97. Intermission

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October 2009

The book stopped.

Just... ended. Steve flicked through the rest of the pages, but they were blank, unruffled, pristine. Not another word written after August 1970.

Ha hadn't been too worried about Hannah. Not when Dennis was revealed to not be who he said he was. Not when Frank Heath arrived and guns were being pointed. Not even when they dragged her from the house and into the fields surrounding. She'd lived to write about it, because the diary was in her handwriting.

Wasn't it?

He lifted the book to the window for better light, trying to determine if it was Hannah's handwriting. He didn't have any of the earlier books to hand to compare it to. It was different from those, though. Her earlier diaries - with the exception of 1960 - were written with long, curved, bouncy letters. Impeccably neat and organised. Later diaries became more sketchy. There were longer periods of nothing written. Sometimes the entries were just notes, single paragraphs or lines, occasionally almost bullet pointed.

Could this have been written by someone else? Surely not. It was still in first person.

The main reason Steve hadn't been too anxious for Hannah though, all through, was the fact he knew, beyond a doubt, that Hannah didn't die in the 1960s. And she didn't die in 1970, because she lived to be old and a bit crazy, hoarding rubbish and all sorts in a tiny house in Clapham, South London.

The house was empty now. Blitzed. It'd filled several industrial sized skips and hundreds of refuse sacks. Even the carpets from the floors had to be taken up. Years of being trapped under mountains of trash and rubbish had caused them to rot.

But the house hadn't contained just worthless garbage and rubbish.

He'd found the box on the second day. Wooden, with a hinged lid, cracked and broken at one side. There had been a lock, but that was long gone. Just the mark on the wood, lighter toned and unvarnished to indicate what had once been there. He'd not known what the box was when he found it. He'd realised when he'd started reading the books, the diaries and journals, contained wherein.

Annoyed, he closed the 1970 diary, a heavy brown fabric covered tome, and reached for the phone in the back pocket of his trousers.

He'd resisted this so far. He hadn't wanted to google Hannah. It would have spoiled the story, and anyway, several things he had come across had been contradicted by the diaries. He'd looked up Minnie a bit. Searched for pictures of her when Hannah discovered she'd been topless modelling for magazines, but the photos online were disappointing. Really soft compared what you got nowadays. He'd idly looked up Minnie and John together too. More on them, but not really what you'd call lots.

He tapped his finger on the side, waiting. It took a good couple of minutes to load.

Hannah West, about 60,200,000 results.

Facebook pages for people called Hannah West. Linked in pages. An author called Hannah West that writes young adult fantasy novels. Not much about Steve's Hannah West. Even under images. There was a couple of photos of her and Ricky West in the early sixties further down.

Trying again, he typed in Hannah James. That might be too common a name as well.

The browser on his small phone screen stalled.

Sorry, the server stopped responding to your request. Connect to WiFi and try again...

Steve huffed and moved closer to the window, holding the phone aloft, pressing refresh repeatedly. The middle of London and no phone signal.

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