1st Prize: £150.00 Jan Stewart
2nd Prize: £100.00 Steve Adams
3rd Prize: £75.00 Tracy Bell
by Jan Stewart
Docherty raised his face to the dying sun. It was a relief to be out of the car. He glanced around to get his bearings. They had parked the cars in a dusty side-road but it wasn’t familiar to him. Luckily, he’d always had a good ability to remember directions, he just had to relax and tune in. His companions were getting restless, he could feel their intensity and agitation, they were keen to get this over and done with. Docherty was content to just enjoy the sunset and let the fading light dance on his skin. Simple pleasures.
“This way.” He nodded and started walking. The scenery changed as they traipsed down the track and around the corner, the narrow track opened up to fields of vibrant sunflowers, dappled light teasing the prominent faces as they turned to follow the sun. Yellow and orange light cast a rosy glow screened by vibrant green leaves. It was mesmerizing but also a problem. These sunflowers hadn’t been there before.
Docherty sighed and scratched his head. The expectations on him weighed heavily, he was supposed to tell them where to go but, as he looked around, just field after field of glorious sunflowers, his former landscape markers were long gone and it had been so many years ago. Time had whittled away at his memories.
“Docherty, tell me you know where we start looking.” The voice was low and insistent.
He gulped nervously. He really wanted to help but, his memory was hazy. So much change in thirty years. This was a distant memory. He was an old man now, at least his body was. He felt the ravages of time gnawing away at his joints. They creaked and ached incessantly. He struggled to draw breath as a wave of regret welled up inside of him. He felt defeated but his brain screamed at him to remember. He couldn’t fail. He just couldn’t. This was his one chance.
Docherty walked to the edges of the field, turning one way and then the other. There had to be something that would trigger his memory and then as he turned to look behind him, peeping up through the tall sunflowers that acted as a screen, a derelict old stone building- no roof, only fragments of walls. It was where he had stashed the equipment, all those years ago. He beckoned for them to follow him and stumbling over the rough trail, led them to the spot where he had stood and planned and plotted, all those years ago. With the ruins behind him, he pointed diagonally to his right. “Fifty paces that way.”
He lit a cigarette with shaking hands, and watched them work furiously, pulling frantically at the plants and digging at the roots. They covered a wide area, he could sense their desperation in the fading light. Ten officers frantically searching for the bones of Marcie Peterson. A mere child when he had murdered her. She had been truly beautiful, her innocence captured forever as the ground swallowed her whole. He was dying; cancer had invaded every cell and only had a matter of weeks left. It was time to tell his secrets and give some peace to the girl. He owed her that.