Dark Valley

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Chapter 11

CHAPTER 11


IVY MASON

How did it come to this? I ask myself as I stand here looking down on Fleur. I could have been friends with this woman but now the blood pools on the floor around us. The puddle expands and expands. The legs of the table she lays on are now surrounded and the pool now surrounds both of my feet. The blood is like our all-encompassing destinies. All things are connected and all joined and interwoven together. Nothing is independent and safe from anything.

I had thought the days of madness were behind us and I looked forward to living like normal everyday people. Like the people we saw in Morrison’s every day. Just going about our business. Worrying about little things. Who has the fastest internet connection? Is the TV license paid?

Do we actually deserve to live that kind of life? Do we actually deserve to live at all? I don’t think we do. As I watch the blood join all of the legs of the table to my feet I can see how there was no chance for us to become a normal Morrison’s couple. The dots would be joined and the puzzle completed. When the circle was closed there would be no escape from the controlled madness that has enveloped us since I first received that letter from Janus.

I opened the letter that had appeared, hand written in small black ink. He introduced himself to me and hinted at something unseen. The words were not written. But somewhere between the lines that said “…work at Rampton” and “I believe we might have a common interest” was written our fate and futures. Sometimes I wish I had not responded to him. The fantasies that I had locked away were able to shape up and form themselves into the shape of reality and acts.

I could have kept them locked away, but once they had taken shape the first time there was no way that they could be put back away. We were bound together in a tryst of secrets sealed in blood and death. Once we had crossed the boundary lines and the first one had been murdered, they were murdered-not cleansed or processed, they were dead. He would never go home, if he had a home. He would never see his family again, if he had a family. We had taken away all he had been and all he could ever become.

I felt revulsion then at what we had done, but the sex afterwards seemed to blow all that revulsion away with the liberation of orgasm. Now years down the line and I am trapped in the cycle but the revulsion has gone. This had become mechanical and normal.

I questioned the reflection of myself that I saw in the window. I asked, again, how this had happened and how we now had found the mechanisms for murder. How we could have been so insane together that we could change our whole lives to allow us to do this?


Janus had changed since he had been hit by Pol. That one blow had turned our lives round and now we were left with the fragments to collect from the mess. It had shown me the door, the exit from our world and into the world of the Morrison’s people. But with the blow had arrived the spectre of Erebus. The irony in Janus’ schizophrenia was enormous. The behaviour change in him had been truly staggering and really scared me.

Today had been a day of turbulence and here I stood at the culmination of it. Looking, with clarity, at the puddle that had pulled the circle together.

Janus said to me he was going out training. He was clearly preoccupied.

“Are you alright, baby?”

“Yeah, for sure I am, darling,” he replied to me.

“Where are you going?”

“I am going to try to catch Pol and see if we can’t do some training together, I don’t want to just let the plan die now” He put his foot up on the dining room chair to tie the laces.

“I am going to have to get some more trainers, these ones are about fucked now” he said.

“Nike air again?”

“They have always been the best for me, the reebok I tried were shit” It struck me how funny it was that he had now started to swear a little. Previously, before, he didn’t swear. He had been quite liberated by Pol. It was a shame that he had made the decision to treat them as a threat. We had not had friends before.

He was convinced that Pol would do something that would lead to the discovery of our old lives. He wasn’t prepared to risk that, he said. I thought that this plan that Janus had cooked up was more of a threat to us than the remote possibility of Pol making some discovery. He would not listen though. He would not let sleeping dogs lie and was determined to see this through. I thought he had underestimated Pol.

He left the house and set off across the yard at a steady lope. He could cover many miles at that sort of pace.

He was out for hours and hours. Much longer than I thought he would be. I was worried about him – a new sensation for me. Later on in the afternoon I heard a car drawing into the yard. I had been surfing the internet in the lounge when I heard it. I looked up and out of the window on to the yard. It was Pol or Fleur, their Freelander was distinctive with its roof bars and shooting club stickers. I wandered through to the kitchen to put the kettle on they would, no doubt, have a drink with me before heading off. I quite enjoyed these impromptu visits. I stood at the sink holding the kettle under the running tap when the back door burst open. Janus was stood framed against the light of outside.

