Team Bella and the Mystery of the Lost River

Other submissions by Alan Fleet:
If you want to read their other submissions, please click the links.
Astrals (Paranormal & Supernatural, Screenplay Award 2023)
Overdene (Paranormal & Supernatural, Screenplay Award 2023)
Woollyback (Drama, Screenplay Award 2023)
Crow Fair (Horror, Screenplay Award 2023)
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Award Category
Golden Writer
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Logline or Premise
An ancient legend comes to life when Pearl, Primrose, Milly, and Reggie become Team Bella once again to help solve the mystery of the lost river.
First 10 Pages

Chapter 1

The August sun was still bright in the evening sky as Team Bella headed home along the banks of the River Weaver. Eight months had passed since Pearl, Primrose, Milly, and Reggie had given themselves that name, but now there were eight members of the team.

Bella, who was so well behaved she didn’t really need a lead, walked alongside Pearl, and Jack, sensing that Primrose was the youngest, never left her side. Patch and Pip, being pups, were a different matter altogether and were forever pulling at their leads, trying to run off to sniff the bushes or peer over the water’s edge.

Pip was the liveliest, which meant that Reggie always had his hands full trying to control him. Reggie would pretend to be annoyed but he loved Pip beyond words and Pip clearly loved Reggie. On every walk they would be together which meant that Milly could have Patch all to herself.

“What I don’t understand,” said Primrose as she looked up in the sky, “is why I can see the moon when the sun is still out. It was like that yesterday as well.”

They all stopped walking and stared at the crescent of the moon.

“Yes, it’s odd,” agreed Pearl, “but it wasn’t there at all last week. Why not?”

“I know one of the answers,” said Milly with a big smile. “We couldn’t see it last week because there wasn’t a moon in the sky. That was the start of the new moon.

“Will it get bigger?” asked Primrose.

“Yes, every night until it is a full moon and lights up the sky.”

“Then what?”

“It will get smaller and smaller until it disappears.”

“Does it always do that?”

“Every month, Prim.”

“How do you know all that, Milly?” asked Reggie. “We haven’t done that at school.”

“My dad told me,” Milly replied. “He’s a Countryside Ranger and he knows lots about nature and things like that.”

“Oh,” Reggie said sadly.

Pearl quickly glanced at Milly and shook her head. Milly immediately realised her mistake.

“Reggie, Reggie, I’m sorry, I forgot.”

“It’s alright, Milly, I still forget sometimes as well.”

“I’ve spoiled things now.” Milly hung her head.

Suddenly Pip jumped up at Reggie’s legs, wagged his tail and gave a high-pitched bark. Reggie crouched down and hugged Pip while the others stood in silence.

“And I love you too, Pip,” said Reggie.

Pearl smiled and looked around. “Come on, we’d better be getting back.”

They all started walking again.

“So what about the other question?” asked Pearl.

Reggie looked at Milly. “Do you think your dad might know?”

“He might, I could ask him.”

“That would be good,” Reggie said with a smile.


Back at home Mum and Dad sat on the patio in the garden enjoying the last of the sunshine.

“They are all out by the river again,” said Mum.

Dad glanced at his watch. “Don’t you think they are a bit late coming back?”

Mum smiled and shook her head. “They have four English Bull Terriers to protect them, they will be safe. Besides, it’s not dark yet.”

“Yes, you’re right. You know, I’ll be sad to see Pip and Patch go.”

“Me, too, but we can’t keep four dogs and Jack has to stay with Bella.”

“He certainly does after the way he saved us from the Dobermans.”

“I know Pearl and Primrose don’t want them to go either and we all agreed they could stay while Roxy was still with us, but now that she has…” Mum couldn’t finish the sentence.

Dad moved next to Mum and put his arm around her.

“It’s a hard word to say, isn’t it?”

“It certainly is.” Mum took a deep breath. “But now that Roxy isn’t here anymore, Patch and Pip have to go to new homes.”

“Pearl and Primrose will be fine, they’ve got Bella and Jack.”

“I know; it’s Milly and Reggie I’m worried about.” Mum laid her head on Dad’s shoulder and sighed. “When shall we tell Pearl and Primrose?”

“Not tonight, let them have a good night’s sleep.”

“Which only leaves tomorrow.”

“We’ll let them have their tea first because there will probably be tears.”

“Yes, I just wonder how many.”

“Fingers crossed.” Dad gave Mum a hug.

Chapter 2

The next day Mum baked a cheese and onion pie and served it with lots of baked beans. Mum knew it was Pearl and Primrose’s favourite meal and she hoped it would somehow make things easier when they discussed Patch and Pip. It didn’t.

Pearl was the first to cry, followed very quickly by Primrose.

“I don’t want them to go,” Pearl said as the tears ran down her cheeks.

“Pearl, we said from the beginning that they could stay as long as Roxy was alive, but now…”

“I know, Dad, but I love them.”

“We all do, Pearl, but we can’t have four dogs in the house, it’s too many.”

“Mum, please say we’re keeping Jack. Please!” begged Primrose.

“Yes, of course we’re keeping Jack, don’t worry about that, Prim.”

