The Library at the Edge of the World
Lynn Sinclair’s steps rang hollow through the shadowed corridors of the derelict RAF base. It all looked different: she could barely remember where the old library had been. Her mind flooded with fears and memories as the dim torchlight lit her way.
It was a week since she had taken the call from Nicola Macdonald, ten years since she had last heard her worried voice, and ten years since she had fled from this desolate place in terror. “A detective has been here.” was the first thing Nicola said, and somehow it was not even a shock to Lynn, almost a relief.
Now, she pushed open the old library door: desks, dust and empty shelves stood eerily illuminated by flickering candlelight, and waiting in the room were Nicola – presiding again at the librarian’s desk like some ghost, and Fiona and Catherine, both grim and anxious.
“Nice flight, I hope?” said Fiona, but from her it was less a pleasantry than an accusation. They were bound together by a secret, but no longer by the respect and friendship they had once shared.
“Yes, thanks” said Lynn absently, her mind elsewhere. Memories of years gone by flashed through her mind. Memories which she had managed to bury – until now.
“I suppose you can guess what this is about.” said Nicola, frostily. Lynn sighed as she put down her bag. “I suppose it was only a matter of time” she said “In fact, I’m surprised the truth hasn’t come out before now.”
In a small cottage at the side of the voe, Magnie sat in his chair with a glass in his hand. His eyes fell on the old chest in the corner and his mind went to the old book carefully concealed in a compartment of the chest – a book he had found tucked away in a dusty corner of the old library!
Funny to think of it after all this time. On impulse, he picked up the binoculars and headed for the window. The late February afternoon was prematurely gloomy with low dark clouds. The old base stood silhouetted far across the hills.
An unexpected ray of sunlight broke through the menacing clouds and something flashed. Adjusting his binoculars, Magnie steadied himself. Cars, at the old base! “My god!” he thought. “It’s happening! It’s finally happening!” Memories, buried deep, rose to the surface. Sweat broke on Magnie’s brow. Time, had run out!
Meanwhile down at the police station, Sergeant Douglas McDonald regarded with suspicion the detective seated opposite him. “Come now Davy, you can’t expect me to believe that…”
“IT’S TRUE” cried Davy, flapping about in his fluorescent yellow jacket. “Magnie Linton has just raced out of the house with his rifle under his arm and headed off in the direction of the old RAF base”
“But Davy,” Douglas replied calmly. “Old Magnie Linton has barely left the house in almost 10 years! I didn’t even know if he still was mobile! Annette Shewan has been delivering his library books for years, and she says that he’s a poor old man …”
“Douglas! I am telling you! I was just gritting the paths, as usual, minding my own business and the man near knocked me over! You need to get to that base, and fast …!”
“Okay, okay” said Douglas, slowly extricating his not inconsiderable bulk from his well worn but very comfortable leather chair, “let’s have a look”.
Donning his jacket and picking up his car keys, Douglas, followed by an anxious Davy, stepped out into the darkness.
It was a short drive to the RAF base. Though not overly worried about Magnie’s unexpected outing, he may, after all, have simply had a sudden notion in shooting a rabbit or two, (mmm …rabbit pie, Douglas’s stomach grumbled) Douglas was, after all, a police officer, and duty bound to investigate.
At the site of the Old Base Douglas and Davy looked around but no sign of Magnie! Davy thinking to himself (could I have imagined it?) they stand in silence trying to hear if Magnie is nearby, BANG! a shot is fired, they race towards the direction of the gunshot, “I got him, I got him” Magnie says, “got who?” Douglas replied . . .
Upstairs in the library, the 4 women jumped! “Was that a gunshot?” asked Catherine nervously.
“Yes”, said Lynn.
“Magnie!” said Nicola. Fiona remained silent but moved towards the window. “No” shouted Lynn, “he’ll see us!”
“I know” said Fiona, “but this involves him too”.
By now snow was falling and the light was dimming. a black cat darted across the courtyard and they both stopped and looked as it disappeared at the sound of the approaching shouts.
Moving swiftly through the muffling snow came two shadowy forms, their faces hidden …
“Oh my God” Dougie says, “the ghosts of the old library, they do exist!” From under their hoods covering their ghostly faces, a pipe is visible, the rumour being if in the library basement pipe smoke is smelled, you have been chosen by the apparitions to fulfil a task … the task being murder!
As with that, the black cat reappears in the path between the ghosts and Magnie, its eyes glaring at the ghostly figures, breaking the hold which the ghosts had over Magnie. “Of course,” he yelled, “the ghosts’ one weakness, the crossing and glare of a black cat.” The ghosts vanish without a trace, a relieved Magnie stands up hugs Davy and Dougie, waves to Lynn and Fiona to let them know he’s OK, and turns as pale as a ghost himself, looks at Davy and Dougie and says, “but who did I shoot??…
Maybe it was Thelma clad in a yellow coonty jacket on her many sojourns to the old basement. As they all rushed to see who had been shot Elizabeth appeared shouting “Where’s Annette? the last time I saw her she asked for my yellow jacket!”
“Oh no” shouts Andrew “It’s worse than we thought!” Kneeling down at the body, he reveals the face …
Magnie, leaning over the body clutching the book (he found in the chest) trying to keep it out of view, at the sight of the face he dropped the book, opening at a certain page for all to see …
“But it can’t be”, spluttered Davy, for staring up from the page of the book was the same face, albeit a few years younger, as the one staring at them now from between the folds of the bloodstained jacket.
The book revealed to all was in fact a high school yearbook. The same face with the name Magnie Linton underneath. “But if this is Magnie Linton (pointing to the corpse) who are you?!” Dougie yelled. Davy noticed Andrew and the mystery gunman’s eyes link up, it’s plain to see to everyone that they both have the key to the whole affair, and what the connection the 4 women in the library has to Andrew and the mystery man.
“Hold on a minute” Catherine says, edging forward cautiously. “Where did Andrew mysteriously appear from?!” she points at him accusingly from the Library window above. The 4 women are peering nervously at the drama unfolding outside on the ground. Fiona starts to panic “Maybe we should explain! It wasn’t really OUR fault…” “Fiona, get a grip!” Nicola yells, “We’re not in Lerwick anymore! Who knows what the locals might do to us?!” “I should never have come,” sighs Lynn. “But can’t you see?!” Nicola shouts, throwing her arms in the air in exasperation, “This will clear us from the whole thing!” She points to the shooting outside. “But, Nicola, what’s this all about? What have you done?” Catherine asks, “and, WHO IS THAT?!”
She had not been forced to come here. She always chose. Oh, there were beaches, cliff tops, sheep tracks, but the base was a good place, things happened here, they happened in her head, she thought, but was he another ghost or was he real …