Little Silver Dagger

Little Silver Dagger

A Story by Jake E. Sampson
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A young budding journalist(Edwin Cross) is put through hell when he accepts an offer to interview notorious murderer Lloyd Stone. Living in the heart of frozen Russia, Edwin soon discovers that there

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The Edwin Cross Files

Book I:

 

Little Silver Dagger

 

 

A Novella By:

Jake Sampson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

The black leather glove slipped on effortlessly. The glow of the fire conjured shadows that danced like puppets, while I drew a small black box from my coat pocket. His face grew white, beads of sweat on his forehead. He stared into my eyes until I finally opened the box; from inside, I drew a small scalpel and placed it on to the coffee table. His eyes were now totally fixed on the blade, he began to panic, not openly but his eyes widened and his breathing grew loud. I waited a moment before I sat in the armchair opposite him. We had business to discuss. No more than an hour later did our conversation end, and while blood dripped onto the plush oak floor, I ignited the petrol soaked furniture and calmly walked out into the cold snow covered night.

 

By the time I had reached the road the house was an inferno, and the smell of ash and justice were all too potent.

 

By the next morning the police had begun investigating, after three hours they had found nothing but a blackened silver scalpel with the initials E.J engraved into the handle. My business was done, I had no need to hang around, and I was half way to London when the story was published in the newspaper, the headline read:

 

“Family Of Four Perish In Blaze, Police Begin Search For Suspect”

 

To my surprise this did not send a cold anxious shiver up my spine, but a warming sense of accomplishment and validation; my actions indeed, had consequence. This was not my motivation for taking that particular life, but of course that is why you’re here isn’t it? To find out what goes through my head when I kill a man? Killing isn’t as simple or as brutish as most detectives claim, it is -in fact- an art form; to end something that is so complex and so perfectly designed requires skill, precision and motivation. No murder is simply a case of anger or impulse, murder is carefully thought out and heartfelt, anything else is either accidental or an act of sheer ignorance.  Shortly after I arrived in London the police found me, I was arrested on the 7th of January 1967 for the murder of Jane Johnson, Lillian Johnson and Dr Edward Johnson. After three hearings I was sentenced to Life in a maximum-security prison and released 17 years later on parole. I moved out here in this icy desert and hid my self from the media and society; I wanted to be left alone, and it seems even that was too much to ask for.

 

Part I:

Climbing The Ladder

 

 

November 5th 1998

 

I’ve been traveling now for over six hours, the droning hum of the plane’s engine has created a void in my mind, I’m finding it hard to focus or concentrate for more than a minute or so. There is near silence in the cabin; grey suited businessmen and shady looking characters that have no intention of exchanging pleasantries surround me. The laborious traveling to far off pockets of nothingness; I keep forgetting why I put my self-trough this If I had known that I’d be interviewing war veterans and former politicians then I would have thought twice about journalism, if it can be called that. I feel like a maid dusting the cobwebs off of an old book that no one wants to read.

 

I’ve had hundreds of briefs placed on my desk in the past month, but my editor delivered only one to me personally; the report was to be on a convicted serial killer, he was charged with the murder of Dr Edward-James Johnson. Johnson himself was accused of murder 8 months prior to his own but the charges were dropped. The man who later killed Johnson -and who I am to interview- was Lloyd Stone, after he served his sentence of 17 years he moved himself close to a remote village outside of Moscow where he’s resided ever since, the village is called Lipino.

 

I’m due to arrive in Moscow in just over an hour, the empty faces in the seats around me stare lifelessly into their pagers and newspapers, not a sound from any of them.                

 

I land at Sheremetyevo International Airport. As I climb out of the small passenger plane the cold Russian wind plunges into my lungs and forces me to cough violently. I can barely see 3ft in front of me; the snow and wind make it impossible for me to make out the airport or the runway.

 

 

I’m due to meet Stone’s former parole officer in 3 hours, he recommended we meet as soon as possible once I landed, he would drive me from the airport to Stone’s log cabin near Lipino. With the three hours I have to wait one and a half of which was waiting for my luggage, I browse around the stores for warm clothing and a place to review my notes on the Stone/Johnson case.

 

After reading the case report for over an hour I began to feel nervous; Stone didn’t simply murder Johnson, he had planned it. Johnson was killed by his own personalized scalpel from his surgery and then set alight, Stone was sending a message, but to who? Was it a warning to another enemy? Or was it simply a malicious attack designed to invoke fear? All this should become apparent when I meet with Stone himself.

 

It’s not long before Stone's former parole officer entered the coffee shop, a man in his late 50’s fairly tall with short platinum hair, and week old stubble. His name was Alec Samuels, he’d been in Interpol for 5 years before being assigned as Stone’s personal parole officer, the title was for show, he was there to make sure Stone kept to the conditions of his release by any means necessary.

 

“Ah, you must be Alec?”

 

“Yes, you must be Edwin? Nice to meet you”

 

He reached out his hand and shook mine.

 

“Please, take a seat. Can I get you a coffee?”

 

Alec chuckled to himself.

 

“No, I don’t want to rush you but we can’t wait. If we want to get to Lipino before the snow blocks the roads, then we need to leave as soon as possible.”

 

“Oh, I see well let’s get going.” I place my papers into my satchel and follow Alec out to his car.

 

Alec drove a green Saab saloon car with pale leather seats and more importantly, heated. We drove for half an hour in silence before Alec started convosation.

 

“You must be stupid.”

 

I was taken aback by Alec’s less than subtle outburst, but held my ground.

 

“For wanting to speak to Stone?” My voice quivered slightly.

 

“Yes, the dust had only just settled on the Stone/Johnson case, Stone’s a recluse and that’s the only way he can live outside of prison.” There was an awkward pause. “Stone needs to be buried, whether it be under the dust in his cabin or six feet under the ground; and now you want to come along and dig it all out.”

 

Time stood still in Alec’s car; I had already upset the balance. I didn’t reply to Alec, instead stared out the window into the infinite white, and waited for my mind to decide what the best response would be.

 

July 6th 1965

 

I saw Amelia today, she was worse than usual. I’ve waited so long to see her smile; she’s almost out of time. The doctors say that the damage was so severe that she’ll need corrective surgery every 6 months, otherwise her skin will keep tearing, and I can’t bear to see her like this. But I have hope yet; I’m assured that the best surgeon in the country will be performing Amelia’s procedures. I can only hope that she’s not in pain for much longer. I love you my dearest Amelia.

 

“Lloyd, what are you doing?” My mother was standing in the doorway.

 

“Nothing.” I covered my journal with some of the scattered pieces of paper that lay on my desk. “ I was doodling, how’s Dad?”

 

“He’s fine, he misses you.”

 

“How long does he have?”

 

My mother said nothing; she placed her hand on my shoulder and wept.

 

“I’ll go down to see him tomorrow, I’ll bring some flowers.”

 

“He’d like that Lloyd. How’s Amelia?”

 

“She's...struggling.”

 

My father died on the 5th of August 1965. Cancer ate at his body, and there was nothing anyone could do.

 

My mother grieved, and I sat motionless at my desk with the morphine running through my body. The needle still in my arm. It dulls the pain and takes me to a state of ignorance, I feel nothing and nothing matters.

Amelia grows weaker, her first procedure made no improvement on her condition, she wanted to scream out in pain, but couldn’t force the words out of her scarred lips. Nothing seems to work, she can’t go on like this, and every second is burning hell to her. I need to find another way to ease her pain.

 

There was a stern knock at the door followed by a loud voice.

 

“Lloyd, open up!” It was my Uncle. He was drunk. “Open the door! Where’s your w***e of a mother?”

 

I got to my feet and paced to the door, His voice was still echoing through the house. I open the door violently and lunge out at my uncle hitting him on the nose, there is a loud crack as the bone buckles.

 

“You little s**t!” He clasps his face before swinging for my head futilely.

 

“What’s wrong with you? My mother just lost her husband!”

 

“You f*****g cocksucker, that’s why I’m here.” He chuckled to himself. “The early bird catches the worm!”

 

Blood is now pouring from his nose, my fists clench once again. As he swings for me for a third time and misses I jab him in the jaw jolting his head, he recoils and falls on the floor unconscious.

 

 

November 5th 1998

 

 

It’s now dark, the convosation in the car is at a minimum, Alec calmed down once he explained that I need not disturb any ‘troubling issues’ that Stone may have.  We later went on to discuss each others hobbies, Alec is partial to antiques, in particular old glass paper weights, I explained that my hobby was my current profession, to which Alec chuckled.

 

There were few street lights and houses on the road, and the further we drove the less there were, we were plunging into the remote and isolated, far from civilization and far from the kind of places I was used to.

 

“Not much further, we’ll get to the end of this road and have to walk the rest.”

 

“What? It’s minus twenty degrees out there!”

 

“There’s no other way, Lloyd’s offered to let us stay in his cabin till the morning, then you can walk up when it’s only minus twelve.”

 

I could feel the icy cold of Russia creep up my spine as we talked about it.

 

“Here we are.”

 

The car ground to a halt, there was absolute darkness; I was hesitant to leave the confines of the vehicle.

 

Stone was a convicted murderer; the realization of that fact was sudden and most unwelcome. Alec and I had been walking for no more than half an hour, my face was frozen and my hands were numb.

 

“Not used to these conditions are you?” Alec chuckled. “Trudging through snow with icy winds skimming your cheeks raw?”

 

My shivering and inability to answer were answer enough. We walked for another twenty minutes or so before a faint glow emerged just up ahead.

 

“Welcome to the home of a murderer”

 

I stopped in my tracks, I had been researching this man for months, a man who maliciously murdered a surgeon and then incinerated his entire family, and now I was going to meet him.

 

We approached the large log cabin; I was shivering relentlessly; whether it was due to the cold, or the fact that in less than thirty-seconds I would be face to face with a cold blooded killer.

 

“Just keep calm and be assertive, he’ll respect that”

 

Alec knocked on the oak door, there was a pause for a moment, and then the door opened to reveal a small woman in her fifties, both Alec and I were shocked and confused.

 

“Hello? Is Lloyd here?” Alec queried placing his hand on the cold frozen beam of the door.

 

She shook her head but motioned for us to come in. As we gingerly walked into the cabin I noticed almost immediately Lloyds collection of newspaper cutouts and framed documents mounted all around the living room.

 

“Mr. Stone has gone to collect fire wood, he is expecting you, don’t worry dears.” The woman explained.

 

“I see, pardon me for asking; but who are you?” Alec said as he took a seat by the fireplace.

 

The woman turned towards me and motioned for me to sit down.

 

“My name is Mary Woodrow I am Mr. Stone’s personal assistant, he required some help around the cabin; cleaning, fetching groceries etcetera.”

 

There was a collective mumble of approval. The fire was a blessing, and feeling had started to return to my fingers. Alec had taken off his coat and folded it on his lap.

 

“Let me boil you two a cup of tea, or perhaps something a little stronger?”

 

“Tea will be fine for me Mrs. Woodrow”

 

“I’ll have a large scotch if you have any.” Alec wore a large grin as he said this.

 

Mary nodded politely and wandered off into the kitchen, the cabin was huge; there were two floors and the living room was larger than my apartment. I looked over to Alec for reassurance; he smiled and clapped his hands together.

 

“Damn, I’ve forgotten my folder. I must have left it in your car.”

 

Alec did not chuckle this time.

 

“What? You want to walk all the way back to the car now?”

 

“I guess it could wait till morning.” I sighed.

 

Mary emerged from the kitchen with a tray carrying a teapot, three cups and a small glass of whisky. She placed the tray onto the coffee table and poured two cups, handing one to me and placing the other in her lap. Alec leaned across and grabbed the glass of whiskey.

 

“So! How long have you worked for Mr. Stone?”

 

“Oh not long, you must be Edwin?” Mary said politely

 

“Yes, I’m here to interview Mr. Stone. This is Alec, my editor arranged this through him.”

 

“Oh I see, Lloyd very rarely has people visit, let alone stay the night."  He’ll be glad to have some company”

 

We chatted with Mary for an hour or so before I could no longer resist the urge.

 

“Mrs. Woodrow is it ok to smoke in here? I haven’t had once since I landed in Moscow.”

 

“I’m sorry dear, you’ll have to smoke outside; Mr. Stone does not like the smell.”

 

I had two choices, chew my nails to a bloody mess or brave the sub zero winds; the choice grew harder every second I delayed.

 

“I see, please excuse me.” I forced a smile before zipping up my jacket and pulled a small pack of cigarettes out of my pocket.

 

As I opened the door I could feel my bones freeze and the frozen air fill my lungs. By some miracle I managed to light my cigarette in those arctic conditions. The wind began to pick up, I pulled my notepad out of my jacket pocket and began making some notes; Stone has hired help. Bizarre collection of newspaper cutouts.

 

Suddenly a huge gust of icy wind blew the pad out of my hand and a good four meters from the house, I chased after it. I fumbled around trying to find it, my fear was that it had been swallowed by the snow and would be lost until it thawed. After a minute or so of frantic digging, I heard a voice from behind me, to this day, thoughts of that moment chills me to my very core.

 

“You dig into the snow, you’ll find more than you bargained for.”

My heart froze and my eyes pinned wide, part of me wanted to run far off into the darkness, but I had to face him. As I stood up and turned around, standing in front of me was a large man around 6ft 2 with a broad chest and large boulder like hands. He was wearing a large trench coat and a white woolen hat. His face was worn and unshaven, his hair a mixture of light brown and silver from what I could see.

 

“What were you looking for?” The tall ice man murmured.

 

I hesitated for a moment, and then forced a response.

 

“I…I lost my notepad, the wind took it and uh…”

 

“We’ll find it tomorrow when its light, have you been inside yet?”

 

“Oh, yes I met Mrs. Woodrow, Alec is inside.”

 

“Good, well come back inside and we’ll have a chat.”

 

My heart was racing at a mile a minute; it was Lloyd Stone.

 

As Stone pushed the oak door open, a wall of warmth blew over me.

 

“Well, now, Alec Samuels? You come all the way out here just to say hello?”

 

Alec chuckled. Stone took his coat off and hung it on the back of his armchair, and then proceeded to sit. I was still shivering; I reluctantly removed my coat and sat next to Mary. There was an awkward silence.

 

“You’d best introduce yourself.” Stone said calmly

 

“Oh yes, my name is Edwin Cross, I’m here to interview you and document what happened in ’67.”

 

“I see. Well, then you’d best come into the study. Mary could you fix us up some supper, and some for Alec too.”

 

Stone motioned me to follow him, we walked down the corridor to another oak door, Stone pushed it open and motioned me to come in. it was a reasonably large room with a desk and a chair either side, there was loose papers scattered everywhere as well as more newspaper cut-outs pinned to various corners of the room.  Stone took a seat and offered me the one opposite.

 

“So, Edwin Before you begin poking around my past, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Is that ok with you?” Stone stared straight through me.

 

“Well, yes of course.”

