Category Archives: Crime

My Stolen Years

 Scales of Justice

“Donald, the company accounts show you have been helping yourself to money out of the business once again.  We are not here to bail you out of your gambling debts,” Peter blasted out at his brother, as he entered the office.

“I own part of this business, and that money is just as much mine, as it is yours…I earned it,” replied Donald, surprised at how quickly he had been found out.

“You may own a share of the business, but don’t expect me to work all hours, for you to gamble it away at the tables,” Peter replied in a forceful manner, as anger was beginning to surface.

“How could I, you keep reminding me, every time I withdraw money from the business account for my social night’s out,” Donald responded.

“This can’t go on indefinitely” suggested Peter.

The room reigned in silence for a few minutes…Peter raised his head from the desk, breaking the silence.  “You owe the company £75,000.  Either repay the money by the end of the month, and no more will be said…or you will give me no alternative but to dissolve the partnership.

“You can’t.  You wouldn’t.  We are brothers,” claimed a stunned Donald by the threat.

It was the 15th August 1991, a date that would be remembered: Donald held his breath, positioning himself flat against the wall in response to the creaking sound, as the outer cellar door creaked as he opened it.

What was only a matter of seconds, seemed like ages, fortunately no one put their head out to see what the noise was…relief passed through Donald, or was it fear of being caught.

“No one heard.  No one cared.”  Donald said quietly to himself with a smile, heading for his brother Peter’s gun cabinet; removing his prize and joy; a double-barrelled shotgun, left to him by our father.

Donald slipped into the main part of the house by means of the staircase from cellar to study.  All he had to do was wait for Peter…he didn’t have to wait long; he knew his brother’s daily routine.

Peter entered his study, and was taken back by the sight of his brother, standing before him with his shotgun, aimed in his direction.  “Donald, have you lost your senses, that gun might go off?”

“That’s the general idea,” replied Donald watching his brother’s face turn white with fear.  “You knew very well I could not pay back the money.  If you dissolve our partnership, my share will barely cover my debts.”

“So let’s talk about this?” pleaded Peter.

“It is too late for that,” replied Donald.  “You have left me only one course of action.  I am truly sorry it has come to this.”

The first shot blasted him in the heart, causing his legs to buckle under him…Peter looked up at his brother.  “Donald.  Donald, what have you done?” his words faded as another shot rang out.

Peter, Peter, what are you doing discharging the shotgun in the house,” screamed Samantha his wife as she burst through the door into the study.

Her eyes fell upon her husband on the floor, then Donald pointing a shotgun in her direction.

Before she had a chance to speak, one shot blew part of her face away, followed up in quick succession, by another, which thrust her body clear across the room, crashing into the wall by sheer force.  She was dead before her body fell to the floor.

My heart started racing, as I made my way up the regal looking stairs to the second floor landing, walls lined with closed doors, and adorned with family photographs.

Christina their only daughter was unaware as I entered her bedroom; eyes closed listening to music on headphones.  Her eyes opened in utter shock, as the first of two shots slammed into her chest, she died almost immediately.

Michael the older of their two sons saw me coming out of Christina’s room, bloodied shotgun in hand, he made a run for it…but it was useless.  One shot to the back, sent him sprawling to the floor, and a second smashed through an artery in the leg … he bled to death.

Daniel huddled in fear, listening to the sounds, of a crazed killer prowling the house, hoping they were just figments of his imagination running wild.  He closed his eyes.  “Yes, that was a creak from the floorboards in the hallway, leading to his room.”

Daniel gasped and looked at the door.  It was all that stood between him and certain death…From the corner of his eye, witnessed the door knob turning, and with pulse racing, huddled down in one corner.

The door cracked open and slowly widened.  A bloodied gloved hand appeared around the door’s edge.

“Daniel, where are you?  Don’t be afraid,” called out Donald gazing around his attic bedroom.  Our eyes met…he was crouched down in the corner, with fear in his eyes.

I pulled him up, gave him a big hug, transferring much of the blood on my clothes to his, and then we both sat together on the bed.  It was at that moment, I knew I couldn’t kill him.  I just couldn’t do it.

“If you ever speak of the events that have happened here this day, I will hunt you down, and kill you.  Do you understand what I am saying Daniel?”  As Donald placed the bloodied shotgun on his lap, and placed his hands around it.

Fear reeked through every part of Daniel’s body, as he spoke those words, Donald expected to hear.  “I understand.  I understand.”

“It was done.  It was done.”  Donald said out loud to himself, pulling books and papers off shelves, as he returned to the cellar where he stripped off his jeans, top, trainers and gloves, putting them into a plastic bag, and putting on clean clothes he had brought with him.

Fear of being seen by inquisitive villager’s forced Donald to flee quickly across the farmer’s field adjoining the rear of the property, to his car parked in the lane beyond.

The adrenaline pumped through every part of my body as I drove from the scene…how I drove I will never know!

I reached the home of Louise Purdy; a short woman in her mid-thirties, who lived on the outskirts of the village.  She burst out of her rented cottage, with its run down garden, white front door with peeling paint, ran to the car, wearing a spring rose dress and a light green sweater, which hugged tightly to her body.

“I have done it!  I have done it” stuttered Donald.  “I have killed them,” bursting into tears.  Were they tears of joy or guilt?

“All of them…every last one?” asked Louise.

“I left Daniel, holding the shotgun, covered in blood, he won’t speak of these events, I put fear into his mind,” stated Donald.  “The police will think him guilty; they won’t look for anyone else.”

“I hope you are right?  For I am not going to prison as your accomplice,” responded Louise, as thoughts of protecting herself raced through her mind.  “Give me those clothes, I will dispose of them,” as she grabbed the plastic bag, Donald was holding, containing the bloodied clothes

As the guilt welled up in Donald, he stumbled into the cottage, as the images of the murders danced behind his eyes.  Looking in the direction of Louise, she had that wicked half-smile about her.  Thoughts raced through his mind; could I trust her to keep quiet?  Well I did it all for her!

The shots could be heard clear across the village, one or two shots, one would take it to be a farmer, but eight shots, that was a far different matter.  Something was definitely not right.

By deduction of sound, PC Roberts and Bracks the Church Warden, sensed where it originated from, and were first on the scene.  First signs indicated a possible burglary, as books and papers had been strewn across the floor.  But the true nature proved to be more gruesome, for Peter James, wife Samantha, children Michael and Christina had been discovered murdered.

It was PC Roberts who finally found Daniel, the James’ youngest son sitting on his bed in his room at the top of the house, supporting a bloodied shotgun on his lap.  Later, it would be proved without doubt, that it be the murder weapon.

Roberts, draped a sheet over Daniel, even though it was in the upper seventies, to protect the evidence, and wrapped the shotgun in a sheet taken from the cupboard.

“Why did you do this, Daniel?  You were always a peaceful child,” asked Bracks, as Roberts brought him down.

Daniel turned his head, and gazed into their eyes, he did not speak, just dropped his head…was it guilt?

Blue lights flashing, sirens blaring away, as police converged on the former Victorian Rectory in the village of Stowmarket.  Set back from the road, it stood proud and tall, overlooking the village, in its own grounds, backing onto farmland.

“Morning sir” Detective Sergeant Jonathan Weaver, greeted his superior, Detective Inspector Nelson, the officer who would take charge of the case, arriving only moments earlier, emerging from his car.

“Well, what have you got for us?” asked D.I.Nelson, in a gruff sounding voice, of the uniformed Sergeant Hearne, who was approaching him, as his officer’s gathered around to hear.

“PC Roberts, along with Mr Bracks the Church Warden, heard eight gunshots fired over a ten minute period.  Questioning the where and why…they investigated the source.  It led them straight here; where they found an open door, four bodies, and a house in chaos.

“Brave, but stupid,” commented the Inspector.  “Let’s take a look at the murder scene?”

“If you would like to follow me,” gestured Hearne.

The officers’s entered the former rectory, and were faced by chaos; books and papers flung about.  The Inspector gazed at Hearne, expecting some sort of explanation.

“Just as we found it,” commented Hearne, as they entered the study, where Peter James and his wife Samantha lay.

“I see S.O.C.O. and the Pathologist have beaten us to the scene,” stated the Inspector.

“They have been here some time,” replied Hearne.

Noticing the Inspector, standing in the entrance, Pathologist Sheila McCormack, called out.  “This is a bad one Mike.”

“I know you have only just started, but is there anything you can tell us, to help with our investigation?” asked the Inspector, in a begging manner, desperate for that snippet that would assist the case.

“Well, we have four bodies, and a total of eight shotgun pellets, estimated death, less than two hours ago, based on PC Roberts report,” stated McCormack as she walked over to him.  I intend to perform the post-mortem’s later today, and if you would like to attend … Oh sorry.  I forgot you haven’t got the stomach for it,” she commented with a gleeful smile across her face, with that she turned and waked back to the body of Peter James, the first victim.

“She brings life back, to one on cases like this,” commented the Inspector, watching her depart.

“As I understand you have a suspect, for these murders?” asked the Inspector.

“Yes.  Daniel James (14), covered in blood, and discovered in his bedroom holding the murder weapon.  He’s been taken back to the station, and the weapon has been bagged and tagged accordingly,” stated Hearne.

“Good work,” replied the Inspector, as thoughts raced through his mind, questioning the simplicity of this case, as he gazed around the house.  “Have you checked for possible intruders?”

“Everything’s been done by the book: four of my officer’s searched the house, top to bottom.  As expected nothing indicated the presence of an intruder,” replied Hearne.

Daniel was a quiet boy with dusky coloured hair, and light brown eyes.  He had that baby face look about him, and a sickly complexion.  For his age he was fairly broad shouldered, with a slim figure.  His manners were impeccable, but those who knew him well, stated he had an especially disagreeable temperament.

Daniel James, their prime suspect, never spoke to confess his guilt or innocence, during the course of two, fifty minute video-taped interviews with D.I.Nelson, D.S.Weaver, with consenting adult: Donald James.

What the police never knew, that they had in their presence, the one who had a motive to kill…money.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Daniel would become the prime suspect, and charged with four counts of murder.  For he had been found at the scene covered in the victim’s blood, holding the murder weapon; his father’s double-barrelled shotgun.

The press put no doubt into people’s minds, that Daniel was indeed the murderer as the police believe, not an innocent victim supported by his defence.  Only one person knew the answer to that; the true murderer.

The prosecution focused on four major points:

  • Daniel covered in his victim’s blood.
  • Daniel found holding the murder weapon, covered in his prints.
  • No sign of an intruder.
  • Daniel’s refusal to speak; proving his guilt.

From the outset the defence was convinced that Daniel was incapable of committing such a murder.  For one to fire and re-load a double barrelled shotgun, in quick succession, takes one with much experience, not a young boy, such as their client.  The evidence being put forward against him; was solid.

Daniel had the face of an angel, but without proof…nothing could save him.  So it was up to his defence counsel, to put a question of doubt in the court’s mind.

Prosecution witnesses hammered forth their evidence removing any possible doubt as to Daniel’s innocence.

According to the prosecution witness; PC Roberts and Bracks the churchwarden, who were first on the scene!  They found the house in a state of chaos, papers and books had been flung about.  Daniel, the surviving family member was discovered covered in blood, holding what was proved later to be the murder weapon.

Doctor Sheila McCormack, Pathologist, stated under oath, Peter James, had been found in the study, with one shot to the chest, and another having sliced through his spinal cord.

Samantha James, also found in the study, had part of her face blown away by the first shot.  A second shot to her heart had thrust her clear across the room; crashing into the wall by sheer force … blood was congealing from her fatal chest wound.  Her heart would have stopped almost immediately, resulting in limited blood splatter.

Christina James, found in her bedroom; drenched in her own blood, from two chest wounds.

Michael James had been shot in the back, and one to the leg, which caused an arterial bleed.

Police evidence, stated that the house was searched from top to bottom for signs of an intruder – none was found.  However, this could not be conclusively ruled out, as the front door had been found un-locked, and the house had a cellar accessible from the rear of the property, into the study.

Scratch marks on the upper hallway, and wood splinters under the nails of Michael James, indicated he tried to drag himself into the main part of the house.  Having failed in his quest, wrote the letter ‘D’ in his own blood on the floor…making the accused Daniel James the prime suspect.

For the whole of the proceeding’s, Daniel sat in his chair and said nothing; just the occasional nod in acknowledgement of his name, and the odd smile.  Day by day, police and medical experts, and those who knew him were brought before the court, and questioned by the prosecution and defence counsels.

“Before sentence is passed, do you have anything to say?” asked the bench of Daniel James the accused.

“How can one expect me to reply to events that have taken place, when I have no memory of that day?  I remember things before and after that day…Daniel responded in justification of the acts that had taken place.

“We the court can only go by the evidence placed before us, our hands are tied in terms of sentencing, when one has been found guilty based on the evidence.  Silence reigned around the court for a few moments, letting the words sink into Daniel.

“Daniel James, you are hereby sentenced to a term of twenty-five years.  You will be sent to a secure young offenders unit, until you are eighteen.  The remainder of your sentence will be served at the Frankland Category ‘A’ Prison in County Durham.” Reporters scurried to the door; to ring in the verdict to their papers.

Daniel could not believe the words that came forth.  “I am not guilty.  I am not guilty,” he proclaimed in a loud voice, which echoed around the court.

As my sentence neared its end, the nightmares got worse:  I saw myself standing or floating in this house.  I was a young boy of fourteen in this dream, if that what it was, and this person did not see me.  He was much older, and his face was familiar, but I just couldn’t put a name to him; the face of a cold-blooded murderer.  He was going from room to room killing each member of my family.  I could still hear the echo of the gun shots pounding in my head, as sweat poured off my body.

Casting back the bed covers, Daniel padded across his cell to the wash-basin in the corner, splashing water over his face, then raised his head gazing into the mirror.  The face looking at him was haggard and drawn, with dark rings around his eyes.  He had aged many years; was it this place or the dreams? Leaving him battle scarred for life.

But it was not until Daniel received a note from another inmate, tucked inside the spine of a book, which had been left in his cell.  This note was to release him from his incessant nightmare.

You have spent many years in jail for a crime you did not commit.  If you want the guilty party…you should seek out Donald James, who killed for the love of a good woman, and money.

How do I know, you ask?  I helped dispose of the bloodied clothes.

“I knew it!  I knew it!” Daniel whispered under his breath to himself.  “He stitched me up good and proper.  Framing me for murder, which I did not commit, then disappeared free as a bird, into a new life.  While I rotted in jail, believing I must have been guilty.  That is why he was not in court, claiming he could not bear to be in the same room.  More likely worried he could put doubt in the court’s mind, if he was called to the witness stand.”

Now I lay on my bed looking up at the dingy ceiling, as thoughts rushed through me: “Almost twenty-five years behind bars, as my life has been sucked away by each passing day.  “I will have my revenge on you…Donald James.”

Having spent twenty-five years, living in an artificial environment, I often wondered what the world would be like on the outside, and whether I would like it, Daniel thought to himself.

At that moment, a prison officer entered my cell, bringing my senses back to this time. “Come on, have you forgotten what day this is?”

I quickly scurried around, shoving twenty-five years of treasured possessions into one plastic bag.  Then sat back on my bed drinking my final cup of tea, as the minutes dragged endlessly by, waiting to be escorted off the wing for the last time.

Later, dressed in non-prison clothes, as supplied by a local charity, was taken before the Prison Governor.  He gave me the accustomed pep talk, for those leaving the prison, and reminded me I was being released under licence.  He gave me a map to the railway station, along with a train pass to Durham, the address of the halfway house, and payment for work in the maintenance department. Finally he wished me well for the future, and hoped he would not see me in here again.

The sound of the gates shutting behind me, as I passed through the foreboding gates of the prison, with a loud clanging noise, told me I was free at last.

