There was some debate over how best to approach and potentially apprehend Vera. Gethin wanted to go in gun’s blazing, so as to save the delivery driver in time before it was too late. However, Bridge had wisely pointed out that seeing as they were unable to locate said victim, if they charged in like the light brigade, they might never find him or Vera. Bridge was of the opinion that it would be a better idea, to leave the cars out of sight and sneak on to the property. By doing this, they would hopefully be able to spy Vera entering her secret lair without raising the alarm. Fran sided with Bridge but agreed with Gethin, in the respect that they shouldn’t take too long, as there was still a chance of saving the delivery man.
Add to the equation that they still hadn’t located the delivery van and the three of them had quite a challenge ahead of them. Fran didn’t want to split up, thinking that it would be best to stick together, considering how dangerous and unpredictable Vera could turn out to be.
‘Be that as it may, it would be a more effective use of our time to spread out, take different points, so as to more effectively tackle the situation.’ Bridge insisted, as the three of them waited in Fran’s car, just round the corner from Vera’s den.
Gethin sighed and sat forward, gripping Fran’s headrest in his arms.
‘Look, the more we sit about trying to come up with a plan, the less time our victim has.’
Fran and Bridge looked at one another. He was right. They couldn’t afford to sit here going over semantics. Not when a man’s life was in danger. Fran drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, mulling it over. Bridge’s leg bounced up and down anxiously.
‘Right. The bottom line is that we need to find this delivery van. So we know for sure he is here.’
‘I would bet my twin brothers on it.’ Gethin said decisively.
‘Nevertheless, Fran is right. We find the van, we have her dead to rights.’ Bridge concluded.
Gethin huffed indignantly.
‘It will all take too long, I’m telling you.’
‘Will you two be quiet a moment, I hadn’t finished.’ Fran snapped sharply.
Gethin sat back rather sheepishly and Bridge cleared his throat.
‘I will go looking for the van.’ She looked across the nearby field. ‘There must be a way around the back of the house. Meanwhile you two flank the house, get in there and try to capture Vera or better yet find out where she is keeping her victim.’
Bridge and Gethin actually looked rather impressed.
‘Fran, that’s brilliant.’ Bridge said, Gethin nodded in agreement in the rear-view mirror.
‘I have my moments.’ Fran said smugly.
Gethin and Fran went to exit the car but Bridge motioned for them to sit still a moment.
‘Bridge we really don’t have time.’ Fran highlighted.
Bridge reached into his deep, overcoat pocket and produced three small walkie talkies. He distributed them out to Fran and Gethin.
‘Stay on channel 1. This way we can keep in contact. I have also linked it up to the patrol car radio, so if any of us run into trouble we can call for backup.’
It was Fran’s turn to look impressed.
‘Good thinking Bridge.’
‘I have my moments.’ Bridge retorted, taking his moment to look smug.
Plan established, the three of them climbed out of the ancient vehicle, clipped on their walkie talkies and set off in their respective directions.
Fran slipped through a gap in the fence to the nearby field and cursed, as her farmer’s jacket snagged on a piece of rogue barb wire. Instead of pausing to untangle herself from her predicament, she wrenched it free, tearing a sizable rip in the material. Under normal circumstances she would be upset. It was her favourite winter coat after all. But this was not an everyday situation. So she pressed on, eager to find the vanished vehicle as quickly as possible. At the lower half of the field, Vera’s house came into view to the right. She ducked down instinctively. There was no way from this distance that Vera would be able to see her but Fran didn’t want to take any chances. Luckily the grass in the field was overgrown and combined with her olive green coat, Fran was well camouflaged.
She popped up every now and then to glimpse the house. She had circled round in a wide arc and from her new position,she could see past the rear of the house. No van out the back, as far as she could tell. The field began to slope and Fran had to take care not to slip on the uneven surface. A thick wall of trees stood at the bottom of the slope. Fran paused and followed the tree line to her right. They stretched all the way to where the back of the house lay. Fran wondered. If the back of the house led directly into the woods, then maybe Vera had hidden the van somewhere beyond the trees. Climbing over the fence, taking care to avoid catching any other parts of her clothing on the barb wire, Fran dropped down on the other side and pushed her way through the trees.
Meanwhile Bridge and Gethin were making their way cautiously to the front of the house. Gethin had never been in a situation like this before and was entirely reliant upon Bridge for direction. Fortunately, Bridge had seen enough action and been through suitable training to prepare himself for this contingency. As they tiptoed their way along the dirt track road to Vera’s house, Bridge made various hand signals to Gethin, indicating if he should, follow, stay or that they should split up. Gethin suddenly felt like he was a Marine on a tactical assignment and berated himself for not bringing face paint. Although half of Bridge’s hand signals went completely over Gethin’s head, he got enough of the gist to get by.
