Leigh, Kent- 8th December 1980. 08:30AM GMT
The snow fell onto the small village of Leigh in Kent, turning it into a traditional Christmas card image. The leaves were off their trees and the Christmas lights were on the picturesque houses, which were shrouded in mist.
Slightly set back from the road and away from the centre of the village where the green was, lay a large, foreboding, 17th Century mansion. It was surrounded by finely clipped hedges and bare-branched trees and in front of it was a large tarmacked surface. On the tarmacked surface was a jet black Saab 900 Turbo, a red AMC, and a brand sparkling new Datsun 280 ZX, 10th Anniversary edition.
The snow falling down and on top of the mansion made it look like a scene from a Christmas card, much like the rest of the village. The front of the house was adorned with Christmas lights, a tree was visible from the bottom left hand window, and a wreath was hung around the door. It all looked very pretty, but it didn’t make the mansion look any less intimidating.
The house belonged to Terrence and Mary Peterson, who lived there with their 14 year old son Dave and their 12 year old son Steve.
Terrence and Mary’s other son Jeff had decided to come round and visit the family with his wife Sasha.
At first the morning of 8th December 1980 was a fairly normal one, the Peterson family were sitting round the table ready to have their breakfast.
Dave, Steve, Mary, and Terrence had traditional full English breakfasts, whereas Jeff and Sasha had new-fangled Quorn sausages and tofu because they were
hippy weirdos vegetarian.
But then Dave decided to turn on the radio. After that, the general mood in the room changed for the worst.
“Harry Taylor’s death was too early in the morning to reach British news stations immediately after it happened,” announced the BBC news reader solemnly.
The Petersons sat in silence for a moment.
“Did I hear that right?” Terrence wondered aloud to himself.
“No, surely it’s just a coincidence. Maybe it was someone else with the same name? Or maybe we misheard it,” Mary reassured the family around the table.
But unfortunately they hadn’t misheard and it wasn’t a coincidence.
Harry Taylor, former lead singer of popular music group the Ants and recently turned political activist had been shot in New York by a deranged fan at 23:00 EST, 04:00 GMT, when the Petersons were in bed.
Jeff sighed sadly whilst looking at his full English breakfast in front of him.
“Well, that’s that, then,” he mused to himself.
Sasha rubbed his back comfortingly.
“Now, son, I know I never approved of your little band, but I know how much joy your friendship with Harry brought you, and for that I am sorry for your loss,” Terrence said to his eldest son.
“It’s alright, Dad, I’ve not spoken to him in 10 years,” Jeff replied to his old man, “still sad though.”
In fact, Jeff had not spoken to any of the other members of the Ants since they split up dramatically a decade ago.
Jeff decided to shun his music career altogether and live as a recluse on his Scottish farm with his wife Sasha, whilst spending more time with his family, specifically his two younger brothers who were born whilst he was touring with the band. Harry turned to political activism, Andrew turned to shamanism, and Richard became a successful solo artist.
Now Harry’s activism had got him killed.
The Peterson’s began to eat their breakfast, whilst listening to the news.
“You know, he had it coming to him,” Steve suddenly added to the conversation.
The other people around the table gasped at the twelve-year-old’s remark.
“What do you mean by that?” Jeff asked his younger brother.
“Well, the government thought he was causing too much trouble and wanted him deported,” Steve continued, “and now they’ve got more than they wanted; his death.” Steve then dug into his bacon.
“You don’t honestly think Harry was killed by the US Government, do you?” Dave asked.
“Well, they wanted him gone… and now he’s gone… forever,” Steve mused before eating his sausage.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Steve,” Terrence barked at his son, “they’ve just said on the news that he was shot by a deranged fan. The government were not involved and that’s final.”
“Well, the government wouldn’t want it known that it was them, but clearly it was. Maybe they hired this man to assassinate Harry,” Steve suggested before eating his egg.
“No, they did not. I don’t like this attitude son. You better stop believing this rubbish right now or you’re going to contribute to the degradation of humanity.” Terrence snapped.
“Ok, ok, it was just a thought,” Steve said before eating his tomatoes.
“Can we change the subject, now?” Sasha asked her in-laws, “Jeff’s friend has just been shot and you’re all going on about how he died.”
“It was Steve who started it,” Dave said before arguing with his brother.
“That’s enough, you two ,” Terrence told the two youngest Petersons.
“Ok, Sasha,” Mary said gently, “we’ll forget about the news and have our breakfast.
The Peterson’s had the rest of their breakfast in silence as Harry’s somewhat downbeat Christmas single blared out on the radio.
“Will you bring out a Christmas single, Jeff?” Dave asked his brother.
“Nah, I left that life behind for a reason,” Jeff responded, “and anyway, if I did it probably wouldn’t be that good.”
Jeff then ate his meat-free sausages.
A little while after their breakfast, the Peterson’s went for a walk in the snow capped fields surrounding their house. High up on a hill was a large Oak tree the family called the Faraway Tree, named after Enid Blyton’s book series. The tree had been there when Terrence and Mary first moved it, and it had been there ever since. The family stopped at the foot of the tree and observed the fields surrounding it.
“I kind of wish I’d spoken to him again”, Jeff said as he observed the landscape, “I didn’t properly say goodbye.”
“Probably best you move on now, son,” Terrence said. “He’s gone now, and you decided to cut ties with him. You can’t change that.”
“I know, Dad”, Jeff said, “but I still feel there was some unfinished business. I didn’t fully get closer.”
“Your father’s right, Jeff, that’s all in the past now. There’s nothing you can do about it,” Mary added.
After a while, the family continued to walk into the misty fields.
“I still think Carter had something to do with it”, Steve said.
“Son, what did I tell you?” Terrence asked Steve sternly.
“Not to believe that rubbish other wise I’ll contribute to the degradation of humanity,” Steve responded.
“There’s a good boy”, Terrence replied.
And with that, the Petersons vanished into the mist.