Jacob was absolutely knackered.
He had been just about to clock off at work when a call had come in from a cop
car who had found a mangled body thrown in a beck by a roadside on a country
lane and he needed a doctor to call time of death so that the forensic team
could move in. He ran his hand through his dark wavy hair and ran his hand
thought his short stubble and set off out to his car. He jumped into his dark
green car in the car park – he punched in the OS grid reference he had been
given into the cars satnav and set off for the crime scene.
He had no idea why the doctor
from the Skelton station couldn’t take the call – he was much closer than Jacob
was based down the road in Guisborough, but oh-well.
So Jacob drove to the scene in an
otherwise idyllic spot in the North Yorkshire moors and when he turned up he
pulled up and got out of the car and had the constable at the scene direct him
to the body. The spot where the body was at was a metre away from the road. The
beck was shallow and from where Jacob was stood he could just about see the
coastline from where they were through a gap in the trees.
When he got to the body he made
sure the victim was dead, not a difficult deduction as he had a gash across his
chest. The body was of a man, white in his mid to late twenties by the look of
him. His hair was black and he had about two days’ worth of stubble covering
his chin. He was so pale from blood loss that he’d seen snowmen with a better suntan
than this guy, and the body was in full rigour-mortis. Just for the sake of
being professional he placed the back of his hand a few inches above the
victim’s mouth and when he had confirmed the man was not breathing by placing
his hand against his mouth he checked for a pulse; first the radial artery in
his wrist and then the carotid artery in his neck – as Jacob expected – the man
was as dead as he looked.
He told the constable at the
scene, a young, tall and strawberry blonde PC called Lisa Garret who he had
worked with a few times before that the forensics lot could move in and got in
his car and drove back to the station.
There he sat behind his desk and
filled out the ridiculously long report and sent it to the relevant people. And
as usual this frustrated him because like always he could summarise what
happened in under thirty words: ‘arrived at the crime scene at 19:45, found the
victim, determined the cause of death as chest wound, probably murder, left the
scene at 19:57, stopped for coffee and scones on the way back, signed Dr Jacob
R. Roberts, M.B.’: if only.
Nothing he ever put in the
preliminary reports ever got read anyway, it couldn’t be used as evidence
unless there were glaring differences between his and later findings, so what
was the point? Everything had to be confirmed by a pathologist at the hospital in
Middlesbrough or at the county coroner’s office so it really was just wasted
As it was it had to be done
however so at half past ten he pulled into his parking space beneath the
apartment block he lived in, several hours later than he had hoped; again, and
once again he was far too exhausted to want to do anything. So he walked
upstairs after taking his shoes off and hanging his bomber jacket on the back
of the front door. His boyfriend was already asleep in the first floor
apartment’s bedroom – and their dog – the jammy little bugger – was sprawled on
Jacobs’s side of the bed. Jacob picked up Roofus and put him on the end of the
bed, climbed in the newly free (and doggie warmed) top end of the bed, and
pulled the covers over himself.
Jacob leaned over to his
boyfriend and kissed the back of his neck, gently and carefully as not to wake
him, and rolled onto his back and tucked his feet under the dog who made a
comfortable and toasty warm foot warmer before dosing off almost immediately.
Unfortunately this was short lived. It was still dark outside and Jacobs’s
pager was going off beside his bed. It lit up and vibrated with its customary
light up and vibrate routine. The vibration was loud enough to wake him resting
on the wooden bedside table, even without the light ringing sound it made which
was way under half of the volume of his mobile phones alarm clock.
Jacob picked it up and pressed
the button to access the message that had been sent.
‘Body Call: report in’ it read.
He wasn’t sure why they couldn’t
just text him the instructions to come into work but he didn’t see much point
in questioning it, it was the same either way to him. He got up and groped his
way to the chair he kept his clothes dumped on and got dressed in the dark for
fear of waking Liam. When he was dressed again he walked down the hall to the
kitchen and put the kettle on and phoned the direct line for the DSI’s desk at
the station in Guisborough.
‘Dr Roberts here; Sally, is that
you?’ he asked while stifling a yawn.
‘Yes it is’ the women on the
other end of the line replied.
‘What can I do for you?’ he
‘I need you to come back in’ she told
him ‘the coroners sick so the hospital has asked for you to do the autopsy. Oh…
Also another call came in – a body has been discovered by the roadside on the
road into Middlesbrough – they’ve asked us to deal with it’.
Jacob sighed ‘I’ll be there in an
hour’ he said, but not before I’ve had a
strong black coffee he said to himself. Jacob managed to throw his coffee
back by filling the mug half way to the top and putting a little bit of cold
water in it to cool it down.
By the time Jacob had nipped to
the toilet and had taken a leak, washed his hands and munched down a packet of
crisps he was able to gulp down his caffeine fix – he grabbed a second packet
of crisps and munched them down wiped his fingers down with the dish cloth by
the sink, felt the inside of his pocket to make sure his car keys were still in
it and walked back downstairs into the basement car park to his car. He got
into his car and turned the keys in the ignition and drove back the way he came
mere hours earlier.
He headed back into work after
leaving his Middlesbrough apartment, driving past the crime scene which Sally
had told him about on his way in. The dark grey private ambulance which was
used to transport bodies wasn’t there as Jacob past, which relived him as it
meant that the body was already at the station and he wouldn’t have to wait for
it to arrive in order to examine it; he might get a little bit of sleep tonight
after all. He kept on driving until he reached the station, after entering
Guisborough and heading straight towards the police station.
