Authors: Philip Cox
Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense, #Thriller
Philip Cox is married with two children, and lives near
London. He pursued a career in banking until 2009, when he took a break from financial services to be a stay-at-home father. Between changing diapers, Philip wrote
After the Rain
, which was published in 2011.
Dark Eyes of London
is his second novel.
Also by Philip Cox
After the Rain
She’s Not Coming Home
Last Man’s Head
DARK EYES OF
© Philip Cox 2012
Front cover image by Christian Guthier
Thanks to Anne Poole for her help with the text
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Always my babies…
The main characters in this story make extensive use of
London’s Underground and Overground systems.
Readers unfamiliar with these networks might wish to download a system map from
It was a few miles before the motorway services when Jimmy Khan first noticed the other vehicle. Considering whether to take a break now or later, his
eyes were momentarily drawn back to the rear view mirror by the frantic flashing of headlights and the loud blare of a horn.
Glancing into the mirror, he caught sight of the HGV in the centre lane still flashing angrily. There were lamps on the roof of the cab as well as below the windscreen, so this flashing would be difficult to ignore. The reason for this protest was that another vehicle - a black Chrysler, Jimmy thought - had moved from the outside lane, across the centre lane and the path of the HGV, to the inside lane, and was now behind Jimmy’s Renault, although about fifty yards behind, having dropped its speed to around fifty, the same as Jimmy.
Jimmy sighed, shook his head, and decided he would stop off at the services after all. By this time, he was much nearer and the next road sign showed the services were a mile off. Half a mile later, Jimmy began to indicate then took the slip road off the motorway and into the services. He could not have failed to have noticed that the Chrysler was doing the same thing.
He found a parking space, stretched as he got out of the car, and then strolled over to the service building. Glancing over to his right, he noticed what he thought was the Chrysler parked a dozen or so vehicles from his. Strange, he thought, that nobody had got out yet.
In the services building, he visited the gents, bought a newspaper, and then visited the coffee shop for a latte and a Panini. Once he had finished there, he walked back to the car. As he climbed back in, he checked his watch. It was just after five-thirty; should be back home by eight. He reversed out of the parking space, and made his way round the car park to the exit. As he did so, he had to pass the parked Chrysler. He quickly glanced over to see if the driver was there, but the windows seemed heavily tinted, and so he could see nothing. However, if his glance was a fraction of a second longer, he would have seen the Chrysler’s reversing lights illuminate.
Just before the motorway slip road, there was a petrol station. Jimmy decided to pull in and top up. As he was filling up, he saw the Chrysler coming away from the car park and head to the motorway. As it passed the filling station, Jimmy noticed it slowed momentarily as its brake lights flashed for a second, then it continued round the bend towards the motorway.
Jimmy finished filling up, paid for the fuel, and then made his own way back to the motorway. The route back onto the carriageway comprised a forty-five degree bend to the left, and then it joined the hard shoulder. By the time Jimmy had passed the bend, he was now doing fifty, and was indicating and looking over to his right to make sure the inside lane was clear to join. Being focused on what was on his right, he failed to notice the Chrysler on his left. It must have pulled onto the shoulder, and reversed into a corner just as the shoulder began, and was clear from view and the main carriageway.
‘What the hell?’ Jimmy exclaimed as he looked into his mirror and saw the Chrysler join first the hard shoulder, then the main carriageway, returning to its place a few yards behind Jimmy’s car.
‘This is ridiculous! What are you playing at?’ said Jimmy, both annoyed and alarmed as the driver was obviously keen on stalking him. He made a few attempts to lose the Chrysler, but was unsuccessful: whenever he sped up or slowed down, or changed lanes, the other car did the same thing.
He began to feel unnerved. He looked out for a police vehicle parked on the side of the road, but in spite of passing several spots marked for patrol vehicles, he did not see one.
‘Typical,’ he muttered. ‘Just when you need one!’
He was just at the slip road for the next exit, and without indicating, he swung the steering wheel to the left and sped up the slip road. Hoping the Chrysler was going too fast to react, he looked in his mirror, but the feeling in the pit of his stomach intensified when he saw the other vehicle had done the same thing.
At the top of the slip road, there was a large roundabout controlled by traffic lights. Glancing over to his right he saw two large goods vehicles approaching. The traffic lights at the top of the slope were now amber, just turning red. Now was his chance.
‘Here goes!’ he called out, and pressed his right foot hard on the pedal. The Renault shot over the now red light, and onto the lanes of the roundabout. By now the HGVs had started to move, and looking over, Jimmy could see that the Chrysler had no choice but to stop at the red light.
‘Now it’s time to properly shake you off, you weirdo,’ said Jimmy. He decided not to return to the motorway, where the Chrysler could easily catch him up if the driver wanted, but to take an A or B road where there would be signals and plenty of other slow moving traffic. The third exit was such a road, and so without indicating, Jimmy turned down this road, which immediately forked to the right. Ideal.
After the fork, there were a couple of turns, and then the road was relatively straight. Driving along this straight section, Jimmy started working out where he was. He had a rough idea where this road went, and worked out a route home from there.
‘What an arsehole!’ he shouted out loud. ‘But you couldn’t keep track of good old Jimmy Khan!’ Raising his left fist in the air as a gesture of triumph, he glanced in the rear view mirror to check the road was clear.
Then his heart sank. In the distance, rapidly gaining on him, was the Chrysler.
