Hank's new doorbell records the impossible
|Hank pulled back the curtains in his bedroom and looked out of the window. It was 7:45am and right on time, Mrs Maconogy across the road was making her slow way towards the corner shop, walking stick tapping its own rhythm as she went. A few cars were parked on the curb, their owners not yet ready to leave for work. A cherry tree covered in delicate pink blossom still in the early morning air. Everything was normal.
When Hank looked down into his front garden, the smile froze on his face. His freshly cut lawn and perfectly manicured garden looked like a herd of wild elephants had trampled all over it. His tulips, which had stood so proudly in their rows along the garden wall, lay dead in the soil, their stems broken and petals strewn all over the pavement. Hank stifled a sob. Even his rose bush hadn't been spared. That rose bush was his pride and joy.
Kids! It had to be. When he caught the little hooligans, he'd throttle them. He stormed down the stairs, face burning with anger.
"Hank? What's wrong?" asked his wife Mable, as she placed the teapot on the kitchen table.
Hank stabbed his finger in the direction of the front door. "Have you seen what those little brats have down to the garden?" he demanded.
Mable frowned and maintained eye contact with her husband as she squeezed past him. She turned right, into the living room and leaned out of the bay window.
"Oh! Oh, my!" She stammered, clasping a hand to her mouth. "Oh, goodness." Tears rained down her face. "Oh, Hank."
Her distress caused her husband to calm down. "It's okay, Love. I'll go to the DIY store and get some taller gates and fencing. I'll put a bolt across it, if I have to."
A few days later, with a new gate and stronger fence, Hank replanted the garden, confident that it would be safe from the thugs.
Next morning, he was crestfallen to find the garden destroyed again.
"How?!" He asked. "How are they doing it?"
"Oh, Hank," said Mable. "I don't like this. What if they try to break in next time?" She placed a hand on his arm and pleaded with him. "Maybe we should call the police?"
"They'll want evidence," Hank sighed. "And we don't have any." Then an idea came to him. His shoulders relaxed and a grin replaced the angry frown. "Yet!"
Mable removed her hand from his arm and let it fall to her side. "What are you planning?"
A sly expression appeared on his face. "We'll catch them Mable. And we'll get the police the evidence they'll need." He accompanied each word with a nod of his head. "We're getting one of those doorbell cameras we've seen on the ads."
It arrived a week later. Hank spent the time fixing the gate, the fence and the garden. He set the doorbell camera up as soon as it was delivered.
Next morning, the garden was destroyed again.
"Right!" Hank said, preparing for battle. "Let's find out who's responsible."
He loaded the video from the camera to the computer, and settled in to watch the footage. For an hour, everything was fine, but suddenly, the middle of the night turned into broad daylight, as though someone had flicked a switch. The street had vanished, along with the cars and even the road. In their place were fields with brightly coloured tents dotted here and there. Way off to the left, a group of horses were tied to a stake in the ground, in what used to be Number One's garden. Stretching between what had been Hank's and Mable's house, and the house across the street was a sandy lane, divided in two by a rope, disappearing from the camera down the side of the house towards the back yard. Right in front of what used to be their garden, in the middle of the road, was a red and white striped pavilion, out of which ladies in medieval dress leaned.
Hank rose to his feet and staggered to the front window. He stared at the street. It looked exactly as it always had. The cherry tree, the cars, even Mrs Maconogy. The neighbour across the road was about to get into his car, when he looked up and saw Hank at the window. He waved. Hank returned the wave, confused, then went back to the computer and resumed his review.
The sun reflected on the plate armour of a knight sat astride a horse in a resplendent coat. He had his back to the camera as he trotted towards the pavillion. In one hand, he held a long, pointed stick painted red — easily longer than he was tall. He bowed to the ladies, and received a veil, which he tied to his lance. He raised the delicate hand to his lips and kissed the back of it, before cantering up the garden and out of view of the camera, just as another knight in black armour appeared at the far end of the field. The knight in black armour lowered his visor and started charging towards the house, lance down, ready to attack. He galloped up the lane towards the camera and disappeared from view along the side of the house.
As soon as he was off camera, the fields gave way to the street, the cars and the tree, and the daylight was replaced once again by the middle of the night. The only sign that it had ever happened was Hank and Maple's ruined garden and shattered gate.
"So who is it, love?" Mable asked from behind his chair.
"A medieval jousting match," Hank muttered.