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Stories are a magical doorway to the unknown, or an adventure to places you have never imagined.

 

The Stories below are just a taste of what can happen when you discover new and exciting Authors, so grab a drink, sit down and drift away.

 

Written By

Becky Barton

Kidnapped

Written by Anthony Rout

It began with a call that no parent ever wished they had to make, however it was now eleven forty three in the evening and Casper had still not arrived home from school. After recently turning thirteen the young boy who showed a maturity above his years was given the freedom to walk to and from school, which was just ten minutes down the road. What added to the worry was that Casper had managed the journey for almost a month without any real concerns and his mother was happy to allow it to continue. Worryingly now she sat shaking on the small arm chair in her living room, wit her mobile phone pressed to her ear as teams of Police Officers were on their way to the property.

 

The Nine, Nine, Nine Dispatch operator didn't even think of her reaction to the distressed Mother's plea for help, being a mother herself it only took eleven seconds for her to have an urgent response note on the system for officers to attend the address, within another seven seconds, three local units had radioed in that they would react and were on route. Doing her best to keep the distraught woman calm, the operator ran through a series of questions and as quickly as possible logged the details. By the time the first response team arrived the operator had all the details she needed, gave the mother a few heartfelt words of encouragement and then hung up to take another call. Her heart was racing at the thought of the mothers anguish and concern for the young boy.

 

Sat with the mother in the living room Police Constable Harker quickly jotted down notes from the questions he had to ask. Some of them not easy to answer for someone who faced the real possibility of not seeing their child again. That truth lingered in the back of his head, it had too, it kept him sharp and focused. He had noted the times the young boy left the house in the mornings for school, what time he normally left school. Details about the route home he would take, he had already radioed one of the other units to check along the route instead of coming to the house. He took names of friends, family and other people of interest in the area. While asking what he was wearing the mother broke down so he handed her a tissue from the box half empty on the table. Instinct told him the mother had nothing to do with this, her husband had died three years earlier so wasn't an avenue to investigate. No boyfriends during that time so no leads there, however there was the home help, a young woman by the name of Samantha, Miss Green, who has been working for the family for almost a year. A knot tightened in his stomach.

 

With its blue lights flashing one of the responding police units drove slowly along the main road from the school toward the family home. There was only one road, which didn't make things any easier. On one side of the road, there was the school, the playing field which backed onto a small woodland area then onto the local bypass. The other side of the road were houses, many with their lights off, some with the light from the television flickering constantly. Yet there was no sign of the boy, further along the road there were houses then on both sides, back lanes to the gardens on both sides of the road and then the park. The patrol car come to stop in front of another police car out side a small house in the street on the other side of the park. PC Harker and his colleague left the house and walked to the occupied vehicle.

 

Within minutes three teams of two officers had torch light searching the park, the low amber hue from the few scattered street lights were no help. One team search the area of the park on the right hand side of the road, the opposite side of the road to the family home. Beside a few empty beer bottles the park was clean and had no sign of the boy or his belongings. Over the foot bridge in the other half of the park David Harker, a father of three, with eleven years experience in the police caught a glimpse of something, he directed his torch to illuminate the area under the roundabout, his mouth went dry in an instant. What he found, was a shoe, a black, slip on school shoe. Rushing forward in a panic he felt like a lead weight, the officer with him ran to his side as soon as he noticed the sudden movement from her partner. Grabbing an evidence bag from his pocket, he always carried a few around with him out of habit, he picked the shoe up using the bag and examined it.

 

It wasn't Casper's shoe, first thing that told him that was the little flower pattern on the front, it was a girls shoe. Second it was three sizes too small and had a name written on the inside, it looked like Daisy, but the shoe had been chewed on and so had likely been thrown out at least a few days ago. That heavy feeling he felt subsided, it was a blessing, however it also meant there was still no sign of the boy. Sitting on the cold metal seat of the roundabout the Police Officer watched as the other park team crossed the bridge. Time was running out and it was too dark to consider searching the nearby woodland. Suddenly his radio crackled and he answered. Dispatched had informed him that the School Caretaker was on his way to open the school to allow them access to the school's CCTV. A request the officer had made almost as soon as he got to the house. There were no other cameras that covered that stretch of road, so they didn't have a lot to go on.

 

At the school gates the fifty something caretaker waved the car forward into the staff parking area at the side of the school. PC Harker exited the vehicle looking about not hiding the fact that he was. The school representative greeted the two officers and they followed him around the front of the building and into the school via the main doors. After a few quick questions it was clear that Casper had in fact been in school that day, the caretaker, Arnold Westline, had seen him a few times during the day. Described as a friendly and helpful child, the caretaker's account of the boy's actions in school didn't seem unreasonable. Casper had helped with the litter picking at first break, at dinner helped a few of the year sevens find their way around the school, passing the caretaker a few times doing so. Even at the end he had stopped to help empty the bins, leaving thirty minutes after school finished, which matched his mother's time frame.

 

After watching the external carpark camera for the sixth time David Harker was happy that young Casper had left the school and looked as though he was walking home. What happened now once he was out of view of the school camera was what needed piecing together. His radio crackled again and dispatched passed on a few new leads, one of which was a worker from the garage at the end of the road having spotted a young lad matching Casper's description in a vehicle at the garage about the same time as the boy left school. The Officers thanked the caretaker rushed to the car and drove down the road, passing the child's home and moments later pulling into the little four pump garage forecourt. 

