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Guest Red Ranger 1

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The door was open and Ric could see Beth sitting on the sofa, a photo in her lap.He couldn’t make it out from where he was standing but he had a feeling he knew who it was of.“Mrs.Holden?”

Beth turned to face him, her expression listless and dull.“Ric.What are you doing here?”

He stepped into the room, feeling uncomfortable.“Just wanted to see how everyone was.”There was a long silence.“I did my best to stop her.”

“Yes, I think you did.”She sighed.“Do you think I did the wrong thing, turning my back on her like that?”

Ric shrugged.He didn’t have all the answers.“Have you been to see her?”

“She doesn’t want to see me.”

Ric sat down next to her, his tone urgent.“Make her see you.Make her listen.I asked you before not to give up on her and I’m asking you again now.Because I know the person she can be, the person she should be. And she’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.I don’t think it’s too late for her.”

Beth held his gaze for a long time.“You love Matilda very much, don’t you?”

“Yeah.I do.”

“Is it true what they say about you?That you’re not Dalby?”

Ric sighed.“Yeah, it’s true.”

“Maybe if she’d met you instead of him, she would have turned out different.”

“I guess we’ve always had an effect on each other.My Matilda…she was there for me when I didn’t have many people in my corner.I think we kinda helped each other to be better people.Here, it didn’t work out like that.But it still can.”

They were putting a “For Sale” sign up outside the caravan park when he got there.Sally was standing watching them.She looked round as Ric approached, giving a smile that spoke of both relief and regret. “Hey, Ric.”

“Sal,”he returned.He nodded towards the sign.“You selling up?”

“I have to really.Kiaran’ll want it done as part of the divorce settlement.”

“He’s definitely gone then?”

“Oh yeah.It’s over.In a way, it never got started.I can’t believe I wasted all those years trying to make that marriage work.”

“You think he’ll contest the divorce?”

“He hasn’t got a leg to stand on.He’s been sleeping with his receptionist for the last two years.”

Ric couldn’t help laughing.“How did you find out?”

Sally looked embarassed.“I always knew.I’m not as daft as he thinks, I could see the signs.I suppose I just ignored it.I told myself that all that mattered was that he came back to me at the end of the dau.I guess I just needed something to hold on to.”

Ric gestured around him.“What about this place?Must be hard letting go of it all.”

“It’s for the best.This house was meant to be owned by a family.And Kiaran and I were never a family.” She saw the concern on his face.“Don’t worry.I’ll get it back one day.When I’m a bit closer to this Sally you know, the Sally that deserves this place.I’m going to have a family.It might be the most unconventional and unlikely family you’ve ever seen but it’s going to be mine.And I’m going to start with my brother.I don’t know how but I’m going to find him, Ric.I’m going to find him and bring him back here where we both belong.”

“You’ll do it.I know you will.”He paused, remembering that last loose end he had to tie up.“Sal.Belle Taylor’s mother.”

“Yeah, she came to town looking for her but she never found her.Seemed she’d lived in the area at one point but she’d moved on.”

“Her name’s Amanda Vale.”

“Amanda Vale?Like the actress?”Sally saw his expression and her eyes widened in shock.“You’re joking.”

“She had Belle when she was fourteen, her mother told her the baby had died and placed her with another couple…She used to be Peter Baker’s sister-in-law, he can probably put you in touch.But I really think I need to leave that one to you and Irene.”

The Diner flat was his other port of call.He’d rung ahead and both Alf and Ailsa were waiting.He paused just inside the front room.“I’m thinking this is goodbye.”

“You’re not sure?”Alf asked.

“Nope.According to the guy I spoke to, mysterious glowing pyramids aren’t an exact science.But unless there’s something else I’m meant to do, this is it.”

“And if you’re right…we’re going to get Dalby back?”

“I’m guessing so.”

“Well, what are we meant to do then?From what I can tell, him and young Matilda planned that bank job together.What do we do with him?”

“I think you can work it out.”

Ailsa smiled slightly.“I suppose we have had experience of problem teenagers.”

“That’s true,”Alf agreed.

“He’s your grandson, not me,”Ric reminded him,“It was you and Sally and Flynn and Mattie having faith in me that made me turn out all right.Maybe you can do the same for him.”

“Well, if he’s anything like you, he’d be a grandson to be proud of.”Alf gave Ric a quick hug before they both stepped back, embarassed.

