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 3 chapters every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Betty frowned as she looked over to the door. ‘I’m phoning Fred. I wouldn’t say I like her attitude. My girl is missing, and she’s treating me with such disrespect.’ Flipping open her mobile, she tapped in the numbers. ‘Hello, Fred? Betty here … I am at the Police Station. Our Jeannette is missing, and I am doing something about it. Get yourself down here now; they are bloody rude. I don’t care; our girl is far more important than your bloody job. Get down here now.’
Firmly, she put the phone back in her pocket. ‘I’ll show her – she can’t get away treating us like that.’
Tracy crossed her arms over a voluptuous chest. ‘Good for you. She was an arrogant bitch. D’you hear the way she spoke to us like we were dirt – dirt.’
Within fifteen minutes, Fred arrived, the same young constable showing him in. ‘Here’s your good lady, Sir; someone should be with you shortly.’
Fred nodded. ‘Thanks, mate.’ Striding across to Betty, he said, ‘What’s up, girl?’
‘The policewoman was really off with us, Fred. I mean, this is our girl we’re talking about – she’s missing, and I—’
‘Don’t you worry now, Bette? I’ll sort it.’ He hugged her slim shoulders as he saw the tears well up.
At that moment, he looked up to see a tall man with dark hair enter, his eyes a piercing blue. ‘Can I help you, Sir?’
‘You ruddy well can. Who’s the bit of skirt who’s been attacking my lady then? Treating her like a piece of shit? I’ll have your fucking jobs for this.’
‘Hang on, Sir, hang on. I’m sorry if your wife is upset. Can you tell me what happened?’
‘Yeah, your police woman’s got a right nasty attitude. My wife came to report our kids missing,’
‘And they are?’
‘Neil Bennett and Jeannette Walker. They work at the hospital labs.’
Redd tensed; he guessed it was Green. So, she’d been rude again. ‘Please, sir, let me get you all a cup of tea, and we can sit down and discuss this reasonably.’
‘Reasonably? It was your bit of skirt as was shitty.’
‘I do apologize. Believe me, Mr. Walker, it won’t happen again.’
He looked at Betty and Tracy, ‘Mrs. Walker – Mrs. Bennett, let me assure you we will do everything we can to locate Jeannette and Neil.’
Mollified, Fred sat down on the proffered chair. ‘That’s more like it; that’s what I want to hear.’
Redd went to the door. ‘I won’t be a moment. I’ll just see about the tea – biscuits?’
Fred nodded. ‘That’ll do nicely, guvnor.’
Beaming, he patted Bette’s shoulder, ‘You’ll be alright darlin’ – we’ll get them back, or my name’s not Fred Walker.’
Fuming, Redd walked to the bullpen, calling out to Amanda. Beckoning with his finger, he walked into his office. Once inside, he shut the door and made his way to his seat. As he did not offer a chair, she remained standing.
‘Have you just interviewed some people – missing persons?’
Her face paled as she nodded. ‘Yes, Sir.’
‘It appears you were very rude to them. Can you explain?’
Green blustered, ‘I was doing my job, Sir. They left it six days before reporting them missing. I didn’t mean to be rude.’
‘Well, you were, so much, so the woman phoned for her husband. Were you aware of that?’
‘No, Sir, but I was only asking them to fill out forms. I was just about to go back to check them over.’
‘I heard differently. Now Green, don’t deny it; this is not the first time someone has complained about your attitude. For all we know, you may soon be handing the woman her daughter’s head. Have you realized that? They’ve been missing six days, and they’re a couple, just like the first vics’. These sound like good kids, loyal – close families. So, why the fuck did you see fit to treat them like a piece of shit?’
‘Sir, I was doing my job. I just told them—’
‘It’s the way you told them, Green. Now make them some tea; you can apologize personally.’
Green’s chest sunk, her eyes wide. ‘Yes, Sir.’
As she turned to go, Redd said, ‘And, another thing, you can thank your lucky stars the husband did not file a complaint. One more complaint, and you’ll be directing traffic again. Clear?’
