Recent stories by Brian E Cross
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters twenty four & twenty five - 7/20/2012
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters Twenty Two & Twenty Three - 2/6/2012
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters Twenty & Twenty One - 1/4/2012
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters Eighteen & Nineteen - 11/26/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters Sixteen & Seventeen - 10/24/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters fourteen and fifteen - 9/23/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters Twelve and Thirteen - 8/23/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters ten and eleven - 7/22/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters Eight and Nine - 6/22/2011
· Castle In The Clouds, Chapters Six and Seven - 5/23/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, chapters four & five - 4/22/2011
· Carruthers' Demise, Chapters two and three - 3/21/2011
>> View all 76
Become a Fan
Three Mile Drove, Chapter Eleven
By Brian E Cross
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Rated "R" by the Author.
continuation of a completed horror story set in the English Fens
The gathering of old people around the vicarage porch gradually began to disperse. Endleberry smiled, patting each person on the shoulder as they left, taking their hands warmly in his. The weekly coffee morning dispensed with, he turned to go inside, catching as he did so, a glimpse of a figure crossing the street.
‘Claire if I might have a word,’ he swung round, his look hardening though his voice remained cordial, ‘inside if you please.’
She looked uncertainly at him, ‘I’m between patients David…’
‘This won’t take a minute,’ now she caught the impatience in his voice as he beckoned her in and hurriedly closed the door behind her.
He turned on her, agitation visible in his stance, ‘Why did you send McPherson to me, what possessed you?’
She met his stare, ‘I’m sorry David, I merely thought you’d put his mind at rest, convince him he was seeing things,’ she sighed, placed her medical bag down, right now it felt unusually heavy.
Endleberry gave a humourless laugh, ‘I don’t think our meeting quite had that effect, if you ask me it’ll merely encourage him to go digging around, Claire, you of all people; how can you have been so stupid?’
She saw the way that he trembled; the stern look in his eyes had given way to fear. She reached up, placed her hands firmly on his shoulders, ‘Look, I should have told you, but what harm’s been done, I thought you’d reassure Tim not get upset about this. In the end he’s none the wiser is he? We’ve given away nothing.’
He shrugged her off, pacing around the hallway, ‘That’s not my point, what happens if he finds out McPherson’s been here, you know what he’s like, he won’t care that I’m the village parson, won’t show any regard for the cloth. And you of all people Claire, with so much to lose.’
‘He’s not likely to know,’ Claire rolled her eyes, exasperated, she hadn’t expected him to make so much of this, if he kept worrying the way he was it really could make things difficult.
‘Look, he hardly ever shows himself around here, you know that. If you just relax it’ll all quieten down…’
‘People see things in these parts, they have eyes, ears, they use them more than most. You know that.’ He exhaled loudly, raised his head to the ceiling, arms outstretched, ‘It was you who should have just let things be.’
Claire walked forward, placed her hands hard on Endleberry’s arms, pressed them to his sides, ‘Look David, stop worrying. Tim will soon be finished here, he’ll find nothing more, I’m sure of that. Quit fretting eh?’
She released her grip, turning on her heels and scooping up her bag in almost the same movement. She heaved the door open without looking back at him; outside the air was damp and chilly, contrasting with the mustiness of the old vicarage. Despite what she’d said David wouldn’t be set at ease, and despite her firm stance Claire was worried. She’d known Tim for a long time; he wasn’t one to let up on things easily, even with precious little to go on. She knew he was ambitious and the fact that others had gained promotion while he’d been unable to rise above sergeant served as a spur to drive him on.
But his investigations surrounded a missing child after all, they weren’t connected to Bramble Dyke’s own little nest of worms, somebody had made an erroneous sighting, that was all it was. Pretty soon he’d have to quit, like it or not.
Nonetheless, as she reached her car the air of uncertainty that swept around her like the mists of the fens, refused to dissolve. There was the chance that somehow, before he’d finished, he might manage to stumble on something and that in so doing the leak would be attributed to her and David.
She had to pray that neither thing happened.
Endleberry watched Claire go, peering through a half open door he could just see her car turn left at the village crossroads. Her journey would take her through the main street and if she went beyond that, out to Littleport and Ely.
Away from Three Mile Drove at any rate, the opposite direction in fact. Three Mile Drove, he shook at the thought of it, that was the direction his visitor would come from one day no doubt if things went on as they were. Damn Claire for her meddling, damn the whole business, and especially the person who was supposed to have sighted the missing girl in the drove. He wondered who that could possibly have been, hardly anybody passed that way, hardly anybody had good cause to.
