Berrydale was a farming village in the hills of Portland. A place where time stood still. Impervious to change. Stoic and unimpressed with the world mistaking activity for productivity. There was no Internet. No cable. No piped water to the houses. Very little electricity. There were no phones.
There was rum. Or John Crow Batty, as the locals called it. There was naturally grown food, some of it sold in the market in Port Antonio. There were narrow, dirt tracks, the distant cousins of paved roads. There were bushes, looking like giant chia pets. There was cool, clean air. There was fog, covering the village with a grey cloak during cold nights.
There was long life. Berrydale had produced eight centurions, the latest of which, Miss Bunny, who was one hundred and four years old according to some of the residents. There was no way to prove her exact age. She didn’t have a birth certificate or any other kind of identification.
There were disappearances. One every year for as long as Windell could remember. And he had a good memory. He never forgot a face. A name. An incident. A conversation. The people in the district didn’t talk about it. They thought about it frequently, breathing a sigh of relief when someone disappeared, knowing that they had escaped for another year. The mood in the community would become lighter, people would whistle tunes and sing songs as they went about their business. The greetings as they passed each other on the road would be more exuberant.
No one had disappeared this year yet.
It was about that time.