It was only a very small article, squished down the bottom of the page of forlorn farewells.
Wren, Lily Grace
Younger sister of Mary
Gone to join her beloved parents.
She will be missed, gone long before her time.
We will avenge your death, angel.
Few people read the article, no bigger than a postage stamp. Very few reached the bottom line. Those who did did not think as they read. The line went unnoticed. But for one.
Mary Wren sat, the second hand newspaper on her lap, her tears turning the print to splotchy pools on the page. She traced her finger over the little clump of words.
'I will avenge you, angel,' she breathed.
She bent slowly down. Her lips brushed the cheap black ink and newsprint. She would not forget.
He had gone missing on the 24th of May, a small boy by the name of Jack. He had been playing at a beach called Shell Bay, and had gone wandering off along the beach collecting shells and playing jump the waves, and had never been seen again.
It was baffling. The stretch of coast could be dangerous in rough weather, an expert informed Jack's distraught parents, but it had been flat calm, broad daylight and plenty of people. It was, quite frankly, unexplainable.
"Have people gone missing before?" Jack's father asked.
The expert hesitated, then nodded. "There have been some... mysterious disappearances," he said. "From my guess we've been having kids going missing on this beach ever since the Shell Bay mystery."
"The Shell Bay mystery?"
"Years ago… let's see, about ten, some kids on a school field trip went missing. Bright sunny day and all. The teacher had run off to organise a pick up, leaving the nanny of one of the children in charge, but something happened, a confusement, anyway the nanny ended up just taking home her own child by mistake thinking the teacher was there, and when the teacher got back all the children were gone. All the detectives ever found were some footprints in the sand. They weren't kidnapped. Just went missing."
"l do remember that now," said Jack's father. "A shocking affair, and the poor families never knew what happened to their children."
"That's right. I wonder if it could have anything to do with your son's disappearance?"
"Could well do. Or was it a kidnap?"
"Can't tell. We just don't know."
BREAKING NEWS: Mysterious Plane Crash on Saturday.
Possibly the most mysterious incident ever to happen in the country since the Shell Bay Mystery, experts are trying to find an explanation for the mysterious plane crash on Saturday, in which the two occupants of a small plane vanished mid fight.
The small Cessna, carrying two people, crashed on Saturday in a field. Joe Gibbons and his son Charlie (9) had flown the plan together many times, and Joe Gibbons ran a business taking tourists for short flights in the plane, according to wife Marilyn Gibbons.
"Joe could fly that little plane with his eyes closed - and Charlie could too," she said yesterday.
A witness said that the plane had been flying over a low hill, when it suddenly dipped, swerved and spiralled lopsidedly down into a field, where it landed nose first.
"It looked like one of the engines had blown or something," said the witness. "The strange thing about that was that the engine wasn't smoking. I know a little about planes and it looked just fine to me."
"From what I saw it looked more like the pilot had just let go of the controls," said another witness. "It was incredibly lucky the plane didn't explode when it crashed. I still can't believe it didn't."
Members of the public came running to help as they saw the plane crash. But when they managed to get into the shattered cockpit, there was no one there.
"No bodies, no nothing," said another witness who had been the first into the cockpit. "Not even a piece of clothing."
"I was watching the little Cessna as they flew her over the hill," said Marilyn Gibbons, "And on the other side [the witness] saw her come over the other side of the hill and crash. They couldn't have parachuted, and there would have been no reason. They've just vanished."
What happened to Joe and Charlie Gibbons still remains a mystery. Find out more in in tomorrow's paper.
The house had burnt down in a matter of minutes. Old, made entirely of wood, in a dry season… who could blame it? People had come running with buckets and garden hoses but in vain. It was only as the roof came crashing down in a spray of smoke and flames, that someone asked it.
"Was there anyone in the house?"
The question was repeated again and again, it was screamed out to others; to the firemen who came with their hoses minutes too late.
The night sky was clouded with smoke. People coughed and choked, their nightclothes and faces black with ash. The flames were quickly quenched. A smouldering pile of hot ashes. People still asked the question to each other.
Then a fireman jumped onto the back of the truck. "Was there anyone in the house?"
His voice carried across the sea of faces, illuminated by the glowing embers.
Someone answered. "The four Brent children. Their parents had gone out for the night."
The cry began. "The Brent children! They're dead! The Brent children."
Just then, a taxi drew up. The door opened. A man and woman got out. The moment seemed to last forever as they stared at the remains of their home. Then;
"Where are my children?" The woman asked it quite calmly, as if they had gone for a walk.
The fireman tried to explain. "Killed in their sleep, ma'am," he said.
The woman kept asking, her voice growing louder and louder.
"My children! Where are they? My children!" She began screaming their names. "Lizzie! Ben! Maggie! Hattie! Where are you? Come here now!"
She was taken away, still screaming for her children. Her husband ran to the ashes and began raking through the red hot embers, shouting for them.
Their names were repeated through the town for the next two weeks in every conversation.
In the newspaper, four small, smiling faces were put in above their names, blurred, as they were dead. Below was a huge picture of the burning house, stretched to fill the whole front cover. Each witness got a quote on page three. There were flowers and funerals. The names were repeated again and again.
Elizabeth. Benjamin. Margaret. Harriet.
On another page; Joe and Charlie Gibbons.
Turn the page again; Missing Boy: Jack Hull.
And squished at the bottom of a page of family notices; Wren, Lily Grace.
Who would have guessed that all these articles could be so ingeniously linked?
Who could guess what planning had gone into each?
And who could guess who was behind it?