I could instantly see that he was Erebus. There were subtle differences in the way that he stood when Erebus was calling the shots. He seemed to grow and become taller. His face changed and looked angry. The veins on his temple stood out as the blood hammered through them. He was out of breath, his eyes blood shot. I had seen this look before. He looked like this the night h raped me. I felt a quiver of fear reach down into me. He had hit me and hurt me. I couldn’t handle another beating like that.

I wanted to speak to him but the only sound that I could make was a strangled murmuring. My confidence was shaken and I was scared. He didn’t say anything. My hand started to shake and I dropped the kettle lid. “I am sorry, I dropped the lid, sorry…” my voice was meek and worried.

I don’t want a fucking tea”

“No baby, what can I get for you?”

Well it isn’t a fucking brew you stupid cunt”

“Do you want me? You can have me you can have me whenever you want” (please don’t hurt me)

Go and get the car, I have got Pol’s whore”

“What do you mean you have “got Pol’s whore”?”

She is in the car, I knocked her out”

“Fuck, Really?”

Yeah, we are going to take her to the old treatment room and then I am going to do her”

I went straight into the yard and bought the truck up close to the Freelander. Janus came out of the house and walked to the tail gate of the truck opened it up and walked back to the back of the Freelander. Fleur was across the back seat. She was unconscious but breathing ok. She had reddening to her chin and a nasty looking bruise spreading from her throat.

I didn’t know how to react to this. The others had been people that didn’t matter. Nameless junkies or whores. But this one I knew well, I thought she might be my friend.

Don’t just stand there looking stupid. Help me get the bitch out”

“Ok” I moved round and as he pulled one of her legs I pulled the other. Just as she was about to flop down onto the hard flag stones of the yard he caught her. Together we manipulated her into the back of the truck. She was a little bigger than me and I found her unconscious body difficult to move.

On the back seat of her car I could see her mobile phone. I reached in and picked it up. Running into the house I put on a pair of shoes and picked up the keys from the table. I put the phone down there.

When I got back out Janus had already got into the truck and was revving the engine ready to go. I climbed into the passenger seat and put my seat belt on. I didn’t speak. I was so scared of him. We drove from the yard, from our land and back onto the hospital grounds.

We had explored the hospital together many times. Janus had shown me around the now derelict leviathan. I knew the way to the treatment room well enough.

He used to work here many years before and took great pride in showing me the way there. He took me there on a few occasions to fuck me. I knew there was a bench in the middle of the room. He had taken me over this bench on our previous visit. I hated the place. It was dirty and dusty, crows and jackdaws made their nests inside and the place smelled of their filth.

We dragged the unconscious Fleur through the building. Her toes dragging on the floor and leaving two parallel lines in the dust as we went. I had one side of her and he had the other she was face down and her head hung between us. Her long hair fell forward over her face and covered her eyes. It mattered not, she could not see being unconscious as she was. The corridor to the treatment room was long and dead straight. The treatment room was a small windowless room with the one bench in the middle now. All of the other benches and medical tools had been removed many years ago. The one remaining bench could be seen from the corridor. For the first time I thought of all of the people that had been taken down this corridor knowing the fate that would befall them in there. They will have known they would be taken into the room with no light and there they would have their bodies subjected to the most awful treatment. Steel lances hammered into their brain, huge shocks passed through them.

Get her on the bench.”

I helped him lift her onto the bench and I swung her legs round. I looked down at her face and for half a second I thought her eye was open. No, it was closed, she was still unconscious, her body remained limp and malleable.

I am going to get the tools.”

“Don’t be too long, I don’t want to be here on my own with her” I couldn’t help saying it. The reaction I got from him was not what I expected at all.

I can kill her right now if you want, but I want to use the tools and do her properly then I am going to fuck you here on this bench”

“Mmm, ok, that sounds good, go and get the tools then. I will wait for you” I was so afraid I was sure he would kill me if I moved from here. I didn’t want to be the next one on the list. I didn’t want him to kill Fleur either. I wanted to be away and to get away from all of this. The fantasy world of normality seemed like a life time away a thing for other people not accessible to me.

He turned on his heal and walked out of the room. As he went I could hear him talking to himself. I watched the shadow walk down the long straight corridor, silhouetted against the fading light of the evening through a large ceiling high window.

