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A vigilante or a new weapon in Scotland Yards war on crime?
A string of murders being investigated by Scotland Yard have an odd thing in common. Neither of the murderers could
remember killing their victim. The investigation is being led by Inspector Angela Breen who, running out of options,
resorts to calling in secret consultant, Phil Jennings. With the ability to see into peoples minds, Phil’s unorthodox
psychic methods don’t sit well with Angela, but a lack of leads and an ever increasing body count force her to enlist his help.
Can he find the link to the murders? Can recent bank robberies provide a clue?
At the moment an unknown group of people rely on it.
Jane Marsh began loading up her car with the shopping she had just bought. Fifteen bags worth. The average weekly family shop. Average for her family anyway.
The sun beat down its hot rays on the back of her neck. Summer had finally arrived after a wet spring and Jane was dressed in a light, short sleeved top and a skirt that stopped just above her knees, showing off her shapely legs. An asset she loved to parade whenever she could. They weren’t bad for a forty something mother of three.
As she closed the boot lid she felt a presence behind her that made her turn. Standing there was a tall, plump man in a brown suit. He began speaking and immediately Jane felt reassured and safe.
“Jane, how are you doing today? I want you to listen to me carefully. Listen to my voice.”
To Jane the voice was smooth, like silk, as though a soft force was gently massaging her mind. She stared into the mans deep blue eyes as he spoke and was gradually lost in a world of peacefulness that took away all of her stresses and aches and pains. Everything around her seemed to melt away into nothingness.
When Jane was aware of her surroundings again the man was gone. She tried to remember what she was doing. All memory of the man in the brown suit had vanished. A car horn jolted her back into action and she opened the drivers door and got in. Sitting there for a moment she looked at herself in the rear view mirror. Apart from a little sweat nestling on her brow she looked ok.
Had she just zoned out for a few seconds? She hadn’t been sleeping well lately. Maybe it was catching up on her. Shaking her head as though trying to clear a sleep deprived mind she started the car and drove off.
Deep down in her subconscious a name and address kept repeating itself to her. Sharon Mead, 27 Fallon Towers, over and over again, never to reach her conscious mind until the time was right.
Charlie Singer fiddled with his pens in the pen holder. He was meticulous with how his desk looked. Always create a good impression with customers, he thought. A tidy desk is a tidy mind and makes the customer feel that if the bank manager looks after himself and his working environment then he will look after their money.
In truth it was a form of OCD that Charlie had developed since he was a teenager. A tidy desk, chairs having their right place in the office, drawers sectioned to contain any stationery which would prevent them from moving around when it was opened, files in alphabetical order. A sanctuary for him to feel safe in.
The morning had passed slowly with just the two customers so far and only one appointment this afternoon which was why Charlie was fiddling with his pens.
The phone broke the silence and Charlie answered.
“Mr Smith for his two oclock appointment is here.”
Charlie looked up at the clock above the door. Two oclock on the dot. He liked this man before he had even met him.
“Bring him through, Maisy. Thanks.”
A few seconds later and there was a knock at the door. Maisy walked in and led a tall, plump man in who was wearing a brown suit. Charlie rose and met the man half way and held out his hand.
“Good afternoon, Mr Smith. I hope your journey here was OK? I know, to my cost, that the road works along the High Street can cause a backup of traffic that can take hours to get through.”
The brown suited man just smiled as he shook Charlies hand.
Charlie beckoned him to a chair that sat opposite his own and they both sat down. Charlie waited a little longer for a response before continuing. He pulled a file from his bottom draw and opened it.
“I understand you want to make a large deposit, is that correct?”
As Charlie looked over to the man he found himself drawn to his deep blue eyes. Then the voice took control.
“Charlie, how are you today? I want you to listen to me carefully. Listen to my voice.”
Charlie was transported away from all consciousness as the smooth voice massaged his mind.
It was the phone that brought Charlie back. Shaking his head he answered,
“I’m off now, Charlie. My appointment is in thirty minutes, but looks like there’s heavy traffic out there again.”
There was silence for a while as Charlie tried to get his mind together.
“Ok,” he finally said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He replaced the receiver and sat back in his chair. He was in his office alone. A file sat on his desk and he tried to remember what he was doing. Flicking through the file he saw it was just a standard application form and, shrugging his shoulders, he put the file back in the bottom drawer.
Deep in his subconscious a name and address was repeating in his mind. Eight pm, Tom, waste ground opposite Solomon Trading Estate.
Later that evening the rain had just stopped. There was a chill in the air telling Phil that summer hadn’t won the evening battle just yet. He stood a hundred metres across the road in an alcove formed by the entrance of a building. Watching the door to The Standard, a club owned by a relatively small time crook who was playing for the big time, he checked his watch. Eleven forty five, time to move.
As he waited for a car to pass he kept his eye on the door of the club. He hadn’t seen Daniel Mchern, the owner, in the two hours he’d been watching, but something told him he was due in tonight. An instinct.