 

“Good” Stone moved a few papers around on his desk and cleared a space, he handed me a wad of paper. “You can use this for now, I noticed you haven’t got any folders with you, and since your note pad was swallowed by the snow, it’ll have to do.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“So, how old are you Edwin?”

 

“I’m twenty-nine.”

 

“Ah, I see. And where are you from?”

 

“I was born and raised in London. I don’t mean to be rude Mr. Stone but I only have until tomorrow to finish the article.”

 

Stone remained motionless for a moment before leaning back in his chair and smiled politely.

 

“Carry on Mr. Cross, I’ll answer your questions.” Stone’s smile grew.

 

I readied my pen and cleared my throat.

 

“I’d like to ask you about the months leading up to the murder Of Dr. Edward Johnson, to which you were found guilty of?”

 

Stone’s smile dropped, he sat forward in his chair and looked remorsefully into the table.

 

“How precise of you, It’s not an easy story to tell, nor is it an easy story to listen to but I re-live those dreadful moments of my life over and over again; I see his face and the face of my fiancée every time I close my eyes.”

December 28th 1965

 

 

The smell of bleach and white washed floors lingered, she still hasn’t smiled. She is sat on her own in hellish pain; she can’t move, she can’t speak. She is trapped. I stand in the doorway; she knows I’m here.

 

“Mr. Stone?” A soft voice from behind me. “My name is Dr. Johnson, do you have a moment?”

 

I had all the time in the world, but I’d rather have spent it with her. He took me into the corridor and told me her body wouldn’t accept the skin graphs and they didn’t have the funding to keep her here. She was dying.

 

“How much time?” My voice trembled.

 

“A month maybe two, I am sorry. We will make her as comfortable as possible.”

 

Everything dropped, I knew that she didn’t have much longer; part of me was ready, part of me died. I sat with her for most of the week, I told her what Johnson had told me. She was ready, the pain was unbearable and she wanted to leave. I made three telephone calls by the end of the 8th day. I was slowly letting go of the woman I loved.

 

Twenty-six days. She had passed, quietly in the night. The pain had stopped. She was free.

 

Not long after I had said my goodbye, three police officers entered the room.

 

“Mr. Stone?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“We’re placing you under arrest for the murder of Amelia Jones. Please come quietly.”

 

“What? Are you out of you're f*****g mind?”

 

The officers drew their batons and edged slowly towards me, as one swung for me I jabbed him in the nose. The second went for a grapple, as he did so I raised my knee up into his ribs forcing him to splutter blood. The third struck me with the baton splitting my head. I shielded my head and lunged forward hitting the officer in the chin. The other two officers grabbed either one of my arms and forced me to the ground.

 

 

I was held in a cell for forty-two hours before I was finally interviewed.

 

“Things don’t look so good for you do they Mr. Stone?” A grey haired detective placed a small folder onto the table. “Detective-Inspector Hurst. You’ve been a busy man; Amelia left everything to you? How was she able to concede to this two days before the accident?”

 

Rage; bitter and unwelcome.

 

“I have nothing to say to you.” I held my temper.

 

Hurst’s face contorted. He perched on the edge of the table and lit a cigarette.

 

“You f*****g animal, you’re all the same; as soon as you’re cornered you stick your head in the sand.”

 

His eyes fixed on me.

 

“I didn’t kill her.” I met his gaze.

 

Hurst sat in a chair opposite me, his eyes now on his watch.

 

“You beat her, you bullied her and you manipulated her; she was frightened and she tried to kill herself in that car crash.” Hurst voice was vengeful and impatient. “You made her sign everything over, and then forced her to breaking point; the neighbors heard the shouting. Hell their testimony alone would be enough to put you away”

 

Hurst rose to his feet and began to pace the room; he stumped his cigarette out in ashtray and walked behind me, unlocking the handcuffs.

 

“Tell you what-”

 

Before Hurst could finish his sentence I kicked the chair out from under me and reached for the ashtray. The blow was quick and Hurst fell instantly, blood pouring out from his wound. I took his badge and gun stuffing them both into my pocket. I didn’t have much time.

 

November 6th 1998

 

Stone’s spoken very openly about some of his ‘bad deeds’ almost as if he were confessing. As I look out the window I can see the sun just begin to shine over the mountains in the distance.

 

“Listen, Edwin. Now that you’ve opened this…'File’ I suggest you spend more time here; you need the full picture.”

 

I was taken back, Stone looked as if he needed to tell the world everything.

 

“Well… I mean, do you have a phone? I’ll need to phone head office.”

 

Stone smiled and sat back in his chair.

 

“Sure, there’s one in the kitchen.”

 

The living room smelt of the night before; whiskey, log fire and cigar smoke. In the back of my mind I can’t help but feel that my real question would bring an abrupt and disappointing end to this visit.

 

Did he murder Amelia?

 

“Good morning Mr. Cross” Mrs. Woodrow chirped. “I trust Mr. Stone answered your questions?”

 

“Oh well yes, so far anyway; he asked I stay a while longer.”

 

“I see. Well, I’m sure he’s appreciating the company” Mrs. Woodrow’s smile had disappeared and she wandered back into the kitchen.

 

Alec let out an almighty yawn as he walked in to the living room.

 

“Whiskey.” He grunted.

 

“What?”

 

“Pass me the whiskey; from the counter there!” His voice lowered. “The best cure for a hangover is more alcohol, my father taught me that. Besides I need to drive us back to the airport.”

 

“Well, actually Stone’s asked to stay a little while longer.”

 

Alec stared aimlessly for a second or so and then walked back into his room, bottle in hand.

 

The Kitchen was the darkest room yet; snow and ice had blocked the windows entirely. Mrs. Woodrow hovered by the stove toasting bread and simultaneously boiling water. I scanned the room briefly before I found the wall-mounted phone next to the larder. Dust had formed around the handset leaving only a distorted hand imprint, the buttons creaked as I dialed.

 

Four rings.

 

“Hello, Tony Howard’s office. How may I help?” A calm quaint voice queried.

 

“Hi, it’s Cross, I need to put an extension on my deadline.”

 

There was a small pause followed by a scuffle of papers.

 

“You might be in luck, the boss is in a good mood, I’ll patch you through.”

 

Click

 

“Howard speaking”

 

“Hi, it’s Cross, I need to extend the deadline for the Stone report; He seems to think there is more to his story than we expected.”

 

“How much of an extension?”

 

“Hard to say, three maybe four days?”

 

“Ok, but it better be worth while or you’re on your last warning; we clear?”

 

“Yes sir, thank you.”

 

“Don’t thank me yet.”

 

Dust dispersed as I placed the handset back onto the wall, Mrs. Woodrow turned and smiled at me for a moment, her eyes were locked onto mine.

 

“Please, don’t go digging around” her smile now seemed somewhat disturbing. “Some things should be left buried.”

 

Her hands were shaking, I struggled for words as she walked past me, carrying Stone’s breakfast and walked down the corridor. There was a bitter taste in my mouth; something bad was going to come of this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part II:

Cracks In The Skin

 

 

November 7th 1998

 

A shot rang through the cabin.

 

I leapt to my feet and began to sprint down the cold wooden corridor. I could hear the scramble of feet and the crashing of furniture. I reached Stone’s office; Alec had scrambled there seconds before me.

 

“Jesus Christ!” Stone breathed.

 

I walked in to see the crumpled body of Mrs. Woodrow with blood pouring from a large circular wound in her temple; she was holding a pistol. Alec rushed to her side and inspected her body. Time its self seemed to stop entirely, Stone stood motionless aside from a single tear that trickled down his cheek.

 

“Should we phone an ambulance?” I panted.

 

Both Alec and Stone froze.

