Powderfinger by Keller Yeats

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Chapter 19


As the autumn progressed and the Summer’s bright light faded, the year turned its gaze, towards the impending Winter. Progressively, the days grew ever shorter and distinctly colder. The police investigation had also cooled off and 'Powderfinger,’ as Mason had dubbed the killer, went silent. With no new murders or any tangible leads to go on, the press began to lose interest in the whole case and by Halloween, there was hardly a mention of 'The Canal Cutter,' to be found anywhere in the media.

At the height of the frenzy, a few tasteless pieces of poorly executed graffiti had appeared along the canal banks. There was the obvious “Beware the Cutter,” that somebody had sprayed on the “Echo Bridge,” underpass in bold black letters embellished with an assortment of Black birds resembling the metal sculptures adorning the Ravens Gate entrance. Painted, as if they were flying out of the U of the word ’Cutter’, and reaching, almost pleadingly to the sky, as they each made their futile bids for freedom.

Conceptually sound, though poor in its execution. The problem was, they did not so much look like fierce dark Ravens, as comic book Seagulls, or at a stretch of the viewers imagination, small panicking bat-like creatures making their startled getaway. It had taken somebody, a great deal of time to execute but it simply failed in it’s outcome. It was, however, a great deal more worthy than the scrawled mess, that was the smaller offering, sprayed below it. That simply read, “Don’t hang around Brenda, or he’ll have you.”

Perhaps, a little too wordy but straight to the point and it did have an inverted cross tagged on the end of it. It was undoubtedly the work of Brenda’s sad ex boyfriend again. Nothing was done to apprehend the miscreant, because in truth nobody cared about the graffiti, his hurt, or her professed liberal life style. Nobody who gave a damn about artistic endeavour, ever tried to pretend that the local Graffiti artists were anything other than ‘poor student’ standard scribblers, who were more than likely, going to disappear into the oblivion of everyday life, get a job, find a partner, have children and then die in anonymity.

St. Joseph’s Hostel continued to it’s normal probationary functions and Nicolas Swann, went back to work after his suspension. With no more killings on the canal side, a reassuring sense of watchful normality had returned to the area. The warmth of the late Autumn, had been forgotten and the first frosts were being felt on the ground, in the early mornings. Nick, took these indicators to be the heralds of oncoming Winter, his favourite time of year. He got a lift from the sharper air and the occasional early morning frosty crystal mists, that hung on around damp grassy areas, only clearing as the rays of the sun reached well above the horizon, warming the ground and gradually dissipating them.

The ambiance of this winter, was somehow different. The inmates still came and went on a regular basis and in themselves, were no different than they had always been. The trials and tribulations of the members of staff, barely seemed to ruffle their feathers, but since he had returned after his suspension, things were not quite the same as they were before. It had taken him an inordinate length of time to get back in the swing of things and his Official Disciplining, seemed to have had a sobering effect, on the other members of The Hostels staff.

Nick, almost instantly he sat down in the office, on his first day back, was informed of the fact that Larry Walsh had resigned. Beryl’s first words were not, “Welcome back Nick, how was it?” Or, even “Bet you’re glad to be back. It’s not the same without you.” No, he had hardly had time to take his coat off, when she just blurted it out. “Larry’s quit.” The news, that the hostel, was now a man down, wasn’t exactly an earth shattering revelation.

Larry Walsh had been getting increasingly disenchanted with the micro management of the Probation Service. So, he had only needed the slightest of pushes to drive him off the cliff edge. What event had finally forced his colleague to jump, was a mystery to Nick, who hadn’t exactly been in the loop for the past few weeks.

Nick, just looked at her with his mouth open. “And,” he said hunching his shoulders up and quizzically, inviting her to explain further.

“And,” she offered....., “I got a phone call, from Larry, in the middle of ‘Midsommer Murders,’ telling me he’d quit ’cos he couldn’t stand any more of Valerie’s bullshit. He said he couldn’t get hold of anybody else, so could I cover his shift, for him?” Nick, was stunned.

“What, he just packed it in and walked away?” Now, it was Beryl who was looking dumbstruck.

“Christ Nick,” she turned to face to him, as she slowly and very deliberately, uttered the words, as if she was talking to a confused child, “Lawrence Walsh, doesn’t work here anymore, he quit three weeks ago. Capiche?”

Having imparted this information to him, she sat herself down behind the cluttered desk and tossed the office diary over in his direction. “There you are, just sit down and read it all for yourself. Then maybe you won’t look so nonplussed, when you take a look at the new rota.” Any mention of a new rota, caused untold trepidation at St. Joseph’s.