“But what about Milly and Reggie? When we go for walks they always hold Patch and Pip. What will they do? They will be so upset,” said Pearl.

Just then the doorbell rang. Dad moved his chair back from the table.

“I’ll go, Dad,” said Pearl, “I expect it’s Milly and Reggie. I said we would take the dogs for a walk after tea. What should I say to them?”

“Don’t say anything just yet,” Mum replied. Pearl nodded and walked out of the kitchen and into the hall.

“If Patch and Pip go to new homes we’ll never see them again, will we?” Primrose said sadly.

“Who knows?” Mum offered.

“You never know what might happen,” said Dad with a little smile.

For a moment Primrose looked puzzled.

In the hall Pearl answered the door and was very surprised to find Reggie standing with his mum.

“Hi, Pearl,” Reggie said with a big smile.

“Hi, Reggie?” Pearl replied as she quickly wiped her eyes.

“Hello, Pearl,” said Reggie’s mum.

“Hello, Mrs Johnson. Do you want to come in?” Pearl asked, now more than a little confused.

“Yes, please, your mum and dad are expecting me.”

“Are they?” Pearl said with surprise in her voice.

Reggie nodded and gave Pearl another big smile.


But before Reggie could reply, Milly and her mum walked up the path to the door. Milly was grinning from ear to ear. Pearl’s mouth dropped open with surprise at seeing Mrs Mellor.

“Hi, Pearl,” said Milly.

“Hi, Milly. Hello, Mrs Mellor.”

“Hello, Pearl. You look surprised to see me,” said Mrs Mellor.

“And me,” said Mrs Johnson.

“I am, I thought it would be just Milly and Reggie.” Pearl frowned. Just then Dad appeared behind Pearl.

“Now come on, Pearl, don’t leave our guests standing at the door,” Dad said smiling. “Ladies, Milly, Reggie, in you come. Everyone is waiting in the garden.”

For a moment Pearl stood and watched as they walked in, convinced something was going on that she wasn’t aware of.

As soon as Milly and Reggie entered the garden, Patch and Pip bounded over to be with them.

“Oh, how lovely,” said Mrs Johnson as she watched how Reggie and Pip got along.

“Pip is like this every time he sees Reggie, he really does love him,” Mum said, “and look at Patch with Milly. Patch is a lot more gentle, as you can see.”

“He looks adorable,” said Mrs Mellor.

Milly knelt and put her arms around Patch, while Bella and Jack walked over to stand beside Pearl and Primrose, who were still trying to work out what was happening.

“So this is Team Bella?” said Mrs Mellor. “I’ve heard so much about it.”

“Me, too,” Mrs Johnson agreed. “And now that I’ve seen them all together, I can see what good friends they all are.”

“What do you think?” asked Mum.

“Absolutely, no doubts at all,” said Mrs Johnson, “I am just glad you asked me.”

“And so are we, it’s very kind of you,” added Mrs Mellor.

“Oh, thank goodness for that!” Mum gave a huge sigh of relief. “I can stop holding my breath now.”

In that moment it dawned on Primrose what was happening.

“Pearl, Pearl!”

“I know, Prim,” Pearl said as her eyes filled with happy tears, “Patch and Pip are going to live with Milly and Reggie and it’s just fantastic!”

Chapter 3

Another day and another walk by the river, except that this time Patch belonged to Milly and Pip belonged to Reggie. As always, Patch and Pip were out in front, pulling at their leads, while Pearl and Primrose walked behind with Bella and Jack.

“How were they on the first night; did they sleep well?” asked Pearl.

“Pip never made a sound, but I hardly slept; I just couldn’t wait to get up and play with him. Mum said it was the fastest she could ever remember me getting dressed in a morning,” Reggie said, still full of excitement.

“I heard Patch cry a little bit. I wanted to go downstairs to cuddle him but my mum said not to; she said it would only make him worse. We left him and he soon went to sleep,” Milly said with a little sadness in her voice at the thought of it.

“He looks happy now,” Primrose told her.

“He is,” Milly agreed with a big smile, “and so am I.”

“And it’s great that we still have four weeks left of the summer holidays; all that time to spend together!” added Reggie.

“So where shall we go tonight?” asked Pearl.

“Why not go to the locks at Vale Royal? There are lots of old things to see,” said Reggie enthusiastically.

“I don’t like it there,” Primrose said with a frown. “The river is noisy and it moves fast.”

“Only at the sluice gate,” said Reggie.

Primrose stopped walking. She was puzzled. “What is a sluice gate?”

Pearl was the first to answer. “It’s where the river drops down to a lower level.”

“It stops the river getting too full,” added Milly. “It’s like when you have a bath at home, if the water gets too high, it runs down the hole near to the taps.”

“I still don’t like it,” said Primrose.

“It’s only noisy because it has been opened up more to let extra water out,” explained Reggie. “There is a quiet one further up the river and it’s shaped like an old bridge, just wide enough to walk across, except you’re not allowed to. We could go to that one if you like?” Reggie wasn’t giving up.