 

The garage manager was waiting for them, one of the other police teams was already there, part of the area search, they had called in the details and now Harker was striding into the building to find out for himself what information there was to collect. With haste the manage played a short clip from the forecourt CCTV, for a few seconds all that could be seen is vehicles rushing passed on the main road. Then a small car pulls in and stops at a pump. A Woman climbs from the drivers seat and begins to fill the vehicle with fuel. Then a small head appears in the back, the picture isn't very clear, but it could very well be the boy they are looking for. The child in the car had short curly blonde hair, a Redmoore High school blazer and looked a little distressed. The woman pays at the pump on a card then drives away.

 

Logging the number plate of the vehicle they discover the vehicle had been reported stolen during the early hours of the morning from a town almost two hundred miles south of the little town. It took a few minutes to find the payment, twenty nine pounds and ninety seven pence of unleaded petrol on a card registered to a Clive Sackville, and as expected the card came back as stolen. Mrs Peters rushed into the office with a female officer behind her. The panic and hope in her voice was raw, painful and she tried to hold back the tears. After being shown the video she collapsed to the floor in tears as she sobbed hoarsely screaming that it was her son in the back of the car. That gut wrenching knot tightened as Harker processed the obvious, this was a totally random kidnapping, no motive, no ransom, no logic. The clock was now ticking so much faster, he feared the worse and it almost made him sick.

 

As sounds go, the wailing of a mother who has just been told almost the worst news possible is heart shattering, and even out on the garage forecourt Harker could hear the soul destroying cry as he spoke to dispatch to discover where other local cameras were situated and to issue a track on the vehicle. When he was finished he looked along the road with a heavy heart, three forty two was the time the vehicle left the garage, it was now twenty seven minutes passed midnight, nine hours, nine hours head start the child abductor had. In that time on fair travelling conditions, someone could drive coast to coast almost three times, or be at the furthest points north or south in the country. The chances now of finding the boy was devastatingly slim, he had to tell the boy's mother that truth, he didn't want to, but there was little point in hiding it. The officers eyes began to tear up.

 

His radio crackled and the voice on the other end was in a fluster, the audio wasn't clear so he asked for the details to be repeated, as he listened closely the other officers and the boy's mother rushed from the garage. The car had been sighted two hours north, a local unit had been dispatched and would wait at the vehicle for Harker to arrive. On the road north Harker and his companion done all they could to reassure Mrs Peters that everything was being done to secure the vehicle and search the area safely. The sighting came in from a camera at a local travel lodging carpark. It showed the woman leaving the vehicle with the child and heading for the hotel. The hope was they were still inside.

 

Even with the blues flashing the journey took an hour and forty, however to Mrs Peters it felt so much longer. If it wasn't for a ferry bridge being in use they could have arrived twenty minutes sooner, but there was nothing they could do about that. When they pulled into the car park they could see four other police vehicles, two patrol cars, a riot van and a first response. The local police had prioritised this situation and dispatched half of their active force to the scene. Harker met with the local officer in charge, Dorian Billingham, a man Harker knew by reputation. With a quick debrief the team was organised to sweep the hotel. With a Photo of the woman in hand Harker and Billingham approached the clerk who was no help, he was sure he had seen her and the boy. Demanding that he check the guest log for a Sackville, the clerk frantically checked the system. However there was no Sackville staying at the hotel.

 

Checking the time of the footage to guest sign ins the clerk firmly informed the officers that a Miss Sunny Day had signed in to room One hundred and fifty six. The police rushed up the stairs and kicked open the room door. To their dismay the room was unoccupied. However it wasn't empty or clean, on the bed was a child's uniform, the Burgundy blazer was enough to confirm it was Casper's Redmoore High uniform. There was also a lot of blonde hair all over the floor, as well as a box of brown hair dye. Whoever this woman was, she seemed to know what she was doing. This scared Harker as he also spotted some blood in the sink. Forensics were called and would be there within twenty minutes. This new complication opened up more worries, and he now had to break the news to Mrs Peters.

 

It felt like time stood still as the already exhausted mother broke down again. The Clerk at the hotel had sorted hot drinks out for everyone as a team watched hours of video footage from various cameras in the carpark. When they finally found what they wanted their hearts sank. The woman was no longer alone with the boy, a man had joined them. The three of them walked away from the hotel and out of camera sight. This goose chase was getting beyond crazy. Feeling the frustration from this new information boil up Harker smashed his empty cup against the office wall. Then he stormed out to his car, grabbed the radio and talked heatedly with dispatch, he felt useless, his one lead had hit a brick wall. Unless they managed to find something they would have to call of the effort. No Vehicle description, the Woman seemed to know what she was doing, so using their descriptions would be useless as she had already changed what she could of the boy, who was to say that since fleeing, this woman and her unknown assistant hadn't changed how they look. Looking at the time on his phone Harker yawned with good reason, it was thirty three minutes passed six in the morning. He knew time was up, he looked across the carpark at the boy's mother, her eyes red raw from the tears she had lost, her heart must have broken a dozen times already. Now he had to break it again.

 

As he walked across the carpark toward Mrs Peters, Dorian intercepted his attention with a brown file. After a quick flick through the various documents within Harker understood the magnitude of the information in his hands. There was suddenly a pattern, not just any pattern, but a predictable one. Who ever this woman was, probably thought she had been careful, that all her previous successes had faded to a dusty shelf in the back of an unsolved cases draw, and she was almost right. It was easy to miss, simple to over look, a growing pattern of ink. The Tattoo, the only distinguishable mark on her, stars along her exposed chest, the earliest picture of her, the first child, she had no stars. Then with each new case, a new star. Counting the stars again he totalled eleven, but there were only ten cases of unsolved child abductions. Was Casper the eleventh or her dozen.

