"Tower, we're going up to the top of Blackpool Tower!" Tom shouted, as he ran down the stairs of the guesthouse.
"Slow down!" his mum called from above him.
"There's no rush!"
"We've only got three days in Blackpool, mum,
and I want to go to the Pleasure Beach and the Sea
Life Centre and"
"Careful!" Mrs. Butters, the guesthouse owner, was almost bowled over in the hallway as Tom jumped the last two steps.
"Say you're sorry to Mrs. Butters," said Tom's mum.
"That's all right I'll forgive him this time," said Mrs. Butters. "We'll say it's first day of the holiday excitement - just as long as he brings me a nice stick of Blackpool aniseed rock. And you say you're going to the Tower this morning. It might be closed today. There was a fire at the top of the Tower last night. I didn't see it, but one of the guests said the sky was alight, as bright as the Illuminations."
"What's happened?" asked Tom's dad, as he walked down the stairs to the hallway.
"There's been a fire at the Tower, Derek. Mrs. Butters was just telling me that it might be closed for
"Nothing closes the Tower," said Derek.
"Well, I hope it's open for you," said Mrs. Butters. "You'll enjoy the views from the top. The weather's beautiful. A good clear day. You'll see for miles."
"Mum," Jayne's voice came from the landing. "Tom's left his clothes all over the bedroom floor!"
"Jayne's left her felt tips on the bed and she's brought that toy dragon with her!" Tom shouted back.
"It's not a toy. It's an ornament," said Jayne. "Mum, he won't put his clothes in the drawers."
"We're only here for three days," Tom argued.
"Both of you stop this now!" Jayne's mum ordered. "Tom, go upstairs and put those things away. And don't be long. Mrs. Butters would like a little peace."
Tom scampered back upstairs.
"I expect they'll both tire themselves out on the beach," said Mrs. Butters. "Enjoy your day. I'll see you all for supper. And don't get blown away at the top of the Tower." She waved and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Tower it is, then," said Derek. "We'll catch a tram. Everybody ready?"
"I am!" Tom called from the top of the stairs.
"Well, I hope you're fit," said Derek. "It's a steep climb to the top!"
"Mum!" Tom looked alarmed. "We can't climb that high."
"Don't listen to your dad, there's a lift to the top!"
"Wow this is great!" Tom shouted from the top of the Tower. "I can see the Pleasure Beach! Look, Jayne, there's the Big Wheel! Mum - look!" Tom pointed out across the skyline.
"Told you the Tower would be open," said Derek. "There's no sign of damage. It couldn't have been a big fire. Now this is the place to be on a clear sunny day. You can see for miles from the top of Blackpool Tower. Wave to the Irish!"
Jayne's mum laughed and waved. "That sunshine's telling us we should be on the beach. We can come back to the Tower this afternoon. We've got all - day tickets."
"What's all this wire for?" asked Tom.
"That wire mesh all round the railings is to stop you falling off the top of the Tower," said Derek.
Jayne stared through the wire at the ground below. Everything looked so tiny. The North Pier stretched out into the sea, as small as a picture on a postcard.
"Excuse me, love. Can I get to that corner, please?" Jayne looked round. A man stood in front of her, holding a long-handled brush. "I just want to sweep up that ash. Gets everywhere. Don't know how anyone got up here to start the fire. They must have flown."
"Jake, you'll need the brush pan," another attendant called from the steps. "That's the best we can do. We'll be chasing this ash round forever. The wind blows it all over. Just get the pile in that corner and we'll call it a day."
"Okay." The man with the brush walked over to his partner.
Jayne looked at the telltale signs of last night's fire. The floor was charcoaled, blackened by the heat. Most of the debris had gone. Just a little had blown and pockets of ash were tucked in corners. She toed the corner, poking out the shimmering dust. Shimmer! She knelt down to examine the hideaway, digging into the pile with her hand. There was something smooth and rounded beneath her fingers. She wiped away the ash to reveal a sparkling turquoise surface.
"Can I just get to the corner, please?" The attendant was back. Jayne looked up briefly, then she scooped the turquoise egg from the ashes and stepped back from the corner.
"Jayne, we're all waiting for you. We're going down in the lift." Her mum was standing on the open staircase.
"Coming." Jayne blew the ash from the turquoise shell, carefully wrapped the egg in her warm top and eased it inside her rucksack.