 

“N-no we can’t; if we do they’ll think it was Lloyd.” Alec’s voice was barely audible.

 

“We can’t leave her here.” My voice was trembling.

 

“Lloyd would be arrested on site, as would we.”

 

“No! They have forensics they’ll be able to tell she committed suicide.”

 

Stone broke his silence.

 

“They don’t care, they would love to lock me up again. They’d jump at a chance like this”

 

All three of us stood suspended, unable to process any logical move, unable to think of anything to say. We stood for what felt like hours. Alec decided to bury her out in the woods; Stone wrapped her body in sheets and carried her on his shoulder.

 

It felt as though we were sprinting, the red of the sun casting over the trees and ice. Droplets of blood trailing behind us, there was a bitter-calm silence, not a word was spoken.

 

The deed was done.

 

Alec had given me piercing looks as we entered the cabin; his eyes cold, he placed his hand on my shoulder and gestured towards the nearly empty bottle of whiskey.

 

“Perhaps now you understand the real reason we drink ourselves stupid every night; death is no easy companion.”

 

“What are we going to do? Why did she do it?” my voice was almost spent.

 

Alec turned to Stone who was now stood staring out of the window.

 

“Did she suffer from anything? Any mental illness?”

 

Stone’s face was pale and ridged.

 

“No; she didn’t”

 

Alec gestured towards me.

 

“Go pack your stuff, we’re leaving.”

 

Stone broke. Before Alec had a chance to react, the metal ashtray collided with his jaw; blood spattered across the room. Alec collapsed onto the floor. Stone’s gaze traveled across the room to me.

 

“You brought this on yourself” He murmured.

 

Stone pulled a revolver from his pocket and took aim. Shots rang through the room; pieces of furniture and glass shattered as bullets soared past me. I dropped to the floor instinctively covering my head and hiding behind the sofa.

 

I could hear Stone’s heavy footsteps moving slowly towards me; crushing pieces of glass. I embraced my fate. Stone was now standing above me smoking revolver in-hand; he pressed his boot onto my chest, compressing the air out of my lungs. Stone raised the revolver and aimed for my head. This was it. He hadn’t rehabilitated himself; he had simply buried his nature and I had dug it up.

 

Stone’s finger began to squeeze the trigger when Alec hit him on the back of the head with the mud-covered shovel. Stone barely faltered; he stumbled before taking aim at Alec, the first two shots missed; Alec had taken cover on the floor.

 

“Run!” he cried.

 

Stone was now clasping the wound on the back of his head. Seizing the opportunity I ran for the front door, narrowly avoiding a stray shot from a dazed shooter. I swung open the door and sprinted off into the snow ridden wilderness.

 

 

As I ran, I could hear gunshots echoing from the house. I didn’t look back. I ran for what felt like hours, I didn’t stop; my legs burnt and my lungs ached, but I did not stop.

 

The sun was now a burning shade of red, the sky and the mountains following suit. I finally stopped; I stumbled for a moment before passing out onto the snow.

 

December 12th 1965

 

Sirens surrounded me. I was crouched behind a dumpster in a dark wet alleyway. I could feel the warm barrel of my revolver in my hand. I hadn’t killed anyone, just a deterrent for now. I managed to grab Hurst’s briefcase filled with lies, off of the table.

 

‘Lloyd shows signs of aggressive behavior towards Amelia’

 

What filth, someone had planted these seeds of evil.

 

I searched the witness list in the folder. There were four names.

 

Mr. Daniel Lawson

Dr. Edward Johnson

Ms. Samantha Carter

Dr. Jacob Heart

 

All four had issued statements; I was aggressive and domineering, all lies. Now the police are hunting me down and I am crouched in a puddle waiting to make my move.

 

 

They had all been willing to testify against me; they had all lied and now I was being hunted like a dog. The pain of her passing drove me into madness, and now they had even accused me of murder. The list of supposed witnesses was no coincidence; this is a sign. I know exactly what to do next.

 

 

January 6th 1966

 

 

The blood was now cold. I sat for hours staring at the mess that lay before me. For the first time I felt absolutely nothing. No anger, no remorse for what I had done. Nothing.

 

She had been driving back from work when I hitched a ride with her; Ms. Samantha Carter hadn’t been expecting me when she pulled over. By the time she had recognized me, we were half way through the industrial estate. The knife went in clean no mess no struggle, just a gentle push as it entered her chest, moments later however the car was hurtling off of the road and into a lamppost.

 

As I watched the fire from the car's engine spread, I could see Amelia’s face smiling down at me; she deserved retribution. She deserved peace.

 

Fire, nature’s cleanser.

 

 

The early hours of the morning drew in before I awoke coiled in an old tarpaulin. The air was cold and merciless. I could hear sirens in the distance. I had to move, their search for me was futile, but they hadn’t given up. I would forever be hunted; I needed to leave the country. All the other names on the list were either hiding or moved into witness protection, but there was one name that had simply moved to his stately mansion in the Alps.

 

 

I had £60 stashed under my mattress; it would get me across the channel and a room for a few nights. Going home now however would mean assaulting more police officers.

 

Worth It.

 

There was only three officers posted outside my home, two of which were standing either side of the front door, the third was walking towards the rear of the house.

 

Perfect.

 

As he walked out of the streetlights glow and into the shadows, I pulled a wrench from my back pocket. The officer struggled to switch his flashlight on.

 

“Jesus Christ, not again”

 

The blow was quick and direct, warm blood splashed my face and hands, the officer now a crumpled heap.

 

They wanted a killer and they were going to get one.

 

I opened the backdoor to the kitchen, shadows painted across the floor. Everything remained untouched, I grabbed a duffel bag out of the closet and filled it with the £60 and all the loose change I could find. My mind was set on one thing, getting to Dr. Edward Johnson; he knew how much she meant to me.

 

 

My mind raced, the light from the street crept through the blinds and illuminated one of the pictures on the mantle; it was carnival two years ago, Amelia and I were so blissfully happy, if only I had known.

 

I fled the house and made my way into the darkness. My mission was clear.

 

November 8th 1998

 

A sharp pain in my chest woke me; my arms and legs were numb. As I opened my eyes I could see pale blue sky and treetops. I began to shiver uncontrollably. I had been out here for hours I needed medical attention.

 

At least Stone hasn’t found me

 

My body was overwhelmed with pain, everything burned. My attempts to ground my self were fruitless, I could feel the frost collecting on my ears and nose; hypothermia was not a welcome possibility. God only knows how far Stone had tracked me, I needed to move and soon. Using all of my dwindled energy I managed to push myself out of the snow; my bones were ice and my muscles frozen.

 

“The Village…” I murmured.

 

Of course, Lipino was only a half our drive away, I could make it; I had to.

 

It took only a minute of forced hobbling for me to realize that my feet were frozen, my toes damn near shattered. The pain didn’t come but the sound of skin splitting was all too apparent. The chances of me finding anyone out there were too slight to even consider, the frozen forest was now all I could see for a mile in any direction.

 

The forest thickened as I wandered aimlessly, the pain had subsided and frostbite had taken hold. Vague images floated around my mind; images of Mrs. Woodrow's corpse and Stone's hulking Shadow towering over me.

 

Hallucinations?

 

Stone’s blackened silhouette proceeded towards me; panic and desperation clouded my vision before a large outstretched hand grabbed my shoulder. The icy forest went dark and I fell into unconsciousness.

 

 

*

 

Darkness is absolute; there is nothingness around me. An empty void. I wander through the nothing; an old metallic filing cabinet now stands in front of me.

 

“Open it” my internal monologue was now challenged by a second voice.

