Ashes and bone, p.1

Ashes and Bone, page 1

 

Ashes and Bone
 

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Ashes and Bone


  Ashes and Bone

  David Andrew McGlone

  © David Andrew McGlone 2016

  David Andrew McGlone has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

  First published by Endeavour Press Ltd in 2017.

  Table of Contents

  PROLOGUE

  SUNDAY GIRL

  THE GHOSTS OF PAST MISDEEDS

  IDENTIFY THE SYMPTOMS

  A LETHAL UNDERTOW

  MARLIN

  SEVEN BODIES

  A PRIEST

  SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH

  MARCH MOURNING

  ASHES AND BONE

  GOOD JUDGEMENT AND DISCRETION

  PHANTOMS IN THE NIGHT

  INTOXICATED AND BEWITCHED

  BOTTLE SELLS THE DEAL

  FALSE OPTIMISM

  A PROBLEM

  POKER FACES

  SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

  MALICE AND DEFEAT

  DARK GLOBES

  TENUOUS LINKS AND LIES

  FASCINATION IS NOT PITY

  POINT MADE

  MISGIVINGS

  REVELATIONS

  SUE

  ROOMS

  SORRY

  IN CONCLUSIONS

  PROLOGUE

  ‘GO, GO, GO!’ The tense silence was broken by the Detective’s urgent demand, sending the grim faced men in uniform rushing towards the faded white door. As the metal battering ram smashed through the entrance, PC Marlin looked on; poised for action should he be required, his heart pounding with fear and excitement. Young but with good experience, Marlin was nevertheless new to the world of serial killers and apprehensive as to how this arrest might pan-out. To calm himself, he drew in a long deep breath of cold air, fogging his view as he blew out.

  The anxious face of the Chief Inspector looked on as his officers forced themselves into the small property, a maelstrom of indistinct shouting and crashing as adrenaline overwhelmed careful consideration. The atmosphere was electric and all of the men were as one as the wave of anticipation washed over them. All but one.

  To the left of the Inspector stood a slim, casual, but well-dressed man. His longish blonde hair obviously civilian, he stood smoking with a look of almost nonchalance on his handsome face, though his sharp blue eyes were fixed on the house. As he sensed Marlin looking, the man turned his head and smiled as he nodded slightly; then turning once more he focused intently as he sat back against the bonnet of the police car. The brilliant Dr Andrews had brought them to this point with his profiles and plans of action and it had been Marlin who had been there to see that he had everything he needed. A quiet, almost unseen presence, but happy to be there. Happy to see the man in action and privileged to be somehow a part of the process.

  Amidst the chaos unfolding before him, Marlin heard the sound of breaking glass as the front window to his left exploded and a balled figure hit the ground and rolled before standing into a run. All eyes were drawn to the movement, a slight figure in jeans and a blue hooded fleece top, as it sped away from the building. Chief Inspector Jones screamed a demand to halt with more anger than belief which duly went unheeded, but Marlin moved instinctively and quickly after the fleeing man.

  As he gritted his teeth and focused on the speeding suspect, Marlin heard a crack to his right hand side as a firearms officer reacted with a wild shot. The figure hunched as he ran and Marlin heard him let out an excited yelp as he accelerated - was the bastard laughing? Over the green hedge he leaped with Marlin close behind and now he could hear it, the almost hysterical high-pitched giggling as the man ran. Anger swept over Marlin and his muscles tensed.

  ‘Stop, Rennie! Police.’

  The words were almost screamed in desperation as the shrieking figure continued to vault garden fences and sprint across lawns, but Marlin did not slow down or end his pursuit, if anything he pushed harder.

  Temple Mills was a built-up block of houses and flats used as a local university campus and, whilst there were plenty of gardens and hedges, there was little in the way of real cover, especially with a pursuer so close. The noise had brought students spilling from their rooms, some cheering as they saw the uniformed officer being evaded, some just caught-up in the spectacle. The sounds seemed to spur the man on and Marlin began to wonder where all of his support had gone as his legs tired. Then, as they reached the second last garden, Rennie slipped, not enough to fall, but enough to ensure his leap was too low; the would-be escapee caught the hedge squarely and fell out of sight as Marlin took two large strides and leaped over, balling his fists as he did so.

