Hampton in the vale was a picture postcard village with a stream running down the main street. It was part of the estate of the Laversham family, Henry Laversham and his son William lived in the big house at the head of the valley. Henry was an irascible man who had few friends and because of his unreasonable behaviour his wife had left him years ago.


     The village had been devastated by the proposal that the stream was to be dammed to create a reservoir to serve the city of Nottingham flooding the village under seventy five feet of water. Protest was useless because Henry Laversham owned ninety percent of the village buildings and he was being offered a fortune for the deal. Of course Laversham Hall would be high enough to be left untouched.


     Feelings were running high in the village and appeals to the local MP to stop it were to no avail Henry Laversham could do what he wanted with the land which was rightfully his. Compensation was to be grudgingly paid to people who owned property in the village but there were so few of them that Henry considered it a necessary evil.


     A deputation from the village c0mmittee went to the Hall to plead their case but Henry sat behind his huge desk not listening or caring what was being said.

     “It’s nineteen twenty four, Nottingham is growing fast, they need water and I’m the one to supply it now bugger off”


 He called William to show them out.


     “William can’t you persuade him to change his mind?” the chairman asked.

      “No, I’ve tried but he’s unmovable. If it were up to me the whole situation would never have arisen. I’m really very sorry for you all. He has been holding out for more money and will be signing the contract on November the sixth, after that there is no going back. If he doesn’t sign they will go elsewhere and dam one of the other streams but ours is the best option.”


     William was very contrite as if it was his fault.


     The news spread through the village and the realisation that the coming winter would probably be the last one for the community seemed to spur the people on to make the most of everything.


     “We’ll have the best of times this year” the chairman said.


     November the fifth came and the bonfire that they built was the biggest ever seen, a rough chair was knocked up and a life sized Guy Fawkes complete with a cape made from an old curtain and a large floppy hat, was tied to it. To keep it dry the Guy was put in the cricket pavilion until the night.


     That morning Henry Laversham was driving home through the village in his Rolls Royce. As he rounded a bend there was a tractor skewed across the road blocking the way. Henry stopped the car and got out.

      “What the bloody hell is going on?” he yelled “Get that bloody thing out of the wa…………”


     He stopped shouting as a rough sack was pulled over his head from behind and tied around his body with baling string.


     “Shut up Laversham, get him in the back of the car lads.” A swift blow to Henry’s head with a pick axe handle brought the silence they wanted.


     When he came to he was tied to a chair, still with the sack over his head.


     “He’s woken up lads”


     “What do you want?” he spluttered


     “From you nothing but if we keep you here for a couple of days, you won’t be able to sign that contract the deal won’t happen and the village will be spared”


     “I know your voice Tom Burridge, when I get free you’ll be arrested and thrown into jail for this. Now untie me.”


     “Hit him again Tom and shut him up”


    “I know you too Bill Savage, you’ll all suffer for this now set me…”


     Thud and he was unconscious again.


     “I think we might have to rethink this and do something more permanent, are we all agreed?

They all nodded.


     Bonfire night was cold and dry, the whole village had turned out, there was a barrel of beer and a pig was roasting on the spit.


     “Come on Tom light the fire and let’s get warmed up”


     The fire was lit and soon the flames were roaring up into the night sky licking around the cloaked figure of the Guy amidst the cheers from the village folk. Fireworks shot coloured balls of fire into the air and rockets shot up to the stars. All the villagers joined hands and danced around the fire singing at the top of their voices.


     “Remember remember the fifth of November,

       Gunpowder treason and plot

       I see no reason why gunpowder treason

       Should ever be forgot”


This totally drowned out the muffled screams as the gagged Guy writhed in a very lifelike way.


     The police forensic team arrived at about nine thirty on the sixth of November. The village green at Hampton in the Vale had been the scene of a spectacular Guy Fawkes Night fireworks and bonfire celebration. The whole village bar none had been there.

     The men from the farm who had been sent to clear the remnants of the bonfire that morning had discovered two things. One was the guy that should have been on top of the fire, was in fact behind the cricket pavilion. The other was in the ashes, it was human bones!


928 words Michael White 2020

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