Lu stepped over the threshold and into the bustling warmth of the country pub. Hikers, ramblers, locals and tourists were crowded around her, laughing and talking over pints of ale, gin and tonics. She felt a tightening in her throat where the killer had tried to strangle her. The warmth was close to suffocating after the chill of the mountainside.
Suddenly, she spotted something distinctive. All of her attention was focused on the red anorak draped over the back of a chair, her field of vision closing in so that it was the only thing she saw. Lu didn’t know what she was doing, but the coat was drawing closer to her. She was walking towards it like a woman in a dream, a waking nightmare. Her hand reached out and brushed against the slick plastic material.
A man turned, casting a casual look around the pub. Beyond him she saw mouths open in laughter, teeth bared in aimless chatter and lips pressed to the rims of pint glasses. But in the man’s face there was utter shock, perhaps even fear.
“Murderer!” Lu shouted, stabbing at the man with her finger. “He’s a murderer!”
The hubbub died down to a soft murmur. Every tongue in the place was stilled and each pair of eyes fixed itself on Lu’s quivering face. She was exhausted and emotionally drained, but elation leapt in her breast when she realised that the killer had been caught.
“You’re her.” The man said, narrowing his brows and taking a hesitant step back. “You’re the madwoman who chased me down the mountain.”
“Don’t play dumb!” Lu snapped, stepping after him. “I saw you throw her off the cliff. I saw you kill your girlfriend.”
People muttered darkly on all sides, moving away so that a wide circle formed around Lu and the killer. A wall of stern faces and suspicious scowls surrounded them.
“My girlfriend is back home. What are you talking about?”
The man took out a mobile phone and starting pressing buttons. Lu heard a dial tone ring a few times and a woman’s voice answered. Voices grumbled and, as she looked around for support, Lu saw that their angry stares all fell on her. Her hands began to shake with mingled frustration and embarrassment.
But she had come too far to give in. She knew what she had seen. If she hadn’t seen it, she would have taken her own life. Witnessing that innocent woman’s death had given her a purpose, a reason to go on living. She refused to let it go.
“Then it was another woman.” Lu said, and then turned to the onlookers. “It was a woman in a bright blue anorak. He killed her because she wouldn’t marry him. Trust me, I saw it!”
She had thought the pub patrons’ glares were the worst of it, but they weren’t. Now people turned away, whispering to each other in tones of sympathy. Lu didn’t want them to feel sorry for her, she wanted to be believed.
A rough hand touched her arm and she jerked backwards. The killer was standing close, near enough to her that she could smell hops on his breath. He gestured to something, pointing at her chest. She looked down with the patron’s muttering loud in her ears.
“Poor thing, it’s sad really.”
“Probably unhinged. Someone should do something.”
“Is there anything we can do?”
Lu looked down and saw the bright blue anorak she had put on that morning.
You can read the first Scafell Pike here.