Phil lightly jogged across the road as though his six foot two frame was made of feathers and came to a halt on the other side in front of a shop window. He caught sight of himself. The street lights allowed a mirror like reflection and he stood and straightened his suit. The mark where he cut himself shaving was visible and even the blond bits in his short hair glowed in the window. He stroked his chiselled chin where the mark was. The only thing that didn’t show up true was his hazel coloured eyes.
Leaving the window behind, he carried on to the club.
The Standard was situated in the quieter part of town so there werent many people around. In fact, Phil only saw a handful of passers by the whole time he had been watching the club.
There was one guy on the door. Big, imposing and wet. The long black coat hid the massive bulk inside, but Phil knew from previous visits that this guy wasn’t fat. As he got closer the bouncer watched Phil until he was right in front of him.
“Can I help you, sir?” came the deep voice as Phil stopped.
Phil wasn’t a small man, and he worked out, but as he stood there the bouncer was at least a head taller and a foot wider. Phil looked up.
“I’ve come to play the tables.”
Guys this size, as well as being able to handle themselves when there’s trouble are employed to intimidate and scare people. A way to avoid trouble before it starts. There are reasons why you don’t see five foot tall martial arts experts on the door of clubs. They don’t intimidate the public and therefore if someone wants to start trouble they wouldn’t give it a second thought.
Phil looked into the big guys eyes, friendly, not aggressive, but confident.
“Invitation only,” came the gruff response.
“I don’t need one. I know your employer.”
The bouncer frowned.
“Who are you?” he asked.
Phil kept his eye contact as his mind delved into the synapses of the bouncers brain. He made some alterations and then said,
A vacuous look fell on the big man’s face and he stepped aside, opened the door and said,
“Have a good evening, sir.”
Phil smiled and said,
“Thank you,” and walked in.
Inside was a stark contrast to where Phil had come from. A damp, cold, quiet environment to a warm and noisy one.
The building had originally been a bank. Its high ceilings held chandeliers flooding the large reception area in a white light. Below were Roulette tables, Craps tables and Blackjack tables surrounded with eager gamblers hoping to be on top by the end of the evening.
Waitresses weaved their way skilfully through the melee of people that filled the area, trays full of drinks to keep the customers in a state of mind that encouraged them to take chances when they wouldn’t if they were sober.
Over to the far right was a bar area for those people taking a break from gambling. Next to this was a double doorway entrance to another section of the bank that contained poker tables. Directly ahead from where Phil was standing was another doorway, this room contained the high stakes poker players.
To Phil’s far left was a flight of stairs that went up towards the back of the building. At the top of the stairs stood two more bouncers keeping one eye on the revellers below and one eye on the stairs.
As Phil stepped down onto the main floor a waitress offered him a glass of champagne from the tray she was carrying. He put up his hand and declined. She gave a sweet smile and moved on. He carried on to the bar area and ordered an orange juice.
“That will be four pounds, sir,” said the barman.
Phil did a double take at the barman.
“Four quid!” he said. He looked down at the small glass of juice and then back at the barman. “Have you got the Queen out back freshly squeezing the oranges?”
Phil saw a look on the barman’s face that said he’d heard similar sarcastic remarks thousands of times before.
“Very funny, sir, but it’s still four pounds.”
Pulling out his wallet, Phil handed over a five pound note and the change was given back on a small silver plate with the receipt. He knew what this was for. A tip. It was one thing tipping a waitress in a restaurant, he thought, but quite another being expected to tip after being ripped off with something that you could get down the road for a quarter of the price. He took his drink with a scowl on his face and found an empty chair that looked over the floor and towards the stairs.
After a few minutes he noticed something that hadn’t jumped out at him immediately. The majority of the clientele were single males. Sexily dressed women wandered the floor hooking up with whoever they could, with some guys even having two women on their arms.
Suddenly a commotion broke out. Phil could see a man shouting at a Blackjack dealer. It seems he’d just lost a lot of money and he was accusing the dealer of cheating. He was a little drunk and was swaying as he was shouting.
Out from the high stakes Poker room came two burly men and one smaller man close behind. Phil sat up straight. It was Daniel Mchern.
By now the whole floor was watching what was going on and the Roulette tables had stopped. No one was playing on the Craps tables and the ever present chatter of people enjoying themselves had died down.
There was a scuffle as the two bodyguards man handled the complaining man who was trying desperately to kick out at his restrainers.
Daniel Mchern began talking to the man and the struggle stopped after a minute.
“Ok everybody. It was just a misunderstanding. Get back to enjoying yourself and the waitresses will bring you round a drink on the house,” he said with a big smile on his face as he addressed the whole floor. A rumble of excitement filled the air and the gambling gradually began to get back to normal.
Daniel led the disgruntled man towards the stairs directly opposite Phil with the two bodyguards close behind. Phil watched closely as they all ascended and disappeared through one of the doors at the top.
It was thirty minutes before Phil decided to make his move. The disgruntled man hadn’t reappeared from the door at the top of the stairs and four women had tried to join him at his table. He had politely declined on each occasion.
