Chapter three of my novel. New characters and further details of the murders are revealed
| Spider-Filled Mike
The man known as Spider-Filled Mike was sitting at the desk in his office somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of East London, reading the latest exploits of his favourite comic character: Miles Jetpack, who as usual was flying around, causing trouble and generally annoying everyone he met. His adventures or rather misadventures were recorded monthly in the comic publication WINNITS. The comic boasted a number of colourful characters such as Potato Baumber, the destructive whirlwind in a lumberjack shirt and Davey Crocket style hat, Temperate Simon, the Eco Warrior and Randy Allen & His Marvellous Singing Feet (the basic plot of that one being less easy to pris). Miles Jetpack, a classic anarchic anti hero, was basically just a very naughty boy who happened to have a rocket strapped to his back and a ruthless knack of managing to ruin people's day with consummate ease. Mike loved him.
Just as the climax of this month's disastrous happenings was unfolding there was a knock on the office door and a bullet head and a face with a broken nose pushed itself through the opening.
Mike's lips stopped moving mid story and looking up his eyes zeroed in on the head, face and nose.
"Fuck off"!, he said simply
Mykanos DeBobo, the owner of the head, face and nose, glanced down for a moment and mouthing a silent expletive, backed out and closed the door behind him.
No one knew the origins of Mike's epithet or who had first given him that strange and slightly threatening prefix, not even Mike himself, who although knowing full well of its common usage, had never been known to refer to it himself. Secretly however he delighted in its ambiguous but undoubtedly dark and sinister undertones. Spider- Filled Mike was not an ordinary man. In his mid forties, slightly above average height and build with cropped jet black hair, just beginning to show the first flecks of grey, a strong nose and chin, composed and ironic looking, humour filled grey eyes and a wry, knowing look about his whole face. There was nothing so extraordinary about him at first glance, but on longer examination there could be detected a hard edged determination behind the eyes and a cold calculating way in his speech and manner which was disconcerting to some. Mike did not squander words and was a man who detested bullshit and ignorance in any form. Unnervingly bright himself, he had an in build radar detection system which could identify a right twat within the first 5 minutes of acquaintance. He was a man of quick, instinctive decision and action, where others debated, delayed and waited, Mike acted, made things happen and accepted the consequences, good or ill, with equal resolve.
Long ago Mike had made a conscious preference to inhabit the darker side of life. A perverse need to rebel against normality, conformity and basic decency had been born within him from an early age. With his innate high degree of intelligence he could have succeeded in any number of professional capacities and enjoyed a safe, lucrative and ultimately enjoyable lifestyle; banker, lawyer, entrepreneur, all would have suited his intellectual ability. Mike however had chosen a very different path. Not crime exactly, at least not what the ordinary man in the street would call crime; burglary, drug dealing, robbing banks, pinching policeman's helmets or generally causing alarm to pensioners and the hard of hearing, none of these were not the kind of activity Mike and his friends indulged in. Mike preferred making his living by subverting the deservedly stupid; systems, corporations, even governments were not too big a target for his numerous schemes. Ruthless in his pursuit of his goals and objectives, as any of his companions would readily testify, Mike in full flight was not a person you wanted to obstruct or at least made you seriously wish you hadn't after the event. In his twenty odd year career he had managed to make a substantial sum of money and yet not directly adversely affect any individual on a personal level and he had done it in a way that had not made him a known target for the authorities, a fact of which has was immensely proud.
Just recently however in the last 6 months, Mike had become directly involved in a series of events that contradicted everything in which he believed and that put his own life and liberty in serious jeopardy. That he had done so voluntarily and knowing full well the consequences of his actions, made his aforementioned associates look at one another in silent wonder and scratch their arses in a highly distracted and haphazard manner.
Mike returned to his comic but the spell was broken and after a couple of fruitless minutes his curiosity forced him to rise from his chair and open his office door. Peering briefly down the corridor and seeing no one, he raised his voice
"Mykanos, where the fuck are you? Get back here and talk to me!"
In the room next door Mykanos turned to his twin brother, Stanchion, and with a small, very private raise of the eyebrows, rose up to meet his boss's call.