  Mark Rennie was 22 years old and a student at the University of East London, a psychology major with a quick and evil mind. He had plotted the deaths of four female students, as a Leopold and Loeb style experiment that had proved only too successful and caused terror throughout the campus and the city beyond. He chose his victims carefully and approached them in specific places; he was not a brawler and in no condition to fight with a policeman such as Marlin. He was built on ideas not brute strength, so his surrender was quick and inevitable.

  ‘AGH, be careful. There’s really no need for such roughness officer! Agh, too tight. Don’t you see I’m not resisting?’

  ‘Shut up, you sick bastard, tight cuffs are the least you deserve.’ Marlin was scowling now and trying to catch his breath. Around him were now a good number of officers, some with weapons aimed and all sharing the exhilaration of capture. Through the uniformed crowd walked Andrews, the studied calmness of his features only betrayed by the keen fascination in his eyes. Walking slowly forwards, he raised an eyebrow and almost smiled as he spoke.

  ‘So this is him? This is the cause of so much terror?’

  ‘Not anymore Dr Andrews, thanks to you…and of course this officer.’ The Chief Inspector patted Andrews’ shoulder as he spoke effusively. Rennie was trying to find some relief from his cuffed discomfort, but the name caught his attention.

  ‘You’re Dr Andrews?’ His voice was almost mocking. ‘I’m genuinely disappointed.’

  Andrews looked momentarily surprised and then irritated by the comment, yet he still felt able to smile as he leaned in close to the man.

  ‘I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to impress you, Rennie. Just catch you. Although it’s now quite hard to take any pride in the capture of such a small man. Such a small mind.’

  Now Rennie was visibly angered and his half-smile became a vicious baring of teeth. Then from his tight lips came the cackle once again, a cruel impersonation of a child’s amusement.

  ‘A small man? Oh I’m far, far bigger than you can ever imagine. Far bigger than you’ll ever be, Doctor. I let you catch me to end the tedium of waiting. I don’t have a small mind; I have a low boredom threshold.’ Again he cackled and Andrews seemed about to speak, but only smiled and shook his head slowly. Turning, Andrews nodded at Marlin and moved away from the crowd once more as the prisoner was forced towards the car. ‘Was it worth it, officer? All of that work only to have the credit taken by him?’ Again the giggle, but Marlin kept silent, only fixing Rennie with a stare. The eyes of his prisoner were wild and excited, unlike any he had seen before or wished to see again, but he knew he couldn’t argue with that or try to understand. He’d done his job and that was all that mattered.

  SUNDAY GIRL

  She woke, stretching for a sheet that was no longer there. The material now pushed away, embarrassed by its stained memories, awash on a thin mattress that would not absorb the dampened guilt. A weave beyond her grasp.

  Rolling over she cursed a night of easy passion and, having reached across, brought her hand down with a ‘Smack’ to the cold hollow ‘he’ had left. ‘Fucking typical’.

  Standing up carefull
y, trusting in momentum rather than balance, she stumbled towards the bathroom. She noticed her stomach grumbling ominously as her bladder was gratefully emptied and suddenly it felt good to be alone. Jesus, wine kills me she thought; not for the first time.

  As she walked through her compact living-room, her eyes fell on a half-finished vodka and coke; half drunk and available, just like me, she mused. Smiling at the pun she shook her head and padded away from the alcohol. Move away please, nothing to see here folks.

  She laughed loudly and, looking up, caught a brief cameo in the window. Her dark hair, longer than she liked, danced untidily around her head and shoulders as she smiled at her reflection. She turned to admire her image, shaking her hips as her sudden good humour played a futile game of hide and seek with her hangover. Not bad for 35 – but bed, she thought as she almost skipped forward before coming to a halt. ‘Juice’ she announced as she turned.

