He’s Watching You – Episode 10

BENEATH the hood she could see the cold eyes fixed on her. It was Lieutenant Walker. Gasping with fear, she stumbled over a clod of earth and he grabbed her arm. His hand closed like a vice over her wrist.

Instinctively, she rammed him hard in the solar plexus with the end of the torch. The grip eased and he bent forward, panting for breath.

She darted off like a hare into the darkness of the trees and heard his voice carried on the wind, faint and menacing.

“Miss Merriel . . . Miss Merriel . . . Wait.”

Panting, rivulets of sweat running down her back, she reached the lodging house, frantically inserted the key, stepped inside and locked the door. For five minutes she stood there until the shaking had eased.

She slipped into bed, fastening her window and drawing the bolt. It was past three in the morning before she finally dropped into a troubled sleep.

She woke with her mind clear. There was one person she could tell. Colonel Winthrop. Surely he was above board, a retired senior Army officer with rows of war medals on his chest? Yes, she could trust him.

It was Saturday and the school was closed so she grabbed a quick cup of tea and hurried to Laurel Lodge. As she passed the Ship and Anchor she noticed something that made her blood run cold.

A face was looking out of the shed where the empty tuns were stored. It was Lieutenant Walker, her enemy of the previous night.

She broke into a run, terrified that he would dart out and grab her. She risked a glance behind but the lane was empty. A winding drive led up to a Georgian fronted house with heavily curtained windows. She raised the carved brass dolphin and knocked.

The colonel, cup in hand, looked as neat as ever in a well-tailored grey suit and regimental tie. He looked surprised to see her.

“Miss Merriel, you’re up early. Come along in. I hope you are not having problems at school. It is a difficult time for you with all these air-raids. The children must be nervous.”

“It’s not that, Colonel. There is something I must tell you.”

“Sit down. You’ll find me a good listener.”

“Clive and Roger James talked to me after school yesterday. Apparently they are looked after by an elderly grandmother. They’ve been sneaking out for midnight feasts to the old boathouse.”

“Have they indeed? Then they need a good dressing down. Would you like me to handle it?”

“There’s more to it. Apparently they have seen Lieutenant Walker in the hut on several occasions. Wearing black.”

The colonel’s eyebrows lifted.

“A woman, no doubt. A midnight tryst.”

“No, Colonel. He has been using a radio. At midnight, on a deserted coast.”

“Are you sure they are telling the truth?”

“I know they are. I crept out last night to check on their story. He was on the radio, speaking in German.”

The colonel looked shocked.

“Then what?”

“He rushed out and grabbed hold of me. I drove my torch into his midriff and ran like the clappers.” Her eyes were looking at him, unnaturally large in a pale face. “The man is a German spy, sir.”

The colonel took a cigar from a box on his desk.

“This is very grave news. I need to think it over.”

“There is something else. He has been stalking me on several occasions. The man is scaring me silly.”

“Where and when?”

“He was waiting for me when I visited the lighthouse. He was hiding in the churchyard when I called in on Doctor Hardwick, and he was in the barrel shed of the local inn just now. What do you plan to do, sir?”

The colonel drew on his cigar and stared out of the window. Joan could see croquet hoops on the lawn and two mallets lying on the grass. It all looked so normal, so peaceful.

“Nothing for the moment. I’ll give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself and hopefully implicate any other traitors. I want to catch them red handed.”

“On your own?”

“Miss Merriel, please don’t ask too many questions. Leave it to me. You’ve told Roger and Clive to pack in their midnight games?”

“I have. You needn’t worry on that score.”

“You’re to say nothing to anybody. Not a soul. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Colonel.”

“Right. I’ll see you safely back to your lodgings and no more midnight prowlings. If I may say so, Miss Merriel, you have been very foolish and taken a great risk.”

Later on, Joan sat in her room at Miss Hazelhurst’s, deeply disturbed. The colonel seemed strangely reluctant to pounce on Lieutenant Walker. Why delay? Surely she had given him adequate proof of the man’s guilt.

She was not so sure of Colonel Winthrop any more. Was the whole village involved in the horrible business of spying for the Germans?

On top of everything else her thumb turned septic. She showed it to her landlady.

“I don’t like the look of that, dear.” She peered at the red, swollen area. “Places like that can turn nasty. Poison your whole system if you don’t take care. I’d get Doctor Hardwick to take a look if I was you.”

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”.