“Hang on,” said Nick, who wasn’t yet back up to speed after his enforced sabbatical, “There’s only the three of us now but we’re having to do the work of four.” He hadn’t thought of that consequence and he quickly made his way over, to the Duty Roll, on the wall by the Office clock and traced his shifts out with his finger. “Fucking hell, these hours are insane. How long are we supposed to work like this, before we all follow Larry, out of the door exhausted?” Then, before she had any time to answer, he resentfully added, whilst waving the Duty Roster in the air, “And who’s fucking stupid idea was this?”

The old work rota, had been operating for about eighteen months and after a few false starts, it had worked, like a dream. “It’s the one we’ve been working since you got suspended, only now you’ve replaced Larry’s shifts” said Beryl resentfully.

“Christ, it’s no wonder that Larry packed it in. I thought they’d get some temporary cover.......” Nick was more frustrated, than angry and mumbled various dark portents, of oncoming disasters, as he stomped around the office.

Beryl, had heard it all before and was urgently gathering her things together and preparing to leave for home, so wasn’t really paying that much attention to Nick’s rant. Mischievously she added a little fuel to his righteous fire, by adding,

"If you’ve got a problem with this crap, you’re more than welcome to phone Valerie and make your objections known to her. We tried and it got us nowhere but be my guest and give it another go, if you think it will do any good.”

With that, she left the room and Nick was left alone to ruminate with his thoughts. His first action was to slide over and sit down in the seat Beryl had just vacated, pick up the diary and re-acquaint himself with the routines of Hostel life. He was feeling somewhat disconnected and was hoping that if he immersed himself in the everyday goings on at St. Joseph’s whilst he had been away, then things would start to balance and his life could return to normal.

With the disappearance and subsequent discovery, of their missing officers bloated bodies, in the tank of Shed No. 1, the police had flooded into the old Tar Works and The Ravens Gate with men. However, despite a series of exhaustive searches, yet again they had found nothing. Strangely all the birds had disappeared and abject silence, held sway in the deserted industrial leviathan. When this was commented upon, it was simply assumed by many of the recovery team’s members, that all these tales of ‘big black birds,’ were just the products of some over active minds.

It had taken them quite a while to find their colleagues bloated corpses, hidden deep inside the old trough. The decomposing bodies of Terry Draper and Keith Nesbit were sent off to the Morgue and Jinx did the autopsies. Her findings indicated they had both been killed by the same assailant who had killed the two women, on the Towpath earlier but there was still, no other additional evidence to be gleaned from the bodies. So, once again, there was precious little, for them to go on and it wasn’t long, before the case had it’s number of officers reduced and the file itself, was placed on the back burner, waiting for further evidence to come to light.

This lack of anything tangible turning up after all that effort, infuriated and frustrated everyone involved but particularly Briscombe Sykes, he really needed somebody to blame for this fiasco. So, naturally, he turned his gaze upon the senior officers involved in “this almighty cock up,” as he called it and promptly summoned Findlay, Crilly and Deacon, to his office for a good dressing down.

“This simply won’t do gentlemen, there seems to have been very little, real co-ordination involved here.” Alex, Joe and Arch, kept their mouths shut and sheepishly looked at the blue carpet. “I put you lot together, in the hope, that having three supposedly, ‘Uber Capable’ officers, with your personal expertise on the case, would lead to an arrest, or at least a chief suspect being brought in for us to interrogate but all that you have provided me with, is two dead policemen and a very large headache.”

He thought about his next move, while pacing around on the self same plush blue carpet, that he’d had T.C. Fryers, the top local carpeting company, install when he had received his M.B.E. from her Majesty. He’d anticipated a photo shoot opportunity by the local press and television, making a fuss over a local ’Bobby,’ meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Why else would he have spent so much money, sprucing up his office. 'God damn it!' He thought, he hadn’t foreseen this one coming, this was the kind of publicity he could do without just before he retired.

Findlay, Crilly and Deacon waited patiently for him to stop pacing and inform them of his latest, self aggrandising, daft idea. Then, stopping short in the middle of the office

floor, Commander Thornley Briscombe Sykes, purposefully folded his arms and peered at his three officers arranged before him. He addressed Arch first.

“DS. Deacon, I’m putting you and DC. Western, back on general duties and I want you back at your stations the day after tomorrow. Maybe that, will give you enough time to consider your inept actions of the past few days and learn from them.” He then, waved his hand dismissively, in the general direction of the door. Arch, took the hint and calmly exited the room, quietly closing the door behind him as he left.

