Excerpts from novel

Chapter 2

 7th May 2002. Walmsfield Borough Council Offices – 2 months before the incident at Whitewall Farm

“Ooh, you bastard thing!” Sandra Miles aimed a hefty kick at the rickety stepladder and looked down at her broken fingernail.
“Bugger!” she said exasperatedly. She stared up at the old leather handle sticking out on the top shelf and cursed that every time she was asked for a dossier from the “Inactive Files” room it always seemed to be the most difficult one to retrieve. She looked hawkishly at the stepladder and then manhandled it a little closer to her quarry; she climbed up slowly, grabbed the protruding handle and extracted the container from the tightly packed, dusty bundles. She saw the faded lettering ‟Whitewall Farm” on a mostly detached gummed label and then climbed carefully back down.

Back in her office, she placed it on her desk and looked at it carefully.  The Whitewall  dossier was everybody’s favourite; it looked like an old small brown travel case with crossed straps around it that were sealed with a hefty looking padlock. Nobody had a clue how old it was,  or  how long it had been in the Council’s care, but now it had been requested by Naomi Draper from Historic Research and it was up to her to open it.

She carefully looked to see if a key was somehow attached, but there was none; she tried flicking open the case locks to see if she could lift a corner of the lid, but they too were locked. This meant another trip to the basement to see if a key had become detached from the case  and manhandling again, the heavy wooden stepladder.

Half an hour later the only thing that she had to show for her effort was her broken fingernail and a good deal more dust up her nose.  She returned to her office, looked dejectedly at the case for a few minutes longer, then reached for her
phone and dialled the Head of Planning.
“Carlton, Sandra here. I’ve had to retrieve that old Whitewall file from the basement and it‟s locked. Do we have any keys for it?”
“Now you’re asking,” said the puzzled Head, “I haven’t seen that file for years, so  if they aren’t evident, Heaven knows where they could be. You’d better bring it up to my office and we’ll see what we can do.”…

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