This stretch of road was about half a mile in length. A couple of cars travelled in the opposite direction, but Jimmy’s lane was clear. He could see the Chrysler pick up speed and rapidly catch up with him. Now it was ten, twelve feet behind, maintaining the same speed as Jimmy. The road was not so straight now: Jimmy picked up speed on the bends; now the speedo showed sixty-five, but the Chrysler stayed ten, twelve feet away. Jimmy frantically looked for side roads: there were some now and then, but he was travelling too fast to safely make a turn.
His palms were sweating as he gripped the steering wheel tighter, taking the bends at now well over seventy. There was a straight section ahead, some relief from taking the bends so fast. Feeling a bit more confident now the road was straight, Jimmy pushed his foot down harder, in the vain hope that by doing almost eighty, he would shake off his pursuer.
For a moment, he thought he had succeeded, as the Chrysler dropped back. A single deck bus passed him in the other direction, and as soon as it had gone, the Chrysler accelerated rapidly, took the other lane, overtook him, and swung to the left, now travelling twenty feet or so
Now its speed dropped, forcing Jimmy to do the same. Sixty. Fifty. Forty. Thirty. At twenty-five, Jimmy contemplated copying their overtaking manoeuvre, but decided it would be a waste of time: they would easily catch up.
Fifteen. Ten. The Chrysler was stopping.
Maybe it’s time to have it out with you, you bastard
, thought Jimmy
Both cars stopped. There was a short pause while two other cars overtook them, then both doors of the Chrysler opened. Both figures climbing out appeared to be dressed in black suits.
Jimmy had a bad feeling about this. In a panic, he looked around to see if any other vehicles were coming: they might be able to assist him. There were none, but he did notice on the other side of the road, twenty feet or so back, there was a roadway, a dirt track, really. It was narrow - his Renault should fit through, but surely a vehicle the size of the Chrysler would not fit through the bushes and trees which lined that road.
Thank God he hadn’t switched off the engine. He slammed the car into reverse and shot back so he was level with the roadway. Then into first, swung the steering wheel to the right, across the road into the dirt track. As he did this, he could see the two figures climb back into the Chrysler.
He had no idea where he was headed, but as the bushes scraped the side of his car, which was bouncing along the dirt track, he was confident the Chrysler could not follow.
After a hundred yards or so, the roadway opened up into a clearing. He drove into the clearing and then around, looking for a way to get out. He was still anxious: although he appeared to have shaken off the Chrysler - although the occupants could still follow him on foot - he still needed to get home, and it was beginning to get dark.
No sign of any other route out of the clearing. He waited a few moments, and then decided to venture on foot back to the main road to check that the coast was clear. He switched off the engine, and slowly opened the car door. He cautiously climbed out and closed the door.
Looking around, he began to walk back to the main road. Perhaps he would make his way back there through the bushes, for camouflage in case the Chrysler was still there.
It was then that he heard an engine noise and the sound of bushes scraping the side of a vehicle. Surely the Chrysler couldn’t -? As he turned to run back to his car, the Chrysler burst into the clearing. It stopped for a moment as if the driver was looking around. As Jimmy ran back to his Renault, he could hear the sound of the other vehicle behind him. He got in, slammed the door. His trembling fingers took three attempts to get ignition key into the slot. Just as he turned the key, impact came. The Chrysler hit his door.
The larger vehicle was not travelling particularly fast - twenty maximum - but the force of the impact was enough to rock Jimmy’s car severely. A large indentation appeared on the inside of the door, and his car spun around ninety degrees to the left.
It looked as if the Chrysler was slowly backing away for another blow. Jimmy whispered a little prayer as the engine started first time, then attempted to drive away. Now he could see he was in the middle of the clearing: on his right was the expanse of bushes the other side of the Chrysler; on his left as well as behind and in front were the edges of what in the dusk appeared to be a quarry.
Really panicking now, Jimmy swung his steering wheel in an attempt to get back to the roadway. The Chrysler would
have to turn round, so he might yet get away. He sped around the edge of the clearing, but just as he was almost back level with the bushes, his nearside dropped. It felt as if the ground beneath his left wheels had subsided. Going at the speed he was, Jimmy was unable to correct things, overcompensated, and came to rest, some stones acting as chocks, right on the edge of the quarry. Jimmy tried to look over down into the quarry but the light was bad and his angle was wrong. He tried the door: the impact with the Chrysler must have damaged the door mechanism as he could not move the lever. He lifted himself off the seat in attempt to reach the passenger seat, but was interrupted by a second blow from the Chrysler.
Jimmy screamed as his car was knocked right over the edge, and rolled down an embankment into the quarry. Not being fastened into his seat, he was knocked about like a pinball as the Renault tumbled down the slope. So much so, that he was already unconscious when the car hit the water below.
The Chrysler pulled up six feet or so from the edge and the two figures got out. Both were wearing black suits and ties with a white shirt. The driver was tall and extremely thin. His hair was a shock of white. He removed his sunglasses to reveal red eyes. His passenger was shorter and rounder, and was chewing gum. He was balding and had a heavy black moustache. Both peered over the edge to watch the Renault sink. They waited a minute or so; there were a few bubbles, then nothing.
The shorter man looked up at the other. ‘I thought you said we were going to scare him?’
The albino looked down at him, then back at the water below. He spat on the ground.
‘Seemed scared enough to me,’ he muttered, and walked back to the Chrysler.