Today I am taking part in the Urbane Extravaganza which is being hosted by Kelly at Love Books Group. My stop brings an extract from Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison.
In a sleepy northern seaside resort, The Eastborough Police Force is shocked into action when a heavily mutilated body is found in a quiet suburb. Murder rarely happens in these parts. Within a short space of time, the body count begins to rise rapidly, as a serial killer runs amok. DI Will Scott is tasked with finding the killer. In doing he treads paths he never expected to traverse and uncovers a web of deceit that leads to a world where no one can be trusted. The killer relentlessly continues to strike terror across the community. Then without warning, the killing ground changes. Where will the killer strike next …?
‘Jesus Christ, this is ridiculous. First we’ve got missing kids, now an unconscious person on the bloody beach. Let another unit answer that call mate, we’ve got enough on our plate.’ Clive Wilson, the tall, slightly overweight copper, sat in the Police canteen of Bridlington Police station instructing the new uniform recruit. ‘Grab a quick coffee before it gets too manic, there’s clearly not going to be a break today.’ Jamie Benton looked slightly intimidated by his tutor constable who seemed keen to avoid work.
The Police radio suddenly burst into life, crackling out another message, another request for any officer in the area of the Spa to attend the beach, where a male had been reported as lying unconscious and in clear need of assistance. Wilson jumped up from his seat, tapping his apprentice on the shoulder and barking out the command.
‘Come on, we’ll take this shout, it’s probably a drunk or a druggie. Straightforward, it’ll keep us busy for an hour or so.’ Slamming the canteen door open, he added: ‘We could get tied up with some other dross job if we don’t grab this one, hurry up!’
The two officers were gone, leaving another figure sitting alone in a quiet corner of the canteen. Detective Inspector Will Scott wasn’t really interested in the operational workings of uniformed branch. Unlike many of his colleagues in Bridlington, Will was a local man, born and raised in the town. Now in his early forties, his
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family had moved here from Garforth, Leeds, back in the 1970s. There was very little he didn’t know about the town, including the local criminal fraternity. He recognised that the shout was more than likely some druggie visiting the town for the weekend or maybe here on his holidays, doing a bit of dealing in one of the locals’ territory. One of his team of trained detectives would no doubt, depending upon the circumstances, pick up the aftermath of the arrests a little later, interviewing the alleged offender and sorting out what crimes had been committed. Will knew that experienced dealers wouldn’t operate so openly and as close to the seafront, therefore a large recovery of drugs was unlikely.
Looking down, he checked his watch, it was close to six o’clock, knocking off time, he could then head to his home in Marton Gate, and spend some quality time with his two children, Ellie and Danny, and his wife, Mel.
He quietly made his way from the canteen, climbing the stairs that led up to the senior management floor and which also housed the CID offices. At his desk, he checked his computer one last time for any messages that might need an urgent response, before closing everything down. He picked up a police radio and slipped it into his jacket pocket along with a pager and mobile phone before heading home. He was the duty officer this weekend, on call for any serious incidents, not that there were likely to be many, but in recent times there had been a few murders to investigate. By and large, duty officer weekends tended to go by smoothly and without any issues. On his way out he logged off duty and notified the control room staff that he was making his way home.
As he drove through the busy streets of Bridlington, he could hear the wailing of police sirens in the distance. This was quickly followed by a radio shout for ‘Back up’ at the beach incident. From what he could hear the unconscious person on the beach needed priority medical assistance. The urgency in the voice of the radio caller made Will think twice about diverting to the scene. He thought again, that wasn’t his role, he was a detective, not uniform, and the thought of missing out on valuable family time swayed his decision as he continued on his way home through the traffic on Sewerby Road. A few minutes later, the sound of ambulance and police sirens fell quiet, the radio transmissions had all but stopped, the incident, it seemed was over, dealt with effectively by the uniform officers. Will drove his blue Audi A4 through the double gates of his detached home. The sun was still shining and it was a warm summer’s evening. Life felt good for Will Scott, even on duty officer weekends.
As he stepped into the front hall, he was greeted by the excited cries of Ellie and Danny who ran up to him, hugging him tightly, they missed him when he was at work. He loved these sorts of greetings, a loving, caring family helped put into perspective the utter madness that could often reign in his working role. From the kitchen, Mel waved to him and held up a large glass of wine. He could smell the aroma of his favourite meal, spaghetti Bolognese, being cooked. The children returned to the TV in the living room. Will walked through into the kitchen and cuddled up behind his wife, kissing her gently on the back of her neck. Mel turned around and the pair hugged.
‘Don’t forget I’m duty weekend, so I can’t have too much of this stuff’ he muttered, as he took hold of the full glass and sipped from it.
“Can we eat in the garden this evening, it’s beautiful outdoors?’ he asked. Mel agreed and suggested he go upstairs and shower, by which time she would have dinner ready. Will grabbed the glass of wine and took it with him. Throwing his dark blue two-piece work suit onto the bed, he had a quick refreshing shower, and changed into more relaxing clothes, swilling a mouthful more of his wine before returning downstairs for dinner.
Mel had everything set out on the patio table. She could tell Will was tired, he was a dedicated and hard-working copper and a man who genuinely tried to do his very best for the people of Bridlington and its surrounding areas. He hated the tourist season, it brought all kinds of undesirables to the town, and everyday life for local people was made all the more difficult by the sheer quantity of people, cars, caravans and motorhomes during the summer months.
