Fifty Two Weeks of Murder

BOOK: Fifty Two Weeks of Murder
11.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 by Owen Nichols

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Cover design by Black Dima

Clock image; Madison Frye Photography ©

Blue background & hand; Dreamstime.com ©

London image; 123rf.com ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Emma and Josh.

With all that I am.

 

 

 

And in loving memory of Gi and Grampa.

Gramps, you’d have loved this, Gi, not so much…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Two Weeks of Murder

 

Prologue

I have lived a privileged life. Born into wealth as old as the divisions that mark the Counties. Educated by the finest minds in the world, not because of my intellect, limited as that is, but through right of birth. I have dined with Kings and Queens, played cards with Presidents and hunted Pheasant with Princes. I’ve flown a helicopter along the Colorado River before touching down to enjoy a Champagne breakfast with my beautiful wife, great cliffs of the Grand Canyon towering above us. I’ve seen the moon rise over the dunes of the Sahara Desert as if imitating the sun, the pale orb seemingly close enough to touch as I rode my camel to meet the bedouins who would be our host for the night. I’ve scaled the Pitons at St. Lucia, slept with the Inuit under the Aurora and walked among the remains of Machu Pichu as the sun crept over the ruins of the Inca’s.

Ashes.

All of it ashes in my mouth, tainting my soul with its sullied grime. We scrape and claw at life, desperately clinging to some hope that it means something. That your suffering has a purpose and meaning that will become clear to you when the time is right. I have everything, yet realise that I have nothing. If I have nothing, then how can anyone less privileged than me have anything? We tread water every day, slowly drowning as we wait for someone to rescue us. To save us. You must do this yourself. We must all do this ourselves.

Sixty years ago, there were two and a half billion people on Earth. Now there are seven billion. We spread like a cancer, a writhing tumour leaching through the planet sowing death, destruction and pollution. We will reap what we sow and soon this planet will slough us off like a putrefying skin. Every species, except for Homo sapiens, lives in accordance with its niche, taking only what it needs. They each have a purpose, are part of a larger ecosystem which will not survive without them. We, however, are more akin to a virus, tragically aware of the fragility of our host, yet too wilfully negligent to act.  

We are the most violent and destructive organism on Earth. More have died on the battlefield since the Second World War than died during that War itself. Life is cheaper than ever before. Who will notice a few lost souls? Who will mourn their loss when there are so many of us?

As I thought upon this, I realised that murder cannot be the sin Civilisation would have us believe. The Constitution gives us moral guidance, a set of laws we willingly abide by. An abstract principle made flesh, adhered to because we allow it to govern. Killing, however, is not amoral. We stand and watch, mute, as we allow those all over the world to kill and torture yet apply a different moral code to ourselves. We pass judgement passively, imbued with a soporific cowardice, too numb to care or act. When did we become so desensitised to the world around us?

You will invest more money and time catching me and my disciples than you will supporting the NHS. You will waste so many resources attempting to catch me that more people will die in a hospital bed, or lack thereof, than could otherwise have been saved. You would be wise to leave me alone. This is no idle threat.

Allow me to set us on the path to freedom. To redemption. Let me show you how.

I felt real emotion for the first time last night as I start us all on the path to true civilisation. A giddying rush of energy and surging joy, infusing my very being with its purifying essence. I’d planned this moment for many years. Fantasy turned reality. Fantasy turned truth. I’d chosen my prey long ago and stalked him carefully. I wanted it to be just right. I wanted
him
to be just right. Someone who passes judgement on us all. Who is he to do that? We allow men like him to Judge because we don’t realise that there is another option. A lion doesn’t require absolution as it feasts on its prey so that it may survive. Nor should we. Belief defiles sound reason and thought. We believe in our higher purpose, but lose the true reason for our existence. 

I followed him as he left work and pounced before he could unlock the door to his Bentley. The Bentley you all bought through your passive acceptance of this society. He danced wildly as the electricity from my stun gun coursed through him and I knew my actions to be right and true.

It was a short drive to Wimbledon Common, his body limp in the back of the van as I parked by Caesar’s Camp. The setting was perfect. As I pulled the wooden cross from the back of the van, he woke and I could see the fear in his eyes as he realised his fate. He kicked and bucked against his bonds and adrenalin pumped through me.

