More from Hidden Truths, a psychological thriller dealing with a recent incident and flashbacks of a childhood event. As a father and his daughter launch seperate investigations into what really happened, the daughter begins to suspect that someone is following her. The events that follow trigger off flashbacks of a past event in her early childhood. Meanwhile, the father is unaware that he, too, is being watched. Read opening lines in the father’s viewpoint.
The story is told from two perspectives – father and daughter. The following material is from the viewpoint of the daughter.
She found a spot at the other side of the sea front café and remained there until eight, lost in the mystery of the sea and the evening heat and the taste of the salty air. When her watch bleeped on the hour, she got up and started back towards the cliff path, before the sun set and darkness fell.
This was always the worst bit, the walk to the top on her own that lasted fifteen minutes. Unless she approached the path via the promenade road or went into town and took the steep grassy climb by the roundabout – equally secluded – there was no other way up to the cottage.
The sun had begun to settle over the horizon, its pink grapefruit glow blending with the sea. In the distance, a group of youths milled around the entrance to the amusement arcade while a family with a couple of young daughters strolled past the town’s central square, the mother and one of the girls holding hands. An elderly couple came out of a restaurant and wandered towards the main hotel on the promenade. Stung by nostalgia, she hurried on.
She walked as fast as she could, panting from the path’s steep gradient that got worse with every footstep she took, the closeness in the air making her hot and light headed. She had to stop several times to get her breath back. The stillness was thickening, the beginning of dusk making the path ahead look darker. The quietness had taken on an oppressive quality of its own, like a shadow lurking nearby, watching her make her way up the cliff.
She felt a shudder pass through her and paused to look back a couple of times. Nothing. The taut stillness kept thickening, reminding her of a swarm of bees about to attack.
The shore below appeared deserted. She attempted to run the rest of the trail, the oceanic roar of blood in her head drowning out the soft movement of the tide below, fresh dusk shadows forming ahead on the pathway.
Summer storms. Dark skies in the middle of the day. Rain blowing in gales across fields, wind tearing at fences and telegraph poles. Police officers and search parties with torches, trudging through the bleak countryside in Wellington boots, searching for Katie.
Pushing aside memories of that other summer twenty-three years ago, she ran towards the lane of cottages, visible now in the fading daylight, fighting against the breathlessness and the humid heat, until a stitch in her side finally forced her to stop by a bench near the top. She slowed the tempo to brisk waking pace, her shins and thighs aching from the exertion, specs of light dancing before her eyes from the continuing mugginess.
Her unease kept growing. Thunderstorms were on their way, she knew. A whole barrage of them. Another summer of storms, like those summer storms twenty-three years ago when Katie disappeared. Normally dismissive of claims about senses of foreboding, she shivered and glanced back down the path. Nothing.
With all the strength she could muster, she strode on towards the lane of cottages, wincing from the stitch in her side and the cramp in her leg muscles. Five minutes later, she arrived back at the cottage, out of breath. From the front gate, she could see that the light she’d left on in the hallway earlier was still on. A promising sign.
The gate scraped against the pavement when she opened it and she made her way across the unkempt stretch of grass in the centre of the garden to the front door. Suddenly, she heard a rustle of movement nearby.
‘Who’s there?’ Silence.
She fumbled around for her keys, her hands shaking as more taunt stillness pressed in, bringing with it images of shadows waiting in the lane. For a second or two, she thought she heard footsteps a few yards away.
Then, the sounds stopped and the stillness returned. Thrusting the key in the lock, she pushed the front door open and ran into the hallway without glancing round, shutting the door with a slam. She put the chain over the lock.
She tiptoed upstairs, across the landing in the dusk twilight, and perching low, crept towards the window where she peered out at the lane. Nothing. There were no signs of movement or everything suspicious, only the cliff tops and the dwindling evening light.