He’s Watching You – Episode 02

AT break time she noticed a group of lads playing by the boiler house. They were crouched down, fingers pointing like guns.

“Bang. Got you, Roger! I’m a German spy.” Then Clive turned to a small girl with fair hair. “You, too, Blondie. I’m gonna get you. Kill you stone dead.”

“Shut up, Clive. Don’t be horrid.”

Joan stepped forward.

“That’s enough, now, Clive. Leave Heather alone.”

Clive looked at her with a cheeky grin.

“Just playing the village murder game, miss.”

James chimed in.

“You know, when that blacksmith got a knife stuck in him.”

Joan rang the bell for end of playtime. She wasn’t going to question them in front of the entire class, but she decided to have a word later.

She called them back at the end of school.

“What is this story about murder, boys? It sounds most intriguing.”

They looked awkward and began to fidget.

“Nothing, miss.”

“Is it something to do with the village?”

“It was ages ago, miss. In the first war.”

“There was spies here. And somebody got stabbed on the beach for telling on them.”

“They never nicked anybody for it, my mum says.”

“He could still be around!”

Joan smiled at the boys. It was natural that this sort of tale should appeal to their active imaginations, but she doubted that these games were good for anyone in the current circumstances.

“In future you play bulldog and tag in the playground. Do you understand?”

They smiled back sheepishly.

“Yes, miss.”

“Off you go, then.

Joan tidied the classroom and made her way down to the beach for some air, still somehow disturbed by the boys’ story.

The English beaches of her childhood had vanished and in their place stood rolls of rusted barbed wire and the occasional concrete pillbox sunk deep into the sand. At intervals notices in red letters clung to the fence – DANGER, BURIED MINES.

Behind the wire lay a heaving grey sea. Waves surged and broke on the barren shingle. A cold wind was blowing in from the direction of the Netherlands and distant Denmark, and she shivered.

Suddenly the colonel’s sombre words did not seem so far fetched. She had a horrible picture in her mind of a dark night, a furious gale blowing and the brooding dunes covered in dense, clinging mist. She could almost see the faceless figures in German helmets crawling under the barbed wire with blackened skin and camouflage netting draped over their shoulders.

“I wouldn’t come down here if I were you.”

Joan nearly jumped out of her skin. The voice was low, with just a touch of menace below the surface.

Spinning round, she found herself face to face with a tall, wiry man in Naval-style uniform, clean shaven with tough features and brown eyes narrowed against the chill wind. He carried a walking stick and had a bad limp.

She resented his abrupt manner.

“Who are you?”

“Lieutenant Les Walker. The coastguard responsible for security in the area. And you?”

“Miss Joan Merriel, the new school mistress. I can assure you I am not a spy or a German in disguise.” She wasn’t going to be cowed by a junior Naval officer, coastguard or not.

The lieutenant was determined to assert his authority. He lifted his arm and gestured out beyond the barbed wire.

“Miss Merriel, it is no more than four hundred miles to the German coastline from here. Half that to Holland and Belgium. If there is to be a Nazi invasion we are a prime target. My advice is that you give this area a wide berth.”

“Are you trying to scare me, Lieutenant?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Not scare. Just put you in the picture. Walk through that gate and the likelihood is that you would be blown sky high. You’d do best to stick to your school teaching.”

Joan recognised the truth in his words although his attitude annoyed her.

“Thank you for your concern,” she replied. “I’ll bear it in mind.”

What left her feeling curious was the fact that she could see a faint indentation in the grass leading to a pillbox inside the mined area. Something or someone had clearly been there without being blown up.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.