Do you ever get the feeling that life is out to get you?
Mike was woken by the rain slapping against his window, which he thought was terribly rude of it, since the worst hangover of his life was in progress, and he wasn’t in the mood for the Metallica concert that was going on in his brain.
He’d been meaning to fix that fence. God knows, he was going to fix that fence. If it hadn’t been for those arrogant gits, his best mates Paul and Davey, bringing their best mates, Messrs. Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker to his flat last night, he would have fixed the bloody thing yesterday. The effect of last night’s visit was twofold; one, the fence was being blown almost in half by the gale force winds outside, and two, if it did eventually blow off and come crashing through the window right above his head, he didn’t think he had the energy to move out of the way, and would have to take comfort in the fact that because his eyes felt so crusted over, he wouldn’t be able to see the edge of a fence panel coming straight for his head.
Suddenly, there was a rumbling, akin to the sound a train makes when it pulls into the station, including the screeching noise as it stops. Slightly worrying then, that it happened to be coming from his stomach. There was bubbling coming from his trouser region as well. Any bubbling around that area is not good, unless you’re sitting in a Jacuzzi.
Swinging his legs off the bed, he sat very still for a moment whilst the noise in his head subsided, then got up, and fell over.
‘LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE BRING YOU METALLICA AND SLAYER PLAYING SIMULTANEOUSLY! ROCK AND ROLL!!!!’
Water. That’s what was needed. Cotton wool is great stuff, but not in your mouth. He wobbled to the window, drew the curtains, and got a dagger straight through the eyeball for his trouble. ‘Bloody sunlight’. He closed the curtains, and made his way to the kitchen, stumbling over first a lampshade, then a bicycle, then a traffic cone, then a dead body with a knife in it’s stomach, then Paul and Davey, and finally his pet dog Ralph, who looked up at him with that baleful look that only dogs of a certain breed can pull off, the one that says, ‘what did I do to you? Don’t you love me anymore?’
He made it to the tap, looked at it for a while, then placed the glass underneath it. He turned the tap on, then moved the glass so it actually got the water in it. Four or five more glasses, and he was feeling a little better. ‘At least it’s damp cotton wool now’, he thought, ‘much easier to chew’. He moved to the fridge, and went to open it, but his stomach started to make more disturbing noises as if to say ‘Oh no, mate! You’re not getting anything until I’ve had a sit down. You put me through too much last night, and I’m not recovered enough to digest solid matter yet.’
Acquiescing, he moved back to the living room. Falling on to the sofa, he searched for the remote control, looking in the logical places; between the cushions, behind the sofa, stuck to the ceiling. Giving up, he went to get up to turn the TV on by hand, and slipped on a puddle of something he hoped was water, and half crawled, half swum to the TV.
Turning it on, he waded back to his sofa, spotting the remote control laying in the puddle of liquid he had slipped on. He picked up the remote, and sat down, flicking through the channels. There was something niggling at the back of his head, although he put it down to Lars Ulrich’s drum solo going on in his cranium. ‘Listen to me, you muppet!’, screamed the niggle, but he wasn’t having any of it. Then he noticed the remote was still wet. The thought of having a remote covered forever in bodily fluids was too much for him, being a self confessed couch potato of the highest order, and so he proceeded to the kitchen to wash it off.
As he walked into the kitchen, he looked longingly at the fridge, pleading with his body to let him have just a little bit of solid food. ‘Alright then’, his body said, ‘but only a mouthful, and then back to bed’. Grateful, he opened the fridge door, and saw that it contained a human head in a pickle jar. Slowly, he realised that the bodily fluid covering the remote control was blood , remembered the dead body in the living room, and passed out, hitting his head on the edge of the cooker, knocking himself out.
Mike’s last thought before he lapsed into unconsciousness was, ‘That’s the last time I drink Guinness.’
‘Get out of the way!’
Simone looked at her boss as he sped through the morning traffic. She’d only been working with him for just under a month, but the opinion was forming in her head that he had, to quote new age psycho-babble, ‘anger management issues’. Or to put it another way, he had a temper on him like a bear with not only a sore head, but a broken arm and a badly stubbed toe.
‘What’s up with you?’
‘This raging donkey turd for a start,’ he said, as he gunned the accelerator and streamed past the guy who had performed the unforgivable sin of driving one mile an hour less than the speed limit.
‘Calm down, Chief, we’re almost there.’
'I know, but this is going to be a bad day, I can feel it.’
Simone just nodded, not wanting to say anything in case she set him off on another rant. In any case, she agreed with him. The storm of the previous night had forced her to cancel her appointment with a large vodka and coke at her local pub, meaning that she had to stay in and (God forbid), talk to her flatmate, who’s one topic of conversation was so stereotypically male, that she wondered if there was actually an angel and devil on his shoulders, one saying ‘sleep,’ the other saying ‘talk about football’.
