Ice House is an erotic thriller I am currently writing. Although there is no erotic content in the following chapter. This is once again the first draft from which the whole idea stemmed. Comments as always welcomed.
Nothing much had changed in the twenty-odd years since he’d last stood on this spot. He’d been a boy back then, maybe fifteen or sixteen, it was hard to pin point it to a particular year. It must have been when he was fifteen though when he thought about it. Everything changed during the school holidays when he was fifteen. He changed, the world changed, the people in it changed and most certainly the way he looked at them changed.
He leaned back against the bridge parapet and felt the heat of the bricks warmed by the hot summer sun through his trouser legs. Beneath him the Norwich to London Liverpool Street main line stretched away to disappear in a heat haze on the not too distant horizon. The bridge itself was on the top of a slight rise and from his vantage point he looked down upon golden fields of wheat and barley. Here and there would be a small copse of trees, emerald green islands amongst a sea of gold whilst high overhead a Sky Lark sang its song as it slowly flittered its way back to earth.
There were so many happy memories associated with this spot and he’d often thought about it as he’d travelled the world. Now he was here, back where he belonged, back where it all started. He cast a glance at a copse which was about a mile or so away as the crow flies. He was glad it was still there and hadn’t been cut down to make even more room for the plough. It was close to the road, or at least that’s how he remembered it, maybe a dozen or so trees set in a slight depression. What they called a Marl pit in Norfolk, where at some time in the dim distant past Marl, a soft clay like substance, had been extracted to make a dwelling or farm building which had long since disappeared.
He was familiar with Marl pits, or he used to be, and the characteristics of the earth in which they were cut. He’d always found once he’d managed to slice through the covering layer of vegetation it was easy going when it came to digging a hole in which to bury something…or someone.
He smiled and wondered how little Dawn Dixon was finding her final resting place. Maybe he’d go down and have a chat… there again maybe he wouldn’t. Poor Dee Dee, she was easily the prettiest girl in school, and it didn’t take a genius to see she was going to be a stunner when she grew up. If only she could have seen the potential in the wall-eyed geeky boy who asked her out. There’d been no need to be so spiteful and cruel.
Below him the railway lines started to sing bringing back more boy hood memories as they heralded the imminent arrival of a train. Back in the day he would have had his notebook and pencil at the ready and would have eagerly recorded the engines number. It must be true what people say about old habits not dying out as even now he felt a bit peeved he had nothing to record it with. A second or two later the singing evolved in to a rushing crescendo and he shook his head with bitter disappointment as a sleek, streamlined train hurtled from underneath the bridge. He much preferred it when trains had a proper engine at one end, like they did back in the States. He didn’t have much interest in these faceless power cars which adorned each end of the trains over here.
He looked at his watch, it was nearly ten, he would have to get moving if he was going to catch his flight out of Heathrow later that day. It was only two miles back to the village and he really wanted to see the house in which he’d spent most of his formative years. Would it be as he remembered it, with its neatly cut privet hedge and immaculate garden, or would his memories be trashed by some travesty which had since been foisted upon his former home. He hoped not, but it was a risk he was willing to take. The railway bridge and its surrounding area hadn’t altered one jot, so why should it?
When he entered the village he momentarily slowed as he past his old school. The building itself hadn’t changed and its flint faced brick walls looked just how he remembered them. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw the stone plinth with the date 1850 above the front door. He’d never forgotten that date, not since the first day he’d walked hand in hand with his mother through the school gates.
He could still remember his first day there as if it were yesterday. His teacher had been a Mrs. Graham whose daughter Trudy, was also in his class. From what he could remember she was a small, plump girl with platinum blonde hair. Trudy had been his first, if not only true friend who never once teased him about his appearance, or the hesitant way he spoke for that matter. He’d been heartbroken when she’d emigrated along with the rest of her family to Canada three years later.
The school was smaller than he remembered, as was the playing field beside it. In his memory’s it stretched much further back toward the old vicarage. The avenue of Sycamore trees remained in the neighboring field however, and he remembered how he, along with all the other kids, would chase their twirling seeds as they spun through the air on windy days.
Next to the school was the village hall, completed five years later and faced with the same Norfolk Flint. What really pleased him was the fact the huge Horse Chestnut Tree was still there in the field opposite. It was like finding a long-lost friend and he spent a moment or two reminiscing how he’d spent many a happy hour hidden away from view in its leafy bows.
No one ever knew he was there, and he would often watch Dawn, Karen and Paige, the three “it” girls of his generation as they sat on the swings in the small play park adjacent to the village hall. If he was really lucky, they would do some cart wheels, or hang upside down from the climbing frame, just for him, only they didn’t know it. Happy days he thought as he turned his hire car in to Manor Drive.
