Knock Knock

I heard someone knock loudly, and then there was a scream.

A body was found. Could be illness, old age... but it wasn’t - because the next day two bodies were found.

Knock knock, who’s there? The joke is far from over...

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5. One of them

As soon as the figure stepped into the barn, I knew who he was. The gleam from the small bonfire at our feet illuminated his features. I recognised the shape of the jaw, the tangle of hair. But the deep brown eyes made me certain that I knew who this stranger was.

It was Daniel's father.

"Joseph, leave him be," William said firmly. But Joseph Latimer merely smirked and took another step closer to his son.

"I expected this of you, father. But Daniel? I thought you were loyal. I thought you were on my side!" His voice was fierce, as was his intent. I saw the glimmer of the knife tucked in his belt.

I was about to warn Daniel, but I noticed something else. Joseph Latimer was clad in expensive clothes. His boots were made from good leather. A pouch of coins swung from his waist. Which could only mean...

"He's one of them," I whispered. It all made sense: his sturdy clothing, Daniel's apology in the rain... his father was one of Jack Hunter's men. My eyes locked with Daniel's. He mouthed the words, I'm sorry.

"So," Joseph stepped forward confidently, "are you going to come with me?"

For a second, Daniel seemed to consider this. But then he spoke.

"No," he said simply. And then he struck his father in the face with his fist.

Joseph Latimer fell to the ground. Everyone scattered, except for Daniel and his grandfather, and myself.

"Why didn't you say?" I asked Daniel.

"Because I couldn't." He grabbed my hands. "I didn't want you to look at me and see him. I couldn't bear that." He sounded so sad that for a second I wanted to reach out to touch his face, to tell him that everything would be okay. But I couldn't lie to him. Attacking one of Jack Hunter's men could be punishable by death, and Daniel knew that. He kissed me on the cheek.

"Goodbye Mia," he said, before dragging a hand through his hair and turning away to face his fate. Word had already spread, and Daniel was handcuffed by the guards that had gathered outside the barn. The sickening crunch of the metal made me wince. I wouldn't stand and watch this time.

"It's not goodbye," I muttered to myself. "Not yet." 

I waited until I could just see their silhouettes before inching out into the night, treading carefully, always keeping one eye on the lantern carried by the guard in front. I tried to keep my breathing steady, but in vain. I was about to sneak onto Jack Hunter's land. It was punishable by death, like most other things. But I remembered the fear in Daniel's eyes and the hurt as he said goodbye, so I put one foot in front of the other and followed them into the night.

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