“Free at last, I am free,” shouted Daniel, breathing the fresh air.  He trudged the two miles to the railway station, boarded the train, and watched intently as it headed towards Durham…and his temporary home, the halfway house.

Three months passed by, before Daniel found the whereabouts of Donald James; living on the south-coast, a few miles inland from Rottingdean.  He had changed his name to Purdy, the same as his true love from Stowmarket: Louise Purdy.  He was so predictable.

The look of surprise on his face, what a picture, when this old gentleman opened the door to me; was genuine. Twenty-five years had passed by, and he knew instantly who I was.

“Daniel, is that you?” asked Donald.

“You killed my family, framed me for murder…you took my life away,” stated Daniel with sheer hatred in his eyes.  “I served twenty-five years for the murder’s I did not commit; now I am here to collect.”

“I can explain; I was in debt, I was in love and your father my brother would not help me,” Donald Tried to reason, with an angry Daniel, who had twenty-five years of his life stolen from him.  “Louise left me years ago, took nearly every penny I had, just left me this old run-down cottage.”

“Do not bother, trying to explain…I don’t want to hear your excuses for taking away my life, and killing my parents, brother and sister,” responded Daniel, pulling out a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun, from under his long coat.

“Daniel, Daniel, there’s no need for that,” looking down the barrel.  “I will confess all to the police,” replied a scared Donald, begging for his life.

I knew deep down, he would never have confessed to the police, and I would have ended back in prison.

“Please!  Please!  We are family,” pleaded Donald.

“It is too late for that; twenty-five years too late…I want justice for me and my family.”  Daniel closed both eyes, and fired off both barrels from less than five feet away.  Donald was thrust against the wall by the sheer force, and fell across the door step, blood seeping from the chest wounds.  “That’s what I call justice!” with a smile of satisfaction.

Sitting against the wall, Daniel gazed at his handy work; Donald’s body, as he waited for the police to arrive.  With nowhere to run, prison was the only home he knew.

At my police interview, I gave my name and told my story of how Donald James now Donald Purdy had framed me for multiple murders in 1991 which I did not commit, and spent twenty-five years behind bars.  I don’t think they believed in my innocence.  I could see it in their eyes, for I had killed the only person who knew the real truth.

When I was brought to trial, pleaded guilty…for I was now prepared to serve my time, and die of old age in prison…satisfied that I had handed out justice.

Now I had come home, to the only home I knew.  I had spent most of my life in prison, for a crime I had not committed…now I would spend the rest of my life behind bars, for the crime of revenge…the one I committed.

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Village of the Cursed (4/4)

Ghost Village

There seated at the octagonal table in the bay, sat a young petite woman in her mid-thirties, in the quaint village styled tearooms, with its rustic beams, lead-light windows, attracting his attention.  Uninterested in her surrounding’s she gazed intently out of the window with her deep blue penetrating eyes, and long blonde wavy hair.  Almost hypnotised by her elegant figure, unable to withdraw his eyes off her; and oh how fragile she seemed.  Had she noticed him, intently gazing at her . . . she must have been blind not to have, or was she wrapped up in her own world?  He wondered what she was doing, sitting there all alone.

Time passed by without her giving any sign of preparing to leave.  It looked as if whom ever it was that she was waiting for, had stood her up.  What a jerk, he must be, letting her wait like that.

He hadn’t had a real conversation with anybody for so long now, and had started to feel lonesome.  He resolved to approach her, and having built up the courage to do so, got up and walked over slowly to her table.

“May I join you?” he asked.

She looked up briefly and smiled.  “Please do, I have been expecting you,” she answered, looking back out of the window, without any display of interest or show of surprise.

“I saw you looking at the old rectory,” Benjamin blurted out in an apologetic manner, “and I wondered…I lived there for a few years as a child.”

“You did?” she asked without managing to show surprise or interest.  “You don’t sound local though?”

“I have been abroad for some years now.  I guess that makes me sound a little funny.”  I couldn’t tell her the truth . . . she wouldn’t believe me.

The laughter of the once light-hearted couples that filled the tea-room and turned it into a warm sanctuary, faded away quickly as they had risen in his head.  Leaving them again in the cold atmosphere; as the street light, cast a shadow upon their window table.

One of my fondest memories of the village has to be our first day home for the holidays.  My brother, sister and I would ride our bicycles through the village and wave here and there, heading for the isolated cottage, nestled down by the river.

She was not our real grandmother, but she was ‘Gran’, to us.  We would dash up her path, round the side and in the back door.  There she would be, waiting to greet us as usual, sleeves rolled up from her floury hands, wearing a spotless white apron.

She would butter fresh scones, ever so warm and tasty, topped with home-made jam, along with cream cakes.  We munched and munched, as we told her about the adventures we had at school, as we sat round her kitchen table.

We would leave with cheeks bulging and glowing as we retraced our way home.

“I am so sorry,” Benjamin said.  “I let my mind wonder to the good times.  You were saying?”

“I was asking if they are friends of yours,” she said, looking at the group of people standing outside.

Benjamin turned and gazed through the window, following her amused gaze, and gaped at the window in utter astonishment.  Standing only a few feet from him, they looked ever so familiar.

“That’s my parents,” Benjamin blurted out.  Peter and Samantha James, and along side my brother Michael and sister Christina, just as I last remember them.  “But of course, it can’t be them, they died many years ago.”

His father, Peter was standing, motionless, staring at Benjamin, with his right hand above his eyes, apparently in an attempt to shade whatever light came from inside.  Benjamin was staring back in utter disbelief, unable to decide how to react to this vision.

“But what does he want?” Benjamin asked of himself.  “Why is he staring at me like that?”

Peter James retraced his steps back within the group, smiling, waved a hand in a saluting motion, turned around, and disappeared into the dense fog that seemed to arrive and disappear with them.  He had a very fond time of life with his family, who had been gunned down in their own home; the look brought back forgotten and painful memories.

“I’m glad they have gone,” Benjamin said quietly, almost to himself.

He turned back to the woman, making an effort to act his composed self again.  “I must apologise for my behaviour.  You will think me rude.  I have been sitting here without introducing myself.  My name is Benjamin, and you are?”

“I’m Anna Beaumont, and I didn’t think you rude.  A little strange perhaps,” she said, smiling reassuringly.

“I’m glad,” he said, smiling back.  “So, what are you doing here, all alone?”

A light of amusement passed through her eyes . . . she had beautiful, lively eyes.  His own gaze was riveted to her graceful face, and he could not bring himself to look away.  “I am only having an innocent conversation to while away the time a bit,” she replied.  “What about yourself?”

He suppressed the urge to tell her about his dream and, the real reason he was there.  After all, she was a total stranger who would be justified in thinking him odd to undertake such a trip on account of memories from a past time . . . or would she?

“I have come to visit the streets of my youth, you could say,” he said guardedly.

“And how do you find it?” asked Anna.

“The neighbourhood, you mean?”  She nodded slightly.  “Well, I don’t know.  It’s kind of strange . . . it’s just as it was when I left.    On one hand, I know every stone around here, but on the other, I don’t seem to recognise anybody, but people have acknowledged me.”

“So what are your plans?” asked Anna.

“To tell the truth,” Benjamin said.  “I’m not sure what I want to do next.”

“It seems to me that you are making a very poor job of your visit,” Anna said looking at him with mocking eyes.  “Didn’t you make any plans at all before you came here?”

“Actually, I acted on impulse.  It felt right that I should visit here, and so I came.”  The truth of this fact had only just dawned on him.  He actually had no plans at all, except for the general idea of getting to the roots of his memories.

“For one thing, I just feel like walking around to make my peace with the streets of my childhood.”  He now felt as if he owed these streets an apology…for leaving them so suddenly, but it wasn’t his choice.

“Then why are you wasting your time sitting here, staring at this old building?  Shouldn’t you be out there instead?”

“You know, I wish I could visit the old house.  I should like to stay awhile and let my mind go back to when I was a child.  But I don’t think that its’ present occupants would agree.” Benjamin stated, with a yearning to see inside.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you,” she said.  “I’ll take you around to see the streets and what’s in them.  I can show you things.  I know my way around here.”

Her hand was in his, and she was on her feet.  He didn’t know why, but he sensed he could trust her, the feeling was there.

“Thank you, I’d like that,” Benjamin replied with thanks.  “I do feel a little lost.”

“Okay.  Now just hold my hand and don’t let go.  I don’t want to lose you,” she said, with a soft reassuring smile.

He left with her through the main door, and they were outside, blending in the milky white mist that had appeared and enveloped them in it.

A sensation passed through his body as he looked deep into the mist, as he gazed he was sure she had taken him back to his childhood times, when he lived in the village, but how can that be?

That was the last time anybody saw Benjamin again.

Finally, he had found an everlasting peace, he had come home!

Village of the Cursed (3/4)

Justice

The door opened and Detective Chief Inspector Nelson strode purposefully into the staff canteen, with a drained expression upon his face, as he gazed around looking for his prey.

“Morning Chief,” Weaver said, looking up from his paper, “has someone died or something?”

“Worse!  Much worse!”

Weaver put the paper down, took a sip of tea, and sat back in the chair.  “I am all ears,” as his D.C.I. dropped a file onto his paper, and sat down opposite him.

“What do you make of this?” asked Nelson.

Weaver picked it up, and casually browsed through the contents, which included a formal letter sent by the Court of Appeal, that the case in question:  Benjamin James would be heard at the High Court, four weeks from today.

“I remember this case, vaguely.  I was just starting out in C.I.D at the time.  To think that after all this time has passed, that the boy Benjamin, now a man in the eyes of the law, could be innocent of the murders, they must be joking.”  Weaver responded, with disbelief in his voice.  “If my memory serves me right, it was an open and shut case at the time. They had the weapon, suspect, and victim’s blood on his clothes . . . and now they believe after all this time, there is a possibility he could actually be innocent?”

“That’s about the size of it.  I was one of the leading Inspector’s on the case, it was my part in his conviction, that got me my promotion two years later,” stated Nelson.  “So we have got to check over the case, and ensure everything had been, and was undertaken in a legal manner.

“What we don’t want is some smart arse lawyer getting him off on a technicality,” suggested Weaver.

“You have got that right.  You had better dig out the original files, check the statements with original witnesses, what we don’t want are any nasty surprises waiting for us, at the hearing, stated Nelson, as he got up to leave.  “It might be worth checking out the village, to see if anything of interest to the case has gone on, since the James’ murders.”

“What do you expect to find, more ghosts jumping out of the woodwork,” Weaver responded.  He put his hands up, “only a joke.”

Nelson gazed at him, but said nothing as he left.

“Well, what a can of worms to be dropped in our laps.  I thought this case was dead and buried,” Weaver said to himself in a shallow voice, as he walked from the canteen.

“D.S.Jones,” Weaver’s trusted right hand man. “Phone through to the records office, and request that all the files and evidence on the Benjamin James murder spree of 1991, be sent up to C.I.D.” as he walked into the office.  “Then I want a list of any unusual happenings in the village of Barrisgough, any incidents where the police have been called in, from 1991.”

“Yes, sir!” replied Jones.  “What gives?”

“Some Psychiatrist and Priest, have started raising the question whether Benjamin James, could actually be a murderer or an innocent victim, which has led to an appeal,” Weaver responded.

Jones, accessed his computer for information on any related events, to the killings, within the village and surrounding area.  His link to Barrisgough, would bring up a chain of deaths . . . they hadn’t expected this.

The first anniversary of the James’ murders; post woman was arrested for murdering her husband, Christopher, by stabbing him with a kitchen knife seven times.

The second anniversary of the James’ murders; Jackie Lawson was killed when she reversed her car, into the path of an oncoming lorry.

The third anniversary of the James’ murders; Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died in hospital from his injuries.

The fourth anniversary of the James’ murders; James Harvard killed the village busybody, one Mary Laidlaw, at his mothers request, by crossbow.

The fifth anniversary of the James’ murders; Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. for refusing to serve him.

The sixth anniversary of the James’ murders; Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during the execution of a burglary.

The seventh anniversary of the James’ murders; Peter Quinn local Poacher, fired and killed former police officer, Cliff Roberts, now gamekeeper.

The description given by those charged, had been quite similar on all accounts.  Minutes before the act of murder took place, each claim to have seen a shadowy figure, wearing a frock styled coat the hat, cross their path,” quoted James reading from the screen.

To local people then – and today – the evidence is overwhelming; the ghost of the Reverend Patterson continued to haunt the village.  He had returned to play out the dramatic events that have made the killings in this quiet rural corner of East Anglia, headline news, the length and breadth of the country.

After August 15th 1998, no murder or accidental death has been reported, the village has lived in peace and harmony ever since.

“Could it be a coincidence that the murder’s ceased after the seventh anniversary, which happened to be the same year Benjamin reached twenty-one?” suggested Jones.

“I would find it hard to believe he could be possible of orchestrating murders, but anything’s possible in this day and age,” Weaver pointed out.

Or was it the removal of old bones from the rectory well by archaeologists, believed to be that of a French Nun, that brought peace?”

“What a load of utter rubbish, what will they think of next,” Weaver responded, looking over D.S.Jones’ shoulder in disbelief.  “We work with facts, not make believe.”

“Historians would believe in it,” suggested Jones.  Add archaeologists into the mix, and a sympathetic appeal court, and Benjamin could easily walk.”

Weaver looked at Jones with disgust at the suggestion. “What news on the original case?”

“Not good at all, PC Roberts, the officer who was first on the scene retired due to ill health, was killed in August 1998, whilst working as a game keeper.”

“What about the church warden, he was one of the first on the scene?” Weaver asked.

“Bracks died in 1996, from a heart attack,” Jones replied.  Here’s some additional information, from the day of Benjamin’s imprisonment, right up to his death, Bracks visited him every month without fail.”

“It can’t get much worse, can it?” asked Weaver.

“It can, and here it is, Detective Chief Inspector Dawson, who headed the case, was killed in a car accident in 1998, whilst travelling across Europe with his family.”

“I remember Dawson’s death, I attended his funeral, hundreds turned out to pay their respects,” interjected Weaver.  “This doesn’t look good; most of the major witnesses are dead!”

Detectives wanted to question Donald James, brother of Peter James, but they couldn’t find him.  He had sold the company, and vanished with his wife to locations unknown.

Further investigations revealed, he had been left financial guardian of each child until they reached the age of twenty-one.  It appears he had disappeared with the James’ entire estate.

Questions were raised about Donald, made one wonder if there was any possible doubt; whether Donald had any involvement, in the murders.

Harold Brackman, crime-beat reporter of twenty-five years with the Chronicle, couldn’t believe what he heard from his sources at court.  Benjamin James was appealing against his sentence after all these years . . .  The young boy who has spent the last ten years behind bars.

Front page news on the first day of the Appeal Hearing:

What caused Benjamin James (14) in August 1991, to take his father’s shotgun, and cold bloodedly murder his family?

The suspect never uttered a word during his police interviews, and trial, other than to confirm his name.  The physical evidence was enough to prove his guilt.

Benjamin never confessed his guilt, or pleaded his innocence . . . forcing the court to base the case on the evidence brought before them.

Now ten years on, Benjamin James is pleading his innocence in the Court of Appeal, on the grounds of mitigating circumstances.

The day is stifling hot, over eighty degrees, and still rising as the Appeal Court sat to hear the case brought before them on, on the grounds of a mis-carriage of justice, with mitigating circumstances.

Very few cases in the English legal system have attracted so much attention from the Media, as that of the Benjamin James Murder Spree, a case that had shocked, mystified, and fascinated people, the length and breadth of the country.

The horrific act in an otherwise peaceful country village is startling beyond belief.  Along with the gruesome nature of the crimes is the unexpected character of the accused, not a maniac, but their youngest son; Benjamin James.  Charged with the murder of his parents, Peter and Samantha, his brother Michael and sister Christina

A lawyer representing Benjamin James, addressed court:  In the original murder case, the evidence submitted was almost entirely circumstantial, which passionately divided public opinion, as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.  Thus he was found guilty for the violent and cold bloodedly murder of four people, which led to his conviction; to be detained for an indefinite period.