Mykanos and Stanchion De Bobo were non identical twin brothers, orphaned at an early age who had worked for, lived with and had shared in all of Spider-Filled Mike's escapades since teenagers, when he, still a relatively young man himself, had spotted like minded fellow rebels and swiftly recruited them, recognising a budding and willing talent for badness and had subsequently over the intervening years nurtured and developed the basic fact that they always had the devil on their backs and were constantly looking for a diversifying and rewarding outlet. Having none of their boss's cleverness, what they lacked in brainpower they more than made up for in all other aspects. Acting together they were a formidable duo, strong, resolute, unswervingly loyal and ready to mix it up with anyone, anywhere who stood in their way, or sometimes even if it just looked as though that person might at some indeterminate point in the future, stand in their way. They never lost their simple sense of boyish fun at the nature of their business and took great delight in spending most of their lives generally cocking a snook at the whole of society. Their long affiliation with Mike had given them ample chance to exercise their most devious and often alarming skills, which they did with relish and gave them a solid and unshakable understanding of their place and value in the world. Their devotion to Mike was unconditional. Mykanos and Stanchion DeBobo were Mike's men, hard, loyal, fearless and warped: a heady and volatile mixture.
As usual when embroiled up to their thick necks in a Spider-Filled Mike intrigue, the brothers were in high good humour, even though the nature of the current affair was very different from all of their previous projects and involved what was for them new and uncharted territory. Any chance to cause some mayhem was fine by them and fortunately Mike was the man to deliver.
"You'd better get back in there before he pops a bollock" grinned Stanchion, pushing his brother towards the door.
"Ok Stan, on me way"
Mykanos walked back up the corridor with a newspaper in his hand.
As he approached Mike standing impatiently in the corridor Mykanos held up the newspaper.
"Third body's been found" he called and handed it over.
Mike scanned the front page and as he read an unsmiling grin spread over his face.
By this time Stanchion had joined them and the brothers stood and watched as Mike digested the information contained on the front page and spread over into pages three and four.
"Nice one boys" he breathed. "We made the front page and a double spread inside, outstanding work".
The twins looked at each other with simple pride on their faces.
"Clacton beach! I thought it would take them months to find it this time, who the fuck goes to Clacton Beach in April"? said Stanchion
"Any time"? returned Mykanos, then looked faintly surprised at his sudden turn of wit.
"Well fortunately for us there's always some right paper hats around, probably another sodding dog walker. At least it was found relatively quickly, better for us in the long run I reckon, fewer questions that way". Mike looked thoughtful as he read.
"Apparently the fuzz are still as baffled as ever, now there's a shock" By now they had all three moved into Mike's office and he threw down the paper onto his desk and sitting down in the chair looked up the men in front of him.
"Well done again boys, you did a perfect job, the vic was nicely trussed up and no identifying evidence found. You're getting good at this".
Mykanos and Stanchion beamed down with idiotic smiles on their faces. If they'd have had tails, the furious wagging would have caused one hell of a breeze. As they stood at the desk, sharing banter with Mike and each other about their latest exploits, the guns in their jackets, bulky and heavy with menace, were clearly visible.
Deep within the sturdy walls of a large Victorian red brick edifice lay the town morgue used by the police to carry out post mortems on all suspicious deaths. Bodies from all over the country were shipped here for examination before moving on to their respective families for final burial. The enormous building in which it resided was erected in the early 1900s and still carried that solid air of imperial magnificence, a large rambling hotchpotch of tall chimneys, undulating roof structures placed over randomly situated walls, it seemed to have no easily identifiable underlying design concept. Whatever the original design idea the overall effect was breathtakingly impressive. It was built in the days when architecture went far beyond basic functionality. This building was put together to make a statement, it said bollocks to the prols and the foreigners, we're British, we're rich and powerful and we don't care who knows it. Hanging Nail Hospital was a structure to behold and deep within the bowels of this still busy and thriving hospital was housed the forensic morgue. The morgue itself was large, cool, sterile and completely tiled out in the fashion of the period in which it was first constructed.
On this particular day a certain Nurse Gant was impatiently awaiting the arrival of the latest addition to the grisly trilogy of clerical dead. Having only been at the hospital a matter of a few weeks and still regarded as a newcomer to the hospital staff, the young, only very recently qualified nurse ought to have felt rather more nervous at the prospect of dealing with the recently deceased. However having volunteered, or perhaps rather more bluntly - demanded, a transfer from paediatrics to her current department, she felt only an excited frisson of expectation at the imminent arrival of the Reverend Stiff. Here at last was a chance to get close to what so far she had only read about in the newspapers. Ever since she had read about the first death a couple of months ago, the story had gripped the young girl. For she rightly and instinctively had the impression that there was more to this incident than a random murder. When the second body turned up her excitement and interest grew exponentially.