He rose from his chair and began to weave his way through the now packed floor. When he reached the bottom of the stairs a waitress touched his arm.
“You can’t go up there, sir.”
“It’s ok. I’m a friend of the owner.”
She smiled back.
The bouncers at the top of the stairs watched every step Phil took. They moved closer to the top step preventing Phil getting any higher so that he had to crane his neck to look at them.
“Nobody’s allowed up here,” came a deep rumbling voice. This from the bigger of the two men although Phil could see there wasn’t much in it. He thought the two could have been birth twins, both the size of the proverbial brick house, both had bald heads, both with rearranged noses and ears leading him to think they were or had been rugby players. Although there was one major difference. One was black and one was white.
“That’s exactly who I am,” replied Phil. As he did with the doorman, Phil’s mind dug deep into the brains of the two men, reconfiguring neural pathways, making them think he was friendly.
They moved aside to let Phil pass then turned back to watch over the gamblers below.
Now he was here Phil could see that there were three doors. Ignoring the other two he pushed open the door that he saw Daniel Mchern walk through.
Inside he found himself in a long corridor. It was lit by wall lights running the length of the corridor that gave off an amber glow.
Phil stopped and allowed his eyes to adjust to the lower light lever. The smell of fresh paint and new carpet lingered in the air and was a refreshing change from the overpowering aftershave and perfume that attacked the senses down stairs.
As his eyes refocused Phil found the corridor ended with a turn to the right and he walked towards it slowly. It was at times like this that he wished he could use his mind to see ahead and round corners.
He stopped and listened for voices and movement before carefully peering round the corner.
An empty corridor greeted him. It looked like it ran the length of the building and on the left side there were three doors equally spaced. He moved on keeping close to the wall on the left.
As he reached the first door he paused, again listening for voices. There was nothing. He continued on to the next door and again stopped short while listening out for any signs that someone was in the room
This time he heard muffled sounds. Bingo!
He moved to the front of the door and knocked.
“Come in,” came a voice.
Phil pushed open the door and stood in the doorway. Directly in front of him and four metres away was Daniel Mchern sitting at a large oak desk. A large window behind him was slightly open, which Phil thought was unusual considering the time of night and temperature outside.
The two bodyguards that had followed Daniel upstairs were stood by the desk. There was no sign of the man they had dragged away with them earlier.
“Who the fuck are you?” said Daniel in a light Irish accent.
“You’ve been a naughty boy, Mr Mchern. I’ve come to see that you pay for your crimes, but first I need to find the evidence for the police.”
A forced laugh exploded from Daniel’s lips.
“Do you know who you’re fucking with, you piece of shit? Tear him apart.”
The two bodyguards bounded towards Phil who stepped into the room and closed the door. The bodyguards werent expecting that and it broke their stride a little, but they kept going.
The room was large, typical of the time period the building was built in and there wasn’t much furniture. Plenty of room to move around which was what Phil needed.
Little did the bodyguards know, but they were at a disadvantage as Phil had access to their subconscious minds. He knew what they were going to do before they did and it wasn’t long before he had to act.
Both of the oncoming men were smaller than the bouncers Phil had already encountered. They were built for sustained combat. Similar in size to Phil himself and as flexible.
Before the first guy lifted his leg Phil knew what to expect and positioned himself with his left leg forward. The leg came up in a roundhouse kick that was designed to take Phil’s head off. But it wasn’t there. Instead Phil had spun round low to the ground and swept the man’s supporting leg dropping him on his back. Before Phil could execute a finishing blow he knew the second guy was about to deliver a front kick to his gut.
Phil’s back leg moved to the side turning his body. As the kick passed harmlessly Phil hooked his left arm under the knee and lifted. The momentum took the man off his feet and onto his back.
Again Phil didn’t have time to deliver a finishing blow as the first guy quickly jumped to his feet. A side kick to the man’s face broke his nose and he dropped backwards clutching his face.
The second guy was quickly on his feet, but a little more cautious this time as he moved around. Phil followed him keeping in a fighting stance and keeping his mind open.
There it was. The subconscious mind sending the instructions to the conscious mind, telling it what to do next. A quick adjustment of his stance and Phil was ready.
There was a feint of the roundhouse kick to the body that Phil ignored and then the jumping spinning kick to the head. Phil dropped to one knee and as the kick went over his head he thrust upwards with a clenched fist.
The man’s scrotum felt like it had been hit with a hammer and he crumpled to the ground in agony.
Phil stood up and turned to face Daniel.
“Very good,” Daniel said as he pointed the gun towards Phil. “But I very much doubt you could dodge a bullet.”
Phil smiled and straightened his suit.
“I don’t have to.”
He walked slowly towards Daniel, his mind already inside Daniels. He had disabled the control area for Daniels right arm that was holding the gun. It was motionless.
Daniel tried desperately to pull the trigger, but couldn’t. Sweat was beginning to form on his brow with the effort and he watched helplessly as Phil came towards him.
