Chapter 40 - Fleet Railway Station, late Sunday evening, 4th March 2012.
The train was the 23.15 from London Waterloo to Basingstoke. It stopped at Clapham Junction, Surbiton, Woking, Brookwood and Farnborough before stopping at Fleet – her station. She was 35 and divorced, her mother was at home looking after the kids. They would all be asleep by the time she got home.
She wore a non-descript coat and hat, not the latest fashion but passable. It was designed to not draw attention. She hid her long auburn hair under a head-scarf. The shoes were flat. In her bag she had her high heel stilettos, not uncommon amongst City girls. You saw many walking to work in flat shoes or trainers these days, changing into their ‘work’ shoes at their office. Of course Carol’s reason was a little different. It was also not a work day, it was late on Sunday night. He was a regular. A middle-east business man she thought, always paid cash. Before she arrived at his hotel room, she always changed into her stilettos.
Her mother thought she had a job as a temporary legal secretary in London. This is what she did before she was made redundant. She said she had to work at nights and weekends when urgent documents needed to be prepared. The pay was good, she said double-time on Sundays. Of course the pay as an Escort, was much better than that of a legal secretary, even at double-time. The Agency that she used advertised her as an ‘Experienced mature legal secretary’ and said that her job was accompanying male clients to dinner or to the theatre. But they often wanted extra’s, and for this they paid cash.
The legal secretary ruse worked with her mother, so she could dress to both please her clients and keep the façade with her mother that she was dressed for work. She was looking forward to getting a home, a hot bath and cleaning his smell off her.
The night was unseasonably warm as the train began its final run into Fleet station. As it began to slow, it passed a wooded area by a lake adjacent to the station and she could see what she thought was a small fire in the woods. Unusual she thought.
Fleet station was long and narrow, with a large car park for commuters, built adjacent to the track. The station entrance was at one end of the platform, at the front of her train. The regulars to Fleet always walked up the train to disembark, so there were several clustered around the doors as the train pulled into the station, keen to get home. Some had obviously been on night-outs to the Theatre and West End shows in London, some a little drunk, but good natured.
The station car park filled up in the morning from the end near the entrance backwards. With the early commuters taking the prime parking spaces close to the entrance. As it was a Sunday the car park wasn’t full, but by the time she had arrived, late afternoon, the only parking bays available were towards the end of the car park. To reach her car, she now had to walk back along the track. The car park was dimly lit. Probably to save money or carbon emissions she thought.
As she walked through the car park adjacent to the track, the half dozen or so commuters who had also disembarked got into their respective cars and drove off. They had clearly got earlier trains than her, and by the time she was halfway to her car she was alone. The car park’s dim lighting made her feel uncomfortably vulnerable as she approached her car. She pressed the unlock button on her remote and the cars lights came on giving her comfort and renewed purpose. She quickened her pace along the rows of neatly parked cars.
Unexpectedly she saw movement in the next line of cars. She gasped in disbelief. It was a horse and rider, moving towards her. Immediately, she realised that the rider would reach her before she could reach her car. There was something about the deliberate movement towards her that made her feel uneasy. She quickened her pace, then she began to run. She was glad of her flat shoes.
She heard the shout that sounded like ’Come ‘ere wench’ and she felt hands grab the back of her coat and pull her over the horse, expertly holding her down. Her alarm turned to panic, but she was held firmly. It had all happened so quickly and so expectantly that she was unable to protest or cry out. But she was not sure that anyone would be around to help her anyway, did they have CCTV in these car parks?
But as the she felt the horse quicken its pace and canter towards the woods, she regained some of her composure, found her voice and began to scream and shout. The horseman without breaking stride deftly slapped her across the face. She was so shocked she fell silent clutching her jaw, tears or fear and pain swelling in her eyes.
Eustace thought, this one had spirit, the King will be pleased.