It isn't easy to admit that everyone in Harpool was talking about and had their own theory about the residents at number 12 kings road; drugs, unwanted pregnancy, bankrupt. Surprisingly no one guessed it right and everyone seemed to assume something unacceptable or reckless. As far as the villagers were concerned, the once beautiful proud Victorian house that now seemed to sag and not with age but with neglect, deserved to be the gossip of the village. What intrigued the villages most was that Katherine Clark had lived in the house for 2 years and had kept it to an immaculate standard, why then, would the 21 year old suddenly stop her efforts? It had always seemed that the most important things in Katherine's life were the house, and her family.
Kat stood in the dark living room of number 12 kings road. It was like a scene from a ghost story, with the dark blue curtains slowly blowing up and down with every gush of wind that blew through the slightly open window. The furniture was old, too old; the three piece was brick red and sat lamely in front of a dirty white table. Kat felt so useless, she was so close, and yet all she could do was wait.
She half walked, half dragged herself to the sofa and sat down, her head falling to rest in her hands. She remembered everything, the sunny weather, the beautiful country side, the black car, her cousins screams…
She was there again; it was a hot day in July. The sun beating on her back and legs as her dress was slightly lifted with the wind, Kat looked to the left of her, and there she was; innocent and loveable, in little green shorts and a white t-shirt. Harriet beamed up at her older cousin, and Kat felt the strong feeling of love spread through her. Harriet was holding an ice cream, Kat laughed at her younger cousin who had even managed to get ice cream in her eye brows. Then everything seemed to speed up, Kat getting up to go to the bin, hearing the sudden shrill screams behind her, Harriet? The desperate screams where coming from Harriet, calling out for Kat, screaming for her, but Kat couldn't see her, what was going on? She remembered the black car, the dark men. Harriet was gone.
Kat woke up with a start, sweat dripping rapidly down her back. She realised the reason the scream hadn't stopped, was because it was coming from herself.
The doorbell rang and Kat was brought back to earth, she knew who it was, but that didn't stop her from peering cautiously out the window before opening the door. Mr. Shattle was a very skilled private detective; he was dressed very simply in a black fleece and dark trousers. He handed Kat a brown envelope, which had no address on the front. All he said was;
"Good luck". Before he turned and walked back down the drive. Kat just had time to shut the door before her knees buckled, she knew what the envelope would contain, and she kneeled on the floor gasping;
"I've found her." Her breath came in sharp rasps, after three solid months of trackers, police and God know how many thousands of pounds because when it came down to it, when it was time to make a decision, she was never going to let it go.
Slowly she peeled back the brown fold, and slowly inched her hand into the envelope, her fingers felt the thin single sheet of paper and she pulled it out, her shoulders shaking. The sheet was blank, apart from an address, in the top left hand corner, 4 lines down. This was it.
20 Wino Way
Harriet immediately turned to the computer that was already booted up and waiting. Kat quickly typed the address, feeling the sweat on her forehead and the tear tracks still on her face. The village of Shaford seemed to Kat to be very run down, it looked like one of those places that people took different routes home just to avoid going through. Kat did have a vague idea how to get to it, but she never the less printed off directions.
Kat stood up, suddenly sure what she was going to do. Walking slowly into the neglected kitchen she let her hand run smoothly along the top of her kitchen unit her fingers picking up dust and debris as she walked. She opened a draw and considered the choices she had. Take a knife, and risk being stabbed herself, or go empty handed and fight with her fists… She couldn't risk it, Harriet was too important to her. Kat grabbed a long bread knife and tucked it safely in her bag. This was it.
Kats hands were shaking uncontrollably, what if she never found her? What if this would lead to yet another dead end in her quest to find her cousin? What if Harriet... was already dead? No, she couldn't think like that, she had come this far. Kat got into her small car, and started driving slowly through the streets, she couldn't contain it, she was feeling utterly terrified.
40 minutes later Kat arrived outside a... well it must have been... a house. The walls were a mucky black colour and the windows were falling off their hinges. No lights were on in the house and it looked deserted. She decided to go through the back window, and cautiously crawled around the side of the house trying to be as quiet as possible, but she was panting so loudly she had to put her fist in her mouth to stifle the noise. Around the back of the house there were two windows; one was almost normal looking with only a long scratch down the middle, the other was completely smashed as if someone had just thrown a wine bottle at it. She took her chance and decided to try and get in that way. The window was fairly low down and Kat was able to life her leg up and push it through the window, almost as soon as her foot touched the floor on the other side she hoisted herself up and through the window, as she did so she felt a stab of pain that shot through her left hand. Kat looked down at her hand; it was dripping blood and had the unmistakable signs of being cut by glass.
Cradling her dripping hand in her t-shirt Kat walked cautiously through a room that may have been a kitchen and into a hall like room. This room was no better; the wall paper was peeling off and there were pictures in frames smashed on the floor. Kat listened carefully for any sounds at all, anything that might signal Harriet was in the house, or that the enemy was approaching. Kat made her slow way up the stairs that looked dangerous enough in themselves with several of the wooden steps having caved in on themselves completely.
It was only when she was at the top of the stairs that she heard anything, it was such a tiny noise that Kat could have imagined it, It sounds like a small gulp and then a wail, it wasn't much, but it was enough. Kat ran into the nearest bedroom, all thought about being cautious forgotten, her head was soaking in a mixture of blood and sweat and her whole body was shaking.
The room was small and dark, it had a small old fashioned light in the centre of the room, but apart from that the only light source was the light coming from a small window. The room only contained two things; a camp bed and a large wardrobe with a wide draw at the bottom. Kat immediately went to the wardrobe and yanked the door's open. It was empty apart from a large black coat. Kat rubbed her hand on her t-shirt to try and wipe the sweat. She went down on her knees and checked under the camp bed desperate to find the source of the noise. Then she heard it again, and turned her attention slowly, to the draw at the bottom of the wardrobe.
Kat went immediately over and slowly pulled the draw outwards. There she was, Harriet, but she didn't look like Harriet, she had a long rope tied roughly around her mouth and her face was bruised and sunken. But it was her, alive. Kat pulled Harriet out of the crate, ripped the white rope from around Harriet's mouth and pulled her into her arms, Kat was crying now; she couldn't contain it, tears streamed down her face as she looked at the damage that had been done to her beautiful cousin. Harriet wasn't wearing her t-shirt anymore, but was still wearing her green shorts, which were soaking wet.
Kat helped Harriet into a standing position; she knew that they needed to get out of there. As soon as possible. Kat supporting Harriet at her underarms rushed down the stairs, her hair flying over her face.
They made it as far as the garden before they had any more disturbances. But when they reached the bottom of the garden they came face to face with a man Kat had only seen once before. Harriet screamed and shrunk away from the man; hiding behind Kat and pulling at her clothes like an animal. Kat look desperately at the gate, but another man was standing there. When she did look back at the first man, she realised he had drawn out a gun.