I looked down at Fleur. My throat constricted with emotion. It was not a feeling I was used to. I was desperate to be somewhere else living in a different skin, a different life and identity.

I cried. The hot tears ran down my cheeks and fell to the floor. I watched them as they landed in the dust like small sad explosions of emotion falling against the hard tiles and dust of desolation.

“We can leave now whilst he is at the house” Said fleur.

I was shocked I thought she was unconscious.

“He will kill you and then me if we do”

“Not if we are not here he won’t” She replied.

“He will come and find us and he will kill us”

“Right now Pol is out there hunting him down. Pol will find him and he will show no mercy” She said.

I heard a loud bang from outside. A thump, not like a gun shot, a noise I hadn’t heard before. I didn’t know what it was but I knew that I could not leave Fleur, she would run at the slightest chance.

I weighed it up for a moment. If Pol got Jan then we would be safe. If Jan escaped then he would come for us. If Jan killed Pol then he would come for us. With Erebus calling the shots I thought that Jan would get Pol.

“You do not know who you are dealing with when you take on Pol” she continued.

I was struck by a sudden fear of Janus. I knew he would kill me. He was insane.

“Fleur, you are the closest thing I have ever had to a friend” I was so sad.

“We can be friends still if we escape from here. Pol will take care of Jan and you can still be friends with us” She continued.

“Fleur, what can I do. He is a monster but we have done so much in the past I can’t live just an ordinary life, like a normal person.” I cried again. I watched her eyes all of the time, we could really have made a connection that I never have had before.

“You know that if Pol has already killed Jan he will be coming here to kill you now?” She spoke quietly and urgently. “You might not even get a chance to talk to him. When he comes he will kill you”

“I know that if Jan comes back there will be no chance for me if you are not here I have to keep you here for him, he won’t be long”

I felt a small, gentle tug on my left leg, a wet warmth spreading from it. I looked down to see something small and silver in Fleur’s hand. After a second or so I recognised it to be a knife. I looked back at my warm and wet leg. The warmth spread quickly, she had cut me. The cut was high on the inner thigh of my right leg, I knew it was my femoral artery.

“I am sorry, Ivy. I am not going to die today” She said to me.

“How did it come to this?”


POL WINCHESTER

It isn’t far to the hospital buildings only a few hundred yards.

I am about exhausted, my face hurts, my ankle hurts and I am emotionally drained. I need to get back to the hospital and deal with Ivy before she realises that Janus is not coming back. The run across the grounds is easy. I have a plan forming already in my mind the long corridor will give me an excellent shot into the treatment room. The light is starting to fade now as I cross the open ground. I saw the video of Ivy, I don’t think I have time to plan a fully tactical approach to the old hospital. Just have to get there do what I need to do.

My ankle is throbbing with every step I take. The pain is pounding through my leg. I can no longer run freely and I am starting to tie up with the heavy limp. I thought I would be able to block it out as I could with everything else but now it had got to the point of intrusiveness.

From nowhere I was bowled over from behind. Knocked flat on my face. I lay shocked and winded in the grass. The light was fading and the dew was falling, the grass was wet but relieving on my face as I breathed steadily. I lay still whilst I mentally checked myself for injury. The heat flashed over me. It had been many years since Belfast. I was a young man then. The explosions I felt then were like the explosion I felt now.

The image of my dream flashed before me, the image of the shimmering, shrapnel spinning and arcing in slow, high definition, motion through the Belfast drizzle causing every drop to explode into a myriad of tiny rainbows. There was no man made shrapnel in this explosion. I looked over my shoulder and back towards the source of the explosion and the shock wave. Y Dyffryn Tywyll was ablaze. Flames licked from windows on the ground floor and the first floor. I had left there just seconds before and there was no fire then. The blaze must have started suddenly. I took a slit second and decided not to go back for Jan. I thought, as I watched the fire engulf the building that I saw a figure run across the front of the house. He was just a figure, a silhouette against the dancing red flames of the inferno that had become Y Dyffryn Tywyll. It could not be Janus, we would never walk again, His leg was smashed and he was now paralysed from the waist downwards. Maybe I didn’t see a figure, maybe I imagined it. Maybe the flames had moved in such a way that it had just appeared to me.

My ears rung heavily. I knew there was a sound track to the fire that blazed behind me. A roar and cracks and bangs but none of them reached through my ears. The fire was in insolent silence.

Dragging myself to my feet I ran forward to the hospital. The old hospital grounds were now over grown and covered in brambles and thorns. The flowers and roses had gone, nature had started to regain the upper hand. The car park I ran across now was a battlefield. The young saplings pushed their way through the tarmac. Their roots exploiting any weakness they found as they pushed down penetrating the natural soil below. The young trees reached skywards through the jumble of Bramble and grasses. Rubbish littered the ground, empty beer cans from a long forgotten teenage camp out, rusting, labels illegible. The car park gave war to a slabbed area. There was a canopy overhead. The door way to the hospital stood in front of me. It had been boarded up. The board now lay on the ground warped by the rain and faded by the sun.

The door was a foreboding black entrance. The light would not enter the hospital building. The old Victorian asylum would not surrender its secrets easily and to enter that dark place would be to violate it.

There was no choice for me now. I had arrived at the endgame. The climax of the situation. I could feel the oppressive weight of the danger all around me. I had been running and I was breathing hard. I needed to bring my breathing back. I used my old routines, comfortable, easy.

The rifle felt solid in my hands. The black rubber over moulded stock was solid and dependable. I visually inspected it. No damage, nothing loose. The scope was undamaged and the mounts secured it solidly to the rifle.

I opened the bolt and checked there was a round in the chamber. The rifle was ready. The safety catch on and the scope covers on. I knew that should I need it the old Mauser action could be depended on. I stepped to the door way and stepped carefully in. I put my back against the wall and took a second for my eyes to adjust to the gloom that was harboured in these decaying walls.

I looked to the floor for sign and immediately saw two sets of foot prints, one larger than the other. And between them a set of drag marks where, I guessed, Fleur had been dragged between them. The larger set of prints were also duplicated coming in the other direction. This would be Janus leaving to go back to the house. He would not be coming back. I could follow this track. Something crunched under my foot. Looking down to see what this was I could not make out what it was initially, the dirt and dust had partially covered it. I recognised it as a dead bird. The crunch was the breaking of its dead and brittle, dry bones. The black plumage was coming away from the skeletal remains now and it lay amongst them. A black halo around the corpse. I stepped over it and carried on down the long corridor. I could make out the marks in the dirt on the floor well enough to follow into the heart of the old buildings. The large windows on each side of the broad corridor provided me enough light to see my way. The moon had started to rise and the silvery light had started to filter, reluctantly through the broken and jagged panes and into the hall way. There was a right angle bend to the left in the corridor. I wanted to walk close along the walls but I could not. Large pieces of the paint peeled away from the walls falling onto the floor. They would be noisy to walk on and could compromise me.

The bend in the corridor was on me. I slowly stiffly lay on the floor. The dust and filth cloying my nostrils as I crawled forward through bird droppings and the dust of decay.

To my right was a very large window. It shed some light into the corridor. The light of the moon painted the windows old frame of many small squares in shadow on the settled sediment of dirt on the floor.

I knew I would have to enter that illuminated piece of floor. The drag tracks lead that way. I would need to follow. I would need to expose myself to that light and allow myself to be seen to get in to that corridor.

I was able to hear some murmurings of conversation. The voices were indistinct and still covered by the ringing in my ears with only small pieces surfacing. Fragments I could not grasp. They might not have even been there at all. It might be I was imagining them.

I edged forward, inch at a time, pushing the flayed paint away from my face. I could see round the bend and in to the long corridor. There were no windows overlooking this corridor, it lead into the darkness. As I edged forward inches at a time my view of the corridor expanded and I was able to see a doorway into a room at the end.

The low moon enabled me to see into there. I saw a table in the center of the room with Fleur lying motionless on it. I saw Ivy stood with her back to me.

I had seen the video.

I moved myself into a slightly better position on the floor. I reached forward with my left hand and pulled the legs of the rifles bipod down. I kept a tight hold of them whilst I did to prevent the spring loaded mechanism making a noise. Although after the shock of the explosion I could not hear it. I knew they would. The bipod was down when I rested the rifle on it. I placed the stock in my shoulder and pulled it comfortably n tight to the hollow part. Again with my left hand I reached forward to the pop up hinged scope covers. With a gentle push the front one popped up on its spring. The rear one is activated by a small button which I pressed and this also was released.

I pushed my cheek onto the stock of the rifle to form a strong weld. I looked through the scope. The clear and bright optics of the high quality scope gathered light and did their job well. The scene was illuminated far better through the scope than with the naked eye. I could see clearly that Ivy and Fleur were together in the room. They were talking, Fleur was conscious. I still could not hear what they were saying to each other.

I could not see Ivy’s hands they were held in front of her. She could have anything in them.

I pulled my right knee up to a little, this just raised the hips and allowed the rifle muzzle, pivoting from the bipod to dip a little. I estimated it to be seventy yards down the long corridor. At this range I know I could hit a target an inch in diameter time after time with this rifle.

The vertical crosshair was placed on the centerline of her spine. I would take the horizontal up and down a few times as I moderated my breathing preparing for the shot. The target was small, the apricot. I focused with my right eye. My left stays open to minimise stress on the facial muscles but the concentration on the right eye takes over.

A shimmer in the moonlight. What was it? I watch again, the same area.

Fleur’s left hand has dropped off the bench. I am attracted to movement in the hand. There is the glint again. I see the blade of the knife reflect the moonlight brightly as she opens it with one hand. With a smooth and easy movement she moves the blade in a short arc upwards.

I knew what she was going to do. I knew that Ivy would only have thirty seconds of consciousness left before her life ran out and into the dust. If she had weapons in her hands then she would use them now. She would know how long she had left to live.

The gout of blood ran from her thigh. Fleur had hit the target and the darkening spread of the blood ran down her leg and onto the floor. It shone in the moonlight like a black mirror.

My left thumb found the safety catch, its sharp ribbed edge cold against my thumb. Silently I moved it down and to the fire position. When I had built the rifle I wanted this safety, it is not like the more modern ones, it is safer- it intercepts the pin but more than anything it is silent.

The horizontal cross hair fell easily at the joint between the neck and the base of Ivy’s skull. The target was only about an inch higher. I stopped my outward breath and at the same time my trigger finger caressed the ribbed trigger. The crosshairs were in the right place. I continued the squeeze, feeling my fore finger pad compress and then the action released with the crisp break of the trigger.

The crash of the high velocity round in the confined space was enormous. The space could not contain the volume of sound and the walls seemed to quake and reverberate. The Sheet of flame from the muzzle flash shot five feet from the muzzle and radiated the size of a football. It was instant and gone. As the bullet flew down the corridor at nearly three thousand feet per second it created a pressure wave and a following vacuum. The thick dust in the corridor was pulled into a swirling vortex then slowly descended towards the floor. A mist of the finest particles remained suspended in the air.

I had become used to the sound of the rifle and the sound of bullet impacts but at this range I could not be sure if I had heard the hammer of the bullet falling upon Ivy.

I reloaded and leapt to my feet. I needed to get to the room before the dust settled so I could appear from it and deal with Ivy if I needed to. The run down the hallway was quick and soon over. I emerged into the small room. Bursting in to the space from the dust and noise, I was dusty, dirty and ready to kill again.

On the floor lay Ivy, She lay in a puddle of her own blood. The bullet had struck her exactly where aimed. The entry wound neat and intact. The pressure wave had smashed through her skull from the inside leaving an exit wound that made the lower part of her face an unrecognisable mash of blood bone and brain. She was no longer a risk.

Fleur was alive and looking at me.

“Hey sweetie” I said to her.

“Hey Pol, how are you?”

“I am ok, how about you?” I asked.

The conversation was strange. It seemed very restrained and calm under the circumstances.

Fleur folded the knife and put it in her jeans pocket. She slowly started to wipe her face. She had been speckled by blood and bone from Ivy.

“Well actually” She said, spitting out a piece of Ivy. “I am a bit mucky and could do with a shower!”

“Come on then, let’s go home. I am ready for some tea” I said.

