I shoved open the door of Markent Marketing and it slammed against the wall. I stormed along the corridor to the post room. Brizelthwaite looked towards me and waved me in. He wasn’t wet!
“Now look here,” I began.
“Derek, you’re late.”
Oh my stupid head, I thought. “It’s real. Isn’t it?”
“The Akh’Mori? The Sidheóga? Of course it is, Derek. Why wouldn’t it be?”
I didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know, Jacob.”
“You don’t look very prepared, lad.”
“Lucky for you I have made some preparations. Once you’re through the portal…”
“Portal? What? Like a gateway or something?”
“Yes, exactly. As I was saying: Once you’re through the portal you’ll need some way to make contact from the Other Realm.”
“I’ve got my mobile.”
“Derek, there are no mobile phones there, no electricity, no mobile phone masts. They don’t need it. They interact with Nature for what they need. Come on. Come with me.”
Jacob left his office and made his way to the cloakroom, which wasn’t a room at all really, just a piece of wall with a coat rack attached.
“This is something you’ll need to remember; ‘Just after twenty to five in the afternoon’. Well, at least that’s the way I remember it. 1642 – the year Sir Isaac Newton was born.”
I shook my head. “Ok, if you say so.”
“Watch, my lad.”
Jacob went to the first hook on the coat rack and turned it to the one o’clock position, then quickly turned the next three hooks; six o’clock, four o’clock and two o’clock. There was a dull thud and part of the wall started to recess revealing a staircase that looked as though it had been hewn from the very bedrock.
“Bloody Hell! This is all a bit Indiana Jones, isn’t it?”
Jacob smiled. “Haven’t you listened to what I’ve been saying, lad?”
“Of course I have, Mr Brizelthwaite.”
We started to descend.
“Perhaps a little, my lad. Don’t you ever wonder where writers get their ideas from?”
“Like Wonderland?” I said, now understanding what Jacob had been getting at.
He nodded. “Just so, lad.”
“Is this the portal?”
Jacob laughed. “No, my lad. Portal’s aren’t manmade; or made by cunning folk for that matter. They’re part of Nature, just as sunspots are part of the Sun. Eddies in Nature’s fabric, if you will.”
“What’s down here then?”
“My workshop, young Derek. Where I’ve got a few things you’re going to need.”
“Where’s the portal then?”
“About 137 miles due east from here; in Essex, in a park named Belfairs Woods.” Jacob looked at his watch. “We’ve only got about an hour and a half to prepare and get there.”
“Why do we need to be there by three in the morning?”
“Because that’s when the portal’s open for mere mortals such as yourself, young Derek. But even then there’s not a lot of time. As the portal cycles through its eddies, it only leaves a window of three minutes for you to slip through. So you can see timing is of the essence.”
I nodded. Jacob pushed back a huge rug that hung on the wall opposite the bottom of the staircase, and revealed another, less secretly concealed doorway. We walked in.
I now stood in a smallish cave and I gawped as I turned on the spot taking in the view. Candles flickered all around. Its dimly lit walls appeared to be of blackish-brown rock made of lots of thin layers, almost looking like slate that had been piled high by geology. In places the walls were covered by patches of deep green, where rivulets of water dripped and trickled.