Chapter Eleven Revelations
The Royal Free Hospital shared the building with the Star Labs research facility, a quasi military set up.
The three British medical students wearing their name tags and with stethoscopes around their necks walking into the main foyer confidently. Well when I say confidently there was one exception, there always has to be doesn’t there?
Troy was far from happy.
“This is bad karma Gloria.” He moaned.
“Will you for once speak properly instead of this stupid Jazz way you have picked up in the Kibbutz.” Gloria wasn’t happy with him at all.
“I don’t like it. If we get caught it’ll be the end of our careers before they have started. That and being ship back to England.”
“We are doing this for Sergeant Corrigan. If we are caught she will deal with the fall out.”
“Well where is she?” Troy knew well the answer but he just wanted Gloria to say it.
“He has a point.” The other male, Tom, said in Toby’s defence.
“She’s interviewing a couple of suspects but she will meet up with us in Joes Diner opposite.” Gloria said irritated. “All we have to do is find out if the patient is her husband or not. She’s even given us a photograph of him to help us now stop your jaws from flapping.”
Gloria picked up three clipboards from a unused nursing station and led the other two to the stairs after having a quick look at the hospital map by the elevators.
Walking as if they had every reason for being their they made their way up the back stairs and wandered through the central corridors at each floor.
They eventually came to the floor used by Star Labs. They nervously entered but at no point were they challenged by the security that were peppered about.
Nodding at a ward sister they crossed to the sideward and Gloria looked in. It was the right one for standing in the centre was the iron lung.
They quietly entered and made a show of checking the readings and notes for the benefit of the nurse that was finishing washing the patients head. With a nod to the three students she picked up her bowl and left them to their own devices.
Troy looked down at the hideously burnt left side of the face and visibly blanched, taking an involuntary step backwards.
There was just an empty socket where the eye used to be and a stub of charred flesh where their used to be an ear. Any attempt to recognise the body from this side would be impossible. Strangely all the paperwork dotted around the room simply called them Patient 66.
“Boys?” Gloria called her eyes wide with surprise. “The pair of you better come and see this.”
She was pointing at the right side of the head beside which she was standing.
“I’ve seen enough to last me a lifetime.” Troy said with a shudder.
“I sometimes wonder why you chose this as a career?” Gloria asked.
“Because here I might just make a difference.” Troy said seriously. “I know I will see horrid things and my stupid humour might just be enough to get me through it. But if I can save just one life it will be worth it.”
Gloria reached over the prone figure and gave his shoulder an affectionate squeeze.
“You’ll do for me Troy, you’ll do for me Troy.” Gloria said waving him round to join her.
Puzzled the two men joined her before looking down at the unmarked face.
“Oh my God.” Troy said.
“It’s not possible! It can’t be!” Tom said in disbelief.
“But it is. I think Sergeant Corrigan needs to look at this herself.” Gloria said taking charge once again. “Let’s get out of here for now. I don’t know about you pair but I need a stiff drink.”
She led them back out and down the back stairs.
The room was quiet save for the hum of the instruments for awhile. Suddenly the far wall rippled and a tall green alien figure passed through to land lightly beside the lung.
As it did so it morphed back to Doctor John Jones.
He unclipped a sensor from its socket on the Iron Lung and read carefully what was displayed there.
“Strange, someone has been here. I wonder what they wanted?” He mused before putting it back and carrying on out of the door.
Steffi and Julie were back at the Precinct House going through their reports when the door to the office opened and the Lieutenant and Elliot Ness of the FBI entered with the IRS agent tailing along behind.
“Can I have your attention a moment please. Come on settle down now, settle down.”
There was the scraping sound as chairs were dragged round to face the newcomers.
“You’ll be interested to know that the whole of the Murphy family are now looking at lengthy stay’s at His Majesty’s pleasure in the state penitentiary. Elliot?”
“Kathleen Murphy has turned state evidence and is in protective custody. She, along with the sterling work you have carried out, has brought the whole family to book. The Inland Revenue Service has been able to follow your evidence of money laundering adding another string to our bow.
Well done all of you.”
A general cheer went up.
“We couldn’t have achieved what we have if it wasn’t for the invaluable help of Sergeant Stephanie Corrigan who supported Kathleen Murphy and encouraged her to stand up against her criminal family. She worked with sensitivity and honour.
Well done Sergeant and it’s my pleasure to announce your promotion to Lieutenant. It seems we have another Corrigan as the scourge of the criminal classes. Congratulations.
Now everybody back to work. We need all the evidence neatly tied up for the DA.”
The lieutenant told them with pride.
The three men crossed over to where Steffi and Julie were sitting.
Steffi looked up and spotted Ben. She waved him over.
“Yes Sergeant?” Ben asked.
“Meet me in interview room one in five minutes.” She told him. “I’ve found evidence as to who killed Steve.”
“Thank you for helping with Kathleen this morning Steffi. Will you sit in on some of the interviews she seems to trust you?” The Lieutenant asked.
“I am not surprised after all she’s been through. Of course I will sir.”
“Congratulations on your promotion sergeant.” Elliot shook her hand. “We will be starting the debriefing sessions tomorrow. Until then Sergeant.”
He nodded to her and made his way out with the Lieutenant trailing behind.
The interview room Venetian blinds were shut down making it quite dark in there.
Ben entered to be greeted by Steffi and Julie studying something intently in the light of the desk lamp. They threw strange distorted shadows on the walls.
“Sit down please Ben.” Steffi said as if the request was a side issue.
Once he was seated Julie crossed over to the door and lent back on it. Steffi turned round and sat with one buttock cheek on the edge of the table top.
“Ben why did you get drunk at the wedding? It was so against your normal self.” Steffi asked as she idly looked over a report. “You say that you were going to the dependency unit to dry out?”
“Yes I’ve already told you this, what’s going on?” Ben said exasperated.
“Someone in the division is passing information to the serial killer or they are the killer themselves. The Lieutenant wants us to interview quietly everyone in the Serious Crime Squad. We can’t do it alone we need you but we have got to prove it wasn’t you, if you understand me?” Steffi said. “The trail starts at my wedding to Steve and ends at Sean Murphy. So lets start at the beginning.”
“I was drunk at the wedding, stoned out of my mind and that decided me to join the group.” Ben said defensively.