It was with great care and trepidation that the two police officers approached Vera’s front garden. This had been the last place either of them had seen her and there was the chance that she could still be there, hidden behind one of the overly large and ornate plants. They both entered at different points of the garden, under Bridge’s hand orders. Gethin felt even more like a Marine, as they brushed past the towering plants and foliage of the front garden. Both Gethin and Bridge navigated their respective routes of the garden until eventually they reconvened at the top of the garden path, just a few feet away from the front door. Vera was nowhere to be seen. A factor that was either very good or very bad.
‘You take downstairs and I take upstairs.’ Bridge instructed, in a low barely audible whisper.
Gethin nodded gingerly, swallowing hard. That same fear and panic that he had first felt, when searching Arthur’s house for the first time had taken hold once again. Sensing, Gethin’s nervous state, Bridge rested his hand on the young officer’s shoulder and gave his arm a tight squeeze. It did actually go it’s way to easing some of Gethin’s anxiety. The two of them both took a deep breath, steeling themselves for what was about to come, then crept forward into Vera’s lair.
Fran made a sound like a disgruntled bear, as another stray twig slapped her in the face. She was a mess. Her hair resembled that of a crow’s nest and her clothes were so askew, that she looked like she had been pulled backwards through a bush. Which she kind of had, in a manner of speaking. Fran had been stomping through the undergrowth for some time. Due to the natural slope of the land, she had been forced to walk at an odd angle, in order to get closer to the rear of the property. Unfortunately, at one point this had caused her to slip and twist her ankle painfully, forcing her to limp on like a battle weary soldier.
Why had she volunteered for this part of the assault? Gethin was much younger and fitter. Fran now deeply regretted her decision to search for the van. She hadn’t made the decision to pursue this lead out of any sort of noble intention. It was more to shut up Bridge and Gethin’s infernal bickering on what they should do. On a number of occasions, she had thought about turning around or radioing Bridge and Gethin to inform them that she hadn’t found anything. But despite the pain in her ankle, Fran pushed on. They were so close now. How could she possibly give up? Something caught her eye. A glimpse of blue amidst the browns and greens. That looked out of place. Taking care to trace a safe path, Fran made her way towards the mysterious blue thing.
Gethin’s heart hammered loudly in his chest, as he searched first the hallway, then the kitchen and finally the living room. Each time he had stepped into a room, his stomach had lurched, as he expected to find a demonic Vera, standing over the delivery driver’s body, a knife raised above her, ready to strike. But every time he passed through a doorway, he was met with an empty room. As he stood in the living room, trying to work out what to do next, Gethin heard a creak from upstairs. He tensed but then forced himself to relax. It was only Bridge checking up there.
Bridge hadn’t had much luck upstairs either, although he did notice that in the bedroom, the doll of the delivery driver had mysteriously disappeared. This was rather unsettling. There were no secret hatches or hidden passages, much to Bridge’s dismay. In the end, he returned downstairs to find Gethin stood aimlessly in the living room. The young officer shot him a hopeful look but Bridge shook his head. The two of them stood for a moment, trying to work out what to do next, then Bridge whispered.
‘I’m going to check the back garden.’ And moved out into the hallway before Gethin had a chance to ask him what he should do.
He was about to radio Fran to see how she was getting on, when he heard a creak from underneath his feet. He looked down at the rug he was stood on and strained his ears to hear better. Again there was another creak. Heart leaping into his throat, Gethin squatted down and threw back the rug. A wooden trap door lay underneath. For the second time, he reached for his walkie talkie to radio Bridge but paused upon hearing another creak. If Vera was down there then maybe there was another way out. If he radioed Bridge, she might overhear and bolt. He glanced round to see if Bridge had returned. He was still outside.
Gripping his torch tightly in his hand, Gethin eased open the trap door and descended into the dark underbelly of the living room. There was a low passage, lit by lights in the wall at various intervals. He made his way cautiously down the tunnel, the torch at the ready in case anyone should pop out suddenly. The low passage led into a small room. Something round and pale hovered in the middle of the room, illuminated by another ceiling light above. Gethin flinched as the object moved. A low moan reached his ears. Despite every urge to turn and run, Gethin raised the torch and pointed it at the floating white ball.
‘Oh, dear god.’ He gasped.
The delivery driver, strapped to a hard back wooden chair stared back at him wild eyed. Gethin had to force down the urge to throw up. The man’s eyelids had been removed and by the looks of things, his upper lip had been sliced off as well. His hands and feet had been restrained and his arm had been hooked up to an IV, which hung from the hook to left of him. Gethin moved forwards to help the poor man and jumped at a loud bang from behind him. The trapdoor had been shut, locking him in with the lidless man.
Fran stopped to catch her breath. She had located the source of the blue object. It was a large tarp thrown over the top of something bulky and rectangular shaped. From the gap in the bottom of the tarp, Fran could tell that it was the van. The large rubber wheels poked out the bottom. Once, she had suitably recovered, she moved forwards and with a great effort, dragged the tarp off the stationary vehicle.
‘Got you know you bitch.’ Fran said with a satisfied smile.
Bridge heard a loud thud from the inside of the house, followed by Gethin’s crackly voice through his walkie talkie.
‘Bridge, I found the victim. There was a trapdoor in the living room but she’s locked me in.’
Bridge had already started running for the house before Gethin had finished speaking. He burst into the kitchen dived into the hallway just in time to see Vera making a beeline for the front door.
‘Stop.’ He commanded.
Vera paused and turned to face Bridge. She held a long, sharp blade in one hand. There was blood mixed in with the soil and dirt of her gardening clothes. Bridge swallowed hard. What was his plan now? He had no weapon to hand. His hand dropped to where his walkie talkie was clipped. Vera’s eyes flicked to it like a predatory hawk. With the two of them stood either end of the hallway, they resembled a Mexican standoff. Unfortunately, Vera looked in a much favorable position then he did.
‘Bridge, I have found the van. We’ve got her now.’ Came the slightly muffled voice of Fran through Bridge’s walkie talkie.
‘Give it up Mrs. Mayhew. There is no escape from this.’ Bridge stated.
Vera sighed and pointed the knife at Bridge.
‘You think I want to get out of this.’
Bridge held out his hands.
‘Don’t be hasty now. We have the place surrounded.’
Vera laughed. It was cold and cruel.
‘No you don’t.’ She said, calling his bluff.
Bridge tried a different tactic.
‘Just put the knife down and we can talk about this.’
‘Talk about what. You still don’t get it.’
It was Bridge’s turn to laugh but he couldn’t help masking the shakiness of his nerves.
‘There’s nothing to get. You killed these men in cold blood. You’re a serial killer, plain and simple.’
‘No my dear, I saved them. They wanted to be taken from this world.’
Bridge flashed her a cynical look. Maybe if he could keep her talking, Bridge could distract her long enough to…to do what? Gethin was stuck under a trap door and Fran was somewhere at the bottom of a field.
‘And why would these men want to die?’
Vera gave her a very knowing look. Bridge, although certain of her guilt felt a moment of doubt cross his mind. No, he told himself, she was responsible for these crimes. He tore his eyes away from hers. She seemed to have this hypnotic ability.
‘These men’s crimes are far worse. I have cleansed them of their sins.’
Great, Bridge thought to himself. Another raving fanatical. As if there wasn’t enough of them about these days.
‘What crimes are those?’
Vera gave him a sly look.
‘You’re the detective, you tell me.’
Bridge shifted uncomfortably.
‘Nevertheless. You are a murderer Mrs. Mayhew and as such you must answer to the law.’
Bridge was expecting resistance. For her to dash forwards and plunge the knife into his chest or alternatively turn and make a break for freedom. However, Vera did neither. Instead, she did something that took Bridge totally by surprise. She dropped the knife on the floor, the blade clanking loudly on the floorboards.
‘Well…then…are you going to arrest me officer?’ She said, holding out her hands.
Bridge hesitated. This could be a trick. Keeping his eyes on her, he moved cautiously down the hallway. Vera watched him, intrigued, her arms still held out. When Bridge was close enough, he kicked the knife away, and took a step back. Vera gave him one of her even smiles, which only made Bridge more cagey. Bridge pulled out his handcuffs, trying his best not to show that his hands weren’t trembling. He could feel Vera’s unrelenting stare upon him. Finally, after what seemed an age, he managed to whip on the handcuffs, securing them quickly before it was too late.
‘Mrs. Mayhew, I am arresting you for the murder of Arthur Babcock and Darren Rhion. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.’
Vera sighed heavily.
‘You’re making a mistake.’
‘Yeah well, we will see about that.’ Bridge replied.
He retrieved his walkie talkie and pressed down on the button.
‘Fran, Gethin. I have Vera Mayhew in custody.’
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