‘Hey, David, call for you. Do you want me to transfer it,’ Kelly called across to the fresh faced, thin young man on the other side of the busy office.
‘Yes please Kelly,’ he replied, ‘Who is it?’
‘Estate Agent I think. Or could be your Solicitor’, she responded as she held the call and dialled his extension before putting her receiver down.
He held his breath for a moment before answering, ‘Hello, David Horrell speaking’.
‘Hi David, Cindy Cable from Cable & Co. Solicitors here.’ He thought Cindy’s voice sounded rather relaxed.
‘Good news I hope’, said David as he nervously pushed his right hand through his thick blond hair .
‘Yes David, it is. I’m pleased to tell you that all the monies are in place and if you want to we can complete as quickly as tomorrow. The benefit of buying a new house with cash when you have no chain behind you is that we can get this sort of transaction completed nice and easily, and especially at this time of year. I’m sure you’ll want to be in before Christmas. Now, can you get yourself over here tomorrow morning? We can get the paperwork done and hopefully, by the afternoon, you’ll have the keys in your hands’. Her voice rose at the end of her sentence as if sharing his excitement at receiving this news.
‘Hey Cindy, that’s excellent’, replied David. ‘Thank you. I’ll just want to see if I can get hold of Lorna. I know it’s all in my name but she needs to know we’ve got it, and I’ll just need to have a word with Bob. He’s my manager here. I did warn him that I might need the time off. But this is great’, He knew that his excitement must have come across to Cindy as she replied by saying, ‘Hey, calm down at that end. I’m sure everything will be fine. Let your manager know and then give Lorna a call. I’ll pencil you in for 9am tomorrow. Just call me back today, before 2pm to confirm and hopefully, I’ll see you tomorrow’, she said.
‘Yes, excellent’, he repeated. ‘I’ll call you back and see you tomorrow’, added David with a feeling of anticipation.
‘That’s ok. I’ll look forward to seeing you then’, she replied before ending her call.
He knew that he had been overheard because Bob called him over.
‘Hey Dave, got the deal on the house then?’ Asked Bob in a manner that belied that he expected a positive reply.
‘Yep, got the house’, he said without making any effort to conceal the joy in his voice.
‘Well, this is it then. Start of the new life for you young man’, said Bob.
Bob was right, it would be the start of a new life. Loosing Grandma had been difficult for David, but she’d been a wealthy woman. She’d always wanted him to be free to follow his dreams and with the agreement of his parents, she had made him the sole beneficiary of her estate. So, at only twenty six years old he’d become quite rich! He felt that he was well prepared for his new found wealth and he’d already drafted a plan for himself in anticipation: One, buy a house; two, marry Lorna; three, become a freelance journalist/ copywriter; four, become a published novelist; and last but not least, buy a football team, his team, Gainsborough Trinity and take them back to the football league. Though he always knew that the last one was only a dream as Grandma’s money would never stretch that far.
‘We’ll miss you’, said Bob. ‘I still think that you’re taking a bit of a risk. You’re very young to go freelance, but I guess that’s what financial independence can do for you. But like I’ve said before, I can farm out a bit of work to you but it’s not guaranteed’.
‘Thank you, still more than I’ve ever asked for’, replied David.
The house was everything David wanted. It was out on the edge of Gainsborough and overlooking open countryside. The fact that a small infill estate would soon be built on the other side of the ancient hedge at the back of the house didn’t worry him. He’d seen the planning details and new that the hedge would be retained and he wouldn’t be affected by a few more four bed detached houses. Even less of a worry were the stories that Bob and the others back at the office had tried to wind him up with about ghosts and supernatural goings on while these new houses were being built. David had always considered myself agnostic. He was never an atheist because quite simply, and in the true sense of agnosticism, he wasn’t quite sure what to believe. He laughed when he saw an article in the local paper, ‘The Standard’ about the ghostly figure of a young girl and a more sinister figure cloaked in black being seen and scaring the living daylights out of a couple of brickies. Lorna wasn’t impressed either and she appeared to be more sceptical than he was.
David set his study up at the back of the house. He purposely placed his desk at a right angle to the window so that he wouldn’t be distracted by the view of the garden and the birds that flitted around the feeders that Lorna had carefully hung in the hedge. But he was finding it difficult to concentrate. Whether it was the relative isolation of his quiet semi-rural location or the amount of work he had he wasn’t sure. Bob had kept his promise, but two assignments a week wouldn’t fill his time, nor pay the bills, that is if he really needed the money. But he had to admit that on several occasions an odd sense of a passing shadow accompanied by the feeling of being watched came over him. But each time he looked around as if expecting to see someone, there was nothing there.
The following morning he found himself looking into the forlorn winter garden at the back of his house, coffee in hand and feeling at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. The grey leaden sky threatened snow. He felt a shiver and then he saw something, behind the hedge. Someone, something was there and then a moment later, he heard the roar of an engine starting and the familiar shape of a digger passing by.
‘Ha,’ he thought to himself with a sense of relieve and watched the digger start on clearing and levelling the land behind the hedge for the new houses.
That evening Lorna and David talked about his work and decided that he should stop waiting for Bob’s occasional assignments and instead, he should start to promote his own work through a new website. So after Lorna had left for work on the next morning, David found himself setting up a collage of the adverts he’d designed when a distinct shadow passed across the wall. It wasn’t a sunny day and as he quickly looked round to the garden he expected to see the digger moving behind the hedge, but instead, there, in the garden he saw her. A young girl, perhaps eight or nine year’s old standing with her back to him and facing the hedge. A cascade of blond curly hair fell down her back and over a long white crumpled dress that went down to just above her ankles. She must have been wearing some sort of apron or pinafore as he could see a number of cotton ties down her back. He got up from his chair and for a moment, he just stood and stared. He reached forward to knock on the window but as he did so, his phone rang. He turned back to his desk to pick it up and then turned back to the window, and she was gone. The garden was empty.
‘Hello, David Horrell speaking’, he said, only to be greeted with the buzz of a dead line.
He looked at the phone, the screen read ‘unknown caller’.
When Lorna came home that evening she sensed that he wasn’t his usual self.
She asked him what was wrong, so he told her about his strange experience.
‘Either someone messing around, or more likely you’re working too hard’, she told him in a firm and rational tone. Then she laughed and said, ‘Perhaps one of those workmen from behind the hedge has got long blond curly hair.’
By Thursday he’d all but forgotten the incident. Suddenly the amount of work had picked up. I’d had no end of responses to the emails he’d sent out asking old contacts to look at his new website, and he found himself busy in his study again until, just like it had happened on the previous Tuesday, a deep dark shadow passed across the wall. He looked to his right and into the garden and there she was again, in the same pose and the same clothes, with her back to him and blonde locks cascading down her back. As he stood there, he had to hold the table to prevent myself from falling as the shock of what he saw next almost overcame him. From the hedge a larger, ominous shadow began to emerge and form into a cloaked and hooded figure looking down at the girl. He saw her begin to look up at the figure and just had happened on the first occasion, his phone rang. Without taking his eyes off the developing scenes in the garden he reached back to his desk and picked up his phone.
‘Hello’, he answered, barely able to get the word out. ‘Who’s there? Who’s there?’ he asked.
This time, through the buzz of interference he heard a voice, the voice of a little girl.
‘Help. Help me’, she said.
He almost fell forwards into the window in a feint and holding his left palm to the window he asked in reply, ‘Who is it? Is it you, in the garden?’
At that moment the girl began to turn towards him and the hooded figure began to raise its head to look at him as well. The little girls face was so pale, pallid and grey. The saddest face he’d ever seen. But the last thing he remember at that moment was looking into the hood of the cloaked figure and seeing nothing, just a deep dark blackness with no form of a head or face.
‘David? David?’ He heard Lorna say his name as if it was a question.
She pressed the alarm button by the hospital bed and then jumping up, she leapt into the corridor and shouted, ‘Nurse, Doctor, come quick please. I think he’s awake!’
‘Uh, what, err what do you mean, I err’, stammered David. ‘Where am I?’ He asked her.
‘You’re in hospital. In Gainsborough, the John Coupland’, Lorna replied.
‘You’ve been unconscious. Almost like a coma, for a week. I thought you were going to die’. She choked on her words and sobbed.
After he’d been examined, she told him how she’d got a strange feeling that something wasn’t right and wanted to call him, but that he didn’t answer the phone and rather than getting his answerphone, she just got a dead line tone. She told him how when she got home, she found him, unconscious in a pool of blood with the study windows smashed in and glass scattered all around him. The Police had told her that it must have been an attempted robbery and that perhaps David had scarred them of as nothing appeared to have been taken.
Within the next twenty four hours David recovered rapidly and he also began to remember. When Lorna came to visit in the afternoon, she immediately said, ‘You’ll never guess what, those workmen on the other side of the hedge. They found human remains, the skeleton of a girl’s body!’
The house is still on the market at a very reasonable price for such a prime location.
© Duncan Lapping 2014