As I wandered down towards London Bridge.I had left my jacket unzipped to allow the cold air to pass under my jacket and shirt and cool my skin. Not knowing about Billcliffe’s condition was driving my mind and skin crazy. I clenched my teeth together as I crossed the bridge allowing myself to focus my energy. As I walked I checked the other pedestrians as they made their way home from work. Would one of them be my next gift? I thought it was unlikely that I would get a sign here. There was always a small chance, but I doubted it. This was not the right environment for me to find what I was looking for.
As I approached my destination, the tension in me started to ease. This little salon had been the place when my life had been given a new direction. The staff knew me well now. As I walked in, the receptionist nodded to me. She knew what I wanted. I have already called ahead to book the flotation tank. I never reserve with a credit card. That would leave a record. I always pay with cash. They know I am good for it. They joke with me that with the number of times I used it, I could have bought one for myself. I had to admit the idea had crossed my mind. But I knew I could not use any flotation tank. I feared that if I did I would not be able to connect with Marlene. Something told me that a new tank would not be the same and I couldn’t take that risk.
The tank is ready for me. I undress and take a deep breath. I need to slow down my breathing to bring my beating heart and mind together as one. I forced my shoulders back and try to relax. I open the lid and slowly climb in. The warm salty water soothes my skin immediately. I pull the lid down and immerse myself in the darkness. I start to feel myself leaving this reality, moving towards a place where I can talk to her, talk to my love.
I feel my mind slipping away from this consciousness moving me to be with the spirits. As I get closer I can hear their voices. My skin transforms from a position of pain to a subtle tingling feeling of tranquility. I hear Marlene’s voice calling me. She is beckoning me over. I float towards her voice dismissing the others.
’Is it done?’ I hear her whisper. Her voice is always only a whisper, soft, and gentle inside my head.
’Yes Marlene, her journey has started,' I answered trying to hide my shame of failure.
’But she lives does she not? She is not yet saved,’ she whispers again.
I am always stunned and belittled by her knowledge. I forget that she sees and hears everything.
’Not for long. If she does survive I will find another. One better and more worthy of you. I promise.’
’You promised me last time that you would not fail in this task.’
’Marlene, I won’t fail you again. You have to believe me. I have tried to do everything you have asked so far. This time something happened outside my control,’ I pleaded. I did not want Marlene to know that maybe I had made a mistake.
I hear a roaring in my ears. Suddenly I feel myself floating in a new direction. Marlene has rejected me. I know that I am being connected to other beings. They are a higher source of intelligence that are far greater than my own. They understand the purpose of the world and why certain people must be taught a lesson to atone for the sins of others. I am the soldier of truth for them, a believer in making the world a balanced place.
Then she is back. I feel her inside me. She encases my organs and soothes my body. Every time I try and pull away I feel my windpipe being crushed. This feeling has led me to have a fear of being suffocated inside my own skin. Her thoughts send my mind into turmoil. I have to remind myself that my life was incomplete free fall until I met Marlene again and that I must swallow this fear. Now that I am following her quest I have a purpose in life. She has grown inside me like the roots of a vine. She is inside my soul and I am inside hers. She is what I love and hold dear the most.
I hear her voice speaking to me again. ’Tell me you will do it quickly.’
’I assure you my love’, I reply. How can Marlene not believe what I am saying? She is in my head. She can read my darkest thoughts. She knows I have released them all apart from Heather. I know she can get angry sometimes about how I do things. She guides me to achieve my tasks, but they are only guidelines. She must understand that I have to actually make it happen and I also teach these women a lesson. She should at least forgive me for that. Hopefully, I will be the one to tell her when the time is right for the next release before she tells me. That will give me back my control.
’I promise you, my love, I will release another one soon.’ Then as simple as a light switch is turned off, she leaves me.
I relax in the darkness. I have direction again. My turmoil has been contained. I lie in the water and relish the peace I feel. My skin is calm and not agitated. I wish I could stay here floating forever.
Rigby sat reading through the latest report to land on her desk. Results had come back on the two unidentified sets of fingerprints taken at Heather’s apartment from AFIS. One set was still unidentified with no match could be found. The second set belongs to a worker from Thames Water. A check on the police database revealed that he had been arrested a few years ago following a pub brawl that left a number of people seriously injured. At the time he was charged with Actual Bodily Harm, fined, and then given a suspended sentence due to time already held in custody. From his file, the man had always claimed that he had stepped in to stop the fight, not start it. But it did prove that the man had violent tendencies. After reading the case notes for a second time, Rigby checked the list provided by the building management of the workman that had been in the building in the last four weeks. He was on the list and in fact, he was in the building the day that Heather’s office had last been in contact with her. The man would be interviewed by the team the next day anyway as part of the investigation but now he would get Cain and Rigby’s special attention.
