Katy’s Blog

Death Marks: Chapters 26, 27, 28

Death Marks: Chapters 26, 27, 28

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 26

As he walked into the office, Redd saw a message from DS Williams. Picking up the phone, he dialed through. ‘Redd here, what can I do for you?’

The detective sergeant’s voice almost trembled, ‘Sir, I’ve checked HOLMES2 while you were at the crime scene; West Yorkshire Police report another one. Two young people, male and female, the girl decapitated.’

‘Christ. Same injuries?’

‘Yes, Sir, eviscerated, oh and a pile of bleached bones by their side. They don’t go into much detail, though.’

‘Thanks, Williams, good work. I’ll get onto them. Have you searched Interpol for parallels?

‘Yes, sir, nothing to report as yet.’

‘Stonehenge may be another target – keep an eye out for that. Okay, thanks, Williams.’

Picking up the phone, he asked Michelle to put him through to DCI Babbings at the West Yorkshire Station.

He heard the thick Yorkshire accent of Babbings, the short vowels. ‘Good afternoon Redd, I happen as I was going to phone you meself. It’s a rum do, a rum do. Not summat for a weak stomach.’

‘I know, it’s one of the worst cases I’ve encountered, your worst bloody nightmare.’

‘Fucking true. Shoot the bastards on sight, I would.’

‘Look, I’ll send you through a report of our victims’ injuries; perhaps you could compare?’

‘Aye, I’ll do that. Looks like we have a serial killer on our hands.’

Redd grunted, ‘Beginning to look more like mass murder. Let’s hope I’m wrong.’

‘So how old were the victims? Twenty-one and twenty—two, young woman missing her head.’

‘Was a note left?’

‘Aye, a scroll with a piece of rough old parchment; it had some strange markings on it. We got a professor from the local University to translate it for us. He says it’s the Ogham, ancient language of the Trees, used in the Old Irish and Brythonic language, some say the Gauls. I’ve got it here, “The Oracle Speaks.” A load of nonsense – blood-curdling though.’

Redd felt his stomach muscles tighten; they were getting somewhere. ‘The notes left on the bodies here also referred to the Oracle, but in a negative way. We’ve also got two missing people, just recently attained their degrees as lab research technicians. Because of their occupations, there’s a strong link. Have you any leads so far?’

‘None, but our two were both lab researchers. From what you say about your victims, it seems they’re out to kill anyone to do with research labs.’

‘Yeah – it’s looking that way. I’ll send you a report on what we have so far. Perhaps you could do likewise.’

‘Be pleased to.’

As he put down the phone, Titmouse entered, the perpetual smirk on his florid face. As usual, he was immaculate with a white shirt, silk tie, and buttoned waistcoat despite the temperature being in the mid-seventies.

Pulling a chair towards Redd’s desk, he sat down, straightening his jacket. ‘So, I hear we have another murder on our hands. I’ve got ACC Mainwaring and DCC Maddeley on my back. Seems even the local MP is calling for action. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Prime Minister isn’t next.’ He paused, sneering, ‘I think it’s time I put Seaton in – get things moving.’

Redd clenched his jaw, ‘I’m acting on the instructions of DCC Maddeley; I report to him, sir.’

‘We’ll see Redd, we’ll see, so far you’ve got fuck all. As for that report from that profiler, load of bollocks. We’re dealing with a maniac – find him.’

***

Dove sat in the back seat, fuming. The ride to the Druid Lodge took over half an hour; she’d been looking forward to a cozy chat with Redd. Why in heaven’s name did Tess have to come along? It was a bit much after all; the woman was at the crime scene yesterday as well. Soon she’d be taking over.

Redd broke through her thoughts. ‘One thing, before we get there, we should not discuss the state of the body we found yesterday. I understand the modern Druids follow a philosophy of peace and balance, revering nature.’

Dove said from the back, ‘You mean to save the planet – green peace.’

‘In a way, yes. They are also strong on the spiritual quest of man, exploring the inner nature and man’s unity with all things.’

Tess felt a rush of warmth as she listened; he really had studied modern-day philosophy and respected it.

Dove commented, ‘Thing is the world would collapse if we returned to nature. We can only evolve – find better ways of living – saving our planet.’

Tess murmured, ‘I agree, the world population is exploding – that creates huge problems – issues of birth control – freedom of choice.’

‘The Chinese have tried,’ Redd countered, ‘With the one-child families. But, let’s get back to the Druids; what we have to keep in the forefront of our minds a rogue group is killing couples.’

Dove said, ‘They’re killing research assistants.’

Tess frowned. ‘There are many activists against lab research.’

‘Yes, particularly, genetics. Jeannette and Neil are primarily involved in that.’

Redd agreed, ‘Something to keep in mind. But, paganism is becoming a force to contend with now church congregations are failing badly. We might be able to pick up some information on the more esoteric groups. We’ll start with the neo-druids following up with the Wicca.’

Redd turned the car into a narrow country lane, the middle overgrown with grass. On either side, the grassy banks displayed an abundance of country flowers, the cowslips towering over dandelions and daisies. On the left-hand side stood wrought iron gates styled into twirling branches, and oak leaves, the face of some ancient man, with leaves and vines sprouting from his nose and mouth, with hair in long curls and waving beard positioned in the middle of each gate.

Tess said, ‘The Green Man. See the sprouting vegetation? It’s the bloodsucker head- very gothic.’

Dove leant forward. ‘I’ll open the gates for you – save you getting out.’

Redd smiled his appreciation, watching her push open the gates. He said, ‘She’s a good partner. I wasn’t too sure when I first met up with her, but now I couldn’t do without her.’

‘I don’t think she’s too happy I’m here.’

‘Really? What makes you think that?’

‘She’s got the hots for you.’

Redd saw the remark as a question, taken aback, he said, ‘Now that would complicate things. No – we’re partners, and that’s where it begins and ends. No – there’s only one – or was….’

He never finished, and Tess picking up the pain in his tone, kept quiet.

Once seated back inside the car, Dove closed the door. ‘I can see a mansion up ahead; it’s quite a way, though.’

Tess turned to Redd. ‘You went off in a rush last time we met, so I didn’t have time to tell you about the bones. Some sections of ancient Druids worshipped the ancestors, as well as the Gods. Maybe the bones are psychopomps.’

‘What?’

‘Psychopomps; they accompany the deceased to the Otherworld or the land beyond the stars.’

‘Never thought of that. But why bleach the bones?’

‘As a mark of respect for the purity of the ancestors.’

‘Something to think about; it’s all so bloody convoluted. I just wish we knew where they’ve come from. We haven’t received any complaints of graves being desecrated or dug up – it’s a mystery.’

He drove slowly forward through the open gates. ‘It’s just a short way now, ‘Hah, now who’s this – looks like he’s dressed up as a shaman or something.’

Dove quipped. ‘Weird.’

Tess’s heart fell when she saw the young recruit. He’d only just joined the group, and to her dismay, he was a bloody fanatic.

Chapter 27

Tess said, ‘Hi there, err … we have an appointment with Lugh giving a rictus smile. Want a lift?’

‘Nah, just here to welcome you; the house is about five hundred yards on, in the dip. I’ll follow later.’

As they drove on, Dove tapped Tess’s shoulder. ‘So – you know him?’

‘Yes – he’s a new Ovate at the Grove.’

‘Oh?’

Dove remained silent in the back, her thoughts racing.

Reluctant to explain her involvement with the Druids, Tess said edgily, ‘I’m a member – an Ovate.’

Dove frowned; no one had taken the time to explain to her; for God’s sake, she was a prime partner in the case. ‘So, why the secrecy?’

‘It’s personal.’

‘That’s no excuse.’ Irritated, she blurted out the words, ‘Boss, if Tess is intimately involved, she shouldn’t be on the case. They’d throw this out of court.’

Tess turned abruptly, her tone sharp, ‘Excuse me? What are you implying?’

‘Surely you realize—’

‘Come on, Dove – I’ve already spoken to the DCC.’

Scowling Dove argued, ‘It’s still flimsy.’

Tess said tersely, ‘So if a detective’s got a killer leaving crucifixes with the body, he can’t be involved because he’s a Christian?’

‘That’s taking a bit too far. Anyway, you could have mentioned—’

Annoyed, she said, ‘Just quit now, detective. It’s personal. I don’t want to discuss my beliefs with you, neither do I have to defend myself.’

‘But—’

Redd kept quiet; he didn’t want to add fuel to the squabble. Tess was holding her own anyway.

Tess’s eyes spat fire as she looked at Dove. ‘I don’t want to talk about it. It’s personal – private.’

Stunned, Dove sat speechless in the back; why was she so guilty about it all?

They drove in silence the rest of the way.

The house turned out to be a derelict mansion, graceful in its decrepitude. Parts of the turreted roofs on either side of the main building rose ragged against the sun, while the absence of many windows gave the place a soulless look.

A group of people of all ages, from a babe in arms to an elderly sage, gathered at the huge main doors, the dilapidated wood panels tied up with chains. Yet, the spirit of the people waving to them more than made up for a backdrop of decay.

Surreptitiously locking the car with his remote, Redd took Tess’s arm as they went up the cracked and broken steps. An elderly man with wild white hair, wielding a carved staff, strode purposefully towards them, dressed in grey trousers with a dark blue robe, pulled in at the waist with a leather belt hung with medallions of bronze. His cloak, held around his sloping shoulders, with a clasp of coloured glass, gave an Arthurian aura. To enhance the Druid image, across his forehead, he wore a band of thinly struck pewter embedded with semi-precious stones. In all, he exuded an air of ancient dignity and authority. He held Redd’s hand in a firm grip; the skin hard and callused, his eyes, a sharp metallic grey. ‘Welcome to our Grove. Come inside.’

Entering the main hall, they walked across diagonally placed tiles of black and white marble, typical of the druid style. The walls rose in paneled walls of mahogany, in places, rotting and covered in mildew. Heads of hind and boar rose gracefully from the side panels. Their dusty fur was patterned with rainbow hues from the coloured leaded light of the remaining windows.

