Author: MadameCissy PM
Detective Constable Eve Cooper is assigned the case of six young girls found dead in shallow graves and reluctantly accepts the help of criminologist Kathryn Moore to find the monster responsible. When another girl goes missing Eve realises that if she wants to find her alive she has to fight her own demons and face what she has always tried to deny.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Hurt/Comfort - Chapters: 5 - Words: 14,660 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 10-17-12 - Published: 09-16-12 - id: 3058611
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thanks to my awesome friend for editing for me :-)
The city of Manchester was one of England's largest metropolitan areas and, depending on who you spoke to, considered the second city after London. Although people further down south would argue that Birmingham was in fact the second city, many in Manchester believed the honour belonged to them. The city was never quiet. Home to a large university campus, it was riddled with students at all hours of the day and most nights the pubs and local takeaways were full of them. But it wasn't just the students that brought life to Manchester. It were the locals, as diverse as was humanely possible, and those who had been born and raised within the city itself. The city was famously known for its gay nightlife in an around Canal Street and many bands had their roots in Manchester, Oasis being one of them.
Eve had lived in Manchester all her life. Manchester was her home. She knew the city centre like the back of her hand and could navigate her way around flawlessly. She knew all its nooks and crannies and was renowned for finding a narrow side street somewhere to avoid rush hour traffic. But she loved the city most at night, with its beautiful lights illuminating the skies and painting a picture that was incomparable. She loved the old buildings right alongside the new, a reminder of how the city had flourished throughout the times. The architecture in the city clashed on many points but it was what gave it its allure.
It was still raining when she walked into the North Manchester police station the next morning. She greeted the uniformed PC behind the desk, cast a quick glance at yesterday's Manchester Evening News somebody had left behind and felt slightly depressed over the fact that football once again ruled the front pages. The longstanding rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City was always plastered across the papers and she knew of several debates between her fellow officers that had gotten a little heated. About half the station supported United, with the rest belonging to City. Eve didn't care about football. She couldn't remember the last time she had even caught a glimpse of a match on TV.
Whilst suppressing a yawn Eve made her way up the stairs to the third floor. The corridors felt a bit bleak and clinical first thing in the morning, most likely due to the slightly ancient wall paint. The walls were in dire need of a new colour and the posters making people aware of pickpockets, disruptive kids and alcohol abuse were less than appealing at the start of a long day. The horrible artificial lighting was another reason the corridors didn't feel inviting. Bright and unforgiving, the bulb highlighted every imperfection and only accented the lack of sleep she had suffered.
Eve made her way through two sets off double doors, walked past the ladies toilets, turned a corner and reached the expensive and impressive looking glass door. She pushed them open and stepped into the large and brightly lit bullpen that was the Criminal Investigation Department. Her eyes instinctively darted to the clock. It was just after seven-thirty. For a few seconds she believed she was the first one here until a voice across the room startled her.
Eve looked up, slightly irritated that she had been roused from her thoughts. Detective Constable Stephen Todd sat behind the desk nearest to the window. It was already buried under a small amount of paperwork, something that was characteristic. Masking her displeasure, Eve flashed a smile.
"All right?" It sounded insincere and his eyes reflected it. Eve crossed her arms in front of her desk and waited for the inevitable questions. She didn't have to wait long. "Rumour has it the boss called you out yesterday." She could almost taste his resentment. Eve avoided making eye contact and turned her back on him, but he wasn't going to let go. "I thought Mark and I were up for the next case."
"You're a knob and so is Mark so excuse the boss for actually wanting someone who can think beyond the level of a four year old." It came out a lot harsher than she had intended and she looked at him long enough to take in the stunned expression on his face. Leaving him to sulk she sank down into her chair and switched on her computer. Already her body protested.
She hadn't slept last night. It really wasn't anything new but at least most nights she got some sleep; even if it was just a couple of hours. Last night she didn't get any at all. The images from the scenes on the Moors continued to play themselves before her eyes and eventually she'd given up on sleeping. She'd gotten up around three am and spent the rest of the night watching reruns of Eastenders and Hollyoaks. She hated those stupid series with a passion but there was very little else to watch in the middle of the night. Before leaving for the station she'd consumed three cups of strong black coffee, each with two spoons of sugar, and still she felt like death warmed up.
Eve was sifting through some of her emails by the time her colleagues started walking in, and soon the room was pretty much full, and all desks occupied. Eve saw Janet come in but her boss had disappeared straight into her office, and through the open blinds Eve watched her make a phone call. It seemed that whatever it was wasn't amusing her, and when Janet reappeared, ready to start their usual Monday morning briefing, it was clear that there was some bad weather ahead.
"Good morning," Janet said, and an agreeing mumble rose up from the group of detectives. Nobody here was particularly keen on Mondays. Janet, however, was her usual perky self. "Right, there is a new week ahead of us. How are we doing on last week's cases?" She paused and her eyes sought out DC's Baker and Carter. "What's the status on the robbery at the jewellery store in Southern Gateway?"
