Wednesday 19 – Monday 24 November 2014
Matthew Jenkins straightened his collar, and carefully lifted his coat onto his shoulders.
‘You can’t really be serious about going out in this mist, Matthew,’ Fenella said.
‘Of course I’m going. My dear lady, it is only mist.’ He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. ‘Will I see you tomorrow?’
She looked at her feet. ‘I don’t think so. I’ve a garden committee meeting in the morning, and Carol and I are supposed to be showing some tourists around Castledene Mill.’
The expression that fell over Matthew’s face pushed Fenella to explain further.
‘It was Carol’s idea to take them to the mill. She thought that maybe by showing the tourists around, she might be able to reopen the mill and make some money by creating a tour.’
Matthew sighed and rubbed his eyes.
‘You know I’ve spent a long time researching the Castledene family, the mill, and everything else to do with that family. It’s not a good idea. I think you should stay well away from that mill.’ He paused and considered how to express his thoughts. ‘I want you to stay away. It’s not a good place.’
‘You’re paranoid about the history of the place,’ she replied.
‘Not just the place, Fenella, the family too.’
His tone frightened Fenella. She was used to his eccentricities and arrogance, his overzealous evangelism, and his sometimes-physical brutality, but this sudden display of concern was different. Not once had Matthew been concerned for her since they had started courting. It was not in his nature. At least that’s what he kept telling Fenella, but she wasn’t inclined to believe him.
‘You’ve never told me why you don’t like the Castledenes, Matthew.’
‘And I don’t intend to tell you know because it’s simply none of your business. All I will say is stay away from the mill and Carol,’ he snapped. Before Fenella could say anything more, Matthew had opened the front door, and was striding through the mist and across the grass. Fenella lost sight of him before he was halfway across the front yard.
‘Thanks so much for closing the door behind you!’ She mumbled as she threw the door closed. Now that Matthew had gone, even though it had only been a few seconds, the house felt like hers again. Without Matthew present, every room in the house was safe and comforting. As she made her way to the library, Fenella finally began to relax. She hoped that Matthew would not return before she could meet up with Carol.
* * * * *
Hearing only his own footsteps, Matthew steadily plodded on towards the pub. In the heavy mist, it was difficult to orientate himself, and before he could adjust the direction in which he’d begun to veer, he was greatly off course. The pub was a considerable distance away from his current location.
‘Damn it,’ he snapped. It was then that Matthew heard the approaching footsteps. He turned around in a circle, trying to establish the direction that the footsteps were approaching from. It was impossible to isolate them. The mist had driven everyone inside, and in the emptiness, every little sound echoed throughout the village.
‘Who’s there?’ Matthew asked. There was no reply, but then, Matthew hadn’t really expected one. He stood his ground facing where he believed the steps to be approaching from.
‘I’ve been expecting you. You have taken your time, of course. And to be honest, I never thought I’d get this far. Either you’re slowing down, or you’ve been toying with me.’
There was still nothing to be heard other than the footsteps.
‘I assume that it was you who sent me the letter,’ Matthew continued, ‘and since I received it, I’ve put everything in order. But if you’re as good as you think you are why are you coming for me in this hellish mist? Why not do it face to face, in broad daylight? Are you too scared to face me like that? Do you need an advantage to overpower me? Is that it? If that’s the reason, then I’m disappointed in you.’ He listened for the sound of footsteps on the road, but there was nothing.
Matthew turned around again, hoping to catch his adversary off-guard, hoping that a single sound would give his opponent away. He took a little time to turn the collar of his coat up against the cold and the mist.
‘The last time I saw you turn your collar up, you were just about to kill my brother. Seems this time the shoe is on the other foot.’
The voice was closer than Matthew had anticipated; it was coming from behind him. He quickly turned but instead of seeing the face of his attacker, Matthew only caught sight of a heavy branch that had been broken from a Yew tree before it struck his face, crushing his skull beyond repair.
. . . To be continued . . .