I was alive!

Dragging him from the vehicle, he tried to kick me, but was no match for my strength, my purpose and my will. A swift boot to the head made him groggy enough to tie his wrists to the cross, spread-eagled and helpless as I secured his ankles to the base. I waited then, listening to the Common. Heard the sound of traffic far off, a gentle background hiss from the A3. Like the tinnitus I suffered as a child – a tinnitus for our world.

The constant thrum of progress holding us back.

The hour was late and we were alone, so I waited some more. I wanted him to know his fate. It did not take long for consciousness to take him in its chilling grip. It took delightful moments for him to realise where he was and what was going to happen. Terror and agonising pain gave him strength as he struggled.

Jesus wore a crown of thorns, but I’d given my own spin to the punishment and given him a gag of thorns, the thick needles tearing the inside of his mouth, his screams muffled by the dense foliage. Despite his pain, he managed to scream some more as I nailed his wrists and ankles to the cross, the crunch of steel through bone a wonderful undercurrent to his wails of despair. Disappointingly, he fainted after the wrists and I had to hammer his ankles to the wood in an odd silence, the nail slipping once on his slick blood as it poured in rivulets from the wounds. I made sure to avoid the arteries. I didn’t want him bleeding out too soon.

Using the winch on the van, I raised the cross and beheld the glory of my work. The bible made real. The word of God before me. I savoured the moment, seeing my work made true. As he woke, whimpers of delightful suffering dancing through the night, I played the role of Longinus and pierced his side with a lance, blood splashing warm on my face, his essence feeding my own. The blood, as Jesus’ did to Longinus, opened my eyes and cured my blindness. I saw the world for what it was. I saw clearly the path we must all take. Know me, for I am fanatic. Born again.

The deed done, I recorded the moment and present to you my work. This will be your task. To carry out your own rebirth. To descend into the deepest recesses of your soul and take charge. To begin your pilgrimage and seek true humanity. To become truly
humane
. This will not be without hardship but I will be here to support you and make it easier to join me and begin the human devolution. Each week I shall reward those who prevail most beautifully.

With money.

Five million pounds sterling.

Each week, I shall present a new trial. For one year, we shall test ourselves with new challenges and when this is done, we shall see a new society take shape. The world will recoil in horror, but, in time, they will venerate us as saints. They will see our work and be grateful for the courage we show.

It is time for you to rise up. Weak. Destitute. Outcast. Alone. You are none of these. Not anymore. Our species begins anew and it is time for you to take your rightful place. This week you shall present the greatest works of man turned real. The written word made flesh. I have shown you the Bible reimagined. Now it is your turn. 

Let the fifty two weeks of murder begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One.

Anders kept her breathing steady as she ran through the trees, enjoying the sense of isolation gained from climbing the walls to Richmond Park before the gates were opened. Her feet kicked up mud and splattered her legs as she pushed herself harder, aiming to reach the Richmond Hill Gate before the warden opened them up. As she burst through the woods, Anders took the worn path along the grassland, startling a herd of deer that nestled along the edge of the trees. Antlers pierced the sky as a large stag stood to attention, glaring angrily at the interloper. The deer had resided here since Charles I built the park in the Seventeenth Century, its thousand hectares three times the size of Central Park in New York and providing the animals shelter from modernity for almost four hundred years.

Giving the stag a wide berth, Anders picked up the pace. A heavy mist clung to the ground as the low morning sun dappled through the trees, a lazy attempt to banish the fog that showed little sign of relinquishing its grip on the grass. Anders thought it beautiful and slowed a little to enjoy the view. Large tower blocks ringed the red brick walls, but the Royal lands stubbornly resisted the march of progress and remained a resolute obstacle to the brick and tarmac jungle that encroached upon its majestic beauty.

Before Anders approached the wrought iron gates, a thickset warden came from his outpost and started unlocking them, giving Anders a rueful smile as she came to a halt by the black iron bars. Since an incident of vandalism the previous year, the pedestrian gates had remained closed at night.

“Morning miss,” he said, amusement softening his voice. “Summer months we open early, so how are you going to get out in the winter?” He pulled the well-oiled gates smoothly open and beckoned Anders through.

