I’m flying high with my eyes closed tight. Blustery winds howl past me.
That doesn’t sound like the wind. Is it a…dog?
My eyes open wide as I gawk at the white dog barking impatiently on its owner’s lap.
“SNOWY!” I exclaim. Heads turn in our direction.
“Gosh! Am I really sitting beside Tintin, the reporter?” I shriek in astonishment.
“Sssshhh! Yes, it’s Tintin. Snowy hates flights. I’m trying to make him comfortable. I’d appreciate if you help by remaining calm.”
That’s enough to mute me. But, not for long.
“Can you tell me what kind of expedition you’re on?”
He glares at me for a second and then, his expression softens. I can see him making up his mind to reveal the reason behind his travel to Belgium.
“Well, Captain Haddock’s missing. His butler, Nestor, supplied this information a few hours ago. And, here I’m. On the first flight to his house, Marlinspike Hall. With an irritable dog and a talkative neighbour,” he harrumphs.
I only smile wider. I’m not the one to give up on adventure.
“Can I accompany you, please? I promise to be helpful.”
“Ummm…okay.” Though a half-hearted affirmative, it made my heart pirouette with joy.
We reach Marlinspike Hall in three hours. Nestor is right at the entrance; his face sick with worry.
“Tintin! The Captain…I was away for two days and just returned this morning…only to find him nowhere,” he wails.
“Get a grip, Nestor. Let me take a look at his room. By the way, this is my friend.” Tintin pats the butler gently, points at me, and walks towards the Captain’s study. We jog behind him to keep up.
As he scans the place for any clues, Snowy jumps up a cabinet barking incessantly. He tries to clamber up the wall pointing at a painting. We turn to examine it. Two pheasants appear perched on a branch. It looks beautiful, except for the innumerable scratches all over it.
“The Bird brothers! Brilliant, Snowy!” Tintin claps and cuddles him.
“Are Max and Gustav Bird the kidnappers?” I think aloud.
“They were the owners of this place before the Captain. They could be, but…let me check with the Thompsons if they’re out of the prison.” he reaches the phone and dials.
“The detectives?” I ask him. He nods in response.
The next hour elapses as Tintin, Snowy, the detectives and I wade our way to reach a dilapidated building on the western part of the province. The conversation with the Thompsons confirms the release of the brothers and also their current hideout.
As we open the door, pitch darkness and a miasma of alcohol taunts us. Snowy barks and Tintin tries to shush him. A husky voice floats towards us.
“Welcome, Tintin. I knew you’d come to save your friend. He makes an excellent bait to entice you, doesn’t he? Even let the foolish detectives to track our whereabouts down. You’re my target, boy!”
“Trapped!” I mutter, shivering in fear.
“Ssshhh! We need to save the Captain,” Tintin hisses back. The glint in his eyes instils the much needed courage into my nerves. “Find him, will you? Let me handle the brothers.”
I nod, and fumble a bit as my vision gets adjusted to the darkness. I move towards the staircase. As I turn around to take a glimpse of Tintin, lights get switched on. Pandemonium reigns for the next few minutes as the group gets involved in a tussle.
I clamber upstairs in search of the captain. I take a right turn on the first landing when a sudden thrashing noise accosts me. I run in that direction and find the Captain wrestling a hefty guy.
“Billions of blue blistering barnacles!” The Captain bellowed.
Relief courses through me on hearing his signature dialogue and knowing that he’s alive. I step inside the room where the men continue to scuffle. I look around the place and find an old vase. I pick it up on reflex and bring it down on the man’s back. It splinters. He rolls over unconscious.
“Who’re you? Where’s Tintin?” Captain Haddock thunders.
“I’m a friend. Tintin needs help. Let’s go.”
We rush downstairs. I trip on the last step and fall.
I scramble to my feet and find myself back in my room at home.
The book ‘Tintin and The Secret of the Unicorn’ lay open on my bed. I smile at those pages remembering how I rescued the Captain Haddock in my dream!
Glossary :- (just in case you’ve not heard of Tintin and the characters in the book!)
The Adventures of Tintin is a series of comics written by Herge, a Belgian author. There are 13 books in total.
Snowy – Tintin’s dog
Captain Haddock – Tintin’s friend who accompanies him in every adventure.
Nestor – Captain’s butler
Marlinspike Hall – Captain Haddock’s ancestral house
The Bird Brothers – Villain characters in one of Tintin’s adventures
Thompsons – Detectives who add a dash of humour in the series
Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn – One of the books in the series where the Bird brothers are introduced. It was also released as an animation movie in 2011.
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