CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1) (2 page)

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
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“Fantastic,” Tracey replied. “Anyhow, I’ve got some other
bits of news that might interest you.”

“Go on,” Pauline prompted.

“I went to Jim Broadbent’s funeral last week; he’d
been living in a home and he’d been ill for some time.”

A shiver shot straight down Pauline’s spine as she
fell silent. “Oh… I’m… I’m sorry,” she spluttered out, her mind awash with ghastly
feelings.

“And the second bit of news is that I bumped into
Dave Silvers at the funeral, and he mentioned that a month before Jim passed
away, Christian Bulmer had also died; he’d been out fishing, had one too many
and fallen overboard.”

“Oh dear. What a shame,” Pauline said sarcastically,
then added, “Sorry if I don’t sound sincere, but how ironic is that? I used to
do all the work while he spent his time either fishing or drinking.”

“You don’t have to apologise; by the end I think I
disliked him more than you and Gerrard did.”

“Gerrard never forgave him for what he did to me; he
always blamed him for the miscarriage. He said one day he’d get his comeuppance.”
She looked skywards. “Perhaps he’s up there smiling.”

“I thought that snippet of news might cheer you up.
Anyway, I’ve got to go, Austin’s just walked back in; I’ll give you a call next
week, I haven’t had a chance to ask if you’re dating anyone.”

“That will be a long conversation; you’ll need a
bottle of wine at your side.”

“Okay, we’ll speak soon, bye.”

Pauline replaced the telephone and leant against the
tack room table. She inhaled deeply, but the aroma of newly cleaned saddlery
passed her by.
Bulmer and Broadbent; dead within weeks of one another; now
there’s a coincidence
.

 

 

Intense pain radiated throughout Hussain’s
whole body, as he slowly regained control of his faculties. He felt
disorientated. He tried to move, but his hands and feet were securely tied, and
the tape across his mouth prevented him from speaking. He became aware that he
was sitting in the passenger seat of his car looking out over Scammonden Dam; he
could see the M62 motorway in the distance, and he knew this place well, having
been to this desolate car park many times.

Illuminated by the car’s interior light, which had
been left on, he looked across and stared at his abductor who sat
expressionless in the driver’s seat. Panic then started to set in as he became conscious
of how difficult every breath was.

“Breathe deep long breaths and you’ll slowly start
to feel better,” the man said in a calm voice.

Hussain desperately tried to speak, “Mmm, mmm, mmm,”
he mumbled, his eyes filling with terror as he realised the predicament he
found himself in.

“Concentrate on your breathing,” the man insisted,
his stare fixed on his prisoner.

Hussain inhaled slowly; the tightness started to
ease and the breathing improved. In a moment of calm his eyes flicked up and
down his assailant, trying to fix a description in his memory.
About
six-foot medium muscular build. Blonde neatly trimmed hair, blue eyes, tanned,
well-spoken, possible ex-public school. Black lycra cycling shorts, a bright
orange high visibility cycling top, black cycling gloves, and black training
shoes.
Hussain wondered if he knew the man.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen
him before,
he concluded.
What does he want? And who is he?
“Woo rrr
woo?” he muttered.

The man ignored the question and sat silently
watching him.

Oh fuck, he’s going to burn the
car, with me in it,
Hussain thought, noticing a petrol can on the back seat. He started jumping
around, frantically trying to free his hands and feet.

“Sit still and be calm,” the man demanded. “There’s no
use wasting your energy, you’ll need it later, it won’t be long now.”

Realising the futility, Hussain acquiesced.

What’s he going to do?
he thought, as his imagination
went into overdrive.
Is he going to kill me? Why? What have I done wrong?
Has he mistaken me for someone else? Who? Is this about money? Is he going to
hold me to ransom? Why’s he chosen me? Work, work, he must think I handle money
at work, or that I can get my hand on some. How the hell did I end up in this
mess? Oh my God please help me…
Hussain glanced out of the passenger window
and looked around.
Oh thank you,
he thought, as through the gloom he saw
a four-by-four parked at the far end of the car park.
It must be a dog
walker, they can’t be far away, and they’ll be back soon. Somehow I’ll attract
their attention.