“Yes you explained that but I think some one got to you somehow. It was the pressure of that guilt that made you drink more than usual.” She paused and thought a moment. “While you were drunk did you tell anyone of our Honeymoon destination.”
“No. I didn’t tell anyone I wouldn’t.” Ben protested.
“Then if it wasn’t you who was it?”
“They could have just followed you, after all the wedding was publicised.”
“No it wasn’t, the blessing was, and that was scheduled for after we came back from Sir Hugo’s log cabin.” Steffi came to a thoughtful stop before ferreting into the paperwork that covered the table. “Need I remind you everyone that was involved in Steve’s murder has been murdered gruesomely and no not by me.
We will try and protect you but I can’t guarantee it can’t get to you.” Then the answer came to her in a flash. “You’re gay aren’t you? That’s what your hiding. If the top brass were to hear you’d be drummed out of the force. That the truth isn’t it Ben.”
“No of course its not.” Ben went to get up.
“Sit down please Ben.”
Such was the command in her voice he sat back down.
There was a knock on the door.
Julie opened it.
One of the female officers popped her head in.
“Phone call for you Sergeant.” She said.
“Tell them I’ll call them back.”
“I said you were busy but they seemed most insistent. They are the English medics that found you Sergeant.”
“Ask them to hold a moment and I’ll take the call.”
“Yes Sergeant.” And the head vanished back out of the room.
Steffi turned to Ben.
“Think on what I’ve said Ben.” She paused a moment. “I don’t want to believe it, I really don’t, but so far you haven’t given me a reason not to.”
She beckoned Julie to follow her and they left the room.
Ben slumped down in the chair and shakily wiped his face with his handkerchief before getting up and helping himself to water from the large water dispenser in the corner of the room.
“Ben?” A voice said, a voice he knew well.
With his heart beating so hard he felt sure they could hear it in the office outside, he slowly turned round.
“Steve?” Ben was totally confused by the turn of events. “But your…”
“Dead? Take it from me its very overrated.” Steve stepped further into the light the famous lopsided grin plastered on his face. “You see I can’t pass over the river until I discover who killed me.”
One side of Steve’s face was horribly burnt while the other was untouched.
Ben backed up against the wall in shock.
“When I say until I have discovered the head of the chain I mean my wife Steffi.” Steve gave a short laugh. “She’s good, really good, almost as good as me.”
He waved a hand and a sheet of paper fluttered to land in front of Ben’s chair and a pen rolled over the desk top to join it.
“Sit down and make your confession.”
“I’m sorry Steve I didn’t want to do it. You are my best friend, but he had the dirt on me big time. He was my lover.”
“Write it down Ben. Write it all down.”
Ben picked up the pen.
“He said they would ruff you up a little to warn you off, I didn’t know they meant to kill you.”
“The Murphy’s took advantage of the information you gave them.”
Ben picked up the pen and began to write.
“Ben if it is any consolation I forgive you.”
“Thank you but I can never forgive myself.” Ben watched Steve back up into the shadows and fade away.
In the office Steffi was taking the call.
“Hello Sergeant its Gloria.”
“Hello Gloria. I thought we agreed to meet up this afternoon in Joe’s diner.”
“Yes we did but what we have found, well, I think you need to see it for yourself.”
“It’s nothing you can tell me over the phone?”
“I rather not. We’ve got a spare white coat for you.”
“Stay at the Diner and I’ll be with you as soon as I can.”
“Thank you Sergeant. See you soon.”
Steffi slowly put the receiver down.
“Problems?” Julie asked.
“I’m not sure.” She mused. “That was the English girl. She seemed agitated and yet she is the most calm and logical of the three of them.”
“We going back to interrogate Ben?”
Steffi crossed to the interview room door and tried to open it. The harder she tried the more it resisted. She stepped back and had the distinct feeling that before her was a solid wall with a very realistic door painted on it.
Inside Ben signed his confession and got shakily to his feet. He crossed over to the water dispenser and opened the tap to fill his glass. When he had enough he tried to close the tap but it wouldn’t shut off resulting in water pouring down his leg.
“Oh great, can this day get any worse.” He stepped back and shook the wet leg. It looked to the passing stranger that he had wet himself. Again and again he tried to turn the tap off without any luck.
He crossed to the door only to find it sealed.
He banged on it.
“Let me out please. Get Sergeant Corrigan to unlock the door.” He yelled.
He felt something touch his ankle. It was the water. Instead of running dry the water dispenser carried on pouring water making large bubbles inside which Ben could see clearly.
In blind panic he waded across to the water unit and tried all his strength and skill to turn the tap to the off position but to no avail.
The water was already up to his knees when he lifted the chair and threw it with all his might against the window. At the last second the window slid aside resulting in the chair hitting the wall.
There were few things Ben feared but water was up there. Since nearly drowning in an accident in the schools pool as a kid he had developed a phobia about water.
Suddenly he noticed something odd. Like the eye of a hurricane the desk and paperwork were dry whilst the water poured in to circle round it.
Waste high he pushed through the barrier into the dry centre.
He was going to live. As long as he stayed close to the confession he was safe. He went to pick up the confession to put it in his pocket.
“I’ve beaten you Steve like I always did at ten pin bowling.” He yelled in relief.
His finger tips just brushed the paper when he was wrenched backward by something snake like pulling him.
With horror he realised it was the chair.
It stalked out of the water on two legs, the arms wrapping themselves around him snake like forcing him to sit. He couldn’t move as hands erupted from the wood to hold his arms and legs in place. The chair back started to lower him into the whirlpool, sending a wooded branch over his neck forcing his head under the water that swirled around him.
With his legs trying to kick out and his arms trying to free themselves from the woods grip he danced the dance of death. And in his dimming sight he saw the Spectre watching him. He tried to call out for mercy but it was no avail. There was no mercy in those steely eyes nor satisfaction, just an acknowledgement of a job being done, a miscreant punished. Then suddenly it was over and Ben became still.
The water swiftly drained away and the tap shut off. In mere seconds the room was dry accept for Ben’s head and soaking wet hair.
The door became free and Steffi and Julie piled in.
“Oh God no, not again.” Steffi rushed over to Bens side and felt for life signs.
Finding nothing she preceded to give him mouth to mouth but to no avail. Ben spewed out water from the heart compressions.
“It’s no good sergeant he’s full of water.” Julie said sadly. “I’ve seen it before. He’s drowned.”
Steffi stepped away and gave herself the time to absorb the scene but it was the Lieutenant that voiced her thoughts.
