“Oh Jesus Christ, no!” I said. At first I’d thought it was a tarpaulin billowing around, over by the barn. The light had nearly gone and it was hard to distinguish anything. Background and foreground. Everything was shades of flat, dark grey, like when I print pictures but I’ve run out of coloured ink. “Get it online!” I shouted to Tan who was hunkered down by a tree with his laptop balanced badly on his knee.
“I need more time!” he said as he typed away furiously.
“We haven’t got time!” I said. The cowolf wasn’t fully upright yet – whatever upright was for that abomination – but already it was taller than a tractor that sat helplessly near it. Its round headlights looking like frightened eyes. Firelighter began to glow and then, before I could move, burst into flames.
“Fucking hell, you wanna warn me before you do that?” I said, moving away and rubbing the side of my face and feeling my hair for burnt bits. I was okay. The circle of light Firelighter was emitting only extended half way across the paddock. The cowolf was now shrouded in total darkness but we could hear it moving and shifting over the low hum which Firelighter was making. “Tan.” I said, quietly.
“What?” he replied
“How long, Tan!” I said, louder, as the cowolf and its swinging head and rows of teeth made its drooling way into the golden glow.
“Oh, I stopped, you said we didn’t have time.”
“I meant much time, we’ve got a bit, but hurry.”
“I had a dream las-“
“Alright Martin Luther King,” I said, interrupting Sub who was sat in the back of the van. On the sideways bench. Using his thighs to help him balance when the van braked erratically. I always say that when somebody starts off with, ‘I had a dream.’
Firelighter was driving and it was fine. I’ve got no problem with that. I wasn’t wincing every time she nearly smashed the wing mirror off the van on the narrow roads we were driving down.
“I had a dream that we all burned.”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, that’s cheery.” I looked over at Firelighter who was concentrating on driving but still shook her head ever so slightly. I smiled. “Was that it?”
“Yeah,” said Sub.
“What’s our ETA?” I asked.
“I know what ETA is,” said Firelighter. “Five minutes? I don’t know where we’re going, really. Ten minutes.”
“Tan, how are you getting on with the Tom Tom.”
“I just need a bit more time,” he replied.
We were on the north east of the Island. You could split Jersey into quarters. Draw a cross through the middle. The south east corner is town. A fairly advanced metropolitan area. There’s a Bella Pasta and Next, everything else you could reasonably expect, except a Starbucks.
There are no Starbucks in Jersey.
The south west corner of Jersey is like the French Riviera. Well posh with nice beaches. The north west corner of Jersey is a desolate and barren place. Sand dunes and shacks, mainly. Steep hilly fields, fertilized with seaweed, growing potatoes for which the Island is famed. The north east, where we were, is proper Wicker Mansville. It’s sinister enough on a summer’s afternoon. Late autumn? Forget about it. We drove past skeletal bare trees, which seemed to be frozen and contorted in pain, and a Co-op Locale.
“Is a cowolf what I think it is?” asked Firelighter.
“Do you think its an unholy cross between a cow and a wolf?” I said.
“Is it spelled cowwolf or cowolf?”
“I’d pronounce that co-wolf.”
“Well then you’d be an idiot,” I said. Co-wolf. How stupid would you have to be?
“Jersey cows are nice,” said Sub, from the back, and I turned in the passenger seat and pointed at him.
“No!” I said. “No! I know you love Jersey cows but don’t you fucking let that cloud your judgement when it’s time to take action.” I held my finger pointing at him until he nodded. I turned back to the windscreen. “This isn’t a cow. Any cowyness this creature once had has long gone. Now what we have is a creature with the strength and agility of a cow, but with the mind of a stone cold killer.” I shook my head. “And we’re going to take out the queen.”
“I’ve got the Tom Tom working,” said Tan, handing it to me. I clicked it into its holder on the dashboard, so Firelighter could see it.
“Nearly there,” she said and the mood got serious.
“Anybody want a Haribo?”
“Stripes or Pinballs?” asked Tan.
“Stripes,” I said.
“Any apple ones left?”
“No, I ate those.”
“I’m okay then,” said Tan.
“Any coke ones.”
I couldn’t actually distinguish the colours of the wrappers of the sweets in the bag, but I knew there weren’t any coke ones. Coke are my second favourite, after apple. “Nah, there weren’t any in this bag. Think they’re only in special bags. There’s…” I tipped the bag forward to try to illuminate the bag with the light from the Tom Tom. I still couldn’t see so put the big light above the windscreen.
“I can’t see!” said Firelighter, suddenly wrestling with the steering wheel.
“Theresredorangeandyellowones,” I said as quickly as I could and clicked the light off. The instant my eyes readjusted to the darkness outside I saw the figure. Even though I was in the passenger seat I slammed my right foot down, luckily Firelighter did the same. The van has ABS so we stopped easily, though the two in the back had to extend an arm to brace themselves on the back of the front seats. The bleached out figure which stood in our headlights didn’t flinch.