To Shellster: sorry, I should have made it more obvious that when Eames makes the reference to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, she is actually referring to the recent movie remake, and not to a supposed actual event. I know TCM is fictional (thank God), and is actually loosely inspired by the Ed Gein murders. As for the rats, I just decided to chuck that in. I love giving characters phobias. (With Goren, it’d be needles – see ‘Post Mortem: Stress Position’. Haven’t decided on one yet for Eames.)
They found themselves in a small room that was furnished with only a waist-high table. Sitting on the table was an alarm clock, and a single sheet of paper. Goren grabbed the paper, read it through quickly, and then almost literally dove at the clock, fumbling with it for a moment before finally managing to turn it off.
Eames took the paper from him, and read it aloud.
“The alarm clock was set for fifteen minutes from the moment our last call ended. If you do not arrive in time to stop it from ringing, the result will be an arrow straight through Captain Deakin’s heart.”
She looked up at Goren, knowing his white face reflected her own. He nodded to the timer. There had been less than a minute left when he switched it off. Shuddering, Eames continued to read.
“Please leave your guns on the table, and proceed to the next room. Detective Goren, that includes your cane.”
Another exchange of looks, and Goren and Eames removed their guns and placed them carefully on the table.
“Never thought I’d be sorry to leave this damned thing behind,” Goren muttered ruefully as he laid the walking stick across the table. Eames moved to the door.
“Let’s keep moving.”
She pushed it open before either Goren or Jack could object, and stepped through. The two men followed in grim silence.
They found themselves now in another long hallway, but unlike the previous one, there was only one other door they could go through, and it was at the other end of the passage. Eames paused before going on.
“I keep expecting one of us to disappear through a fake wall, or something.”
Jack grimaced. “A regular funhouse.”
“More like a house of horrors,” Goren added. He reached out and took Eames’ hand firmly in his own, less for comfort’s sake than to simply keep from being separated.
They walked along the hallway, to the door at the other end, and this time Jack stepped forward and led the way through.
The door opened at the top of a short flight of concrete steps. Jack led the way down, moving cautiously in the dim light.
“Some sort of basement,” Eames murmured as she helped Goren negotiate the steps. Jack halted at the bottom, looking around the wide area critically.
“Well, obviously Graham wanted us to come down here… But where to from here?”
“Over there,” Goren said suddenly, pointing to a door on the far side of the basement.
“I really don’t like this,” Jack muttered, and led the way across the floor. He pushed the door open to reveal yet another passageway. Unlike the others, though, this one was cut into the earth itself, and was long enough that they could not see the other end.
“This leads away from the house,” Goren murmured, trying to work out just which direction the tunnel went in. “South… I think…”
Jack looked back at Goren grimly.
“That would mean it leads into Denton Woods. Are you still certain that you want to go on?”
“What choice do we have now?” Eames said softly. “If we don’t, he’ll kill the captain.”
“If we do, he’ll probably kill all of us,” Jack pointed out. Goren moved forward decisively.
“C’mon. Let’s keep going.”
The two things that they all noticed acutely was, firstly, the lack of light in the tunnel. As they got further away from the basement, the light faded gradually until they were walking in almost total darkness, and had to feel their way along the damp dirt walls, moving with extra care to prevent stumbling.
Secondly, as they walked the air grew icy around them.
“We not just moving away from the house,” Eames said finally. “We’re going down. This tunnel is sloping down.”
“Those five victims,” Goren said softly. “They weren’t hunted like Erik Mathers hunted us. They were brought here, and they were killed here. Then they were dumped in the woods to make it look like they’d been chased. We were played. Right from the start, he played us.”
“He’s holding the captain to get to us,” Eames said softly. “Maybe he doesn’t know Deakins was the one who…”
She trailed off, leaving it unspoken. Goren didn’t answer. He didn’t need to. She knew without him saying so that he didn’t believe that.
“A door,” Jack said suddenly. Sure enough, they had come to a heavy-looking wooden door. The three looked at each other in the dark. They had two choices, either go on, or go back. They all knew damned well there was no going back.
Gritting his teeth, Jack turned the knob and went in.