Her interest, though natural for anyone hearing about the strange, unexplained deaths of vicars, went rather more beyond the normal curiosity, hers was professional and driven by an ambition to succeed in the world of freelance journalism and a thirst for uncovering the secret and unusual at any cost. For the 23-year-old Raspberry Gant was an imposter in her neat nurses uniform. She had acquired bogus qualifications as a nurse and infiltrated the hospital for the sole purpose of furthering her own investigations into the, now seemingly, serial killings of innocent clergymen. Knowing that if any further bodies were discovered (and rightly guessing, or perhaps even hoping, that more indeed would) Raspberry Gant had gambled that they would eventually end up at Hanging Nail city morgue for the official post mortem. Obtaining the necessary false documents and finding an open position at the hospital had taken a few weeks to organise and Raspberry had prayed during that period that no more bodies would be found until she had secured a place from which she could more closely observe the next victim. Her rather ruthless and single-minded determination had paid off. Once accepted at the hospital it was relatively easy to gain a position in the morgue as vacancies came up fairly regularly and there were few takers, the hospital board were only too pleased to appoint a young and clearly willing volunteer into that grisly world, whilst secretly raising their eyebrows and wondering what might be the matter with this apparently normal looking young lady that would make her wish actively to work among the corpses. But with the old adage of gift horses and mouths (and looking into stuff i.e. don't do it) they gladly accepted her transfer request and thought no more about it.
It is a testament to this remarkable young women that she was prepared to think so far ahead, plan and execute a daring piece of deception which, if found out, could well lead to prosecution and even imprisonment just to place herself in a position of possible advantage, should another murder take place. But that was Raspberry Gant all over, small, and slender with a boyish face and figure, short, jet black hair, piercing blue eyes and a steely determination to succeed in anything she did, Raspberry was one of life's risk takers. An English graduate, drawn into the uncertain world of freelance journalism after taking and walking out of a number of posts working for local newspapers, where she found the hum drum world of provincial reporting of the usual round of fetes, coffee mornings, yet another home-grown worthy climbing Kilimanjaro to raise tuppence ha'penny for a new kidney machine. too dull for words. She also discovered that she had an in built resistance to being told what to do, what to report on and ultimately how to write. Eventually all her editors agreed that their mutual separation was the best thing for both the paper and herself and breathed a sigh of relief at her departure. But despite this she still had a passion to write and her innate curiosity and passion for justice made the choice of freelance journalist a fairly easy and natural one to assume. After an initial year struggling to make any sort of living, Raspberry had hit upon the Stephen Porridge reports and immediately decided that this was her chance to bag a huge story. There was something in this scenario which set her journalistic "spider sense" tingling and like the web slinging hero she launched herself into the fray without a moments hesitation.
