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Sleepwalker (Andy Lang)


Sleepwalker by Andy Lang

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Deborah Grant is a normal, healthy teenager. A girl standing at a crossroads in her young life, and she has a decision to make:
Allow her loving yet domineering father dictate her future, or.
Strike out on her own, follow her heart and dare to dream?
A long holiday is what she needs, and the Costa del Sol has beckoned. Fuengirola has welcomed the buxom blonde into its sun-drenched embrace.
But the Spanish resort reveals deeply buried desires, desires that she had never dared to dream lived inside her, desires that cause Deborah to rise from her bed in the early hours... and in a trance, she walks.
Disturbing, yet harmless she imagines...
Until the morning that she wakes to a nightmare discovery.
Suddenly, Debbie is terrified to close her eyes!

Sleepwalker, a psychological thriller that will make you wonder just how safe it is to fall asleep!

Product type: EBook    Published by: PMO Publishing    Published: 12 / 2016

We do not recommend this book for readers under 18 years of age

No. words: 74930

Style: Romance -    Suspense/Thriller Romance, Mystery/Crime Romance

Available Formats: MobiPocket (MOBI)  EPUB  PDF  This book has a format which can be downloaded to Kindle

Current all-time sales ranking: #5062


Excerpt..

Capitán Manuel Raphael Molina drew deeply on his cigarette. A seasoned officer who had every right to utter the phrase, “been there - done that.”
But what he had just witnessed had left him shaken.
Teniente Garcia emerged from the trees, his face drawn, complexion; ashen.
“Yeah, thanks,” he took the offered Chesterfield with a grateful nod before shaking his head, his mind rebelling against what his eyes had insisted to be fact.
Molina offered the smallest of pained smiles, he understood the mind of his Teniente, his Lieutenant, a mind not yet as hardened or jaded as his own. Yet despite years on the force, a cast iron constitution and a high degree of desensitisation, even he struggled to accept. “Beyond belief,” he nodded toward the blue plastic sheeting that had been swiftly erected to divert prying eyes and the press photographers who seemed to have the ability to scent blood quicker than any shark.
Garcia shook his head, and turning away swiftly he dry heaved, “I thought I could handle most things... but that!”
Molina sympathised, the macabre spectacle defied understanding, savage yet ordered. The young victim had been attacked with such ferocity, yet the perpetrator had then obviously calmed, and deliberately arranged the body in a most offensive manner.
“This was planned,” Garcia steadied himself, both hands gripping the lighter as he lit his cigarette, “You can't tell me that anyone could just suddenly get such gruesome inspiration, whoever did this knew exactly what they wanted to do, they knew how they wanted the scene to look.”
Molina nodded, the same thought had occurred to him once the initial shock had subsided. The corpse had been positioned, staged... and I'm sure that the mutilation occurred post mortem, “Not enough blood.” he finished his thought aloud.
Garcia nodded. “I thought that too, probably a blessing for the poor guy. Maybe he didn't suffer too badly.” Both men understood that a heart had to be beating to pump blood, the fact that so little surrounded the body indicated that his had ceased before the worst of the atrocities had been visited upon his flesh. “But still, what kind of mind is capable of... that?”
“A very sick one,” Molina ground the butt of his Chesterfield under his heel, “A very sick and twisted mind Teniente.”
“Pavia should be here soon,” Garcia opened a plastic bottle of water and took a long pull, “Perhaps then we can start making some sense out of this.”
“I doubt that there is much sense to be made,” Manuel nodded, “But perhaps we can begin to unravel the facts, answer questions, hope for a lead... but I have a feeling that whoever did this didn't leave much for us to work with... as you said, this was planned, and I can't see many mistakes being made.”
***
Inspector-Jefe Tomas Pavia had seen everything, so he could approach the scene dispassionately. Detached and unfeeling his wife said. Armoured against the horrors of reality he preferred to think. But without doubt he understood that the job had taken a toll, not just on his marriage, but also his ability to feel. Forensic science hadn't been his first choice, or a life in the force. Medical school had beckoned.
“But it is tradition!” His father had regarded the subject closed, decided... finished.
“More like a lack of imagination,” he had responded softly, “I understand that the family Pavia can trace our history back through the ranks of the Civil Guard, but the chain will break eventually.”
“Not in my lifetime.” Tomas had seen that same look in his fathers steel grey eyes before, “No son of mine will shirk his responsibility... his duty.”
And as an only son Tomas understood, with a heavy heart, that his dictatorial father would win. “What choice do I have?” he had asked his mother, a slight woman, shrewish and sharp tongued.
“Little,” she had replied, “But there is an option, it's perhaps not ideal but maybe you could look at it as an acceptable compromise.”
Tomas recognised a lifeline when thrown and grasped with both hands.
The Comisaría General de Policía Científica, or CGPC had opened it's doors and collective arms to a bright and diligent graduate from the University of Valencia. Tomas Pavia, with his Masters degree in Forensic Science, had chosen to compromise. His mother had smiled, His father had grumbled that Policia wasn't Guardia, but grudgingly agreed that the boy had done well.
Tomas had become a scene of crime specialist, and although he had grown to hate the job, he was considered the best.
Now he felt a shock that disturbed his ordered mind. More a surprise that he could still feel, the sight that met him behind a rough plastic sheet shield had turned his stomach... something that had not happened for years.
The boy sat slumped against the trunk of a pine tree facing the beach. As was normally the case, it had been an early morning dog walker who had made the discovery.
“Poor sod is going to need some serious therapy after this,” he grunted with considerable sympathy.
His camera flashed, he recorded the scene before moving closer. “Subject male,” he spoke quietly into a hand held recorder, “Approximate age, early to mid twenties. Cause of death – as yet uncertain, but unlikely that the event took place in situ. Lack of blood, no signs of resistance or struggle. Scene reasonably undisturbed, deep beds of coniferous needles that will need to be collected for evaluation.” He changed his position, but maintained a distance from the tree being careful to check the ground for anything unusual before placing each step. “The recorder clicked and he continued his commentary. “Subject secured to tree with a section of intestine, possibly ileum. To be confirmed. Eviscerated and secured around waist, intestine still connected, also secured around the throat. Intestine severed, tied in a knot.” Again he checked the bed of needles beneath his feet, raising his foot he suddenly paused. Stepping back a fraction he crouched. “Marking evidence. Two. No, three strands of hair, possibly blonde, bleached or natural to be confirmed.” Tomas raised his camera and the flash bloomed. “Returning to subject. Eyes removed, evidence of trauma, blood spatter suggests subject may have been alive during procedure. Penis and testes removed, appear to have been severed, sharp object, clean cut. Placed inside open mouth, maybe ritual, maybe fetish.”
“Definitely fucked up,” he whispered as he hit the pause button.
Pulling an evidence bag from his pocket he carefully grasped the long hairs, the only evidence that had come to light in his first 'orientation' sweep of the scene. Sometimes vital evidence, but more usually innocent, windblown debris or unrelated.
Every angle was photographed before Tomas finally felt comfortable to step back and assess the bigger picture. Murdered in another location, he began a mental summing up, most likely a stiletto or similar object. Point of entry. Tomas paused, peering closer. “Elegant.” he whispered, “Unless I'm very mistaken, the Mendosal Suture was penetrated. Skilful. Very unlikely to be accidental.”
“The killer has an intimate knowledge of anatomy.”
“So why did you arrange him like this? Facing the beach, lashed to a tree with his own guts, eyes gouged out and genitals stuffed in his mouth!”
It didn't make any sense, but Tomas understood that murder rarely made sense, only in the mind of the murderer.
Satisfied that he had covered the scene as thoroughly as possible he radioed his team, the clean-up crew as he liked to call them. They would recover the body, collect the pine needles, scour the surrounding area for additional clues, he would draw within himself and attempt to enter the psyche of the killer, in his mind he would try to justify the actions almost as though he had committed the crime himself. So many times before the technique had opened his eyes to clues that would have remained hidden. Often he joked that he could commit the perfect murder, untraceable. He wondered how many others in his position shared the same dark joke.
“The hair looks placed!” his first instinct. He could be wrong, but he doubted it. “Either a deliberate clue, a red herring... or totally unrelated.”
***
“So what's your first impression?” Capitán Molina of the Guardia Civil sidestepped, grabbing the forensic scientists shoulder as he passed, and noted a distance in his eyes, as though deep in thought, or a trance.
Pavia appeared to wake, noticing for the first time. “First impression?”
“What happened?” Molina prompted.
“A young man has been murdered,” Pavia responded being intentionally obtuse, “Other than that, I have no idea until I have had time to run tests.”
“Best guess?” Molina pushed.
Pavia shrugged, he wasn't obligated to divulge information, but all that he had was supposition, and the man had asked for a guess. “Possibly ritual, there is very little else to go on at the moment.”
“OK, but the lack of blood would point to another murder scene... correct?”
Pavia nodded, “Very true, but if you are under the impression that something akin to a slaughter house is out there waiting for you to discover... think again. There will be very little blood. I suspect that this young man died from a stiletto or very fine blade inserted into the brain. A very skilled insertion suggesting your killer has a deep knowledge of human anatomy, possibly a medical background, such a method would produce very little blood, and very few clues officer. Anyway, what jurisdiction do you have in this case? Fuengirola is a city, surely this is not for you!”
Molina nodded. “Five hundred metres to the east and you would be correct, but this is technically not Fuengirola, we are stood in Piedras del Cura, and not being a city, Guardia hold authority.”
Tomas shrugged again, we didn't really care, Guardia or Policia, it mattered little to him who was beating their chest, either side would have to come to him eventually, unless they managed to fluke a confession with sufficient corroborating evidence as to negate the need for his particular skills.
