Mark J Edwards
Published under licence to
MJ3 Publishing. This is the INDIE AISLE Edition.
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This work contains scenes that some may find upsetting. It also contains scenes that exhibit use of sex, drugs, offensive language and brutal violence.
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Copyright © Text and characters Mark J Edwards 2010 in conjunction with MJ3.CO.UK.
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Text and image copyright © 2012 Mark J Edwards. All Rights Reserved.
So it begins
At one a.m a dark figure slinks over the gate of the Wrathchild Estate. It weaves silently and swiftly through the shadows, rapidly approaching the house. Now quickly climbing a tree that disagrees
with every unwelcomed movement forced upon those weary and aching boughs that creak, crack
and groan in protest. A snap and a moan as the silhouette springs from the shadows, tenuously
grasping onto the high windowsill with straining fingertips. Fingertips that now pull the silhouette through the window, only to encompass the silent darkness of the bedroom.
Slowly pulling back the covers on the bed it now lights a cigarette. The smoke exhales slowly into the face of the bed’s unseen occupant. It plays over the prone figure in an ethereal caress as the
ominous shadow removes a small piece of paper from its pocket. A hand reaches out slowly; and
jabs the glowing cigarette at the slumbering form, rapidly covering the opening mouth to stifle the emerging scream.
The note is held up to the face of the bed's tiredly terrified occupant, who reads it and nods in silent acceptance. The figure in the bed seems to get the message. Only time will reveal if this is actually the case.
An hour later and a police cruiser has paused outside of the estate’s gates. Street lamps illuminate the scene, as a police officer presses a button from his open car window. The gate eventually swings open and the cruiser begins the long drive up to the main house. It pulls to a stop by the steps that lead to the vast double doors. He clambers out of the car and climbs the pristine steps to the doors above. He pushes the bell whilst removing his cap. The porch light eventually flickers on, now casting a deathly pallor on the face of the young police officer.
P.C. Wallace had never wanted to do bereavement training; he had been ‘army volunteered’ to the
post. Dealing with bodies, blood and guts was bad enough. Telling somebody that their smack head
son had just stepped in front of a train, now that was another thing entirely. That was also much
easier than this was going to be.
Eventually the sounds of footfalls stop behind the door. The police officer takes a step back as the door opens. Daniel Wrathchild stands tiredly absorbing the fact; that the police have just awoken
him. The officer twists at his hat. Daniel’s face pales, his eyes widen. P.C Wallace begins to speak and as he surveys the young police officer, Daniel’s face crumbles while his whole world shatters. The
officer with the deathly serious face is talking. Although we cannot hear him, he says something like,
‘Hello, Mr Wrathchild, I’m P.C. Wallace of Edgerton police’ and ‘Sorry to disturb you at this early hour’, and ‘Could I please come in, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.’
Daniel’s face is numb of expression. It is perfectly clear that he is on autopilot now; and that
whatever happens next exists purely in a sub dimension, far removed from this grim scene.
Daniel leads the young police officer into his lounge. It contains amongst other furniture: white
leather settees and a huge flat television. This room is as opulent as the others are. Those other
rooms’ décor comes at considerable expense, yet with scant taste. Wrathchild flops into a recliner as though his knees have suddenly given way. He gestures for the officer to sit, also with an empty:
P.C. Wallace remains standing. "Mr Wrathchild, I'm afraid I've come with bad news. It’s about your daughter”. He pauses to check his notes. “Amy." The father’s eyes widen in surprise. “I’m sorry to inform you that she has been attacked”. Daniel bolts upright.
"Attacked!" The young officer nods his affirmation.
"She's in hospital now sir"
Daniel is already standing as the officer continues,
"I wouldn't recommend going sir...." Daniel is suddenly incredulous. "Wouldn't recommend? She's my daughter!" The officer resorts to his training.
"She's in a bad way sir, in intensive care".
Daniel starts toward the door. The police officer gently restrains him. Wallace looks the distraught father in the eye and adds calmly: "I can't let you drive like this. I suggest that you get dressed and let me drive you there. I can give you more information on the way. Before you do; have you any
idea, who might want to hurt Amy in this way?" The frustration rings in Daniel’s voice. "Right now, you seem to be the only one who knows anything!"
Ten minutes later and Wrathchild is dressed. He is attempting to enter the passenger side of the
police car. The young cop sounds apologetic. “Police only in front, you know, Health and Safety!" He alters the tone of his voice; he hates this part of his job. "So you have no idea; who would do this sir?" Daniel and the Policeman watch each other in silence through the mirror. The question remains hanging in the air, as the officer drives. Daniel looks exasperated. "What happened?"
Wallace eyes Daniel wearily as he replies. "She was found by a jogger around midnight down on
Brown Street. Is there any reason that she would be in that area?" Daniel shakes his head; the cop continues, "Or at that time?" Daniel’s face is pale, his voice distant. "No".
"Have you any idea why someone might want to hurt her?" Daniel’s face has gone blank; he is on autopilot now. "No; she hates that estate. Couldn't move outta there fast enough! Everyone loves her. She wouldn't hurt a fly. You know; you try teach them to defend themselves, but they don't
want to learn! You just can't teach someone that don’t want to learn".
The Policeman is still watching him closely; as the cruiser pulls into the hospital’s Accident and
Emergency entrance and into the reserved parking area marked for police.
The department is relatively quiet of both staff and patients. "Before we go in sir; I must warn you that she's in a critical state. Someone has done a real number on her. I'll let the nurse fill you in". The Nurse lets her eyes roll at the sight of the Policeman. She knows what comes next. They speak briefly in hushed tones, until the nurse's eyes widen suddenly in exasperation; "...and I should be the one to tell him?" She turns toward Daniel; he has already entered the ward.
Inside the ward are wires, drips, machines, and blood. Amy! Daniel’s face fills with the horror in front of him, his knees buckle. "Huh, wha, wha...........!" Daniel has crumpled to the floor amidst a complex mixture of emotions. Whatever he had imagined, this is worse. Arrays of machines surround the
bed. A large metal frame holds a single thin sheet over the body. What there is to see is a badly
burnt head with sparse hair melted into it. Blood seeps from pustules and boils on the face and neck of this wretched creature. On what was once the pretty face of Amy Wrathchild. She is thankfully
unconscious. Daniel throws up violently.
The nurse turns to the distraught man: "Oh you should notta gone in there. No one should ever see someone like that!" Perhaps Amy somehow knows that her father is there, as the heart rate monitor flat-lines with a monotone beep.
Several hours later, in the Wrathchild Estate’s purpose equipped Dojo, Daniel’s sons, Damian and
Ashley are sparring. We note that both young men are sporting finely toned and muscular frames.
Ashley Wrathchild is twenty-one and taller than his brother. He is five feet eleven inches tall with short-cropped dark hair. The family resemblance between the young men and their father is striking.
Damian is eighteen; and a full two inches shorter than his brother is. His blonde hair is longer and catches the light with a healthy glow.
Both young men are topless and sweaty. They wear pads and the bottom half of a ghi. They spar
roughly and with such focus, that neither notices that their father is watching them from the
doorway. He has obviously just returned from the hospital. He closes his eyes for a second and takes deep breaths before releasing the air slowly. He can still hear the heart rate monitor’s flat-line beep in his head. It is a sound that he will often hear in his sleep.
Pulling himself up to his full height, Daniel strides into the room. His manner is of strength and focus.
As he approaches the youths he gets close enough to have to deflect a stray punch, which he does
effortlessly. "Boys!" The young men stop and face their father. Ashley is scanning his father's body language; he does not like what he sees. Damian looks impatient; his body language switches to that of a cocky slouch. His father's leg, sweeps him expertly. Damian crashes to the floor and Daniel’s
voice is suddenly booming, like an angry drill instructor. "Balance!”
Damian ignores his father’s proffered hand of help and gets back to his feet unaided. He notes that his father’s face now carries an empty expression, as those Earth- shattering words float on Daniel’s empty voice. "Boys. Your sister's dead”.
Later that same morning, Daniel sits at the top of the steps that lead to his front door. It overlooks the vestiges of a bleached out sunrise beset with grey clouds, none of which he sees. He sits cross-legged in meditation; his eyes focus on the spot where the police car had parked only the night
before. It is now crowded with journalists jostling for position. There is a general hubbub; as lighting, television and still cameras and sound equipment is set up behind a barricade erected at the base of the steps.
Daniel, Damian and Ashley are dressed in unmatched suits and shoes. They are watching the
commotion below. Ashley and Damian stand stiffly to attention. Their eyes speak of anger and
impatience. Daniel stands, the press hush themselves. He swats a boom mike out of his face irritably.
"I have prepared a brief statement. After which, there will be no questions; and I would ask you all politely and respectfully, to leave us the hell alone!"
An eager young reporter, aged around twenty-one, steps forward. "So Daniel, tell me what
happened". A number of his colleagues cringe. Daniel stares blankly at his piece of paper but he cannot seem to focus on it. His facial expression shifts from assured to uncomprehending and finally to a resentful anger. He glares into the eyes of the misguided young reporter, as he delivers the
young man’s first baptism of fire.
Daniel is stalking the steps between them now in hasty yet measured steps. "They got my daughter, they hurt my daughter!" As he walks down the steps, a tear forms in his eye. The brothers look to each other with uncertainty, as their father reaches the barricade. There is less than an inch
between the two men as Daniel continues: "They raped my daughter! Then they took her and burnt her! Poured petrol over her head and burned her!"
The brothers are at their father's side now. The barricade's purpose has suddenly reversed. It now
serves to protect the journalists from Daniel’s tempestuous emotions. Ashley and Damian are pulling him back up the steps, away from the frightened reporter and toward the open doors.
A female reporter in her thirties approaches the barricade; she is obviously a more seasoned
professional. Anyone could tell this by the way she casually brushes aside her counterparts. At the sound of her voice everyone freezes; thus allowing Daniel to shrug off his sons, to advance on the
camera- man as she asks, "Who would do this?" The television camera holds Daniel in close up, his face now filling the screens of those watching. "I don't know, but someone out there does, and I'll give A MILLION QUID to anyone that brings them to me!” He seems to calm for a second. “Double, if
you kneecap the bugger first!” His last seems more of an afterthought. “Oh and you better bring
The journalists go wild; the brothers look to each other in shock. Then quickly march their father
back into the house, as Ashley shouts to the assembled press. “Isn’t that enough for you people?”
