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The Murder of Mr Ackroyd 2

by  sredni

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010
Word Count: 862
Summary: This is a second go. The first chapter is the same as before, but I've kept it on to see if people think that it goes with the new second chapter. I suspect that I'm getting into 'pov hell', something that I didn't even know existed until a week ago!

The body was lying half on the grass and half on the concrete path. Even though it was face down Archie could tell immediately that it was Mr Ackroyd from his messy mop of grey hair and his green tweed suit. And although he could not see them, he knew that underneath he would be wearing a yellow waistcoat and a brightly coloured bow-tie, because that was what he always wore.
He also knew that he was dead.
The body was unnaturally still, and twisted uncomfortably, as if it had been reaching out for something. Archie stood transfixed, not knowing what to do. Part of him wanted to rush forward to help, even though he knew that there was nothing he could do; and part of him was so repulsed and sick that he wanted to turn away, to run away even. In the end he just stood there, open-mouthed and stupid.
The rest of the school were still in chapel. Normally Archie would have been with them, but this morning he was on his way to an exam, an important exam, so he had been excused. As he stood there, staring dumbly at Ackroyd’s body, he heard the sound of footsteps coming round the corner. Then he heard the footsteps stop suddenly, and then after a pause, they hurried to where he was.
“What the¬¬-”. It was Mr Underwood. “What…” he spluttered, not knowing what to say and seeming to be gripped by panic and indecision. Then something seemed to click into place in his brain. “Stay here Hodgson,” he barked, and then he ran off towards the chapel to get help and to stop the rest of the school coming out.
And then it was just Archie and Mr Ackroyd again.
A gentle breeze wafted through the quad, giving this horrific scene a strange sense of calm for a moment. Weirdly, Archie’s thoughts turned to his exam. He had thought of little else for the last month. But if Ackers was dead, he thought, it would probably be cancelled. For a brief moment, there was the slightest flicker of a smile on his face.

Inside the chapel, the organ was blaring out the opening bars of the morning hymn. The chapel was full, and from his seat in the choir stalls at the front, Rory Goode could survey the whole scene. His mind wasn’t really on the hymn that he was about to sing. In fact, he had only just arrived on time this morning, and Mr Deedes the choir-master had shot him an angry glance as he took his place right at the last minute, squeezing clumsily past the others on his row. Rory often seemed to be late these days.
The hymn began and Rory’s mouth moved mechanically, barely keeping time to the music, as his mind wandered around the chapel. For a brief moment he tried to catch the eye of his Dad, who was sitting in the centre of the back-row, but his Dad seemed to be completely caught up in the hymn, belting it out as loudly as he could. As Deputy Head he was always concerned to lead by example in everything that he did at St Williams. Rory sighed. This was the whole problem.
Suddenly Rory became aware that Deedes was looking at him, and he tried to show a bit more enthusiasm for what he was supposed to be singing. Then he glanced again towards the back of the chapel, surprised to suddenly notice that his Dad had stopped singing, and had moved towards the door. Rory assumed that someone was trying to sneak in late, about to be punished by the all-seeing deputy. But it was Mr Underwood. This was odd. Rory had never seen Underwood in the chapel before, and the caretaker looked a little out of place and uneasy.
Rory watched closely as Underwood frantically tried to communicate something with his Dad, but was clearly struggling against the unrelenting din of the organ. Rory knew that his Dad would be annoyed. He loved routine, and expected everything at St Williams to work perfectly so this sort of interruption could put him in a bad mood for a week. Rory hoped that it was something important, for Underwood’s sake.
But even from the front of the chapel, Rory could see the change on his Dad’s face. For a moment he went pale, with a look of complete disbelief in his eyes. Then his mouth tightened with tension, or maybe concentration. He glanced around quickly, but looked at nobody in particular, then he said something to Underwood and the two men walked straight out of the door.
Nobody else in the chapel appeared to have noticed that anything was wrong. Almost everyone in the chapel had their backs to Underwood and Mr Goode, and the choir were completely focused on Mr Deedes. But Rory knew that something was seriously wrong. It had to be Archie.
Without looking back at Mr Deedes he put down his hymn-book, pushed his way past the others in his row, and headed out of the side-door of the chapel as quickly as he could.