 

Back in the office a map had been brought in to show where each of the boys had been taken from and where the bodies were later found. Even in this there was a pattern, thirteen days between each reported abduction and the discovery of the body. She was clinical, planned, even where the bodies were discovered had given Harker a chilling concern. A bigger picture suddenly emerged and he realised he would have one chance, just one to bring this woman in. Talking his theory through with Billingham, it seemed like years of effort fell into place. However if he was right in eleven days time, unless stopped, Casper Peters would be found dead, most likely in a farm or slaughterhouse. He would be the Pig, twenty nineteen, the chinese year of the pig. All this dated back to two thousand and eight, with a thirteen year old girl, found dead thirteen days after being kidnapped, in a run down alley in the centre of the city, poisoned with rat killer. They now had an idea, they just had to hope it could help.

 

Mrs Peters agreed to be taken home, but despite being well over his official working hours, David Harker remained on the case. In his gut he knew he couldn't just shrug this off, this woman was dangerous, and needed to be stopped. Billingham also remained at the hotel, turning the room the abductor had used into an operations centre. For the next few hours various officers brought files, maps, equipment to the room. Officers made themselves busy going through local camera footage, some went back over the older files to see if any new light could be shed on the cases. It was a frantic few hours and to many including Harker that nothing had been achieved. Then there was a small detail that came to light, almost like the tattoos, subtile but in plain sight. Every body was found one hundred and thirty miles from the place of abduction. 

 

The map now had a fresh area marked on it, a thick red line that encompassed everything within the one hundred and thirty miles from the child's school, which was now believed to be the abduction point. Teams of officers checked maps and aerial views to find any farms or slaughter houses within the area. Other details from previous cases helped to narrow down options, the victims were found within a few hours of their deaths, which ruled out abandoned properties because they wouldn't be busy enough for the body to be found soon enough. It was also suggested that the couple stayed very local to the scene, carrying the body or chancing being caught with the body in a random check would be too risky, so they had to be within ten miles, and this was also noticed in the other cases except one, where there was a hotel or bed and breakfast within that distance from the discovery point. Pieces were quickly falling into place, hopefully quick enough to act before the woman could change her system.

 

By the time Billingham left to clock off it was almost four in the afternoon, but it was ok, because the hours of non-stop efforts from everyone, had narrowed the possibilities to one place, just one. A Slaughterhouse, just outside a small town, four miles from a small hotel. The only problem was, it was located in another county, covered by a different police force. So before he could move on it Harker had to square it with the local task force. Billingham refused to aid him, so he got into his car with all the details he needed and drove. Even now he felt sick, how had this couple, this woman get away with eleven abductions and murders, in eleven years, and not get caught. It played on his mind as he drove, this woman as he had already suspected was dangerous and now needed to be stopped. He was closing in, he was sure it would end.

 

As cooperation talks go, this had been the hardest he had ever had to deal with, Harker now understood why Billingham didn't want to assist. Gary Fellows was an arrogant, self absorbed man who believed his status as deputy of the local force was his by birth. His father had held the same position once, for a year before being dismissed on grounds of unreasonable behavior. It wasn't something Harker thought Fellows should be proud of, but it was his flag to the mast. He wasn't going to cooperate, that much was clear, and luckily after gaining the measure of the man before him very quickly, he hadn't given any details away that Fellows could act upon to take the pompous glory from the situation. No as he left the station it was clear he would have to do this alone.

 

Deciding to leave the marked car at the station Harker grabbed a bus into town and then out to a local car hire company. He didn't want anything fancy, so settled on a ford focus, silver, so not to look too out of place. Then he bought some clothes from a local supermarket, bagged up his uniform and tossed it into the boot of the car. Three hours after leaving the police station David was sat on a chair looking out over the carpark of a small hotel, four miles away from where he believed would be the dumping ground of thirteen year old Casper Peters, but not if he could stop it.

 

Tiredness had taken hold without him realising it, so he woke to the sound of a car horn in the carpark. Looking out of the window again he noticed a lot few vehicles parked up. Looking at his watch it was seven forty one in the evening. He grabbed the bag of stationary he bought from the supermarket and began writing down the number plates and parking position of the vehicles in the carpark. He needed to know if any were stolen. This pattern of behaviour was now paying in his favor, but he proceeded with caution as he new, even his luck could run out. Once he had all the plates written down he took a picture and sent it to Casey, at dispatch, who had been in his ear for the majority of this case so far. She would need at least an hour to go through the fifty or so plates he had sent her. So while he waited David Harker, grabbed a shower and something to eat.

 

Bingo, a hit, he thought excitedly as he got a message back from Casey, but it wasn't the news he wanted, none of the vehicles had been reported stolen. His heart sunk, was all this wrong. Looking out of the window feeling defeated a red Nissan Micra parked up, so he quickly jotted down the plate number and watched as a familiar looking man got out. He grabbed a few shopping bags from the boot then strolled across the car park to the main doors and into the building. It was a lot of shopping for one person over night. He sent the registration to Dispatch who replied within five minutes. The car wasn't stolen, but it was very far from home. Looking back in his notes about the stolen vehicle they found at the previous hotel, they were from the same area. Sloppy he thought, but a lead. Now he needed to know what room Mr Joseph Loggins was staying in. Grabbing his firearm and badge from the draw Harker headed down to the front desk.

