Uncompromising, gritty, thrilling, and not for the faint hearted! British detectives suspect a serial killer is on the loose. With the support of American profiler Dr Tessa Davies, they soon realize that this could be the work of a druidic sect.
Please enjoy another two chapters of my dark crime novel, Death Marks . For now, I will post a chapter every Monday and Thursday.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Jeanette opened her eyes to streaming shadows of grey. Lifting her arm, rainbow hues swirled around her. Where was Neil? She whimpered, realizing she was in a cellar. She looked down to see she wore a nightgown, a film of pink chiffon. Around her wrist, a garland of oak leaves interlaced with mistletoe. A name floated up in her mind, Julia – Alfhildr.
Swallowing, her throat was dry, lips scaled; turning on her side, she saw a glass, picking it up, it was cold, the water clear. She tasted fresh lemons, quenching her thirst. Sighing, she lay back on her pillow. What was happening? Her senses fully returned; she had been drifting in and out of drugs. She raised herself on her elbows to see Neil on his back, his lips parted. ‘Neil.’ Her voice was a whisper, ‘Neil – wake up – wake up.’
His eyelids lifted; his eyes bloodshot, the blue faded. ‘Jeanette – love – what’s happening? How long have we been here now?’
‘Don’t know – days.’
‘They keep making us chant those bloody mantras or something – then drugs – why – in God’s name why? What do they want from us?’
Rising, he padded over to her, and kneeling, took her in his arms. Her head drifted to his chest, the last of the drugs leaving her, as she murmured, ‘How long are they going to keep us? I mean, why are we here? I thought they were going to kill us – but we’re still here.’
‘Don’t know love – don’t know. Don’t worry; I won’t let them hurt you.’
She touched his cheek, bringing his lips to hers; the kiss tender, comforting. She tried to feel the strength in his weakening body; how could he protect her? He was helpless – so many of them.
‘Why are they naked? I mean, they dress us in robes, but they’re always naked – strange tattoos.’
‘Alfhildr said they were going to tattoo us.’
Jeannette shivered. ‘Oh God, why? I hate them. I’d want to tear them off my skin.’
‘Just go along with it – do whatever they say. We’ve got to find a way out of here – got to.’
‘They haven’t hurt us yet. I mean – the men – they’re always naked, and – you know – hard-ons. But, they don’t touch me, except to lead me to some kind of huge cave. I just can’t remember; it’s all drifting in and out.’
‘I thought the first time they took us in there; they were queuing up to … rape you. I think I remember Kevin said; they were getting us ready for the second-stage – the tattoos.’
‘Yeah, where no-one can see them. The men can cover themselves up with shirts and trousers; the women’s breasts are tattooed though.’
‘I can’t stand the thought of it.’
Jeannette whispered, ‘If that’s the second stage, what’s the third?’
They heard the door open. Alfhildr came through, unsmiling, her eyes strained. As usual, she was naked, her crotch shaven, the tattoos decorating the pale skin, Titian hair falling free to her waist. So different from the girl they met at “Two Blues.” Neil stood, towering over her petite frame, as she neared the bed. ‘Hey – you’re awake. How do you feel?’
Jeanette cringed away from her. ‘Why are you keeping us here – who are all those people? What d’you want from us?’
In answer, Alfhildr knelt, taking her hand. ‘You attack the earth body of the Mother with your experiments.’
‘Yes, you’re both lab technicians – the druids say you scientists are ruining the earth. So, you are the “Chosen Ones.” They think your bodies will repay the Earth Mother. Your sacrifice will also give wisdom.’
Neil rose from the mattress, spluttering, ‘What d’you mean, “Chosen Ones?” For fuck’s sake, Julia – talk sense.’
The girl drew herself up. ‘I’m trying to help you -I just can’t stand by and watch it happen. But Neil, I’m terrified. I am as much a prisoner as you. You have no idea who you are dealing with.’
‘You’ve got to help us – for God’s sake.’
‘You must try and play along with them. The reason you’re still alive is because you talked of Gods, of speaking with angels.’
Neil stopped himself from punching the stone wall, ‘That’s the bloody drugs talking.’
Julia nodded. ‘They’re fucking deranged – Jeannette – I’m sorry – so sorry.’
Clenching his fists in anger, Neil shouted, ‘You knew what they were going to do, but you still brought us here. Why in hell’s name, why?’
Julia winced. ‘I had to. Neil – don’t let them hear you.’
‘Why? Why not?’
‘They’re almost insane on drugs.’
‘Aw, come on – this is all fucking crazy.’
‘I mean it; they believe sacrifice is the way to repay Mother Earth, our Lady. But you will also be their Oracle.’
‘Yes, they believe a female head will give them the wisdom of the Gods.’
Neil fell silent, looking steadily at Julia. Taking a long slow breath, he said quietly, ‘You can’t let that happen.’
Julia paced the stone floor. ‘I’m trying – but it’s difficult.’ Rubbing her forehead, she said, ‘If they catch me, God knows what they would do.’
Jeannette rose from the bed to stand beside him. ‘Surely they wouldn’t kill you?’
Julia said. ‘Yes, they would, the leader; the Chief Druid is a monster, and he is my father. As I said, often he’s off his head, so are the others. Even now, they’re preparing for the ritual.’
Neil frowned, ‘What ritual?’
‘I can’t tell you, it’s – it’s too—’
Jeannette grabbed her hand. ‘You’ve got to; we need to know. Tell us.’
