Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure

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Georgia Byng

Molly
Moon’s
Hypnotic Time Travel
Adventure

For Lucas—
with your magic smile

S
omething blue flickered in the periphery of Molly’s vision. She turned quickly, but there was nothing there. It must have been a bird, or the shadow of a bird. Or maybe it was that turbaned dognaper. Molly quickly twisted around. If he was loitering nearby, she’d catch him creeping up on her.

Again a blue shadow flickered to her left. Molly didn’t turn this time. She tried to see what it was without moving. It hovered, then disappeared. Thirty seconds later it appeared to her right. Was it a ghost? A poltergeist was a ghost that was able to move things. Had a poltergeist moved Petula? Molly was determined to find out. Although she was filthy scared, she let the shadow flicker to the left, then again to the right. She stood stock-still. Once more it was there—closer, and then again on the right of her, closer still. Nearer and nearer it got. Right … left… right …There it was to the left… the right… the left. Left, right, left. Her eyes swung from side to side. Molly was so intent upon winkling out the truth that she didn’t feel herself falling. Falling into a hypnotic trap.

With a huge thank you to my lovely,
enthusiastic agent, Caradoc King,
and Sarah Dudman, my excellent
and very thoughtful editor

One

T
he old temple priest stooped and slowly filled the metal lily-pad dishes with milk. As he did, sacred rats came scurrying from the shadows to drink. They were, he believed, reborn people. He chuckled as they ran over his feet, and he dropped a handful of sweetmeats on the floor. He nodded to the statue of the many-armed god before him, touched the purple mark on his forehead, then crouched down on his crooked heels.

He thought how pretty the big, flat dishes looked—each was a white moon with twenty dark gray rats around it, sipping at the milk. The rats looked like furry petals, their pink tails flitting about like fronds in the wind.

He glanced through the temple’s pillars to the sunny street outside. Three pony dealers were quarreling over
some money and, nearby, children were chattering noisily as they watched some piglets snuffling in the gutter. Women in saris stood gossiping as they drew water from a stone well, and nearby a camel groaned as it was loaded. A beggar sat cross-legged playing a flute through his nose. A holy cow whisked flies with its tail and surveyed the scene.

Behind the cow was a rickety wooden paan stall. Here, a man with a pinched rat-like face, a big mustache, and a purple turban dismounted his horse.

Straightening his silk coat, he stood impatiently, tapping the dusty road with a moccasined foot. The paan seller sprinkled some brown betel-nut powder onto a green betel leaf. He added grated coconut and aniseed, and squeezed some red sticky syrup on top. Then he rolled it all up and finally offered the breath freshener up to his customer. Without acknowledging him, the smart man took it and put it in his mouth. He dropped a few coins at the stallholder’s feet and, chewing, mounted his horse again.

As the paan seller turned, an incredible thing happened. There was a BOOM, and the horse and its rider vanished into thin air.

The man fell on his knees in fear.

In the temple, the priest waggled his head from side to side. Then he bowed to the rats before him, put his hands together, and said a prayer.

TWO

M
olly Moon hooked her bony arms over the high back of a green velvet sofa and cupped her face in her hands. She looked out of the high window in front of her at the garden of Briersville Park. The striped lawn stretched away into the distance where pet llamas grazed and a herd of animal-shaped bushes sat in the morning fog. A kangaroo, a rhino, a bear, a horse, and scores of other topiary-hedge animals stood or reclined on the misty grass, menacingly, as if waiting for some magic to bring them to life.

And moving among the beasts, as though searching for a key in the dew, was a woman in a gray cloak. From behind she looked hunched and sad, which made Molly sigh, because she knew the woman was indeed sad.

Molly hadn’t known her mother for long. Until a month ago Molly had been an orphan, thinking that
her parents were dead. Then she had discovered that she had a mother and father. You would think that a mother who’d found her lost child after
eleven
years would be ecstatically happy, and that is exactly what Molly expected her mother to be. But Molly’s mother was not happy. Instead of being pleased, all she could think about was the past and how much had been stolen from her.

It was true that she had been robbed.

For Lucy Logan had been hypnotized, put in a deep trance, and controlled for eleven years by her own twin brother, the very brilliant hypnotist Cornelius Logan. Cornelius had stolen Lucy Logan’s daughter, Molly, and put her in a nasty orphanage.

It was Molly who saved Lucy’s life. Molly herself released her mother, Lucy, from all of Cornelius’s hypnotic commands, because Molly, although only eleven, was a master hypnotist.

Yes, that is a very important point. Molly was a master hypnotist.

Molly hadn’t always known that she was a hypnotist. In fact, her first inkling of it had been when she was ten. But she’d learned fast. So far she’d used her hypnotic skills for herself and against people with bad intentions. Now she wanted to use them for something different.

She looked sideways at the wings of the giant building she was in. Briersville Park was massive. Molly wanted to turn part of it into a hypnotic hospital—a place where people with problems could come to be cured. Whether their problem was a fear of heights or spiders or an addiction to doughnuts, Molly’s hypnotic hospital would sort them out. Molly looked at Lucy. She found it hard to believe that this woman was a world-class hypnotist. She seemed so limp and useless. Maybe she would even have to be her first patient.

Molly couldn’t understand Lucy. She would have thought she should be full of joy. Not only had she been reunited with Molly, she was also about to meet her long-lost husband again, for this was another thing Molly had brought about. Molly had discovered who Lucy’s husband (and Molly’s father) was. His name was Primo Cell. He had also been hypnotized and controlled by Cornelius Logan for eleven years.

At this point you may be wondering how a girl, even a master hypnotist like Molly, could ever challenge such a brilliantly accomplished adult hypnotist as Cornelius Logan. Well, master hypnotists have the power to make the world stand still. Molly possessed this gift. And in a hypnotic world-stopping battle, she had been able to overcome Cornelius and convince him he was a lamb.

All that had happened in the last chapter of Molly’s life—a chapter that Molly was still spinning from. Molly watched her mother stop beside two bushes in the shape of bush babies. Lucy stroked one and sadly put her hand on the other as if it were a gravestone of a person she had loved. Molly sighed. Her mother was so full of regret, it was taking over her life.

Molly picked up a silver-framed photograph from the glass side table and lay down on the floor to look at it. The orphans she had grown up with waved happily from the picture. It had been taken at Christmas. Molly herself smiled out from the picture, too, her curly hair looking crazier than ever, blowing in the wind, her nose its potato self, her closely set green eyes laughing. They were enjoying themselves in warm Los Angeles in America, while Molly was here, far away from them, in cold Briersville, with her sad mother.

Molly chewed the inside of her cheek. Lucy Logan slopping around the house, depressed, in her dressing gown, was beginning to get on her nerves. Her mother’s black mood hung in the air like an infectious flu, waiting to be caught. In fact, Molly was already going down with it. She, too, had begun to turn over and over again in her mind the idea that her own life could have been so much better if it hadn’t been for that revolting man Cornelius.

There was something else, too. Molly shivered. She fingered the time-stopping crystal that hung like a huge diamond around her neck. She felt apprehensive, as if something weird was about to happen. Perhaps it was just this odd situation she was in with her mother that was making her uneasy.

Molly put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. A second later she heard the scrape of claws on polished oak floorboards as Petula, her black pug, came skidding into the room. With a flying leap she landed on Molly’s stomach, dropped a stone that she’d been sucking, and began licking Molly’s neck. Petula always made Molly feel whole. She loved her so much that, provided Petula was there, Molly felt everything was all right.

“Training for the circus now? Next time, how about a somersault?” Molly squeezed Petula and rubbed her side vigorously.

“Oooh, you’re a good girl. Yes, you are!” Petula licked Molly’s nose. “Yes, you are.” Molly hugged Petula.

Then, getting up, she carried her over to the window. Pointing at Lucy Logan, she confided, “Look at her, Petula. I’ve never seen anyone so miserable. Here we are, in this beautiful house, which is all
hers
now, with gardens and fields and horses and everything we need
and we’ve got our whole lives in front of us to enjoy and she’s like
that.
Why can’t she get over the past? It’s starting to make
me
feel bad. What shall we do?” Petula barked. “Sometimes I feel like hypnotizing her to cheer her up, but I can’t hypnotize my own mother, Petula, can I?” Petula licked her lips. Molly clapped. “You’ve got it, Petula! Maybe she’s not eating properly.”

Petula made a whining noise, as if to agree that this was exactly the problem, and so, deciding that a good breakfast was what her mother needed, Molly left the drawing room. Together they passed along the Bonsai Tree Passage where, in every alcove along the wall, four-hundred-year-old potted miniature Japanese trees stood on elegant tables. Side by side they descended the grand stone Time Staircase, where hundreds of clocks hung ticking cacophonously on the walls.

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