JusticeMature

While Beth was occupying herself in the shower, Lawrence got dressed and made his way to Abigail's former residence. The body, much to the chagrin of Donnelly's team, had been moved, so all they had to look for was other forensic evidence. But there didn't seem to be any. The killer, whoever he or she was, had obviously been very meticulous in their calculations. There was no doubt that the body had been moved from the site of the killing. Faint, small droplets of blood adorned the staircase, and although too small to be seen by the human eye amongst the many fibres of the carpet, they were picked up a treat by the scanners. These same drops of blood were found at the foot of the stairs and on the path outside. They suddenly stopped at a dark corner of the garden, close to the shed. So this was where the dreadful deed had been done! Lawrence tried to imagine the fear and sheer terror going through this girl in the moments before her death. He couldn't. This seemed like a hopeless case. And if the criminology department were anything to go by, this was part of a serial killing. However, he had searched all the police records of serial homicides, and had found nothing even remotely fitting the description of this case. So, thought Lawrence, I have to consider the possibility that poor Abigail is the first victim of a killing spree.

But he couldn't jump to conclusions - this could be just a plain common-or-garden murder. In any case, whether this was a singular occurrence, or part of something much bigger, all Abigail's parents wanted was justice. And if the team didn't get their act together, they would be eternally waiting, and it was quite plausible that many other would be too.

Lawrence preferred cases like this. 'Liked' was the wrong word; only a complete sadist could enjoy a murder. Although sometimes it was hard to see any remorse in the eyes of those in the dock, Lawrence knew it was there. He tried not to think about it until after sentence was passed. It was easier to convict a man was a cold-blooded killer, that one considered a victim of society. Whenever another case like this came up, Lawrence switched on his analytical brain,, and left all traces of sentiment behind. He guessed this was why this particular case was proving such a challenge - the situation with Beth made it difficult to distinguish between good and bad. This, he decided, was his problem. Normally he would have been able to solve this in a heartbeat. 'Perhaps I'm just becoming a forgetful old fool' he sighed. At that moment, (although he hated to admit it) he could have sworn he heard the wind whistle the answer: 'Don't give up yet'.

That afternoon, Donnelly thought the team's time would be best spent in the local archives. It was clear that they would make no headway with Abigail's more pressing matter without at least partially solving the mystery of the monks. But this was proving much harder than it looked. The archives were sparsely populated as it was, without the team having such a patchy knowledge of their subject. An ancient curator sat behind a desk covered in dust. Lawrence was surprised to find that he did not even have a computer. When he made his request for any books about the history of the monastery, the old man looked at him blankly for a moment, then directed him to a small, almost empty shelf on his right. 

'Third book from the left.' he said in a monotone croaky voice. He did not smile.

'Thank you...Geoff.' Lawrence said, reading the curator's name tag. He tried to smile, but Geoff only grimaced back.

'Miserable old sod...' said Lawrence to himself. Geoff looked up sharply, and Lawrence sneered as he turned around, 'What'r you going to do to me, old man?' But who was he to judge the old? He was no spring chicken. He had to stop thinking like this. It would be just his luck if he ended up as a bitter, ugly character like Geoff. Just his bloody luck.

He found the shelf, and the book, and settled down in a corner. Various members of the Kent Police and his own squad were dotted around the damp, dark room. O'Connor was snickering at what seemed to be a book titled 'The Medieval Church and it's Power'. Lawrence knew what was concealed underneath however. Some form of comic magazine, no doubt. That man had a child's mind. The Inspector did not waste his time on such trivial things. Comics were for children and simple minded police officers as far as he was concerned.

He looked down at the large, hardback book on his lap. The title read 'A History of St Sebastian's'. Well, he thought, at least the first page is encouraging. The joy, however, was shortlived, when he got past the cover. The text was small, and even thought Lawrence had fairly decent eyesight. he found it hard to read. It was double columned, and the paper was of that thin type that old publishers always seemed to favour. Lawrence tried desperately to find a word or phrase of interest, but there was nothing. He skimmed past 'The Problems of Building St Sebastian's' and 'St Sebastian's during the Norman Conquest'. Finally, he found something that could be of use. 'Superstition and Curses'.

'Oi, O'Connor!' he shouted, 'Come over here a minute, will you?'

'I'm on my way Inspector!' Timothy yelled back. He hadn't gone but a few steps when Geoff emerged from his drunken-like stupor and snapped, 

'Will you be quiet?!? Some of us have work to do!'

'Shut up gramps...' grumbled O'Connor. He turned to Lawrence: 'He's a right arsehole, isn't he?'

