This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 830 words.
The girl wasn’t moving, and Phil was concerned that they had given her too much sedative. As he unfolded the stretcher, Rodney was going through her pockets. Finding her phone, he turned and flung it as hard as he could, across the driveway, to the opposite side. It landed out of sight, close to a large tree. Phil put the stretcher next to her, and they rolled her over onto it. Rod took the pillowcase from a pocket in his overalls, and slipped it over her head. Then he picked up the school bag, and hung it around his body, before going back to get the dart from where it had fallen onto the ground. He placed the crossbow and dart between the girl’s legs, and nodded at Phil. “Ready? Let’s go”.
Despite her size, the girl didn’t feel too heavy on the stretcher. Two strong men made light work of carrying her back to the car, and they were there in no time. Phil was surprised at how normal it felt, as if they did it all the time. He had calmed down a lot, losing all of that previous panic. Once the dart had hit the girl, there was no going back. And that had made him feel much better, finally committed to what they had done. At the car, Rod wrapped some of the strong tape around her shoes, pinning her legs together so she couldn’t kick out if she woke up. Then he did the same with her hands, moving them behind her back before securing them. When he was happy with his preparations, they lifted her from the stretcher into the car, making sure to lay her on her side, so she couldn’t choke or suffocate. Rod placed the crossbow and dart to the side of her, then wedged the school bag behind her, to keep her in position.
As Rod went to close the lid of the boot, Phil reached in. He felt uncomfortable that he could see up her skirt, and pulled it down to cover her up. Rod smiled and shook his head. “She won’t know any different, mate. She’s out of it”. As the lid slammed, Rod handed the keys over. “You drive. Go slowly, and stop as you reach the tarmac road”. Rod reached inside the back, and took out the lawn rake. As Phil crept the car forward in low gear, his friend walked backwards behind it, moving the rake back and forth. You had to give him credit for thinking about that. No tyre tracks, and any possible footprints erased. Once the car was on the proper road, Rod jumped back in, all smiles. He clapped his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Well, we did it. And it went without a hitch”.
Phil drove back to his flat before handing the keys back. Rod slipped into the driver’s seat, looking incredibly relaxed. “Now don’t forget. Tomorrow, you go to the house as normal, intending to clean the windows. Act calm, act surprised if they say anything, OK? Don’t overthink it, leave the thinking to me”. Inside the flat, Phil opened a can of beer and switched on the TV. He changed the channel to rolling news, and waited.
George checked on the horse before he left work. It took him almost an hour to walk home from the Calder house, but he didn’t mind. It was a good job, and he was left alone to do it. Wandering up the driveway that afternoon, he enjoyed gazing at the trees lining it. There was no chance he would notice a mobile phone lying next to one of them.
When Marjorie wasn’t home by five, Marta telephoned the taxi company. They called the driver on the radio, and confirmed that she had been dropped off by the gate as usual, at her own request. So Marta rang Marjorie’s phone, and after six rings, it went to answerphone. She left a message, asking where she was, and what she was doing. Twenty minutes later, she decided to walk around the house and grounds. Maybe the girl was in the stables, or hanging around by the pool? Could she have crept up to her room without being noticed? Marjorie’s room was empty, and she wasn’t in any of the bathrooms, or other rooms in the house. The horse was in its pen in the stables, and the pool area was deserted too. Marta was concerned, mainly because that had never happened before. The girl always came into the kitchen after school to get a snack. Before she ever did anything else, that was a routine she never changed. She phoned George’s mobile. He sounded a little out of breath, still walking home. No, he hadn’t seen Marjorie. He had settled Prince, then closed up and left for home as usual.
Marta checked the clock in the hall. It was almost six.
She dialled the emergency number, and asked for the police.