Scared to Live
years in the Peak District. No one who lived or worked on the western fringes of the national park doubted they existed. Plenty of drivers had seen them, and a few had run one over at night on some remote road. The original animals had escaped from a private zoo during the Second World War, and bred on the moors. According to the stories, a
    yak escaped at the same time. But the last yak sighting was back in the fifties. Pity, really. 'Too late now, I reckon,' said Wilding. 'So they say. Too many people and dogs invading their habitat.' 'Oh, aye. And too much traffic. People have killed them off, when the bad winters couldn't.' Cooper thought he'd probably passed the test. Some of his colleagues would have had no idea what Bernie was talking about. But he'd proved his credentials as a local. 'What about Miss Shepherd? You saw her often enough and at close enough range to recognize her, didn't you?' Wilding screwed his face up thoughtfully. 'You know, the few times I did catch a glimpse of her, she always seemed to be wearing a headscarf, or something that hid her face. I could never be entirely sure it was her. Not so that I could absolutely swear to it, you understand?' 'So you don't think you'd be able to identify her, Mr Wilding?' 'Not for certain. Sorry.' 'You spoke to her, though, didn't you? What did she sound like?' 'Well, I reckon she had a bit of an accent,' said Wilding. 'But I couldn't really place it. I didn't speak to her that often, and even then it wasn't to hold a conversation. Most often, it was through that intercom thing on the gate. And, to be honest, I wouldn't recognize my own mother speaking through one of those.' 'Did you ever see anyone else coming or going from Bain House?' 'No, never.' 'Any cars parked there?' 'Just Miss Shepherd's. It's a Volvo, I think.' 'And these gates were always closed, as far as you know?' 'Always. She kept everyone out, including me.'
    'One last thing,' said Cooper. 'What was it you brought for her this morning?' 'Oh, there was a package. It was a bit too big to get in the letter box. Can I give it to you?' 'Yes, please. I'll let you have a receipt.' Wilding handed him a small parcel about nine inches long. 'Miss Shepherd never got much mail. I hope it was nothing to do with what happened to her.' 'Well, it was the reason she was found today, instead of in a week's time.'
    By the time Diane Fry arrived in Foxlow, there was no room for anyone to park anywhere near Bain House. She had to leave her Peugeot on the roadside close to a stone wall and walk to the RV point. Cooper met her near the gates as he was clearing the way for Bernie Wilding to get his van out. 'Can you bring me up to speed, Ben?' she asked. 'Sure. I've made notes.' 'I thought you would have.' Cooper ran through the details. Fry listened carefully, finding nothing to fault him on. He thought he'd done pretty well, considering he hadn't been at the scene much longer than she had herself. 'She sounds like a bit of a recluse,' said Fry when he'd finished. He wondered if Fry felt the same slight shiver of recognition that he did at some of the details. There were times in many people's lives when they went to great lengths to avoid contact with anyone else. It wasn't so unusual. Just a bit extreme, perhaps, in Rose Shepherd's case. 'Actually, I used to know a lady who was a real recluse,' he said. 'Old Annie, we called her. When I was a child, she lived in an old cottage near the farm. She must have been there for donkey's years, because the place was getting very run down. But she didn't seem to have any relatives - or if
    she did, they never bothered to visit her. Annie stayed in her house watching TV and listening to the radio, much like Miss Shepherd must have done.' They began to walk towards the house. The front door stood open, officers still coming and going with bagged items for examination. 'No one visited Annie at all?' asked Fry. 'Well, Mum used to call on her occasionally to see if she was all right.

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