Moonlight seeped through the heavy cloud and dripped onto the street to light my path. Frosty winds caressed my skin as it blew past. I raised my collar to it and quickened my step. The clouds threatened rain so I wanted to be home as soon as possible. While walking I heard something like a whisper, a mumble, near my ear. I hunched my shoulders even more,put my hand to my ear, thinking I had imagined it and walked on. It happened again. I grasped my keys in my pocket and turned on the spot “Whos there?” I called out, but there was nothing but silence. I turned towards home and started running. I heard it again as I reached my front door. By the light of the moon I fumbled for my keys. I had to get inside. Dropping the keys, I cursed under my breath and bent to pick them up. Again, mumbling in my ear. I could not make out what it was saying and finally got the keys into the lock. I opened the door and slammed it shut behind me, leaning against the door, my breath catching in my throat.
Once I caught my breath I brewed up my courage to peer from behind the curtains. Light rain had begun to fall but the moonlight exposed nothing unusual. I watched the bushes in my garden but nothing moved. I looked up and down the street, holding my breath for no other reason than expecting a scare. No one was there, no cat or dog and certainly not the person who I thought spoke to me.
After a time I dropped the curtain and left the window. It was late and I busied myself getting ready for bed, all the while trying to make out what it was I heard in my ear. The words just did not make sense, well, I did not understand at all. Unable to sleep, I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and sat at the kitchen table reading the mornings paper. I flicked through the pages, read the notices and obituaries and ignored the sports as usual. My eyes started closing so I made my way to bed and tried to sleep. It did not come easy, the whisper haunted my dreams and I woke constantly, peering through the darkness at the window, wondering what was out there and if I had imagined it.
Morning came with great relief. I rose and headed to the bathroom. I knew a quick shower would clear my mind. After my shower, I dressed and left the house. My usual Sunday routine, I headed to the bakery for a nice brewed coffee and a sweet bun. From the bakery I headed to the cemetary where I found a bench, bathed in dappled sunshine. I enjoyed my coffee, steam rising high from the cup. I sat and watched the birds dig through the leaves and fresh turned earth, I listened to their songs and fed them the crumbs from my bun.
On finishing my breakfast, I stood then walked the well worn paths. I read the tomb stones, old and new and stopped every now and then to offer words to the newly buried. I came to the end of the large plots then started on the lawn plots, I knew most of them by heart but still took the time to read each brass plate. Dotted amongst them were some graves that held no plate, just well manicured grass and an occasional dead flower arrangement.
I came to the end, a new grave with a plastic number marking its position and a large mound of earth covered with artificial grass. I smiled gently when suddenly the whisper came back… “help” it said. “Help Me” A quiet young voice desperatley asking for help. I looked up and around for the source when my eyes spied it; small fingers protruding from beneath the artificial turf. I lent forward to confim it. Yes, they were indeed fingers. My mind falshed back to the front page of the paper I had read: “Missing!” I stumbled back and took my phone from my pocket to dial the emergency services, fingers trembling.
It seemed to drag on forever, I was ushered away, yellow police barricade tape had been erected around the grave. Men in white hazard suits were gathered around the plot, digging, holding things up, bagging them. A police woman kept asking me what seemed the same question over and over. I knew nothing more other than the headlines I had read, a young girl taken from her home in broad daylight.
My typical Sunday was no more. The whisper was a cry for help, one I could not understand. I stood, dumbfounded, wondering what more I could have done. Something that would haunt me forever.
What started as a beautiful, frosty morning became a nightmare on loop.
The policewoman seemed nice enough but did not understand that this was my normal Sunday routine; that I always walk in the cemetery on a Sunday morning and strolled amongst the headstones and plaques. No, I didnt know the young girl I discovered. I had no tools on me to do such a horrid thing and there was no dirt under my nails. I just wanted to go home and pretend it all didnt happen.
My nightmare grew as the press started arriving. Although still early morning, I saw flashes and heard people demanding to enter the scene. I dropped my head and tried to hide my face from the approaching paparazzi. Finally, the young policewoman noticed my distress as she grabbed me by the arm and escorted me away from the reporters. She took me to the rear of the cemetery and sat me in the front seat of the police car, its lights still flashing red and blue. “I know this is hard on you” she said, “but we need to ask these questions. If what you say is true, you have stumbled onto something pretty big and very nasty”. I didnt have the heart to tell her or any of her colleagues about the whispering in my ear. Even for me it sounded far fetched.
