This is the final part of the mystery story Smiling Palms. You can read part one here, part two here and part three here. Please note this is fiction and any similarity between real people and places is purely coincidental.
SMILING PALMS PART FOUR
“I told you I’ve already searched the grounds and she isn’t there,” Shannon shouted.
“And where is her crystal castle? She wouldn’t have taken that with her on some stroll through the village.”
“Now now, just settle down. How could I possibly know where your aunt is? As for the castle, crystal was it? These old dears do the oddest things. Maybe she did take it with her.”
Shannon pushed past the manager and fled the unit, her mind racing as she tried to figure out what to do. Surely there wouldn’t have been time to arrange an ‘accident’ for her aunt. Maybe they had locked her somewhere until they could arrange another night time fall. With all the spying eyes they would have to wait for the cover of darkness.
Shannon ran back towards the office, nearly knocking over an old woman with a walking frame in her haste. She could hear Miss Davies behind her consoling the elderly lady. She had no idea where the manager’s unit was but thought she may be able to find it by following the wire from the office bell.
The manager’s home seemed the obvious place to hide someone so she followed the wire up some stairs to a unit with the numbers 36 on the door. This appeared to be the only unit on the floor above the office. The door was locked and, as Shannon could hear Miss Davies running up the stairs, she frantically kicked and pounded the door with her fists and feet.
“Well, you can tell you two are related,” Miss Davies snarled when she arrived up the stairs.
“You’re just as much of a trouble maker as your aunt and now I’ll have to deal with both of you.”
With that she pushed past Shannon, opened the door then turned and grabbed Shannon and pushed her into the unit. Shannon was too shocked to move.
Aunt Mary was tied to a dining room chair in the spacious unit. Wide, silver tape covered her mouth and her eyes were wild with fear.
Miss Davies hovered over the terrified woman, brandishing a knife from out of nowhere.
“It was easy luring her here,” she hissed.
“These old fools are so gullible.
“I wasn’t counting on you though. Your aunt is a trouble maker. Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
“All day we put up with stupid complaints from even more stupid people – way past their use by date.
“There’s not enough money in the world to compensate for this depressing job.
“So we take a few measly ornaments and a bit of cash to make up for it. I mean what can they do?
“But your silly aunt had to complain to anyone who would listen. Now she’ll have to be dealt with. And you too, I imagine.”
Miss Davies suddenly swung the knife in Shannon’s direction, promising the other manager, Mr Johnson, would work out what to do with them when he returned.
“He is going to be furious that you stuck your nose in and he will make you pay in pain,” she promised.
“Getting rid of Mary is going to be easy – a nasty fall should do the trick, but you are a spanner in the works.”
Finally, her instincts took over and Shannon kicked Miss Davies in the leg, making her stagger and drop the knife as she tried to save herself from falling.
The taller woman didn’t have time to recover from the shin kick when Shannon used all the force of her small body to shove the manager to the ground.
In a split second Miss Davies was up and Shannon frantically searched around for another weapon. Her eyes fell on the only object within reach – the crystal castle.
She grabbed it and threw it with all her might at the manager’s head.
Amazingly it didn’t break but its fine lines were obliterated by a layer of blood that instantly poured from the head wound.
The roll of tape was lying on the floor near the chair Aunt Mary was tied to. Shannon quickly grabbed it and bound Miss Davies. Fleeing was not an option because Aunt Mary couldn’t move fast enough and no one knew when Mr Johnson would return.
With trembling fingers, Shannon called emergency and after what seemed like an eternity was told the police were on their way. She put the phone down and rushed to untie her aunt.
“Oh Shannon, I was so scared,” Aunt Mary cried.
“I thought she’d kill us both.”
The old women dissolved into tears as she collapsed into Shannon’s arms.
Shannon was relieved when she heard the sirens as she still didn’t know where Mr Johnson was.
The police finally arrived but it took several hours to explain all that had happened. They assured Shannon and Aunt Mary they would find Mr Johnson.
One of the officers assured Aunt Mary she would get her castle back, and anything else that had been stolen, once the investigation was finished.
As they were leaving, Shannon overheard him say to his partner, “amazing to appear so fragile yet be so strong”.
She wasn’t sure if he was referring to the castle, or to her.
This was the final part to Smiling Palms. I hope you enjoyed it.
Come back next Friday for the real life horror story of retirement villages.
Have a gleeful week, Tamuria.