Read Mondays are Murder Online

Authors: Tanya Landman

Mondays are Murder (8 page)

BOOK: Mondays are Murder
5.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“I’m not his cousin. Not his friend.” Bruce gave a bitter, weird-sounding laugh. “I am him. The man himself. I am Richard Robertson.” He did a low, mocking bow.

My jaw dropped. I tried to speak but all that came out was a faint, astonished gasp.

“I suppose you know about the accident in South America?” he continued. “There was an inquest, of course, when they got back. After Mike gave his evidence, Richard Robertson was officially declared dead. I am a ghost, twice over.”

“But I don’t get it,” I said. “Why didn’t you get in touch with them? How could you leave your friends like that? Thinking you’d died? Missing you…”

It was like watching a volcanic eruption. Bitterness and hatred poured out like lava. “
me? My best friend cut my rope. He left me to die. My pals were so heartbroken they never even bothered to look for me. Do you know what happened, Poppy? Do you want to hear how much I suffered? When I finally recovered consciousness I was at the bottom of a crevasse with a cracked skull, two broken legs and frostbite so bad that I lost half my face to it.” He rubbed his hand across his mutilated features. “This wasn’t caused by bad plastic surgery after a car crash – this was what
did to me! I waited for them to come. But when I’d waited and waited and they still didn’t show up I crawled out of that glacier like a worm on my belly, mile after mile down that mountainside. I had to make splints for my own legs. Bandage my own face. When I made it to the base camp, they’d long gone. Do you know what it’s like in that part of the world? Of course you don’t! I went from snow-capped mountains to tropical forest. From savage cold to unbearable heat. Biting insects. Hornets. Mosquitoes. Snakes. Scorpions. I had to forage for grubs. Insects. Larvae. It took me weeks to reach the nearest village – a few huts in a clearing. No medicine. No painkillers. Hardly any food. It was months before I gained enough strength to get to civilization. By the time I came home, I’d been declared dead and my best friend had married my fiancée—”

“Mike and Isabella,” I said flatly. “So you started to plan your revenge?”

He gave an acid laugh. “What else could I do?”

I looked at him. “The way you killed them – it was all to do with what happened to you, wasn’t it? The hot shower that killed Steve Harris – that was like the heat of the jungle. You messed up the thermostat. Wedged the door. Waited. And the same in the freezer that killed Donald – because of your frostbite. You waited until we went out, then you pushed him in. Locked it. Isabella’s poison – was that because of the snakes and scorpions?”

He didn’t answer directly. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… It wasn’t revenge. It was justice. Isabella knew that. She let me kill her without a murmur. She was grateful.”

The champagne, I thought. The rose petals. Like a wedding. That was sick. “She thought she had it coming. That you were an avenging spirit.”

“She always was superstitious,” he murmured.

“How did you get out of her room?” I asked. “We were right behind her. Why didn’t we see you?”

“I’m a mountaineer, Poppy. I climbed out of the window.”

“Of course.” It was so obvious! How could we have missed it? I looked at him and said quietly, “That first night… She went so pale when she saw you. I think she almost recognized you.”

“But she didn’t, did she?” he spat bitterly. “None of them did. My closest friends, and not one of them knew me.”

I was starting to get cross. “Isabella felt dreadful about what happened to you, she really did. I heard her! And she regretted marrying Mike. It was all a big mistake. You didn’t need to kill her!”

“Oh, but I did. Just as I need to kill Mike. I’m saving him for last. But I want him to lose everyone first, just like I did. I want him to know exactly how it feels to have everything stripped away. But before that, there’s the question of how to despatch my dear little cousin Cathy.”

“Cathy’s your cousin?” I couldn’t help feeling pleased that at least I’d guessed that bit right. “But Cathy wasn’t in South America! She had nothing to do with the accident.”

“No,” he said. “But she was at Mike and Isabella’s wedding. She agreed to take the job here. She’s in love with Mike. Has been for years. That’s enough of a betrayal for me.” His mouth twisted into a leer. “And now, I’ll need to get rid of you too. Mike really shouldn’t let interfering little girls wander off on their own. You never know when they might slip, and this cliff-top path is so dangerous. One false step can lead to disaster. So easy to topple over the edge. Another tragic accident…”

I had begun to back away and, as he made a lunge for me, I turned and ran. But my foot caught in a clump of heather and I tripped. Richard Robertson’s arms closed around me and a second later I was being hauled towards the edge of the cliff.

day of judgement

something hit Richard Robertson, crashing into him with such force that his legs were knocked from under him, I thought it was an enraged sheep. I hit the ground with a thud and rolled away, spinning beyond his reach. Scrambling to my feet, I started to run. But then I heard a familiar sound, and realized the thing that had launched itself at Richard wasn’t an animal at all. It was Graham. And Richard had got hold of him.