“I’ll take this from you. Now, where would you keep evidence of your criminal activities?”
“I don’t know who you are, but you won’t be breathing for much longer, you bastard. I’ll hunt you down and break every bone in your body before killing you.”
“Such a violent temperament. Not sure how you’ll get me once you’re behind bars. Besides, you won’t remember a thing when I’m finished. Now, tell me, where can I find the evidence?”
Phil stared deep into Daniels eyes and delved into his mind. Reading minds was impossible, but Phil could certainly trigger emotions and feelings and eventually he would hit the part of the mind that would make Daniel talk.
“What…are…you…doing,” Daniel screamed as he grabbed his head. The despair he felt made him cry floods of tears. The desperation he felt about his life and the things he had done. Never before had he felt such emotion. How was this happening?
“M…m…make it s…s…stop,” he stammered through the anguish.
“It will only stop once I have the evidence,” Phil said pushing Daniel harder.
Daniel was at the limit of his emotions now and he just wanted to take the gun and blow his brains out.
“B…b…behind the chest,” he said pointing to a chest of drawers against the wall to Phil’s right. “S…s…safe c…c…combination 3…5…2…6…4…8…9…7.”
Phil left Daniels mind and walked over to the chest of drawers. He dragged one end away from the wall and found the front of the safe set back into the wall. Entering the numbers a green light indicated it was open and he pulled on the door handle.
Inside he found a pile of bound notes sitting on top of some documents. Moving the notes to one side he pulled out the documents. Quickly scanning through them he knew it was what he was looking for.
“I think the Police will be very interested in these.”
Daniel, head lying on the desk, was slowly recovering from the emotional trauma, the tears just beginning to stop.
“There’s no way they’ll be able to use them against me. This is illegal.”
“You’re right. So, we’ll have to give them a reason to come here.”
Dropping the documents on top of the drawers Phil pulled out his phone and hit a speed dial. As he waited he walked over to the window. He’d noticed a rope hanging outside that had been secured against a radiator, when he was close to the desk earlier. There was a hello on the other end of the phone.
“It’s me,” Phil said. “I’ve got the dirt on McHern.” He lifted the window wide enough for him to lean out to see what was there. As he looked down he said, “And I think I’ve found a reason for you to come here. I’ll call back.” He ended the call and put the phone back in his pocket. Hauling on the rope, a pair of feet first emerged, then the rest of the body of the disgruntled man from downstairs.
As the body flopped on to the floor, Phil could see that his throat had been cut.
“That’s a high price to pay for accusing you of cheating.”
“Take a good look because you won’t be so lucky,” Daniel scowled.
Phil walked round to the front of the desk and once again looked deep into Daniels eyes. Daniel cowered back in his chair fearing the worst and as Phil manoeuvred around Daniels brain he said,
“You will remember only one thing. I am nobody.”
A blank look spread across Daniels face and he was left staring into space.
Phil picked up the phone and dialled 999.
“Hello! There’s been a murder.”
It came as it always did. A sudden attack, devastating and almost crippling.
The severe migraine hit about thirty minutes after Phil had left the club. He’d managed to tie up the bodyguards and make it out of the club before the Police arrived and was half way home when the pain drove him to his knees in a puddle. As he leant forward, drips of blood dropped from his nose creating darkened ripples in the water.
Thankfully there was no one around as it was after one in the morning now and the streets were deserted. The last thing he needed was for someone to call an ambulance. No, he had to force himself to Jaggsy’s place.
He waited. That’s all he could do until the pain subsided enough for him to be able to move. Hauling himself up, he staggered forward. He could just about see where he was going through the pain and fortunately Jaggsy wasn’t too far away.
Time seemed to drag and what felt like an hour was no more than fifteen minutes.
Phil banged on the door of the Victorian house and leaned against the low, wide window ledge. The pain had eased a little, but every now and then another wave of stabbing sensations would cause Phil to bend over in agony.
There were already lights on in the hallway. Jaggsy was a night person, especially with the clientele that he had.
Phil heard footsteps come to the door and stop, then a few seconds later the door opened and a scrawny face peered out.
“For fuck sake, Phil. You scared the shit outta me. You know you ‘sposed to come round the back.” When Jaggsy saw Phil desperately trying to keep himself up, his tone changed. “Shit. You don’t look good.”
Phil bent over in pain as the stabbing began again.
“I…need…something,” he managed to squeeze from his lips.
Jaggsy helped Phil through the door and half carried him into one of the reception rooms. He left Phil on the couch while he exited the room, but was back within a minute with a small bottle of pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other.
He tipped out four oblong pills that were specially fused with a mix of exotic narcotic drugs.
“Phil! Take these.”
Phil took them with a shaking hand and put them in his mouth. As he took the glass he spilt some water on the couch trying to get it to his lips.
