesome reached the boat, they took note of its name: 'Sea Otter II'. For a few moments they pretended to take an interest in the boat while checking first, where the cabin door was, and second, that there was no one in sight.
"Go! Go! Go!" whispered Choo and they quickly slipped on board and down into the cabin. Fancy immediately set about opening a box.
"Yes! We were right," she said with glee, "They are computers. 'Limp Along' and his mates must have been doing all the burglaries."
The friends looked into more and more boxes.
"They're all computers," said Nick. The children were so engrossed with their find, that they didn't hear the van return. It was only when they heard voices and someone stepping on board that they were brought back to reality. They knew there was no getting off the boat for the time being.
"Quick, hide behind the boxes," said Fancy.
Each of them slid out of sight as quietly as possible. But none of the men came down below. After a few minutes, Choo whispered, "What are we going to do?"
"What we usually do," replied Fancy, "Verse and pray."
"Got one," said Nick, "Psalm 17:8, Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your eye. Dear God, please hide us from these men and keep us safe."
"Amen" the other two whispered in response.
All of a sudden, they heard a flurry of activity on deck and the engine spluttered. "Cast off," someone cried. Then the boat started to move. With horror, the friends peered out of the portholes and watched the harbour wall slipped slowly away. Within a few minutes, the boat was out of the shelter of the harbour and on the open sea. All that could be seen on their side of the boat was sea.
To be continued ...
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