Eames and Goren had not even made it through the door when they heard Jack suck in his breath sharply.
“Graham… Bloody hell…”
Goren and Eames both looked anxiously as they came through behind Jack, and found themselves confronted with a frightening sight.
Sitting blindfolded and tied to a chair in the middle of the floor was Deakins. He appeared to be unhurt, except for the head wound where Graham had clubbed him with the cricket bat. Standing directly behind him, though, with a loaded crossbow at the ready and aimed squarely at the back of Deakins’ head, was David Graham.
“I’m glad you all decided to come,” Graham said with a piranha-like smile. “Although, probably not as glad as your captain here.”
Both Goren and Eames reacted instantly, each pulling guns that they’d had concealed inside their jackets out and aiming them at Graham.
“Put the crossbow down,” Goren ordered, ignoring the stunned look from Jack. Graham, however, only laughed.
“You know, Detectives, if I hadn’t anticipated that you’d pull a stunt like this, your captain would have had an arrow buried in his brain by now.”
“Damn it, Graham, let him go!” Eames burst out. Again, Graham only laughed.
“Go ahead and shoot me, Detectives. But I must warn you first, this crossbow has a hair-trigger. The slightest jolt will set it off. So you might be able to kill me now, and save your own lives… But I promise that your captain here will most certainly die. Now, your other option is to remove the ammunition clips from those guns and toss them over here. Do that now, and there is a chance that your captain might just walk out of here alive, with Inspector Frost over there. Your choice. I suggest you decide quickly.”
“Goren, Eames, don’t you dare!” Deakins suddenly burst out. “Forget about me. Just take this son of a bitch out!”
The detectives exchanged looks. They knew what they should do, but neither could bring themselves to sacrifice Deakins’ life in order to take Graham down. Slowly, reluctantly, they removed the clips from their guns, and tossed the weapons aside. Graham smiled with satisfaction.
“Very good, Detectives. Please note, that little stunt was the only one I’ve made an allowance for. Should anything else happen, contrary to the instructions you’ve received, the captain here will die. Now, Detective Eames, please remove your arm brace. And Detective Goren, please take off your leg brace.”
Sparing each other a brief, worried glance, Eames slipped her jacket off and removed the protective brace, while Goren unclipped the calliper that supported his healing leg. Graham nodded approvingly.
“Good. Toss them aside, please… Thankyou. Now, Detective Goren, if you look on the floor behind you, you’ll notice some lengths of rope. Please pick up two of them, and tie up your partner and the good Inspector.”
“Damn it, Goren, don’t!” Deakins growled. Graham laughed softly and prodded Deakins hard between the shoulders with the crossbow, drawing a hiss of pain from the captain.
“I suggest you show a little gratitude for the loyalty your detectives are showing you by keeping your mouth shut. The ropes, Detective Goren. Now. And don’t try to be clever. Tie them up properly.”
Clenching his jaw tightly in an effort to contain his anger, Goren did as ordered, binding both Eames’ and Jack’s hands behind their backs. Graham nodded, satisfied. He motioned to Eames and Jack.
“Sit down, both of you.”
Helpless to argue, they sat down awkwardly on the floor. Only then did Graham finally lower his crossbow and move away from behind Deakins. He approached Goren slowly, a cruel glint in his eyes.
“Now, being the hero that you are, Detective Goren, I don’t doubt that you’ll put up a fight the instant I put this crossbow down to tie you up. So, what to do about you…? Oh, that’s right. This.”
And he fired the loaded arrow straight through Goren’s right shoulder.
Superintendent Mullett strode up the stairs of the CID, anxious to find Jack and the two American detectives so he could update them on the progress they’d made, and find out whether they themselves had managed to learn anything new. He rounded the corner at the top of the stairs and headed towards the task room, barely aware of his own heavy breathing as he hurried along.
He almost ran into the task room, only to be brought up short. The room was empty.
Mullett looked around in confusion, wondering where they could possibly have gone, and then he remembered. Detective Goren was scheduled for a physio session this evening. Jack must have taken him for that, and of course, Detective Eames would have gone as well. Except… Mullett was sure that Jim Deakins had said something earlier that morning, before leaving CID with George, that that appointment had been moved forward to one o’clock…
So where were they?