Sykes, then turned his attention to Joe Crilly. “I was expecting so much more of you, Mr. Crilly. You, are one of my most experienced officers and yet, you allowed some maniac to slaughter two of your men, without anybody noticing.” Joe looked shame faced at this rebuke, he had trained the two dead officers himself and he was keenly aware that something had gone fatally wrong. Why had nobody heard anything coming from No. 1 Shed and how, had the assailant managed to escape the Tar Works grounds, with so many officers around? To escape detection, the killer would have had to slip by LeitaCostello, who was stationed at the gate. Normally, he thought of Leita, as someone who was as close to a Bloodhound as it was possible for a human being to be. 'For fuck’s sake, that’s why I picked her for this one,’ he thought, as Sykes continued with his rant.

“Two good officers. Murdered, almost in front of your eyes. This, is simply intolerable, it just will not do.” He glowered at Joe, for a long second and then carried on his address, in the same manner. “I was informed that your team, was the best we’d got. Well, if this is the best that we can manage, it’s God help us all.” As, that doom laden sentence, left his lips, he held each of them in his gaze, for a short time. “Now get out of my sight and go and take a good look at yourself in a mirror and think long and hard, about your methods of investigation.”

Joe, started to move towards the exit but he was not quite finished. “I want to see a written analysis of you and your teams actions, in this matter and what steps are required to improve them, on my desk in forty eight hours,” he demanded. Joe Crilly slunk out of Sykes office, with his tail between his legs and almost silently closed the door. Just as the door was about to close Sykes called out to Joe Crilly that he must attend Keith Nesbit’s funeral and explain to his family, exactly why he had died, alone and in such a brutal fashion. Joe had heard enough from Sykes at this point and if the door hadn’t fortunately closed behind him, he’d have told The Commander, exactly what he thought of him which could have turned out badly for him. So, his veiled threats and obscene mumblings, went unheeded, as walked down the corridor and the canteen doors swung open as Joe walked inside.

Only Alex Findlay remained, now it was his turn, to feel the wrath of Sykes. “I’d have expected more from you Alex. Good God man, you were the senior officer on this one, you were supposed to co-ordinate the search and bring it to a swift conclusion but instead we end up with two dead officers.” Sykes, turned and looked out on the street, between the slats of the window‘s Venetian Blinds. “The media bods, were already circling and you provided them with another tragedy to feed on.” He then, turned to face Alex again, unfolded his arms and leaning forward, he put both his hands on the desk and sighed.

“Don’t take this personally but I’m passing this one on to the boys at County, to see what they can make of it. It’s no reflection on you but I think that maybe, it touched a nerve, or something. What, with the death of the two officers, following on from the frenzied murders of those two unfortunate women, perhaps it all got a little too close to home or something?”

He’d seen Sykes do this kind of buck passing before and it made him furious, to think that he was blatantly trying it on, again. 'Passing it on to the boys at County?' Alex repeated Briscombe Sykes’s words to himself and saw right through the old sod. The bugger, was trying to make it disappear, so that he could retire with his record intact and he would be able to wash his hands of the whole thing. County, if no other related murders occurred, would take ages, to come up with absolutely nothing and then, dump it all back, in the hands of the local force. After such a long delay, which could last for anything up to twelve months, all the immediacy would drain away from the investigation and it would be declared a cold case.

Alex was about to speak, when the Commander, got in before him. “I’m going to move you, to the financial section for a while, to give you a break from all this, 'Red in Tooth and Claw' stuff to let you recharge your batteries and consider your future.”

“What?”said Alex but Sykes continued, as if he wasn’t there in the room with him.

“Then we’ll take it from there.” However, not content with his well thought out plan, he took one last opportunity to, as he saw it, to belittle his long time adversary before he could retire, with his self important reputation intact. To this end, Commander Sykes, issued one last set of instructions to DCI. Findlay. He ordered him to attend the incarceration of Terry Draper, at St. Paul’s Parish Church, in the morning and give an address to his parents.

On receiving the command, Alex, felt his shoulders sag and his chin drop. He hated going to any funeral and when he sat down and thought about it, he could see, that it was the finality of the whole procedure which disturbed him. However, when it was an order personally handed down to him, by a senior officer, no matter how detestable, that individual was, Alex unquestioningly complied. He was going to force himself to attend anyway but now he had to make a speech........ Terry Draper, had been an young unassuming member of The Stations lower ranks who had been considered extremely efficient. Many of his close colleagues, had thought there was a bright future waiting for 'Tex.’

