Sir John looked around the room. It was indeed a games room with a billiards table in the middle. Around the edges of the room were some racks with cues and there was a globe on wheels. Lord Arlington was gibbering.

“Seems normal enough,” said Sir John warily.

The globe rolled towards them and the top opened. Inside were bottles of spirits and glasses. Lord Arlington’s gibbering grew more intense. Sir John picked up a bottle of whisky and looked at it quizzically.

“Seems your guests aren’t so terrible,” said Sir John.

“Don’t drink it!” said Lord Arlington. “It’s poison.”

“Well it’s not one of the premier names, but I think you can be too picky about these things,” said Sir John. 

He looked back at the bottle in his hands. It had a skull and crossbones on it now. Sir John put it back gently.

“Earlier,” said Sir John, “you said it was obvious why these… phenomenon wanted you to leave. But I don’t think it is. At least not to me.”

“They want it, the house,” said Lord Arlington. “For themselves.”

“But why?” said Sir John. “What do they want with it?”

Lord Arlington gibbered some more then and pointed at the cues. They were rattling in the racks.

“That can’t be good,” said Sir John. “Funny how this keeps happening when I ask you questions.”

The cues all jumped off the rack in unison and started hopping around the room. At the same time the balls on the table began bouncing lightly. Then one flew off the table, straight at the two men. Sir John moved to the left and a second ball flew at him. He grabbed Lord Arlington and dragged him under the billiards table. There was just enough space under for them to fit. Around them they could see the base of cues hopping all over and balls flying about. Sir John looked to see where the door was.

“Why do they want the house, Lord Arlington?” said Sir John.

At this point all the cues stopped hopping.

“They want to use…” whispered Lord Arlington. He screwed up his face and looked confused. “They want to use…”

His answer was drowned out by all the cues banging on the table and the balls bouncing violently on the top.

“They want me to not know, that’s for sure,” said Sir John. “I’m just going to do something, and then I have a little escape plan.”

Sir John tried on his goggles and then did something with the cryptozoetropometer. Then he scrabbled to each corner of the table.

“Hmm, as I thought,” he said. “Ok, Lord Arlington, we’re going to get out of here now. Press up with your back and we’ll walk with the table to the door. And if we’re really lucky, the door will open out.”

“But it must weigh a tonne,” said Lord Arlington.

“Yes, but it has wheels,” said Sir John. “Which I have just unlocked.”

The two men slowly moved the table in the direction of the door. The cues and balls grew more frantic as they did. When they got to the door, Sir John gave it a push. It didn’t move.

“It’s locked! We’re doomed!” said Lord Arlington.

“I have a little device which will help,” said Sir John. He dug in his pocket and pulled out a small silver box.

“Bosch safety lighter,” said Sir John, who flicked it open and pushed it to the door. “Keep to the back of the table.” 

Seconds later it exploded and the door fell open. Sir John and Lord Arlington ran out of the room.

Background Painting by Mary Ramsey Pichette

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