The Missing Papers: A St Andrews Adventure, chapter 20

Chapter 20

Twenty minutes later David and Darrell were back outside the café, waiting for Julian. David had the satchel containing everything they could find and the items Julian had suggested that they get for Sally on his back. Darrell had stopped to put her hat, scarf and gloves on with a thicker coat, and pick up her torch.

“Where is he?” David muttered, straining his eyes to see. Then he saw someone appear a little way up the road and look around. He paused from calling out to the person in case it wasn’t Julian, but then the flash of a torch told David that it was his friend. David took hold of Darrell’s hand and pulled her up the street, the sounds of their shoes the only noise in the quiet street.

It was not a night anyone wanted to be out; the wind was picking up and even from this far inland it was possible to hear the sounds of the waves crashing on the sand.

Julian had a satchel on his back as David and Darrell met him.

“Got everything?” Julian asked as they met him. David nodded.

“What did you get?” Darrell asked Julian, eyeing his bag.

“Just a few bits and pieces I’ve learnt to never be without,” Julian said shortly. He looked up and smiled a little at Darrell’s confused face. “I’ve got things like rope, chalk, spare torch, string and food. Now come on, we don’t want to waste any more time.”

“I assume we’re starting at the cathedral?” David asked as Julian started off that way.

Julian nodded. “That’s where the lady from the café said she saw them heading off to,” Julian said over his shoulder.

“Great, we’re going to a ruined cathedral with a haunted tower during a cold dark night,” Darrell muttered under her breath tucking her arm through David’s as they walked. David chuckled a little as they kept pace with Julian.

“Better not use the torches until necessary,” Julian said over his shoulder as they neared the ruins.

They walked briskly, towards the cathedral ruins and were just about to enter when David voiced some concern.

“I just want to get something out there before we commit to the cathedral,” he said carefully. “If the lady in the café said that she saw them heading this way, there is no guarantee that this is where Sally and Ainsworth ended up. I mean there is Abbey Street, they could have gone that way, or around the side of the cathedral towards East Sands and the coastal road.”

Julian stopped, contemplating this. He turned to face David and Darrell, eyeing both of them up carefully before he spoke.

“Which do you think is more likely?” Julian asked slowly. “I’ve got a bit of a hunch about the cathedral ruins. I think it is likely to be the place where Ainsworth would have used to contact anybody. I think there’s something here that only he knows about and that’s where he has hidden Sally.”

“All I wanted to know was whether it was a safe bet to just concentrate on the cathedral, that was all,” David said carefully. Then he paused. “What do you mean, found somewhere only he knows?”

“You think there’s a secret entrance to one of the towers somewhere don’t you Julian?” Darrell asked quietly.

Julian nodded. “I do,” he said carefully. “And that’s why I’d start with the cathedral. It’s more central, he wouldn’t have taken her too far because to keep up appearances he needed to be back to get to rugby practice.”

“I’m not saying that you haven’t raised a valid point David, but I just think it’s more likely that she’s here,” he added a moment later.

David shrugged and nodded a little. “Fair enough, we’ll try here first,” he agreed, then motioned Julian forward into the grounds of the ruins.

“Should we put our torches on do you think Julian?” Darrell asked as they stumbled over the wet grass.

“Yes, it’s probably a good idea,” Julian said carefully. “But I think we should only use one torch for now,” he added quickly before they could all turn their torches on.

“I’ve got mine,” David said quietly. He flicked it on and a strong beam of light shone down at their feet and a little way ahead of them, so they could see where they were going. Without injury, the three of them reached level ground and started off towards the back of the ruins under Julian’s lead.

Darrell shivered. “It’s creepy in here at night. I’m not sure I like it much,” she said, folding her arms across her chest as they walked to one of the remaining walls that connected the outside walls to the tower.

“What are we looking for, Julian?” she hissed a moment later.

“I think I know what he’s going to say,” David muttered under his breath.

“We’re looking for clues, things that shouldn’t be here, that show that Sally has been here, or Ainsworth, things like that,” Julian said quietly as they crept towards the wall that hid the haunted tower from their view.

“I was right, he did say clues,” David muttered.

