- WHO PAINTED THE MOON BLACK -
Hot cup of Styrofoam coffee in one hand, his other Casually flicking the grubby, eroded rubber buttons of the DVD remote, Detective Commander Steppe had sat and scrutinized every angle of the Maycourt’s estate CCTV footage for the past six hours. He’d asked not to be disturbed. Locking himself away in meeting room 3 for well over an hour, hoping to find one snippet, one tiny detail that someone may have missed.
There was less than 72 hours left….The clock was ticking.
Aaron and Jennifer Maycourt aged 8 and 11 respectively, the only 2 children of prominent Tory MP and House of Lords peer - Lord Myles Maycourt had disappeared without a trace some 26 hours previously. The very fact that they had vanished whilst out walking with the very person who was sworn to protect them had confounded everyone. Steppes superiors had demanded a news blackout after a ransom note was sent to Lord Maycourt just 4 hours after the disappearance. It was now a kidnapping and Steppe knew his superiors were correct, going public would jeopardize the children’s lives. It would also give him time to muster his troops and think it through. Warm amber sunlight cascaded lazily through the open blinds casting a bright iridescent hue around the room capturing stray dust particles in its wake. Entranced by the floating, shimmering particles that seemed to swirl and float effortlessly through the air like miniscule weightless diamonds Steppe momentarily lost himself in the void.
The shrill thud at the door snapped him back to reality.
“What, What is it?” He snapped, more out of surprise rather than rudeness.
There was no pause for an answer as the door abruptly opened and in tumbled Detective Lyon.
“Sorry to interrupt Sir, we’ve been looking for you. Top brass are requesting to be fully briefed. They’re setting up a video conference for you in about an hour at 6.30pm. It’ll be streaming through to the Victoria meeting room, just thought you’d like to know.”
“What…You’re joking right?”
“No Sir, not in the slightest. Is there anything I can get you?”
“Yer a God damn miracle wouldn’t go amiss right now. Can you arrange that Lyon?”
“No Sir, sorry. Did you find anything useful?” Lyon hinted, tilting her head towards the TV screen.
“No absolutely nothing. What am I going to tell HQ? What am I going to tell those poor children’s parents?”
“You’ll think of something Sir.”
Detective Jemma Lyon was well known for her abruptness. Some called it cold heartedness but Steppe likened it more to a cool head and hard-nosed forward thinking that had aided him in many a tight corner throughout the years. What she had in coolness though she lacked in emotion, and reassurance wasn’t one of her virtues either.
Lyon offered only a cursory almost defiant shrug then turned and exited the room leaving Steppe alone once more.
Steppe couldn’t help but feel that he was missing something still. Not quite seeing the whole picture, or rather seeing the picture but not appreciating the art. Quietly conceding to himself that there was no more point in sitting around - lives were at stake – he stood, scooped up his folders and headed for his office. Stopping only briefly along the way to indulge in more coffee and obtain a brief update from the effervescent, organized chaos of the stations incident room.
* * * * * * * * * *
Steppe was a formidable figure of a man, charismatic, endearing yet strangely attractive in a large sort of way. He was also stubborn, resolute and sarcastic when the right mood kicked in. Being also a brilliant strategist and possessing an uncanny ability for thinking outside of the box and getting results fast, made him a most likeable and well know character among many officers. For his bulk – all 16 stone of it – he was quite surprisingly a hit with the ladies. This was probably more to do with his certain suave looks, his cool demeanour and his sense of humour, but he didn’t seem to care. Ladies, concubines, faithful home loving wives and earthly good ole fashioned girlfriends you take home to mother didn’t matter one iota to Steppe. His vows of love, cherish, honour and obey were always first and foremost resolutely betrothed to his very own lady justice. The very thought of love made him cower and palpitate to the nearest corner.
He’d been in command of an elite squad of Metropolitan detectives for almost five years now and loved the thrill of the hunt along with the sweet, natural high aroma he got from each and every case. His entourage were all highly trained and personally hand-picked by him from numerous other units throughout the Met. Each possessing unique skills or formidable experience ranging from diplomatic protection, high profile murder cases, kidnap, abduction, fraud, royal protection etc. This was Steppe’s baby and his eleventh year in the force, having risen surprisingly quickly from a lowly PC through to Sergeant, through to Detective Commander in little under 6 years. Recognising his superb success rate he’d been offered both Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner Roles at various times throughout the last three years. Steppe refused them both, preferring the thrill and deductiveness of the chase to the mundane, bleak and grey desk job was his nonchalant excuse for declining.
There had been no leads, no hard evidence…nothing, apart from the ransom note within the last 26 hours. ‘Come on, think man think.’ Steppe slowly tortured to himself.
His trusted team always had something to go on, always had a lead by now as they were simply the best the force had and they never, ever faltered in their steadfast pursuits. This was different, this was like no case he had ever worked and he just could not get any answers into his head long enough for them to germinate a conclusion. He’d sat alone fingering profusely through the clump of shabby folders on his desk for the past three quarters of an hour now, and had completely lost track of time until Lyon calmly trundled in.
“God sake Lyon, didn’t want you to knock anyway. I could have been making love on the table here with a busty woman for all you knew.” Steppe spouted sarcastically.
“Yer sir whatever you say sir, and don’t be so damn vulgar…You giving it to someone you make me laugh. You can’t even say the word love…” Lyon countered with a playful smile.
“I’m not even going to waste my superb intellect and reply to that Lyon.” Steppe replied rather humourously.
Lyons smile swiftly turned to concern.
“Now come on lets pull ourselves together sir, there’s a couple of little kids lives at stake and you got fifteen minutes for the link-up in the Victoria briefing room. Just thought I’d give you a heads up.”
“Ok thanks, how’s the rest doing?”
“Nothing yet sir, no strong leads.” Lyon replied.
“Thing is Lyon for the first time in my life I’m actually stumped, none of this makes sense. We have to work fast or them kids will die…we know this the first 48 hours are crucial, but we don’t have a damn thing apart from that damn note, and I just cannot deduce anything. What do we do?”
“You’re asking me sir? You’re the one we usually look towards. You’ll think of something you’re the great Steppenwolf.”
“I hate being called that, now come on let’s get go talk to the higher powers that be, oh and get me my usual coffee will you.”
“Yesss sir, just hurry up you’re gonna be late.” Lyon stated exasperatingly.
Half an hour later Steppe trudged wearily out of the Victoria room, his head bowed his heart heavy. Nothing had gone right; his career was now on the line. This case was high profile, very, very high profile and he’d been given 24 hours to get a result or suffer the consequences. It couldn’t get any worse.
Hearing a familiar heavy, hurried stride he turned and spied Fowkes confidently approaching.
“Sir was just coming to get you…we got something!”
Steppe gave an inward sigh of relief.
* * * * * * * * * *
She couldn’t say how long she had lain there. Being a child her concept of time was unlike an adults. To her every hour seemed like a day, and every day seemed to be stretched ominously into one long month. She’d lain there in the damp, putrid, smelly shadows for just under 24 hours now, which was nothing short of eternity to Jennifer. A familiar echo resounding through from the adjacent room abruptly interrupted her thoughts and caught her attention once more.
It was the rasp, shallow sound of her younger brothers slow, oppressive wailing.
To Jennifer this meant only one thing…
The bad man had returned!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
HOPE YOU ALL LIKE WHAT YOU HAVE READ SO FAR.
THE NEXT CHILLING PART WILL FOLLOW IN A FEW DAYS TIME...STAY TUNED
THANKS AGAIN FOR READING AND I HOPE YOU ALL STAY SCARED...IT'S GOOD FOR YA...
OH YES, YOU ALL WANT ME TO LEAVE YOU WITH ANOTHER PIECE OF TERROR TO CHEW ON BEFORE I BID YOU ALL GOODNIGHT?
OK LET ME THINK...OR SHOULD I SAY LET ME GO DEEP INTO MY PSYCHE AND DRAG OUT MY DARKEST FEARS AND SEE WHERE THAT LEADS US...SHALL I? OK THEN LET'S SEE...
EVER BEEN TO HOSPITAL? HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED ON THE HOSPITAL BED THAT YOU LIED UPON, OR INDEED LYING ON AT THIS VERY MOMENT?
HOW MANY SOULS SCREAMED IN AGONY WITH THEIR LAST EARTHLY BREATH?
HOW MANY PITIFUL SOULS DIED ALONE, IN SILENCE AND COVERED IN DARK, CRIMSON BLOOD?
I DON'T REALLY KNOW EITHER, BUT NEXT TIME YOU'RE LYING ON ONE OF THE BEDS JUST LISTEN.
THEY'RE STILL THERE, THEY'RE ALWAYS THERE.
ALWAYS FLOATING THROUGH YOU BUT YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE, HAVE TO LET YOURSELF BE AT ONE WITH THE VOID AND MAYBE, JUST MAYBE YOU'LL HEAR THEIR LAST DESPERATE CRIES OF SORROW AND PAINFUL LONELINESS.
YOU MIGHT EVEN SEE ONE, EYES DRAWN, SKIN PALLID AND GREY, BONES A SHRIVELLED AND COVERED IN A DEATHLY STURGE OF SWEAT, URINE AND PUTRID STICKY CRIMSON.
OH, BUT WHAT AM I THINKING! YOU'RE IN A HOSPITAL. SO THINKING ABOUT IT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AT ONE WITH THE VOID AS YOU CAN SEE THEM, EVERYONE CAN - THEY'RE ALL AROUND YOU.
THAT'S RIGHT, THE GUY IN THE BED NEXT TO YOU...THE ONE ALL THE NURSES KEEP IGNORING.
THERE'S A REASON WHY THEIR IGNORING HIM...RIGHT?
HAPPY HOSPITAL STAYS.
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All characters contained in these tales are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.