There was movement behind him, and he swung around to find DS Hazel Wallace standing there.
“Ah, Hazel. Do you know where Jack is?”
“Actually, sir, that’s what I’m come to get you about.”
Mullett felt an inexplicable rush of panic sweep through him.
“What is it?”
“You’d better come see for yourself, sir.”
Hazel led him through to the Watch Room, where the monitors were situated that were connected to all the security cameras in the building. A technician was there, waiting for them.
“All right, what’s this about?” Mullett asked with a growing hint of impatience. The technician pointed to a TV screen that was separate from the other monitors.
“Here, sir. This was recorded approximately forty-five minutes ago, in the task room.”
Mullett leaned in close to watch. There was Jack, and with him were Goren and Eames. They appeared to be quite animated about something that Jack passed to Goren. He appeared to be getting out his phone but then, instead of making a call, he answered one instead.
“Damn it, we need sound on these things,” Mullett growled. The tech exchanged a wry look with Hazel, neither one daring to mention the fact that a request had been submitted for audio equipment to accompany the security monitors, and Mullett himself had knocked it back on the grounds of budget constraints.
The call ended, and they watched as Jack spoke to the two detectives, and then all three of them hurried out of the room.
“I spotted them on four other cameras after they left the task room,” the technician explained. “They left the building, and took off in Inspector Frost’s car. Seemed in quite a hurry, too, I might add. I tried to reach you, sir, to let you know, but I couldn’t get through. In the end, I told Hazel, and we’ve been waiting since then for you to get back.”
“Come with me, Hazel,” Mullett said firmly. “We need to try and work out just what it was they’d discovered before they left.” He looked around at the technician. “I want to know who it was that phoned DI Frost before they left and, if possible, where the call originated from.”
The technician nodded.
“Right on it, sir. I’ll call the phone company right away.”
They arrived back at the task room, and for the first time realised just what a state the room was in from all the paper that was strewn over the desks.
“Looks like Jack’s office,” Mullett muttered as he looked around. He paused, then indicated the desk on the other side of the room. “You start over there. I’m afraid I can’t give you much of an idea of what we might be looking for, though.”
“It’s okay,” Hazel murmured. She walked over and started looking through pages. “Do you think that maybe that phone call was a tip-off about where David Graham might be?”
Mullett frowned a little. “Jack may like to do things his own way, but if it was just a tip-off, I don’t think he would have gone off with just Detectives Goren and Eames, and not organised any type of back up. No… If that phone call was something to do with Professor Graham, I’ll wager it was more than a mere tip-off.”
Hazel quickly caught his meaning.
“You mean it could have been Graham himself calling Jack?”
“Quite possibly, and if that was the case, I expect they were given strict instructions to follow in order to keep Captain Deakins from being killed.”
Shaken, Hazel returned her attention to the desk, searching the many documents and pages of notes with renewed urgency. Then, abruptly, her eyes alighted on a single sheet of paper that sat on the other end of the desk. A single piece of paper with a big red circle scrawled around something at the bottom…
“I think this is what they were looking at, sir,” she said quickly, snatching the page off the desk.
Hazel held a sheet of paper out to Mullett, and he scanned it quickly.
“This is the property that borders Denton Woods, out on the east side.”
Hazel nodded. “That’s right, sir. Local kids reckon it’s haunted, all that sort of rot. But look at what’s been circled at the bottom, next to ownership.”
Mullett looked, and sucked in his breath loudly in shock.
“Good god… Hazel, get on the radio to Harding, and give him this address. I want everything directed to this address immediately… But no one is to move within a hundred metres of the property border until I give the order. Go…”
Hazel ran to do as she’d been ordered.
Graham strode over to Goren, who had collapsed to the floor in agony, clutching desperately at the arrow shaft protruding from his right shoulder. Lifting high the now empty crossbow, Graham brought it down hard, smashing it against Goren’s right leg, forcing a horrible scream of pain from the detective as the limb broke easily under the cruel force of the blow.
“You bastard!” Eames choked out, tears filling her eyes at her partner’s pain. “That could cripple him!”
Graham gave a short, vicious laugh as he picked the last length of rope and wrenched Goren’s hands behind his back, tying him up tightly.
“I wouldn’t be too worried about that, Detective Eames.”
He stepped away, leaving Goren lying on the floor on his left side, and walked over and yanked the blindfold roughly from Deakins’ face.
“There, Captain. Now you can see the precious detectives that you murdered my son to save.”
Deakins felt an ice cold wave sweep down through his body. Graham laughed, seeing the look on his face.
“Of course I know. I knew all along who the bastard was that murdered my boy. I just didn’t realise you were here in Denton until you showed up at my door this morning. So now, I not only get the honour of finishing my son’s work, but I get to deal with the person who finished him. Tell me, Captain Deakins. What did it feel like, pulling the trigger and killing a young man not even in his prime?”
Deakins glared up at Graham.
“I’ve never felt more satisfied in my life as I did when I shot dead your son, you sick son of a bitch.”
Deakins’ head rocked violently to the side as Graham backhanded him hard across the face.
“Satisfied, eh?” Graham hissed, leaning in close to stare right into Deakins’ eyes. “Well, I imagine I’ll probably feel much the same when I put the lights out permanently for Goren and Eames over there. The only issue I have is, do I kill you too, or do I let you live? I want to kill you, Captain Deakins, almost more than I want to kill them. But I wouldn’t mind letting you live, either, knowing you had to suffer the guilt every day for the rest of your life, after watching your precious detectives die one by one, and knowing you were powerless to stop it from happening.”
“So when did you really find out that Erik Mathers was your son?” Jack asked. Graham looked around at Jack, his attention momentarily diverted from Deakins.
“I’ve always known. I was the one who organised for Erik to come here for twelve months.”
“And did you organise for him to meet Amon Bohen too? Or was that an accident?”
“That was no accident,” Graham said derisively. “I knew my son had potential, it was just a matter of getting the right person to exploit it. Amon was the right person.”
Eames stared at Graham with a mixture of shock and disgust.
“You planned it? You planned everything? Why?”
Graham smiled openly, then.
“Human nature is a wonderfully adaptive thing, Detective. It’s truly fascinating, to see how people learn to adapt to different situations. We see it every day, all around us… But to see it in terms of a raw, basic need for survival… That was something Amon and I dreamed of studying.”
“So Bohen was involved,” Jack said, and Graham nodded.
“Oh, yes, right from the start. He didn’t have the stomach for the kill himself, you understand, but he was fascinated with the theory of it all. And he had just the right touch to turn my son into a true master hunter. In fact,” Graham said, looking to Goren and Eames, “the only mistake Erik made was when he took you two. When he called to tell me he’d picked his final two victims, Amon and I were ecstatic… until he told us who he’d picked.” Graham shook his head. “I warned him against taking police officers, but he was determined. Not even Amon could talk him out of that. Still, the reports I got back from him in those last few days were quite spectacular.”
“Why did you kill Bohen?” Goren asked, his voice hoarse from the strain of fighting the extraordinary pain he was in.
“He called me in a panic after you had him in for interrogation early this morning. Ranted that you were onto him, and that he wasn’t going to take the blame alone… All that sort of rubbish. I wasn’t particularly concerned about him exposing me… I’d counted on you figuring it out sooner or later. Really, it was just to shut him up. His whinging really got quite severely on my nerves.”
“You’re insane,” Jack growled. Graham nodded amiably.
“Quite possibly, yes. And I know I’m quite possibly not going to walk out of this house alive, but I swore I would finish my son’s work before I joined him.” He rounded on Goren and Eames, his eyes glinting dully in the dim light of the basement. “I have to leave you alone now for a short while. I need to collect a couple of things, but I tell you what I’ll do. I’ll let the two of you decide who dies first. Entirely your choice, I promise.”
Then, laughing cruelly to himself, Graham hurried through the heavy wooden door. There was the distinct sound of a key turning in the lock, telling them they were locked in.
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