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Authors: Neil Spring

The Watchers

BOOK: The Watchers
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Praise For

Praise for
The Ghost Hunters

‘Surprising, serpentine and clever’

Sunday Times

‘Close the curtains pull up a chair, open a book – and prepare to be pleasantly scared’

Metro

‘A deft, spooky psychological drama based on a true story’

Daily Mail

‘Engrossing . . . a chilling English ghost story’

Fortean Times

‘Spring weaves a dark web of romance, deceit and a lingering curse’

Metro

‘I was gripped by the supernatural menace and the gradual revelation of mysteries and secrets’

Fortean Times

‘Genuinely spine chilling . . . an excellent blending of fact and fiction’

Light Magazine

‘A gloriously spooky tale, perfect for dark autumn nights’

Netmums.com

‘A roistering paranormal adventure’

Radio Times

About the Author

Neil Spring was born in south Wales in 1981. He started writing at the age of twenty-eight. Between 1999 and 2002 he studied philosophy, politics and economics at Somerville College, Oxford. In 2013 he published
The Ghost Hunters
, a paranormal thriller based on the life of Harry Price.
The Ghost Hunters
received outstanding reviews and has been adapted into a major television drama under the title
Harry Price: Ghost Hunter
for ITV. Neil is Welsh and lives in London.
The Watchers
is his second novel. You can contact him on Twitter
@NeilSpring
or visit him at
www.neilspring.com
.

Also by Neil Spring

The Ghost Hunters

Title

Copyright

First published in Great Britain in 2015 by

Quercus Publishing Ltd

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ

An Hachette UK company

Copyright © 2015 Neil Spring

The moral right of Neil Spring to be

identified as the author of this work has been

asserted in accordance with the Copyright,

Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication

may be reproduced or transmitted in any form

or by any means, electronic or mechanical,

including photocopy, recording, or any

information storage and retrieval system,

without permission in writing from the publisher.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available

from the British Library

PB ISBN 978 1 78429 063 4

EBOOK ISBN 978 1 78429 062 7

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,

businesses, organizations, places and events are

either the product of the author’s imagination

or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to

actual persons, living or dead, events or

locales is entirely coincidental.

Dedication

For Guy, Lord Black of Brentwood. A dear friend and a great man.

Note

This novel was loosely inspired by the UFO sightings that took place in Wales throughout the late 1970s. However, all the characters appearing in this work, as well as all details of the story itself, are entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to real places or persons (living or dead) is purely coincidental. For more information on the historical background of the sightings, please see the author note at the back of the book.

Map

Epigraph

‘We are a haunted species. The spectres are among us. They continue to come. They rattle their chains. Yet it is us who have chained them.’

Ralph Noyes, former MOD official

Prologue

Delivery of the Parsons Report

by Jonathan Harrison, former special adviser to the prime minister

Wednesday 22 May 1979, 10 Downing Street, London

Perhaps it was the prospect of meeting the new prime minister that accounted for his ashen expression; perhaps it was the weight of history which lay behind that famous black door. Whatever it was, the young man looked fearful. I might even go so far as to say tortured.

Smiling, I gestured him forward. ‘This way please, Mr Wilding.’

Many visitors to 10 Downing Street react with something close to awe, but this shabby, unkempt gentleman was different. He was not taking in the grandeur of the entrance hall; he was focused on stepping carefully across its chequered black and white floor.

‘Is that it? ‘I asked, eyeing the slim blue file in his hand.

He nodded without looking up, and I hurriedly guided him to the corridor that ran to the back of the house and up the grand stairs. He did not admire the gilded banisters. He did not eye the portraits of previous prime ministers. But when, as we reached the landing of the first floor, he glimpsed through an open door a vast oval table surrounded by vacant chairs, he stopped.

‘There?’ he said.

I nodded.

He stared into the panelled room, and I let him have a moment. It’s not every day a former parliamentary researcher is invited to attend an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council.

‘You followed the instructions in my memorandum?’ I checked.

‘Yes.’

‘You told no one of this meeting?’

‘I told no one.’

‘And you understand that—’

‘That what is said here today remains a secret, yes,’ he snapped, finally meeting my gaze.

‘The prime minister is waiting,’ I said, and I guided him along. I did not add that our new PM was not a lady to be kept waiting. Nor did I point out that he had just one hour to tell his story – to convince us – before the council members arrived. He did not look like he could take the pressure.

We arrived at the door to her study and I knocked once.

‘Come in.’ Her voice was calm but stern.

The prime minister looked up as we entered her office. I gestured Wilding to a chair before the desk, but before I could make the necessary introductions our guest had turned back towards the door I had just firmly closed.

