Chapter Eight Vengeance be my Name.
Helen made her way to the outskirts of town where a revolutionary shopping experience was set up. The building contained two floors of shops selling everything from a hair products to food and note paper. At each end was a revolutionary moving stairway called an escalator up to the second floor shops or down to the ground floor depending which end you went to.
Steffi and Julie entered the ground floor main concourse in time to see Helen pushing through the crow toward where the up escalator sat quiescently.
Alas at the same moment the officers saw Helen she saw them. Helen pulled out her pistol and fired over the heads of the crowd causing them to panic and rush toward where the two women stood.
They drew out their small calibre pistols from their handbags along with their NAPD shields.
They tried to push through the crowd toward where their quarry was dashing toward the escalator.
As Helens foot touched the bottom stair it began to move.
She blinked and found herself surrounded by people on every step.
They turned to face her and she screamed. They were the faces of all the people she had killed. Men, women and even children stared at her in admonishment.
“You’re dead, you are all dead, I killed you!” She lift up her pistol and began firing at them in panic until the click of an empty chamber. The bullets zip through their bodies as if they had no more substance than a curl of smoke.
As the shots sprayed over their heads Steffi and Julie push people down and out of the way so they could get a clear shot of Helen all alone on the stair as it slowly, ever so slowly climbed.
Helen turned and saw an almost never ending stair up to where the huge upper head of The Spectre was, his tongue merging with the stairs.
As she watched in horror it swooped down toward her. Cockroaches poured out of the empty eye sockets and two snakes wriggled out of the nostrils.
Helena turned and tried to run down the stairs back to the ground floor but the stairs increased its speed to match her down ward flight.
In total panic she tried to leap down the final stairs only to land teetering on the edge of where a stair had been removed for repair. The escalator shook and lurched dropping Helen down into the workings of the mechanism.
Only her out flung arms stopped her falling further.
One foot got caught in the rising chain while the other got intermeshed with the reverse chain. The two mechanisms were pulling her legs in opposite directions like the wish bone of the Thanksgiving Turkey. With a judder it pulled her further down till only her head could be seen above the wood riser.
Steffi was yelling for someone to turn it off but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
Trapped by the stairs Helen turned round and looked up to end of the stairs and saw gleaming the razor sharp metal of the stairs end.
Steffi was trying to push through to find the auto cut out but failed miserably as Judy appeared from the other end with Ben.
Steffi heard a cry and looking up spotted Mike at the top of the stairs watching gun in hand as the stair slowly cut through Helen’s neck by the pressure produced by the rising chain. It finally severed her screaming head making it bounce down the stairs to land at Steffi’s feet. The mechanism juddered to a halt as it ripped Helen’s body in half.
By Steffi’s feet was an easel laying flat on its face. She lifted it carefully as she yelled to Judy and Ben. “Ben stop Mike getting to his car. Judy get the green and whites here to protect the scene. We’ll arranged for you to be picked up.”
On the easel was a board saying. ‘Moving Stairs closed for repairs’.
Steffi felt bile bite at the back of her throat.
“We need to get up to that floor.” She said as she looked up at the shocked Mike.
A shopkeeper tugged at Steffi’s sleeve.
“Officer my store is on two floors connected by internal stairs and there’s access to the service corridor’s and stairs.”
“Show me? Judy, Julie take the back stairs I’ll take the centre one. We’ve got to stop Mike before he gets killed.”
The store was thankfully only a few down from the escalator. The little man ordered everyone out of the way and such was his commanding voice everyone did as they were bid.
Steffi charged up the stairs into the men’s part of the store shocking an old timer who was in his combination’s trying on an new pair of trousers.
She belted out on to the balcony that ran round the building. In front of her was a small bridge linking both sides of the upper floor.
On the opposite side was a white face Mike.
“Stay put Mike! For your own sake stay put!”
Out of the stairwells at each end erupted Julie and Judy.
“Drop the gun and get on your knees!” Julie yelled.
But it was to late as he turned and crashed through the fire door.
All three of the women race for the fire door and shot through.
They rattled out on to the metal stairs that was attached to the building.
Down below they could see Mike jumping off the swing down section. He landed badly and limped away to where a sporting type had just parked his roadster.
As the women rushed down the stairs he threatened the driver with his gun. He took the car keys and had just started the engine which gave off a throaty roar just as Bob rounded the corner. As the woman landed on the ground he roared away passed a startled Ben.
Steffi fired a couple of hopeful shots but it was to late it was out of reach.
As Ben joined them the Lincoln shot passed them and up the road as if in pursuit.
Steffi knew that by the time they got to their cars Mike and the Limo would be long gone.
“Judy protect the scene of crime till you can get the lieutenant and the forensic team down here. Ben give her a hand.
When that’s done take a drive to the Murphy’s lake lodge just in case he’s decided to go there, we’ll try the mountain retreat.
Keep me informed of any development.”
When Steffi reached their car, she threw the keys to Julie, who caught them deftly.
“You can drive while I have a think.”
A few minutes later they drew away listening to Ben calling up on the radio for back up.
“Who do you think was in the Lincoln?” Julie asked.
“The murderer.” Steffi told the surprised Julie. “They knew where Mike and Helen would meet up or perhaps they follow them like we did. That moving stair was perfect for them. They knew Helen would use it to get up to where she was to meet Mike and their hidden cache of money and jewellery. I suspect that was what was in the bag Mike had.
The missing stair was a gift so when she used it they varied the speed making sure she fell through. Once through she was dead, there was no way out. And it fitted perfectly with their sense of the dramatic and macabre.
All they had to do was knock over the sign saying it was out of order.
The controls were upstairs.”
“So Mike isn’t the murderer?” Julie asked as she turned off for the main road and headed up in to the mountains.
“No, but he is the next target.”
Xanadu hand turned the newly dealt card over to reveal the image of a naked woman being pulled apart on a colossal wheel. The card was the aptly named ‘Wheel of Fortune.’
Steffi’s stomach clinched tight and her breathing started to become shallow. This was the first time she had been on this road since the accident and it very unsettling.
Julie noticed and voiced her concern.
“Are you alright Steffi, sorry, I mean Sergeant?”
“Steffi’s fine when were alone and no I’m not alright but I will be.”
Suddenly she was back in Steve’s car as they took the climb with just their lights for illumination.
“So we’re going up into the mountains then?” Steffi asked as Steve took the turnpike and began the winding climb into the hills.
“Very perceptive of you darling.” He chortled as the rain began to fall. “Sir Hugh’s letting us use his cabin for the week. It’s a secret so we won’t get bothered. I was hoping to take you to Niagara Falls tomorrow but if this rain continues will have to stay in the cabin instead.”
“That I don’t mind at all Mr Corrigan.” She purred sexily but he didn’t reply. “What’s wrong darling?”
Steve kept looking into his rear view mirror and what with the shear drop on her side and hairpin bends it was making her nervous.
“I thought a car followed us from the turnpike but I can’t see it now.” Steve told her.
“It may have turned off darling.” She tried to sound confident but couldn’t quite make it.
“There are no turnings on this road Steffi.” Steve’s eyes were back on the road as up ahead he could see the faint light of a vehicle’s headlamps coming the other way. “Ignore me, I’m just getting jumpy I guess.”
Suddenly the cars interior lit up as the hidden car behind them turned its headlights on full. Steve was blinded as the lights hit his rear view mirror.
Unable to see the curve ahead he took evasive measures swinging the car right and left to lose speed, his foot hard on the brakes. But it was to no avail as the car sideswiped the barrier, to balance precariously on the lip over the precipice.
“Darling I’m coming over to your side to keep the car balanced so you can get out.” As Steve went to take off his seatbelt the bullet-proof limo pulled up to Steffi’s door trapping them inside.
“let us out!!” Steffi screamed.
But it did not stay there for long as the pursuing car pushed it slowly over the edge.
The world spun round in front of Steffi’s eyes as the car rolled crushingly down the incline. It struck a large rock that sent it end over end into a pair of trees which stopped their forward momentum with a crash.
After a few moments of silence to regain her senses Steffi called out to her new husband.
“Steve, Steve, answer me!?”
“I’m here honey are you alright?” Steve groggily replied.
“A few broken ribs I think. You?”
“A broken leg. We’ve got to get out of the car honey I can smell gasoline.”
They both pushed at the doors but only Steffi’s opened and then only begrudgingly with a warped screech.
“Get out darling, I’ll follow you.” Steve didn’t get any further as a voice close by said harshly.
“Let’s finish this.”
Something came through the broken windscreen and landed between them onto the bench seat. It was a hand grenade.
“Get out!!!” Steve yelled as he threw himself over it and successfully pushing Steffi the rest of the way out of the door. “I will get you for this!!!”
“No!!!” Steffi screamed as the dark night was lit up by a jet of flame, and a force that threw her through the air onto the rocks around the tree.
She thought she could hear Steve still alive, screaming her name, as the car ignited. Before she passed out from the pain she heard a man speak.
“They are both dead. Someone’s coming come on lets get out of here.”
“Let’s just make certain shall we.” Another said delivering several kicks to Steffi’s head.
She could see the black patent leather shoes with their silver buckles quite clearly before they moved away and even smelt the strong odour of perfume on the smoky air before she passed out.
When she came too she heard British voices nearby but couldn’t make sense of what they were saying.
“This ones with the earth goddess Gloria, how about yours?” A man said.
“She’s still hanging in there. She ain’t dancing with the devil just yet.” A woman’s voice said from near her ear. “Troy get out of the van and give us a hand. We need to get her to hospital.”
“No way. Death and destruction is bad news.” A spaced out voice replied. “Like it’s catching Gloria.”
“If you don’t get out of the camper and give us a hand you’ll catch my boot up your lazy tail. Now move it!” The man yelled.
As they tried to lift her the pain made her mercifully pass out.
When she came to she was on a gurney being rapidly wheeled down a corridor with fluorescent lights flashing passed her overhead. She could hear voices calling meaningless medical jargon to each other as they crashed through the double doors into the operating theatre.
“Blood pressure dropping rapidly!”
“Heart failing! Heartbeat erratic and weak!”
“We’re losing her!”
This was the night that Stephanie Corrigan died!?
The next thing she remembered was standing by the Iron Lung and being ushered back to bed by a couple of the doctors.
“I remember, I remember the crash.” Steffi said suddenly. “A car behind us blinded us causing us to crash into the wall then it pushed us over.”
“Then you were right it was murder.” Julie said not doubting her superior for a moment.
“Yes and the limo that pushed us over was Bruno’s I remembered the buckles on his shoes and Helen was with him. I remembered her perfume. There was another man too but if that was Mike I don’t know.” Steffi said as the bend began to straighten out. “The limo was the one with the special licence plate.”
“But Bruno’s dead and so is Helen so I can’t see how we can prove it.” Julie said.
“True but I think I know what is happening. Working backward we can say Bruno and Helen did the hit. It was Laura that commissioned them to do it in an attempt to get the Murphy gang to accept Bruno into the family.”
“But where does Mike fit in to all this.”
“I don’t know but I’m hoping to ask him.”
Steffi settled back far calmer now trying to piece all the bits back together.
Mike was someway ahead cruising between the fields of Maize before the next climb that would take him to the Murphy retreat when the sports car gave a gurgling sound and cruised to a stop, it’s engine silent.
Mike got out in a panic and run round to the front and lifted the hood to see if it was something he could rectify.
Having satisfied himself that it wasn’t obvious, he shut down the hood and prepared his mind for the four mile hike to the relative safety of the Murphy’s country retreat.
As he shut the hood he looked up at a familiar face behind the wheel.
He recoiled in shook
“You’re dead! It’s not true I killed you.” He began backing up away from the sight of the rotting figure behind the wheel with its horrifying burns.
He turned and began running up the road when he heard the throaty roar of the sports cars engine being turned over.
It roared passed him within a few centimetres before executing a perfect hand brake turn to charge down the hill toward the now fleeing Mike. Again it shot passed him. There was a gate into the maize field further down the track. If he got in there he would be safe. The sports car shot pass twice more each time getting closer. Above it all was the unearthly laugher that filled the sky.
Having reached the gate he shot through into the field and began running down the lanes between the rows of maize.
The limo rolled up to the gate and pushed it down. It rolled back just as the sports car hurtled pass and literally flew through the air to land with a crash of four wheels and a roar of its engine.
Lungs bursting with effort Mike began zigzagging in a vain attempt to fool the driver of the sports car which roared close by. First to the left and then to the right as if herding him.
Mike was in agony. His lungs felt they were going to burst as he fought for breath his legs screaming at him to stop.
Suddenly he was out of the maize and ahead was the wall and the road a scant few feet from the gate.
He turned to run back into the field when the limo crashed through the wall and sailed through the air towards him.
With no energy left he ducked down and prayed.
The Limo passed over head a hairs breath from him to land with a crash, nose first, just a mere six inches behind him.
Mike rolled on to his back to see the vehicle at an angle over him.
It wobbled before dropping over him with a crash. The limo had trapped him from the waist down with a crushing force. He had tried to roll away but he couldn’t move, the grass he laid on had twisted into a rope that tied his arms by his side.
The sports car roared into the area did a perfect hand brake turn and came to a stop. It paused as if looking at him before rolling forward very slowly over on to his neck half crushing his windpipe. Mike died of suffocation, a slow and painful death, as he fought to get air into his lungs.
Once he was dead the cars lights went out and the engines turned off.
Silence dropped over the scene save for the creaking of the cooling engines.
The next card revealed the figure of a man hanging upside down by his foot in clothes from English medieval history.
A mere ten minutes later Steffi and Julie passed by on the road not seeing in the dark the carnage below.