“He drowned in a dry room? Now that is something you don’t come across everyday.”
“I’m afraid I can’t explain it but it does look that way. See how wet his hair and clothes are.” Steffi pointed at the growing pool of water under his chair.”
“Sergeant, Lieutenant you might want to read this.” Julie said tapping the A4 sheet of paper on the table. “It’s Bens confession.”
The senior officers crossed over and read the page of neat script.
When they had finished the Lieutenant sighed.
“This is your baby Steffi. Do you want to carry it out?” He said.
“Yes. But I want Julie as back up for the actual arrest.” Steffi said.
“Julie?” The Lieutenant asked.
“Yes sir I’ll back the Sergeant up. I’ve come this far with her I’d like to see it to its conclusion.”
“Very well. Don’t take unnecessary risks though I don’t expect any problems from that quarter.” The Lieutenant said crisply. “Keep me informed.”
With that he left the two women to their devices.
“Where are going to start?” Julie asked.
“At Manny’s shop and go from there.” Steffi told her companion as she led her into the main office. She stopped at the nearest telephone and made some phone calls.
Manny’s shop was the same as always and as always Manny was at the grill filling out his ledger. He pulled the shawl closer around his shoulders before blowing on his fingers that suck out of his fingerless mittens in an attempt to warm them up.
“Here is the thirty dollars Mr Goldberg.” The young woman said passing an envelope through the hole in the mesh that separated Manny’s work area from the rest of the shop.
“And here is your husbands watch Mrs Drake.” Manny smiled warmly at Steffi as she entered the shop. He wave to her telling her to turn over the shop sign.
“How is your husband Mr’s Drake?”
“He’s joined the Army as an engineer so we will be getting regular wages now.” She was beaming with pride. “Thank you for helping me every month Mr Goldberg.”
“Take good care of yourself and the children.”
“Oh I will Mr Goldberg. Oh I will. Goodbye.”
Once the young mother was out of the shop he called to Julie.
“Lock the door please officer.” He got off his stool and crossed to the gate that allowed him access to the rest of his shop. “Come along the pair of you. I have some tea on the go and I’ll make you a coffee. It’s so cold you are going to have to warm up first.”
“Come along, come along both of you.” Manny led them into the back room and its cheery fire. “Move over you useless waste of space. Let the officers warm themselves up.”
“Jakob?” Steffi said astonished.
“Yes. Please to see you again Sergeant. Coffee wasn’t it.”
“I’ll make the coffee for the Sergeant yours tastes like mud.” Manny sniped.
“And yours is far to sweet.” Jakob bit back.
“I suppose you get yours from the Ritz.”
“No but at least I pay good money for mine you old skinflint!”
“Squanderer. Money goes through your fingers like water.”
There was a sharp bang on the wooden floor of a walking stick.
Steffi saw in that moment the sly smiles on the men’s faces and the twinkle in their eyes.
She cleared her throat.
“Manny why don’t you make my coffee while Jakob gets Julie her tea.”
“Sounds like a good idea. I’ll give you a cup of tea that will seem like the nectar of the Gods. Better than his horse swill.” Jakob joked.
“I see you have met my Brother-in- Law. The biggest waste of space you’ll ever find.” Manny said with a grin.
“I told you, don’t you ever listen. I told you I met the Sergeant at the cemetery.” Jakob sighed. “Going senile as well as mean.”
“I am not mean just careful that’s all.”
Just as it looked like it was going to erupt again it suddenly stopped. They served the woman their beverages and sat either side of the fire.
It was only then that they saw a young woman sitting in the corner of the room. She sat quite still with the neatly manicured right hand resting on a small table on which a series of cards from the fortune telling Tarot pack lay.
She was dressed in Hispanic clothes including a black lace shawl over her head.
In her left hand was a Victorian silver mounted walking stick. It was this she had thumped on the floor stopping the two men bickering.
“How remiss of me. I haven’t introduced you.” Manny’s face was a picture as he realised he had no idea what their first names were. He cleared his throat. “Detective Sergeant Corrigan and Detective Mantel.”
Steffi extended a hand to be shaken.
“Stephanie Corrigan and Julie Mantel.” She said.
The woman didn’t shake her hand instead she slowly lowered the shawl that was shading her face to reveal two white eyes.
“I am called by the boys, Xanadu. It is as good a name as any.”
“Please to meet you.” Steffi said wondering how she had not seen her earlier.
“On the table are the Tarot cards that represent your journey. I don’t expect you to believe me.” She smiled at them. “Place your finger on each card in turn and afterward I will explain.”
“Forgive me I really haven’t the time for this. I mean no offence but I’ve a serial killer to catch.” Steffi tried to be diplomatic but it still seemed like she was throwing a tantrum.
“No offence taken. But just humour me and touch the first card.” Xanadu smiled engagingly at the two officers.
“You mean this one.” Steffi stared at the card before placing her finger tip on it with Julie following suit.
Suddenly they were no longer in the little office but back at the precinct. And they were still in Manny’s office too even though it rippled as if mirage in a heat shimmer.
They could see clearly ahead of them two female officers looking over the status board. It took a few moments for them to realise they were looking at themselves.
“I really must get my roots done.” Steffi muttered.
“Phone call for you Julie. New Amsterdam General Hospital.” An office called.
It was so life like that both Julies called out.
“Right. With you.”
The younger Julie took the phone.
The two watchers seemed to fly down the telephone wires to the hospital.
“There is no change officer if anything things have got worse. She’s having spasms every ten minutes.” The young doctor listened a moment. “Yes I will keep you informed.”
With that he put down the phone and returned to the prostitutes bedside.
“Why do I get the feeling that you were injected with tetanus.”
Any further thoughts of that type were swept away as she fitted.
She arched her back so severally he could convince himself he could hear the spinal vertebrae rasping against its neighbour.
“She was the first and also the last.” Xanadu’s voice distorted met their ears. “She was injected with the Tetanus virus.” She told them. “She is still alive. Her story has still to play out.”
The Officers seem to speed back across time to a bedroom which, while clean had seen better days.
The young prostitute sat on the bed whilst Ben sat in the chair.
“Now Maize I want you to pass the message to the Murphy’s that Lieutenant Steve Corrigan and his new wife will be driving up to Sir Hugh Dennison’s log cabin. Now you know what date and time?”
