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Murder on the Tor


Glastonbury Tor

Sunlight bathed the ruined tower in gold. Libby leaned on a stile at the base of Glastonbury Tor, looking up at the summit far above, Bear by her side. The huge sheepdog panted, tongue lolling, keen to begin their favourite climb. ‘Wait, Bear.’ Libby’s fingers sank into coarse, thick fur round the dog’s neck as, mesmerised, she watched the first pearly wisps of mist rise, shift and coalesce. Soon, a heavy grey blanket cloaked the hill, blotting out the tower on the summit and the sun’s rays.

She loved to walk on the Tor in the early morning. Her first visit had been years ago, when she’d spent a holiday in Exham on Sea with Trevor, her late husbandand the children, years before Trevor’s early death. The whole family had loved the windy climb to the top to see Somerset spread below.

Those had been happy days, before Trevor became so difficult and controlling.

Bear barked, shattering the silence. He slid from under Libby’s hand and bounded up the slope, mouth wide, paws muffled on the grass. Libby ran, breath rasping, legs trembling with effort. ‘Come back,’ she called, but the dog disappeared into the mist without a backward glance. Libby ran a few more steps and stopped to breathe, suddenly reluctant to follow.

What was that? A single howl drifted out from the cloud. Libby took a step into the damp mass and the mist closed in, chilling her lungs. Strands of wet hair clung to her cheeks, but she brushed them aside and climbed higher, isolated and blind, sliding on the grass. Her feet stumbled on to a solid path and she followed the easier track, expecting every moment to break through the mist. Time and distance shifted, until she had no idea how long she’d been walking.

Just as she began to think she’d be stuck in the white wilderness all day, she burst through a swirl of damp cotton wool cloud into a blaze of light. She blinked, blinded by the sudden glare, and the tense knot in her stomach unwound. Glorious sunshine bathed the top of the Tor, warm on her face. In the brilliant morning light, St Michael’s Tower stood out, sharp against a blue sky. In a burst of relief, energised, legs no longer tired, Libby followed a series of steps cut into the hill, climbing fast. ‘Bear? Where are you?’ Her voice carried, thin and high in the morning air, but the dog was out of sight.

Libby sank onto a wooden bench, watching the mist below. A sound at her back brought her to her feet, nerves jangling. A small girl, hair a tangled mass of black curls, stared, motionless, eyes wide, clutching a furry brown toy monkey. Libby smiled. ‘Hello. You made me jump.’ The child snuggled a cheek into the monkey’s fur. Libby tried again. ‘Is Mummy here?’ The girl shook her head. ‘Daddy?’ The round eyes slid away from Libby’s face. ‘You’re not alone, are you?’ The child stuck a thumb in her mouth and sucked.