Part Three Arrival at Bethany
On her arrival at Bethany, Alice couldn’t have been happier. It looked just like the brochure described, an idyllic old fishing port with narrow streets filled with quirky shops, and a bustling sea front and pier to enjoy. There were plenty of diners, pubs and hotels to go to or stay in. She had gone online and booked a room for two weeks at the Plantation Hotel, which according to the brochure had stunning views of the sea and of the cove and beach. With not wanting to drive, Alice took the train from Carfax station to the town of Skellerton, where she had to change trains and then straight onto Bethany. The train station was two miles outside Bethany, a town larger than Bethany, called Earlston. From there she took a taxi and at one o’clock she arrived in the old fishing port. Upon being informed her room would not be ready until three o’clock she asked if she could leave her two small suitcases at the hotel while she waited for her hotel room and key card. She then took herself off to explore the old town.
Elizabeth Bethany welcomed Alice to her pub, the Golden Lion and served her a cold pint of lager. “If you are hungry, we can rustle you up something tasty for you to eat.” Liz passed Alice a food menu and as she scanned it, it felt like someone was watching her. Her psychic senses picked up and she felt a tingling down her back. Alice ordered fish, chips and peas and found a table to eat it from. All the while she ate she could feel someone watching her, but upon looking round she could not see anyone staring directly at her. “Hmm maybe it’s Erika’s spirit guide keeping an eye on me.” She thought as she ate her meal. Alice and Erika had not parted on good terms the day before. Alice had been to see her to say she was going away on her own for two weeks to try and sort herself out. Naturally Erika was upset and disappointed that she was leaving her on her own. But Alice needed this break. She needed to be away from Carfax, Erika and most of all, the Paranatural Detective Agency. Helping them out like she usually did, had totally messed her up. From now on she would do things her way, and be her own woman for a change.
Back at the hotel Alice stood looking out of the large window of her room, which slid open to lead onto a small balcony that had two chairs and a small table perched on it. A welcoming bottle of champagne sat in an ice bucket on a coffee table. Behind the table sat a two seater sofa with a large double bed next to them. The room also had two good sized wardrobes, which Alice wasted no time filling. There was also a good sized bathroom with an ultra-modern shower housed within.
Now relaxing on the balcony with a glass of champagne, Alice viewed the scenery and almost at once fell in love with the place. “I could live here forever and never return to Carfax.” She idly thought as she sipped the cold drink feeling it coursing through her body and making her want some more. Topping up her glass she mused over what she was going to do while here. Tonight she would take a walk along the front and visit a few of the local pubs. But first she was going to shower and fix her make-up and dress casually then take a walk around the narrow streets and visit the quirky shops she had read about.
Mike Templeton was on a high, after selling all but two of his paintings weeks earlier, he had ploughed ahead and painted six more. These had also been snapped up and he had been asked to take part in a lecture in London to speak about his paintings and the basis for most of them. In London, not many people had heard of the little fishing port called Bethany, but now, after his talk on his inspiration for the paintings and the legend of The Siren, the town of Bethany had been firmly ingrained in the minds of those that attended the lecture. They then passed the story onto their friends.
As Templeton walked through the busy street he decided to stop at the Silver Fox, the second oldest pub in the town for a drink or two. Ordering his beer he took a seat outside which overlooked the harbour. Scanning the seating area he spotted a woman sitting by the railings surrounding the balcony seating area. He judged her to be in her mid-twenties, noted her long dark hair, elegant face and slim build. He also noted she wore dark clothes, which he thought was a bit odd seeing how warm the weather was. “Maybe she’s a Goth.” He pondered to himself and suppressed a giggle. It was then that she turned and looked directly at him and smiled. Mike thought she had the best smile he’d ever seen and wanted to know her. Smiling back he waved her over to his table, but the lady in the dark clothes shook her head and pointed to the seat opposite her. In a heartbeat Mike was moving towards the table and the mysterious woman.
