Todd Frogley and the Camelot Knigtmareby Will B. Riley / Fantasy
Todd Frogley and The Camelot Knightmare
Book 1 of The Colliderscope Series
Will B Riley
Copyright © Will B Riley 2017
This series of books is dedicated to all those kids who think they have no talent.
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‘You’re sending me where?’
Todd Frogley looked up from the noisy electronic game he was playing. Mrs Frogley continued packing the bag.
‘I’m sending you to your Uncle Silas’s place, as I’ve been telling you for the past ten minutes. If you took your mind off that silly game thing for a second you’d have heard me.’
It was true that it took something startling to take his attention from his electronic games but this was startling.
‘Uncle Silas? But you always said he was a nutcase. Why do I have to stay with him?’
‘I never said he was a nutcase. I said he was eccentric.’ Lily Frogley’s uncle had been a university professor until disagreements with his colleagues had forced him to retire.
‘You said ‘odd’. Anyway, he’s your uncle, not mine.’
His mother zipped Todd’s bag closed. ‘He’s your great–uncle, and yes, he’s a bit … different, but very clever. And you’re going to him because your dad and I can’t take you with us on our business trip and I couldn’t find anyone else who’d take a twelve–year–old boy for a whole week.’
‘I could stay with …’
‘You’re going to your uncle’s and that’s that. I don’t want any more argument about it.’
Todd had been about to suggest his best friend Oscar’s house but he knew from experience that when Mum said that’s that, that was that. It would only be for a week anyway. How bad could it be?
‘This is your stop, son.’
Todd struggled out of a deep and peaceful sleep to find the train guard shaking him by the shoulder. He blinked and rubbed his eyes, not immediately registering where he was. The train carriage had been so warm and cosy he’d fallen asleep soon after waving goodbye to Mum and Dad.
‘This is Little Puddingly–On–The–Moor. That’s where your folks said to let you off, right?’
Todd nodded sleepily and reached up for his bag. He rubbed clear a part of the fogged–up window and looked out. There was nothing to see but grey mist. “Where’s the station?”
“It’s there, what there is of it. You get a lot of days like this on the moor.”
As Todd stepped out on to the platform the vague outline of a tall figure appeared out of the fog like something from a Dracula movie. He shivered, only partly from the cold evening air.
‘Are you there, Professor?’ The guard called out into the fog.
‘I’m here. Thank you, Denis.’ The voice was deep and growly. It made Todd want to get straight back onto the train, but it was too late. The carriage door closed and the train moved off to disappear into the fog.
‘Todd, right? Follow me.’
The shadowy figure turned and strode away. Todd grabbed his bag and hurried to keep up, forced to stay close or the fog would have swallowed up the man totally.
Unable to see where the platform ended he stumbled down the steps but managed to stay upright. After a few yards the shape of a vehicle appeared and solidified. Even in the fog he could see that it was a beat up old Landrover. He tossed his bag in the back and climbed into the passenger seat. He looked across at his uncle and saw that his uncle was looking across at him.
‘So you’re Todd eh? Haven’t seen you since your christening. How old are you now?’
‘I’m twelve, Sir.’
In the interior light’s weak illumination Todd saw that his Uncle Silas was not so scary. The vampire look the fog had given him was nothing more than the upturned collar of his overcoat. With his bushy eyebrows, strong nose, white beard, and hair that curled over his collar he appeared to be about eighty.
‘No need to call me ‘Sir’. Nobody calls me that anymore.’ He started the ignition and drove slowly out of the station parking area. Todd wondered how he could see where he was driving. Visibility was no more than a few yards and the car’s lights simply bounced off the wall of fog.
‘Nobody calls me anything any more, least of all ‘Professor’. You can call me Uncle.’
Neither man nor boy spoke again for several minutes. Uncle Silas was too busy peering ahead or trying to see where he was driving by sticking his head out of the window. Todd thought he’d better try making conversation.
‘What were you a professor of, Uncle?’
‘Antiquities, professor of Antiquities at Oxford, until they forced me to retire. Said my discoveries were unscientific. Closer to sorcery than scientific principles, they said. Bah! Wouldn’t even allow me to demonstrate what I’d learned. Idiots! Couldn’t separate alternate realities from their concept of sorcery. Realities, I told them, not sorcery. Sorcery is fake. Alternate realities are real. I can prove it!’
Todd hadn’t the slightest idea what alternate realities were. He asked no more questions but listened politely as his uncle muttered insults about his former university colleagues. After what seemed an age the car passed through a stone gateway and pulled to a stop. Filtered by the fog, yellow light from a window showed that they had arrived at a house. Todd exited the car and followed his uncle inside. The house was low–ceilinged with old–fashioned furniture. Uncle Silas led him up a narrow flight of stairs and showed Todd the room he’d be sleeping in.
‘Drop your gear in here then come downstairs. Thought you might be hungry so I made some supper for you.’
Downstairs Todd found his uncle in the kitchen. A plate of something was on the table. He wasn’t sure what it was but it smelled good and tasted better.
‘Todd,’ Uncle Silas said. He was not addressing his nephew but musing on the name. ‘Funny name, Todd Frogley. Bet they call you Toad at school.’
Todd nodded. ‘And ‘Froggy’. And sometimes ‘Toady Frog’. I hate it.’
Professor Maxwell laughed. ‘I would too. Blame your mother. Lily never should have married a man with the surname Frogley then named her son Todd. What was she thinking?’
Todd decided he might like his uncle after all. After the meal he took his game player from his pocket as usual but found its battery had run down. He hated when that happened. He felt naked without it and rarely forgot to charge it. Oh well, he’d have to get the charger from his bag. He said goodnight to Uncle Silas and went to his room. He was so tired that by the time he’d changed into his pyjamas he’d totally forgotten and fell asleep without looking for the charger.