This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 910 words.
It was one of those random occurrences that led to the discovery of Ellen Shaw’s body. A neighbour in her small close had ordered online, and was out when the delivery arrived. The harassed courier didn’t want to have to come back later, so tried knocking on nearby doors to see if someone would take in the parcel for number four. Ellen’s curtains were open, so he tried her door. When there was no reply, he decided to try shouting through the letter-box. A lot of people in that area were old and deaf, so he was used to having to do more than ring a doorbell. As he lifted the flap, he peered through, ready to shout a greeting. But the sight of the blood-soaked body on the hallway floor stopped him in his tracks. He straightened up, and got his mobile phone from the back pocket of his jeans. As he rang 999, he guessed the rest of the parcels would not be getting delivered today.
Halfway across the country, Jean Muir wondered why her terrier Judy had not emerged from the woods. Ignoring the clamouring ducks and geese, she put the bread roll back into her pocket, and went in to look for her. She found the dog staring at a pile of grass and dirt behind a tree, a white cycling helmet placed carefully on top of the small mound. Jean had been a nurse for almost forty years before retiring, and knew immediately that the chalk-white skin visible under some twigs was a body. Careful not to disturb the spot any more than her dog had done already, she took her phone from her handbag, dialling 999. Tears ran down her cheeks at the tragic scene in front of her, and her voice was choked with emotion as she spoke to the emergency operator.
In Jack Porter’s smart flat, he was arranging maps, and ticking off lists.
Sex Crime. Check.
Frenzied Murder. Check.
Serial killer of children. Check.
Once he had made sure that all the detailed points had been covered, he tore up the relevant pages into tiny pieces, went into the bathroom, and flushed them down the toilet. Back in the living room, he turned his notebook to the next section, the fifth one. Leaving it open next to the relevant map, he went into the bedroom to do an hour on his treadmill running machine.
Duncan McCall had to admit to his boss that they had nothing to go on, as far as Sandy’s murder was concerned. The local sex offenders had all been accounted for on that day. CCTV gave them no suspicious vehicles or people, and the woman had never seemed to have met anyone that might have a reason to kill her, even a sexual one. He turned to look at the Superintendent, after outlining what read like a list of failures. She didn’t feel very happy, but knew he was good at his job, and would have done his best. As she stood up to leave the office, she turned back to speak. “Better start widening the investigation, Duncan. Get onto the nearby forces, see if they have any record of a similar killing in the past year, especially in a seaside town. Check the prisons and see who has been released recently, anyone with form for something close to this”. Duncan nodded. She was teaching him to suck eggs, and they both knew it. “Already on that, Ma’am”.
After the workout, Jack had a shower and got changed. A light meal of salmon and pasta pinged in the microwave, and he dumped the contents onto a plate, taking it through to eat in front of the TV. As anticipated, the murder of the girl was all over the news. He shook his head when he heard that her body had been discovered just after ten forty-five that morning. That was close. A school photo was shown, and reporters gave their stories from next to the police tape on the riverbank, and outside the girl’s house, where her parents were too distraught to comment. Some people had already managed to leave small bouquets of flowers close to where her body had been discovered. Jack shook his head again, this time in amazement. Why did they always do that? At least the local florist would benefit from a short boom in trade. One of the reporters stared seriously into the camera, as she got the cue that she was back live. “This reporter believes that this is the work of someone who may well be responsible for killing other children. The police refused to confirm that, and told me that they are investigating all possibilities”. Jack swallowed some salmon, and smiled at the screen. “That’s my girl, get them thinking along the wrong lines”.
After washing up the plate and fork, and cleaning the worktop and sink, Jack got back to the job in hand. He had a lot to go over before tomorrow’s plan went ahead. He might even have to leave it until the day after, if the planned work on the overhead electric cables hadn’t finished on time. Easy enough to check at the main-line station in the morning. If there were scheduled delays, he would just come home. The plan could wait of course.
But not for too long, or some of the challenge would go out of it.