 

 

Hussain had been praying; all to
no avail, and by now the car park was in complete darkness, the only
distraction the lights of the vehicles travelling along the motorway. Then, he
heard a noise and spun to face his captor. In the darkness he managed to see
the man glancing at his watch, and, stretching forward, pick up a mobile phone
from the car’s instrument panel. The man switched the phone on and started
keying in a message.

What’s he up to?
Watching closely Hussain
realised the man was using a Blackberry.
That’s mine… What’s he doing?
“Mmm, mmm, mmm,” he mumbled, nodding his head towards the device.

The man ignored him and continued clicking away. When
he had finished he held the device up to Hussain’s face so he could read the e-mail
he had just composed.

Hi
Jules, I’m so sorry, but I can’t carry on with the deceit. I feel I’m ruining
everyone’s life. I’ll always love you, but I have to go. This is the only way
out for me now. Goodbye.  Abdul (MCXVI).

Hussain read it twice, his eyes widening as he felt
the numbness setting in.
This is about Julie. That’s why he’s brought me
here. Oh for fuck’s sake, I thought no-one knew about us. Has her husband found
out? Is this him, or has he paid someone to kill me?

As the Blackberry was moved away, it suddenly
started ringing and Hussain spotted ‘Home’ on the screen. In a futile attempt
to get through to the unanswered caller he cried out a muffled scream.

The man smiled and pressed the reject call button;
he checked his watch, waited a few more minutes, and checked it again; he pressed
the send button, dispatching the e-mail, and then turned the device off and
zipped it back in Hussain’s bomber jacket pocket.

“Wrrr?” Hussain yelled.

The man ignored the question and looked out of the
windscreen across towards the B6114 and the impressive Scammonden Bridge.

The pair sat in silence for another half hour and by
now Hussain accepted the grim reality that something terrible was going to
happen; he started praying again, asking for forgiveness. No-one as yet had
returned to the four-by-four and the crushing realisation that it might actually
belong to the man sitting next to him hit home.

“Mmm, mmm, mmm,” he mumbled, looking out towards the
vehicle.

The man smiled cynically.

Hussain slumped down in the seat. “Yet mm grw, uu
fkn bstd,” he called out.

“It won’t be long now,” the man replied, looking at
his watch. He then reached into the back of the vehicle for the rucksack.

This is it.
Hussain’s body gripped with fear.
He held his breath and watched the man take a black hoodie slowly out of the bag…
Oh, my God.

The man put the hoodie on over his cycling top.

Thank God
. Then Hussain jumped, as the
car’s engine startled him.
Where’s he taking me?

The man drove calmly out of the car park, through
the darkness around the dam and up towards the B6114 and the Scammonden Bridge.
Just before he reached the bridge he pulled into a makeshift car park area. “This
is where you go to sleep again,” he said.

This time Hussain saw the stun gun heading for the same
side of his neck and instinctively tried to pull away. But, being tied, he was
unable to avoid the inevitable and for the second time that evening felt a
terrific shock as another several thousand volts fired through his body. He
went rigid and tried in vain to fight the effects of the shock, but instantly,
he was incapacitated.

The man swiftly removed the tape from Hussain’s
mouth and cut the ties securing his wrists and ankles, throwing them all in the
back of the car. He then got out, went around to the passenger side and pulled
the limp body from the vehicle. He walked the few yards to the bridge, dragging
Hussain, holding his arm and supporting the weight on his back and side.

The rope was already tied to the balustrade railings
ready for use, having been hidden behind one of the Samaritans’ helpline signs.
The man moved quickly, first pinning Hussain against the railings, then placing
the noose carefully around his neck, and hoisting him up onto the balustrade.

Where am I?
Hussain thought, confused and
dizzy in the darkness of the unlit night. He felt his hands touching the cold
balustrade and as the fresh Pennine breeze blew across the bridge it brought
some reality to his mind; on hearing the steady flow of fast moving traffic
beneath him he realised too late where he was. He felt the air rushing past and
the sensation of free-falling before a sudden jolt, an explosion of pain, and then
nothing.

