Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dead Rite chapter 161.21

A cat was sleeping on the step in front of the shelter, taking advantage of the sheltering walls and the sunshine trapped and reflected by the brickwork. Harold had no idea what breed it was. He could identify Sphinx, Siamese, Burmese and Manx* but that was about as far as his knowledge reached. This cat was grey, well looked after and running off. He hoped it wasn't the old lady's else it would go very hungry in future.

He unlatched the shed door and pushed it open. Inside was as close to an original Anderson shelter as was possible outside of a museum, though it was almost twice the size of the one in the National War Museum in London, and the addition of windows and a skylight made it both homely and unsuitable for future bombings. All the wood frames had been sanded and varnished and the corrugated iron roof and sides insulated and weatherproofed, though the three feet of soil over the top would keep it well insulated.

There was still a pair of bunk beds on one side and cupboards at the end, though with the exception of the old lady's smoking supplies, they were filled with gardening supplies rather than food. A high-backed overstuffed chair took the place of the other bunks, along with a kerosene lantern and a radio on a side table. It was, Harold had to admit, the finest example of a wartime shelter he'd ever seen.

“And she buried the bodies under the floor, you said?”

Jasfoup nodded. “And paved over the grave, too. She made a good job of it. It's almost a shame they have to be dug up.”

“They do?”

“The police will need to know. These are two unsolved disappearances.”

“But they'd ruin the Anderson shelter. It's a piece of history.”

“Yes. So?”

Harold drew a breath between his teeth. “Let's not mention it.”

*Though to be honest, he'd assume any cat without a tail was a Manx cat.

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