“Yes. It’s not as if you haven’t told me a zillion times.” She told him irritated.
“We want him roughed up a little to scare him off.” Ben passed over a roll of notes. “To keep you sweet.”
With that he left.
Maize followed him out and crossed to the pay phone and dialled a certain number.
“Paula. Hi its Maize. I’ve just got some hot info from a John.” She paused a moment. “No this is true gen stuff honest. Lieutenant Steve Corrigan is going to be going up into the mountains.” She paused again for a moment as the woman on the other end of the phone issued her orders. “You want me to meet you at Clancy’s Bar in an hour. Got it.”
She put the phone back and walked away sucking at the small cut on her finger from a thorn on her rose bush. As she sucked the more the toxin entered her body.
“He went back in time to punish her.” Xanadu said bringing them back to the room. “The next card.”
“Do I have to?” Julie said unsettled by her callous treatment of the woman.
“No you don’t have to continue either of you but I fear you will never know the truth about there murders.”
They touched the next card, the Lovers, together and once again found themselves elsewhere.
They were riding in a limo going off the freeway. They were sitting in the back beside a shadowy figure.
“Turn off the lights we don’t want them to see us do we.” Bruno said with an evil laugh.
“If you pull this off neatly you’re a shoe in with the Murphy’s.” The figure beside them said. The voice they recognised. It was Helen’s.
“Ignore me I don’t exist.” Mike Murphy retorted nervously.
“I dread what your mother will say.” Helen laughed at his expense.
The were coming up to the bend.
“Put your lights on full now.” Bruno commanded.
Steffi watched in horror as the car up front skidded and crashed through the barrier to hang there.
“Looks like you’ll have to get your hands dirty Mike. Use the Limo to push them over. It’s bullet proof and armour plated so should push them over easily.”
The Steffi in the car was crying for them to stop.
She was out of the Limo and was chasing their honeymoon car as it crashed and bounced its way down to a shuddering crash into the trees.
She looked back and saw that the three of them had left the limo and were walking down the steep slope.
“How lucky can you get.” Mike said stupidly his brain in turmoil.
Steffi watched herself struggling with the door.
“It seems we have to finish the job ourselves.” They watched as Bruno took a hand grenade from a pouch on his hip and threw the ‘Pineapple’ through the smashed window.
Steffi saw Steve pushing her out of the door whilst screaming.
“I’ll get you for this!!!”
Steffi watched as the explosion threw her through the air.
Bruno walked up to her as she laid their bleeding, while Steve died screaming in the car.
He pulled his foot back and gave her three kicks at her head.
Helen had put perfume on her handkerchief and held it to her nose to mask the smell of Steve’s burning flesh.
As they left Steffi saw Steve’s spirit rise from the smouldering wreck and hover there. Behind him a figure appeared a huge image of the Spectre.
“I want revenge for our deaths. I want them to suffer.” His spirit said angrily.
“It will be made so.” The Spectre said before fading away.
The two women came back into the room clearly shaken.
“Now we know why the Spectre was following you. As you exposed them one by one the Spectre reeked his vengeance on them.” Xanadu said her piercing blue eye raking them with a fierce intelligence. “Before we can bond him to you you’ll have to finish what you started. You must discover who killed Steve.”
Without being prompted the officers put their fingers on the next two cards The Emperor and the Empress.
They were transported to Sean’s log villa where he was in argument with his son Mike.
“You’re a waste of space do you know that boy. You’re useless mother has turned you into a yellow livered coward.”
“Don’t you say that about my mother!” Mike raged back at him.
“So there is something you will get angry about.” Sean laughed cruelly. “So you do have some fire in your belly boy.
The target is a painful thorn in our side and must be taught a lesson. It is also a favour for an old friend.”
There was a knock at the door.
The door opened and Laura Cantrell entered.
Mike turn to the newcomer.
“Miss Cantrell we need to get a team together of no more than three to teach Lieutenant Stephen Corrigan of the Serious Crime Squad a lesson.
It would be an opportunity for Bruno to prove his worth.”
He didn’t see Sean behind him draw a finger across his throat.
Laura gave a slight nod of understanding.
With that the girls reappeared back in the room.
“What do you mean bond him to me?” Steffi asked in horror.
Behind Xanadu the wall slid open to show a scene of sand dunes through which a man was walking. Each step brought him rushing forward until he stepped through into the room with the wall shutting behind him.
“I am sorry I am late I had a problem to deal with first.” His voice was warm and gentle and seemed to massage the ear like a warm breeze. “You must be the young woman who’s agreed to be the Spectres conscious.”
He smiled at her but she couldn’t see his eyes which bothered her a bit. It was if she would see all her failures reflected in those eyes if she saw them.
“I don’t understand?”
“The universe and all its multitude plains of existence came to being many millennia ago. But as nations attacked nation and the desire for personal power grew here on Earth the Creator despaired and decided to bring the experiment to a close. From a poor soul who had died accidentally he created the Spirit of Reconciliation, The Phantom Stranger, and from a murdered one he created the Spirit of Vengeance, the Spectre, as his last gasp attempt.
But The Spectre became to dangerous too powerful in its blind thirst for vengeance so the Creator bound it to a mortal soul, a soul clean of evil intent. As time passed the control of the Spectre passed from individual to individual until now when the next in line was killed in what looked like an accident allowing it its freedom.”
“Your husband had agreed to be its next host.” Xanadu explained. “We need time to prepare the host but that has been take away from us. Will you willingly take on that charge?”
Steffi was quiet a moment before nodding.
“It would be what my Steve would want me to do.” Steffi got up waving Julie to join her. “When will you be doing this.”
“When the last card has been played, we will be there.”
Manny got up and escorted them to the shop doorway.
“Good luck.” He said. “I know you will make the right choice.”
He passed his right hand over the faces of the two officers. They stood still, eyes unblinking. “We can’t have what you now know cloud your judgement.”
He clicked his fingers and the two of them woke up.
“Thanks for the lovely coffee Manny. You’ll have to teach me how to make it.” Steffi said with a smile.
“The pair of you are welcome any time.” Manny smiled a genuine sad smile.
Once they were back in the car they took stock.
“So with Manny’s evidence we have everybody in the chain of events from Bruno to Sean. Now we just have to find who Sean’s old friend was.” Julie said with a slight shake of her head as if to clear her mind which was thick making it difficult to concentrate.
