A Week Earlier . . .

Cundle rubbed his bald patch, and sighed. He was a short bloke with a neatly trimmed beard and glasses. His belly hung over the front of his jeans, stretching the trendy T-shirt he wore.

“Any idea what’s causing it?” said Sloman, who was tall and thin with a long face and a liking for tweed jackets, which made him look older than he was.

“I do have a theory,” said Cundle. “But it’s still hypothetical and not very conventional I’m afraid.”

Sloman and Jim exchanged a look, Cundle had a habit of talking like he was giving a lecture. Cundle stepped forward and patted the hillock that had sprung up on the grave. The ground all around it was perfectly level, but the grave itself had developed a mini hill that was at least five feet high. Its shape was unusually bulbous and reminded Jim of the distended belly of a famine victim.

The hill had been growing slowly, like a bulge in the earth, for the past three months, getting noticeably larger by the week. The grave was one of three affected in this way, all of them growing large swollen mounds. Jim was very well acquainted with each of the graves and had originally brought the matter to Sloman’s attention.

Sloman hadn’t thought it important at first, but when the mounds began to swell up into little hills he’d gotten in touch with the cemetery’s trustees and they’d found some money to get an expert to investigate. That’s when Cundle had been called in. He was a professor at a nearby university.

“I think the graves are being affected by the moon,” Cundle said. Jim rolled his eyes and Sloman shook his head to quiet him.

“We know that the moon affects the tides,” Cundle continued. “But it’s my belief that it has a similar effect on the outer layers of the earth’s crust. Usually this effect takes place over such a long period of time we can hardly account for it, but occasionally there are anomalies such as this one. Phenomena that point to the extraordinary effect of the moon on the ground beneath our feet.”

“Do you know how we can fix it then?” said Sloman. “Without taking a bulldozer to ‘em.”

“Oh no, you can’t bulldoze these graves. This is a site of great scientific importance. I shall have to come back in a week’s time when the moon’s at its lowest ebb to do some more tests and then some weeks later when it’s at its fullest. All tests will have to be conducted after midnight, so I’ll need access to the cemetery then.”

Sloman frowned, annoyed that Cundle wanted to study the problem, not fix it. “Jim’ll let you in,” he said. “He lives on the grounds and he’s often up and prowling around at night. Isn’t that right, Jim?”

Jim blushed at this. He put his hand in his pocket and adjusted his boxer shorts. A few crumbs of soil fell out and he shook them from his trouser leg without the others noticing.

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