He’s Watching You – Episode 09

THE following day threw Joan into more sinister waters than she could possibly have imagined.

Afternoon school was just finishing. Roger and Clive had been unusually quiet and she sensed that something was wrong. There hadn’t been any flying ink pellets, screwed-up notes passed round or talking when her back was turned.

Perhaps something was amiss in the Jameses’s household. The bell rang and the children trooped out.

“Roger and Clive. Stay behind please. I want a word.”

Clive butted in before she could speak.

“I did all my sums last night, miss.”

Roger nodded.

“And I’ve done that map with the coal fields on it.”

Joan pointed to their empty desks.

“It’s not classwork I’m concerned about today.” She allowed her expression to soften. “You’re both looking worried. Is something upsetting you at home?”

“No, miss. Our gran’s all right.”

“Are the air raids worrying you? The gas-mask drills?”

“No, miss. Nothing like that.”

“What is it then?”

Clive nudged his brother.

“Go on. We’d best tell her.”

Roger wiped his nose on his school pullover.

“It’s spies, miss. We’ve seen one!”

Joan took a deep breath.

“You mean when you play those games at break time?”

“No, miss. There’s an old boathouse down by the sea.”

“Just round the headland. It’s half falling down.”

She nodded.

“Not far from the lighthouse. I’ve seen it.”

“Clive and me have midnight feasts there.”

“After our gran’s gone to sleep.”

“We climb out of the window.”

“And take bits of cake and things.”

“And we’ve seen summat.”

“What, Clive?”

“That Mr Walker, the coastguard. He’s got a radio. He goes down to the boathouse at night. We’ve heard him talking on it. Saying German words like nicht and ja.”

Joan could hardly believe what she was hearing.

“Are you absolutely sure, boys?”

They nodded emphatically.

“Dead sure, miss. He’s a spy.”

“Sending messages to Hitler.”

Joan felt her arms turn to goose flesh.

“Listen to me, Clive and Roger. You’re to keep away from that boathouse. No more midnight feasts. Do you understand? You could be in grave danger.”

Roger rubbed his nose.

“We’ve already decided that, miss. He might shoot us if he caught us.”

“Does your granny know anything of this?” Joan demanded.

The boys laughed.

“Not a sausage. She’d be worried sick.”

“Leave this to me. I’ll tell Colonel Winthrop. He’ll know what to do and he’ll inform the authorities. Now you must promise you’ll steer clear of the boathouse.”

The boys grinned.

“Promise, miss.”

“Cross me heart and hope to die, miss.”

Joan’s head was in a whirl. Had the boys really unearthed a German agent? Or was there some innocent explanation for Les Walker’s midnight strolls? Were they exaggerating? Could they have made it up?

But they were quite definite about the radio and they were genuinely worried.

Tiny doubts flickered in her mind. She didn’t want to tell the colonel and then find it was a load of nonsense. It would make her look stupid, incompetent. There was only one thing to do. She would check out their story and take a midnight stroll herself.

*  *  *  *

The hours crept by and several times she almost lost her nerve. But Joan had a tough side to her. She was determined to find out the truth once and for all.

She pulled on a pair of dark trousers and a hooded top and at half-past eleven slipped out of the boarding house door. Torch in hand, she took the path leading to the promontory and the old boathouse.

The more she thought about it, the more the pieces seemed to fit together. Les Walker had warned her off the first time they had met. He didn’t want her prowling around. He’d been following her, too, like a bloodhound. Maybe he was scared that she’d found out too much.

Heart beating fast, shielding the beam of the torch, she tried to ignore the rustling sounds from unseen nocturnal animals and the branches standing stark against the night sky like skeletons. An owl screeched and she froze as the dark shape flew low.

The pathway emerged on to an open area of coarse grass. Feet sinking into the soft sand, Joan clambered up the dunes, a dark shadow in the night. And there was the boatshed in front of her, menacing and semi-derelict.

From one of its glassless window frames came a faint light. Careful not to tread on any driftwood, she inched her way forward. A faint murmur came from inside and the crackle of static, followed by a torrent of words. She caught the last few and her arms turned rigid.

It was German. No doubt of it.

Only three yards to go now. Carefully she placed her foot on a tuft of grass. The hidden length of driftwood exploded with a crack. The light went out and there was total silence, heavy with terror. She turned and began to run.

But before she had taken half a dozen steps, the door was flung open and a figure dressed in black from head to toe hurtled out, a piece of heavy wood in his hand.

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”.