The call had come through just as she was waking up this morning. ‘We cordially invite you to a casual morning brunch. On the menu today; Smoked salmon on a bed of pasta; lightly flame grilled chicken with raspberry coulis; and for the dessert, a murder investigation, complete with severed head, lightly marinated in vinegar. Casual dress. Bring your own sterile gloves. RSVP.’
‘Any more details on the victim?’ If there’s one thing guaranteed to calm Stevens down, it was shop talk.
‘None ‘til we get there. All I know is that control got a phone call from some guy a few minutes ago, claiming to have found a body in his living room, and the body’s head in his fridge. Claims he doesn’t remember anything about last night, due to consuming “a skinful” last night. They sent a couple of constables round who confirmed the details, then we were called in.’
‘Any other witnesses?’
‘Two other guys, both still passed out from whatever they were drinking last night.’
‘Didn’t the bobbies wake them when they got there?’
‘Yeah, but they couldn’t get anything coherent out of them, so they put them upstairs on the bed, handcuffed and under guard, while the other constable interviewed the other guy.’
‘Wonderful. Looks like we‘re here.’
As they pulled up to the house, they could see two more cars in the driveway. One was a standard Police car, but it was the other one that caught Simone’s attention.
‘What the f**k is he doing here! And don’t say “who,” because you know damn well who I’m talking about! That’s Mitchell’s car!’
‘Listen, Bellamy, I’ve heard all about the animosity between you and Dave Mitchell-’
‘Animosity? It’s fairer to say that the only way I want to see him here is if he’s the guy with his head in the f*****g fridge!’
‘Can it. I don’t want a scene. He’s the best there is at this sort of thing. Any nutter who cuts of someone’s head to use as a salad garnish, had better cover his tracks well if Mitchell’s on the case. He’s the best Psychoanalyst we’ve got.’
Simone closed her eyes, and shook her head. It wasn’t Paul Stevens’ fault. He didn’t know that it was due to Dave Mitchell that she took a transfer from her old station. But she couldn’t tell him.
Not and keep the reasons quiet anyway.
‘OK. I’ll play as nice as I can. Just keep him away from me.’
‘I’ll try my best, but-’
There was a knock on the window, and a worried, pale-looking face peered at them through the window.
‘You Stevens and Bellamy?’
Paul looked at Simone. He turned back to the cop and said, ‘that’s us, although if you don’t start addressing us properly, as Chief Inspector Stevens, and Inspector Bellamy, then I will cut off your limbs, and turn them into an attractive piece of modern sculpture, which will probably win me the Turner Prize For Art!’
The cop looked taken aback, but still didn’t apologise. Instead, he turned back and walked into the house. Simone got out of the car, and went to follow him.
‘Hold on a sec, Bellamy,’ said Stevens. He reached into the back seat, and pulled out a metal carry case. As he got out of the car, he said, ‘Aren’t you forgetting something?’
‘Sorry, Sir. Just anxious to get inside. That cop looked extremely scared of something.’
‘Just let me go first, alright. Don’t want you bumping into Mitchell on the way in.’
Stevens led the way up the path into the house. He stopped as he got to the door, and opened the carry case. Inside were various pieces of paraphernalia, including some rubber gloves, and plastic covers to go over his shoes. He put these on, and wordlessly handed a pair of each to Simone, who put them on quickly. As he opened the door and looked inside, he paled, and turned back to Simone. ‘On second thoughts, you go first.’ Simone looked at him, shrugged, and walked in.
The place looked like an abattoir from hell, or the last round in a ‘see-who-can-do-the-best-Jackson-Pollak-impression-with-miscellaneous-bodily-fluids’ contest. There was blood all over the floor, and most of the walls. Here and there were pieces of unidentifiable body parts.
‘If the guy who lived here walked through all this without noticing, he must have drunk a brewery under the table last night. Or else George Best challenged him to a drinking contest and lost,’ said Simone.
‘I need some air,’ said Stevens. ‘You’ve got a strong stomach for this sort of thing. I’ll wait outside.’
‘But what about Mitchell. I need you to keep him away from me.’
‘Get one of the bobbies to send him out here with me, then you can get on with sorting out this mess.’
Feeling extremely narked that her boss had a weaker constitution than her, (as usual), she made her way into the kitchen, where she found the pale looking cop guarding a guy sitting at a table, who was shaking like a virgin at her first orgy.
The guy was wearing an extremely tatty T-shirt, proclaiming to the world that he was a ‘LOVE GOD,’ and a pair of worn boxer shorts. So worn, in fact, that she could see evidence that contradicted the T-shirt’s optimistic proclamation.
‘Hello,’ said Simone. ‘I’m Inspector Simone Bellamy.’ She looked at the cop and said, ‘I’ll take over here. Where are the other two witnesses?’
The cop looked at her, and said, ‘They’re upstairs with my colleague. They haven’t really regained consciousness yet, although they were beginning to stir a little a while ago. Listen, I’m sorry about outside, but this is...’
‘I know, Constable. Just apologise to Chief Stevens on your way out.’
He gratefully moved through the kitchen door. Simone turned to him, and said, ‘On your way out, can you send Inspector Mitchell outside to talk to Chief Inspector Stevens?’
The officer turned to her, and said, ‘Sorry, who? There’s no-one else here yet. You’re the first to turn up, apart from my colleague and myself.’
A cold chill made the hairs on Simone’s neck stand to attention. ‘Inspector Mitchell. His car’s outside.’
‘That car outside belongs to the deceased.’
Suddenly, they heard a crash coming from upstairs. ‘You wait here with him,’ Simone shouted to the cop, and she ran up the stairs. Sounds of struggle were coming from the bedroom at the back of the house. As she got to the landing, there was the sound of breaking glass, and a yell. She entered the doorway of the bedroom to find one of the witnesses lying on the bed, a knife sticking from his throat, blood streaming down the sheets like an effect out of a Freddy Krueger flick. The Constable was sitting down, the only sign of injury the fact that necks don’t bend that way. The window was smashed. As she looked out, she saw a lone man, running through the broken panel of the fence. She reached for her radio, calling Stevens to give chase, and radioed patrol cars, helicopters, the works.
She ran downstairs, and into the kitchen. moving past the stunned-looking cop, she went up to the terrified guy in the shorts. ‘Do you know Dave Mitchell?’
Looking up at her, he said, ‘Davey? He’s one of my best mates. I thought I tripped over him when I came downstairs this morning, but...’
With a dread certainty, she looked up, walked over to the fridge, opened it, and looked straight into the face of the unhappy looking Dave Mitchell.
Crouching in the darkness of the abandoned room, he waited for his heart to stop trying to beat it’s way out of his chest cavity, and for his lungs to feel less like they were made of sandpaper.
Why had he run? he hadn’t killed anybody. That other guy had come from nowhere, killing the cop and Paul without blinking. He was convinced that he was next, but then he had heard the footsteps coming up the stairs. The killer must have heard them too, as he grabbed the nearest thing and threw it at the window. As the window broke, the killer had grabbed him, and thrown him out first, following closely behind.
A large bush at the back of the house broke their fall. Suddenly, panic overtook him. His hands were still cuffed, but his legs were free. He had lashed out at the killer, catching him a lucky blow in the temple. This stunned the killer enough to allow him to escape from the madman’s grasp.
Quickly, he ran for the broken fence panel. He could hear the killer’s cursing, but didn’t hesitate. Sprinting through the next garden, he ran towards the gate leading to the alley behind the houses. The latch was down, so he put his shoulder to it. Twice he had to assault the door, before the hinges gave way with a splintering crack.
Darting down the alley, he could hear sounds of pursuit. Praying that it was not the murderer, he darted through as many side passages as he could. If he could just make it to the shipping yard, with it’s maze of crates, he felt sure he could lose whoever followed him.
Suddenly, he was out in the open. Panicked, he realised he must have got turned around in the alleyways. The sounds coming from behind him were getting louder, and now, in the distance, he could faintly hear the suggestion of sirens.
Deciding swiftly, he started to run to his right, following the wall that separated the housing estate from the grassland he now occupied. He only hoped he could make it to the shipping yard before anyone else came out behind him.
As he ran, his mind brought forth fragments of conversations.
'Hi Bri-' 'Taxi to Brom-' 'Time to die.'
'-hat are yo-' 'When was thi-'
'He hurt me.' '-en you befo-'
'-eautiul this m-' 'Time to die.'
'Time to die.'
'Time to die.'
Lungs bursting, he stopped to take stock of his surroundings. Early morning sunlight glittered on the river, reflected in a myriad of colours. Perfect white clouds on a blue sky held the promise of a glorious day. The ugliness of the night before had opened his mind. There was so much beauty in the world, spoiled only by red blood of the massacre.
In the distance, he could see the cranes of the shipyard beckoning him, and set off in that direction, away from the river. There were no sounds of pursuit, nor could he see any helicopters. He hurried along, not wanting to be lulled into negligence. Even though the sun was shining, there was still no warmth in the air. What with the events of the previous night, combined with the cold and the running, the cold sweat on his body seemed to be sapping what little strength he had left.
After jogging for what seemed an eternity, he finally arrived at the shipyard. Looking around to confirm he was alone, he walked along the fence, until he came to a place where he could climb over undetected. Finding a spot that was only a little higher than he was tall, he struggled over, ripping a hole in his T-shirt as he went.
The shipyard had been deserted for years, a relic of the industrial times when coal mining and ship-building were major trades for the working man. As a child, he had played in the yards, so he knew many places where he could hide, and take stock.
Winding his way past sheets of blackened and rusted metal, he eventually came to a small office. Windows broken, door hanging of the hinges, but shelter nonetheless. Inside, he found a blanket, probably left by some vagrant, long since departed. Huddling himself in the corner of the room, he wrapped the blanket around him, to try to warm his frozen limbs. Shivering, he descended into a state of relative calm.
‘What took you so long?’
He leapt up with a cry of disbelief. Sitting in the opposite corner of the room, partially obscured by an overturned table, was the killer.
‘Time to die.’