'Well, at least it’s not today so you’ve got time to get yourself prepared,' he said to himself, more as a manifestation of his thoughts, than a matter of the words themselves. Alex, was not overly looking forward to this, one bit.

The following morning, was cold and clear. It found Alex, sitting down at the breakfast bar, wracking his brains, for something inspiring and uplifting to impart to the other mourners, who were attending this final 'Laying to Rest,’ as an act of respect, for a dead colleague. During his eulogy, he would speak of the sadness being felt by one and all, of those who worked alongside him, at The Green Lane Station. Of Terry, both at work and in a social context, in which he had engendered a deep respect and admiration, for his diligence, sense of fun and modesty. “The usual crap, eh?” He muttered to himself, as he put the last morsel of toast, into his mouth and took a last swig of cold tea, to wash it down.

On passing the reflective glass, he looked into the hall mirror and having reassured himself he looked the expected part. Alex nodded at his reflection and stood to attention for a moment. He then, out of habit, checked the time on his wrist watch, opened the front

door and made his way, out of the house and slowly walked towards his car, while all the same time, perfecting his opening line of the upcoming eulogy.

“Terry, was a much liked........” He stopped right there. “Shit Alex, you can do better than that.” He berated himself, for his paucity of language. “Just talk about the young man, that you knew. The chap, that you liked. The bloke, in whom, you saw something of yourself, as you were as a young recruit.” Yes, that was it but where to start?

This dilemma troubled Alex all the way to the church yard and he found himself, in an equally awkward quandary, when he alighted the car at The Cemetery. “Go with what you decided on and just speak, directly from the heart,” he said under his breath, as he entered the old church.

“It’s always a sad day, when we offer one of our own Sons, back into the Lords auspices. Is it not?” Said the Churchman, an ex policeman, in his ’dog collar’ to all the mourners, as they entered the Church and took their places, for the Service of Remembrance.

At the right moment for his eulogy, Alex stood up and slowly moved over to the lectern, halted before it and quietly cleared his throat.

“Terry, was a valued member of my team and he will be greatly missed by all those of us, who served along side him. Like most new recruits, after a few difficult moments in his first week or so, he quickly fit himself into the life of Green Lane.” He stopped there and paused, before continuing. “That is what I’m supposed to say, but it hardly touches on the depth of feeling, or the intensity of the pain, that I am experiencing right now, over his untimely and seemingly futile death.”

Looking slightly upwards but with his eyes, focused on the small number of attendees, to assess their reactions to his opening comments. Judging that his plain speaking had gone down reasonably well with the assembly, he pressed on.

“Terry, or 'Tex,’ as he was known at the station, was a popular lad, who used to give, as good as he got and was confident enough, to tell you exactly what he thought about a suggestion, or a plan. He was not averse to taking the initiative or making often useful suggestions or insights into a case.”

Alex, took another deep breath and continued “However, if a plan arrived in the form, of an order, you could rely on him to just simply get on with it and carry it out, efficiently and effectively, without asking any further questions. It was just such an order, which was given on my say so, that got Terry and Keith, one of his colleages, killed, but I know neither Terry, nor myself would have changed a thing on that fateful day.”

You could have heard a pin drop in the church, at this point. Spurred on, by this reaction, Alex, felt confident enough to continue

“Terry, died while attempting to aid another officer.” Alex, paused once more and slowly, turned his head. First, one way, then the other and purposely viewed the other mourners. “At the time, he and D.S. Keith Nesbitt, were involved in the pursuit of a very dangerous individual and it was Terry’s concern, for his colleagues welfare, that ultimately led to his death. Terry Draper, was a fine example of a modern Policeman and others, would do well to follow in his his footsteps. Believe me, P.C. Terrance Draper, will be greatly missed by all those who knew and worked with him, at The Station.”

As Alex took a step back from the rostrum and bowed his head, as a final mark of respect, some unearthly, tuneless Organ music started to play and the coffin, began it’s slow dignified passage through the discreet velvet curtains, to it’s ultimate destination.

