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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

THE HEADHUNTER

THE HEADHUNTER

The Headhunter by Michael Whitehouse is out now as an Amazon ebook and can be purchased for £0.97/$1.37 for viewing on a Kindle or Kindle for PC.

If anyone has already bought a copy of The Headhunter my sincere apologies for any grammatical, continuity or factual errors found in the original. The book has now been updated and is as error free as I can get it. If, within your Kindle/Kindle for PC, you go to 'Help' and then click on 'Send Feedback...' you can ask Amazon to update the book. The book as it is now should be with you shortly afterwards.

A free download for Kindle for PC is available at Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000423913

Click on the link below to purchase an ebook version of THE HEADHUNTER for just £0.97.

THE HEADHUNTER

Click on the link below to purchase an ebook version of THE HEADHUNTER for just $1.37

THE HEADHUNTER

Click on this link to buy THE HEADHUNTER for £7.99 as a paperback:

THE HEADHUNTER

Here are a few extracts from THE HEADHUNTER:

Sir Roderick Johnson, MP: 'You ignore the will of the British people at your peril. For every million tolerant, gentle and stoical souls who will bear the terrible burdens you impose with quiet resignation, there may emerge a vengeful psychopath who will not'.

Commander Beresford Barnes: 'The Blueprint is real... There is a vast, white supremacist organisation behind these killings! This is the start of a civil bloody war!'

Contents

Chapter 1: A human tongue inside a sandwich
Chapter 2: The masters of the universe were getting worried
Chapter 3: One never hears about the little Britons
Chapter 4: Batman, you just killed the Joker
Chapter 5: Rosemary’s fucking baby!
Chapter 6: The infernal regions beyond the abyss
Chapter 7: There may emerge a vengeful psychopath
Chapter 8: Sacrifices are made and must be made
Chapter 9: The number one exhibit in the trial of the century
Chapter 10: Politics is a dirty game
Chapter 11: What would the Crazy Gang do?
Chapter 12: I always wanted a Viking funeral
Chapter 13: Over the bridge from fear
Chapter 14: They stood up together, firing as they did so
Chapter 15: The cop, the journalist, the boot and the nose
Chapter 16: The enemy within
Chapter 17: Life is a game of chess
Chapter 18: It drove them almost mad
Chapter 19: Another powerful message had been sent
Chapter 20: They buried Horatio Nelson just down the road
Chapter 21: Checkmate
Chapter 22: Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive
Chapter 23: A living hero at odds with us
Chapter 24: Ghostly, black automatons oozing up out of the grey
Chapter 25: Rock the cradle gently

Here are the first five chapters of THE HEADHUNTER:

A human tongue inside a sandwich

He had come to killing late. By the time he set out on the career that suited him best the world was not as it was in the beginning. Back then he dreamed of shooting bad men dead in fairly fought gunfights. Today he had cut the head off a terrified woman when she was tied up and begging for mercy.
They weren’t ready yet. There’d be negotiations, patter, time to ensure he came out of it in one piece. He had to survive this. For some sweaty, trigger-happy cowboy to unceremoniously end it here just wasn’t an option.
The young man shivering in the corner groaned and, not wanting to meet his gaze, turned away. He watched the terror ebb and flow. At ease with it. Finally, he walked over, knelt down beside him and began tapping the bloody kitchen knife lightly on the buttons of his jacket.
“Nothing you’re wearing will fit,” he said, frowning. "Why are you all so bloody small these days?"
When the petrified cop didn’t reply, the killer shook his head, stood up and left the room.

James de Florian Jakes, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was finding it difficult trying to concentrate on what was being said. It was so unfair. It wasn’t his fault the loony wouldn’t come out. It wasn’t his fault he was making ridiculous demands. He’s a nutcase for crying out loud! That’s what he wanted to say. But instead he was having to listen to this Eton Johnny wank.
He had dashed over to take charge of Operation Bogeyman as soon as he heard they’d got him. It would look good if he was in at the kill. He prided himself on being on the ball, willing to do whatever it took to progress. That’s what he was good at. Media-savvy, politicians’ best friend, never a feather ruffled at the top table. And now a Hooray Henry even younger than him was treating him like he was the class dunce!
“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t quite catch that… Yes sir, honestly. I was listening, really. No, it’s the phone; really, there’s something wrong with it. The SAS, sir? I don’t think that will be necessary, really I don’t. I mean, our own people are very professional.”

After a three-minute conversation which consisted, for the most part, of stock responses such as: ‘I’m not authorised to do that and ‘that’s not within my brief,’ he interrupted the Commissioner, saying:
“I think you’d better put me onto the main man. Forgive me for saying so but you don’t seem to have much of a clue.” Jakes wanted to scream down the phone but instead went the ‘not authorised to do that’ route again. As it was the fifth time he had used the phrase, the man brought the conversation to a halt.
“Get me Chalmers. You’ve got five minutes. Chop, chop, there’s a good lad.”
“What if he’s otherwise engaged? I mean, what happens in five minutes if I can’t get hold of him?”
“Like I said: chop, chop.”

Before he set out to revenge himself upon the world he’d arranged a meet with some of the very few fellow travellers he trusted implicitly. As soon as they were all assembled, they were asked to complete a questionnaire. After it was handed back, MI5 Mary asked him straight out what he was up to.
“You’re planning something big, aren’t you?”
“Not necessarily,” he lied. “I was interested in knowing how far all of you were prepared to go, that’s all.”
“All the way, boss,” said Somerstown Steve. “We’ve waited too long already!” Others kept their counsel. They drank, ate, debated and argued the merits of regular and irregular politics for over five hours before he called time on the meeting. Steve cornered him on the way out. “I’m not sure I answered every question right. I’m not a great speller.” He chuckled and wanted to know what spelling had to do with it. “No but, honestly, boss, if it’s kicking off, you know I’m with you all the way, don’t you?” He reminded him to keep what had been discussed to himself.
“I know, boss. Top secret. Got it.” He watched as the cab moved off. Returning to the room, he stretched himself out on the tatty chaise longue. Mary wanted to know if he was going to sleep.
“Of course not.” He was snoring a few moments later.
“All hail, the great leader,” said Deep Cover Dan.
“He’s definitely up to something,” replied Mary. “Would you give your life for a just cause if you approved of it?” she asked. That had been the first question on the list.
“If it was my own cause, for sure. But I wouldn’t necessarily want to die for someone else’s cause. It might not suit me, you see.” Dan, an English teacher and part-time journalist, was drunk. He fancied a lie down himself, despite the come hither cleavage inches from the end of his nose. Mary, who had downed as much as anyone that night but was still as fresh as a daisy, said she would do it for him.
“Yeah. Me too. I’d definitely do it for him,” he replied, resting his head on the table. Five minutes later, Mary paused mid-sentence and looked down at the sleeping Dan. She rose from her seat and tiptoed across the room. Checking to see if he was still asleep, she reached down into his bag and drew out the questionnaires. Turning back, she gasped and dropped them. He was staring at her with one open eye.
“What’s all this then?” he wondered, Dixon-like.
“Just me being nosey,” confessed the guilty party, well and truly caught in the act. He told her to switch the light off when she was all done spying and turned his back. Mary gathered up the spilled papers and began looking through them, relieved he hadn’t made more of it.

The Prime Minister was at pains to point out that his hands were tied. He couldn’t be seen to give in to his demands, no matter what the consequences.
“You do know the history of these things, don’t you? The British Government does not negotiate with terrorists, you see.”
“Oh yes, I know my history quite well as it happens. Now let me get this straight. In effect, you’re saying that if I offered to swap a hostage for a couple of plates of chicken sandwiches and a few bottles of cold beer, that wouldn’t be doable?” Chalmers hesitated. Was he being serious? Would he really swap a hostage for some refreshments?
“Well, of course, that wouldn’t be a problem, if you’re actually offering. Sandwiches, beer. Anything else you fancy?” He was beginning to sound like he was best mates with the creep. Don’t be too eager, he thought. Keep it formal.
“Good. I thought there’d be some room for manoeuvre. So, let’s get serious. For one hostage, how about beer, sandwiches and troops out of Afghanistan?”
“For God’s sake!” replied the Prime Minister, heatedly, “please don’t try my patience, you know very well I couldn’t possibly accede to such a demand!”
“So, Afghanistan’s a no-no. A referendum on the EU is out of the question too, I suppose. Now what does that leave me? I’ll tell you what, how about you let me determine the BBC’s schedule for the rest of the day?” The Prime Minister was astounded. Surely he must understand that he wasn’t in any position to ask for such things?
“Look, Mr… do you have a name? What am I supposed to call you?”
“Tommy Atkins.”
“I’m not going to call you that.”
“Call me what you want. Just be quick and tell me what you’ve got to offer. Your SAS boys must be busting a gut to get on with it.”
“I can’t make you an offer off the top of my head. Can I get back to you?”
“Five minutes. After that, the catamite cop gets a tongue sandwich, courtesy of your former Immigration Minister. Five minutes after that, he gets her head on a plate.”
“You sick…” The phone went dead.

