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Friday, 2 February 2018

Vampire Farmer - Penny Farthing Mystery - Chapters Eleven and Twelve


Ben Meets Penny In The Cemetery

That night at play rehearsal Ben could not concentrate, it did not help that they were working on complicated part of a romantic scene.
‘Mary, please.’ Ben stood, walked to the stage. ‘Get into character.’ 
Mary Monroe started to cry. ‘It’s not me, it’s him.’ She pointed to Wally. ‘I have to kiss him, and he has me I don’t know where I am.’
Wally hadn’t lived in the area long. Nobody knew much about him except his wife had died a year previously, and his brother was the vicar. No-one knew him well enough to tell him about his halitosis. Even Ben couldn’t broach the subject. Ben couldn’t be sure but he thought Wally had been in the cemetery a few nights back with the vicar and other members of the village. Ben’s thoughts took him back to the previous night in the cemetery. What if Wally was one of the three? It was no good he could not concentrate. 
‘Tell you what Mary,’ he said, ‘why don’t you come up to the farm and I’ll go through some movements one-to-one? See if that helps.’ 
‘Will tomorrow do?’
‘Make it tomorrow afternoon. Have to plough in the morning.’
‘Will do,’ Mary said all of a quiver. Although she thought she didn’t need extra coaching, she would relent this time and accept help, not wanting to let the team down.
‘Make that do for tonight. See you all next time,’ Ben said. ‘Thanks folks.’
Heading home Ben stoped at the cemetery. He parked the Land Rover out of sight and walked the last stretch. ‘Bloody creaky gate,’ he cursed as he unlocked the catch. ‘Needs a spray of oil.’ It was a calm night with a whispers of mist hanging. Perfect for vampires. Ben rubbed his hands together. He walked up to the spot where the group had been digging. All was quiet. He turned to go back to the gate.

What the! Ben didn’t believe in ghosts, but changed his mind when he saw an apparition of an old lady sitting on a fold up chair. She wasn’t there when he came in, he’d have seen her, he thought. He crept over to where she was sat. She had something in her hand. As he got closer the apparition turned to look at him.
‘Good evening,’ she said.
Ben nearly jumped out of this skin. ‘Who the hell are you?’
‘Mrs Farthing.’
‘And I suppose your first name’s Penny,’ Ben laughed.
‘It is actually.’
‘Probably a stupid question, but what on earth are you doing?’
‘Star gazing,’ Penny held up her telescope, ‘beautiful night for it.’
Ben looked up at the stars. ‘Suppose it is. Bloody chilly though. Shame about the mist.’
‘It arrived with you. It’s been clear up till now. Why are you in a cemetery, at this time of night?’
‘Needed some fresh air,’ Ben said.
‘Funny place to get some.’ Penny looked through her telescope.
‘I’m on my way home from a rubbish Am Dram rehearsal.’ Ben shook his head.
‘You have my sympathy.’ 
They talked, mostly about Orion, but Ben discovered she’d come to visit her old friend Madge, the local curate. Ben liked her. He was just about to excuse himself when a van pulled up near the gate.
‘Quick, come with me.’ Ben grabbed the chair, shoved Penny in front of him, they both crouched behind a tall gravestone.
‘What’s going on?’ Penny caught her breath.
‘Beats me. This is why I’m really here. I saw them last night. They dug up a grave then took something or someone away in that van.’
Is this what Madge was talking about? Penny thought, the bizarre goings on in the cemetery. ‘Do you know who they are?’ she whispered to Ben.
’Not sure. Two voices were familiar.’
‘It looks like they’re burying something, not taking something.’
Penny slid her hand into her pocket and brought out the smallest camera Ben had ever seen. She popped her head round the side of the gravestone, started to take video footage of the van and the three people.
‘Now that’s a smart camera. I’ve never seen one so small.’
‘It’s HD, has night vision, no flashes. We’ll take the footage to the police.’
‘Not yet. I need more to go on before we inform them.’ He wanted to keep a low profile as far as the police were concerned. ’Shush, they’re going.’ Ben raised his hand, pulled his cap over his forehead. 
‘Very interesting,’ Penny handed Ben a card with her contact details on. ‘Call me if anything comes to mind.’