 

The clerk was surprisingly helpful. He had been working the same shift all week, and had noticed the man, his wife and their son arrive the night before. The room, number thirteen, had been paid for in cash for fourteen nights, the last night that had been paid for being the night leading into the day the boy would be killed and left to be discovered. After viewing some CCTV footage Harker was absolutely sure that it was the couple with Casper, here, so close. He asked to use the phone in the office and the clerk agreed. Minutes later he was walking back to the room knowing he had back up on the way. 

 

The next hour was critical, he couldn't move in until he had back up, it was going to be gut wrenching to be so close and do nothing, but he could keep tabs on the room. He asked the clerk if he could move to another room, ideally next to number thirteen. The clerk had checked and room nineteen and fourteen were empty, so he accepted the key for room fourteen and would move his stuff down. As he was doing so he walked passed the male suspect, gave him a friendly nod, not to rouse suspicion. But suddenly the man shoulder charged him into the wall, causing him to drop all of his stuff. It wasn't until Harker was getting back to his feet he realised his handgun was visible. He had blown his chance, the man was now back in his room where there was suddenly a lot of noise. 

 

He heard a window smash so taking out his weapon he rushed to the door and kicked it a few times before it gave way. Before he could draw his sight on a target he felt his ribs take a solid blow, winding him instantly. His attacker was the male assistant, he was bigger and stronger than he first seemed. The punch to the jaw caused the officer to stumble into the wall before feeling the gun being kicked from his hands. Winded, dazed and unarmed Harker realised he was not in a great position. Reaching out for the door handle he pulled it back with him as he rushed into the corridor. The door caught his attacker with a wallop which allowed him to tackle the man to the floor. It wasn't a fight like in the films with the good guy sat over the bad guy punching him in the face, the two men clawed at each others faces, trying to blind or disorientate the other.

 

Finally as Harker gained the upper hand his gun fired and the woman was stood with his gun pointed at the ceiling, which she then quickly pointed at the officer. Forcing him back into the toilet, the man then closed the door and locked it using a coin and then placed a chair under the handle. During the breaks in him kicking the door he heard the three flee down the corridor. Finally he managed to kick his way free and gave chase. The others were at their vehicle by the time he got to the car park, so he rushed to his rental and started it up, reversed quickly and began to give chase to the speeding vehicle. 

 

He had no idea who was driving the other vehicle, but they were taking too many risks, putting the lives of so many other road users at risk trying to escape. While he tried to safely keep up he kept his back up informed of his movements. They were closing in so it was only a matter of time. The kidnappers raced onto the carriage way cutting up a lorry who only just managed to keep control. Due to the time of day the road was quiet and at the speed they were going it was a blessing. Using the open road to his advantage Harker pushed the car, slowly gaining on the little car in front, once close enough he could see Casper in the back seat panicking. He had to do something, there was the faint flashing blue lights in the distance, they had no where to go.

 

Except he spotted a chance for them to cross between the barriers onto the other side of the carriage way. Pressing his foot all the way to the floor Harker swerved to the outside of the lane and pulled in along side the Micra. Then he heard the gun fire, glass shattered and he felt a burning pain race through his shoulder. He knew what had happened, but he wouldn't stop, he couldn't stop. Turning the wheel he shunted the other vehicle, his eyes grew heavy, his arm weakened and as he felt the car steer toward the central barrier he blacked out.

 

The silver focus hit the barrier and flipped through the air. Armed police brought the red Micra to to halt. A few shots were fired but the chase was brought to an end, both kidnappers killed on site. Ten minutes later the fire truck and ambulances arrived, David Harker was cut free from his vehicle and rushed to the local hospital.

 

Nine months later a young boy and his mother walked down the sombre path of the church yard, it was only a small church with an area around it for burials. Casper Peters was dressed in a little black suit, white shirt and tie, the flowers in his hands were in full bloom. They both entered the church to the sound of the organ playing, they walked down between the pews all eyes on them, everyone knowing who they were. The Boy and his Mother, the last case David Harker would ever undertake. He was a hero, locally and nationally, and now this day was about him, his life, or at least the rest of it. Mrs Peters looked amazing in her long cream and ivory dress. The flowers she held matched those Casper carried. David and his three daughters waited at the end of the isle, faces glowing. David looked at the woman in front of him and he smiled, she had seen him through his six months of physiotherapy, they had grown close since he was in hospital, and finally they were starting a new chapter in their lives.

 

Twenty minutes later the vicar closed the bible in her hand and congratulated David and Janet then told them, they may kiss for the first time as Husband and Wife. The church erupted in cheers and once they finished they hugged the kids tightly.

 
 

