The car tyres crunched over the golden gravel and squealed to an abrupt stop in front of the rusty iron gates. Detective Holloway rolled down the driver’s windows so that there was a gap just big enough to slip a bony hand through. He used the radio on the dashboard to contact the police team, who were all ready on site, and waited patiently for the gates to be opened.
The beams of light from the headlights cut through the darkness that was swallowing the car, showing all of the dust and sand that had been disturbed by the sudden number of cars that had come to visit the derelict farmhouse on this cold night.
Who would have thought that somebody would have strayed so far off the beaten track to creep to this house? As the gates creaked open and the car trundled up the gravel pathway, full of weeds, the house finally appeared through the fog.
From the outside it looked inhabitable. The bricks on the chimney were twisted and crumbling, and the roof tiles that remained were clinging on by one rotten nail. The house was once painted white, but over the years, the dirt had built up, and now it is as grey as the storm clouds on a winter’s night.
Many of the windows had been boarded up with mouldy cork; however the few panes of glass that had survived the bitter weather, now resembled the windows of the nearby church. In that, they had turned to so many colours that it was impossible to see into the rooms beyond.
The history of the house is painted upon the windows, as clear as the ocean. From the burglaries, to the proof of squatters; it could all be seen in the windows. As Detective Holloway pulled up next to the other squad cars, he saw the window that bared the next chapter of the story. It was cruelly smashed, and the wooden frame had been pulled roughly from the wall of the house.
The police station had received the call about a disturbance in the dead of the night. An old lady, who lives not too far from the crime scene, had said that she had heard high pitched wailing and screams. At first, nobody had believed her, but because every call has to be followed through, the squad cars had been scrambled anyway.
As Detective Holloway pulled himself from the warmth of his car, he took his torch from the door pocket, and shone it towards the broken window. He could vaguely see into the room beyond. A four poster bed was squashed up against the far wall, with its sheets striped and the wooden headboard was dusty and chipped in several places. Leaning up against the bottom of the bed were some unused artist’s canvasses. One of them had been ripped from a shard of glass that had flown into it when the window had smashed. A low dresser had been pulled slightly away from the wall and its drawers were all askew. Detective Holloway quickly came to the conclusion that this room was the place that the crime had taken place, if there was a crime anyway.
The torch in Detective Holloway’s right hand flickered and died. He tried to revive it by shaking it vigorously, but it was completely broken. Being careful not to trip on any stray branches, or slip in the sticky mud, Detective Holloway carefully made his way to the other police officers.
All of the other officers were focusing all of their attention onto the old lady who had made the phone call, so none of them noticed Detective Holloway join them. They all shared the same expression of confusion and chagrin. When Detective Holloway was within earshot of the old lady, she was halfway through answering the officer’s questions.
“I was putting the cat out.” She said, “And I heard the loudest scream I’ve ever heard in my life. It was high too. It didn’t sound like a person because it was so high it made my ears ring.”
“So there wasn’t any screaming?” Detective Holloway asked, making the two officers next to him jump out of their skins.
“No, there was screaming as well.” The lady replied indignantly.
“How far away do you live?”
The old lady scowled at Detective Holloway and reluctantly pointed towards the front gates. In the distance, Holloway could just make out a stone cottage that he hadn’t noticed on the way in.
“How would you say you’re hearing was nowadays?” Holloway asked sincerely, but a couple of the other officers smirked. The old woman put her hands on her hips and tapped her toe impatiently. From the faint light of the car headlights, Detective Holloway could see how sunken her stern eyes were, and her collar bones that were protruding through her skin. She looked half starved, as if nobody had been to check up on her in a very long time.
“Are you saying that I’m lying?” she said through her teeth.
“Not at all.” Holloway assured her, “I’m simply pointing out that it is a very long way for a lady of your age to hear such a thing.”
“A lady of my age!” she shrieked.
“Why were you putting your cat out at such a late hour?” Holloway continued.
“She wanted to hunt.”
“Surely you could have done that earlier in the evening?”
“I forgot.” The lady replied hesitantly. Detective Holloway sighed heavily; he didn’t have time for this.
“Right, well, thank you, for your help. We’ll do our routine search and then continue in the morning I think.”
“I’m not making this up!” the lady cried desperately, “I really did hear something.”
Detective Holloway smiled at her encouragingly and walked away, back towards the house. The babble of police officers followed him.
“Do you think that this is a false report then?” one of them whispered.
“She’s an old lady; I don’t think all she’s saying is true.” Holloway laughed. “Let’s just do the search for the paper work and get back home.”
Suddenly, the window next to Detective Holloway exploded in front of his eyes like a firework. He threw his arm up to protect his face and he felt the shards of glass drop to his feet, ripping gashes into his clothes. A nearby door was flung open and it creaked loudly on its rusty hinges, causing all of the police team to swing around in synchronisation. Two figures, dressed entirely in black, sprinted from the house and disappeared into the corn field behind the house. The one in the front was extremely tall and lanky, and the one behind ran as fast as a cheetah.
As the officers stumbled into a disorganised chase, Detective Holloway faintly heard the old woman grumbling angrily.
“I told you so.” She murmured harshly.