“That sounds better, doesn’t it, Prim?” said Pearl. “Shall we go and have a look?”

Primrose nodded her head.

The sun was setting as they walked past the locks to where the river became very straight.

“Have you noticed that the moon is bigger tonight, Prim?” asked Milly.

Primrose looked up and smiled. “Just like you said it would be.”

“So where is it, Reggie?” asked Pearl.

“There,” Reggie pointed, “by those trees on the other side of the river. See, the river splits and the little bridge goes over the narrow part.”

“How odd that the river splits,” said Pearl.

“I know,” agreed Milly. “I wonder how that happened?”

“Doesn’t matter, but there is the other sluice gate, like a barrier under the bridge. And it is quiet. Listen. No sound,” Reggie said as he held his hand to his ear.

“I like that one better,” said Primrose.

“So how does it work if we can’t hear the water?” asked Pearl.

“It’s only open a little bit under the water. Anyway, come on, let’s go!” Reggie said eagerly. He started to run ahead.

“Not too fast, Reggie,” Pearl shouted, “and don’t let Pip pull too hard.”

“We’ll be alright, won’t we, Pip?” Reggie grinned, looked down at Pip then turned back to look at the others. Excited, Pip turned as well, but his lead wrapped around Reggie’s ankle causing him to trip and fall down the bank to the river’s edge. At first, Reggie held on to Pip’s lead, but it pulled Pip as well.

“Reggie!” Pearl shouted.

Reggie saw Pip jerked off his feet. He immediately let go of the lead.

“No, Reggie, hold on to it,” Milly cried out, but it was too late. Pip rolled down the bank and splashed into the river.

“Pip!” Reggie shouted at the top of his voice as he scrambled to his feet. His eyes were wide with fear. Pip had disappeared under the water. “Pip! Pip! No!” he cried out.

Reggie stood on the edge of the river. He looked like he was going to jump in. Bella barked loudly at him.

“No, Reggie, don’t!” Milly ran forward with Patch and grabbed his arm.

“But Pip! Where is he?” Reggie shouted.

Then Jack started to bark very loudly. He was looking at the river.

“There! There he is!” Primrose pointed at Pip’s head as he surfaced about six feet from the riverbank. He was drifting away.

“We can’t reach him!” Reggie began to panic. He tried to knock away Milly’s arm, but her grip was too tight.

“No, let me go, let me go. I’ve only just got him, I can’t lose him, I can’t, I can’t. Pip!” Reggie called out in vain as he realised Pip was being drawn towards the sluice gate.

All of a sudden Jack barked the loudest bark ever. Pearl, Primrose, Milly, and Reggie, shocked at the sound, all turned to look. Jack barked once more, this time at Primrose, and pulled at his lead.

“Prim, Prim, let him go, he wants to go after Pip!” Pearl shouted.

As soon as Primrose had unclipped his lead, Jack bounded towards the river, and with an almighty jump, took off and splashed in. Jack kicked his strong legs as he powered his way through the water towards his little boy.

“Swim, Jack, swim!” Reggie shouted. “You can do it.”

“Please catch him, Jack,” Primrose said as she crossed her fingers on both hands.

“He’s nearly there, Bella, look,” Pearl said as Bella barked encouragement but for Patch it was all too much, he couldn’t look as his brother was carried away and he buried his head against Milly. She crouched down to hug him.

“Don’t worry, Patch, Jack will save him,” Milly said softly.

Pip was pulled closer and closer to the small bridge and the silent sluice gate, but Jack powered on. Then, with one extra powerful kick, he lunged forward and grabbed Pip’s lead in his strong teeth. Jack began to turn, the lead pulled tight and jerked Jack’s head but there was no way he was letting go.

“He’s got him, Jack’s got him!” Reggie shouted at the top of his voice. “Come on, Jack, swim hard.”

With all his strength Jack swam towards the riverbank towing Pip behind him.

“Jack! Jack! Come on, Jack!”

“Don’t worry, Reggie, he won’t stop until he reaches the bank. Prim, you hold Bella,” Pearl said, “and Reggie, quick, with me. When Jack gets to the bank, grab the lead and I’ll get hold of Jack’s collar. Ready?”


Three feet, two feet: Pearl and Reggie knelt.

“Grab it now, Reggie!”

As Jack put one paw on the bank, two arms reached out. Seconds later both dripping wet dogs were on the riverbank.

“He did it! Jack did it! He saved Pip.” Pearl, Prim, Milly, and Reggie all cheered, but it was Reggie who cheered the loudest. The cheers soon turned to laughter as Jack and Pip began to shake off the water and covered them with the spray.

Only Bella stood still. She was looking directly across the river to the meadows; then her head began to move slowly. She gave out a low bark.

‘What is it, Bella?” asked Pearl as she looked but saw nothing.

Then Jack turned; he also gave out a low bark. Reggie, puzzled, stared at Milly.

“What are they barking at? There’s nothing there,” said Reggie.

Patch and Pip looked nervously across at the meadows, whimpered, then hid behind Milly and Reggie.

“What can they see?” said Pearl.

“The lady,” replied Primrose.