Together We Stand – Episode 24

As they reached where the automobile was parked in the next street, they found a man and a woman leaning over it.

“There, I told you it must be Mrs Humphries,” Henry said.

“We met Edith by the pier and she told us you were still there.” Madeleine smiled. “It’s a lovely evening. We came down to see if you still needed any assistance, but it seems we’re too late.”

“It’s all done for today,” Gwendolyn replied. “I’m just taking Tanni home.”

Tanni frowned at them.

“You met Edith by the pier?”

“Yes,” Madeleine replied. “Not long ago. She was meeting her grandfather.”

“Why do you ask?” Henry demanded when he saw the expression on Tanni’s face.

“Everyone else was helping with the tearooms,” Tanni began slowly. “Edith was the only one with any reason to come to the studio.” She turned to Gwendolyn. “Unless you sent anyone, Mrs Humphries?”

“Certainly not. They were all setting the tables until the last minute. Edith left earlier than the rest, due to a family commitment.”

Tanni turned back towards the tearooms.

“There was someone there,” she said slowly. “I thought it might be Edith. But someone was there, in the studio. I saw their shadow on the wall when I was coming up from the basement.”

“I didn’t see anyone when I came to get you.” Gwendolyn frowned. “And all the doors were locked and the shutters down. We were the last to leave.”

“Then they must still be in there,” Tanni said.

She began walking rapidly back to the tearooms.

“You can’t go on your own!” Henry cried, catching up with her, with Madeleine and Gwendolyn not far behind.

Tanni was grateful for the company. She half expected flames to soar from the roof, but there was nothing.

Gwendolyn hastily unlocked the door and they stepped warily inside the tearooms. Everything was silent.

“Nothing has been touched here,” Gwendolyn said, turning up the gas and making a hasty inspection. She reached for the cashbox behind the counter. It had not been touched, either.

“Wait here,” Henry said, opening the door to the studio.

“Definitely not,” Tanni replied.

“And I’m not letting you go in there alone, Henry,” Madeleine added.

There was no time to argue over the heroics as the door opened, allowing them inside.

The studio stood just as it had been left.

“Nothing,” Gwendolyn said with relief. “Thank goodness it’s untouched.”

Henry took an umbrella, standing all ready to do service as a prop, holding it in front of him as he made his way towards the door to the basement.

“It’s still locked,” he announced, sounding slightly disappointed. “Whoever it was must have left with the others.”

“How the –” Madeleine began, but she was interrupted by the crash of the wooden sword, still propped up against one of the chairs.

In the flicker of the lamps, the shutters swung open, curtains billowing inwards as the wind blew in from the sea.

“There was someone,” Tanni insisted as they rushed over to the open window. “The shutters were barred before we left.”

“And the window’s not broken,” Henry pointed out. “It must have been someone from the inside. What on earth were they doing?”

With a sudden sickness deep in her stomach, Tanni turned back towards the little stage.

“That’s what they wanted,” she said slowly. “It was there when I left.

Mr Samuel’s camera has gone.”

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.