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The Discovery Centre
Sorrento's adventure -

by June Vernau

Cleethorpes Leisure Centre
Sorrento first appeared in the swimming pool...

Daniel hurled himself through the water, tidal waves following his body.
"I'm heading for the shallow end," called Jayne.
But before she made her first stroke she heard the siren, warning them of the wave machine. She didn't want to get caught in the middle when the waves started so she headed towards the shallow end. She felt one of the waves lap the back of her legs and then another. She slid down in the shallow water. The waves sprayed and hit her chest.
This was the part she liked. The waves moved her forward and back as she sat in the safe shallow waters. The waves grew stronger and she felt herself being eased further and further towards the outer edge. She pushed her hand against the bottom to try to stop the movement.
"Ah!" Something sharp caught her finger. She stared into the water as the waves lulled and lapped gently. Now she could see more clearly.
She leaned forward to grasp the tiny green shape, but as her fingers touched it jumped. Did it jump, or had the waves moved it?
Jayne crawled on her knees and grabbed it before it could dart away. This time she held it firm. She cupped her hands and peered into the cave she had made. Two bright glowing eyes stared back at her and a puff of white smoke blew into her face and curled up towards the ceiling of the pool.
"I'm getting out now."
Jayne looked up to see Sarah walking towards her. She held her fingers over her new treasure.
"Are you getting out Jayne?"
"Yes, in a minute." Jayne wanted Sarah to go to the changing rooms first. "I'll just say cheerio to Daniel."
Once Sarah had gone Jayne followed on, her hand firmly closed. Jayne was glad they had agreed to share a locker. She would have found it difficult opening the door one handed.
"Here Jayne, take these before they drop on the floor."
She grabbed her clothes. Inside the cubicle she quickly unzipped the pocket of her bag and gently slotted the green shape inside.
"Have you got any talc?" Sarah's head peered through the curtain.
"No, no." Jayne zipped up the pocket. "I 've got to get changed fast. Mum wants me home."
"But I thought you were coming home with me?" called Sarah.
"No - no, there's a change of plan. I..I've got to do something."
"Oh can't you wait?"
"Well, not really."
Jayne could hear Sarah muttering from the next cubicle. She changed quickly and pushed her clothes into her bag.
"I'm going to get my hair dry," she called out to Sarah.
She lifted the hairdryer from the wall. Her hair swirled in its hurricane. She looked across at her bag. The small bulge in the side pocket had begun to move from side to side.
"Sarah I'm going." But the noise of the hairdryer deafened her voice. "I've got to go."
"Okay, you go. I'm not half - ready yet. But I'm not waiting for you next time."
"Sorry Sarah, but I really have to go."
"Is there still some money in that dryer?" a small girl asked. "Can have it if you've finished?"
"Sure," and Jayne pushed the dryer into the girl's hand. "I'm off anyway. Bye Sarah."
But not waiting for an answer Jayne grasped her bag in both arms and exited from the changing rooms. If she walked fast she'd get home before mum and Derek. Her mum would go mad because she hadn't gone home with Sarah, but she'd have to risk her mums riot.
The bag bumped and bounced against her back as she quickened her pace. She was sure that it had grown heavier since she left the Leisure Centre. The walk was longer than she'd remembered. Her legs were tiring with the weight of the bag. She pulled back the straps and settled it on the path in front of her.
The whole bag was swaying. In a minute it would be over. She grabbed it before it heaved over into the gutter at the side of the road.
Just caught. Just missed the wheels of a passing cyclist. Jayne wrestled with the juddering shape. It was difficult to handle now, even more difficult to strap on her back.
She'd cut down Cambridge Street into St. Peters Avenue and just hope she didn't meet anyone she knew.
"Hi Jayne."
Oh no it was Lisa, just the person she didn't need to see.
"Jayne." Lisa's voice followed her down the Avenue. "What you doing this afternoon?"
"I...I'm busy with mum, ...bye." And Jayne raced on through the crowd of trippers.
The smell of chips from the fish and chip shop tempted Jayne's taste-buds. Just what she needed after her swim. Her stomach was like an empty coke can. Chips, vinegar and salt. She loved lots of vinegar. The first hot chip, steaming, crunchy and slightly wetted by the sweet vinegar. Vinegar always tasted different at the fish shop. She couldn't resist.
"A portion of chips on a tray, please."
"Yes, luv. Do you want salt and vinegar?"
"Can I put my own on?"
Jayne reached up for the salt. As she stretched she felt the bag twist. The whole weight heaved to one side and she felt herself falling.
She grabbed the counter, but it was too late. At once she was on the floor, on her back.
"You all right, luv?" The voice called from above her.
Jayne rocked from side to side in a vain effort to right herself, like a huge turtle on a beach. Strong arms reached out for her and she felt herself being heaved upwards.
"What you doing down there lass?"
Jayne clung to Mr Peters' hands in an attempt to steady herself.
"Here, hold on, you've been drinking too much beer. Let's get that big bag off your back."
"No, it's..." But Jayne's pleas were not heard. Mr Peters had his hand under one of the straps and was gently easing it from Jayne's shoulders.
The bag was alive. It rocked, writhed and almost exploded from Mr Peters' hands, hurtling towards the queue of people.
"Oi, watch it!
Feet danced back as the bag slid towards the wall.
"What have you got in there?"
The question was about to be answered as a line of smoke drifted towards the ceiling and two green nostrils emerged from the now slowly unzipping pocket. The amazed onlookers could do no more than watch in silence as a green scaly head pushed its way out into the bright light of the steamy fish shop.
"Mum, Mum, I don't like it," screamed a small boy.
But his screams were drowned by further shrieks and shouts as the creature burst from the bag.
Free and airborne, its scaled wings skimming heads and tangling hair, it swooped and dived filling the shop with clouds of smoke.
Jayne was twirled round and round as the crowd of customers surged to the door. She watched dazed as the green dragon lightly came to rest near her tray of chips. Sniffing the vinegar haze its jaws opened and grasping the tray in its teeth it launched itself into the air and sailed through the open door into the world of the Cleethorpes Trippers.
A stifled scream came from Jayne's throat."No, what's going to happen now?"
Whatever happened would lead to a lot of trouble.