It was quite
dark when we left the house that morning. You simply could not see a thing. It was 4a.m, it was early January and it was, to say the least, rather
cold In fact when I think back to that winter morning, I believe we must all have been quite
mad. The house we had left was deep in the heart of the country and since most people were safe in their beds at that time of day except for the milkman driving his milk float along the country lane and keeping as quiet as possible, we were the only human beings afoot - George, Charlie and me. In view of the limited number of pedestrians foolhardy enough to venture out at this hour, the local council had considered it quite
unnecessary to keep the street lights on.
The reason why we were out at that time is quite
simple: we were on the lookout for a 'monster' that had allegedly killed 25 sheep over the last two weeks. I say 'allegedly' because we were not quite
sure of our facts. We were what you might call 'quietly confident' as political leaders say on television when the votes are being counted after an election. Asked straight-out we would say we were quite
confident but by no means one hundred per cent sure.
You see the three of us had decided to go on holiday together as we all worked in the same office as private investigators for a detective agency and when we heard of this terrible sheep slaughter, we felt that with all our vast experience we would find it fairly
easy to solve the crime and become heroes of the local community. We rather
liked the idea of that. Such was the theory and now we were putting it into practice.
The basis of our reasoning was fairly
straightforward. Over the previous few nights we had got chatting to the local people in the public house called The Tall Story, rather
appropriate as it turned out, and in the way things go we told them about what we did for a living and they told us something about the life in the village and everybody seemed rather
interested in us as newcomers. Then quite
unexpectedly on the second evening old Joe, who was regarded as a rather
simple old man, spoke about the 'monster' that kept attacking sheep and killing them. One of the regulars came up to us surreptitiously and said he would rather
we didn't take the story too seriously because it would be bad for business. But old Joe, who was a rather
small old man and as far as we were concerned seemed quite
bright and fairly
harmless, was quite
insistent that there was a monster and according to him it tended to make an appearance around 4 to. 5 in the morning.
This then explains why we were on our early morning mission at such an ungodly hour. At around 5.15 we all felt that we had had quite
enough and were all agreed it would be sensible to make for home. It was at 5.20, I'm quite
certain about that because I had just looked at my watch, that we saw 'it1. The 'it' to which I am referring was a totally black creature, running on all fours and emitting a sound quite
alien to all of us rather
like a cross between a roar and a scream. We ran after it but it obviously it was familiar with the lie of the land and it would have got clean away had it not stumbled on a rock and fallen over. We caught hold of it and dragged and pulled this furry object to the police station pleased with our success. As we came into the police station, we met the police sergeant who seemed fairly
relaxed about our arrival. As we gleefully announced with one voice: 'We've caught your monster', we saw a well known figure climbing out of the black fur 'monster-'. It was then that we realised that all Joe was not only rather
bright and fairly
harmless but also rather
a practical joker. The police sergeant coughed politely, tried not to laugh and solemnly declared: 'Quite
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