And had it been the child they saw? Endleberry didn’t know, it didn’t do to dwell on such things. Out here, where the sight of a police officer was as rare as that of a politician, election times excluded, the parson might be seen as the centrepiece of the community, but in Bramble Dyke he might be its most vulnerable member. It certainly felt like it. But as he closed the door, his mind played the subject out against his will. He made his way through to the front parlour, selecting the binder he’d consulted the previous evening when the policeman had made his unwelcome call. The names of every known resident, past and present, were alphabetically listed in that binder, or should have been. He knew though, only too well, that the volume was wildly inaccurate, but it was something you didn’t speak of if you knew what was good for you. You didn’t invite problems, anymore than you didn’t invite outsiders into the community.
And yes, McPherson was an outsider, but now he’d heard there was another, an ex-rock musician inheriting Sam Regan’s old property in Three Mile Drove. He took that as a bad sign, rock musicians to him always spelt trouble and there was enough of that around as it was, particularly in Three Mile Drove.
He glanced down at the old ledger; it had fallen open at the name of Tomblin. That might have been a coincidence, but it still caused him to shudder.
Endleberry slammed the book shut, he had calls to make though thankfully none that would take him near the drove.
‘Well Mr. Goldwater,’ the diminutive estate agent said, ‘a detached house such as yours, in this particular suburb, should fetch just under two hundred thousand, I should say though, if you’re looking for a quick sale, you might consider dropping ten thousand. Prices have risen nicely in this area of late, and demand is on the increase. We shouldn’t be too long finding a buyer for you, call us if you decide to sell.’
‘There’ll be no need for that,’ Darren said, following the estate agent to the door, ‘I’ve already made my mind up. Put it on the market for just below the going rate. I’m cutting ties with these parts.’ He shook the man’s hand and watched as he walked down the drive to his car, then closed the door.
Strange when you thought about it, how a few days could change your philosophy completely. When he’d first set course for the fens, setting up home there had only been a very slight possibility, and then when he’d arrived he couldn’t stand the very flatness of it, the boring sight of miles of land broken only by an occasional, solitary, forlorn looking tree. Yet now developments had changed all that. He’d felt that he’d found a new friend in Claire for one thing, perhaps she’d become more than a friend, who could tell? There was also an ongoing mystery that he now felt compelled to solve, or have a damned good try, and in so doing perhaps he could pull one over on the snooty McPherson.
He wasn’t a natural antagonist at heart, but this man gave him the impression of being so cock-sure of himself, he wore a smug look that seemed to be permanently implanted on his face, he was really beginning to rile him, people like that deserved to be brought down a peg or two, though how he’d go about it he hadn’t a clue. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking, time would tell.
There were messages on the answering machine, from Jeff and Craig basically, badgering him over settlement figures, and surprise, surprise, messages from their respective solicitors asking that he contact them. This pair certainly hadn’t wasted any time in drafting up their demands and acting upon them, if they’d have shown as much diligence in their musical professionalism, then the outcome might have been far different. Too late now though, to worry about things like that. He hadn’t exactly been a saint in that respect when all said and done. He guessed each one of them had lain in their beds and made them, at some stage.
He’d get round to contacting their solicitors later, it really wasn’t that important any more, because his music days were over, blown away like leaves in an autumn wind. It was invigorating really, to think of his future given a whole new direction, with a whole new outlook. Just a few short days ago he didn’t think he had one, he couldn’t see the wood from the trees. He’d much to learn of course, but this was another aspect in his move – that he was actually looking forward to it.
Would this new found enthusiasm last? He’d like to think so, though of course it was a bit too early to say. All the same, something deep inside told him it would.
Darren made his way over to the drinks cabinet, he habitually did this. Grabbing the neck of the bottle he took it through to the kitchen, removed the top, and held the bottle upside down over the sink, watching the contents disappear down the drain. Glup, glup, glup! Shock, horror revulsion at the thought of the precious liquid pulsing its way from the bottle to the sewers – this is how he would have seen it. He would have seen it that way just a couple of days ago, but not any more. Now he felt none the worse for watching it drain away.