“I think I already know.” Steffi said sadly.
Steffi and Sir Hugo were sitting in the cosy Italian restaurant off 25th and 2nd enjoying a Penne Alfredo together. Well that is not quite true as both were for differing reasons picking at there food.
Sir Hugo looked even thinner and his skin had an unhealthy look to it.
Steffi was telling him of there success at taking the Murphy family down.
“Well done my dear. Steve would be proud of you.” He said covering his mouth with his handkerchief as he coughed. As he removed it Steffi could see the spots of blood on it.
“We still have one person to find and that is the one who pressurised Ben to contact Sean through the girl. She’s still in agony from the tetanus with most of her bones broken and muscles ripped. Yes she’s still alive.” Steffi’s voice hardened.
“Poor Ben.” She continued. “All he wanted was a happy peaceful life with his lover even if he had to keep it secret, but how could he know that the lover was just using him to get at Steve.”
“Have we found Ben’s lover?” Hugh said as he forked a section of pasta into his mouth.
“Yes. It’s a high ranking individual and the revelation will cause a scandal.” Steffi said taking some notes out of her handbag.
“Do you think we ought to bring this man to book regardless of the massive amount of charity work he has carried out.” She carried on.
“A man you say?”
“Yes. Didn’t I say, how remiss of me. Yes Ben was gay and couldn’t afford to be exposed. It was this fear of exposure that his lover had threatened him with that had made him hit the bottle in his guilt. It went against all he stood for.”
“A sad situation.” Hugh sipped at his wine.
“Yes it was. But the second question was why? Steve was being successful at putting the heat on the big crime families, but they didn’t gather Steve’s whereabouts, it was given to them on a silver platter. He knew they would take advantage of it to kill Steve.
So if it wasn’t his police work against the Crime Lords it must be some other investigation.
I didn’t know what till I came across these notes in a secret compartment of Steve’s desk at home.
He was investigating the death of my Father and Mother wasn’t he. He had found evidence that supports the theory that they were murdered not by a crazed arsonist with a point to prove. No it was someone close by, a friend even.
This person not only caused the death of my husband Stephen but of my Mother and Father to.”
“You really must try some of this pasta.” Hugh said calmly. “Who was this murderer and what proof do you have that it wasn’t the arsonist.”
“The arsonist only hit buildings that were empty but he made a mistake with the last one. He forgot to check the building properly resulting in the death of the rough sleepers. This gave the murderer his way in.
My father was called home to find the killer already there. By threatening to kill my mother he forced my dad to write a false report. My dad was smart and carefully wrote it such that the letters at the start of each line spelt a mans name downward even if the sentences were out of justification. But when the report was written up the archivist automatically aligned left and those letters were spread through the text.
Steve unravelled the problem when he got his hands on the original which I have no doubt has now been destroyed.” Steffi was getting up a full head of steam. “But Steve being Steve made up several copies first.
I think you would recognise the name after all it is the same one from Ben’s confession.
Why did you kill Steve, Hugh? I can imagine how frightened you must have been when Steve came to you with the evidence about the deaths of my parents. He wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt and hear your side of the story.
Why Hugh why.”
Hugh looked like he was going to deny the accusation but with a sigh he slumped back into his chair looking frailer than ever a fleck of white in the corner of his mouth.
“You’re right Steve did come to me, but for advice. He thought your father was telling him to come to me for help, but I knew Steve and I knew that it wouldn’t stay like that for long. So he had to go.” Hugh wheezed. “I seduced Ben which wasn’t that difficult then pressurised him to contact the Murphy’s using his connection to a prostitute. One he was trying to have sex with to prove he was a normal red blooded American, and the rest you know.”
Hugo’s breaths were becoming more laboured.
“As for your father, like you and his name sake he wouldn’t let up, he wouldn’t let things lie.
Most of the NAPD were in the pay of the different crime families for self preservation if nothing else.
The Murphy gang were passing me a wad of notes not to investigate too thoroughly certain crimes. Your father was a good man as straight as a die.
I got him to come back to the new house where I was waiting with your mother. I got him to fill out the false report before knocking both to them out with sedatives in their drinks. At first they thought I just wanted to get the report done so they didn’t expect anything. It was easy to slip a Micky Finn in.
I then set light to the house using the same MO the arsonist used.
I left and drove around the block to discover on my return back the house ablaze.
As I got out of the car a neighbour caught my arm and yelled at me that you weren’t at school as was planned, because you had a slight temperature and was resting up in your bedroom.
You’re death was one to many so I ran into the flames and pulled you out. I burnt my arms trying to save you. They still hurt me even today.” He undid cuff and push up the sleeve to show what Steffi had seen many times. The red burnt skin. “The fire service turned up but it was to late for your parents and I was lauded as a hero.
Three days later the real arsonist turned up confessing to the other fires but not the one that killed your father.
I took him for a walk down at the docks where they were building the new dry dock. As the cement poured into the riser I push him in. He landed in it head first and drowned. He still there being a pillar of the community at last.”
He coughed again and there was more blood.
Steffi stood put and wiped the sauce of her lips.
“Sir Hugh Dennison I am arresting you for the murder of Detective Lieutenant Stephen Corrigan and, Detective Steven Corrigan and Alice Corrigan.”
In the pawn shop Xanadu turned over the last card. It depicted an Angel blowing the last trump surrounded by praying spirits. It was ‘The Judgment card’.
“Be ready.” She told the others.
Something was bothering Steffi and then she saw it. It was the Spectre. It was almost totally transparent.
“Spectre show yourself!!” She commanded.
The spirit complied. It was behind Hugo and had its hand thrust into his back and was squeezing the mans heart.
“Spectre stop. You know who I am let me take him to face his judgement!”
“It’s to late Steffi. To late for me.” White foam frothed at his mouth. “I knew that this would be the last day, the last meeting.
The poison is painful but short lived.
Goodbye my child.”
Hugo’s eyes began to flicker in death.
The Spectre gave the heart a squeeze crushing it. It then turned and walked away, vanishing into the wall. With a loud click time reasserted itself.
“Julie get an ambulance he’s poisoned himself.”
Julie was sitting at the table behind them with another of the team an officer called Athena Brown.
But it was to late as she watched Hugo’s spirit rise from his body to hover there.
There was the sound of ripping paper and a hole in the wall linked Manny’s shop to the restaurant.
Jakob stepped through wielding his scythe. With a slash Hugo’s life cord was cut.
He hovered there a moment before a huge hand rose up from the floor and dragged him screaming down into the abyss.
When Steffi looked back from the horrid scene Jakob had gone.
“It’s to late Julie he has gone.”
The journey had almost come to an end only one more piece to put in place.
Steffi was in a white coat that didn’t quite fit her as she followed the English medics through ER to the wards expecting any minute somebody realising she wasn’t what she was supposed to be.
“Leave the jaw, jaw, to us.” Troy told her.
They entered a high dependency ward where a large number of Iron Lungs stood in the bays.
“Polio outbreak. People think it only effects the children’s legs but it can paralyse peoples lungs.” Gloria explained.
Steffi nodded as she was led into a quiet corridor with single rooms on each side .
Gloria led Steffi in to the room.
Reluctantly she crossed over to the figure in the bed.
“Steve darling it’s me Steffi.” Tears were in her eyes and her breath came in stuttered little gasps.
She sucked in an even stronger in take of breath when she spied the ruin burnt left side of the face. The face was certainly familiar but it wasn’t Steve.
She shook her head.
“No it’s not Steve. Perhaps I was hoping to much.” She said wiping away a tear.
“Come this side Officer and see why you had to see it yourself? ” Gloria asked her nervously.
Steffi circled the Lung dreading what she would see as she joined Gloria and the boys on the other side.
On this side the skin was untouched and smooth.
She recognised this woman and lent forward in shock.
“It can’t be.” She said breathlessly.
The eye flashed open and stared at Steffi a moment before shutting. Steffi had taken several steps back and stared horrified at the head.
She saw that face everyday in the mirror, it was her own!!
“It can’t be me. I’m here, a real person. There has to be a mistake, its got to be someone who looks like me.” She was quite literally shaking.
She must have set off an alarm as in the next second two doctors had arrived. One conventionally by the door the other through the wall.
The tall green figure stepped with a ballet dancers grace on to the floor, before changing into the coloured doctor John Jones. The one with the walking stick and red dark glasses, Doctor Charles McNider, came in the more conventional way. He had taken a short ebony rod from his hip pouch and was pointing it like it was a weapon of some sort. Seeing who it was both men relaxed.
Steffi recognised them both as they had tended to her while she had recovered.
“Hello Steffi.” Charles said warmly. “I should imagine this is a bit of a shock to you as much as it was for us.”
“I don’t understand.”
Doctor Jones had the other three in a trance.
“We came into the ward to monitor the lungs readings only to find you climbing out of it. Well this version of you not the one in the lung.” He told her.
“You were confused and didn’t know what was going on, nor did we when you come to it. We took you to the side room opposite to recover.” Charles said checking to make sure nothing had been disturbed. “Though not connected to you physically she was affected by your actions. When you slept so did she, when you got angry her blood pressure rose as did her cortisol and adrenaline levels.
I think that if you die so will she and if she dies so will you.”
“Don’t worry we’ll keep her safe.” John Jones told Steffi.
Like from a dream walking, they found themselves in the long corridor.
“When I talked with Ben the other night his breath steamed up the window but mine didn’t. And I didn’t feel the cold as bad as Julie and Manny gave me gloves because my hands felt so cold.” Steffi analytical mind had taken over and was processing the information. “So I am dead then, a ghost?”
“Don’t be silly since when have ghosts been able to converse with people and conduct police interviews.” McNider said to ease her mind.
“You are in a quasi- lifeless state, on the cusp of corporal existence and spiritual nonentity.” John added only to succeed in confusing her further.
“You exist in that moment between life and death, you are, to coin a phrase, the un-dead.” Charles tried to explain. “You here right now is the spirit of Steffi Corrigan, you are everything that makes you, you!!”
“And back there in the lung?”
“Is just the empty husk. Kept alive manually by the lung.”
She nodded at them as realisation came over her the reason the Spectre couldn’t hurt her. You can’t hurt the dead.
It was later and she was back in her apartment after saying good luck to the English medics, who now, thanks to John, believe it was Steve in the lung.
“I remember the funeral and everything so how can he be in the Iron Lung?” Troy asked as he drove Steffi home. “It’s cruel that.”
“Two reasons Troy. One. A dead hero becomes an inspiration to others whereas a critically injured one becomes a warning. Two. Though Steve had gone and it was only the machine keeping his body alive they couldn’t turn of the device without my permission. They didn’t want to push it on me to quickly.”
“Yeah I can see that but I still think its sad.”
“It is Troy, it is. I thought my mourning was over when it has barely started and tomorrow I will be turning of my husbands life support and watch him die.” Steffi’s voice was broken.
“I’ll be with you if you want? You shouldn’t have to do this alone?” Troy said in a quavering voice.
“I’d like that Troy, I’d like that very much thank you. Eleven o’clock here tomorrow.”
“We will all be here for you.” Troy said his voice stronger.
As Steffi got out of the car and began to walk up to the main door of her apartment block she heard Gloria say to Troy.
“You’re a good man Troy, you’ll do for me young man you’ll do for me.”
Steffi stood there in the middle of the room and she began to sob her heart out. She was inconsolable.
The very man she had come to love and trust had betrayed her totally. He had killed all three of her love ones leaving her totally alone.
Stifling the sobs she poured herself a brandy and downed it in one. She shuddered
as the liquor burned down her gullet and warmed her stomach.
She suddenly realised she was ready to curb the Spectres excesses.
She changed into fresh underwear and put on her uniform, the blues, she was so proud off.
She turned to the bare wall satisfied she had hid with her make up her tear stained face.
“Manny. Manny I’m ready.” She called know her words would be heard.
With a crack the wall split open to reveal a featureless plain. Waiting for her were Manny holding a burning candle in a lamp box high above them on a pole and Jakob with his scythe over his shoulder.
“Mind the step there my girl. Your higher up than we are.” Manny offered to help her down which she graciously accepted not willing to make a fool of herself.
“Where are we gentlemen?” She asked.
“We are between one moment and another. Between what was and what could be.” Jakob explained.
“Were are the others? I am assuming it isn’t just the three of us?” She asked.
“No the others are already here. If you’d do the honours Brother-in-Law of mine. Assuming that cheap bit of candle hasn’t burnt out.”
“No it hasn’t. If it was left to you it would be the whole Menorah.”
The Menorah was the Jewish candelabra.
Manny open the little door and allowed the candle light to send a shaft of light into a dip that Steffi could have sworn wasn’t there before.
There were quite a number of people milling around as the three of them climbed down the steps to bottom of the bowl.
“I need to understand this Manny if I’m going to do it?”
“It is not easy to explain. We are in the ruins of a city that once stood here and as for here we are in the centre, the nexus, of Time, Space and the Multi-Spheres of all existence.”
“Here you’re at the centre of everything. The only place we can bind the Spectre with out years of preparation.” Jakob explained.
Steffi looked over the group and to her surprise she saw not only Julie but the English medics. She made to cross to them.
“No.” Manny commanded.
She stopped, having total faith in the old man.
“They are the dreamers. We need them to change the real events of the past and give them our new future.”
Standing beside them with his hand held aloft was an old looking man. He was dressed in a deep red body suit with silver long boots and gauntlets. His head was totally covered with a highly polished silver helmet that looked like the one worn by Medieval Knights at the joust.
“That is the new Doctor Fate.” Manny said following where she was looking. “He’s hear to protect the dreamers.”
Steffi was distracted by two faces she knew. The first was a man in tails with a top hat whilst the woman wore a feminine cut of a mans suit. She had a turban on and the normally quiescent ruby in its centre throbbed with power.
“I don’t know about the dreamers being the only ones dreaming if you get my meaning.” She pointed out the two figures. “Steve took me to see their magic shows, That’s Zatara and Miss Sargon.”
Coming from the far side of the crater was Xanadu, her hand resting lightly on the Strangers arm.
“Are you ready child?” She asked.
“Good. Then we shall begin.” She turned to the milling figures. “Primary persons to your positions.”
As she spoke there was an almighty crashing sound as walls shot up all around them and a roof dropped from the sky.
They were in a massive ballroom where a massive pentacle had been drawn on the floor in chalk. Everywhere there were esoteric symbols and words that seemed to be in all three dimensions at once.
Zatara, Sargon took their places at two of the points.
At the next one stood a young Red Indian, a native American, in full native costume with a fully feathered war bonnet.
“Shay Uh.” He said or something like it. With a crack and the smell of ozone a massive humanoid lightning bolt in full native costume to challenge the young mans own appeared.
“John Thunder and his Manito, his spirit guide, the Thunderbolt.” Manny whispered.
The next was a hansom man in clerical grey. His head was large and his look very wise. She was like every girls image of a matinee idol.
He looked up and whispered.
And suddenly he was gone to be replaced by a figure from the plains of hell itself.
“Reverent Jason Blood. He has had to share his like with the demon Ertigan since he was cursed in ancient Rome. Got to him for help about having The Spectre bound to you. He’s a grumpy old so and so but he’ll do everything he can to help you.
Madam Xanadu took her place at the nearest and last of the points. She lifted her hand and a new pentangle formed outside the first but at an angle to the first to form a ten pointed star.
“Second wardens to your points of power.” She called.
Manny and Jakob took their places along with the blue skinned Blue Devil, a private detective called Doctor Occult behind his back, and the Deadman.
The Phantom Stranger held out his arm for Steffi to take. She laid her hand gently on his arm and allowed him to lead her to the centre of the pentangles.
Once there he turned her to face each of the Major Wardens who bowed to her or curtsies. Then to face each of the minor wardens who followed suit.
Lastly The Phantom Stranger bowed to her.
The way they were reacting to her made Steffi’s stomach churn.
“Let us begin.” He said.
Each of the Major Wardens lifted a hand up from which came bright filaments of raw energy that began to link them before weaving a dome above her head.
Once that was complete the Minor Wardens began to chant and a wall of energy was created between them.
“My dear it is time for you to begin.”
“What do I do?” Steffi asked.
“You must call him. Call him here child.”
It was the first time for a long time that she was called a child, and it perfectly reflected how she was feeling.
She lifted her head and called.
“Steve why did you leave me. I’m so frightened on my own.” Tears ran down her cheeks. “I love you so much!”
The wardens looked on in horror but they could not move for fear of the protective shield failing. Even the Phantom Stranger was powerless to stop her.
“Come to me one last time!” She begged as a nexus of energy began to be formed in front of her, a curling, twisting column of smoke.
A wind blew through the scene making the candles flutter.
As the column of smoke dissipated it revealed Steve standing there with his lopsided grin.
“Hello darling.” He said and started to move toward her.
Steffi held up here hand and called out.
Steve stopped as if he had met a wall. He pressed his hand to it and tried to push it aside without any luck.
“You have called me but you won’t let me near you? Why?”
“Spectre! Lord’s judgement on Earth! His Avenger! I command you to leave the spirit of my husband alone.
You have avenged his death and need him no longer! Give him back to me?! ”
Steve screamed and clutched his head.
“No Steffi don’t do this. The pain, oh my God the pain!”
In heart wrenching sobs she raised her hand.
“Spectre be gone from him.”
Energy from the dome roared down through her hand, through her body.
A misty shape began to appear around Steve as he swayed in pain.
It was like watching a Dragonfly appearing out of its chrysalis as the Spectre climbed out of Steve’s back to stand proud behind the now kneeling detective.
“You will not hold me!!!” The Spectre roared. “None shall hold me!!”
He struck out at the dome that surrounded him. It wavered but stayed in place.
“You will be bound, you will be bound to me.” Steffi said as The Stranger lifted his amulet up.
“You who was created at the dawn of time will be bound to a mortal as was decreed by the Creator.” His voice rang out clearly.
“The Creator sent me to Earth, to the Multi-Spheres, to bring his Vengeance. The experiment has failed and must be destroyed. As it was born in violence and blood it shall die in violence and blood.” The Spectre screamed as his image changed to that of the grim reaper.
“We will, I will not allow it.” Steve said a he stood shakily to his feet. “Because of my desires for revenge you murdered them one by one. I command you to bond with my wife not in anger but in love. My love. My eternal love, for her.”
“No I will not be bound again. I am free!”
“You can never be free!” Steffi yelled. “Be bound by our love.”
Steve slowly walked over to Steffi.
She held out her hand and Steve laid his own in it. Though the rest of his body became ghost like, his hand solidified in her grip.
They turned to face the Spectre with tears running down their faces and said in unison.
“Bow down in the presence of our love. Be one with us.”
As if under a massive weight the Spectre was slowly pushed down on to one knee.
