Chapter Forty


February 9


When the footsteps stop outside her door, Dot shrinks back to her chair, hiding the nail she has been using on the first of the iron bars. She wonders what is coming. Is it going to be some kind of retribution for the subterfuge of impersonating Amy? If Mr Trilby has read the papers or seen the TV news, he will know he has been duped. So, what will he do? She can hear what sounds like a bolt being drawn back and then the door handle turns slowly and noiselessly.

   The door creaks slightly as it opens, revealing a grotesque figure. Dot stares at the clown mask with its unnatural creepy snarl of a grin, its yellowed fangs, malevolent eyes with purple shadows and red hair escaping from a skull cap. The figure walks purposefully and slowly into the centre of the room, the clown grin mocking her. The figure places a plate with a large Cornish pasty on the table along with just a plastic fork and a bottle of water. Dot can see a wicked, curved serrated knife in his other hand.

   The figure speaks with a strange, metallic voice. ‘Your friends may think they have fooled me but let me assure you they haven’t. I know exactly who you are and very soon you are going to give Mr Wilder a message. I’m sure he would like you to stay alive.’

   He turns and walks to the door and just before closing it the clown mask leers at her with a final message: ‘I’m sure you would too.’ There is a metallic snigger as the door closes.

   Dot glances at the table. The pastie is hot and she is hungry, so she tucks in ignoring the fork. Does he really intend to kill her if he doesn’t get what he wants? Or is it just an empty threat? And why is he wearing the mask? Is it because she could identify him?

   She sits and ponders her predicament. Should she use her martial arts training to tackle him next time he turns up? He wouldn’t be expecting it, that’s for sure. She would have to disable him very quickly so that he drops the knife. One way would be to hit his armpit with the edge of her hand so that his arm goes numb and he drops the knife. It would also be quite painful. She could follow that up by chopping his neck above the collarbone and to one side of the windpipe. At best, if she manages to hit his carotid artery, he could also lose consciousness and at worst, it may stun him long enough for her to do a runner.

   She would have the advantage of surprise, but it would still be very risky and if it failed, she knows she would be in real trouble. As she munches her way through the pastie she decides to keep that option in reserve. If she manages to free the iron bars, she might be able to escape through the window, even if that means smashing the glass. She can just about see a back yard outside. What’s the betting the backdoor is only bolted from the inside.

   As she thinks about these options, she hears the front door banging and she decides to get work on the first bar again. It is set about half an inch into the cement and she is making good progress because it is old and crumbly. She thinks she can just about spot the end of the bar. Then she realises she will also have to dig out a channel so that it can be pulled upwards. She sighs. It is going to take quite a few sessions.

   She sets to work and suddenly she can hear voices and footsteps. People talking. People laughing. She glances at her watch. It is just after 5:00pm. Why, suddenly, is she hearing lots of voices? It’s as if a crowd of people have just been let out of somewhere.

   She listens for a while. She can’t make out conversations just the sound of voices that gradually fade and then new ones emerge. And then the realisation dawns on her. It must be a factory. If she is right and they were on Edge Lane and then turned off what factories are there in that neighbourhood? There is the Automatic Telephone and Electric Company, known as ‘The Auto’ which was taken over by the Plessey Company nine years ago. It can’t be that because their works and offices were on Edge Lane itself and not on a side street.

   She thinks for a while and then it hits her. Of course! It must be Meccano on Binns Road where they make Hornby trains, Dinky Toys and, of course, Meccano and what she heard must have been the sound of the workers clocking off.

   She suddenly feels excited. Is it too much to hope that with so many people walking out of the gate, some will walk past this house and notice the red ticks on the car and the front door? They may find them strange or funny and laugh at them but then maybe they will mention them to other people and then perhaps, just perhaps, it will spread until it reaches the police.

   But just in case that doesn’t happen she will press on trying to dig out the iron bars, in what she now considers her prison cell. She retrieves the nail she had hidden under the mattress and get to work.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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