 

 

The man moved off the bridge, his
heartbeat faster than normal as he focused on what needed to be done next. He walked
back to the car, got in, started it up and drove to the car park where he’d
been earlier. Again it was completely empty with the exception of the
four-by-four. After gathering the ties and tape off the back seat he placed them
in the rucksack and removed it from the vehicle. He then poured the contents of
the petrol can — which Hussain had spotted in the back — in and over the car
and threw the car keys and the empty plastic can onto the front seat, before
setting the vehicle alight.

Illuminated by the flickering orange glow of the
fire he calmly carried the rucksack over to the four-by-four, pressed the key
fob, opened the vehicle and got in, placing the bag on the passenger seat. He
drove out of the car park and headed back to retrieve the bicycle from the lane
where the abduction had taken place.

It was just after midnight as he was heading north.

 

Chapter 2

Friday 23
rd
March –
Friday 30
th
March.

 

Pauline Crean was woken abruptly
by the buzzing of her mobile. She glanced at the screen and realised it was the
entrance gate’s intercom.
Who’s this?
Then, noticing the time, instead
of answering she went straight over to her laptop, flipped it open, and within
seconds was looking at pictures from the CCTV camera at the gates. She smiled
and answered the phone. “Hello, stranger, what unearthly hour do you call
this?”

“Hi, Sexy, sorry, the flight was delayed; it didn’t
land until three-thirty. I came straight here. Can you let me in please?”

She pressed 3 on the phone, waited for the beeps,
and pressed 8 to terminate the call. She watched the gates swing open and
Jonathan Plant drive through in his silver Mercedes ML 350. She closed the
laptop, pulled on a dressing gown and went downstairs to meet him. The dogs
were already in the hallway barking frantically, having heard the vehicle pull
up outside; she deactivated the security alarm and when she opened the front
door the dogs bounded out to confront the visitor.

“Hello boys,” Plant said, bending down to make a
fuss of them.

“Right, that’s enough,” Pauline scolded. The dogs
immediately disappeared back indoors, and she walked over and hugged Plant.
“I’ve missed you,” she said scowling, “but I’m far from happy. We need to talk.
Come inside, I’ll make some coffee.”

“Rough night?” he asked, closing the door behind
him.

“Oh, sorry, I had some unsettling news; got in a
state, and mistakenly thought a bottle of wine would help.”

“What news?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Pauline!”

“I’d rather not speak about it.” She wasn’t going to
be drawn.

“Okay, I get the message.”

“Good,” she said. “Now how about that coffee?”

She went to the kitchen while he settled in the
sitting room; when she brought the coffees through she deliberately chose to sit
away from him on the opposite sofa.

“So what do we need to discuss?” he asked, taking a
sip from the cup.

She was curt. “How long are you here for?”

“The weekend, I hope, if you’ll allow me to stay,
then I’m flying out to South America for a few weeks. Is there a problem?”

She sighed and shook her head. “That’s exactly the
problem… I’m sick and tired of hanging around waiting for you to show up. You
should know by now, I’m not the type of person who likes being messed about.
The occasional telephone call might help, but you never think to ring me. And
it’s not as if I can ring you. Your phone’s always switched off and when I
leave a message, it will be days before you get back to me. E-mailing’s a joke,
when do you check your inbox, once a month?”

“Pauline, as I’ve explained, it’s the nature of my
job. . .”

“Yes, let’s discuss your elusive job,” she snapped,
getting more annoyed. “You supposedly work for the Foreign Office, something to
do with the Diplomatic Service,” she scoffed.

“Yes.” He calmly took another sip of coffee.

“Well, why can’t you ever state where you’re
working, I mean specifically working? You always give the continent, never the
destination: Europe, Asia, South America, Africa… What are you hiding?”

“Nothing. It’s because some of my work is
confidential and highly sensitive. I simply can’t disclose where or what I’m
doing.”

“It’s MI5 or MI6, isn’t it?”

He smiled and shook his head. “No it isn’t, but I’m
flattered you think it is.”