McPherson shut he door to his office and left the station in a hurry. The short drive to his home on the western perimeter of Ely would only take him a few minutes, traffic permitting, and he couldn’t wait to get home. It had been an irritating day, a frustrating one, and Darren Goldwater’s meddling hadn’t helped his frame of mind one bit. He didn’t need an outsider like Goldwater to tell him there was something amiss in the fens beyond Bramble Dyke. He thought there was, and that somewhere at the heart of it was the missing child. He wasn’t at all sure that Shaun Tomblin had anything to do with it, strange and evasive man that he was, but if by some remote chance he was hiding something, then Goldwater’s interference could have alerted him to the warning signals. The fact that he knew he was subject to peoples’ suspicions wouldn’t help at all. But for the time being McPherson felt he was up a gum tree, there seemed no persuadable course of action that he could take, and for the life of him he couldn’t see why a rustic, out-back farmer like Tomblin would want to abduct a young child. Where would it get him? Nowhere.
His instincts told him he’d have to look elsewhere, other than Tomblin, if he was going to get to the bottom of this and that the link between the abductor and the missing girl might well be close by. That isolated old house near Tomblin’s did conceal a few secrets, he suspected. When time allowed, he’d go back. Because Scouser Smith had been insistent that none of his family had been anywhere near the place, and he believed him.
So where had these kids come from, these strange kids that he’d seen? And was there a connection between them and the noises that Darren Goldwater had said he’d heard? He thought not, on that score. He thought it was the man’s stupid imagination getting the better of him. After all Goldwater wasn’t from around these parts. He was a rock musician from a city area, a fading rock musician at that. What did he know about animal life on the fens, any kind of life in the fens for that matter?
Foxes or anything could have made the sounds he’d heard. Carried across on the wind, breaking the silence their cries would have a certain weird nature to them, he would have imagined. But there was no doubting that some kind of animal was responsible for the sounds that the man had heard.
He certainly hadn’t finished with the business though, after all, his promotion might depend on the outcome. The promotion he’d sought for so long. But he’d need to keep an eye on Mr.Goldwater, he’d told him, perhaps unwisely, that he needed real evidence. There was the possibility that Goldwater might just try to find it. He doubted very much that he could provide any real evidence, but to the contrary he could do a lot of damage to his cause by interfering again with his amateurish sleuthing.
He’d need to keep an eye on the old house in the drove all right, but he’d need to keep an eye on Goldwater as well.
Darren received his first call from the estate agent late in the afternoon. The caller stated that prospective buyers had been found already, and asked whether it would be in order to escort them around the property at ten a.m. the following day.
He hadn’t counted on staying over that night, having originally intended to return to Bramble Dyke to finalise renovation arrangements on his property there. But he’d become tied up in lengthy discussions with Craig and Jeff’s solicitors over distribution of the pop group’s assets. Rather than become involved in an argy-bargy with the band members he’d arranged appointments with their solicitors, which had dragged on until late afternoon. He thought he’d been quite amenable in respect of any settlements with them and the remaining band members; he wanted nothing but his own equipment really. If he ever did embark on a solo career such good quality stuff would be something of an investment, though it wasn’t a possibility he considered all that highly at the moment.
Nonetheless the meetings had been annoyingly long-winded, there were papers to be drawn up and signed; there was loss of revenue for cancelled shows to be considered, the question of compensation raised its ugly head, though he didn’t see why it should, the others had pulled out not him, he’d stood his ground on that score, but had concluded reluctantly that he’d face further problems on the matter.
But it had all meant that he’d be there at ten, when the prospective buyers arrived, even though the estate agents had a set of keys. The agents said that the prospective buyers were cash purchasers, which gave him the incentive to be there. The quicker he could sell the place, the less hassle in the long run.
Shortly after he’d put the phone down, it rang again. Darren snatched it up optimistically - perhaps this was another client, all so quickly too. But no, there was a sharp intake of breath as soon as he heard the croaky, strained voice on the line.
‘Where the hell have you been? I’ve been trying to contact you for two bloody days and I keep getting is your bloody answering machine. You don’t ever walk out on me like that!’ He held the phone away from his ear as her voice howled down the line. ‘And what’s this about the band breaking up eh? You’d better get your soft butt right over here now or we’re finished, do you understand?’
Darren gave a tired sigh. He couldn’t be bothered with this. Hers was the last voice he’d wanted, or expected, to hear. He’d thought contact would have been severed once and for all at the ranting and raving session at their disastrous gig. Well, he should have known better. When did Goldie Dixon ever give up? The woman he’d thought so adorable when they’d first met, but now felt like a sharp, broken syringe long embe dded in his side, so that you could never be totally unaware of its presence, because as soon as you turned it stung you with renewed venom, surging through rusted steel.
He dropped the receiver back in its cradle without reply.
Site: Brian Cross and The Pen
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