The Crown’s conviction was based solely on the fact, that Benjamin James’ was found holding the shotgun, and covered in blood from his victim’s.

Here, we are going to prove without doubt, Benjamin’s part, as the murderer.

The Appeal Court consisted of three judges for the appeal led by Judge Carsdale into the ‘James Murder Spree of 1991,’ as it has become known.

This is a murder case in which the accused was found guilty at the Juvenile Court in 1991, for the violent and cold blooded murder of four people, namely his own family.

“You may call your first witness,” said the Judge, indicating to the defence.

Mathew Hillsdale of the defence acknowledged the judge.  For he knew they had an upward climb convincing the court, of Benjamin’s innocence.

The first witness for the defence is Professor James Beaumont, Historian for Cambridge University Museum.  Who stated, that a French Nun, one Adele Dupre, worked in the area as a maid during the times of the Witch Finder Trials.  Part of the village’s own recorded history, refer to the maid in question being tried as a witch, for her association with animals.  Her body was burnt at the stake, and her remains were thrown down the old well.

In 1863, the Reverend Edward Markham built a rectory at the far end of Barisgough village, to look over his flock.  Apparitions of a Nun started early on and were seen by many a visitor to the rectory, for many centuries to come.

Then in 1955, the Reverend James Patterson took up residence, and in 1972 when poltergeist activity was ripe in the area, he was found hanging from the Bell Tower rafters, by the then church warden; Mr Bracks.

The Reverend Patterson was observed by villager’s partaking in Black Magic rituals, at the Manor House graveyard.  The evidence was laid out for all to see the next morning, the remains of a black cock and white hen, all the hallmarks of a Black Magic ritual.

When the James family moved into the converted rectory, villager’s feared for their safety . . . their fear was well founded.

Our search revealed the old well, covered by years of growth, it was here the skull and bones were discovered, during an excavation, and taken to Cambridge University Museum.

The skull broke in two, and glass display cases, within close proximity, shattered.  Two of the original archaeological team in their late twenties, died within seven days of the remnants removal from the old well; of old age.

Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s remains were buried on sacred ground, within the Convent of our Lady in Holt.  At last she was at peace.

“Thank you Professor, no further questions,” the defence hoped this would put serious doubt, into the minds of the court.

“Come now professor, this is no more than a story made up for the tourists,” the prosecuting attorney James Lansdale for the Crown put forward, in a jovial manner.

“The entire happenings and events taken place are recorded in the British Library.  What we have done is try to answer questions, about historical events taken place in the village,” replied the Professor.

“So Professor, what has this got to do with Benjamin James murder spree,” he asked.

“I have the court the facts on the village, it is not for me to speculate,” the Professor replied.

“But you do, don’t you,” stated the red faced Prosecutor Lansdale, “no further questions for this witness.”

“Before I call my next witness, I would like to enter a document into the proceedings,” A copy was duly given to the Judges and Prosecution.

According to the statement you have before you, as provided by Trinity House resident psychiatrist Dr Andrew Sinclair and witnessed by the said Governor; Mr Calahan.  Benjamin James regained use of speech on the21st September 1998, some twenty-four after the skeletal remains of the Nun; Sister Adele Dupre was buried on sacred ground.

“Therefore it has been concluded there must be a connection between the two events,” proposed the defence.

“But that still doesn’t prove that Benjamin is innocent of the murders,” stated the Prosecution.

“Bear with me, and I will prove it to you and your court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the original conviction is flawed,” stated the Defence.

The second witness for the defence is Mr Rackman a gunsmith, of 30 years experience.  Who stated that a double-barrelled shotgun breaks beyond the stock so the barrel drops down, and the fired or spent cartridges as they are referred to, can be extracted and the gun reloaded.

It is my considered opinion that a 14 year-old boy, some , 4ft 10inches in height, would have great difficulty holding such a shotgun, let alone fire, reload and fire again in a matter of seconds?  The length and weight isn’t designed for quick action.

“No further questions for this witness,” as the defence returned to his table, with glee in his eyes.

“Mr Rackman,I put it to you isn’t it possible to fire, reload and fire again in quick succession, if one is  used to the shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor.

“In my opinion, it would be highly unlikely,” replied Rackman.

“But not impossible?” asked the prosecutor, pushing the defence’s witness into a yes or no situation.

“I am unable to give a yes or no answer to the question, it would depend on many factors, height, type of shotgun.”

The prosecution knew he had been beaten by this witness.  “No further questions,” as he retreated to his table.

The third witness for the defence is Doctor Gerald Carter Psychiatrist of Harley Street, and Royal Brompton Hospital.  Who stated under oath, that Benjamin James has limited memory for that fateful day; 15th August 1991, up to 21st September 1998.  In short he suffers from amnesia covering a seven year period.

At the time of these murders, the village was rife with paranormal activity, and the centre point was the old rectory; home of Benjamin James.

I like you, doubted the existence of living ghosts, that was until I visited the village of Barrisgough seeking answers, and it was there, I met Howard and Anna Beaumont, who told me the story of the rail crash; off 18th May 1921.  Some forty people died that day, when a passenger and goods train collided.  What I learned later from library reports shocked me to the bone.

Remnants of a gentleman bearing a silver ring with the initials HB, and a woman, bearing a broach with AB, were both discovered in the first carriage.  The only signs left of the old railway track, were bumps in the ground where the old track sleepers lay.  Legend said a train would exit the misty gloom, every evening at 18.50pm . . . and it did, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.

I had actually spoken with real living, breathing ghosts of Barrisgough, and seen the haunted train, at the exact time of the original accident, drive right through me, proving to me the village is haunted.

The former church warden Mr Bracks, claimed satanic events took place at the Old Manor House.  What I found was dried blood stains among bird feathers, the same as associated with Black Magic rituals.  I could not guess how long since the ritual took place, as the feathers are soft to the touch, I would guess fairly recent.

“Thank you doctor, no further questions,” the defence believed his witness, had left the court perplexed in many ways.

The Prosecuting Barrister raised himself from his seat and walked towards the good doctor, in the witness box, eyeing him up and down for a moment.

“What you and the defence here have concocted for the court is based on supposed paranormal activities.  So I put it to you, it is no more than a state of mind?” proposed the Prosecutor.

“You can believe what you want.  Why don’t you visit the village, it is still rife with paranormal, even the dead from the train crash, openly walk around,” responded Carter.  “I am sure they will make you welcome.”

“Just answer the question,” asked a flustered Prosecutor.

I only work with facts put before me, by my patient.  How can one so young and innocent, be, considered, responsible of such a horrific crime?” the doctor threw back in the Prosecutors face.

“So who do you think killed them, and placed the murder weapon in Benjamin’s lap, spraying blood from his victim’s over him?” the Prosecutor asked, playing right into the hands of the doctor.

“That is the job of the police to discover who carried out the crime.  Benjamin had to have been in a state of shock at the time, which would account for his silence, during the police interviews and trial.  He was to spend the better part of the next seven years in silence.  If he had not regained his voice, we would not be put in this situation, questioning his innocence or guilt?” replied a satisfied doctor.

“But you do question the police outcome . . . are you saying, they got it wrong?” asked the Prosecutor.

“The truth is in the evidence as I see it,” replied the good doctor.

“No further questions”, said the prosecutor, knowing he had just met his match, in that exchange of words.

“I call to the stand the Reverend Baines.”

The fourth witness for the defence is the Reverend Baines, vicar of St.Mary’s Church at Holt, and a prison visitor to Trinity House Hospital.  Who admitted he found it hard to comprehend that one so small, could be capable of lifting a double barrelled shotgun, and firing off a total of nine rounds in quick succession.

It is my belief, another committed his crime, and the supernatural events, rife in the village, were somehow connected to these murders.  Unfortunately, much time has passed by, and whoever actually committed the act, has got clean away.

At the time of the so-called murder spree, Benjamin was only 4ft 8 inches tall, making it virtually impossible for him to carry out the crime.  The shotgun used to carry out these murders was nearly three-quarters his height, how could he wield it, fire and reload in quick succession?

“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence nodded towards the prosecution, as he returned to his table.

The Prosecuting Barrister rose to his feet.  “I see we have another joker, who believes in super-natural events, could actually be responsible for the deadly atrocities, of August 1991,” gazing between the defence counsel and the witness.  “So Reverend, do you believe in the super natural events, that have enveloped this village since the, 1645 Witch Finder Trials?”

“I have to concur, I have no choice but to believe; the evidence speaks for itself.”

The prosecuting counsel tossed his papers loudly onto his table, out of sheer desperation.  “I have no further questions for this witness.”

The fifth witness for the defence is Samuel Sanderson, Professor of Scientific DNA Studies.  The clothing worn by Benjamin James back in 1991 had been studied, using techniques of today.  We found blood transference, as though being hugged by the real killer, but no direct blood splatter.

Our DNA tests, brought up some surprising results, who ever hugged the accused had to be a relation of the family.  Not just anyone, but one related to the father; Peter James.

The other item of clothing, tested for DNA, was an exact match to that found on Benjamin James’ clothing . . . one of many clothing items found in the police, evidence box.

“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence stated with a wry smile on his face, nodding towards the prosecution.

“No questions for this witness,” the Prosecutor said, rising from his seat to speak.  He could not believe what he had just heard, an item of evidence that could put serious doubt on the guilt of the accused.

The final witness for the defence is the accused, Benjamin James, currently resident of Trinity House Hospital, on Saint Unix Island.  My life changed in August 1991, when the authorities believed I murdered my parents, brother and sister with my father’s shotgun.

Like my brother and sister, I spent only school holidays at our home in Barrisgough, for we attended boarding school.  The thing I remember most would be the first day back from school, riding through the village, to the old cottage nestled down by the river.

There waiting for us would be our mother’s part-time house-keeper, who fed us freshly baked cakes and scones.  Actually she had been burned as a witch, in times gone by, and worked as a house-keeper, for previous occupants of the old rectory, that’s a story she told us.

At first we didn’t believe her, until Michael and I observed the ghostly coach, careering across our garden, late each Friday night.  We even saw the Nun cross the terrace; she even acknowledged our presence, on more than one occasion.  Another sighting I remember was that of a vicar, sitting at dad’s desk in the study, Benjamin gazed around the court, looking at the stunned faces, in response to ghostly events that took place at their home; the old rectory.

We kids couldn’t talk to our parents about these events, they just wouldn’t believe us.  But my godfather Donald James, told us kids, what you see is true, and the story of the Nun burnt as a witch really happened.

Dad used to get very annoyed when Donald told us of the satanic rituals that took place at the Old Manor House grounds . . . we knew him and his wife who was born in the village attended, but we never let on.

Dad and Donald always argued, you could hear it all over the house, always about the same old thing . . . money.

Donald always came in by way of the cellar, using the external door in the garden for he had a key like the rest of us, but really it was known as his personal access door.  He would come up by way of the inner staircase, to the tall bookcase in dad’s study which was on hinges.  A catch at the back would release it.

The faces of the prosecution were shell-shocked, for it was the first they heard of this.

“I would like to offer a document as evidence into the proceedings, a copy of the original plans held at County Hall Surveyor’s Department,” asked the Defence.

My mind still remains partially blank for 15th August 1991.  What I do remember is Donald came round really early . . . and had an argument with my father, then slammed the front door as he left.  The next thing Bracks the church-warden, finding me covered in blood, with my father’s shotgun in my lap.

I just don’t believe I could have committed such a murder, the length and weight of the shotgun outweighed logical reasoning.

How I came to be holding it . . . I have no explanation.

“No further questions, for this witness,” indicating the floor was free for the Prosecution.

“So Benjamin, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the Prosecution.

“If you had met one like I had, you would know they exist,” replied Benjamin.

“Benjamin, when you came before the courts back in 1991, charged with murdering your own family, you refused to speak?” asked the Prosecution.

“It wasn’t that I refused, I just found no words came forth,” stated Benjamin.

“So when these supposed bones of the Nun were re-buried some seven years later, you got your speech back?” stated the Prosecutor.  “You expect us to believe it?”

“That’s how it was,” Benjamin replied, “if I could have spoken, I would have.  Who would want to be locked up for a crime you are convinced you are innocent of?”

“Isn’t it true that you argued with your father on the morning of the murders?”

“My memory that far back is a little rusty . . . as far as I can remember, I don’t think so, but I can’t be sure,” replied Benjamin.

“Have you ever held or fired your father’s shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor, getting to the nitty gritty of the case.

“No.  He wouldn’t let us children handle it, he told us it was dangerous,” stated Benjamin.

“I ask, did you take your father’s shotgun, and kill your own family in a fit of rage?” asked the Prosecution in a badgering mode.

“No, I couldn’t kill those I loved,” replied Benjamin.

“You were found holding your father’s shotgun, covered in blood,” asked the prosecution.  “You expect us to believe you be innocent of the crime?”

“I can only answer what I know,” replied a calm Benjamin.

The prosecutor knew in his heart, any evidence that would keep Benjamin James locked away, was never going to come from the accused.  “No further questions, for this witness.”

“That concludes the case for the Defence.”

The first witness for the prosecution is Detective Inspector Weaver, who was a Detective Sergeant back in1991.

At the time, it had all the hallmarks of an open and shut case; we had the murderer, the murder weapon, with his finger prints all over, and he was covered in the victim’s blood.

As was the usual procedure, we checked the house top to bottom for any intruders . . . but we didn’t expect to find any, we had our culprit . . . the evidence proved his guilt.

Since the deaths on the 15th August 1991, there has been a death in Barrisgough, one for each of the next seven years.

1992: Linda Harvey killed her husband Christopher, with a kitchen knife.

1993: Jackie Lawson reversed into the path of an oncoming lorry.

1994: Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died from his injuries.

1995: James Harvard killed Mary Laidlaw with a crossbow.

1996: Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. because she refused to serve him.

1997: Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during a burglary.

1998: Peter Quinn poacher, killed Cliff Roberts gamekeeper, a former police officer, who was one of the first on the scene at the James murders.

We have seven deaths, all on the same date each year of the James’ murders.  Then by some fluke, discovered in the old rectory well, are supposedly those of a Nun, burnt as a witch.  The yearly murders stopped, once her remains are re-buried on sacred ground, and Benjamin spoke for the first time since the murders . . . too much of a coincidence.

“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the prosecutor, believing the deaths on the yearly anniversary would be enough to put doubt into the minds of the court, as to his guilt.

“So you don’t believe in ghosts?” asked the defence rising to his feet.

“No I do not,” proclaimed Weaver.

“Detective Inspector Weaver, is it not true, that most of those who committed an act of murder on the yearly anniversary, stated under oath, of seeing a shadowy figure, wearing a frocked style coat and hat, before they committed murder?” asked the defence.

“Well yes, but we in the police believe in hard facts, not some fanciful tale of ghosts,” replied Weaver.

“Maybe not, but you have to remember, that we have heard in this very court, that the village of Barrisgough is haunted,” the defence counsel put forward.

Weaver nodded in reply.

“In your statement, you stated the police searched the house top to bottom, but made no mention of the access between the cellar and study, by the staircase.  Is it not true, that an intruder could have escaped that way?” the defence rammed home this question.

“We never knew of this access staircase, so we can’t be held responsible,” replied Weaver.

“You have to admit, that it is a possibility, that an intruder, could have entered and escaped this way?” pushed the defence.

“Well, yes,” replied Weaver, in a gingerly reply.

“Did you question Donald James, the deceased’s brother?” asked the defence.

“We interviewed him, yes, no further action was needed,” replied Weaver.

“Did you not investigate his background and finances?” the defence asked, watching the bemused witness.

“We had no reason to,” replied Weaver, “for we had our suspect.”

“Would it surprise you to know, that at the time Donald James was in financial difficulty, and had everything to gain from his brother’s death,” stated the defence.