With the couple’s house backing onto tree lined fields, the rear garden was a sanctuary for the family, private and peaceful, just the way they liked it. Mel dished up dinner as the family sat down to enjoy the meal together.
Will and Mel had met when she joined the Eastborough Police force. Tall, slim and with auburn shoulder length hair, Mel was attractive in every way, she was the ideal companion, best friend and wife for Will. From the moment they had first met as uniform officers, he was blown away by her intelligence on all subjects. She held the same interests as he did, reading, writing and watching Formula 1. He knew it was their destiny to be together when he told her he was travelling to Monaco to watch a forthcoming Grand Prix, Mel had replied, ‘Me too, I’m flying from Gatwick.’ On the same flight as Will, and since he didn’t believe in coincidence, he recognised it as fate.
After something of a whirlwind romance, the couple were married in Bali 18 months later. Mel had resigned from the police force within a year, she felt the position was too political and that common sense policing had disappeared. Now replaced by diversity awareness, and partnership corroboration that effectively gave the local politicians too much of a say in how the police operated and what their priorities should be. Catching criminals was secondary to meeting statistical targets and achieving performance indicator figures, this kept both the local council and its councillors content.
Will had been sensible enough to get out of the uniform branch as quickly as he could. He had hated walking the streets of Bridlington with a police tit on his head. After serving his probation he had branched out into the intelligence field. He had made such a name for himself by the accuracy of his reports, and the quality and quantity of criminals he had brought in, that a move into CID was a natural progression. Wanting to better himself, he sat his promotions’ exams as soon as he could. Passing for sergeant at the first attempt, a short time back in uniform was inevitable to provide career experience. A spell at Driffield followed by a year serving in Beverley, he was soon back in CID in Brid.
With the inspectors’ exam under his belt, he was given the nod to sit promotion boards, which led him to his current rank of detective inspector.
Will rarely brought his work home, he didn’t want his family involved or to know of who or what he was dealing with. He protected his children at all costs. Occasionally they brought friends home for tea, some of these children were from recognisable criminal families. He never discussed this knowledge with his children, nor did he prevent them from visiting. It was a difficult balance to maintain in such a small place like Bridlington, yet most people who knew him socially or professionally, including some local criminals, liked Will because he was decent, and those who knew the family felt Mel and Will were good for each other.
With dinner over, Will helped Mel clear the table and sort the kids out, ready for bed. Soon it was just him and Mel, he poured them both another glass of wine, and they sat together and watched the sun disappear into the distant horizon. They talked of the jobs they wanted to get done in the rear garden.
‘Can you hear something buzzing?’ she asked, looking back through the patio doors into the house. ‘I think it’s something in the kitchen,’ she said. Will leapt from his seat exclaiming, ‘Christ it’s not my pager is it, fucking hell, where did I put the bloody thing?’ Frantically looking in all the wrong places, he eventually found the pager where he had left it, next to the sink.
‘I’ve got to call in, something must have happened.’ He had a look of resignation on his face as he punched the control room number into his police mobile. ‘Thank fuck I didn’t have too much wine, I bet they want me to go in.’
‘Is that DI Scott?’ said the female voice on the other end of the phone.
‘Yes, what have we got?’ said Will with a tone of authority and urgency.
‘Sir, I think you would be best going direct to the scene, there’s been a body found. Only it’s not as straightforward as that, it’s a difficult situation. It’s a suspected murder.’ The control room operator had a slight tremor in her voice. Will clicked into business mode.‘Right, give me the location, victim details and what resources have been called to the scene already. Is the duty superintendent aware?’
‘Yes sir, he has asked me to tell you to attend in senior investigating officer capacity. He’s unable to get there, but you can page him on 546 if you want to speak with him direct. We have serials deployed from Bridlington, Hornsea and Driffield, two dog handlers and armed response is on standby. Crime scene and forensic investigators are en route and the entire street and surrounding area has been cordoned off. The deceased person has been found inside a house in Kent Road. A neighbour noticed the front door has been ajar for a couple of days and phoned in. No confirmed identification yet, other than the deceased is a male.’ ‘Okay, thank you. Call out DS Wright and ask her to meet me at the scene. Are we definite it’s a murder and not accidental death or of natural causes?’ he enquired hopefully.
‘It’s definitely a murder, sir. Can you give me an ETA for you to get to the scene? The police surgeon is on his way and they really need you there soon as.’
‘I’ll be there within 15 minutes. In the meantime, no one enters the property or grounds. I don’t want onlookers blocking everything up either. Get any available uniform officers to clear the street if necessary. Oh, and get someone to speak to immediate neighbours or potential witnesses, we need to clarify who lives at the address. Do a voters’ check. I don’t want anything getting out, it’s a complete information blackout where the media are concerned, at least until we have something to say.’
Will ended the call and tossed the phone onto a kitchen worktop, frustrated
‘I have to go in, there’s been a murder at a house in Kent Road, I bet it’s another bloody drugs related incident. Sounds like they need someone to make a few decisions. Typically, the superintendent has passed the buck down to me. I better get ready and get myself there.’
Mel stood up moving towards Will, wrapping her arms around him and giving him a loving hug. ‘Bloody druggies spoil everything. Take care won’t you darling? Keep me posted if it’s going to be an all-nighter.’
Will took the stairs two at a time, threw on his blue suit, shirt and tie, and quietly sneaked into both of the children’s bedrooms. Bending over their peaceful sleeping bodies, he kissed each of them goodnight and crept back out before returning to his wife in the kitchen. He kissed her and left.
Many thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for putting this together with Urbane.