“Same way I got in I guess,” she replied enigmatically and waved a cheeky farewell. She could feel his eyes on her back, her sports bra showing the curled scars that laced her narrow shoulders, criss-crossed in angry welts around her frame, a particularly large one curling around her neck to her ear. Anders was used to it and paid the stare no heed. Her mind was focused on the run, the feeling of freedom and release gained from the activity. 

Early morning traffic crawled by as she ran past old buildings, hotels and pubs. To her left, trees, grassland and shrubs lining a steep slope gave lie to the fact that she now lived in London. The sun, finally lifting itself from its slumber, shone brightly and chased away the fog, showing the meandering river below her in all its twinkling glory, boats bobbing gently on the water as it reflected the sun in a thousand diamond shards of light. Pushing herself for the last leg of the run, Anders bent her head and sprinted the last half mile, grinning with pleasure as her heart pounded in her chest at the effort.

Anders’ apartment was on the top floor of a newly furnished block and she took the stairs two at a time, pulling out her key as she reached the final flight. Letting herself in quietly, so as not to wake anyone, she padded through the brightly lit open plan kitchen and living space, slipped past the bedrooms and into the workroom at the end of the corridor. In stark contrast to the Spartan décor of the flat, the room was cluttered with hundreds of books, piled high in stacks reaching to the ceiling. One wall lay bare and Anders had screwed a large whiteboard to it. The board lay blank and unused for now. In one corner nestled a large oak desk and a comfy chair, but Anders was focused on the Mu Ren Zhuang in one corner.

Closing the thick wooden door behind her, she moved gracefully to the corner. Her run had barely made her sweat, so she practised on the wooden training dummy until her slender wrists hurt and sweat dripped from her forehead, going through motions well practised by years of discipline. Train hard, fight easy, her drill sergeant had yelled at her each day and she had taken his words to heart with everything she did.

Her training done, she left the room and made her way to the bathroom and showered, enjoying the biting heat of the scalding water as it soothed out tightened muscles. Skin red from the shower, she wrapped a towel under her armpits and made her way to the bedroom, knocking on two doors in the hallway as she passed them.

“Wake up minions, big day today!” Anders cried and was greeted with groans of despair that only the newly woken can muster. Chuckling softly, she entered her bedroom. It was neat and clean, with a large walk in cupboard to store her clothes and some shelves where her favourite books were kept. The shelf and its contents were the only concession to personality and the rest of the room looked bare and unlived in. 

Anders pulled on a silk blouse and suit trousers as she heard the thumps and bangs of the house waking up. Drying her long brown hair and pulling it into a pony tail, she applied some light make up, critically appraising herself in the mirror; a habit as old as Anders was. She was happy with her appearance now, despite the thick scar that snaked up from her collar, but it was a habit that was hard to break. A loud banging broke her from her reverie as Cassie pounded on the bathroom door.

“Aaron, hurry up!” she yelled. A loud raspberry from the bathroom made Cassie sigh with frustration and her bedroom door slammed in anger. Smiling to herself, Anders made her way to the kitchen and poured a bowl of cereal for Aaron and switched on the coffee machine for herself, the strong aroma of coffee bean wafting through the kitchen. As the machine percolated happily, she reached into a cupboard and took out her Estradiol and Medioxyprogesteroneacetate tablets and swallowed them quickly as she scanned the room.

Though she preferred a less cluttered environment, her workroom notwithstanding, the realities of children meant that the space was often covered in toys and discarded clothes. She scooped a few items up and placed them back in the toy box as Aaron burst into the kitchen and sat at the table, his legs barely reaching the floor and swinging back and forth as if to keep jogging. He was only seven, but tall for his age with blonde hair and brown eyes. Freckles peppered his nose and cheeks. He had an infectious energy and a gentle nature that always brought light with him.

“Morning Bumble,” he said as he poured milk over his cereal and a good portion of the table as well. Anders leaned down and gave his forehead a kiss as she tousled his unruly hair, noting the Captain America t-shirt that she’d put in the wash the day before. He must have crept out sometime in the night and rescued it in their constant game of cat and mouse to have the item cleaned.

“Morning sleepy head,” she replied as he shovelled the cereal into his mouth before wrinkling his nose in disgust.