Redd got up and followed her out. ‘I shall be conducting the rest of the interview. We’ve got to put these poor people’s minds at rest; we have some vicious killers out there.’
Trying not to show her tears, Green walked stiffly to the kitchen. But, they were not tears of remorse; she was angry. Bloody sod, who did he think he was talking to her like that? She was a bloody good detective, far superior to most of the nitwits there. She’d show him. Yet she’d have to appear contrite when serving tea; he was a sod though, those women were as common as muck.
Returning to the interview room, he smiled at the parents, recognizing the fear in their eyes. ‘Now I’d like to take some more details if I may. I know you’ve filled out the forms, but there are some questions I would like to put to you. Firstly, Mrs. Walker, I am so sorry to have to ask you this, but is there a reason why you waited six days.’
Betty reddened, looking at Fred. ‘My husband said as we weren’t to bother you – it was early days, and I fussed too much. I’ve been ringing the flat, though.’
Fred blustered, ‘They’ve got their own lives to lead; I mean Bette’s forever interfering, asking them what they’ve been doing, where they’re going. They ain’t kids no more.’
‘I see. Look, we’ll do our very best to find your daughter and your son, Mrs. Bennett.’ Keeping her gaze, he said, ‘Does your son give you due warning before going off?’
‘Yes, as I told the lady, we’re close; he wouldn’t just go off, you know.’
‘Have you contacted any of their friends?’
‘Nah, they wouldn’t like that. I mean, their friends would think we were nosey. Nah, Neil wouldn’t have liked me contacting his friends.’
‘Has the hospital contacted you?’
‘Nah, the kids have got their flat. Their boss most probably thought they were ill or something.’
As they spoke, Green entered carrying a tray. Putting it down on the table, she stood straight, her voice firm. ‘Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Bennett, I would like to apologize if I have offended you in any way. It was not my intention to upset you.’
Betty looked into her eyes; saw the distance, the anger. She realized the Inspector had pulled her over the coals. In an icy voice, she said, ‘That’s alright; apology accepted.’
Tracy catching Bette’s tone remained quiet, whilst Fred sat and fumed. Bloody woman, upsetting Bette like that. But, he said nothing; the situation was serious; he realized that maybe, just maybe, their girl was in trouble.
Redd continued talking as Green dutifully poured the tea, adding the required milk and sugar. ‘Have you been to the flat?’
All three shook their heads. Bette grimaced, ‘As I said, I’ve been ringing. We have a key, but we thought they were leaving it until they saw us on Sunday, but when they didn’t turn up, I knew something was up.’
‘I wonder if you would mind giving us the key, Mrs. Walker, we’ll look over the flat.’
Betty lifted her head, ‘I’d better ring first, see if they’re there, you never know.’
Green left the room, her eyes lowered.
Betty clasped the phone tight to her ear, her lips trembling. After a few rings, she put it down. ‘They’re not there … not there – oh dear God.’ Seeing her tears, Tracy put her arms around her and wept.
Fred sat next to them; his eyes haunted.
Giving the bereft parents some time to recover, Redd pressed the intercom button. ‘Michelle – get me DS Price.’
Tapping his fingers, he watched Betty pulling at her handkerchief while Tracy covered her face with her hands, her shoulders heaving. Hearing the phone bleep, he put it to his ear. ‘Price? Redd here, bring in the artist’s sketch of the couple seen with the first victims, Delle Woodhouse and David Baker.’ He nodded his head at Fred, ‘Our Office Manager is bringing over a sketch we have of a couple seen with the first victims. They were at a nightclub ‘Saturdays.’ It’s not all that good, but it might just help.’
Within minutes, there was a light tap at the door, as a short man, in his fifties with neatly pressed trousers and a checked shirt opened at the neck entered. ‘Here we are, Sir.’ He smiled at the group; his eyes filled with compassion. Remaining standing, legs astride, he clasped his hands together behind his back.
Redd pushed the sketch over to Bette. ‘Have a look; see if they remind you of anybody.’