“So are you taking point in this case?” Tomas noted the older man's nod and offered his card. “Give me a call this afternoon, maybe I will have something a little more concrete for you by then.”
***
A traffic patrol found his car later that morning. Not so much found the Tráfico officers had to admit, the vehicle had been reported abandoned. An elderly resident had discovered the red Ford blocking her driveway.
Tomas ordered it cordoned off. “No-one is to touch it,” he had instructed. “I really don't care what the old dear says,” he snapped, “If she has to go somewhere... call her a taxi. This is a murder investigation.”
Ownership had been confirmed when the victims wallet revealed a drivers licence, National Identity card, a total of sixty-five Euros, a single foil sealed condom, and a positive lead. A memo note, torn from a personal organiser placed the victim at estimated time of death. Written in pencil the note read:
Nude chick Debbie. 4 AM. Underpass.
Time of death estimated between 2 and 6 AM, certainly no later, unlikely to be earlier. He was obviously meeting naked Debbie at an underpass.
“And I would like to guess that Debbie is a blonde!” Tomas slipped the memo into an evidence bag and sealed. “Too convenient.” Intuition and instinct united to dispute the evidence.
***
Again Tomas shook his head as the back seat yielded a total of three blonde pubic hairs. “I hardly need to check the DNA to feel sure that these are an exact match... Debbie again.”
His mobile phone broke into concentration, and irritated, he answered.
“Oh, it's you.” his brusque tone softened, “Yes, yes, I did suggest that you call this afternoon.” Capitán Molina waited, Guardia had found the car, he had a confirmed name, the employers had affirmed that the victim had left work the night before as usual, and that his shift in a decidedly seedie back street club was not due to start again for hours. Molina had advised that the management not delay in finding another bouncer. Paco had definitely resigned from his position.
“So is there any update?”
“The murder weapon is most likely a screwdriver, flat head not Philips. Driven through the Mendosal Suture between the Occipital and Temporal bones, death would have been almost instantaneous. I maintain that the perpetrator probably has a medical background, the modus is too professional to be fluke or accident, the chances of finding the Suture by chance are minuscule.”
“Mendosal Suture?” Molina questioned.
“A semi flexible joint between the Occipital and Temporal bones of the skull. The side and base,” he added, assuming that he had already lost the Guardia Capitán. “In childhood the various sutures are more flexible, they allow for growth, in adults they ossify, sometimes the Mendosal can disappear completely, but even if it doesn't show up in an x-ray, it's still there, and a weak spot.”
“So whoever did this knew exactly where to stab, a weak point on the skull?”
“Exactly.” Pavia replied, “That is why I suspect some medical experience, I would know exactly where, but I would not expect you to have that knowledge!”
“Point taken,” Molina agreed, “And maybe it narrows down the field of likely suspects... when we actually have some.”
“Begin with Debbie.” Pavia dropped a curled hair into another evidence bag. “He had a date with her at the estimated time of death. He mentioned an underpass... and called her the naked chick. Capitán Molina, I also assume that she is a blonde.”
“Any facts to back that assumption?”
“Several hairs,” Pavia replied, “Three found at the scene, three found on the back seat of his car.”
“Three?”
“Yes, I see that you also find it a strange coincidence. I may be wrong Capitán, but something tells me that Debbie may be the key to this case, but somehow I doubt that she is guilty of murder... of course I have been wrong before.”
“Really?” Molina replied, shocked to hear Pavia admit to fallibility.
“No,” the forensic specialist chuckled, “But there is always the unlikely possibility of a first time.” and abruptly cut the connection.
“I doubt that you did this Debbie,” he whispered as he held the clear evidence bag up to the midday sun and shook his head. “It's never this convenient.”
****
Debbie leapt to her feet, her shock; total.
“What the...?” she cried, panic beginning to enter her voice. Frantic, she glanced around, checking for observers, before with a shudder she rushed away from the pool, and sprinting through the lounge she dived into the bathroom with its full length mirror.
“No...” she sobbed, the plea pained and drawn out. The reflection that faced her beggared belief. Black dried blood coated her hands and forearms past the wrist, almost to her elbows. The same blood smeared across her cheek almost as though she had brushed away errant hair with the back of her hand. Spattered, the blood speckled her stomach, in places marking a trickled trail down to her thighs. And her feet. A sickening mess of red, thick, mud.
Debbie stared aghast at the image before her, painfully aware that the blood that had dried upon her skin did not belong to her, she registered no sensation of pain, her hands looked as though dipped into a bucket of the foul stuff. Loosened by movement, dried clots began to slough away from her skin, Debbie spun, fell to her knees, and vomited copiously.
“What have I done?” she wanted to wail but her voice deserted, the question emerging as a hoarse whisper. “What the hell have I done?”
***
With trembling hands she stirred a mug of over-sweetened tea. Her skin tingled and prickled almost painfully, the shower had been scalding. But she hadn't cared, she had scrubbed manically, images of Lady Macbeth filling her mind as she visualised the incriminating blood spots reappearing on her hands.
She had felt torn until self preservation had over-ridden her confusion and blossoming feelings of guilt. “I don't know what I'm guilty of yet,” she had told her gaunt reflection. “Clean yourself up Deborah,” she had ordered, “Then go and see what music there is to face.”
And so, wrapped in a towel she had boiled the kettle, made tea, and now sat trembling, staring at the trail of bloodstained footprints that led to her front door. Very faint prints she had to admit, but the light marks screamed at her, accusing.
Clean the floors, clean everywhere! A strict voice demanded inside her head, and Debbie shook off her malaise and grabbed a mop, bucket and bleach. Thirty minutes later no trace remained.
Outside! Wiping the door handle with a damp cloth, a cloth that came away smeared, she stepped out into the light. Droplets dotted the doorstep. Dried blood smeared the lock and keyhole, These she wiped down with her cloth, adding to the brown stains.
But there all traces ended. She could find no footprints, no trail of droplets. The front gate was clean – spotless, the concrete slab pavement on the street offered only a single scuffed spot, easily missed if she hadn't been searching so intently. Her confusion grew.
Surely there would be even more signs out here if I had done something bad and then walked home! And my key... the keyhole was a mess, but my key is clean... How?
Debbie understood that her mind clutched at straws, maybe she couldn't explain the lack of trail on the street, the clean key and bloody keyhole, but what she couldn't deny was the image that had faced her in the mirror, a figure straight out of hell, her own image baptised in blood.
Pulling the gate closed she peered down toward the underpass. “Deserted,” she whispered, yet in her heart she knew that she had to go. “Not that I will be able to see a great deal, not until tonight.”
Every step along the pavement received focussed scrutiny. No droplets marred the concrete, no smeared footprints. “It's like I flew to the front door... or I cleaned up out here!” Still she ignored the inconsistency. In the tunnel she paused, waiting for a passing car, hoping that someone would flick on headlights. Drawing attention to myself, she warned silently, and continued through to her nocturnal shelter. In the daylight she leaned against the grey sheet metal and composite cabinet, the routing and junction box for thousands of telephone connections. “Now what?” she asked aloud, “I've found nothing out here, just a single droplet by the gate, no footprints... nothing!”
It was at that moment that a green and white Peugeot emerged from the entrance to the short road that led to Sohail beach and the pine trees, emblazoned across the bonnet the royal crown, above a crossed sword and fasces emblem, on the doors, Guardia Civil, and with a feeling of dread she dragged heavy feet toward the beach.
Uniformed officers scurried like ants as she approached, and a small crowd of onlookers had collected against a cordon of plastic tape that fluttered in a gentle breeze from the sea.
“What's happened?” she asked as innocently as she could manage with a dry mouth and pounding heart, the man at her side turned but offered no explanation.
Another heavily bearded man whispered, his English stilted and hesitant. “Someone has been murdered.”
Debbie had heard enough, she didn't need further confirmation, or explanation. “Someone has been murdered”. By me! The voice in her head screamed, and just for a second she looked across at the crowd of green uniforms and considered surrender. Confession! But what do I confess to? I don't remember anything, I was asleep!
“They wouldn't believe me.” her whisper inaudible, “Get the hell out of here Debbie, out of Fuengirola... out of Spain.”
***
The underpass now stretched for miles in her mind, the light at the far end; distant. Her focus had been drawn, and a knot in the pit of her stomach tightened. Fifty metres in, halogen fluorescence had driven away the shadows and gloom, thousands of illuminating watts now flooded the concrete cavern. A uniformed officer hurriedly stretched a plastic tape barrier. The discovery had been chance, now he rushed to preserve the scene. Portable spotlights angled down onto a crouching figure. Another man. Plain clothes, not uniformed.
“That just makes him more senior.” Debbie groaned silently, and once again she felt a very Catholic urge to confess. But confess to what?
“I couldn't kill anyone.” her whisper, as much an effort to assuage the growing feelings of guilt that had begun to take a grip on her conscience. “How could I? I even feel guilty when I swat a fly!”
At heart, Debbie was a gentle soul, a soul devoid of malice or cruelty. Even if I was asleep, I still couldn't hurt anyone! But all of the blood? How the hell!
It is said that discretion is the better part of valour. Debbie wasn't sure if the phrase applied to her hasty retreat, but she knew deep inside that she didn't possess the courage to walk casually past the Guardia cordon. She knew in her heart what the stooped man investigated, she had seen it swirling away into the shower drain only hours earlier. He studied mud, blood, and most probably, the clear imprints of her own feet. Leaning against the telephone cabinet that had recently become so familiar in her life Debbie opened her purse and heaved a small sigh of relief to find ample cash.
“More than enough for what I need to do.” Her voice strengthening as a plan began to form in her mind.