The effect was almost immediate as he began to relax and the pain was replaced with a numbing, fuzzy haze. A smile fell across his face. Satisfied he was ok, Jaggsy took the glass and left the room for a moment. When he returned Phil was sitting up staring into space, smile as wide as a Cheshire cat’s.
“How’s the pain, man?”
Phil turned his head slowly to the voice he could hear coming from far away. Glassy eyed he lifted up one arm with an effort, and gestured with a slight nod to say all is good.
“I’d better get you home, then.”
“Have you got your homework?” Jane shouted up to her kids as she tidied away the breakfast things. A unified yes came back as all three of them trooped down the stairs carrying their school bags.
“Sarah, have you got your P.E. kit?”
“Yessss! I told you that already.”
“Ok! I’m just double checking.” Jane went to her purse, pulled out some money and met the three kids at the front door. “Here’s your dinner money. Remember, no sweets!”
“We know,” they all replied.
“Why can’t you drive us to school today?” whined Amy.
“I’ve got to do something this morning. Anyway, school’s just down the road. You should be walking every day. Give us a kiss.” Jane kissed each of her children, opened the door and watched them walk through the gate and across the road.
When she returned to the kitchen she finished washing up, all the while the same name and address was rolling around in her head. It was hypnotic. It drove away the dislike she had of washing up. The knowledge she had of her husbands affair. The stress caused by unpaid bills. None of that mattered any more. All that mattered was the name.
Placing the last washed cup on the draining board, Jane dried her hands. She unhooked the car keys from the little piglet key hanger and put them in her bag, then carefully selecting one of the meat knives stacked in the knife holder, she pulled it out. The morning sun streaming in through the window caught the edge of the blade and the reflection danced on the far wall.
Placing it in her bag she collected the SatNav and left.
The light Irish accent started to filter into Phil’s brain and he slowly opened his eyes. He found himself lying on top of his bed, still dressed in his suit.
“Phil!” came the voice again. Racking his brain trying to put a face to the voice, he finally made a match. Lillian. Lillian Carmichael.
Lillian was his house keeper. Phil lived in a large loft apartment overlooking one of the many docks along the Thames. It was far too big for him to maintain, something Lillian had often pointed out, so he hired in help.
Lillian had worked for Phil for over five years and he now saw her more as an aunt who he could confide in. There had been many times she had stayed longer than necessary and listened to Phil talk over any problems he had had.
She was in her early fifties, mousy brown shoulder length hair that always seemed to be tied back. She wore dark rimmed glasses and pearl earrings that she said had been an anniversary present from her late husband a week before he died.
Standing a head shorter than Phil himself she had the energy of a puppy dog and his apartment was always spotless.
Phil lifted himself up on his elbows and turned to look at Lillian.
“I’ve been ringing on your bell for the last ten minutes. I finally let myself in. I thought…well I didn’t know what to think.”
Phil had told Lillian about some of the things he did which meant she would worry about him a lot of the time.
“I’m ok,” he managed to say.
“I can see that now, though you sure don’t look too good. Did you have another headache?”
Phil slowly swung himself round to sit up on the edge of the bed. Although the pain had gone he felt groggy and very thirsty. He wanted to nod, but felt it was too much effort.
“Yes,” came the feeble reply.
“Tell me you didn’t go and see your friend.”
“I had to, Lillian. It’s the only thing that can help me.”
“Ohhh, Phil!” Lillian put her bag down beside the bed and sat next to Phil. She put a comforting arm around him. “You should go to the hospital when it happens. With all the technology they have now they should be able to help you.”
They’d had this conversation many times before, but no matter how many times he tried to explain to her, it just didn’t seem to register. Maybe she had just forgotten the conversations or maybe she thought that if she kept on talking about going to the hospital that he would eventually give in and go. That wasn’t going to happen. He knew she wanted what was best for him so he didn’t get angry.
“I’m not going to be a lab rat for the rest of my life. They’ve tried before and all they seemed to want to do is study me. I can do better by not being locked away. If you want to help can you get me a bottle of water from the fridge?”
Lillian gave a resigned smile and a kiss on the head. As she got up she said,
“You’ll be the death of me with all this worry. I never used to worry as much when Harry was alive and working down the mines. I wouldn’t mind, but all you get is a little headache now and then.”
Phil smiled at Lillian’s dark humour as she disappeared out of the room. She could always be relied upon to lighten the mood.
“Take the next left,”
Jane turned the wheel following the SatNav’s instructions. There was a faraway look in her eyes now and only one thing was going through her mind. A name and address. Sharon Mead, Fallon Towers.
“Turn right at the next junction.”
Jane obeyed. Ahead was a row of tall office buildings overlooking the High Street. The SatNav indicated when Jane had reached her destination and she stopped the car in front of the building.
It was a brand new block, only recently finished. The owners had commissioned it with the multiple millions of pounds worth of profit they had made over recent times. It was to be a status symbol of their prosperity, a beacon to tell the world how successful they were even in these times of austerity.
Turning the engine off Jane got out. She felt the warm, light breeze on her skin as she stood looking up at the building, although it didn’t distract her or break the trance-like state she was in.
She walked round the car and to the front door of Fallon Towers. The revolving doors began to move. Reaching into her bag she felt the solid blade of the knife and it made her heart race. The job in hand came into sharp focus. Removing her hand she straightened her shoulders and continued on into the building.
The cold breeze of the air conditioning hit her as soon as she was in and the smell of scented flowers tickled her senses. She didn’t take any notice of the brightly coloured petals, just marched up to the reception desk and began to speak.
“I’m here to see Sha…” She stopped as she caught sight of the name tag on the receptionist. Sharon Mead it read. Jane’s eyes widened and her hand went back into her bag. “Sharon, I have something for you.”
Jane walked round the edge of the desk and saw the confusion on Sharon Mead’s face. The knife came out and before Sharon Mead could scream the first stab was made. It plunged into her chest. Sharon Mead’s chair rolled backwards until it hit the wall. Jane pulled the knife out, the blade smeared in red, and stabbed down again.
The first attack wasn’t fatal, but once Jane began the frenzied stabbing, death soon followed.
Sharon Mead was stabbed twenty two times before Jane was finally restrained. While on the floor, held down by two security guards, all Jane kept screaming was,
“Where am I?”
The flashing blue lights of the Police car illuminated the reception of Fallon Towers. The area had been cordoned off and statements were being taken by the attending constables.
Inspector Angela Breen had been assigned the case and was assessing the situation. It was thought to be tied to four previous murders that she was investigating and so far she hadn’t had a breakthrough.
She was a diminutive five feet five inches tall. Her shoulder length, straightened, dark hair was almost matched by her ebony skin tone. The elegant, but business like suit fitted snugly to her shapely figure giving her an air of authority, yet at the same time stressing the fact that she was a woman in every sense.
Angela had just finished taking down one witnesss statement and was going over her notes.
“Seems very similar to the other four, Ma’am.” It was Terence Chalmers, a member of her team. He had just finished his fourth and final witness statement.
He stood about an inch taller than Angela with mousey brown hair that was cut short with a parting to the left. He was thirty five, four years older than Angela and preferred to be called Terence rather than Terry.
“We’ll see what the others come up with, but I think you’re right.” She looked up and spotted the camera above the entrance pointing to the reception. “Get hold of the recording and we’ll take a look at it back at the Yard. Don’t think we’re going to find anything different than what we’ve got in the statements, though.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Terence left Angela to go and get the recording.
“We’re all done, Ma’am,” said Nat. “The constables have the rest.”
Nathanial Buller was the tallest of Angela’s team at six feet five inches with a slender frame. His dark, cropped hair was at odds with his pale skin and the unshaven face gave him an ill looking complexion. He was two years older than Terence.
“Pretty clear cut from what we can tell,” said Jessie. “Apart from the fact that the perpetrator is saying she can’t remember what happened.”
Jessie Ranier was the youngest of the group, a year shy of her thirties. She had long auburn hair that reached down to below her shoulder blades and was the same height as Angela. She too wore a trouser and jacket combination.
“Well we’ll interview her when we get back to the Yard,” said Angela. “See what she has to say for herself. Nat, you go and get the car ready, we’ll finish up here and meet you out front in five.”
“Ma’am,” replied Nat in acknowledgement.
You two quickly check the statements the constables have taken. Make sure they match up to the ones we have. If there’s anything different to add I want to know before we do the interview.
“Yes Ma’am,” they replied in unison.
It was early afternoon before Angela and her team got back to Scotland Yard. They took fifteen minutes to have something to eat and quickly go over their notes before beginning the interview.
Nat collected Jane from the cells and put her in interview room two. The room contained a table with four chairs and at the end of the table was a TV and DVD player.
An appointed lawyer followed in next. He had spent a little time with Jane already, explaining the situation and her rights.
Angela was the last to enter. She sat opposite Jane with the lawyer to Janes right. Nat sat next to Angela and tested the recording equipment, nodding to Angela when it was set.
“Before we begin,” started Angela, “I want to show you the recording from the camera in the reception of Fallon Towers.”
She slipped the DVD into the player and pressed play on the remote control. Fast forwarding a few minutes until Jane came in to the picture, she then pressed play.
The four watched as the brutal murder was carried out on the screen. The horror on Janes face turned into tears as she began to sob.
“I…I…I don’t know what to say,” she said finally through floods of tears. “I don’t remember…anything.”
Jane broke down as Angela turned off the TV.
Later that day, after thirty minutes of fruitless questioning, Angela and her team were back in her office. Her case board had one more addition now. Jane Marsh.
Four others lined up on the board each with a question mark next to them.
Terry Knowles was the first. Three months ago he punched to death Sandra Gill at her work place. Next, three weeks later, Sarah Johns pushed Mark Siller in front of a train. Four weeks after that John Bernt repeatedly ran over Maureen Stamp until she was dead. Two weeks after that Philip Cole stabbed to death Charles Drummond while he ate his lunch in a park.
The only thing they all had in common was that they couldn’t remember doing it. Even when presented with evidence such as video footage they showed no signs of recognising what they did.
No links between the killers had been found. Neither of them had psychiatric history. They weren’t taking any drugs that could have had a side effect. They had no friends or family that linked them or their victims. In all of her career, Angela had never known such a cold case.
“Come on, guys. I’m struggling here. I need…something.”
Blank faces stared back at her. She stood by the board with a pen in her hand.
“Am I going to have to put another question mark up?”
More silence until Jessie spoke.
“I’m sure everyones thinking it, but I’m going to say it. It’s obvious it’s a mental think. That’s the one thing they all have in common. Something has affected their minds, blocked out their memories. Maybe we should call Phil in.”
Nat and Terence groaned. They didn’t like Phil. There was something about him that got their back up. Angela wasn’t too keen either, but she was running out of options.
“You only want to call him ’cause you fancy him,” said Terence.
“Piss off, Terry,” she spat back. She knew calling him Terry was the best way to wind him up, but Angela interrupted before he bit.
“That’s enough. I think we may be out of options. I’ll speak to the Super. Tell him the situation. Unless one of you guys can come up with something in the next hour. Go through the files again, see if anything sticks out. In the meantime I’m going to finish up the paperwork from last nights trip to the Standard. One thing you can say for the man is he gets results.”
The bag took a pounding from a flurry of kicks and punches. Phil was working out in his apartment. A quarter of the space had been kitted out with gym equipment and Phil had a daily routine he went through to keep himself fit.
He was naked to the waste and sweat glistened on his back and taught muscles. He wore Mau Tao shorts and nothing else.
Lillian had finished her work just before one. During that time Phil had a shower, a light breakfast and popped out to do some shopping and when he got back he cooked a quick meal for the both of them. Lillian left around half past one and Phil started his training at three as he did every day.
It was forty five minutes into the workout when his mobile rang. He stopped and answered, breathing heavily down the phone.
“Hello, Phil. Have I caught you at a bad time? It’s Angela.”
“I’m in the middle of a workout. What’s up?
“I’d like you to come down to Scotland Yard. I want you to take a look at something for us. We think it’s something you may be able to help us with.”
This was unusual. Another case so soon after finishing one. They must be really stumped, Phil thought.
“Sure. Let me finish my workout and I’ll come down.”
“Great. We’ll see you in a couple of hours or so.” The phone went dead.
Phil looked at the phone as though he was trying to work something out. Sometimes he got the impression Angela didn’t like him. Something about the way she spoke to him. He shrugged his shoulders and threw the phone on the chair and did a jumping back kick that landed in the centre of the bag knocking it flying backwards. As it came back he continued his assault.
It was just before five when Phil turned up at Scotland Yard. He was dressed in a black suit and white shirt with no tie.
It had gotten cloudy and a cooler breeze had brought the temperature down again.
Angela came out to meet Phil when he asked for her. This had only been the fourth time he’d met her since his little arrangement with the Police. Usually things were communicated by phone.
She was a fine looking woman, he thought, as she walked towards him. Very similar to his late wife.
The thought stopped him. His late wife! Cruelly taken from him, with his two kids, that had led to his life now.
A sorrow weighed heavily on his heart that manifested itself on his face.
“Phil! Are you ok?”
Phil shook his head as Angela’s voice brought him out of his melancholy. He looked her in the eyes. They were of the smoothest brown he’d ever seen.
“Yes. Sorry. Lost in my own world for a moment.”
They both shook hands and Angela led him through some doors. As he passed the Yards employees he felt as though everyone was looking at him, their gazes burning into the back of his head.
Did they know who he was? Did they know what he did? His involvement with the Police was a secret. Only the Superintendent and Angela’s team knew about him.
He kept looking round only to be met with people talking on phones or people concentrating on paperwork. Still the feeling nagged at him until he was out of sight in Angela’s office, blinds down.
“You remember Terence, Nat and Jessie.”
Phil looked at them individually. Terence and Nat he remembered very well from their obvious dislike of him and what he did. Which, again, wasn’t disguised in their faces as they grunted from their seats when he acknowledged them. Jessie, he remembered as having, what he thought, was a crush on him. He wasn’t the best in the world at reading women, but there was a definite flirtatious air about her every time he met her.
She was already standing as he entered the room and smiled when she shook his hand. There was something in her eyes that went with the smile, but like he kept telling Lillian, for him trying to read women was like trying to read Chinese.
Angela motioned for him to sit down and joined him.
“Thank you for coming down here. We’d also like to thank you for your work on the McHern case. We have everything we need on him now and he’ll be looking at the inside of a prison cell for a very long time.”
Phil smiled an acknowledgement.
“The reason we asked you here is because of these five people.” Angela got up and tapped the crime board. She rattled off their names, explaining what each of them had done. “There’s nothing linking them. Friends, family, history. No drugs involved or psychiatric history. The only thing they all insist on, and a lie detector bears this out, is that they don’t remember committing the crime.”
