John paused on the wooden bridge and looked down at the stream below. The light reflected beautifully back off the water, the ripples dancing in the spring sunshine. Leaning on the sun bleached wooden rail John drank in the freshness of the air. On first moving to the place he had been amazed by the lack of pollution. In contrast to London the only scents which filled his lungs where those of new mown hay and wild roses which lined the banks of the stream. The place was paradise, well as close to that biblical state as one can achieve on earth.
He turned to see his nearest neighbour, Jenny Thomas, hand in hand with Maria, her youngest child.
“Oh good morning Jenny and hello to you Maria” John said a warm smile suffusing his face. “I was just thinking how lucky I am to live in this beautiful village. I wouldn’t go back to the city now whatever money the head hunters offered me. 0 stress or mega bucks and an early grave”.
“Yes it is a no brainer” Jenny replied, her smile matching that of John’s. Jenny’s eyes strayed to the headline of the Daily Telegraph held in John’s right hand,
“Police are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of 14-year-old Gemma Lewis who has been missing for 5 days”.
“Its shocking. Her poor parents must be frantic” Jenny said tightening her grip on Maria’s hand.
“They should bring back hanging for kiddy fiddlers” John said, “the country’s been going to the dogs ever since the 60’s, that’s why I moved out here, its still England not like London which is full of bloody foreigners. I don’t recognise the country I grew up in Jenny”.
Jenny shifted uncomfortably. “One of my closest friends is Jewish”.
“Oh the Jews are integrated. It’s the others I’m talking about. We take in the world’s flotsam and jetsum instead of looking after our own people”.
“I must be going. I’m taking Maria to Sunday School and I’d better get a move on as it starts in 5 minutes”.
“Have a lovely time in Sunday School” John said pulling a funny face at Maria. The child stuck out her tongue and smiled at him.
Jenny frowned at her daughter. “Don’t stick out your tongue like that darling it isn’t nice”.
Maria’s face fell.
“Bye Jenny, bye Maria”.
John watched as the disconsolate child trailed off, dragging her feet in the wake of her mother. “Poor kid, fancy having to be stuck in a boring old church on a day like this” John thought.
Prior to opening his front door John paused to savour the scent of his honey suckle. “Wonderful” he said out loud burying his nose in the fragrant blooms.
Entering the house John locked and bolted the door behind him. Removing his shoes he padded in stockened feet up the oak staircase. Reaching the top John turned right entering the large guest bedroom.
“Hello Gemma” he said to the girl who lay tied and gagged on the large four poster.