I Became Your Father

Written by Tanzeela K Hassan

At first the apartment was just a series of small and drab concrete boxes, but it was all he could afford. The grey weather of his adopted country and the grey walls killed him day by day. Then he projected himself towards filling his dead life with some colors. Every month he would save money for paint, pictures and furniture, always choosing the pinks and blues. He hung beautiful candid photographs for her. He bought vibrant cushions and soft fabric throws, flowing curtains hung by the window. There were plants at his kitchen window. The air was perfumed with *sweet*aromas. He had transformed it into a cozy apartment, just the thing for a new family starting out. The sun was coming up then, shining through the living room windows and giving a healthy glow to the two occupants. It had been a rough night; she was about to wake up, but he had stayed awake, keeping an eye on her. When she opened her eyes and began to look around, he crouched beside her. “You never thought it would work when you accepted, did you?” He smiled, and she smiled back, “You thought it was a prank, some stupid guy passing around the good stuff. How high were you? Do you even know what you had been doing?” He glared at the lantern sitting by her cot still stained with her crimson red blood, reminded him that only the day before he told her to make a wish, the moment he gave her the lantern, he made his point clear that whatever she wanted the most would be hers – she simply laughed. She didn’t even listen to his warning as she got on the table and announced to the whole room, ‘To the new beginning!' He stood up and pacing to and fro the narrow path beside where she was laying; her eyes followed him. Then without any warning she had sliced her Palm and let her blood drip inside the lantern. Had she honestly stopped and think for a second! She would've known what's coming. He leaned over her, cupping her cheek with his palm. “You really ought to have listened to the warning, my child.” She looked away, he continued, “But this is what you asked for after all.” She began to cry. He lifted her into his arms and she quieted, eyes fixed on him again. “I suppose I could fix you. I suppose…” He held up a small, stuffed bear. “Would you like that? Would you like me to fix you?” “Da!” she said, reaching for the toy. He let her have the bear and she started chewing on its ear. He set her in a high chair and turned on the television where a breaking news report was showing the face of Amanda Lee, a pretty young girl of twenty-one, last seen leaving a party just after two in the morning. The edge of his mouth turned up and he changed the channel. “Don’t worry, Sarah,” he said, going to prepare her a bottle. “You won’t even remember you had another life before I became your father.”

©Tanzeela K. Hassan

Red Light

Written by Anthony Rout

When you decide to dedicate your life to protecting others and train to be the best in your graduation class at cadet training, you think that all your hard work is going to help stop what goes on in the world. You will be a preventer of atrocities and reduce the crime by sheer leg work and reconditioning of offenders.

But it doesn't work like that...

The crime you deal with is ugly, bitter, dirty and often very justified. The passion you began with, to change the system dwindles to barely an ember of hope. Then once in a while a case comes along that rocks even your steel heart, some how it cracks that shell of allowance and acceptance. You find yourself wondering why and how could this happen to someone.

It can happen... And it does...

They say you can never un-see something, that the visual memory will linger, creep into your Nightmares, flash before your eyes when you least expect it, that this is the worst thing a crime scene can do to you.

It is a lie, because as much as all that is true, there is something far worse, something that lingers not only in your memory, but in your very body, and that was my first sense of the crime I had been called to.

I knew the smell of rancid fish, even rancid meat, I had experienced the charred smell of fish too, even the smell of burnt meat, both smells hammered your sense of smell and would not leave you for days afterward, so imagine the smell of decaying and smouldering flesh. Not animal flesh, no, human.

The smell of a dead individual whose body was quickly decomposing while it slowly burned. It was unbearable but as the responding officer I had no choice but to accept it, to stand near by and try to focus on the scene. There was a crime and I had to do my job.

The work I had to do was impossible, no one would expect this to have happened anywhere else, not a car park or a local field, but at the end of a dark alleyway. The lack of light, few windows over looking the scene, the sheer amount of discarded rubbish around. Someone must have had it out for me, this was hell, with a side of tormenting flesh to deal with.

1st Hour

As an officer I know the importance of the first hour after a crime scene is discovered. Despite it took over the hour for anyone else to join me at the scene I quickly got to work.

I left the body as it was, I had no right to remove or alter anything about it. Yet there was enough to shift through in the alleyway. Almost every piece of trash could be important, finger prints, dna, every receipt a possible time lead to some ones whereabouts.

Or a massive waste of time and resources, you see the problem was that there was so much, I could do nothing with any of it. So I couldn't collect evidence, but my phone could help. I began taking pictures, of the body, the alleyway, views from the body looking out from where it lay. I took pictures of the alley, the rubbish, the road, marks on the walls, steps, on the road. Of the stray cats and rodents I spotted who seemed eager to get close to the body.

Then I would stand and look through the pictures, examining anything that looked out of place, marked them down in my note pad, then began taking a closer look.

When help eventually arrived I was dismissed and sent back to the station. But I had already discovered enough to start looking into possible leads. So I remained on duty passed clocking off time and began my own investigation.

4th Hour.

By the time I got back to the station, logged my details, filed the incident report I needed to, it had been just over three hours since I discovered the body. I was in the forth hour of my investigation, and I was eager to start unravelling the leads I had.

At first I thought no windows overlooked the scene, but I was wrong. The camera had allowed me to discover that one of the back bedroom windows of the nearby street, could, and more than that the light had been on while he was there.

Forensics had already determined the time of death being no more than two hours before I got there. I had found little evidence of the victim having moved along the alley. At a guess I would say the body was dumped. Therefore the first thing I needed to do was to test this theory.

I got back into my car and the smell of the charred grilled chicken I had two nights ago brought back a flash back of the body and the god awful smell it had. I decided that I needed to get the car valeted, the smell had to go.

Casually I drove back to the crime scene, there was still a lot of activity, including locals and reporters who had gathered, drawn in by the lights and the swarm of uniformed officers now at the scene. Door to door enquires it seemed had already started, so I pulled into a space on the street I needed and walked to the house I had to visit.

When the door opened a young woman greeted me as 'Officer' I still had my uniform on so that wasn't a surprise. I greeted her and explained that I had a few questions. As I expected she replied that officers had already been and she had told them she had seen or heard nothing. I nodded politely and then asked again.

Her attitude shifted slightly, when I mentioned I had questions about the room at the back of the house. She refused to answer and would not allow me to take a look from the window to satisfy my curiosity. She wished me well in my investigation and closed the door rather abruptly on me. Lead One, I was on to something.

