Powderfinger by Keller Yeats

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 2

Alex Findlay, opened the door to his office and just looked at the ever growing pile of correspondence, that was sitting on his desk. Ronnie, his secretary, had been her usual efficient self and all the items that required his personal attention, had been carefully placed upon his in tray. Unfortunately, he thought, the pile had now reached the height of the Pisa Tower and was showing, like its namesake, signs of imminent collapse. He had been intending to ‘get stuck in’ to all this paperwork over this weekend shift and get these matters ‘put to bed.’ Now, potentially, he had something else far more interesting to occupy his time. He had a dead body to investigate. Findlay smiled, this is what he was good at, investigating, not pushing paper around.

Initial reports from a rather hysterical woman, about her dog finding a body floating in the canal sounded like there was ’foul play afoot.′ Yes, this body report was intriguing and in truth, it was the stuff of dreams, for a world weary DCI. His interest peaked, he wanted to know more about this one.

“What exact time did this body in the canal report come in?” He enquired of Ronnie. “Is there anybody on this one, or do we reckon, it’s just another crank call?” Absentmindedly he glanced at the pile of paperwork and thought “God I hope not!”

The station had been getting plagued, by false alarms in the past few weeks and now every message, was being questioned. Receiving no reply immediately he exasperatedly added,

“And where is Deacon?”

He had just tied up an awkward investigation, with DS. David Deacon, or Arch as he was better known amongst his colleagues, involving the kidnapping of a child and the attempted extortion, of a large sum of money in ransom payments. Fortunately, 'The Child Snatcher,' was a less than smart individual, who, once the negotiators had worked thatout, was easily led into a proverbial lobster pot and captured red handed. The child and the money were returned to the parents and the bank breathed easy, when the not unsubstantial bundles of cash, were returned to its vaults. Whilst the miscreant, would undoubtedly be sentenced to spend more than a little time, at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

That investigation had been relentlessly dogged by bogus calls, from somebody who obviously knew a lot more than they were letting on. At the station, those involved in the case, thought that it was probably a friend, or even a relative of the perpetrator, trying to end the insanity quickly. By cooperating with the Police, they aimed to lessen the sentence, that would be handed down to their friend, or loved one.

Ronnie, recognising that tone in his voice quickly looked for her log sheet.

“Er, I’m not quite sure sir it, ah yes, here it is, it was 7.55am this morning.” She glanced up then continued “DS Deacon is in the canteen having breakfast. Uniform checked out the call immediately and it’s definitely a suspicious death.”

He relaxed a little then continued, “Crime scene?”

“Yes sir, the crime scene guys have been down on the canal side for quite a while, uniform called them in and then informed our office, the medical examiner is there now” she replied.

Then, as he was pondering this, his phone rang and picking it up, he received the all clear for the body to be inspected by his department before it could be moved to the Mortuary.

Alex Findlay, now had the bit between his teeth. Rising with purpose he grabbed his coat and headed for the door. Time to get Deacon and go. Then, as he almost collided with the diminutive Ronnie in his haste to leave, he had a brainwave,

“Ronnie, would you see what you can do, with some of the crap on my desk. P.P, what you can and leave the rest. I’ll get to them, sometime. If there’s anything really urgent, stick it on top of the desk.” Just at that moment, DS Deacon arrived, a piece of toast still half eaten in his hand. Findlay nodded hello, “Have you been briefed?”

Deacon, with a mouthful of toast “Humphed” a yes and followed the purposeful stride of Findlay out of the station to his car,

“You drive” ordered Findlay.

Arch settled in the drivers seat and as he habitually did, reached into his breast pocket and withdrew an already opened packet of cigarettes, tipped the lid and took out his second of the day. D.S Deacon was nothing, if he was not a man of precise habits. Every day, he lit his first ’ciggy,’ as he started the car in the driveway, just before setting off for work and he stubbed the last one out, as he turned the engine off and made his way back to the house, that evening. Then he didn’t have anything more to smoke, until the next day, when he again set off for work. In truth, he didn’t approve of smoking in the house, he thought that Nicotine, made the furniture stink. On his days off he would smoke in his back garden under what laughingly passed for a gazebo, or in his garden shed where he painstakingly created replica models of old sailing vessels. This was a hobby he shared with no one. The carving of the wooden parts, the fitting together of each meticulous detail, the painting and varnishing even the sewing of the sails gave him great satisfaction. It was often whilst pursuing this hobby or taking a ciggy break under the gazebo that he would have major insights into the case he was working on. That alone would have made it worthwhile but he also earned quite a bit of pocket money from the sale of his work. Enough to pay for his ‘lovely fags.’

