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Authors: Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen

Tags: #romance, #suspense, #mystery, #paranormal, #supernatural, #cozy mystery

Heather Farm

BOOK: Heather Farm
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Heather Farm

 

A short story of love, ghosts and suspense

 

 

Copyright
2011 Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen

 

 

Cover
photo: Steffen Melsen Bräuner

 

 

Published
by Candied Crime 2014 via Smashwords.com

 

www.candiedcrime.com

 

License Notes

 

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Heather Farm

 

I


Our new home, darling!” Thomas wrapped his strong arms around
me and kissed me.

I just stood there, staring at
our
house, too touched to
speak.


Wait a second, Joanna.” He lifted me up and carried me over
the threshold.


But we're not exactly newly-wed, silly,” I laughed, kicking
and squirming because he took the opportunity to tickle
me.


I know, but this is our first real home.” He put me down in
the dark and damp living room. “And just wait, in a year or two
it'll be a splendid place.”

I ran
aimlessly around, checking every nook and corner, seeing everything
with fresh eyes, because now it was ours. We helped each other open
the old windows with their thick layers of paint.


It seems they've painted all the doors and windows green,” I
observed.


Of course. The colour of hope, spring, new life. We're going
to stick to that colour, aren't we?”


And keep chickens and a temperamental turkey, and fetch water
from the pump outside. You are trying to make a real countrywoman
out of me, aren't you?” I skipped around like the Energizer Bunny,
opening all of the doors and closets, not sure yet which skeletons
would jump out at me.


Well, I'd have guessed you wanted water and electricity put
in first, but if you insist on going native with a chicken coop and
all, sweetheart...”


I'll tell you what to do first. You can begin by scrubbing
all the dirt and grime off each and every surface, and when you've
done that, come back and I'll have some new ideas for you. And it
won't even cost you extra."

We
laughed and we cried a little bit because it was so overwhelming.
When dusk came and transformed the world into long, daunting
shadows, we lit plenty of candles. Like teenagers, we squatted in
the living room in our sleeping bags, sharing a cheap bottle of
Spanish plonk. We had lots to do, but it didn't matter because we
were young and strong and very much in love.

And our
gorgeous, new home was right next to the nineteenth-century
lighthouse which must have cast yellow rays of light through the
living room windows in the past. I was sure the old building also
yearned to be bought by a family who would give it a new lease of
life.

 

II

Squeak,
squeak.

The
piercing, squealing sounds tore me out of my heavy sleep. I tried
to get out of the sleeping bag, but I must have zipped it all the
way up to my chin during the cool morning hours so I wriggled about
like a helpless chrysalis.


Dear me, I can see I've spent the night with a mummy.” Thomas
pretended to help me out of my cocoon, but of course he took it as
an opportunity to kiss me and tickle me, and then kiss and tickle
me some more.


Will you stop your despicable behaviour and release me before
I pee in my pants! And I suppose you haven't even installed a tiny
shower while I've been asleep?”


Don't tell me I walked all the way to the baker's to buy a
fresh loaf for a wriggly worm.”


So it wasn't you trying to strangle someone out there a few
minutes ago?”


The water pump, you mean? I confess I did manhandle her a
bit, and she squealed terribly, but the old gal wouldn't deliver
the goods.”


So there's no water for my morning coffee?” I drew the
sleeping bag up over my face.


I have found some clean plastic cans, and I'll go and fetch
some water from the lighthouse. I think there's an outside tap.
There's a pint of milk in the bag, though.”

As if
milk could replace that first shot of caffeine. Well, he was a
darling, really. It was just that all my limbs were growling at me,
telling me they wanted to be left in peace after all that scrubbing
yesterday.

I could
see already that drinking water would have to be our first
priority. We had brought a thermos and some soft drinks with us
yesterday, and for our cleaning project we had used sea water.
Plenty of that commodity right across the dunes.

Enjoying
the luxury of waking up in a remote spot, far from curious
neighbours, I walked outside in the skimpy t-shirt I had slept
in.


Good morning, Miss. Didn't mean to frighten you.” An old
woman stood right in front of me. She raised her arms and took a
step back. “I thought you came out because you had seen me approach
the house.”


Hello. No, I'm afraid I didn't hear a thing." I studied her
as discreetly as I could, wondering if she was one of our new
neighbours. She blended in perfectly among the heather and the
dunes, so weather-beaten that even the colour of her eyes seemed a
bit washed-out.


I didn't mean to disturb you. You must have lots to do. Young
couples always have.” Her gentle smile showed me she remembered
what it was like.


But don't you want to come in? I'm afraid we are not up to
offering you coffee or tea yet, but...” I felt a bit exposed in my
all-but-transparent nightie, but we really wanted to have a go at
settling down here and get to know the neighbourhood and the few
families who lived around us.


Perhaps some other time. I just wanted to see who had bought
my old home. I'm sure you are going to be happy here.”