 

The cabinet opened its self up to reveal a small black ledger. As I reached out to pick it up, the file exploded into a flaming inferno that engulfed the cabinet and my body, I writhed in pain for a moment or so when I heard another voice.

 

It was a gravely voice that I did not recognize, he spoke in Russian.

 

Холодный почти �™зяла его.

 

I could not understand

 

Что? где �™ы его нашли?”

 

A second Russian replied; this voice was much younger, a child perhaps.

 

Suddenly I was aware of my surroundings, I was regaining consciousness. I was warm, led on something soft. I could hear the rustle of clothing and heavy-footed steps. My body was completely numb, my face tight and fragile. My attempts to open my eyes were futile; I was too weak.

 

What felt like days past before I was able to open my eyes. The light was blinding, but as my eyes adjusted a dusty cabin came into focus. There were snow-covered boots piled up in the corner and large thick jackets hung next to the door. I was led an old sofa in what appeared to be a flannel shirt and my underwear. As I tried to sit up my body contorted and shooting pains ran up and down my torso. Suddenly I was shivering uncontrollably. Violently I let out a loud agonizing scream and realized my feet were bandaged all the way up to my shin. My eyes widened, panic and the crushing realization that I have likely lost the majority of my toes.

 

The door to the cabin opened abruptly, a hulking bearded man covered head to toe in thick fur coats steps into the room.

 

Ты проснулся, хорошо. �'ы го�™орите на русском?”

 

My mind went blank, not only could I not speak Russian but the severity of my shivering made it impossibly for me to speak at all. He stared intently at me.

 

�'ы могли бы умер, �™ы �™се еще страдает от переохлаждения

 

I shook my head and tried to steady my self.

 

“I-I’m s-sorry, but I d-don’t speak Russian”

 

“No, Russian?” barked the hulking mass of fur. “I know little English”

 

He handed me a small flask filled with a grey-green viscous liquid.

 

“Drink”

 

Every fiber of my being wanted to vomit violently; the liquid smelt like rotten cabbage. The Russian’s stare was powerful and unbroken; I brought the mug up to my lips and attempted to swallow. The taste to this day still puts my stomach in knots.

 

The Russian grunted before leaving the room. I drank what I could but keeping it down was going to be the real challenge. My body ached for sleep, my eyes now heavy. I needed to rest for the first time in what felt like weeks.

 

December 28th 1966.

 

It had taken me months, but I had tracked my REAL target, Dr Edward Johnson. The bitter winds of the Alps calmed me.

 

As I waited in the darkness not 20 meters from Johnson’s stately mansion, I lit my sixth cigarette. I had been watching the mansion for 2 hours and had seen Johnson’s butler come and go; collecting firewood and bringing in meat from the town three miles or so from here.

 

I was dressed for the occasion, black leather jacket with thick leather gloves. I was ready. As I extinguished the sixth cigarette and prepared to light a seventh, Johnson’s butler emerged from the mansion with is hand outstretched waving to what looked like Johnson’s wife; he was headed home for the night. It was time to act.

 

 

The butlers car made its way down the snowy mountain road and out of sight, I emerged from the snowy foliage and proceeded crouched. My feet were silent and my eyes sharp. The house was dark, I peered through the windows only one room was lit, the library.

 

I made my way round to the back of the house; I carefully cracked the lock to the rear kitchen door and proceeded inside. I could hear Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata emitting from the library. The corridors were long and dark, perfect. I approached the doors to the library; the door was slightly ajar with light seeping through the opening. I stood to attention and pushed the door open.

 

The black leather glove slipped on effortlessly. The glow of the fire conjured shadows that danced like puppets...

 

The broken jaw I had given him muffled Johnson’s screams. The little silver dagger cut like it was slicing through butter. Blood poured from the deep caverns I had carved. His eyes widened as I pushed the scalpel into his chest, a twist here and there made the experience all the more painful for dear Doctor Johnson.

 

There was a can of petrol for the emergency generator sitting in the hall.

 

“How convenient”

 

I dragged the can into the library.

 

“Now doctor, we’re going to do a little empathy test”

 

Johnson’s eyes were wide and his skin pale, he didn’t have long left, I had to be quick.

 

“I am going to show you how much fire can hurt, do you understand? You’re going to suffer, as she suffered.”

 

More muffled gargling emitted from Johnson’s crushed jaw.

 

I opened the can and proceeded to pour the flammable liquid on to Johnson, and around the library, leading a trail into the hall and towards the front door. I said my goodbye to the doctor and dropped my lit cigarette onto the end of the trail.

 

I was in Zurich as the sun came up, my work complete. I felt as though time had slowed around me and I was floating from city to city. I crossed the channel on an old fishing boat that asked no questions. I hitchhiked back to London where I rented a room at a cheap hotel and collapsed on the bed. Finally I could sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part III:

Reassembly

 

 

November 15th 1998

 

 

There is only, emptiness.

 

A wave of cold air awakens me, as I stare around the now familiar cabin I notice the front door is ajar. My feet are still bandaged, however I muster enough energy to stand on my heels. I hobble over to the door and peer out into the white icy wasteland; there are two sets of footprints leading off for as far as I could see. I turn to face inside once again.

 

“Hello?”

 

I hopped back into the cabin and sat back on the sofa.

 

“You awake” a deep husky voice appeared from the doorway.

 

The voice startled me somewhat forcing me to bang my feet on the small wooden table in front of me.

 

“Ah god damn it!”

 

The Russian chuckled.

 

“You almost lost foot, frost take toes” he chuckled some more. “Not All gone”

 

“My toes? But how?”

 

“You walk soon, might need stick”

 

The Russian tossed an old wooden walking stick towards me.

 

 

*

 

 

November 27th 1998

 

 

Walking was painful but not impossible, I moved around the cabin frequently. My Russian host spoke little English and his young Son spoke none at all. I’ve taken to calling the hulking Russian ‘John the huntsman’, seemed appropriate.

 

The police must be looking for me by now; I was only given a 4-day extension. They would have expected Alec back at least, poor Alec. Stone was ruthless. I needed to get back to London, and soon.

 

“How long until you can take me to Lipino?”

 

John the huntsman was cooking some form of animal on the fireplace.

 

“Lipino? Too far” He pointed out to his rusty truck. “Won’t make it”

 

“How can I get home?”

 

John stared at me for a minute before chuckling.

 

“I don’t speak English well”

 

I hobbled back over to my -all to- familiar sofa. Walking was out of the question for now.

 

“Where is the nearest village?” I was getting desperate “Will they have a phone?”

 

John pricked his ear.

 

“Telephone?”

 

“Yes, Da!” The extent of my Russian vocabulary.

 

“Nearest phone in Ramen’e” John smiled “We can take you”

 

Home, until now it had been nothing but a faint oasis in the middle of this Russian winter. But now I could see it clearly; my fiancée sat at her easel, I can see what she’s working on; she paints the most wonderful landscapes. But this is something else, it’s a portrait? No, it’s a room; with an old woman lying on the floor, she’s covered in blood. It’s Mrs. Woodrow.

 

Then it came to me, it came to me and the penny dropped. Mrs. Woodrow didn’t kill herself; there was a tray next to her in the hall.

 

“Jesus”

 

How could I not have noticed, she would have been carrying it through the corridor, Stone must have shot her? But then I remembered something from my file on Stone.

 

 

Stone’s retired parole officer Alec Samuels will escort you, he will be armed...

 

‘Armed?’

 

Alec couldn’t have killed her; he ran down the corridor to investigate, Stone must have picked it up, but when?

 

“Of course.”

 

The whiskey, Stone must have drugged him. Veteran drinkers like Alec don’t get as drunk as that on their own.