Jacob arrived back at the police
station and reported to DSI Williams – or Sally as she preferred to be called:
never one for formal titles, she was always Sally – except on her name badge
and the plaque above her door.
‘Reporting for duty as ordered
Ma’am’ Jacob said as he walked into her office without knocking. He walked
right up to her desk and saluted.
‘We aren’t in the army and they
salute with the right hand, not the left… AND DO NOT CALL ME MA’AM’ she said in
mock outrage. Sally was in her late twenties and had dark brown hair; she
looked to Jacob over the top of her spectacles as she said it.
‘Won’t happen again… Sir’ he said jokingly ‘So, where’s the
‘Being shipped in – the ambulance
arrives in ten minutes’ Sally replied.
‘Right then, I’m going to scrub
up – I’ll have the preliminary report ready for you by two am – is that OK?’ he
‘Great Doc’ Sally said.
It was about one in the morning
and Jacob was thoroughly cheesed off. Jacob was in the autopsy room, a sterile
environment if ever there was one, the furniture was metal and the floors and
walls were a pale green colour. On the far side of the room were a row of
cadaver drawers a few feet by a few feet in size but deep enough to store a
body in. He had sent the last several hours meticulously confirming what he
already knew and collecting samples for other people to confirm it yet again. A
young man had been gashed across his chest and had bled out: The end.
But now another body was in the
cadaver draw which had been brought in from someplace just outside Middlesbrough,
that city (because the people who lived there loved to think of it as a city) where
they had all that groovy forensic science equipment and they wanted a double
homicide to be dealt with in a small barely equipped lab in a station in a
small town that the people of ‘the Boro’ liked to go for walks in the
countryside, have pub lunches and sit in quaint coffee shops.
Jacob noticed that this body
looked almost the same as the man who was killed earlier. A few years older
maybe, he was a little slimmer and without the short facial hair though.
Something tugged at the back of Jacobs mind, like de jâ vu.
A little bit of new data had been
gleamed from this examination. The jaggedness of the wound meant that his ‘patient’
was alive and restrained when the wound was inflicted – doing more thorough
examination he found marks on his arms suggesting that one arm had been placed
on the other and weight had been applied to hold him down and the wound had
been made slowly. Perhaps this wasn’t a
complete waste of time; I must just be grouchy because I’m tired Jacob
thought to himself.
When the second body was out on
the table Jacob examined the wound and found just the same – he betted that the
fingerprints he found on the wrists of the two victims would match – that’s how
partners in crime operated, they always tended to get into a routine and then
they would do it again and again until either they got caught or had a falling
out leading to one partner killing the other before he or she would flee.
That was if they were just a pair
of homicidal psycho lunatics – if they were a pair of organised criminals then
these two were rivals or double crossers,but that was unlikely – sending a message like this made a point, but it
was also a signature – and that made it easier for the police to link them –
organised criminals would be clever enough to make the killing as impersonal as
possible – make it look like a mugging or at the very least wear some latex
gloves as not to leave any fingerprints – this was sloppy – to the extent of
idiocy or two people so lazy they genuinely didn’t care if they went to prison;
the former was more likely Jacob decided.
Jacob wrote up the paperwork
releasing the samples to the forensics lab downstairs and went back upstairs to
the squad room. It was now so late that it could just as fairly be described as
early; so he sent his boyfriend Liam an apologetic text and once again pulled
the sleeping bag he kept under his desk out, deciding that for the amount of
sleep he would get if he went home it would be far better to just curl up here
and get an extra few hours’ sleep for it. He was probably too tired to drive
anyway at this point so he closed his eyes and dreamed of the make-up sex that
would undoubtedly come.
‘Wake up buddy’ came the sound of
Sargent Nick O’Connell’s deep gravelly voice a few hours later. Nick was short
and stocky; he wore a dark beard and had a square jaw. Jacob checked his mobile
in his pocket: 08:27, mere minute’s prior to when his phones alarm had been set
to go. Beginning the all too familiar ritual he got out of his sleeping bag, sprayed
his underarms with a can of body spray from his desk draw and took from his
desks bottom draw the toothbrush and toothpaste he kept in a peach wash bag
with dark green patterns on it, realising how horrifically sad it is that this
happened so often, and he headed for the men’s room to brush his teeth.
After rinsing his mouth out with
tap water and spiting it into the sink he stretched and splashed water in his
face before wiping it dry with paper towels. He looked in the mirror and ran
his hands over the short dark stubble that was growing on his face and
momentarily wondered if he should add a disposable razor to the wash bag he
kept in his desk.
When Jacob got back he found on
his desk a coffee – from Sgt O’Connell he presumed as it was his turn to get
them. Under his coffee was a returned forensic report. Jacob had no idea how
that got processed so quickly – even murders got held back by insane backlog;
he had never, repeat never, got overnight service before. He took the letter
opener he kept on his desk and he tore the seal and looked at the report
Jacobs’s heart skipped a beat as
he saw the report. He read it and re-read it before he could accept what it
‘Bollocks’ Jacob said to himself ‘he’s
The fingerprints on the victim’s chests
had come back with a match for a case Jacob had worked on previously – another
murder 6 years ago particularly gruesome and unfortunately unsolved, so
gruesome that even Jacob, a trained doctor and forensic investigator still lost
sleep over it. The prints on the victims’ wrists were unknown.
‘And then there were two’ Jacob said
to himself putting his head in his hands.