Dark games, p.1

Dark Games:, page 1

 part  #2 of  Erin Dark Series Series

 

Dark Games:
 

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Dark Games:


  DARK GAMES

  (The Erin Dark Series:2)

  By Taylor Leon

  Copyright © Taylor Leon 2017

  All Rights Reserved

  All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the author.

  CONTENTS

  Also by Taylor Leon

  Prologue

  THE CANDIDATES

  1

  2

  3

  Part One

  TAGGING

  4

  5

  6

  7

  8

  9

  10

  11

  12

  13

  14

  15

  16

  17

  18

  19

  20

  21

  22

  23

  24

  25

  Part Two

  WHEN DEATH COMES CALLING

  26

  27

  28

  29

  30

  31

  32

  33

  34

  35

  36

  37

  Part Three

  IN PLAIN SIGHT

  38

  39

  40

  41

  42

  43

  44

  45

  46

  47

  48

  49

  50

  51

  52

  53

  Part Four

  A CASE OF THE MISSING

  54

  Epilogue

  A HOUSE OF CARDS

  55

  56

  Also by Taylor Leon

  THE ERIN DARK SERIES

  Dark Justice

  Dark Games

  Find out more about the author and any future books at:

  Taylorleon.com

  Prologue

  THE CANDIDATES

  1

  IT TOOK HIM two months to find his team of serial killers on the dark web.

  There were twelve responses to his advert. After that, it just became a question of sorting the wheat from the chaff. The applicants didn’t know that once they contacted him, from inside what they thought was the safe confines of the dark web, he could trace most of them back to their computers. Those few he couldn’t, he didn’t pursue. He wasn’t interested in anyone who had the ability to hide from him.

  Once he traced them, then with his expertise, the next part was easy. Infiltrating and taking control of their computers, he accessed the internal webcams and watched them as they sat at their keyboards and communicated with him. Seeing their faces helped him decide his selection. That and the portfolios they sent him, detailing their experiences and skills with dates and names.

  He spent many nights trawling police and crime-stopper sites, verifying the information he was being fed.

  Murder unsolved.

  Murder unsolved.

  Missing teenager

  Young girl last seen…

  The list went on and on. It was unbelievable the number of unsolved crimes that these people were owning up to. Of course, some of the applicants were cranks, loonies and one was a definite crack-head.

  In the end, he whittled the list down to three candidates. Each applicant had submitted his or her pseudonym at the start of the process. He settled on BABYFACE, THE CHAMELEON, AND FRIGHT-NIGHT. Each had killed more than twice in different parts of the country without ever being arrested. When he followed up the police reports into their crimes, he could see each had been careful and methodical. After he traced them and discovered their real identities, then he delved into their private lives via social media to see if there was anything obvious there that could cause him problems further down the line. These three had seemed fine. Sure, he’d seen BABYFACE popping pills on-screen, and FRIGHT-NIGHT smoking a joint, but that was okay. He was hardly interviewing for paragons of virtue.

  Tonight, was the inauguration, the firing of the proverbial starter pistol. He had told them to be inside their homes with their laptops turned on from seven pm, so he could contact them all at the same time. But instead, when seven pm came, he ended up just watching them. It amazed him to think that these people, making dinner, watching TV and napping, were psychopaths. The worst kind, because he could tell from looking at them, that if you saw them in the street you wouldn’t give them a second look. They were everyday people, without flashing lights above their heads proclaiming the terrible crimes they had committed and would commit again.

  He knew what had driven him to create this game, but he wondered- what had made them turn out this way? He wished he could sit down with each of them and have a one on one conversation, understand what had happened in their past, see if there was a common theme. Maybe they came from broken homes. Maybe they’d been abused when they were younger. Or maybe it was simply genetic, and they had inherited these traits. All the books and psycho-babble he’d ever read had failed to provide a definitive answer.

  Maybe there wasn’t one.

  The one thing these three did have in common though, was their façade. Mr and Miss Very Ordinary. It was one of the reasons they had been selected.

  There was BABYFACE, who looked and dressed like the typical student he was, often lying on his bed, surrounded by posters of music and movie icons. He spent most of his time watching films on his tablet, or popping pills, or painting behind an easel he had set up in the small space between his bed and the wall.

  THE CHAMELEON was older, maybe in her late twenties, early thirties. He wasn’t a chauvinist, but he hadn’t expected any women to apply. In fact, two did. THE CHAMELEON and the junkie who called herself SMOKE. He wasn’t promoting equal rights; THE CHAMELEON was selected on the back of her previous accomplishments.

  Finally, there was FRIGHT-NIGHT. Why call himself that? THE GAMES-MASTER thought. Mister Vain would have been so much more appropriate. He spent an inordinate amount of time in his lounge, either in front of the mirror or on the floor exercising. There was no doubt that he was a good looking young man, with short neat hair, a chiselled chin topped with a designer stubble, and an athletic body that he had on show every evening.

  At half-past seven, THE GAMES-MASTER called time on his voyeurism, and sent them a message which pinged loudly on their screens, telling them to be ready in two minutes. Then he waited for each of them to slip in front of their machines, before he began.

