After the revelations of that morning, Lawrence felt he deserved a break; away from O'Connor and his fascination with rats. He was sure it was unhealthy for a young man to have such an obsession with rodents. Perhaps it was part of being involved with the murder squad. You had to have an obsession to keep you sane. Lawrence supposed his would have to be wallowing in the misery of his life, which if not exactly keeping him sane, at least gave him something to do. Timothy seemed to have a less morbid, if not bizarre, hobby: collecting rats. He had been most upset when he had been informed he would not be able to bring any of them to Kent. Usually he had at least one on him when they were investigating. This was probably not very hygienic, thought Lawrence, but the team had learned to live with the rats, and rather missed them when they were not around.
They had made no headway with the case. So far, all Lawrence could see was that some monks had been a little bit naughty and somebody had decided to bury them in a wall. Admittedly, they had been stabbed and knocked out while this was happening, but Lawrence (or anyone else for that matter) had no interest in the investigation at all. He was a police officer, not an archaeologist. He lived for the present; the 14th century was no use to him. Lawrence's mind was made up-he would go straight to Donnelly the next morning and tell him he was off the case. Then again, he couldn't help thinking there was something more sinister at work behind that 'curse'. He had no idea what it could be though. Lawrence did not believe for one second that it had anything to do with 'Judgment Day'. How could it? He could not understand why everyone else was so scared. After all, the logic was all wrong. The police had moved the bodies a few days ago, and so far nothing had happened that even gave the slightest hint the world was going to end. If God was going to end the world because of some dead monks, Lawrence though he would have done it sooner rather than later, or after nine hundred years he must have forgotten. God was fickle like that, though Lawrence, this curse is a win-win situation for Him. If the world does end, while it's happening, people will say, 'You see, God said He would make this happen!' and everyone will be in awe of Him. If it doesn't end, then people forget, or they don't blame God, at any rate. He is pretty much safe, as far as blame goes.
The officers checked into a hotel across the street from the monastery for the night. It was not a particularly nice hotel, but it would have to do. The police purse strings obviously could not stretch to paying for four rooms, so Lawrence was most put out when he discovered O'Connor was sharing a room with him. Naturally, Beth got her own room, as she was the only female on the team, and Donnelly had managed to secure himself a whole suite. Whoever said the police force wasn't corrupt any more was a complete liar, though Lawrence.
Tired from their journey, and spending the day in a muddy field with a highly- strung pathologist, the officers decided to relax by playing cards. They started off by playing an innocent game of Rummy, but by the end of the evening Lawrence found himself caught up in a very expensive poker match. The next morning he decided this was all down to Beth's persuasiveness, but everybody else knew it was because he couldn't say no to whiskey. That night he managed to lose his watch, wallet and even his shirt to Beth. Not that he minded-Lawrence knew he was still in love with her, whether she was married or not. But love her as he did, he needed to find a way to get his wallet back. It had his ID in it, for Christ's sake! Lawrence then vowed never to drink again.
But that morning all memory of the poker match went out of Lawrence's mind when he saw Donnelly's face at breakfast. The Superintendent's face looked like he had been up all night. He knew this meant only one thing-a murder. He sidled up to the table, 'So, what have we got, Super?'
Donnelly sighed and gave a relieved grin, 'You know, sometime I reckon you can read minds Alexei.' He produced a heavy file from his briefcase and laid it on the table, '14-year-old girl, from Hick's Lane, just around the corner from St Sebastian's. Found dead in her bedroom at midnight last night. Definitely not accidental.' He coughed, 'Sorry, I always get this when I have a case. The doctor says it's a nervous tic. Speaking of which, guess who's coming to meet us today about the monks?'
'Who?' Lawrence replied.
'That Dr Hudson chap.'
'Sorry,' Lawrence shook his head, 'I don't recall-'
'The elderly man, completely obsessed with medieval history. He came to visit the station in Dublin.'
'Oh yes, I remember now! He was absolutely potty about the Middle Ages, wasn't he? So I take it we're still taking on the case of the long-dead monks? If you don't mind me asking, why? Surely this girl's death is the priority now?'
'Well, the fact is, Lawrence, I think the deaths of the four monks and the murder of this girl could have some connection,' Donnelly buttered some toast and bit into it, 'Ow, I ink ee av to inveshtigate.'
'I said,' said Donnelly, swallowing, 'So, I think we'll have to investigate. I didn't tell you how the girl was murdered, did I?'
'No sir, you forgot. We got carried away by Dr Hudson and your nervous cough.'
'No need to be surly, Inspector. Anyway, this girl, Abigail, was found in her bedroom. You would never guess what her injuries were-'
'Blow to the head, then stabbed in the chest and thigh, by any chance?'
Donnelly jumped to his feet, 'By God, Inspector, you're absolutely right! I had my doubts when PC Doherty suggested you for the team, but now I can definitely see why I hired you! Anyway, of course I don't believe in any of this superstitious nonsense, but the other members of this investigation do. '
'They can't believe that Abigail's death was brought about by this 'curse', surely?' said Lawrence in disbelief.
'That's exactly what they do think has happened. And another thing that it setting them on edge is the fact that Abigail was an Atheist. Her parents say she had refused to go to church with them for the last three years.'
'And this is relevant for what reason?' asked Lawrence.
'Honestly Inspector, do you remember anything at all? The so-called 'curse' states that 'Judgment Day will be brought upon the heretics'. At that time, a heretic could be anyone who didn't believe in God enough for the sovereign's liking. But the 'enemies' of the medieval Church were Atheists, without a doubt. Not that there were many at that time, of course. Which is another reason to suspect not four extremely old ghosts, but someone who is very much alive now.'
'And now the question is, what can we do about them?'