Day 30 – 2239 words and a total of 53 277 words! I’m finished :D. Just about to go and validate it! Of course, the book isn’t finished; I’ll be posting the rest of it on here over time.

Stikky rolled his eyes. “I bet they just hid them or something,” he muttered.

Leddy shook his head. “They play pranks and that kind of thing, but they’re not the ones to do things that’ll hold up work.”

“You realise what you’re pointing towards, right?”

Leddy shook his head. “Uh… what?”

“You’re saying that the saboteur is one of us.”

“Well,” said Stif from behind them, making them jump. “I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. No don’t look at us; we only just found some spare ones!”

 

The following morning, a few hours after they had started work on the rocket, it happened yet again, this time more serious than before.

Using a makeshift winch, the stickmen had wrapped a length of chain around one of the beds they were planning to use inside the rocket and proceeded to lift it up through the open hatch.

Standing beneath the swinging, jangling object as it floated slowly upwards, Stikky concentrated on his job of getting the bed inside without a scratch.

“Okay, it’s level now. A little to the left, please! No, that’s too much; to the right just a fraction! And… stop! Okay, now just move it slowly through… and… that’s done!”

As the stickmen inside the rocket hauled the bed through, getting ready to position it in the necessary place, Stikky waited patiently for the chain to be removed and lowered back down to him.

Moving aside to make room for Stif and Stib, who were dragging the second bed between them, he grabbed the length of chain dangling at shoulder-height and wrapped it firmly around the centre of the bed.

“Hoist away!” he called, stepping out the way as the bed slowly lifted into the air, swinging gently with the wind.

After ensuring it was going at a steady pace, he turned to talk to Stif and Stib.

“Look out!!” someone screamed.

Reacting from instinct, Stikky dived out of the way, landing awkwardly on the hard stone as all his breath was knocked out of him.

A moment later, there was a piercing clang, and something large smashed into the ground right where he had just been standing.

Climbing shakily to his feet, he examined the broken bed; it was useless now to try and re-use it.

He stared upwards at the stickmen operating the winch; both wore faces of shock and alarm. No, it hadn’t been their fault.

Stif and Stib stared at the bed. “That couldn’t have happened better if someone had tried to kill you!” they exclaimed together.

Stikky’s eyes opened wide, and he bent over to examine the length of broken chain wrapped around the bed.

He held up the end. Yes, he was right.

“Look!” he exclaimed, almost angrily. “This hasn’t just snapped, it’s been worn away by a file or something, leaving just the smallest amount left so that when we used it, it would break!”

Leddy stared at him. “Well,” he said finally. “Be thankful you weren’t under that thing when it fell.”

As the twins grabbed either side of the broken bed and began to drag it carefully off, Stikky turned to his friend.

“I’m getting tired of all this sabotage,” he whispered quietly. “So tonight, you and me—just us, remember—are going to hide out here and catch whoever it is in the act!”

Leddy stared at him, then grinned. “I like it!” he exclaimed.

 

After waiting impatiently for the day to end, Stikky and Leddy were finally rewarded when the others packed up their tools and set off down the tunnel.

Following at the back of the group for several minutes, they quickly slipped behind a wedge of rock and hid there until they were sure the others were far ahead.

Hurrying back the way they had come, the two soon emerged back out onto the rocket site, which had quickly plunged into darkness.

Holding their lanterns up, Stikky pointed to two rocks on either side of the landing site, both close to the rocket.

Nodding silently in agreement, the two turned and hurried off towards their hiding places.

Kneeling down behind the rock, Stikky pulled his coat further around him and shivered. It was going to be a cold night, that was for sure.

Holding his lantern up, he flashed it twice, then put it back down behind the rock and covered it up, satisfied with a returning flash from Leddy.

Sighing, he leaned back against the rock, took a drink of water, snuggled closer into his coat, and waited.

And waited.

After about an hour of absolutely nothing, he took his smouldering lantern, blew on it gently to make it burn a bit brighter, and signaled to Leddy once again, receiving the same, ‘all good’ response of two flashes, one after the other.

He lost track of time after that, and was just beginning to drift off to sleep when a hand shook him gently, jerking him into awareness.

He turned to see Leddy kneeling beside him, shaking him gently by the shoulders in an effort to wake him.

“What is it?” Stikky asked, blinking sleepily.

“You haven’t been answering my signals!” Leddy whispered. “I repeated it at least four times before I came to check on you. I thought something must have happened to you!”

Stikky shrugged. “Sorry,” he said apologetically. “Have you seen anything?” he asked, pulling his coat closer around his shoulders.

Leddy shook his head, a gesture barely visible in the smothered light of the lantern. “I thought maybe you might have seen something,” he replied, then got up and disappeared back into the darkness.

Stikky shook his head, angry with himself for being foolish enough to fall asleep while watching.

Another hour passed, and once again he held up his lantern and flashed it twice, receiving an identical response from Leddy.

Just when he was starting to think he should go and tell Leddy it was all a waste of time and they should just go back and get the sleep they had missed out on when something caught his attention.

He stiffened. What was that light? It was nowhere near Leddy’s hiding spot, or had his friend moved, and was signalling to him from a different place?

Gradually the light came nearer, and the dim form of a stickman carrying a lantern appeared out of the gloom. It was not Leddy.

Watching with dread as the figure passed close by Leddy’s hiding spot, Stikky saw his friend’s face peering over the rocks, shown brightly in the light of the lantern.

As the stickman passed Leddy and headed straight for the rocket, he crept from his hiding place and followed silently behind the figure, beckoning to Leddy as he passed him.