The cameras continue to roll, click and flash amid a flurry of frenzied questions.
The police tape recorder makes the only sound in the room. It records the tense silence between
three men. Damian Wrathchild is nervous and still overwrought from the previous day’s press
conference. He struggles to get comfortable in the hard plastic seat that he now occupies. Damian
has found the silence to be nerve- racking; he agonises over whether his fried nerves somehow
make him appear as a guilty man, to the detectives. This thought only serves to make him feel tense, more nervous. Surely, these men can read his body language. They might know more about his
secrets than he himself does. The silence in that the room has become truly deafening.
Damian speaks first; Detective Constable Chalmers checks his watch as he does so. He taps its dial
and shows it to Detective Sergeant Withers, who simply rolls his eyes. Had Damian noticed this
exchange, he might have guessed that a bet had taken place. A bet, as to how long before he finally broke that silence. He would have been right too. Withers, has just lost twenty pounds on that
gamble; as Damian inquires, "Aren't you supposed to ask me something?”
Withers smiles despite himself, "And what would you like me to ask?"
Damian looks confused for a second. "Okay, right. So I can go then?"
Chalmers laughs, “We're not quite done with you yet!"
Damian still feels uncertain and now increasingly impatient. "Okay, can we get on with it then?"
Chalmers again; “Sorry Mr Wrathchild; do you have to be somewhere?" Damian is finding Chalmers to be irritatingly calm. The puzzled young man answers, "Well, no!"
D.S WITHERS cross-questions; “So no rush then?"
D.S Chalmers takes a turn. "Okay, you are sure that there's not somewhere you'd rather be?"
Damian is beginning to feel bewildered, even a little dizzy, "Well, no!"
Withers again: "Good, good. Okay; where were you between ten p.m on the twenty-seventh and,
six- thirty a.m on the twenty-eighth?"
Chalmers turn. "And where would that be exactly?"
Damian knows that he has to lie. "At home!" Damian wonders if that had sounded true; his head feels like a tennis ball in match play. D.S Withers exchanges a quizzical look with his colleague and turns back to Wrathchild. "At home asleep?"
Damian rubs his temples; his head is starting to ache. D.S Withers takes over. "And where are you working now, Mr Wrathchild?"
A curious look comes from Chalmers as he continues, "So you don't have a job to get up for?"
"No!" Damian muses that the questions are getting more than just a little pointless.
Withers asks; "At home asleep at ten o'clock; on a Saturday night and you don't need to get up in the morning?" Damian is confused it is so tense in there. His headache is quickly developing into a migraine, "Yes and no!"
Chalmers looks uncertain; he is beginning to enjoy this. "So which is it, yes or no?"
Withers’ turn to ask, "Could you just answer the question please?"
"Eh?" Damian still has no idea what is going on here, he suppresses his rising panic as Chalmers continues. "Sorry, would you like me to repeat the question?"
Withers becomes suddenly serious, he sits forward a little, "So you understood the question, you don't need me to repeat it?" The panic is beginning to surface in Damian now; he is getting
confused. "Yes and no!" Detective Withers presses his advantage, "So Mr Wrathchild, are you stating that you understand the question and don't need me to repeat it to you?"
"Yes, I do!" Damian can hear the panic rise in his own voice. Chalmers remains unphased as he continues to confuse things a little more: "Could you repeat the question back to me then? Just so that we can be clear; of precisely which question, you are avoiding answering".
Damian feels flabbergasted by the comment. He has somehow found his feet. Withers motions for
him to sit back down and Damian complies with a weak, "I'm not!" Withers presses harder; "Sorry I'm unclear, are you now saying that you are refusing to answer my question?"
"No; I'm not avoiding anything!"
A knowing look passes between the detectives; paranoia brings Damian down like a stone as he
questions the exchange. The young man continues: "What was that?" Chalmers eyes widen, "What was what, Mr Wrathchild?" Damian can feel paranoia and panic wash over him,
"That look, you just give ’im?" Chalmers ends the round of head tennis with his suspect. The boy has something to hide all right. "I'm sorry Mr Wrathchild; I'm not aware of any look! Detective, were you aware of any look?" Withers, shakes his head in reply. "No Detective Constable; but I do think Mr Wrathchild may be a little paranoid".
Chalmers looks Damian in the eye; he is coldly scrutinizing the lad for the all-telling signs of a lie.
"Are you trying to hide something, Mr Wrathchild?" Damian Wrathchild is beginning to feel desperate; he feels like a caged animal. "No, I've got NOTHING TO HIDE!" Chalmers voice takes on an even tone, "Please stop shouting Mr Wrathchild! I think you need to calm yourself down. You need to answer the questions put to you!"
Withers again: "Are you prepared to answer the questions, Mr Wrathchild?" Damian suppresses his rising panic; this is suddenly becoming exhausting, "Yes!" Withers smiles, he looks a little sadistic:
"Okay, let's try again! Where were you between ten p.m. on the twenty- seventh and six- thirty on the twenty- eighth?"
‘Big John’ Maguire is a hard-core gangster of considerable reputation. His short-cropped hair gives this brutish man a mean look on his battle-scarred face. He is a force to be reckoned with. Maguire is a tour de force, in battle and in business. Not that John draws any real distinction between the two.
