• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 10

The Graveyard of Girlfriends

Wallace was brought to the scene. He’d been retired from the force for over five years, so the telephone call came as a surprise. He wasn’t told the details of the case, only that it was related to the mystery that had plagued his career for almost three decades; those poor missing women he never found. The possibility of answers was undeniably alluring.

Beyond a quarry and on a valley floor in a mountainous woodland, it was almost impossible to find. Police officers inspected the pile of cars on the stump; it looked like a public art installation you find in city centres. Odd but provoking.

Wallace looked at the cliff’s edge above. The fall itself was a cruel mistress. Did gigantic eagles swoop beneath the wheels, gliding each of the cars to safety? Even so, how did the drivers know there’d be this steadying hand to hold them? As though Mother Earth reached a finger from her own innards to break their fall.

Hush, old man, rambling about Goddesses and magical birds.

While the young officers hovered around the stump, Wallace took a step back. His eyes scoured the area for clues. Nothing. He was out of practice.

His knees ached so he leant on a short, thick tree, hiding from the others and their pitying eyes. His fingertips felt a careful indent. Symbols. Letters.
“What’s that?” he whispered. Wallace tried to read the cleverly camouflaged scratches on the bark, but it was a blend of pictures, symbols and letters. A language or code he’d never seen before. Maybe even spells.

Senile fool. Stop talking of witchcraft.


The Graveyard of Girlfriends

Messages. They must be messages or instructions. There were numbers too, possibly the end of credit card numbers, phone numbers or coordinates. The kind of things you’d give to a fugitive, or somebody impossibly desperate.

“Where’s Wallace Martin?” A red-haired woman, Detective Redmouth, was quizzing the officers.
Wallace approached. “That’s me, Detective.”
Detective Redmouth explained the details, how these cars, or women connected to the cars, were all reported missing, with cases dating back to 1992 all the way to 2020.
“Do you recall Deborah Greggs?” asked the Detective.
“Yes. In and out of women’s refuges for years. Disappeared in…2002. Her family were distraught.”
“Quite a memory, Mr Martin,” said the Detective, impressed. “Well, one of the cars is her ex-partner’s. And another one of your cases…Mary Llewellyn…disappeared after stabbing her husband.”
Abusive husband. The pictures from the file flooded his mind.
“It’s like a graveyard of deranged girlfriends,” scoffs the Detective.
Wallace looked at the sturdy stump. The saviour.
This is no graveyard. It’s a fresh start.
“So, anything you’ve noticed that could help our investigation?”
Wallace almost glanced at the tree but stopped himself. “No, I’m useless nowadays,” he said with a light laugh.

He left soon after but vowed to return that night. If he could figure out the code before the police, he could warn them; the women who wanted to stay lost.