“I was not the lead officer in this case,” Weaver replied, trying to divert attention or blame away from him.

“Did you know, Donald James had been left financial guardian of each child, on an estate worth some twelve million ponds?  Of course you didn’t,“ the defence replied, for him, “you didn’t see fit to check him out.”

“Would you not agree, he had the motive?” suggested the defence, watching the witness squirm.

“Well . . . yes,” replied a hesitant Weaver.

“So I ask you, D.I.Weaver, where is Donald James now?” asked the defence.

“We have no idea where he is, the company he owned with his brother has been sold, and he seems to have vanished with his wife to locations unknown,” stated Weaver.

“Along with the money,” suggested the defence.

“Yes,” stated Weaver.

“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the defence, putting yet another question of doubt into the court’s mind, that someone else could be a suspect.

The second witness for the prosecution is Michael Sands, Professor of Psychology.  Upon speaking with the accused Benjamin James, he believes the Nun has set him free to express himself after seven years of silence.  Even though he believes it, it was more likely to be just natural causes.  Since being released from the chains that bound his speech, he now proclaims his innocence, with no evidence to back it up.

Having listened to the police account, of the seven anniversary murders.  Could Benjamin be held responsible even though he has been locked up . . . miles away? Over the centuries, some people’s thoughts have been responsible for deaths . . . as to whether this is the case with the accused . . . I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“No further questions, for this witness,” the prosecutor nodded in the direction of the defence,”give it your best shot.”

“Professor, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the defence.

“In certain circumstances yes, in other’s no,” replied a cagey Professor.

“So, it is highly possible, for Benjamin to have spoken to a Nun, when he lived in Barrisgough?” asked the defence.  “Even though she had to be a ghost, for she died centuries before.”

“Well yes, if one believes the village is haunted,” stated the Professor.

“In the late twenties, there was a horrific train crash where many died, and it is said the dead openly walk among the living.  Would you consider this a possibility?” asked the defence.

“I have heard of many such cases, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility,” replied the Professor.

“You mention that proof would prove the guilt or innocence of the accused.  He was found with the murder weapon and covered in his victim’s blood.  So that would conclusively prove his guilt, would it not?” asked the defence, going down a dangerous route.

“Yes,” replied the Professor.

“So how could one barely five feet tall, fire and load in quick succession a shotgun, nearly three quarters of his height,” suggested the defence.

“You have got me there, I can not give a reasonable answer to that, but I am sure you have one,” replied the Professor with a slight smile.

“Thank you Professor.  No further questions for this witness,” the defence acknowledged the court.

The prosecution rolled out one after another witness, confirming the argument Benjamin had with his father that could be heard across the village only hours before the killing spree.  It was more out of desperation, most of the original witnesses from the original trial and investigation, had since died.

CLOSING STATEMENT FOR THE DEFENCE:

We the defence concur with the police.  When a murder takes place in the home, with no signs of an intruder, they focus on remaining family members, and in a high percentage of cases, they are usually right.

In this case, the police were too quick in finding a suspect to pin these murders on.  Benjamin James aged (14) at the time, barely strong enough to hold a double-barrelled shotgun, let alone, fire-load, fire-load, in quick succession.

Why, oh why, did the police, look no further for suspects?  I tell you why, they found the only surviving family member, Benjamin James, holding a shotgun on his lap, and his clothes covered in blood.  That was more than enough to convict him.

Benjamin still in a state of shock, never spoke a word during police interviews and the trial, just the odd nod to confirm his name, and the occasional shrug of the shoulders.  Believing him to be guilty of such a horrific crime, he was found guilty, and detained for an indefinite period.

WE have also heard in this court, events that have taken place in the village of Barrisgough, providing proof that it is indeed haunted.  The passengers killed in the train crash of 1921, openly live in the village.  Ghostly sightings of a vicar preparing his sermon in the old rectory study.  The former Nun, burnt as a witch, who was the James house-keeper, and other’s before.

Benjamin regained his speech, when the Nun’s remains were re-buried on sacred ground.  He remembers only snatches of 15th August 1991.  Being hugged by somebody in his room and that was how he got blood on his clothes.  In today’s world of advanced technology, we would have been able to prove the difference between direct blood splatter, to that of blood transference, from one to another.  We have heard in this court, the blood on Benjamin’s clothes was blood transference . . . the killer had hugged him, a final act, passing the blame over to him.

Could the person who hugged Benjamin that fateful day, have been Donald James?  He knew his way about the house.  It is also common knowledge he handled Peter’s shotgun, and would have known its whereabouts.

You have to ask yourself, who had the most to gain by the death of Peter James, his wife Samantha, and two of their children?  The answer should be Donald James, who was very much in debt at the time, and became Benjamin’s guardian on an estate worth twelve million pounds.

So where is Donald James?  He sold the business he had with his brother, and taken the money, which was Benjamin’s by right, and fled the country . . . leaving no trace.

Is that not the act of a guilty man?

If you have any doubt, as to Benjamin’s guilt, I ask that you find him innocent of these murders, and put an end to this nightmare, for my client . . . looking straight at Benjamin James, hoping for a sympathy vote from the court.

CLOSING STATEMENT FOR THE PROSECUTION:

I stand before this court, asking that Benjamin James, who was found with a shotgun on his lap, covered in his victim’s blood, should spent the rest of his life behind bars.

The defence asks us to believe, that the village is haunted, that maybe so, but ghosts responsible for deaths in the past, I don’t think so.

On the anniversary of these murders, up until the accused reached twenty0one, a death took place each year in the village, and we are asked to believe it has nothing to do with the accused, looking in the direction of Benjamin James.  It is odd, that it stopped when he was twenty-one.  It has been suggested these are the act of a ghostly phenomenon, as each murder remembers seeing the ghostly image of a vicar, moments before the killings took place.  I put it to you; it is more likely, some sinister act, conjured up by Benjamin.

Grasping at straws, the defence points the guilt towards Donald James, who we now agree had a motive, but could any of you openly kill your brother and his family, pointing at each juror in turn.

No, it is more likely that Benjamin is guilty, and the original sentence should stand.  So I ask that you find him guilty.

The evidence from the original trial back in 1991 had proved little doubt as to his guilt.  Now it was the turn of the Appeal Court Jury to consider the case, behind closed doors.

At the news that the Court of Appeal had overturned the original conviction, it became front page news for days.  Benjamin James was found not guilty, because of technical evidence put forward, proved in all probability, that Benjamin, could barely lift the shotgun in question, let alone fire and reload the shotgun in quick succession . . . and it became the consensus that other parties were responsible for the murders.

The murder scene was entirely consistent with an act of unplanned violence, based on intense, buried emotions, very similar to a crime of passion.  Even though Benjamin had been found holding the murder weapon, and covered in the victim’s blood, it proved to be by means of transference, not direct, as would be the case of the murderer.

The gruesome nature of the killing’s is consistent with that of an adult, not that of a young boy, barely tall enough to hold a shotgun.

Benjamin jumped and shouted with joy, his sounds of excitement could be heard around the court . . . “I am free, I am free.”  As Father Baines and Gerald Carter gave him a hug, tears ran down his cheeks.

Benjamin James was awarded five million pounds in damages, from the Court of Appeal, in an innocent verdict, for taking away his childhood.

For days after, the news reports added:  Someone’s getting away with these murders; where the justice in that.  Benjamin James the only survivor of the James murder spree of 1991; where his family was brutally murdered.  Someone out there must know something, if so the police are waiting to hear from you.

The police issued a nationwide arrest warrant, for one Donald James, wanted for questioning in the murders of Peter, Samantha, Michael and Christina James killed in August 1991, and fraud.

Village of the cursed (2/4)

Ghost Train

Without a doubt I was lost… Gerald Carter tossed the map onto the passenger seat, cursing to himself as he levered himself out of his car, looking up and down the road for a signpost.  Sure enough some two hundred yards in front of him, stood West Raynham, and he had driven past the South Raynham signpost some way back.  “So where is Barrisgough?  According to the Ordnance Survey Map, it should be situated between the two Raynham’s.  So where is it?  It can’t just disappear,” he said out loud to himself.

He knew the village had a fearful history, with a ruined church, dating back to 1754, and the river ran alongside the main street.

“Maybe you can help me, I seem to have got lost,” asking a couple, walking a pair of golden Labradors.

“Ask away,” the man replied, as he turned to help the woman, over the stile.  She was tall, with shoulder length blonde hair.  She gave off an appearance of the exotic flair about herself.

“I was looking for a place called Barrisgough.  Do you know where it is?” carter asked of them.

“You have missed the turn,” replied the man.  “It is about a mile or so back.  There’s a dense wood on the left, and a sharp bend in the road.  Barrisgough is off to the left of that bend, down a rough track, through the forest.”

“I remember the sharp bend, as I struggled with my car, and I vaguely remember seeing the turn you mention,” Carter commented, remembering how tight the road had been at that point.

“The track used to be signposted . . . but stories of murders and paranormal activity in the village brought unwanted attention to our doors.  Some years back the sign was ripped out of the ground by gales, and has never been replaced,” he replied.

“I am looking for the old rectory, former home of the James’ family” at that moment you could see disgust in their eyes. They thought I was another of those interested in the paranormal, and the murders that had taken place, over the years.

I had to change their thoughts.  “The name’s Gerald Carter, and I am looking into the case against Benjamin James,” I watched his facial expression, and I could tell he seemed much relieved, that I wasn’t another of those paranormal hunters.

“The name’s Howard Beaumont, and this is my wife Anna,” stated Howard.  “That was a nasty business.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, much relieved by their friendliness.

“Following the murder of the James family, they being the last occupants of the place, it lay empty for some years, until Benjamin reached twenty-one, as the story goes, if my memory serves me right.  Then the old rectory was burned down . . . it was a terrible place, with a bad history . . . many have died there,” stated Anna Beaumont.

Carter looked at the pair, stunned at the suggestion that Benjamin could have been responsible for the fire, even though he was locked up . . . saying nothing in reply.

“There have been many deaths in the village!”  Howard Beaumont stated.  “If we go back to 1921, there was a train crash, and the souls of the dead, are said to roam the village.  Then the Reverend Patterson died in the church, and Reverend Mathews, then four of the James family died in the rectory, it is as though the village is cursed?

“A railway accident, I didn’t even know the railway ever ran through the village?” asked Carter.

“It happened nearly a hundred years ago, and forty people are believed to have been killed that day,” Howard Beaumont stated.

“I didn’t see any mention on my Ordnance Survey Map, to that effect,” Carter quoted, with map in hand.

“The old line used to run alongside the river.  There was a passenger train on its way to Peterborough, and a goods train heading towards Norwich, on the opposite track.  One of the wagons of the goods train jumped the tracks, and pulled the others across the line, the passenger train could not stop in time, both trains crashed into each other.  They said you could hear the shriek of its brakes miles away, and that the sparks from its wheels, set fire to three miles of the embankment,” Beaumont informed Carter, who listened with great interest.  “It is a day the village and its people will not forget!”

An odd comment thought Carter.

“There’s a monument in the village cemetery, in memory of those who died, if you are interested,” interjected Anna Beaumont.  “There was much uproar following the accident; the line has since closed.”

The Beaumont’s repeated their directions to the village along with a warning; “Don’t stay in the village after dark . . . it is not safe,” stated Howard.

Carter found the turning for Barrisgough, and steered his car down a rough, gravel track that ended in a small turnaround with trees on two sides, and an unkempt hedge at the far end.

Switching off his motor he clambered out seeing the iron gate, leading to the church, where headstones stood in waist-high grass, obviously uncut in many years.  A bramble bush had rooted itself in the shoulders of a headless stone angel.  Yet the gravel path was free of weeds.  A hand sized hole in one of the stained glass windows had been patched with cardboard, suggesting that although its congregation had long deserted it, someone still cared for the place.

The sun was going down, low over the fields where mist was beginning to gather.  Too dark, for Carter to examine inscriptions on the gravestones, or look in the church.  Carter followed a line of trees, leading to the old rectory, overlooking the village.

The moment was curiously disappointing; perhaps it was because there was hardly anything left to see of the place . . . just a ruin.

Carter fished out his digital camera to take a few photographs of the remains.  He noticed in the camera’s viewfinder, an old church stood a few hundred yards beyond the rectory ruins, its’ square tower not much higher than the embankment behind it.  The hedge around it had grown tall and wild; long briers trailed from it like unkempt hair.  He found the unnerving stillness of the unpopulated countryside, sent jitters down his spine.  Beyond was a wide, rough meadow, backstopped by a steep former railway embankment, with a line of trees on one side, and the river on the other.  As he unhooked the gate and stepped through, a train drove out of the misty gloom, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.

“I thought the train never ran along this old line, anymore, according to what he had been told by the Beaumonts,” said a confused Carter out loud to himself.

There had once been a narrow street here, there were grassy lumps on either side, where cottages once stood.  Finally he walked along the river’s edge, and back to the safety of his car, before darkness consumed the village. “Talk about ghosts,” had set his body on edge, he said lightly to himself, observing the winter sun disappearing below the tree line.

First thing the following morning, Carter found an express photo centre, to process and print his images in two hours.  Then he walked through the busy shopping arcade, to the town’s library, and spent the next few hours browsing the local section; for answers.

He found several accounts of the railway accident of 18th May 1921 at 18.50pm.  But what caught his eye was the reference to the body of an unknown gentleman, burnt alive in the first carriage, and all that remained was a silver ring bearing the initials H.B.  Police inquiries gave a brief description, late thirties, five-five inches tall, average build, with dusky blonde hair.  No one claimed his body, and his remains were buried at Barrisgough, with another unidentified body, that of a lady, in her early thirties, wearing a broach bearing the initials A.B.

“These two sets of initials rang alarm bells, Carter’s mind focusing on his meeting outside the village.  H.B. is Howard Beaumont and A.B. is Anna Beaumont.  Could it be that simple, could they be one and the same people, if so I have been talking to ghosts; Barrisgough is indeed haunted?”

Barrisgough was also mentioned in the Doomsday Book, and had been no more than a hamlet of some forty souls, dependent on the wool trade.

Upon returning to collect his photos it was mid-afternoon.  As he checked through his order, there were no rectory, or village, just solid grey images.  “It looks like you have made some kind of mistake processing my order?” showing the young assistant, with bleach streaks of red in her blonde hair.

“It is all done automatically by computer these days, mistakes never happen . . . maybe you forgot to remove your lens cover, or your camera’s broken?” she suggested.

“Let me speak to your manager,” asked Carter in a rather demanding voice.

“She won’t be in until the day after tomorrow,” she replied, adding an explanation; “We are only a small shop.”

“My camera is not broken, it works perfectly well,” Carter said to himself in a low voice.  “There can be but one explanation.  It must be the village,” as the young assistant gave him an odd look.

After an evening meal of Chicken Curry, and several glasses of wine at the local Curry House, Carter returned to his Hotel; intending to make an early night of it.  That was not to be, for he was in for a restless night.

A dense smell of burning hit him, as he opened his hotel room door.  There was no smoke, or fire . . . just the smell.  By the time the landlord arrived it was gone . . . Had I imagined it?

Was it something about ghosts from the railway accident . . . what an absurd thought?  Barrisgough, had been rife with superstition over the centuries, had my visit stirred something.

Frost lay in the rough meadows, and a light mist floated above the river, as Carter entered the village, early the next day.

In the Churchyard, a stone pyramid commemorated the rail accident of 18th May 1921; and according to local legend, the dead haunt the village to this very day!  Some of those who died in the accident, could not be identified, and have been buried around the pyramid . . . the Beaumonts?

The iron handle leading into the little church was so stiff Carter thought it must be locked; then it gave way, and the door slowly creaked open.

It was much colder inside the church than outside.  Carter shivered from the cold, as he gazed at the pews, the plain pulpit, and the draped altar beyond.  Tablets were set into the rough stone walls, commemorating those from the parish killed in the Great War, the Second World War, and previous vicars.  There were other memorials to families, on the uneven flagstones on the floor, as he studied them one by one.  Located at the base of the altar, a stone plaque commemorated the building of the church in 1754; each corner had the emblems of a crossed hammer and chisel.

Carter heard a sound, thought it was a creaking sound of the door, looked round, saw that he was alone, and the door closed.  Then he heard a distant, drawn-out metallic screech, smelt the same, gritty, sulphurous stench he had encountered back at his hotel room.  The smell grew in density, until he could hardly breathe.  He staggered to the door, wrenching it open, bursting out into the bleak daylight.

Carter’s hands were shaking.  He just couldn’t stop them from shaking, and rammed his hands deep into his pockets . . . the sensation lasted only a matter of minutes, but the fearful sensation stayed with him most of the day.

He walked to the old rectory, observing the ruins in the light of day . . . dark and dismal, its’ burnt walls had caved in on itself, tearing out floor by floor right down to the cellar, windows of dark holes with limitless space.

Houses are nothing more than a laboratory, designed to preserve the memories of human existence, to incarcerate the spirit of the human body.

The old rectory stood vacant, but was in too conspicuous a state of repair to seem haunted . . . but one never knows!

He found the Old Manor House, set back from the road, as mentioned in the files passed on to him by Father Baines.  There were signs on the ground of dried blood, bird feather remains; those associated with black-magic rituals.  How recent it was hard to say, but the feather’s still appeared reasonably soft to the touch.

As he returned to his car, he found what was believed to be the house-keeper’s cottage; for the rectory.  It was no more than a dilapidated shack now; its roof lay in pieces on the floor.  No one would believe it had been lived in these past fifty years or more.

Now the Nun of the old rectory has been laid peacefully to rest, and the rectory is no more . . . the cottage will never come to life again.

“It was all here,” Carter said to himself.  “Could someone from the past be held responsible for the Patterson – Mathews – James murders?”

Village of the cursed (1/4)

castles08a

Our story begins in Barrisgough, a former Saxon village, consisting of a single road, with a circular green midway, once the site of a Saxon styled fortress.

The Eastern Times headline read:

GUNNED DOWN IN THEIR HOME:  On Thursday 15th August 1991,  Mr Peter James (38), his wife of twenty years Samantha (37), and two of their three children; Michael (14), and Christina (15), were brutally murdered at their home, a former Victorian rectory, in the East Anglian village of Barrisgough.

The police had quickly dispensed with the possibility of an outside intruder carrying out the murders.  For it was the weight of overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence, which pointed the police towards Benjamin James (14), the only family member, left alive.  It was considered Benjamin had the opportunity, but as yet the motive eluded them.

The James’ mystery is centred on suppositions, assumptions, and public opinion, all of which revolve around Benjamin’s blood stained clothes, and the shotgun he was holding.

Benjamin was a quiet boy with dusky coloured hair, and light brown eyes.  He had that baby face look about him, and a sickly complexion.  For his age he was fairly broad shouldered, with a slim figure.  His manners were impeccable, but those who knew him well, stated he had an especially disagreeable temperament.

He refused, or couldn’t speak about the events.

The murder’s occurred at the James’ residence on a cool and wet summer morning, which suddenly turned wet and dry.  By mid-morning, the family were about the house; Benjamin was tidying his room, Michael readied his bike to go riding, and Christina was helping her mother in the kitchen.

Confusion reigned.  Police and doctors were summoned.

Peter James, had been shot once in the chest, and another had sliced his spinal cord.  He died almost immediately, much like his wife Samantha, whose face had been partly blown away.  Her body had been thrust clear across the room, crashing into the far wall by the sheer force of the second shot to her chest.  Their daughter Christina was drenched in blood, from her chest wounds, and their son Michael, had been shot in the back, and the leg, bursting an artery, and bled to death in minutes.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Benjamin would become the prime suspect, for he had been found in his room covered in blood, holding the murder weapon in his lap; a double barrelled shotgun, which felt warm to the touch.

A four-man team of police officer’s searched the house from top to bottom.  They found nothing to indicate the presence of an intruder, enhancing Benjamin’s guilt.

Benjamin had been convicted of the murders by the press; before the trial had even started . . . he had no chance!

Trinity House, perched high upon a treacherous wall of granite, with its jagged outcrops, formed the outline of the northern face of Saint Unix Island, split into two parts by a causeway running between them.

The dark tower, part of the former 18th century manor house, located on the northern island, overlooked the sea below, with four floors around an inner courtyard of cobbled stones.

Three sides are surrounded by sloping greens, with guard towers, and an electrified fence.  The fourth side, protected by the treacherous rocks far below, in the wake of the oncoming storm.

The southern island consists of a rural settlement, and farm land, as it has been, for the past hundred years or more.

A single light glowed, from behind the moving clouds, as a lonely taxi, struggled up the steep cliff road.  Inside two gentlemen sat deep in conversation, oblivious to their surroundings; one of swarthy complexion with ebony eyes, and an air of competence, whilst the other, fairly short and stocky, expressionless, dressed all in black; the clothes the trademark, of a priest.

Gerald Carter peered out of the taxi, at Trinity House looming overhead.  “Why on earth did I let you talk me into coming with you to this awful place?”

Curiosity got the better of you, as to what, or should I say who, have drawn me to this place every month?” stated Father Baines.

Carter gazed over at his life long friend.  “You are right as always.”

“Behind these walls, I believe one patient, could be innocent of his crimes,” Baines started with conviction in his voice.

“He wouldn’t be here, unless they believed he was a threat to society,” suggested Carter.

“The evidence was stacked against him, before the trial, and it is my belief, he was still in shock.  I doubt he was capable of committing the crime . . . yet he was found guilty.”  Baines put forward his personal beliefs.  “All I ask of you is to meet him, with an open mind.  You will see why I question his guilt.”

The taxi came to an abrupt halt, and Father Baines, retrieved his briefcase that, had tumbled to the floor; black and old with a metal buckle.  Then he sat back for a moment gazing at the building, which stood before him, saying nothing as thoughts washed over him.

They got out, “thanks very much,” Baines said to the driver.

“I didn’t expect to see you today, Governor Calahan stated, watching his visitors walk up the path, through the large wrought iron gates, to the large foreboding oak doors with iron studs, where he stood.  “The clouds have turned black . . . a warning that rain was on the way.”

“When we left the weather wasn’t so bad, but in the last half hour or so, it has steadily got worse,” commented Father Baines, looking up at the darkening sky.  “We may be forced to say overnight at the Inn, if the ferry doesn’t come back.”

“Forgive my manners, I would like to introduce you to Dr Gerald Carter,” who was standing in the shadows.  “Long time friend and psychiatrist, who I have mentioned on previous visits.”

“Good of you to come to this hell hole of a place in the middle of nowhere,” replied Calahan.

“The good Father here can be very persuasive, when he’s got the bit between his teeth,” replied Carter with a broad grin across his face.  “I always wondered what drew him here all these years.”

“You will find Benjamin in the tower as usual, you know the way Father.  I’ll leave you to it,” stated Mr Calahan in a calm and softening voice, with a hint of an Irish accent.  “When you’ve finished come and find me, I will be in my office.”

“Thank you,” replied the Father.

Father Baines, led the way and Gerald Carter fell in by his side, as they walked across the courtyard towards the narrow stone staircase.  At the bottom, sat a swallow skinned warder, with blonde hair, and pain in his eyes.  He nodded in acknowledgement of the visitors.

“Is he there for our benefit, or the patients?” asked Carter.

Father Baines looked in his direction, smiled, but did not speak.

Carter scuttled after Baines, mounting the steep and winding steps.  At the second level, he was forced to take a break, and rest against the balcony to catch his breath. Upon reaching the top, he found his old friend, sitting on the top steps, awaiting his arrival.

“You’re a bit out of condition these days, too much time spent behind a desk,” exclaimed Baines with a cheeky grin across his face.

“Hmm,” grunted the breathless doctor.

The pair entered the top room of the tower, and there sitting by the window was a young man drawing away upon an easel.  “Take a seat Father; I have been expecting you, ever since the ferry docked, and who have you brought with you?”

“Doctor Carter, an old friend of mine.  I mentioned him before on my previous visits.  I just want you to talk to him,” asked the Father.

“So what type of doctor are you,” as he swung himself round to face his visitors.

“I am a Psychiatrist,” replied Carter.

“Don’t you think we see enough shrinks in this place, so what’s different about you?” asked Benjamin.

Father Baines jumped in with a reply, before Carter had a chance to answer.  “Benjamin, I want you to talk to my friend on your own as a personal favour to me, and there are no catches, just be honest with him … that’s all I ask of you.”

“Okay. Okay.” Benjamin raised his hands in defence.  “I will talk to him, but I think it’s a waste of time,” replied Benjamin with a disinterested tone in his voice.

“I will leave you two alone for a while.  I will take a walk in the gardens,” stated Father Baines, as he headed towards the door.

As Father Baines left the cell, Carter removed his notebook from his pocket.  “Do you mind if I take notes?”

“It’s your choice,” replied Benjamin, shrugging his shoulders.

“Benjamin, tell me about yourself, and your life please?” asked Carter, trying to break the ice.

“First, tell me what year is it?” asked Benjamin.

“Why, it’s 2001 of course,” replied Carter.

“For theses past ten years, I have been excluded from the outside world.  The bars on my window are here to keep me from escaping.  I have only one visitor from outside this place; Father Baines.  My time is spent drawing in this octagonal cell; 15 paces from east to west and from north to the south wall.  I have come to terms with the fact, that I will live out the rest of my days in this place,” Benjamin stated with sadness in his voice.

“What about friends in this place?” asked Carter.

Benjamin laughed at the suggestion.  “My only comfort and friend is provided in the form of a cactus plant, which I have studied in every intimate detail, watching it grow inch by inch, and drawing its every change.”

Beyond these two luxuries, everything else is so flat and featureless, even the walls look so clinical.

In my most desperate times, I yearn to escape the confines of this place, to make a move to the freedom of the outside world; but I would surely die, I would not get far, that much I know, as one gazes out at the rough and choppy sea yonder.  It feels so unfair to be constrained to this life when I have done nothing wrong.

I am innocent of all crimes and guilty of none.  What gave them the right to take me from a life that seems so far away now, and could have been mine to enjoy.

I look at my warders sometimes and wonder; do they feel sorry for me?  I am sure they must know that I am without blame.  They feed me three times a day, knowing that to eat it is a highlight to my daily routine …although the food itself remains the same.

Once Benjamin had finished talking, Carter gazed into his light-brown eyes, with a wondering.  “For all his years in captivity he was quite eloquent for someone of his age; that he put down to his early years of schooling,” he said quietly to himself, more in thought than actual words.

Benjamin looked lost in his own thoughts, turning round to gaze upon the rough and stormy seas, crashing against the rocks below.

The dream … or rather, the nightmare … had begun many years ago.  It was short, but no less frightening for that.  In the dream, he remembered this woman dressed in a ‘Nun’s Habit’, although I never saw her face clearly in the dream, I knew with absolute certainty that she was there.  The exasperating part of it was that I always woke up, drenched in sweat, just before … I discovered … the reasons for my acts, that would make them appear perfectly rational in my mind.

I have had many nightmares that have haunted me over the years in captivity, but it was this one that carried a quality of reality that I did not sense in all other dreams, and that had remained unblemished for years.

Was she reaching out to me, if so why?

Was she asking to be released from this tormented life of hers?

An hour or so later Father Baines caught up with Carter, coming down the stone steps, from the tower.  The look upon his face was one of bemusement, leaving him in a puzzled state of mind.

“Well what do you make of Benjamin?” asked Baines.  “Was it worth the trip?”

“I believe so,” Carter answered.  He’s an interesting young man, with a pleasant manner about him.  These years of incarceration, have deprived him of intelligence, and I assume your visits keeps his mind active about the outside world.”

Baines smiled, knowing his friend had observed well.

“So what’s his crime, to be sent to a place like this?” asked Carter.

“Would you believe he murdered his own family,” Baines calmly replied, watching intently his friend’s face change with every thought.

“First impressions,” Carter considered Baines comments.  “I would find it hard to believe him capable of murder . . . I would need to know more!”

“Come, let’s go to the Governor’s Office, and with his help we will outline the events that led to Benjamin being sent here for life,” Baines watched his face change to one of surprise at the mention of the dreaded word; life.

“Life,” replied Carter, “It must have been serious, to impose such a harsh sentence on one so young?”

“Benjamin had been sentenced to life with no option for parole as laid down by the then Home Secretary, at the time of his trial,” Father Baines, even he thought the sentence harsh.  “The murders had been called horrific at the time, to have been committed by one so young.”

“Well, did you enjoy your talk with Benjamin?”  asked the Governor, as he showed them into his office.

“Let’s say it was interesting, but what I would like to know, is how he ended up here, serving a life sentence?” Carter eyed each man, waiting for a response.

“Baines is your man,” stated the Governor.  “While we talk, I have arranged for hot coffee and sandwiches,” which were placed before them.

Father Baines, released the old and rusting buckles on his briefcase, fumbling for a few moments, before bringing out a bundle of papers, some yellowing with age, held together with string.

To understand the events leading up to Benjamin’s incarceration for these murders, we have to go back to the year 1863.

It was one man’s dream: The Reverend Henry Markham to build a rectory, overlooking the village of Barrisgough, his parish, in East Anglia.

Edward Markham, son of Henry was appointed the new vicar in 1895, upon his father’s death, and held the position until his death in 1928.

Horse Drawn Carriage

Edward would wait at the rectory gate, close to mid-night, each and every Friday night, for the passing of the driver less ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reaching a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  This was one of many manifestations that would take place in the village.

The late John Brown, former groom to Edward Markham, for twenty-four years, described a blazing carriage with light careering through the rectory grounds.  A story he told his son, and his grandchildren, on more than one occasion.

16th c Nun

A more significant manifestation associated with the rectory, concerns that of a Nun.  According to many witness reports over the years, she walks across the terrace, reading a small book.  Historians and churchmen believe it to be a prayer book.

Then in 1939, lightning struck the rectory, destroying the west wing, and it was not re-built until the early 1950’s.

Summer 1955, Reverend James Patterson took the post of village vicar.  Poltergeist activities were ripe in the rectory. Black Magic rituals took place in the Old Manor House graveyard.  In 1972, Patterson was found hanging from the Church Bell Tower.  His death was declared as a suicide . . . but villager’s did not agree.

Winter 1972, Reverend Mathews appointed new vicar.  Never lived long enough to take his first Sunday service . . . died forty-eight hours, after stepping foot in the rectory.

“Has the practising of Black Magic continued within the village to this day?” Carter interrupted, unable to believe what he was hearing.

“Enquiries within the village, and recent animal blood splashes can be found on the Old Manor House grounds.  Based on those findings, I would have to say yes,” Father Baines shocked his friend.

The Church and Rectory were closed and boarded up.  Only the Church remains so, following the sale of the Rectory.

Over the next six years, villager’s beliefs that the building was haunted bore out by reports of James Patterson, in his study, and Edward Markham, walking the corridors, according to witnesses.

Some believed the occupation of the Old Rectory, would invoke historical events of the past.  Were they right?  Then in 1988, the James family took up residence with their three children; Michael 11, Benjamin 11, and Christina 12.

All the villager’s worst fears were to be proved right, for on 15th August 1991 gunshots were heard, from the former Rectory.  History had come back to haunt the village once again.

Bracks the churchwarden, and PC Roberts, were first on the scene, inside all was quiet, they found chaos, furniture flung about causing a scene of disaster . . . Peter James, wife Samantha, along with two of their children; Michael and Christina murdered.

Benjamin their other son was found, drenched in blood, holding the murder weapon; his father’s shotgun.  He never spoke; he appeared in a state of shock.

The police doctor, ordered him to be detained at the David Rice Mental Hospital, in Norwich.

During the course of three fifty minute video-taped interviews with D.I.Nelson and D.S.Weaver, Benjamin never spoke to confess his guilt, or proclaim his innocence.

Police evidence proved without doubt, that someone had killed them with Peter James’ shotgun . . . as no evidence of an intruder could be found.  Benjamin James was charged with four counts of murder in the first-degree.

The question which was on many peoples lips at the time; was he a murderer or an innocent victim?

According to villager’s, they believe there has to be a connection, with the Reverend James Patterson, who supposedly took his own life in 1972, and the village itself, as Baines finally closed the first of many folders.

“A very interesting story, one that warrants closer inspection,” Carter commented.  “The reason you asked me here, is to see if I would be interested in taking a look at this case.  Well, don’t worry old friend, this case merits closer scrutiny . . . and I would enjoy the challenge.”

Baines and Governor Calahan, smiled at each other with much satisfaction.

Don’t go getting any ideas, he may still be proved guilty,” Carter, stated wearing his serious facial expression.  “Do you have a copy of the trial transcripts?”

“Just a summary,” replied Baines, passing them over.

Carter, ignored Baines and Calahan, spending a few minutes reading through the summary, making a few notes in the margins, and the occasional smile.

TRIAL SUMMARY:

Benjamin James’ trial began on Monday 25th November 1991, at a closed session of the Norwich Juvenile Court, being that he was under 16 years-of-age at the time of the trial.  He was charged on four counts:  The murders of Peter James, Samantha James, Michael James, and Christina James.

The prosecution focused on four major points:

  • Benjamin covered in his victim’s blood.
  • Found holding the murder weapon, covered in his prints.
  • No sign of an intruder.
  • Benjamin’s refusal to speak, proving his guilt.

The defence was fighting a losing battle, with all the evidence stacked against their client; Benjamin James.  Their only hope was to put a question of doubt in the court’s mind.

The defence was convinced from the outset that Benjamin was incapable of murdering his own family . . . let alone man-handle a double-barrelled shotgun, firing it in quick succession.

Proving it would be difficult, for Benjamin’s refusal to speak; could be seen as an admission of guilt.

According to Police Constable Roberts testimony, he along with the churchwarden Mr Bracks, were first on the scene.  The house appeared in a state of utter chaos, furniture had been tossed across the house.

Doctor Mathew Hayden, the police doctor arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am.

Peter James, had been found in the living room, having been shot twice, once to the chest, and a second sliced through his spinal cord.

Samantha James, also found in the living room, her face had been partly blown away.  A second shot to her heart had thrust her body across the room crashing into the wall with sheer force . . . blood was congealing from her fatal chest wound.  Her heart would have stopped almost immediately, resulting in limited blood splatter on walls, floor, and furniture.

Christina James was drenched in blood, from her chest wounds, which would certainly have killed her, outright.

Michael had been shot in the back, and leg.  He may have seen his attacker?  From scratch marks on the floor, he appears to have tried to drag himself along the corridor, to the main part of the house; for help.

Following the horrific murders of the James family, police performed a detailed search of the house, from attic to the ground floor.  They discovered the house had a cellar, which was only accessible by means of the rear garden.  No evidence of an intruder could be found, and Benjamin became the prime suspect.  Physical and circumstantial evidence, pointed to him, without a doubt.

For the whole of the proceeding’s, he just sat in his chair and said nothing, only the occasional nod, acknowledge his name, and the odd shrug of the shoulders.  Day after day, police and medical experts gave their evidence, and he had a blank look on his face, which remained so, throughout the trial.

“Do you think he had any idea, what was going on, or where he was?” questioned Carter.

Bracks believed Benjamin was oblivious to the events, surrounding him, but I sense he must have had some idea, for he nodded and shrugged his shoulders in reply to some questions,” suggested Baines.

Benjamin’s sentence, based on psychiatric reports and the crime of multiple murders, led to him being detained for an indefinite period, and he eventually ended up here, in a mental institution for the criminally insane.

“So, how did you get involved, in such a complex case?” asked Carter.

It all started many years ago, when I visited another patient here, as a prison visitor, who has since died. It was at one of these visits, I was introduced to Mr Bracks, who told me of Barrisgough, its past history, and Benjamin’s conviction for murders.

Mr Bracks, died some seven years ago, leaving all his files on Benjamin to me, with a letter begging me to prove his innocence, and get him released from this awful place.”

From that day forth, I started visiting Benjamin once a month, initially he did not utter a word, that all changed on the 21st September 1998, but that’s another story.

Since then he has become more talkative, and spoken of his life, and belief in his innocence.

What I am about to tell you, could prove to be enough evidence to get you started on an appeal, as Baines opened another of his folders.

Life in Barrisgough took a surprising turn, when Archaeologists and Historians descended upon the village, seeking answers to its historical past, and the ghostly apparitions that have been reported.

Apparitions of a Nun, seen by many a visitor to the old rectory over the centuries, led to the possible connection of the so-called murdered maid theory, part of the village’s history.  They refer to a French Nun, who worked the area during the mid 16th century.  The Witch finder General; Mathew Hopkins worked this area 1645-1647, and local history states a maid was put on trial for being a witch.  Her crime was her association with animals, and it is believed she talked to them.  Her body was burnt as a witch, and then thrown down an old well.

Paranormal believers theorised, that the frequent materialisations, causing much agitation in the spirit world, could be that of a young woman.  Some had suggested that the murdered Nun, and the maid, come housekeeper who was employed by the Markhams, Patterson, then the James household, are all one of the same.  After each death, she mysteriously disappears leaving no trace . . . it is as though she never existed.

The police in their quest for answers were drawn to Christina James diary:  On the first day home from boarding school, Michael, Benjamin and myself, would ride through the village on our bicycles, waving to the villager’s as we passed by.  Our destination, the old cottage nestled down by the river; home of our housekeeper.  She would be waiting for us, with plates of freshly baked cakes and scones.

This being the former house-keeper, they were stunned to find a derelict cottage.  Windows were broken and only dust and cobwebs remained inside.  The door was gone, lost long ago.

This left the police perplexed, and inquiries about the house-keeper and her cottage, from the villager’s, brought replies that were to confuse the case further.  No one seemed surprised that the cottage was derelict, the rectory was empty, and so she had no need to stay around.

Female skull and bones were removed from the dis-used well, in the former rectory gardens, by archaeologists.  Her remains were taken to Cambridge University Museum, where extensive examinations, including carbon dating were carried out.

Over the next few weeks a series of unexplained incidents took place.  The skull broke in two, glass cases were cracked, and valuable works of art in the museum were damaged, all within close proximity to the skull.  Two of the original archaeology team, who went down the well to retrieve the remains, died within seven days.  Physically fit young men in their late twenties died of natural causes, but their bones were consistent with someone aged sixty or more.  No logical explanation could be put forward, so is it possible these bones were cursed?

As I previously mentioned, a Nun, employed as a maid come house-keeper was tried as a witch, burnt at the stake for her crime in 1645-1647, and her remains tossed down a well, and left their to rot.  Then in 1863, Reverend Henry Markham built a rectory, and the old well was situated in the grounds.  Something must have happened in the spirit world, because the Nun, became a ghostly presence of the rectory.

Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s bones were buried on sacred ground at a local convent . . . at last she was at peace.  Then on the morning of the 21st September, Benjamin spoke his first words, since the horrific killings that robbed him of his family back in 1991.

“What about the memories of that day?” asked Carter.  “Has he any recollections?”

“So far his mind remains a blank for the day of the killings, but slowly with the help of psychiatrists here, they are piecing his world back together again,” Baines replied, ever hopeful they will succeed.

“Enough to throw doubt on the case?” asked Carter.

“I have made it my business, to ask whether he should be held accountable, in light of these and other discoveries.  The reply received from the authorities, was no more than expected.  They claim it was no more than a coincidence, and the sentence stands,” Baines stated.

“But the question still remains, is he innocent or guilty of the crime?” asked Carter.

“In my heart I believe him to be innocent, but my judgement is based on Bracks belief, his files, and discussions I have had with Benjamin, but hard evidence to put before a court; no.  So we have to prove doubt in the original prosecutions case,” replied Father Baines with a wishful smile.

“Let us look at the facts, at the time of the murders.  Benjamin aged 14, and some 4ft 8inches tall.  So how on earth did he lift a double-barrelled shotgun, fire, break and remove spent cartridges, reload fire in quick succession, as he walked from one room to the next?  Even I would find that hard to do,” stated Carter.  “How many spent cartridges were discovered at the scene?”

“According to the police report, a total of eight,” replied Baines.

“Four murders, two shots to each body,” Carter spoke out loud.

“At the original trial defence questioned Benjamin’s inability to lift, fire in quick succession, but prosecution evidence proved otherwise,” stated Baines.  “The village dressmaker, one Miss Mary Laidlaw, better known as the local busybody, claimed under oath, she had witnessed Benjamin holding his father’s shotgun, from some distance away, it was enough to get him convicted.”

The good doctor smiled, but said nothing.  It was obvious to those around the table; an idea was forming . . . could it be, had he found a flaw in the prosecution’s case?

(Image) Horse Drawn Carriage: Planet Mine Craft
(Image) Castle/House: Wallpaper Image
(Image) Nun: Wallpaper Image

Right of Justice

Writing Scene 1

10.20am March 20

It was a brisk Saturday morning that March 20, 2016.  Snow had all but melted, as sun burst through the clouds.

There had been trouble between Twenty-one year-old Hannah Brower and Mathew Seabright, twenty-three the night before, at the local watering hole.

They seem to have gotten over it, as they headed up to Jackson Heights Holiday Camp on the ridge, over looking Lake Garda, with the breaking of a new day.

Hannah saw it first, legs partly sticking out from behind some logs.  She stopped in her tracks, popping her head round, expecting to see a vagrant, not a man bludgeoned to death, partly buried in the snow.  She gave a slight scream, and thrust her face onto Mathew’s shoulder.  “Look,” she pointed out.

10.50am March 20

Hannah and Mathew hurriedly walked along the ridge, to the home of Richard Daniels.  Hannah was still shaking from the gruesome sight of the body, and the police were called in.

Lieutenant Carmichael took the call and ordered Pete Carrigan to investigate.  Officer Paul Marks accompanied him.

11.30am March 20

Police Officer’s soon reached the scene to discover the body partly immersed in snow.  Carrigan observed on closer inspection; maggots in the wounds.  Close to the body was a man’s wallet containing a driver’s license in the name of Sal Cornick, nothing else…no money or cards.

3.00pm March 20

Closer inspection of the area revealed sixty-one cents, keys, and a long handed axe, believed to be the murder weapon.

“So doctor, when and how did he die?” asked Lieutenant Carmichael.

“We have had a bad winter, been deep in snow for some months or so.  I can’t give an exact time frame, until I carry out an autopsy, but an educated guess would be, late October, but don’t hold me to it,” replied the doctor, examining the victim.

“I would trust your educated guesses any time,” smiled Carmichael.

“In my opinion based on the evidence before me, this must have been a frenzied attack, using the axe to hack him to death.”

The cabins were searched for clues as to who was living here at the time…Carmichael knew a janitor was often employed during the winter months to ward off squatters.

Cassandra had taken on this job as janitor for the winter months at Jackson Heights Holiday Camp on Lake Garda.  It came at the right time, I had just been released from hospital, and we had no money to pay the rent on our apartment.  Our job was nothing more than a sitting tenant, to drive off potential squatters.

It was perfect…we even got paid.

“It will be just the two of us, lounging around in hot tubs and sitting by the fire in the lodge,” claimed Cassandra.  “It will give you time to get back to full strength.”

The snow started just after we arrived, falling with gentle vengeance, as if to apologize for its late arrival.  Within an hour there wasn’t a blade of grass visible.

I liked the place right away.  It was kind of run down; just a main building, a dozen or more log cabins, a pool, hot tubs, with an area set aside for caravans and tents.

After unpacking, we went to the main building and climbed into one of the hot tubs.  We left the door open, just because we could.

We had been there about a month, when he showed up, looking for a place to stay.  By that time, the cold weather had gotten worse, and it had snowed for three weeks non-stop.  She didn’t seem to mind it, tramping around in the snow in her big fleece – lined parka, pointing out the birds to me, and the cold footed raccoons foraging in the snow.

In the bitter cold of the morning, I would strip down in the chilly locker room, run to the heated pool and jump in.  Spend what seemed like eternity, floating in the cloudy water.  Then one morning, I opened my eyes, and there he was, standing over me; our lodger.

“Nice morning for a swim, man?”

I was naked of course.  I felt suddenly ashamed of my body, with its scars, compared to his.

“It is good to meet you, I am Sal… Sal Cornick.”

I got out on the other side of the pool, away from him.  On the way into the locker room I bumped into Cassandra, naked going for a swim.  “We will have to start wearing swimsuits, the lodgers here.”

She gave me a condescending smile and patted me on my shoulder.  “I know.”

“We should invite him to join us some evenings at the lodge?” Cassandra suggested.  “It must be lonely in the cabin.”

My face said everything; I didn’t like the idea one bit.  Still Cassandra asked him in.

Sal built a fire for us in the lodge.  He brewed a bitter herbal tea over the fire, as the wind snapped snow against the building while we sat there wrapped in blankets, round the crackling fire.

Later, I went out to get some more logs for the fire.  When I got back, Cassandra and Sal were gone.  I knew where she was.  I could have stopped it from happening, but I didn’t.  Instead, I lay in the dark, and let myself get angry.

The biggest storm of the winter hit a few days later.  It was a warm one, full of wet, sticking snow that clung to your cheeks.  You couldn’t see more then a few feet through the snow storm.

It lasted six long days, and we had to dig out way out of our cabin.  There was no sign of Sal; his cabin was empty.  We never spoke of him again.

A few months later, Sal was a memory from the past, as was the snow which was melting, and the day we were due to leave drew ever closer.

She was right about this place.  I was feeling better.  My muscles were lean and hard.  What I had lost in the hospital had come back to me in thick ropes around my arms and legs.  I moved with all the grace that had once made me proud.

With the melting snow, Sal’s body appeared, by the log pile, hacked to death… I knew then Cassandra must have killed him.

I lay in our cabin, staring at the ceiling, thinking about the events that had taken place.

10.15am March 25

The chief suspects in the murder of Sal Cornick were Cassandra and Daniel Jenkins, stated the police at a press conference.

If anyone knew of there whereabouts they should contact the police.

2.15pm March 29

Cassandra and David were entertaining friends when police cars pulled into the caravan park, where they were living.  The couple were taken to Milwaukee County Court house for questioning.

12.30pm March 30

Hannah Bower and Mathew Seabright were brought in for questioning, for it was they who found the body.

2.45pm March 31

A statement was issued to the press that Daniel Jenkins would be charged with murder, based on a signed confession by Cassandra Jenkins.

In reply, David Jenkins believes he is innocent, but can offer no alibi.

11.40am May 10

Cassandra identified her husband as the actual murderer of Sal Cornick, stating he was jealous of him.

“Did you actually see him commit the murder?” asked the Prosecutor.

“No…but there was no one else up there” Cassandra replied.

3.25pm March 19

Finally, after nine days and thirty-one witnesses…

“Have you reached a verdict, on which you agree?” asked the judge.

“We have your honour.”  The foreman of the jury looked directly at me, his voice taking on a harsh sounding edge to it.  “We find the defendant guilty of murder.”

My knees buckled as I heard the word guilty, and I nearly collapsed, a roaring in my eyes blotting out all sound around me.

I looked for her in court, as officer’s grabbed my arms.  They were pulling me away as I caught sight of her.  She stood talking with my lawyer, the back of her hand stroking his upper arm.  They turned, looking in my direction, with slight smiles.  I knew then he had fallen under the spell of Cassandra.

Before I was dragged from the court, Cassandra raised her hand – and blew me a kiss.

The door slammed shut on my life…I had been betrayed by my Cassandra, the true murderer…

Wallpaper Image

Missing… Without Trace

Taxi

The ring at the door came at 6.30am.  I usually don’t rise before 10.00am, and then only with the help of my morning mug of black coffee or two.  My mouth was dry, and my brain could barely comprehend what he was saying, as I opened my front door, standing in nothing but my shorts.

“There can be no doubt in our minds that a crime has been committed, whether by you or someone else has not been determined at this point.  Circumstantial evidence exists, suggesting you may have had something to do with the mysterious disappearance of Mathew Jarvis, who has been missing these past two months.  Answer’s are required, as to how deep be your connection to Mr Jarvis?” quoted the police officer standing in the porch of Andrew Cairn’s house, waving a search warrant in his face.

Other officer’s systematically searched, or should I say trashed my home, then my taxi, standing in the drive-way.

They hauled me back to Ipswich Police Station, where they continually questioned me about Mathew Jarvis.

As I repeated to them time and time again … I am a self-employed taxi-driver, based in Norwich, but if the price is right, distance is no object.  That’s where I remember Jarvis, he climbed from my cab, and disappeared into East Lane Southwold, on the Suffolk Coastline … Each time my statement falling on deaf ears.

What had apparently started out as the mysterious disappearance of one customer had now reached three, all customers who had the misfortune to travel in my taxi?

Last week, I dropped off a short blonde woman, dressed head to toe in black, in East Lane, Southwold; two days later she was reported missing by her employers … The Chronicle.  But that’s not how the cops put it; they just kept asking me, over and over.  “What did you do with her?”

Another of my customer’s to vaporize into thin air was an estate agent, but for the life of me, I had no recollection of where I had taken him, or what he looked like.  Why should I?  My cab happens to be a convenient mode of transportation, for tourists and business people alike, hundred’s go through my cab on a weekly basis.

I remembered the reporter, for she did not look like one of those seedy individuals, digging up the dirt.  There was something different about her; you expected to see her modelling, as a page three girl.

Still they dragged me down to the police station for questioning, and I had become their number one suspect.  So far, the cops had not manufactured any evidence they could stick me in jail with, but that was not for lack of trying, so I remained free, but for how long?

The way I figured it, if I could find another connection between these three people, the cops would be forced to investigate my claim, and quit sticking to me.  I was getting a stiff neck, constantly looking over my shoulder, to check if my police tail was still there.

In my mind, thoughts rushed back to every place I had been, cross referencing it with my weekly records, in a desperate search for answers.  Until it came to me, I had picked him up, when he had flagged me down, some fifteen miles outside of Southwold, standing beside a white BMW … he had run out of petrol, and would be late for an appointment, he said.  I had taken him to 21 East Lane, Southwold, and that was the last I saw of him.

While I was searching for answers, the police were attempting to build a case against me, and as yet, hadn’t enough to charge me; but they believed foul play, was involved.

According to neighbours of Daniel Ford, the owner of 21 East Lane, Southwold, had not been seen in person for some considerable time.

An Estate Agent, Reporter, and Mathew Jarvis, have all mysteriously disappeared; and the only connection, be the house, and my taxi cab…I am doomed!

Detective Sergeant Marcus Dowelling pulled his car off the main road, and into the drive-way adjoining the home of Daniel Ford.  He stepped from his car, into the overgrown garden.  His legs became immersed up to his knees in the long swaying grasses, as they blew in the gentle breeze.

Dowelling an officer with a long experienced service in the force, sensed things were not right here, long before he reached the door.  In his fifteen years, this was the first case of disappearance of people in this manner.

Three people missing, and their only connections; the house and the taxi cab they travelled in.

As he walked towards the small white house barely visible above the lawn leading to the front door, thoughts rushed into his mind.  “People don’t just disappear without trace.  There has to be a logical reason?”

He gazed at the old white door, with peeling white paint for a moment; then turned the handle, and it swung open with a gentle push.  Dowelling reached under his jacket, and pulled out his trusty truncheon, ready for anything as the door became fully open, coming to a stop at the wall.  Since the occupant Daniel Ford had disappeared, he didn’t expect to find anyone inside, as he moved into the property, but you never know.  The front door remained open; it always pays to be cautious in my line of work – a quick escape if needed.

According to the neighbours of 21 East Lane, little was known of him, other than his name was Daniel Ford, and that he kept to himself.  He had regular habits said one; of going out each day at 10.30am and returning around 16.30pm.  Did he have a job? No one knew.  He never caused any trouble, and now he had simply vanished.

Dowelling figured that the man must have been gone for a long time to have the neighbours call in the police.  The house displayed this; it was drab and colourless, with a faint musty odour.  The lights were out; they did not work as he attempted to switch on the lights, presumably because the electric bill had not been paid in a while.  Close by laid a large box of candles with matches on top.  A fine coating of dust lay across everything.

Out of curiosity, Dowelling lifted the phone receiver on the wall; there was no tone, but that did not surprise him.  “Looks like I won’t be able to call in from the house.”

Looking around this quaint old house, Dowelling discovered a bathroom down a short narrow corridor off to the left, with a kitchen directly opposite.

vintage_typewriter

In the far corner to the rear of the property, stood a small oak desk on which stood a well worn manual typewriter.  Laid out on the table, was the missing reporter’s notebook, and identity card, also the estate agent’s paperwork.  “They had both been here,” Dowelling spoke out loud, fingering his way through the notebooks.

Whatever happened to them, the answers must lay within the confines of these four walls.

On the floor, piled up between the desk and the wall, were two-inch binders, rising from the floor like a tower towards the ceiling.  He ran his fingers across the spines of the binders.  Each one was labelled from volume one to forty, and stuffed full of printed paper.  Our Mr Ford was a writer, and a prolific one at that.

Dowelling removed the binder marked volume one, from off the top of the pile.  He walked over to the opposite side of the room, put his truncheon on the table, and sat down on a cosy looking sofa, underneath the window.  He opened the dark-blue-cover, page one was titled: Introduction.

He turned to the next page, and started to read:  “As of today, March 21, 1988, I begin my life’s work.  This and the ensuing volumes is a saga, the product of my soul and mind.  I hope that this has been worth the effort, but if it was not, I cannot tell.  This is my life, embodied in ink and paper.

“Daniel Ford.”

Dowelling turned the page and began to read the novel, for which Daniel Ford had apparently worked so hard on.  Dowelling figured that if he read the work, he may gain some clue as to what had happened to the author – reporter and estate agent.  “I will read a little bit, and see where it takes me,” he thought.

It began simply, as the words formed a vivid picture of events that had taken place:  As I walked from my office, along the crowded sidewalk at a fairly brisk pace, on my way to a working lunch in the city.

Little did I know that I was due to be assassinated that day: 21st March 2001?  A smallish guy dressed in a dark grey suit, thin faced, with swept back blonde hair, bumped straight into me.  I yelled, staggering back from the unexpected force.  “Sorry,” he muttered, as he disappeared into the crowded streets.

My forearm tingled, as my left leg started to go numb, anxiously I rubbed it, but by now it was useless.

Daniel Howard, young entrepreneur, died from drug overdose, according to the papers.  What a way to go – injected with a drug in a busy road, dead in a matter of minutes.

As I died my last thoughts were – if only I had listened to those around me – warning me that our competitors would not stand by, watching our profits grow and theirs diminish.

Dowelling reached the end of the first paragraph, stopped for a moment, sighing heavily.  Inside he could sense the story pulling him back to the words on the page, with a feeling of wonder and amazement passing through his body.  He just could not understand, why he was able to read this with ease, he mostly read police reports and the paper.  This was different from any other novel he had tried … unsuccessfully … to read.

As Dowelling plunged forth into the next paragraph, it was as though he became part of the story, and the characters came alive, laid bare before him; to explore.

Time passed by quickly, as each page was turned over, from afternoon to evening, until night darkened the room.  He lit candles, placing them on the window sill above his head, as other’s had done before him.

Time continued on, he became so engrossed in the story, as morning dawned he had nearly completed two binders.  Hunger took him out to his car, where he always carried packets of biscuits and canned drinks for stake outs, and returned to the story with them.

Munching slowly away and taking the odd drink, he blazed through the binder with renewed strength, and set it down on a new pile forming on the floor.  He started the third without breaking for a rest.  By dusk, he had progressed through binder’s three to seven, when a knocking sound echoed through the house.

Dowelling, swore at the interruption, as he gathered his thoughts and staggered to the door.  There standing before him, a young uniformed officer, no more than twenty, his right hand resting on his truncheon.

“Sergeant Dowelling, the station was worried when they had not heard from you,” as the officer relaxed his pose.

“I am conducting my own personal investigation into this case,” replied a husky voiced Dowelling.

“What shall I tell them back at the station?”

“Tell them what you like,” replied Dowelling.

As the officer turned to leave, Dowelling slammed the door and hurried back to the story.  Through the night, volumes eight through to fourteen joined the new pile.

The next day was free from interruption, so he managed to progress through to volume twenty one, before he was forced to light up some more candles.

Even with bloodshot eyes, unshaven, crumpled clothing, and his body suffering from lack of sleep, he just couldn’t put the novel down – he just had to read it cover to cover.  He had become completely oblivious to the outside world.  Dowelling found the plot was thicker and more realistic than anything he could ever have imagined, but as his body showed signs of weariness, it took longer for events to register.  As dawn shone through the windows, he gazed at the pile, nine more volumes had been read that past night.

Another day and a half passed by without incidence.  As he came to the end of the final volume, a constant repeating knocking came from the door.

Dowelling looked from the book to the door, and ignored the knocking – hoping they would go away and leave him in peace to finish the last few pages.

It seemed like ages had passed by, when the knocking had been replaced by the hollow thudding sound of a police door ram, a sound he knew well.

As Dowelling read the last paragraph, the last sentence, then the last word … the police burst through the door…

Dowelling was before their eyes one minute, then gone the next, but it was no illusion, he had vanished.  Just as Mathew Jarvis, the estate agent, and the reporter, vanished without trace.

Officer’s looked over the house thoroughly, leaving two on guard, standing watch over the near empty room, whilst other’s returned to the station.

Curiosity got the better of these young officers’s.

“What is so important about these binders?” asked one.

“I only know one way to find out,” said the other.  He pulled out the binder labelled Volume One.  Holding it between them, they began to read the introduction.

“As of today, March 21, 1988, I begin my life’s work.  This and the ensuing volumes is a saga, the product of my soul and mind.”

The two young officers’ gazed at each other, as they returned to the binder, drawn by something inexplicable.  A force of some kind!

Are two more unlikely participants being drawn into this story – only to vanish without trace as other’s have before them!

Mystical Times

Haunted Victorian House

For it was in 1863, that the beauty of South Elmham located in the heart of rural Suffolk enchanted the Reverend Henry Markham.  Here, he proceeded to erect a fine Victorian rectory overlooking the village.  Markham having the wealth and support of his family, in his endeavours, rose to become the village squire.  He died in 1895, and his son Edward followed in his footsteps becoming the new vicar of the village, and resided at the rectory until his death in 1928.

Rumours abounded that the rectory must have been haunted.  If so, it says much about the character of the two rectors, when subsequent tenants found life unbearable through the relentless activities of poltergeists.

Edward Markham, made a habit of waiting at the rectory gate, for the passing of the ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of four horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reach a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  The phantom coach was not only heard but also seen by the ex-groom of the rectory, who described a blazing carriage with lights careering through the rectory grounds.

A more significant manifestation was that of a Nun, confirmed by many witnesses, over the years, as she walked across the terrace.  The presence of the Nun, added to the belief that the rectory must have been built on the site of a religious house.

In 1939, lightning struck the rectory, destroying the west wing, but it was not re-built until the early 1950’s.  During the summer of 1955, Reverend James Patterson and his family took up residence, amidst much speculation and fear from the villagers, of the previous psychic manifestations as experienced in the old rectory.

There were few minor apparitions in the early years, but it was not until the latter months of 1972, nearly twenty years later, that their worst fears had come to bear.  Poltergeist activities were ripe in the rectory, and experienced by many, for later that year, the Reverend James Patterson was found hanging from the rafters in the churches Bell Tower.

What had driven a man of God to take his own life, and in such a public way?  This led to much uproar by the villager’s, claiming the vicar was bewitched, demanding the church and rectory should be shut.

For it was in the autumn of 1982, the rectory was sold and renovated, no longer a rectory, but a fine looking country farmhouse.  Many villagers have feared for the sanity of those who resided in this dreadful building, with an unsavoury past.

Then in the spring of 1983, a Scottish family the James’s took up residence, with their three children; Michael 9, Benjamin 7, and Christina 8.

Very little was known about them, Peter James worked for the Civil Service, and in the early years, the children attended the local primary school, later they attended boarding school.

Michael, Benjamin and Christina always loved their holidays from boarding school.  On their first day home, they would pump up their bicycle tyres, and ride quickly through the village waving here and there, to many of the villagers.  Never stopping until they reached their destination, the last house at the end of the village, nestled down by the river.  They would dash up the path to an ever-open door.  There she would stand ‘Gran’ wearing a spotless apron; sleeves rolled up from her floury hands, ready to greet them.  She was not their real grandmother, but she had come to be referred as ‘Gran’, ever since she used to help their mother run the house in the early years.  She is like part of the family.  Upon their arrival she would say “how lucky you are, I have just finished baking”, but they knew, she knew, when their school terms finished.  No holiday would start right until the children had visited her, and tasted her home cooking.

Utter shock, rocked the heart of this peaceful village, on a sweltering summer morning in early August 1991.  The ringing sound of gunshots, coming from within the old rectory.

I remember that day well; I had been pruning the roses in my front garden, when I heard shots.  PC Roberts dashed passed minutes later, heading in the same direction, from which the sounds had come from.  I instinctively grabbed my coat, and followed him, in case my services were required, in the capacity of a parish priest.  We both knew where the shots had emanated from, the old rectory.

Inside all was quiet, but in the hall, on the stairs, there was chaos of objects flung about generally creating a scene of disaster.  In the midst of similar destruction in the main room, was the body of Peter James, shot several times in the chest, close by his wife, Samantha, her face had partly been blown away?  Upstairs in the rear bedroom, Christina sprawled across the bed still wearing a pair of earphones, body drenched in blood, from the chest wounds.  Whilst Michael was found sprawled across the landing leading to the west wing, with two wounds in the back, and one in his left leg.

Finally, entering Benjamin’s room PC Roberts expecting to find another body discovered him, sitting on the side of his bed, in what appeared to be a state of shock, covered in blood and holding on his lap his father’s shotgun.

“Well, Benjamin what’s been going on here,” asked the Constable.

There was no reply from Benjamin.

Carefully, the shotgun was removed from Benjamin and wrapped in a sheet, he did not even flinch, just sat their still.

“Father McBride, could you stay with Benjamin while I call for assistance, and please don’t touch anything.”

“Of course.”

The sight that greeted me was terrible, one I will never forget.  I couldn’t believe at that time, Benjamin was responsible for the destruction of this family.  Did he have no sympathy at all for the people who had brought him up, and given him everything a boy could desire?  Apparently not!

Dr Mathew Hoyden, who arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am, was taken back by the scene, of so many bodies.  The first body he examined was that of Samantha James’s lifeless body sprawled across the living room, blood was congealing from the wound, but there was little doubt she was dead.  Because of the location of the wound, forensic experts summarised; her heart had stopped pumping blood, almost immediately, thereby resulting in very little blood splatter on nearby walls and furniture, for such horrific wounds.

Whilst the medical examination continued, and the crime scene photographers carried out their duties.  The police carried out a detailed search of the house, from the attic to the cellar.  Nothing was found to indicate the presence, of an intruder within.

Following the examinations, a senior officer allowed me to perform the ‘last rites ritual’ to each of the victims, before they were removed, from the house.

The horrific murders of Peter James, Samantha his wife, and children Christine and Michael, found murdered in their home, brought an onslaught of ever clambering press, to their doorsteps, in search of a story.  They had convicted Benjamin, in the press as guilty, for he survived unscathed, holding the murder weapon.

“What happened to Benjamin.”

He appeared to be in a state of shock, and was removed firstly to the local hospital, and later to the David Rice Hospital, and remained there whilst police carried out their investigation.

“All the time he remained in hospital, he never uttered a single word, whether he was suffering from shock, no one knew.”

The police could find no evidence of an intruder, and their only suspect was Benjamin – despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence pointing to him.  Still the police found it hard to believe, as I do, that anyone as young as Benjamin, could cold bloodedly murder his own family.

A Social Worker, was present at police interviews of Benjamin, but still he did not utter a word of response to their questions, just shrugged his shoulders occasionally.  As far as they were concerned, it was an open and shut case; and remained in custody at the Malen Secure Unit, until the trial.

The question which was on many peoples lips; was he a murder or an innocent victim?

I like so many of the villagers considered the events of 1972, when the Rev James Patterson took his life, could there be any connection?

Benjamin was brought before a closed session of the Juvenile Court to answer the charges laid upon him.  For the whole of the proceedings, he sat and watched, showing no sign of emotion.

“Had he any idea what was going on Father.”

“I don’t know, but that was a different boy sitting in the courtroom, he had changed.”

Before the trial, Benjamin, had been remanded, to the Malen Secure Unit for assessment; based on their findings, the courts sent him to a Secure Unit on the Welsh Border, with no option of parole.  That was the first time I saw any sort of reaction – he smiled.

“Have you seen him since the trial.”

“Yes, I have, I used to attend the Hospital.  He hasn’t spoken since that day, just paints violent pictures of the victims, in lurid detail.  It’s a sad sight, for one so young.”

Then events took a turn, a historian heard about the murders, turned up to study the site, which had undergone many strange events over the centuries.

The so-called Nun, was lured to England from France, in the 16th century, worked as a maid, murdered, and thrown down the old well, and left to rot.  Believed to have been the apparition seen by many visitors over the years, whose frequent materialisation’s were the basic causes of so much agitation in the spirit world?

Believers in the paranormal believe the theory that in most cases of persistent disturbances, the cause is often a young female.  From available evidence of poltergeist activity, it seems that a young girl, could be physically affected, attracting and energising forces beyond the normal.  Support for this theory, held up at South Elmham, not only from the ghostly Nun but also from a young woman, who worked as a housemaid for the Rev James Patterson.

Violent activity seemed to accompany the skull, following its removal from the well.  When taken to museum experts for detailed examination, a series of accidents took place in quick succession, the skull broke in two, and valuable works of art were damaged.

Paranormal activity once ripe in the area, ceased when the Nun’s skull, buried on holy ground at the local convent.  At last, she was at peace!

Benjamin regained his speech, within days of the burial, but his mind remains a complete blank, since the day of the killings.  Questions have been asked; whether he should be held accountable for these crimes, in light of the discoveries?

As far as our courts are concerned, this mumbo-jumbo evidence would not wash with them, Benjamin, was found guilty of the crimes, with no option of parole, and the sentence stands.

“But is he innocent Father?”

“I think so, but we will never know, unless he regains his memory.  The mystery of the old rectory has been solved, and many lives destroyed in the process.”

“Father, don’t bore the young man with your memories, you’re supposed to rest, you know what the doctor said.”

“I may be old and retired, but let the boy here know all about the events of South Elmham, for next month, it will be his parish.  Better to be forewarned of the events of the past, some villagers still remember, those awful times, no doubt!”

As the young priest left, gazing back at Father Bracks, sitting on the balcony of the retirement home.  Thoughts raced through his mind, should I take on what he had started, visiting Benjamin, maybe one day he will answer that all-important question.

Who pulled the trigger, and why?

No Witness!

scales-of-justiceThere was much tension in the air, many people fearing to venture from their homes at night, in these dangerous times, ever since the news of a murder in the village of Watton in Norfolk.

Local man, James Watson, who worked at the Horse and Hound Public House as a barman, alongside his other job as a truck driver, was found murdered on the common, in the early hours of Sunday morning 5th July 1954.  According to the police there were no witnesses to the crime, and his truck was discovered a few hours later, empty and abandoned.

Why he was killed has the police baffled, and the greatest fear in the village, is one of their residents could be a killer, but who?

At about eleven o’clock the same morning, a man out walking his dog on the lower cage lane in Stratton, noticed a truck, parked on the verge, doors wide open and unattended, and no one in sight.  The circumstances were strange enough to merit the man calling the police, as there were signs of blood on the door.

Sergeant Maxwell, stationed locally, drove to the spot and discovered a bloodstained jacket and coat.  At the police headquarters in Norwich, Detective Inspector Miles received the information and set out at once, with Detective Constable Helen Lomax, realising they had a brutal murder on their hands.

With the assistance of the local officer on the scene, the two officers examined the area of the dumped truck, where bloodstained garments and a driving licence were found.  Obviously their next stop was to call at the Horse and Hound, where he lived and worked.  The Landlady readily recognised the bloodstained garments, but was overcome at the sight of them.  When she had got over the initial shock, she informed the officers what she knew about James Watson, who worked part time for them, along with part time truck driver at a local haulage contractors, and resided in the flat over the garages.  He was single, 41, not given to heavy drinking or any other excesses as far as she could tell, her husband standing close by, nodded in agreement.

The officers thanked them, for their assistance and left, returning to the site of the abandoned truck.  The cab revealed a scene of violence, with Watson’s personal possessions strewn across the ground, papers and documents abandoned in the desperate physical struggle that must have taken place.  There was no wallet and no money.  It was a case of robbery certainly, but robbery compounded with murder.

It seemed clear to the detectives that Watson had been attacked at some other location, and the truck driven by one of his attackers.  His body had been discovered in the early hours of Sunday morning, dumped in the bushes on the far side of the common, close to the pub.

Forensic experts carried out close examination of the interior, but the only fingerprints found within belonged to Watson.  The vehicle was taken to Norwich, and subjected to all kinds of tests.

News reached me that James had been killed when I called in the pub the next day.  Over the past few years we had eluded the grasp of the law, using the truck as a legitimate business.  For the past few years we had dealt in alcohol and cigarettes in small quantity, but had moved up a league.  James had a customer, but did want me there, as we never saw eye to eye, it should have been sweet as a nut, and he went with armed backup! So what went wrong?

Somebody double-crossed him.  I will find out whom?

My name is Barney; my last name does not matter.  James and I have made a small living and never done any bird for our crimes.

I have a flat in Stratton, a decent car a few smart clothes.  What’s more I have a gun, so no one going to argue with me!  Not if they know what is good for them.

The police had not looked over the flat yet, I slipped in the back way, headed straight for our secret hideaway behind the toilet cistern.  A small hole existed behind some loose tiles; carefully I prised it loose.  Inside were five hundred pounds, and a small revolver.

I had a quick look around the flat but there was nothing here of any use, except for his address book tucked away out of sight with a list of customers behind the picture frame.  I could not let the police discover these, slipped them into my pocket and disappeared.  Left the place as I’d found it and headed out looking for his cousin, who was supposed to be taking my place as back up?

If James was going to pay a minder, it would have been his cousin Michael, he would do anything to earn a few quid.

I found him in his Council Flat, on the Lavengro Estate in Norwich.  When he answered the door, to my pounding my fist upon his door, he did not look too pleased to see me.

“How’s it going Michael?”  I asked pushing my way into his place without much resistance.

“I can’t complain,” he replied.

“So what’s new?”

He just gazed across the room at me, “nothing,”  as he shrugged his shoulders.

“Seen James?”

“Not today.”

“Let’s not waste anymore time, we both know why I’m here.”  I replied as I pulled out my Smith & Weston revolver.

I don’t believe you,” pointing the gun at his head.

“You were with him as back up weren’t you?”

“I didn’t mean anything to happen to him, he is family you know,” the fear was visible on his face as he spoke.

“What happened?”  I demanded shaking the gun at him.

“It wasn’t my idea.”

“Whose was it then?”

“The Old Bill.”

“So what have they got to do with it?”

“I was in trouble with the law.  We had a chat.  I told him about the deal James had going down.”

“I suppose you put me in the frame as well?”

“No.”

“Michael.”

“No, I swear I didn’t.”

“He said he’d just bust him,” Michael stated.  He was shaking with fear.

“The deal went through as it should have, and we were driving back to Watton, where I was to pick up my old banger.  Along the country lane between Watton and Stratton, the car in front of us suddenly pulled out across the road, blocking the way, and another at the rear,” Michael quoted.

“What were they driving.”

“The one in front, drove a light coloured Ford, whilst the other drove an old jeep, I don’t know the colour but it had lights fitted on top, that glared straight into our faces,”  Michael stated.

“What happened next?”  As Barney prodded him with the gun in his ribs.

“They came up to the truck, and started talking to James, and one of them told me to get lost, and that’s the last time I saw James, until you turned up.”

“Who are they?”

“That new DI at Norwich, the bent one.”

“They’re all bent as far as I am concerned.”

“McCormack.”

“I haven’t heard of him.”

“He’s fairly new, recently transferred from the Met, he’s evil.”

“No please, it wasn’t my fault.”

“You little traitor.”

“I never hurt James,” Michael shouted.

“But you let McCormack do it.  So where’s the money now?”

“They more likely have it down the cop shop.”

“Are you joking.”

“Where safer to hide it?”

I realised my future was tied up at Longbridge Road, Police Station, and that meant big trouble.  They have my money, and now James is dead, no one to split it with.  Not that I wouldn’t rather have James here, than this grass of a cousin Michael.

“So what’s shift is he on?” I demanded.

“What?”

“McCormack.  When’s he working?  You’re his informer, you’ve got to know.”

“Nights.  This week he’s working nights.”

“Thanks.”  I said, pushing the gun into his face, pulling off two shots, moving out of the way to avoid any blowback.

I worked out a plan on my way home.  I needed access to the Police Station, on legitimate business.

The next morning just to be on the safe side, I phoned Longbridge Road Police Station, from a public phone.

“C.I.D.”  I said when I got through.

“C.I.D. – Miles,” said the soft voice on the line.

“DI McCormack,” I said.

“Wait.”  The voice disappeared for a few minutes, then came back.  “He’s on after ten tonight.  Any message?”

“No thanks.  I’ll call back later,” and I disconnected the call before his next question.

I hung around the flat all day, and close to ten I drove over to Longbridge Road.  I took my Smith & Weston, and my holdall with me.  I wore my black overcoat over jeans and a jumper, with black driving gloves on my hands.

I went through the front door of the Police Station, up to the desk and said to the constable on duty.

“Excuse me, I was out walking my dog the other night and saw an altercation taking place on the Watton to Stratton road, involving a truck.  I read the driver had been killed in the paper.  I wonder if what I saw can be of any use?”

“Can I have your name sir?”

“Crane, Mathew Crane” I said.

“Would you wait a minute please, sir.”

He went into the back, and I stood studying the wanted posters covering up the cracks in the walls.

“Mr Crane?” an officer spoke as he entered the reception.

“I’m Sergeant Stephens.  Would you please come this way, D I McCormack will see you now.”  I couldn’t have planned it better.  Two rotten apples at the same time, McCormack and Stephen’s, both bent as each other.

I followed him through, carrying my holdall, and up three flights of stairs to a door marked C.I.D. Longbridge Road is only a small station, and at that time of night it seemed pretty well deserted, which suited me. The C.I.D. main office was dimly lit and empty, as I was led through to an adjoining office where a large man was sitting behind a desk, and said.  “This is DI McCormack.”

Sweet as a nut I thought to myself.

McCormack was well built maybe of the same age as myself.  He looked like the type of officer you could trust with your darkest secrets, but I knew better.

“Inspector,” I said.

“Take a seat Mr Crane,” said McCormack.

“Tea?”

“Yes please,” I said as I sat in front of his desk.

“Sergeant.”  With that Stephen’s went off to get the tea.

“So you saw someone having an altercation on the Watton Stratton road, whilst you were out walking your dog.”

“That’s right.”

“Could you identify him.”

“There were two of them, they had blocked the vehicle front and back.  I didn’t get a good look at their faces, but one walked with a slight limp.

McCormack looked at Crane for a moment, but there were slight signs of sweating upon his face.

I quickly unzipped my holdall, and pulled out a revolver, pointing it straight at McCormack.

“What’s this?” he gasped.

“Your worst nightmare.”

“Payback time.”

“For what?” he asked.

“You killed my mate James,” I said.  “And stole my money.”

“I see.”  He was regaining his cool.  “And what gives you that idea.”

“Your little grass Michael told me.”

“So I imagine it was you who shot him.”

“Correct.”

“That wasn’t a very nice thing you did.”

“No more than he deserved, he was your grass and a thief.”

“Did it occur to you he could have been lying.”

“No.  I’d stake my life on it, he was telling the truth.”

“Which is exactly what you’re doing.  You must be a very stupid man to come here after me, and then admit to murder.”

I didn’t bother informing him, he wouldn’t be around to tell anyone.

“Don’t waste my time,” I said.  The longer he kept talking the more chance he had of Stephen’s returning or someone else coming in.

“Just give me the money,” I demanded.

“You don’t really think I’d keep it here do you?”

“Where better and safer,” I said, and I shot him in the arm.  You could barely hear the recoil above the sound of the air conditioning.

He gazed at the wound.

“I’ll keep blowing bits off you until you hand over, what belongs to me,” I said.  “I’ve got plenty more bullets.”

“Alright, alright,” he said.  “Keep calm, it’s over here in the locker.”

“Get it.”  I ordered.  No tricks or you’ll end up like Michael.”

He got up to do as he was told.

“The keys are in my pocket,” he said.

“Pull them out slowly, I’m watching every move you make.”

He did as he was instructed, then inserted the key in the locker keyhole and turned it anti-clockwise.  As he opened the door, Stephen’s entered the room with a tray of tea’s.

“Put them down gently,” pointing the pistol in his direction.

“What goes here?” whilst looking at the gun.

McCormack saw his chance and turned from the open locker with revolver in hand.  He fired and the bullet missed me by inches smashing into the wall.  I fired back twice in quick succession, and he went down, then Stephens got into the act, lobbing the tea in my direction whilst heading for the door.  I shot him twice in the back, he skidded face forward across the carpet and lay still.  When I went over he was dead.

I went to the locker, checked McCormack pulse.  Nothing.  I pushed his lifeless body to one side, and saw the bag sitting on the shelf. I picked it up and stuffed it into my bag, which I had bought with me.

That’s what you get for greed looking down at the two dead officers sprawled across the floor.

On the way out I met the desk constable coming up the stairs.  “Did you hear that crashing noise?” he asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Are the DI and the Sergeant in their office?”

“Yes.”

“One of them should have shown you down.”  He suddenly looked at me in a curious way, that policeman’s look.

He left me no option, so I killed him too. They shouldn’t have killed by lifelong friend and partner James, see.  It wasn’t necessary.

When I was sure he was dead too, I let myself out into the night air of Longbridge Road, and drove home.

 

Short Fiction: Temptation

secretary

Mark Edwards knew his time had come, when the gun went off, and the burning feeling spread through his body.

The image, the last he would see, was of his wife Evelyn standing over him with a smoking pistol in hand, gradually becoming hazy and surrounded in a black mist.  He slipped in and out of consciousness, until his life was finally taken from him.

She kneeled down beside him, “sorry Mark, that it had come to this, I just couldn’t stand by and let you divorce me, and go off with your tart of a secretary.”

The last thing I remember; was reaching out and grabbing the pendant that hung around Evelyn’s neck.

Seconds later my body being dropped into the central foundation hole of the building, and cement being poured on top of me,

I had been tempted, and paid for it with my life.

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