Excerpt..

Capitán Manuel Raphael Molina drew deeply on his cigarette. A seasoned officer who had every right to utter the phrase, “been there - done
that.”

But what he had just witnessed had left him shaken.

Teniente Garcia emerged from the trees, his face drawn, complexion; ashen.

“Yeah, thanks,” he took the offered Chesterfield with a grateful nod before shaking his head, his mind rebelling against what his eyes had
insisted to be fact.

Molina offered the smallest of pained smiles, he understood the mind of his Teniente, his Lieutenant, a mind not yet as hardened or jaded as
his own. Yet despite years on the force, a cast iron constitution and a high degree of desensitisation, even he struggled to accept. “Beyond
belief,” he nodded toward the blue plastic sheeting that had been swiftly erected to divert prying eyes and the press photographers who
seemed to have the ability to scent blood quicker than any shark.

Garcia shook his head, and turning away swiftly he dry heaved, “I thought I could handle most things... but that!”

Molina sympathised, the macabre spectacle defied understanding, savage yet ordered. The young victim had been attacked with such ferocity,
yet the perpetrator had then obviously calmed, and deliberately arranged the body in a most offensive manner.

“This was planned,” Garcia steadied himself, both hands gripping the lighter as he lit his cigarette, “You can't tell me that anyone could
just suddenly get such gruesome inspiration, whoever did this knew exactly what they wanted to do, they knew how they wanted the scene to
look.”

Molina nodded, the same thought had occurred to him once the initial shock had subsided. The corpse had been positioned, staged... and I'm
sure that the mutilation occurred post mortem, “Not enough blood.” he finished his thought aloud.

Garcia nodded. “I thought that too, probably a blessing for the poor guy. Maybe he didn't suffer too badly.” Both men understood that a
heart had to be beating to pump blood, the fact that so little surrounded the body indicated that his had ceased before the worst of the
atrocities had been visited upon his flesh. “But still, what kind of mind is capable of... that?”