I left the house and walked around to the back down the alley I had explored earlier. There was something near the middle I wanted to look at, something minor, but in a murder case nothing was minor. It was a broken light bulb, seemed recent as it was smashed over the top of a newspaper dated from the morning. What struck me as odd about it, it wasn't clear, it was red.

When I found the broken pieces an on duty officer walked up to me, the familiar face, I knew all too well was about to say something remarkably stupid to me.

And he did.

Like every comment he makes I simply let it go over my head, it wasn't worth the hassle to try and fight off his narrow mindedness. He was clearly an entitled mummy's boy, and I had worked hard for my place in the force, I had more to lose, so I rolled with the insults.

Time was Ticking so I bagged up the bulb and walked back to my car, totally ignoring the other officer as he threw more insults at me. I didn't have the time to engage and remind him how much of a worthless piece of shit he really was, and while that would make me feel good, my job would be over, that's the problem when the Senior Commissioner is your bullies mother.

Back in the car I now had too leads, the bulb and the unwilling woman who's back window had a clear view to the body. Now to do some digging back at the station.

12 Hours.

I had totally forgotten that I had done a ten hour shift, been up for a running total of eighteen hours by the time I got back to the station, so when I sank into the chair at my desk, by the time the computer started up, I was head back, mouth open and totally unaware I had nodded off.

When I was woken up by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, I panicked. How much time had I missed a few hours, almost six if I had to hazard a guess. So I needed to make up that time, the clock was Ticking, once we hit the twenty four hour mark, cases like this get a little harder.

My first task was to check on the house I visited, there was definitely something off about my visit. So after restarting the computer I went to grab a coffee from the machine, the coffee was free, but I dropped a pound coin into the supplies jar. Not everyone did but I made sure I dropped something in to help cover the cost of the supplies.

When I returned to the desk I put the address into the property use and ownership database, or the PUO. Nothing flagged up, the data base was updated yearly, so I checked the previous two years as well and nothing. The house had been owned by a Miss Nettie Delamoore for all that time.

I hoped the door to door information had already been filed, but a quick look revealed it hadn't been. So I took a risk and sent a radio call out to the officers making the door to door calls. I wanted the name of the person they spoke to at the property. Moments later a woman's voice gave me the information. It seemed it was Miss Delamoore I had spoken to.

I searched the records back ten years on the property and when I had reached five years previous I noticed a change in use, same owner, but it had been a brothel. The ownership had changed eight years previous, from a Mr Dick Longalang... No doubt a name changed by deed Pole.

I quickly ran a name check through our conviction database, both Longalang and Delamoore had previous, a string of convictions, one of which was running brothels in other parts of the country. Was this woman part of their operation, and was her death to cover up or silence a leak.

I needed a formal ID of the woman we found. It was time to do some more digging.

As expected the body had already been moved to the morgue, and while the autopsy was still ongoing the cause of death had been confirmed. The woman said to be in her early twenties had been forced to ingest a flesh decaying bacteria and while she choked on the liquid she was set on fire.

The pain the coroner said would have killed her within minutes if she hadn't been dead before they set her on fire.

Another interesting detail he mentioned was shards of red glass, mainly in the palm of her hand. Due to the blood about the pieces the injuries were sustained just before she died. Maybe they were fragments of the bulb I had found.

Not finished the Coroner ran through a list of bruising, some weeks old, low iron and vitamin D levels suggesting a poor diet. Then there was, as the woman examining the body said, clear visual external damage to her pelvic area and inner thighs. I suggested rape but she assured me that the damage was from prolonged and repeated abuse.

The Coroner was still waiting samples from the lab from swabs, hopes of something to link someone to the woman. But I now knew who she was.

I left the morgue more convinced the victim was indeed involved in the sex industry. Everything pointed to the shameless and uninviting Miss Delamoore.

I needed to get into her house.

16 Hours.

Judges can slow any case down by demanding nearly impossible evidence to issue a warrant. It seemed like hours sat waiting for the judge to return with news if he would grant the warrant to search the property on Mayfield Road.

What was even more annoying was he returned without the warrant and said my case was weak and needed more information and evidence, hard evidence, before he would issue the warrant. I had hit the sixteen hour mark in my investigation and if it wasn't for the fresh coffee in my hand, I may have tossed a few chairs across the lobby.

Frustrated was an understatement at this point. No warrant meant I needed to find another way in, but time was already against me, enough time had passed for Miss Delamoore to have cleared up any mess and hide anything we were not supposed to see.

I wasn't sure what my next move was going to be. One thing I did know was with every passing hour the number of times I yawned increased and even coffee wasn't keeping it at bay. I have to crack the case or I'm likely to crash and burn, Welcome to the world of police work.

There was a bit of good news, the digging I done and the victims ID had help me locate where the victim had been living and now I had a few other avenues to look into. Although I didn't expect any of this to be easy.

I had to borrow one of the new fleet cars, horrible things to drive. Their size simply made me feel small in the drivers seat, the idea was to make the cars look bigger, heavier, more intimidating, especially knowing they had some of the best driving assistant systems in the world. Their capable max speed was an astonishing 190, we were told if we didn't want to rely on the safety features the DAS provided we could hit 250.

Our cars now had speed, control, size and intimidation while chasing down those who think out running us would be easy. However despite it's effective work benefits, I hated the cars.