The business in question; is whatever can turn the best profit with minimal risk and outlay. He
surveys the room behind cold and menacing eyes; he is calmly scrutinizing every gang member at
the long conference table. His massive fist bangs on the table; the room falls silent. “Ladies,
gentlemen, boys and germs; I called you ‘ere to sort out one thing! I want to know, who amongst
you lot knows ‘owt about this Wrathchild sort!”
A considered silence follows. Frank Leyland is a squat, balding man in his early forties. He is a
heavyset career criminal, with a long record for violent crimes. He ventures a reply: “Depends, which one Mac?”
“All of ‘em, give me everything you got!”
“Sure, well first there’s a low level dealer Ashley Wrathchild; he gets his shit from us. His sister was Amy; you’ve heard about her on the news, like”.
“I know about that; tell me about the daddy, this Daniel!” Frank scratches his chin, “Sure; he put out a mill or two, for the one who messed his little princess up!”
“Now that’s more like it! Is he good for it or what?”
Frank Leyland shrugs. “God knows”.
“Anyone of you other tossers know this Wrathchild guy?” A muscle bound man in his twenties,
named Martin Barnett ventures: “The family used to live on Ashby Street; it’s on Dickens Gate. Word is they went and won the lottery and bought a nice pile, new Aston. He teaches some Kung-Fu stuff;
got himself a dojo all custom like. Reckon he’s worth a note!” John’s eyes gleam. “That’s more like it! Okay so there’s some action there. What’s the deal with the reward?” Petra Mollander is a
madam from Manchester; where she oversees the running of four of Maguire’s brothels, she carries
over her laptop. “Just pulled this off YouTube!” Big John pours over the screen and clicks ‘play’. The other gang members listen to Daniel’s voice through the portable computer’s tiny speakers. Big John watches the screen avidly.
"Who would do this?" A female voice, the television camera holds Daniel in close-up; his distraught face filling the screen, "I don't know, but someone out there does, I'll give A MILLION QUID to anyone that brings them to me!” He seems to calm for a second. “Double, if you kneecap the bugger
first!” Then an afterthought, “Oh and you better bring proof!" Big John, smiles; it is the type of grin that you may see on a shark, one that has just smelt blood.
That evening, Daniel glances at a Facebook page. There are a number of postings there, but most are threats. They read: ‘Give me the money or we burn you next!’
‘I’m going to do you like I did your daughter!’
‘I just shit on your little girl's grave, what you are going to do about it!’
There are many others; Daniel shuts down Amy’s tribute page and checks through his email inbox.
He scrolls down wearily and pauses over one with attachments. As his finger hovers over the mouse
button, he hears the buzzer sound and he hesitates. It buzzes again and then Ashley’s voice cuts
through: “Yep, what is it?”
"Hello I’m Detective Constable Larkin from Edgerton Constabulary, I need to speak to Mister
Wrathchild; is he there right now?"
The detective's voice sounds plaintiff with a hint of impatience. "A Mister Daniel Wrathchild, I need to speak to him urgently."
Ashley sounds dismissive as he replies: "Sure, whatever!" He presses another button on the intercom. Daniel switches to the outside camera and closes the lid of his laptop. He watches as the gates begin to open; an unmarked police car slowly rolls up the driveway. Daniel sees this on a black and white monitor built into the intercom.
Once clear of the gate, he pushes the button again and the gate begins to close. The male reporter
from the press conference rushes through the gate; the police car stops. The detective gets out of
his car and flashes his badge; the reporter hurries back out as the gate clangs shut behind him. The car begins the slow drive up to the main house. Daniel switches his mobile phone off and puts his
landline onto answerphone.
D.C Larkin is in his mid to late fifties; a slim man with a weathered face. He sits opposite Daniel, who is seated behind a large executive desk. Amongst other things on the desk, are the laptop P.C and a long handled seppuku knife on a ceremonial stand. Daniel slouches in a leather recliner; D.C Larkin regards the knife as he asks: "Daniel, do you realize that you're breaking the law with your
"Why, its freedom of speech isn't it?"
The D.C sits upright attentively. He sounds vaguely apologetic, "I'm afraid it's more like incitement!"
Daniel appears bemused by this comment. The police detective cannot be sure of what to make of
his response. He eyes the seppuku knife wearily as Daniel continues, "I'm not hurting anyone!"
"Incitement means asking anyone else to break the law." Larkin observes that Wrathchild seems to be rather impatient, "I know that!" The Detective Constable switches to a more sympathetic tactic,
"Look, I would have preferred if we’d met again under better circumstances”. Wrathchild looks at him blankly. Larkin sighs dejectedly. “Look, Daniel I'm a father too. I would probably say the same in your shoes, but…" Daniel’s eyes widen his voice empty and lifeless. "You're not though are you?”
"No, I'm not in your shoes. Look I'm afraid…"
Daniel can feel his temper rise. "Afraid a what? That this could happen to you?" Larkin glances at his watch, time to get to the point. "I need you to retract, or at least alter your statement. That is all. No matter how you feel, you simply cannot ask or incite anyone to a violent act!" Daniel’s voice rises a little as he leans forward. "You don't think it justifies…?" Daniel is getting aggravated; Larkin keeps the conversation calm, "Look, I have been doing this job for a very long time. It would be a shame after everything that has happened to you, and your family; if you went to jail for this!" Daniel is on his feet, with venom in his eyes, "Tell me what would you do? What would you do if this happened to your DAUGHTER? You’d go and pay him a visit with your little police buddies!"
"I wouldn't like to say! It is a strange comment though, coming from a man that believes in karma!"
D.C. Larkin picks up the seppuku knife. He examines it closely. "Tell me about this."
Daniel embraces the distraction. "It’s a seppuku knife, a Japanese ritual suicide knife, used by women. It makes a nice letter opener. Tell me Frank! You've seen the photos, read the reports. You
know better than I do, what happened. Wouldn't you want to see JUSTICE done?" Larkin retorts:
"Yes of course! But that takes place IN COURT!"
Daniel becomes impatient. "People like that once belonged at the END OF A ROPE!" Larkin can feel his temper flare, is there no reasoning with this man? "After they were tried in a court of law!"
Daniel’s eyes widen, his voice raises;" At the end of a rope! WHAT DOES IT MATTER; HOW IT GETS
Larkin has to calm himself. "I can understand how you feel, but I can't condone your actions. You need to calm down and think about what I have just said…!" A sly look enters Daniel’s eyes as he slowly sits down. "You need to think what you could do; with two million pounds. Trust me, and I know. It does a lot and leaves change!"
Larkin watches his professionalism leave the building. "God knows…" The comment leaves Daniel seething again. "If God exists, and I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT. Then he knows nothing!" Larkin is staggered; does this man even know what he is saying anymore? "Even if I could accept a reward; as large as that…" Daniel becomes cantankerous. "I know police officers can't accept rewards; but what's to stop you retiring early; maybe abroad with I don’t know, say two million quid tax-free? An anonymous gift, inheritance maybe!" Larkin is incredulous, this man had once saved his life, and yet:
"You're actually serious aren't you?"
"Wouldn't you be?" The comment hangs in the air as the D.C replaces the seppuku knife. "You need to think very carefully about what you're saying, Mr Wrathchild!" Daniel had already thought about many things, "And you also need to think very carefully about what I'm paying, Mr LARKIN!"
"Attempting to bribe a police officer is a criminal offence!" Daniel offers his wrists across the desk.
“So LOCK me up, I'll come quietly!" D.C. Larkin is suddenly weary, he feels like he is suddenly getting too old for all of this. "I'm not going to arrest you. In fact, in light of the circumstances, I am prepared to forget most of this conversation ever took place. That is if, and only if, you retract your statement!" A glint of malice enters Wrathchild’s eyes as he sighs in submission. "What's up, you want all that money for yourself?"
The detective stands up slowly and looks Daniel wearily yet assertively in the eye. He speaks
carefully and pointedly to add gravity to his words: "Mr Wrathchild I am going to give you forty-eight hours; to either alter or retract your statement. If in that time you do not; then I will have no further option but to place you under arrest. I will then; have no further option, but to press full charges against you; and you, Mr Wrathchild, will go to prison for a very long time!” Larkin sighs resignedly and continues with a weary edge to his voice: “Look, these things often have an interesting way of
resolving themselves, you know."
“I’m well aware, that karma finds its own balance, Detective Constable. I’m also very aware, that
occasionally, it needs a little helping hand”. As he walks across the study, Larkin stops and analyses Daniel carefully. He wonders what it will take to get through to the man; he opts for the personal
approach. Wrathchild studies the other man too; the police detective removes a photo from his
Daniel barely glances at the proffered photo; it is of a large man in his early thirties, he is using a chrome Zippo lighter to light an extraordinarily large joint. Not the type of thing a person would
expect to find in a police officer’s wallet.
Larkin continues: "Look, I got kids too. Take my eldest Aaron; you know I hate the little git. Into all sorts he is: bikes, drugs, even violence. He thinks he’s above the law; he is not. He’s a pain in my arse. He is my son; and I love the stupid ape, but if anything ever happened to him... I guess at that point, I would stop being a cop! I don’t know what I’d do. I guess I’m trying to say I sympathise, as a parent I mean. As a cop, I’d have to say...” He ponders for a second and re engages cop mode.
“Justice will be served!”
Again, the D.C pauses to replace the photo in his wallet. Daniel gives him a wry smile. Larkin has
never felt this confused as he adds: “If there is some instrument of karma at work, then that would be my job! I'll show myself out!"
Daniel Wrathchild sits unmoving at his desk and smiles as the door closes. He reaches into his desk and opens a new whisky bottle; then pours himself the first of many doubles. His answerphone
voicemail is full; his email inbox is laden with inquiries.
He checks through his emails and opens the one with the attachments. Gulping down his whisky, he
opens it: ‘Bring the money to Skipton’s car park at 2am. Use a suitcase with nothing larger than £20
notes, no consecutive bills. Don’t be late’. Daniel takes another large swig from his glass and clicks on the attachment; it contains two videos.