He had rigged up a system of tripwires and obstacles that he hoped would interfere with any straightforward assault of the premises. He didn’t expect any SAS assault to come at him through the door but, if the cops could be persuaded to give it a go before the SAS were ready, he reckoned their plan of attack might be a little more predictable. That’s what he was banking on.
The Brazilians had snipped the heads off several boxes of matches and the coffee jar was now almost full. He had also found some contact lens cleaner and half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide that the lady of the house must have been using to lighten her hair. These he had been gently heating to reduce the water content. Removing the peroxide mixture from the heat, he put it into the fridge and began inserting the matchstick heads into a tennis ball. He gave the girls a ball each, showed them what to do and soon the four balls he’d found were almost full.
After introducing a quarter of the remaining contents of a bottle of nail polish remover into each ball he looked at his watch. He didn’t really want to chance putting the peroxide in yet, it was probably too hot, but he wasn’t sure he had a choice. His mobile rang.
Chalmers told him that that they were prepared to switch the electricity back on and unlock the Valhalla web site, along with his own. He asked how long that would take.
“Your site is already up and running and, trust me, they’ll have the other one switched on in a jiffy.”
“Trust you? Like we did when you promised a referendum on the EU and said you’d limit mass migration? Like we did when you sent our lads to fight and kill and die in your dirty wars for oil, Israel and the Great Satan? Prime Minister, I wouldn’t trust a politician with his mother’s false teeth.”
“Now you wait a minute,” retorted Chalmers. He was finding it difficult keeping the irritation out of his voice. “I wasn’t the Prime Minister when we went into Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean we weren’t even in government! You can’t blame me or my party for that!”
“Refresh my memory, will you? That was you and all but sixteen members of the parliamentary Conservative party I saw slavering for easy pickings in March 2003, wasn’t it? If it wasn’t for the likes of you, your predecessors wouldn’t have had a mandate to make war upon millions of innocents minding their own business.”
“Excuse me! That sounds a bit rich coming from a homicidal racist who despises the immigrant as much as you do?” He laughed.
“Racist, eh? It’s a funny sort of non-racist who is happy to eradicate as many foreigners as Messrs Chalmers, Groan and Lyon.” Alan paused to collect his thoughts. Be calm, Alan. At least you’ve got the bastard talking. He glanced at his watch.
“I’d like to press on with our third offer if I may. We’ve decided that we can grant your request for BBC access. We can let you have BBC3 for as long as it takes to get this matter resolved peaceably.”
“Interesting. And when do you and your soldier boys expect the matter to be resolved?”
“Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it?”
“You know, with yours truly out of the picture, you’ll never find the ladies. They have no food, no water, no sanitation and no one to help them. I wish you had a conscience. Maybe then you’d give a damn. But you don’t. You are a politician, after all.” The psycho put the phone down as he was about to let fly. The Colonel opened the door and strode in without knocking.
“We’ll be all set in ten minutes, Prime Minister. We’ll go in at 16.12 hours.” Alan Chalmers took a deep breath and picked up the phone.
“Get me Jakes,” he said.

He told her that the people outside the door had to think he was attacking her. Part of the equation necessitated her tongue being held between his finger and thumb as she screamed. He wanted them to think he was cutting it out. The maid was staring at him, wide-eyed.
“Please, senor. Do not do this.”
“I’m not going to hurt you. But you have to make it sound real. Come on now, open up for Rio.” She began to whimper. “Loud. Loud as you like, Dolores.”

Jakes didn’t hear his mobile at first. He was, at the precise moment it began to ring, transfixed by another sound.
“Is that screaming I can hear?” asked the horrified Prime Minister. “For God’s sake, man, why didn’t you ring me?”
“It’s only just started, sir!”
“Well, what are you doing about it?” Just then a uniformed sergeant appeared at the entrance to the elevator area where Jakes had taken refuge.
“This just got slung out the door, sir.” The sergeant held out a bloodied handkerchief. There was a sandwich on top of it. “I’m afraid there appears to be a human tongue inside the sandwich, sir.”
“Oh, God.” Jakes felt faint.
“Jakes! Talk to me. What’s going on down there?” Jakes took a deep breath and told him.
“It’s a tongue, sir! A human tongue inside a sandwich! It came from the flat.” The Prime Minister felt himself sag. He heard the Commissioner asking him what he should do.
“Do your job, Jakes,” he said quietly. “Do the job we pay you to do.” The Prime Minister was putting the phone down when the screaming started up again.

As soon as she saw her sister was still alive, Maria began to wail. He had asked Dolores to explain what he was about to do but something must have been lost in translation. The younger sister shouldn’t have been there. It just happened to be her day off and she was visiting her sister. Tennis was her sport and Raphael Nadal was on the box. Her employers didn’t like her watching anything on their flat screen 48-inch.
Taking hold of her gently, he picked Maria up and led the girls through into the bathroom. After Maria was safely in the bath, he told her sister to lock the door behind him and get in with her when he left. Dolores was very unhappy. An illegal, as was her sister, she had overstayed her visa by a full five years. The thought of being questioned by the police wasn’t as bad as being with this man but it wasn’t far off. As he made his way through to the kitchen, he heard the key turn in the lock.

“That didn’t sound too good to me, Prime Minister,” said Jakes, his voice shaking. “I have a feeling Mrs Green may no longer be with us.” Alan Chalmers bowed his head. The Home Secretary asked him what was happening.
“Jakes thinks Esther’s dead.”
“What do you want me to do, sir?”
How many times had Jakes asked that same question? Wasn’t he the policeman? Wasn’t he there on the ground, for pity’s sake?
“Sir? What would you like…”
“Jakes! If you ask me that one more time I swear…”
“But sir, it isn’t my fault. I mean, something as important as this. Surely the need to liaise?”
“Initiative, Jakes,” said the Prime Minister through gritted teeth. “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to have? You’re the man on the spot! You’re there, I’m here. Can’t you make one single decision on your own? You’re the nation’s top policeman, for goodness sake!”
For the umpteenth time that day, Jakes was struck by the unfairness of it all. If it had been up to him, he would have gone in with the SFOs an hour ago and the lady might have lived to tell the tale. But no, the hooray bleeding Henrietta in Downing Street had made him wait for the Army. And now he was trying to pass the buck on to him!
“Go! Go in whenever you’re ready! You have my full permission. Get the son-of-a-bitch!” The Prime Minister’s words took him by surprise and for a moment he wondered if he’d been talking to himself. Had he said anything he shouldn’t have? No, the Prime Minister would have said something.
“Parrish!” barked the Commissioner.
“Yes, sir?” The CO19 team leader poked his head round the entrance to the room where his men had taken up residence.
“We’ve got the green light. It’s a go. Go! Go! Go!”

In Downing Street, the Colonel pressed a button on his walkie-talkie and passed the message on.
“They’ll be inside the building in two minutes, sir.”
“Good show, Colonel,” the Prime Minister replied. “Well, I tried to settle it peacefully,” he said heavily. The room murmured its gratitude.
“Nobody’s fault, Alan. It’s the way of these things,” said Jasper Ellman. Chalmers looked down at his notes and sighed. He was still holding the phone. All the time he’d been giving the Colonel the go-ahead he’d had it inches from his face. Jakes was probably still standing there with his mouth hanging open waiting for instructions.
“Jakes. Jakes? Jakes are you there?” That’s when he heard the first explosion. And the screams.

He opened the refrigerator and, though it had been off for an hour, the residual frost had cooled the peroxide sufficiently for him to mix it with the rest of the ingredients in the tennis balls. Using rubber gloves and a small plastic funnel he’d found in the kitchen, he emptied the saucepan’s contents into the first ball until it began to overflow. After repeating the process three more times, he secured each ball with tape. Soaking a dishcloth with water, he headed for the bedroom and, once there, thrust it deep into the neck of the cadaver and began smearing his face and hands with gore. Back in the kitchen, he unearthed a bag of flour, which he doused himself with before smearing a little of the black boot polish he had found earlier on his hands and face.
After collecting the improvised Molotov cocktail he had made from turpentine and jam and stuffing his ears with cotton wool, he thought he was as ready as he was ever going to be and took shelter behind the living room door. The heavy, oak dining room table and a mattress had been propped up in front of it. On the floor beside him were his sawn-off shotgun, his C-75 15-shot 9mm pistol and two spare magazines. He had just three spare cartridges for the 12-bore left in his jacket pocket.
Opening the door enough to allow him to throw his bombs, he looked out into the anteroom off the hallway. He didn’t have to wait long. Despite steeling himself for the inevitable attack, the sound of splintering wood made him jump. The yelling and cursing began even before the front door was fully breached and, as he had imagined, some cowboy began firing his MP5 almost immediately. It continued until the shooter hit the first tripwires. He had rigged nine of them in the hallway using screwdriver, bradawl, rawl plugs, screws and brute strength. He didn’t want anyone outside to know what he was up to so hammer and drill were a no-no. Three of the wires were about eight inches above ground level, a metre or so apart, and the first of them was about a metre and a half inside the front door. Two more were set at neck and chest height just beyond the first ground-level wire in the hope that, if anyone was upended by that wire, they might fall foul of those in the second rank. The last four wires were strung across the entrance to the anteroom, at waist to face height.
He had smashed as many empty wine bottles as he could find and the debris was now littered beneath the tripwires. He had also poured vegetable oil on the hallway’s marble floor along with the contents of an unopened bag of marbles he had found in a kitchen drawer. Finally, he had positioned a suitably attired half-mannequin he had found in the bedroom at the living room’s entrance. He supposed this was what had drawn the fire.
The first specialist firearms officer hit the first wire at a run and fell headlong into the second pair. He cried out as a wire bit into his face and, as those who followed slammed into him, so it cut even deeper. The first wires gave way under the pressure and a sprawling mass of armoured bobby was soon thrashing about in the hallway. At that point, he stood up and lobbed the first tennis ball into the melee. It exploded in the confined space with an unexpectedly thunderous roar. The massive bang stunned the downed officers but the screaming didn’t begin until the turpentine bomb smashed against the hallway wall and showered them with napalm. That’s what Alan Chalmers heard at the end of the phone in Downing Street.

He could see an uninjured officer just outside the door doing his best to drag one of his colleagues away from the flames and he threw his second ball straight at him. It skidded off his shoulder without exploding. The third ball thudded into the body armour covering his chest and it blew him off his feet. This tempered the courage of the others outside the door and the SFOs inside the flat, who were not incapacitated, were left to scramble out as best they could.
Keeping a close eye on what was happening outside, he grabbed the unconscious man who had been first through the door and dragged him through the last set of wires. Relieved to see he was bigger than the cop in the wardrobe, he removed his helmet, body armour, jacket and boots out of sight of anyone brave enough to poke their head around the door, carried him into the bedroom and put him in with his fellow officer. Back in the anteroom, he stripped off and quickly put on the SFO’s gear, all of which was still a size and a half too small, and slung his machine gun around his shoulders.
He had just one more thing to do now. After inserting one of two plastic bags into a bottle containing his remaining hydrogen peroxide, and then emptying the contents of the other into the mix, he screwed the lid on tight and stuffed it as far down inside Esther Green’s skull as it would go. He then sealed the neck with more tape and tossed the head of the former Immigration Minister through the open door.
With the helmet and cotton wool shielding his ears, he barely heard the blast that preceded the entry of the SAS men into the bedroom. Nevertheless, it knocked him off his feet. Winded and gasping for breath, he dragged himself towards the wires and the burning hallway.

The SAS man entered and saw the injured cop trying to escape the flames. Satisfying himself that the mark wasn’t present, he took hold of the his right foot with his right hand, keeping a firm grip on the HK53 with his left, and began hauling him out.
“You all right, mate?” The man groaned. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed movement outside the hallway door and instinctively raised his weapon. It was Jakes. The SAS man saw the cop bend at the waist to inspect something on the floor. Whatever it was, he should’ve waited for the bomb squad.

He really wanted to tell one of his men to go and get it but he thought it might improve things a bit at the inevitable inquiry if he was able to say that he had retrieved it himself. Curiously, the closer he got to it, the less afraid he became. It wasn’t as if it was alive or anything. Harmless, he thought, as he scrutinised the letter H carved into its forehead. Happy Halloween. Bit like a left over joke really. Jakes bent down to take a closer look.

The soldier was knocked back across the room by the force of the explosion and it took him a moment to regain his wits. He stood up unsteadily and saw that the disorientated cop was crawling back into the flames.
“Steady on, mate, that’s not what you…” Then it hit him. Just like that, he was coughing up a storm and gasping for air. All thoughts of the policeman gone, he turned away from the choking stink and fell back into the living room, where he collapsed into the arms of another soldier. He nodded at a third, who moved to the doorway cautiously.
“Gas!” he cried, reeling backwards away from it. It hit the sergeant as his fellow SAS man blundered passed him and, blindly, all three men made their way, coughing and spluttering, to the safety of the bedroom.
“Gas!” gasped the sergeant. One of the unaffected soldiers slammed the door shut and unceremoniously dragged the quilt from underneath Esther Green’s headless corpse and stuffed as much of it as he could beneath the door.

Before he got started on the tennis ball grenades, he had been working on something else.
He had cut open four shotgun cartridges and wrapped the powder and shot tightly in a small plastic kitchen bag. After protecting his hands with rubber gloves, he filleted the manganese dioxide from an unused pack of batteries. Then, on the lowest possible heat, he slowly cooked the chemical for ten minutes, watching it all the time, until it was dry. Once this was done, he crumbled it up until it was as powdery as he could make it. He put this into another plastic bag.
Whenever he went on a mission he took a small canister of pepper spray with him and he inserted it now as far as it would go into the head. This, together with the extremely volatile magnesium oxide/peroxide mixture (with added gunpowder and shot) is what blew up in James Jakes’ face.
Just before the head bomb blew he had taken a deep breath and he held it as he crawled towards the exit a second time. Braving the flames, which were mostly confined to the walls anyway, he began to claw his way out over the prostrate bodies of a couple of groaning SFOs. Near the door he swept the floor clear of marbles and glass and stood up. Reaching down, he grabbed hold of two incapacitated cops and heaved. The urge to take a breath was immediate but he knew he couldn’t. His eyes were already beginning to sting and inhaling pepper spray at that point would surely scupper everything.
The scene outside was chaotic. He could just make out Jakes’ body through eyelids that were almost totally shut. Two policemen were down near him, hacking and pitifully gasping for air. Two more had made it past the outer door into the space by the lifts and he could hear others out there somewhere, doing their best to shelter from the blinding haze. The lads near Jakes were both appreciably smaller than the two he’d pulled from the flat, so he grabbed them instead and commenced, with the machine gun banging against his ear, to pull them awkwardly towards the lifts. He got there as the door opened and he was immediately relieved of his burden by a plain-clothes man and a constable. He pointed towards the flat and they went through. They came out with their fellows a few moments later.
He was in the lift now, bent double and desperate for air but determined not to breathe until the lift door closed. By the time he arrived at ground level he appeared to be in as poor shape as any of the others and wasn’t putting it on. He was helped to a lawned area by the constable and, giving him the thumbs up when he was asked how he was, he hurried back into the building.
“Here let’s take that off for you,” said an authoritative voice tugging at his helmet. Resisting his efforts to relieve him of it, he pointed agitatedly at the front doors of the building. Luckily, the old boy got the message and disappeared. He raised the visor and rubbed at his eyes. A paramedic was approaching. Less than a minute later, he was out.

The helmeted officer signalled that he wanted dropping off.
“The hospital’s around the corner. Nearly there now,” replied the female paramedic as she tended another injured policeman. Coughing with the conversational effort, he told her that he lived close by and wanted to tell his wife he was OK. The paramedic wasn’t having it.
“Tell me what her number is and I’ll ring her for you. I’ll tell her to bring what you need.” He pointed his machine gun at the ambulance door and said he would blow a hole in it and jump if she didn’t do as he asked. “No need to shout,” she replied, heatedly.
Banging on the front screen, she told the driver to stop. He turned in his seat, took one look at the fearsome looking weapon the fretful officer was waving around and hove to. The paramedic opened the door and he got out.
“You’re in shock. Get to a hospital soon as you can!” Without looking back, he raised his better arm in acknowledgement and pressed on.

So far he’d only passed a mother with a pram and she had studiously kept her eyes averted from the tatty, machine gun-toting Robocop, limping slowly along on the other side of the road. He dodged into an empty shop doorway and pulled off his helmet. As the evening air cooled his face, he put the gun at his feet and began to take off his jacket and body armour. Which wasn’t easy. His hands were sore and both were covered in blisters. Once the MP5 and the vest had been wrapped securely within his inside-out jacket, he emerged from the doorway and began to make his way home, trying not to limp.
He walked around the front of the building, past the front entrance, fishing around for his keys as he did so. For one moment he thought he might have lost them but then he remembered putting them in the back pocket of the cop’s trousers. He opened the door to the refuse disposal unit and tossed his bundle into one of the big bins, having first removed all his odds and ends from the pockets of the jacket.
Shuffling back around to the side entrance, he checked reception through the plate glass windows. The concierge wasn’t there. Entering the building cautiously, he got into his flat without anyone noticing him. His hands were in a bad way but he didn’t have time to do anything more than coat them with Germolene and apply a few plasters. Bandages were out, as he’d be wearing gloves when he left.
He phoned the local taxi office, ordered a cab and allowed himself the luxury of a cup of tea before packing up. It was 5.00 p.m. He fell asleep in the chair and woke with a start at 5.28. In the next ten minutes he stuffed two cases and a haversack with money, clothing, compact discs, his laptop, spare batteries, credit cards, trophies and sundry valuables he’d lifted from his victims. Diaries, priceless mementos of his parents and daughter and a ton of junk he didn’t need but felt he couldn’t do without were also packed away. He was about done when the phone rang. The taxi was waiting.
He zipped up his bulging suitcases as far as they’d go and headed out. With difficulty, the driver hefted them into the boot as he made his way back to the disposal unit. Closing the door behind him, he hooked the MP5 and the flak jacket out of the crud and stuffed them into an empty holdall.
Without his van, the chances of getting out of London in one piece weren’t good so he got the driver to head over to where the Ford Transit was parked, three hundred yards away from Esther Green’s place. That morning, he’d cursed the fact that he couldn’t get any closer but now he was grateful to be as far away from the crime scene as this. Feigning unfamiliarity with the area, he had the Asian cabbie drive past his van before doubling back. A little way down the street he got out and fussed around with his luggage until the taxi disappeared.
A patrol car came gunning down the street towards him, lights flashing, siren blaring. Expecting it to pull up alongside, he carried on past the Transit, turned right into a cul-de-sac and waited for a minute or so before peering cautiously back around the corner. The street was clear. He made his way back to the van as quickly as his luggage would allow and opened the back door gingerly, feeling sure there would be a nasty surprise waiting for him on the other side.
Five minutes after climbing into the driver’s seat, having fallen asleep again without realising it, he keyed the ignition, gripped the wheel hard and moved off.

“I have some very sad news to report,” said the Prime Minister.
“Two officers lost their lives today in the performance of their duties. Sergeant Parrish, the first to enter the flat, died in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Commissioner James Jakes is also no longer with us.” The assembled Ministers gasped. “It is thought he lost his life whilst endeavouring to remove the previously mentioned gas bomb to a place of safety.”
“Good grief!” exclaimed Eros Treadwell, the Justice Minister. “Why on earth was he doing such a thing himself? Something so risky should have been delegated to someone further down the chain of command.”
“James was, as I understand it, a hands on kind of police officer,” replied the Prime Minister without a hint of irony. “He was a very brave man. If only there were more like him the United Kingdom would be a far safer place.” The table was thumped a few times and the odd muted call of ‘here, here,’ was voiced but no one was in the mood to make a big thing out of Jakes’ passing.
‘A hands on Bobby, my arse,’ thought Tony ‘Tubber’ Loud, the Transport Secretary. ‘If there were more like him, we’d all be wearing tutus to work!’ The phone rang. The PM picked it up half way through a sentence.
“Thank you Deputy Commissioner.” Chalmers looked up at his colleagues. We have a name and an address.” There was a collective exhalation of breath at the news. “They are about to go in now. This time there will be no delay.” Everyone in the room applauded. Chalmers waved the papers he was holding, Chamberlain-like.

Nodding at the wheel, he’d pulled into the first lay-by outside the M25 and slept for over an hour. Shit! He’d left a head, three tongues and a bag of fingers in the flat. Ah well, it wasn’t as if he hadn’t already made a mark. An assortment of grisly dross had been left at Stonehenge and other bits and pieces had been deposited elsewhere. Besides, he still had a ton of good stuff up north. As he started the engine, he laughed out loud thinking about the surprise waiting for some poor sod in the fridge.

It was past midnight when he entered the driveway leading to the lock-up. As quietly as he could he unlocked the door and slid it upwards. Despite his best efforts, the noise was deafening. It was just as bad on the way down. As he backed the van into the lock-up he felt it nudge up against his old Typhoon. He felt for the torch that he kept on one of the racks and switched it on. Edging to the back of the cramped, little garage he tugged at the overhead light’s cord and saw his scooter leaning against the bench. He righted it, gave it the once over and, satisfied nothing was amiss, sat down heavily at the workbench.
He reached down and dragged out a thick, black plastic bag containing a sleeping bag and a pillow. After first removing his baggage, he climbed into the back of the van, took off his trousers and shoes and struggled into the sleeping bag. ‘Unbelievable!’ he thought, irritably. ‘I’m wide awake!’ Staring into the darkness and feeling sorry for himself, he was out cold before he closed his eyes.

The phone was ringing.
“Hugh, for God’s sake, answer the bloody phone!”
“Can’t you answer it? It’s on your side”, he replied blearily.
“It’s your mobile!” Her back glared at him. Rather than reach across, Hugh Champion, The Herald’s top political reporter, got up and wandered round to the bedside table.
“Who is this?” he fumed. “It’s 3.30 in the morning!” He knew he sounded petulant but didn’t care.
“Hugh! Take it outside!” yelled his wife, cramming the pillow over her head.
“Look, whoever you are. It’ll have to wait.” Then the anger, along with the colour in his face, was gone. Clearing his throat, Champion asked him how he’d come by his mobile number.
“Oh, we’re all easy to find,” he replied. “Anyone can track down anyone if they really want to.”
“What do you want? Why did you call me?” Despite his best journalistic instincts, Hugh wanted the conversation over. He was told that the hostages needed a knight in shining armour. “Did you want me to pass a message on to the police?” he asked warily. He said it would be better if he went himself as they were just around the corner and, if the police got there first, they’d spend hours looking for booby traps. Champion’s silence prompted him to mention that they hadn’t been fed and watered and would be cold also.
“Just a minute. I’ll need to get a pen and write this down.”
“No. I’ve been on the phone long enough. Just listen carefully…”

He thought better of telling his wife what was afoot so he sneaked out as quietly as he could and drove to the location. The boarded-up house was off Brecknock Road and wasn’t difficult to find. He tinkered with a couple of wooden struts and found they could be dislodged quite easily. Behind the top strut, which was firmly fixed, he found the key.
Despite the man’s reassurances, a part of him kept thinking a trip wire would blow him to smithereens. He listened for signs of life in the darkness but couldn’t hear any. Switching on the small torch he kept in the glove compartment, he repeated the mantra the man had had him learn. ‘Second door on the right. Through the facing door. Through the door opposite. The door immediately to the right of that opens onto a staircase leading down to a cellar. The ladies are in a pit covered with boards and a tarpaulin.’
The tarp was in front of him now but he still couldn’t hear anything. Something horrible was bound to be waiting for him underneath it. Despite the terrible sense of foreboding, he began to tug. Someone or something groaned eerily. He dropped the heavy cover and turned to run as the groans multiplied. Falling over something in the dark he lost his torch.
“Is that you, sir?” a disembodied, female voice wondered from beneath the tarpaulin.
“Help me,” cried a different voice. A third mentioned the toilet. Champion heard himself ask, ridiculously, if anyone was there. His question was greeted by a cacophony of high-pitched screams and cries for help. He found his torch and heaved at the tarpaulin again. As it came away from the wooden boards covering the pit, he fell over once more and lost the torch for a second time. He made a grab for it but only succeeded in knocking it through a gap in the boards. It went out as it cracked on the floor of the pit.
He began groping his way around the walls looking for a light switch. In the process his head clanged into an overhanging shade from which a string was dangling. He pulled on it cautiously and the cellar was flooded with light. He removed the wooden slats and looked down on the pitiful sight below. The women’s eyes were closed against the light but all had their faces turned up towards it. They were dirty, dishevelled, shivering and, with one exception, hysterical. The stench forced him to hold the sleeve of his jacket against his nose as he surveyed the scene for familiar faces. He recognised The Torch’s journalist, Helen Lawson and the TV presenter Patsy Barnett, the only one still sitting. She appeared calm in comparison to the others.
“Patsy, it’s me, Hugh Champion. Can you get the ladies to be quiet for a moment?” Arms wrapped protectively around her knees, back against the wall, Patsy was lost in her own thoughts and didn’t respond. The rest just carried on wailing. Champion saw a steel ladder perched up against the back wall. Cautiously, he picked his way through the builder’s rubble and retrieved it.
After saying that he wanted them to climb out one by one in good order, there was a mad scramble as the ladder was lowered and he pulled it up again quickly. Admitting defeat, he reached into his pocket and phoned Fred Ashleigh. When the Deputy Commissioner discovered where he was and what he was doing he brusquely reassured him that his men and an ambulance would be with him in less than five minutes and put the phone down. “Charming!” said Hugh, staring at his mobile as though it was somehow to blame for the other man’s rudeness. He decided to stay where he was. Let the professionals handle it, he thought, not wanting to set the women off again.
“Hugh, are you there?” It was Patsy. She sounded anxious and unhappy but at least she wasn’t hysterical. Edging guiltily towards the edge of the pit, he told her the police were on their way.
“Can you send us down some water, please? And the bucket?” After he found what they wanted, he lowered it down to them and asked once again if they wanted to ascend the ladder, averting his eyes as one of the women lowered her knickers. Patsy, who sounded better now she’d had a drink, nodded and thanked him.

By the time the first patrol car arrived, they were all huddled together outside the house, apart from Patsy who was sitting by herself.
“Oh but God is good. God is such a cracker sometimes that it makes you want to shag a priest. Get the camera out, Papa,” said Bob, as he drew into the kerb.
“On the case, Razzi,” replied Wayne, reaching into the glove compartment.
“If there isn’t ten grand in this, I’m not the laughing policeman,” opined Bob, licking his lips.
“And I’m not his best pal, Snapper,” answered Wayne, eyeing the scene with a semi-professional eye.
The last people on earth Hugh Champion wanted to see, at that moment, were the paparazzi. One large, extremely harassed English gentleman, head in the air, nose twitching, surrounded by five fragrant, semi-naked ladies, as they engulfed their reluctant saviour, would have made excellent copy but Champion knew full well that the press room hilarity at his expense would last a lifetime.
“Pleased to see you, officer,” Champion murmured tightly, holding his breath. “Do you think you could lighten the load a little, please?”
“No problem,” sir, said Bob, prizing Ada Merrils, MEP, off the bunch. He led her over to the waiting car and ushered her into the back seat. As the officer strode back towards the group, leaving her alone momentarily, Ada was suddenly afraid again. He was back. He was outside the car! Paralysed with fright, she couldn’t move or cry out. She didn’t dare look. Then she did anyway. A policeman was taking photographs. When he smiled and winked at her she burst into tears.

He knew as soon as he put her in the back of the van that he would have her that night. He had very little use for women these days but there was a delicacy about her that appealed. She had whimpered and fluttered and sobbed and shook and disappeared off into her own fearfully orgasmic world much of the time and it was all unusually thrilling. According to Patsy, she’d been turned early and he was her first man. Perhaps her own freshness with it all had moved him.
Would he have bothered to ring Champion if Patsy hadn’t been there? Probably. There was more to be had from them being discovered fit and well. Joe Public might not have understood if he had left them there to rot.
He set his alarm for 5.30. An hour’s extra sleep. Everything had to be moved to the other place before anyone was up and about. Then he had to bring the van back and get over to Mansfield and the other, larger lock up without anyone seeing or hearing him enter.
Five minutes later he took a deep breath, rubbed his eyes, got out of the van and began packing up.

Chapter 2




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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Chapter 2

The masters of the universe were getting worried

The day after he escaped from Esther Green’s flat, Inspector George ‘Abdul’ Mohammed was hovering outside the entrance to the House of Commons wanting desperately not to be there. Tubs had contacted him the previous evening, sent him a load of Headhunter stuff that wasn’t generally known and then, at midnight, knowing he’d still be up, had grilled him for an hour.
His big shot, quizhead mate was setting him up, he was sure of it. He wasn’t even comfortable speaking up in front of his superiors at the Yard, let alone snooty Westminster types. Abdul trembled at the thought that some pinstriped Minister might be waiting for him but, after looking at his watch one last time, he took a deep breath and sidled up to a suspicious-looking armed policeman. Apologising for the intrusion, he showed his ID and said he had an appointment. After his right to be there had been confirmed, he was ushered into the building. Moments later a beaming Transport Secretary came bustling towards him.
“Abdul!” he bellowed, drawing a deal of unwanted attention to the reluctant Inspector. “Glad you could make it. Come on, there’s someone I want you to meet?” Abdul immediately suspected the worst and asked who it was. “Oh, some minor functionary. Worry not, you’ll be fine.”
Tubs had been burbling away as they strolled through the halls and it came as a surprise when he opened a door and beckoned his friend inside. When he saw who was waiting for them, he turned on his heel and lost himself in Tubber’s bulk.
“Not so fast, brave Bobby!” chortled Tubs, wrapping his arms around his reluctant chum and shuffling him backwards towards the waiting Prime Minister.
“You swore you wouldn’t do this,” he stuttered, his head still buried in Tubber’s chest.
“Politicians lie, Abdul, my dear. Bright bloke like you, I thought you’d know that by now.”
The Prime Minister who, at Tubber’s behest, had stripped off his jacket and tie in an effort to look as unintimidating as possible, stood up and welcomed his guest, offering him a drink in the process. As he stuffed Abdul unceremoniously into a swivel chair by the side of the desk, Tubber said the Inspector would have whisky and he’d have a glass of red wine. Alan returned with the whisky, looking concerned.
“Are you all right, my dear chap?” he asked. Abdul, who was shaking like a leaf, didn’t reply but grabbed the proffered tumbler and downed it in one. The Prime Minister looked at his Transport Secretary, who nodded. “Allow me get you another, Mr Mohammed,” he said, patting him on the shoulder. “I’m sorry we surprised you like this. You should have been warned. Bad form really.”
Abdul stammered an apology, looking down at his feet as he did so. After handing him his second whisky and Tubber his first glass of red wine, Alan took Abdul’s hand in his and apologised again before gesturing towards Tubber and whispering conspiratorially:
“Would you like me to boot the deceitful beast out of the Cabinet, Mr Mohammed? I’ve been looking for an excuse to replace him for quite some time?” Abdul raised his head a little and earnestly replied:
“I’d rather you locked him up in the tower and tortured him, your highness.” Alan and Tubber looked at each other. Tubber squealed and went red in the face. Alan’s shoulders shook and, hard though he tried, he just couldn’t hold it back. The PM kept reaching out to Abdul to apologise but one look at the horrified bafflement on his face only served to set him off again. Tubber was in Bunteresque hysterics.
“Your effing highness,” he screamed.
“Torture in the tower!” Alan screamed back.
“Oh Abdul,” howled Tubs, clapping him on the back, “you are priceless, my son! Absolutely priceless!”
“I’m sorry, Mr Mohammed. I’m so terribly sorry,” wheezed the Prime Minister before setting off again. It was all of two minutes before both men tearfully regained their composure. Meanwhile Abdul was, at one and the same time, agitated, bewildered, concerned that he would be held responsible for both men having a heart attack, gulping nervously at his drink and, belatedly, seeing the funny side himself. Anyway, it served to break the ice and, a little while later, he was quietly letting the Prime Minister know what he did.
“The gentleman in question,” said Abdul, who was still shaking, “is fifty two years old. No record of prior criminal behaviour has come to light.” Alan nodded and looked at his watch. Tubber interrupted saying that they already knew most of the obvious stuff. He wondered if he had thought of anything, off the record, that might help them nail him.
“Well,” he replied, swallowing hard, “there is this one thing that I haven’t passed on. I was a bit worried the idea might get dismissed out of hand. I haven’t checked it out properly yet.”
Alan leaned in and asked him what it was. Tubber shuffled closer.
“I’ve just got this idea that, being the sort of person I think he is, he might be one of these people who would find it difficult not to do the right thing by his mother.” Both politicians were staring at him fixedly now. Abdul hurried on. “Yes, like putting flowers on her grave. Sitting with her now and again. That sort of thing. I think he might find it difficult to keep away. She’s buried with his father in a graveyard in Nottinghamshire.”
“So you think it might be a good idea to have a man posted there?” wondered Alan.
“I do, sir, yes. Several men would be better. Armed and good at keeping a low profile. And, perhaps, on anniversaries and such, more men could be posted.”
“Anniversaries? I hope there’s one coming up, we need to get this guy.” He told them that his mother’s birthday was on the 26th of September and suggested that someone might pay a visit to his family before then.
“Yes, good idea, Mr Mohammed. Please let me know what you find.” Alan rose from his chair and offered his hand. As they shook, he sensed Abdul was holding something back. “Was there anything else?”
Abdul said he wasn’t officially on the case and the Prime Minister would need to get in touch with the Operation Bogeyman people. As he put on his jacket and tie, he turned to Tubs and asked him to fix it with the Yard. “Now, Abdul,” he said, putting an arm around his shoulder and smiling as he walked to the door. “I really wasn’t such an ogre, now was I?”
“Oh no, sir. It’s just me, I’m afraid. I’m a bit of a nervous Nelly.” Alan smiled.
“Just one more thing before I toddle off. This Blueprint thing, what do you make of it?” Abdul thought a moment before replying.
“Well, I know all the lads on the case are convinced something big is going to happen but I can’t help wondering if it’s a wind up.” The Prime Minister said that the ‘something big’ theory had crossed the mind of the Cabinet as well.
“But you’re not so sure?”
“Well, I don’t know, sir. It’s just that I wonder why nothing ever came to light. I would have thought, you know, what with all the surveillance and everything, we might have heard something before now.” Abdul felt a bit like a specimen in a Petri dish and turned away from the PM’s gaze.
“Interesting, Mr Mohammed,” said Alan, clapping him on the back. “Thank you very much for coming in and discussing things with us.”
And, with a wave, he was gone. Without turning to face Tubs, Abdul told him he hoped he was on the Headhunter’s list. Tubber Loud laughed.

The Blueprint - Stage 1

When the Krays and the Richardsons ruled the east and south London underworlds, they never had more than 30 villains on the payroll. But they lived the high life off the proceeds of their criminality for more than a decade. When Al Capone’s career was at its height he might well have had as many as 1000 people working in his restaurants, clubs, speakeasies and trucking businesses but it isn’t likely that he ever had more than a hundred or so out-and-out villains to enforce his rule. And yet he was Chicago’s number one tough guy for more than ten years. The IRA never had more than 600 active volunteers on the go at any one time between 1971 and 1997 and yet that organisation held the British Government to ransom for nigh on 30 years.
Two sets of 30 or so tough, strong and ruthless men, all of whom were prepared to act outside of the law, ruled the roost at some level in large areas of 1950s and 1960s London. A charismatic, shrewd and fearless bad guy ran Chicago, almost without hindrance, with politicians, policemen, judges and media celebrities at his beck and call, in the twenties and early thirties. And he did this with less than a hundred of his own kind to back him up. And the IRA did what they did with no more than 600 determined volunteers at any given moment.
I put this question to you: what could we do with a thousand or so ruthless and totally committed men and women, all of whom were prepared to fight, to kill, and, if necessary, to die for the cause? We could do a lot, judging by what the Krays, the Richardsons, Capone and the IRA managed to do. But could we take back our country?
Many of the nouveau riche made their money illegally. Many more made their money immorally. The immoral can wait. Let s think about the gangster rich. There are hundreds of bling-laden criminal gangs stalking the streets of England. Many of them would have healthy bank accounts? How difficult would it be to take the gold chains, the gold and diamond teeth and the credit cards off some of these? Not too difficult if we went in mob-handed and tooled up. We could do a few like this. Get some practice. Earn some wages. Then we get serious...

Stowing the van in the lock-up, he gave it a pat on his way out. It had done him proud. He expected them to find it before too long and he was relieved when he hit the A60 and Carlham, Workstone and the van were safely behind him. He stopped to fill the Typhoon’s tank at a petrol station outside Mansfield and took the opportunity to get the papers and some groceries. His image was plastered over all three of the station’s billboards. ‘HEADHUNTER UNMASKED,’ screamed The World’s banner headline. He was named for the first time and the media was unsparing in its condemnation of the ‘failed actor’ revenging himself upon the world, even though it had been twenty years since he last trod the boards.
He was wearing his helmet so he wasn’t worried about being recognised. The Mansfield lock-up was bigger than the one in Carlham and, seeing as he no longer had a van to manoeuvre around, there would be plenty of space. He had earplugs for the radio and TV and knew that no undue sound need ever arouse the suspicions of the locals. Mansfield was, unlike Carlham, a sizeable town and strangers came and went all the time.

Abdul was standing before the desk of Commander Beresford Barnes. Barnes, who was, officially, in charge of Operation Bogeyman, was a tough, methodical, evidence-gathering, uniformed cop of the old school and not much given to oddball detectives.
“So, I’m supposed to make room for an officer whom I’ve never met and know nothing about, am I?” No answer was expected and Abdul didn’t supply one. “The Prime Minister, no less, has instructed me to, now what’s phrase, ah yes, ‘make use of this man.’” Barnes lifted his eyes from the dossier he was studying and looked critically at Abdul. “And what makes Inspector Mohammed so special, I wonder? How did he manage to inveigle himself on to this case?”
“Mr Chalmers just asked me, out of the blue, sir. I said it wasn’t how things were done but, you know, he’s the Prime Minister and there’s only so much you can say.” Barnes wanted to know how he had come to meet the Prime Minister. Abdul had already made up his mind not to tell Barnes about Tubs. “Well, I’ve been following the case for a while, sir and, well, forgive me for blowing my own trumpet but I do have a bit of reputation with difficult cases. Perhaps someone put a word in?”
“Well, it wasn’t me, that’s for sure,” growled Barnes. “Two things, Mohammed: firstly I wish to be kept abreast of anything you and the politicians are thinking and doing. Do you understand?”
“I do, sir. Most definitely.”
“And secondly, keep out of the way. I’m not someone who takes kindly to ill-disciplined officers interfering with honest police work.” Barnes rose from his chair and stretched out a massive hand. Abdul took it and, when he squeezed, did not flinch.
“Make yourself useful, Mohammed,” said the Commander, irritated that he hadn’t reacted. “You may go.”
It was just one of those things, thought Abdul, as he held his right hand underneath the cold water tap, somehow he could never drum up much respect for kaffirs. Especially those who had authority over him.

He awoke with a start. Someone was banging on the garage’s shuttered doors. Picking up his pistol, he crept towards the spy hole at the top of the door. The burly, middle-aged skinhead doing the banging didn’t look like a cop. But it could be a trap. A rough voice demanded to know whether he was in there. From the other side of the door, he asked what the problem was.
“What’s all this shouting and swearing about then? What you doing in there? You’re upsetting my mother!” Assuming a diffident tone, he said he was rehearsing a play and hadn’t realised he could be heard. He promised to tone it down.
“Yes, well, don’t let it happen again. My mam says it sounds like there’s a lunatic on the loose.” He asked that his apologies be conveyed and excused himself for not opening the door as he was busy with something.
“Don’t let it happen again. I don’t like my mother being upset! Have you got that?” He apologised once again and promised to whisper his lines in the future. Still scowling, the burly man disappeared.

She would just sit there in his mind, shaking her head. ‘There are more than a million innocent people in their graves in Iraq and Afghanistan! More than a thousand of our soldiers are in their graves as well and the people who got them killed are still with us! Coining it, appearing on chat shows. Ho! Ho! Ho! Look at me being witty on the box! Buy my crap memoirs. I’m the Prince of Darkness. Aren’t I an effing hoot? $250,000 for a 50 minute speech! Kiss my sainted arsehole, I’m the Messiah and you’re just the shit I spin to!’ ‘Someone’s got to make them pay, Ma! That’s why they do what they do to the rest of us! They never get punished for doing it!’
‘Why you, though, Eddie? Why does it always have to be you?’
‘Because no one else is doing it! Are they supposed to get away with what they do forever just because you’re afraid of what the neighbours think? Well, never mind, sweetheart. I waited until you were gone, didn’t I? You never did get to see the curtains twitch because your little boy was bad!’
He’d have to move on again now. He’d gotten carried and been heard ranting. It’d take at least three trips to get his stuff moved. And he’d have to watch out for the bozo. Unnecessary confrontations were out. As he began to pack up, he looked towards the garage roof and winked. ‘Got me there, Ma. It just upsets me that you don’t get it.’ Less than five minutes later he was settled in the car park of a pub down the road. After an hour watching for the cops, he figured he didn’t have anything to worry about yet and set off back to Carlham with the first load.

As he rattled down the garage door for the last time he got the feeling he was being watched and looked around. The burly man was staring at him from a bedroom window a few houses up. An elderly woman was with him. He waved at them and she disappeared. The burly man was still at the window when he eased the van down the drive. He had not been disguised and had been seen in plain view.
He drove round to the same pub, got his scooter out of the back of his other van (which he would now also have to ditch) and, listening all the while, began loading it up. He didn’t have long to wait. After a third patrol car, its siren blaring, faded into the distance, he puttered slowly towards the front of the pub. As those who gave a damn were looking for white van man, no one paid any mind to the middle aged scooterist with the bulging haversack and the black plastic bag between his legs. Using as many back streets as he could to get to the A6075, he was back in Carlham half an hour later minus a ton of good stuff.

“He knows were closing in,” said Det. Sgt. Adrian Holdsworth, with some satisfaction. “We’ve got the place in Doncaster nicely staked out. If he decides to use it, he’s dead meat.” Adrian had been one of those who had been happy to pass Abdul privileged info from the beginning.
“How many likely locations have been found so far?”
“A few. I don’t know the exact number. The boys in blue have been told not to hang around. We don’t want Plod scaring him off before we’re ready to move in numbers. We’ve got a couple of armed plain clothes in place at the hideouts we’ve discovered so far.”
“And this Bill Trotter chap said he sounded like a puff?”
“‘Puffy actor,’ were his exact words. He wouldn’t come out and ‘face the music,’ apparently. ‘All the same these serial killers.’”
“And he got a good look at him?”
“It was his mother who figured out who he was. When she saw him wave, she went to check out The World’s picture. About time we had a bit of luck. By the time she told Billy boy, he was gone.”
“And they were sure it was him despite the beard-growth?” He nodded. “And Trotter ran after him when she showed him the picture?”
“Got in his car and went looking for him even. Model citizen is our Billy. Despite the fact that he’s done time on three separate occasions.”
“Keep me posted,” said Abdul. “Barnes won’t tell me anything.” Adrian winked and lolloped off.

When he was a child the woods had been full of children running, hiding, exploring and climbing trees. Grown ups would stroll arm-in-arm, old codgers would take the air and young lovers would carve their initials into the trees. None of these things happened any more. He had walked the woods many times over the previous forty-seven years and, during the course of the last twenty or so, he had noticed less and less people bothering to do the same. In fact, he hadn’t seen anyone at all the last five or six times he had been here. So, he figured he should be OK for a couple of days at least.
He did his best to camouflage the tent and the scooter but Carlham Wood wasn’t big enough to disappear in effectively and, if anyone came within twenty yards of his camp, it would be spotted. Still, he’d be off down to London the day after tomorrow and, as long as one man and his dog didn’t happen along in the next thirty six hours, he should be OK. Struggling into his sleeping bag, he switched off the torch and fell asleep quickly. Against all the odds, he was still a free man.

It had been three days since he first tried to contact Steve and John and they hadn’t replied. He tried Steve’s ‘special’ phone again. There was no answer but it was switched on at least. He left another message, asking him to ring back. Steve was a scatterbrain, which was why he hadn’t used him earlier. His heart was in the right place, he was committed and loyal but he would fuck up if there was no one there to keep an eye on him. Waiting for him to get his act together wasn’t how you fought a war and won. Surprised at John though.
He’d wanted Steve to drive up and meet him but, when he hadn’t got in contact by 1.00pm he decided he’d have to get down to London on the Typhoon. Motoring wasn’t his thing and a three-hour whiz down the motorway was for testosterone-fuelled teenagers. So, it would take him at least five hours. Which meant, if he set off in an hour, he’d be there by seven at the earliest.
He shaved most of his beard off leaving a moustache and Edwardian sideburns, which he darkened with eyebrow pencil and a little mascara.
Packing up the tent and most of his stuff in black plastic bags, he part-buried it and, looking back from the trail, he felt reasonably sure that no one would realise he had been there the night before or that anything was hidden there now. A dog might though. It would be at least a week before he came to collect his gear and, as he didn’t want the cops waiting for him, he spread a pot of pepper in an arc around the area where his goods were hidden.
After taking a deep breath, he held his nose and shielded his eyes before spraying the gorse and bramble with CS gas. It was a mistake. He was coughing and wheezing for ten minutes before he got himself back under control. After washing his face in bottled water and blowing his nose one final time, he put on his helmet, climbed aboard the scooter and set off for London feeling pretty sorry for himself.

After washing his face and rinsing his eyes in the gents at Peterborough Services he felt better but he still looked like somebody off the set of Sean of the Dead. Never mind. It was as good a disguise as any and no one would remember anything but the blotches, red eyes and the Edwardian.
In need of a meal, he resolved to brazen it out and headed for the nearest cafeteria. Luckily, one glimpse was enough for the lady behind the counter and he got his full English breakfast with the minimum of fuss. He found an empty table and made sure no one interrupted his privacy by displaying his face for inspection at regular intervals.
He was wiping his mouth and feeling good for the first time that day when he felt the mobile pulse in his breast pocket. It was Steve. He was full of apologies and excuses, which he cut short. He told him where he wanted to meet up and asked if it would be a problem. Steve, who was eager to comply, said it wouldn’t and they arranged to get together at 12.00 the next day. As soon as he thought Steve was clear on the time and venue, he put the phone down. He spent an hour in an adjacent bar improving his mood before setting off for London once more.

EDM 666 - Hannibal Speaks - Johnson, Sir Roderick

‘That this House commends the courage of The Herald, its editor, Alan Gilroy, and the journalist, Hugh Champion, in facing down those who would stifle free speech and bridle at too truthful reporting. Hannibal Speaks allows us inside the mind of a psychopath, enables us to see what made him the man he is and reminds the Westminster elite that the decisions they make and the policies they impose may have dire consequences if they routinely flout the will of the majority.’

Steve wasn’t looking forward to seeing the big man. He was bound to get told off. He’d missed four e-mails and one of them had been sent three days ago! Off gallivanting with a new tart. Hadn’t got back until yesterday. And then somehow his mobile had switched itself off so he hadn’t heard it. Then it had run out of juice. Then the other one had rung. He’d knocked his dinner all over the floor when he realised it was the special phone. The latest girlfriend wouldn’t stop shouting at him. She’d been an hour in the kitchen making something Italian. Had to take the phone into the bathroom just to get away from her. The boss wasn’t interested in apologies. He just wanted to meet up outside Surrey Quays at twelve.

The day before Belinda Smalls’ head was discovered at Stonehenge, along with those of Michael Cohen, Muhammad Aziz and Jean Armour, most of those ‘in the know’ were still concentrating on Islamic ‘hate-preachers’ and their adherents. The day after the heads were found, the brightest and the best were beginning to think the bad guys were out to destroy the politically correct consensus that had governed the western world for the previous half century. At that point, the establishment, with some relish, began rounding up the most outspoken members of the Nationalist community and clamping down on the rest.
A good few entirely innocent people had by now endured six whole weeks of incarceration and aggressive interrogation at the hands of the authorities. Two of these had had a heart attack and one elderly lady, who had suffered a stroke during a particularly intensive and unrelenting question and answer session, had died.
At first, when it was thought that Islamists were responsible, the majority was content to have the cops and the army interfere with the ordinary progress of their lives. But, as time wore on, the populace began to wonder at all the fuss. Along the way, it had been noted by most that the ordinary citizen did not seem to be at any risk from the killers. The huge level of disruptive and increasingly belligerent security was, as a result, beginning to grate upon those who had to endure it. ‘For the protection of the public’ didn’t wash any longer. Whoever was responsible had no interest in blowing up buses, trains, buildings or innocent people. Corrupt politicians, politically correct zealots and media commentators who patently despised the ‘British dinosaur’ had been selectively done away with. In the minds of an increasingly sizeable minority, such individuals, and the agenda they had for so long embraced and aggressively espoused, rendered them worthy of the fate that had befallen them.
By the time the Stonehenge heads were discovered it wasn’t just the British Nationalist who was chalking off the kills and sniggering. The natives were growing restless and, behind the scenes, the masters of the universe were getting worried.

