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ONE FOGGY NIGHT -     a short story    

 by Andrew Rossiter  

         When an anxious mother calls the Police to report that her teenage son has not come home, the policemen find themselves looking at more than just a couple of missing teenagers  .....

      “He should have been back by eleven thirty,” said the voice on the phone. “I’m so worried. It’s the first time he’s been out with the car at night .”
    “And how old did you say your son is?” asked Sergeant Parker.
     “Seventeen, officer. He only passed his test a week ago. And Melanie’s only 15 .”
    “Well Mrs. Hoskins, I can only say that I haven’t had any reports of incidents involving a blue Escort; but I’ll put out a message. Just make sure you call us back immediately if ‘e comes home. We can’t afford to waste police time, can we ?”
    “No, officer, of course not. But you’ll let us know at once if you find them, won’t you ?”
    “Yes Ma’am, we will.”
    Parker looked at the clock on the wall. It was just after two. “Constable Shepton!”
    “Sir ?”
    “Put out a message to all cars. Look out for a dark blue Escort, registration number J47 HGK. Driver’s a young lad of 17 called Paul Hoskins - just passed his test. His mum expected him home before midnight. Hasn’t shown up .”
    “Any idea where he is ?”
    “Went out for the evening with his girlfriend. She’s not home either .”
    “What’s the problem then, Sarge?” asked Shepton. “Probably out clubbing! If we had to look for every youngster who stayed out late... .”
    “Yes, I know. But ‘is mum says he’d promised to be back home by midnight. “
    “Yes, but... .”
    “Seems like he’s a sensible lad, who does what he’s told..... And the lass is only 15 .”
    “Blue Escort!” said Constable Wells. “It’d be a bit easier if it were a yellow Ferrari. How are you meant to recognise anything in this?”
    A heavy sea fog was rolling in off the Channel, bringing visibility down to less than thirty yards.
    Constable Bradstock got back into the car. “Well there isn’t anything going on round here. Place is deserted.”
    At that moment, two lights surged out of the mist, and drove past at high speed. “Bloody idiot,” said Wells. “Shall we go after ‘im ?”
    “What? In this fog? What’s the point? Let’s just get on with the round.”
    Bradstock started the engine, and the patrol car moved slowly forward into the blanket of dark white mist.
    “Brad! That was an Escort, wasn’t it?”, asked Wells, all of a sudden.
    “Where ?”
    “The car that just went by .”
    “Might have been. I hardly saw it .”
    “What colour was it ?”
    “Don’t ask me! I can’t tell colours under orange streetlamps at the best of times; can you? Let alone in this fog .”
    “Let’s follow it.. .”
    “It could be anywhere by now, couldn’t it!” But Wells was already talking into the radio.
    “Car PB to base. Suspicious vehicle speeding west along Esplanade, near east Pavillion. Could be the missing Escort. We’re following it, but slowly due to fog. Over.”
    The mist was patchy; then suddenly, as they drove in front of the Imperial Hotel, it lifted, and a long line of lights stretched out ahead of them, picking out the gentle curve of the Esplanade round as far as the harbour. There was no traffic, just cars standing empty at the roadside. Apart from the streetlamps, the only other lights to be seen were in the distance at the harbourside, where a group of cars seemed to be parked at the water’s edge.
     Bradstock switched on the blue flashing light, and Wells accelerated. As they approached the group of cars, two of them drove off up a street towards the town centre. The third stayed where it was. “It’s an Escort,” said Bradstock. “Dark blue. P’raps it’s the one we’re meant to be looking out for..... .”
    “Pull up behind it,” said Wells. Although its headlights were on, the stationary vehicle looked empty. Brad jumped out.
    A moment later, he was back. “You’d better call up the station. Engine’s running, but no one in it. Just this on the back seat.” He held up a wad of £50 notes.
     “Whoever was in it left a couple of grand behind. Must have seen us coming and bunked off in a hurry!”.
     "Doesn’t sound like a 17-year old kid, does it?” said Wells.
     “You never know these days, do you?” Brad replied.

test -
driving test, to get a driving licence - involving: concerning - afford to: allow ourselves to - constable: policeman - registration number: the number of a car - lad: boy, man - sqhow up : appear - lass: girl - deserted: empty - surge: come very fast - mist: fog - round: circuit - patrol car: police car - let alone: and certainly not  - over : end of message - patchy: irregular - pick out: define, show - harbour: port - p'raps : perhaps - stationary: not moving - wad: group, packet - a grand: £1000 - bunk off: go away -

Continue to part 2  
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Student worksheet Intermediate English

One Foggy Night - Part 1


Replace all the missing prepositions and adverbs from this extract from the story.:

  "Let's follow it..."
"It could be anywhere ____ now, couldn't it!" 
But Wells was already talking _____ the radio. "Car PB ____ base. Suspicious vehicle speeding west _______ Esplanade, ____ east Pavillion. Could be the missing Escort. We're following it, but slowly due ____ fog. Over." 
     The mist was patchy; then suddenly, as they drove ____ front ____ the Imperial Hotel, it lifted, and a long line ____ lights stretched ____ ahead ____ them, picking ____ the gentle curve ____ the Esplanade ____ as far as the harbour. There was no traffic, just cars standing empty ____ the roadside. Apart ____ the streetlamps, the only other lights ____ be seen were ____ the distance ____ the harbourside, where a group ____ cars seemed ____ be parked ____ the water's edge. Bradstock switched ____ the blue flashing light, and Wells accelerated. 


Using this story in class :

Listening comprehension/ oral expression : 

Language points: This story is full of language points that you can develop in class: note in particular: prepositions (see exercise above), prepositional/phrasal verbs, modal verbs (should, can, will, shall, might), tag questions.

Creative Writing: Anticipation.  Have students  imagine how this story could end...

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Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Originally published in Freeway magazine.

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