“At the end of days the rivers shall flow with blood.” The Spectre made a gesture and a stream of bubbling blood appeared crossing the pentangles. “The soil will bring forth all manner of twisted and rotten growth.”
Rotten stinking twisted plants grew up around him.
“Be bound to us and know peace.” The Corrigan’s called.
“Hurry. I can’t hold him much longer.” The Stranger called.
“Come to us!” The Corrigan’s said simultaneously.
It was if their words where hammer blows as the Spectre dropped to its knees.
It was the first time she had got a look at the spirits face and was surprised to find it was of a callow youth with an absence of line or definition. It was a bland face.
Steffi led the spirit of Steve over to the kneeling hulking figure of the Spectre.
The Spectre lifted his hands up in supplication.
“Help me and I will see you have power like you have always dreamed of. Power to do good.”
“They are false promises. For if you bring about Armageddon, the destruction of man kind. There would be no peace, no place, no home and no task for me. I would fade as mankind would do.”
The Spectre tried to get up but found he couldn’t move.
He stared up at the Corrigan’s leasing his fate was in their hands.
“Cool your mental anguish and be one in us.” Steffi said.
Steffi touched his temple with her free hand and lived through every murder he ever committed.
She screamed as did the Spectre.
Steve placed his ghostly hand beside hers and began to channel the torrent of memories and focus on just a few. The few beneficial ones.
All three figures began to glow until there was just a very powerful spot of light too painful to look at. As it dimmed it revealed on person standing there. The Spectre!!!
They had failed to contain him and sacrifice Steffi which hurt the assemble hero’s more.
The figure was looking at the floor but now as it raised it’s head, it was clear to see it was the spitting image of Steven.
Spectre began to lower the hood of his costume and he faded away to reveal Steffi standing there, tired, battered but triumphant.
A collective exhaling of breath from the sentinels showed their obvious relief.
The first two to get to her side was Manny and Jakob, both men had tears in their eyes.
“Don’t do that ever again. My poor old heart can’t take the strain.” Manny said before hugging her as she wept.
“I know you wanted to see your husband one more time but he has gone now to somewhere warm and safe.” Jakob patted her back.
Steffi took a deep breath and followed the two men through the temporal gash into the back room of Manny’s shop.
Manny set to making Steffi a coffee whilst Jakob held her hand.
Julie was sitting in the corner supping a cup of tea.
“To use a Baseball saying. You knocked them right out of the park.”
Steffi lifted up her cup of coffee in a toast to the three of them.
“Well Julie it looks like we have our two agents, after all who would notice a pair of elderly but distinguished Jewish gentlemen.” Steffi smile cheekily as the men spluttered in the cups.
“I’d love too, of course I would. But the shop takes so much of my time.” Manny spluttered.
“Yes I’d love to as well but I’ve all the souls to reap.” If anything Jakob was more in a fluster than Manny.
“It’s alright I won’t hold you to it.” She said finishing her coffee. “I’m afraid it’s time for us to go. I’ve one person to see before I go to bed tonight.”
“Julie got up and carefully put the tea cup on the little side table where the Tarot cards were laid out.
The hospital hummed with activity even this late at night. Steffi walked down the ward to the room that held the poor prostitute.
“Shut the door please Julie and keep a watch.”
She crossed over to where the poor woman arched her back and twisted arms against the socket.
“Spectre cure this woman. She has paid for her crime, you have had your revenge. Spectre come.”
In an instant the Shrouded figure of the Spectre appeared and laid his hand upon the sick woman’s forehead.
“Rest. You soul is clear of sin.”
The woman eased down back onto the bed, her vertebrae and arms unlocking. She dropped into a restful sleep, the first she had had for a long time.
Later the Doctor and the Matron did their ward round and stopped off at the side room.
The doctor ran several checks before looking up in amazement.
“She’s responded to the treatment. We may have saved her.”
“That’s wonderful news doctor. But I thought we were only giving her palliative care.”
“Yes we were, but before we did that we gave her that new drug from England, Sulphathiazole, perhaps it just takes longer to take effect.”
Outside the two officers made their way to their patrol car unaware they were being watched by the smoky form of a woman hiding in the shadows.
“Ah you are ready at last. We will meet soon.
The shape dissolved to reveal a frightened young woman who after looking around her scurried away.
“Fancy a dinner over in Joe’s Diner?” Steffi asked.
“Under normal circumstances I would but Angie is cooking tonight.” Julie gave a small embarrassed smile.
“I understand. I hope your both happy.” Steffi smiled back at her friend. “She’s a nice kid.”
“Yes she is. Come to think of it why don’t you join us. I’m sure there will be plenty to go round.”
“No. Your relationship is only just beginning so you don’t want another woman in the mix.” Steffi looked at her cohort and added seriously. “Be discrete, I wish it was legal but it’s not, and remember what happened to Ben. I’ll protect you all I can.”
That night as she got into bed she called softly.
“Steve I need you.”
Steve appeared out of the darkness and joined her in bed.
“I love you Steve!” She said as she kissed him.
“I love you to Steffi darling.” He replied brushing her hair with the back of his hand.
The sensitive would swear they could hear screaming in the howling wind that blew around Sir Hugh’s woodland lodge but no one has the courage to approach it.
If they peaked in through the window they to would scream.
Inside was Sir Hugh being kept alive indefinitely to suffer eternal torment as his organs are spread over the walls only for them to grow back and the torment to carry on again as he runs from room to room and tries to escape.
The hospital ward was full of Iron Lungs and Doctor Thomas was pulling his hair out.
“This epidemic is totally getting out of hand.” He told his compatriot. “I need another Iron Lung and I just realised where I can get one. Follow me.”
“There you are.” Thomas said with satisfaction.
Doctor Ross, his intern wasn’t quite sure as he looked down at the head that protruded out of the lung.
The eye’s were shut but the eyes could be seen flicking back and forth.
“Are you sure she’s brain dead because that looks like REM sleep to me.” He said.
REM or Rapid Eye Movement was the deepest part of sleep and the place of dreams.
“Nonsense that is just an autonomic response. She has no brain function.”
“I still don’t like this Albert.”
“I have a young girl out there who will definitely die without this lung.” Albert Thomas raged. “And I’m damned if I’m going to let that happen. Now help me up plug her.”
His hand reached for the switch.
‘Justice’ Role Call.
Parallel Earth 7. 1942
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