  CONGRATULATIONS ONCE AGAIN.

  YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO TAKE PART IN THIS VERY EXCLUSIVE GAME.

  OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS THERE WILL BE A SERIES OF CHALLENGES FOR YOU TO COMPLETE.

  AT THE END, THE PLAYER WITH THE MOST POINTS WILL BE DECLARED THE WINNER AND RECEIVE THE ONE MILLION POUNDS CASH PRIZE.

  FIRST, A REMINDER OF THE GROUND RULES.

  THE MESSAGES ON THIS SITE ARE DELETED AFTER FOUR MINUTES. SO, IT IS IMPERATIVE YOU HAVE YOUR COMPUTERS TURNED ON EVERY EVENING FROM SEVEN O’CLOCK. I WILL TRY TO HAVE ANY DIALOGUE WITH YOU BETWEEN ELEVEN AND MIDNIGHT, BUT THERE MAY BE OCCASIONS WHEN THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE…SO KEEP THEM ON AND IN SIGHT. OTHER DEVICES SUCH AS PHONES AND TABLETS ARE ONLY TO BE USED IN EMERGENCY.

  EACH TARGET I GIVE YOU IS NUMBERED. THAT NUMBER MUST BE CARVED ONTO THE TARGET AND A PICTURE SENT TO ME OVER THIS SITE.

  I WILL AWARD THE POINTS AND ISSUE AN UPDATED LEAGUE TABLE EACH TIME A CHALLENGE IS COMPLETED.

  FOR THE FIRST CHALLENGE I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU EA
CH A DIFFERENT TARGET.

  ON RECEIPT OF THE DETAILS YOUR TIME BEGINS. THE FASTER YOU COMPLETE THIS TASK THE MORE POINTS YOU GET. THREE POINTS FOR FIRST PLACE, TWO FOR SECOND, AND ONE FOR THIRD.

  GOOD LUCK.

  THE GAMES-MASTER

  2

  MELISSA FAIRWEATHER HAD only been back at work for four weeks. She’d cried every night during the week leading up to her return, and her husband had had to lie through the night with a consoling arm around her. The thought of having to hand baby Paige over to her mother-in-law, even for just three days of the week, broke her heart. But they needed the extra income from her job. Tom was freelancing and couldn’t make ends meet on his own. But it was just a job to her. A way to get a little more money. Nine to six and she was done. After that, she just wanted to get back home quickly and see her daughter.

  So, on her last ever evening, Melissa left the office as usual, bang-on-time, with barely a goodbye to her three colleagues. Tom needed their car on weekdays, so she had to walk to and from work. On the plus-side though, it meant Tom would pick Paige up from his mother’s and get home around the same time.

  It was a relatively short twenty-minute walk home, made even shorter when she cut through the Davis Memorial Park. It was already dark, but she wasn’t afraid. Not in Holey Village. There was never any trouble in the area, which was why she and Tom had paid over the odds for their small two-bedroom house.

  A long winding path bisected parkland, circled a line of trees and bushes, then came back out onto a duck-pond and a kids’ play area. She was half-way along this path when she sensed someone behind her. She looked around and saw a shadow coming into the park through the gate. She only had the moonlight to guide her, but he looked like a kid talking on his mobile. He probably hadn’t even noticed her ahead of him.

  Seeing him on his phone reminded her that she should call Tom, and she reached into her small coat pocket for her own mobile, her gloved hand struggling to pull it out because she had put it inside such a bulky protective case. She stopped, took her glove off, reached back in, and gave the phone a hard tug to pull it free. She swore she would take that protective case off as soon as she got home. She didn’t care how clumsy she was with her mobile, if the screen cracked then so be it, but it was too unwieldy to handle like this.

  The sudden collision knocked the air out of her. She tried to cry out, but a leather-gloved hand clamped across her mouth, and her left arm was pulled back tightly into the small of her back.

  ‘Don’t make a sound,’ a voice hissed in her ear. It was a high voice with a lisp, and she immediately thought of the boy she had seen behind her. She frantically twisted her body this way and that, trying to shake him off. But he was too strong.

  He dragged her behind the line of bushes and into the circle of trees. It was completely dark in there, the trees’ canopies blocking any moonlight. He lowered her onto the soft ground, keeping his hand clamped over her mouth.

  As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she could see her attacker close-up. He was so young. Must have been in his teens. His eyes frightened her the most. They were dead. There was nothing behind them. No excitement, no fear. Nothing.

  She was sure he was going to kill her. She would never see her darling daughter again. Never see Tom, or her brother. Panicking, she pushed up against him but he was too heavy. She tried to bite his hand but it was outside her mouth, clamped so tightly and high against her nostrils, she was struggling to breathe through her nose.

  She yanked her gloveless hand free from under his knee and reached up to scratch his face, digging her manicured nails into his cheek and dragging them down, hard and fast.

  He yelled, freeing her mouth for an instant. He put a hand to his cheek, before holding it away to examine the bloody smudges.

  ‘You bitch!’ he snarled, his young face creased in pain and anger.