Bette wiping her eyes leant over, lips pursed, ‘Nah, don’t know them. Have a look, Fred.’ He, in turn, shook his head.
Tracy raised her head from her arms and peered over. ‘No – never seen them before.’
The block of flats was mere minutes from the hospital. Labeled post boxes, gave the numbers of the flats and names of the occupants. The glass-paneled front door was freshly painted a gloss red embellished with a brass lion door knocker and wrought-iron shoe scraper to one side. The entrance hall was really a passageway crammed with bicycles propped to one side. Facing Redd in the minuscule lift, their bodies almost touching, Dove became acutely aware of the breadth of his chest, the faint fragrance of his cologne. She caught her breath, God; he was a hunk, right down from the electric blue eyes, to the light stubble on his chin, the scar making him appear slightly threatening – she liked that.
The lift bell pinged, the doors opening to a tiny passageway with two doors on one side and one on the other. Flat five was the furthest down, near to the end window with security bars painted white. Using the keys Betty gave him, Redd unlocked the door and entered a minute entrance hall, four feet by five feet, with a mirror on one wall. Under it, flowers wilted in a crystal vase on a narrow shelf. On the right-hand wall was a carved coat rack from which hung a jacket and a couple of anoraks, at floor level, shoes and trainers, lay neatly stacked on a shoe rail. Dove immediately checked the pockets of the anoraks only to find loose change and tissues. Redd pushed the pine door open and entered the small lounge. He glanced over to a modest-sized TV screen. A miniature music system perched on a shelf to the side.
A thin layer of dust covered a low-lying sideboard bedecked with numerous family photographs in modern frames. Dove recognized a smiling Bette – younger and slimmer with her arms around Fred, before he lost his hair, his face beaming, as he hugged a small dark-haired girl to his chest. Dove gulped; they looked so happy and carefree. She recognized Tracy in a recent photograph, her arms linked with a man with greying hair and sparkling eyes; Neil stood behind them with his arms around them both. Other pictures showed the young couple in photographs with their friends laughing, posing in groups. Above them on the wall were photos of both Jeannette and Neil in their mortarboards and gowns embellished with pale blue hoods, proudly holding their rolled degree certificates.
Redd murmured, ‘Keep the artist’s sketch in mind, take a close look at those photographs.’ As Dove searched the photographs, he opened a drawer to see the contents neatly arranged. The cupboards underneath were filled with china.
He turned to see the leatherette three-piece suite, old but lovingly cared for. He felt his throat tighten; these were youngsters just starting out, proud of their home. He turned to Dove, searching through paperbacks, a tablet, a kindle, and DVDs stacked on wall shelves. ‘These were low-risk Dove – I mean; they’re graduates, in full employment, no criminal records, so far I haven’t found any drugs, not even a whiff of cannabis. Why in God’s name would the bastards pick on these two? What was it that attracted them?’
‘There’s got to be a reason – but we don’t really have any evidence to suggest the Druid group took them.’ She stopped as she noticed an envelope lying on the window end of the bookshelf. Frowning, she opened it to read the note inside. She hurried to Redd, ‘Look Guv – read this.’
‘Hmm, internal hospital mail. Bugger, it’s unsigned. Says he’s won a prize – two tickets to ‘Two Blues.’ Last Saturday night – well – another nightclub. Think we might have something to go on – however flimsy. Now, why would he win two tickets? Who sent them?
Dove carried on walking towards the small kitchen. ‘Everything neat and tidy here. They washed up before they went, dishes put away. Jeannette’s a tidy person. You know guv, with such an orderly mind; she’s not going to break habits. One of them being, she would not let her parents down over the Sunday roast, especially knowing they would prepare one for them. Let’s see what the bedroom has to offer.’
She followed Redd down the narrow corridor to the main bedroom. ‘Huh, the bed’s made, no clothes left lying around.’
Redd called from the bathroom, ‘There’re some clothes in the wash basket and two white overalls – one each. It must be what they wear in the lab. See if more uniforms are hanging up in there.’
