The stranger stood in the doorway, while the rain drove in around him and wild gusts of wind blew the paintings to the floor….they faced him in frozen silence…
Nick was the first to come to his senses…
“Come in man…we’re dying of the cold as it is”
The stranger acquiesced, shutting the door behind him and removing his wet coat as he surveyed the group staring back at him..
“Well this is a fine welcome…you sent for me and I came”
“We sent for professor Oliver, but we’ve heard nothing since then…he seems to have disappeared”
“Well here I am large as life”
“You, you’re Oliver? Josh stared at him in disbelief…we pictured a much older man”
The stranger said nothing, but coming further into the room placed a curious object on the table..”Here is my passport”
Slowly they moved closer and saw in the half light that it was a poppy made of stone..
“I have seen that before” cried Jill ."Professor Oliver always carried it with him….but I don’t understand” she continued…
Before she could tell them what she didn’t understand, Oliver went over to the table and looked down at the journals and paintings scattered over it…
“I shall have to take them back with me…only specific tests in the lab will tell us what we want to know”
“Well you can have them all…take them”…JIll began to hastily put them together in the box…as she did so one of them slipped from her grasp..
It was a painting of a Poppy, looking as if it were made of stone, red, blue and black, flashing from the centre with a halo of yellow light surrounding it…she gasped…”but, but, how?” she stammered…
Oliver moved swiftly over and picked it up..”yes…it’s the Stone Poppy…I have been looking for this for a long time”
“Looking for it?..but what have you to do with all of this? queried Nick in amazement….
Looking closely from the Professor to the painting he continued, ”I don’t know if we should really part with them right now..we have been making a lot of progress”
“But Nick” protested Jan..”he is the only one that can deal with this…you said so right from the start, and we haven’t been making much progress…you know that”
“All the same…I think they should stay here”
“Well young man I think I know best, and these are coming back with me to the University”…
He picked up the box, and while they were still trying to figure out what Nick was up to, grabbed his coat and left, the box of paintings under his arm…
“Well that’s torn it” said Nick.
“Why what do you mean?”
“I’m pretty sure that was not Professor Oliver”
Fabric Dyes and Sharpie on Arches HP Paper