Trunk size logs scented with apple smouldered red with heaps of grey ash in a massive stone hearth. The grey stone lintel was carved in flora and fauna, with figures of men kneeling in supplication of some Celtic God with horns. At the foot of stairs, reaching up into a double landing on either side, stood the trunk of an oak tree from which emerged the carved figure of the Horned God. The antlers soaring some three feet from his face, benign in expression, his furred legs in repose, the hooves crossing. In one clawed hand, he held the lyre; in the other, the head of a man grimacing in pain.

Seeing the expression on Dove’s face, Tess realized she thought it was some devilish symbol instead of it being one of peace contrasting with suffering. But then, she could think what she liked.

Lugh, the Arch Druid, motioned them to carved stone seats on either side of the fire; a bundle of straw served as cushions. Wrapping his cloak around him, he sat in a throne-like chair of oak, the high-carved back sprouting gargoyles, leering like drunken angels over his shoulders.

Turning, he waved his hand at the group of people peering in at the door. As one, without a murmur, they melted away into the sunlight. In a cultured voice, soft-toned, he said, ‘I am Lugh Roberts, Arch Druid. You come in difficult times. I hear there are atrocities done in the name of Druidism.’

Redd interrupted what could be an embarrassing situation. ‘It was good of Tess to arrange this meeting; I am grateful.’

Lugh raised his hand. ‘You know, Chief Inspector; these gruesome killings cast a slur on the neo-druids. Sadly, to use the cliché – mud sticks.’

Redd nodded, ‘I know … but I just want to say that I highly respect your philosophy and beliefs.’

Lugh looked at Tess, at the anguish in her eyes. ‘Tess, this has nothing to do with our Grove. You are a beacon of light in this sordid darkness. I have every faith we can help the Inspector.’ Seeing the love in his eyes, Tess felt the tears stinging. He was the father she’d never had, the father she still yearned for. She felt his hand cover hers, felt the grief, the loneliness lessen.

‘Yes … I hate to see it besmirched like this. It’s given me so much – helped me to….’

Redd realized this girl was hurting, hurting far more than he realized.

Tess felt the anger dissipating, she had to get a grip on herself, but the pain was never far away. Taking a deep breath, she said, ‘Okay – let’s get on with this.’

Redd saw the anguish once again in Tess’s eyes; it seemed she too had her dark secrets. Looking at Lugh, he said, ‘I hope you can help us. As you know, it’s just over two weeks since we found the first two victims. The count is mounting.’ of the mutilations and markings, and the positioning of the limbs to form a Triskelion.’

Her voice now stronger, Tess added, ‘The last one was definitely an execution; the entrails were not taken out to read. And the note read, “No one defies the Oracle.”‘

Lugh closed his eyes, his face tightening. ‘By the Gods, this can’t be allowed to go on. People are dying, suffering in the name of Druidism. Hence we must find these killers; they are cold and callous, slaking their perverted thirst on the agony of innocents. They also blacken our name. Thousands of people benefit from our lores. They experience peace of mind and fulfillment. Many go on to develop in the arts or science, or philosophy, while others go onto the path of healing, psychotherapy, medicine, – social work, so much more. This is what we must fight for.’

‘I hear you still believe in magic – time-traveling, shape-shifting.’

‘Those are deep areas; in time, physicists will be able to explain them in material terms. So, think of magic as the quest for the soul, time-traveling as a different state of consciousness – even now, scientists claim that time travel is possible through the mind. However, why we have to rely on the word of science is saddening. We must listen to our own minds, the soul.’

Redd nodded. ‘It just doesn’t seem possible it could happen here and now.’

Tess interrupted, ‘I think the killers might be following the festivals as well as their sacrifices. Up to now, they are re-enacting the sacrifices used for the birth of a new grove. But, the next big festival is the Summer Solstice June 21st.’

Lugh said. ‘When the sun stops still. Yes, that is a big one – even though Beltane is usually for fire, the druids also use it to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

Redd straightened up. ‘Fire?’

Chapter 28

Adakan looked at the diners, some already high on drugs, their bodies bloated with the seven-course meal. Tapping the crystal wine glass, he rose to his feet, his aquiline features lifted in a beaming smile, the thin lips twitching. He waved to one of the chief members sated with wine. ‘Ondujor, what news have you?’

‘They have an advisor, a neo-druid; she is feeding them information on the ancient sacred symbols and rituals.’

‘Hmm, maybe she should join us. We shall see. But, we must act soon. Thank you, Ondujor.’

The man smiled, stroking a lock of dirty blond hair across his bald pate.

Adakan tapped his glass again, addressed the group. ‘Now, after such a brilliant repast, it is time for us to honour the Goddess with our bodies, our hearts, our souls.’

Turning, he strode to the door, his dark blue robe emblazoned with silver stars, swept the floor. The Ovates rose almost as one, scraping back chairs over the parquet flooring. A couple of the females giggled, faces bright with anticipation. Hustling bodies cast huge shadows on the mahogany-paneled walls as they hurried from the room. In the dressing room, they divested themselves of their clothes, putting on robes of woad blue or rose madder red.

Rounded columns held up a ceiling soaring some thirty feet above an underground chamber, well over sixty feet long by forty feet wide. Flares glittering from wrought-iron sconces welcomed the Ovates, the stone walls scattered with embedded semi-precious gems. Above, cornices held naked nymphs coupling with long-tailed demons. Along the walls, male and female statues made love in every conceivable pose. At the far end, carved women, men, and beasts cavorted in sexual stances that belied the wildest imagination.

Adakan stood at the altar over five feet high and six feet in breadth covered with a deep red cloth glowing with swirls of gold embroidery. Raising his staff, music with a deep drumbeat filtered through, echoing against the walls. The two lines of Ovates began to sway beneath their robes as a woman appeared from the side door, naked, oiled, and glistening, her skin painted red. Long hair glittered gold, rippling to her hips. Moving her curves sinuously, she climbed onto the altar, her body moving to the slow drumbeat. Rising to her knees, her breasts prominent with purple paint, she lifted her heavy hair above her head, her hips writhing leisurely. As the drumbeat quickened, a second woman appeared, her skin the colour of moss, the body slick with oil, her hair ebony black. In a serpentine pose, she climbed onto the altar, her tongue, bright red, flicking between her lips. Standing tall, she lifted her large breasts, her legs apart, swiveling her hips to the drumbeat. The blonde moved towards her, swinging her pelvis, arms outstretched, wrapping them around the other woman. Lifting the ebony locks, she pulled her close, breast to breast, hips bucking in rhythm with the beat.

The drumbeat quickened, the men as one, threw off their robes, moving forward, roaring, hips bucking in unison with the two dancers. The two women snarled and raised their arms, moving in sinuous curves.

Just for two seconds, the drumbeat slowed as Adakan climbed upon the altar, his member long and hard. As he stepped between the two women who in turn brushed their breasts against him, the men roared. The music rose, the drumbeat fast; laughter, screams, and shouts echoed through the hall. Figures rolled on the floor or went into the shadows and the corners, lips kissing, arms stroking, hips gyrating – copulating. All through, rock music pounded from the walls heightening the tension, filling the air with sex.

As the light flares burnt down, so the movement became lax, the figures now moving slowly, others relaxing, drinking. Lazily, they raised their heads to the gong of a brass drum. Adakan, now covered in the blue robe, the silver stars sparkling, stepped behind a stone lectern.

‘Ovates, you have well and truly honoured the Goddess. She is pleased with your endeavours, your loyalty to the Wheel of Life. So now, let us eat, and rest for we shall meet again this evening to offer our gifts to the Gods. Let them hear us; let them speak through the Oracle.

The Ovates roared, raising fists in the air. As one, they shouted ‘The Oracle.’

Deep in the dungeon, Jeannette raised her head. ‘Neil … Neil … did you hear that? They’re screaming up there.’

‘Yeah … God knows what they’re doing. I just hope Julia can persuade Kevin to help us.’

‘She must, Neil. They’ll kill us. Oh, God. I’ve heard they do terrible things. One of the servants went to tell me, and Julia stopped her. But I got the gist of it. They mean to sacrifice us. Why? What have we done? Why us?’ Neil raised himself on his elbow; I just hope Julia can persuade Kevin … they’re our only hope.’

‘Trouble is, he is petrified of them.’

‘Yeah, but Julia said she just couldn’t go through with it. She couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t help us.’

‘D’you think they’d really kill us?’

‘Yeah, I do.’

‘But why? They tattooed us – the pain – it was horrendous.’

As she rose to her feet, the door opened. Julia entered, her eyes huge, fingers to her lips. ‘Ssh, we’re going to help you.’

Jeannette almost cried, ‘oh, thank God – thank God.’

‘Just keep very quiet, do everything we say.’

As she spoke, Kevin appeared. ‘I couldn’t let them… I would never live with myself. Come on – they’re all sleeping it off. But keep quiet.’

Jeannette tried to wrap a sheet around her to cover her nakedness, but Kevin stopped her. ‘Don’t just come as you are; we haven’t got time. We must move now. The servants are clearing up the hall, and the others are cooking.’

In single file, they followed Julia with Kevin leading. But, for the light of the single candle, it was pitch black. Jeannette knew the tunnels were over-run with rats; she’d heard them squeaking; a couple found their way into the cell. Now she mustn’t think about them, mustn’t scream out if one went over her foot. Scarcely daring to breathe, they moved swiftly through the first tunnel. In single file, they turned right into another tunnel slightly higher than the one they’d left. Jeannette straightened up, watching the flickering light shining on Kevin’s sloping shoulders, still hunched under the low roof.

He stopped, turning around, as he whispered, ‘Steps ahead. They’re wet, be careful, but hurry.’

At that moment, Jeannette felt the clawed feet of rats running around her legs; she pushed her fist against her teeth to stifle a scream. Behind her, Neil saw her stop, her body shuddering.’

