1

They dodged the occasional sardine, or sprat as they made they're way to the old student union building which acted as the temporary HQ for the archaeologists and "diggers."

The ceildh was in full swing. Candles flickered, everywhere. An accordionist was trying to turn "Smack my Bitch Up" into a reel and a few enthusiasts were reeling around. The effect was more demonic than euphoric.

Johnny goggled. His new friends seemed a little strange, beat-types. But, these guys seemed to be either all wool and hair, or, leather clad and pierced with silver rings and studs. Back where he came from, it was the leather jackets that were decorated with studs, not their wearers. He pulled himself together. On second glance, a more convivial bunch would have been hard to find.

One of the more serious drinkers, who was propping up the bar, spotted them as they came through the door, "There's the Big Man! Hey! Teddy! How's it goin'? Huv ye been sacked yet?"

They made their way over. "Hullo ther' Colin. How? Whit huv ye heard?"

Nothin' really. Ah wuz just thinkin' aboot that bust up between you an' that boss-man Dave, dumplin'."

"Ach, he's jist a short sighted gink. He wanders aroon' the site, trying tae put the gither a plausible interpretation in his heid, an' he furgets where he is. Ah've seen him at it before. If he'd put somethin' doon oan paper we'd be streets further oan!" Teddy introduced Colin to the others. He hesitated only a second when he came to Johnny.

"Johnny here's fae oot o' toon. America, in fact. He's a physics student takin' some time off. He's a bit short o' the readies. Hud aw his gear nicked: passport; traveller's cheques; clothes; the works. So, he's thinkin' o' becomin' a digger."

Colin gave Johnny the once over, "They didnae get yer watch."

Johnny glanced down at the Rolex Oyster Perpetual on his left wrist. It had a heavy, two tone, metal strap made of platinum and gold. It had stopped and he was dimly aware of a strange tingling sensation. "Oh, that. I got that when some crew cut, squares in button down Van Heusen's tried to sweet talk me into a research contract." He looked suspiciously at Colin, "What's it to you, friend?"

Colin gave him a sympathetic squint. "Aw. No Offence, pal! Jist bein' nosey. Teddy here'll fix ye up. Ther's carry oot behind the bar an' there'll be grub somewhere aboot. Make yersel' at home." He considered Johnny's get-up, "Ur ye a rockabilly? Only, this bunch o' folkies ur crap. No that Ah'd say that tae their faces." He pointed towards a small group of musicians. "Wee Jo ower ther' `id huv me! That's mah girlfriend. She plays the boran."

A small, oriental looking, young woman, dressed in something shiny and black and with a large, skin covered, wooden hoop under her arm, got up and came over. "You're getting gassed again Colin. Oh, Hi! Teddy, everybody. I hope this big mug hasn't been boring the arses off you all."

"In fact," she continued, turning to Colin, "If I find out you've been blowin' off about me being your girlfriend, again, I'll take this boran and stuff it up your jacksie, sideways." She appealed to the others, "I'm his work partner on the site. We're jist friends, sort of. He's fine when he's sober and a right baw'heed when he's drunk... Which is most weekends!"

Rosie nudged Johnny and whispered quietly in his ear, "That's her girlfriend over there with the piercings and the pink hair, Inga. She's very nice. But, she's gets jealous."

Johnny's musings on this new information were interrupted when somebody burst in through the door in a state of excitement.

"Hey everybody! It's been raining fish! They're all over the shop. There's men in white protection gear everywhere picking them up and measuring things. It's really weird!"

"Heya! Rick." Frank shouted back, "We know aboot the fish. We walked through the end o' it."

The music had finally stopped. The newcomer, Rick, was waving a big fish. "Is there a really big frying pan in the kitchen?"

"Rainin' fish? Why did you no say, Teddy me boy?" The ginger haired accordion player regarded the big fish with interest. "There's a big skillet somewhere. Are there oany mair like that outside, Ricky?"

"Tons, Davey. There's all sorts out there. Prawns, haddock, whiting, sole, you name it. It looks like a fishmongers has exploded. It's all really fresh. But, you'd better be quick the locals have cottoned on. They've started coming out with plastic bags and buckets. The weirdos in white suits are trying to stop them picking them up."

The accordionist, looked round, "What are we waiting for? Everybody grab a spare site bucket. It's a good thing we found that old shop freezer in the skip last month. It's still almost empty."

MeanwhileTeddy looked amusedly at Johnny, "D'ye think ye'd like the life of a volunteer archaeological digger, Johnny? It's no whit ye'd caw well paid." He looked over at Rick, "Whit dae these guys in white suits act like Ricky? Ur they like sanitation workers, ur whit?

"That's what's really weird, Teddy. They act really official. One or two of them were wandering about with some kind of testing equipment, like geiger counters, or, stuff. I heard one talking into a mobile, or something. Something like, `Site secured, something, ...trace faded.' I think." He looked at his fish, suspiciously, "Do you think it's radioactive?"

Teddy rubbed his chin, "I dunno. No more so than anythin' else that comes out the sea these days."

He turned to the others. Johnny looked fit to drop. His exertions had taken their toll. "Why don't you stay here wae Rosie, Johnny?" He looked at Shona, "In fact, why don't you find some food, beer and blankets and take Johnny and Rosie up to the finds store. Here's the key. You can show Johnny the computer, up there. He might find it interesting. It's goat internet."

As he handed the key to Shona, he added, "Too much is happenin' aw in a oner, Shona. Ah don't think it's jist fish they buggers oot there ur efter. Johnny looks knackered. He'll keel ower soon, by the looks o' it."

"What's the matter Teddy?" Shona, looked worried.

"Hey man, I'm cool. I can handle it. I'm firing on all eight." Johnny didn't like being ordered around by anybody, but he could feel waves of exhaustion roll over him. It all seemed so unreal and, for a split second, everything looked transparent. He staggered.

Rosie put her arm round him, to steady him. "Johnny, come on, it'll be quieter, upstairs." She gave a gentle yawn. "I feel a bit tired too."

Shona laughed, "Johnny, if what you say is true, about being a physicist and all, there's a modern computer system, upstairs, you're going to love checking out."

"Right, that's settled." Teddy turned to his pal, who was carrying buckets, "Cum oan Frank, we're goin' tae grab some fish. Before it's too late."

copyright, 2002 AndroMan.