 

Stone was right, there’s more to this than we had first thought.

 

It was one thing to lie in the comfort of a fire-heated cabin but John’s frozen truck was a completely unbearable environment; my hands stuck to the frozen interior as we cascaded through the white wilderness. John never smiled as we traveled to the small town. It was then when I noticed that he’d lived an honest noble life, and CHOSE to live out here, the very same icy hell that Stone was exiled to.

 

Within three hours we arrived to the small white ghost town; I counted all of 3 people as we entered.

 

John proceeded to knock on one of the many small bungalows. A young man opened the door and stared agape at the lumbering huntsman. Once we entered the young man’s humble home, John shed his Giant fur coat and slumped onto the weathered armchair.

 

Our host was a pale blonde haired man with slight evidence of facial hair sprouting from his upper lip; he wore small glasses and a clean-checkered shirt.

 

“Hello, he said you wanted to use the phone?” the young man turned to me.

 

I was taken back; he spoke English? A smile broke out on my face.

 

“Yes, if it’s not too much trouble?”

 

“No, not at all. It’s through here.” he gestured into the kitchen.

 

There it was on the wall, a beacon of hope in this cold frozen nightmare. I perched on a stool to rest my still aching feet, placed the receiver to my head and stared at the number pad. My mind froze.

 

Who do I call?

 

I could have called the police; I could have even called my fiancée. But I had to know if they were looking for me. I called the office.

 

“Hello, Tony Howards Office”

 

“Hi, listen it’s Cross. I need to know if you’ve called the police?”

 

There was a slight pause and a rustle of clothes.

 

“E-Edwin?”

 

“Yes? It’s me.”

 

“Where are you?”

 

“I’m on the Stone/Johnson case, listen has Tony called the police I need help”

 

“Edwin, Mr. Howard said you’d finished your report and quit, we all wondered where you went.”

 

Suddenly a dark and sinister feeling erupted from my stomach; the endless thoughts, possibilities and emotions running though me were too much to handle. I made an attempt to speak but all that emerged was a whimper.

 

“Edwin, listen; where are you exactly? Maybe there’s been a mix up?”

 

“Uhh, Could I speak to him?” my voice quivered uncontrollably.

 

“Sure, one second.”

 

I was on hold for less than 10 seconds when there was an answer.

 

“Cross?” Howard voice was low and sinister.

 

“Why didn’t you call the police? I’ve been missing for god knows how long” I gritted my teeth and tried to contain my anger.

 

“Look, tell me exactly where you are and I’ll have someone pick you up? Ok?” Howard’s voice had turned bittersweet.

 

“I can’t do that, I can’t trust you.”

 

There was another pause and shuffle of clothes.

 

“I’m your boss Edwin, you can trust me”

 

Was I being irrational? I felt so confused. On one hand Tony Howard could have covered up my disappearance and tried to write me off? And the other didn’t bare thinking about. I shook my head and took a deep breath.

 

“I’m in a town called Ramen’e?” I had started to calm my self.

 

“All right, sit tight and I’ll send someone to pick you up”

 

I dropped the receiver into my lap and stared aimlessly into the floor. I had never been so confused; I couldn’t tell fact from fiction. I was going slowly mad. The young man had welcomed us to stay for a few days while Howard sent help. His name was David, he and his father had lived in Ramen’e all their lives. David’s father had passed away only 4 months ago and there stood a small memorial by the much-welcomed fire.

 

“He hated the winter” David reminisced. “He would always say that it’s amazing what is hidden in the snow, it covers the country in a blanket that hides the things we don’t need to see; the mud, dirt ands the secrets”

 

I sipped from a small metal cup that David had provided me.

 

“Hmm...I’m sure he was a wonderful man, what did he do for a living?”

 

“He was a forester, he would tend to the trees in the woods, chop some down and sell them for firewood.”

 

“Honorable life for a man.” I forced a smile.

 

David grew slightly uncomfortable.

 

“He used to tell me horror stories about the woods; the things he’d find in the spring, things that were hidden in the snow.”

 

I sat forward, and placed the metal cup on the table.

 

“What did he find out there?”

 

“Over the last 20 years he’d had these problems, in the spring he would go and tend to the trees and help clear away any debris.”

 

David’s face sunk.

 

“He used to find bodies, out in the snow.”

 

“Bodies?” my attention was now fully focused on David.

 

“Da, he found over a dozen, the police accused him on a number of occasions but there was no evidence, they said that they had perished in the cold.”

 

John -who was fast asleep on the couch- let out a loud snort.

 

I sat so far forward I almost fell from my chair.

 

“Where did he find the bodies?”

 

“Far out into the woods, hours away.”

 

“Near Lipino?”

 

David paused and looked away.

 

“Yes, how did you know?”

 

“I...uh... it’s nothing, I’m sorry.” I figured this poor soul didn’t need any more on his mind to weigh him down.

 

“It’s ok, after a while my father became used to it, but it saddened him.”

 

“I’m sure it did, did your father or the police get close to catching anyone?”

 

“No, there was no evidence to be found.”

 

The night drew in and my eyes drew heavy. David excused him self and proceeded to wash up. My mind was ready to burst at the seem, Stone had been killing all this time? I shook my self out of it.

 

Not now.

 

A day passed, David had cheered up somewhat. John wished me well and drove off out into the wilderness. I was feeling better, although my feet were still sore. David had lent me some of his clothes and a razor; I had not realized the length of my scattered facial hair until now.

 

“What will you do when you go back?”

 

“I...I don’t know, there’s a lot of things I need to put right.”

 

David nodded.

 

“I’m going to make some soup, are you hungry?”

 

“Uh…Not right now, but thank you.”

 

David smiled and proceeded to boil some water on the stove. Part of me felt the change in the wind; I remember the bitter feeling in the back of my mind. I turned to face the kitchen only to see David standing in the doorway. At first I didn’t notice but seconds later my eyes opened. David’s throat had been cut his head ajar and a thick black leather glove holding his neck up. The body dropped and standing behind was a tall-blackened figure, his face was hidden by the shadow of the door. But I knew who it was; he had found me.

 

“You are a persistent little pig.” The voice ran shivers down my spine.

 

The large shadow stepped forward to reveal my worst nightmare, Stone. He was calm but sinister.

 

“You’ve made this very difficult for me Edwin.” Stone paced forward two more steps.

 

I opened my mouth to speak but words failed to express the sheer panic I felt.

 

Stone brandished a large blood covered hunting knife, and smiled eerily.

 

“H-how did you find me?”

 

“I have my sources, Edwin. But please, you’ve delayed this long enough.”

 

Stone proceeded to step towards me. Stone was infinitely strong; I could never fight him off. But he was older, and much slower than me. I dashed to the left and narrowly avoided Stone’s boulder like fist. I ran over David’s body and towards the kitchen. The sound of heavy footsteps drew closer. Stone lunged with the blade, driving it into my shoulder. The pain forced my legs to give way, and I collapsed by the stove. Stone was breathing heavily.

 

“You little s**t, you’ve wasted enough of my time”

 

Stone pulled the blade from my shoulder and Stood above me. His eyes were intense he stared into my soul and prepared to end my existence. There was a knock on the front door. This had bought me little time, the wound in my shoulder now driving me to survive. Stone stood and peered out into the front room. As he did so I quickly forced myself up and onto my feet and grabbed the now scolding pan. Stone turned to face me; he raised his arms to shield himself from the copious amount of boiling water I had thrown over him. Stone’s cry of pain was blood curdling, he collapsed onto the floor and I ran. I burst through the back door and ran round to the front of the house to ask whoever had knocked to help me. As I turned the corner I saw two Russian policemen standing by the door.

