He’s Watching You – Episode 03

JOAN didn’t sleep well that night. The boys’ story about murder in the village had upset her more than she realised. She knew the story was probably a myth, or certainly exaggerated, but she decided to check it out with the colonel.

She found him in an outhouse wiping clean a double-barrelled shotgun.

“Colonel, there’s probably nothing in it but Clive and Roger James told me a tale about spying and a murder here during World War One. Is it true?”

He eyed her for a long moment.

“You haven’t wasted any time in raking up the village’s murky past.”

Joan shrugged.

“The boys were playing murder games in the playground and I asked them about it. That’s all.”

“Fair enough. They’re not making it up. Things were going very badly in France at the time. Then something strange happened. Jim Blades, the blacksmith, went in to see Doctor Hardwick in the surgery late one afternoon. He told the doc he was suspicious of a villager. He had hard evidence that he or she was an undercover German agent.”

“Did he tell Doctor Hardwick who it was?”

“No, and that’s the odd thing. He backed out at the last minute. Said he’d changed his mind. The following day a fisherman found him on the beach just after dawn. He’d been knifed in the back.”

“What a dreadful thing. Was the murderer ever found?”

“No. We had the police here, of course, and the special investigation boys from the Army and Navy, but the killer was never tracked down. Doc Hardwick was devastated. He really took it to heart. The poor fellow ended up nearly having a breakdown.”

“But that means . . .”

The colonel interrupted her.

“That he or she could still be living in the village? Most unlikely. There have been many comings and goings since then. The killer will almost certainly have left the area long ago.”

The colonel stood up abruptly and Joan sensed that he wanted her to leave. She turned to the door.

“One other thing, Colonel – I met Les Walker earlier on. Was he wounded on active service?”

The colonel nodded.

“He was blown up on one of the Arctic convoys and given shore duties. He was lucky to survive. A freighter picked him up.”

“He seemed rather rude when he warned me off the beach.”

Colonel Winthrop grunted.

“He can be a bit sour but he’s good at his job. We can’t have people getting injured.” He took a cigarette from a silver case and lit it.

“Look, Miss Merriel. A word of advice. Village folk don’t take kindly to newcomers poking into the past.” He smiled thinly. “Take a tip from an old man. Stick to your job.”

Joan felt like a squaddie who had been read the riot act. First a warning from Les Walker, now the colonel. What did the village have to hide?

She left the house and took the path back to the village through a copse. She was halfway through an open glade when there came a loud crack. Joan jumped and stood stock still.

Two minutes later the noise came again, a sharp bang which left her ears ringing. Cold sweat broke out on her. She had seen the colonel’s shotgun and now he was after her.

Crouching low, branches whipping against her face, she tore along the track out into the open. Before her stretched a field of newly planted wheat, the green ears poking through the soil. The explosion came again and a swarm of rooks flew up into the air.

It was only a bird scarer.

“For goodness’ sake, get a grip, woman,” she muttered. She pulled her shoulders back and marched off towards her lodgings. There was a pile of exercise books waiting to be marked.

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”.