Rumour has it that the bells of St Christopher’s refused to be tolled since the Reverend de Montfort left to visit his oldest and most far-flung parishioner, Jacob Reader on the afternoon of 25th July last year
The Reverend, an energetic and forthright man was robust, sensible and didn’t suffer fools gladly. As the warden often said, the vicar was definitely not a pushover.
A single man, the Reverend had fended himself all his life, only allowing the Church to fund an office manager so that his diary remained organised and his days well-planned.
So his disappearance was definitely out of character, and his parishioners mourned his loss with vigour.
As the anniversary of the Reverend’s disappearance approached, the men and women of the parish wondered when the Bishop would admit that the beloved clergyman was gone for good.
They were all rudely awoken by celebratory pealing of the church bells as the sun rose on Sunday, 25th July. Reverend d Montfort strode down the village high street, wonder in his eyes, a smile on his lips. On his arm was a beautiful young man, a true Adonis.
“Chris, welcome to my church, my village, my parish. Isn’t it lovely?”
“Oh yes, Robert, it is. Uncle Jake is a lucky, lucky man.”
The parishioners were stunned at the turn of events, but were pleased to have Reverend back and truly happy after all these years. Especially the warden, who said that young Chris was a delight, to anyone that would listen.
Working for the Royal Mail used to be something Stephen felt great pride in, carrying on the family tradition of his great-great-great uncle, Samuel Robertson. He had been a forthright gentleman, by all accounts.
Stephen unlocked the curved door of the letterbox and removed the basket from its belly. In a few minutes, the hungry mouth that had swallowed thousands of letters for decades would be blocked up, probably forever. What a sad day.
Reaching into the gloom, Steve ran his hand inside before locking it shut. ‘Just making sure,’ he thought, not really expecting to find anything.
The dusty, dirty envelope he pulled out looked like it had been trapped inside for decades. The writing was faded, but Steve could just make out the name on the front of the envelope. “’Mr Stephen Robertson’,” he read, surprised. “That’s me! But…?”
He opened it, hastily, furtively. It was addressed to him, but how could it be? Was he breaking the law, he wondered? He pulled out the single piece of paper, hands shaking.
“’Dear Stephen, do not decommission this letterbox. There will be consequences. I remain your servant, Samuel Robertson, Esq.’”
“As you ask, Samuel, mate, as you ask,” thought Stephen, driving away.
I zip up my wet suit, noticing the tightness in my shoulder as I reach between my shoulder blades. I’m not getting any younger or more flexible, and it’s been a week since I felt the muscle tear. I have to do this now, before it’s too late.
I look up, back to the dunes and watch Timmy gnawing at the bone I had given him earlier. Hopefully, the marrow will keep him occupied long enough for me to be nearing the horizon and far beyond his failing eyesight. I’d been giving him a lot of meaty treats lately. Guilt, I suppose.
I pat my chest, feeling the reassuring crackle of plastic underneath. All of our, no my worldly goods are in there. It should be enough.
I push the canoe into the waves, past the first swells and step in, settling myself into the seat. I begin paddling, strong, swift strokes that are my reward for months of practice.
I ponder at Timmy’s new and healthy appetite. Funny, I’d never thought of him as a predator before. Still, I suppose any animal can develop a taste for human flesh, given the opportunity…