Thursday, 13 May 2010

Chapter Two

The scene was fractured with blue neon that cut through the night, rain like thousands of tiny sapphires that fell from above. A disturbing quiet had descended on all the people she could see. The lights of the Ensler psychiatric-unit flickered back to life and with it, she supposed, all the lights in Wells Gate. Nobody seemed to notice the power had returned and the blackout was over.
She watched some of the faces – a young paramedic sitting in the back of an open ambulance, hands behind his head, eyes wide and empty. A male police officer was sobbing into the crook of a female officer’s arm. Even the older ones looked afraid. Members of the containment unit were stalking about, and she supposed people had begun to talk. The rumour-mill was already turning.
Dr Katherine Reece stood in the rain, feeling sick, as though icy stones lay nestled in her belly. She tilted her face skyward and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. The rain beat down on her cheeks and the lids of her eyes. She absently pulled the coat around her even tighter, crossed her arms against herself, glancing down at the Omega on her wrist. Two thirty-four.
Most of London was asleep.
She knew something about what awaited her, enough for the sickness she now felt to be more than psychosomatic. She’d received the call almost forty minutes ago. Things never stayed buried, even if you weighted them down.
When she opened her eyes and surveyed the scene again, she saw a large plain-clothes policeman jogging through the sapphire rain towards her. She recognised him from the photos she’d seen. His name was William Harin. He was a pliable man, they told her. They were usually right. “Detective Chief Inspector?”
He glared sideways at her through the rain. “Yeah. And who are you? CID?”
“A while back,” she said, staring him in the eye. “Dr Katherine Reece. I was a psychologist with the Royal Army for five years, with Special-Branch for three before that.” She reached into her coat and handed him the leather-bound identification. He flipped it open, squinted in the rain and then looked up at her.
“Ministry of Defence…? Love, do you know what happened in there?”
“Probably not as much as you, Inspector.”
He stepped forwards, in her face. “They were slaughtered – ten of them…four nurses, two doctors, a patient, a guard and two paramedics. Their ambulance was found missing from the visitors bay.”
She leaned forward and said in his ear, “From here on, Locus Point has full jurisdiction on this site. You need to take me inside right now, William.”
“Wait here.” He jogged back to a flashing police sierra, reaching inside for the radio. She watched him through the blue neon rain. Eventually he waved her over. She strode across the Ensler car park.
DCI Harin gestured at the shell-shocked officers, paramedics and containment agents haunting the scene like uniformed ghosts. “You see all this…?”
He left the question hanging, apparently not expecting an answer. Escorting her inside the building, he asked her, “Do we transfer the other patients to the unit at St Francis, or what? There’s a maximum-security wing here; Hopkins…for violent patients.”
“That’s not my concern. I need to see the patient files. You checked them all?” The last sentence was hesitant, fearing the answer.
“Only one unaccounted for,” he said as they moved through a hallway rigged with tarpaulins and portable lights. He glanced at the notebook clutched in his hand. “A patient named Rebecca Cole.”
Dr Katherine Reece inhaled deeply; icy stones jostling in her belly. She realised now that she couldn’t stop it. She never had a chance. Prayer was kneeling, only now it didn’t seem so darkly humorous. She wanted to cry but instead she stared stone-faced as they walked the corridor.
“Nineteen years old,” the DCI continued, “Diagnosed with…” He squinted at his handwriting. “…acute effective disorder. She’s listed as an escalating paranoid sociopath. I guess which means she has no conscience.” He nodded to himself, closing his eyes.
At the end of the corridor, forensics and photographers in white jump-suits were wandering around silently, apparently horrified at the scene beyond the corner.
The DCI snatched her arm, leaning in to her. “One of the nurses was ripped in half…and some of…the others…” He took a deep breath, his lips nearly touching her ear. “It’s worse than you think, love. It’s a vision of hell. I mean, I’ve never seen…”
She fiercely pulled her arm away and rounded the corner. What she saw, despite her lengthy career, despite her familiarity with violent murder, made her draw an awed inhalation of breath. “Oh…”
Prayer…My God…What the fuck have you done?
The blood and flesh and bones – everything was twisted, torn, disembowelled. An arm here, a torso there, a human head lying in congealed reddish black, all scattered like abandoned prizes. It looked unreal, a work of psychotic modern art. The carnage was so recent that only the fat scent of blood hung in the air. Even the walls seemed twisted out of alignment, bricks crumbling like dried mud.
From behind her the DCI leaned forward and whispered, “Now, doctor…you tell me what on God’s Earth could do something like this…”
Silently, hands trembling, she removed the mobile phone from her coat pocket and flipped it open. She was deathly cold and she thought of her son, which seemed strange in that moment. She pressed Send on the phone and held it to her ear, waiting.
As professionally as she could manage, “This is Reece. Tell logistics that we better think fast, and mobilise a secondary containment…now.”
She snapped the phone shut. Pulling her gaze from the carnage at the end of the hall, she focused on the DCI. He was looking at her as though he wanted her dead. “So you see all this, love?”
“I need those files.”
“Another unit? Well, that’s just brilliant. This is a disaster.”
“You won’t be compromised, sir. The fewer questions you ask the less disappointed you’ll be when you get no answers. Believe me.”
DCI Harin looked at the slaughterhouse scene, crossing his arms and hugging himself, as though truly frightening possibilities were now occurring to him for the very first time.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he muttered under his breath. “None of the coppers have…” He looked at her, a narrow and searching gaze. “A girl did this?” He sounded only slightly disbelieving. It made Katherine feel ill with shame.
“Please,” she said tightly, “Just do what I’m asking and do it now. Get me the files. Then we can both stop wasting time. Okay?”
The DCI stared and then nodded, jogging away down the hall.
She took another glance at the carnage. There was more blood than seemed feasible, literally painting the twisted walls. She turned away, stomach giving a dry heave, and she touched her mouth with the back of her hand in an effort to centre herself. She’d been right. Locus Point had been so damn wrong, and now they would blame her.
She would be held accountable for this massacre.
Katherine turned and hurried back into the car park filled with ambulances, police cars, and lots of frightened professionals. In the neon of the silent sirens the sapphire rain was still falling, heavier now. She pulled up the hood on her trench, reached into the pocket and lit a cigarette from a new pack of Lincoln. Nothing stayed buried; the past was back with sobering authority, snapping at her Prada heels. She felt like she wanted to throw up.
Halfway through the cigarette, she saw the DCI hurrying towards her. He had the files under his arms and handed her four of them in quick succession.
“That’s everything on Rebecca Cole.” He stared at her, looking frustrated and a little haunted. “I’m supposing that I have to take orders from them now? Ten people were killed and I’m supposed to lie for you. Right, love?”
“That’s right. You’ll go tandem with the containment unit for now, but it isn’t going to be covered in the national media like this.”
The DCI took the cigarette from her and she didn’t stop him. “One of the boys is bound to start asking questions.”
“Good. It’ll give them a place to channel their helplessness.”
He glared at her. “They found the ambulance a few minutes ago. It crashed at the top of Vassal Bridge Road. Nobody’s inside. The driver should be dead. You know the media is going to turn this into a circus, right? Everyone and his mother will want a piece. What am I supposed to do now?”
She took back her cigarette from him and said, “Just do whatever the fuck they tell you, William. That’s what I do.” She glanced at the dark sky, feeling the rain on her face. “I’ll leave my car here and ride with you. Let’s go.”

