He’s Watching You – Episode 07


BEFORE she could reply, he nodded towards the school.

“How are you finding the children? Giving them a good caning when they misbehave?”

Was he trying to rile her? Joan smiled at him coolly.

“Certainly not. I don’t use the stick.”

“No dunce cap, either?” His tone was mocking but Joan did not react.

“I believe children should learn by example, not through fear of punishment and being made to look foolish.”

A quick grin lit the lieutenant’s face.

“You may well be right. And since you’re here maybe you could give me a hand.”

“How?”

He grabbed his walking stick.

“By helping me over the stile.”

“I gather it’s a war wound you’ve got, Lieutenant.”

His face hardened.

“What you really mean is, why aren’t I fighting the Germans in France?”

Joan flushed.

“I never said any such thing.”

“No, but you thought it. I’ve been temporarily seconded until my leg mends. We got shot up in the Arctic.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“That’s war for you.” He changed the subject abruptly. “So you’ve been visiting old Joseph in the lighthouse? It’s a dangerous place, with that sheer drop from the gallery down on to the rocks.”

Joan nodded.

“Two keepers have lost their lives there, apparently.”

“They did and my advice is, Miss Merriel, don’t do anything foolish. You might regret it.”

Joan looked at him curiously.

“And what do you mean by that?”

“What I say. Keep your eyes open. There’s mined beaches and rusted barbed wire all over the place. Not to mention the risk of tumbling down steep lighthouse steps. Now – may I make use of your arm?”

Joan helped him across, and watched him limp away. Now she was more confused than ever.

Joseph Smith and Lieutenant Walker were an odd mixture. Friendly one moment, trying to frighten her the next. There was something unknown beneath the surface of Stonecliff-on-Sea, something that was making her feel very uneasy.

*  *  *  *

Day after day the wireless broadcast news of the ever-nearing German Army, driving its way through France. The siren was howling two or three times a day now and people were going round heavy-eyed and worried.

Joan was giving a lesson in multiplication when two German planes flew overhead. The alarm went and pupils and teacher ran towards the shelter in a ragged crocodile, gas masks swinging from their small hands.

They hurried down the steps into the thick, stale air which reeked of damp and mould.

No sooner were they inside than there came the high-pitched scream of two attacking Mosquitos and the harsh rattle of machine-gun fire. The children sat wide-eyed and pale and little Ruby snuggled up close to where Joan was perched on the concrete slab.

“Can I sit next to you, miss?” She dabbed her eyes. “I’m frightened.”

“Of course you can, Ruby,” Joan said softly, putting an arm round the shivering child. “Now let’s all be very brave and play some games. We’re safe in here.”

“Can we do shopping lists, miss?” Heather asked, eyes wide behind a pair of round-rimmed glasses.”

“Bags I start, miss,” came the chorus.

“We’ll start with Jenny here on my left and work our way round. Off you go, Jenny.”

“I went to the shop and bought a pound of sausages.”

“Tom, you now.”

“I went to the shop and bought a pound of sausages and a loaf of bread.”

There was an explosion that rocked the air and left their ears ringing. The children sat petrified, faces white. Joan put on her most cheerful, easygoing manner.

“I’ll teach you a new game, children. It’s called Buzz. We start counting and every time a number comes up with a seven in it you say ‘buzz’ instead. Lily, your turn.”

Three bangs followed in quick succession followed by a flash that threw a lurid light on to the damp stone walls. Only Roger and Clive seemed full of beans.

“That’s another Messerschmitt gone, miss.”

His brother chipped in with a grin.

“Hitler’s got hisself blown up, miss. He won’t have that daft moustache any more.”

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.