Some other interesting points from the forensics report were the two types of urine that had been identified from underneath Heather’s chair. The first sample belonged to Heather. The second sample could not be correlated and had a different DNA signature.
Other points mentioned in the report. The coroner has requested that the forensics team return to the site to look further for Heather’s eyeballs. They had not been found anywhere. They had got no further on the origins of the onions either. Soil samples from some of the bulbs had been taken. But even with just a preliminary look at the onions, it showed that they had been purchased from multiple locations. The clusters of onions identified were all different in colour, size, and weight.
Where was Cain, thought Rigby? He was never late for work and especially during a key investigation. She had called him but had only been able to reach his answerphone. Well, she could not wait any longer to confer with Cain. She would proceed and give the order to have the worker from Thames Water brought in for questioning. This was a case where you could not afford to delay.
Cain opened his eyes. His first thoughts were of his back and how stiff it felt. In fact his back really fucking hurt. Where the hell was he? Slowly Cain became aware of the pounding rain on his car roof.
He started to recognise the street. It was very close to his house. It was so close in fact he could walk there. But this time, like so many other times he had taken the car. He was positioned just down the road from Ratner’s flat. He often drove past here on the way home as commented upon by his Superintendent. Recently he had started to stop and wait outside Ratner’s flat to see him stumble back from the local pub. Last night he must have fallen asleep waiting.
He knew he was dealing with this situation badly. The man had got under his skin. What was he waiting for? Well, that was obvious. He wanted to catch him drunk again behind the wheel of a car. Or doing something that the fucker could be arrested for. Cain knew the court system well and all the tricks that lawyers played. Ratner’s lawyer, for instance, had requested that he be evaluated for depression due to his long period of unemployment. She was putting forward a case of diminished responsibility caused by the State. His drinking she said, was being brought on by the depression. On top of that, she had asked that it should be taken into consideration that it was a “First Time Offence”. She had even stated that Ratner was remorseful in regards to the accident. Was he fuck!! Cain knew in his bones that this man was going to get away with murder, the murder of his beautiful wife.
As far as Cain could see from his own, but primitive surveillance, Ratner was making no effort to find himself employment or get himself out of this hole that he called his life. He was never out of his flat before midday apart from when he had to “sign-on”. He wore the same clothes most days, so a fresh and clean appearance was never the first thing that jumped to mind when you saw him ambling down the road. But he could drink and he seemed to be able to do that on a daily basis. The man’s partner worked in the local supermarket on the checkout. The stupid woman probably even supported his drinking habit by buying beer for him at a staff discount.
Cain had spoken to the lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service that was looking after the case offering support and his own observations. The barrister had said that they were looking at all avenues to secure a conviction and prove Ratner’s lawyer wrong. They sympathised with his concerns and thanked him for his input but reminded him that it was not his case to investigate. He must trust that his colleagues from Kingston would do their job well. He also told him that his meddling, if known could jeopardise the case. Cain had left the man’s office angry and frustrated.
The air in the car was stale. Everything about him felt dirty and creased. He opened the window and the cool morning air flooded into the car. It was time to move before he was discovered by either Ratner, his colleagues or one of Ratner’s neighbour’s.
Cain realised that if Ratner knew he was sitting there in the street watching his flat for no official reason that he could be had upon a harassment charge. He started his car and pulled away from the curb. He desperately needed a shower and to get to the station.
Under Rigby’s instruction, the Thames Water worker was brought in for questioning. It was Simmonds search on the man’s past that had highlighted his previous conviction for assault. So as the man had form for violence a snatch team of seven officers had been sent down to pick him up with Simmonds taking the lead. The man had been picked up at the Shadwell depot, one of Thames Water’s many inner-city workshops. He had been on a tea break and therefore it has caused a bit of a commotion when he had been led away. Everyone knew where he had been working last week. Due to the press, it didn’t take Einstein to work out why he was being taken in for questioning.