There were very few people in attendance, at either of the funerals for the two dead Policemen, on that bleak, cold morning. Neither of the dead officers were married and so only a few close work colleagues and a small number of family members attended their internments. DCI. Findlay and Joe Crilly, were the only ranking officers, who attended either of the ceremonies held that morning. Not surprisingly, Commander Sykes, was nowhere to be seen. The prospect of having to clear up the mess, that would be left by any Serial Killer, filled him with dread, it could take years and he only had months left on his 'Contract with The People.’ He wasn’t going to retire from ‘The Force,’ with an open case, still on the books and the potential, for questions to be asked, regarding some of his rather dubious convictions in previous cases. No, Sykes was the consummate avoider of inconvenient facts. He had handed all responsibility for the goings on along the canal bank, over to the boys at County and now, all he had to do was keep his head down and then retire.

It was out of a natural sense of respect, rather than duty, that Alex had attended this funeral. He didn’t need to be ordered. Now he was stood by Terrance 'Tex’ Drapers grave, on a cold Wintery morning, feeling guilty over the circumstances of the young officers demise. Right now, there was nothing he could do, but he wasn’t going to let this one drift away and be forgotten. There was something peculiar going on around here but this was not the time, or place, to bring up such matters. So, he resignedly clamped his hands in front of his stomach, in an obvious and publicly recognizable gesture of respect. Then, he lifted his head and slowly looked around at the other mourners, in attendance.

They were a sorrowful bunch of people, exactly what you would expect at a funeral. 'I don’t reckon any of this lot, have got anything to hide, except possibly, their age.’ He smirked a little harshly, to himself at his involuntary quip to himself. He came swiftly back down to Earth, when he caught himself inadvertently, looking at Mrs. Draper, the unfortunate officers Mother. She was crying, quietly into her handkerchief and standing over her son’s coffin, all alone. Suddenly, a dawning realisation washed over him. 'One day, that’s going to be me, in that cold wooden box and if things don’t dramatically change, there’ll be no family gathered around the grave side. No friends, perhaps only an old colleague to mourn my passing and no children to continue my line.'

This was all getting too much and Alex tried to regain some kind of control of himself, as he felt a solitary tear begin to roll down his cheek. ‘Why the waterworks,’ he asked himself, as he wiped the advancing tickle away? He didn’t really know Terry Draper, all that well and he would have had trouble, picking him out of a very small crowd. Terry, had only just qualified and had only been at the station for a few months, when he met his unfortunate end.

'The tear, is for yourself, you ass' he admonished himself harshly. 'That tear, is for your lonely miserable life,' his pained mind, was screaming in his skull. The voice was so clear, that he almost cringed. Then a more serious tone, pulled him up short. 'Christ, I’m only here in this Graveyard, in first place, to represent the Force,' he thought and that, he was making a piss poor job of it, so far.

As the coffin, baring the dead officers body, was slowly lowered into it’s final resting place, he drifted over to Mrs. Drapers side and picking up a handful of soil, dropped it carefully on the casket containing her only child.

“Thank you,” she whispered, “That, would mean a lot to him. He lost his Father some years ago and The Police Force, was his life.”

That did it. Alex could hold his emotions back no longer and the small drops of liquid began to flow freely, down his face. He turned away, pulled out a handkerchief and quickly wiped his face, cursing himself, 'Get a grip, Alex!’, then he blew his nose hard. He looked down, at the casket, containing the earthly remains of Terry Draper. Death, was in his opinion, a meta physical condition, which in itself had fascinated Alex for many years.

In truth, it had ever since his school days, when a good friend of his, who was called Jeff Riley, had drowned while messing around in a deep rock pool, during a family holiday in Cornwall. Jeffrey, was always known as a bit of a loner and as usual, he had slipped away from his parents, in order to observe the myriad creatures, that conducted their entire lives in that little patch of deep water. However, as he had stepped into a rather deep section of the pool, he had carelessly slipped on some weeds, which had in turn, caused a delicately balanced and extremely heavy rock, to slip. It fell from it’s precarious perch and trapped poor Jeffrey’s leg beneath it. Calling out, as loudly and as often as he liked, proved to be a futile exercise. Nobody heard him. His cries of distress, went unheeded as the water, inexorably rose until it overwhelmed him and he was drowned.

Jeff, who had been Alex’s best friend, was only eleven when he died and was greatly missed at school, when the new term began in September of that year. Many was the time, when Alex, would blankly stare into space and think about Jeffrey and consider the concepts of 'What is he feeling?' or alternately wondering, 'What’s he doing right now?' or occasionally, Alex, would consider, the peace and quiet of death, the grave and that silent world, with no worries, or concerns. His teachers had observed him, “Peering away, towards some distant horizon,” as Miss Wilson had so eloquently put it. One day, in the staff room, they decided to just gave him some space and allowed him, his time to grieve, for the loss of his best friend.