“A very sick one,” Molina ground the butt of his Chesterfield under his heel, “A very sick and twisted mind Teniente.”

“Pavia should be here soon,” Garcia opened a plastic bottle of water and took a long pull, “Perhaps then we can start making some sense out
of this.”

“I doubt that there is much sense to be made,” Manuel nodded, “But perhaps we can begin to unravel the facts, answer questions, hope for a
lead... but I have a feeling that whoever did this didn't leave much for us to work with... as you said, this was planned, and I can't see
many mistakes being made.”

***

Inspector-Jefe Tomas Pavia had seen everything, so he could approach the scene dispassionately. Detached and unfeeling his wife said.
Armoured against the horrors of reality he preferred to think. But without doubt he understood that the job had taken a toll, not just on
his marriage, but also his ability to feel. Forensic science hadn't been his first choice, or a life in the force. Medical school had
beckoned.

“But it is tradition!” His father had regarded the subject closed, decided... finished.

“More like a lack of imagination,” he had responded softly, “I understand that the family Pavia can trace our history back through the ranks
of the Civil Guard, but the chain will break eventually.”

“Not in my lifetime.” Tomas had seen that same look in his fathers steel grey eyes before, “No son of mine will shirk his responsibility...
his duty.”

And as an only son Tomas understood, with a heavy heart, that his dictatorial father would win. “What choice do I have?” he had asked his
mother, a slight woman, shrewish and sharp tongued.

“Little,” she had replied, “But there is an option, it's perhaps not ideal but maybe you could look at it as an acceptable compromise.” />
Tomas recognised a lifeline when thrown and grasped with both hands.

The Comisaría General de Policía Científica, or CGPC had opened it's doors and collective arms to a bright and diligent graduate from the
University of Valencia. Tomas Pavia, with his Masters degree in Forensic Science, had chosen to compromise. His mother had smiled, His
father had grumbled that Policia wasn't Guardia, but grudgingly agreed that the boy had done well.

Tomas had become a scene of crime specialist, and although he had grown to hate the job, he was considered the best.

Now he felt a shock that disturbed his ordered mind. More a surprise that he could still feel, the sight that met him behind a rough plastic
sheet shield had turned his stomach... something that had not happened for years.

The boy sat slumped against the trunk of a pine tree facing the beach. As was normally the case, it had been an early morning dog walker who
had made the discovery.

“Poor sod is going to need some serious therapy after this,” he grunted with considerable sympathy.

His camera flashed, he recorded the scene before moving closer. “Subject male,” he spoke quietly into a hand held recorder, “Approximate
age, early to mid twenties. Cause of death – as yet uncertain, but unlikely that the event took place in situ. Lack of blood, no signs of
resistance or struggle. Scene reasonably undisturbed, deep beds of coniferous needles that will need to be collected for evaluation.” He
changed his position, but maintained a distance from the tree being careful to check the ground for anything unusual before placing each
step. “The recorder clicked and he continued his commentary. “Subject secured to tree with a section of intestine, possibly ileum. To be
confirmed. Eviscerated and secured around waist, intestine still connected, also secured around the throat. Intestine severed, tied in a
knot.” Again he checked the bed of needles beneath his feet, raising his foot he suddenly paused. Stepping back a fraction he crouched.
“Marking evidence. Two. No, three strands of hair, possibly blonde, bleached or natural to be confirmed.” Tomas raised his camera and the
flash bloomed. “Returning to subject. Eyes removed, evidence of trauma, blood spatter suggests subject may have been alive during procedure.
Penis and testes removed, appear to have been severed, sharp object, clean cut. Placed inside open mouth, maybe ritual, maybe fetish.” />
“Definitely fucked up,” he whispered as he hit the pause button.

Pulling an evidence bag from his pocket he carefully grasped the long hairs, the only evidence that had come to light in his first
'orientation' sweep of the scene. Sometimes vital evidence, but more usually innocent, windblown debris or unrelated.

Every angle was photographed before Tomas finally felt comfortable to step back and assess the bigger picture. Murdered in another location,
he began a mental summing up, most likely a stiletto or similar object. Point of entry. Tomas paused, peering closer. “Elegant.” he
whispered, “Unless I'm very mistaken, the Mendosal Suture was penetrated. Skilful. Very unlikely to be accidental.”

“The killer has an intimate knowledge of anatomy.”

“So why did you arrange him like this? Facing the beach, lashed to a tree with his own guts, eyes gouged out and genitals stuffed in his
mouth!”

It didn't make any sense, but Tomas understood that murder rarely made sense, only in the mind of the murderer.

Satisfied that he had covered the scene as thoroughly as possible he radioed his team, the clean-up crew as he liked to call them. They
would recover the body, collect the pine needles, scour the surrounding area for additional clues, he would draw within himself and attempt
to enter the psyche of the killer, in his mind he would try to justify the actions almost as though he had committed the crime himself. So
many times before the technique had opened his eyes to clues that would have remained hidden. Often he joked that he could commit the
perfect murder, untraceable. He wondered how many others in his position shared the same dark joke.

“The hair looks placed!” his first instinct. He could be wrong, but he doubted it. “Either a deliberate clue, a red herring... or totally
unrelated.”

***

“So what's your first impression?” Capitán Molina of the Guardia Civil sidestepped, grabbing the forensic scientists shoulder as he passed,
and noted a distance in his eyes, as though deep in thought, or a trance.

Pavia appeared to wake, noticing for the first time. “First impression?”

“What happened?” Molina prompted.

“A young man has been murdered,” Pavia responded being intentionally obtuse, “Other than that, I have no idea until I have had time to run
tests.”

“Best guess?” Molina pushed.

Pavia shrugged, he wasn't obligated to divulge information, but all that he had was supposition, and the man had asked for a guess.
“Possibly ritual, there is very little else to go on at the moment.”

“OK, but the lack of blood would point to another murder scene... correct?”

Pavia nodded, “Very true, but if you are under the impression that something akin to a slaughter house is out there waiting for you to
discover... think again. There will be very little blood. I suspect that this young man died from a stiletto or very fine blade inserted
into the brain. A very skilled insertion suggesting your killer has a deep knowledge of human anatomy, possibly a medical background, such a
method would produce very little blood, and very few clues officer. Anyway, what jurisdiction do you have in this case? Fuengirola is a
city, surely this is not for you!”

Molina nodded. “Five hundred metres to the east and you would be correct, but this is technically not Fuengirola, we are stood in Piedras
del Cura, and not being a city, Guardia hold authority.”

Tomas shrugged again, we didn't really care, Guardia or Policia, it mattered little to him who was beating their chest, either side would
have to come to him eventually, unless they managed to fluke a confession with sufficient corroborating evidence as to negate the need for
his particular skills.

“So are you taking point in this case?” Tomas noted the older man's nod and offered his card. “Give me a call this afternoon, maybe I will
have something a little more concrete for you by then.”