A man wearing a suit approached talking to himself, arms waving wildly in the air. From where I sat, he looked as unhappy to see the reporters as I was. I looked at the police officer standing next to me, expecting some kind of answer. It didnt come, the man arrived and introduced himself. “Detective Branham, you are?” He stared intently into my eyes. “Lottie, Detective, Lottie Drake” I stood and held out my hand. He took it and squeezed hard and shook it twice. “Constable, Can you please get Ms Drake back to the station without making a scene?” he asked the young lady. “Yes sir” she replied and held the door directing me to sit in the front seat again. I sat in the car and put on the seat belt and waited for the constable to get in and get started. Sometimes I was glad I lived in a small village. It took no time at all to get to the police station where we alighted and went inside. While I was no stranger to police stations, I felt I didnt belong.
In no time a paper cup of steaming coffee sat before me and a biscuit. I stared at it just running the evenings events through my head. Do I tell the police what I heard, the events of the night before that scared me sensless? I heard my name a couple times… “Lottie! Come on, Snap out of it…” I looked up. The look on my face must have been bewildering. “Adam!” I said as I raised from my seat and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Im so glad it’s you…” I sighed. Memories, both good and bad came rushing back. Our last kiss, our last fight, our last meal together before Adam had decided it was time to move on. He wanted a job on Spencer St not in our tiny village. He said he didn’t want to leave but that he had to. I wondered what had brought him back. Adam had indicated for me to sit again.
“What kind of mess have you got into this time Lottie?” he asked, his kind blue eyes searching mine. I was speechless. Mess indeed.
“I have no idea” I replied, sitting back down. “I was only doing what I normally do, my usual routine. I said raising my fingers to indicate parenthesis. “Usual?” Adam asked, ” Why do you insist on walking the cemetery each week? It is not normal to spend so much time at a graveyard!”
“I enjoy the peace and quiet.” I replied, “besides, where else do you get such pretty gardens and no one to bother you? Hey, when did you get back into town?” I asked accusingly.
“Just now” Adam replied.” Right up my alley they said, I got here as quick as I could. I really had no idea you found the child. They mentioned no names.” I sat back down, the look on my face must have been terrible. It started again… the whispering; just mumbling but enough to be heard. I raised my hand to my ear but it didnt block it out. “Are you ok Lottie?” Adam asked, placing a hand on my shoulder. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked up at him. “No!” I said, taking a gasp of air. I started trembling. The whispering did not stop.
“Lets get her home” Adam said to the constable. “Ill sort things out here and we can ask Lottie back in later when she calms down.” The constable rose and escorted me from the building. She drove me back to my humble cottage and walked up to the door. “Would you like me to come in ad look around first and maybe call your doctor Maam?” “You can come in but I can call the doctor” I said”Can I return the favour with a cup of coffee? “No,” she replied with a smile “I will check on you later though if that is ok?” I nodded overly enthusiastically then let her check my home for any intruders. She left with a happy “Cheerio” and I was alone again, with only the voices in my ear.
I turned the stereo on for want of some relief from the noise in my head. It subsided but was still like a mumble in the background. I made a coffee and sat on my window seat and watched tiny flecks of dust float to the ground on rays of sunlight. How could such beauty be ruined on such a nice day. I sipped my coffee, closed my eyes and just tried to float away on the music.
Coffee finished, I put the cup down and tried to make sense of it all, the warm autumnal sun, filtered through the net curtains, kissing my face. I fell asleep, peace at last from the noise in my head.
I had no idea how long I had dozed but I woke with a jump, hearing a noise right near me. I turned suddenly expecting some frightful sight… what Isaw was Adam, pulling up a chair next to me. He smiled and reached out to stroke my dishevelled hair.
“How did you get in?” I asked somewhat bewildered. ” Dont you remember?” he asked with a smile, “You never asked for your keys back. I knew they would come in handy and besides, I can save on accomodation if I bunk here for a while.”
Another blank moment for me. I stared into his eyes waiting for the right words to come. They didnt. We had been apart for some time now, it would seem strange to have someone sharing my home again… although, I knew it would only be for a couple days hopefully. How could I have been so rude to not even consider sharing my home with someone I knew so well.