The ambulance had crashed into the abutment of a railway bridge that arched above the road. It sat in the rain, back doors hanging open, its front section pulverised into junk-metal. The driver’s cabin had been peeled back like tin-foil. Three police cars were parked around the abandoned emergency vehicle and the road was closed at both ends. A number of pedestrians nearest to the crash watched with interest from behind the blue police tape.
The sirens were still flashing silently against the night, as Katherine Reece stepped out of the car and into the sapphire rain with DCI Harin. Rebecca Cole was nowhere to be seen, apparently unscathed. Katherine glanced at the heavy-set Chief Inspector, trying to guess what was going through his mind at the sight of the peeled-back wreck.
He looked at her. “This sick little bitch slaughters most of the night-shift and then walks away from this crash…? Are you serious?”
She nodded silently, noticing that a dark car had pulled up behind the police cordon. Someone inside must have flashed an ID. The officers removed the tape, allowing the car to cruise into the scene.
Katherine glanced ruefully at the DCI, walked quickly to the purring vehicle, opened the passenger door and climbed inside. A tall, muscular black man in a business suit was behind the wheel. Dr Wesley Morgan.
She closed her eyes, her chest tightened. “Not looking good?” he asked her.
“No,” she said quietly. “Wes…you should’ve seen it. She ripped them apart.”
He frowned and lit a cigarette. “Don’t think I want to see that. The files?”
She handed him the folders. “There’s some surveillance footage, and the DCI says we might have a witness. A nurse. She’s in shock. I’ll do her first thing tomorrow.”
Wesley Morgan turned slightly and glared. “They ordered an edit? Jesus…it never went by me. Is that how we’re doing things now?”
“I meant that I’ll interview her. You’re all edgy.”
“We’ve got reasons to be edgy. The DCI, what’s he have to say about our presence?” She shrugged, so he took another pull of the cigarette. “After you’ve seen the nurse, what if Locus does order an edit? You’ll be the one pulling the trigger. You realise that, right Kath?”
She looked him in the eye, wondering how much he really suspected. “Of course I realise that, Wes. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
He glanced from the window at the sight of the overturned ambulance. “It’s already gone way too far, don’t you think?”

1 comment:

  1. I really hope you post more! Don't keep me in suspense. I want to see more of what's going on in this world you created.