As I drove toward the address I had discovered regarding where the victim lived, I found myself travelling down a road I tried to avoid at all costs. Passing the scene of a crime that turned my attention to the police force. Almost Fifteen years ago, a drunk driver and his girlfriend, at three twenty seven in the afternoon lost control of their vehicle.

The report indicates that the passenger was giving the drunk driver oral sex while he was driving. The evidence being her mouth full of the drivers semen and half of his cock where the impact of the crash caused her to bite down. They both died at the scene, I didn't know either of them.

It was the third and forth victims I knew, the two eleven year old girls who had been caught between the car bonnet and the iron fence of one of our neighbours houses. My sister, twin sister, and her friend Millie from school. They didn't stand a chance. And there was no one to take the blame.

I spent years of my childhood looking for a way to pin blame on someone and eventually decided that the best way to channel my feeling of helplessness as my therapist called it, was to join the police and help stop it happening again. But joining the police had done the opposite, it showed me how powerless any of us are to protect others against the stupidity, anger and recklessness of other people.

So normally I avoided this road at all costs, it wasn't a main road, but a busy road most of the time. I drove passed my old home and then the scene of that crime. It had almost been two years since I last passed either. A little further on I took a right and slowed to a stop outside a run down house.

Another clue I was probably in the right place was that there was a faint red glow from a light peeking from behind the curtain. I wondered if I should do a check on who owned the property, I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover it belonged to Miss Delamoore. I walked to the back of the house first. There was a small access lane a few houses down.

I used my phones camera to look closely at the windows from the back. Curtains made looking directly into the rooms impossible but several of the rooms looked like they had red light just visible where the curtains didn't pull together. The back fence however was high, and I could hear voices in the back, so getting any closer was not possible. I listened to the women speaking and I found that I couldn't place the accent or language, European but no idea from where.

As I returned to the front I saw a car drive by slowly, the driver was instantly recognisable, Miss Delamoore... As soon as she saw me she raced off. This time I wouldn't follow her, I had to be careful. So I radioed for support at the address instead.

It was far too coincidental that the woman I suspected was involved just happened to drive passed. So I got the switchboard to run a check on the ownership of the property, to my surprise it didn't belong to my suspect.

18 Hours.

I had to do more digging, I knew my suspect was involved but I didn't know how, the house belonged to someone who's name was vaguely familiar to me, so I ran the name through case files I had worked on, and bingo... Francis Marco Berger.

Three years ago I was part of a team that took down a drug smuggling operation that operated out of the small docks near the city. FMB the local firm responsible for the boats and containers used was owned by Francis Berger, who I'm glad to say is serving a ten year stretch after taking a deal to bring down the supplier.

But where he was linked to Delamoore was anyone's guess so, I needed to try and connect the dots. Maybe his operation was much bigger than just drugs, I ran a check on suspected activity on his file, there was no mention of prostitution or trafficking. Weapons, drugs and cars were his general wrap sheet, so what could link Delamoore and Berger.

My eyes have gotten so heavy, trying to focus was nearly pointless as my vision was basically a blur. The coffee was now useless and I needed sleep but this case would not let me sleep. I had to get to the bottom of it.

Then from out of nowhere a case file was dropped on my desk and I bolted upright. My supervisor looked at me and told me to go home, the case was closed. They had two men in custody who had been found with the mix used on the victim in their car. While the two men had remained silent during interrogation it seemed like the chief had settled on them as the culprits.

I wasn't so sure. Gut instinct and the nagging little coincidences refused to allow me to accept it.

What annoyed me was between getting back to my desk and my supervisor waking me suddenly, I had nodded off, I had sat there for almost ninety minutes. I could have easily slept longer but that power nap had done the trick. I grabbed a coffee on the way to the car.

19 Hours.

On the other town was the docks, the old stomping ground of Berger and his operations. I parked up near the run down container cafe, it had been the office of Berger at one point. Now someone had converted it into a greasy spoon Dock workers cafe, the large 'No Police Welcome' graffiti was proof I wasn't likely to get any help.

I expected I would have to wait a while before the man I wanted showed up, but I must have the fates smiling upon me. The moment I turned the engine off the short stocky frame of Boris Bologna, better known as Bam Bam, left the establishment.

Getting out of the car I walked toward him. Casually because I didn't want to spook him, but as soon as he noticed me he bolted. I hated running, but even in the shape I was, I detested having to chase down idiots who ran. Now I was quickly gaining on the man I wanted.

Just when I thought he would trip, he turned a corner and the next thing I know I had to roll clear of his car shooting out from between two other shipping containers.

After a few choice words I rushed back to the car and was glad to see it hadn't been damaged. I started the car and was quickly giving chase.

The compulsory high speed vehicle handling training was kicking in as I swerved another car already doing the limit on the city ring road. I had Bam Bam in my sight, his car was racing down the outside lane and weaving back in to avoid hitting slower moving traffic.

I followed after him, already above eighty and still accelerating, closing the gap slowly. With the lights flashing and the siren wailing the traffic knew I was there, but no everyone made it easy.

Why I had to barely avoiding hitting a car and caravan in the outside lane was anyone's guess but I didn't have time to ponder it. My foot was down and now the gauge was pressing toward one hundred.

With some amazement I watched with concern as the driver I was chasing changed Lane dangerously and more than once almost took out another vehicle. At this speed it would be fatal, and not just for him.

The gap was closing as I reached one ten. As I expected the car handled like a dream, I still hated it, but it was doing what I was told it could do, and I was glad it was. Then I watched as Bam Bam shot off a slip road.

As I followed I felt the car shudder as the speed it hit the bend in the road was more than it should have been.

I looked for the grey audi I had been chasing, I had no sign of it. I slammed on the brakes

Screeching to a stop I noticed the wall on the corner had been totally annihilated. Smoke was billowing from beyond it, so as soon as I could I rushed from the car to look.

The smoke ticked and turned black before the whole car exploded.

20 Hours.

When the fire brigade turned up they confirmed that the driver had died in the explosion. Not being insensitive but now I had to go back to the station and write up the report, explaining why I was chasing a man who was not connected to a crime that was no longer being investigated. It is moments like this that can cost you your job.

But when I return to the station my supervisor called me into his office and thanked me. He explained that Boris Bologna was carrying a large stash of drugs in the boot of his car. His death had removed a major drug dealer and a large amount of drugs from the city.

I left the room feeling a little happy, I'd managed to solve part of an issue, but left me needing another avenue to help crack this case.

While I wrote up my report the only face I could picture was Delamoore, then I had a crazy idea, I wondered if Berger would talk. I doubt it, maybe he was my last resort.

Then the phone at my desk rang and I answered it.

24 Hours.

I had known it was a stupid idea the moment I had agreed. The phone call I received was from Miss Delamoore, she wanted to talk and so I arranged to meet her at the old Train station down town.

It wasn't the most sensible place to go, but it was where she suggested, so I simply agreed. Then I grabbed a few hours sleep in the staff room then headed out.

By the time I got to the meeting point I was concerned that the case clock had ticked over to more than twenty four hours. Unless Delamoore was going to confess, chances of getting a conviction was slipping away fast.

I was actually surprised to see however that Delamoore was there before me, it didn't make the feeling any easier. She greeted me with a hand shake which was instantly odd.

Then she introduced herself, Agent Caroline Shepton of the FBI. My mouth hit the floor and I think she must have noticed. She quickly explained to me what she was doing and filled me in on an operation that had taken years to set up and run.

When she left I was still reeling from the revelation of what I had stumbled upon. The two men in custody were set up by the FBI to draw my departments attention from their on going case.

Any chance I had to get into the house was now over, the local judge had already been told to block all attempts to enter the house. Yet I had a window of opportunity. I now knew what was going on.

Shepton didn't say what happened, but I had an idea she knew. What was worse is that she openly admitted that her running the brothels was essential to catching the bigger fish on their line, Ivan Noscavik, a Russian mafia boss.

I had to go back to the station and run checks on the details I had been given, I didn't trust her.

26 Hours.

On the way back to the desk I took a detour home to change the basics, have a quick shower and grab some food.

Then upon arriving at the station, I was greeted by the iconic black van of the FBI. My supervisor was stood talking to one of the agents before he pointed at me. I never made it into the station.

30 Hours.

The small safe house the FBI were using was a few doors down on the opposite side of the road to the brothel where I first met Delamoore/Shepton.

It seemed like I was being pulled into something far above my head, but it was a rare chance to work with the FBI.

What they wanted was simple enter the house as a client, a new client, and attempt to acquire drugs from each of the girls inside. I had been told there were seven, normally eight but I knew how she had ended up.

Standing at the door I knocked and the undercover agent answered and welcomed me in. I walked into the living room where a faint red glow came from the bulbs in the room.

I saw a woman, very slender, gracefully dancing around a bar in the centre of the room. I was informed her name was Trinity. My host motioned for me to follow her I walked beside her toward what should have been the kitchen.

Instead the room was separated into small seating booths. Each of the four booths had a barely dressed woman sat waiting, two had company.

Delamoore walked off and I followed, we went up the stairs and the first room at the top of the stairs was the toilet. Then three rooms.

The last room at the end of the corridor was divided into two sections, one section had a double bed, some basic furniture to make it look like a bedroom. I noticed some of the popular and expected sex toys laying about, it was clear what it was intended for. The woman sat in the chair was introduced as Connie.

The second part of the room was separated by a partial wall with a large window. Behind the window were about ten chairs, a small coffee table and boxes of tissues. Again the purpose was clear.

I followed to the next room expecting to see the same set up, and I walked in on every seat in the smaller section occupied, what I saw was Haunting, but my original thought of just it being men watching was proved wrong.

The two women on the bed however had every one of the ten fixated on their sexual dance. Delamoore said that the one was Crystal, the other was a paying customer. We didn't linger.

Then we got to the last room, the one I was keen to see, the room that over looked where the body was found. Opening the door I was surprised to see the room wasn't the same as the others.

There was no bed, but it still had the viewing area. Instead of the bed however there were different styled holding devices, a heavy looking pillory, where someone's head and arms would be locked secure. I could only imagine the damage done to someone in that.

Shackles hung from the ceiling and some bolted to the floor. Whips, canes, and other fetish instruments hung on the walls. To say I was surprised was an understatement. Then suddenly it all went black.

33 Hours.

I woke to find I was shackled to the room, I tried my luck to pull free but I really didn't expect to be able to. I couldn't see through the Glass I knew was there, clever. What I was aware of was the red light in the room, earlier it had been the typical yellow light.

I looked about and I could see someone in the pillory, at a closer look I noticed it was Shepton, she was stripped as naked as I was.

Then a man walked over and forced me to drink some water. I couldn't see his face, I had to drink it and as soon as I had I began to realise why I shouldn't have. My head began to spin and all I could hear was laughing.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the alley, with Shepton beside me. She was badly beaten, still naked and dead. And I think I done it.