He clicks the mouse to open mov1.wmv in media player. Daniel spurts whisky over his laptop. The
video is of a terrified man, with a wooden block gaffer taped between his knees. He is shaking with fear, his face tear- stained. Onscreen a blurry metal baseball bat smashes his kneecaps. The look of intense pain on the man’s face blazes into Wrathchild’s memory. Daniel swigs some more whisky;
now his mouse pointer hovers over mov2.wmv, his hand shaking violently.
The clip shows the injured man in the chair, this time with a gun to his head. He is talking through his desperate tears of pain; the look of intense agony on his face is unbearable. Daniel pauses the video; he stares at his reflection on the laptop’s screen. Just what shit-storm has he unleashed here? He is sure that the man in the video could not possibly have the resolve to make someone suffer, as Amy
undoubtedly had. The real question now was what he was going to do about it. If one thing is
certain, this situation was not going to sort itself out. For once, Daniel is the karma for a man he has never met.
Gone are the days, when Sergeant James Walker of the Queens Lancashire Regiment was in his
prime. These days there were more bad days than good; and the streets have always had little of
comfort to offer. He clutches at his carrier bag of meagre possessions as he shuffles across the dusty disused car park. His knee is not all that painful today, in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Tonight would be a different matter when the rain and the cold had their way. There is always alcohol to
ease the pain; but as medication goes, it is a little expensive.
His lank black hair drips with sweat as he drags his bad leg through the dust. His face heavily scarred and wrinkled, painting the picture of his years of military action in the heat of the Iraqi desert. His fatigues and boots have seen better days. The crutches are mottled with orange and brown rust,
which seems to grow out of the heavily worn stoppers. The elements have not been any kinder to
the metal, than the prison camps had been to Sergeant Walker’s mind. The doctors had initially
diagnosed him with P.T.S.D, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He had not been the first, nor would he be the last to ‘bring it home’ after his years of service. It had not meant much more to him than the medals, except of course you could not sell it. He could no
longer remember the war or the rewards. His long-term memory had literally, been shot out of his
head by a sniper. He can still remember things from a week or two ago, although he could not
usually tell you whether or not he had eaten today. Some things were just not that important.
Take that thing with that girl on Brown Street. He could remember that. It was only two streets away from where he is now. He could still hear the screams and remember the smell of her burning flesh,
that and the fierce heat of the fire.
He can also remember that he could have helped her; but for the first time he had been too afraid to do his duty, and that is why he can still hear her scream. He is not sure if her burning smell is on his clothes; his sense of smell is lacking these days but yes, the stench of her death is on him.
A little pink I-phone buzzes and illuminates the carrier bag. In shock, James drops his carrier bag; he stoops to pick it up. That is why he is not aware of the two youths standing behind him. Not until the first youth kicks him in his face.
Sergeant Walker hits the dusty car park hard. He manages to roll onto the carrier bag. He now uses
his body to protect it, as the youths kick at him repeatedly. Instinctively he curls into a foetal ball and uses his arms to protect his face as the blows thunder down on him painfully. He remains immobile
until the onslaught stops. “What’s in the bag, yer dirty ole tramp?” He refuses to answer although
more kicks and punches crash down on his back and on his legs.
“Gimme the bag an’ we’ll leave ya be. Give it up ya sweaty maggot!” Punches raining down on the
back of his head, the pain just keeps coming. All that is okay, Walker knows that he should have
done his duty and helped the girl.
To him this is his payback, his barracking. He had neglected his duty and this agony is nothing
compared to how she had felt. Yes, that is her screaming in his ears; the sound gets louder as the
He is aware that they are trying to roll him over; he clutches the carrier bag to himself and covers it with his knees and arms. If he is lucky they will kick him to death, but they will never take the bag.
The bag has the girl’s things in it, and he knows that she will never stop screaming until he gives them back to her. Just as suddenly as they had started, the onslaught stopped. He can hear them
running away. He still waits for a full five minutes, before he begins body checking himself for
injuries. He uncurls himself a little although pain covers his entire body in the burning heat of his searing agony.
Cautiously he inventories the bag’s contents. All is present and correct. James Walker picks himself up and continues on his mission. If there is one thing that the former Sergeant Walker still does well, it is soldiering on.
It is 1.30 in the morning; things are starting to happen on the Skipton’s Superstore car park. Daniel is sitting in his Aston Martin, listening to Def Leppard play ‘Armageddon it’. Beside him on the
passenger seat, is a large Samsonite suitcase. There are other cars parked nearby. Daniel wonders in which, if any, the perpetrators of tonight’s drama will be waiting. He reasons that it will (most likely) be the transit van, which has parked at the bus stop opposite the store.
Precisely what is going to happen next is anybody’s guess. It is going to be a long night. Daniel is beginning to wish that he had taken up smoking. It is 01.53 when his mobile buzzes; Daniel checks
the message. ‘Leave the case in the middle of the car park’. Daniel considers for a second before
typing a reply. ‘No man, no money. Show me yours first’. He hits ‘send’ and then nothing happens
for more than a minute. Daniel is beginning to lose hope; the negative part of his tired mind is just starting to think that the deal must be off. Has he blown it?
Suddenly a set of headlights switch on. A battered black van drives into the car park. It stops with its back doors facing Daniel. His heart skips a beat. The back doors open to reveal a very frightened
looking man. He has been bound and gagged to a flimsy wooden chair, by what appear to be cable
ties. The man has a rope around his neck that trails into the darkness at the back of the van, where Daniel cannot see.