Every day, Alex Findlay patiently watched his colleague go through his various set routines and usually said nothing, but today was different.

“Shit Arch, it’s only a few hundred yards and then we’ll be there and you’ll be putting that fag out!” exclaimed Alex, “Couldn’t you have just given this one a miss?”

Arch turned to his boss and looked hurt. “You know I don’t feel right, if things aren’t done in a certain way and you wouldn’t want me to fuck this one up, before we even get going, now would you?”

Alex, knew he’d got him there, trying to change one of Arch’s long held habits was akin to asking a leopard to change it’s spots. So, he just put up with his colleagues little eccentricities, sighed and took another deep breath as Arch stuck the now lit cancer stick between his lips and pulled out of the yard, into the flow of traffic.

As the BMW turned off the tarmac road, onto the unadopted, crater pocked Toll Road, a heavy bump knocked Arch’s grip on his cigarette burning his fingers and causing him to toss it onto the floor.

“Fucking hell,” bleated Arch and he bent down to try to retrieve the burning cigarette, before it set fire to the squad car. As he was fumbling around under the seat, his fingers collided with the smouldering coffin nail.′ Unfortunately for him, his searching digits had discovered the hot end first and so, he got burnt fingers again, for his troubles.

“Those things will be the death of you one day,” remarked Alex, as Arch jumped and banged his head on the roof of the car.

“Ouch,” squeaked the D.S. “Fucking ouch,” he repeated and shook his fingers, to ease the pain, then rubbed his head as the car careered along the toll road bouncing in and out of the potholes. Alex Findlay couldn’t help himself, whilst trying to suppress a laugh, he couldn’t resist having one more go at Arch.

“What was it that I just said? Wasn’t it something about smoking?” Arch, pointedly did not respond, but DCI. Findlay wouldn’t let it rest. “Yes, that’s it,” he said gleefully. “It was something about them being the death of you, if I’m not mistaken?” Despite not wishing to rise to his gaffer’s bait, Arch couldn’t help himself and responded curtly,

“Yes, itwas.”

They could see the tape and the “Evidence Tent,” that had been erected around and over the body, to protect the crime scene and prevent casual 'Rubber necking' or the press taking photographs. Mercifully for Arch, they had reached the crime scene. He parked up and went to the boot to get two CSO’s, Crime Scene Onesies for the uninitiated. They both suited up, then made their way over the shale, to see ME Jacqueline Pinnock or “Jinx,” the second in command from the Coroners Office, who was standing a little way back from what appeared to be the body, rubbing her chin thoughtfully.

“Hi Jinx, what have got for us then?” enquired Alex.

“I don’t know, I’m not sure just yet. It’s definitely a murder, there are penetrating wounds through the chest and her throats been cut, but I’ll have to get this one back to the slab, before I can make any definitive statements. Ballpark time of death, around 2am, but I’ll need to run tests to be sure, as she was submerged for quite a while.” Satisfied with that, Alex joined Arch whilst they mawkishly inspected the corpse, recently retrieved from the dirty brown water.

“Bloody hell, look at her face,” said Arch, in a cold, yet obviously disturbed voice.

“Never mind that, look at those wounds to her throat and chest,” observed Alex, through clenched teeth. “Yes, we’ve definitely got a murder here.” It was obvious that he was taking long deep breaths, of the cool early morning air.

“You O.K. Sir?” Interjected Arch.

“Yes, fine,” answered the DCI, awkwardly and then continued, “It’s just a bit of a shock, first thing in the morning, inspecting a body in this state.” Alex, nodding at the limpid body that was lying on the bank, before him looked across to the Crime Scene team and enquired, “Anybody know who she is?”

John Rowbottom, the CSI team leader, answered first from behind Alex. “It seems her name’s Debra Foxx, if her bank cards are to be believed and her address is here as well.”

Alex, turned towards the sound and was confronted by John’s outstretched arm, almost pushing the open purse, neatly wrapped in a plastic evidence bag, into his face. He inadvertently jumped and took half a step back, as the item invaded his personal space.

“Bloody hell, John! Stick it in my eye, won’t you?” he grumbled.

John swiftly withdrew his arm, “Sorry about that but I thought you’d want to see for yourself. I concur with you and Jinx, this is a murder investigation.” Then added rapidly, “A little bit too much overkill, for a suicide, if you ask me.” With that attempt at humour blankly received he continued, “There’s no evidence that she was murdered elsewhere and carried or dragged here, but then there appears to be very little evidence, given her injuries, that she was killed in situ.”

Alex Findlay, folded his arms, looked left and right, along the lonely deserted waterway. “Could she have been killed elsewhere and the body drifted here?”

John suppressed a smile, “It’s a canal, so there’s little drift but I guess we can’t totally rule out the possibility that she was dumped from a boat of some sort. Not yet anyway..... However, there are distinct signs of running footprints that match her size and weight coming from the direction of Raven’s Gate and stopping here by the body.” He gestured to the trail of yellow markers the investigators had laid out down the towpath.

Alex looked and just nodded his understanding, “Thanks John, get back to me with anything else useful soon as poss.”

Seeing this exchange reaching a conclusion, Jinx caught Alex’s attention “Is it OK to move the body now?”

“Yes, certainly!” Alex beamed a smile at her, 'she even looks good in a CSO’ he thought, then admonished himself for being so easily distracted. Turning away purposefully he asked “What d’you reckon Arch?”

“Well, it was Friday night, so I’m guessing, coming from that direction, at that time, dressed for a night out that she came from ‘The Goose.’ It seems the most logical scenario.” Alex, was about to speak but Arch cut across him. “Now, if it was mid week, well, your guess would be as good as mine,” he added.

Alex Findlay, was nodding his head in agreement, with his DS. “O.K, then. As soon, as Jinx’s finished and the body’s been packed off to the morgue, I want you to organise two teams of the men and get them, coordinating with CSI, to give the bank a good searching along its length back to the Goose. In addition, from Jenkins’ Walkway to the main road’’ Waving his arms in both directions, he continued. “As she appears to have been running from that direction I want you to concentrate on the stretch between the modern road and the body. See what comes up. She was a good looking girl and dressed like that, something is bound to point a finger at her assailant.”

Now it was Arch, who was looking down the canal somewhat wistfully. “Both sides?” he asked, dreading a positive response from his DCI.

Fortunately, after giving the matter, much consideration Alex, gave him the answer that he was hoping for. “Well, I believe, that we can stick to the side the body was found for now, though I think you should cover all those bridges, particularly Raven’s Gate, they’d have made good hiding spots”

Arch considered his Boss’s logic. “Yep, I agree. We can expand the search area later if necessary and when we can call in some more men....”

Alex interrupted his train of thought, by interjecting, “I think, that you and me Arch, are going to pay a visit to The Hostel and see if they can be of some help. Choose your teams and put Joe Crilly in charge of the search whilst you’re with me.”

Arch, now turned his gaze towards the den of iniquity, considered by many, to be the root of almost half of local petty crime. “That’ll make us really popular, I don’t think,” he said ironically. “The staff, in that place, always seem to think that we’re trying to set their residents up.”

Alex, understood what his colleague was aiming at. “The Chief will have them immediately on his radar and they’ll all be ‘Drawn and Quartered‘ by tomorrow, if we don’t get this right and that won’t go down too well. So let’s just tread carefully in there, understand?”

Arch, knew precisely what his boss meant, “Softly, softly, catchee monkey” he uttered, Alex nodded and Arch set himself, for the next phase of the investigation. A trip to St. Joseph’s Probation Hostel, the local nest of vipers.

But first he had to organize the search. Having chosen the two teams, he gazed at the distance involved and wished they could have started this search sooner. The distance between Raven’s Gate Bridge and the ancient crossing by Jenkins Hollow, where the killing had supposedly occurred, was at least one and three quarter miles and another hundred metres or so to the main road bridge up ramp. Who’s to say, whether the assailant continued further on along the canal bank, in that direction, or did the perpetrator, retrace their steps and depart the scene, in the opposite direction, or did they use one of the bridges to cross over? This morning’s search, may clarify some of those finer points.

Arch, now realised that this may take longer than he and DCI. Findlay had previously thought but “this kind of stuff had to be done and that’s all there was to it.” Arch gave them their final orders and, left DC Crilly in charge. Arch was confident, that if Joe Crilly couldn’t find a clue, then the clue wasn’t there to be found. With that he joined DCI. Findlay in the squad car, for their journey to the hostel. As he started the car, he cast his gaze towards Jenkins’ Walkway, then shifted into gear for the short drive to “that fucking hostel,” as he thought of it.

Nick was standing on the second floor in room 17, gazing out from one of the large windows, at the front of St. Joseph’s Probation Hostel. The view was over the delapidated canal bank to the “Raven’s Gate Bridge” was a melancholy one. The Baroque replica of the Venetian Bridge of Sighs, stained black and yellow by the old Tar Works, stood forlorn. Hopefully it would soon be fully restored during the redevelopment of the canal bank.

Then, slowly from the direction of the main road, he noticed a stream of Red and Blue flashing lights, coming over the road bridge, running the red light and turning right, towards The Hostel. His thoughts instantly centered on the inmates in his charge. Nick’s heart sank, 'What have they done now?' He quickly racked his brain for any clues from the things the guys had said last night, to prepare himself for the barrage of questions he anticipated from The Police when they arrived in the next few moments. He had already completed his morning rounds to check the residents rooms for any damage, stolen property or blood, after last nights late passes for birthday celebrations. He hadn’t a clue as to wether a hostel lad had been out on “a lark,” as they called it, when they thought that the members of staff may be able to hear what they were planning. 'So much for a quiet day' he thought and sighed as he watched 'the convoy of cops,' draw ever closer. Then, to his relief, instead of pulling into the hostel grounds, they pulled up alongside the canal fence, stopped their cars, opened their doors and got out. A large uniformed female officer, sprung over the fence and went to see a woman and her dog, who Nick had barely noticed. After watching for a few more moments he made his way down to the office, whatever the trouble was, he thought, they would undoubtedly get a visit from the Police soon.

It was about an or so later when he saw the Police car pull into the hostel’s car park. Nick, then heard the sound of heavy police size 10’s and, as expected, the sturdy knocking on the front door which followed almost immediately. He went to the door, smiled and opened it with his usual greeting, “You’ll never take me alive, Copper.”

Two stern faces looked back at him, both without a flicker of a smile on their lips. “May we come in?” one of them requested and as they brushed past Nick, the taller one added tersely “We need to talk.” He could tell from the plain clothes and tone of gravity in his voice, that this was about something serious.

“We can talk in the Office” Nick offered, “This way gentlemen.” As they passed the kitchen Nick asked “Can I interest you two gentlemen in a tea, or perhaps a coffee?”

“No thanks” snapped the younger one.

“Yes, please,” replied the taller one, “coffee with milk and just the one sugar if you don’t mind.”

Now, here was some clarity. 'He must be the senior ranking officer,' thought Nick, as he made his way in to the kitchen. He appeared to be far too cultured and polite to be the attack dog. No, he mused, that was the other one, the one who had trodden on his toes in his haste to gain entry to the hostel. Mrs. McLintock, who everybody knew as Mrs Mack, had pre-empted his desires and the drinks tray was already there on the trolley as he walked into the kitchen. “Thanks, Mack you’re a life saver,” said Nick, as he picked up the tray and headed to the office with the refreshments and the unwelcome guests in tow. 'The other one, seems like a right little shit,' he thought to himself as he placed the tray on the office table in front of them. Nick poured the drinks, “Sure you won’t have one?” He asked again.

The police officer, who had by now taken up a position of casual authority on the office settee indicated a change of heart. He adjusted and handed over the beverages. “Thank you” from the ’senior’ one and a rather half assed attempt at humour from the other, with “Mercy Bucket.” This confirmed his suspicions. He judiciously smiled at the remark as he sat down and took a sip of his coffee, he quickly glanced over to the well mannered Cop and noticed that he was stealthily, almost secretly shaking his head and looking at his feet in an embarrassed kind of way.

It was he, who broke the pregnant pause that had settled on the proceedings, with a hearty, “My name is Findlay, DCI Findlay and no, I’m not licensed to kill,” and he smiled as he moved forward in his seat, he offered Nick his hand to shake, as a sign of fellowship.

“Nick Swann, Deputy Warden.”

“You’ll have to excuse my colleague but his enthusiasm sometimes gets the better, of him.” Nick, looked over to the exuberant sidekick and forced a polite grin, as Findlay continued, “He is my erstwhile assistant, DS David Deacon licensed to pray.”

Nick grinned affably and seeing his chance, in this slightly humorous moment, began his pitch to stand up for the Hostels inmates, many of whom he felt sorry for. “Well, gentlemen, before we go any further, can I just say, that it’s my duty to enquire of you, exactly why you’re here?” Quite happy with that opener, Nick, continued with his enquiry. “I’m fully aware, that you plain clothes chaps wouldn’t be here unless something fairly serious had happened. So, are you going to let me in on the secret, or are we going to spend the next few minutes dancing around another maypole and getting nowhere, fast?”

It was DCI. Findlay who spoke first, while Deacon, just sat there looking ever so earnestly at his boss. “Excuse me, what was I thinking?” Findlay said, as if he were a little thrown by the events of the morning. 'Whoa, here was a rarity, a Copper with manners,' thought Nick, as the DCI continued. “Earlier this morning, we received a call from a rather distressed woman, who’s dog had apparently discovered a body, floating in the canal, just over there by the Joel Battersby Bridge.” With a slight sideways nod of his head, he indicated towards the structure, to which he referred.

“Joel Battersby Bridge,” repeated Nick, with a puzzled look on his face as he shrugged his shoulders.

For a moment DCI. Findlay didn’t quite comprehend the reason for the questioning motion, or his confused expression. Then, it dawned on him, “You’d probably know it better as The Ravens Gate.”

Nick nodded his enlightenment. 'Wow ! A body had been found in the canal!' Nick now understood the reason for all this mornings activity.

Now, it was DS Deacon’s turn to speak, “The woman’s dog, who discovered the corpse, apparently tried to fetch it back across the water, for his owner to throw again.” Deacon, gently giggled at this concept and turned his features to face the wall, in a rather clumsy attempt to avoid any further embarrassment. Nick, himself an aficionado of the inadvertent gaff tried resolutely, to suppress a chuckle at this image.

Findlay gave Deacon a stern look and continued, “The woman’s death was a very violent one and we are treating it as murder. Can you account for all your inmates between say midnight and 4am?”

Nick’s tummy started to tighten, 'Damn those late passes,' he thought. These lads, were not of the calibre to commit murder, they were mainly petty thieves. The more that Nick had learnt of the lads’ individual home circumstances, the greater was his understanding as to why they had often turned to petty crime. However, some of the lads he had responsibility for, were just beginning a way of life of constant reoffending and consequently, many years in prison. Nick, was aware of this particular slippery slope but right now, knowing the profiles of his inmates well, he did not believe that anyone at the hostel was capable of murder. No, that was frankly, laughable. At this point Nick, let out a rather forced laugh of his own, which he instantly knew was far too loud for the situation. Fortunately, DCI Findley didn’t seem to notice it, or he was far too polite to make any comment. “There were two twenty-first birthday parties amongst the lads last night so there were a number of late passes. The seventeen lads with late passes were all back in the hostel at 1am, the others were in bed by midnight. I personally clocked them all in and I observed no signs of blood or disorder. The normal morning room search revealed nothing untoward either. As you know, the lads here are just petty criminals and knowing their profiles I would find it very difficult to believe any one of them was capable of murder.”

DS. Deacon, was about to say something, when his path was blocked by DCI. Findlay continuing along his road of investigation, “Just for the record, did you see or hear anything unusual last night out on the canal bank?”

Nick, thought for a few seconds and then shook his head. “No, it was very quiet last night. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance, you can’t hear much in this place, the council had to soundproof it a few years back, local noise complaints, you know the stuff....” Nick, then finished his point with, “They made a damn good job of it too, you can hardly hear a bloody thing going on outside, when you’re in here.”

DCI Findlay seemed quite content with that explanation and offhandedly added, “Time waits for no man,” as he finished his drink and rose to leave. “We, will of course, want to speak to all the residents in turn. What time would be most convenient?”

Nick suggested, “Around 6.00 p.m,” as most of the lads had to check in by that time, or be in breach of their probationary conditions. “They should all be back before tea time.”

DCI Findlay shook Nick's hand again and gave him a card, which Nick glanced at briefly, as he placed it in his waistcoat pocket. “I’ll be in contact, Mr Swann. I think that we may be able to work together on this one. Come on Arch, keep up.”

DS Deacon strode past Nick and followed his superior to the car, then accelerated away with a screech of the tyres. A strange feeling of relief flowed over Nick, as the car drew out of the hostel grounds and pulled away. 'I’ll never get used to this kind of shit, even if I live to be a hundred,' he mused, as he watched the squad car disappear, heading back towards the crime scene.

Having seen them leave, Nick turned to go back inside the hostel and was nearly knocked off his feet by Roland Davies, one of his charges, exiting the place at high speed. “Excuse me,” he shouted to the rapidly departing young man, “and where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“Gotta see someone,” mumbled Davies as he sped off towards the town centre. Nick watched, as Roland swiftly reached the crossroad and then disappeared from his view, joining the throng moving along the main road. He would attempt to make some kind of sense regarding “Gotta see someone,” later. Right now he needed to get to his office and review his meeting with Findlay and Deacon.

It was “Going to be a long day, a very long day” he sighed, resignedly.

Joe Crilly had assembled his men at the Raven’s Gate Bridge for briefing. “O.K, let’s get this show on the road. The longer we stand here ‘umming’ and ‘arring,’ the longer this is going to take and I don’t know about you fella’s but I fancy a bag of chips and a pint, this side of Wednesday week” quipped Joe, a particularly stoic individual, who worked slowly and methodically but missed nothing. When he was satisfied that his two teams were fully conversant with the plan and his high expectations of them, Joe set them off on the search, with a note of encouragement, disguised as an order. “Don’t forget ’Jenkins’ Crew,’ it’s hands and knees within the last hundred, overlook nothing. Both teams, leave nothing to chance and consider everything as evidence. The boys in forensics can sort it all out later.” He needn’t have said those last few words, everybody knew about Joe Crilly’s fastidious approach to the job and just how successful his method had proved to be.

'Raven’s Crew' was to go left and search down the towpath, towards the 'The Gagging Goose.' “God knows, what we’re supposed to turn up?” Grumbled one of the grunts, who had been seconded from 'Traffic,' to make up the numbers for this often tedious exercise. Joe, simply shook his head, as he led his squad off towards the old Silas Jenkins’ Walkway. Even earlier, as he was setting the parameter’s for todays search for the benefit of the assembled team, Joe was feeling confident about this one. The area, had been taped off, shortly after Officers had responded to the call and in any case. 'Next to nobody used the towpath at night any more,' he thought, 'or any time, for that matter these days,' he added. So, Joe figured, that the ground would appear, for all practical purposes, untouched. Fresh steps from either the victim or her assailant should easily be identified.

“Eyes peeled, lads,” encouraged Joe, as he and his team processed, at funereal pace along the shale bank, towards the lonely and seldom used footbridge, away in the distance. “Killers always overlook something,” barked Joe. “Always.”

The weather was warm and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Indeed, there couldn’t have been a finer day on which to undertake this mundane but gruesome kind of task. Joe, paused and looked down the canal, which at this time of year, was quite serene. Nothing, it seemed was really out of place, as the search of the banks commenced. The whole process, was being conducted at a snails pace and not a single blade of grass, was left undisturbed. However, apart from the scuffed footprints, which apparently showed a person, who had halted and turned around, possibly to establish the whereabouts of her pursuer, before carrying on down the path, there were no other prints, no apparent evidence, no murder weapon.

Joe, stopped and looked down at the pattern of the scuff marks, with their periodic stops and turns. Then he observed the fact that the steps were now further apart and had a deeper indentation in the shale. “It appears, that she was being pursued,” he concluded dramatically, while suddenly standing upright. “Look here,” he continued, pointing his finger down the towpath and away towards the stones of Jenkins’ Hollow. “She maybe hears something behind her, so she stops to have a look.” He then moved a few more steps down the bank. “Perhaps she sees nothing, but as you can see, she carries on walking only now her pace is quicker.” Then, he took several steps, before stopping again and declaring, “Here,” he stood and pointed towards the ground. “Here, our victim becomes aware of her pursuer and starts to run, probably, going for the up ramp, that will get her off the canal bank and safety, but as we all know, she didn’t make it.”

After a long reflective silence, Joe broke the spell. “It’s all very weird, it seems impossible but there are only one set of footprints to be seen. Look as closely as you choose, you can’t see any other marks on the ground. You can clearly see, where she stated to run but from whom? They end here where the body was found” There was no other evidence. Nothing. Both teams drew similar conclusions.

“We also picked up, just the one set of sporadic prints,” reported Bob Sayer, another Uniformed Officer, with some experience of this kind of search. “They appeared to be from only one person who walked at a regular pace but stopped from time to time to turn and look behind. They start at the base of the steps that lead up to the main road and 'The Goose' and head off down the canal in this direction. They link up with the same ones you picked up at the 'Raven’s Gate,' but we couldn’t locate any others.”

Both men stood looking at the prints with frowns on their faces, “Curious” remarked Joe.

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