Strangers in Peurton Abbot

Meera Sauver was different. Many knew that from her extreme attention to detail, others from her strange dress sense. Meera was strange, and strange comes in perfect handy when dealing with the unknown; and that is exactly what Meera Sauver dealt with: The unknown.

Driving down to Peurton Abbot that crisp Monday morning, Meera wondered momentarily if she would be dealing with the unknown this time. Usually, those who call in Paranormal Detectives have somebody in their own household causing the so-called 'Paranormal Disturbance,' but Meera had a feeling Peurton Abbot was going to be different. Something, something Meera was not too sure about, drew her to the letter perched on the end of her desk two Sunday's ago. Something strange and unknown.

Meera's hand brushed the edge of the file that was lying on the seat next to her. There was always research involved before cases were opened, and Meera had done more than her fair share of research on the strange town of Peurton Abbot. The file, more than fifty pages thick, had everything from old newspaper clippings to the names and dates of the previous Mayors and village priests.

Meera always liked being thorough.

There was something more about the little village of Peurton Abbot that was hidden way in the depths of a large forest area. The tree being one of them.

Meera had more pages of research in her file about the Mourir than any other topic about the town. The great oak had been in the village for more than one-hundred years and the legends spiralling around the tree were endless. She hoped that whatever this disturbance was, was more than just a prank cooked up by some of the older village children.

Meera approached Peurton Abbot at five minutes to eleven. The snow had fallen thickly around the village and she was glad that she had purchased snow tyres for her old VW Beetle.

Although the road was covered in snow Meera could tell that the road was cobblestone; the car jolted as it hit a small pothole hidden in the snow. In the distance stood an old gothic church, its spire towered towards the heavens and the gravestones surrounding it looked old and worn. The houses were quite small, they were close together and the shutters that hung off most of the windows were cracked and splintered.

There was not a soul on the streets.

Just before the church, in the centre of the village, stood the Mourir. Meera glanced upon the twisting branches and the thick trunk and parked her car a few feet away.

The car grumbled as Meera cut the ignition and stepped from the battered vehicle. She was stiff from the five hour drive; she stretched, arching her back and yawning. She then turned her attention back to the Mourir, her head tilted slightly to the left as she surveyed the strange markings on the base of the trunk. Lines cut deep into the bark, exposing some of the flesh, marked the circumference of the tree. They rose in lines stopping a quarter of the way up the trunk.

Meera stepped closer to the bark and pressed her thumb to the lines cut into it, the edges were rough, and the exposed flesh was slightly pink.

'You, girl! Away from there, away with you!' Meera's head snapped up from the tree. She drew her hand away and glanced over to see what she assumed to be the priest ambling down the pathway towards the Mourir. He pointed a bony finger at her, 'You heard me, away with you!'

'Forgive me, Father.' Said Meera, she retreated a little from the base of the tree, 'I meant no harm.'

The priest came from the church grounds and walked directly up to Meera, his face was scrunched as if he had smelt something particularly awful. Meera dug her hands into her pockets.

'What is your business in Peurton Abbot?' He asked, quickly.

'I have been requested, Father.' Meera replied, 'By a Mister Proie. I'm Meera Sauver, the Paranormal Detective.' Meera stuck out her hand to shake that of the priest but he retreated backwards a little.

'We'll have none of that rubbish here!' He said angrily, 'I will have none of it; I suggest you take your equipment and run along home. This isn't a place for that sort of nonsense.'

The priest turned from Meera and scurried across the town centre. Meera noticed that he veered away from Mourir before heading to one of the small shops across the way.

Nonsense, Meera thought, that's exactly what most people thought of her job choice. Unknowing to most, almost all of it was nonsense, but some things were not nonsense, they were real. It just had to be believed.

Undeterred by the priests words, Meera moved across the square, she glanced up at the 'Dormir Inn' and noted that's where she will be spending the duration of her trip. She then glanced over to a small butchers shop.

A large balding man, with an apron draped around his neck, was opening the small butchers shop across the way. His dirtied shirt had the sleeves rolled up despite the weather and his boots were dirtied with fresh mud.

Meera crossed the way towards the butchers shop; her hands were shoved in her pockets to protect them from the cold. She approached the balding man, and noticed that the smell of meat was drifting into the square.

'Excuse me; do you know where I can find a Mr Proie?'

The butcher almost jumped a mile at the sound of Meera's voice. He turned, sweat glistening on his brow and placed his hand over his heart.

'Dear me, Miss, you scared me half to death,' He said breathlessly. 'A Mr Proie you say? Oh! You must mean ol' Gerhard. Yes, of course, he lives down by the brook.'

'Thank you,' Said Meera, as the butcher gestured towards where the brook was located.

'Pardon me, Miss, but what are you doing in this small town, of all places?'

'Ah, yes, well, Gerhard happens to be my Uncle.' She lied, 'My mother lost all contact with him when she was just a girl, it was her wish before she died, that I find him.'

'I did not know Gerhard had any family,' Said the butcher, 'I suppose he doesn't like to talk about you much, but alas, here you are. If you ever happen to need a fresh lot of meat then I'm your guy. Just ask for Samson.'

'I will. Thank you.' Meera turned from Samson and made her way back across the square to her VW Beetle; she pulled out her folder and began her trudge to the house of Gerhard Proie.

Across the town there was a small pathway that headed off into the woods. The trees that surrounded the path were large and clustered tightly together, but they were not as impressive as the Mourir.

Meera pulled her coat tightly round her as she walked the dirt path to the home of Gerhard Proie. Her folder of research was clasped tightly in her hands as she stared down the sloping path towards the brook. The faint bubbling of running water could be heard as she walked. At the edge of the path, dotted in the centre of a man made clearing, was a small wooden cabin. Tree stumps littered the area around the house and the brook ran along the left of the structure.

The cabin would have looked like a typical vacation spot, if not for the rusting of the metal bars on the windows and the rotting of the front steps.

Meera glanced up at the black clouds that were gathering overhead, a storm was drawing in.

Meera tapped lightly on the door of the Proie house. She heard the grating of a chain, then the twist of a lock and finally a groan of protest as the door was swung open.

A small child, no more than ten years old stood in the doorway. She glanced up at Meera and her eyebrows furrowed momentarily before she smiled a welcoming smile. Her mouth opened to speak but she was cut off by a booming voice echoing from inside the cabin.

'Grace, get back in this house, this instant!' Meera glanced from the girl to a shadow of a man who was walking towards them. 'What have I told you, young lady?'

'Do not leave the house, I know daddy, I know.' She said quietly turning from the door and walking back inside.

'And you,' Gerhard Proie spoke, his eyes glancing over Meera. 'Who are you?'