I smiled and rested my head on his palm. “hey,” he said, ” feel up to coming back to the station already? The circus has left town and we can talk quietly, they still want you to answer a few questions.”
“I didnt do it” I mumbled wiping a tear away with the back of my hand. I looked up at him wanting answers. “I know, love, we just need to get the ball rolling.” I stared off into nothing for a moment, wondering if I should tell him. “come on, “he said holding out his hand.” Lets get it over with then we can come back and have some coffee and chat.”
I reached up and took his hand, easing myself off the chair. We walked into the hall, his arms around my shoulders. “Im driving” he said jingling his keys. I grabbed my shawl on the way out. I had a feeling it was going to get a little chilly in more ways than one. We strolled to the car then, being a perfect gentleman, Adam opened the passenger door and ushered me in. He then ran to the other side and slipped behind the wheel. Although the police station was not far, walking there would mean less time we had later.
After arriving we walked into the station, workers there looking up and waving hellos to Adam. He had been gone a while but he must have left a lasting impression. He waved back, sharing a huge smile with them as we passed. We turned a few corners in what felt like a rabbit warren. We came to a bare room, no windows but a table and 4 chairs facing it. I was led in and asked to wait at the table while Adam went to get someone and they came back, coffee in hand.
“Just to make it official” Adam said ” we will be recording this and then type it up later OK Poppet?” I nodded. He gave a little introductory spiel for the typists sake when the Dectective walked in and took his seat. “are you OK with this Ms Drake?” he asked gruffly. I almost whispered the word yes. “Can you say that louder for the tape Ms Drake?” Yes.” I said in a stronger voice then he headed straight into the questions.
“Did you know the victim?” He asked. I looked at him blankly before words tumbled out of my mouth. “Er, no sir” I said looking to Adam. “I only saw some fingers,that was all. It was then I recalled what I read in the paper last night” I stumbled through my statement. More questions all related to me knowing the victim and how I knew the child was there. I was honest, distraught, saddened by the loss and for the childs parents. The feint voice whispering in my ear all along.
After about half an hour, just before Dective Branham was winding up, I mentioned the whispering. Adam and Branham looked dumbfounded. “I know it sounds weird but it is true… I heard whispering last night and again at the grave side. I can hear it now. I can not make out what it is saying but it is there. Maybe I have tinnitus or I am going mad. I just do not know.” My head hung low, I tried holding back the tears. I figured I was just going mad in my own little world. Maybe I didnt get out enough. Adam and Branham talked low to each other then the the Dective said the interview was finished. He smiled at me and offered me a tissue. I accepted.
“I dont think you are going mad Lottie, I think you are tired. If you think of anything, just let us know.” I nodded sheepishly. I felt embarrassed about what I had said and I was grateful he was at least kind to me. He whispered something to Adam then said goodbye.
Adam smiled at me then stood and offerd his hand so I took it and stood. ” There is no reason for you to be upset Lottie” Adam said comforting me. “You helped us a lot, we have finally finished with the grave and have a couple more pieces of evidence.” I could only manage a smile, I imagined my eyes were red and puffy. “Adam,” I asked in a mumble, “you dont think I am going mad? I mean, I swear, I heard the voices. They dont say anything just a mumble in the background.” “I think you are fine and just need a rest Lottie. Lets get you home and cleaned up, we can go out for dinner tonight. The stone grill place is still going strong. A bit of meat and you will be fine.”
I never understood Adams need to feed me red meat all the time but it was nice to have someone care for me right now. We walked out of the station, Adam dropping a tape off in the office before leaving.
We drove home in silence. I never realized the trauma an event like this would cause me. I was grateful the whispering had stopped for now and I could enjoy Adams company in peace. Where had the time gone? One moment I was at the cemetery and the next it appeared late afternoon.
We arrived home and Adam retrieved his bag from the boot of the car. He still packed light. That amazed me to this day. Even though I try to pack light, it seems my bag is always bulging. Heck, once I took a few days in the Spa district and packed more than enough to keep me clean and clothed for a few weeks. Adams luggage consisted of just one small overnighter. I guessed I would be doing some washing and ironing while he was here. We walked inside and Adam sent me to the showers. “Itll do you good” he said, pointing me in the direction of the bathroom. “OK already, gosh, anyone would think I stunk or something the way you are insisting. Any particular flavour of shower gel you want me to use?” Adam smiled cheekily and said “the citrus and fig was always a nice tasty one, any chance they still make it?” “They sure do” I replied and headed into the bathroom to shower.
