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The Hairy Hand by Robin Bennett
A scary adventure for 8 -12 year olds, full of jokes, magical familiars and a Dickensian cast. When Septimus inherits a magical, treasure-finding Hairy Hand from his uncle, life suddenly becomes a lot more exciting - and dangerous!


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Exclusive Extract


Chapter 10
Wargs

When Sept brings home a Hairy Hand he has inherited from his uncle his parents are not impressed. However, when the Hand demonstrates an extraordinary ability to point out treasure, they change their mind. This doesn’t make them any nicer to Sept, especially when it comes to saving their own skin.

A low growl, the sort that can only come from something very large with far too many teeth, came from under the trees.
‘Wargs,’ said Sept.
‘You don’t say,’ said Plog. ‘If we run they’ll chase and we’re dead. Now you want to be going on ahead, towards them sounds, making lots of noise, jumpin’ up and down …’
‘Er, why on earth would I want to do a thing like that?’ asked Sept.
‘Cos they won’t be expecting it. You never know, it’ll probably be fun.’
Without the Hand he felt he had no choice. So Sept walked slowly towards the trees, disappearing from sight around a corner until he came around a fork in the track and an old barn.
Sept paid little attention to the old farm building, but stared, instead, at what was on the other side of the path. There were about six Wargs, standing there – huge beasts, twice the size of an ordinary wolf and skeletal thin, their greasy pelts showing a row of huge ribs.
‘GRRRR!’ said the biggest Warg at Sept who replied, ‘Ah, nice doggy!’ and immediately turned and ran.
‘WOA, WOAH, WOAHHH!’ The rest of the beasts set off in loping pursuit.
‘AAARGH!’ said Sept, waving his arms about like he was trying to take off. ‘Bad doggie, actually.’
Sept felt hot breath down his neck – it smelled of rotten meat, rancid cheese and wicked thoughts. Long teeth at the end of a long snout went snap millimetres behind his ear. The next bite would be his whole head.
But Sept had survived the desert and countless other dangers, he wasn’t going to give up that easily.
Sept leapt, stretched out a hand and by some miracle or hidden force – perhaps the very same that put him in the path of the cave in the desert – his fingers caught hold of a branch.
The thin bough bent under his weight.
It flexed down just as the Warg’s teeth caught the seat of his pants. The Warg pulled. Sept hung on. The Warg growled through a mouthful of pants and extraordinarily huge teeth and pulled harder.
Gradually, the branch bent back, towards earth and the waiting pack.

The Plogs had watched Sept disappear around the corner, heard the howling pack in hot pursuit and breathed a sigh of relief.
    ‘Sounds like we’re safe,’ said Plog, looking tremendously relieved. ‘Let’s hide in there,’ he pointed at a barn, ‘you never can be too careful.’
    
Meanwhile, Sept was still having his underpants stretched by a large, hungry Warg. Sept, displaying a strength in his fingers he never knew he had, hung on for dear, sweet life. Meanwhile, the Warg, who was also quite surprised at Sept’s tenacity, but mainly pretty hungry, pulled and growled.
    And the branch was very bendy indeed.
    
Just as his backside reached a height where the other Wargs could make a grab for him, he heard something snap. At first he thought it was the branch but instead of feeling the hot breath of hungry animals, he felt cool wind rushing past his ears and an even cooler wind further down below.
    Very carefully he opened one eye, then both, in surprise and fear. The branch had held, but his underwear had snapped. Bent down as far as it would go, when released, he had been shot upwards again, with even more force this time. So right now he was sailing through the air with no bottoms on.
    Far, far below him he could see several surprised Wargs looking up at him, one of whom was wearing the remains of Sept’s underpants on his head.
Over the tops of the trees the boy sailed, deep into the woods, until, as he reached the full height of his trajectory, he suddenly lost the almost pleasant sensation of flying and got a whole new (unpleasant) sensation of falling. Down he shot, narrowly missing some sharp branches, and straight into a mud-filled bog.
    It was the sort of mud that you could lose an entire house in, plus a couple of lorries. Bottomless, burping, mushy mud. It was the sort of mud you could count on to be sticky and very smelly.
    However, it was soft, for which Sept was grateful.
    The mud got into his eyes and ears and for several minutes he was quite deaf and blind. When he did eventually get most of the gunk off his face and out of his ears (with a stick), he almost immediately wished he hadn’t. The first thing he heard was the howl of several Wargs and they seemed to be coming for him.
    Sept ran. He was exhausted but, just as his legs were beginning to give out, he finally saw safety … the barn he’d seen earlier …

The Plogs watched as the door opened and a dreadful, blackened creature, reeking of swamps and rotten eggs staggered in, its breath rasping in its throat and arms flaying. Gertrude shrank back in terror but the monster seemed not to see her, nor did it see the water trough by the door. Plog watched it fall forward with a splash and was about to run out of the barn, when the door burst open, its hinges splintering. Suddenly the barn was full of hungry Wargs.
    The next few minutes went badly for the Plogs.



Author Bio
Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children, adults, and everything in between. Listed in the Who’s Who of British Business Excellence at 29, his 2016 documentary "Fantastic Britain", about the British obsession with fantasy and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and his first book for young adults, Picus the Thief, won the Writer's News Indie Published Book of the Year Award in 2012.

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