***

A traffic patrol found his car later that morning. Not so much found the Tráfico officers had to admit, the vehicle had been reported
abandoned. An elderly resident had discovered the red Ford blocking her driveway.

Tomas ordered it cordoned off. “No-one is to touch it,” he had instructed. “I really don't care what the old dear says,” he snapped, “If she
has to go somewhere... call her a taxi. This is a murder investigation.”

Ownership had been confirmed when the victims wallet revealed a drivers licence, National Identity card, a total of sixty-five Euros, a
single foil sealed condom, and a positive lead. A memo note, torn from a personal organiser placed the victim at estimated time of death.
Written in pencil the note read:

Nude chick Debbie. 4 AM. Underpass.

Time of death estimated between 2 and 6 AM, certainly no later, unlikely to be earlier. He was obviously meeting naked Debbie at an
underpass.

“And I would like to guess that Debbie is a blonde!” Tomas slipped the memo into an evidence bag and sealed. “Too convenient.” Intuition and
instinct united to dispute the evidence.

***

Again Tomas shook his head as the back seat yielded a total of three blonde pubic hairs. “I hardly need to check the DNA to feel sure that
these are an exact match... Debbie again.”

His mobile phone broke into concentration, and irritated, he answered.

“Oh, it's you.” his brusque tone softened, “Yes, yes, I did suggest that you call this afternoon.” Capitán Molina waited, Guardia had found
the car, he had a confirmed name, the employers had affirmed that the victim had left work the night before as usual, and that his shift in
a decidedly seedie back street club was not due to start again for hours. Molina had advised that the management not delay in finding
another bouncer. Paco had definitely resigned from his position.

“So is there any update?”

“The murder weapon is most likely a screwdriver, flat head not Philips. Driven through the Mendosal Suture between the Occipital and
Temporal bones, death would have been almost instantaneous. I maintain that the perpetrator probably has a medical background, the modus is
too professional to be fluke or accident, the chances of finding the Suture by chance are minuscule.”

“Mendosal Suture?” Molina questioned.

“A semi flexible joint between the Occipital and Temporal bones of the skull. The side and base,” he added, assuming that he had already
lost the Guardia Capitán. “In childhood the various sutures are more flexible, they allow for growth, in adults they ossify, sometimes the
Mendosal can disappear completely, but even if it doesn't show up in an x-ray, it's still there, and a weak spot.”

“So whoever did this knew exactly where to stab, a weak point on the skull?”

“Exactly.” Pavia replied, “That is why I suspect some medical experience, I would know exactly where, but I would not expect you to have
that knowledge!”

“Point taken,” Molina agreed, “And maybe it narrows down the field of likely suspects... when we actually have some.”

“Begin with Debbie.” Pavia dropped a curled hair into another evidence bag. “He had a date with her at the estimated time of death. He
mentioned an underpass... and called her the naked chick. Capitán Molina, I also assume that she is a blonde.”

“Any facts to back that assumption?”

“Several hairs,” Pavia replied, “Three found at the scene, three found on the back seat of his car.”

“Three?”

“Yes, I see that you also find it a strange coincidence. I may be wrong Capitán, but something tells me that Debbie may be the key to this
case, but somehow I doubt that she is guilty of murder... of course I have been wrong before.”

“Really?” Molina replied, shocked to hear Pavia admit to fallibility.

“No,” the forensic specialist chuckled, “But there is always the unlikely possibility of a first time.” and abruptly cut the connection. />
“I doubt that you did this Debbie,” he whispered as he held the clear evidence bag up to the midday sun and shook his head. “It's never this
convenient.”

****

Debbie leapt to her feet, her shock; total.

“What the...?” she cried, panic beginning to enter her voice. Frantic, she glanced around, checking for observers, before with a shudder she
rushed away from the pool, and sprinting through the lounge she dived into the bathroom with its full length mirror.

“No...” she sobbed, the plea pained and drawn out. The reflection that faced her beggared belief. Black dried blood coated her hands and
forearms past the wrist, almost to her elbows. The same blood smeared across her cheek almost as though she had brushed away errant hair
with the back of her hand. Spattered, the blood speckled her stomach, in places marking a trickled trail down to her thighs. And her feet. A
sickening mess of red, thick, mud.

Debbie stared aghast at the image before her, painfully aware that the blood that had dried upon her skin did not belong to her, she
registered no sensation of pain, her hands looked as though dipped into a bucket of the foul stuff. Loosened by movement, dried clots began
to slough away from her skin, Debbie spun, fell to her knees, and vomited copiously.

“What have I done?” she wanted to wail but her voice deserted, the question emerging as a hoarse whisper. “What the hell have I done?” />
***

With trembling hands she stirred a mug of over-sweetened tea. Her skin tingled and prickled almost painfully, the shower had been scalding.
But she hadn't cared, she had scrubbed manically, images of Lady Macbeth filling her mind as she visualised the incriminating blood spots
reappearing on her hands.

She had felt torn until self preservation had over-ridden her confusion and blossoming feelings of guilt. “I don't know what I'm guilty of
yet,” she had told her gaunt reflection. “Clean yourself up Deborah,” she had ordered, “Then go and see what music there is to face.”

And so, wrapped in a towel she had boiled the kettle, made tea, and now sat trembling, staring at the trail of bloodstained footprints that
led to her front door. Very faint prints she had to admit, but the light marks screamed at her, accusing.

Clean the floors, clean everywhere! A strict voice demanded inside her head, and Debbie shook off her malaise and grabbed a mop, bucket and
bleach. Thirty minutes later no trace remained.

Outside! Wiping the door handle with a damp cloth, a cloth that came away smeared, she stepped out into the light. Droplets dotted the
doorstep. Dried blood smeared the lock and keyhole, These she wiped down with her cloth, adding to the brown stains.

But there all traces ended. She could find no footprints, no trail of droplets. The front gate was clean – spotless, the concrete slab
pavement on the street offered only a single scuffed spot, easily missed if she hadn't been searching so intently. Her confusion grew. />
Surely there would be even more signs out here if I had done something bad and then walked home! And my key... the keyhole was a mess, but
my key is clean... How?

Debbie understood that her mind clutched at straws, maybe she couldn't explain the lack of trail on the street, the clean key and bloody
keyhole, but what she couldn't deny was the image that had faced her in the mirror, a figure straight out of hell, her own image baptised in
blood.

Pulling the gate closed she peered down toward the underpass. “Deserted,” she whispered, yet in her heart she knew that she had to go. “Not
that I will be able to see a great deal, not until tonight.”

Every step along the pavement received focussed scrutiny. No droplets marred the concrete, no smeared footprints. “It's like I flew to the
front door... or I cleaned up out here!” Still she ignored the inconsistency. In the tunnel she paused, waiting for a passing car, hoping
that someone would flick on headlights. Drawing attention to myself, she warned silently, and continued through to her nocturnal shelter. In
the daylight she leaned against the grey sheet metal and composite cabinet, the routing and junction box for thousands of telephone
connections. “Now what?” she asked aloud, “I've found nothing out here, just a single droplet by the gate, no footprints... nothing!”