Graham’s fists were pounding against his captor’s arms. “Get off! Get off me! Run, Poppy, run!”

I could see at once that Graham didn’t stand any more chance against the lean, wiry climber than I did. Richard was half lifting, half dragging him towardsthe cliff edge, just as he’d done with me. They were already perilously close to the edge. Graham’s face was white, but still he shouted, “Run, Poppy!”

I had no intention of running anywhere. But if I hurled myself at Richard the way Graham had done, I’d be in danger of knocking all three of us over the edge. Richard had his arms around Graham’s waist, and was lifting him off his feet. In a second, he’d launch him into the air, and Graham would plummet into the sea.

As Richard began to swing Graham in a wide arc, I grabbed at Graham’s outstretched legs and leaned backwards, hanging on as if it were a lethal tug-of-war contest. But my slippers couldn’t get any grip on the wet grass. I tried digging my heels into the turf but I was sliding towards the edge. Richard was too strong. I’d slowed him a fraction, but that was all. With one determined lunge he would throw both of us into oblivion.

A hideous grin, one mad laugh, and Richard swung Graham again. I didn’t let go, but I lost my footing, skidded off the muddy grass and started slipping over the cliff edge. Holding on desperately to Graham’s legs, I tried to find a foothold. There was nothing below me but air. I looked down and saw the hungry sea reaching up. Above me, Graham – who had been trying to escape Richard’s grip – was now clinging to him, frantic to hold on to whatever he could grab. Reaching up, he’d seized a handful of Richard’s hair and was clutching it as if our lives depended on it – which of course they did. With a cry of pain, Richard took a step back, then two, three more steps, trying to dislodge Graham’s fingers. I crunched hard against the cliff-face and was scraped painfully back on to solid land with each lurching pace Richard took. As soon as I felt the grass beneath me, I let go of Graham and flung myself at Richard’s head, tugging at his ears while he lashed out with fists and feet.

We couldn’t hold him for long. He’d already prised Graham’s fingers from his skull and was bending them backwards with vicious relish. Graham was yelling in agony and there was a horrible cracking sound. I lunged at Richard’s nose, but he turned on me and I felt his fist hit me in the mouth. Before we knew it, he had us both by the scruff of the neck like a pair of kittens.

We were done for. This was it. My mouth throbbing with pain, I struggled as hard as I could, hitting and scratching him, but it was useless. The sea crashed on to the rocks below. Any second now we’d both be down there. Claimed by the sea. Lost for ever.

I screamed, hard and high, going on and on without drawing breath until I felt my chest was going to burst.

And then I felt someone’s hands ripping us both from Richard’s clutches and pushing us back to safety. Mike!

“Bruce…?” he gasped. “What the…?”

“He’s not Bruce,” I screamed. “He’s Richard Robertson!”

Mike looked at me, disbelieving. But then he stared once more into Richard’s hate-filled eyes. “Richard? You survived! Oh dear God! Mate, I’m so sorry—”

The noise that came from Richard’s throat was barely human. He leapt at Mike and they rolled together, over and over, a tangle of flailing fists, kicking feet and biting teeth. There was nothing we could do but stand and watch, horrified, rigid with shock and fear.

Mike was strong, but Richard was propelled by an anger that gave him superhuman strength. Mike was down. Carried by the speed of his fall halfway over the edge. He was hanging on to tufts of grass, scratching desperately for something to cling to, but they were coming away in his hands. Richard was standing over him. Lifting a booted foot to stamp on his hands.

But then a stone cracked against Richard’s skull. He jerked forward. Half turned. Saw Cathy, with her upraised hand. And fell.

I don’t want to think about what I saw when we hauled Mike back from the edge. Richard’s body was lying, smashed and broken, on the rocks below. As we’d pulled Mike up, the incoming tide had taken Richard again, only this time it was for real.

Graham was nursing a broken finger, I had a loose tooth and a split lip, and Mike’s nose was bleeding. But we were alive.

