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When Evil Wins

By Simon Richard Woodward All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Mystery


Despite a traumatic childhood in Poland culminating in the suicide of his mother and the resulting emigration to England with his father Andrzej, Janus Malik’s life is OK – until his works are picked up by a publishing house and his face is plastered across billboards up and down the country. One by one his friends and colleagues suffer strange fatal and near fatal accidents. When the police decide he’s the prime suspect Janus has to act to discover who, or what, is behind the bizarre and horrific accidents. Using gifts inherited from his mother Janus strives to uncover the truth before he is locked up as some kind of murderer.

Chapter 1

“Come on Janus,” his father yelled at him in Polish. It was seven thirty in the morning. “It’s time to get up and get going.”

Janus and his father were due to quote on another plumbing job; Ditton Court Road this time, in Westcliff, in one hour.

Janus got out of bed and made his way to the shower. He’d stayed at his father’s house overnight due to the length of time he’d worked the previous day. Normally he would have gone home but this time around he’d been too shattered to do anything but crash out.

Another day and more money, he thought to himself. Plumbing! Fantastic! Sometime soon I’ll be out of this and doing my own thing — sometime soon, he consoled himself.

After breakfast Janus and his father jumped into the company van and made their way to their first appointment of the day.

When they got to the road and eventually found a free space to park they pulled up. Leaving the van, the tanned, older, white haired man and his son made their way up the slightly inclined, tree-lined hill towards the Maitland house. The house was set back from the road on a sharp bend and almost obscured by a tall and uncared for hedge that separated the plot from the rest of the road. Pushing open a stiff wooden gate Janus and his father made their way up the short path through an equally unkempt garden and rang the bell.

Andrzej Malik had not met his client yet, he’d only talked with Mrs Maitland over the phone, and all he knew was that the woman required her bathroom to be finished.

Receiving no instant response Andrzej knocked on the front door this time, a bit harder than was really required.

Eventually a pale woman, somewhere in her mid-thirties, with shoulder length jet black hair answered the door.

After their introductions Jacqueline Maitland, opened the door further and let the father and son team in.

“Show me where the work you need done is please,” Janus’s father said in his not so perfect English.

“It’s up here, Mr Malik,” Jacqueline Maitland responded in a flat and dull tone. She seemed unhappy.

Jacqueline Maitland led Janus and his father through a short, dark brown and beige tiled hallway to the stairs and up to the bathroom.

The house was dingy, the decor being a mixture of racing green panels below a dado rail and the skirting boards, banisters and balustrade a deep and rich, heavily waxed brown oak. The walled side of the staircase was of oak panelling.

With appropriate lighting the internal decor could look astounding but the way it was now lent itself to a general sense of gloom that seemed to permeate every part of the house.

Jacqueline Maitland pushed the door to the small bathroom and it swung open revealing the job Janus and his father would have to take on if they were awarded the business.

The bathroom looked as if someone had started a refit but had given up half way through.

Janus’s father walked in to assess the job they’d be quoting on. Jacqueline Maitland left them to it, making her way back downstairs.

“This looks like it’s been left a very long time Janus. Just look at the rot,” Andrzej said to his son returning to his native tongue after their prospective client had left.

Andrzej Malik did try to stick to using English, he was a British citizen now, but whenever there were any complex ideas or observations to get across to his son or just something that needed to be said quickly, it was much easier for him to use his first language. He pointed to the rotten floorboards around the bath and toilet. Janus nodded at his father’s assessment.

They made their way back downstairs and entered the living room, where Jacqueline Maitland was finishing off a crossword. She looked up; misery could be seen in her eyes.

“How much then, Mr Malik?” she asked.

“Mrs Maitland,” Andrzej started in his Polish lilt, “it seem that the bathroom is been waiting for a long time to be fixed. I think, to fix, it will not be cheap.”

“I know,” she said, sighing, “Can you do it?”

“Mrs Maitland, I assure you this is not better than my skills to do, I also have a very good son to help me,” Andrzej continued in his pidgin English.

“When can you start?” Mrs Maitland asked.

“I look at my calendar now,” Andrzej Malik said. Janus knew that this was one of the usual ploys his father used to secure a contract, and he knew what was coming next. Andrzej turned to Janus, “Are your days free soon son?” his dad asked.

“If I remember correctly I’ll definitely be finished on my current job the day after tomorrow,” Janus replied.

“Son, it is obvious that Mrs Maitland is been with this bathroom for a long time. Can you not change your work?”

Janus got out a small notebook to peruse his fictitious job schedule and glanced at it.

“Dad,” Janus started, “I think I can change things so I can start tomorrow, if that’s alright with Mrs Maitland.” Janus wasn’t happy about fictionalising other work, but his father insisted upon it as it was only a way to secure a job; something he’d been told many times.

“Mrs Maitland,” Janus’s father addressed their potential customer, “do you think tomorrow will be possible for us to start?”

There was a slight glimmer of hope in their customer’s demeanour. “That would be very good,” she said.

“Okay. Tomorrow,” Janus’s dad agreed. “Son, your times, rearrange them please.”

“Okay, Dad. I’m sure the Smiths won’t mind this slight change in the schedule at all.”

With the act played out Andrzej and Janus left the Maitland house.

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