I discarded my clothing and stepped into the warm water stream. I let the water wash over my body. Adam was right, the water was soothing me. I lathered up and washed my hair again for good measure when suddenly the water turned cold. I heard the toilet flush and instantly made the connection. Taps turned off, I stepped from the suddenly cold shower and dried myself, wrapping a towel around my hair then walked out. “You couldnt help yourself could you?” I asked Adam. He just smiled and turned away. I kind of missed having him around. I padded off into the bedroom to dress. Although the dress code for the pub was casual, I chose a slightly more dressy outfit and busied myself getting dressed. As I braided my wet hair, Adam stuck his head around the door. “Nearly ready Poppet?” he asked with a smile. I turned a little, arms in the air holding strands in place, “Sure I am, I just need to finish off the tresses and I will be done.” A quick application of makeup was applied before I started on the hair. I knew Adam wasnt keen on makeup, I felt I needed to put on a brave face so to speak. I clipped a barrette into my hair and turned completely to Adam “Voila” I said, presenting myself for inspection “all done. Why are we rushing to get there? Are you after the pensioners special or something?” I queried him. Adam laughed and stood back bowing while I passed. He really did make me feel good. It ws nice having him around again.
We drove to the pub and he helped me out of his car then headed inside. Not a lot had changed, the same orange and purple carpet, a bit squishy under foot, the same stale beer smell and laminated tables and even the same smiling face behind the bar. Amber grinned and waved our welcome. She beckoned us to go to the bar first which we did. I had a glass of house wine and Adam a beer. We chatted and drank while it was still quiet. Amber was asking about my latest crafting pursuits. She was also a member of my local knitting ring. I had not attended for a while as I was taking a little break from all crafting. I heard all about Ambers project. It is funny but she was still working on a sweater for her husband. The very same one she was starting when she joined the group. It had been two years ago. “If you are not careful” I told her “your husband will grow a little around the waist and then it will be too small” She laughed. “I think it is too late” she whispered back over the bar. Since he gave up the footy the pounds have found him. I could still give it to my son.” she laughed. I found out her son was already 16 and taller than his father. These days it was him playing football instead of Kevin. Occasionally, if I miss my early morning walk on the weekend, I will walk to the football ground during the day to watch the local games. It is always fun to catch up with old friends. I think this is why I enjoy living in a little village like I do. I still get my privacy living right on the edge of town but people are still friendly enough to make anyone feel welcome.
Amber leaned as far as she could over the bar and indicated I should do the same. “Is Adam back for good?” she whispered while winking. “I hope so, you two always made a great couple.” I shook my head to indicate no. “he is here working” I said. “I am just putting him up until he has to go back to the city” I told her. It was hard to hide the ache inside. I really will miss him and he only just got here. “Oh,” Amber said sliding to the floor again. “we can only hope for the best then. What did you want to order tonight Lottie?”. I turned to Adam and shrugged my shoulders. “Any special requests Adam?” I asked. He looked to the chalk board behind the bar and said “The largest steak you have, with mushroom sauce and vegetables, Lotte will have the the schnitzel with mushrooms and salad” I was surprised he remembered my favourite meal. All ordered, we took our drinks back to a table by a window and sat smiling at each other.
“Why look so worried Lotte?” I shrugged again and took a sip. “It was such a nice day to start and now look at this mess. At least the whispering has stopped for now.” Adam looked me in the eye and said so seriously ” It will get better babe, just wait a bit. After this meal we can go for an evening walk and you can tell me what you have been up to, your latest projects and what you are reading.” I smiled. Same old Adam, “Thanks Adam, you always knew how to take my mind off things. That sounds like a grand evening.” The meals arrived and we just chatted about nothing in particular and the evening passed without incident. Adam and I walked and chatted and drank a little too much wine. By midnight I staggered to the bedroom. “Catch you in the a.m. bud” I said as I wandered into the bedroom. No sooner had my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep, no voices, no fear. Just plain alcohol induced slumber.