He had to admit he felt no little apprehension as he drove down the road upon which he’d taken his first faltering steps in to the big wide world. He’d learnt to ride a bike on it when he was six, walked to school on it from the age of four to sixteen and at one time knew each and every one of the residents of the half a dozen houses dotted along its length. He did wonder if some of those he once knew still lived there, but he doubted it, from what he could remember most were retired, older people and twenty-two years was a long time. There was a new bungalow, he noted, where once there had been an old cottage which must have been knocked down. The Sanderson’s lived there when he was a boy, they were a nice old couple who often chatted to his mother over the garden fence.
Then he saw it, number eight Manor Drive and his heart fell like a stone when he saw the house he once called home had fallen on hard times. The once immaculately cut Privet hedge his mother used to fuss over for hour upon hour was now an out of control unruly mess which hadn’t seen a pair of shears or a hedge trimmer for a long time.
With a disconsolate sigh he parked his car in front of the front gate, which was now a cast iron affair and not the wooden one he remembered. As he got out a Royal Mail post van crept by on the opposite side of the road and he saw the post man watching him inquisitively from within. It didn’t bother him, no one would recognise him now as he in no way resembled the awkward ungainly youth who once resided here. Nor did he have the same name, having taken the name of the American service man his mother married. Which was the reason why they left in the first place.
As soon as he looked over the garden gate he could see the house was empty. Its cold, dark lifeless windows attesting to the fact no one had lived there for quite a while. He also noticed a section of drain pipe hanging forlornly from the eaves along with a bright green stain on the brickwork where the water had run down the wall as a result. His mother, if she were still alive, would have been horrified.
She would have been devastated to, if she saw what her once pristine garden had been reduced to. The lawns which were always cut to a regimental length were now knee deep and where there were once Rose bushes and Rhododendrons there was an over grown tangled mass of unidentifiable vegetation. He was about to turn away when he noticed something white lying in the long grass, his curiosity piqued he opened the gate and strode across the overgrown lawn for a closer look. It turned out to be a “For Sale” sign which with its weather beaten, forlorn appearance complemented the property it was supposed to be attracting prospective buyers too.
He stared at the sign for a little while, deep in thought before making his way across to the house and peering in through what at one time had been the front room window. He couldn’t see much, there was an old carpet which had been torn up and abandoned in the middle of the room, but that was about it. He drew in a deep breath as idea’s began to formulate in his head. Should he buy it for old time’s sake, even if he just restored it to its former glory and sold it on. It would have pleased his mother that was for sure. Maybe he should do it as a tribute to her, he could rename it Rosemary’s Cottage in her honour. The idea very much appealed to him and had already decided he was going to buy the house when he walked around the back and saw the strange brick Igloo shaped building at the bottom of the garden. The Ice House… he’d completely forgotten about that.
He stood staring at it as long forgotten memories flooded back. The Ice House was a completely spherical brick building with half of the sphere being above ground and the other half below. It had been built centuries ago and once belonged to the manor house which gave Manor Drive its name. This was where the landed gentry had stored their perishables such as meat and vegetables. In effect it was an eighteenth-century fridge and there would have been all manner of Game such as Pheasants, Partridges, Rabbits and Hares hanging from rafters within. The manor house it served had long since burnt down and the Ice House was now the sole remaining reminder it had ever existed.
Both the Manor House and the ice house had been part of the Starston estate, as had been number eight Manor Drive. Back then it was known as Keepers Cottage, but for reasons unknown to him had been sold off after the Second World War.
He’d met the Starston girl once, she was a little older than him, probably around sixteen at the time whereas he would have been nearer twelve or thirteen. He’d been fishing in a small pond which lay at the corner of two huge cornfields about half a mile from the village at the time. It was the middle of the afternoon on one of the hottest days in recent history. The fishing had been slow, but he didn’t care. He enjoyed the solitude and felt at one with nature as he happily watched the electric blue Damson flies buzzing the surface of the pond. At one point one had even settled on the tip of his fishing float and he’d been so engrossed he hadn’t noticed the girl on horseback behind him.
When he did, he’d jumped up with a start and almost over balanced in to the tepid pond water, which wouldn’t have been good. Fortunately, he’d managed to regain his balance and keep himself on dry land.
“Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” the girl had said in a very posh, upper class accent.
He’d muttered something in return, he couldn’t remember what now, but he knew he’d felt embarrassed at the time.
“Have you caught anything?” the girl had asked with what seemed like genuine interest.
“Just a couple of Roach and a Perch,” he’d replied, not really expecting her to know what either was.
“I would say it would be a bit hot for them today, I used to fish for Sticklebacks here when I was little.”
“There’s still plenty of them about,” he’d replied whilst being very self-conscious of the fact he was having a conversation with a real girl, which was something of a rarity. Not only that she was a very pretty girl, prettier than Dawn Dixon even, and up until then he’d been of the opinion Dawn was the prettiest girl on earth.
“My Aunt Winn used to bring me here” the posh girl continued. “Sometimes we had a proper net, but usually we used a bucket on the end of a piece of string.”
“I used to do the same with my mum. We never caught much though.”
“No, me neither,” the girl replied before exclaiming “Oh look, a Hen Harrier.”
He’d briefly followed the direction of her outstretched arm and saw a large bird of prey with a white tail sailing across the open field next to them. He didn’t watch it for long though as he very quickly turned his attention back to the girl as her out stretched arm had pulled her white, cotton T shirt taught across her chest.
This was the moment when something inside him changed forever, he felt an almost uncontrollable urge come over him, what it was he wasn’t sure. Not then, that would come later, but in that first instance it was all very confusing. Whether the girl sensed something or not he didn’t know as she backed her horse up a little before wishing him well and riding off in the direction of the Starston estate. He’d watched her go, he couldn’t take his eyes off her and when, for whatever reason, she’d stood up in her stirrups and he’d seen her pert backside it had almost been too much. It was nearly too much now, some twenty-five years later. He’d never been able to get the image of the posh girl in tight riding jodhpurs out of his head.
The ice house intrigued him, when he was a boy, he used to climb up on top of it and play with his toy soldiers, or when he got older read a book. He was never allowed inside it though and his mother always kept it locked. On those rare occasions when he’d managed to glimpse into its interior, he’d seen nothing but damp, lichen stained bricks and a floor buried under all manner of detritus.
He tried the door now, it was still the same one, he could even see evidence of the same red paint which had been successively painted over with different shades such as blue and green. The lock had gone, and its ancient hinges sagged under the weight of its rotten timbers as he eased it open. He was immediately assailed by a dank, damp ridden musty smell which almost made him gag with its foul intensity. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and used it to shield his nose and mouth whilst he peered in to the gloomy depths beyond.
The brick walls glistened with moisture which dripped down ominously onto the rubbish strewn floor. God alone knew what was down there, he thought as he took a step back into the light. The whole thing was a mess, only he wasn’t seeing it that way, instead he saw it completely renovated. Instead of the damp ridden bricks there would be a pristine sound proof lining. There would be power, and lighting and a hard wood floor finished to a high standard. Even as he thought it the idea developed, and he saw a trap door integrated in to the floor with steps leading down to the lower level. There could be a self-contained room down there, locked obviously, so the “guests” couldn’t escape.
The more he thought about it the more possibilities he saw, the ice house was situated behind the cottage and well away from the road. He could quite happily do what he liked back here, and nobody would know. He might even get the posh girl to come back with him, only she would be a full-grown woman now, well into her forties. He replayed the image of her standing up in the saddle and sighed. It was decision made.
The lady at the estate agents had sounded quite surprised when she’d taken his call.
“Did you say number eight Manor Drive?” she’d asked, sounding slightly confused.
“Yes ma’am, that’s correct,” he’d replied in his near perfect American accent. There was no sign of a Norfolk Burr now. He heard the sound of paper being shuffled then the clicking of a mouse as the estate agent searched for number eights details on a computer.
“Ah yes, here it is. It’s been for sale for quite a while.”
That figured he thought before asking how much the property was for sale for.
“Three hundred and ninety-five thousand,” the estate agent said. “It’s the land that comes with it which makes it so expensive.”
“Ok, I’ll take it,” he said without giving the matter a second thought.
“I…I’m sorry don’t you want to view the property first?” The even more confused sounding estate agent asked.
“No, there’s no need. I’ll pay the full asking price. If you give me your email address, I’ll send you my details so we can get the ball rolling.”
Three hours later he was joining the M25 en route to Heathrow. It had been a good trip, one he’d wished he’d made years ago, but even so he’d done it now and the future held so many possibilities. Once the deal was done, and his mother’s old house was his he’d engage contractors to renovate both it and the ice house. They wouldn’t be local contractors, it would be far better to get someone in from out of town, especially with what he had planned for the ice house. One thing he could remember about growing up in a small Norfolk village was it was all very incestuous, and everyone knew everyone else’s business. Still with everything he had going on back in the States it was going to be a while yet before he’d be swapping the busy Ventura Freeway for the leafy lanes of Norfolk.
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