So you lived here?” I tried to remember what the realtor had
told us about the previous owner. I thought it was a middle-aged
man, certainly not someone who seemed to go back all the way to the
old war as my granny used to put it. Even though this was as far
out as you could get, I was a bit taken aback by her black lace-up
shoes and mended cardigan.


Most of my life.” She looked around her, taking in every bit
of the battered old buildings around us. “He sold it without asking
me, you know. They said I was too old to make decisions and sign
papers.”


I'm so sorry to hear that.” I really was, but what could I
do. “Was it your son?”

She
nodded and stretched out a leathery hand to touch the water pump.
“Yes. It doesn't matter so much now I've seen you. You both look as
if you are going to love Heather Farm.”


Heather Farm? Is that what you called it? What a lovely
name!” No one would call it a farm nowadays, but I liked the sound
of it.


He was probably right anyway. I couldn't cope on my own here.
I couldn't even make that darn pump work.”

I heard
Thomas whistle seconds before I actually saw him on the path
between Heather Farm and the lighthouse. I took a few steps towards
him, wanting him to hurry so we could offer our first guest a cup
of coffee, but when he turned round the thicket of rose hip bushes,
the old woman had gone.

 

 

III

 

After her
visit the awful dreams began. Now that we had a proper bed in the
bedroom I could snuggle up to Thomas until I fell asleep again, but
I woke up two or three times every night in a sweat, my heart
beating ferociously. I´d sit up and pull the duvet around me,
unable to chase the nightmares away. Whenever I closed my eyes, it
all came back. The growling monster dog and the couple who argued,
accompanied by the squealing pump. He swore and ranted at her, and
when he started to hit her, I wanted to scream at the grey figures
to get away from our home. They were just dreams, figments of my
imagination, and I had every right to be here.

If I
whimpered in my sleep, a drowsy Thomas would put his arm around me
and whisper, “it's just a dream, darling.”

The days
were better, but if I turned around abruptly, I'd catch glimpses of
the retreating shadows of the family who lived here before us. The
tall, grim man and the children who were both far too quiet. The
little girl sucking her thumb and wetting her pants when her dad
shouted at her. The watchful boy observing both parents, unsure
whose side to choose. His strong, brutal father or my sweet, old
woman. Whenever he left the house, they huddled together on the
sofa, the mother singing to them or telling them
stories.

We
hammered and sawed, painted inside and whitewashed out of doors,
and week by week we restored Heather Farm to its former charm. It
was exactly what we had always dreamed of. Except for those
festering ghosts.


You won't make the pump work. She said so.” I wiped my
forehead, smearing new streaks of whitewash into my
hair.


Who?” Thomas glared at me, annoyed at my unwillingness to
admit that the old woman had also been a dream.

He
couldn't see any of them, not yet, but I had seen him jump when
doors slammed behind him on calm days, or when the pump sent out
its melancholy cries untouched by any of us.


She doesn't dare to speak to you. She just doesn't trust
men.” I didn´t even bother to discuss if she was real or not. She
appeared whenever Thomas was away, telling me bits and pieces about
her life on the farm. Her happiness when they were first married
and she gave birth to their children, but also the years of fear
and violence when her husband turned to drinking.


She says we'll have to remove the cement cover around the
pump. There is something beneath it.”


Something beneath it? And she didn't tell you what that
something was? A ton of sand, or perhaps a million dogged heather
roots, I guess.” He tried to be patient with me, but I could see he
was getting worried.

Last
week, when I had tried to explain to him that the small woodpile at
the house end was growing slowly, by a few logs every day, he had
urged me to take a rest.


Why don't we just remove the cover and check?” I was dying to
tell him everything about the old woman, but I had a feeling I'd
better take it one small step at the time. First the pump, and then
I could try to plant the idea of looking into the outhouse behind
the farm house.


The car is in the shed,” she had said. More than
once.

 

 

IV

 


Here we go. Caaaareful now... slow... and no toes under it.
Yeees... stop!” Old Mr Hansson who was in charge of the tiny
lighthouse museum conducted the process like a traffic
policeman.


That's it, me dears. Now it's just a question of digging the
sand and roots away, and she'll be as good as new.” He patted the
rusty pump and beamed at us.

Thomas
prodded the roots and the rubble with the toe of his trainers. “I
hope so. We really like the idea of restoring the old
pump.”


But what's that? That white thing over there?” My mouth felt
dry, and I was certain I knew already, yet I hoped they would tell
me I was wrong. Off my rocker, expecting to see blood and bones
everywhere.


Some bones, I think. A deer, probably.” Hansson kneeled down
in the coarse lyme grass, tugging at the twig-like
phenomenon.

Suddenly
he jumped up, pointing down at the remains. “So that's where he
went!”

 

V

The local
constable had warned us to stay away from the well until the police
had had a chance to look at our find. It was not as if we wanted to
excavate the shaft either. We kept indoors until they had dug out
the remains of a human skeleton and what seemed to be a large dog.
I shuddered, knowing exactly what the brute had looked
like.

BOOK: Heather Farm
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