“Just swing that torch around a little will you?” Julian asked through gritted teeth.

As they rounded the wall something glinted in the beam of the torch, something in the grass.  Julian hurried forward, telling David not to move the torch light. He lent over, his fingers reaching towards the glinting object in the grass. For a moment his fingers scrabbled in the damp grass before they closed over the object. It was cold underneath his fingers.

Standing straight again, Julian held his hand out under the beam of David’s torch, aware of Darrell moving to see what it was. He heard her gasp as she saw what it was.

“It’s Sally’s brooch!” Darrell said, her hand grabbing his arm for the third time that evening. Julian was almost sure that he would have bruises.

“She was here then!” David said grimly. “But where did she go after here?”

“What do you mean?” Julian asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I mean, where did she go? Is she in some secret room around here or did they cut through here on the way down to East Sands or somewhere similar?” David asked.

“I think she’s here,” Darrell said, quietly, taking the brooch from Julian’s hand. “That brooch was attached to her coat after she lost it on the beach, and it wouldn’t have come off unless she wanted it to this time. It was pinned quite firmly. I think she managed to take it off and drop it,” she said. Both boys looked at her in admiration.

“I think it’s a signal,” Darrell continued.

Julian nodded at her. “Right then,” he said, taking the brooch back from Darrell and pinning it to the inside of his blazer where the missing paper was still hidden. “Let’s split up and search this place. If you check St Rule’s tower David, and Darrell you check the other side of these towers. I think it’s these three back towers we need to look at.”

“And where will you look?” Darrell asked Julian.

“I’m going to check this side of these towers and that haunted tower,” Julian told them, pulling his own torch out of his pocket.

“Rather you than me,” Darrell told him, eyeing the haunted tower directing behind Julian. She pulled out her own torch and clicked it on.

“What if we find something?” David asked.

“Whistle,” Julian said, firmly. “Something we all know, the tune of God Save the Queen or something.”

David nodded and headed off towards the stand alone tower, that was St Rule’s tower,  just to the side of the two combined towers. In comparison this one looked a lot less of a ruin to the other four towers in the cathedral, one of which had crumbled altogether. David hummed softly as he headed over to the tower, using his torch to avoid the tombstones.

He started behind the tower, in the little exposed room at the base. He felt a shiver run down his spin as he flashed his torch up the grey stone to the window of the tower and whistled to himself to stop himself from getting the jitters. He backed out of the room and walked around the base of the big tower, keeping his torch flashing around, checking the ground for clues and the bulk of the tower for any hints that someone may have climbed up it. He reached the front of the tower and checked the small door that was there. It was locked. He sighed and continued around the tower again. David sighed a little again and was just about to turn and head back after flashing his torch over the ground again.

Then his torch picked out a square of white material on the floor by the locked door. He hurried forward and picked it up. Only when he had it in his hands did he see what it was; a handkerchief. That certainly hadn’t been there before. He was just about to whistle when he heard one of the others whistling.

Julian had had a motive for wanting to explore the haunted tower himself. Having once discovered a secret passage way between two layers of wall [1] he wanted to see if there wasn’t something similar to Faynights Castle. It was a long shot he knew, but Ainsworth had to have a way of getting in and out of a secret place without being spotted.

With his torch in his hand, and the rope he had brought with him, one end tired firmly around a handy tombstone and the other around his waist, Julian slipped into the crack in the wall of the haunted tower.

It didn’t take Julian long to find what he was looking for by shining his torch around the confined space.  There was a hole, big enough for a man to slip through, which headed downwards. He could feel a breeze blowing up against his hand when he lent down to check for air flow. That was good; at least if they went down the hole then they would have fresh air.

Smiling to himself and ignoring the protests from his damaged shoulder, Julian pulled himself back out of the hole. He allowed himself to stretch before whistling the tune of God Save the Queen to the others.

Darrell was first to appear. She eyed him suspiciously as she noted the rope around his waist as her torch flashed  up and down over him.

“What have you found?” she hissed at him. “I haven’t found a thing!”

Julian smiled at her as David appeared, waving something at them.

“Never mind about that right now, look what David’s got!” Julian said, pointing at their friend. Darrell turned as David reached them.

