The dust was the first thing Giles was aware of as she came to. The air was thick with it - the small shards of light that burst through the boarded up windows seemed to twist and turn, almost snake-like in movement, as years of decayed skin cells wafted around the room.
Long before her eyes grew accustomed to the dark, the throbbing pain in her head started again. She wanted to reach up, to press her palm hard against the bruise to try to quell the agony, but she could get them higher than her chest. It took her a moment to realise why – the knife sharp wire cut that restrained her hands against her abdomen cut deep into her skin. Her mind may have been dulled with drug-like stupor, but the pain was still excruciating.
She lowered her hands once more and screwed up her eyes. It took a minute or two, and she had to steady her breathing, but finally the pain subsided a little and Giles was able to open her eyes to finally take in her surroundings.
She saw the cars first – old, decaying and abandoned. Two or three of them in various states of rust induced dilapidation were placed in the room around her. The broken glass of the windscreens lay shattered across the floor amongst the piles of discarded tools and empty beer cans. In front of her, Giles could see two straight tracks that led directly towards her, separated by a car’s width. She turned her head to examine the hydraulic lift behind her – once against rusted and old but she feared more than capable of one or two more lifts before it finally gave up the ghost.
‘You shouldn’t have meddled, Evelyn Giles…’
The high-pitched, whining voice was unfamiliar to Giles – it floated through the air mockingly and once again the pain seared across her temple. She turned her head towards where it had come from and peered hard into the darkness.
The figure that owned it was sat on a mouldy chair in the corner of the mechanic’s workshop, immersed in shadows but reflected slightly in the shards of glass at his feet. He took a long drag on a cigarette – the smoke billowing up towards a large hole in the corrugated iron roof, drifting past a 1993 calendar with a topless girl to represent March.
‘I was wondering when you might wake up,’ he said, flicking his cigarette to one side and getting to his feet. ‘I was worried I hit you a little too hard…’
He stepped forward, his hand producing a gun from his pocket that he levelled on Giles. As he stepped through the bursts of light from the streetlamps outside his face was illuminated and a vice of terror gripped hold of Giles’ stomach.
Alex Donnovan continued forward, stopping a few feet in front of her. Slowly, he bent his knees and lowered himself to a crouching position, staring coldly into Giles’ eyes from behind his dirty face. He considered her for a moment, smirking and biting his bottom lip as he did so. Then he leant forward, pressing the barrel of the gun against her face with his right hand whilst his left looped around and gently started to stroke her neck.
Giles couldn’t help but whimper – for all her strength and passion, she had never been in a situation as terrifying as this. She took a deep breath and held it in as the cold gun barrel pressed harder into her cheek.
‘Shh, shh, shh,’ Donnovan whispered, turning his left hand over and drifting back across her neck. ‘It’s alright. It’s alright, really. There is nothing you can do about it now. Nothing at all.’
Tears began to form in Giles’ eyes, warm tears that slowly dripped from the corner of her eye and drifted down her cheek, glazing the gun barrel as they dripped onto the cold metal.
Donnovan smiled, removing the gun from her face but still leaving it trained on her whilst his left hand drifted down her neck and slipped underneath her shirt. He smiled as he gently drifted his hand across her chest, never venturing down to her breast, but instead fondling the soft space beneath her collarbone.
‘You know,’ he muttered, ‘you are an exceptionally beautiful woman. Beautiful women have no right meddling in such dark affairs. You should be at home, staying safe…’
Giles finally regained her courage. Staring Donnovan straight in the eye she whispered:
‘Like Mary Crosskey – you dragged her out of her bedroom and threw her off her own balcony.’ She swallowed hard. ‘Or Daisy Roseberry, you stabbed her with a screwdriver on her own doorstep.’
Donnovan’s eyes gave nothing away. His hand slowly withdrew from Giles’ shirt, pulling the two ends back together as he did so. He got to his feet and took a few steps back, his eyes darting around the room.
‘I was trying to make you feel better, Giles,’ he said casually. ‘I was trying to give you some comfort before I kill you – let you know that it’s nothing personal…’
‘Nothing personal,’ Giles spat. ‘You would kill me because you are too stupid to get away with it…’
Donnovan’s eyes shot back to her. He gripped his gun a little tighter and his voice was laced with anger:
‘Some might say I was doing you a favour,’ he whined. ‘You see the country we are in. It’s only a matter of time before the racist bigots like that Britain’s Own bloke get some sort of power – then people like you will wish you’d never been born in this country…’
Giles laughed bitterly. ‘I wasn’t. And if people like you are the type who are then I am glad…’
Donnovan’s eyes quivered.
‘You’re not native born?’ he asked, stepping forward once more. ‘What? Did you parents emigrate?’
Giles shook her head. ‘I never knew my parents. My father was a rapist and my mother died when I very young in China…’
He cocked his head to one side, lowering his gun slightly as he listened intently. Giles had no desire to relive her family misfortunes with this murderer, but if it meant buying some more time until daylight then she would do anything to keep him from killing her. If it really wasn’t anything personal, then the personal touch might be what kept her alive…
Donnovan scratched the back of his neck, his eyes never leaving her.
‘How did your mother die?’ he asked, his voice almost softened with compassion.
‘She was arrested by the government for being an activist,’ Giles explained. ‘They imprisoned her, raped her and then executed her.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Donnovan replied. He seemed genuine enough. ‘How did they do it? Do you know how they killed her?’
Giles nodded her head, feeling the tears brewing in her eyes once more – not the tears of her current pain, but those of long forgotten memories.
‘How did they do it? Firing squad?’
Giles shook her head.
‘She wasn’t worthy enough to waste bullets on. They had something more brutal planned for her…’
He didn’t seem to be getting off on the details, but something in Donnovan’s eyes seemed to sparkle as he leaned a little closer in. The gun was barely a few inches from Giles’ restrained hands…
If I can just draw him in a little closer…
Giles took a deep breath.
