فصل 08

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فصل 08

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Chapter eight

Catching the killer

I left the house early this morning. It was cloudy, but it looked as though the sky would clear later. I took Alan’s car today, I don’t want to steal a car too often. The science is so good these days you can never tell what the police might be able to find. I drove to Reeth and parked in the middle of the village. Then I started out towards the little stream called Barney Beck. The path goes across the fields down to the River Swale, then along the river bank, through some trees.

Just before Barney Beck, the path moves in closer to the river. There’s a dry-stone wall on the right of the path and the river is just a couple of metres to the left, with tall trees growing on both banks. So here I am now at the place where Barney Beck joins the river. Waiting.

It’s a private place. That’s why I’ve chosen it. And because there are stepping stones across the stream.

Mum often brought Alan and me here when we were young. We’d walk from Reeth and stop here for a picnic and throw stones in the water. Then we’d either return the way we’d come or, when we were older, we’d walk on to Scabba Wath Bridge and back to Reeth on the other side of the river. Happy days.

My dad died when I was eighteen months old, so I didn’t know him at all. Alan hardly remembers him either. Mum brought us up on her own. I always felt I was her favourite even though she was very fair. Alan was always out with his friends playing football or cycling or rock climbing or … doing something. I spent a lot of time with Mum. We’ve always been very close.

I look both ways up and down the river. No-one is coming yet. I find a place where I can hide behind the wall. If a couple or a group of walkers come past, I’ll hide. I’m waiting for someone on their own.

Although I’m Mum’s favourite, I’ve always been jealous of Alan. He’s the successful one out of us. Mum was so pleased when he got into the army I knew that I had to try too.

I look both ways again. I can see a group of four people in the distance coming along the path from Reeth. Quickly I get into my hiding place. It takes the group fifteen minutes to arrive and go past. I give them another five minutes to get well away. Then I come out for another look in both directions. No-one.

Everything went well when I started my army training. There was nothing physically wrong with me. I passed my exams. Actually, I passed them well. But then there were psychological tests: questions which didn’t seem to have a right or wrong answer; questions about being on active service, about being on the front line. And then they told me I was unsuitable. At first I couldn’t believe it. Being a soldier was the only thing I wanted. The army had refused me - how would I be able to look at myself in the mirror every morning? I did the only thing I could. I decided to show them they were wrong.

I look both ways along the river again. There’s something red about a hundred metres away. I look through my binoculars. It’s a woman in a red anorak. She’s coming along the path from Scabba Wath. She’s on her own.

I stretch my hands open and closed.

This is it.

I’m ready.

Scott drove. Neville and Russell sat in the back of the car. Neville took out his phone and made a call. Russell listened to him giving instructions for a minute, then reached forward and took a map off the front seat. She knew where Barney Beck was - along the River Swale between Reeth and Healaugh - she had walked there many times herself. But she wasn’t sure of the easiest way to get to it. She opened the map.

From what Neville was saying on the phone it was clear to Russell that he knew the area well. She stopped listening as she looked at the map. The path from Reeth to where they thought Terry Reid might be was a long one. It would be quicker to park on the road just outside Healaugh and walk down through two fields. She was about to point this out to Neville when she heard him say, ‘I want three men, armed, waiting in Reeth, in a car not a Land Rover. We’ll pick them up as we go through. The closest we can get to Barney Beck is the road just outside Healaugh. Then we’ll go on foot from there.’ He turned off his phone.

Russell looked at Neville. His face looked tired, exhausted even, but now there was the light of excitement in his eyes as they closed in on their man. It had been like this with the other serial killer investigations she had worked on. The killings got closer and closer together in time; the police worked longer and longer hours, looking at more and more information; and then everything seemed to explode into madness towards the end.

Scott had the blue light going and made it from Richmond to Reeth in seventeen minutes. An unmarked police car was waiting opposite the Buck Hotel. She stopped beside it and Neville opened his window.

‘Follow us,’ he told the driver.

Five minutes later they pulled as far into the side of the road as they could, just outside the village of Healaugh. Russell realised why Neville had asked for a car, not a Land Rover. The Land Rover was a high vehicle and you’d be able to see the roof from down by the river, over the top of the dry-stone walls. Clever.