‘It’s okay, love, just keep moving, ignore them.’

Sobbing deep in her chest, she moved forward. With the steps rising before her, her only supports were the slimy walls slipping beneath her hands. Quenching her horror, she started up only to feel webbed feet scrabble up to her knee. Flicking her leg, trying to strangle a scream, she slipped, tumbling back into Neil. Julia stopped; her face twisted in terror as Jeannette and Neil fell back to the dirt floor. Jeannette clutched her knee, her cries resounding through the tunnel.

Neil tried to lift her, but Jeannette sagged in his arms, her breath now ragged. ‘Don’t – don’t it’s broken – oh God, my leg’s broken.’

She looked up to see Kevin hurrying towards her, felt him lift her in his arms. ‘We can’t stop now; we’re nearly there. Staggering, he made his way up the steps, his toes gripping the edges of stone as the others followed in silence. He muttered, ‘Only one more….’

As he reached the top, the door swung open….


Copyright.

Copyright © Katy Walters

All rights reserved



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Doggy interview with author Mimi Barbour.

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Death Marks: Chapters 23, 24, 25

Death Marks: Chapters 23, 24, 25

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 23

Engrossed in Tessa’s report, Redd realized if they didn’t contain this, there would be full-scale panic, heads would roll. She didn’t hold back as she outlined the atrocities involved in the Druid rites. How could they break this? They were up against great minds but twisted.

When killing their victims, these monsters discarded modern-day values and morality. They say that half an inch of fur separated the amiable retriever from the wolf – same with humans, only it was a lizard underneath. Going to his espresso machine, he poured a coffee; he could do with a single malt in there as well. Once back at his desk, he pressed the intercom. ‘Hi Michelle, get the investigating team together; I want them in my office in thirty minutes. No excuses. All of them, if they’re out on the street, call them in. Oh, and get Jack in here.’

He sat opposite the homicide team, watching their faces; how were they going to take it? Jack sat by his side, his lips usually wreathed in a smile, now grim.

‘Okay, people, you have copies of the report from our profiler – symbolist, I should say. You already have a rough outline of the Druid rites, so let’s take Dr. Davies’s report one step at a time. But first, let’s start with bones.’ He looked over to Bessie Owens and Jim Crosby. ‘You were assigned to search the churchyards. No success, I see. Maybe you could go outside the area?’

Bessie flushed. ‘We have guv; we’ve searched the churches around here and Littlehampton, Felpham, Bognor Regis, right up to Kingsley Vale, but nothing. No sign of any grave being disturbed. We need more time, boss—’

‘The vics’ didn’t have that privilege. Remember that.’

‘Now Williams – Papworth – nothing yet on the websites. I guess you’ve covered all of them?’

Papworth wiped the grit from his eyes, the grey bags beneath showing the hours he’d spent on the computer. ‘Yes, boss, as you instructed Williams, and I got IT officers from Worthing, Littlehampton, and Bognor Regis to form teams as well as our own officers. Addresses checked, owners, visits to the sites. It’s been difficult because none of them wanted to own up even though the drug is legal. Some of the websites have gone out of business – others are mushrooming up, but so far no luck.’

‘Don’t talk about luck, Papworth – there’s got to be something.’

‘Some of them websites refuse to give out details, but I’m compiling a list of those – I’ve put in for a warrant, but the judge’s secretary says it will take a few days.’

‘Then go to his chambers – the pair of you. Don’t wait for fucking secretaries and the post. And by the way—’

The phone cut him off. Snatching it up, he said, ‘’Redd here … yes … okay I’m on it.’  He looked at the teams. ‘They’ve found another one, same place but just below the barrow mound. The FOA is securing the site now, so let’s get cracking.’ air.’

***

Taking the Downs Road, Redd drove into a car park teeming with uniforms. ‘The media are here already – bloody vultures.’

‘Yeah, they’ve caused enough trouble with the decapitations. Let’s hope we can keep this one under wraps.’ As Dove spoke, they heard the whirr of a news media helicopter overhead.

‘Damn – well, at least the site is tented.’ Redd walked ahead.

Reporters squawked around DC Matthews at the blue-taped perimeter. At last, they’d managed to get him back from Tits and his parsnip-faced side-kick. Seeing Redd and Dove raise their warrant cards, Matthews waved them through, scribbling their names down in his notepad. The mobile crime scene vans were already in the situation. A white-suited member of SOCO, his face ashen, called out to them, ‘We’ve finished up, sir, so you are free to go ahead. ‘It’s gross.’

Esther’s lovely face floated before his eyes – her body… He steeled himself, dipping into the pocket of his jeans, fingering two pills. In one movement, he picked them out, putting them under his tongue. They’d start working soon. Within minutes, they reached the crime scene, some five hundred meters away from the grove of yew trees. Feeling the pills already numbing his tongue, he put on the white paper suit, nearly stepping into a pile of vomit near the tent.

Crinkling her nose, Dove held out a small bottle of eucalyptus. ‘Better put it on boss. People are throwing up all over the place.’

Taking the bottle, Redd put some of the ointment above his top lip. He wanted to rub it right into his nostrils, but it burnt through nasal membranes. Disgusting odours got right up into the small hairs, seeping through the rhinal mucous. Death also had a taste, the taste that went from the mucous membranes, draining down into the throat. At least, it would stop the guts reacting – spewing out vomit.

‘This is within days of the first victims. Cheeky bastards, they’re really taunting us.’

‘Where’s Mahoney?’

‘Coming, the Divisional Surgeon’s declared the death, said we needed a pathologist.’

‘Okay, let’s do this.’

Opening the flap, he dipped inside. ‘So no-one’s touched anything?’

‘The constable at the tape said, the walkers called it in immediately, but left it exactly as they found it.’

Redd stifled a breath as he lifted the cover to see saw a penis bulging from the lips, at the dismembered arms and legs on the ground, bent at elbow and knee, placed around the torso. The head wearing a wreath of oak leaves remained in place held by a few trailing sinews. On the chest lay a scroll. He muttered, ‘This is one fucking monster – whoever did this is insane.’ Kneeling, he saw the same signs on the rough old parchment. ‘I’ll have to get Dr. Davies on that.’

Dove put her hands to her face. ‘This is a nightmare -leaving a body like this, stuffing that in his mouth. So that’s the err… Triskelion?’

‘Yeah, see how they’ve dismembered the arms and legs, bending them around the body. Glad to see you’ve read the report, Dove.

‘Yeah, the Wheel of Life – hell more like it. Don’t they have any feelings?’

Redd moved carefully around the body. ‘Just one male this time. No bleached bones. They didn’t do this here. Like the other victims, they carried the remains to the site.’

‘They believed in reincarnation – but what the hell is this?’

Redd shook his head, his body feeling the first wave of the tranquilizers taking effect, pushing back the panic. ‘The only person who could pick up more signs is Dr. Davies. I’ll have to get her over here.’

Dove looked up sharply. ‘Boss, you can’t subject her to this.’

Redd shrugged. ‘There’s no-one else. However, I think she might be able to take it; she knows the druids inside out. This won’t surprise her – sicken her yes – but I don’t have a choice.’

‘Could you just take photographs?’

‘She needs to see it in situ. She’ll know instantly; there might be something we’re missing.’

‘How the hell could you miss this.’

Redd went to the tent flap opening it slightly.

‘You okay, boss?’

‘Yep – getting over it.’

Chapter 24

Mrs. Betty Walker stood at the sink, gazing out at the birds on the garden table. It was six days now. Where was Jeannette? Surely, they could have left a message? They were supposed to have arrived for Sunday roast dinner; the family got together for one day. One week they went to Neil’s, another here. She rubbed the soap bubbles through her fingers, idly seeing the rainbow colours sparkling in the tiny spheres. Her daughter had never done this before, not even a text message – nothing. It felt ominous. Fred said to leave them alone, not to run after them every five minutes. She didn’t. Bloody men – it will sort itself – leave it. Jeanette disappeared six days ago – six bloody days.

Tracy Bennett said it was unusual. She was worried as well. Gritting her teeth, she grabbed the dishcloth, wiping her hands. No, 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 wrote it down three days ago but thought she was panicking with the news on TV, the posters, placards, crowds around the Station. She put the phone to her ear, her heart thumping in her chest. She sighed as she was directed to a central number. For God’s sake, why couldn’t she go straight through to the Station? Walking to the window with the phone tight to her ear, she watched the wood pigeons now on the table confronting each other. Bullyboy, the big one, was always fighting off the others, wanted it all to himself. 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 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 … What … you’re coming over? … Okay…. I’ll put the kettle on.’

Going to the kitchen, she hung the tea cloth on the hook. She looked out the window to see the wood pigeons quarreling with a squirrel. The bully birds always ended up getting the seed. She’d have to put some more out for them later. She shook her head; she was thinking about birds, and her daughter could be dead.

There – she’d thought it. She felt her chest tighten; the tears streamed down her face. Going to the kitchen chair, she sat, her elbows resting on the table, her head in her hands.

It could only have been minutes before Tracy arrived, mascara smudged, mouse-brown hair dragged back into a grip comb. Holding out her arms, she clung to Betty. ‘What are we going to do? I just hope they’re alright. Have you heard anything yet?’

‘No, but she said they’d ring back very soon.’ As she went to fill the kettle, the phone rang. Tracy leapt up, taking the kettle from her. ‘It’s them – must be.’

~

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, ‘No, that’s right. We’re all very close. They have just graduated.

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.’

Chapter 25

Despite the gruesome find, Redd’s stomach tightened as he saw Tess climb from the police car and walk towards him. Her body swayed with an inner rhythm. He frowned; he hadn’t felt like this in a long time. Not since… He shut out the thoughts. This couldn’t go anywhere. ‘Look, I’m sorry to involve you in this, but quite honestly, we need an expert. The buggers have left another body. Be prepared, it’s dismembered, and they’ve stuffed his penis into his mouth.’

‘Oh … shit.’

Redd frowned. ‘You okay with this?’

‘I have to be. I studied the Druids for years, so I shall just have to steel myself.’

Redd narrowed his eyes. ‘I’ll warn you, it’s a nightmare and some.’

Biting her lip, she said, ‘It’s okay studying Druidism, but this is the real thing.’ As they walked to the site, Redd tried to take the edge off her fear. ‘That was some report you gave in, you know. I had copies made for each of the teams and the higher-ups.

She managed a quick grin. ‘Really?’

Deputy Chief Constable Bill Maddeley likes to keep up to date. We’re darn sure it will give us some leads. You said the unsub may have studied Roman mythology.’

‘Yes. Most of the information on Druidism is from the writings of Caius Julius Caesar and Tacitus. I guess the leader or a couple of these perps would have had classical education – public school more likely.’

‘Something to go on. Then, there’s the chemistry side to it. The cocktail of drugs is intricate. Forensics assures me it would take an expert to know the right ingredients and the right mix. Your report has given me a lot to think about – thank you.’

‘Glad to be of help.’

Reaching the tent, he said, ‘Just pop this regulation bunny suit on. Handing Tess a small jar of eucalyptus, he warned her, ‘Before you go in, put a spot of Vic under your nose. It will help with the stench.’

She nodded, wrinkling her nose. ‘Wow – strong stuff.’

‘You’ll need it.’

Stooping to enter through the flap, with Redd following, her hand went over her mouth, ‘Oh my God – my God.’ She moved backward, nearly stepping on Redd’s foot. Thinking she would make a quick exit, he moved out of her way. Instead, she straightened her back, her breath coming in short gasps. ‘I can do this – I can – I must.’

Redd slipped his arm around her as she moved forward. Dove watched them, her heart sinking. So, this was the Profiler. The guy was attracted to her; that was obvious.

Tess muttered, ‘I must do it – I’ve got to help. It’s alright writing about it, but this….’

Mahoney looked up. ‘To be sure, it takes guts, Colleen. So, Redd, what would ye be thinking of this then?’ As he asked the question, he gently opened the victim’s mouth, pulling at the penis.’

‘What the fuck? Redd’s eyes widened as testicles followed the penis.

Laying the genitals on a small tray by his side, Mahoney probed further. ‘Ah now, what have we here – ah – tis mistletoe and oak leaves, no doubt?’

Dove exclaimed, ‘It’s mad – mad.’

Tess whispered As I told you, the mistletoe is the sacred berry of the Druids. They put them in the mouth to help the person in their next reincarnation as well as other things.’

Redd frowned. ‘So apart from the genitals, what do you make of the arrangement of the legs and arms? Is it the Triskelion?’

‘Oh yes, no doubt about that.’

Picking up the plastic bag Dove, showed her the note. ‘What do you make of this?’

Studying it, Tess answered, ‘An execution. I ….’ her face whitened as she glanced at the dismembered limbs. ‘I’ve got to stand back – I can’t—’

Seeing her pallor, the muscles tensing in her throat, Redd took her arm. ‘You okay?’

Tess, almost leaning into the wall of the tent, took some deep breaths, trying to quell nausea rising in her throat.

Redd put his arm around her shoulders. ‘Do you want to leave?’

‘No – no. I’ve got this far.’ She leaned forward, taking another deep breath, ‘Phew.’

‘You feel okay now?’

‘They’ve got to find another oracle. It reads, “No one defiles the Oracle.”’

Looking up at Redd, she said, ‘The victim got off lightly.’

‘Lightly?’

‘Yes, it should have been the Blood Eagle.’

Redd grimaced. ‘You mean where they pull the lungs out from the back?’

Mahoney almost shouted, ‘What the fuck are you saying, man? Pulling out the lungs? Jesus Mary and Joseph, to be sure we’re in hell – dealing with the devil himself no less.’

Redd grimaced, ‘Devils more like.’

‘In an execution, the criminal was made to look like the angel of death.’

Mahoney muttered, ‘Then we should be praying for the angels of heaven to guide us.’

Tess whispered, ‘They didn’t eviscerate the body either, that means they didn’t think he was pure enough to predict anything. . He was sent directly to the lowliest form of life.’

Dove looked up sharply. ‘You don’t believe all this do you?’

Shaking her head, Tess said, ‘ No, but this man may have.’

Dove snorted, ‘Surely not, he lived in this day and age, not thousands of years ago.’

Redd frowned, ‘He must have believed some of it, to be part of it.’

Mahoney exclaimed, ‘Will ye listen to yerselves – blasphemy.’

Tess nodded. ‘The group is quarreling. There’s conflict.’

Dove said. ‘Maybe he disagreed with what they did to the other two.’

Redd shook his head. ‘Hardly, the note said he defiled the Oracle.’

Tess murmured, ‘The Oracle is usually female. He interfered with her.’

Redd looked over to Mahoney. ‘The first message makes sense now. You said Delle Woodhouse had traces of semen. Mahoney scratched his bristly chest. ‘Aye, but then the donor was a non-secretor – no DNA.’

Dove frowned. ‘Non-secretor?’

‘Yes, with a secretor, you can get the DNA through all bodily fluids, semen, urine, sweat, milk, fluids, and blood, but with the non-secretor, there’s usually none of his blood type in the fluids.’

Dove nodded. ‘So he fucked her – hence the balls in his mouth.’

Tess said, ‘If they’re following the pagan festivals, this is just the start.’

Redd’s jaw tightened. ‘They’re going to need another oracle.’ He turned to Dove. ‘Jeannette Walker?’

Mahoney mumbled, ‘God protect us.’


Copyright.

Copyright © Katy Walters

All rights reserved



Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

Available Chapters!

Death Marks: Chapters 20, 21, 22

Death Marks: Chapters 20, 21, 22

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 20

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?’

‘Yes, Sir.’

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.

Chapter 21

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?

Chapter 22

‘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.

Copyright © Katy Walters

All rights reserved



Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

Available Chapters!

Death Marks: Chapters 18 & 19

Death Marks: Chapters 18 & 19

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 18

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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

Chapter 19

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.’


Copyright.

No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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



Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

Available Chapters!

Death Marks: Chapters 16 & 17

Death Marks: Chapters 16 & 17

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 16

Sunlight gave way to light rain as they walked up the path towards Kingsley Vale. Tess let Sweetpea off the lead to run ahead. Stepping in some mud, she nearly slipped, but Redd caught her, reaching for her hand; it was small with delicate bones. ‘It’s a bit slippery here – hold my hand.’

He felt a warmth towards her; it was such a natural thing to walk along beside her. Just for a second, his mind darkened; would it ever really be natural? Would he ever trust again, or would fate step in with gnashing teeth and a honed steel knife?

The vision of a toddler flashed across his eyes, the bright golden curls, cornflower blue eyes; they were so proud of him, handsome enough to be a model, but Esther didn’t want that kind of life for him. He gritted his teeth, his baby’s name in his throat – Harry. He felt Tess squeeze his hand. ‘You okay?’

He shook his head and looked down at her; she barely came to his shoulder in flat walking shoes. So different from Esther, just three inches shorter than his six feet three, her body slender with small breasts, flowing pale blonde hair, and aquamarine eyes – Esther.

Trained in her job, Tess caught the subtle body language, the pressure of his hand, a slight tremor in the voice; his eyes haunted. What was it? There was a depth of sadness to this man; she’d felt it in the first few moments of meeting him. He had striking looks, marred by a thin scar reaching from a full upper lip to the high cheekbone. He’d seen some fights, as his aquiline nose was not quite straight. The shadows under his eyes spoke of sleepless nights, the deep lines around his mouth, of muscle clenching sorrow. Yet, the sparkle in his electric blue eyes dispelled the gloom.

To her surprise, she thrilled at the touch of his hand. ‘In Alabama, we’re surrounded with water; we live deep in the trees, just off the Old Spanish Trail near Whispering Pines Road. Not far is Bay Front Park facing Mobile Bay; there are some fantastic views. So when I got this tenure, I was determined to live in the Downs, but near the sea as well.’

‘Yeah, we’re fortunate here, plus we have the most number of sun hours in the country, a mini micro-climate.’

She looked up smiling, only to see him gazing at some distant point in his mind.

Redd stopped to unlatch the large range gate leading into the Vale, Sweetpea leaping, ready to dash through. ‘Right here we are.’

Tess exclaimed, ‘Look at the bark on the trees – I love the way it goes deep red in the rain. It looks as if they’re bleeding. It feels eerie. You could imagine a ghostly Roman legion marching through or a horde of Vikings with axes creating mayhem. Many people report seeing them.’

‘Yeah, just the place for the Wicca and pagan groups’

Tess stopped. ‘And the Druids – their groups are termed groves. The Late Archbishop of The Eternal Order of Druids had his obituary here; they carried out the Ceremony of the Crossing of the Bridge for him here and at Stonehenge.’

‘I’ve seen pagans dancing around at Stonehenge; I’ve gotta say it, Tess, they look a bit airy-fairy, you know.’

Tess laughed, ‘Airy fairy – quite apt. Why they have to dress up like that, I don’t know. The philosophy has evolved, so should the dress. As I said, the Druids were the most learned class, philosophy, languages, architecture, medicine, and the arts, yet they were brutal in their practices. Young people would fight to be chosen as the sacrifice.’

‘How could they choose to die such a terrible death – beats me?’

‘They did not look on death as we do; they believed in reincarnation – just as some still do today. That’s why they were such terrible foes on the battlefield; they were not afraid to die. To die just meant to leave this earth for the Otherworld.’

‘Surely they had some fear?’

‘No – they had a different mind-set. There was no such thing as death or heaven or hell for the Druid. They thought nothing of sacrificing dozens to propitiate the Gods. At the same time, the Druid was an intellectual, the finest brain in the land.’

Redd smiled. ‘You know your stuff.’

She laughed. ‘I’m fascinated; as I said, my ancestors are Welsh and Irish – so it’s in my blood.’

