Wednesday 26 – Sunday 30 November 2014
In the enveloping mist, the only structure in Strangler’s Cove that stood out was Castledene Mill. Needing much more renovation than Carol Castledene had managed to complete before her brutal demise earlier in the evening, the mill still attracted tourists itching to see where past horrors of the village had taken place. As eager as they were to move on to their next destination, the five tourists holed up in the pub had decided that perhaps a couple of extra days in Strangler’s Cove would be okay if they were able to visit the mill.
‘I happen to know,’ stated Big John, owner of the pub, ‘that a descendent of the original owner is interested in running tours of the old mill. Now, I also know that there’s a small coach load of tourists over at the bed and breakfast who have arranged to be taken on one of those tours. I’m sure that Carol Castledene wouldn’t have a problem with a few extras tagging along. I’ll give her a call if you like.’
Ray, the self-appointed leader of the group, spoke for them. ‘That’d be great if you could. I mean we’ve got no chance of heading out to our next village now, so we may as well hang around here. Right?’ He turned to the other four who looked less than impressed.
‘Fi and I don’t want to visit a mill, Ray. We want to be able to spend time at my mum’s. That was the plan and Fi and I think we should stick to it as best we can.’
‘Laura’s right,’ added Fiona. ‘We can’t help being stuck here by this mist, but we can certainly be ready to go when it clears.’
Ray looked to his male companions for back up. Bradley and Warren stood silent.
‘Well?’ Ray asked.
‘Well what?’ replied Bradley.
‘Do you want to see this mill of horrors?’
Warren glanced at Bradley. A single thought passed between the two of them.
‘You’re on your own, Ray. Brad and I have got to consider our . . . sleeping arrangements,’ Warren finally replied.
‘So the two of you are letting your women grab you by the balls and control what you can and can’t do? That’s real manly, boys.’
Laura shook her head. ‘Your arrogance is why you can’t get a girlfriend, Ray.’
He snapped his head and looked at her. ‘And the size of your mouth is the reason Brad likes it when –’
Before Ray could finish speaking, Brad struck out with a balled fist, landing a punch directly on Ray’s nose. His head recoiled and blood poured out onto the bar. Big John groaned.
‘Bloody tourists. That’s another mess I have to clean up.’ He threw a dirty dishcloth at Ray. ‘Use that to stop your dripping. And you,’ Big John pointed at Bradley, ‘can get another one and clean up the bar.’
Laura, Fiona and Warren wandered away to sit at a small table near the wall-mounted television. Big John stopped them in their tracks.
‘And I expect you lot to buy a round of drinks and some food for everyone in here to pay for the trouble you’ve caused.’
Not wanting to inflame the situation, Warren agreed to the demand. ‘I’ll have a pint, and I guess those two knuckleheads will as well. Girls will have a white wine.’
* * * * *
The fire crackled in the library fireplace. It threw enough light and heat across the room so that Fenella didn’t need the aide of the ceiling lights or table lamp to read the documents she had removed from her secret safe.
‘Not long now,’ she said to herself. ‘Not long at all.’ She studied the documents further, checking for any possible way that events could go wrong. Lost in analysis of the papers, Fenella didn’t hear the front door being open or closed. It wasn’t until the intruder was half way across the library that Fenella became aware.
‘Your foot falls got louder as you approached the centre of the room, and you forgot about the creaky floorboard,’ she said without turning to look at the intruder.
‘But you didn’t hear the front door, did you?’
‘No, I’ll give you that. You’re getting much better at this,’ she replied. ‘Do sit down, sweetheart, you look like you need to take a weight off.’
‘You can say that again, mother.’
Dressed in entirely in black, William Wilkinshaw slumped into the wingback chair opposite his mother.
‘Is it done?’ Fenella asked. Her son nodded and smiled.
‘And nobody saw you?’
‘No, mother, nobody saw me. Couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face the mist was so thick. I don’t think it’ll clear until late tomorrow.’
‘So, two out of five. That’s a good start, and we still have enough time for the other three.’
‘What about tea, mother? Do we have time for a cup of tea?’ William asked.
. . . To be continued . . .