“Where did you come from?” I asked the injured Graham. “I thought I told you to keep an eye on Cathy.”

“I couldn’t keep eating toast for ever,” he replied, looking faintly green. “I had sixteen slices as it was. Sixteen slices! I’m surprised I wasn’t sick. She kept sharpening that knife. And then she said she was going off to help Mike. It sounded highly suspicious to me, so I thought I’d better come and find you.”

“And how did you get here, Mike?” I asked.

“I was coming back for breakfast,” Mike replied. “I heard you screaming.”

“It was lucky you came when you did,” I said, “or we’d both have been toast.”

“More toast? No thanks!” Graham flashed one of his blink-and-you-miss-it grins and then snorted with laughter, and we both sniggered, light-headed with relief, until the sight of Cathy and Mike’s serious faces made us pull ourselves together.

We began to hobble back along the cliff path towards the warmth of the centre, Mike breaking it gently to a white-faced Cathy that she’d sent her own cousin toppling over the cliff.

“I didn’t know who it was. I didn’t want to hurt him,” she whimpered miserably. “But he was trying to kill you!”

“The fall finished him,” said Graham cheerfully. “Not you. I think they’ll call it manslaughter. If we were in America they’d probably say it was justifiable homicide. From a legal perspective I would have thought it extremely unlikely they’d hold you criminally responsible.”

“It’s not like you woke up this morning and decided to bump off your cousin,” I said. “You were defending Mike. It was Richard’s own stupid fault that he was so close to the cliff edge. Besides,” I added, “he was going to murder you, Cathy. You were next on his list, so don’t feel bad. He had it all planned.”

“No!” Mike gasped, his face blanching with horror at the thought. “No! Not that!” He shuddered, and slid a protective arm around Cathy’s shoulders.

“Why kill me?” asked Cathy, baffled.

“Because you were working here,” I told her. “He thought you’d betrayed him. And … er … well, he said you were in love with Mike, and he didn’t like that very much.”

Cathy flushed deep red, and fixed her eyes on the path. But she didn’t push Mike’s arm away, and I noticed a look of surprise on Mike’s face that turned into a shy, hopeful smile.

There’s not much to add, really. Once the storm had blown itself out, the police sent a helicopter over and asked questions about Bruce’s climbing accident. They were a bit shocked when they heard about all the murders. Everyone’s parents had to fly up to Murrag and there was a whole load of stuff with statements and interviews, but it was pretty dull. Then we were helicoptered off the island, which was as sick-making as the ferry had been but a whole lot quicker.

After all the fuss died down, Cathy and Mike got together and they even opened the centre to proper, paying customers. Graham and I were offered a free week’s holiday. They said we’d be guests of honour.

I don’t believe in ghosts. Neither does Graham.

But we both turned down the offer, just in case.

mondays are murder

Tanya Landman is the author of many books for children including
Waking Merlin
Merlin’s Apprentice, The World’s Bellybutton
The Kraken Snores,
and three stories featuring the characters Flotsam and Jetsam. Of
Mondays are Murder
Tanya says, “I love visiting small, remote islands but I’m always slightly scared of being stranded in bad weather. Then it occurred to me that a wind-blown rock, cut off from the outside world, would be the perfect setting for a murder mystery.”

Tanya is the author of two novels for teenagers:
, which was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Fiction Prize, and
The Goldsmith’s Daughter
, which was nominated for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Since 1992, she has also been part of Storybox Theatre. She lives with her family in Devon.

You can find out more about Tanya Landman and her books by visiting her website at

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents
are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used
fictitiously. All statements, activities, stunts, descriptions, information
and material of any other kind contained herein are included for
entertainment purposes only and should not be relied on for
accuracy or replicated as they may result in injury.

First published in Great Britain 2009 by Walker Books Ltd
87 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HJ

Text © 2009 Tanya Landman

The right of Tanya Landman to be identified as author of this
work has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced,
transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any
form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical,
including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior
written permission from the publisher.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data:
a catalogue record for this book is
available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-4063-3953-6 (ePub)

BOOK: Mondays are Murder
5.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Shoots and Scores by Bathroom Readers' Institute
Ink Flamingos by Olson, Karen E.
Diamond Warriors by David Zindell
Edge of Midnight by Charlene Weir
Apache Heart by Miller, Amy J
Swords From the East by Harold Lamb