Dove moved to the wardrobe, opening the doors to find clothes again neatly hung away; four white uniforms hung there, fresh and clean. ‘Four more here, Sir, male and female.’
Redd joined her, ‘So they had five each. One for each day of the week.’
‘Lab work can be messy, or maybe they have to wear a clean uniform every day.’
Redd muttered, ‘These other two uniforms should be in the wash. It still looks like they didn’t return Saturday night, or they didn’t go to work on Monday. We have to check with the hospital.’
‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Sir.’
Redd nodded. ‘They could have been abducted at the nightclub.’
‘Six days ago. How long do the perps intend to keep them?’
Reaching for his cell phone, Redd answered, ‘That’s if they’ve been abducted. It’s all guesswork, but it’s not looking good.’
Dove walked through the door. ‘Better go check the small bedroom.’
This turned out to be more of a storeroom. Boxes still unpacked lay on the floor and on a single divan bed unmade up. A small built-in wardrobe held more clothes, mainly for winter, whilst the bottom of the wardrobe contained two spare duvets and covers. As she walked past the mattress, Dove noticed a rolled-up photo. She pulled it out and realized it was a photo of a group of end-of-year degree graduates. She felt sadness, young lives facing a bright future. Where were they now?
‘It’s always the same with hospitals, the car park’s full.’
Dove saw a couple walking toward the middle of the next row of cars. ‘Those people, they’re going for their car – the grey Ford. Quick, that car over there is trying to get it first.’
‘Then I’ll just flash the warrant card.’
The walk to the research laboratories took them through grass-edged footpaths, past A & E, the Maternity block, and X-ray. The block consisted of low-lying buildings.
The reception looked newly decorated with a black marble-topped desk, staffed by a young woman, brown hair in a smart bob.
‘Can I help you?’
Redd showed his ID. ‘Yes. We have an appointment with Mr. Rees Trewitt, Office Manager.’
‘Ah yes, he is expecting you. If you go through those two main doors over there, follow the yellow arrows straight down the corridor, then turn left; his name is on the first door.’
Following her instructions, their footsteps echoed over a highly polished floor. A faint smell of antiseptic and other chemicals purveyed the air.
They saw Mr. Trewitt waiting for them, an affable smile on his apple-cheeked face. ‘Ah, you found me then. Nice day isn’t it? Goodness knows we’ve had enough rain.’ He pointed to the chairs already placed in front of his desk. ‘Do take a seat. Now, how may I help you?’
Redd crossed his legs, noticing a picture of Trewitt shaking hands with the Mayor at what must be the celebratory opening of the unit.
‘Detective Chief Inspector Redd and Detective Sergeant Dove. We are actually here to inquire about the whereabouts of two of your workers.’
Trewitt pulled the lapels of his tweed jacket, adjusting the collar of a fine checked shirt. ‘Oh, I hope everything’s alright.’
‘We hope so, Sir, a Miss. Jeannette Walker and Mr. Neil Bennett appear to be missing. Their families are unaware of their whereabouts. Are they at work?’
‘No – that’s strange … I had a note from Mr. Bennett saying they’d received an urgent message from a close relative. It would entail a week’s absence – perhaps more. He apologized for the inconvenience and said he would let us know when they were returning to work.’
‘Did he give any idea of where they were going?’
Tapping at his intercom, he said, ‘No. I will get my secretary to bring in his note. Ah … Sandy, could you bring in Neil’s letter please.’
Within two minutes, the door opened to admit an elderly woman of sturdy build. Her iron-grey hair was cut to almost a crew cut, wearing a spotless white blouse and brown linen skirt. Trewitt turned to her. ‘Thank you, Sandy. Err … have you heard from Neil or Jeannette?’
Her blue eyes sharp, she smiled. ‘No, Sir – are they alright?’
‘I hope so – I hope so.’
Frowning Trewitt said, ‘I must say I was surprised. Neil didn’t explain, and he’s such a talkative young man, you know. Isn’t he Sandy?’