“Thanks, Grandad,”Ric replied.He turned to Ailsa.“It was good to meet you, Mrs.Stewart.”

“You too, Ric,”Ailsa agreed, hugging him as well,“And I think you’ve probably earned the right to call me Ailsa.”

“Thanks, Ailsa.”Ric took a step back towards the door and made a gesture that seemed to be halfway between a wave and a salute.“Over and out.”

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Er...is anyone still reading this?Anyway, here's the last chapter.If anyone has an opinion on it, or indeed the rest of the story, please feel free to share it.


Before heading to the warehouse, Ric had dropped by the flat to change into his uniform and collect everything that he’d had with him when he arrived, as well as drop off Dalby’s things.If he was right and this was his last call, he wanted to go out the same as when he came in.

Making his way to the main part of the warehouse, he was relieved to see the familiar glow emanating from the pyramid.If what Mandalone had told him was right, that meant it was ready to transport him.

“Looks like I’m going home,”he said to himself,“Either that or it’s going to send me to a world where I married Sal.”

He took a deep breath, reached out and touched the pyramid.And then everything went white.

Ric cautiously poked his head round the door at the caravan park.Alf, Miles and Matilda were standing around in the kitchen.Their mouths dropped open at the sight of him.

Before anyone else could say anything, Ric turned to Alf.“You’re my grandad, right?”

“Right,”Alf confirmed.

He turned to Miles.“And you’re Sally’s long lost twin brother?”

“That just about sums it up.”

He turned to Matilda.“And Henry never had a girlfriend?”

“There was that girl at Robbie’s 17th…”

“Apart from her.”


Ric breathed a sigh of relief.“Then it looks like the eagle has landed.”

Matilda walked slowly over to him, eyes focused on his face as though searching for something.“It’s you, isn’t it?The real you.”

Ric nodded.“It’s me.”

She hugged him softly.“Thank goodness.”

He grinned.“Well, I’ve missed this.”

Alf wasn’t quite so certain.“What’s going on, mate?Did they let you out of the hospital?”

Ric blinked in surprise.“Hospital?”

“The psychiatric ward,”Miles explained awkwardly,“That’s where you’ve been for the last few days.”

Ric laughed.“You put Dalby in the psychiatric ward?”

“Dalby?”repeated Alf.

“That’s what he called himself,”Matilda confirmed,“He said to call him Dalby.”

Alf still wasn’t grasping anything.“So, if this other guy wasn’t you, then is he still there or something?”

“Well, if this works the way I think it does,”Ric observed,“then he must have got transferred back at the same time as me.”

“Transferred back where?”

Ric paused, considering.“Might be an idea if I don’t tell you that just yet.Otherwise you might want to send me back to the psych ward.”

They were interrupted by the trilling of the phone.Miles picked it up.“Hello, Summer Bay Caravan Park… Um, actually he’s just walked in here…Yeah, yeah, he seems fine…Okay, we can do that.We’ll be here waiting for you.”He put the receiver down and turned to Ric.“That was the psych ward.They’re wondering where you disappeared to and they’re sending someone round to check on you.”

Ric sighed.“Oh boy, this could be awkward.”

“So what did you tell them?”Matilda asked later, as they were sat down by the beach, holding hands.

“I told them that I fell over at the warehouse and banged my head and that I couldn’t remember anything else until I turned up at home.”

“You think they bought it?”

“Oh yeah.Said something about cognitive disassociation, gave me a clean bill of health and signed something to say I was officially no longer a nut job.”

“You could have tried the parallel universe story on them.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think that would have gone down as well.I’m not even sure that Grandad and Miles believed it.”Ric glanced at her.“What about you?”

“Well, it’s the strangest story I’ve ever heard but it actually kind of fits.”

“I’m telling you, it was even stranger from where I was sitting.”

“From what you’ve told me though…it’s kind of depressing.”

Ric looked at her, surprised.“What do you mean?”

“Well, this other us, they sound so messed up.And they’re us, what we could have been.A few wrong decisions and we’d have ended up as these horrid people.”

He smiled gently.“You know what struck me?”

“No, what?”

“Well, everything else was different-Sally never married Flynn, Ailsa never died, your mum was still around, the whole course of our lives had been completely different.The one thing that was the same?You and me were still together.”

Matilda mulled this over for a moment and then nodded.“Yeah, that’s a nice way of looking at it.”


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