"Owner fingered two teenage lads from the CCTV footage we showed him," Carter answered. "Brought them in Sunday afternoon. Neither one fessed up so they got to spend the night. Going try again this morning."
"Good work. CCTV footage doesn't lie. Make sure they have their solicitors present when you interview them again and hopefully we can charge them with robbery by the end of the day." Janet shared a rare smile with the group of detectives.
Carter leant back in his chair. "Still no sign of the nicked goods though."
"Get Forensics to search their home and take a couple of uniforms to check out the estate these lads live on. Teenagers don't usually go far." Her eyes fixed on DC Lewis. "What about the assault on Canal Street over the weekend?"
"Victim's still unconscious at the Royal Infirmary. Doctor there said there's swelling on his brain and they're keeping him in a medical coma for the time being." There was a pause, allowing everyone to think about the victim's condition. Lewis rummaged through some of his paperwork. "We did get a name after showing his picture around some of the bars. Philip Powell. One of his mates said he met up with some fella that night. They'd never seen him before and were unable to give an accurate description."
Eve looked at Lewis. She knew he wasn't happy about the case he had been assigned over the weekend. With the victim unconscious and the suspected attacker missing it looked like this was going to be another assault that went unpunished. There were too many cases like this, many of them over the weekend. People had died and their attackers were never caught. Often they didn't even know why the victim had been attacked. It was a tell-tale sign that things were changing in society. It infuriated her but she had learnt to live with the fact that sometimes the good guys didn't win.
"Todd and Hamilton, catch up on your paperwork. I want the reports on my desk before lunch time if you want to go out on your next case," Janet said sharply and her eyes fell on Eve. The auburn haired woman felt her gaze and looked up. "Cooper, my office, please?"
"What about the remains that were found on Saddleworth Moor yesterday, ma'am?" asked Todd and Eve's head whipped around at the mention of her crime scene. He looked back at her and she knew he was out to get her.
"Eve said you called her out over the weekend. What's the story?"
Janet ignored him and after sticking her middle finger up at Todd Eve quietly stood up and followed her into the office. She was in here on a regular basis, the reason usually being that she was told off for having been too rude of brash in handling one of her cases.
Janet's office was like most other offices. Plain, cream coloured walls, a simple square window covered by cheap Venetian blinds, and a desk littered with paperwork and folders made the room seem clinical and professional, but the pictures on her desk gave the room a softer appearance. There was a picture of Janet with her little boy, looking about eight years old. Another picture showed her son on his own, smiling, his face covered in birthday cake. A third picture in a golden frame, of him in his school uniform. He had his mother's eyes and what Eve assumed his father's coarse dark hair.
Eve sank down in one of the leather arm chairs across Janet's desk and folded her hands in her lap.
"I didn't talk to Todd about the Moors," she asked as Janet closed the door.
"I know you didn't but the story's out there. I had to turn the TV off this morning. Couldn't stand the speculation. Besides, Todd is jealous that I gave this case to you."
"You don't say."
People were attracted to excitement, in whatever form, and death was no exception. The thought of murder and the capability of a human being to take another's life was a macabre fascination many people shared. It was only natural to wonder about what could drive a person to commit such a heinous act, and the discovery of the remains was already all over this morning's papers. It had been discussed into the smallest detail on the breakfast new shows on different TV channels, and had been headline news on the radio. The press didn't have much to go on but they were pretty good at making up their own stories.
Janet sat down behind her desk and her dark eyes raked over Eve's frame. The auburn haired detective had a slender build, something that almost irritated Janet when she watched the amount of crap food Eve ate. She never seemed to put on any weight. Her shoulder length hair was bound back in a loose ponytail and in the awful artificial light of her office Janet could see both the soft freckles on her nose and cheeks as well as the dark circles around her eyes.
"Did you sleep at all last night?"
"Do I look like I did?" Eve retorted and brushed her hands along her jeans.
Jeans and casual tops were not exactly police protocol but it was what she felt most comfortable in. Together with her favourite hooded tops and her trusted black Doc Martin boots Eve wasn't exactly the perfect picture of a detective, but she never went anywhere without them.
She nervously rubbed the back of her hand and glanced down as her fingertips encountered the rough, raw tissue of a scar. It sat prominently on her left hand, covering most of her wrist as well as the back her hand. Over the years the tissue had calmed down but it still itched every so often. She had gotten so used to it being there that she barely noticed it. Only in moments like this, when she was uncertain about what lay ahead, did she suddenly feel it.
"Have you thought about this?" Janet carefully inquired. "I mean, about what we saw yesterday?"
"I haven't thought about anything else since yesterday. I don't know what to think, Janet." Eve's eyes darted around the office. "I'm worried we're jumping to conclusions here."
"The detail is scary, Eve. Even you can't deny that."
"I would be the last person to deny anything about the resemblance but I just don't know what to think. I guess I don't want to get my hopes up. Have you heard from the coroner yet?"