Dimly he can tell that this is the man from the videos. He can tell by the way that his shattered
kneecaps allow his legs to twist around the chair legs at unnatural angles. Standing nonchalantly to the left of his captive, is a large man in a balaclava. He is completely dressed in black and holds a vicious looking machete to the man’s throat.
Daniel Wrathchild gulps; Christ these guys mean business! He nods to Balaclava. Turning to open the Aston’s door, his eye catches movement in the white transit van parked opposite.
It is the dim red glow of a lit cigarette. Balaclava follows his gaze and sees it too. His eyes suddenly widen. Balaclava bangs on the van’s wall three times. The black van’s engine starts. Balaclava shakes his head and waves cockily to Daniel; as the van begins to race away. Balaclava holds the rope
around his victim’s neck as the van reaches speed. Suddenly the morning comes to life in the glow of colourful flashing lights and police sirens.
The van is speeding across the car park and now hops a curb. Daniel can still clearly see inside the van, as Balaclava shoves out the chair with his foot whilst sliding the machete across the poor
creature’s throat. The chair shatters on impact, bouncing broken wood and splinters over the
tarmac. The body, dragged by its neck and at high speed, is scraping blood and gore over the road.
The body seems to twitch and Wrathchild can only hope that the captive is dead.
Daniel throws up again, he had not noticed that he had vomited over himself once already. His car
door opens and Larkin’s pale face looks into the car, “Christ what a mess!” As understatements go, it would have to do.
The drive to the police station is filled with a tense silence. On arrival, the cop invites Daniel for coffee, which he refuses. After coffee for one, Detective Constable Larkin is still tired and angry; the top brass are furious with him after hearing of the night’s fiasco. It will take all night to sort out the mess left in the wake of that black transit.
Larkin is the first to break the mind numbing silence between them: “So macho bullsquit aside, what went wrong?” Daniel’s eyes widen, they were not going to lay the blame on him. “One of you dicks
had a cig in the tranny; balaclava boy saw it; signalled the driver. Your guys mucked up and I’m tellin’
ya now. You ain’t pinning this fiasco on me!”
Larkin looks stressed: “Heads are gonna roll for this I’ll tell you..!”
“Aint gonna be mine pal!”
Larkin looks to Daniel closely. “You be sure of that! It’s operations that’ll take it in the neck!” Daniel grimaces. Larkin reads his expression, already regretting his choice of words. “So to speak!” Daniel is still cringing as Larkin continues: “Daniel, how are you coping with things?” Wrathchild shrugs and eyes the D.C wearily. “Sometimes I just kinda feel like, I wish I could rip apart the fabric of the universe. So I can just scream at it! You know ask it a couple of awkward questions. Maybe kick its ass a little. Yeah I’m fine thanks”.
Larkin looks thoughtful, he studies Daniel closely; “I could get you some help, a councillor or
something” Daniel smiles wearily. “I keep my own consul thanks, anything else?”
“Daniel, you need to know that the perps got away from us, we got an A.P.B on the van. You sure
you couldn’t identify the man in the Balaclava?” Daniel has long since grown weary of the
conversation. “I told you ‘no’ before! Look you gotta realise it’s been a long night. We’ve been over this a dozen times already, anyfin’ else or what?” Larkin looks uneasy and shakes his head. “We all have different ways of coping with things Daniel; sometimes though they’re not always the best
way, you know?”
Daniel grabs his jacket from the back of his chair and walks from the room as casually as he can
manage. He slams the door behind him. Larkin stares at the wall; and recollects when he and
Daniel’s paths first crossed. It seems so very long ago in his mind, although the memory is vivid
enough as if formed only yesterday.
The detective constable does not like the estate; he has many reasons for his distaste, even fear of the area and those had all started about a year ago:
The sandstone wall labelled 'Dickens Gate Estate', acts as the gateway to Ashby Street. For Larkin, it is the entry to his own private hell. The street itself is a lane of sorrowful neglect, a road to apathy.
The dreadfully neglected estate has accommodations that are concrete faced and are occasionally
shored up behind green steel shutters. Smashed bus shelters coated in pointlessly obscene graffiti
and litter (including used nappies, sanitary towels and condoms), dot the area. The carcasses of
burnt out cars and industrial bins litter the wasteland and streets alike.
There are patches of sparse grass coated in turds, smashed electrical products that the thieves had not been able to sell. Amongst the damaged prams, lay the occasional used hypodermic syringes
between the dwellings of a more human waste. The local politician had once referred to it as ‘an
The night that a young Detective Sergeant had met his unlikely hero had been dark and ashen clouds
had peppered the skyline. Outside of a decrepit council house stood Larkin; attired in his crumpled work-suit. As the seasoned police detective sergeant (that he had been at that time), he had been
trained to use his ears to listen to ambient noise and listen even harder to silence.
The estate was unnaturally silent that night; a sure sign that something was amiss. Larkin had also noticed that Ashby Street seemed darker than it had before. As he returned his notebook to his
pocket, he realised that the streetlight by his car was now out. It had been working before. He
produced his keys and deactivated the car’s alarm. The eerie evening’s silence; suddenly shattered
by those acknowledging beeps. He descended the steps from number forty- eight; and paused on
the pavement to collect his thoughts.
