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Here is my story:
Nita loved the smell as she walked in the church, the old wood from the pews reeked from years and years of dust hidden by the polish loving rubbed in by the gnarled hands of the ladies who took pride in making the very uncomfortable seats at least a pleasure to look at.
The aisle adorned with the autumnal leaves intertwined with vines of ivy enhancing added floral touches to the aroma.
The traditional exhibits were on display, corn dollies, sheaves of wheat, flowers and berries artfully arranged, a centrepiece of a wheatsheaf loaf, only edible for the poor church mice who would nibble at it every now and again.
Sunlight sparkled through the large stained-glass window, the smaller fan lights reflecting the prisms of colour that lit up the eaves of the church, dust motes danced inbetween the wooden rafters. She would certainly miss these moments.
The secret she’d been hugging to herself over the last few months was approaching D-Day. The day she left this life behind her for her true calling. No longer would she be Nita, the daughter of the vicar and his wife, the spinster daughter, although these days 33 wasn’t that old not to be married – or rather ‘in a relationship’ whether it was ‘complicated’ or not. She was counting the days down until she gained her freedom. Not the little country mouse that wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose,’ not the dutiful daughter who made the tea, baked the cakes and helped her parents out in their religious calling.
It helped that her parents had no idea what a laptop was let alone what she did on it every spare moment. She worked late in to the night most evenings, another life, another calling, freedom beckoned her. Would she miss her old life? No. Would she miss her parents? Yes and no. She’d miss their love but not their restrictions. She’d let them know she was safe a few months down the line.
Nita walked out of the church, through the brass-studded oak door, up the crazed pathway with gravestones either side of her, she lingered under the lych gate, just for a moment, shrugging off the doubt and that tiny voice she thought she heard calling her name.
There was another voice calling her, louder this time. She couldn’t ignore it as she stopped herself from running home, walking sedately as befitted her character.
Tim and Catherine clung together. There had been no sign of Nita for three weeks now. Tim tried to carry on with his duties but the powers that be made him take sick leave. Catherine’s grey hairs had now turned pure white making her look 20 years older than her actual age of 50.
The police had no leads, there were no clues. Nita’s bedroom was tidy, as neat as nine-pins, nothing disturbed, nothing missing. Her clothes were still hanging in an orderly fashion in her wardrobe, other items neatly folded and pressed in her drawers. No diary, no notes, no letters. As far as anybody knew she had no friends, nowhere to go, she’d made no phone calls from the landline in the house and she didn’t have a mobile phone.
That is where everybody was wrong. Nita did have clothes with her. She did have her mobile phone with her along with her laptop that nobody seemed to know about.
The private detective had used his contacts and traced her last steps. Frank travelled to the next county and the one beyond that and the ones adjacent to those, following good leads, false leads, hopes and let-downs. The sightings were of a different girl but his instincts were now in play. He was sure he was on to something.
Mark glanced across at his girlfriend. Yes, she was just what his boss wanted. Naïve and gullible, untouched, unsullied, hard-working. He appreciated her figure as she bent to wipe the table down after the last customer left his tiny café. One more week he had to enjoy her laughter, her innocence and then it would be time. It was such a shame but that was the price he paid. To keep his own daughter safe, he’d made a pact with the devil. Only this devil was a human. A nasty piece of work who only harvested the best. He trawled the internet, social media and all sorts of places seeking out his prey, vulnerable victims. He didn’t stop at women, he would take men, young boys, all sorts.
He was a hedonist, a psychopath, a cruel and sadistic man always adding to his crop but only ever at harvest time. Mark groomed them by making them feel safe, secure in their new life, an opportunity to take them away from their boring, dull lives. Then he passed them on, drugging them before transporting them to their new surroundings. Only occasionally did his own conscience trouble him then he looked at his own daughter safe and sound and coddled in his love. His one mistake, when she was only a few days old, had cost him and would cost him until the end of his days.
Nita startled as something banged against the café’s window. She looked up seeing a man loitering on outside on the pavement, peering in through the steamed-up panes. He opened the door, the bell tinkling prettily announcing his arrival. He ordered tea and a bacon roll looking deep into her eyes as she wrote his order on her pad.
Smiling at him she scurried away to prepare his drink and food. Mark hissed at her, unusual for him, hurry up we close in 20 minutes. She shrank back from his tone, usually he was kindness itself.
Frank checked his phone, the picture of the girl he was seeking had the same bone structure as his waitress. His gut was right. He’d found her. Now came the hard part, persuading her she was in danger and she needed to leave with him.
Word count: 1000 FCA