'Yes, yes...' hurried Lawrence, 'He is, but just look at this a minute. I think this is the answer to all our problems.'

'What, really? Y'mean it'll pay my rent?'

'You numpty, of course not! I mean, our problems with the monks! I Think I've found the key to all of this. And it's all inside these pages!'

The two officers flipped through the pages of the ancient book. All the words were a blur, full of phrases Lawrence had never seen before. Hocus pocus and abracadabra were of no use to him. He had always thought these were words of children's fairytales - but it turns out that medieval people actually thought the phrases held magical powers. How times change, he thought.

Finally they found a page of interest. There was a diagram of sorts. It reminded Lawrence of a crude Vivitruvian Man. A figure was drawn in vague stick form, spread out, with a circle drawn around the body. The real thing that stood out was the almost surgical instrument that was drawn in great detail next to it. The caption read:

'The Knife of Jerusalem is intertwined with St Sebastian's immensely. It is unclear whether the knife is fictional or not, but legend tells that when the object is used in sacrifice by its rightful owner, Doomsday will happen. There have been several attempts to find the legendary knife, the most recently in 1897. Needless to say, all of these expeditions have been unsuccessful. Academics have speculated that nobody actually wants to discover the knife, because of the threat around it. This 'threat' and the promise of Judgment Day is know in theological circles as "The Angel's Curse" '

'You see,' Lawrence said, 'What we're dealing with is obviously a modern-day fanatical. This person, whoever they may be, seriously believes they can make the world end!'

'But what I don't understand, Inspector, is why they would bother writing the obviously fake curse, before proceeding to commit the murder. It makes no sense.' Sergeant O'Connor shook his head in an uncharacteristically grim fashion, 'It's almost as if this murderer wants to get caught. They've given us so many clues, it's unreal!'

'Yet we still can't catch them. It's not stupidity if that's what you mean. This person whom from my profiling is most probably a man, is very intelligent. He's playing us; stringing us along. He's set up these two different lines of enquiry, for no other purpose than to confuse us. This is a man who knows how we work, and how best to get away with his hideous crimes. Therefore it is logical to start the investigation from the inside. It is quite clear that none of our officers could have been responsible, for purely logistical reasons. But perhaps the Kent squad? They knew about this before anyone else, didn't they? It would be easy for one of them to start us off on the wrong trail.' Lawrence's eyes blazed with excitement.

'Excuse me, but if I could interrupt, Sir,' said O'Connor delicately, 'But that is a pretty serious accusation. I think you should talk to Donnelly before you start questioning out English colleagues. I don't think he'll take to it, to be honest. It's one thing to not rule anything out - but it's quite another to accuse one of another force for no apparent reason.'

'I suppose you're right,' sighed Lawrence, 'But I don't think I could bear it if this ...bastard got away with stealing another life away. That's all he is; a thief. A common petty thief.' He spat on the ground, not caring about Geoff's disapproving looks from across the dark room, 'That's what I think about this whole business. So I don't care if Donnelly thinks my methods are rash, if they help me catch Abigail's murderer. And I think her family would agree with me.'

The Inspector stood up defiantly, with what O'Connor recognised as his 'determined face' on. He snapped the book shut, with the sound of old binding glue breaking. He felt a few pages give way and fall to the ground. Lawrence hastily picked them up, praying that Geoff hadn't seen. But it was hopeless. Try as he might, Lawrence could not escape the deeply disapproving and unhelpful glare of the curator. He smiled back sheepishly, but it was no use. The old man cleared his ancient throat and shouted at the top of his voice,

'Hey you! Yes you! How dare you damage this property! That book's a first edition - any serious collector would pay hundreds for it! And you broke it! You'll have to pay, you know!'

'Fine, fine - I'll pay!' Lawrence said irritably, 'How much do you want for it?'

'Oh, the value of that book is immeasurable. However, I'm willing to sell the damaged copy for £250.'

Lawrence blinked in disbelief. 'Make it £150, and you've got yourself a deal.'

'Oh alright then,' said the curator, equally surprised that the Inspector had agreed to actually buy the book, 'But if I ever see your face in here again, I'll have you removed by security. Do you understand?'

'Perfectly,' Lawrence said whilst inserting his VISA card into the machine. £150 was a lot of money, especially with the extortionate exchange rate, but it didn't matter. It would be useful for the investigation, and he could claim the money back when they arrived in Dublin. He picked up his purchase, and with Timothy at his side like a faithful spaniel, left the gloomy building for the bright sunlight of the monastery grounds.

 

The End

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