I decided I was going to go into the village and see what I could find out. My soi-disant employer seemed to think the villagers in Midnight Falls were in on whatever had happened to her husband but I wanted to form my own impressions. I didn’t dismiss what she had said, but it wasn’t hard to imagine the ease with which an incomer could get carried away on a tidal wave of paranoia. I wondered too if there was any way I could check whether or not she had reported him missing. Assume that everyone is at best mistaken, or at worst lying and Bob will invariably not turn out to be your uncle. The facts were the first casualties when emotions ran high, or when people had axes to grind deep down into the meat of the thing.
I shoved my mobile into the pocket of the full length fake fur coat that I was rather embarrassingly keen on, not least because of the fact that it kept out all forms of cold, natural and not. I put on the matching Russian style hat, even though it was slightly too small and therefore a bit of a squeeze for my clearly gargantuan cranium. Why did they only ever make hats in stupid pin-head size? The combination made me feel insulated from the world and ready for just about anything. Odd how something as superficial as clothes can alter your mood, or maybe that should just be stupid.
I checked my watch: half past nine. What the hell was I going to find out and from whom at this ungodly hour? Truth was, I was looking forward to stretching my legs, have a bit of a nose around the area, and maybe even get some fresh air for a change. The only exposed bit of me – my face – tingled with the extreme cold and my breath expired without protest into the morning air. The sky was vast, menacing, with billowing clouds boiling across it from the west, threatening a fate worse than rain. I’d never seen anything so dramatic: to the east shone an unearthly light, as the end of the world might look taunting you with the sheer beauty of it all just before you died.
I walked slowly down the garden path and turned to look at the house. Victorian definitely, with modern add ons for whatever Godforsaken reason had seemed good at the time. But underneath the veneer of change and bad taste imposed over the years, there was still something undeniably disturbing about the house. The colour for one thing, that dark red colour that screamed peeled flesh and raw wounds. There was also a sense of waiting, as though – stupid thought – the house was drawing breath before unleashing whatever was wrong with it, like pus from an ulcerous wound. Of course I didn’t have any proof there was something wrong with it.