Now standing in the cold, sanitary atmosphere of the morgue with the unforgiving overhead strip lights illuminating the entire room with a harsh, uncompromising view, Raspberry at last stood in front of her quarry. The visiting pathologist had completed the post mortem and unsurprisingly nothing of any value had been discovered. Cause of death unknown, no traces of who might have perpetrated the killing found. Everything had been carried out as per procedure and the important medical folk had departed to the pub to discuss more weighty matters, football, religion and breasts (though not necessarily in that order). The hapless junior nurse was left in charge of clearing away the debris and making all things right again, which was how Raspberry now found herself alone and standing in front of the recently departed Reverend Anthony Munton. Not unnaturally she hesitated, it was one thing to want to investigate a potentially big story, quite another to be confronted by the reality of an innocent dead body, naked and dissected on the operating table. Of course most of the gory bits had been disposed of as part of the procedure, all Nurse Gant had to do was transport the body from the gurney to the cold storage facility to await removal and final burial. But she knew that she needed to conduct her own examination first. However having no medical training she knew this was a fairly futile exercise, there was nothing she could glean from the body that the pathologist would not have picked up, however she grimly steeled herself and set about the task anyway. The only discernable marks were those made by the ropes, which had tied the body to the ironing board, deep, dark brown indentations at regular intervals over the length of the torso. After a few minutes of slightly nauseous probing Raspberry admitted defeat and turned to the main focus of her investigation; the Reverend Munton's clothing. Here she felt more at home and relaxed. Digging around in the trouser pockets, jacket pockets and wallet, all left with the body until the final paperwork had been processed and the physical evidence stored appropriately in the police archives. This was Raspberry's real quest and hope for information. After rummaging around for several minutes and finding nothing of interest, suddenly in the recess of a jacket pocket a small item of crumpled paper made Raspberry gasp with astonishment, holding the piece of paper up to the light she smoothed out the wrinkles and looked at it in wonder. On the surface nothing too remarkable, however the quick thinking young journalist immediately recognised it's significance as being the only item of belonging that might be annoyingly and clichheavily referred to as a clue (sorry readers - but simply unavoidable at this point in the narrative). The item in question was a stub, a ticket stub to a rock concert, but not just any rock concert. This was a ticket stub to a concert by a band so notorious and supposedly evil that the popular impression was that they were poised to bring down the whole of civilised society as we know it - heady and dramatic stuff I know, but these wishy washy liberals can be quite eloquent and alarmist when they really want to be - the piece of paper held aloft by Raspberry Gant in the synthetic light of the Hanging Nail Hospital morgue was a ticket to a concert given by the band; Weaponless Thunder Cunts.
Many people, those who didn't really know about these things but tried very hard to pretend that they did, referred to them as The Weaponless Thunder Cunts, however this was wholly incorrect. There was no The as in Beatles, Who etc, just Weaponless and so on. Not that the presence or absence of the indefinite article as a prefix to the name was the main crux of any controversy, speculation or censure surrounding the five piece musical ensemble. It was the name itself that for some reason seemed to cause upset amongst the vast majority of the population and led to the group being banned by just about all branches of the popular media before a single guitar chord had been strummed. Their songs could not be played on the radio, their antics could not be reported in the press, their concerts could not be advertised anywhere where decent minded folk might be exposed to the horror of hearing that name, lest they be mentally scarred forever. If you wanted to know about them and a surprising number did, the interest by the younger populace and a few dyed in the wool indie/rock followers grew in direct proportion to the amount of indignation, outrage and blanket banning policy employed by those who attempted to have the exact opposite effect, you had to go underground to find it. A whole dark culture had grown up around the group, illegal internet sites were set up and invariably closed down again just as quickly, to promote the music and give information out to a growing hungry legion of fans, most of whom were merely attracted by the mysticism and rumour (most of which was wildly exaggerated of course) which had established itself in the relatively short time the band had been on the scene. Concerts were held in disused warehouses at very late or early hours, news of the gigs usually spread by word of mouth around the pubs, clubs and underground music sub culture which existed in most large towns and cities. Tickets were distributed like class A drugs and the trade in them could be just as violent and deadly. In just a few short months the band had become anarchic legendary anti heroes to their fans, the seeming answer to all their prayers for something to be created which offered an antidote to the bland, spineless, clich X Factor type output which had now taken over the music scene in Britain.
Of the band and their music, even less was known. The five original members were fairly ordinary if somewhat disaffected youths. One of the more remarkable things about them was that they could actually play, their music was loud, fast and hard, proper guitar based rock, which thrilled the senses and deafened the lugholes. Their songs were simple and followed the usual topics occupying the thoughts of most young, disaffected hooligans; Beer, Sex, Cigarettes and Death. They had not set out to become iconic symbols of the anti establishment culture for a new generation, but equally did not feel they could really be arsed to do anything about it now that it had happened Their motto was easy, live for the moment and enjoy the ride as best you could till the booze, money and girls run out: sensible level headed young men in truth just having a bit of a lark. They were so busy having a good time that they did not stop to wonder just how they had become so successful so quickly or to wonder what was the real driving force behind the culture that had embraced them and forced them into the spotlight of anti fame. In truth the management behind the band were an even bigger mystery than the WTCs themselves. Behind the scenes however these dark shadowy figure(s)? fuelled the growing hysteria, mania, rumour mongering and general misinformation that had propelled the simple lads into nothing short of a cult. The fact that they were despised, banned and ostracised by the music industry, press, government, police and parents everywhere only made the management more pleased and satisfied that they were doing a worthwhile and basically enjoyable job.