‘I’m a mongrel, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish, with a bit of French, I believe, way back. Look, the crime scene is just ahead; see the yellow tape?’

‘Yes, and look, there are plenty of oak trees and a few silver birches – all sacred to the Druids.’ Tess felt her heart quickening as she stooped beneath the tape. To her surprise, Sweetpea came back to her, growling, hackles raised along his sleek black spine. ‘What is it?’ She looked up to Redd, ‘He’s sensed the evil here – smelt death. A dog has a far deeper sense of good and evil than us.’

Ducking beneath heavy branches of the Yews, Redd said, ‘Mind these now, they’re quite thorny, I’ve cut myself badly in here. Every bit of the yew tree is poisonous except for the berry and cone, the red fleshy part.’

‘The Druids see the yew tree as the passing from life to death. Maybe that’s why they placed the bodies here.’ She stooped over the indented graves, becoming aware of the somnolence of the branches dipping into the ground, seeming to sprout up again through the peat, a continuous serpentine-like shape.

Plucking at a couple of damp oak leaves from the indented earth, Tess whispered, ‘This is Druid. Seeing the surroundings and the photos of the wounds, now I’m quite sure you’re dealing with people re-enacting the ancient rituals and sacrifices.’ Her voice fell to almost a whisper, ‘For them; the Gods live – the devil is an infant in their eyes. These aren’t neo-druids out for love and peace – these are the “Cult of the Severed Heads.”‘

‘Right – so now we can start searching some of the neo-druids, try and pick up if any have any inkling of this grove.’

‘Yes, and you’re looking at a group Inspector – err … I mean Dan.’

‘Did they name you after “Tess of the D’Urberville’s?” I expect you get asked that often.’

‘Yes, I do. Thomas Hardy added in his book, “A Pure Woman,” my Irish grandmother loved the book. But I can’t say that I’m a pure woman.’

Grinning, Dan murmured, ‘Now that sounds interesting. So what dark secrets do you harbour?’

Flushing, she said, ‘None that I’m telling you, that’s for sure. Anyway, this group has stripped off centuries of civilization. Remember the wounds? They’ve used a kind of crosscut wound, pulling out the entrails to read them and to do the markings. You said yourself; there is a Triskelion marked on the livers and the hearts. That is a prominent sign of the ancient Druid, the three bent legs swirling in a stick or lance. I just had to see everything together.’

Redd shook his head. “Fucking monsters – why would they do this?’ He stopped as he heard the whirring drone of helicopter blades above them. Peering up, he said, ‘Bet that’s the media still snooping around, a bit over the top sending a helicopter though.’

‘The rain is tipping down now; once we clear the trees, we’ll get drenched.’

‘There’s a pub up the road. It’s not far.’

Chapter 17

Walking down the Station corridor to the Conference room, Dove heard the buzz of voices; the reporters were already there. She wished she could have got out of it but didn’t make too much of an argument with Redd; she had to prove worthy of being his partner, and this was a bridge she was going to have to cross many times in the future. Nevertheless, she felt as if sand churned to cement in her stomach as she neared the door. Walking in, she saw Titmouse with a group of reporters in an animated conversation. What was he doing here? Pushing in as usual. He really ate up the limelight, he aims to climb the ladder as quickly as possible. Seeing her enter, he waved the reporters away and strode towards her. ‘Hah, there you are; I see Redd couldn’t make it.’

‘He’s gone to consult with a Profiler, sir.’

‘Well, I’m here now.I told the Assistant CC he’d be here. Should have made a show. Profiler eh? Very convenient.’ He smiled, showing pointed rats teeth.

Dove glowered, so much for preparing her statement, Tits would ride over everyone. In a way, she felt relieved; now, she wouldn’t have to speak, just sit there and nod.

He turned towards the table. ‘Let’s get this show on the road. We have to keep the decapitation under wraps; we don’t need a panic at this time. We can leak the full information later. As far as TV and press are concerned, it’s a double homicide with no details.’

Dove gritted her teeth; he didn’t need to keep on repeating it; they already knew that. He was like a record player, treating them like morons. Joining the two detectives at the table, she saw Amanda Green preening in front of the cameras, whilst Crosby sat mute, fear tensing his usually cheerful face. Sitting beside him, Dove gave him a quick smile. He managed a weak flick of lips, a grin that didn’t reach his eyes. ‘Bloody hate this, guv. Last place I wanna be.’

Dove patted his hand, ‘You’ll do it, Crosby, if it’s any comfort, I don’t like this kind of thing either. So let’s get to it.’

The room quieted as Titmouse sat down, a lock of his dirty blond hair swept over his bald pate, framed against the dark green banner enriched with the gold insignia of the Brighton Police. To one side stood a whiteboard on which were pasted Delle Woodhouse and David Baker’s photos.

Folding his arms, he tapped the mike inches away from his mouth. ‘Thank you all for attending. We now have names about the double homicide, Mr. David Baker and Miss Delle Woodhouse, aged twenty-two and twenty-one, respectively. Their families are informed. The couple, as you know, went missing a week ago – their bodies found by two youngsters walking through Kingley Vale. If anyone can give us any information on the couple’s whereabouts in the last two weeks, please contact the Brighton Police Station. An officer will be ready to receive their calls. Any questions?’

The room burst into action, hands waving, cameras flashing, grey microphone brushes weaving through the air. Reporters left their seats, making their way to the front. Questions rent the air.

Dove blinked rapidly, almost blinded in the flashing lights; no wonder they gave out warning notices on epilepsy. She saw Titmouse grasp his hands together, the knuckles white.

‘Ladies – gentlemen – order – order. Please return to your seats. I will answer your questions one at a time.’

A reporter from the front row raised her hand. ‘Got any leads yet?’

Titmouse pursed his lips. ‘We are investigating the matter.’

A well-known anchorwoman stood up, her crew thrusting the microphone brushes over the heads of the seated reporters. ‘How did they die?’

Titmouse stood with a smarmy smile. She packed a lot of punch, best to get on the good side of her. She could kill careers with a few well-appointed sentences from the TV news desk. ‘We cannot reveal that information, ma’am, but two young people were brutally murdered. We need the public to come forward.’

Another voice called from the middle row, ‘Were they shot, strangled?’

‘Again, I cannot give any information on that as yet. It is an on-going investigation.’

‘How are their families taking it, ma’am?’ The question was directed at Dove from a man in a wool hat pulled down to his eyebrows, long brown hair spiking on a grey jacket. As she went to speak, Amanda tried to join in. Felicity said across her, shooting her a glance out of narrowed eyes. Continuing, she gave minimal information, as ruled by Titmouse. ‘The families are informed.’

As she sat back, a voice with the gravelly tone of a life-long smoker said, ‘Ma’am, how was the girl decapitated?’

An ominous silence filled the room, blood pounding through her head; someone in the department leaked the information to the press. Thank God Regina had already identified her daughter, already knew of the decapitation. Dove swiveled around to see Titmouse rise to his feet, his face waving his hands. ‘We refuse to answer any more questions. I am terminating this interview now. Good day, ladies and gentlemen. He made to move from the table. Dove sat frozen in her chair as shocked reporters sprang forward almost as one, a tornado of questions, raging through the room.

‘Decapitated?’

‘When?’

‘How’

‘Come on, guv – give.’

‘Yeah, the cat’s out the bag now – come on.’

‘This is serious – we have to run with this, Chief Superintendent.’

Titmouse boomed, ‘That is classified information. For the sake of the families and the investigation, this should be kept out of the press.’

‘No way,’ someone shouted from the back. ‘This is now public information.’

‘We’re not stupid.’

‘Someone here is gonna talk.’

A woman screamed out, ‘Speak for yourself – some of us have morals.’

Two voices cried out, almost at once, ‘Yeah, you’re not dealing with the gutter press.’

Seated quietly in the front, an eminent newspaperman said, ‘Someone’s going to run with this Chief.’

Titmouse waved his hands. ‘There’s been a serious leak somewhere, ladies and gentlemen. This is classified information.’

Someone quipped, ‘Not now, mate.’

The reporters began packing their equipment, a few texting; some spoke into cell phones whilst others made for the doors. However, others sat where they were, stunned. Another popular anchorwoman from a regional TV channel said, ‘We can’t suppress this now, Chief Superintendent. Is there anything you can say to add to this leak?’

‘I cannot enlarge further on this. If you must, go with what you have.’

Sitting down by Dove, he murmured, ‘There’s a fucking rogue in the department. Funny how DCI Redd isn’t present.

Dove wanted to punch his lights out; instead, she took a deep breath.


Copyright.

No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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



Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

Available Chapters!

Death Marks: Chapters 14 & 15

Death Marks: Chapters 14 & 15

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 14

Pushing aside the results form from the Forensics report, Dove sighed, so it was Delle Woodhouse. Poor – poor girl, what the hell did she suffer? And now the mother? How in God’s name was she supposed to tell her? There was no going home now; her stomach growled. Damn, the sandwich machine was empty, the officers having bought every scrap and chocolate bar. Rifling through her drawer, she was sure she had a couple of Twix bars stashed away in there. Her eyes lit up as she saw the brown and blue paper wrapping. Yes – yes. That would keep her going for the next few hours. Biting her lip, she realized she’d have to arrange that bloody Press Conference. No excuse. Bugger it. Picking up the phone, she got through to Redd’s secretary. ‘Hi Michelle, I’ve got a name now for the female body so that we can go ahead with TV and Press Conference. Would you arrange it for the Conference Room – nine AM tomorrow morning? Yeah  Not looking forward to it – I might shit my pants. Okay. Thanks.’

She phoned the Family Liaison Officer, ‘Lisa? Felicity here – we have had the result of the DNA for the decapitated victim. They confirm it is Delle Wood. I’m just on my way over there with Jack. I can’t leave it to Someone else, as I did go and see her with Redd. We should be leaving in a few minutes, so I’ll pick you up in the car park, okay. Yes, it looks like you could be in for an overnight stay. Bye for now.’

