by Cristiano Caffieri
When Russ Petersen saw an advertisement for a disused WWll army installation for sale he was immediately fascinated. It was embedded in a south of England cave system and it looked like an ideal place for a writer to live and work. The agent turned out to be a most attractive lady in her early thirties by the name of Reiko Weatherford.
She arranged to meet him in a nearby town and from there she drove him to the chalk hills were the installation, formerly used for plotting aircraft movements, was situated. Once they got out of the car, Ms. Weatherford had some difficulty negotiating the terrain as she’d chosen to wear stiletto heels. As they picked their way through the rocks she stumbled several times and Russ had put his arms around her to save her from falling.
When she unlocked the door, that was embedded in a hillside, she explained that some squatters had been living there and the place was a bit untidy. As they entered the tunnel, that still had electricity connected, they did have to step over some garbage but when she opened a door that the former tenants hadn’t got access to he was pleasantly surprised. It was a plotting room with much of the equipment still in place and leading off that was a sitting area with 1930s furniture and a quaint little kitchen.
“This is quite unbelievable,” said, Russ, “It’s perfect for what I want – anytime I’m writing a novel I could just come down here and sequester myself until the project is finished. It’s pretty hard to do that with all the noise you get in a place like Manchester.”
They sat in the sitting area for a while going over the legalities and the price and he signed an offer immediately, right on the plotting table. When retraced their steps down the tunnel, which had a number of small rooms leading off of it, and came to the big steel door that they’d left open. It was now mysteriously shut and secured from the outside.
Reiko had the key but that didn’t seem to help, it seemed that someone had secured it from outside.
“Oh my god, I think the squatters are responsible for this, they were pretty bitter when we turned them out, they’d been here for three years – kind of thought of it as their permanent home.”
She took her cell phone from her purse and attempted to make a call but the steel door and the rocks just didn’t allow a signal.
“I’m not quite sure what to do,” she said, looking quite embarrassed, “I told them I’d check in before I left for the week-end when I don’t show they’re bound to come looking.”