I woke way too early. My eyes focused on the alarm glowing in the dark. 3AM! I couldnt believe it. I closed my eyes again and felt something slide over my hip. “Must be the cat” I mumbled about to fall asleep .Suddenly my eyes flew open when I realized something pulling at me… Adam was pulling me towards him. This wasnt suppose to happen. I made up the spare room… It felt so good though. I relaxed into his arms and enjoyed the hug. I fell deeply back to sleep and woke with the warm sun shining on my face and an empty spot where Adam had been. I wondered if I imagined it. I lay for a while and enjoyed the singing birds outside my window.
I was suddenly aware of the slight spitting sound from the kitchen and the delicious smell of bacon. No wonder my cat was no where to be seen, he was off in the kitchen begging for food. I started sitting up to get out of bed when around the door, Adam popped his head. “Ready for breakfast sunshine?” he asked with a smile. “Sure Honey, What made you decided on bedside service?” Adam placed the tray on the bed and sat next to it. “We had a tough day yesterday, I thought this one could get off to a better start… Most important meal of day you know!” I laughed and arranged some pillows behind me. It smelt delicious and tasted even better.
Adam opened the curtains and allowed me to look out on the early morning. Water-coloured clouds washed over the rising sun, its light seeping and pooling just above the horizon, orange, red and gold. “Looks like we are in for a rough day weather wise” I commented picking up a piece of crispy bacon and nibbling on the end. “Yup” Adam replied “Im heading for the shower Poppet” he said and wandered off to the bathroom. Out of nowhere, the sound started… a nonsensical murmer inside my head. “Argh!” I yelled, placing my hands on my ears. “Just go away, I beg of you!” the sound stopped as quick as it started. I amazed myself. “Gosh,” I thought to myself “If I knew it was that easy I would have stopped it the other night.” Adam came running into the room concern on his face.
“Whats wrong?” he asked walking toward the bed. “The noise started again but as I yelled, it went again. I am getting so confused.” Adam sat on the end of the bed and patted my leg. “we will work through it” he said. “Finish your breakfast and we can get started.” With that, he up and walked back to the bathroom. I finished my breakfast and lay out my clothes for the day. No matter what had happened in the last 24 hours, I was not going to let it irk me. I had planned a bit of theraputic shopping today and that is exactly what I was going to do!
Adam had headed to the office while I headed out to the woolen mills after showering and dressing. It was a bit of a drive but I always enjoyed it and at this very moment, it was a great way to take my mind off things. I was half way there when I heard a knocking from the boot of the car. I drove on and tried to ignore it. It happened again so decided t pull along the side of the road and check it out. Nothing seemed unusual. I checked for loose paraphenalia and then checked the tyres before closing the boot and getting back in the car. I drove on, in peace.
Adam was working at his makeshift office when Branham approached. “That woman of yours… Lotte, does she have any special talents?” He asked. Adam looked up with a quizical look. “Not that I know of apart from her great knitting.” he replied. “Why do you ask?” Branham pursed his lips, letting out a little air and put his hands on his hips while exhaling. “I want you to come and listen to something.” He began walking away indicating for Adam to follow. ”Louise was typing up the notes from the interview yesterday and has discovered something… it has,” he raised his fingers to indicate her quote by crooking a couple fingers in the air. “freaked her out” he said. Adam smiled and let out a laugh. “What do you mean?” he asked rising to his feet. “Just follow me” Branham said and walked out of the room to find Louise.
Branham waited by Louises desk for Adam, “Play it for him” Branham asked. Louise looked up then unplugged her headphones and rewound the digital voice recording. She pressed play after handing the headphones to Adam and sat watching Adams face. His expression went from confused to disturbed. Over and between Lottes talking was a continious murmer, occasional words like murder and revenge could be picked up. Adam raised his hand “thats enough Louise” he said. “Ill take the recording and get a copy to send to the city to be cleaned up and see if we can get any more out of it”. “Thanks Adam” Louise said. “”I dont really want to listen any more… it is creeping me out. I can only imagine the hell Lotte is going through. Hey, you being back… does this mean you are back together” she asked Adam with raised eyebrow. “Adam smiled and walked off with the digital recorder asking Branham “why is everyone so concerend with whether Lotte and I are getting back together?” Branham shrugged and walked on.
I enjoyed my little jaunt and was happy that the voice had left me alone for a while. After a bit of theraputical shopping for luxurions yarn, I pulled into the cidery for a cool draught and some home made cake. Because I had made this trip may times before I knew the proprieters by name. I enjoyed the sunshine in their alfresco setting and the lively chit chat about this years bumper crop and their new addition, Wandin Pride, weeping apple trees. It is such a nice way to pass the time I was reluctant to up and leave but figured, with some new sliver to spin and some yarn to knit up, it was best I made my way home.
