• sarahfrancisauthor

First Draft of Prologue/Chapter One - Justice for the Dead

Updated: Jan 1, 2020


She awoke to screaming, short, shrill cries of pain, she did not move but lay motionless on the worn, dirty mattress, thankful that she had not been given to whoever was abusing one of her friends. She used the word friends lightly, there was no loyalty between herself and any of the other sex workers, their world was a dog eat dog existence. Everyone in the brothel had been sold, snatched, duped or forced into working there; survival and self-preservation were paramount. The crime syndicate who ran operations saw it purely as a money-making scheme, she was one of their commodities; to them she was less than human. There were no opportunities to escape, security was tight, they were accompanied everywhere and if she offered the slightest resistance they threatened to kill her younger brother whom they also owned. She had no doubt that they would carry out their threats; one poor wretch of a girl had tried to escape and had been made to stand on a stool in front of all of the other girls with a noose around her neck, she was beaten until she fainted, which resulted in her falling off the stool and hanging herself. These were not people to mess with.

The girl sat up and hugged her bony knees as though they were a precious child, as she softly rested her head upon them, an image of her brother’s handsome young face framed by curly golden locks came to mind, he was the only person in the world who mattered to her, thoughts of being reunited with him were the only thing that kept her going, she prayed to god that he was in a better situation than she was, or at least out in the real world and living his life, not locked away in a prison-like existence as she was. Her prison consisted of four other makeshift beds in a room which measured no more than 12ft by 10ft and all were empty, the races were on in town and that meant big business for the syndicate. It was only a matter of time before she would be called through to service a client, she was thankful that she had at least managed to get some sleep. Most days she worked around the clock forced into having sex with around 20 men each day, they had either half an hour or hour slots, most needed less than the half an hour to complete business, the more sadistic ones required the full sixty minutes. She had little time in-between to wash or eat, often there was no food available and her body showed the signs of malnutrition, her ribcage protruded out and the many bruises and wounds often inflicted onto her slight frame took longer and longer to heal. She knew that she looked unappealing, she was often chosen last, her sickly appearance coupled with the permanent bald patch at the back of her head put punters off. But she was hanging in there, she was still many holes to fuck for some depraved man and could still feel pain for the sicker bastards who visited.

The screaming stopped, for a moment she felt relief but then fear started to wash over her tired body, from somewhere within the house she heard the words ‘fetch the other girl…’ she felt as though she were suspended in time, she could do nothing to alter her past, present or future, her heart beat out of her chest as she deprived her lungs of oxygen, the footsteps sounded hollow as they clip clopped along the wooden floor of the corridor towards her room, she said a silent prayer to protect her soul finishing with the sign of the cross should they come for her now, the footsteps stopped when they reached her door. The handle turned slowly, and, when her eyes met those of the man who had come for her, she knew then that her time was up…

Day One Friday

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana ripped through the quietness of the Nottinghamshire countryside followed by a breaking noise and then silence. Gideon Carr stepped out of his air-conditioned BMW into the sunshine, the scent of pine from the nearby trees mixed with the smell of earth gave a heady natural aroma, birds sang loudly in the trees as though threatened by the sudden burst of noise that disturbed their quiet haven. A feeling of euphoria washed over him, classical music and beautiful countryside were heaven’s medicine, however fleeting. He took his protective clothing and wellingtons out of his boot and prepared himself for the crime scene. Scanning the area he could see signs of life, movement in the distant corner of the field. A figure in a white forensic suit began to walk over to him, Detective Sergeant Colm O’Connor raised his hand in acknowledgement. Gideon surveyed his surroundings a little more, the field lay on the boundary edge of Sherwood Forest near to the village of Clipstone, Nottinghamshire, surrounded by tall trees on three sides, which made it look like it had been carved out of the woods. A tall hedge ran along its southern point where it met the road, cars were parked over the other side in a layby. As he walked over towards Colm, his eyes were drawn towards a digger sat motionless amongst the dirt, clods of earth were pushed up from the ground, redundant and drying out in the midday sun. The digger’s arm was outstretched and poised above the ground just like the skeletal arm of the dead body that lay beneath it. ‘All preliminaries done Guv, the area’s been secured, forensic pathologist is Mark Thornton,’ Gideon turned towards him ‘has the road been blocked at both ends and entrances taped off?’ He looked about as if to confirm to himself, Colm nodded in agreement. ‘Afternoon all’ Thornton shouted over to the two detectives ‘are you ready to rock n roll? Come and have a look at our remains.’ Due to an early morning rainfall parts of the field were still covered in thick muddy patches that stuck to the soles of his wellies making walking difficult, he had to really concentrate so that he didn’t slip over, a couple of times he steadied himself by catching hold of Colm. As they neared the body they were able to stand on platforms that had been placed around to protect the evidence.

Drawing level with the remains of the poor unfortunate, they noticed the decay, it could have been in the ground for centuries had it not been for the Adidas trainer that was still attached to one of the feet ‘a runner who lost his way perhaps?’ Gideon ignored Thornton’s quip and turned to Colm ‘is there any ID?’ ‘We haven’t found any as yet, but as soon as the body was unearthed by the digger nothing was touched.’ He pointed over to the road ‘the digger’s driver is sitting in one of our cars back on the lane.’

Having found a safe spot to stand Gideon and Colm looked on as Thornton crouched down beside the remains and studied them at length, ‘could be male, the pelvic area is quite large and there are obvious muscle ridges, hard to age at the moment though as the teeth are missing, but there doesn’t appear to be any ossification to the bones so not a terribly old person just a minute’ he scraped at something below the hip bone. Gideon and Colm both leaned over in anticipation ‘nope, just a stone I’m afraid, I was hoping it might have been a wallet giving us his ID.’ ‘Any idea how long he’s been here?’ Thornton shook his head ‘Sorry Colm, all I can say is, it isn’t recent.’

The two detectives made their way back to the road, Colm instructed some new arrivals to do a sweep of the area. Gideon stood looking pensive, he rubbed his bristly chin and took a deep sigh ‘I’m not sure I like this Colm, you saw the skull didn’t you? Remind you of anything?’ ‘Not really Guv’ Gideon looked at him incredulously, ‘ok, ok, you might not be aware of the finer details but you must know the significance of where we are?’ Colm surveyed the area and nodded, ‘Robin Hood land?’ His wide grin exposing newly whitened teeth ‘I know what you mean, really’ he continued ‘but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, surely this is unconnected, that was years ago?’ ‘If what Thornton says is true, this isn’t a recent death and Ian Walsh dumped one of his murder victims in that field across the road back in 1994 so this is officially Walsh’s dumping ground, what if there are still more bodies to be found?’ The two men stood and surveyed the surrounding countryside as though expecting more corpses to appear. ‘We could have missed some, I’m going to have a look at the old case notes to make sure everything was done properly.’ Gideon turned back to his car ‘Why don’t you just take a deep breath and wait.’ Colm placed a guiding hand on his superior’s shoulder, he knew just how anal Gideon could get with his work and they knew barely nothing at this present time. Just looking at Gideon’s face showed him that deep-set anxiety had already set in. ‘Ok, ok, perhaps I’m being a little too presumptive about this’ Gideon surmised ‘let’s leave Walsh out of it and get the body back and see what evidence we’ve got before I start with my theories.’

Gideon’s mood on the ride back to the station couldn’t be more different to the one that he'd arrived with. He'd been enjoying the weather in anticipation of his imminent period of annual leave. Granted, it was only a visit to see his mum and step-dad over in France, but he always welcomed the cultural experiences whilst over there. How could he leave now? He couldn’t walk away from this, it piqued his interest far too much. He thought back to Walsh’s case, he had still been at school when ‘The Hunter’ abducted 4 local gay men over a period of 4 months in the Summer of 1994. The men were raped, murdered then dumped in Sherwood Forest in the Nottinghamshire countryside. Hence the name. Walsh removed all of their teeth, it was assumed, to keep as trophies but they were never recovered. Of the four known victims, his mother’s handsome, younger cousin, Simon Torr had been the third and the whole family had been devastated by his death. There had been a lot of media coverage and the family were hounded for stories about him, when they weren’t given, they took to making up seedy suppositions of their own. It had been an intensive and intrusive part of Gideon’s teenage years. He remembered being on a curfew until the killer had been caught, his mother taking no chances with the safety of her precious son. It also influenced Gideon’s decision to become a police officer.