“Don’t deny it, you’re the exact type; you have that
look of superiority, that cockiness, that I’m-in-charge attitude, I’m
unflappable, nothing bothers me; you ooze confidence, you’re articulate,
intelligent, good looking; need I go on?”

“When did good looks become an entry requirement for
the Secret Intelligence Service?”

“You see, you even refer to it by its official
title, admit it, you’re a Secret Agent.”

“Pauline, you’ve been reading too many books. And
even if I was, which I’m not, I couldn’t admit to it.” He paused and frowned. “Are
you trying to tell me it’s over?” his tone was softer, with a hint of sadness.

“How long have you known me?” She wasn’t letting go
that easily; she wanted resolution and him to demonstrate commitment.

“Eight months.”

“Right, thirty-two weeks to be exact, and in that
time, you’ve stayed here four weekends, one full week, and we’ve had a week
together at the villa. That’s a total of twenty-two days out of two hundred and
twenty-four. I used to see Gerrard more than that, and he worked all over the
world. I’d know which hotel he was staying in, and he’d always ring every
couple of days to check how I was. And if I had a problem, he’d fly straight
here and sort it out.”

“Pauline, he had his own personal jet, and with one
click of the fingers could organise a flight home. I don’t have that luxury,
I’m sometimes days from civilisation and I’m not contactable.”

She sighed; this wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“And besides, I’m not Gerrard,” he added.

“I know that,” she snapped, “but I need stability in
a relationship, to feel cared for, feel wanted and not to be left dangling on a
thread. I was so cheesed off the other week, I chatted someone up in a bar.”

He smiled, sipped his coffee and tilted his head
ever so slightly.

“You’re not bothered are you?”

“What happened?”

“Nothing happened. I stopped it before anything
could. Besides, he was half my age.”

“So there was nothing to be bothered about.”

His smugness irritated her. “You drive me insane,”
she snapped. “You’re intolerable, insufferable and damn near impossible.” She
looked away and chewed her lip. “The problem is I like being with you,” she
conceded. “I must be completely mad.”

He appeared to be holding back a smile. “So now
you’ve got that off your chest, where does it leave us?”

She sat in silence and looked down at her coffee cup
which was still full. “I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head slowly. “When
you’re not here I get wound up; I want to finish with you. And when you turn
up, I don’t want you to leave.”

He gave the thinnest of smiles. “I may have a
solution. I’m thinking of retiring after my current assignment; I’m getting
tired of the hassle. I can draw my pension when I reach fifty, and I’ve already
made tentative enquiries with my superiors. . .”

“Do you mean M, or P, or is it Q? That’s how you all
refer to one another; no one has a name, just a letter. Which one are you?” she
quipped. “Let me guess; X.” Her mood had lightened at the news of a potential
solution.

“Anyhow, my superior, F-B,” he grinned, “has agreed
in principal.”

“Wow, two initials, he must really be important.”

“Some of us have three,” he raised his eyebrows.

“Don’t tempt me.”

He grinned again. “So, if you can stand to be around
someone who has that I’m-in-charge attitude, oozes confidence, is articulate,
intelligent, extremely good looking, and is intolerable, insufferable and
impossible… then we may be able to spend more time together.”

“That was just about a word perfect recollection of
what I said. Did it take F-B long to teach you that?” Feeling better, she
smiled.

“Is that an acceptable solution?”

“I suppose it’s a start,” she concluded.

 

Saturday 24
th
March.

 

The investigating officer on
Abdul Hussain’s death was Detective Inspector Shaun Higgson, who was based at
Huddersfield Police Station. It was only his second week there, having recently
been promoted to Inspector and transferred from Wakefield. His Chief Inspector had
allocated the investigation to him, feeling it would be good experience for the
new Inspector, in his initial settling in period. Higgson, therefore, was
determined to demonstrate his willingness to work hard and undertake a thorough
investigation; this being something that had proved difficult under his last
superior, Detective Superintendent Greg Woods, who was a perfectionist and
possessed the annoying habit of picking fault with the work and undermining the
confidence of his detectives. Higgson was relieved to be away from Wakefield,
and in his first two weeks at Huddersfield had found the atmosphere and working
conditions much improved.

