"Well, I enjoyed today," said Jayne's mum as she pushed open the door to the guesthouse. The weather's been just right for the beach. Tom enjoyed himself. Is that bag of yours heavy with shells?"
"I've got a few," said Jayne, running down the hall to the staircase.
"Don't go upstairs until you've shaken the sand from your sandals! Mrs. Butters doesn't want a house full of sand."
"I was just going to…" Jayne began.
"You are just going to shake the sand from your sandals, please."
Jayne ran back down the hallway.
"And do you have to run everywhere?"
Jayne didn't answer. There was no answer. She unbuckled her sandals and joined her mum outside the door.
"I hope Derek and Tom aren't long. I just asked them to buy two sticks of rock. Tom will probably have persuaded Derek to take him on the big wheel." Her mum banged her sandals against the wall. "Never mind. We can sit in the lounge in the sunshine for half an hour before they come back."
"I need to look at something upstairs," said Jayne, slipping her sandals back on.
"Well, I'm going to have half an hour of peace." Her mum picked up her sandals. " Come on, they'll be back soon." She led Jayne back into the guesthouse.
Jayne watched her mum walk barefoot into the lounge then she ran upstairs to her bedroom. She needed to examine her find. Was it still in one piece?
She sat on the bed, unzipped her bag and carefully reached into the side pocket. Her fingers met smooth shell. It was intact. She pulled out the egg and held it in the palm of her hand. Turquoise and gold, it shimmered in the light. A bird's egg?
It was too heavy to be a bird's egg, and there was no nest. What bird would lay its egg in a pile of ash? It had to be an ornamental egg, one that someone had bought in a shop. Maybe they even sold them in the shop at the top of the Tower. She needed a box. The egg might be fragile.
From downstairs she could hear the voices of Derek and Tom. Tom had a boxed toy. It was probably under his pillow. She set the glittering egg on the duvet.
Yes, Tom's box would be just the right size. She would just borrow it for the night. She could slip the toy back inside tomorrow when she'd bought a box of her own. Tom probably wouldn't even notice.
"Lovely, a really good supper," said Derek, resting his knife and fork on his plate. "Um, delicieau."
"You're not French, Dad," said Tom.
"But when you're on holiday, you can be who you like," said Derek. "That man over there." He nodded towards an old man at the next table. "He might think I'm a brain surgeon or an astronaut."
"Astronaut!" laughed Jayne's mum. "No one would think you're an astronaut."
"And why not?"
"See, you can't think of a reason."
"Because your head's too long and thin for the helmet," said Tom.
"No, it's not!" Derek felt his head.
"They'd make a helmet to fit," said Jayne.
"It would have to be big," said Jayne's mum.
"All right, all right. So you think my dreams of career changes are pie in the sky."
"No, just impossible," said Jayne's mum.
"Did you enjoy that?" Mrs. Butters began to clear the table.
"Very nice, very nice," said Derek. "Just fit for a brain surgeon." Mrs. Butters looked puzzled.
"Don't listen to him," said Jayne's mum.
"Can we watch T.V?" asked Tom.
"The lounge is yours," said Mrs Butters. "You can shoo my son, Sam, out if he's in there. When he's home from college he thinks he owns the place."
"You must be Sam," said Derek, as he walked into the lounge with the family after supper. "Don't get up."
A tall, slim young man eased himself up from the settee. "I was going anyway. Need to do some work on the computer."
"Have you got any computer games?" asked Tom, when he heard.
"A few," said Sam. "Do you want to play?"
"Yes. Have you got two controls?"
"Three," said Sam. "I could take you on the Internet if you like."
"Oh, I'm not sure about that," said Jayne's mum.
"It's okay," said Sam. "I know a website that's used in schools. It's full of dragons and mythological creatures."
"I'm coming," said Tom.
"Do you want to go on the computer?" Sam looked across at Jayne.
"I'm not sure. I might read my book."
"Come on. You'll like the dragons," Sam coaxed.
"Go on," said Derek. "You might see a picture of my old teacher."
"All right." Jayne dropped her book on the settee and followed Sam to the door.
"Right, let's connect up." Sam sat in the swivel chair and clicked the mouse. Jayne and Tom sat either side of him at the computer.
"www.legendworld.co.uk." Sam typed in the website address. "Go."
Within seconds a castle appeared on the screen with a pumpkin flashing in a window. The words 'Welcome to Legendworld. A World of Fairytale and Fantasy.' were written on the screen and an instruction to 'Click on the door to enter'.
"Enter," said Sam, clicking on the castle door.
"A walking dragon!" shouted Tom.
"There's lots of dragons," said Sam. "Look."
He clicked on the 'Lost Dragons' icon. A catalogue of dragon drawings appeared. Sam scrolled down. "You can read stories about dragons and mythical creatures on this website."
"Wow! I like that one," said Tom. "And that one."
"And if you want news of what's happening in Legendworld," said Sam, "You click here." He clicked again then read the words that appeared on the screen.
Latest News - We have to report that a very special treasure is missing from Legendworld
As Sam scrolled further down the page a shape appeared. It was a glittering turquoise egg. Jayne stared at the screen. It looked just like the egg she'd found at the top of the Tower! Below the shape were written the words:
The missing Phoenix Egg
"What's a Phoenix?" asked Tom.
"It's a mythical bird," said Sam.
"What does that mean?"
"Imaginary, not true, like a fairy story," Sam explained. "There are a few different stories about the Phoenix. One Egyptian Myth tells of a legendary bird with fiery, red and gold wings and a long tail, which lives for five hundred years. There's only ever one. After five hundred years it builds a fire, climbs on top - and whoosh it's gone. But when it dies another Phoenix rises from the ashes and flies into the sky."
"Where does the Phoenix lay the egg?" asked Jayne.
"Well, it doesn't really lay an egg," said Sam. "According to the Egyptian story, after the fire, the new Phoenix makes an egg from the ashes of the dead Phoenix."
"Can it hatch?" Jayne wanted to ask so many questions.
"Probably not." said Sam. "Because there can only ever be one Phoenix."
"So why does it have an egg?"
"I don't know how real an egg it is, but the story says that the new Phoenix carries the egg to Heliopolis, the ancient Egyptian City of the Sun. Once it has placed it on the altar of the temple, the life cycle is complete."
"It is true?" asked Jayne.
"The story? -No! The story's an Egyptian myth, like a fable or legend. It's not a true story. No one's ever seen a Phoenix," said Sam. "You'd never see a Phoenix flying around Blackpool."
"Let's play the game." Tom was impatient to start.
"Okay," said Sam. He clicked the mouse and the website disappeared from the screen. "Are you ready Jayne?"
Jayne didn't answer. She didn't hear the question. Wild thoughts were buzzing in her head. The fire at the top of the Tower.. The ashes.. The turquoise egg…. Had she found the Phoenix egg? Did she have a Phoenix egg in her bedroom? No, Sam said it wasn't true.
There couldn't possibly be a Phoenix in Blackpool.