Wednesday 4 December 2013

Chapter 1 of 'A killer returns'

Hi readers; here’s the first chapter of my Kindle e-Book ‘A killer returns’, available in full from Amazon.

To purchase the full version on Kindle from...

Amazon UK, click HERE (British Customers) £0.99

Barnes and noble, click HERE (US customers) US$0.99

Amazon Canada, click HERE (Canadian customers) CDN$1.08

Amazon Australia, click HERE (Australian customers) AU$1.06

© Allan McLeod Online

First published on Kindle in 2013

Chapter 1 – A trying evening

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 labour.

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 asked.

‘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 body?’

‘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 asked

‘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 inside.

Jacobs’s heart skipped a beat as he saw the report. He read it and re-read it before he could accept what it said.

‘Bollocks’ Jacob said to himself ‘he’s back’.

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.

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