The Fairy Circle
Nearly there, Sgt. Peacock thought.
It’d been a long shift, the Saturday night ones always were, but he was nearly done. The policeman began fiddling with the radio to find something, anything, other than the Duran Duran CD that Dodds had insisted on playing all night long. As if all the drunks hadn’t made tonight traumatic enough, he thought, what’d he done to have to endure this crap as well? He’d already dropped Dodds home a few minutes ago, he just needed to pop back to the station to sign a couple of forms and then he’d be free and…
“Sergant Peacock? Ray are you there?” The sound of Natalie’s voice crackled through to him, he’d almost made it!
“No, I’ve quit! You’ll have to find someone else to flirt with!” He joked, then after a loud sigh, “What’s up?”
“I know you’re nearly done for the night, but we’ve just had a call in about a suspicious bloke up by the retail park? Could you pop by and take a look as you’re just round the corner?”
“Fine,” He said, against his better judgement, “I’m only five minutes away, there better be a brew waiting for me when I get back there!”
“Cheers Ray, I’ll pop the kettle on!” The amber light gave way to green and he swung the patrol car across the deserted crossroads.
He dropped down a gear and the car began trundling around the car park, his tired eyes began scanning his surroundings for this “Suspicious bloke,” it was 4am for god’s sake. Everyone’s suspicious at this time of day! He managed to pick out a shape between the buildings, looked like his suspicious bloke was crouched down on the green between the gym and the sofa place, “Right then, let’s make this quick” he muttered before giving the man a quick flash of the blue lights.
The car came to a gentle stop in front of the gym, another hour or so and the yuppies’ll be fighting over this spot so they can do their posing before work, Ray thought. He pulled himself out of the patrol car and placed his hat on top of his dark brown hair. Hardly an imposing sight, Sgt Peacock wasn’t much taller than his car and the years of fast-food eaten hastily on the job were beginning to catch up to him. He often joked that he’d look like Tom Hardy if his mother hadn’t smoked while pregnant.
Ray began walking slowly towards the crouching figure, his black shoes crunching on the gravel path,
“You alright mate?” He hoped he wasn’t going to run, he’d already broken up a dozen fights tonight, he wasn’t sure he had a chase in him.
“Oh I’m fine officer!” A voice with an Irish lilt drifted over to him as the man turned his head and beamed, “and yourself?”
“It’s been a long night if I’m honest,” Now that he was closer he could see something behind the man, “What’s your name pal?”
“I’m Michael, what brings you out here at this time?”
“Y’know what? I was just about to ask you the same thing Michael” Said Ray, doing his best to keep things friendly, there was something about this whole situation that felt wrong.
“Well if you must know, it’s my wife.” Michael nodded towards the shape behind him, which Ray could now see was a woman lying in a foetal position. Not the first one he’d seen this evening.
“Oh dear,” He said with as much faux-concern as he could muster, “Bit worse for wear is she? Big night was it?”
“Oh that’s not it at all sir, in fact, that’s not really my wife!”
“What?” His voice involuntarily dropped an octave, no more small talk.
“It looks like her, even sounds like her if I’m honest but it’s obviously not her. It managed to fool almost everyone y’see, but not me!”
“What are you talking about Michael?” Ray said as he hurried past Michael to try and assess his wife.
“It was right after our son was born, she suddenly started acting strangely, crying over nothing, mood-swings y’know?”
“That can be a difficult time” Said Ray, placing a hand on the woman’s shoulder, “Are you alright, love?”
“I thought to myself, that doesn’t seem like my Mary at all, so I did the test!”
“What test?” He moved his hand to find a pulse on her neck, only to find it slick with blood, “Oh Jesus!”
“The test for a Changeling of course!”
Ray reached for his radio, “Come in control! I need an ambulance at the White Lion Retail Park immediately!”
“Oh that’s not necessary Sergeant, it’s in the fairy circle now,” He was pointing at the ring of mushrooms on the ground, “They’ll return my Mary to me by dawn, why’re ye making such a fuss?”
“Michael I need you to stay where you are! Control? Nat! I need that Ambulance right bloody now!”
“No Sergeant,” Michael’s face was sullen as he raised his fists, “You don’t!”