By Margaret Pearce
“We’ve missed our bus,” Amy said. “Little brothers are the worst pests in the world.”
“The biggest pests in the world,” Melissa corrected.
Their little brothers were found squatted by the overflowing rubbish bins.
“We’ve missed our bus again,” Amy scolded her brother Paul.
“You are supposed to wait in front of the junior school,” Melissa yelled at her brother Gerry. “Drop that rubbish.”
“This guy threw an unopened parcel in the bin.” Gerry held up a neatly sealed square parcel.
“Yeah, finders keepers, losers weepers,” Paul chanted.
“Maybe it’s a brand new set of colouring pencils,” Gerry said.
“Maybe it’s a box of donuts,” Paul said.
Amy produced her key chain, unfolded her small pocket knife and slit the parcel down one end. Inside the brown paper parcel was a plastic packet. Melissa slid it back, fast.
“It’s only salt or something,” Gerry said in disgust. “No wonder it got thrown out!’
The girls stared around. Who was using their school for a drug pick-up? A big black car with tinted windows was parked outside the school fence. The car door opened. A man jumped out and started climbing the school fence.
“You kids come here,” he yelled.
Amy dropped the package in her bag. The two boys took to their heels, their sisters close behind. They sprinted through the gate at the front of the school. The bus to the shopping centre was pulled in, its door slowly closing.
“We missed the school bus,” they yelled.
They squeezed up the steps into the bus and it pulled away. A man who ran out of the school gates after them ran back along the street.
“That big black car is following the bus,” Gerry said.
“Sure is a sore loser,” Paul agreed, his nose pressed to the window.
“He’s following us,” Melissa gasped.
“My big brother Mark will be at the Pizza Parlour in the shopping centre,” Amy said. “He’ll know what to do.”
The bus drove into the shopping centre. The big black car was in the car park. The car doors opened. Two men sprinted towards the bus.
Amy, Melissa and the two small boys hid behind the passengers and edged around the other side of the bus shelter as the men rapped on the bus driver’s window.
“We had to pick up two older girls, one white and one Asian and their little brothers from the school and missed them.” one of the men yelled. “Where did they go?”
“Probably at the phones ringing their parents.” The driver pointed across to the phones.
The men ran towards the phones. The passengers and the children headed into the shopping centre. The men talking by the phones spotted the children. They hurried towards them.
“Follow me,” Paul whispered.
He darted for the escalators, Gerry and the girls close behind him. The two men shoved everyone aside as they tried to catch up. Paul led the others along the arcade, through a restaurant, into the kitchen and through the back door.
They ran down the back stairs, past the public toilets, along a narrow passage and back into the mall. The men were already there! Paul darted into an Amusement Arcade.
It was crowded with teenagers and noisy with the machines and kids yelling. They pushed into the thickest group of spectators and dropped to the floor, crawling through a forest of jean clad legs towards the rows of machines.
They wriggled through a narrow gap between the machines and hid in the shadowy space behind them. After a fair while their sinister pursuers seemed to have gone! They ran to the Pizza Parlour and into the kitchen.
“Where’s Mark?” Amy demanded.
“Out doing a delivery,” was the answer.
They were firmly pushed outside. Their pursuers drifting past spotted them. Paul started running. He must have led them all over the shopping centre, up and down stairs and back passages and through shops. Sometimes they lost their pursuers, but were always found again. Outside the street lights started to go on. There were less shoppers around. The shopping centre became more brightly lit.
“I just can’t run another step,” Amy groaned.
Suddenly Melissa realised what they should have done in the first place.
“The Manager’s office and security centre?” she snapped at Paul.
Paul led through another maze of back passages and always upwards. Running past a shop of mirrors Melissa saw their pursuers reflected in them.
“They’re back!” she called.
Paul bolted for a narrow flight of steps, Gerry close behind. The girls, hampered by their heavy school bags, lagged behind. Amy screamed as one of the men grabbed her! The other grabbed Melissa! Melissa swung her heavy bag at his face and screamed as well.
The door at the top of the stairs opened. Two security guards burst out. The men flung the girls aside and fled, the security guards after them.
“The cameras tracked the men chasing you towards the Centre Office,” the manager said, standing at the door.
Melissa and Amy handed over the package, told about their school bins being used as a drug pick-up, and how the men had followed them from school.
“Those guys were real sore losers,” Paul and Gerry explained when the parents arrived.
The little brothers were considered the heroes of the day because they had memorised the registration number of the big black car and the four men were caught.
“Once you were safe on the bus, why didn’t you ring the police?” Amy’s mother asked.
“How could we ring the police?” Melissa asked.
Amy’s face deepened from its normal pale gold to a deep purple red. “I had Mum’s mobile phone in my bag, just for emergencies. I was so scared I forgot!”
“Scared!” Gerry said. “It was a real fun afternoon!”
“Yeah,” Paul agreed. “A real fun afternoon!”
“Fun!” Melissa and Amy yelled as the two little brothers ducked behind their parents.
There was no problem about dodging drug dealers, but cranky sisters were a different matter.
About the Author
I am a compulsive writer. I started off life as a copywriter and just kept on going, through marriage, children, Arts Degree at Monash and grandchildren. I live a fairly secluded life in an underground flat in the Dandenongs in Victoria. I cut my teeth on sci/fi and never quite recovered from it being my first love as a genre.
You can keep track of all Margaret’s books on her author page: