Nick sat in his room, laying flat on his stomach on the bed, writing out a ‘battle plan’ for that evening, his idea was to start from all three of the farms which had lost the most animals the previous night, one of them on each farm, and to converge on the centre most point, which to his calculations, would put them smack bang in the middle of the Abbot’s property, essentially, they would follow the same path the animals had the night before. Although all the animals had come from separate, they had all chosen to follow the same direction, the only way Nick could understand this happening, is if they were herded.
Nick had to be honest with himself, he had no idea what this ‘tri-point experiment’ was going to prove, but he did know they needed to cover as much ground as possible, there was something very strange going on, and Nick had this terrible, sinking feeling, it was all going to escalate, quickly. He turned his mind back to the previous night and the ghost or apparition or whatever she had been.
The magnitude of her self-awareness was staggering and he tried to think of any other time he had read about the dead interacting with the living in such a way, his mind’s eye flashed back to that house, two years ago, to a disfigured, decaying figure, stalking him through the halls, it’s bones cracking as it moved, Nick tried to shake the memory away, but it would not leave him. He was lying on the cold floor, staring madly at the axe about to plummet into his head, the sudden swish as it descended, then the bright light of a lamp, colliding with the axe and knocking his assailant back. Nick sat up and rubbed his eyes, he hadn’t slept for nearly twenty-four hours and he was letting his imagination get the better of him,
‘Focus on the job at hand, stop trying to compare and just deal with what this situation’
Nick decided any more time on his bed would just result in falling asleep, he packed his bag with all the information they would need for that night and made his way down to the bar, Fran and Mark were already there, looking rather less than amused,
“Do you know how many scarecrows there are in those fields?” Fran asked as he sat down,
“One or two?”
“Forty-seven” she snapped back, “I’ve had to use every cam we have”
“Are they all streaming into the van’s monitors?”
“Yes, and I’ve set up a secondary link, right back to BIPI”
“Great, Mark, what have you got?”
“Nothing” Mark replied in a bored tone, he dumped a few paper files on to the table, “Look for yourself, did you know there has never been a murder in this village, ever?”
“Well it’s a small community surely it’s not that unusual?”
“Or Greater Horksley, seriously this must be the most boring place I have ever been”
“Oh it’s not boring,” Nick smiled, “I promise you that”
Fran opened Nick’s bag and pulled out a file with her name on,
“Those are the plans for tonight, there’s one for both of you”
“Are we really going to do this alone?” asked Fran,
“I know standard practice demands that each party on an investigation must be made up of two people, but we’re spread too thin, and we need to cover as much ground as possible” Nick replied,
“Nick,” Mark sounded very serious, “I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of all people how dangerous it is having teams of one”
“No, you don’t, and I fully respect that you two are the only ones that believe me about what happened at Upton house, or almost believe me,” he threw a look towards Fran, who had always had issues with parts of his story, “but this is the way this has to go, we don’t have any other choice”
“What about the van?” Fran asked,
“What about it?”
“Well if we’re going to be out in the field, if you’ll pardon the pun, who is going to monitor the equipment?”
“Maybe I could help?”
The three of them looked up at the sound of a woman’s voice, Jenny was standing beside their table, Nick, wondered how long she’d been standing there?
“So, can I help or not?”
“Jenny,” Nick replied, “I don’t think your father would be very happy about you joining us”
“I won’t be, didn’t you say you needed someone in the van?”
“You do realise it won’t be bailing hay?”
Nick’s mouth dropped as he spun his head to glare at Fran, he couldn’t believe she just said that, and by the look on his face, neither could Mark, Jenny remained unmoved by the comment, keeping her cool perfectly,
“Thank god, I just did my nails, anyway, how about it, Nick, am I in or out?”
There were several good reasons for Nick to say ‘No’, his promise to Abbot being the foremost,
“She would only have to watch the monitors, Nick” Mark spoke up, “And if what you say is true, these things don’t want to be recorded”
Nick shot Mark and angry look,
“What things?” Jenny asked, “Have you actually seen something?”
“No.....yes, well, sort of, it was probably my imagination” he kicked Mark hard under the table, “Oh........OK”
Jenny leaned over and kissed him hard on the cheek,
“Great, when do we get started?”
“Right now”, replied Nick,
“Great” Fran replied in a mocking voice, and the four of them marched out of the pub.
An hour later, they were ready, Nick was sitting in shed in the Orchard Rose Farm’s yard, this farm had lost nearly three quarters of its live stock, apparently the police were still sending in reports of dead animals turning up in the middle of roads or in river, one cow had actually been reported being hit by a truck on the motorway, causing a massive pile up and the farmer himself may well be facing negligence charges. Nick was sure he could see the entire farm yard from his vantage point nothing could get in, or out with him seeing it. A rather large, hairy spider ran up his leg, onto his hand, Nick flinched, flicking it off, then smiled, he remembered mocking Gareth for being afraid of spiders, these ‘stake outs’ just weren’t the same without him,
“Nick, come in, over” Mark’s voice over Nick’s radio,
“Yeah, I’m here Mark, you all set?”
Mark sat, hunched in a ball, inside the owner of Crows Foot Farm’s land rover, there was nowhere else for him to sit as the only other building in the yard, apart from the main house, was a silo. He felt very uncomfortable having to scrunch up in the front seat,
“Oh yeah, I’m all tickerty-boo over here, mate”
“Oh stop whining, least you’re in something a little more comfy, and less infested than a shed”
“Hey, this was all your idea, Nick”
“Would you two stop flirting” Jenny’s voice,
“Jenny, I don’t suppose there’s anything remotely interesting happening on the screens yet?” Nick asked,
“Well, unless you mean what I just caught this ram doing to a yew, no, not a lot”
“So, how is it in the nice, heated, with coffee machine, van?” Mark’s sarcasm increasing by the word,
“Great thanks” Jenny said brightly, she was parked a cross roads about five miles from each farm, although being able to cross fields meant that the other three cut three miles off their walk back to each other,
“Fran how you doing? Nick asked
“All set, Nick” she replied,
“So how’s your digs?” Mark asked, moving from sarcastic to grumpy,
“Very nice thank you, you can see the whole farm from their living room”
“LIVING ROOM?” Mark’s voice boomed over all four radios,
“Yes that’s right, I do wish they’d stop bringing me tea and biscuits though, I’m stuffed......Mark.....Mark?” there was no voice, but Fran felt sure she could hear Mark grinding his teeth, giggling, she peered into the yard from her vantage point in the outside toilet.
22:30 sun down
The sun finally dropped into the horizon. Night spread quickly drenching the countryside in complete darkness, and sending a chill up all their backs. Nick stared out into the gravelled yard, watching the empty lane leading into the fields beyond the farm, he fingered the PKE metre in his hand, which was detecting nothing, as usual, he sighed heavily, but it was more to do with relieving his own nerves than boredom.
Across the fields, Mark was trying to get rid of the cramp setting into his legs, he was getting frustrated with being cooped up the land rover, which he would have sworn was shrinking by the minute, he wasn’t even able to see the farm yard with his naked eye anymore, so he was leaning as far back as the back of seat would tilt, trying to balance the camera to his eye, on his chest. His eyes were starting to feel very tired and could not help himself but yawn.
Fran sat with her knees up on the toilet bowl, hugging them to her chest, even though it should have been a warm summer night, there was a steady chilling breeze running through the farm, even her teeth were chattering, and the camera vibrated between her frozen hands. Jenny was very warm and comfy, she had her feet up on the only bare part of the make shift work station in the van, she was surrounded by TV monitors, computers, audio equipment and what looked like a sonar or radar monitor which Mark had explained would detect unusual cold spots, although as the investigation would be taking place outside, the temp readers, of which Fran had attached one to each cam, would be of little use.
Jenny looked over the digital display of the radio transmitter, it showed that all four of them still had their radios on an open com link, Nick had instructed all of them to maintain this, in case of emergency, in the event of something going wrong, they were all to return to the farm houses they had been assigned too, and wait for Jenny to come and pick them up, this had been Jenny’s idea, she knew the main lanes and the little short cuts well.
OK, guys,” Nick’s voice sounded over all their radios, making them jump, “Another half an hour then we head out, Jenny can continue monitoring the farms from the van”