Putting the phone down, she heard a knock on the door. ‘Come in – door’s open.’

His usual cheerful expression, now unhappy, Jack pulled a chair up to the desk. ‘So – what’s up?’

‘I’ve got the results in, sir; here, have a look.’ Pushing them over to him, she watched his expression.

‘Jack – call me Jack.’ Reading over the papers, he muttered, ‘Poor woman. So, it is Delle Woodhouse. How the hell do we tell her that her daughter is not only dead but decapitated? Can’t Someone else do this? Maybe DC Green, she’s a tough bird; she could go with her partner, Crosby?’

Felicity looked at his skin now pale, his forehead creased. It would be hard for anyone to give the news. ‘Sir. I was with the boss when he went to investigate. I’ve seen over the girl’s bedroom, the whole flat, in fact, and I wouldn’t put the woman through that again with a stranger. She needs us, Sir. Also, it would give me a chance to go through the girl’s bedroom once more. I thought I’d swept it clean, but there must be something I’ve missed.’

‘Yeah – okay. And, it’s Jack. By the way, have you heard from Redd?’

‘Nope, he’s still with the profiler. He rang in half an hour ago to say they were going to visit the crime scene. He did say he might be late, so he told me to go ahead and see Mrs. Woodhouse and that maybe you would go along as well. Quite honestly, Green is competent, but I think Mrs. Woodhouse will need comforting and support. I’m not saying Green is hard-hearted, but she’s not a shoulder to cry on.’

Jack nodded. ‘Brittle bitch; Ted Papworth is besotted with her. Okay, I suppose, if you like your women, stick-thin.’

Felicity’s eyes opened in surprise. Catching her glance, he said, ‘Give me a healthy-looking woman anytime.’

She bristled, there he went again, “Healthy-looking woman,” his eyes roving over her breasts and rounded stomach. ‘What exactly do you mean by a healthy-looking woman?’

His eyes gleamed as he looked over at her legs. ‘Someone with some flesh. No good kissing a bag of bones.’

Despite herself, she grinned; he was a bit too sophisticated for her, besides her attention was wholly caught up in Redd. Straightening her back, she said, ‘You ready to go? I’ve got DC Barrett waiting for us in the car park.’

‘Yep – lead the way.’

Going through the door, Felicity said, ‘Can’t say I’m looking forward to this. The lady’s a strong character, but I don’t know she’ll be able to cope with the news. I don’t know how any mother could.’ She didn’t mention Regina’s foul language or the short skirt minus a thong.

***

Dove took a deep breath as the door opened, ‘Regina, this is DCI Jack Cummings and DC Lisa Barrett. May we come in?’

The aggressive look had gone from Regina’s eyes; now there was a questioning, a quirk of the mouth. She’d seen the TV, witnessed the police requesting information on the bodies. She stepped aside, ‘Don’t mind the mess – ain’t had time to clean up.’

The cigarette smoke lay heavy overhead, the walls once white now grimed with the pale brown stains of tobacco fumes. A few framed pictures hung on the walls, a family together on a beach; a young Regina, her hair thick, lustrous, lying on a towel, a small girl digging sand at her feet, a man standing, hand on hip, proud of his family. Dove realized that was hung up since their last visit. Already Regina forgave her daughter. The woman who disgusted her on the prior visit now looked vulnerable, lost, and alone in the dregs of a life trailing in cigarettes and booze. Her miniskirt digging into the heavy legs looked pitiful. Where was the young girl on the beach, and now the child – decapitated?

‘So have you found her? Delle? She was giving you trouble. Always was a little sod yer know. Kids, what can yer do wiv em? Only the other day I said to my neighbour, you can bring em up, but you can’t live their lives for em, can you? Where’s my bleedin’ fag?’

Jack and Lisa stood just inside the small lounge as Dove moved forward, ‘Regina, sit down.’

‘Nah, I got things ter do, so hurry up and say wot you gotta say. She looked at Dove with dreadful eyes, paused, and spluttered, ‘It’s her. It’s her on the tele’.’ She dropped onto the settee, her head in her hands, her shoulders shaking; sobs came from deep in her chest. ‘Can’t bear it – can’t bear it.’

Dove went to her, sitting beside her, pulling her into her arms. ‘I’m sorry – so sorry.’

‘Where is she? Where’s my baby?’

‘We’re taking care of her.’

Lisa, eyes brimming, said in a small voice, ‘I’ll make a cup of tea.’

Regina sobbed, ‘I gotta go to her – she needs me yer know – she’s always needed me. Oh God – dear God – my baby.’

Jack left the small room -a woman’s tears always left him feeling helpless. Regina lifted her head, her eyes streaming. ‘I hurt – hurt. Please tell me – tell me it’s not her.’

Dove felt the hurt, her eyes stinging, her throat closing up. She pushed a thin lock of brown hair from Regina’s eyes, shaking her head.

‘Can I see her? I gotta see her ….’

Dove held her hand. ‘Is there anyone who can be with you for the identification? Mother – friend?’

Regina shook her head, her voice muffled in her hands, ‘Me mum’s a crack head, don’t know her tits from her arse, but I’ve got a good mate – I know she’ll come with me.’

Lisa returned, sitting on the other side of the weeping mother. Dove had yet to tell her that her daughter’s death would be on the news tomorrow. Thank goodness the decapitation was held back.

Dove looked at Lisa and nodded; now she had to tell Regina. Taking the nicotine-stained fingers in her hand, she said gently, ‘Regina – I want you to be strong now – strong. Sadly, Delle was hurt badly – they took her head. I’m sorry – so sorry.’

A stunned silence followed. Regina shocked, sat very still, her face rapidly suffusing with blood; beetle red, she found her breath, ‘Took her head? Don’t you dare – don’t you dare.’ She paused, her eyes glaring. ‘What the fuck – what the fucking hell do you mean – you bitch – you bitch.’ She screamed, lunging at Dove, beating her about the head. ‘What the fuck – what the pissing hell do you mean? I’ll kill you – kill you.’

Snarling, she punched Dove on the nose, grunting, ‘Head off? I’ll tear yours off – fuuuick.’ Grabbing Dove’s corkscrew curls, she dragged her to the floor, kicking and biting. Lisa tried to intervene only to be kicked in the shin by Regina.

Fighting back, blood dripping from her nose, Dove tried to get the hysterical woman onto her stomach to cuff her. But Regina’s bull-like strength won. As Dove felt vicious kicks to the kidneys, Jack dived into the room and threw himself into the fight, lifting Dove and hefting her over to Lisa. Talking non-stop to Regina, trying to calm her, he spun her on her stomach, and raising her arms behind her back, cuffed her.

Then she screamed. ‘My baby …oh dear God … my baby.’

***

Driving back, Jack looked over to Dove, her face now clear of blood. ‘You okay?’

‘Yeah, I will be. I couldn’t manage her; I was just about to use the Taser. I feel a bit of a wimp.’

‘Come on, Felicity – the woman’s twice your size.’

‘Yeah, well – they shoot the messenger, don’t they?’

‘The Romans often did, cut their throats or beheaded them if they brought a message from the enemy camp. Hence the cliché.’

‘I just feel so sorry for her. I could weep myself. At least she calmed down; Lisa will stay with her. I just wonder about the identification. Surely, the boss can think of some way? How could she cope with seeing her daughter without a head?’ Dove sniffed. ‘At least she didn’t break my nose.’

Chapter 15

Dove dabbed at her nose. ‘Christ – it’s just not fair. Poor woman, she’s on her own. Regina’s tough, as we know, but this is beyond anything any mother should have to face.’ Pausing, she said, ‘I never did that search – maybe later. I did get a ticket from the last search. Delle and the Baker boy went to a nightclub – “Saturdays,” the one on the pier.’

‘Yeah, busy on a Saturday night.’

‘I went there a couple of days ago; the bar was in full swing – dance floor crowded, but no-one seemed to have seen her or David. I think I’ll go over there again, ask some questions.’ Looking at her watch, she said, ‘Should be opening up soon; at least the bar staff will be there.’

Slowing down, Jack frowned. ‘Are you up to it? You took a beating, Felicity.’

‘Delle and David took more than that. We’ve got to get on this, Jack; I don’t think they’ll stop with these two.’

‘It’s your call.’ Jack took the next turning left to Marine Parade. ‘I’ll park outside, put the blue light on. Otherwise, we’re sure to get a ticket.’

Dove felt the sea breeze, fresh and clean on her skin, lifting her hair, sweeping away the stench of Regina’s smoke-filled flat. Jack was pleased to see her step become brisk, her hair like ripe corn stalks. ‘I think the office is around the side here. Yes, here, the light’s on.’

Stepping into reception, she saw a girl at a PC, long red nails clicking on the keys. ‘Can I help you?’

Dove showed her card. ‘Yes – police. Is the Manager here?’

‘Yes – one moment, please; I’ll get him for you.’

Rising, she smiled, walking swiftly to the double doors.

Jack said, ‘I’ll leave you to do the talking, shall I?’

‘Yes – fine. I’ve got photos of Delle and David, so we might strike lucky. Delle was a beautiful girl – bound to have turned heads, especially the clothes she tended to wear.’

A man in his forties wearing a typical business suit of dark grey stripes pushed through the doors, followed by the receptionist. ‘Hello, my name’s David Ferry, Manager here. How can I help you?’

Dove stepped forward, showing him her warrant card. ‘Homicide. I was here with an officer a few nights ago, questioning the barmen. We’re investigating the murder of a young couple.’ She showed him the photos of Delle and then David. We have reason to believe they frequented here.’ She produced the ticket. ‘It’s frayed, so there isn’t a date on it.’ We’d like to speak to some of your staff – barmen, waitresses, anyone who may have seen these two.’

The man took the photos. ‘I see. I’ll most certainly show it to the staff; they’re getting the bar ready now. You’ve come at a good time.’