It was at that moment that a green and white Peugeot emerged from the entrance to the short road that led to Sohail beach and the pine
trees, emblazoned across the bonnet the royal crown, above a crossed sword and fasces emblem, on the doors, Guardia Civil, and with a
feeling of dread she dragged heavy feet toward the beach.

Uniformed officers scurried like ants as she approached, and a small crowd of onlookers had collected against a cordon of plastic tape that
fluttered in a gentle breeze from the sea.

“What's happened?” she asked as innocently as she could manage with a dry mouth and pounding heart, the man at her side turned but offered
no explanation.

Another heavily bearded man whispered, his English stilted and hesitant. “Someone has been murdered.”

Debbie had heard enough, she didn't need further confirmation, or explanation. “Someone has been murdered”. By me! The voice in her head
screamed, and just for a second she looked across at the crowd of green uniforms and considered surrender. Confession! But what do I confess
to? I don't remember anything, I was asleep!

“They wouldn't believe me.” her whisper inaudible, “Get the hell out of here Debbie, out of Fuengirola... out of Spain.”

***

The underpass now stretched for miles in her mind, the light at the far end; distant. Her focus had been drawn, and a knot in the pit of her
stomach tightened. Fifty metres in, halogen fluorescence had driven away the shadows and gloom, thousands of illuminating watts now flooded
the concrete cavern. A uniformed officer hurriedly stretched a plastic tape barrier. The discovery had been chance, now he rushed to
preserve the scene. Portable spotlights angled down onto a crouching figure. Another man. Plain clothes, not uniformed.

“That just makes him more senior.” Debbie groaned silently, and once again she felt a very Catholic urge to confess. But confess to what? />
“I couldn't kill anyone.” her whisper, as much an effort to assuage the growing feelings of guilt that had begun to take a grip on her
conscience. “How could I? I even feel guilty when I swat a fly!”

At heart, Debbie was a gentle soul, a soul devoid of malice or cruelty. Even if I was asleep, I still couldn't hurt anyone! But all of the
blood? How the hell!

It is said that discretion is the better part of valour. Debbie wasn't sure if the phrase applied to her hasty retreat, but she knew deep
inside that she didn't possess the courage to walk casually past the Guardia cordon. She knew in her heart what the stooped man
investigated, she had seen it swirling away into the shower drain only hours earlier. He studied mud, blood, and most probably, the clear
imprints of her own feet. Leaning against the telephone cabinet that had recently become so familiar in her life Debbie opened her purse and
heaved a small sigh of relief to find ample cash.

“More than enough for what I need to do.” Her voice strengthening as a plan began to form in her mind.


Excerpt..

Capitán Manuel Raphael Molina drew deeply on his cigarette. A seasoned officer who had every right to utter the phrase, “been there - done

that.”


But what he had just witnessed had left him shaken.


Teniente Garcia emerged from the trees, his face drawn, complexion; ashen.


“Yeah, thanks,” he took the offered Chesterfield with a grateful nod before shaking his head, his mind rebelling against what his eyes had

insisted to be fact.


Molina offered the smallest of pained smiles, he understood the mind of his Teniente, his Lieutenant, a mind not yet as hardened or jaded as

his own. Yet despite years on the force, a cast iron constitution and a high degree of desensitisation, even he struggled to accept. “Beyond

belief,” he nodded toward the blue plastic sheeting that had been swiftly erected to divert prying eyes and the press photographers who

seemed to have the ability to scent blood quicker than any shark.


Garcia shook his head, and turning away swiftly he dry heaved, “I thought I could handle most things... but that!”


Molina sympathised, the macabre spectacle defied understanding, savage yet ordered. The young victim had been attacked with such ferocity,

yet the perpetrator had then obviously calmed, and deliberately arranged the body in a most offensive manner.


“This was planned,” Garcia steadied himself, both hands gripping the lighter as he lit his cigarette, “You can't tell me that anyone could

just suddenly get such gruesome inspiration, whoever did this knew exactly what they wanted to do, they knew how they wanted the scene to

look.”


Molina nodded, the same thought had occurred to him once the initial shock had subsided. The corpse had been positioned, staged... and I'm

sure that the mutilation occurred post mortem, “Not enough blood.” he finished his thought aloud.


Garcia nodded. “I thought that too, probably a blessing for the poor guy. Maybe he didn't suffer too badly.” Both men understood that a

heart had to be beating to pump blood, the fact that so little surrounded the body indicated that his had ceased before the worst of the

atrocities had been visited upon his flesh. “But still, what kind of mind is capable of... that?”


“A very sick one,” Molina ground the butt of his Chesterfield under his heel, “A very sick and twisted mind Teniente.”


“Pavia should be here soon,” Garcia opened a plastic bottle of water and took a long pull, “Perhaps then we can start making some sense out

of this.”


“I doubt that there is much sense to be made,” Manuel nodded, “But perhaps we can begin to unravel the facts, answer questions, hope for a

lead... but I have a feeling that whoever did this didn't leave much for us to work with... as you said, this was planned, and I can't see

many mistakes being made.”


***


Inspector-Jefe Tomas Pavia had seen everything, so he could approach the scene dispassionately. Detached and unfeeling his wife said.

Armoured against the horrors of reality he preferred to think. But without doubt he understood that the job had taken a toll, not just on

his marriage, but also his ability to feel. Forensic science hadn't been his first choice, or a life in the force. Medical school had

beckoned.


“But it is tradition!” His father had regarded the subject closed, decided... finished.


“More like a lack of imagination,” he had responded softly, “I understand that the family Pavia can trace our history back through the ranks

of the Civil Guard, but the chain will break eventually.”


“Not in my lifetime.” Tomas had seen that same look in his fathers steel grey eyes before, “No son of mine will shirk his responsibility...

his duty.”


And as an only son Tomas understood, with a heavy heart, that his dictatorial father would win. “What choice do I have?” he had asked his

mother, a slight woman, shrewish and sharp tongued.


“Little,” she had replied, “But there is an option, it's perhaps not ideal but maybe you could look at it as an acceptable compromise.”
/>

Tomas recognised a lifeline when thrown and grasped with both hands.


The Comisaría General de Policía Científica, or CGPC had opened it's doors and collective arms to a bright and diligent graduate from the

University of Valencia. Tomas Pavia, with his Masters degree in Forensic Science, had chosen to compromise. His mother had smiled, His

father had grumbled that Policia wasn't Guardia, but grudgingly agreed that the boy had done well.


Tomas had become a scene of crime specialist, and although he had grown to hate the job, he was considered the best.


Now he felt a shock that disturbed his ordered mind. More a surprise that he could still feel, the sight that met him behind a rough plastic

sheet shield had turned his stomach... something that had not happened for years.


The boy sat slumped against the trunk of a pine tree facing the beach. As was normally the case, it had been an early morning dog walker who

had made the discovery.


“Poor sod is going to need some serious therapy after this,” he grunted with considerable sympathy.