 

“Excuse me sir, we need you to come with us.”

 

The two officers stared emotionless.

 

“I-I need help!” my voice broke.

 

My vision started to fade; the gash in my shoulder was emptying lethal amounts of blood onto the cold floor. As I began to blackout a single thought circled in my mind, perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to bleed to death; it was rash but it would mean that the nightmare would end. I remember the sound of my head hitting the floor and the world going dark.

 

 

 

January 7th 1967

 

 

London, what a miserable hive of undeserving pigs. As I watch from my hostel room I see hundreds of people going about their daily business, never knowing pain. I have lost so much and gained so little; why do they deserve to be happy?

 

I had not had much sleep, I had hidden in the back of a truck while I crossed the channel and had little chance to rest. I had no plan, no direction, and no hope. I had killed the man behind all of this, and yet the pain did not go away. I did not feel at peace, there was more work to do, more souls that needed to feel what I’ve felt.

 

A glance in the mirror did not show the man I remembered. Instead there before me was an unshaven ragged man with no emotion and no remorse. All that had made me human was gone.

 

What little family I had would never take me in. I was completely alone.

 

Three knocks, three knocks on the door forced me to pull the revolver from my side and scantily aim at the door.

 

“Sir? Are you in there?” A soft female voice emerged from the other side.

 

The maid?

 

“Who is it?”

 

“Sir, it’s house-keeping. Can I come in?”

 

I was tired, and not thinking straight. I placed the pistol down and approached the door.

 

“Ok, briefly” my voice was shaky.

 

The now nervous woman entered the room and placed some fresh towels on the bed, scooping up the old and brushing the revolver as she did so. She froze, her face now inline with the revolver.

 

“W-what is that?” She stared at me accusingly.

 

I panicked for a moment but re-collected my thoughts and kept calm.

 

“It’s ok, it’s ok! I’m an undercover policeman” I stuffed the revolver into my pocket. “It’s nothing to worry about”

 

The maid stared from me to my pocket and back again.

 

“Are you sure? I-I don’t want any trouble”

 

“It’s ok, I’m not going to hurt you, but you need to keep this between us, ok?”

 

The maid nodded and hurried out of the room closing the door gently behind her. I needed to keep as low profile as possible. My thoughts were becoming too much for me, I pulled the large bottle of whiskey out of my draw and began to slurp uncontrollably at its contents. It wasn’t long before I became more than a little tipsy. I stared down at my revolver.

 

“Best put you to rest”

 

I stumbled over to the cabinet and placed the gun in the top draw. About an hour or so past before I had fallen asleep, my dreams were filled with fire and pain. I woke with a start. There was knocking on my door.

 

“Sir? I gave you the dirty towels”

 

I fell out of bed and wandered over to the door barely awake.

 

“All right, all right” I opened the door and smiled. “Come on in, they’re where you left them”

 

The small frail woman seemed scared. She edged slowly into the room, as she did so four police officers appeared from the corridor and tackled me to the ground. They beat me with every fiber of their being, using clubs and their bare hands; they broke damn near every bone in my body. Blood oozed from my nose and mouth, as the beating continued. They paused for a moment and cuffed my hands and legs. A familiar figure entered the room.

 

“You’re losing your touch.” Detective inspector Hurst boasted.

 

Words from my mouth were substituted with blood and fragmented teeth.

 

“Now, I’ll admit it took us a while but we f*****g got you.”

 

One of the officers handed Hurst my revolver.

 

“You’re not well Lloyd, you look a tad under the weather, be a shame if you resisted arrest” Hurst smiled. “We’d have to act accordingly now wouldn’t we?”

 

“G-go...f**k...yourself” My mouth was barely operable.

 

“You left quite a mess at Johnson’s manor. We thought we’d never find you, now that you’d finished your list.” Hurst motioned to the maid. “You slipped up when you let this poor girl into your room.”

 

“I...can...die peacefully”

 

Hurst laughed unusually loud.

 

“No, no. You see, I could kill you; after what you’ve done I’d be given a medal. But for someone like you death is no punishment, it’s a way out. And you are NOT getting out of this. Stick him in the back of the van”

 

The pains from the beatings were nothing compared to the utter realization that I would forever suffer locked in a steel tomb.

 

The series of interview that followed were pure hellish torture. The pain numbed after a while, and the questions began.

 

“It’s been a pleasure Mr. Stone but we are going to have to start getting some answers from you.” Hurst was finally satisfied. “Can you tell us your account of Amelia’s accident?”

 

I stared for a moment, of course I could.

 

“We had celebrated her birthday. She wanted to tell me something, there were a few others around; she wanted to tell me in private.”

 

 

“That’s right, then what happened?”

 

“I got drunk...and angry; we had an argument. I was paranoid that she was cheating on me with one of my friends, Derek Smalls.”

 

 

“And what else happened?”

 

Those horrid images had returned.

 

“I got into a fight with Derek, I broke both of his arms and in the commotion I struck Amelia.”

 

Hurst’s smile widened.

 

“Carry on.”

 

“She was distraught, she got into her car and drove away from the party, she said that she can’t be around me anymore.”

 

Hurst placed his hands onto my shoulders, gripping firmly.

 

“And that’s when the accident occurred, isn’t it Lloyd?”

 

“Yes.” I began to sob uncontrollably.

“You were violent from a young age Mr. Stone; continuous fighting at school. Lashing out at your father and uncle...This won’t look good in court.” Hurst tightened his grip further. “You killed her, I want you to remember that.”

 

I did remember, for 17 years locked in my coffin like cell. I had been broken, prison was one thing; I had spent a week or so in a minimum security before. But this was something else. HM Prison, Belmarsh; for class A prisoners, the very worst. It was solitary hell. No visitors, one meal a day and the beatings that would break any man’s soul. A couple of the prisoners were killed during these ‘disciplinary sessions’. I saw her face every day...every day for 17 years.

 

 

 

                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part IV:

Set In Stone

 

 

 

December 8th 1998

 

 

 

A solitary light flickered above me, a dwindling bulb of light that barely illuminated the table I was chained too. I couldn’t make out the room I was in, nor where I had been taken too.

 

I was stripped bare. My feet un-bandaged. They were a bloodied mess; only 6 toes remained in total. The wound on my shoulder had been stitched up.

 

 

Was I in some Russian hospital? Why was I chained to this cold metal table?

 

 

I remained calm for the most part, there was no sign of a door; perhaps I was in prison?

 

An hour past when a loud slide of metal erupted in the room, suddenly a rectangle of light appeared. Through it two shadows entered the room, they approached the table and switched the light beams on the ceiling on. The room was revealed to be some kind of make shift operating theater, tools and other equipment hanging from wall racks. One of the shadows was Stone, still blistered from the pan of boiling water; the other wasn’t someone I recognized.

 

“W-What the f**k is going on Stone?”

 

Stone said nothing; he motioned for the other man to leave.

 

“This is the last room you will see. I am going to explain to you Edwin, why exactly you are here, in due time.”  Stone’s rage was beyond emotion.

 

“What the f**k are you doing?”

 

“Now, now Edwin. Have some manners.” Stone sat in a chair next to the table. “This was not how I planned on ending things.”

 

My mind raced.

 

“What do you mean, end things?”

 

Stone smiled.

 

“I’m an old man Edwin, I’ve seen things that would turn your mind to madness. I’ve lived through moments of my life that felt utterly hopeless; I have experienced too much for an old mind to bare.”

 

Stone rose to his feet and paced up to one of the tool racks.

 

“I spent along time searching for a ‘lesser known’ publication company. I had hundreds of newspapers and magazines sent to my house. And then...I found yours.”