  She took in a gulp of air and then opened her mouth to scream. But he was too quick. He raised his fist and then brought it down hard onto her face.

  Once, twice and three times more, until she was unconscious.

  3

  JENNIFER BROOKS WAS forty-one and newly single. She had been in a relationship for three years until last month when she found out her boyfriend was sleeping with someone she had, for a long time, regarded as her best friend. Well, he hadn’t exactly been sleeping with her. Sleep had been the furthest thing from their minds, as she had discovered when she came home from her mother’s early and found them shagging away on the kitchen floor.

  A month later, she still woke up in the night thinking about him. Lying in a large, now empty bed, she missed him, missed having his warm body pressed against her. But every time she closed her eyes and imagined him, she saw her underneath his naked body, nails scratching down his bare back and bum.

  That morning, she lay in bed until after eight, drifting in and out of sleep, then panicked because she knew there was no way she was going to be in work on time. She called in and said the trains were playing up. She was PA to the owner of the business, a sixty-something year old who took a fancy to her. She had no intention of ever doing anything about it, she so wasn’t like that. But a little flirtation never harmed anyone’s job prospects, and it meant that when she had mornings like this he was more likely to accept her excuse with a smile and a wave of the hand.

  After work, she arranged to meet with some of the girls at the Nova Bar near her home in Benham, a favourite haunt of theirs. She hoped that a few drinks and some girly-gossip would help ease the break-up with Ben, if only for the night.

  And it worked. Her last night would be a drunken, happy one.

  She left her friends just before ten-thirty, with her flat just a fifteen-minute walk away. It was starting to rain and the weather reports had forecast a deluge through the night. So, she picked up the pace, the clack-clack of her high heels echoing on the pavement as she crossed the small bridge over the lock.

  He was crouched down at the top of the railings, near the metal steps which led down into the darkness of the canal. He was moaning softly, holding his right arm. His head was covered in a knitted beanie, and he was wearing a dark sweat top and jeans.

  She stopped and asked if he was okay.

  ‘I slipped and fell on my arm,’ he said, and she noticed the right arm he was nursing was in a sling. ‘It’s only just been taken out of plaster, and now I’ve buggered it up again.’

  He turned to face her. He was very handsome, a perfectly chiselled face, with fine dark eyebrows and the neatest stubble around his chin and jaw-line.

  ‘Here let me help you up,’ she said, linking her arm through his good one, and hoisting him up. He bumped her gently as he straightened, and she imagined the strong muscled body underneath his clothes.

  She felt a warm, fuzzy feeling and for a moment her imagination ran riot. How romantic would it be, she thought, to meet your future husband, lying on the ground in the rain with a broken arm? This could be like one of those chick-flicks. She could offer to take him back to her place, not for anything improper, but just so he could call a cab. She could give him her number and then in a day or so he would look her up.

  He was patting himself down when he suddenly looked at her, panic stricken. ‘My phone,’ he said. ‘I dropped my bloody phone.’

  She looked around. There was just one dim light coming from a lamppost nearby, but she couldn’t see anything.

  ‘Christ, I hope it didn’t fall down there,’ he said, walking a few feet away from her and looking down the steps.

  She went over to join him. ‘Surely it couldn’t have fallen this far?’

  ‘I think that’s it, there,’ and he pointed down.

  She stood next to him, following his finger, but all she could see was blackness.

  ‘I can’t see any-’ she started saying, but was cut off when a hard shove sent her forward into the air, and then the darkness below.

  Part One

  TAGGING

  4

  DEATH AND DESTRUCTIO
N follow me like a curse.

  ‘Good of you to join us, DS Dark,’ said Detective Chief Inspector Arnie Shenker, sarcastically.

  I was only surprised he could see me approaching through the heavy sheets of rain. Out here, in Benham in the early hours of a cold, dark morning.

  He was crouching down next to the body. A couple of other figures were bent low on the other side. They’d already erected the lights. Soon they would be putting a white tent up. Sweeping all this misery under the carpet.

  Her face looked up at me, eyes wide and staring. I stooped down and squinted. In Victorian times, they believed that when a person died their eyes captured the last thing they saw, and so they thought that if you looked carefully you could see the victim’s killer in there.

  But this girl’s eyes were empty.

  An officer was holding an umbrella over Arnie, as he rifled through the victim’s purse.

  ‘Her name is Jennifer Brooks,’ he said, pulling out a credit card. He pushed it back in and held the purse up for me to take. Then he stood, pulled down his blue face-mask and motioned for me to follow him over to a small alcove.

  ‘Bet you can’t wait to get your boy back,’ he shouted over his shoulder.

  My boy. My partner, DI John Cade. He’d been recuperating for the last month after being shot and almost killed.

  We were already soaked, but at least under the small arch we could hear ourselves talk above the driving rain.

  I opened the victim’s purse again to see what else was in there.

  ‘It’s full of money,’ I said leafing through the notes.

  Arnie nodded. ‘Doesn’t look like robbery’s the motive, does it?’

  ‘Who called it in?’

  ‘A couple we’re talking to back there. They were walking down the side of the lock just before this storm hit us and saw the body floating in the water.’

 
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