New Year 2015
The New Year’s party was in full swing. Queen was blasting out Bohemian Rhapsody and then someone turned the music down and turned on the TV just in time to catch Big Ben booming the first strokes of midnight. A chorus of ‘Happy New Year!’ started up around the room and the bubbly flowed even more freely. Party-poppers popped, and the party goers launched into a slightly slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
It was after three when the last two guests stepped out of the farmhouse door.
‘So you lucky sods are off skiing,’ said Geoff Harding, who owned the farm across the valley from the Blakelocks, ‘Where did you say you were going?’
‘Austria, we’re driving.’ Simon Blakelock pointed over to the new silver BMW X5 with the ski-rack perched on top and two sets of skis in smart zipped carry bags. ‘Linda hates flying and we’ve got plenty of time.’
‘I can’t wait,’ said Linda, sliding an arm round her husband’s waist and grinning up at him with huge blue eyes.
‘You’re lucky to have found that one,’ said Sue Harding attempting to wave a finger in Linda’s direction as she listed slightly and grabbed Geoff’s arm for support.
‘Don’t I know it!’ laughed Simon just a smidge too heartily.
‘Who else would put up with you!’ giggled Sue.
Geoff steadied Sue as she nearly missed the next step, ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘Just because he’s been married a dozen times doesn’t mean he’s that bad.’ He let out a huge guffaw.
Simon hugged Linda too him, ‘Hey! Steady on! She’s only number four!’
‘Well you guys have a great time, we’ll see you in a couple of weeks,’ said Geoff.
‘Send us a postcard,’ burbled Sue as Geoff guided her to their car.
‘Come on darling,’ said Linda, ‘There’s a lot of cleaning up to do before we leave.
Three Weeks Later
Simon came round slowly. There were bright lights. Someone was shining a torch in his eyes. What the hell …
‘Simon?’ said a pleasant male voice, ‘Mr Blakelock?’
Simon came to a bit more. His vision cleared. The man with the pleasant voice was wearing a white coat and had a stethoscope around his neck. Then he realised he was in a hospital bed.
‘What’s happened?’ he stuttered in a panic.
‘It’s OK Simon, you’re going to be fine, you’re in hospital. My name is Doctor Zigler, and you have had a bit of an accident, a pretty bad bang on the head in fact.’
‘I … I don’t remember!’
‘That’s not entirely unusual with a head injury,’ reassured Dr Zigler.
‘But I don’t remember anything!’ said Simon.
‘Not even your name?’
‘Your home – where you live?’
‘OK. Well the worst thing to do is to worry, and stress yourself, because that won’t help your recovery. I can tell you that your name is Simon Blakelock and you live at Foxburn Farm, just outside Foxton. You’re forty-six. Two days ago you were on your bicycle when you had a collision with the post van. Apparently your brakes were in bad shape and you shot out into the road from your farm drive and into the path of the van.’
‘Lordy!’ mumbled Simon. ‘So when will my memory come back?’
‘That’s impossible to say. You’ve had quite a severe injury. The CT scan shows slight bruising to your brain. Some people can take quite a while to regain all of their memory; it often comes back a bit at a time.’
‘Hello!’ said a voice. Dr Zigler looked around and Simon looked up. A woman with a cheery smile and a shock of dark hair had poked her head through the curtain surrounding the bed.
‘Ah, Mrs Harding,’ said the doctor, ‘Simon, this is Mrs Harding, she and her husband are your neighbours. They’ve been keeping an eye on things at the farm for you. I must get on now. Maybe you two would like to have a little chat.’ He turned to Sue Harding, ‘Simon is suffering from memory loss, thanks to his bump on the head, maybe you could try and fill in a few blanks.’ Sue’s face dropped. Simon looked at her blankly. Why did the doctor’s request seem so unwelcome? ‘I’ll see you again tomorrow morning,’ said Dr Zigler.
After he’d left Sue Harding eased herself onto the edge of Simon’s bed.
‘Hi,’ said Simon.
‘Hi Simon, we – Geoff and I – didn’t know about the memory loss. What do you remember?’
‘Nothing, absolutely nothing. Not the accident or anything before it.’
‘Shit,’ muttered Sue.
More bad news surmised Simon. Could things get any worse? ‘Please,’ he said, ‘Tell me, whatever it is, just tell me. I need to know. I’m living in a massive blank at the moment.’
Sue drew in a huge breath. Why me, she thought. But someone was going to have to tell him. She moved onto the visitors chair next to the bed and took one of Simon’s hands in hers. Very bad news thought Simon.
‘OK, your name is … ‘
‘The doc has filled me in with name, age and address,’ he said quickly.
‘Right, OK. So … you were married Simon, last year you married Linda. Then at new year you guys drove to Austria and went on a skiing trip. Because you were both experienced skiers you went off-piste in the glacier area. You shouldn’t have been there, but you both love a bit of risk taking. There was a terrible accident and Linda lost control and fell into a crevasse, a deep crevasse. Bottomless. There was no hope of reaching her.’
Simon’s voice trembled, ‘My wife is dead?’
‘I’m so sorry Simon. You came back from Austria in pieces. Nothing would comfort you. You were still trying to get your head round it all when this accident with the bike happened. You’ve just not been with it.’
‘Have I got any kids?’
‘A son from your first marriage, but he’s in Canada.’
‘Your dad died some years ago, your mum is in a home.’
‘Geoff and I have the farm across the valley from you,’ said Sue kindly, ‘We’re going to help you as much as we can.’
September 2015 – Eight months later
Simon poured himself a second cup of coffee and stared out of the window. Harvest was over. Sue and Geoff had been great this year, helped him with the farm and filled him in on various bits of missing memory, but there were still some great big holes. ‘A memory like bloody Swiss cheese,’ he muttered. The gleaming yellow of the stubble field in the distance beckoned in the sun. He must get the plough out; start preparing to get the winter wheat sown. He sighed and shrugged off a sense of loneliness. How could he be lonely for someone he only knew by name, and from information given to him by friends. Emotions were all still a blank. He finished his coffee and went to get his coat. Might as well get the ploughing done.
It was just after lunch, the big tractor droned steadily in a nice straight line as the plough turned the moist earth into orderly furrows. A small flock of seagulls had come inland and were following the plough, scavenging for worms and any other grubs and insects. A few rooks had joined them. Simon liked the birds. Not only the feathered kind he mused to himself. He must find himself a new woman. What if he wanted to marry again? Did the law require him to wait a certain number of years because his wife’s body couldn’t be found? He had no idea. He chuckled, if he met a fit bird he’d just have to live in sin. It was at that point that the birds behind the plough suddenly became seriously active, diving and wheeling and squawking excitedly. Simon heard them and looked back. Something pink – material of some sort. The birds were going crazy. Simon stopped the tractor, hopped down and walked back to whatever it was that had them so excited. He got within a few yards and stopped dead with shock. A mess of partially shredded pink material lay exposed above the earth. Entangled in it was a skeletal human hand.
‘Jesus Christ!’ Simon just stared, eyes fixed in horror. Then he dug out his mobile phone and phoned the police.
Some weeks later – in the Foxton Gazette
Farmer With Memory Loss Ploughs Up Wife He Murdered!
Simon Blakelock told friends and family that his wife had fallen into a crevasse while skiing in Austria, but detectives have proved that no such incident took place. Blakelock murdered his wife and buried her in one of his fields. It’s believed that he would come into a large inheritance on his wife’s death. Police are looking into the deaths of his three previous wives.