Together We Stand – Episode 09

Henry eased himself carefully through the half-open door of the outbuilding, blinking in the darkness.

The intruder was moving about inside, stealthily, but with the confidence of one who does not expect to be interrupted. A candle flickered next to the picture wagon, sending shadows into the dusty corners.

Henry’s fingers tightened around his flashlight. One press of the switch and the beam would leave the intruder nowhere to hide, but it would also betray his own presence, and any chance of uncovering what the intruder was up to.

The candle disappeared behind the wagon, followed by a rattling at its door. It certainly wasn’t any acquaintance of Miss Phillips. He’d put the keys into Tanni’s hands himself.

What was it about this wagon? So much for his embarrassment at handing Miss Phillips such a useless inheritance!

Tanni had seemed to think it the greatest gift in the world, and now someone was taking the risk of being caught breaking in to private property.

Henry cursed himself for not looking more closely at the thing when he’d had the chance. He’d been certain it was just a covered wagon, and simply one of Uncle Samuel’s eccentricities.

The rattling stopped, followed by movement once more, the canvas of the sides swaying as the intruder tested the battered material, seeking a weak point. Whoever it was, they were not giving up.

A knife ripped through the canvas.

The blood rushed to Henry’s head.

“What do you think you are doing?” he demanded, racing towards the wagon, directing the beam of his flashlight towards the gaping hole in the canvas.

There was a curse as a figure stumbled backwards.

The flashlight caught the brown of a greatcoat. He caught at the material, struggling to steady the beam on his adversary’s face.

There was a flash of metal at the corner of his eye, then the sharpness of fire in his arm. The flashlight spun wildly out of his grasp.

As the beam died, he caught the shadow of the wrist holding the knife as it came down again. Henry grabbed the wrist, directing the knife away from his chest towards the wagon.

He staggered and lost his grip as a blow caught him across the shoulders. There was a low grunt as his assailant pulled himself free, then Henry heard the clatter of footsteps racing out of the door.

Henry leaned against the wheel of the wagon, trying to catch his breath. In the distance he could hear the race of footsteps towards Llandudno.

A warm trickle of blood began to make its slow way down inside his shirtsleeves.

With his good hand, he felt underneath the wagon. The flashlight hadn’t gone far. He switched it on, turning the beam up towards the picture wagon.

“You’d better be worth all this,” he muttered feelingly.

The beam caught the bullet holes, a reminder of the wagon’s journey through the battlefields of the Crimea.

“What secrets might you still hold after all these years?” he demanded.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.