A little closer.
‘They strung her up from a wooden crossbeam with piano wire…’
‘Piano wire, you say?’
Giles nodded, the tears now flooding down her face.
‘They didn’t have any chairs, or maybe they were just vicious like that, so two of them held her up as the wire was placed round her neck and gently lowered her down so that the pain would last longer.’
Giles sniffed loudly.
‘They waited until she was nearly unconscious and lifted her up again for a minute before lowering her back down. They did it four times before she died…’
Donnovan shook his head. ‘That’s terrible,’ he muttered. ‘And that is what happened to your mother?’
Giles nodded. ‘That’s what I’ve been told.’
Without warning, Donnovan jumped to his feet and quickly moved across the workshop.
‘And fortunate as well,’ he called out as he rummaged through some drawers. ‘It would be a shame to miss such an opportunity…’
‘Opportunity?’ Giles replied. ‘Opportunity for what?’
Donnovan strode back through the shadows, holding something circular in his hands. It took Giles a moment or two to realise what was happening and, when she did, complete fear took over. Frozen and shocked by what she was seeing, she didn’t even begin to struggle until Donnovan had formed the noose out of some razor wire and looped it over her neck.
‘I’m afraid it’s no piano wire,’ he explained as he tied the other end to the hydraulic lift, ‘but it’s the best I can do.’
Giles squirmed hard, the wire in her hands cutting into her skin once again as she tried to worm her way free. As she moved about, the blades of the razor wire began to cut into the skin of her neck, wetting her skin with blood. Donnovan bent down in front of her and held her head steady, his face practically touching her’s as she whimpered in pain and fear.
‘Shh, you need to stop doing that,’ he whispered, stroking her cheeks. ‘It will make it more painful than it needs to be.’
He stood up again and made his way over to controls for the lift. It took him a moment or two to find the buttons before he leaned back around and flashed a smile at her.
‘Ready?’ he called out.
‘Don’t you see? It’s fitting. Like mother like daughter.’ He stepped out a little way, pressing his hands together in a prayer-like position. ‘It’s like fate or something.’
‘You don’t have to do this…’
Donnovan’s face seemed to darken in an instant.
‘Oh, but I do,’ he spat. ‘Goodbye, Detective Sergeant Giles.’
Giles called out as he pressed down on the button. The lift squealed and shook as years of rust scraped it’s way up and, with a tremendous shudder, the lift slowly rose up into the air. Sobbing silently, Giles placed her feet on the ground and began to stand up as the lift got higher. When she reached her full height, she moved up on to her tip-toes and waited as the razor wire tightened around her neck.
This was the end. Giles knew it would. There would only be a few more seconds before the wire would cut into her skin once more and she would face a few minutes of agonising pain before she finally died.
In that time, she didn’t think once of Donnovan, or of the other Bluebell Killer victims. Her mind focussed solely on Jason; her loving husband, the man who watched her day after day as her job slowly consumed her – the man who would soon be stood by her graveside, distraught, bitter and alone.
In those last moments, she promised herself one thing:
If I make it out of here alive, I will make Jason my priority again…
She closed her eyes and waited for the agony.
But the agony never came.
Above her head, she heard a giant snap followed by a large crack as the lift juddered to a halt and then fell a few inches. The squealing stopped and all around her was complete silence as the lift gave out the last of its life.
For a moment, Donnovan was speechless. He stared up at the rusted wreck, his face slowly contorting into anger, before stepping forward and smashing the gun against the old metal structure.
‘No, no,’ he cried out, his voice echoing around the abandoned workshop. ‘That’s just not fair.’ He turned to look at Giles. ‘It was perfect, you know? A great way for you to go out…’
He stopped, staring at the ground. His eyes traced their way over to Giles who had managed to lower herself off her toes but was still very much pinned up against the lift. A small smile appeared on his face.
‘No,’ he whispered. ‘This was meant to be. Your mother was raised and lowered…’ He stepped forward until he was right in front of Giles. ‘The same should be true of you…’
Giles shook her head slight, the razor wire digging into her neck.
‘You don’t have to do this…’
Donnovan smiled. ‘Oh, but I do…’
With that, he slowly lowered himself down, his left hand reaching for her lower legs as his gun-wielding right rest against her abdomen…
Giles took her chance.
Her hands reached out for the gun, grabbing it from him and spinning it around to face him. With a howl of anger, Donnovan pushed up against her. The razor wire cut deep into her neck and, for a moment, the whole room disappeared behind a wall of darkness. As Donnovan pressed hard against her, Giles felt her fingers find the trigger and, with her last bit of energy, she pulled.
The gunshot echoed around the room.
In an instant, Donnovan fell backwards, his clothes seeping red from the gunshot wound. He landed on the ground with a thump, his eyes looking up at Giles as she raised the gun, pressed it against the wire and pulled the trigger once again. The wire came loose first time and, cutting her hands as she did so, she removed the makeshift noose and flung it on the body of the dying man.
She didn’t wait to watch him die – she had her own pain to deal with.
She crossed the room, heading for a nearby desk and soon found what she was looking for. In the darkness behind her, she could hear Donnovan laughing weakly – but she didn’t pay him any attention. Her neck burned with pain as she pressed the old, oily rag against the deep cuts – it wasn’t the most hygienic method, but at least it would stop the bleeding.
By the time she returned to Donnovan, he had already given up the fight.
Giles searched his jacket pocket, finding his wallet, keys and a small plastic bag. She examined the contents closely before flinging it on the body and heading over to the corner of the room to collapse on the mouldy chair.
For the next few hours, she simply sat and waited for the sun to rise.
The Bluebell Killer was no more.