When was it ever a good time, Dove thought, as she followed him through to the main bar the length of the dancing area? At least four young men and two older ones busied themselves polishing glasses, taps, and mirrors, whilst half a dozen women cleaned the floor, tables, and chairs in readiness for the oncoming crowd. Dove nudged Jack’s arm. ‘More staff here today; maybe we’ll strike lucky.’

Turning, the Manager said, ‘I’ll introduce you to the Bar Manager.’

A taller man in a white shirt, dark trousers, and black apron stepped forward, his face serious. ‘Brent Mason. Can I help?’

Dove showed him the photos. ‘Would you ask your people to have a look at these? We’re trying to find anyone who may have seen them here?’

The bartender took them, nodding his head. Raising his arms, he said, ‘Everyone, your attention, please. Gather round.’

The workers stopped immediately. Huddling together, they scrutinized the photos. One young man with a number-one haircut, half a dozen earrings in his ears, and a small dagger through his eyebrow spoke through lips, pierced with clips and rings, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen them. About two weeks ago. She’s a looker yer know.’

Another young man laughed. ‘Tight arse on her she has, knows how to shake the bootie.’

Dove ignored their quips, they didn’t have the full picture, and she had no intention of enlightening them. ‘Okay.’ Trying to ignore all the cutlery on the kid’s lips, she said, ‘Were they alone? Did you see anyone with them?’

He bit into the steel rings. ‘Yeah; they were talking to these people, can’t remember them, but they were chattering away; yer know.’

Dove nodded, feeling a quiver of excitement. ‘Try to remember, it’s important.’

‘Why, they been murdered or something?’

Dove looked at him, her face expressionless with flat cop’s eyes. He stepped back, shrugging. ‘Yeah, well, I fink I remember them.’

Jack stepped forward. ‘We’d like you to come down to the station. We could—’

‘I ain’t done nuthin’ … really guv … nuthin’.’

Jack suppressed a smile; for all his rings and daggers, he looked like a frightened little boy. ‘No – no, we’d like to get a better idea of them – link you up with the police artist, get an identity sketch – okay? Now your name?’

‘Terry.’

‘Terry what?’

‘Terry Paine.’

Jack saw the young man glower, his eyes almost like slits, his tongue licking the steel nails on his lips. ‘I don’t remember them guv, honest.’

Jack clenched his teeth together. ‘Remember them or not; we want you to come to the station.’


Copyright.

No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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



Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

Available Chapters!

Watch Captain Pug

Watch Captain Pug

Watch my Captain Pug video! On the 23rd of March, 2021, The Golden Legacy will be released on Amazon Kindle, though is already available for pre-order. A romance box-set, based upon the premise of the lure of cursed pirate treasure. It can be used for good or evil, but expect consequences. As far as I am aware, there are no pugs involved in this excellent collection of books, but do expect a really good read.

Music: Jackson Parodi – Barrett’s Privateers

You can pre-order The Golden Legacy at Amazon using the following links:

Death Marks: Chapters 12 & 13

Death Marks: Chapters 12 & 13

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 12

Jeanette Walker plumped up the last cushion, looking around the small room, her impish face framed in dark curls, beaming. Neil would be so surprised. As she went to arrange the fruit bowl on the coffee table, the phone bleeped. Recognizing Neil’s number, she smiled as she said, ‘Hi babe. What? Hey, that’s great.’ She laughed, hugging the phone to her ear. ‘Tonight, at Two Blues? Wow. How did they pick you?  Anyway, that’s fantastic. I’ll have tea ready when you come in; then we can get there early. Yeah, see you.’

Putting down the phone, she clapped her hands, rushing to the bedroom, picking out underwear, a gold sequin top from the chest of drawers, and from the wardrobe, a black satin mini skirt. Laying them on the bed along with a black lace bra, matching thong, and net tights, she went to the tiny bathroom.

They moved in a couple of weeks ago and since then had painted the entire flat. Yesterday, they both had long shifts returning home at eight PM, time only for a hurried meal of egg, bacon, and chips followed by a gooseberry yoghourt. After an hour’s TV, they fell into bed. It was an early-morning shift, so they needed their sleep -no time for sex or late-night talks.

Her pride and joy consisted of a small lounge, kitchen, two bedrooms, one of which was a box room with just enough space for a single bed and a chest of drawers. The tiny bathroom held a toilet and shower far better than the sink at the other flat with the daily quick shower at the hospital. They were ecstatic, their first home together. Up until getting the flat, they’d made do with a bedsit, for which they’d paid an exorbitant rent. However, with them both gaining their degrees as lab technicians in medical technology and research, they could afford this. Maybe in time, they’d have enough for a down payment on their flat.

***

Music thumped, vibrating through her chair as she sat sipping her drink. Neil tapped his fingers to the beat of the music. ‘It’s great here, dark though.’

Jeannette smiled. ‘I’m just so glad you got the tickets. Strange though, turning up at the lab. So they were just with a thank you note?’

Neil brushed his fingers through bright blond hair, glinting shades of green and red in the lights. ‘Yeah, I thought it was a joke when the post lad gave it to me. It was one of those, “Congratulations, Mr. Bennett; you have won a prize.” But, I didn’t have to spend a fortune on a phone call and then win a toaster – just the tickets. So good – didn’t seem to be any strings attached.’

‘Did you go in for a competition anywhere?’

‘No, I did fill in a questionnaire on the computer the other day – one of those survey things.’

‘Must have been that. It costs a bomb to get in here. As long as we stick to lager, we’ll be okay.’

Jeannette looked up to see a man and young woman approaching their table. Jeannette’s heart sank a little; after all, they’d bagged the table early, but now the others were filled up; they knew they’d have to share. The guy bent his head towards them. Raising his voice over the music, he said, ‘Mind if we sit here? All the tables are full.’

Neil sat back, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’

The girl smiled, looking great in pale grey silk mini shorts and black tights, her black chiffon top with long sleeves laced up at the front and side; Titian hair slicked into a ponytail flowing down her back. ‘Thanks, I thought I’d be standing on my pins for the night.’

Jeannette looked down at the built-up stilettos. ‘Hey, they’re designer – which one?’

‘Tony Bianco. They’re great, not shoes for standing in, though.’

Jeanette’s eyes widened. ‘Wow, they are gorgeous.’

Extending his hand, the guy said, ‘I’m Kevin, and this is Julia. Hey, it’s dark in here, isn’t it?’

Picking up her glass, Jeannette said, ‘Creates an atmosphere.’

Still standing, Kevin grinned, ‘Can I get you another one?’

Jeannette shook her head. ‘No thanks; I’ve had one already. I’ve got an early start tomorrow, so I’d better stick with this. Thanks anyway.’

Looking over to Neil, he said, ‘Want a refill?’

Neil laughed. ‘Yeah, why not. Thanks – Foster’s Lager.’

Grinning, Kevin left the table to get the drinks while Julia put her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her hands. ‘So, do you guys live around here?’

Jeannette nodded. ‘We’re not far from the hospital. Just moved into our new flat actually.’

‘Oh, that’s great; you must be excited.’

‘Yeah, I am, just putting the finishing touches to the furniture. We had to paint the whole flat, so we lived out of boxes for the first couple of weeks.’

‘You must be relieved to get it all straight.’

‘Yeah, now I can concentrate on learning to cook properly.’

The discussion carried on as Kevin arrived back with the drinks. As he handed a pint glass to Neil, Julia shouted over the hub of voices and throbbing music, ‘Jeanette and Neil have just moved into their new flat; it’s not far from here.’

Kevin grinned. ‘Is that so. We’re still looking; it’s really difficult to find anything in Brighton. Plenty of places outside, but we want to be near to where we work – save on the traveling.’

Neil said, ‘So what do you do?’

Taking a sip from his beer, Kevin pushed back a lock of dark blonde hair. ‘Well, I’m a Pharmacist, and Julia here is in research – chemistry.’

‘Hah, interesting. We’ve both just graduated – medical research lab technicians.’

‘Oh, so we’re kind of in the same professions.’

Looking up, he said, ‘The floors packed; do you want to dance, Julia?’

The girl shook her head. ‘I’ll have a drink first, warm up.’ Turning to look at Jeannette, she said, ‘You two dance?’

Jeannette nodded eagerly, ‘Oh yeah – love it.’

Kevin raised his hand. ‘Enjoy.’

Not wanting to bump into tables, Neil pushed his way through the gyrating bodies while they danced, tugging Jeannette along behind him. ‘Hey, nice couple.’

‘Julia’s very pretty.’

‘So are you. She’s pretty, but you’re drop-dead gorgeous.’

Jeannette felt her heart bursting with happiness; it was a fantastic night, Neil, the music, dancing, and the prospect of returning to the new flat, a sexy bedroom with the deep maroon silk duvet cover and pillow shams.

The beat changed, becoming slow – sensual. Jeannette’s movements enticed Neil. Moving nearer, he put his hands on her hips. She responded, arching her back, swaying to the slowing rhythm.

From the table, Kevin looked over to them, waving. As he lowered his hand, the smile vanished; tension caught his face in a vice. He looked down at the drinks, then at Julia. ‘Now? They’re engrossed with each other.’

Julia’s hand moved towards Jeanette’s drink.

Chapter 13

Lowering her gaze, she examined the pics, unable to suppress a shudder racking her body as she saw the two mutilated bodies. She could feel the goosebumps rising on the skin of her arms. ‘God, I feel as if the room’s turned to ice.’

Redd gazed at her hair, the sun casting a blue sheen on ebony waves. Her finger hovered over the photo as she said, ‘Are they lying on the bare earth?’

‘Yes, the perps dug shallow graves. They’d strewn oak leaves around the bodies.’

Tessa peered at the photos. ‘Yes, you’re right, so are there any oak trees near the scene?’

‘I don’t know. I’d better go and have another look at the crime scene.’ Pausing, he said, ‘Would you like to come with me? It might help.’