“Hi my name’s Mike, eh Mike Templeton.” He said offering his hand to her.
“Hi I’m Alice, Alice Washington, pleased to make your acquaintance. Please, sit down and let me guess what you do for a living.” Alice replied with a warm smile on her face. “Hmm now let me see, looking at you and your style of dress I would say that you are an artist. Am I correct in that assumption?”
“Yes you are, how very perceptive of you, and what my I ask, is your line of work?”
“I am a psychic medium and run a magazine called Psykick World from offices I own in the town of Carfax.” Alice replied before taking a sip of her wine.
“Ah were you using your psychic powers to deduce that I am an artist?” Templeton replied as he leaned back in his chair to study Alice, “have you walked around the town yet? I’d be happy to escort you around and show you some of the sights of this wonderful town.”
“Actually, I spotted small flecks of paint on your trousers, so I guessed that you were an artist,” Alice said smiling, “I took a quick look around some of the old streets about an hour ago, but would like to go down to what looks like a cove at the far end of the beach. I can see it from my hotel room, it looks very intriguing.” Alice spoke after draining the last of her wine and began to rise from her chair.
“Well I would be more than happy to accompany you. That’s if you don’t mind. I have a deep fascination with the cove and the area. I’ve painted it a number of times over the last three years.” Templeton replied as he too got up from his chair.
Alice nodded in agreement and they both headed out of the balcony area of the pub down some stone steps that led to the promenade. As they walked, they chatted, Templeton asking about Carfax and its history, Alice asked similar questions regarding the town of Bethany. She had a good feeling about Mike Templeton and could sense he was a kind laid back person, whose main passion was painting landscapes and old buildings. They took the steps down towards the beach and continued to walk at a nice easy pace.
The sun was now at its highest and the sound of children’s laughter filled the air. As they neared the cove and the surrounding rocks Alice began to get a tingling sensation up her back. Puzzled she stopped walking to take in the landscape and sea. What is it that’s making me feel like this? She thought to herself as she scanned the area.
“Hey are you ok Alice? You look troubled.” Mike asked as he realised that she had stopped walking.
“Just a strange feeling I’m getting the nearer we get to the cove. Do you know any history about this place?” Alice had continued to walk alongside Mike and he began to tell her about the legend of the clipper ship that crashed into the rocks centuries earlier, and how the crew escaped leaving the captain on board, who had turned into a raving madman.
“So what drove him to run the ship aground Mike?”
“Legend also says that it was the song of the Siren that made him do it. The crew jumped ship after the first mate begged the captain to go with them and made their way to land via a lifeboat. It is believed that they informed the authorities that they were saving their own lives and had plugged their ears with cotton wool so as not to hear the Siren’s song of death.” They were now standing outside the entrance of the cove and could see the dark entrance of a cave within the rocks.
“A pity I haven’t got a torch with me, as I would like to go in there and see if I can pick up on anything spiritual.” Alice replied as she headed towards the cave’s opening.
Alice had suddenly felt tired and told Mike that she was heading back to her hotel for a lie down. She said it was probably due to the long journey from Carfax to Bethany that had tired her out. She said she would more than likely meet up with Mike later in the evening if he was in town. Once back in the hotel room Alice lay down on top of the bed and it didn’t take her long to fall asleep. Her sleep was filled with visions of the sea, a ship and a strange creature sitting on rocks singing a song, calling to whoever was on the ship.
She awoke with a start and felt hot and sweaty, her brow moist and her hair damp. Stripping off her clothes she made her way to the small but compact bathroom and turned on the faucets of the shower and began to wash slowly. Stepping out of the shower ten minutes later Alice wrapped a bath towel around her body and a small towel around her hair. Clicking on the kettle she emptied a coffee sachet into a mug and waited for the kettle to boil. The dream she had was still in her mind, especially the song of the Siren. Sitting on the balcony of her room she studied the cove and could just see the cave entrance, thinking about the story that Mike Templeton had told her as she sipped the hot coffee.