The two watched as the dim figure made his way carefully over to the rocket, pulled out a knife, and proceeded to cut one of the ropes.

The two looked at each other, and Stikky nodded. Now was the time.

Creeping forward, he ran forward and, grabbing the figure by the shoulder, yanked him around to face them.

The two gasped.

“Steik?” Leddy stammered. “You’re the saboteur?”

The figure stepped back, adjusting his glasses with a shaking hand as he pointed the knife at them warily. “Get away!” he said shakily, lowering the lantern. “Get back I say!”

The two ignored his order, and instead moved towards him, Leddy going for the knife and Stikky diving for the lantern.

He felt his head collide with Steik’s chest, knocking the glasses from his face and sending him stumbling backwards. A moment later there was a crash as the lamp fell from Steik’s hand and went out, plunging the three into darkness.

Silence.

Stikky lay on the ground, dazed and not quite sure what had happened. Feeling around with his hands, he found Leddy and helped him to his feet.

They looked around as their eyes gradually became used to the darkness. Where was Steik?

“What… where am I?” Steik’s voice came from somewhere to their left as Leddy struck a match and relit the lantern. “Where’s Destick? And… why are you two here?”

Stikky and Leddy shared a glance. Was this genuine, or was Steik just putting it on to trick them?

Stikky decided on the former, and decided to have a go at explaining things. “You’ve been sabotaging the rocket,” he said cautiously. “Trying to stop us from getting to space, it seems.”

Steik’s puzzled face grew even more confused. “Have I really been doing all that?”

Leddy looked at Stikky. “Are you sure you don’t remember any of it?” he asked, holding up the lantern. “As in, anything at all?”

Steik shook his head, picking up his cracked glasses and peering through them. “The last thing I remember was when I went down to the base of the mountain to pick some apples. I got ambushed by a couple of Strobots who quickly overpowered me and took me deep into the forest. Then I got strapped into a chair, and the last thing I saw was Destick standing over me, trying to put something on my head. Then I woke up, and I was lying here in the darkness with you guys. Where are we by the way?

Stikky looked at Leddy again, who shrugged. “We’re at the rocket site,” he explained. “And I’d say it’s about… three o’clock in the morning.”

“And I’ve really been stopping you guys finish the rocket?” Steik continued, turning to look at the massive bulk barely visible in the darkness. “Man, I’m so sorry.”

Stikky shrugged. “I think we’ve done pretty well despite your efforts. But it doesn’t matter; it’s pretty clear it was Destick. It sounds like he was controlling your mind somehow.”

Leddy put a hand around Steik comfortingly as the three made their way into the building and down the trapdoor into the tunnel. “From now on,” he decided. “Nobody goes out alone. You should always have at least one other person with you.”

Steik nodded. “That’s a good idea. But what are you going to tell the others?”

Stikky shrugged. “Just that me and Leddy have dealt with the saboteur and put a stop to the trouble he was making. We’ll probably say something about Destick too, just in case.”

Steik grinned in appreciation. “Thanks,” he decided, then opened his mouth in a massive yawn. “Wow, I’m sleepy. It must be all the sabotage I’ve been doing!”

Stikky patted him on the back. “Come on, let’s go and get some rest. We’ve got a big day tomorrow!”

 

After sleeping late into the morning, the three awoke to find that the others had already left for the rocket site.

They went and had breakfast in the kitchens, chatting cheerfully with McRhoddy, who, as the ‘chef’, was too old to do anything except cook.

Following this, they packed food and water and set off down the tunnel, still sleepy from the staying up all night.

They went to work as usual, nothing much being said about the events of the night before except what they had planned.

Everyone worked hard that day, and by late afternoon, the rocket was ready. McRhoddy and his apprentices had cooked up a massive batch of food—the kind of stuff that lasts for ages—and everyone had helped to store it in the cupboards.

They were all exhausted by nighttime, and could hardly drag themselves back down the tunnel to the castle.

“Why don’t we just leave tonight?” Leddy asked, stretching in a wide yawn. “We could…”

Stikky shrugged, equally tired. “Look around you… do you feel like leaving at the moment? I don’t think anyone really does… tomorrow, on the 15th.”

Leddy’s eyes widened, and for a moment he forgot how tired he was. “That means it’ll be a race against time… to escape before the bomb.” he replied. “Us vs. Destick.”

 

Stikky awoke early the next morning—refreshed after a good sleep to make up for the previous night—and decided to take a look from the walltops.

Walking along slowly—due to the fact he was still half asleep—he reached the stairs and climbed them drowsily.

Shaking himself in an attempt to clear his sleepiness, he looked over the battlements to see an army of Strobots camped out on the plateau.

At first he wasn’t sure what he was seeing. Was he just imagining them, or were they really there?

He rubbed his eyes. No, they were still there. Was it an attack? Something to stop them leaving in the rocket?

Suddenly he turned and sprinted down the stairs and ran as fast as he could through the maze of tunnels to the sleeping rooms.

“Get up!” he yelled, bringing everyone to the doors of their rooms with startled expressions all over their faces.

“We’ve got a massive army of Strobot’s camped on the plateau!” he shouted, his voice echoing weirdly down the tunnel. “They’re getting ready to siege the castle!”

Leddy’s tousled head appeared from the door of his room. “What are they doing here?” he asked, yawning sleepily.

“I expect they’re going to try and delay us until the Destbomb arrives,” Stikky replied grimly. “Come on, we need to get on the walltops and make sure we know what they’re doing.”

“What about breakfast?” the twins said indignantly, looking at each other.

“No time for that!” Stikky decided, turning to hurry back down the tunnel. “We’ve got to prepare for an attack!”