As Alex, observed Terry Drapers pristine wooden box and recalled Jeff Riley’s funeral, all those years ago. He had resolutely gone along to The Cemetery, in order to bid “farewell” to his chum, but he hadn’t taken into account, any of the emotions he would feel.

The whole experience was too much for him to handle. At that young age, he simply couldn’t prevent himself, from embarrassingly bursting into gales of salty tears. Again Alex, could feel the warm tears welling up. This time, he knew it was not the deaths of Draper and Nesbitt, as sad as they were, but it was something else, equally dark, that was affecting him in this disturbing manner.

When he looked deep inside himself, Alex realised that these dark foreboding feelings were originating, from within the memories of that terrifying afternoon in No. 1 Shed. Alex, stood overlooking Terry Drapers last resting place, as the ceremony’s concluded and people began to leave. He was attempting to make some logical sense, of the sudden welling up of such vivid emotions. The terrifying visions of screeching black birds, the smell of stale tar and the oppressive darkness within that leviathan, were frightening enough, but it was the thousands of pin pricks of light and the feeling that he was not alone, there was a malevolent presence which still haunted his thoughts.

“Fear isthe mind killer.” he quoted to himself.

Alex, thought that he heard Mrs. Draper’s voice behind him almost pleading, in her thin, weak tones,

“You will catch him, won’t you?” He glanced over his shoulder, in the direction of the voice, to smile reassurance. He was going to offer Mrs Draper, a few kind words, that may give her a little peace and comfort her, that the Police, would hunt this individual down, no matter how long it took. However, try as he might he could not locate Mrs. Draper. He saw nobody, he was alone. Startled, he looked around and thought he saw someone leaving the graveyard, vanishing behind the church gable end. He couldn’t clearly make out, who it was he’d had just caught a glimpse of, departing the graveyard.

Somehow he had lost himself, he didn’t know how long he had stood there encased in memory, but everyone else, had left the Funeral Service and he was the last person remaining in the graveyard. Although he was obviously alone, Alex couldn’t stop the feeling, that he was being surreptitiously observed.

As he was climbing back into his car, he felt distinctly uneasy, about the conduct of this whole investigation and he was sure, that there was more to this case, than appeared on first impression. Try as he might, he could not shake the disquieting, bleak thoughts, that there was something dark and inexplicable at work here. However, such tales of the unexpected and mention of things, 'other worldly,’ didn’t tend to go down too well in the department, so any further investigations would have to continue on a surreptitious level.

'Joe Crilly’s a solid enough bloke but a bit too, 'by the book,’ for what I need right now but Arch, on the other hand, is fairly open minded and would appreciate a logical conclusion to this case' he thought to himself as he reached for his phone but he failed to get a solid enough connection.

“Christ almighty,” he hissed as he pulled out of the cemetery. “Bloody hell. No signal, in a graveyard. What year do these guys think it is?”

Meanwhile, Arch was sitting in the office with Westie, trying to explain to her, that they had not been demoted, just moved sideways. Failing, Westie left to go to the canteen and fill her ‘hollow legs’. Alone now, he really wanted to speak to Alex Findlay about an idea he had just had in the Gents. Arch, had thought about it long enough, pulled out his phone from his breast pocket and being ‘gizmo friendly’, speed dialed Findlay. Whereas, DCI. Alex Findlay, was a cultured man in the real world but could be thought of as, ‘something of a Luddite,’ when it came to new ’gizmo’s’, had used Arch to programme his phone for him.

“Sir, I’ve had an idea,” said Arch excitedly on the other end of the line. Alex, was just waiting for him to continue, hoping that he had arrived at the same conclusion he had. “Sir, we can’t let this rest, we must do something. I don’t know about you but I get the feeling, that I’m being railroaded and there is something else going on here.” Arch hesitated, almost reluctant to speak the words. “Do you remember what Mason called the killer?”

Alex, could see the name, that Mason had used that day in Jinx’s Lab, emblazoned in his mind. He said it out loud,


Simultaneously, on the other end of the phone, Arch also mouthed the word. “Powderfinger” and then, after rolling it over in his mind, a couple of times, carried on with his idea. “We could investigate together, Sir, outside of work, as it were.”

Alex Findlay, wasted no time in shoring up Arch’s enthusiasm for this course of action, by adding his own idea for further exploring the Black beast, that was, The Ravens Gate.

A surreptitious plan, had been hatched, but neither of them hung up for a few seconds, both men were lost within their own thoughts. Then, in hushed tones, they both simultaneously uttered the same unholy word into the telephone.


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