His camera flashed, he recorded the scene before moving closer. “Subject male,” he spoke quietly into a hand held recorder, “Approximate

age, early to mid twenties. Cause of death – as yet uncertain, but unlikely that the event took place in situ. Lack of blood, no signs of

resistance or struggle. Scene reasonably undisturbed, deep beds of coniferous needles that will need to be collected for evaluation.” He

changed his position, but maintained a distance from the tree being careful to check the ground for anything unusual before placing each

step. “The recorder clicked and he continued his commentary. “Subject secured to tree with a section of intestine, possibly ileum. To be

confirmed. Eviscerated and secured around waist, intestine still connected, also secured around the throat. Intestine severed, tied in a

knot.” Again he checked the bed of needles beneath his feet, raising his foot he suddenly paused. Stepping back a fraction he crouched.

“Marking evidence. Two. No, three strands of hair, possibly blonde, bleached or natural to be confirmed.” Tomas raised his camera and the

flash bloomed. “Returning to subject. Eyes removed, evidence of trauma, blood spatter suggests subject may have been alive during procedure.

Penis and testes removed, appear to have been severed, sharp object, clean cut. Placed inside open mouth, maybe ritual, maybe fetish.”
/>

“Definitely fucked up,” he whispered as he hit the pause button.


Pulling an evidence bag from his pocket he carefully grasped the long hairs, the only evidence that had come to light in his first

'orientation' sweep of the scene. Sometimes vital evidence, but more usually innocent, windblown debris or unrelated.


Every angle was photographed before Tomas finally felt comfortable to step back and assess the bigger picture. Murdered in another location,

he began a mental summing up, most likely a stiletto or similar object. Point of entry. Tomas paused, peering closer. “Elegant.” he

whispered, “Unless I'm very mistaken, the Mendosal Suture was penetrated. Skilful. Very unlikely to be accidental.”


“The killer has an intimate knowledge of anatomy.”


“So why did you arrange him like this? Facing the beach, lashed to a tree with his own guts, eyes gouged out and genitals stuffed in his

mouth!”


It didn't make any sense, but Tomas understood that murder rarely made sense, only in the mind of the murderer.


Satisfied that he had covered the scene as thoroughly as possible he radioed his team, the clean-up crew as he liked to call them. They

would recover the body, collect the pine needles, scour the surrounding area for additional clues, he would draw within himself and attempt

to enter the psyche of the killer, in his mind he would try to justify the actions almost as though he had committed the crime himself. So

many times before the technique had opened his eyes to clues that would have remained hidden. Often he joked that he could commit the

perfect murder, untraceable. He wondered how many others in his position shared the same dark joke.


“The hair looks placed!” his first instinct. He could be wrong, but he doubted it. “Either a deliberate clue, a red herring... or totally

unrelated.”


***


“So what's your first impression?” Capitán Molina of the Guardia Civil sidestepped, grabbing the forensic scientists shoulder as he passed,

and noted a distance in his eyes, as though deep in thought, or a trance.


Pavia appeared to wake, noticing for the first time. “First impression?”


“What happened?” Molina prompted.


“A young man has been murdered,” Pavia responded being intentionally obtuse, “Other than that, I have no idea until I have had time to run

tests.”


“Best guess?” Molina pushed.


Pavia shrugged, he wasn't obligated to divulge information, but all that he had was supposition, and the man had asked for a guess.

“Possibly ritual, there is very little else to go on at the moment.”


“OK, but the lack of blood would point to another murder scene... correct?”


Pavia nodded, “Very true, but if you are under the impression that something akin to a slaughter house is out there waiting for you to

discover... think again. There will be very little blood. I suspect that this young man died from a stiletto or very fine blade inserted

into the brain. A very skilled insertion suggesting your killer has a deep knowledge of human anatomy, possibly a medical background, such a

method would produce very little blood, and very few clues officer. Anyway, what jurisdiction do you have in this case? Fuengirola is a

city, surely this is not for you!”


Molina nodded. “Five hundred metres to the east and you would be correct, but this is technically not Fuengirola, we are stood in Piedras

del Cura, and not being a city, Guardia hold authority.”


Tomas shrugged again, we didn't really care, Guardia or Policia, it mattered little to him who was beating their chest, either side would

have to come to him eventually, unless they managed to fluke a confession with sufficient corroborating evidence as to negate the need for

his particular skills.


“So are you taking point in this case?” Tomas noted the older man's nod and offered his card. “Give me a call this afternoon, maybe I will

have something a little more concrete for you by then.”


***


A traffic patrol found his car later that morning. Not so much found the Tráfico officers had to admit, the vehicle had been reported

abandoned. An elderly resident had discovered the red Ford blocking her driveway.


Tomas ordered it cordoned off. “No-one is to touch it,” he had instructed. “I really don't care what the old dear says,” he snapped, “If she

has to go somewhere... call her a taxi. This is a murder investigation.”


Ownership had been confirmed when the victims wallet revealed a drivers licence, National Identity card, a total of sixty-five Euros, a

single foil sealed condom, and a positive lead. A memo note, torn from a personal organiser placed the victim at estimated time of death.

Written in pencil the note read:


Nude chick Debbie. 4 AM. Underpass.


Time of death estimated between 2 and 6 AM, certainly no later, unlikely to be earlier. He was obviously meeting naked Debbie at an

underpass.


“And I would like to guess that Debbie is a blonde!” Tomas slipped the memo into an evidence bag and sealed. “Too convenient.” Intuition and

instinct united to dispute the evidence.


***


Again Tomas shook his head as the back seat yielded a total of three blonde pubic hairs. “I hardly need to check the DNA to feel sure that

these are an exact match... Debbie again.”


His mobile phone broke into concentration, and irritated, he answered.


“Oh, it's you.” his brusque tone softened, “Yes, yes, I did suggest that you call this afternoon.” Capitán Molina waited, Guardia had found

the car, he had a confirmed name, the employers had affirmed that the victim had left work the night before as usual, and that his shift in

a decidedly seedie back street club was not due to start again for hours. Molina had advised that the management not delay in finding

another bouncer. Paco had definitely resigned from his position.


“So is there any update?”


“The murder weapon is most likely a screwdriver, flat head not Philips. Driven through the Mendosal Suture between the Occipital and

Temporal bones, death would have been almost instantaneous. I maintain that the perpetrator probably has a medical background, the modus is

too professional to be fluke or accident, the chances of finding the Suture by chance are minuscule.”


“Mendosal Suture?” Molina questioned.


“A semi flexible joint between the Occipital and Temporal bones of the skull. The side and base,” he added, assuming that he had already

lost the Guardia Capitán. “In childhood the various sutures are more flexible, they allow for growth, in adults they ossify, sometimes the

Mendosal can disappear completely, but even if it doesn't show up in an x-ray, it's still there, and a weak spot.”


“So whoever did this knew exactly where to stab, a weak point on the skull?”


“Exactly.” Pavia replied, “That is why I suspect some medical experience, I would know exactly where, but I would not expect you to have

that knowledge!”


“Point taken,” Molina agreed, “And maybe it narrows down the field of likely suspects... when we actually have some.”


“Begin with Debbie.” Pavia dropped a curled hair into another evidence bag. “He had a date with her at the estimated time of death. He

mentioned an underpass... and called her the naked chick. Capitán Molina, I also assume that she is a blonde.”