Phil studied the photos briefly before saying,
“Do you have the files for me to look at?”
“I’ve got the room just across from this office set up for you. Files are in there already.”
“Will I be able to speak to any of the five?”
“I don’t think that would be possible. I mean you’re still just part of the general public and we have rules…”
Phil cut Angela short with a calm almost hypnotic voice.
“It would be very useful. I might be able to…see something in them if I saw them in person.” Phil stopped short of saying he might be able to see inside their minds. That never went well when he’d said that in the past. Besides, they probably would have thought he was mad.
Angela looked at Phil, then at the crime board and finally back at Phil before answering.
“I’ll have to speak to the Super. It’s not a decision I’m willing to make.”
“Come on, Boss. Like you say, he’s just one of the public. There’s no way he should be allowed to interview the perps. Besides, what do you think the courts will say when they hear we had a nut-job using some mumbo jumbo mind tricks? They’ll laugh us out the door. We’ve got all the evidence we need. Let’s just convict them and move on to the next case.” Terence was annoyed that this was even being considered.
Before Angela could speak, Phil replied.
“What happens when the next murder takes place? Do you just convict and move on to the next case? Do you do this every time or do you try to get to the bottom of why it’s happening? Isn’t that what you are supposed to do as a detective?”
Nat joined in.
“We’re supposed to catch the criminals, which is what we have done. Let the therapists find out why.”
“In the meantime more murders will be carried out. Aren’t you supposed to stop this if you can? And the way to do that would be to find out why they happened in the first place.”
“Yes we are supposed to find out why!” said Angela glaring at Terence and Nat. “I’ll take you over to the office and then go and see the Super. Meanwhile, you guys get started on the bank jobs. Seems the beat boys are having trouble and they say there are some similarities to these cases, so they’ve passed them on to us.”
Angela led Phil out of the room and he shot Terence and Nat a wry smile as he left. The two men muttered obscenities when Phil vanished through the door.
Angela knocked on the partially opened door and was beckoned in by Superintendent Graham when he saw who it was. She entered, closing the door behind her and sat down in the leather chair on the other side of the Super’s desk.
The office was almost twice the size as her one. It overlooked the front of Scotland Yard. Filing cabinets and bookshelves lined the walls with photo frames dotted around of the occupants family and promotions and other significant people and events in his life.
Superintendent Graham was a man of maturing age, as all Superintendents should be, experience being one of the essential ingredients for the job.
The years hadn’t been good to his hair as the scalp was being revealed almost monthly. What hair he did have left was almost completely grey with the odd stubborn clumps clinging on to the original brown shade. His tall frame was carrying a little more weight now, even though he used the gym four times a week. His bulk was as stubborn as the coloured clumps on his head.
He was still in his dress uniform after a TV interview he had early that afternoon and hadn’t changed. He just hadn’t gotten round to it.
“Angela, how can I help you?” He beamed a warm smile at her. He liked Angela. One of the more likeable detectives here in Scotland Yard. Most of the others were more concerned with climbing the corporate ladder. Not Angela. Not that she didn’t want to progress, but the job was the most important thing for her, and it showed in her results.
“I’ve got Phil in looking at the files at the moment.”
“Good. I’m sure with his unique experience he will be able to help.”
“He’s asked to speak to the five suspects. I don’t know how that’s going to sit with the powers that be.”
Superintendent Graham smiled.
“I am the powers that be. Besides, it won’t go any further than here. No one else needs to know.”
“But if he gets any information, we won’t be able to use it in court.”
Graham got up from his chair and walked over to a cabinet and pulled out some files. He placed them on the desk next to Angela. He went to another cabinet and pulled out some more files. This happened three more times and each time the files were placed on the pile that now reached to the height of Angela’s chin.
“In the three years this man has been…” Graham paused, thinking of the correct words to use. “Helping us with our enquiries, this is the sum total of cases we have closed with his help. All of which would have been left unsolved. Countless numbers of lives have been saved. Millions of pounds worth of drugs have been taken off the streets. He can get to places that uniform or your own team are unable to get to.”
“I know, sir. But he’s…unshackled. No more than a…vigilante.” Angela had to force the word from her mouth.
Graham sat back down in his chair. He nodded his head.
“Unfortunately, that’s the nature of our relationship with him. It’s something that my predecessor wrestled with when he was first discovered. And something I must now bare.”
Leaning forward onto his desk, Graham looked into Angela’s eyes.
“Listen, Angela, I know you have your…reservations about the arrangement, but in the time that you’ve known him, has there been a hint of any problems?”
Angela had to concede there wasn’t and after a few seconds shook her head.
“Let him speak to Jane Marsh as she’s already here. If he finds something credible we’ll take it from there. If not, then we won’t have to worry about arranging visits with the other four.”
Angela gave a half-hearted smile and nodded her head as she rose to leave.
“I’ll let you know how it goes,” she said and left the office.