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Three Mile Drove, Chapter Twenty Four
By Brian E Cross
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Rated "R" by the Author.
Approaching the conclusion of a serialisation of Three Mile Drove, set in the English fens. Darren Goldwater finds himself captive in a world he never knew existed
Once or twice the ground gave beneath her hurrying feet, as gritting her teeth she clenched the radio in a vice like grip. It was to be her only contact with civilisation, any pretence to it ended about a quarter mile from here. Finally she had cast aside the shackles that had bound her for so long, but was she too late, and in any case what would she do when she got there? She might be strong, but she was still a woman alone amidst the madness that existed within that place.
A madness the outside world didn’t know about, except that was, for Darren. For by now he would surely have stumbled upon its true horrors, and this was where the unthinkable became reality, that he might already have paid the price.
She should have spoken up long ago. Nobody knew better than her the horrors that existed there. But she too, was subject to a price, that was why she’d never spoken out.
And yet, still she’d come running back to Bramble Dyke, like a moth to a flame. So close yet so impotent. A hopeless watcher in an evil world.
But Darren’s demise had been the last straw. Now things would change. She didn’t know what she’d find when she got there but she could guess. Perhaps there was nothing she could do.
Perhaps there was.
She had the element of surprise, she knew the barn’s weaknesses and she was fit enough to expose them.
For Darren’s sake, though not only for him.
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
Outside the barn Claire panted furiously, exhausted by her run. She had tried her utmost to entice Tomblin outside, to provide Darren with the tiniest chance of escape. She’d known he was outside, she’d heard what was going on. If he’d just encroached one metre outside the barn she would have been on to him, she would have pushed him from behind and brought the radio down on his head with so much force it would have decked him. She would have been strong enough to have done that much.
But her ploy had failed, the sacking covering vegetables that she’d wrenched loose hadn’t attracted his attention as much as she’d hoped, and without the element of surprise she’d no chance of overpowering him. Even worse, the radio she’d taken from McPherson was next to useless. All she’d been able to get out of it was crackle.
Still, assistance couldn’t be all that far away. And after all, they’d bring dogs –
But there was nothing apart from the wind and thunder, until the screams of a child pierced the night. Even amidst the wailing of the pathetic creatures who inhabited this godforsaken place she recognised that cry.
It set her emotions on fire. She felt it spread through her veins in a trembling, uncontrollable rush. Even Tomblin wouldn’t think to –
But that was nonsense. She knew he was capable of anything. He was having intercourse with her child while Darren, if he was still alive was a helpless witness. He’d been trying to help, but in the end his intervention was as futile as it was noble, he didn’t know what he was letting himself in for. She’d known, but never told. These thoughts careered through Claire Summerby’s head with the speed of a bullet as she dived under the rear barn entrance and rushed blindly to the congregation in the centre.
Tomblin turned in surprise at her abrupt intrusion, and despite his size she would have tried to tear him limb from limb, but the abject horror which caused her to freeze to a halt contrasted sharply with the look of triumph on Tomblin’s face.
Because it wasn’t Tomblin who was fucking his daughter.
She lowered her eyes, hardly believing what she was seeing. Darren Goldwater, pop musician turned hero in her eyes. There he lay, groping her daughter in full view of the whole ghastly herd of morons that were assembled like a weird audience watching a grotesque cabaret.
‘You bastard.’ She pushed past Tomblin to set about Darren. She would have placed her hands around his scrawny neck and squeezed for all she was worth, but Darren had seen his chance. He rolled away from the girl and out of Claire’s reach, and springing to his feet grabbed the gold chain that hung around Tomblin’s neck. It pulled Tomblin forward and he lost his balance as Darren brought his head down hard on the bridge of his nose.
‘I’ll explain, but this isn’t a good time,’ he shouted at Claire. He’d seen the wild look on her face but with Tomblin grounded, his face splattered with blood, he was more concerned with Joseph, who came screeching at him, egged on by the wailing of his kindred.
He was no match for Joseph’s power, but he grabbed the only weapon to hand. The oil lamp. He smashed it into the bulbous face just as the thing mounted its frenzied attack. Cries of anguish and spittle came out of its twisted mouth, flames lit the air around them and thunder and lightning crashed, before it went eerily dark.
Darren, dazzled by the glare and contrasting darkness, saw only spots before his eyes, while all around came the sound of moaning and wailing.
He heard the child whimper, and as his eyes began to recover, searching the darkness for what little light there was, he saw Claire’s silhouette crouched beside it, he saw the whites of her eyes. She seemed like a cat preparing to pounce.
He swung round. Joseph, shrieking with pain had bolted for the door, the other creatures, crying in alarm followed close behind.
