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He pitched toward the door, getting a good close-up of the fine brushwork before his face drove into the timber with a crunch.

"Fug!" he moaned as he rebounded and fell to the floor. He felt his nose gingerly, cursing again as he felt a sticky wetness.

"You all right?" called a voice from the next room.

"Soud like I'b all right?" yelled Ken. "Left the fuggin' rods all over the floor, dinya?"

"They were against the wall, last I looked."

Ken lashed out with his foot, sending the tackle box skating along the hall. There was a rattle as the rest of the gear fell over.

The door burst open and Steve Baxter peered out. "Mind the gear, dickhead! If you bust those rods we'll be eating leaves for a week."

"Shop's down the road."

Steve snorted. "She'll have the police in if you go near that place again."

"It was only a pack of bait."

A distant rumble made them both look up. The strip of cloud had become a sullen mass, and a series of flashes lit the cloud from within. A gust of cold wind blew through the tattered flywire, and Ken shivered. "Storm's coming."

"You think?" Steve glanced up at the bowed, cracked ceiling. "Bet it leaks."

"You could've stayed home, you know."

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