“Ugh,” he said. “Why can’t I have Frosties?” Anders smiled as she sat opposite him and sipped her black coffee, one leg tucked under herself and elbows resting on the table as she cradled the mug.

“Frosties are for weekends and holidays,” she declared.

“That’s mean,” responded Aaron as Cassie walked in, her blonde hair still dripping from the shower. She was dressed in her café work clothes and had been liberal with the application of dark eyeliner.

“What’s mean?” she said, helping herself to some coffee from the machine.

“I’m a horrible mean Ogre,” replied Anders, amusement crinkling her startling green eyes.

“What’s an Ogre?” asked Aaron. Cassie pulled a chair out and sat at the table, arms curled around the steaming drink.

“It’s a big green warty ugly thing that will eat you up!” she declared, poking Aaron in the ribs much to his delight.

“Bumble isn’t ugly,” he said through a mouthful of food. “She’s pretty.” Anders laughed and stood up to make his sandwiches for school.

“Flattery will get you far Honeybun, but it won’t get you Frosties.” Aaron sighed theatrically and managed to spill some milk on his trousers. Anders handed him a cloth and told him to wipe his pants.

“They call them trousers here,” said Cassie with a rueful smile. “Pants are what the Brits call their underwear.” Aaron screwed up his face.

“That’s silly,” he said. Anders chimed in as she wrapped up Aaron’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

“You know what else is weird? Jelly. They call it jam here.”

“That’s not as silly as calling something I wear on the outside the same as what I wear on the inside.” Cassie grinned mischievously and beckoned Aaron closer with a conspiratorial wave of her finger.

“You wanna know what a fanny pack is here? Fanny means…”

“That’ll do Cassie,” rebuked Anders good naturedly, concealing a grin as she packed Aaron’s bag for school.  

The banter continued for a while until Anders declared that Aaron needed to get to school. Cassie found his bag and shrugged into a leather jacket as she ushered him out of the door. Aaron stopped to give Anders a hug and she lifted him from his feet in a bear hug, much to his squealing delight. 

“Be good,” she said and kissed his cheek. “I’ll see you later.” Cassie leaned forward for a hug and Anders slipped her some money. “Toy R Us on the way home. There’s a skateboard there he’s been after for a while, third one up, second one in. Special treat for his first day at school. Get a safety helmet as well.”

Cassie took the money and smiled sadly.

“You shouldn’t spoil us,” she said softly as Aaron waited for the lift in the hallway, humming tunelessly to himself. “You’ve done more than we could have asked for.” She looked suddenly vulnerable and Anders’ heart almost broke at the sight.

“You’re my family now,” she said simply. “It gives me the greatest pleasure.” Cassie hugged her briefly, thanked her again and went to take Aaron to school. Anders quickly tidied up the kitchen and then slipped into the workroom. On the desk sat her Warrant card and she picked it up, recalling the oath that she’d taken a few days ago. She’d sat in the office of the Director-General of the NCA while he gazed on with a smirk as she raised her palm and recited the oath from memory. It spoke of fairness and integrity, diligence and the duty to uphold fundamental human rights.

As she said the words, her mind had raced back a decade to when she’d given her Federal Oath under very different circumstances in Quantico. She’d been a raw recruit, full of excitement at the possibilities that lay ahead. That oath had ensured her unwavering commitment to upholding the American Constitution and her willingness to defend it against all enemies. She felt a tinge of sadness at how things had changed but pushed such thoughts away. Life was all about change. She knew that better than anyone. Making the changes that mattered and dealing with the things you can’t change is what really counts.

Checking that the lights were all off, Anders grabbed her jacket and pulled on a pair of boots before taking her purse and checking its contents. Slipping her watch onto her wrist and turning it so that it faced inwards, an old habit from her time in the army, Anders left the flat. Locking the door behind her, she took the stairs to the exit and made the short walk to the tube station. It was her first day of work, and, despite her morning exercise, she still had plenty of adrenalin left to feel nervous.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK: Fifty Two Weeks of Murder
11.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Harvest by Vicki Pettersson
The Tide: Deadrise by Melchiorri, Anthony J
No Words Alone by Autumn Dawn
Makeda by Randall Robinson
Passion by Marilyn Pappano
The Final Word by Liza Marklund
The Other Side of Blue by Valerie O. Patterson
The Chase by Lynsay Sands