It took a while for Chub to get her breath back, but the time it took was enough for her to feel her legs stop twitching from all that running and also for her lungs to stop feeling like they were on fire.
She sat in a small shack which seemed to be made of old pallets, chicken wire, newspapers and various bits of odds and ends. It was cramped but well built and was far enough from view that Chub felt as safe as one could when sat in a hut made of junk with a very strange man with hair like a drunk birds nest who claimed that spiders had told him to put the kettle on.
Her hands cupped a... well, a cup.
The cup in question had been handed to her by the very same individual who had made the very peculiar statement about spiders and time keeping previously.
His name is Gus, as will be confirmed very shortly.
"Drink slowly. You'll get hiccups otherwise. Nobody likes hiccups." said the man named Gus.
"I'm Gus by the way." (told you!).
Gus had a friendly smile. The sort of smile simpletons utilise instead of wearing a sign that says DON'T ASK ME, I'M AN IDIOT, but there was also an air of serenity that only emanates from those who are truly at one with the universe. So Gus was a bit of a conundrum really.
Chub couldn't help but gulp at the cup of herbal tea Gus had given her. "What did you mean about the spiders?" She asked between slurps.
"You have heard of Chaos theory yes?"
Chub shrugged in agreement.
"Well, simply put, in Chaos theory, a butterfly flapping it wings in Brasil can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world."
Chub pondered the implications of this and said "Why don't they just kill all the Brazilian butterflies then? Hey presto - no more hurricanes."
"no." said Gus. "It doesn't work like that. I was using a metaphor...."
Chub rolled her eyes. "Dur... I'm joking. I know what Chaos theory is. I read about it in one the books we exchanged for a dead pigeon."
Gus sighed a sigh of relief and continued. "Everything we do has reactions. Some small and others big. They spread, causing other things to happen and not always directly linked... I can see patterns in things and can calculate their path both back and forth. That's how I knew you would be coming here, today."
Chub shrugged again. Although quite impressed at his story telling she had no faith in his mad ramblings.
Gus, however, continued to explain in detail lots of things that he couldn't have otherwise known. He also showed Chub how he used everyday objects to find out the information.
"You try.." He said with that idiot smile of his.
"Give over!" Laughed Chub. "It's a load of codswallop." She snorted.
Gus raised an eyebrow in mild surprise.
"Frightened are you... never mind then." and before he could make another sound, his brief use of reverse psychology Chub picked up an old can of fizzy drink from the floor.
"What do I do then." She said defiantly.
"Look for a pattern." Said Gus. "Find the pattern and allow it to form ... a message."
Chub stared at the can. She moved it around in her hand looking for dents and bumps in its aluminium sides.
Then she saw it.
The bar code.
The little square of black lines on the side. To anybody else it would just look like a random group of thick lines and thin lines. But something spoke to Chub telling her that there was more to it than that.
Minutes passed and Chub realised she had not blinked in all that time.
Here eyes began to smart and she was forced to blink a few times to relieve the itch. As she did her eyes watered and from nowhere... a shape behind the pattern began to form.
Gus could tell from the look on her face she had succeeded.
"What did you see?" Gus whispered with wonder.
Chub Shrugged and shook her head. "I want to go home..... But I can't...." She said without any enthusiasm. Something had obviously given her a fright.
She handed Gus the small piece of paper with the items she needed to collect before being allowed back inside Lenny Henry Tower.
"I've already made you a bed behind those curtains." Gus said politely. "It's lucky I just happen to have a Glass Hammer and some tartan paint in here somewhere... as for the long weight... we'll see about that in the morning. I'm sure Geds Brick-n-Brack shop will have some in stock." He said with a knowing wink.
Morning came, although for Chub it took a long time. She couldn't sleep.
The day before she had been happily running backwards and forwards across the landing, getting under everyone's feet, annoying her brother Handle and her sister who had the unfortunate fortune to also be named after the first thing their father saw as they were born. It never really dawned on any of the siblings that Rising damp was NOT a real name for girl, so we shall say no more on the matter.
Gus took Chub out for a walk. She still wouldn't talk about what she saw in the patterns of the fizzy drinks can, but she had an urge to be somewhere else.
After a quick visit to Geds Brick-n-Brack shop, they left Chubs wares in the shack and headed out.
They walked in almost silence through the streets of Stockdale. They passed Mabels Cafe, The Hat museum, down and along the canal and carried on until Chub grabbed Gus' arm.
"Here." She said quietly.
Gus frowned. "The Old abandoned Fun Fair?" He said. "Curious. Nobody has been here for years."
Gus prised open the old rusted gates and they both squeezed through and into the park.
It was eerily quiet around the park and the evening light was quickly fading.
"I think we should leave." Said Chub. "I don't like it he...." But her words were halted in their tracks by the arrival of two shadowy figures.
Gus grabbed chub and they hid behind one of the rusting dodgem cars.
The two men lit flashlights and walked into, what used to be, the old haunted house.
Moments passed before Gus turned to Chub and asked. "What did you see? What brought us here?"
"That!" She answered and pointed to the haunted house where there was a loud shout and as both Gus and Chub looked up, a large dog came crashing through the (admittedly thin) wall upstairs.
There was a scream, something that sounded like "DOOBY SCOO - WHERE ARE YOU?" before another figure hurtled through the hole in the wall and to his doom.
Gus stood up. "Get out of here... RUN!"
Together they moved as fast as they could back to the gates. Before they got three steps forward though, both Gus and Chub found themselves in a heap on the floor.
It's the kind of thing that happens when you run straight into a very large man of the "hench" variety.
"Well, well, well." said a well spoken man with thick glasses and thinning hair (for who long time readers might recognise as Dr Malevolent! - shock and gasp!)
"Sneaky little nosey parkers are we? poking our nosey noses into things that don't concern us are we?" He laughed evilly.
The large henchman stood next to Malevolent picked up Gus with one hand and punched him unconscious.
She was beginning to regret her desire to know what running felt like as it often seemed to involve people chasing her with no good intentions.
"Go after her Barnabus, then come back and put that dog and his idiot into the van."
Barnabus was a giant of man and it didn't take long for him catch up to Chub and grab her with one of his huge hands.
Chub wanted to scream but Barnabus leaned in, his hand over most of her head, let alone her mouth.
"Sssh!" He whispered, out of site of his employer. "You need to run. Don't come back. It's too dangerous for you here. Find the professor. He will help you." and with that, He lifted Chub over the fence and returned to Dr Malevolent.
See Chub run.
Run Chub, run.
Gus wasn't clear on how many days had past, but he knew he had been held captive for a long time. He drifted into awareness and looked around.
Unable to move, as his arms and legs were tied outstretched, he was just able to move his head. What he saw shocked him. Lines and lines of bodies, all tied up like him. Some in glass cabinets, some dismembered.
Along the line he saw his keeper making his way toward him.
"Ah, you are awake at last... Gus isn't it?" Smirked the Doctor.
"What do you want from me?" gasped Gus. "Do you expect me to talk?"
"No." said Malevolent, with mockingly shocked. "I expect you ... well, actually yes. I want to ALL about you and that special brain of yours...."
aaaaaand fade to black - fade in dramatic music - roll credits