At the 50 kilometre mark the noises started again. I didnt want to pull over again and tried to ignore it. The sound appeared to be coming from the boot again or the back seet. I continued looking back from time to time when I noticed a dark coloured station wagon approaching from behind. It seemed to be coming a tad too fast to be in the same lane as me but I kept to the limit and concentrated on the road. Soon my car lurched forward. He hit me! I was starting to get angry but kept my temper. The dark car pulled out from behind me and kept level for a while. I looked over but only noticed a shadow and not who it was nor which sex, a shapeless form. It started to swerve to hit my side but I pulled out the way and watched. I saw a flash of white teeth as the car headed onward. As it passed me I saw a face look out the back window, bloodied and afraid. A red hand reached up and touched the window then disappeared.
I pulled over, shock at what I had just seen. I couldnt believe it. I got out of the car and checked the back, a bit of a dent but not as bad as I expected. I got back in the car, locked the doors and took my mobile phone out of my bag. It was times like this I was glad Adam was around.
Adam answered on the second ring and I didnt even let him start his greeting, “Adam? Lotte here. Can you head up the highway and meet me?” I asked, worry affecting my voice. “Whats happened Lotte?” Adam asked worried. I told him and said I was a little shaken to drive. Another beautiful day ruined by a not so pleasant encounter. “Keep the doors locked and stay where you are Lotte, I will get a car to drop me off and I will bring you home. I have a little news I want to share with you as well.” “Ok,” I stammered “P-Please hurry babe…”. and I ended the call and sat, shaking with fear in the drivers seat; windows up and doors locked. How can this happen to me… Why? I asked myself. I reached into my large hand bag and pulled out a sock in progress. Knitting was the only way I could keep myself calm. I jumped when the noises started again. This time I heard distinct laughter amongst the murmuring. Tears started streaming down my face. I wanted the noises to stop, and the laughter and I wanted it all to be over. I wiped away at my tears and kept knitting, Adams knock at the window almost made me jump out of my skin.
“Oh thank God you are here” I stammered as I tried in vain to open the locked door. Adam smiled and pointed to the latch. I unlocked the door then Adam opened it. I got out and hugged Adam tightly. “Ok Lotte, you can let go now, really… Just” he started unwrapping my arms “let go, hop in the passenger side and we will get going. I have checked the back and it appears the other driver would have got more damage although there is a bit of a dent there” I unravelled my arms and straightened myself, wiping tears from my eyes and taking a huge breath of air. Silently I walked to the passenger side and got into the car. I put my seat belt on and then rummaged for a tissue. All the while I was telling myself off for getting into such a state. Adam had a word to his colleague and then got in and started the car. “you are lucky you have that tow bar Lotte, there would have been way more damage without it.” I smiled and nodded. “Ok then, lets get going.” Adam said as he turned the key and started the engine.
“Adam?” I said sheepishly. He turned his head slightly, trying to keep an eye on the road. “What is it darl?” I looked down to my hands, my fingers seemingly with a mind of their own, twisting and tearing at the tissue, “I didn’t do this to get you here. I mean, I appreciate you being here but it was not my intention to keep you from your work or even having you move here for this whole mess.” Adam smiled. “Look, if I didn’t want to be here I would have said no to the case. It is not an issue picking you up and you are not keeping you from my work. Dective B is a tad worried that you are being singled out or used in some way which leads me to what we found this morning.” “Go on” I said at Adams pause. “Louise was typing up the interview we had with you. She called over Branham and then me, it appears those ‘voices’ you are hearing aren’t all in you head.” I must have looked confused and Adam went on to explain, ” We are getting the recording cleaned up to make sure it is not just ghosting from previous recordings but we are picking up words like murder and even your name, in the background.” I stared at my hands again, unblinking. “Oh” was all I could manage.
Adam reached across and placed a hand on my arm and squeezed gently. “Don’t worry, we will sort this out” he said. “Now, Branham said he wanted you to be with someone as much as possible, he does not want you traipsing about on your own. Where would you like to go?” I stared ahead trying to think. It seemed just too much for me. “Lotte?” Adam asked. “Um,” I replied,” I will call and see if Ruth was around.” Ruth would be one of my most honest and beautiful friends. When I say beautiful I really mean it. She had skin to put any model to shame and a smile so bright you would swear she spent hours in a dentists chair having her teeth whitened. She worked mostly from her shared home for a computer company writing programmes and occasionally designing web pages when required. I dialled her number and waited. She picked up on the third ring. “Ruth Arden, Spill it” she said gruffly into the phone. “Ruth? I’s me, Lotte. Fancy doing some baby sitting today?” I asked as brightly as I could muster. “Hey Lotte! Me? Babysit? Gosh, the last time I had your goat here she ate all my roses!” she laughed into the phone. “No Ruth, the baby is me this time. I have some knitting so I won’t be in the way..”.” Youre never in the way Pud.” She answered with a smile in her voice. Come on down. Dan is baking in the kitchen, when I am working you can pester him. What’s up Pud?” “I’ll explain when I get there, Thanks Ruth.” I ended the call and turned to smile at Adam. “All set” then he smiled as he drove on. I picked up that he was tense but he didn’t want to show it.
We were nearing our turn off when I noticed the patrol car in front was flashing their hazard lights on and off. “Whats all that about?” I asked Adam. “Nothing to worry about” He said, just the driver telling me I have a message waiting. We will go to Ruths first and drop you off then we will head out. Do Daniel and Ruth still share that house? That has to be the strangest set up I have ever seen!” I smiled because I knew what he was talking about. Daniel and Ruth are not in a relationship, they just decided they could not afford a house on their own so they purchased their home together. 50/50. They each have their own en suites, one upstairs and one down, their own studies and a guest room. “Yes, they still own it and they are both home waiting” I answered. Adam smiled and we drove to Ruths, walking distance from my own home. “Here we are” Adam announced as we drove up the drive. The patrol car had passed the street and was just turning into the street as I got out. Adam walked me to the door, handed my keys and turned to leave just as Daniel appeared. “You can tell them what is happening but not too much detail ok? Hey Dan, Look after her ok?” he mentioned as he walked off.
Daniel stepped out and greeted me with a hug. “What is that about?” he asked me. “Oh, Just some trouble I have started.” We entered the house and the whispering started again. I’d have thought I would be use to it by now but apparetnly my face told a different story. “Lotte?” Daniel asked as I stopped and held my hand to my ear. “Where do I start Daniel? It seems I have a bit of a bug in my ear.” Daniel looked puzzled as he guided me into the kitchen. The smell of fresh baked bred wrapped itself around me like a blanket and I snuggled down into a seat just to feel its caress. I waited for the whisper to stop before I started to explain. Ruth had joined us and started making some hot chocolate with marshmallows. She always knew how to make me feel special. I started the story from the night I read the paper, Dan and Ruth sat engrossed in my tale. I only made a brief mention of the whispering but that was enough for them. They changed subject and we all sat waiting for the bread to bake.
Down in the village, Adam was gearing up to go on site. Detective Branham had started getting everything together. “Do you think we can keep the media out of this so we can see exactly what we have?” Adam shook his head. “Afraid it will be a bit of a task but if we move fast, we may get an advantage over them.” “You may just be right there Adam, it is these damn smartphones ans stuff everyone has now, Media pay pay big for small stories and every person on the street is now a reporter. It is even harder to get accurate witnesses now becaue they all want to be paid.” Detective Branham started walking out the office with Adam in his wake.
“So, where are we off to?” Adam asked, fastening his seat belt. Detective Branham started the car and looked over his shoulder before pulling out onto the main road. “Well, They found another body, a man, he was pretty cut up but we believe it happend very recently. It looked like someone attempted to take off his hands. It is pretty greusome. A young couple found him. Over by the little island in the creek.” Adam took in a slow breath, thinking about what Lotte had told him. It was all a little weird with the voices, the singling out of Lotte and the deaths. He tried to put it all into perspective, piecing the events together when they pulled into the parking bay in the park. It was a familiar sight but one neither Adam nor Detective Branham could ever get use to. Flashing lights, lots of people in Hazmat suits and as they approaced, the slightly metallic smell of blood. The body was not yet covered and steam was visible rising from the body in the chilling evening. The Detective was right, it was a fresh body.
Adam nodded grimmly to the police man guarding the access to the grizzly site. Half in the water, a mans body lay, his eyes staring blindly up at the sky, a look of terror on his face.