The first Prime Minister’s Questions after the escape had been the worst he had ever had to face and he desperately needed something positive to report. He didn’t understand how, with all the modern surveillance, all the satellites in space and all the computer systems in place to keep track of just about everybody on the planet, this man had managed to kill so many people without being caught. They knew who he was. They knew everything about him, for goodness sake! And still the police had no idea where he might be!
The streets were full of cops and, with great reluctance, he’d given the order for the army to make its presence felt discreetly wherever it was thought racial tensions might be about to flare up. The press, the opposition and the civil liberties crowd were having a field day but it couldn’t be helped. This Blueprint business had everyone’s nerves on edge. He looked at his watch. In less than two hours his accusers would nail his balls to the carpet all over again.
Alan was nervous. He was due any minute and he had nothing more to tell him. He had a country to run, didn’t they know that? For God’s sake, he had to prepare for PMQs and yet, here he was, wasting his time with this nonsense! His secretary knocked on the door and quietly let him know that they had arrived.
“Show them in please, Annabelle,” he said, a little too loudly. He stood up when they entered and moved to greet them. They shook hands and both sat down before being invited to do so. The Baron got straight to the point.
“What news on our man, Alan?” he asked.
“He’s gone to ground, I’m afraid,” he replied. “The police don’t seem to have much of a clue as yet.”
“Has anyone been sacked yet for letting him get away?” growled Jacob Ratner. Masking the irritation he felt, Alan told him that he hadn’t felt the need to fire anyone as the man in charge of the operation had lost his life during the course of it.
“No great loss,” opined Ratner. “I’m all for employing faggots in the entertainment industry but I wouldn’t have one as top cop.” Alan pushed a copy of The Blueprint towards the Baron. He hoped that, in giving him access to such sensitive material, it might temper any annoyance he might feel at the lack of progress. He leafed through a few pages before putting it to one side.
“Yes,” he said, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this. I must say I’m surprised you didn’t see fit to bring it to our attention before now.” Alan was horrified.
“You’ve already seen it?” The Baron smiled.
“Of course. Did you imagine that you could keep us out of the loop, Alan?” The Prime Minister was dumbstruck and did not reply. “Knowledge, particularly that which is not generally known, is our business. It has been for thousands of years. We certainly know as much about this matter as you do and, probably, rather more.”
“Well, perhaps you could fill me in then, seeing as you know so much.”
“There’s no need to be snide,” replied the Baron. “Information keeps us ahead of the game, that’s all.”
“And as you know,” added Ratner, looking the Prime Minister straight in the eye, “we do need to be ahead of the game. History tells us that, if we take our eyes off the ball for one moment, Jews die.” Alan didn’t like the squat, little boss of the Secure Communities Council. He could stare a goat to death with those dead, black, Ronnie Kray eyes.
“So what are your plans? Please do not keep anything from me.” The Baron’s even gaze was, if anything, more unsettling than Ratner’s cut-your-throat-for-a-fiver glare.
“I have a man in place,” Alan heard himself say. He had no idea why he said it but he was clutching at straws now. “Yes. There’s this policeman, not at all like your run-of-the-mill type; he’s got some interesting ideas. He’s fairly sure our man will visit his mother’s grave on her birthday, for example. He thinks he won’t be able to stay away.” Ratner and the Baron exchanged disbelieving looks.
“Oh right. The serial killer who loved his mum.” He laughed contemptuously. “Sounds like a Janet and John book to me.”
“Well, Mr Mohammed believes it to be an avenue worth pursuing.”
“Mohammed? As in the prophet?” Ratner and the Baron exchanged another look. “Let me get this straight. You’ve got some Paki on the job who isn’t much like a cop. And he’s of the opinion that the bogeyman loves his mum so much he’s going make himself available on her birthday? And when is this birthday? This time next year?”
“No, it’s next month, actually. Can’t do any harm to post a guard there, can it?”
“Post a guard? And they’ll all be standing around the grave doing Mr Plod impressions, I suppose?”
“They would be out of sight,” replied the Prime Minister, testily. “In hiding. In disguise or whatever. And please don’t speak to me in this way. I am the Prime Minister after all.” Ratner laughed again.
“Do you forget how you came to be Prime Minister?” asked the Baron quietly. “Surely you know who the Kingmakers are?” Alan felt weak and trapped and didn’t reply. “This man must be stopped and quickly. He slaughters the country’s finest with impunity and tells too many tales.” The Baron rose from his seat. “Remember, you must keep us informed.” He fingered the manuscript. “This is a blueprint for revolution. I do hope you are taking it seriously. If you don’t, I can assure you that there are others who will. Meanwhile, we shall be following our own lines of inquiry.”
Ratner, who had once been done for a top-of-line fraud and had served a year in an open prison, as well as having to cough up £5,000,000 in fines, smiled nastily.
“We’ll get him for you, bubeleh. We’ll hand his prick to you on a fucking plate. You can bank on it.”
Alan wiped the sweat off his upper lip with a sleeve. Once again, they hadn’t bothered to shake his hand on the way out. For which small mercy he was grateful.

He bent double over the bathroom sink and vomited. Watching the videos made him feel nauseous. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for and hadn’t found much out. The man was pretty obviously a sadistic psychopath but as for clues that might help catch him, well, there weren’t any. He wasn’t impressed by the confessions either as the victims might just be saying what they thought he wanted to hear.
Most of the interrogations, punishments and killings had been carried out in the basement of the house in Kilburn. The exceptions had been those dispatched in their own home and the few shot by sniper.
The MP, John Ball, had been killed whilst standing on a soapbox in his constituency’s town centre. The Russian Oligarch and owner of two Championship football clubs, Sirius Erlich, was leaving the BBC Television Centre after taking part in an edition of Question Time when a bullet entered his open mouth and removed the back of his head. The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Holly Chamberlain, and her husband, former Union leader, Seamus O’Driscoll, had been shot dead outside their home as they returned from the Music of Black Origin Awards. Ball was the first leading politician to die and Chamberlain and O’Driscoll, were the first non-Jewish, non-Muslim notables killed.
Were the chopper and the sniper one and the same? Almost certainly.
He turned to the Sayeeda Hussain video once again and stared at the still frame. He had switched off and run for the loo as the hooded man was carving the ‘H’ into her forehead. Her head was tilted back, her mouth was open at the scream and her eyes were screwed shut against the pain. Abdul fast-forwarded until he was back once more behind the camera. Hussain was tied to a chair, white-faced, dishevelled and shaking. The blood streaming from the seeping wound in her forehead was pooling in her eyes and she was unable to blink it away. He was asking her if she could remember what she said in on London Politics.
‘No. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’
‘Jesse Cherner put this question to you: ‘What have you got against white men?’ What was your reply?”
‘I don’t remember, really. Please, I’ll do anything. What do you want me to say?’ Abdul shook his head and reached for the remote control. He fast-forwarded a few more frames and pressed the play button again. There was no hint of malice or triumph. The voice was measured, robotic. It had been imposed upon the recording after the event but he felt sure the questions the voice was asking, and the tone in which they were put, would be pretty similar to the original.
‘Answer, please.’ Hussain’s head fell onto her chest and she sobbed.
‘I don’t remember,’ she wailed.
‘I will remind you. In answer to the question, ‘what have you got against white men,’ you replied, ‘I loathe them. I want them gone by the turn of the century.’
‘No! Please, I didn’t mean it!’
‘You remember now?’
‘It was a joke! I was being silly. I didn’t mean it!’
‘You thought let’s get rid of the white people would be a funny thing to say on national television?”
‘I shouldn’t have said it. Oh God, please, my husband will give you any money you want. He can get it. Please don’t hurt me any more!’
‘All over the western world, Mr White is in prison now for telling a light-hearted joke in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why do you think Mrs Brown didn’t go to jail’? Hussain was hysterical now and her reply inaudible.
‘Were you ever interviewed by the police for preaching the genocide of the white race?’
‘I wasn’t doing that!’ she screamed. ‘My husband is English!’
‘And yet you would be happy to see Mr England disappeared.’
‘No! Please stop twisting my words!’
‘‘I loathe them. I want them gone by the turn of the century.’’
‘I don’t remember saying that!’
‘You have said many similar things since you arrived here from Kenya seeking sanctuary.’
‘I’m so sorry!’
‘You weren’t sorry when you said you wanted people like my father and mother erased.’
‘Please, I didn’t say that!’
‘Would you care to see the video? The look on your face at the time was half way between a smirk and a look of distaste.’
‘Please, I’ll do anything. Anything!’
‘Then tell the truth. Why do you hate those who gave you sanctuary, a nice home, a rewarding career and the right to sneer at the finest people on the planet?
‘I don’t hate them! I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again, I promise, on my daughter’s life.’
‘If you don’t hate the white man, why did you say you wanted him gone by the end of the century?’ Hussain threw up in her lap. ‘You have never said you wanted the black, brown or yellow man gone. Not even as a joke.’ She was groaning now and shaking her head. ‘What did I say would happen to you if you lied?’ Hussain screamed and a hooded man was seen moving out from behind the camera.
Struggling frantically against the ties binding her to the chair, it toppled sideways and she disappeared from view. Ignoring her, the man reached into a bowl on the workbench and held several strips of maggot-infested bacon towards the camera. Then, as his victim continued to scream and plead for her life, he bent down and righted the chair. Reaching behind for the bacon, he demonstrated it to the camera once again and, jerking her head backwards, began stuffing it into the journalist’s open mouth. Finally he wrapped a length of silver duct tape several times around the lower half of her face. Struggling for air and choking as she was, what he did next wasn’t really necessary.

It was a regular game by now. After a bit the cops had him in asking what he’d got to hide. So it was you following me, was it, cuntstable? I thought it was a felon! My lawyers will be in touch for police harassment! He’d rehearsed that last bit and was pleased at the way it’d come out. Anyway, they couldn’t do much more than grumble. There wasn’t any law about giving the cops the slip when they weren’t supposed to be following you in the first place.
Steve walked up to one end of the carriage and peered through the glass doors to the next one. Empty. He did the same at the other end. Two wogs and a Darby and Joan. They didn’t look much like MI5 but he wasn’t taking any chances. He’d get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way. He waited until the last moment before jumping through the doors as they closed. Just like the bad guy did in the French Connection, except the other way round.
He was the only person who got off at Canada Water. As he left the station he took a bobble hat out of his pocket and pulled it over his head. Then he hunched his shoulders up and looked down at his feet. A hundred yards down the road he stopped and looked up. Shading his eyes and squinting, he searched the sky for helicopters. He would pop into a café when he got to Surrey Quays. Steve wanted to be on time.

Police interview - 13.40 hours - 29 September.

Detective: You have no regrets?
Suspect: No.
Detective: I’m sure that, if no one knew what you had done, most people would believe you to be a reasonable man. What do you say to those who describe you as a monster who knows neither mercy nor compassion?
Suspect: Our enemies have done their best to see the British people relegated in the country their ancestors built for them. And yet, the politician who encourages and promotes the foreigner here, makes war upon him in his own land. The global elite are happy to murder and disenfranchise innocent millions. We are content to revenge ourselves upon the guilty few. Do you spot the difference, Inspector?

“Phone,” said Adrian, pointing. Abdul picked it up. “Someone asking for Mohammed Mohammed.”
“Is that Chief Inspector George Mohammed Mohammed I am speaking to, please?”
“I’m only an Inspector, Ahmed.”
“Only an Inspector? When every cat and his dog knows you should be a Squadron Leader by now?” Something must be up for Ahmed to call him at work, to call him at all in fact. “Are you sure you don’t want me to sue Scotland Yard for racism, which can be the only reason for your disgraceful lack of progress!”
“Ahmed, stop, please! Why are you phoning me? What’s wrong?”
“A cousin cannot phone without there being something wrong?”
“Ahmed!”
“Your Uncle Anwar is dead.”
“Uncle Anwar?” He couldn’t remember an Uncle Anwar.
“Yes. He was run over by a most negligent Polish immigrant bus driver, who, it must be remembered, often drive on the wrong side of the road whilst blind drunk. I have lodged the papers this morning and intend to take the bus company to the dry cleaners. If Allah wills it, Auntie Aisha will have something nice to remember Uncle Anwar by.”
“How old was Uncle Anwar?” asked Abdul, who couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Ninety-four and fit as a fiddle, if visually challenged in a very small way. I have reserved a place for you at the funeral.”
“I’m very busy, Ahmed. It’s this mass-murderer. I don’t know if I can get away.”
“Tell them your family insist and the Metropolitan policemen will be sued for racism if they object!”
“It’s not like that Ahmed. It’s just that I’m needed, you see.”
“What? You are the only intelligent policeman on the case? I will complain to the Home Office! This is why the most wanted serial killer in all human history has not been caught! The lazy, racist boys in blue are getting you to do their dirty jobs for them! Please tell these absolute boneheads you are in desperate need of a some down and up time in the highly intelligent bosom of your family!”
‘Down and up time’ with the ‘family’ was the last thing Abdul needed. But, in the end, he gave in and agreed to go to the funeral just to get rid of his cousin. And besides, he had three weeks to figure out a suitable excuse. And if he absolutely had to attend, he consoled himself with the thought that women were not allowed at Muslim funerals. So his Auntie Najibah would not be there. And Ahmed hadn’t mentioned a reception. If he hadn’t been told about it he could say he had an appointment. The phone was ringing again. He let it ring. Adrian gave him a funny look and picked it up.
“It’s for Mohammed Mohammed again,” he said, passing it to him.
“You will, of course, be expected at the reception,” said Ahmed.
“No!” yelled Abdul. But Ahmed had already rung off. “No! I have no details! I don’t know where the funeral is! How can I be there if I have no details?” Abdul looked around for a way out then hurried off to get his coat.
“Fax coming through,” said Betty Turner, the duty Sergeant.
“It’s not for me,” yelled Abdul as he ran out of the door.
“Is it for Mohammed Mohammed?” asked Adrian.
“Chief Inspector George Mohammed Mohammed,” replied Betty, looking perplexed. Adrian winked at her and said he would leave it on the newly promoted fellow’s desk.

Steve got to Surrey Quays with half an hour to spare. He hung around for a bit, smoked a fag and tried to look as though he was waiting for a bird. He’d passed a little café round the corner about 50 yards down. They didn’t have much. A few bits of cake, that was all. Still, he hadn’t seen anything better since so he decided to pop back. When he got there he walked in and asked the nog behind the counter for a cup of tea and pointed to the bit of cake he wanted.
“What?”
“That bit of cake, mate. There! In the window! Look!” The black fucker was staring at him like he was a Martian or something. That bloody awful hip-hop crap was banging away in the background too. No wonder he couldn’t hear. What a bleedin’ dive. “Can I have it? That cake,” asked Steve, raising his voice. “And a cuppa? Please!”
“Dat cake be plastic,” said the black man, looking fierce. “Dis be a chicken shop.”
“Fuck me,” said Steve. “What kind of a café is this anyway? Plastic fucking cake? Where’s all the regular cake?” Steve waited for a reply but didn’t get one. “Jesus! Give us a box of chicken, then. And a cup of tea. Come on, ‘urry up, I’ve got to be somewhere in ten minutes!”
“Got no tea, ‘ere, man. You best be off.”
“You what? No tea either! You’ll be tellin’ me you’ve got no bleedin’ chicken next!” The man continued to stare. Steve didn’t want any trouble, he knew he had to meet the boss but this rude bleeder was beginning to irritate him.
“We got chicken. And ‘den we got chicken. If you get my meanin.’”
“Yes, well, gimme a piece of chicken then, for fuck’s sake, and then I’ll fuck off.”
“No need to swear, man. No need for dat. I tink you best be leavin’ now.” Steve swore again, under his breath this time, and looked at his watch. He wanted to pursue the matter but he was running out of time.
“You ain’t heard the last of this, mate,” he said turning to leave.
“Ain’t ‘eard the last of what?” asked a surly-looking youth, who’d materialised out of nowhere and was now blocking Steve’s path. Two others sidled up beside him. He looked at his watch again.
“I needs me a watch,” said the first youth.
“Give ‘im the watch, man,” said the second. Steve grinned.
“He laughin’ at us, man,” said number three
“What you laughing at us fo,’ man? We don’ be comedians.”
“You de fuckin’ comedian. White shit comin’ in ‘ere, not ‘earin’ de last of it.”
“You come in our territory widout permission, you got to pay a fee.”
“You gots to pay de price.” Steve looked towards the man behind the counter. No help there. Watching the proceedings with a mouth full of gold on show. Thinking it was funny.
“Told you to leave, man. It ain’t healthy for mouthy white shit round ‘ere,” he sniggered.
“You got nuffin’ to say for yourself, white shit?” asked the youth at the back. Steve made to go but again his path was blocked. “You wants to leave ‘ere in one piece, you gots to pay, man.”
“You gots to pay all of us,” said the first youth slowly drawing a kitchen knife out of his waistband. “What you be tinkin’ about, man? You be ‘tinkin evil toughts?” All four were grinning now.
Steve reached for his wallet. The leader moved in, immediately suspicious. “What you doin,’ man? You shanked up, yeah?”
“Dat cracker ‘bout to stab you, man. I see it in ‘is eyeballs,” said number two.
“Evil. ‘Dere be pure evil in dat devil gaze,” agreed the third.
“You gonna kill me, man?” Steve smiled, easing his wallet back into his pocket.
“That cracker be laughin’ at us again, man,” protested number three.
At which point the first youth lashed out with the knife.
Steve leaned back and grabbed his wrist. Pushing it to the side, he whacked the knifeman hard in the throat with the heel of his hand. Turning away, he kicked out at the youth’s knee. Then the others were on him. A quick fist slid by his ear and, as the second youth followed through, Steve stuck a thumb in his eye. He took shelter from the third’s blows behind the second, whom he’d managed to get in a stranglehold.
When he bit into the second youth’s ear, he screamed and pushed against the counter with both feet, which sent him and Steve flying backwards. Steve spat out what he’d bitten off and continued to apply his full force to his adversary’s windpipe. The third youth kept trying to stamp on him but Steve was pretty agile and managed to dodge most of his clumsy efforts as he kicked out at his shins.
The mouthful of gold yelled at the stamper to ‘get the knife and stab the fucker’ as he ran from behind the counter towards the door. The first youth, who was still on the floor, eyes bulging, coughing and holding his knee, held out the knife to his pal.
‘I’m going to be late,” thought Steve. “The boss is going to think I’m a right tart.’

The door burst open as the proprietor fiddled with the key.
“You can’t come in ‘ere, Mister, we closed.”
Number three giggled as the blood blossomed on Steve’s shirt. He had hold of his wrist but there was only so much you could do with one hand when the opposition had two to push with. Then the giggling and the pushing stopped and the giggler looked a bit overcome. As you would if your lower lip had just been ripped off. Then his head exploded. Some of the resultant debris spattered over Steve’s new jacket.
“Shit!” he said. “I just bought this special!” The first youth looked up and saw the silenced pistol.
“We was only kidding,” he croaked, still massaging his knee. The man shot him in the eye and instructed Steve to let number two go. Steve wasn’t too sure who was giving him orders but the authoritative tone made him stop trying to choke the life out of his adversary. The man took hold of his arm and helped him up. Steve knew who his saviour was now.
“Sorry boss,” he said plaintively. “They started it.” He noticed the blood. “It’s only a scratch, honest.” He heard the door creak and looked around. The chicken shop proprietor, who didn’t look the least bit happy now, was persuaded to stay.
“Nothing to do with me, mister,” he said, echoing Steve. “It was them. Dey niggers did it.”
“Did you try to stop them?”
“Dey be armed, man,” he said fearfully. “Armed and ‘stremely dangerous. All de youf be de same dese days.” He was told to lock the door and pull down the blinds.
“Anyone else in here?” He shook his head. “Let’s have a look at it.” Steve lifted his shirt.
“It doesn’t hurt, boss,” he lied. The proprietor pointed towards the back of the shop when asked for the bathroom. They disappeared leaving Steve feeling a bit anxious. The boss usually saw the funny side but hadn’t smiled once yet. He came back alone, still looking a bit upset and asked him if he had ever killed anyone.
“I’m not sure, boss. I’ve left a few in a heap.”
He looked towards the second youth who was gasping for breath and massaging his throat. Steve said nothing. The man walked him to the back of the shop and handed over his silenced pistol.
“Take aim, put a bullet in the middle of his back, wait a second and then do it again.” Steve did as he was told and handed the gun back. His hand was shaking. The man led him through the shop to the bathroom to where the terrified proprietor was seated on the toilet. He washed his hands and began to clean the hole in Steve’s side. He had found some antiseptic and plastered the whole tube over the seeping wound. After pronouncing himself satisfied, he told him he’d sew it up later and told him to keep the black guy covered.
He spent the next ten minutes cleaning up the blood Steve had shed. There wasn’t much, his shirt seemed to have soaked up most of it. Then he washed his hands again and had a look around. When he got back he took a brightly coloured kaftan out of his pocket and told him to put it on over his jacket. Steve was horrified.
“It’s been worn by a wog this, boss.” After the boss gave him a look he put it on, complaining as he did so. “You wouldn’t catch me dead in this bollocks. Shit, I feel itchy already. I mean look at it. I look like Nelson bleedin’ Mandela.”
“So, what about him?” he asked.
“‘Ow do you mean?”
“What do you want to do with him?” Steve looked at the proprietor.
“Please don’t kill me, man. I’ll say it was niggers that did it, honest.” He remembered the mouth full of gold and him telling one of the others to get the knife.
“In cold blood?” he whispered.
“We’re at war, son,” replied the man quietly. Steve looked down. He still held the gun. He lifted it quickly and put two bullets in the proprietor’s chest.
He knew he should torch the place but there were flats above and on both sides of the shop, so he put it to the back of his mind. Before they left he flushed the drugs he found under the counter down the toilet and stuffed the contents of the till and the proprietor’s wallet into the pocket of Steve’s pants.
Steve, who was in shock, didn’t notice.

Chapter 3


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