Rigby had finally got through to Cain on his mobile and updated him on the situation. Cain told her that she may have been a bit hasty, but he would support her on it, as he knew the pressure they were all under. He told her to wait until he arrived before they started questioning him. He wanted Chief Superintendent Critchley informed that someone had been brought in but at present, they were not a suspect, just someone of interest. In Cain’s mind, if the killer was the man from Thames Water, it would be too easy. He had fallen into that trap with Mingle. Why would a killer who had been so diligent and careful to evade capture for three or more years suddenly due to his daily work leave his name and identification details with the building concierge and then proceed to try and murder one of its occupants? No, this man was too calculated to make a basic mistake like that. Plus he would know that we would check if Thames Water or similar had visited the previous victims prior to their deaths. This was not their man. He was sure of that, but it may keep the Top Brass off his back if the team showed that they were being proactive. It just needed to be handled right.
As Cain drove into work listening to the radio a news bulletin announced that a maintenance contractor had been arrested in connection with the recent spate of murders across the city. Cain knew immediately that this had been an ideal situation for one of the man’s co-workers to make some extra cash when you had the press hungry and willing to pay for any information on such a high profile case.
Fuck, that was all they needed. Cain and the team would now have to justify to the top brass why they had brought this man in for questioning and in such a public manner. If this came to nothing, the press would be baying for blood and Cain’s head. What had he just said to himself about handling things the right way?
* * *
When Cain arrived at the station, he found it in chaos. There were remote location TV vans parked up on most of the pavement. A horde of press journalists, photographers, and TV crews were besieging the front entrance of the station. Cain negotiated his car to the police station’s staff car park without anyone noticing. He waved his pass at the scanner and drove in quickly.
On arriving in his office he found Chief Superintendent Critchley being briefed by Rigby.
’There better be a good reason for bringing him in Rigby,’ Critchley demanded in a raised voice.
’Sir, he is only being brought in for questioning as he could be one of the last people to see Heather before she was attacked. His fingerprints were found in her flat on taps, in the bathroom, and on the front door. We need to speak to him to eliminate him from our inquiries,’Rigby responded.
’I get that Rigby, but cant you see having him picked in such a manner has caused the media circus you see outside?’Critchley fired back as he raised both his arms in the air.
’I am more than willing to go outside and make a statement to that effect if it will ease the situation,’ Rigby offered.
Critchley noticed Cain standing behind him as he continued to speak with Rigby.
’No, that’s my job. It’s better if it comes from me,’ he replied frostily as he turned towards Cain. ’Get this cleared up Cain and quickly. If he is someone of real interest then let’s push for a result, if not I want him out of here pronto like Mingle. The longer he is here the more that pack of wolves outside will dig into the man’s life.’
Cain did not reply verbally. He just nodded as he stared at Rigby.
With that Critchley left leaving Cain and Rigby staring at each other.
’Where is he?’ demanded Cain.
’Interview room two,’ she replied.
’So what do we have?’ he enquired further, his anger slowly receding.
’Well, what started the ball rolling were his fingerprints all over Heather’s apartment which brought up his record. His name is Gerry Shuttle. We would have got to him anyway as we went through all the list of contractors that had visited the building asking for their fingerprints, but his details popped up as they were already in AFIS. He has a criminal record for ABH from a pub fight four years ago. He was given a suspended sentence. He claimed that he joined the fight to help stop it. This was taken into consideration as well that it was a first offense. When we checked with his office, he has been working in the City area for the last six years, so well within the crime timeline of all the deaths. Prior to that, he worked out at Heathrow also for Thames Water, helping with the plumbing of Terminal 5. Feltham is not far from Heathrow which is where Grace Tomlinson was killed.’
’I still think you were hasty. It needed more research. You could have asked him to come in rather than pick him up in front of all his mates at work which would have avoided the bloody circus outside,Cain said.
’Yes Gov. I was maybe a bit quick off the mark, but I couldn’t reach you,’ she conceded.
’Then wait a bit longer. Anything would be better than the situation we have now.’
Some officers never thought of the consequences. He thought that Rigby was better than that.
’Now, is there anything else about him that would suggest that he is our man? For example, does he come across as a complete woman-hater? Does he have any history of psychotic disorders that could lead him to commit these types of crimes?’ Cain continued.
’Nothing so far. Simmonds is doing further background checks, but as yet he seems to be a happily married man of fifteen years. First and only wife. No history from social services of any reports of domestic disturbances….sorry boss, I have jumped the gun haven’t I?’ she said in a more defeated voice.
’Look, it is what it is now. Let's move on and talk to him,’ Cain said moving to the door.