The police officers and Russell got out of the cars. Guns were handed to Neville and Scott. Neville looked at Russell.

‘You stay here,’ he said. ‘You’re not police. I don’t want you anywhere near this.’

‘No problem,’ she said. She hoped that with her help Neville and Scott had got to the right place in time to save someone’s life. But she was quite happy not to get any closer than this to a serial killer.

Scott opened the gate and the five officers entered the field. She closed the gate. There were a few sheep on the far side of the field and, even with a killer running free, the farmer wouldn’t be happy if they got out.

Quickly the officers made their way across the field, keeping low so that they wouldn’t be seen. At the bottom of the field was another gate. Opening and closing it quietly, they ran across the next field to the wall at the bottom. They stayed low when they reached the wall. Scott looked round. Faces were set, lips pressed together, guns at the ready.

Neville nodded at Scott. She looked over the wall. It took her five seconds to realise what was happening. There were stepping stones across Barney Beck. A man was standing on one side of the stream. His back was towards her, but she was sure that it was Terry Reid. On the other side of the stream was a walker, a woman in a red anorak. She was a few metres away from the stepping stones and walking towards them. Reid put out a hand to help her over the stones. She took the offered hand. As she did so, she looked up and saw Scott.

Reid realised there was someone behind him. He turned suddenly and looked straight at Scott.

There was no time to think about what to do next. Scott lifted her gun over the wall and pointed it at Reid.

‘Police!’ she called. ‘Let go of that woman’s hand and don’t move.’

Reid moved fast. He stepped quickly across the stream towards the woman, pulling the hand he was holding up behind her back and putting his other arm round her neck.

‘Stay there,’ he called to Scott. ‘Don’t come any closer.’

Scott knew that Neville could hear the conversation. Whispering and pointing, he would be sending the other officers to come up on Reid from behind - probably one to cross the river further back towards Reeth; the other two to go back up towards the road and to get behind Reid that way. She knew he’d stay hidden behind the wall.

‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ said Scott. ‘Just let her go and we’ll talk.’

‘Ha!’ Reid laughed and started to move backwards. There was a wall and an opening into a field behind him. Scott could see what he was trying to do, but there was little she could do to stop him.

Suddenly Reid picked a stone off the top of the wall and hit the woman over the head with it. As she fell, he turned and ran fast up the field.

‘Quick,’ shouted Scott to Neville and the others, as she ran across the stepping stones to the injured woman. ‘He’s getting away. Towards the road.’ Neville turned and started running.

At first Fiona Russell sat in the car, but it soon grew too warm in the autumn sunshine. She got out and stood by the gate that Neville, Scott and the others had first gone through. Her elbows were resting on the top of the gate and she was looking down towards the river. There had been some shouting a few minutes ago, but no shots. She wondered if they’d found Reid or not. A couple of minutes later she saw two of the officers from Reeth climbing over the dry-stone wall down the right-hand side of the field. It looked as if they’d certainly found someone.

She was about to go back to the car when she felt something hard stick into her back.

‘Be very careful,’ said a voice. ‘This is a gun. And I don’t want to use it.’

Russell felt sweat break out all over her body.

‘What do you want?’ she said. She knew it was Reid.

‘Are the keys in the car?’ asked Reid.

‘I think so.’

‘Open the passenger door and get in very slowly,’ he said.

Russell turned a little to reach the car door. She couldn’t see the gun, but she could feel it pressed hard into her side.

Out of the corner of her eye she could see him, the man she had been hunting. He was tall. He looked tired. He had small eyes, a weak chin and straight black hair.

‘Take it easy,’ she said. ‘I’m not a police officer. But I can help you.’

‘Don’t talk,’ he replied. ‘Just move very slowly and get in the car.’

Gently, Russell let herself down onto the passenger seat. Reid kept the gun tight against her side.

‘Now move across to the driver’s seat,’ ordered Reid.

Russell was about to move over when she heard a noise. She looked to her left. Neville and Scott had appeared at the gate into the field, guns in hands.

‘Leave her alone,’ said Neville, his gun pointing at Reid. ‘Step back very slowly or we’ll shoot.’