  It was only visible for an instant. Less a sound as a breath aloud, an echo when the first sound was nought. She was aware of the ground rushing up to meet her, but the first contact would remain a mystery. The muffled ‘oh’ of her involuntary sigh merged with the piercing flashes of colour that fringed her view. The pain, both heavily dull and sharply intense, dispensed with all other considerations.

  Then the silence, the terrifying, numbing silence. A warm sweet sensation invaded her mouth, over her tongue, on her lips. That strange metallic taste of blood, of death.

  In that moment her future, her plans, became her present and her past. Her body panic, her grooming, her pedicured perfumed self would ensure only a beautiful corpse. Designer clothes and dream weddings would remain unseen. She would be cloaked in the earth and wedded to the grave.

  The man now allowed himself to move. He went to sit, but then thinking better, bent his knees to a crouch; his outstretched hands hovering as if he was viewing this scene through a glass case. He breathed deeply and stared at his victim, basking in the warm glow of exhilaration that he knew would be only too fleeting. From his chest pocket he carefully withdrew his phone camera and lined up the photo. An android 'click' captured his victim.

  ‘My Sunday girl’ he whispered. And then he was gone.

  THE GHOSTS OF PAST MISDEEDS

  The loud grunt that finally awoke him was his own, a self-alarm for no fixed time that brought him round to a dimly recognisable present. This was a world authored by alcohol and presented via the medium of hangover. So dimly recognised and not at all unfamiliar. Just lie back and wait for the mental replay, he thought as his eyes slowly closed but nothing came. The only thing worse than the drunken memories was no memory at all. He could accept the blackouts, if only he was not racked with a fearful guilt of acts imagined; or was it imaginations enacted?

  With no great ease he slid from the settee and got to his feet, finally focusing on the whiskey bottles on the table. The empty whiskey bottles. This quantity of empties was always a bad sign. Guilt and his head throbbed in unison as he involuntarily reached for the back of a chair, stretching the kinks from his neck as he scanned the room.

  Where the fuck is my phone?

  Seeing that his hand was resting on his jacket, he carefully checked the pockets. As each one came up empty he found religion, please God don't say I lost my phone. Then success as he patted the right hand front. The night can't have been that bad then, he thought.

  Heading through the expensive mess that his house had become, Al found the bathroom and showered. Washed and brushed he dressed to face the world. All that remained was a strong coffee and a lot of water, a task he easily achieved on auto-pilot before taking his cup into the living room. Breathing deeply he picked up his phone with no little trepidation. ‘So to the day.’ He exclaimed to no-one so much as the ghosts of past misdeeds. He had messages. Long, repeated, anxious, angry messages. He had missed calls and he had seemingly missed Wednesday.

  Al was Dr Aldous Andrews, a psychologist almost famed for his (long since written) book on the psychology of the serial killer. In recent times he was Dr Al, almost famed for the sound bites for which he was always available. One consistent feature, even in these days as Dr Al, was the public’s fascination in his name - that hated name - Aldous. A dubious gift from his father.

  Francis Andrews, Frank to his friends, was the editor of the South Shields Bugle, a paper so small it was now gone and all but forgotten. A well-read and serious man, Frank was a picture of the disappointment he seemed to carry on his slumped shoulders. His wife and children he viewed as an inevitable consequence of age; an expectation of a life realised but entirely unexceptional. His career was his everything and it was supposed to be spectacular.

  His journalistic skills would propel him quickly through the ranks, earning the respect and envy of his peers. Offers to edit the nationals would be nonchalantly waved aside to concentrate on the first of his great novels. He would have his experiences as a war correspondent to draw upon and his association with world leaders would lend a definite gravitas. In his forties he would worry only about literary short-lists and the blossoming brilliance of his children; the beauty of his wife.

  The reality of life came quicker and more harshly than a dreamer such as he could ever have imagined. Employed by a local paper, he was hard working and tenacious but his copy was dry, his insight anything but. Joe Green, his editor, said that he had never seen someone as driven as the 21 year old Frank. He would need that drive however, as his natural talent was lacking and there would always be more gifted individuals. In short, local news was as far as he was going and he would have to fight to stay there.