It was a ticket stub to a concert given by this band that Raspberry held in her hands and stared at in disbelieving awe. Why would an innocent, harmless parish vicar go to a gig by Weaponless Thunder Cunts? She let out a low whistle, which echoed in the vast empty tiled interior of the morgue. Looking furtively around in case she had unwittingly attracted unwanted attention she carefully placed the stub in the pocket of her uniform and put the revs clothes back exactly as she had found them. Closing the drawer on the stiff she peeled off her surgical gloves and hurried from the room, eager to get home, have a large drink and ponder long and deep about her next move.
As Raspberry was pootling home on her Suzuki GSX R750 sports bike, feeling that life was suddenly looking very interesting, Spider-Filled Mike was on the telephone in his office and from the look stealing over his face, it did not appear that he was hearing good news.
"What the flying fuck was he doing there in the first place?" Mike was holding the phone like he was trying to squeeze the life from the neck of tough duck that was having none of it and fighting back.
Mystified Mike put down the receiver and called Mykanos and Stanchion into his office.
"Well boys, it appears as though we have a slight situation developing with regards to our last project" Mike got straight down to business.
"Project boss?" Stanchion looked puzzled
"Yes you know, the late Reverend Sampson, the guy you chaps trussed up so neatly and left on Clacton Beach in the early hours, you must remember Stan, it was only three days ago, unless of course you lads have been turning this into a full blown hobby and have now started nobbling the clergy in your spare time."
"No boss, we remember" Stanchion looked at his feet and said, "What's up, I thought we had done it perfect, you said so."
"You had my boy, but I've just had some information that could make things a little tricky if it ever comes to light. The Rev it appears had a penchant for loud and illegal rock music, he was spotted at the last Thunder Cunts gig.
"Thunder Cunts, Jesus what the fuck was he doing there?" Mykanos and Stanchion both looked at each other.
"Just what I said, however as we can't ask him we're left with just trying to limit any damage this might cause."
"I don't see there's any damage boss, why should there be?"
"Because there's now a potential connection to us, no matter how tenuous and I don't like it. We've been super careful up to now, making sure that there's no trail back, however small, that could end up at our little rose covered cottage door and I'm not happy that this could lead someone in our direction" Mike was looking calm but thoughtful.
"Don't see why it should boss, no one knows about you and the Cunts, you've kept your profile well low on that score" Mykanos was trying to be reassuring. "Are you sure he was there, I just can't figure it, great band but the Rev didn't look the type to go into a Thunder Cunts mosh pit and kick his heels"
"Mahogany Pete clocked him on the CCTV, standing towards the back at the makeshift bar right at the start, then going to the crapper about mid way through, but lost him after that. He's going to bring down the tape so I can have a good look tomorrow"
"How did Mahogany Pete know about him? I thought this was strictly between us three" Stanchion looked slightly betrayed.
" Calm down Stan, Pete only knows that I have an interest in the murders but no details. He recognised the Revs face from the papers - we have been making all the headlines over the last few days you know" Mike winked at the two men standing over him and they grinned back, sharing the conspiratorial bond between them. "Then when he looked over the CCTV footage of the gig he noticed the Rev large as life at the bar, couldn't believe it at first so after searching for him over the whole tape and finding that he popped up again on his way for a jimmy, called me to tip me off. Pete's a good lad and has a nose for trouble, thought I would like to know that the recent stiff had been at one of my band's so called secret gigs and I for one am bloody glad that he did, means we can prepare for the worst."
"What's our next move then boss?" The boys were looking eager for action.
"I need to think but one things for sure if it was the Rev at the gig we need to be on the look out for anyone new sniffing around the band"
"That won't be hard, you keep those boys drummed up tighter than a fucking turkey's chuff ring"
Looking slightly askance at his esteemed colleague Mike replied
"Maybe, but we'll need to be extra careful now, after I've confirmed with Pete tomorrow we need to be ready for anyone following up on this and I mean anyone, at the first hint of trouble we deal with it, OK boys?" Mike looked the two huge beasts with a twinkle in his eyes.
"You got it boss" the two returned in unison, scarcely able to conceal their delight.