Day One/Two Friday/Saturday

The sound of Capital Radio’s weekender mix flowed through the airwaves, the beat was loud and pulsating, the sort that reverberated inside the very core of your body to each dance tune. Jay Farrow looked at himself in the mirror ‘beautiful’ he said staring at his own reflection, ‘how can any man resist me tonight, I’m on fire!’ He touched his finely coiffured hair to make sure that it was all in place and pouted to take a selfie which he automatically uploaded to Instagram along with the words ‘watch out you bitches Jay is out on the pull’ before making his way to catch the tram into Notts. He had already drunk a 2-litre bottle of cider before leaving home to get himself in the mood, it calmed his nerves, to everyone else he was a loud out and proud gay man but not without a drink inside him to give him courage. The tram was virtually empty, not many people made their way into town at 11.30pm, he only wanted to go to his local nightclub, to be able to have a dance and pick someone up for a quick shag, he didn’t do relationships, they were too hard in his world. Gay men were driven by their loins and he personally had never met a long-standing couple who didn’t stray, most of the couple’s relationships lasted only because they had a regular threesome or they could stray when they needed to. Sod that, a one-night uncomplicated shag was all that he needed.

Nottingham city centre was busy, groups of people traipsing from one watering hole to another, he saw a couple of hen and stag parties, easily identifiable by the garish outfits they were wearing, intermingled with Street Pastors, on the look-out for their next poor unfortunate to help out. Jay stopped to draw some money out of a hole in the wall before continuing up the hill towards Hockley. He loved this part of town, Hockley had an Indie vibe to it, lots of little backstreet café’s and bars, all offering unique experiences, you would never even think that some of them were there unless you knew.

The thud of the music was the first indication that he was near to Apollo’s nightclub, as he got closer it turned into Divine’s You Think You’re A Man blaring out from speakers just within the foyer, even before he reached it there were some lucky couples locked in passionate embraces lining the pathway and groups of people just standing chatting, waiting for friends. The delicious smell of fried onions and meat wafted from the burger van positioned down a nearby side-street and he could hear the distant sound of a police siren, all standard for a Friday night. The foyer was blocked by two burly bouncers, one Jay had personal experience with. As a young inexperienced gay man who had just come out, Dan Pikett had recognised the vulnerability in him and made the most of it, he liked his boys young and inexperienced, everyone knew it, except Jay of course who lapped up the older man’s attention. Back then he believed in a prince charming and thought that Dan could be one. The bouncer had worked on him for a few weeks, then enticed him into the back room of the ticket booth office where he took full advantage of him before informing Jay that he was only a shag, one of many and not to feel too special. That had hurt and had been a steep learning curve for the young man. It had taken many years before he visited the club again, that was his first sexual experience and he was embarrassed and annoyed that he’d given it to someone who was clearly not worthy of receiving such a precious gift. The tone was also set for Jay’s private life, he never let anyone get close to him, loved ones could hurt you and he had received his fair share of disappointing family relationships growing up, the escapade with the bouncer had sealed the deal. He didn’t even think that Dan recognised him now, his image had changed so much and of course, seven years on, he was far too old for the ageing bouncer who wasn’t even a catch any more. Jay passed inspection and made his way into the club, Gloria Gaynor’s I Am What I Am started playing as he reached the main dance floor as if to announce his presence and he was instantly on a high, the place momentarily slowed down as everyone started to sing to the opening of the song as if they were greeting his arrival which, incorporated him into the crowd instantaneously. Everywhere was heaving with writhing bodies dancing promiscuously against each other, some imitating performing sex acts on each other, yep he thought to himself a bit of me, he shimmied further onto the dance floor to find his next conquest.

Four hours later Jay emerged from the club very much worse for wear, it had been a semi-successful night, he had not met anyone new but had fallen back on Josh, a regular on/off shag who had pulled him into a toilet cubicle. They had both emerged ten minutes later fully satiated and each went their own separate way. Back in the club, after finishing his drink, Jay decided to make a move home, after all he had got what he came for.

He staggered down the steps, having drunk at least eight double Vodka Red Bulls on top of the cider but could still focus, thankfully. Looking around he hoped to spot any regulars who lived over his side of town but the street was unusually quiet, several black taxi’s having just pulled off with customers in them. Jay suddenly felt very tired, he was just about to cross over the road when a car pulled up in front of him, the window wound down and inside he heard a man’s voice ‘you ring for an Uber mate?’ It was on the tip of his tongue to say no, but he needed to get home, work started in just over seven hours and he was beginning to feel dizzy. ‘Yeah cheers mate’ he climbed into the back seat. Jay gave his address and sat back against the cool leather and enjoyed the luxury of the air conditioning, the sound of Elton’s dulcet tones singing the blues added to the ambience. As the car sauntered along in the wrong direction, its rhythmic movements gently rocked Jay, he had to really concentrate to keep his eyes open, he yawned several times and then tiredness finally took over…

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