  Crushing to his spirit, this was compounded by his literary creations, still-born every one; artistic impotence. He was aware that his dreams were dead by the time of his 29th birthday; a humourless, grey and almost silent figure by the age of 35. In this year his son was born, his only son and Francis Jr. became Aldous; named after a real writer and unmistakeably so.

  Beneath the shadow of his father’s disappointment, Aldous grew up in an atmosphere of quiet tension as a reticent and rather sullen child. At school he was initially teased about his ‘posh’ name and, as he retreated into himself, his aloofness. At home his mother Kate bore the resentment of her husband with a defeated resignation, but was determined that her son would have a better life. Although physical contact was rationed, there was no lack of focus on the boy and his academic progression; his ticket out of there. Granted, laughter was only an occasional visitor and the rod not spared, but Al emerged as a thoughtful and polite young man; top of his classes and ready for the next challenge. Kate, for her part, was ready to set him free, confident that he had a chance in the world and hopeful he would amount to more than simply his father’s son.

  Reasonably handsome with a winning smile, he had his mother’s piercing blue eyes and a quiet vulnerability that made him something of a hit with the girls, if only he had noticed. As it was, a certain social awkwardness meant he was largely oblivious, as his eyes remained fixed to his books and the road sign pointing south. Al would become, or appear to become, the person he wanted to be; but he could never quite leave the childhood Aldous behind. He saw the name as an embodiment of those days and he was embarrassed that it still generated laughter and curiosity in equal measure. As with many things in life, the small things can seem too important and for a time it prompted an unnecessarily sharp response from Al.

  His abridged and infinitely more polite response to all questions, was now a weary:

  ‘His Father. Yes, Huxley. Yes, the writer. No, not a man with a grasp of the cruelty of children or adults for that matter. Yes, his sense of humour regarding the matter was mostly exhausted. Al or Dr Al will do.’

  Dr Al was wanted by Radio London Live to contribute to the Linda Dear show. It must be a slow week he thought. Nothing gets those phones ringing quite like a ripper or two, maybe Myra?

  He was more than available for the right price. Anyway, he had never done her show and debut appearances were rare thes
e days.

  IDENTIFY THE SYMPTOMS

  Radio shows were no big deal for Al now, despite the odd butterfly in the stomach. A combination of experience and psychological relaxation techniques meant he was able to believe that no-one was listening. To ensure this he always made it plain that any 'phone-in' segment should be after he had left the studio. He now no longer did TV appearances due to the 'dumbing-down factor'. That was his official reason, he didn’t wish to admit that he was embarrassed by the paunch and the now thinning hair that he felt ruined his once attractive appearance. Drink and the lifestyle had aged Al more than he liked to admit in recent years and, whilst vanity was not a conscious consideration, he was more than happy to avoid the camera’s attentions.

  The red light glowed waking Al to the present, his eyes suddenly alive. Calm with an edge was the PR, so treat him nice. Linda Dear edged forward and smiled. Her bleached hair, pulled back into a pony-tail, stretched her skin tightly; dark make-up hid her eyes. A woman in her late twenties Al guessed, although her voice suggested the confident assurance of one much older.

  ‘Hello Dr Al and welcome to the show. Is it ok to call you Dr Al or would you prefer Aldous? I did notice that it was Dr Aldous Andrews on the book cover. A very literary name for a very literary subject.’

  ‘A literary name yes, from Huxley, but that was my father’s idea and I can’t say that I’m crazy about it. Dr Al is fine.’

  ‘That’s ok, so Dr Al, I’m rather curious about your background. The man behind the science so to speak,’ she smiled ‘You’ve mentioned your father but, for instance, is there a significant other?’

  ‘Father, Mother or significant other is personal. And personal, as I’ve always said, remains personal. I don’t believe that it’s important to know anything about my life in this context. I haven’t written an autobiography, not yet anyway, so that area’s not relevant to me.’

 
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