Tomblin murmured something. He was coming round.
Darren raked his boot into the side of Tomblin’s face. Suddenly all was silent. He turned back to face Claire, arms outstretched, ‘Look, I know what it looks like, but it isn’t like that.’ He met the girl’s wide-eyed stare as she turned towards Claire, ‘He told me not to worry, that he wouldn’t hurt me, just to trust him.’ The girl’s voice broke the silence, ‘I couldn’t do it. I was too frightened, but I think he meant it.’
Darren was gob smacked at her fluency, and suddenly the anger in her eyes subsided a little.
‘They tried to make me have intercourse with her. I wouldn’t have done that I promise you. I was just trying to play along, hoping that something would happen. Something like this I suppose.’
He looked hard at Claire, willing her to believe his words, ‘I couldn’t do it with a child.’
Darren sensed that she wanted to believe him, but wasn’t certain that she did. Despite the awful sights, the frightening scenes he’d witnessed, it was important to him that she believed that.
Her eyes met his for a long second, then remembering that she still had McPherson’s torch she searched her pocket, then finding it, shone it on Tomblin. ‘You put the boot in well there, he’s out cold. But what do we do now?’
Darren swung round; the torch threw its beam on the barn support to which he’d been roped. He stretched an arm out towards Tomblin, beckoned to Claire to do the same. ‘We’ll turn the tables on him I think. Lend a hand.’
They dragged Tomblin across the barn floor, his feet trailing in the muck, grime and faeces that had accumulated there over years, perhaps decades, Darren thought.
‘I should thank you for coming to my aid,’ he said, thankful for her resourcefulness.
‘I was coming to the aid of the girl,’ Claire blushed over the partial lie, but Darren had not seen it, though it wasn’t only the poor light that had caused that.
‘Yes of course,’ Darren glanced at the young girl behind them, stared at the similarity between them, realising why the face had seemed so familiar, coincidence of course, but a striking likeness all the same. Thunder boomed from above, so loud it shook the rafters, as Darren clamped the rope around Tomblin’s hands and secured it to the support, while Claire held him rigid.
‘I called the police on Tim’s radio,’ she said, ‘they should be here any minute.’
Darren gave her an awkward glance, checked the knot. ‘Let’s get out of here, I can’t stand the stench a moment longer,’ he paused, ‘where is McPherson then?’
Claire shone the torch towards the open door where Joseph and the other creatures had fled, ‘He fell down a ditch and broke his ankle.’
‘Just as I thought,’ Darren got to his feet and offering a hand, pulled her up, ‘the sort of guy you can count on in a crisis.’
‘If that was supposed to be a joke Darren, it’s not the time, and it’s in rank bad taste.’ He saw the glare in her eyes return and experienced a mounting resentment that she should be sticking up for him. He fought it back.
‘So you came alone. You’re one very brave lady.’ He led Claire, her own hand trailing her daughter, to the barn entrance, and then as lightning flared continuously onto the circular clearing outside, they froze.
In the clearing stood Joseph, his face bloated from the impact of the oil lamp, his twisted mouth open, his hooded eyes fixed firmly upon them. He was ringed by at least a dozen of what were supposedly his family, whose number seemed to have been swollen by the contents of the huts.
Darren glanced at Claire and swallowed heavily, ‘We can slip past them if we’re quick, lose them in the dark, as well as you know this place.’
‘No we can’t,’ Claire shot Darren an agitated glance, ‘There’s somebody else there, I saw him in the lightning.’
‘So what? Things can’t get any worse than they are now.’
‘Can’t they, I’m not so sure.’
But Claire wasn’t listening. Taking her daughter’s hand she edged back into the barn, Darren following, a cautious eye on the clearing but seeing only darkness. He shut the barn door as Claire shone his torch into the darkness, checking that Tomblin was firmly secured. ‘I don’t think we should run, that’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do. Darren, these people might seem as if they haven’t a brain cell between them, but they aren’t totally stupid, they know the area as well as I do. We won’t make it,’ she lowered her eyes to her daughter, ‘especially not with her.’
‘We can’t just stop here either,’ Darren said edgily, feeling his way in the darkness. ‘We’re sitting ducks. And anyway, who or what was it you saw.’
Claire raking her fingers through her daughter’s tousled hair, seemed to evade his question, ‘I’ve told you. It’s only a matter of time. The police are on their way.’
‘It seems to be taking a hell of a long time. I don’t understand all this. It’s like being dropped into another world. And you know more than you’re letting on, don’t you. How did you get mixed up in all this?’
Claire sighed, ‘It’s a long story. I don’t feel up to it right now.’
‘Perhaps I can help then,’ a gruff voice spoke.
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