Janet shook her head. "I'm waiting for a phone call. Did you bring the file?"
Eve reached into her bag and pulled out an old folder. The leather cover had been worn out by time and it bore the marks of being handled on a regular basis. She held it in her hand and briefly stared at the name, written in black capitals across the front, before handing it to Janet. There was a hint of hesitation when she spoke.
"It sits on my table at home. Every day."
Janet put the file down in front of her without looking at it. "Eve, I asked you to work this case because of this file, but if you think you can't handle this…"
"If you're instincts are right about this then I want this case. It's been seventeen years. Like you said, it is time for answers."
"OK." Janet looked down at the file. "Forensics only finished at the scene late last night and they won't start processing any of the evidence found until this morning. They recovered the remains of six people from their shallow graves. They've been transported to the lab and are currently being prepared for autopsy, but we have very little to go on, apart from the possible connection you saw last night."
She opened the folder and the top picture struck her. The body of a young female lay on its side in the grass. Her eyes were wide open, the pupils were diluted and a thin cloudy film had formed over them; she saw nothing of the world around her. The blood had seeped through her torn clothes and stained her face and fingers, creating an almost ghost like appearance. Her face was pale and the extent of the bruising varied from dark purple to yellow and green, hinting at signs of healing. The fractured jaw was clearly visible where the broken bone nearly protruded the skin. Dark red smudges covered some of the grassy area where the blood had continued to spread around her body. Although she lay on her side the deep cut across her throat was clearly visible. Its edges were parted and the gaping wound revealed the true horror of her injury. The ligature marks around her ankles and wrists were a deep shade of purple and in places her skin was red and raw. Death had been unkind to her but not nearly as unkind as the last moments of her life had been.
The next picture was the same girl but taken from a different angle, looking at her from above. The third one was a close up of the girl's face, and her empty eyes. The drops of blood on her cheeks looked like tears. The next images were of the body wrapped up in a body bag, naked on an autopsy table, opened up with her organs exposed and eventually closed back up, with stitches across her chest that had closed the Y incision. The last one was of her face, clean of blood and with her eyes closed. She looked peaceful, as if she was sleeping. Only in the last picture did death look kind.
Eve stared at the pictures scattered around Janet's desk. It didn't matter how many times she looked at them, they never became any easier. By now the images were imprinted into her mind and she could draw them out, into even the tiniest detail.
"The unsolved murder of Sarah Bailey."
Janet glanced up at Eve. "A case I know you're well familiar with."
"She disappeared seventeen years ago on her way home after a night out, but wasn't reported missing until almost forty-eight hours after she was last seen. Her body was eventually found three weeks later in some woodland, just outside the city centre, by a dog walker. She'd been beaten, raped and her throat had been slit. No DNA was left on the body apart from two hairs that were too badly decomposed to be tested and the killer was never caught." Eve recited the exact words written down in the report that was included in the file. She knew it inside out. When she looked up she found Janet looking at her. "How did you know?"
"You're not the only one still clinging to this case, Eve," Janet answered. Her voice was earnest and she looked at Eve with a look of sincerity and understanding. "When I first came to Manchester I heard a lot of people talk about this one. This is the one that got away."
"Why are you so certain that Sarah's death is connected to the remains found on the Moors? What if it's just a coincidence?"
"I can't believe you are actually second guessing this, Eve."
"Do I have a choice?" Eve snorted. "And aren't I supposed to be the one being told to calm down and not dive into something before I know what it is I am getting myself into?"
"Look at Sarah and think about what you saw in that grave! The one body that looked like it hadn't been there as long as the others. Look at these pictures and tell me what you see." Janet pushed one of the pictures across her desk towards Eve. "Remember what you saw?"
"The short, blonde bob line. Sarah's hair had been cut into that style by whoever killed her," Eve answered. "Her hair used to be long but the killer cut it. The remains in the grave looked like it had the same haircut."
"I heard from Forensics first thing this morning," Janet said slowly. "They emailed me the list of evidence they'll be reviewing in the lab throughout the next couple of days. One of the items mentions blonde hairs found in graves three and five."
Eve leant back in her chair. "That doesn't tell us anything. The killer could have been blonde."
Janet stared at Eve in confusion. "Don't you want these cases to be connected?"
"Do I want these six bodies to be the work of the same person who killed Sarah Bailey? No, I don't! Until someone gives me some solid proof that this is the same killer, I don't know what to believe!"
"I want you to treat this case as if it is the same killer," Janet said. "The press is already talking about a serial killer and, considering the history of Saddleworth Moor, I will not have them run this case for us. I've been hearing about this case from every retired copper I've spoken to since coming to Manchester. Sarah Bailey's death still haunts a lot of officers, Eve."
Eve abruptly stood up and walked to the door. The metal door handle felt cold against her skin. Her green eyes darkened as she turned to look at Janet. She met her gaze and the look they shared was one of understanding and respect, even if she did not agree with the direction Janet was taking this case in.
"Not as much as it still haunts me."