The Land Rover Discovery sped through the bleak Scottish landscape making its way towards Loch Lomand and the Trossachs. It had started snowing after crossing the Scottish border and passing through Gretna Green. Ben Lennox hoped he would reach his overnight stop before it got any worse.
Soon, ahead of him, he saw a dip in the landscape and a farm house, his destination for the night. As he arrived at the familiar farm gateway he read the notice board – Calfort Home Farm. B&B. He parked outside the house and looking around saw several familiar barns and heard the sound of cattle. Getting out of the car he walked up to the front door and knocked.
There was a shuffling sound from within and then the door was opened by a plump elderly woman who was wiping her hands on her pinafore. She had a friendly ruddy face and her hair was tied up in a bun.
‘Mr Lennox, it’s good to see you again.’ she said, opening the door wider so Ben could get in the warm with his overnight bag.
‘It’s good to see you too Mrs McGregor.’ Ben could smell something appetising was cooking as he went in making him feel hungry. His last meal had been a quick snack at a Motorway services hours ago.
‘Come in from that cold. I expect you won’t say no to a beef casserole. Settle yourself in and it will be ready in about half an hour.’
‘It sounds good to me. You’re a life saver Mrs McGregor. By the way, has Mr Strong come past recently?’
‘Aye, four days ago. He said he was off to his cottage.’
It was as Ben thought. Herbert Strong was his ex partner and his reason for being there. Herbert had recently changed Ben’s life forever. Ben had arrived home from a business trip to find his wife Ruth dead on the kitchen floor. He had called the police and after their investigation they concluded it
was carried out by a person or persons unknown. But Ben had known Herbert Strong was the killer. He
had found out in an unusual way. Ruth had managed to leave a clue before she died from strangulation. In a kitchen cupboard he had discovered she had placed a favourite ornament that they had got on a trip to Scotland two years ago. They always kept it on the kitchen window sill but she had had the presence of mind to move it to a cupboard somehow. It had been one of two they had brought back from holiday; the other one had been given to Herbert Strong.
The next morning after Ben had been treated to a substantial cooked breakfast he went outside to check the weather conditions. Thankfully it hadn’t snowed any more overnight so he should make good time to reach Herbert’s cottage. Herbert was now his quarry and Ben was out to get him. Never one for detail, Herbert had been sloppy and Ben had found an answer phone message at Herbert’s flat from Mrs McGregor confirming him a room. He knew where Herbert’s cottage was. It was a small stone cottage at Inversnaid just off the Great Trossachs Path, a well known walking track. As he got in his Land Rover Mrs McGregor came out to say goodbye;
‘You off to Mr Strong’s cottage at Inversnaid then are you.’ She asked
‘Hopefully, if the Trossachs path is clear. Cheerio then I may drop in on the way back, all being well.
When Ben got to Inversnaid he parked away from the town centre, but close to the start of the pathway. It was snowing again, blown in by a strong North East wind. He was thankful now for the waterproof thermal leggings and jacket he’d brought with him. He took his mountain bike out of the back of the Land Rover and a backpack containing a special folding rifle with telescopic sight. Snow was building up on track so the special tyre grippers he’d brought would be essential.
After travelling about six miles along the track he spotted a large rock and just beyond he knew was a side track leading off over a rise, which led to Herbert’s cottage. Ben stopped a mile up this track and got off the bike. He opened the back pack and took out, and assembled the rifle and telescopic site. It had been designed as a stalkers rifle used for killing deer; but today he would be using it to stalk a human target. He edged towards the cottage and saw smoke rising from the chimney. Just a shot now to bring Herbert out, then…..
Just as Ben was settling himself in shooting range to take a shot at a cottage window there was a crack. Ben looked down at his
chest and saw a red stain spreading over the out side of his jacket. As he fell forward into the snow, still alive, he looked up at the sight of Herbert walking towards him holding a rifle.
‘Hello Ben. I knew you would come. The clues I left for you obviously worked. Pity about Ruth, she shouldn’t have resisted me.’ and he fired again, this time Ben died.
Herbert hauled Ben’s body back to the cottage and a grave he had previously dug. After tipping the body in the grave, he picked up Ben’s rifle, which Herbert didn’t realise still had a bullet up the barrel ready to fire, and tossed it into the grave. The butt end struck Ben’s body at a 45 degree angle, the hair trigger catching Ben’s hand. There was loud bang as the gun went off; Herbert looked down at his chest to see a large hole spurting blood.
was Herbert’s last word as he fell, dead; face down, on top of Ben’s body; neither of them aware of the rising wind and the snowstorm covering their bodies.