‘A think he’s a DCI. Look . . .’
‘Well, if he can do it, so can you,’ said the old lady, patting him on the arm.
‘Would you please excuse us for a minute, madam?’ asked Peterson. The woman nodded and left. He rolled his eyes. Erika tried to grin, but it hurt.
‘Jeez, boss, I’m so sorry.’ Peterson pulled out his notebook and thumbed through to a clean page. ‘Was anything taken?’
Erika shook her head and then shrugged. She could only nod or shake her head and Peterson asked all the standard questions, but beyond the figure being tall and strong, she couldn’t give any information.
‘It’s pathetic,’ swallowed Erika painfully. ‘I should have . . .’ She mimed pulling off a balaclava.
‘Boss. It’s okay. It always seems simple in hindsight,’ said Peterson. Moss came back in, carrying the housing of the extractor fan.
‘He got in using the ventilation pipe,’ she said.
‘It was – I don’t know, I think it was a him,’ croaked Erika.
‘Boss, they’re going to be working through the night with forensics. Do you have anywhere you can stay?’ asked Peterson.
‘Hotel,’ croaked Erika.
‘No, boss, you’re staying with me,’ said Moss. ‘I’ve got a spare room. I’ve also got something you can borrow to wear . . . You look like you’re about to go out clubbing in the late 1990s.’
Erika tried to laugh again, but it was painful. In a weird, warped way she felt pleased. He’d come for her. She was on to him.
The figure sped down Camberwell High Street, screaming and raging inside the car, not caring about the speed.
I was so fucking close! SO CLOSE!
The figure’s nostrils flared, eyes streaming with tears. The tears were of rage and pain. The exit from DCI Foster’s flat had been terrifying, slithering down the back wall of the building, barely managing to hold on, and then crashing down onto the brick wall before crumpling onto the pavement. The figure hadn’t worried about the pain, but kept running through the darkness, out into the street lights. Not caring who saw, just running, drenched in sweat. The fear and pain joining together for a final burst of mad energy.
DCI Foster had been so close. The light in her eyes had just been starting to dim, and then . . .
A set of red traffic lights was hurtling towards the windscreen. As the figure slammed on the brakes, the car screamed to a halt, just overshooting a crossroads with a pub on the corner. A group of students stepped off the pavement and surged around the car, laughing and pointing.
Shit, I’m still wearing the balaclava.
Some students hammered on the back of the car as they passed. A group of girls peered through the windscreen as they walked in front of the car.
Calm down, pull it off, act like them – a stupid student.
The figure pulled the balaclava off with a flourish, and made goofy faces at the students through the window. The madness must have shone through, because the group of girls screamed and shied away, as one guy lurched forward and threw up beside the window.
The lights turned green and the figure floored the accelerator, screeching away towards The Oval and Blackfriars Bridge.
She didn’t see anything, she couldn’t have. I had my face covered. I had my face covered . . .
The fear was replaced with anger.
She denied me the kill.
Moss took Erika to Lewisham Hospital where her throat was X-rayed, and the cut in her arm was given twelve stitches. She was ordered to rest for a week, and more importantly, not to speak.
It was after four in the morning when Moss drove them back. The adrenalin that had been flooding through Erika’s body had ceased, and a crashing tiredness overwhelmed her. She was shaking when she followed Moss through the small front gate of a smart terraced house in Ladywell. A pretty blonde woman opened the front door, cradling a small dark-haired boy wearing blue pyjamas.
‘He woke up, so I thought you could say a quick hello before I put him back down,’ she said.
‘Sorry I missed bedtime,’ said Moss, taking the boy in her arms as they stepped indoors. She planted a huge kiss on his cheek. He rubbed his eyes shyly and smiled.
‘This is my wife, Celia, and our son, Jacob,’ said Moss, as they came into the cosy hallway.
‘Hi, Erika,’ said Celia, not quite knowing how to deal with the sight of Erika’s battered neck, pink eyes and the fact she was wearing crime scene overalls.
‘Are you a space woman?’ asked Jacob, a serious look on his little face. Erika’s face broke into a weak smile and they all laughed. It broke the ice.
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