 

“You found US?”

 

“Oh yes.” Stone’s smile widened. “I needed some way of luring him out...”

 

 

“Who?”

 

“Alec Samuels. You see Edwin; I had a revelation of sorts. I couldn’t leave this world with any loose ends; I still had business to complete. There were people who deserved punishment for what they had done to me. I managed to lure a few retired policemen here, using our mutual colleague, Mr. Howard.”

 

Rage now filled my mind; I had been set up.

 

“Mr. Howard offered them a chance to come to my ‘funeral’ and say a few words about my life, nothing too flattering I can tell you. Unfortunately Detective-inspector Hurst died of a heart attack two or three years ago. As for the others, over the years I picked them off one by one; dumping them wherever I could.”

 

Stone removed what looked like some kind of ’bladed’ cattle prod from the rack. He smiled for a moment and wandered back over to the table.

 

“Pain is simply your brain interpreting electrical signals. But pain ‘over the years’ has evolved into something more; when a pet you once loved dies; we feel this convoluted sense of ‘pain’. We feel compelled to cry, we yearn for them, we mourn them.”

 

Stone switched on the device.

 

“I mourned, I felt the pain of her passing.”

 

Stone thrust the spiked device into my leg forcing me to scream in agony, the electrical current running through my body contorted my muscles.

 

“W-Why didn’t you just f*****g kill me?” I screamed.

 

Stone removed the device.

 

“After I killed Alec, you became the last name on my list, the last lose end. I felt you deserved a more significant send off.”

 

Blood now seeped from the wound in my leg.

 

“Those men in Ramen’e, they weren’t police officers were they?”

 

Stone chuckled.

 

“No, they were...admirers; I made quite a name for my self once I was sentenced. A cult following, if you will.”

 

Stone Stood and paced over to the rack. He stared at the rack for a moment before picking up a sharp misshapen blade.

 

“And Mrs. Woodrow? W-was she on your list?”

 

“Of course, she was aware of what I had planned; She needed to be silenced.”

 

The room smelt of sweat and blood, Stone’s face was cold and calculative. The large metal door slid open to reveal the two thugs.

 

“Ah, there you are.” Stone motioned towards a brown box on the table. “I want you to send Howard the package.”

 

“Yes sir.” The thug grabbed the box and walked gingerly out of the room.

 

“As for you, I want you to pay attention; this is important.” Stone plunged the blade into the already bleeding wound in my leg.

 

My blood shot cries were unheard; I screamed knowing that his face would be the last thing I saw.

 

“Edwin, this has been fun. But now I need to end this.”

 

I could barely make out Stone’s final speech over my cries of pain. After a twist of the blade, Stone removed the knife and lined the knife up with my throat.

 

“Good night, Mr. Cross.”

 

As Stone prepared to end the seemingly endless torture, a third thug I didn’t recognize entered the room.

 

“Sir?”

 

Stone stopped and straightened up.

 

“What?”

 

“I found the journalist’s folders.” The thug lifted up my bound folders. “There’s something else in here.”

 

Of course the folders I’d left in Alec’s car

 

“What is it?”

 

The thug lifted a small black folder and handed it to Stone. It was Dr. Johnson’s notes on Amelia, that I hadn’t gotten round to reading. Stone snatched the folder and opened them, as he read his face grew ever pale, his eyes fixated. For a moment Stone’s face contorted before a single tear tumbled down his cheek. A midst the pain I felt and the anger I could no longer control, I felt sorry for Stone. If I had known what secrets were hidden in that folder, I would have never attempted to dig up Stone’s past.

 

Stone turned to face me.

 

“You knew about this?” Tears now trickling down his face.

 

My attempts to deny Stones accusation were fruitless; the agony I faced allowed nothing more than a withered scream. I had not known at the time what forced him to do it, perhaps it was the realization of what could have been, and perhaps it was regret. To this day I will never know.

 

“Amelia, my darling.” Stone’s final sentiment.

 

Stone placed the knife against his throat, looked into my eyes and drew the blade across. A crimson waterfall cascaded from Stones neck, his eyes rolled back and he collapsed onto the floor. Stone’s followers both screamed in shock and ran from the bloodied mess that was, Lloyd Patrick Stone.

 

 

A loose chain allowed me to slip through out of my metal restraints, my right leg now completely immobile. I crawled over too Stone’s bleeding corpse, and flipped open Dr. Johnson’s notes.

 

Amelia Cohen:

 

 

Attempted suicide resulted in 3rd degree burns.

 

89 percent of her body suffers from burn related scarring.

 

She requested that her lover ‘Lloyd Stone’ be kept in the dark about her condition.

 

She has refused skin graphs.

 

Amelia is 5 months pregnant, unfortunately the baby perished due to stress caused from the accident.

 

Amelia has requested that we overdose the morphine to allow her to die. Although it is illegal, I feel compelled to help.

 

Amelia has a history of violence with Lloyd, as a precaution we (as a medical team) have decided to testify against Mr. Stone. Removing any potential threat to Amelia’s immediate family.

 

“Jesus Christ”

 

As I read the ledger of ultimate secrets I felt -only a percentage- of Stone’s pain; he had never known what it was that Amelia had wanted to say to him. He would never know the life he could have had.

 

As I lay on the cold concrete floor, I began to piece together all of the little clues Stone had left behind. After an hour or so I had managed to crawl free of the disused warehouse, and onto the frozen road. It wasn’t long before someone spotted me and took me to the nearest hospital. The police asked more questions then I had energy for; questions that needed no answer, questions that I would never hope to hear again.

 

The flight back to London was a calm and peaceful journey, for the first time in my life I felt a great sense of purpose; I had unraveled the secrets to a case that has been long forgotten. I made notes all the way back to Heathrow; what had happened, what could have happened. I was home.

 

 

January 6th 2000

 

The office is a calmer place; Tony Howard was nowhere to be found. With the ever-growing fame that emerged from the various news interviews I had done and the story that had unfolded, I was appointed as the new Editor of the Liberty Publication Company (L.P.C). I was asked frequently over the past two years whether I regretted going to Russia, I can honestly say; I would never be the same, and I would never take anything back.

 

We had held a memorial service for the victims of Lloyd Stone: Alec Samuels, David Bezrodny, Dr. Edward Johnson, Amelia Cohen and child. They were innocent souls trapped in a guilty world.

 

I wept every night for the next 10 years.

 

 

 

 

 

Epilogue:

 

 

 

Edwin Cross, developed a keen attraction to the mysterious and unknown, changing the L.P.C’s direction to investigation. Using his new position to reveal secrets lost in time. The damage to his leg will leave him with a limp indefinitely. Edwin Married his fiancée Maggie, and had two children: Jonathan and Emily. Stone’s log cabin was demolished to reveal a series of corpses hidden under the house; all of which were on his ‘list’. Edwin never revealed Amelia’s secret to the world. She was at rest, and now peace filled his soul.

 

 

July 10th 1984

 

 

 

I am released of this steel tomb; free to wander as I please, free to smell the air I have missed for so long. I was trapped in a tomb build on lies and pain. I am no wiser, nor am I stronger; I am simply tired. I cannot bear to sleep, and cannot bear to wake. I shall rest for an eternity, for now and forever. I no longer seek the comfort of people I am lost and wish to be hidden. Goodnight my Amelia I will be with you. For now and always, in my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2013 Jake E. Sampson


Author's Note

Jake E. Sampson
Ignore grammar problems

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Added on August 31, 2013
Last Updated on August 31, 2013
Tags: Murder, Mystery, Suspense, Psycological, Fiction