This is the prologue of my novel Dark Trinity. A full length horror story.
Sarah folded her arms and refused to look at him. He turned the ignition key for the fifth time. “I knew it!”
She continued to stare out of the window; her body turned away. He touched her leg with his fingertips.
“How long are you going to keep this up?”
She knocked his hand away.
“Sarah, I’m getting tired of this, I mean it.”
“You said we’d get a house.”
He couldn’t help but smile. Was this what it was all about? A two-day sulk over a wild promise made in desperation. “We will but I can’t create one out of thin air. You’ll have to trust me.”
“Listen, I’ll walk into the next village and see if I can find a mechanic. When the car’s fixed we’ll find a hotel.”
She shifted in her seat, glanced at him, and began to toy with a strand of hair that had fallen over her eyes. He sucked air and put his hand on her leg again. It was little mannerisms like that that had brought her to his attention in the first place. He reached her upper thigh and grunted when she opened her legs. This was better; she was playing the game fairly. He could feel the heat between her legs. He put his tongue in her ear and grabbed at her breasts. She giggled and pushed at his chest.
“I told you, I’m cold.”
“And I’ve told you, you can’t get me all worked up and not do it! You’ll make me ill. Is that what you want?”
Her only reply was a loud, ‘tut.’
His face purpled. “Right, fine I’ll go and do what you want. Never mind that I have feelings and needs.” He paused watching for any response. She remained still. He opened the door and got out slamming it hard enough to rock the car.
He pounded his anger out on the tarmac. He would not even turn and wave, that would show her. She ought to remember who he was and more importantly who and what she was. She was nothing.
He walked quickly until he knew the car would be out of sight then slowed. He had begun to pant. Too many takeaways and reliance on four wheels.
A sign pointed to a village a mile and a half away. “Chantry? Never heard of it.”
He checked his watch, an Italian natural granite piece that had cost far more than he could really afford. It was hours until sunset. The early nights were his ally, the time he should be out in the open instead of walking abroad inviting discovery.
He had no intention of wasting money on a hotel. They could both do with a hot bath but another night or two in a lay-by wouldn’t kill either of them. If she didn’t like it so what! What could she do?
Turn him in
He pushed the thought away. No, she’d never betray him, he was sure. Wasn’t he an expert in reading them? She had been wilful but that was half the fun. Changing their behaviour. Thanks to his skill she was now beautifully passive. Most of the time.
His anger began to build again when he recalled last night’s incident. She had actually, for the first time, tried to refuse. He was having none of it of course. That was not a road he travelled and she had better get used to it.
Where the hell was he? He had been trying to get to Leeds avoiding the motorway. Why would anyone live like this? Tiny hamlets separated by narrow lanes barely wide enough for a single car. No wonder the countryside was full of inbreds. They probably couldn’t find a way out.
Sarah was right. It was cold. The air hurt his chest if he breathed it too deeply.
All around were dead looking fields bordered by equally dead trees. Graves couldn’t imagine them in leaf. The whole area was alien. A landscape he had to escape.
He wondered what they were doing now. Frantically searching for them? Interviewing his colleagues, her friends, their families? Idiots!
This time he would not give her up. Never!
Oh, the first time he knew she was his! She had lingered, she had hung back and when he had smiled at her she had melted. He had listened to her problems- soothed her. He had promised her that they would always be friends and that he understood. By the time Sarah left the classroom Mark Graves had made her promise she would meet him that evening.
They had met in a car park near her home. Her parents knew nothing and with a little probing it became clear that no one amongst her friends knew either. She had looked at him with clear eyes and solemnly swore she would never breathe a word about their friendship.
They had done little more than kiss that time. He had given her a small amount of money to spend on herself. Within a fortnight she had given herself to him. She had been frightened but he had guided her. After all he was a man. He knew what to do.
A chill wind brought him back to the present. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets, wishing he had a pair of gloves and a scarf. The sky was overcast but bright. He doubted there would be any rainfall.
The road was pitted and crumbling at the edges. The verges grew steep and Graves found he could no longer see into the fields.
He took out a leather wallet and rifled through it without slowing pace. He had a little over fifty pounds. The chances of getting his car fixed for that were slim, he was sure. He’d have to chance using his cash card again. He cursed his lack of foresight and impetuosity. Years of care shot to hell over one girl.
The laughter was high pitched. He turned his head in the direction he judged it came from. He heard it again. He looked over one wall and saw a narrow stream meandering across land that showed little sign of cultivation. Behind it sprawled a sparse and unhealthy wood. Three children sat in a circle at the edge of the water. They giggled and threw mud at one another.
Graves watched them for several minutes straining his eyes for detail. One girl looked about eleven. A knitted hat hid her hair and she wore a thick muffler. To her right sat a younger boy with a baseball cap covering his dark head, the third was a girl with her back to him.
The eldest picked up a handful of wet earth and spattered it over the other girl. The laughter continued. Graves recalled similar activities from his own childhood. Making mud pies and trying to get his sister to eat them. Fun days.
He made up his mind to approach.
The gate was slimed with some growth. He unlatched it with fingertips and walked across the field. He had a smile and a story as bright as summer ready. They carried on with their giggles and muck hurling.
Graves had forgotten all about Sarah and her whining. He felt clean. A familiar excitement filled his belly; his head swam with possibilities.
The small girl’s hair was red. He liked the way it cascaded down her straight back. She plunged her tiny hands into the puddle of mud and threw fistfuls into the air. Some landed at his feet. He broke stride. His shoe was splashed.
He stared at the child’s streaked face and then his shoe. She held up one hand, inviting inspection and pointed at the puddle in the midst of her playmates.
The dog was tied securely with plastic wire. Its muzzle was bound and it lay on its back. The body was twisted, the back legs at an angle with the forelegs, one attached by a thin rope of sinew. The middle was a tangle of intestines. Graves saw something pumping and imagined it to be the heart. The animal raised its small head and regarded him with one eye. The other was missing, presumably mixed in with the bed of dark mud made from its spreading innards.
The dog was beyond struggle and lowered its head.
Graves put a hand to his mouth and watched the children rise.