Tess frowned; she was tired; it was a long day, and she’d had little sleep with the nightmares waking her in the small hours, her heart thudding, the sheets wet with perspiration. It took almost two hours to get back to sleep, despite her relaxation exercises. Maybe she needed to see Debbie again. ‘Err … I’m not sure I can make it.’ Seeing the concern in the blue eyes, she blurted out, ‘I’m tired; I’m having a few nightmares at the moment.’ She surprised herself; why was she saying this? She hardly knew him.

Redd saw the faint shadows beneath her eyes, the slightly drawn look of the pale olive skin. ‘Oh, I’m sorry … err … maybe another time?’

She hesitated; why did she feel the need to explain? Taking a breath, she said, ‘My sister is very ill – cancer. I called her three days ago, and I’ve had nightmares ever since – dreaming in symbols – terrifying symbols. My druid group is holding healing circles for her – praying to the Goddess. I believe in a kind of Power, whatever that may be. They have been so good to me. I feel safe with them.’

Redd wondered why she needed that security; what happened to her? Nodding, he kept quiet, his silence urging her to speak.

Her eyes clouded as she looked up at him. ‘She has aggressive cancer. I feel awful like I should give up the tenure – just go back home. It’s a helluva way when someone’s ill. I just want to be with her, you know.’ Raking pale fingers through her hair, she wondered why she was talking to him so intimately.

‘So where is home?’

‘Alabama.’

Redd heard the suffering, sensed there was something more profound. ‘That’s south-east, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, they call it the Yellowhammer state after the bird or ‘The Heart of Dixie.’ I come from Mobile, the oldest state, founded by the French Colonists – near the Yazoo lands.’

‘So you might be of French extraction then?’

‘Who knows, the name Davies is Welsh, but I know my ancestors are mostly Welsh and Irish.’

‘Yeah, I’ve heard of Mobile. Look, how about coming out for that ride? Change of scene?’

Hesitating for a moment, she said, ‘You know that may be a good idea. Thanks. I’ll just go and get a jacket.’

Redd blurted out, ‘Why don’t you bring Sweetpea along, take him for a run? Kingsley Vale is a great place for dogs.’ He shocked himself with this suggestion, regretting it almost immediately, as he looked at the dog now sliding off the couch again.

‘I know, besides the group meetings, I often take Sweetpea over there. So you don’t mind?’ Looking out of the window to the road, she said, ‘I mean your car – it’s new, isn’t it?’

Redd saw his baby, the sleek black lines gleaming, the swish upholstery. Fuck it; he’d have dog hairs all over it. He couldn’t change his mind now. He felt his mouth tighten as he tried to smile, ‘No … that’s okay – he needs a run, I expect.’

‘Well, if you’re sure, I’ll get a dog blanket, save you having to brush up his hairs. He’s in the moulting phase at the moment. They don’t actually shed much at all – only twice a year.’

Redd swallowed, trust his luck. He spoke through his teeth, ‘Don’t worry – no bother; is it mate?’ He patted Sweetpea’s head, keeping his movements slow – didn’t want his hand in the brute’s mouth.

As Tess left the room, the dog ambled over, and lowering his head, licked the carpet around Redd’s feet. He hoped he didn’t start licking his shoes; he just didn’t trust those teeth.


Copyright.

No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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



Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

Available Chapters!

Death Marks: Chapter 11

Death Marks: Chapter 11

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 chapter of my dark crime novel, Death Marks . For now, I will post a chapter every Monday and Thursday.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Death Marks

Chapter 11

Redd felt a rush of hope. ‘That’s great. So I’ll go back to the autopsy.’

‘Okay, go ahead.’ Placing her cup of tea on the table, she crossed her legs, the denim hugging the sleek lines of her thighs.

‘The autopsy gave more information again; it appears they sawed through the sternum and ripped the rib cage open to extract the entrails. Having done that for some strange reason, they put them back into the body. It’s crazy – absolutely insane.’

Her eyes widened in horror, uncrossing her legs; she leaned forward as she said, ‘Did they mark the liver and the heart?’

Surprised, he said, ‘Yes. How did you know?’

‘Just a guess at present, but….’ her words faltered.

‘What is it?’

She hesitated again. ‘No, nothing – go on.’

‘The pathologist pointed out the markings formed the pattern of a wheel; the central axis was a stick and three spokes.’

‘I recognize that; I’m sure it’s a Triskelion, the symbol of the ancient Celtic religions and the Druids.’

‘I thought it was some insane message.’

‘No-one really knows what it means; some guess it could be the birth cycle – the three trimesters, or maybe the pagan triple Goddess. The three spokes stand for three bent legs. It developed from the prehistoric triple spiral.’

‘Pagans? I thought they were innocent, free sex, flowers, incense, and drums – the ones who gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice.’

‘Some are like that, but I the group you’re dealing with, most probably read up the ancient rites and are re-enacting them—’

She stopped, suddenly putting her hands to her cheeks.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘You said one of the victims was decapitated?’

‘Yes – go on.’

She sighed deeply, ‘Then I suggest it’s the druids; they decapitated their prisoners and worshipped skulls. They would then clean out the skull and pour the victim’s blood into that, drinking and washing their faces in it. It was considered sacred; they attained the wisdom of the Gods. They’re called the Cult of the Severed Skulls. They also covered themselves with tattoos. It was a terrible – terrible time.’

‘Tattoos? The victims had tattoos.’

‘What kind?’

‘Circles, swirling lines in circles. What do they mean?’

‘The triple spirals again. It’s all connecting.’ Tess rubbed her forehead, putting her hand on her chest.

Seeing her distress, he realized he was dealing with a researcher, not a detective de-sensitized by vicious crimes or the traffic officer clearing up the gruesome remains of a road accident. He said, ‘Look if you don’t want to go through with this —’

‘I’m sorry; it’s such a shock. But, I have to help you. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t. But my suggestions must sound way out to you.’

‘No – no. You’ve given me a lot to think about.’

‘Well, my work is still in the research stage.’

‘I think we’re really gonna need you. Go on about these druids.’

She bit her lip. ‘To them, there was no death; it was all about balance; to receive life, you sacrificed life. The Druid priest truly believed he would immediately reincarnate in the next life, as a God and the ordinary person would instantly enter another body.’

‘You’ve gone pale. Maybe a brandy would help?’

She flushed. ‘I think I need it.’ Rising, she went to the drinks’ cabinet, taking out two brandy glasses and a bottle of Hennessey.

‘Ah, Cognac no less.’

She smiled, pouring out a generous measure and handing it to Redd. Sitting down across from him, she took a healthy swallow, feeling the warmth flow down her throat and into her gullet. ‘God, that’s better. For a moment, I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I just can’t believe someone would do something like this.’

After sipping his cognac in silence, giving her time to recover, he said, ‘Okay, I have more information for you. The pathologist discovered a cocktail of drugs in the stomach contents, the main one being Salvia Divinorum. It has low toxicity and addictive levels, but quite lethal when mixed with the other agents.’

Tess frowned. ‘I’ve heard of Salvia Divinorum, originally a shamanic drug; it’s widely available on the net – cheap too.’

‘Yeah, we looked it up. It’s quite powerful on its own, let alone mixed with others.’

Taking another sip of cognac, Tess said, ‘If the perpetrators use it, they wouldn’t be in any fit state to plan and carry out the eviscerations. They must give it to the victims.’

‘Huh, we’re back on evisceration – is that okay?’

‘Yes, the cognac’s helping. I have to face it, Chief Inspector. First, could you tell me a little more about the crime scene, you say Kingsley Vale? Where were the bodies placed exactly?’

Looking into those chocolate eyes, he felt his pulse rate quicken. ‘Call me Dan.’

She flushed. ‘Okay, Dan, it is. I’m Tess.’

‘So in answer to your question, they were found in a grove of yew trees.’

She bit her lip. ‘It’s the Druid’s particular sacred tree, besides the Oak that is. They must be offering the victims as sacrifices.’

‘Sacrifices?’

‘It was a different mindset in those times; today neo-druids are completely different and are non-violent; they see neo-druidism as a way of life, a philosophy. She paused; her hands gripped together, the knuckles white. ‘Actually – I have to tell you this before we go any further; I’m a neo-druid.’

‘Oh … err …’ for a few seconds, Redd was lost for words. Would this complicate matters? ‘So, you’d have lots of contacts with the neo-druids?’

‘Yes – there are a lot of interactions between the groups, especially at the festivals.’

He saw her face whiten. ‘You okay?’

‘No, not really, these crimes you’ve told me about cast a slur on today’s druids.’

‘These are different Tess – psychopaths looking for an excuse to kill.’

‘Mud sticks.’

‘Nonsense – look at this way, I think I’ve struck lucky. You can lead us into the groups.’ Trying to make her feel easier, he said, ‘You any good on the ancient languages? A scroll of rough old parchment was left with the body; we can’t make head or tail of it. I have a copy of it here.’

Taking it from him, she studied it for a few moments. ‘This is the Ogham alphabet of the ancient Celts; they used a system of lines in various positions. Just let me get down one of my books.’ Rising, she went to the bookshelves, picking out a black leathered volume. Coming back, she leafed through. ‘Ah yes, here we are – a list of Oghams and the meanings.’ Frowning, she picked up the pad and pencil from the table, her finger trailing down the lists as she wrote. ‘Ah yes – got it. How strange … so let me see … yes, I have it. It says, “The Oracle is defiled.” That sounds ominous.’

‘So the Druids used the Oracle?’

‘The ancient ones – yes. They had many divination forms, some quite benign – leaves, clouds, a flight of birds, the weather. But, they had a gruesome side; they used the human body in its death throes to predict important events.’

‘Christ.’ Her words cast a shadow over his heart. ‘It looks like we’re in deep shit. We had our suspicions that it was more than one but a group? How the hell would a group work as one in such a vicious crime?’

‘It could be one or two leaders working together, moulding the group. Being psychopaths, they know the members’ strengths and weaknesses; know how to push their buttons. Aided by drugs, they enslave them.’


Copyright.

No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

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