‘Good morning,’ Madge’s housekeeper said as Penny stepped into the kitchen. ‘Madge had an early call, she’ll catch you up later.’ She placed a bowl of porridge and a cup of Earl Grey tea in front of Penny. ‘Did you see the stars last night? Madge mentioned you’re into astronomy.’
‘I did, thank you.’ Penny wasn’t thinking about stars. She added honey to the porridge, stirred it in.
‘Any plans for today?’
‘A walk, I think.’ Penny started to eat.
‘I’ll let you eat your breakfast in peace. Enjoy your day.’
The sun shone through the kitchen window, Penny felt the heat on her face. Outside the wind gusted making the windows rattle, but it didn’t distract her thoughts from constantly trying to analyse what she’d seen in the cemetery. Her tea grew cold. 
She put on her hat and coat and headed out. In the garden she held her mobile phone aloft. ‘Blast, still no signal.’ She walked holding her phone in the air.  ‘At last!’ she found Madge’s number and called her. ‘You were right. Something weird is going on here in Allenbury. Meet me in the tearoom in an hour. I’m off to look check out the village.’ She rang off. She looked across at the blue and white butchers sign. I’ll start there, she thought.
‘Ey up,’ the butcher said in his Yorkshire dialect.
‘Good morning,’ Penny said as she joined the queue to wait her turn. She watched him chop meat. Good with an axe and knife. ‘Cheese and onion pasty, please,’ she said when her turn came. She scanned the shop moving in every direction as if to look around but giving the small camera pinned to her coat lapel the opportunity to take footage. 
‘There you go. Enjoy your day.’
‘Thank you.’ Confident she’d recorded the butcher’s conversation with the customers Penny put the pasty into her bag and left the shop smiling. She would play this on her laptop for Madge, and Ben. She had a feeling it would come in useful.
She walked over to the pond in the middle of the village green, sat on the seat and fed the ducks some bread Madge’s housekeeper had given her. She placed her hand on her camera. Still there. Her mobile alarm went off. Time to meet Madge. 
The tearoom was only a short walk from the pond. A bell tinkled as she opened the door. How quaint, but strange I’m the only one in here, she thought.  There was a table in the far corner near some bookshelves. She would sit there.
‘Earl Grey and a caramel shortbread, please,’ Penny said to the waitress, a wiry looking girl, wearing huge spectacles. Unfortunate place to have a wart, right on the end of your nose, she thought, it makes her look odd.
Madge dashed in. ‘Good to see you.’ She pulled out a chair and sat opposite Penny. ‘You look refreshed.’ She smiled at her friend.
The waitress set down Penny’s tray. ‘Same for me, but hold the Earl Grey, I’ll have proper tea.’ Madge laughed.
Penny related the story of the night before in the cemetery to Madge. ‘So, you’re not losing the plot. There is something going on in the village.’ She took a sip of tea. ‘This caramel shortbread is delicious,’ she said after taking a bite.
‘I don’t know who to trust here. I dare hardly go in the butchers for meat. You don’t know what they are selling.’ Madge cringed. ‘Can you imagine? It could be human flesh.’
‘Didn’t look like it to me,’ Penny said. ‘Although, I did see something resembling a human ankle bone.’
‘No way! What are we going to do?’ Madge said. ‘You’re right about this caramel shortbread. So tasty. It’s probably gone straight to my hips though.’ She sat up straight, rested her hands on her hips. ‘Diet for me, I think.’
‘Maybe a couple of pounds.’ Penny smiled hoping she didn’t offend her friend. ‘When we find out more information we’ll go to the police,’ she drained her cup.
‘What if the local officer is involved?’
‘You have a point there.’ 
Madge clasped her hands together. Closed her eyes.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Might help, I suppose.’ Penny unpinned her camera and handed it to Madge. ‘I’ve got video on here. Could be evidence.’
‘Really? But, how do we see it?’
‘My laptop.’
‘Then what are we waiting for?’

I do hope you enjoyed reading the first few chapters of Vampire Farmer - A Penny Farthing Mystery. 
The ebook is now available on all Amazon sites and Smashwords.



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