Thoughts soon interrupted by the sudden burst of sharp pain that began to radiate up his back;
quickly followed by two more. He remembered that it had grown suddenly cold. He recalled the
overwhelmingly searing pain. His hand reached to the painful area. There he had felt a warm sticky
His vision grew dimmer, darker and the agony drove through him like a runaway truck. As he fell to
the cold hard pavement, he saw a glint of metal in the corner of his eye. Rapidly followed by a loud bang; was that a gun shot? A hooded figure running away, an ethereal figure in white approaching
him; and Larkin had succumbed to the cold burning pain wrapped in a blackened blanket of
That sound had been that of a rattletrap Maestro misfiring; as it had squealed to a stop. A large man dressed in a karate ghi had emerged from the rusted remnants of that car. Daniel Wrathchild
slammed his car door and rushed over to help. "Christ you alright mate?”
To Daniel, the man appeared to be dead. The figure did not move, yet his blood was still pumping
out in thick red rivulets. The guy was unconscious and rapidly bleeding out. Daniel’s white ghi soon became blood soaked as he examined the prone figure for signs of life. He had barely found the
man’s pulse. It had been weak and fading fast.
A large overweight man, in his forties, approached. He was unclean and very drunk. Daniel had tried to stem the bleeding with his fingers and by applying pressure. He soon realised that his attempts
were futile. He had eventually tried to carry the prone figure to his car. The filthily drunk man had observed and finally spoken, "I wouldn't bovver mate, he's a fuggin’ coppa!"
Daniel knew that the dying man did not have time for this, "Well, we all make mistakes; it’d be a crime to let him die, Aidey!” Ade was obviously going to be of no use and Daniel was struggling with the police officer’s weight as he tried to lift him alone. Ade reasoned, “One less pig in the world wouldn’t harm!” Daniel had managed to lift Larkin and was stumbling toward his car. The door
handle was going to be a problem, “Look you gonna help or not?”
Ade remained reluctant, “Nah, no fuggin’ coppa ever helped me!”
“Just open the door!” Ade complied and Daniel had lifted Larkin into the Maestro’s back seat. Ade
was checking Larkin’s car over; ”You think this’ll be unlocked?” Daniel Wrathchild had eyed the
irksome man wearily. He had rapidly grown tired of Adrian Lawson. “You could open that with a
screwdriver. Only it’s a police car, probably got a tracking thingy!”
“Or a could jus’ purra brick through it!”
“That’s like using a cannon to kill mosquitoes!”
The large man’s face went blank. “Was that supposed to mean?” Daniel positioned Larkin on his
back seat and closed the car’s door. The effort had left him short of breath. “Overkill!” Adrian
Lawson looked mystified. Daniel eyed Adey Lawson with impatience and a measure of incredulity: ”
Oh just get lost you fat bastard!"
There had been a black Range Rover parked a little further down the street. Being black and parked
under another ‘conveniently’ none working streetlight, meant that it had gone unnoticed during the
stabbing. That was purely intentional on the part of the Range Rover’s driver; who had already
decided to continue to record the events for a little longer. The huge muscular man with the camera is Animal. He had giggled at Daniel’s comments, which he had overheard though headphones.
“Cannon to kill a mosquito!”
That was priceless, especially in his line of work. The best bit was that the fat git didn’t know what the pyjama guy was on about, that had been a pure comedy for Animal. All of this was going to be of huge interest to Big John. The stabbing was being recorded for future purposes; the night vision was ideal for that. Another great thing about the night vision on that camera was that it was fantastic at picking out fine details; such as the Maestro’s number plates.
That nut in the white clothes had been messing with things far above his station; it had been useful to get his car reg number, in case of any later complications. He had considered calling Big John to clarify if the detective was supposed to be dead, or had this just been an initiation for the numb-nuts with the blade. He could not have known if he would have been in bigger bother had he not gotten
the hero’s reg plate.
So he had waited and recorded. He had already decided that he would follow the knackered car to
the hospital and call Big John from there. If things had gone to hell, it would be up to him to sort things out; even if that meant offing the copper in the hospital.
Edgerton’s A and E department was having one of its frequent quiet nights. As Daniel had entered,
the bored looking nurse appeared relieved to finally have something to do. "Help you gotta help, this guy’s bleeding out!" Two porters soon had the dying policeman in a wheelchair. The Triage nurse examined Larkin quickly and efficiently before barking to the porters: "Get him up to theatre two!"
Daniel had turned to leave, and was stopped abruptly by the nurse’s hand gently landing on his
shoulder. In her other hand, an internal telephone that she now spoke into: "Hello, need the
emergency surgical team to theatre two, stat! Incoming I.C.1 male with multiple stab wounds, he's
bleeding out! I’ll call back when I get more, thanks."
She had dropped the phone back onto its cradle and turned back to Daniel. "Okay I need as much as you can tell me about the patient as quickly as you can!" Daniel was quickly lost for words and when he finally found them, they had sounded panicked, self-conscious and confused. "I have no idea who he is I just found him like that; think he might be a cop. Think he’s bin knifed. I just figured he'd be dead if I waited for an ambulance, no offense...!"