“Okay stop, stop now!” Lindsay yanked her hand out of Michael’s grasp and stood still. “What the hells going on? Who’s following you? Who was looking over my shoulder? I saw a face in the river. I saw someone running away on the other side of the river too.”
“Not now! Come on, I don’t want to be alone down here. Do you have café in the village, or a pub? I think we need people around us.”
“No café, I don’t want to go to the pub looking like this. I have no makeup on.”
“Lindsay, makeup should be the last thing on your mind right now. Come on, lets got get a drink. Do you know the people in the pub?”
“Yes of course I do, I live in a village, and everyone knows everyone else.”
“Good, I think you need to keep friends around you.”
Lindsay smelled burning. It was strong. She looked around for signs of danger. OK it’s my imagination, but it wasn’t her imagination, smoke billowed from the garden of one of the cottages that backed onto the lane. She couldn’t handle anymore fires.
“Hi Lindsay!” It was Mr. Hodgson. He was burning dead branches.
“Hi!” Lindsay replied, forcing a smile. Then she stopped dead in her tracks. Through the smoke she saw the figure of her dead friend. Mel raised her arm in greeting; flesh sloughing off it and sliding into the fire. Lindsay bent double, throwing up immediately. She almost collapsed into the pool of steaming puke. Michael grabbed her arm, steadying her before she fell. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Lindsay pointed towards the fire, “Over there, by the fire, what do you see.”
Before he had time to answer she heard footsteps as another figure approached, “Oh God no.” Lindsay closed her eyes, terrified it was her dead friend.
“Lindsay love, are you alright, do you want me to call someone?” It was Mr. Hodgson, “You’re awfully pale, do you want to come inside and sit down a minute?”
She sighed with relief, “No, I’ll be alright. Something I ate I think,” Lindsay looked back at the smoke in the garden, but that’s all she saw, just smoke! I’m going crazy!
“I’ll make sure she gets home alright,” Michael said.
“What’s your name young man, I don’t think I’ve seen you before?”
“I’m Michael, a friend of Lindsay’s, I’ll watch out for her.”
Lindsay smiled weakly, “I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
“Alright then, say hi to your mam and dad, they get back from France today don’t they?”
“Yes, later tonight”
“And Lindsay, I’m so sorry about your friends, it was horrible. You’re very lucky to be alive. Awful tragedy. Any idea what started the fire yet?
Lindsay shook her head.
“Well if you need anything let me know. I’ll let this young man take care of you. Do I detect and Irish accent Michael?”
“Yes sir, I’m from Dublin, I’m visiting family in Richmond.” Michael lied. “I met Lindsay the night of the fire. I was just checking in on her.”
“Oh, I thought you had a softer accent, not harsh like Belfast. Awful business with the IRA isn’t it! Sad that so many people are dying and blaming religion. I wonder if it’ll ever be sorted out.”
“I hope so sir. You’re right, too many people dying, British and Irish alike.” A cool breeze chilled everyone as Michael spoke. Lindsay shivered and Mr. Hodgson pulled his jacket closed.
Michael run away, these non-believers will get you killed. Come home! Where’s Johnny?
“Well take care of Lindsay, and yourself.” Mr. Hodgson turned and went back to his fire.
“What was that all about?”
“I’m going fucking crazy, that’s what that was all about. I saw Mel at the other side of the fire. Her skin was smoking and dropping off her body. Now I’m hearing voices. I’m totally losing it.”
“Come on, we need to talk. Maybe you should go home first and wash your face, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I have seen a bloody ghost, and it’s not the first time. I truly wish I were dead. I can’t handle this much longer.”
I just can’t stop writing. Dead of July, my first novel is available on Amazon and will soon be joined by two short stories.