Hunt, Hunted.

Murder, Murdered.


Michael McBride

Published in 2008 by

Copyright © Text Michael McBride

First Edition

The author asserts the moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

This publication is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is entirely coincidental.

Published by

January 2007

Dev Coulding wiped the final beads of rain from his furrowed brow and threw the hankie down on the passenger seat. One riddle leading to another, but he had to get to the final solution before the others did or he’d be the butt of their jokes again. The car in motion he sped off through Townhill onto the back roads of West Fife towards Saline. Full beams tracking the road ahead, hedgerows and fencing snaked along the horizon. A treasure hunt, for fun, but tonight he had a mission. Alone, lonely but desperate to keep in with his mates, the only thing he had left.

With every turn he is faced a new piece of sodden road, in a state of disrepair, damaged with hard standing loosened by a tractor’s unapologetic movement during the agricultural close season. More hedgerows, not really stock fencing as holes gaped through, and it would be likely a lamb or 2 had been lost in previous times. But the sheep would be wallowing in the hollows away from the wind and rain tonight, not looking for the greener grass across the track.

Lights up ahead, police vehicles force a quick dropping down of gears and Dev sits pushing the car along in third, while the rain covered country coppers wave him down.

He hoped they hadn’t been watching his erratic headlights dipping and flowing through the bends before, as the officer approached.

‘Good evening sir, can I ask where you are heading off to?’

‘Just out for a drive’

‘On a night like this?’

Dev realized he would be better off telling the embarrassing truth.

‘I’m on a treasure hunt – it’s a game which me and the mates have set up’

‘A Treasure hunt?’

‘You know, you get clues and go looking for the next one’

The policeman wiped some rain from the front of his cagoule and bent over towards the window.

‘OK, whatever. Listen, a wee lass went missing a few nights ago. Do you recognise her?’

The photograph was fairly small, no bigger than a passport image, and in the patchy torchlight it could have been anyone.

‘No, I don’t think so’

Dev looked again at the girl. She could only have been in her early teens, but it was so hard to tell. Blond hair. Green or blue eyes. A school uniform gave it away. Must have been Queen Anne's High, he recognised it from the maroon and black tie.

‘OK, but if you do, let us know. Her parents are distraught’

Window wound back up in his early 90’s Escort. He really needed to get a new vehicle, but it was difficult. Money didn’t always come easily, and truth be known, if the motor packed in he probably wouldn’t be in a position to replace it.

Back on track the police lights faded away behind the trees and knolls as the road turned towards Steelend. Still another 6 or 7 miles to get the next clue.

The shepherd won’t go out without his stick;

Ask what’s missing

Another clue should

Lead you to the correct wood’

Dev knew the answer. The Shepherds Crook leads him to the Crook of Devon, and if the Shepherd won’t go out – he’ll stay in.

The Crook Inn.

The car was doing 60 again across the central lines of the unmarked roads leading up past Knockhill, where the racing of vehicles is allowed. Can’t and won’t fail this time. Dev needed and would get to the end of tonight’s enigma and return to the others.

His mate, Bob, and his wife Marie would be scooting around North Queensferry and Rosyth; Spiv and his latest flame would be checking out clues along by Crossgates; and Tom and Emma would have various clues leading them west to Cairneyhill and Oakley.

Aidrian and Monica would be walking the streets of Dunfermline as their part of the challenge – and they would all meet up in the Seven Kings to enjoy the craic and to share the adventure they had just endured.

The Powmill Milk Bar lay in darkness, as the digital clock showed 7.57pm. The road was wide and empty as Dev hit 70mph past the Rumbling Bridge turn off, and only seconds now before the Crook would be in sight. Nearly 8pm. Get the last part of the clue, out of the pub by 8pm, and off to find the last piece of the puzzle. Back to the pub for 8.30 at the latest and see if he’s managed to get back first… or anywhere but last. Always more fun to hear about the others trials and tribulations when you weren’t in last place.

Down to 50 in the 30 zone, and quickly reducing speed as the pub appeared on the left. Car parking to the rear, but Dev parked at the door, and got out, car still in gear.

The Crook Inn lay fairly empty and deathly quiet. A grey faced woman sat on a bar stool behind the bar, a dark, but graying man at her side, chatting to a couple at the bar. All heads turned when the door opened.

‘I’m looking to find out what’s missing’, Dev burst out, desperate to get out of here as quickly as possible. All faces turned to him, scrutinizing his manner.

‘What did you say?’ the broad Scots tone was harsher than expected from the barman.

‘I believe that you have something missing here. Can you tell me what it is?’

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