‘Talk the hind leg off a donkey he would. Jeannette’s just as bad. Lovely couple.’
‘So could you tell me a little about them – work and so on?’
‘Exemplary, very responsible youngsters, considering their age. I was pleased to offer them permanent positions on their graduation. They both hold upper second-class honours, and Jeannette excelled in her research project. At the same time, Neil is keen on going into genetics. So, they are an asset to the teams here, aren’t they Sandy?’
Redd said, ‘How does Neil receive his mail? I found a note in his flat – hospital internal mail – informing him he’d received a prize, two tickets to ‘Two Blues’ Night Club. However, it is unsigned. How do you receive post here?’
‘Well, we all have a small cubby hole in the main entrance here. One of the young post lads collects them and delivers them to the staff morning and evening. We do get a lot of mail, don’t we, Sandy?’
The lady drew up a chair. ‘Excuse me; it’s my back; I can’t stand for long.
Trewitt said. ‘It’s osteoarthritis, nothing they can do.’
Sandy said, ‘I’ve got it in my hand as well.’
Redd murmured. ‘I see; I’m sorry.’
Dove spoke up, ‘My mother has arthritis in her thumb and wrist; I know how painful it can be.’
Sandy nodded. ‘It’s so painful. I had to cut my hair off – can’t manage it anymore. But there is a new operation, you know.’
Dove said, ‘Yes, they take the bone out from the thumb to the wrist and put in a plastic stent, then they put the hand in plaster. The flesh grows over, forming something like a memory foam cushion, works very well, as you get full use back of the hand and thumb.’
Sandy became quite animated. ‘I’m going to ask to have it done, although I am terrified of the anesthetic. Those steroid injections do not last with me; the arthritis is much too advanced.’
Redd’s eyes widened; it was like a tea party; next, they’d bring in the tea and cakes. He partly rose from his chair. ‘Mr. Trewitt, thank you for your time. We must be getting along now.’
Trewitt rose to his feet. ‘No – no; you can’t leave without a cup of tea, and we do have some nice cakes, a little treat, you know, in the afternoon.’
To Redd’s horror, Dove grinned. ‘That would be very nice, thank you.’
He had to give in and watched numbly as a girl dressed in a pink striped uniform served tea, a huge smile on her freckled face.
As Dove bit into a jam donut, Mr. Jenkins leant forward, putting his cup carefully on the saucer. ‘So I hope you don’t mind me saying, Jeannette and Neil’s parents must be so worried.’
Redd swallowed a piece of coconut cup cake. ‘They have made inquiries, but I am sure we can clear it up.’
Jenkins nodded, his kind eyes now concerned. ‘Have you had any news on that killing of those two youngsters? Terrible, wasn’t it?’
‘Our officers are working day and night, Sir.’
‘Must have been shocking for the parents, now come to think of it, they worked in a lab, didn’t they? Chichester – not far from here. ? We’re quite a close-knit community here in the labs. I try to create a friendly atmosphere. We have trips out, you know, theatre, the beach. We have a coach organized for Saturday coming – Mystery Tour. Neil and Jeannette booked up for that.’
Dove smiled, picking up the last bit of her iced cake. ‘Sounds really nice; wish we had some of that.’
Trewitt nodded, then almost whispered, ‘Do you think they might be going after people who work in the labs?’
Dove said. ‘You have a point there – it crossed our minds.’
Redd turned to glare at her; why on earth did she say that? It was apparent Trewitt was itching for some gossip.’
Jenkins frowned. ‘Oh dear me. Hadn’t you better warn people? ‘
Redd shook his head. ‘At this point, it is only conjecture. I’d appreciate it if you would both keep this to yourselves – don’t want to cause a panic.’
‘But people should be warned?’
‘They will be when we are sure.’
As they walked to the car, Dove murmured, ‘Boss, I didn’t mean to – just slipped out.’
‘Just watch it next time. Trewitt got that in very neatly – knows how to manipulate the conversation. Let’s hope he keeps his mouth shut.’
Copyright © Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: