Dark Soul

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Arlington Estate could never be considered by anyone as one of the more affluent areas of the City but it was a little past midnight and having spent the past seven years on the burglary squad Greg Lawrence knew it was a good place to sit up and watch the comings and goings of his more prolific past clientele as he had recently been successful with his application to join the Murder Investigation Team at Scotland Yard and while he was no longer part of his old burglary squad on this night they were shorthanded so it was a good opportunity to put his extensive knowledge base to good use once more. Detective Constable Lawrence was now in his mid-thirties and tiny flecks of gray could be seen in his short jet black hair but standing at six foot with broad shoulders he usually didn’t have too many problems with the people he dealt with. With shortages across the force and a distinct need for the cash he had volunteered to do the night shift. It would mean working his old patch for a couple of nights and the Murder Investigation Team had no current inquiries at the moment so he was free to use his days off as he pleased. Leaning forward over the steering wheel of his unmarked patrol car Greg watched as two familiar faces came into view from one of the tenement blocks. They stood huddled together near to the doorway leading into the tower block and Greg watched closely; reaching over to the seat next to him he put his binoculars to his eyes. ’That’s what I was looking for gentlemen’ Greg almost whispered to himself as he watched them exchange a small bag for cash. Grabbing his radio he was about to call for backup and move in to arrest them on suspicion of supplying a controlled substance but before he could his radio crackled into life as the controllers voice echoed out over it.

“Control to Zulu Bravo 3, respond”

“Go ahead” D.C Lawrence replied.

“We have reports of a badly injured female in the Ponbrook area; at the Griffon Pub if you know it?” The voice of the female radio operator crackled slightly over the radio.

“Yes, I know the place, is there uniform on the scene already?” Greg asked as he continued to watch his suspects.

“Uniform is on route and will update soon as; can you head that way for us Greg and find out what we have there?” The despatch operator asked in calm manner but the detective knew it wasn’t a request.

“Received control; show me on route.” Greg replied managing to keep the frustration from his voice as he did so.

He watched the two men part ways then started up his car and thought to himself ’it appears it’s your lucky night tonight gentlemen.’ Whilst driving to the Griffon Public House Greg pulled out his mobile and brought up the number for his boss, a Detective Chief Inspector John Williams, Greg listened to the monotone ring until a sleepy voice answered on the other end.

“Evening Guv; sorry to wake you in the night but I’m heading to something you need to know about. We have had a report in of a woman being badly injured at the Griffon Pub; in the Ponbrook area.” Greg said in an even tone as he swapped the phone to his other hand while reversing his car.

“Let me know as soon as you get some more details and I will get myself sorted and head down to the incident room and start calling people in if you need them; I will arrange for C.S.I to head over to you if you need them.” John stifled a yawn as he spoke.

“Thanks Guv; I will let you know more as soon as I arrive.” closing his phone Greg turned his thoughts to the area and the Griffon in particular; as far as he could recall it was a nice quiet place in the suburbs of London but that had been quite a few years ago so perhaps it had gone downhill since then he thought as he headed there. It wouldn’t be the first time some stupid bar room fight had gotten out of hand and someone had been badly injured with a broken glass or bottle.

Following an uneventful drive Greg could see a small crowd of people on the pathway near to the pub and an ambulance parked up in the car park. As he turned into the entrance way a marked patrol car slowed and came to a halt next to his. Flicking the button for the window it slowly lowered itself while he looked across at the occupants of the patrol car. Greg recognized them both but couldn’t quite remember their names, they were probably still fairly new and keen, leaning out of his window slightly Detective Lawrence greeted them while holding up his warrant card then spoke in a hushed tone

“Can you get those people under control and see what you can find out; if they have seen anything. You know the usual and I will let you know what we have here.” The officer closest nodded to Greg and replied

“Sure, no worries, we’ll park up across the entrance and leave the blues on for the time being.”

“Cheers guys” Greg gave them the thumbs up as they pulled away and he turned the car ignition off as he pulled into a parking spot of the pub grounds. Stepping out of the car and stretching his legs he suddenly became aware that it was late into the night and hitting the luminary button on his watch it indicated the time was a little past midnight. The wind picked up and Greg felt the chill night air bite against his skin causing him to draw his coat together before moving off to the area where he could see the ambulance crew. As he approached the ambulance one of the crew came to greet him; he was by appearances an experienced looking man in his 40’s with flecks of grey in his hair. Stretching out his hand the crewman greeted Greg

“Hi, I’m Mike. This is something I have never seen in all the years I have been in this job, I.” he paused as if contemplating what to say next before continuing with his sentence

“I don’t know even where to begin; I’m not sure what you have been told but this was no fight. I’ve seen dog attacks, some pretty bad ones too, but this is horrific if that’s what it is. Like someone had set a pack of wild dogs on her to kill her, you better take a look, I warn you though it’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Greg shook Mikes hand and listened to what he had to say before nodding then indicating towards the sheets and saying

“I take it she is under there then?”

“Yes, well, most of her. I mean what we could find; you best look.” Mike shook his head and walked over to his ambulance.

Greg had served a stint of time on the Metropolitan Traffic Division and had seen some pretty grisly sights in his time there. That coupled with his military service before joining the police made him fairly sure he could handle whatever waited for him under the sheeting. Despite this he couldn’t help but feel his stomach lurch as he approached and caught the smell that lingers around dead bodies; coupled with the equally unsettling smells that abound abattoirs the smell of freshly cut meat and blood it made him reach for his mouth with his hand almost involuntarily. As he walked towards the area that had been covered he could see dark stains upon the car park floor, clearly the victim’s blood, taking out his pocket book he began to make some rudimentary notes and a brief diagram of the area before stepping over the dark patches and arriving at the sheeting. Looking around he took stock of his surroundings; to his right was the Griffon and a side doorway into it perhaps at most 60 yards away. To his left the victim’s car which was illuminated under the overhanging car park lights. In fact the whole area is very well lit Greg thought to himself. Whoever did this; chances are she knew him otherwise she would have seen someone approach from some distance away. With these thoughts on his mind Greg moved closer to inspect the car and could see it had a long deep scrape along the rear which trailed off at the offside rear wing. Taking out his torch he shone it along the car and it lit up the blood splatter which trailed along the side of it and onto the driver’s side seat; he could see what appeared to be small pieces of flesh possibly skull fragments clinging to the inside of the door. Clasping the torch in his mouth Greg bent his knees and steadying himself took hold of the sheeting then pulled it across to reveal the body beneath. His stomach lurched once more at the smell of blood which was so strong it was almost overpowering his senses as he gazed down upon the remains of what appeared to be a young woman probably in her mid-twenties. The body was laying face down splayed out like a starfish might be when washed up upon the shore. Raising his hand to his mouth he took the torch in his other hand and subconsciously covered his mouth with his free hand as he observed the grizzly scene. The woman’s skull had been torn half open and there were pieces of brain seeping from the wound. Her back had gouge marks in it deep enough to expose the bone underneath and there appeared to be a large chunk that had been removed from the left side of her chest. Her right arm would have dangled from her body as it appeared to be only held on by sinews but instead it lay next to her at an odd angle; it too was covered in deep lacerations. Her right leg appeared untouched but her left had several deep gashes along it and part of the lower calf missing. Flipping open his pocket book again and standing then putting his torch away and covering the girl he once again noted down what he had observed. Stepping back from the scene Greg took a deep breath before reaching for his phone and calling his governor Chief Inspector Williams.

“Hello” came the expected reply from the other end of the phone.

“Guv; its Greg Lawrence here. As soon as you can you need to come to the scene. This is like nothing I’ve seen before; nothing I’ve heard of either. You will need to start waking people up and getting them out here and there is plenty for CSI to take a look at.” Greg let an involuntary sigh slip from his mouth as he finished speaking.

“OK, hold the fort there and I’ll make some calls. I will be there shortly.” Came the reply from Williams. Clicking shut his phone Greg looked around and could see the crowd by the pavement and the two officers from earlier talking to them. Reaching for his radio he contacted his control room and called for an additional unit to seal the scene completely from the public. Looking over to the ambulance he could see a civilian sitting inside it with the crew, assuming this must be who found the woman, he made his way to the ambulance.

As Greg approached the open doors Mike stepped out and indicated towards the man sat in the back then said

“That is Karl; he is the duty manager of the Griffon and he is the one who found the young girl; her name was Melissa.” Greg nodded and noted down in his pocketbook the name Melissa before stepping up into the back of the ambulance and sitting opposite Karl. A loud crackle from Greg’s radio caused Karl to look up as Greg reached to his belt and turned the volume down then looked across at Karl.

“I understand you found your friend; Melissa is it?” Greg asked with more than a hint of compassion in his voice.

“Yes” was all Karl could manage to say in a broken uneven tone; his mind was still trying to grasp what he had seen and it struggled to come to terms with the horror of the events of this evening.

“I know this is going to be hard for you sir; but if you are up to talking to me now it will helps us catch whoever did this all the sooner.” Greg asked softly.

Karl nodded in response and ran his hands across his face wiping tears from his eyes before asking

“Who could do that to; to someone. She is; was the loveliest of people. I.” Karl’s voice trailed off as his head hung down. “Did you know Melissa well?” The detective quizzed.

“Yes. She had worked for; I mean with me for a few years now.” Karl replied in a dead pan voice.

The two men continued to speak with one another all the while Greg asked questions and made notes as he did so creating a rough statement and giving him some background of who the victim was. The detective spoke with Karl for some time; building up a more detailed picture of the victim as he did so until he heard the voice of D.C.I Williams issuing orders outside the ambulance. Reaching out Greg placed his hand on Karl’s shoulder and said

“Thank you for everything; I will be in touch as soon as I know more.” then stepped out and down from the ambulance.

Detective Chief Inspector John Williams had been in the Police for almost over 30 years and he was confident there was nothing he had not come across in that time. Pulling his overcoat around his thin frame he pushed his glasses back firmly onto the bridge of his nose and smoothed the gray mustache that framed his thin lips as he approached Greg with a look of skepticism on his face. Shaking hands and greeting one another Greg led his D.C.I over towards the scene where Melissa lay. Kneeling down Greg glanced up to his governor and spoke in a hushed tone

“Tell me guv; what kind of sick individual could do this to someone?” Williams stood for a moment, his eyes narrowing as they scanned the grisly scene before him, his forehead creased together forming lines that expressed his years of experience.

“Thank you Greg. That will do for now. I have contacted the on call CSI; I want you to arrange for a family liaison officer to contact the family.” John Williams ran his hand along and down his face as he watched Greg cover the body again before saying

“What about the witness did he have anything to say?” John spoke in a calm hushed tone well aware voices carried on the night air some distance.

Flipping his pocketbook open Greg scanned it for the relevant notes and summarizing said

“The victim is approximately 24 years old, single, and lives in the local area. He has known her for around four years in which time she has worked at the pub for him as part of the bar staff there. He can’t ever recall her having a run in with anyone and doesn’t know of any ex-boyfriends that have a grudge.” Williams interjected at this point

“I want a full profile done on her and anyone she has had contact with over the past five years.” Greg nodded and continued

“She seems to have been very popular and he has no idea of anyone who might have wanted to hurt her. Due to the injuries and blood involved I think we can discount him as a suspect but he’s already agreed to hand over his clothes and a DNA sample.” Williams listened with his shoulders hunched up to keep out the cold before saying

“That’s all fine; make sure you put everything in the report for the early turn Inspector and I will see you tomorrow. Goodnight Greg. Good Work.” D.C.I John Williams walked a few paces from Greg and reached into his overcoat then pulled out his mobile before punching in a series of numbers; the phone rang quite a while before it was answered.

“Marcus. It’s John, I think it is beginning all over again, we need to meet.” His voice was lined with concern.

“What in blue blazes of hell can be so important at this hour?” Came the reply.

“I don’t know how but its him I just know it.” John spoke in hushed tones down the phone.

“That’s impossible!” the other voice barked in reply.

“Please Marcus meet me three O’clock tomorrow afternoon at the National Gallery” There was a hint of pleading to his tone as John spoke.

“I’ll be there” was the short simple reply.

A click signaled the phone conversation was ended and Williams slid his phone back into his pocket. Pulling up the collar of his overcoat he looked at the sheet covering the young girl and paused briefly before turning on his heel then walking purposefully to his car before setting off home.

Greg pulled back the sleeve on his jacket and glanced at his watch to see the time was just past two in the morning and the area was now sealed with two uniformed units cordoning the entrance and exit of the car park. The ambulance crew had left and the coroner’s office was on route to recover the body once CSI had finished examining and photographing the scene. Emma Colbeck had worked as a forensic scientist with the Metropolitan Police for the past ten years ever since she graduated from university and was now deputy head of the department. As she pulled the minivan into the car park the contents in the back rattled as the suspension compensated for the curb. Stopping near to the area cordoned off by crime scene tape she clicked the hand brake into place and switched the engine off before grabbing her bag that sat on the seat next to her then stepped out into the chill night air.

Greg watched the CSI van come to a stop a few feet away from the crime scene and he rubbed his hands to warm them from the cold so as not to greet whoever it was with cold fingers. He heard the van door click shut and the metallic sound of heels softly striking the ground as he watched Emma walk around the side of the van. She stood around 5′8” in heels and her willowy figure was almost completely concealed beneath her heavy coat. Greg watched as she brushed her long dark hair from her face while she took a large camera from one of the boxes in the back of the van before checking it and walking towards him. Greg had always found Emma attractive but had never found an opportune moment to speak to her and this was certainly not going to be it he thought to himself. Extending her hand to Greg they shook and briefly smiled at each other for perhaps a moment longer than either of them intended to do. Clearing his throat Greg motioned towards the plastic sheeting which covered the body and calmly said

“She is underneath there, I’m not sure what you have been told but it’s quite horrific.” Emma looked at Greg and simply nodded then said

“If you could hold the cover up I would like to get some shots and take a quick look before the rest of the team arrive to tent the area up.” As Greg slowly lifted the sheeting Emma deftly slipped a pair of synthetic gloves from her pocket and onto her hands then lifted the camera to her eye and stifled a gasp as she took in the scene before her. Regaining her composure she raised the camera again and rotating the zoom lens she began to take several pictures of the remains of Melissa Wilks each one lighting the scene with a sudden flash of the camera bulb. Placing the straps from the camera round her neck she gently let it fall into place as she removed a small plastic evidence container and a pair of tweezers from a pouch on her belt while clasping her torch between her teeth. Carefully leaning forward Emma plucked an inch long thin clear fragment from the remains of Melissa’s chest. Lifting it up into the light she could see it was slightly curved and appeared to be made of some type of bone or hard plastic. Popping open the lid of the container she deftly dropped the fragment into it and sealed it shut before slipping it into her pocket.

“That’s it I’m done for now.” She said to Greg in an even tone as she stood “My team will be along shortly to carry out the rest of the forensic analysis of the scene including the woods at the rear of the car park.” Emma finished speaking and nodded to the wooded area behind them.

“Thanks for coming out so quickly” replied Greg with an awkward smile. “I had better be off to start the ball rolling on this; I will need to put together a handover package for whoever will be dealing with this in the morning.” He said with a small sigh.

“Will you not be dealing with this then?” Emma said looking at Greg a little surprised.

“With the best will in the world even I need to sleep and someone needs to be dealing with this straight off in the morning but I’m sure the governor will have me back on the case once I’ve had a few hours beauty sleep.” Greg paused briefly before turning as he began to walk off and saying “Well; take care. I hope to see you around soon.”

“I’m sure you will if you are working this case.” Emma replied as she looked up from packing away her camera. With another awkward smile Greg turned and strode towards his vehicle looking back once in the imagined hope that Emma would be staring after him with doe eyes but this illusion was soon shattered as he heard her slam the van doors shut then turn and walk towards the front of the van without looking back towards him. Settling into the driver’s seat of the forensic van Emma started it up and flicked the heaters on full blast. She held her chilly hands in front of the vents warming them on the hot air now flowing from them and as she did so her gaze fell upon the wing mirror of her car as she watched Greg Lawrence walk back to his car then drive away.

She could at last feel her fingers again and finishing the last form she had pinned to her clip board she placed it on the passenger seat next to her and was about to start her van up when she noticed something caught in the bushes at the edge of the car park. Flicking the van lights on full beam she could now see what appeared to be a woman’s scarf caught on the edge of a bush; opening her door she reached over and grabbed the torch from the seat next to her as she stepped from her van. Emma glanced over towards the two constables standing not so far away at the entrance of the car park and thought about calling out to them but instead shook her head and walked towards the edge of the car park. The wind blew briskly across the open car park causing the high trees surrounding it to rustle and sway against each other. Nearing the scarf she shone her torch into the bushes and the trees beyond; it swept across the undergrowth like a searchlight. As she swept the light from the torch across the undergrowth Emma suddenly stopped and brought it back again as something reflected the light back at her. Sweeping the torch back over the hedge row once more she stopped and caught her breath as two gleaming eyes stared back at her through the undergrowth. Her breath caught in her mouth and she found herself taking shallow breaths as she tried to remain calm. Emma’s thoughts were at first to cry out to the constables not far away but they would never reach her in time before whatever was in the bushes had sprung from them and attacked her. She screamed as the creature leapt from the bushes bursting through the hedgerow its eyes gleaming in the moonlight and its dark fur bristling on end. With its claws extended they dug into the tarmacked surface of the car park giving it better grip as it bounded towards Emma. Dropping the torch as she screamed it fell onto the car park surface with a solid thud its light rolling gently back and forth illuminating the cat that then screeched as it swerved to avoid the torch and bolted across the car park.

“Are you all right miss?” Emma put her hand to her head as she realized it was just a black cat and called back to the constables

“Yes I’m fine; I just dropped my torch that’s all.” Stooping slightly she bent to retrieve her torch and walked the final few feet up to the scarf and sighed as she could tell it was weather worn and had been caught in the bushes for quite some time and clearly did not belong to the victim. With a final sweep of her torch though the hedge row Emma made her way back to her van.

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