‘I’ll shoot too,’ said Reid. ‘I’m sure you don’t want this woman to die.’

Russell saw Neville and Scott look at each other.

‘Where did you get the gun, Reid?’ asked Scott. She stared at Reid, then she turned and her eyes met Russell’s.

‘Fiona, has he really got a gun?’ she asked.

Russell thought quickly. She’d felt the gun, but she hadn’t seen it. It wasn’t the Tariq-nine millimetre - they’d seen that in his house earlier that morning. Did he have another gun? Should she take a chance? She turned sideways and pushed Reid hard in the chest with both hands. He fell away from the car onto his back. In his hand was a piece of wood that he had been pretending was a gun.

Within seconds Neville and Scott were through the gate. Neville pressed his gun to the side of Reid’s head; Scott pulled his arms roughly behind his back and put the handcuffs on.

Reid started to fight against the handcuffs.

‘Let me go!’ he shouted, turning his head from side to side. ‘I need to finish this. I need to reach my goal. I need to show them what I can do.’

Neville, Scott and Reid looked at each other.

‘The army,’ continued Reid, still trying to get his hands free. ‘I need to show them I’ve got what it takes. I need to show them I can kill people. And that I’m good at it. I need to show them I’m just the sort of person they want.’

Neville just shook his head.

Later that afternoon Neville, Scott and Russell were in the bar at the Half Moon Hotel. Reeth Memorial Hall had been emptied of all the desks, chairs, computers and phones that the police had brought. Terry Reid had been interviewed, taken to Richmond police station and would be interviewed again later. Helen Scott had been to Richmond to talk again to Reid’s mother and brother. She had then returned to Reeth. Neville had spoken to the journalists and been interviewed for TV and radio.

Neville carried three glasses from the bar and put them on the table where they were sitting: beer for him, white wine for Scott, red wine for Russell.

‘Thank God that’s over,’ he said, sitting down heavily.

‘Yes,’ agreed Scott.

‘And just because the army refused him,’ said Neville. ‘Well, in his eyes the army refused him because they didn’t think he could kill people,’ explained Russell. ‘He killed to show that he could. And he used a different way of killing each time to show how good he was.’

‘Crazy,’ said Neville. ‘Completely mad.’

‘Yes,’ agreed Russell. ‘But to him it was logical. He was just trying to show the army they’d made a mistake. Serial killers often think they’re behaving logically.’

‘But logically in a crazy way,’ said Scott.

‘Yes,’ replied Russell.

‘And this is what? Your third or fourth serial killer?’ asked Neville.

‘Third,’ replied Russell. She drank a little of her wine. All three very different in some ways, but very similar in others.’

‘How do you mean?’ asked Scott.

‘Well, the first,’ began Russell, ‘was a woman, a nurse actually, who killed some of the old people she visited at home. In her mind they were too old to look after themselves and so they shouldn’t be allowed to live.’

Russell drank some more wine.

‘The second,’ she continued, ‘was a man whose girlfriend left him about five years before. Since then he’d had great difficulty in his relationships with women. The problem built up and up, and eventually he started killing young women in their twenties with blonde hair. Girls who reminded him of his ex-girlfriend.’

‘And now a guy who wants to show the army that he knows how to kill, so that they’ll let him join up,’ added Scott.

‘Exactly,’ replied Russell.

And how are they similar?’ asked Neville.

‘They show just how little it can take to turn the balance of the human mind upside down,’ answered Russell. A failed attempt to join the army, breaking up with a girlfriend, being in a job where you end up hating the people you’re supposed to be helping - these are things that people often experience at some time in their lives-‘

‘But it doesn’t usually turn them into killers,’ interrupted Scott.

‘No, it doesn’t,’ said Russell. ‘Normal people manage. They move on. They get a different job; they get a new girlfriend. But for a very few people it changes the balance of their minds just enough. They develop a strange, kind of poisonous, murdering logic that drives them to kill. And, having killed once … ‘ Russell stopped speaking and looked down into her glass.

Scott put her hand on Russell’s arm.

‘It’s over now, Fiona,’ she said.

Russell looked up.

‘Yes, it is,’ she agreed. ‘Until the next time.’

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