“What have you got there?” Julian asked, reaching for it.  David explained about finding it at the bottom of the tower after he had walked around.

“It’s neither of yours is it?” he added meaningfully to Darrell and Julian. Both shook their heads.

“Then I suspect it came from the tower, when I shined the torch up it to see if there was evidence of climbing,” David said carefully. “I think there is a way up to that tower and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Sally was up there and saw my torch light.”

“I think you could be right,” Julian said, frowning.

“Is it really that simple?” Darrell asked, surprised.

“Sometimes, yes,” Julian said. “Now I’ve got something to show both of you!” He smiled a little and stepped out of the way, showing them the hole into the haunted tower.

“All I see is a hole,” Darrell complained, flashing her torch at him again.

“What did you find?” David asked.

“Inside the tower, through that hole, is another hole, one that I think leads to a passage way, down under the cathedral. I think it leads to St Rule’s tower,” Julian said, his eyes shining. “There’s a smooth entrance into the hole and I think it’s been used frequently. Do you want to try?” he asked them.

“If it helps us find Sally, I’m all for it,” Darrell said, stamping her feet to keep warm.  David nodded in agreement.

“Did you find any rope?” Julian asked them.

“Yes, but found is probably the wrong word,” David said, pulling the satchel off his back and routing around in it after handing Darrell the handkerchief. “I knocked on the grounds keeper’s door on the way out and asked if he had any. Handed it over no problem, really good nylon rope it is as well,” David said pulling out the bundle of rope. Julian took it.

“Smashing,” he said with a chuckle. “Then we can use this rope to help us in and out of the hole and the other to keep us all together in the passage.”

Julian unwound the rope he was using from his waist.

“Better bring the bags with us,” he added as he moved to slide back into the hole. “Chuck me my bag will you David?” he called.

David did as he was told, before helping Darrell through the hole, then followed the other two.

“One torch at a time I think,” Julian said, sitting on the edge of the hole. “I’ve had a quick look and it’s not too far down. When I’m down, chuck my torch, bag and the end of the rope down after me before you follow. Darrell in the middle I think, just to be on the safe side.”

David and Darrell smirked at each other.

“Anyone would think that he had done this before,” Darrell said to David.

“They would indeed wouldn’t they,” David said with a smirk. Julian rolled his eyes at them before sliding down the hole.

It took a few seconds but the darkness made it seem longer. Finally his feet touched the floor as the slide of sand stopped. Over the years there must have been a build-up of sand that had blown in from the beach making a pretty hefty sandbank. Julian thought that it must cover a rock fall to be so sturdy.

“All right, send the torch down,” he called softly.  Darrell turned the torch on and sent it down beam first so Julian could see it coming. Then the bag followed when he called.

Finally all three of them were in the passage, the rope hanging over the sandbank just to aid their ascent back into the world.

They spent a moment tying the other rope around their wrists so they could keep together.
“Now we’re down here, I think we’re going to need two torches,” Julian said. “David if you shine yours down at our feet and I shine mine up at the ceiling, we should have plenty of light to keep us going.”

David did as he was asked and they started off, Julian telling the others what he could see ahead of him so they knew what was coming. Not long after they were down in the passage they hit a sharp right.

“Towards the towers,” Darrell said in a hushed voice. “Oh I don’t like it very much. This whole thing gives me the shivers. You can just imagine the old monks fleeing down here to avoid the king’s men when the monasteries were dissolved.”

“Try not to think about it,” David muttered as Julian slowed down.

“There’s a door ahead,” Julian whispered as Darrell bumped into him.

“Do you think we’re under St Rule’s tower?” David hissed back.

“I think we might be,” Julian said quietly. “Can one of you pass me my penknife? It should be in one of the front pockets of my satchel.”

His penknife was duly passed to him and Julian carefully put it in his pocket.

“Now, absolute silence,” Julian whispered. “I’m going to open the door. David put your torch out will you? I’m going to put my torch out as well.” There was no sound apart from both of the torches clicking off.

[1] See Five have a wonderful time

This entry was posted in Fan fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Missing Papers: A St Andrews Adventure, chapter 20

  1. Francis says:

    The adventure really takes off – roll on the next episode!


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