‘Mr Wilding, are you all right?’ I asked.

He had gripped the door handle and was rattling it: once, twice, three times.

‘Mr Wilding?’

He looked at me with embarrassed, apologetic eyes and nodded, yet proceeded to perform the exact ritual a second time.

In all my years as a private secretary in Downing Street I had never witnessed a guest behave so peculiarly, especially before a prime minister. I was nervous to see her reaction – intrigued too, for this was only her second week in office.

After a third cycle of rattling, I ushered Wilding towards the chair once more. ‘Please, won’t you sit down?’

He did. Carefully. Perched on the edge of the seat as if ready to leap up at any moment.

The PM studied him. His hair was unruly, a shock of dark curls. His eyes too were dark and set deeply in a gaunt face. Haunted is the word that comes to mind. He looked haunted. And if the stories about him were true, that was understandable.

‘You are a difficult man to find,’ said the prime minister at last. ‘Two years?’

‘I needed to get away. I needed to recover.’

‘Remind me who you worked for?’

‘Paul Bestford. Member of Parliament for Pembrokeshire.’

‘Ah yes.’ She nodded, only once but her tone spoke volumes. ‘Paul’s loss of self-respect was sad to see. But his loss of self-control,
that
was unforgivable.’

The observation was cuttingly smooth. I wasn’t surprised when Wilding flinched. But his eyes remained locked on hers.

A beat passed, another, and still they stared. The silence was loaded with tension.

Finally, the prime minister began again. ‘Mr Wilding, I am so terribly sorry for your loss,’ she said with an empathy far removed from her public persona. ‘And so grateful for all you have done.’

‘Thank you,’ Wilding murmured. Quickly, he looked back over his shoulder to the door, then back at the blue file he was still holding in his right hand.

‘I want to reassure you that a full investigation into what happened in the Havens has been under way for some time,’ the prime minister said. ‘And the guilty parties are being sought.’

Wilding nodded. A gesture of reluctant acceptance, or grief perhaps.

‘Help me understand,’ she said, ‘what compels a man to act as your grandfather did?’

Wilding looked distressed. Dropping the blue file onto her desk, he said, ‘This. The recurrent power of evil.’

She didn’t reach for the document immediately, just eyed it steadily. ‘You have no idea,’ she said, drawing a breath, ‘for how long the intelligence services have sought this information. Beyond the Vatican Library, only a few copies exist, and we had no lead on any of them. Until now.’

But Wilding was no longer paying attention. The high windows that overlooked Horse Guards and St James’s Park were like a magnet to his eyes.
What on earth is he looking at?
I wondered. Finally he tore his gaze away, pulled in a deep breath.

‘Has Dr Caxton arrived yet?’

‘He is expected shortly,’ the prime minister answered. ‘We are in desperate need of his assistance. Yours too. Now go on. Tell me, please, Mr Wilding, how did you come by this document? From the beginning. Leave nothing out.’ She gave me a quick glance. ‘My secretary will take notes.’

‘I . . . I don’t know where to start.’ He paused, then added, ‘Prime Minister, I think the questions you really want to ask are, “Did those things actually happen?
Could
they happen?”’

She tilted her head to the side, just as she had during my briefing to her earlier that morning on the plague of phenomena that had occurred two years ago in the distant community of the Havens, St Brides Bay, in west Wales, an area the newspapers were calling the Broad Haven Triangle. The events had made national headlines: mutilated animals, tormenting poltergeists, dancing lights in the sky, unidentified flying objects and menacing silver-suited figures watching, watching.

Wilding hesitated. ‘What now? I mean, what happens to me?’

‘We will establish a unit to investigate these matters.’

‘Yes, but will I be safe?’

‘That rather depends upon you, Mr Wilding.’ The prime minister gave that noncommittal smile that I would live to see her give many more times. Her gaze dropped to the title of the blue file before her: The Parsons Report. ‘This document couldn’t have come to us at a more important time. The Soviets are hell-bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has ever seen. They are among us. And this could make all the difference.’ She paused. ‘I want to hear your story. There will be time afterwards for you to write it down.’

Wilding leaned forward and rested his tented fingers on the desk’s dark leather surface. ‘Prime Minister, there’s something I’d like to know before I begin.’

‘By all means.’

‘Do you believe we are alone in the universe?’

Margaret Thatcher’s eyes widened. ‘Mr Wilding, my national security advisers inform me that it is no longer a question of belief.’

Wilding released a troubled sigh. It was hard to tell whether he agreed with her or not.

‘Well then,’ he said, leaning restlessly back into his chair, ‘my story begins in west Wales sixteen years ago. At a place called Ravenstone Farm.’

BOOK: The Watchers
9.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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