Tomas had barely slept. The many cockerels next door had awakened him well before he padded down the granite steps, picking his way barefoot across the road to the well. Nobody stirred in St Solen before dawn apart from the rats, and only they emerged at the peril of Raymond, the indomitable finger-wagging farmer. The grey dawn was a misty silver with the promise of blue sky to come. Ignoring the comforting sigh of a de-boiling kettle from the farmstead below, Tomas pressed on and steeled himself for the descent. Donning his prized head torch, without a backward glance he sought out the first rung of the well shaft and descended. Seven steps later the water met his heels and shocked him with the savagery of its coldness, and instinctively he threw his head upwards.
‘Swim well, ma petit’ spat a fedora- clad silhouette, arms spread wide. ‘In the unlikely event that you find anything, meet me at the Tabac at noon. Everybody else will be gearing up for pètanque, so we will not be disturbed’. An orange flare from his inhaled cigarette blossomed between the frail old man’s arms, before bony hands slammed the well doors shut with a sudden, awful darkness. Instinctively Tomas let go of the now slimy rungs and plunged in to darkness, screaming out all of his air as he fell.
© Tom Tide 2016