That morning, Hershel awoke to darkness, coldness and Theo’s crying.
They’d finally shut the electricity off, despite how sparing the two of them had been with it and Hershel’s own attempts to build a generator.
Several bills and warning letters had come through the post (Hershel always checked the postman had gone before collecting them) but there were no parents left to pay up.
It was just Hershel and Theo.
Hershel wasn’t old enough to get a job yet, so he’d suggested selling all the valuables they could gather.
Most of Dad’s archaeological finds had been taken by Targent, but they’d still had some old records, their grandfather’s violin, the silverware, the family menorah, Mum’s jewellery and so many books, as much as it hurt to part with them.
They could sell every inch of their home, brick by brick, but it would never be enough…
“It’s okay, Theo,” Hershel whispered as he wrapped a blanket around his little brother.
His hand fumbled through the darkness till it found the matchbox and one of the menorah candles he had saved.
Carefully, he struck the match, lit the candle and smiled as Theo’s tear-streaked face came into view.
As they combed through the lakeside forest, Sycamore caught sight of Layton’s hands and inquired, “Professor… are you alright?”
“No need to worry…” Layton curled his hands into fists but they kept trembling. “It’s just after the… fall.”
His mind flashed to the girl’s fearful, blank face; a hand still reaching for him; a figure sinking into the green-depths…
Now isn’t the time, Layton scolded himself, we must find the girl.
He hid his hands in the sleeves of his coat, but it just gave the impression that he was shivering from the cold.
Sycamore drew him aside when Luke and Emmy went to talk to a squirrel.
“I’m sure the girl made it out in one piece,” Sycamore murmured. He pressed his hand to Layton’s shoulder.
When the shaking subsided, Layton whispered, “Thank you.”