ROSE COTTAGE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium
Dan and Jenny find the perfect cottage for a quiet getaway...

Submitted: January 31, 2019

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Submitted: January 31, 2019

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Jenny peered over her lap-top. “Hey, I like the sound of this one... charming cottage sleeps four, set in quiet grounds. An ideal base for exploring Dorset's coast and countryside and just a short drive to the Jurassic Coast. Dogs welcome. What do you think?”

Dan grunted. “How much?”

Three hundred and fifity pounds for the week which is the cheapest one I've found. Sounds exactly what we're looking for... a quiet get-away, walks in the countryside, and there's a local pub that serves good, home cooked food. What do you think, Bruno?”

At the sound of his name, the black Labrador opened a sleepy eye and thumped his tail on the carpet.

Dan stretched and yawned. “Sounds reasonable. Does it look okay?”

Jenny passed him the lap-top. “Here, see for yourself. Looks really cosy. I'd say it ticks all the boxes, and there's wifi.”

Dan held up his palms in submission. “Okay, I'm in.”

***********

The quaint cottage nestled behind a white picket fence, surrounded by trimmed lawns, established shrubs and flower beds. Pink climbing roses, weaved their way around the rustic front door.

Oh, it's even better than the photos,” Jenny gushed.

After unloading the car, as Dan went to park it in the small village car park, Jenny ventured out. The garden was bathed in soft, late afternoon sunshine. At the top, situated under a canopy of thick foliage, she saw a wooden bench, so took the opportunity to sit down for a moment to luxuriate in her surroundings, inhaling the flower scented air. It was idyllic, picture perfect and serene and she could already feel all her stress ebbing away.

As Bruno sat at her feet panting, she gently stroked his silky ears. “This is the life, Bruno, time to chill out.” The dog looked up at her with his adoring eyes and big laughing face, as if agreeing with her.

There you are,” Dan called, advancing towards her. “I've booked a table at the pub for dinner at eight o'clock. Although its only a small village, they say it's really popular, so best to book in advance.”

Jenny laughed. “Sounds like sales patter to me.”

You might be right...we can always have a ride out in the week, but it'll do for tonight and it's dog friendly.”

Jenny stood up. “You know me, I'm easily pleased. Think I'll have a shower.”

************

Jenny took the proffered menu. “So, where are you staying?” asked the Landlord.

Rose Cottage... its everything we were looking for, you know, quiet, pretty and dog friendly.”

Jenny noticed the way his eyes suddenly narrowed. “What? Is there something we should know?”

No, it's a lovely, quaint little place, but rumour has it, it's haunted.”

I'll have the garlic chicken and, for the record, I don't believe in ghosts,” Dan retorted.

Hey, don't shoot the messenger... just giving you a warning.”

Haunted by what?” Jenny asked, her blue eyes round with shock.

Jen leave it, its just idle gossip. Let's enjoy our dinner, what are you eating?”

I just lost my appetite.”

We'll both have the garlic chicken and a bottle of your best red.” Dan ordered.

Hope you're right, Dan. Remember, it was a lot cheaper than all the other properties I looked at.”

Have a glass of wine and forget it. Here's to a well earned rest.”

Jenny woke the next morning to a ray of sunshine streaming through a chink in the curtains. She had slept well, aided no doubt by half a bottle of wine. Bruno stretched, yawned and padded over to to the bedside.

“Okay boy, I'll let you out.”

She heaved herself out of bed, pulled on a silky dressing gown and went downstairs. After opening the kitchen door for Bruno, she filled the kettle at the sink under the window. Her eyes wandered over the pretty garden, to the bench at the top. She gasped... what on earth! The overflowing kettle, momentarily interrupted her concentration, and when she refocused her eyes, the image had disappeared.

With shaking hands, she lifted two mugs from the cupboard and, as she dropped a tea bag in each, she heard Bruno barking outside. She went out to see him at the top of the garden, his body jerking as he barked ferociously at the bench.

Here boy,” she called, to no avail.

She raced up to the distraught dog. “Hey, calm down, boy.” As she bent down to grab his collar, she noticed a single blood red rose in the centre of the bench. An icy shiver ran up her spine and she almost fainted at the sensation of a hand on her shoulder.

Jen, its me.” She looked up into Dan's worried, dark eyes.

Bruno woke me up barking, what's happened?”

They turned to see the dog now digging furiously at the grass under the bench.

Dan, I had a vision. It was while I was filling the kettle, I glanced up the garden and saw her. She was sitting on the bench... she had what looked like a matted, bloodied wound to the side of her head and face, but when I looked up again, she had disappeared. Then Bruno started barking, and I saw the blood red rose.”

What blood red rose?”

On the bench... I swear it was on the bench.” Jenny began to sob. “I'm not mad Dan, I saw it,” she stuttered.

I believe you, Jen, and I think Bruno is on to something.”

Like a canine excavator, Bruno, had now dug out a deep hole. “Dan pulled the dog out by his collar. We need to involve the police, I'm convinced they will find human remains buried here.”

Dan, why do you think she appeared only to me and Bruno?”

Because, unlike me, she knew you would both be receptive to her. I reckon you have just opened up a murder investigation. So much for our quiet get-away.”



© Copyright 2019 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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