11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 15

Fortunately, Harrison arrived back at that moment, with two big box files and an envelope in his hands. He gave the envelope to Georgia.

“The spare keys.”

Leaving Brett, Eloise and Jason mopping up, she went with the other two to try the keys.

They weren’t labelled, so it was a question of trial and error. In the end, none would turn.

“These can’t be the right ones!” Georgia exclaimed in exasperation.

“It doesn’t look like it,” Harrison agreed. “Oh, well, nothing else for it!”

In the manner of someone who’d been trained to do this sort of thing, Harrison broke down the door.

The musty smell hit them all as they stepped inside. The rooms on this top floor were attic-type, and they all pretty well at the same time noticed that the large sloping roof window was open and hanging half off.

“I reckon at some point it’s been forced open far wider than it should have been,” Alex said, examining it. “Yes, see here? It should be held together with three hinges, but two of them have been broken. So all the rain we’ve been having has come in!”

The carpet beneath the window was absolutely soaked, and clearly the wet was now seeping through the floorboards.

As they were talking, Georgia noticed Harrison massaging his shoulder and gazing about him. Not that there was anything to see. The office was entirely empty…

“I’d say he’s done a bunk.” Harrison voiced what had being going through Georgia’s own mind.

“Unless… are all the offices taken at present? I mean, has he just given proper notice and left, perhaps?” Alex asked.

“No. My grandad told me that this top floor, which holds the cheapest offices, was fully occupied,” she replied miserably.

“Where are those boxes?” Harrison broke in. “The rent records! I bet he won’t have paid for weeks.”

“This looks like them,” a different voice replied.

Unnoticed by Georgia, another woman had joined them.

Seeing Georgia’s questioning look, the woman held out her hand.

“I’m Ann.”

Ann? Although a lot of Georgia’s attention was on the fresh noises coming from downstairs – more ceiling collapsing, perhaps? – the name rang a bell. Of course! Amy’s middle name, after her mother.

That meant that this woman, who was now reading some papers she had taken from one of the boxes, must be Alex’s wife.

“Oh, dear!” Ann frowned at the sheet of paper in her hand. “I’m afraid it looks as though he hasn’t paid anything for months, never mind weeks.”

Brett came bounding up.

“Is the insurance policy in there?” he demanded. “That’s what we need. I’ve had a lot of damage.”

“Let’s see.” Alex was now rummaging. “Here’s a booklet from the insurance company.” He rapidly read through it, clearly used to official documents. “Yes, it’s a good policy. Everything should be covered.”

“Thank heavens for that then,” Georgia heard Brett saying, voicing exactly what she’d been thinking. A lot of damage, he’d said. Well, think of all that expensive equipment he had.

Cameras, lighting…

But it seemed it had all ended well. And she’d kept relatively calm, as she’d resolved to do. She could congratulate herself on that.

Alex was holding the insurance booklet out to her, and as she reached to take it from him a single sheet of paper fluttered down to the floor.

She stooped to lift it from the carpet.

“Oh, no!”

Georgia felt as though she was going to fall to the floor herself. Even without having picked it up, she could read what it said, typed in big red letters.


Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.