Tonight I’m sharing an excerpt from my novel ‘The Double Act’; This is the second part where Joost has gone on the run. He’s suspected of murdering his wife and her best friend but has been released through lack of evidence. He is worried about his true love, Genet, fearing that she is in danger. He knows the police, led by Chief inspector Gemmil, will be watching her, expecting him to get in contact:
As anxious as Genet was for him, Joost was equally concerned about her. She was the honey in the trap. He knew who would be waiting if he went to her or tried to contact her. He lay behind the hedge listening to cars chasing about the hillside. If they put up a helicopter he’d soon be found. He couldn’t hide until sunset, thermal imaging took away night’s invisibility.
He couldn’t go to her, but nor would anyone else, Gemmil would have her well under observation. As long as Gemmil believed he was still in the locality, she’d be safe. Joost considered where he could go; he couldn’t live rough, although able to, he wanted to be clean and fed and rested. He wanted time to work out what was going on, because he was sure he had all the answers if only he could put them together.
He followed the line of the hedge downhill until he reached the bottom of the field. He wasn’t familiar with the geography but had a rough idea of the direction he should go. Colin had confused him as well as his pursuers but he guessed he should be heading northwest to reach Easthope.
He followed the boundary away from the lane, found a break in the fence and entered a small copse. He moved through the undergrowth using the sun to guide him until he came across a damp watercourse. He sat for a while in the cool shade, then followed the line of the brook downhill. He came to a stream, a sluggish trickle of water which he tracked until it met a ditch by a field full of cows. A man was wandering among them with a clipboard.
Keeping low and among the trees Joost followed the ditch until it ran into a culvert under a narrow lane. He sunk down and waited, listening for vehicles or voices. When he was sure he was safe he climbed over the wire fence, forcing his way between the brambles and blackthorn and into the lane. There was no way he could get through the other side to continue following the water, the hedge was too thick.
He ran up the lane looking for a way in, then retraced his steps. He stopped as he heard the sound of a tractor coming along the road. He ran back to the stream and looked over the low wall along the edge of the culvert; there was a drop of about eight foot. The tractor was coming closer, he couldn’t wait and vaulted the wall and dropped into the stream and crouched in the dark tunnel entrance. More water flowed now, the stream must have been joined by others. The tractor rumbled overhead followed by a couple of cars.
When the only sound was the water and birds singing in the brambles, Joost stood and waded downstream. He hadn’t replaced his smashed watch and had no idea of the time or how long he wandered through the countryside, following the meanders, climbing through culverts when he could, dashing across lanes and roads when he couldn’t.
The sun was sinking in the sky and his priority was to find somewhere to shelter for the night; he had to rest and sleep. He found a round concrete structure facing north; Joost didn’t recognize it as an old World War 2 pillbox. It reeked of urine and another unidentifiable stench but it was dry and safe.
The night seemed unending as he dozed and roused and slept and started awake. He was roused by the sound of outrage, and when he crept from his hide he found himself on the banks of a river where two swans were attacking each other.
It must be the River Hope. He walked along the banks where he could, scratched by briars, stung by nettles, and back into the water when there was no choice There were houses and for a while the river ran beside a main road but Joost cautiously pressed on along the bank, hungry and thirsty and tired, his head-ache pounding. He was joined by a dog for a while, cars passed him, but no-one on foot, no faces at windows, no fishermen.
The river narrowed, the banks steep, a wall atop one, a rackety fence along the other and Joost realised where he was.
© Lois Elsden 2018
And here is a link so you can read how Joost ended up in this situation, and what happened next: