Author’s note: I’m not promising not to kill off Deakins. I’m not promising not to kill off any of them. From here on, anything could happen. Almost…
To Adina-Anne: yes, I saw that Cold Case episode recently, and had a small chuckle to myself at the similarities. I take some small relief in knowing I wrote Deliverance long before I knew that particular episode existed.
To Shellster: Bobby really ought to be more careful, oughtn’t he? Silly boy could do himself another injury…
Residence of David Graham
Within ten minutes, the property was crawling with police, all searching desperately for some clue as to where Graham may have gone with his hostage. Inside the house, in the study, a very dazed DS George Toolan sat up on the floor, a paramedic holding a compress to the back of his head.
“Think carefully, George,” Jack told him, acutely aware of the way Goren was pacing back and forth behind him, the monotonous thump, thump, thump of his walking stick on the floor a steadily increasing irritation.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” George mumbled. “It’s all just a blur. We… We got to the house… Graham let us in. He didn’t seem bothered that we’d turned up to get him. It was almost like he was expecting us. Anyway… He asked us to wait, said he had to get something. Captain Deakins… I think he came in here. He called out to me. I followed him in here… Next thing I know, I’m waking up with a monster of a headache.”
“All right,” Jack murmured. “That’s good, George. Now, you go to the hospital, get yourself patched up, and I don’t want to see you back at work for at least a day or two, all right?”
George nodded, too disorientated to argue. Jack watched the paramedics guide the injured officer out, then looked over to where Goren was still pacing frenetically.
“Do you mind, Bobby?” he asked snappishly. Goren slowed to a halt and looked at Jack, a wild, barely-controlled fear in his brown eyes.
“We have to find him. Graham won’t give him a chance to escape. He will kill him.”
“We will find him,” Jack insisted, hoping he sounded more certain than he felt. “But we have to work together now. We really…”
He trailed off as Mullett rounded the corner, his round face pale and reflecting the shock they were all feeling.
“Jack? What in God’s name happened?”
Struggling to maintain some degree of calm, Jack explained as much as he could. Even as he spoke, he could read the look on Mullett’s face as clear as day. Mullett’s first thoughts were of the political scandal and the international incident that was suddenly looming…
“All right,” Mullett said in a quiet, grim voice. “We all need to stop, and take a moment to calm down. Hot heads and high tempers are not going to get Captain Deakins back safely.” He looked over at Goren and Eames, his expression a mixture of sympathy and determination. “And we are going to get him back safely, no matter what. Jack…?”
Jack stared at Mullett, not sure if he was hearing correctly.
“I want all the stops pulled out, Jack. Circulate a description of Graham’s car to every uniform in Denton. I’ll call a couple of colleagues, and we’ll get a helicopter in the air within half an hour.”
It took just a moment to process that Mullett had just taken charge, and had effectively brought a level of calm to a situation that had been about to blow sky-high. Whatever his reasons, Mullett was suddenly acting like the cop that he was, rather than the political ass-kisser that he often tried to be.
“Right away, sir,” Jack agreed, and hurried to do as he’d been instructed. Mullett watched him go, then turned his attention to Goren and Eames.
“Detectives, I imagine you both must be feeling fairly distressed by now…”
Eames looked up at Mullett darkly.
“Don’t ask us to stay out of this.”
“I wasn’t going to do anything of the sort,” Mullett reassured her. “But I need to be sure that you can both approach this situation with calm minds. I’m going to need you both to go back thoroughly over everything you and Jack have uncovered since you arrived here two days ago. I’m sure you’re both very much aware that even the seemingly most insignificant detail could be the key to locating Graham. I appreciate that you probably want to be more actively involved, but…”
“No, it’s okay,” Goren said interrupted, and Eames was quietly grateful that the wild look had faded from his eyes, to be replaced with a grim determination. “We can do that.”
Mullett nodded, visibly relieved.
“So now we know how Deakins felt when we went missing.”
Eames and Jack both glanced at Goren as Jack drove them back to CID.
“We at least know who’s responsible,” Jack pointed out, trying desperately to find something positive to cling to.
“A lot of good that’s going to do when we don’t know where to look,” Eames said bleakly. Goren laughed, a short, bitter sound.
“And we thought we were the ones in danger.”
“Graham couldn’t have known Deakins would come with you,” Jack mused. “Now, George said that it was almost as though Graham was expecting them when they got there. I’ll wager that he was expecting us to turn up there, not George and Deakins. I imagine he had to very rapidly alter his plans to include Deakins.”
“If that’s true,” Eames ventured, “then Graham may not know that it was Deakins who killed his son. He may have taken him to use as a lure for us.”
“He knows,” Goren said dully, staring blindly out the window. “He knew enough to send that email directly to me in the first place. He knows.”
“We’ll find them,” Jack said quietly. “We’ll get him back safely.”
“Don’t make promises that you might not be able to keep,” Eames said. Jack glanced at her in the rear vision mirror.
“We’re damn well going to try.”
Jim Deakins awoke to darkness, and a blinding headache. At first, nothing made sense. Then, slowly, his wits returned to him, and he was able to take conscious note of his surroundings with what senses he still had.
He was sitting in a large, heavy chair. His arms were wrenched around behind him, his wrists bound tightly enough to threaten to cut off the circulation. His legs were bound equally tightly to the front legs of the chair, ensuring he couldn’t move so much as an inch.
There was a blindfold over his eyes, but nothing covering his mouth. He swallowed an instinctive urge to shout. He was obviously somewhere that no one would hear him if he did shout, otherwise he would have been gagged as well. So shouting for help that clearly wasn’t going to come would only be a pointless waste of precious energy.
He drew in a deep, steadying breath in an effort to calm himself. Though he couldn’t see, he guessed from the dank smell that surrounded him that he was perhaps in a basement of some sort. A basement that hadn’t been occupied for a long time, he thought, briefly hoping the place was at least free of rats. God, he hated rats.
Forcing his thoughts away from that, Deakins tried to shuffled his dazed thoughts into some semblance of order. He remembered going with George Toolan to David Graham’s home to get him and take him back to CID so the forensics officers could collect DNA samples from him. Deakins recalled vaguely that Graham had not been surprised to find the police arriving on his doorstep, although he had seemed momentarily disappointed at seeing George Toolan. Then Graham had seen him, and Deakins could have sworn his face lit up for just an instant.
He’d disregarded it, and followed George into the house when Graham invited them in. He’d said he needed to collect a couple of things, and then he’d be ready to go with them.
While waiting, Deakins had been drawn to the study by a glimpse at the far wall through the partially open door. Ignoring the apprehensive look from George, Deakins had pushed the door open and gone in. The sight that had met him had been a chilling one.
Covering the far wall were a multitude of frames. The ones that immediately caught his attention were certificates declaring him the winner of numerous archery tournaments, or citing newly acquired levels of achieved skill in the sport. The rest were news articles clipped from papers, stories about murdered men, women and teenagers. On closer examination, Deakins saw the papers were from both Miami and New York, and the murder victims were Erik Mathers’ many victims. A trophy wall, Deakins thought in horror.
Then Deakins had seen something that had very nearly given him heart failure. On the wall were two frames, neither of which had yet been filled, but had a name scrawled in pencil inside each. In the frame on the left, Deakins read ‘Robert Goren’, and in the frame on the right, ‘Alexandra Eames’.
He remembered calling out to George, his hand reaching instinctively for his gun. There were footsteps behind him, and in the next instant a dull crack caused him to turn around in time to see George collapse to the floor. Even as he tried to draw his gun, David Graham charged into the study, wielding a cricket bat, of all things…
Deakins groaned softly as the memories faded into the background of his mind, and he came reluctantly back to the present. Graham’s initial disappointment on seeing George Toolan now made sense to Deakins. He had been expecting Goren and Eames to come for him, not George and himself.
Dimly, he wondered whether Graham was aware that it was he who had pulled the trigger and killed Mathers. Maybe… maybe not. If Graham did know, then he was a dead man. He didn’t know whether he would be put through the same ordeal that Bobby and Alex had suffered on Gore Mountain, or whether Graham would simply kill him and be done with it. Either way, he had real cause to fear for his life.
In the end, all he could do was speculate, and hope and pray that Bobby and Alex would find him before it was too late.
Some hours later
Jack and Goren both looked up simultaneously at Eames’ obscure exclamation.
“What about him?” Jack asked. Eames looked from him to Goren, openly agitated.
“The house that he told us about, the one that Amon Bohen held that experiment in. Do we know who actually owns that place?”
Jack and Goren looked at each other, and then Jack got up and headed for the door.
“Not yet, but we can find out pretty quickly.”
He came back ten minutes later almost at a run, a single faxed sheet clutched in his hands.
“It’s owned by Graham,” he confirmed, handing the page to Goren as he snatched up his mobile phone, ready to call Mullett. “We’ll have a team out there within fifteen minutes…”
Jack’s phone rang. Frowning in irritation at the unwanted interruption, Jack answered it with reluctance.
“Terribly sorry you missed us earlier at my house, Inspector, but I just couldn’t wait around any longer. Tight schedule to keep, you understand.”
Jack sucked in a short, sharp breath.
Soft laughter met Jack’s realisation, even as Goren and Eames started up from their chairs in shock.
“That’s right, Inspector. Now, tell me where you are right at this moment, and who you’re with.”
Jack looked wordlessly at Goren and Eames, then glanced around the room. They were, for the moment, alone.
“I’m at CID. I’m with Detectives Goren and Eames.”
“Good,” Graham almost purred. “Perfect.”
“Where are you, you bastard?” Jack burst out. To his growing anger, Graham only laughed again derisively.
“Not yet, Inspector. I’m not quite ready for you yet.”
“What is it that you want?”
“I expect that Detective Goren and Detective Eames could probably answer that question, but you don’t have time to be asking them at the moment. Since I’m using you for the go-between, you’re simply going to have to do it my way, and get your answers one piece at a time. Now, you and your American friends are to exit from your current location immediately, and proceed across town to the payphone on the corner of David and Wilson Streets. You have exactly thirty minutes to get there from the moment this conversation ends, allowing for ten minutes to be able to exit your CID building without raising anyone’s suspicions. If you don’t reach that phone within the given time frame…”
“You’ll do what?” Jack growled. “You’ll kill Deakins? You do that, and you’ll be signing your own death warrant, Graham. If one of my people doesn’t kill you, Bobby Goren or Alex Eames will.”
Again Graham only chuckled at the threat.
“Of course I wouldn’t kill him, Inspector. At least, not yet. What I will do is put an arrow through his leg, much in the same way that my son did to Detective Eames.”
Jack felt his face heat up with anger.
“Considering I’m the one holding all the cards for the moment, Inspector, I recommend that you don’t finish that sentence. Oh, and the three of you are to leave behind your mobile phones. We don’t want you making the mistake of alerting anyone once you know where I am. That just might lead to a fatal accident for Captain Deakins. You have thirty minutes, Inspector. Don’t be late.”
Jack let his breath out in a rush as the call cut out. He turned abruptly to look at Goren and Eames, speaking quickly before either one had the chance to ask what Graham had said.
“Just listen to me before you say anything at all. He’s given the three of us thirty minutes to get to public phone of his choosing. We’re to leave our phones behind, and we aren’t to involve anyone else. If we don’t get there in time, he says he’ll put an arrow through your captain’s leg… like Mathers did to you, Alex.”
Eames turned a pale shade of green at the threat, as did Goren. Jack looked at each of them grimly.
“What do you want to do?”
The two detectives looked at each other in silence and then, finally, Goren spoke softly but decisively.
“Get us to that phone box.”
They made it to the phone box with a little over five minutes to spare, after Jack took the liberty of turning on his police light, and running a few red lights. While they waited for the anticipated call, they discussed the grim situation in low voices.
“When I asked Graham what he wanted,” Jack said carefully, “he said you two would know.”
Goren and Eames looked at each other, both thinking the same thing.
“He wants us. He wants me and Alex,” Goren told Jack.
“To finish off what his son started,” Jack concluded. “Bloody hell…”
“I think you’re probably right, Jack,” Eames said. “He probably wasn’t expecting George and Deakins to turn up at his door. He was probably expecting us.”
“And now he’s going for the trifecta,” Goren added. Eames frowned.
“Pun not appreciated, Bobby.”
“Sorry. But you know he’s not going to let any of us go. Jack… Maybe, when he gives us the next lot of instructions, Alex and I should go alone.”
Jack stared at him incredulously.
“Are you out of your mind? Do you seriously think I would let you go off to face Graham on your own? Mullett would draw and quarter me, and for once I wouldn’t be able to fault him!”
“I think what Bobby is trying to say,” Eames said tentatively, “is that if we go on alone once we know where he is, you’ll be able to call for backup.”
Jack shook his head.
“That’s not acceptable.”
“We aren’t trying to be heroes, Jack,” Goren argued, but the Inspector was having none of it.
“I’m not letting you two go to face Graham alone. I don’t know how we’re going to work it, but splitting up is not an option. End of argument.”
They had no chance to argue further. The phone suddenly rang, the sound harsh to their ears in the quiet of the evening. Sparing his companions a rueful look, Jack reached across and picked it up.
“Very good, Inspector.”
“So what now?” Jack demanded. “You send us on a wild goose chase around Denton?”
“Please, Inspector, credit me with some intelligence. I have no wish to waste anyone’s time, least of all my own. That initial demand was simply to get the three of you well away from other potential interfering bodies. Now, do you recall the abandoned house that I expect Richard Cobb told you about? The one in which Amon Bohen conducted his revolutionary, if ill-fated experiment with his students?”
Jack glanced briefly at Eames. Her instincts hadn’t been wrong.
“I know the one.”
“Good. Take the good detectives, and go there now. I’m giving you fifteen minutes. Once you get there, be sure to park your car in the garage and close the garage door after you. The three of you will then go through the door that leads from the garage into the house. You will find yourselves in a long passageway. You will walk the entire length of that passage, and you will not deviate for any reason. You will go through the last door on the right in that passageway. Then you will receive further instructions. Do you understand?”
“We want proof that Captain Deakins is still alive.”
“Inspector, if you aren’t here within fifteen minutes of hanging up, I’ll give you proof of his death.”
It was all Jack could do to stay calm. He knew they were walking headlong into a very deadly situation, but while they believed there was still a chance to save Deakins’ life, it was a risk they had to take. There simply was no other way.
“All right,” Jack agreed grudgingly.
“Very good, Inspector.”
“Just a minute, Graham,” Jack growled. “If we do as you say, what sort of guarantee will we get from you?”
Jack’s demand was only met with laughter, followed by silence. Jack hung up, then looked grimly back at his companions.
“We have fifteen minutes to get to the abandoned house. You were right, Alex.”
She didn’t even try to smile. The affirmation was no consolation to any of them. Goren turned and led the way back to the car.
“Last chance to turn back, and let us go on alone,” Goren said as they approached the long drive of the house in question. Jack frowned.
“Bobby, if you ask me that one more time…”
He left the threat unfinished. Eames sat forward, eyeing the house disconsolately.
“Looks like something out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Goren shook his head.
“Great. We really needed that image. Thanks, Alex.”
Even he had to admit that she wasn’t wrong, though. The house was enormous to look at, but severely run-down. Most of the window facing outwards to the street appeared to be broken and, as they got closer, what had seemed to be a white façade from a distance was actually a fading sickly yellow.
“Talk about your fixer-uppers,” Eames muttered. Jack grimaced as he followed the driveway around the side and guided the vehicle into a large garage. The three detectives climbed out slowly.
“He told us to close the garage door,” Jack said, reluctantly walking over to pull the roller door down.
“Where to from here?” Goren asked. The question was. There was only one other way out of the garage. Jack pointed to the door which connected the garage to the house.
“We’re to go through there, walk all the way down to the end of the hallway, and go through the last door on the right.”
Goren reached for the knob, then looked back at Jack. The Inspector fired him a warning look.
“Don’t say it, Bobby. I’m right behind you.”
“Okay,” Goren muttered as he went through the door, “let’s do this.”
It’s a peculiarity of human nature that fear can affect a person’s senses to the point where they see thing completely differently than if they had been relaxed and calm. Such was the case now, as Goren, Eames and Jack entered the hallway beyond the garage. The hallway, in reality no more than eight or nine metres in length, seemed to all three to be far longer. Though well lit by a single bulb, darkness and shadows seemed to creep in on them, like the proverbial monsters out of the closet.
Guns in hand, Goren and Eames led the way along, with Jack close behind them. They passed a door on the right, two on the left, and finally came to the final door on the right.
“Here we are,” Goren murmured, his grip tightening fractionally on his gun. The three exchanged grim looks. Then, with a resigned shake of his head, Goren pushed the door open and led the way through.
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