“He isn’t really mad at you,” Luke said. “It’s just his way of looking out for you.”

“Look, I never asked Murphy to be my knight in shining armour,” I said, lighting a cigarette. “If I’d been kicked out of the Force, I would have taken care of myself.” How true this was, I didn’t know. I guessed that I would have had a couple of choices. One, scrape a living above ground, or two, go back to The Hollows and listen to my father gloat about how he knew that I would never be able to survive above ground and how I’d screwed up again.

Luke must have detected some small trace of uncertainty in my voice, as he said, “The only way this works – how this whole thing works – is if we stick together and listen to what the Sarge says.”

“It’s just that he watches me the whole time,” I groaned, knowing deep down that Luke was right. “It’s as if he doesn’t trust me.”

“He trusts you all right, or you wouldn’t be standing here right now,” Luke smiled and brushed his jet-black hair from his brow. “Murphy’s been above ground longer than us and he knows the score. He knows how to deal with humans, how to fit in, how to go about unnoticed and not draw any unwanted attention -”

Luke was suddenly cut short by the sound of Murphy shouting from the entrance of the railway station.

“Wind your neck in, boy!” Murphy was yelling at a fresh-faced police officer who stood at the entrance to the station clutching a clipboard in his hands. “You don’t need my name, rank, or number for your list! I’m having access to this crime scene whether you like it or not!”

Glancing back at Luke, I raised my eyebrows and said, “What were you saying about not drawing attention to ourselves?”

Not waiting for Luke’s reply, I made my way between the parked police vehicles. As I went, an officer suddenly appeared from the rear of one of the cars. Holding out my hands, I gripped this person as they tripped and fell against me.

“Take it easy,” I said, pushing the officer off me.

They straightened themselves and peered at me from beneath a cap. It was then I noticed that this officer was female. Her pale skin flushed with embarrassment and she said, “I’m sorry about that. I really should look where I’m going.”

I looked at her and drew in a breath. She wasn’t beautiful but was way beyond just being pretty. There was something about her. Maybe it was her eyes; they sparkled back at me from beneath the peak of her cap.

“No, its fine,” I said, staring at her. “An honest mistake.”

“Okay,” she smiled at me, and walked away.

I watched her go, then my attention was drawn away by the sound of Murphy shouting again.

“Listen, sonny,” Murphy was saying, prodding the young officer in the chest with his finger, “I couldn’t give a rat’s arse who told you that no one could enter this crime scene unless I give you my details.”

“But I don’t know who you are,” the cop was blustering as Luke and I joined Murphy. In a way, I kinda felt sorry for this cop. I mean, three guys suddenly show up at the scene of a murder dressed in long, black coats, jeans, and boots, with no form of identification and then demand that they be given access to the body. If I were this cop, would I let us in? No way, I’d being telling us to go screw ourselves.

“You don’t need to know who we are,” Murphy continued.

“But -” the officer tried.

“You don’t hear real good, do you, sonny?” Murphy said, but before he could say anything further, a figure stepped from the shadows of the station entrance and came towards us. He was tall and lean, and the top of his head was almost hairless apart from a few wispy strands of black hair that fluttered in the wind. His face looked pinched and gaunt, with beady, black eyes that were set too close together. His eyebrows met in the middle like some vast caterpillar. He wore a black, pinstriped suit and he looked like something that had stepped out of a Tim Burton movie.

Eyeing the three of us as if we had just slithered from the nearest gutter, he turned to the young uniformed officer and said, “Is there a problem, Constable Drake?”

Sounding flustered, Constable Drake said, “These gentlemen are insisting that they are given access to the crime scene.”

“Really?” the half-starved-looking Uncle Fester smiled at us. “And who might you be?”

“You don’t need to know who we are,” Murphy told him.

“Go away or I’ll have you all arrested,” he sneered at us.

His attitude was starting to piss me off, so I said, “And what about you? Who in the hell are you anyway?”

Starring at me with his rodent eyes, he reached into his pocket and produced his police badge. Shoving it only inches from my face, I read what was written on it. Detective Sergeant Harker.

I looked over the rim of his badge and back at him.

With a look of superiority on his face, he said, “As you can see, I’m D.S. Harker. You do know what D.S. stands for, don’t you?”

“Dog shit?” I smiled back at him.

Detective Sergeant Harker’s eyes bulged in their sockets and for the briefest of moments I wondered if they weren’t just gonna pop right out of his face. I mean it was pathetic; couldn’t this Beetlejuice wannabe take a joke? The way he was looking, anyone would think I’d just pissed all over him. But then again, I probably had.

Flabbergasted by what I’d said, Harker looked back at Constable Drake and said, “I want these men arrested.”

“Arrested for what?” I asked with mock surprise on my face. “For saying dog shit?”

“Arrest them!” Harker screeched at Constable Drake who was passing the clipboard from one hand to the other.

Murphy suddenly reached out and grabbed hold of Detective Harker’s arm. Turning slightly as to have his back to the uniformed officer, Murphy looked into Harker’s eyes. Curling up his top lip, he gave Harker a grim smile and flashed the tips of his fangs at him. Harker blinked as if not sure what he had seen, and tried to pull his arm free of Murphy’s grip. But he was held fast and couldn’t break free.

“You don’t need to know who we are,” Murphy whispered with a smile, and his voice seemed to rattle in the back of his throat. “Now do me a favour, Detective Sergeant Harker, go and find something to occupy yourself with, while my colleagues and I here go and take a look at the crime scene.”

Harker looked back at Murphy as if caught in a trance. It was like Murphy had performed some kind of David Blaine mind-bending trick on him. Either that, or the fleeting flash of Murphy’s fangs had totally messed with his head. Whatever the reason, as soon as Murphy released him, Harker looked at the young officer and said, “Constable Drake let these…these men in, I’m going to lie down.”

“Lie down?” Drake asked, bewildered.

“Just let them in,” Harker barked, heading away across the car park.

Frowning, Drake raised the police tape and said, “I guess it’s all yours.”

4

“That was impressive,” Luke said to Murphy as we followed him through the small booking hall and out onto the platform.

“Yeah, what did you do to him?” I asked.

“Dunno,” Murphy shrugged, re-lighting his pipe.

I watched Murphy glance in either direction up the platform. As I would have expected at a crime scene, the station was deserted. It was tiny with just one ticket office, a bike rack, and two platforms – one of which we were standing on. The second platform was opposite and they were connected by an underpass that ran beneath the tracks.

“This way,” Murphy said, and a small cloud of blue smoke seeped from his pipe and floated away into the night. Without speaking, Luke and I followed Murphy along the platform and down a short flight of stairs which led into the underpass. Even though it was dimly lit with a series of overhead lights, I didn’t need a spotlight to see the corpse lying face-up a few feet away. The underpass stank of urine and the walls were covered with graffiti.

Without hesitating, Murphy strode towards the body and stood over it, sucking on the end of his pipe. I looked down at Murphy’s boots and could see he was standing in a black puddle of blood that was ebbing away from beneath the body. Luke made his way over towards Murphy, and I followed. The victim was male, about thirty-years-old, I guessed. His eyes were still open and they stared blankly up at the strip lighting which made a buzzing sound like a swarm of flies. His face was contorted and forever locked in a permanent state of fear. The victim’s mouth was open, and his tongue lolled over his bottom lip like a purple slug. I could see that his clothes were nothing more than shreds of blood-stained material which hung from his body. Because of the little amount of remaining clothes, I could clearly see his naked torso – or what was left of it. The whole chest cavity and stomach was empty, his heart, liver, and lungs were gone, as if removed by a giant-sized ice cream scoop.

“Jeez,” Luke said, as he bent closer to get a better look.

“What do you think did this?” I asked Murphy.

But before he had the chance to answer me, someone said from behind us, “I did.”

We spun round to find Detective Sergeant Harker, Constable Drake, and the pretty officer who I had bumped into standing at the foot of the stairs leading into the underpass.

“I thought you’d gone for a nap,” I said, as he stared at us with his rodent-like eyes.

“What did you say?” Murphy asked Harker.

“I said, I did it,” he smiled. “I killed him.”

I glanced at Luke and his face had taken on a grim look as he stared back at Harker, then at me and Murphy.

“Why?” Murphy asked, taking the pipe from his mouth.

“To bring you here,” Harker said, the overhead lighting glinting off his bald spot.

“You know you really didn’t have to go to all the trouble of disembowelling that guy. There are such things as telephones,” I said. “You could have just called.”




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