The three officers stood at Clandowey rail station, waiting for the 12.15 to London Waterloo. A day had passed since the capture of Vera Mayhew. After her arrest, Vera had been taken back to Llangarthen Station for further questioning. Like at the house, Vera hadn’t put up much resistance. In fact she had refused a lawyer. Fran and Gethin had been pleased by this. And so they should be. This was a big triumph for a couple of small town cops. Plus, they had prevented the death of the third victim, delivery driver: Simon Barnes, who was now recovering in Clandowey hospital under close surveillance.
Bridge was not so satisfied. Whilst he had technically completed his case, meaning there was no reason for him to stay, something didn’t quite sit well. In her confession, Vera had detailed her reasons albeit motives for killing the three victims. She explained in detail, how all three men had been evil men, responsible for harm to others. That was why she had removed those particular body parts. In her mind, the eyes, mouth and genitalia were tools. Tools that these men had used in the most evil of ways. What was further discomforting was that these were not the only three victims. Vera had a number of bodies buried out in the field and woods surrounding the property. A factor that made Fran very uncomfortable, considering she had traipsed over them not only a few hours ago.
However, he had no choice in the matter. His superiors had decided that due to Vera being in custody and proven guilty, the case, in their minds was closed. Bridge’s presence was required back in London and as quickly as possible. So here stood the three weary officers. Collaboratively, they looked like they had been three rounds with Mohammad Ali. Bridge with his head wound from his run in with Gareth, Gethin with his bandaged hand from his encounter with Rhion and Fran limping along the platform with her ripped coat and twisted ankle.
‘So.’ Bridge said rather awkwardly, clasping his hands together. ‘It’s been an eye opener, that’s for sure.’
Fran smiled, inclining her head in agreement. Gethin looked rather sullen. It seemed to him that they had only just got to know one another and now Bridge was leaving.
‘Are you sure you guys will be alright with this body business?’
Fran rolled her eyes.
‘Honestly Bridge, I think we can handle a few dead bodies. Hell, we should be used to it by now.’
Bridge grinned. A musical tone came on the station speakers, followed by the nasal announcement of the station master, detailing the arrival of the Waterloo train.
‘Well….I guess this is it.’ Bridge said stiffly.
The three of them stood in somewhat awkward silence for a moment. Then without warning, Gethin seized Bridge in a deep hug.
‘Take care Bridge.’
Bridge, somewhat unaccustomed to human interaction, tapped him rather gingerly on the back. He glanced at Fran, who was desperately trying to hide her amusement at the whole situation.
‘You too Gethin.’
Gethin finally released him, as the train pulled up behind the three of them.
‘Travel safe now Bridge.’ Fran said warmly, as the two shook hands.
‘Good luck with the rest of your investigation and call me Nick.’
Fran and Gethin both smiled.
‘See you Nick.’ They both chorused, as the train doors hissed open behind Bridge.
Detective Nicholas Bridge smiled, then stepped forward onto the train. Locating a carriage that was not too crowded, Bridge settled himself down in a window seat and grinned through the glass at Fran and Gethin stood watching him on the platform. There was the whistle of the station master and then the lurch of the train, as it started to move away from the station. They waved goodbye at each other through the glass and soon Fran and Gethin had vanished from view, as the train exited the station and made it’s way away from Clandowey. Bridge sighed and closed his eyes. A frown rippled across his forehead. He felt a sense of loss grip him. It was an odd feeling. Bridge never usually got close to a case. There was a reason he was known for his cold and detached manner. But this case was different. He had strangely grown attached to the bolshy Fran and the naive Gethin. In truth he was forced to admit, he was sad to see them go.
Some time later, Bridge woke from a troubling dream. It had involved Vera. In the dream he had been strapped to a metal gurney and Vera stood above him, that same razor sharp knife held aloft in her hand. The last thing he had remembered before waking, was her leaning towards him, the knife growing closer and closer to his unprotected face. He dry washed his face and sat up, shaking his head to try and dispel the horrid dream. Bridge yawned and glanced around. The carriage had filled up a little bit and by the looks of the scenery outside, they were nearing the outskirts of London.
A small boy, sat a few seats down was staring at him intensely. Bridge gave the kid a warm smile but the boy didn’t smile back. Instead, he continued to stare at Bridge, not blinking, his whole concentration seemingly fixed on the dozy detective. There was something odd about the boy that made Bridge shift uncomfortably in his seat. He tried to focus his attention on something else but he could still feel the boy’s eyes upon him. There was something familiar about the boy. Some aspect of his being that Bridge found recognizable. Fortunately, Bridge was saved by the boy’s mother who quickly busied herself, grooming the child’s face, which was plastered with muck.
Bridge made his way through Waterloo and into the waiting Taxi, as if on auto pilot. The rush and hum of activity should have been a welcome relief for Bridge. He had escaped the hum drum dullness of the Welsh Valley. However, he sort of missed the simplicity of life on the other side of the border. He had never noticed how hostile people were in London. But now he was back here, Bridge realized it with stark realization.
His sister was waiting for him at his flat. She greeted him with a hug. Up until now, Samantha had been the only person allowed to hug him and even then it was a brief and somewhat stiff encounter. So she was slightly taken aback, when he gave her a strong, lengthy embrace.
‘Everything okay?’ She asked, running a hand through her strawberry blonde hair.
Bridge gave a tired smile.
‘Yeah…just happy to be home.’
Bridge didn’t even unpack, as was his normal routine when returning home from a trip but instead dived straight into the shower. It was as he was resting his head against the cool bathroom tiles, letting the hot water pour down upon him, that a thought crossed his mind. He recalled now who the boy reminded him of and why it had been so hard to deduce upon first seeing him. It was in fact two people. The boy looked almost identical to Darren Rhion, be it smaller and without the ear piercing and shaved eyebrow. But the eyes. The eyes were not like his but rather reminded him of someone else and the realization of who, made him shiver despite the warm water. They were Vera’s eyes.
Fran breathed out heavily and wiped her sweaty forehead with the back of her arm. She was stood in the middle of the field she had been in not two days ago, whilst trying to track down Simon Barnes’ Van. However, today she was stood here for an entirely different reason. Several open graves stretched before her, the contents of which housed the bones of Vera’s past victims. Fran had been advised to take some leave and rest after her ordeal of the big case but she had protested. She felt a responsibility to see this through to the bitter end. Not just for Bridge but for herself too. It was her duty to find the remaining bodies and put to rest this terrible ordeal once and for all.
Although Vera had been cooperative in terms of informing the officers where she had buried some of the other bodies, she hadn’t revealed how many they were in total and where to find them all. Her coordinates had been vague, more rough guidelines. They had struck gold with the field, finding not one but four of the other deceased victims but from visiting Vera’s living room, Fran knew for certain that there were still more to find. She sighed and straightened up. Her ankle was still sore from her fall and she hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep for some time now.
Fran had suffered freaky nightmares both last night and the night before, almost in tandem with their arrest of Vera Mayhew. It was a reoccurring dream, involving a wild horse. The horse was whining and neighing, jumping around in a frantic manner. As Fran approached, the horse had bolted. Jutting out of the ground, close to where the horse had been stood was a grey hand, extended out into the air, the hand frozen into the shape of a claw, as if trying to grasp the very air. Each night, Fran had woken in a cold sweat and a deeply unsettling feeling that it meant something.
It was as she was stood here, contemplating on the nature of her dreams that something large and brown caught her eye in the screen of trees at the bottom of the field. Before Fran knew what she was doing, she found herself walking as if on auto pilot, towards the line of trees. Ducking under a low branch, Fran emerged into the wooded area and froze on the spot. A wild, brown horse was stood a few feet away from her. It regarded her with large eyes before turning and trotting away. Fran felt her heart beating loudly in her chest. She moved over to where the horse had been standing and knelt down. She couldn’t quite explain it but Fran suddenly had the uncontrollable urge to search the ground. She began digging, her nails dark with soil and mud. Her finger scraped against something hard, She paused and tugged the thing free from the earth. It was a bone and not just any sort of bone. Fran felt a lump form in her throat, as she held the human femur in her outstretched hand.
Gethin walked around the Owen’s farm, accompanied by Gareth and his faithful hound. Since the whole debacle with Vera had passed, it was not likely that anyone was going to try causing any more trouble on the Owen’s farm, especially with Rhion out of the equation. However, Gethin had offered to come up and do a perimeter sweep with a couple of officers just in case. Despite Fran, Gethin and Bridge trying their best to keep Gareth’s relationship with Arthur under wraps, it had somehow leaked and become talk of the town. Gareth didn’t see what the big deal was but Maggie and Gethin had both agreed that keeping an eye out was a good idea. Despite it being the 21st century, more remote areas such as this always had a minority who held on to slightly archaic prejudices.
No threats had been made yet but Gethin had overheard some nasty remarks by some of the locals and wanted to make sure nothing would come of it. Besides, since Bridge had returned home and Fran was busy with excavating the bodies, Gethin felt he needed something to keep him busy. Life had grown dull once more and although this may not be the most thrilling of duties, it felt good to be doing something proactive.
Gareth was just describing his plans for this year’s harvest, when Gethin paused by a nearby tree. He was frowning at it with a fierce concentration.
‘You alright there Geth? You look as if you have seen a ghost.’
Gethin moved closer to the tree. A circle had been engraved on the trunk of tree. This wouldn’t have struck Gethin as odd but it was the inner markings of the circle, which gave him cause to investigate. It appeared to represent one of the war medals that had belonged to Arthur Babcock. It was so intricate in its design that even the dates had been etched into it’s hard surface.
‘Did you do this Gareth?’
Gareth sidled up to take a look.
‘I should think not. Have those bloody kids been up to no good again?’
Gethin looked at Gareth, as if he were mad.
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ Gareth said uncomfortably.
Gethin pointed at the tree.
‘Because this is an exact copy of Arthur’s medal.’
Gareth frowned at the tree.
‘Possibly. He never told me about his time in the war.’
Gethin looked back at the etching, a shiver coursing down his spine. If Gareth hadn’t done this, then who had.
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