The time was seven o’clock and Alice realised it had been a good few hours since she’d eaten. Looking through her clothes hanging in the wardrobe, she pulled out a flowing black top with a low neckline, a long black skirt, and a pair of black ankle boots. Tonight she was going to apply her make up the same way that she did one night in Crete, which Erika had loved. Since then, for some reason, she couldn’t quite figure out why she had been reading up on Egyptian Queens, like Nefertiti, whose name meant ‘the beautiful one has come’. Going to her bag she pulled out a folded piece of paper, upon unfolding it, it revealed an ancient depiction of Nefertiti. This was going to be Alice’s look while on holiday. She began to apply her eye make up in the same way and tied her long hair up in similar fashion as the ancient queen. Happy with the way she looked Alice opened her jewelry box and pulled out a round silver amulet inscribed with ancient lettering on a long chain, a number of rings and an arm bracelet. Her look was complete and Alice left the hotel room and headed out of the hotel and into town for something to eat.
Tony Harrison was disappointed that he had not been able to keep the date with Jade Stone the week before as he could not get off work. Jade had walked into the pub and ordered a drink from the bar. She could see how busy it was and knew that Tony would not be able to finish early. He had gone over to her to apologise but all she said was, “Well better luck next time Tony.” But Tony being the person he was didn’t give up easily. He wanted a relationship with Jade and he wasn’t going to give up.
As Tony collected empty beer glasses off various tables and began walking back to the bar, he spotted Jade sitting in a booth talking to someone. Walking through the centre of the pub he turned to look to see who was with her, it was Mike Templeton. What was he doing with her? He thought as he made his way over to collect empty glasses next to the booth that they occupied. “Good evening Jade, Mike, what brings you both in here together?” He asked them both as they looked up at him.
“Hi Tony, Mike has told me he wants to do a painting of me sitting on the rocks near the cove. I say yes as no one has ever painted my likeness before.” Jade replied as she sipped her wine.
“Hi Tony, yeah I thought it was about time I did a painting of this beautiful lady. I think she’ll make the perfect modern day Siren, don’t you?” Mike Templeton clicked his wine glass with Jade’s and carried on talking while Tony stood there gazing at Jade.
“What is it Tony? You look upset.” Mike asked as he got up to buy more drinks.
“Nothing Mike, I need to ask Jade something that’s all.” As Mike walked off to the bar Tony asked Jade if he could see her one night this week and take her out for a drink. Jade told him to call into her shop in the morning as she would let him know then. Knowing he wouldn’t get any further with her, Tony walked off, with a look of anger crossing his face.
While Templeton stood at the bar he glanced round and spotted Alice Washington entering the pub. He caught her eye by waving to her, and as she approached he couldn’t contain himself, “Oh my word, you look absolutely stunning Alice, I love the Egyptian Queen look, it really suits you.”
Alice gave him a big smile and a hug, “Thank you Mike, it’s a style I tried a few months ago while on holiday with my partner and thought I’d try it again.”
Mike bought Alice a drink and offered her to sit with him and Jade in the booth. After introductions were made, Alice sat chatting to Mike and Jade as if she’d known them for years. “So you said earlier that your partner liked your new look. How come he’s not here with you Alice?” Mike asked unable to take his eyes off the beautiful woman sitting opposite him, whom he had only met a few hours earlier.
“Well we’ve not been getting on so well the last month or so, and also due to some of the work I do, I got very stressed out and decided to have a holiday on my own. Also my partner’s a she, not a he Mike.”
Both Mike and Jade looked at Alice with the look of astonishment on their faces. Mike was the first to speak, “Well Alice all I can say is that your partner is a very lucky lady to have someone as beautiful as you. But you say you’re not getting on with each other, how so If you don’t mind me asking?”
Alice sipped her red wine and looked down at her half full glass for a moment while she thought of what to say. “Erika and I got together a few years after my husband of five years died. He had a brain tumour that was inoperable. It was horrible to see the pain he was going through but when the end came it was quick. Erika is a fashion designer and she makes most of my clothes. We just hit it off and she gave me a lot of comfort and it just turned into a romance.”
“So you feel comfortable with men and women then?” Jade asked turning to Alice who was seated next to her.
Alice looked at Jade and felt a pang of guilt as she found her attractive. She also found Mike attractive and upon finishing her drink replied, “Yes you could say that Jade, but more so with women these days. Please let me buy you both a drink.” Alice rose from the seat of the booth and walked towards the bar feeling eyes staring at her as she did so. Not only men but a few women looked at her too. Was it the way she had done her makeup this evening, or was it because she was a tourist. She thought about this as she stood at the bar.
Tony Harrison moved over to serve Alice and as he did, he welcomed her to the Golden Lion and asked how long she was staying for. Alice told him that she was on vacation for two weeks. He then asked her how she knew the couple she was sitting with. Alice mentioned that she met Mike Templeton this afternoon and had only just met Jade and that they seemed a nice couple. “I think that you’ll find out that they’re not a couple. Well at least not to my knowledge anyway.” Tony remarked as he gave Alice a bottle of red house wine and three glasses and took payment for it. “Enjoy your stay here Miss Washington.”
The following day was bright and sunny and found the town bustling again. Once again the beaches were full and the diners and pubs were doing a roaring trade. Alice sat on the balcony of her hotel room taking in the sun and eating a light meal of cheese, ham and bread that she had ordered from the hotel kitchens. She was amazed that she had opened her heart up to two relative strangers in the pub the previous night and blamed it on the copious amount of wine she had drank.
She liked Mike and Jade and felt at ease with them to a point of giving them her mobile number. Both of them had sent a ‘Hi’ message to her so that she had their numbers stored on her phone. As she sat looking out to sea she wondered what was going to happen next while she was here. She had certainly made friends easily enough and felt very happy being in the old fishing port. She wondered about the history of the town and recalled seeing a brochure of sorts in the desk drawer in her room. Taking it from the drawer she resumed sitting on the balcony and began to read the history of Bethany.
’Bethany lies on the south side of Carfax; it is an idyllic old fishing port that has survived to this day. Fishing has been the main job provider for the men and even some women of the old port since its early formation in the 1600’s. The town of Bethany has developed over the last century and has even become a hot spot for tourists and holiday makers alike. With excellent diners and pubs doted on the inner and outer parts of the town, along with ten hotels it’s a lovely place to relax. Boats can be hired out for a reasonable fee and part of the pier has been set up for the amateur fisherman who can while away the hours and then boast about his catch in one of the pubs in the town.
There are also a number of independent shops in town which give a good service to the townsfolk and visitors, selling everything from handmade clothes, crystals, books and paintings. The art gallery owner Phil Lightfoot makes a good living as most of the paintings are by local artists and now and again he sets up displays in the shop for local artists who can get to meet interested people and hope to make more money to survive. There is also a large supermarket on the rise of a hill that sits nicely behind the town, and does not spoil the look of the old port at all. It also has its fair share of folklore attached to it including the legend of the mermaid who is supposed to call men folk to their deaths.’
As she finished reading the brochure, Alice thought she could hear the sound of a siren in the distance. As she poured herself another coffee she once again made herself comfortable on the balcony. The sound of the wailing sirens began to get louder and as Alice stared across the vista of the old town she spotted an ambulance and a police car heading towards the far end of the beach, towards the cove. Both vehicles drove along the top road and came to a stop in a parking area located near the rock formation. Alice hoped that no one had had a serious accident on the rocks or in the sea as she sipped the hot drink, all the while trying to focus on the incident on the other side of the beach.
Picking up her shoulder bag Alice grabbed her key card and left her hotel room. Today she was dressed in black denim shorts a grey t-shirt and grey Sketchers. She felt comfortable dressed this way during the day while on holiday. She then walked down the corridor to the lift that would take her down to the reception area on the first floor.