He now stood waiting to update Detective Chief
Inspector Chris Newsom.

“How’s the investigation going?” Newsom asked.

“We’ve carried out a thorough examination of the
bridge and only Hussain’s fingerprints were on the handrail above where he was
found hanged,” Higgson replied, looking confident and relaxed. “Hussain’s
burnt-out car was discovered in the car park at the far end of the dam, and is
currently being examined by forensics. His wife says he’d left the house just
after nine supposedly going to collect their son from Slaithwaite, but didn’t turn
up.” Higgson took a breath. “When she discovered he’d not arrived she’d kept
trying to ring him on his mobile, but it had been switched off. Only once did
it ring through at around 11.15, but the call was rejected. We’ve analysed the
data from the phone and this tallies with what she says. Signals indicate he
travelled from the house towards Slaithwaite and then headed up to the dam,
switching the phone off at 9.21. It was turned back on at 11.12 and off again
at 11.17, during which time an e-mail, with all the hallmarks of a suicide
note, was sent to a work colleague, Mrs Julie Noble. I’m going to interview her
later. It’s looking like Hussain was in some sort of relationship with her and
that things were getting on top of him. His wife said he’d been acting out of
character for the past few weeks, but she thought it was related to work
pressures; she never mentioned anything about Noble. I should have the initial
results from forensics and the post-mortem later this morning.”

“Good work, Shaun.”

“Thank you. Oh, one thing I nearly forgot to mention.
On the e-mail to Noble, Hussain ended it with MCXVI.”

“One thousand, one hundred and sixteen?”

Higgson smiled, “Yes, I had to look it up, and I
wasn’t sure what significance it had, but then realised the e-mail had been
sent at 11.16; maybe it was Hussain’s way of noting the time. I’ll check it out
with Noble and see if it has any specific meaning to her.”

 

 

Higgson walked up to the small
semi-detached house and pressed the doorbell.

The woman who answered looked as though she had been
crying and not slept much during the previous night.

“Julie Noble?” he asked.

“Yes.” She sounded nervous.

“Detective Inspector Shaun Higgson,” he held up his
ID. “Can I come in and have a word?”

“Is this about Abdul?” she asked anxiously.

He nodded.

“Has he committed suicide?”

“I’m afraid I’m investigating his death, that’s all
I can say at the moment. Please may I come in?”

 Mrs Noble started weeping. “Yes,” she managed to
say.

“Is there someone here with you?” he asked, as he
was shown into the living room, which was tastefully decorated in a minimalist
style. “Or do you live alone?”

“No, I live with my husband, Edward,” she said
between sobs. “Luckily, he’s away golfing this weekend; it would have been kind
of awkward, if he’d have been here.”

“Shall I make you a drink?” Higgson offered, looking
towards the kitchen.

“No, I’ll be okay.” She blew her nose on an already
damp handkerchief. “What a mess this all is.”

He waited until she had composed herself, “So tell me
about you and Abdul Hussain.”

The colour slowly returned to her face, but her
voice was quaking. “We’ve been seeing each other for about six months. We
became friends at work and started going out for lunch together. We shared a
passion for walking and we’d head up to Scammonden Dam.”

Higgson leaned forward. “The car park near the
motorway?”

“Yes, it’s quiet there; we enjoyed the solitude and walks
around the dam.”

“When were you last there?”

“Thursday lunchtime.”

“Did you argue, or have you been falling out
recently?”

“No, not at all.”

“Had you noticed anything strange about his
behaviour?”

She sighed, and blew her nose again. “He was under a
lot of pressure at work, budget cuts. I sensed it was getting to him, but he
said he looked forward to our lunchtimes, it was a way of relieving the
pressure.”

“Were you lovers?”

“What difference does that make?” She appeared
cross.

“Mrs Noble, I’m not here to make judgements, I’m
just trying to build up a picture.”

She sighed. “Yes… we were lovers,” she answered sheepishly.

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
9.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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