Julia’s eyes brimmed with tears. ‘I can’t; no-one should hear it – no-one.’ How could she tell the poor girl she would be strapped to the altar? The group would chant, getting high on drugs. Then, Julia’s father would fuck Jeannette, and so would the group. Then it would be an orgy, one on one or three on one. After that, Jeannette and Neil would suffer the crosscut, their organs taken out, read and marked, and then replaced. The leader would drink their blood from Jeannette’s empty skull whilst the group chewed on her brains. Tears streamed down Julia’s pale cheeks. My father is a fiend, and he killed my mother.’
A male voice spoke from the door, ‘He—’
‘No – don’t. You can’t tell them anything – anything.’ Julia stood, fists clenched.
Neil spun around to see Kevin standing there naked, his handsome face grim, arms akimbo, legs astride. ‘Julia is right; he is a monster. But, she can’t help you – I won’t let her. He killed her mother, and he’ll kill her without blinking an eye. We can’t save you, Neil. You should strangle Jeanette now.’
Neil growled, ‘Fucking crazy – shit.’
Kevin looked at them, his jaw muscle working into a tight white knot. ‘It’s the drugs – the fucking drugs.’ Shaking his head, he pulled Julia behind him. ‘Can’t help you mate – they’ll kill us. What Julia didn’t tell you was, they’ll rip our fucking guts out.’
Mrs. Betty Walker stood at the sink, gazing out at the birds on the garden table. It was six days now. Where was Jeannette? She wasn’t going to wait another minute, what with that stuff on the news, those youngsters; the girl had her head cut off – oh God, she raised the tea cloth to her face. She had to do it – right now.
Walking from the small kitchen to the lounge, she picked up the phone, tapping in the station’s number. She heard a voice speaking, at last. ‘Hello – I wonder if you could help me. My daughter’s gone missing….’
‘Can I take your name and address, ma’am?’
‘Err yes, Mrs. Betty Walker, 7 Altwood Gardens, Brighton. My daughter’s been missing for six days now. She wouldn’t just go off—’
‘What is your daughter’s name, please?’
‘Jeannette – Jeannette Walker, she’s twenty-one…’ She faltered, the tears now hurting her eyes. The pent-up stress is overcoming her.’
‘Ma’am … you okay?’
Betty gripped the phone. ‘No – I’m not – I’m so worried. She wouldn’t do this. She always lets me know where she is; we’re very close.’
‘Did she say where she was going?’
‘No, last I heard, they were doing up the flat, and then they were coming over to us on Sunday.’
‘They? Was she with someone, ma’am?’
‘Yes, her fiancé Neil – Neil Bennett. They live together.’
‘Can I have the address, please?’
‘9, Flat five, Birkett Close.’
‘Mrs. Walker, I will just refer this to my superior, and we’ll be in touch.’
Jeannette bit her lip, realizing she was still clinging to the dishcloth. ‘How long will that be? I mean, she’s been gone six days now. They haven’t turned up for work either; they’re lab research assistants at the hospital. They just wouldn’t walk out.’
‘Don’t worry, Mrs. Walker, we’ll be in touch very soon – I promise.’
‘How soon is soon?’
‘Within the hour. Just give me your phone number, please. ‘
Betty’s voice trembled. ‘02413 987462.’
‘Thank you, ma’am.’
‘Thank you. I’ll be here.’
Putting down the phone, Betty bit into the tea cloth. Dear God, was this really happening?
Taking a breath, she picked the phone up again. Tapping in more numbers, she waited, ‘Hello Tracy? Hi. I’ve phoned the police. I couldn’t wait any longer, I gave Neil’s name as well. Oh, Tracy, I’m so worried. Will you come with me?
A young male constable, his ginger hair slicked down with gel, ushered them into an office, bare except for a table and four chairs. Tracy and Betty sat clutching handbags, their lips tight with tension. Tracy whispered, ‘You do the talking – I’m not good at that.’
Betty nodded, wishing Fred were with her. She turned, as the door opened again to admit a thin woman in a tight-fitting white shirt and navy blue skirt, wearing lace-up shoes and sensible heels. ‘Hello, Mrs. Walker?’
Betty raised her hand. ‘I’m Mrs. Walker. I rang the Station earlier.’
‘Hello, I’m Detective Constable Amanda Green. I understand you reported your daughter missing?’
‘And my son – Neil.’ Tracy interrupted.
‘Yes. Now I’d like to take a few more details. First, you did say both the missing persons were recently qualified – lab technicians. Is that correct?’
‘Yes, they work in the labs at Brighton Hospital. They—’
‘And yes, they’ve only just qualified.’ Tracy bit her lip.
Betty raised her eyebrows, so much for asking her to do the talking. Tracy must be upset, as usually, she was so quiet.
Detective Green looked at them speculatively. Betty shifted on her chair; it looked like the officer was about to lecture them.
‘So what makes you think your children have absconded?’
Betty felt herself bristle. ‘I never said that. I said my daughter and her fiancé are missing. They wouldn’t just leave without telling us – would they, Tracy?’
Tracy said, ‘We’re all very close. Anyway, they both love their jobs. They have just graduated. Both got their degrees, didn’t they, Betty?’
Detective Green tapped her pen on the desk. Her voice cold, she said, ‘I can’t understand why you’ve left it until now? You should have reported this much earlier. You’d better fill out these forms. I’ll be back for a written statement.’
Tracy looked up sharply. ‘There’s no need to be nasty, you know. We’re just reporting our kids are missing.’
Betty nodded. ‘Took a lot for us to come here.’
Green arched her eyebrows and rose to her feet, ‘Six days – far too late. I will leave you to it.’
As she closed the door, Tracy nudged Betty. ‘Bitch.’
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: