Monday, March 4, 2013

Dead Rite chapter 138.14

“It is?” Right. Sorry.” At least Peters had the temerity to look sheepish as he stood. “I'll get out there, shall I? Can't leave my camping gear to get nicked.”

“Can't leave the place in a mess. We'd have to fine ourselves for littering.” White followed him out of the confines of the trees. Now that the dust had settled, it was clear just how badly the cairn was damaged. One of the supports had been pushed to an angle that looked at least unsafe if not downright dangerous, and its movement had allowed the lintel to drop on one side and cause a partial collapse of the roof. White could only imagine what the falling roof had done to the inside of the burial chamber. “Oh dear.”

“You!” A lady in her fifties carrying the sort of shoulder-height pole walkers tend to use and dragging an ancient golden Labrador on an extendible lead hailed him. “Is this your doing?”

“Of course not. We--”

“Are these your camping thinks?”

“Yes, but--”

“Do you know how long this cairn has been here? Hmm? Do you?”

“Umm. Five thousand years?”

“Five thou-- yes, that's right. And you destroy it in an afternoon.”

“It wasn't us. We were just having a cup of tea when it happened.”

“It wasn't us, it was a bigger boy who ran away. Do you know how many times I've heard that story? Hmm?”

“No, Madam, but--”

“I'm going to call the police.” She pulled an ancient mobile out of the pocket of her fleece jacket. “They'll arrest you and I shall ask for life sentences for this wanton vandalism.”

“But madam, we are--”

“Don't give me your protestations, young man.”

White paused, unsure whether to be pleased or insulted by the 'young man'. He reached for the phone to call the station. “If I could just borrow--”

She shrieked. “Help! I'm being assaulted.”

Peters held out his warrant card. “We are the police, Madam. We are in pursuit of a suspect. Please may we use your phone?”

“You're the police?” She looked from Peters to White and back. “You should have said so.” She gave Peters her phone.

He pressed a few buttons, shook it and showed it to White. “It's dead, too.”

The lady frowned. “It can't be. I just took it off charge.”

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