I wanted to go home and eat, I was starving hungry. My ankle was killing me and waves of tiredness were washing over me.

The car was in the Mason’s yard, close to the house. It would have been burned out. There was no point in going back for it.

Slowly we walked back through the woods illuminated by the still flickering flames of Y Dyffryn Tywyll.

We showered together. The dirt was washed from my skin and slid down the drain in brown soapy scum. We didn’t talk. Both lost in our own thoughts.

“It’s fucking difficult to get brain out of your hair” Said Fleur as we looked at each.

“Yeah, for sure, better to leave it in your head I think” We laughed.

“I thought that I would be really upset and blown away by today” She said.

“Fleur, it will come later. This stuff doesn’t just go away.” I held her shoulders in my hands and looked at her in the eyes. “You will never be the same again” I added.

“I guess not” She said quietly.

“We have to think about what to do now, I have a fuck load of mess to clean up tonight.” I said. I thought about where to go from here.

I stepped out of the shower, my face was sore. My ankle hurt. I felt old. I towelled myself off and wrapped the towel round my waist.

“I‘ll get the kettle on, flower”

I went downstairs to the kitchen. Walked across to the kettle.

“Hello Mr. Winchester”

The stranger’s voice made me jump. No one had knocked I had locked the door. I turned and looked at the table and sat at the table was a man in a suit.

“Who are you?” I asked him.

“I am Mr. White, I am from the SIS”

I looked more closely at him. He was about average in height and build, he had short greying dark hair side parted. He wore dark rimmed glasses and had no real distinguishing features. He was in a grey pinstriped suit with a pale blue shirt and slightly darker tie. He was non-descript. He was grey, instantly forgettable.

“So you are from the SIS?”

“Yes,”

“What are you doing here?” I asked him.

“To talk to you about the last week, especially about today. I need to talk to your wife as well” He spoke in a negative accent. I could not tell where he was from. Another layer of in distinction.

“Ok, I will call her”

“Thank you” he replied.

I went to the door and shouted up to her to come down and put some clothes on as we had visitors, I also asked her to bring me some down.

The clothes we had worn earlier were now in the washing machine on a hot wash, getting all the dirt (and forensic evidence) out of them.

Fleur came downstairs and passed me some tracksuit trousers and a t shirt to slip on. We went together into the kitchen. Her hair was piled up in a towel on her head. The bruises on her chin and throat looked sore.

“Hello Mrs. Winchester” He said.

“Hello” She replied.

“Would you like a cup of tea Mr. White?” I asked.

“Yes please, Mr. Winchester that would be lovely”

“I am sure you are both puzzled as to why I am here?”

“Well, yes I am, would you like milk and sugar?” I asked.

“No sugar please Mr. Winchester.” He said.

“So, Mr. White, why are you here?” asked Fleur.

I placed the tea in front of him and sat down.

“I am a cleaner” He said.

“I am sorry, what is a cleaner?” I asked.

“The agency use me and my team to clean up messes from time to time. Like the mess that you have made here.”

“Okay, I don’t know what you mean by the mess we have made?” I asked him.

“Oh, come on Mr. Winchester, let’s be honest with each other” he said.

“I don’t understand what you mean” I asked.

He put his right hand in his pocket and pulled a mobile phone from it. He placed it flat on the table. It was Fleur’s phone. I last saw it on the table of Mason’s house.

“Mr. Winchester, we know what you did today, we know what happened in Scunthorpe, we know all about you.” He calmly said.

Fleur quietly sipped her tea. She suddenly looked very worried.

“The thing is, we can’t have the local police sniffing about too much into what has happened here. A police investigation would uncover things here and in Humberside that would be a major embarrassment to some very powerful people.”

“Right, I understand” Fleur said.

“So we will complete the clean-up operation here and we will deal with the hospital scene you have left. We have dealt with the Mason’s house. We knew about Mason and his … well his … habits. You have stopped him. But you can’t speak about this, ever.”

“Ok,” I replied cautiously.

“You will be well rewarded for this service” He continued.

“Do I need to sign anything?” Fleur asked.

“No, there are no forms to sign, there is no evidence trial and no audit, but you need to know that we will clean anything we need to. Do you understand?” Said Mr. White.







6


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