The Dark Place - Chapter Fifty-One (Part One)

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Chapter Fifty-One

1

Martin Jones sat in silence while he tried to make sense of the tale his daughter had just told him. Even though her body had never been discovered, everybody had known Jane had been murdered as soon as the tattered and bloodied remains of her clothing were recovered from the lake two days after her disappearance.

Everyone that is but his wife and himself.

At first it was impossible to imagine the worst, she was alive and that's all there was to it. Sooner or later she would be found or she would find her way back to them.

Six months had passed before he had finally resigned himself to the fact that everyone else had been right and that they were never going to see their pretty little girl again. It was easier for him to accept, he reasoned, because she had never really been his although he had loved her no less than he had Wendy. He also had his work to hide behind. Miranda, on the other hand, fell into a deep depression, one from which she had never recovered.

In his mind Martin had pictured the horrors that had tormented poor little Jane in her last moments over a thousand times but never could he ever have imagined that Wendy and her friends had had anything to do with it.

"Daddy, say something!"

He felt the tears roll down his cheeks and he removed his glasses to wipe them away

"Daddy?"

He heard the desperation in Wendy's voice but he could not react to it. Her words had sunk in but he could not find a way to process them, a way to make them make sense. He managed to rise from his chair but instantly regretted doing so. If it had not been for the mahogany sideboard he had managed to reach out for he was sure that his legs would have given under his weight.

"It wasn't Jayne that night it... it was something else!"

He had heard his daughter's words but it was almost as if she had said nothing at all.

A cold draught seeped into the living room which caused the flames to billow and bluster in the hearth. The sounds of the storm could be heard quite loud now and he turned to the entrance of the living room just in time to see Miranda stand in the door way. She was soaked through and on her lips he saw what he could only describe as a crazed grin.

"Martin, Wendy, isn't it fantastic? Jane has come back home to us."

Dr. Jones could feel a puzzled expression takeover his features and as he looked over towards Wendy he imagined that the look on his face pretty much mirrored hers. The knitted brow, the mouth half open in an unspoken question.

"Come on Jane dear," Miranda smiled to someone in the hallway, out of his view. "Come and say hello to daddy and Wendy."

"Miranda, what are you talking about?" asked Martin, finally finding the strength to move away from the sideboard and take a couple of tentative steps towards her. "Jane is dead and you know it!"

"Come on Jane, don't be shy," Miranda continued, oblivious to her husband's words. "They didn't believe that you were still alive but I always knew it."

He took two more steps towards her. "Miranda, that's enough..." he was brought to an abrupt halt when a bolt of lightning lit up the hallway through the open front door to reveal a shadow which was not that of his wife. "Who... who's out there with you?"

"Daddy, what's going on?" called Wendy from the other side of the room.

He did not answer. He carried on walking until he sensed the first signs of their strange visitor. The smell was the first thing to hit him, the cross between damp earth and rotting meat. Next was the cold which seemed to grow in intensity the nearer he got to the door. Then as he reached the spot where his wife stood he looked past her left shoulder and saw her. The little girl had her head lowered toward the ground. Her long, tangled hair hung in front of her face, covering it like some macabre veil.

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