The Other TwoMature

                           The next morning, David dropped Jenny by the small island of grass by the farm, then turned his car round and headed back towards Colchester, if he had driven into the drive way, he too would have been greeted by the chaos in the farm yard.  Police cars, pick-up plus an assortment of police officers and local farmers were scrambling around the yard, the police taking statements from the farmers as they congregated around an enormous piece of plastic sheeting covering the far end of the yard and the entrance to the field, Jenny’s heart was racing as she ran into the yard,

“DAD!” she shouted, “DAD, WHERE ARE YOU?”

“Jen” he father called from over by the stables, he was talking to a female officer, who was taking his statement,

“So you and mister Jessop were alone in the house when you heard the gate smash?”

“Dad, what’s going on?”

“No, we heard the canterin, then, we came out just in time to see the animals hit the gate, most horrible thing I ever saw”

“Dad, please?”

“Just a sec, Jen, that’s when the animals started fallin over each other, trapped under the legs of the others, crushin them”

“OK, then they ran through into the lane?”

“Yeah, that’s right, that’s all we saw”

“And you have no idea what might have caused this stampede?”

“No, fraid I don’t”

“OK, mister Abbot, that’s all we need for now, thank you”

The officer walked away, leaving Jenny and Abbot alone,

“Can I have an answer now?”

“Sorry Jen, we just dunno what happened, Nick and I was havin a drink when all hell broke loose”

“What time did all this happen?”

“Bout three am”

You were still awake at three am?”

“Well, you know what it’s like when men get ta drinkin”

Jenny eye’d her father carefully, he was lying,

“So, what happened?”

“Like I said, we was avin a drink, then we hear this commotion from outside, and when we went to look, we saw dozens of animals, cows, horses and sheep, all chargin through the field, I swear to you Jen, I never seen animals lookin so scared in all my life”

“What will happen now?”

“When the others have finished identifying their own stock, we’ll have to get em all shifted and destroyed”

Jenny watched as men she’d known all her life, wiped tears from their eyes as they identified more and more of their own cattle, Jenny knew as well as they did, that a disaster like this could cripple them for years to come.

                                           Mary was standing behind the bar, watching Nick pace the hard wood floor, he was on his mobile phone and no matter how hard she tried, could not help over hearing,

“Look Terry, I’m sorry if I freaked you out, but I cannot do this on my own, it’s too big for just me”

“I’m sorry about that, Nick, but Fran and Mark are needed here, you won’t believe come of the reports we’ve been getting, the phones have been ringing off the hook and I’m running out of investigators”

“Oh really, have any of them watched dozens of farm animals trample each other to death, cos it’s a new one on me”

“I’m sorry Nick, the answer is no”

Mary coughed and Nick, looking very, very annoyed, turned to face her, she pointed towards the door behind him and Nick turned, seeing Fran and Mark standing there with huge grins on their faces,

“They there yet?” Terry giggled,

“Yeah, there here, you a very funny man, Terry” and he hung up, looking at Fran and Mark like they were gold dust,

“Thank GOD, you two are here”

 

                                              Mary carried three cups of coffee on a tray to their table then went back to her daily tasks behind the bar, Nick, Fran and Mark sat at a table at the back of the pub.  Fran and Mark sat with open mouths, staring avidly at the footage of the animals from the night before, Fran, a lifelong vegetarian, looked quite Ill.  When the film finished, Mark put the camera down, took a long swig from his coffee, then said,

“Shit”

“Yes, apt description, Mark, so glad you came all this way to tell me that” Nick replied,

“And you have no idea what set them off?”

“None, I haven’t been back to the farm since this morning, Keith Abbot, the farm owner, doesn’t want his daughter, Jenny, involved, I thought it best I left before she got home”

“How very considerate of you” Fran answered, she had a strange look on her face, like disapproval.  Fran was quite short, slender but not curvy, she had short cropped hair, that she insisted on dying deep purple, and always wore these long, flowery dresses and mismatching cardigans, she had a rather square face, brown eyes and the odd freckle, Nick was about to ask what she had meant by ‘considerate’ when Mark said,

“So, you have any idea where to go from here?”

“None, primarily I would like to find out what spooked the animals, the farmers have all grouped together to store and guard the own stock tonight, but frankly I’m not sure that will help”

“Why not?” Fran asked,

“Because of Jenny’s horse, her father said it was locked in its stable when it decided to smash its own skull in”

“Oh god” Fran raised a hand to her mouth,

“So, what have you dug up on the town?” Mark asked,

“Nothing, that’s you job”

Mine?” Mark asked in a whiney voice, he hated research,

“Check for the usual stuff, ritual sacrifice, murders, abductions, missing persons”

“Want me to check for the Hell Fire Club too while I’m at it?”

“Yeah, good idea”

 “I was joking, Nick”

“Well we need to find something” Nick snapped back a little harder than he had meant, making Fran and Mark frown at him,

“Look I’m sorry, but if what I saw last night is anything to go by, we could be completely out of our depths here”

“Tell us about the woman you saw?”

Nick’s flashed back to the night before, the pure white, heavenly vision of Jenny’s mother, and the decomposing, rotten corpse it became, he had never heard of anything like it,

“There’s not more much to tell you, she appeared as white as an angel, quite astonishing to look at, then, when she changed, so malevolent, I could actually feel it coming from her, the rage and murderous will, I truly believe if I hadn’t interrupted, she....it, would have killed old Keith”

                              Fran and Mark just stared at him, hardly daring to believe what he was saying could be true, it just didn’t seem possible that a spirit could change so much so quickly.  They had reports on file of apparitions that have remained the same for hundreds of years, always following the same routines and patterns, some good, some decidedly bad, but always remaining the same.  Fran picked up her coffee and took a sip, staring into Nick’s eyes over the top of her mug, Mark leant in, over the table and asked,

“Earlier, you said she seemed ‘self aware’, what did you mean?”

“I mean she not only knew I was there, which isn’t that uncommon, but she actually reacted to me, like in a film”

“Reacted, like, how?”

“I tried to capture her on video, it wasn’t till I stopped recording and tried to use the camera as binoculars that she appeared through the view finder at all, then, when I remarked on that to myself, she heard me and looked up at me, and then when I saw her walking up the stairs in the house, she turned and made a ‘shushing’ gesture at me”

“OK, that is not normal” Fran replied,

“I wouldn’t call any of this normal” Mark told her,

“You know what I mean, every piece of evidence ever collected by BIPI indicates that ghosts follow very specific patterns, wait, are you sure she couldn’t have been an apparition?”

“I don’t think so, that would indicate  poltergeist activity, if this was restricted to the house then maybe, but it’s not, it’s spread across the country-side....” Nick’s eyes widened, “Oh god, old Bob”

Who?” they both asked,

“He is, was, a local resident, I only saw him once, my first night, the night he apparently died of a heart attack...but, what if he didn’t?”

“What have a heart attack?” asked Fran, “Why would they lie?”

“No I don’t think anyone’s lying, I think heart attack was pronounced simply because his heart stopped, but, Jenny said Bob had a strong heart, that aside from some arthritis, he was very well for a man his age”

“Heart attacks happen, Nick” Fran said,

“Yeah, that’s what I told Jenny, but now, I just don’t know”

“Can see why you called for help” Mark began, “you’ve lost it, mate”

“Probably about time” Nick joked back,

                          Mark was taller than Nick, and despite the Institute not having a dress code, preferred an open necked shirt and suit trousers for work, blonde with green eyes and well built, Mark always seemed to be attracting someone’s attention.  He and Fran had joined BIPI just after the incident at Upton, they worked with Nick a lot and he enjoyed their company, although he still missed Gareth,

So, this ‘Jenny’, pretty, is she?” Mark asked, smiling at Nick in a way that was making very nervous,

“I guess,” Nick lied back, “haven’t really noticed, why?”

“Just because you’ve said her name about five times since we sat down and you haven’t even told us the land ladies name yet”

Nick could feel himself going red again, then trying to look serious, “Are we here to discuss ghosts or girls?”

Girls” they both replied,

“Oh for god’s sake, look we have a serious problem here, and chatting about girls is not going to help”

They just sat there, grinning at Nick from ear to ear,

Fine, you two wanna grin, let’s see’

“This is the plan, Mark, research, all afternoon, Fran, I have permission from the local farmers to enter their lands whenever we need to for the investigation, they all use scarecrows in their fields, cam them”

“What...all of them?”

“That’s the general idea, yes, we’ll meet back here at six for diner, then break up again for tonight, I have plans and maps of the local area from the town hall, I’m going to build work details and walk plans for all three of us, the plan is to start at three points and all converge on one, see what we can flush out”

Nick stood up, picking up his bag and coffee and made to head back up to his room, grinning broadly to himself as he knew the gestures and faces they were both now pulling behind his back, perhaps he had been a tad harsh, but for some reason, he felt defensive talking about Jenny.   

“OH,” he called back, “HER NAMES MARY!” and he winked at the land lady on his way out of the bar.

The End

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