“Any facts to back that assumption?”


“Several hairs,” Pavia replied, “Three found at the scene, three found on the back seat of his car.”


“Three?”


“Yes, I see that you also find it a strange coincidence. I may be wrong Capitán, but something tells me that Debbie may be the key to this

case, but somehow I doubt that she is guilty of murder... of course I have been wrong before.”


“Really?” Molina replied, shocked to hear Pavia admit to fallibility.


“No,” the forensic specialist chuckled, “But there is always the unlikely possibility of a first time.” and abruptly cut the connection.
/>

“I doubt that you did this Debbie,” he whispered as he held the clear evidence bag up to the midday sun and shook his head. “It's never this

convenient.”


****


Debbie leapt to her feet, her shock; total.


“What the...?” she cried, panic beginning to enter her voice. Frantic, she glanced around, checking for observers, before with a shudder she

rushed away from the pool, and sprinting through the lounge she dived into the bathroom with its full length mirror.


“No...” she sobbed, the plea pained and drawn out. The reflection that faced her beggared belief. Black dried blood coated her hands and

forearms past the wrist, almost to her elbows. The same blood smeared across her cheek almost as though she had brushed away errant hair

with the back of her hand. Spattered, the blood speckled her stomach, in places marking a trickled trail down to her thighs. And her feet. A

sickening mess of red, thick, mud.


Debbie stared aghast at the image before her, painfully aware that the blood that had dried upon her skin did not belong to her, she

registered no sensation of pain, her hands looked as though dipped into a bucket of the foul stuff. Loosened by movement, dried clots began

to slough away from her skin, Debbie spun, fell to her knees, and vomited copiously.


“What have I done?” she wanted to wail but her voice deserted, the question emerging as a hoarse whisper. “What the hell have I done?”
/>

***


With trembling hands she stirred a mug of over-sweetened tea. Her skin tingled and prickled almost painfully, the shower had been scalding.

But she hadn't cared, she had scrubbed manically, images of Lady Macbeth filling her mind as she visualised the incriminating blood spots

reappearing on her hands.


She had felt torn until self preservation had over-ridden her confusion and blossoming feelings of guilt. “I don't know what I'm guilty of

yet,” she had told her gaunt reflection. “Clean yourself up Deborah,” she had ordered, “Then go and see what music there is to face.”


And so, wrapped in a towel she had boiled the kettle, made tea, and now sat trembling, staring at the trail of bloodstained footprints that

led to her front door. Very faint prints she had to admit, but the light marks screamed at her, accusing.


Clean the floors, clean everywhere! A strict voice demanded inside her head, and Debbie shook off her malaise and grabbed a mop, bucket and

bleach. Thirty minutes later no trace remained.


Outside! Wiping the door handle with a damp cloth, a cloth that came away smeared, she stepped out into the light. Droplets dotted the

doorstep. Dried blood smeared the lock and keyhole, These she wiped down with her cloth, adding to the brown stains.


But there all traces ended. She could find no footprints, no trail of droplets. The front gate was clean – spotless, the concrete slab

pavement on the street offered only a single scuffed spot, easily missed if she hadn't been searching so intently. Her confusion grew.
/>

Surely there would be even more signs out here if I had done something bad and then walked home! And my key... the keyhole was a mess, but

my key is clean... How?


Debbie understood that her mind clutched at straws, maybe she couldn't explain the lack of trail on the street, the clean key and bloody

keyhole, but what she couldn't deny was the image that had faced her in the mirror, a figure straight out of hell, her own image baptised in

blood.


Pulling the gate closed she peered down toward the underpass. “Deserted,” she whispered, yet in her heart she knew that she had to go. “Not

that I will be able to see a great deal, not until tonight.”


Every step along the pavement received focussed scrutiny. No droplets marred the concrete, no smeared footprints. “It's like I flew to the

front door... or I cleaned up out here!” Still she ignored the inconsistency. In the tunnel she paused, waiting for a passing car, hoping

that someone would flick on headlights. Drawing attention to myself, she warned silently, and continued through to her nocturnal shelter. In

the daylight she leaned against the grey sheet metal and composite cabinet, the routing and junction box for thousands of telephone

connections. “Now what?” she asked aloud, “I've found nothing out here, just a single droplet by the gate, no footprints... nothing!”


It was at that moment that a green and white Peugeot emerged from the entrance to the short road that led to Sohail beach and the pine

trees, emblazoned across the bonnet the royal crown, above a crossed sword and fasces emblem, on the doors, Guardia Civil, and with a

feeling of dread she dragged heavy feet toward the beach.


Uniformed officers scurried like ants as she approached, and a small crowd of onlookers had collected against a cordon of plastic tape that

fluttered in a gentle breeze from the sea.


“What's happened?” she asked as innocently as she could manage with a dry mouth and pounding heart, the man at her side turned but offered

no explanation.


Another heavily bearded man whispered, his English stilted and hesitant. “Someone has been murdered.”


Debbie had heard enough, she didn't need further confirmation, or explanation. “Someone has been murdered”. By me! The voice in her head

screamed, and just for a second she looked across at the crowd of green uniforms and considered surrender. Confession! But what do I confess

to? I don't remember anything, I was asleep!


“They wouldn't believe me.” her whisper inaudible, “Get the hell out of here Debbie, out of Fuengirola... out of Spain.”


***


The underpass now stretched for miles in her mind, the light at the far end; distant. Her focus had been drawn, and a knot in the pit of her

stomach tightened. Fifty metres in, halogen fluorescence had driven away the shadows and gloom, thousands of illuminating watts now flooded

the concrete cavern. A uniformed officer hurriedly stretched a plastic tape barrier. The discovery had been chance, now he rushed to

preserve the scene. Portable spotlights angled down onto a crouching figure. Another man. Plain clothes, not uniformed.


“That just makes him more senior.” Debbie groaned silently, and once again she felt a very Catholic urge to confess. But confess to what?
/>

“I couldn't kill anyone.” her whisper, as much an effort to assuage the growing feelings of guilt that had begun to take a grip on her

conscience. “How could I? I even feel guilty when I swat a fly!”


At heart, Debbie was a gentle soul, a soul devoid of malice or cruelty. Even if I was asleep, I still couldn't hurt anyone! But all of the

blood? How the hell!


It is said that discretion is the better part of valour. Debbie wasn't sure if the phrase applied to her hasty retreat, but she knew deep

inside that she didn't possess the courage to walk casually past the Guardia cordon. She knew in her heart what the stooped man

investigated, she had seen it swirling away into the shower drain only hours earlier. He studied mud, blood, and most probably, the clear

imprints of her own feet. Leaning against the telephone cabinet that had recently become so familiar in her life Debbie opened her purse and

heaved a small sigh of relief to find ample cash.


“More than enough for what I need to do.” Her voice strengthening as a plan began to form in her mind.


Keywords - click on word to search for more titles

nudist  nudism  sleepwalking  naked  erotic romance  age difference  police procedural  psychological thriller  serial killer  
murder  suspense  spain  guardia civil  

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