Two lonely figures made their way cautiously up the loooong winding drive.
“Could do with some lights. It’s pitch black around here,” complained Hugh, looking nervously over his shoulder and walking headlong into a gold plated lamppost.
“Ouch!” He rubbed his tender hooter.
“Matches his dark soul,” replied Ali. “You OK?”
“I said… oh, forget it.”
The mansion reared up like a forbidding dark shadow ahead of them.
“How does anyone afford a palace like this in the middle of London unless it’s through ill-gotten gains?”
“He was a solicitor in the 80s. Of course it’s through ill-gotten gains!”
“Well he’s obviously trying to save money on his leccy bill then,” said Hugh, stubbing his toe on the diamond studded kerb.
“Look, we’re here now. Ring the bell.”
“No, you ring the bell.”
Ali pushed tentatively at the doorbell, and from somewhere deep inside the house the muffled sound of chiming reached them.
“No one’s home,” said Ali, and turned to leave.
“But what about the Pyjama Party? I’ve brought my best sparkly pj’s with the glittery collar and my favourite nightcap.”
“You wear a hat in bed?”
“Hardly.” Hugh grinned. “It’s brandy.”
“Ssshhh. Someone’s coming.”
Slow shuffling footsteps could be heard pacing on the other side of the door.
“D’you think it’s a ghost?”
“I don’t think ghosts shuffle, do they?”
“Only when they’re dancing.”
“There was no mention of dancing on the invite.”
“No one said anything about ghosts either.”
“Must be a very long hall. We’ll be dead and buried by the time the door opens.”
With that, the steps stopped. Hugh and Ali clutched at each other nervously as the door began to creep slowly open. Light spilled brightly onto the stone steps, making them blink as they tried to focus on the shadow silhouetted in the door way.
“Hello chaps! Just in time for dinner,” said a voice they recognised.
“Geoffle!” cried Hugh with relief, and bounced through the door.
“We thought we’d got lost and arrived at the wrong house. Your directions were a little… confusing,” said Ali as she followed Hugh inside.
“What’s with all the shuffling? Have you injured your leg?”
“You try walking in these cute fluffy bunny slippers, and see if you get on any better. The Textiliste insists I wear them when we have guests. She’s not keen on me showing my toes. Makes me wear socks with my sandals, too.”
Hugh took a closer look, and blinked. “Are they real bunnies, Geoff?”
“Yes, but it’s Ok, they’re dead. The Vet shot a couple out on the grounds this morning. I needed a fresh pair. The others were getting a bit whiffy, and they don’t fare very well in the old washing machine.”
“Love the nightshirt,” said Ali, stifling a giggle.
“Yes, turned out rather well. I’m thinking off extending the official line of Bloggers Bash merchandise with these. I’ve had boxers and padded bra’s printed too. Wanna see?”
“No thank you!” Hugh and Ali chorused hastily.
“This way then chaps.”
The dining room stood at the other end of the hall, past many intriguing closed doors. Inside, a large polished mahogany table was set at one end with five places.
“Five?” Ali raised her eyebrows enquiringly.
“You’ve been spending too much time with Sacha,” Geoff commented.
“Talking of whom, where is our glorious leader?”
“She’s been upstairs painting on her eyebrows for the last hour.”
“Well, they are a work of art. They’re very mobile. If she makes a mistake, one of them will arch a little too high and completely flip off her face. Beauty takes time, you know.”
“Surprise!” At that very moment, Sacha flounced through the doorway, wearing a steampunk nightdress in black brocade overlaid with a velvet corset with genuine authentic steel boning. She waggled her eyebows. “What d’you think?”
Ali gasped. “They’re PURPLE!”
“Yes, I thought I’d brand them with the Bloggers Bash colours this year. Beat Geoff at his own game.”
“Gorgeous!” said Hugh.
“As ever,” said Geoff, taking her hand and leading her to the table. Which is just as well, because she could barely walk. She collapsed gratefully into a chair.
“Bloody Leboutins,” she grumbled kicking them off under the table. “I don’t know how I’m going to manage in them all day tomorrow. Might need a wheelchair at this rate.”
“But they do give amazingly good toe cleavage,” said Geoff appreciatively.
Sacha levelled a hard stare at him. “You got a secret foot fetish we should know about? Is that why the Textiliste makes you keep yours covered? Ali, Hugh, make sure you keep your socks on tonight.”
“Let’s eat,” said Geoffle, changing the subject hastily. He picked up a slender silver bell beside his plate and shook it. Immediately, a food trolley was rolled in by…
“Urszula!” gasped Sacha. “What are you doing here?”
“I got lost following Geoffle’s directions, so he agreed to take me in for the night providing I cook up a fabulous vegetarian feast.”
Ali and Hugh nodded their heads in sympathy.
“But… the Bash isn’t till tomorrow,” said Sacha.
“I know, but I like to arrive early.”
Urszula served up the feast, and took her seat at the table. It didn’t take long for the committee to inhale the grub… partake of the delicious offerings with the delicate manners and grace of a sty of pigs.
“Wonderful,” sighed Sacha with great satisfaction. “I haven’t eaten real food in weeks.”
“We have serious matters to discuss, ladies and Hugh,” said Geoffle, lighting a cigar. “The small matter of the BOOB.”
“Well you seem to be in the know, Geoffle. We’ve seen enough to guess at your gangsta background. We think you’re the BOOB.”
Geoffle spread his hands and assumed an innocent look. “Come on. I may be a tit at times, but I’m hardly a BOOB.’
“It’s not Geoffle,” said Sacha, looking thoughtful. “But it’s clearly someone with inside knowledge.” She looked at Urszula. “Funny how you turned up tonight so conveniently.”
Urszula laughed. “It’s not me. If it was, you’d all be dead by now. I’d have poisoned your food.”
“Don’t look at me,” said Ali. “It was me and Goeffle who saved the day last year, remember?”
“True,” mused Sacha. “That leaves…”
Everyone stared at Hugh, who flushed bright pink.
Sacha’s eyes narrowed. “It’s the perfect disguise. Everyone loves you. You’re the Chief Hug Master. You have legions of adoring fans. No one would suspect you.”
“But I love the Bash, and I love all of you. I would never sabotage the Bash,” Hugh protested, looking greatly upset.
“But you did write The Truth App.”
“That was just a story. But this monster we have created, this Bloggers Bash is real, and it’s my baby just as much as yours. I would never hurt it.”
Sacha grinned. “Just kidding! No one as lovely as you could be capable of doing something so dastardly and despicable. But we need to be vigilant tomorrow, just in case. I suspect there are BOOBs everywhere.”
“If one of them comes anywhere near the Bash tomorrow I’ll bonk ‘em over the head with this!” said Ali fiercely, whipping out her shilelagh.
“My, that’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” sighed Hugh. “Is it new?”
“Surely is. Specially carved from magical hawthorn by the fairy king himself for just such an occasion.”
“Will you two stop thinking with your shilelaghs and concentrate for a minute?” snapped Sacha, both brows arched to the max. She delved into her dainty postage stamp sized vintage Victoriana lace handbag and pulled out a wad of red envelopes. Then she pulled out ten small boxes.
“Wow! You have a handbag like a Tardis,” breathed Ali, enviously.
Sacha gave a smug smile. “It’s Sacha Black Magic. I need it for carrying all my make-up and my airship puncture repair kit around.” She looked around at them all. “The day has finally come. Tomorrow we open these little red bad boys and announce the winners. Then we present these super duper luxury one of a kind awards. Are you ready for this?”
There was a solemn nodding of heads.
“Right. You…” she pointed a purple talon at Hugh. “Go and get your bottle of pink sparkly stuff so we can dye Geoffle’s beard. And you…” she turned to Ali. “Go and get your PJ’s on, and Geoffle, pour us some Champers and let’s get this party started.”
No one noticed the dark shadowy figure which had been peering through the window as it turned and slipped noiselessly away into the night…
And if you want to know more about BOOB, just take a look at this, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
As you are reading this, I am already on my way across the sky from Ireland to London! Keep your eye on our Facebook page, and on our Twitter hashtag #Bloggersbash to catch up with everyone as they set off on their travels to the Bash.
See you tomorrow, Bloggers!