IDEAL VILLAGE (part 1 of 10)

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To say 'I told you so' is to acknowledge the worst has already occurred...

On one particular crisp and bright October morning, Mr Cavendish could be seen walking down Ideal Village high street with a deep scowl on his face (not that anyone did see him). So far that day, he had seen fit to hand deliver three letters: one to the police station, another to the village pub, and the third and last was not so much a letter but more a note, which Mr Cavendish pinned to the door of the Parish Hall, 'For the attention of the Parish Council'. It was not a long note, and simply read: I told you so.

This obscure reference alluded to the sad and terrible news that had spread throughout Ideal Village on that very morning. Sally Salinger (who lived alone, and had a penchant for collecting teddy bears and anything to do with the colour pink) had been found dead in her home, murdered most gruesomely, her blood spattered across her collection of pink teddy bears. The villagers were in shock, quite at a loss for what to do next. It angered Mr Cavendish to think that this dreadful occurrence could have been entirely avoided.

"I don't like change," declared Mr Pankhurst, later that day, at the village's first ever emergency meeting. "And an axe murderer changes lots of things."

Mr Pankhurst was the village Mayor and Chairman of the Parish Council. His proclamation had been the only thing said at the meeting so far, and the Parish Hall, though filled with just about every villager, was eerily silent. Each of the villagers knew the full details of Sally Salinger's murder (thanks to the hard work of Becky Smalls, who had settled in Ideal Village especially to fulfil a desire to be a local gossip), and this included the grim fact that Ms Salinger had indeed been murdered by axe.

In a state of utter inaction, the entire Parish Council faced their parishioners from their chairs up on the stage. Mrs Knight and Mr Cobbler both sat to Mr Pankhurst's left. On the right was an empty chair. It was as though the Parish Councillors knew that someone should be sitting in this chair, but could not quite remember who.

Silent and ignored, Mr Cavendish sat at the back of the hall, his scowl as deep as it had been that morning. His feelings were divided when he considered Mr Pankhurst. On the one hand, Mr Cavendish pitied the Chairman of the Parish Council, for he had not looked this ashen and lost since his wife Sandra died several years earlier. On the other hand, Mr Cavendish felt imperially disappointed by the village mayor's hopelessness in the face of this emergency. The same went for his fellow councillors.

With silence ever growing in the hall, a tall and thin man stood up among the villagers. Chief Constable Harold Smith – or 'Lanky' as he was affectionately known – held in his hand a folded letter, several sheets thick. The villagers stared at Lanky as if he was their only hope. Even the three councillors sat forward in their chairs, eager for guidance.

"With permission, I'd like to speak," Lanky said, and Mr Pankhurst bade him continue. "Sally Salinger's death is a shocking tragedy. In any village, town, or city, a killer on the loose, would be a frightening prospect; but you do not need me to tell you that we, the people of Ideal Village, have extra cause to worry."

This statement induced murmurs of concern from the gathering (perhaps most of all from Berty Oaks, whose need to dispel a fear of being murdered had brought him to Ideal village in the first place).

"Do not look for rhyme or reason in an axe-murderer's motives," Lanky continued, "for you will find none. Anyone of us could be up next for the chop. Though this fiend must be found and apprehended, the immediate welfare of the villagers must take priority."

The murmurs of concern became murmurs of agreement.

Lanky lifted up the letter for all to see. "I hold in my hand details of an emergency procedure. It was delivered to the police station this very morning. It is the Plan, and it might just save us all. If the council agrees to the Plan's implementation – and I beg that it does – lives will be spared, and the axe-murderer will be exposed."

The villagers sighed a chorus of relief, and, led by the Parish Council, they begged Lanky to reveal more about the Plan.

That was when Mr Cavendish rose from his seat, left the Parish Hall, and headed for the village pub.

Thank you for reading. If you're enjoying the story so far, please remember to vote. I try my best to reply to all comments, and questions are always welcome.

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