Arnold Wilkinson rose as usual at 6:30am. His alarm kicked into action and was silenced without making a single noise. This was always the case, Arnold was punctual, and this meant that he was awake at 6:29am and already attempting to silence his bedside alarm.
He flicked on the bedside lamp and slowly sat up, and turned to sit on the side of his bed. Without the need of any locating device, his feet automatically slotted into his slippers. He stood, putting his red dressing gown on, and made his way to the bathroom. His eyes may well have not been open as he walked the path from his bed to the toilet and proceed to empty his very full bladder. 6:33am
He removed his dressing gown and hung it on the back of the bathroom door. His pyjamas were placed on a small hook beside the shower door as he entered the small cubicle. His hand fumbled as it turned the dial on the power shower and an instant stream of cold water hit him directly in the face.
Most people would allow the shower to find its way up to the correct temperature before even entering the cubicle, but not Arnold Wilkinson; he needed this shock to the system to kick him firmly into action.
By 6:44am, Arnold was showered, dressed, and sat at his breakfast bar awaiting the delivery of his morning fare. 6:45am Mrs Wilkinson placed a steaming bowl of fresh porridge in front of her husband. Annie Wilkinson woke at 6pm; she had done for every morning of the last twenty years.
Today was going to be a very busy day. Arnold’s list of jobs to do was as lengthy as usual, so he needed to be leaving the house to walk the dogs by no later than 7:00am
Arnold pulled back the curtain in the living room to observe the conditions outside. The light was just starting to make itself noticed as it seemingly reflected off the low lying mist that had taken up residency in the close. A slight frost glistened on the grass of the front garden and Arnold suspected that the air would be full of a chill. As he grabbed his coat and scarf from the clock room, he shouted for the dogs to follow him out of the front door and into the 4x4 parked on the drive.
Arnold liked to walk the dogs and he liked the New Forest so it went without saying that Arnold Wilkinson liked to walk his two Springer Spaniels in a one particular place deep in the New Forest. Even if it meant a thirty minute drive to get there. As he turned the ignition key the LCD clock flicked into existence, 7:02am. Damn, he was running late.
The drive to the point was uninteresting. The high points in the forest are largely covered in grass, bracken, and gorse, and although this makes pleasant roaming grounds for the ponies and deer, it offers little in the way of eye candy for a 4x4 driving at 39.5mph. The road had been clear of other vehicles for much of the way as this particular route was not a connecting road for any rush hour traffic; it simply led to the point.
7:35am Arnold pulled over into a lay-by. The rest of the trek would involve the dogs taking in their morning exercise. He cursed at the lost five minutes that he was unable to blame on anyone other than himself. Sheer carelessness at the window had cost him this morning’s punctuality award.
The dogs jumped out of the boot and headed straight for the trees at the side of the road. Collins was the first to reach the small path and stop waiting for his master. As if it was possible for the compulsive ritualistic nature to rub off on to mans best friend, the dogs always waited at the top of the path that they followed south every morning, except this one.
Barker rushed straight on passed and threw himself with much gusto down the northern path. A look of distaste covered Arnold’s face as he called out for his dog to return to the predestined walking ground.
Barker was having none of it as he disappeared into the mist. Arnold called after his disobedient K9 until 7:40am and then turned to his waiting pooch. “Come on then, we best see if we can find Barker.”
As if some gluten of the magic words had been uttered, Collins rushed down the path after his anarchic friend and promptly disappeared.
Arnold was worried, he had not walked this way before, and he did not know how long a round trip was going to take him this morning. Especially in light of the fact that he was already perilously behind schedule. However, what could he do, the dogs has made his decision for him, and it was making him feel rather reckless.
The body had not been well hidden. The dogs had disturbed it in the undergrowth as they had run by. They had not even stopped for it just continued on their way down the path make the odd lunge for each other as the played along the way.
Arnold had noticed something that had looked like an arm sticking out from under a small holly bush. On closer examination in had in fact turned out to be the remains of an arm, but it was now the remains of an arm and a whole lot of sick that Arnold hadn’t been quick enough to hold onto.