Read The Reckoning Online

Authors: Karl Jones

Tags: #UK

The Reckoning

ONE

 

Though he moved slowly, because of his
injuries, it didn’t take Jason Denton long to reach the crashed police car.
When he did he clambered over the broken wall and dropped into the ditch next
to it. He gasped as the effort sent pain stabbing through his body from the
various injuries had received over the past several days.

From the white-hot needles he could feel
jabbing into him, and the difficulty he was having with his breathing, he
suspected Michael Davis had cracked some of his ribs. He might even have broken
or fractured them. He pushed aside thoughts of his injuries and focused on why
he was there.

Despite his best efforts, which only ramped
up his pain, he couldn’t get the driver’s door open. It simply wouldn’t budge.
He figured it had become jammed in the crash.

After struggling for almost a minute, and
biting back a string of curse words, he gave up and slowly made his way round
to the other side of the car. The passenger door opened easily and he swung it
wide. “Are you alright?” he asked, leaning into the car. The moment the words
were out he realised how stupid the question was; the officer before him had
seen fellow officers killed, been shot at by a crazed killer, and had crashed
through a wall into a ditch. It was very unlikely that he was alright.

“I’m stuck,” Constable Dave Phillips replied
shakily. “The seatbelt’s jammed, it won’t budge, and Pete’s unconscious. I can
feel a pulse but he’s not responding.”

“Okay, first things first, let’s get you
out.” Clenching his teeth against the pain the movement prompted, he leaned
further into the car so he could see the seatbelt catch.

Jason could see nothing wrong with the catch,
nonetheless it wouldn’t release, no matter how hard he tugged or pushed at it.
Deciding that his position was too awkward for him to accomplish much, he got
into the rear of the car and slid across until he could get at the seatbelt
catch. When he still couldn’t get the catch to release he became frustrated,
and resorted to kicking the offending item.

With the third kick the catch popped,
releasing the seatbelt, which retracted with such speed that Phillips almost
found his arm trapped.

“Thanks,” Phillips sighed in relief as he
climbed from the car, and then helped Jason from the back seat. “I thought I
was going to be stuck there for ages.”

“You’re welcome. Are you okay to look after
your friend if I go on up to the farm to check things out there?” Jason asked,
running his eyes over the constable before him, searching for any obvious
injuries, such as the bleeding head wound his unconscious companion had.

“Yeah, I’m okay, I can handle things here.”

“Good. You’d best radio Donna and tell her
the situation here, she’s getting backup and medical help; let her know I’m
continuing on to the farm.” Jason waited until he received a nod of
understanding and then he awkwardly, and painfully, climbed out of the ditch to
return to the road.

It didn’t take him long to reach the farm,
even at his less than brisk pace. As he stepped through the remains of the gate
he saw Sergeant Underwood and Detective Inspector Yew; both men were on the
ground, unmoving.

The sergeant was dead, Jason could see that
without needing to get any closer. The large bloody hole in his torso made it
clear that he was no longer alive.

Though he hadn’t much liked the sergeant
during their few encounters, disapproving of both his incompetence and his
prejudice, he hadn’t wanted him to die. He certainly hadn’t wanted him to die
from a shotgun blast at point blank range.

Unlike with the sergeant, Jason couldn’t tell
if the inspector was dead. He could see that the inspector’s back was a bloody
mess, which didn’t bode well, but the blood covered whatever wounds he had,
forcing him to cross the yard to check whether he still lived.

When he reached the inspector Jason dropped
to the ground, which he instantly regretted as his battered body offered up a
painful protest. He was still unable to see the injury or injuries that were
the cause of the inspector’s bloody back, so he reached a hand to his throat to
search for a pulse. To his relief he found one; it was weak, but it was there.

Once he had made certain that DI Yew wasn’t
dead Jason got to his feet and went in search of the third man who was supposed
to be in the yard. It didn’t take him long to find Constable Collar, his body
was on the other side of the police car DI Yew was alongside.

Jason saw no sign of injury as he approached
the constable. The dark stain on the ground beneath his body, and the way his
eyes stared unseeingly up at the sky, told the story, though. He was dead. He
soon found the cause of the constable’s death when he examined him; He had
taken a shotgun blast in the side at close range.

He had no doubt the younger man had bled to
death very quickly, but didn’t suppose that that would be much of a consolation
for whatever family the constable might have left behind.

Since there was nothing he could do for the
constable, or for Sergeant Underwood, Jason returned to the detective
inspector, who at least was still alive. Before he did so, though, he took the
radio from the murdered constable so he could contact Donna and left her know
what he had found.

TWO

 

Jason turned at the sound of approaching
footsteps, while Donna Harp remained focused on the rear doors of the ambulance
that was rapidly disappearing down the road.

“Constable Harp, Mr Denton?”

It took a nudge from Jason for Donna to
notice the approaching figure. “Sorry, sir,” she apologised, turning away from
the ambulance, which was carrying Michael Davis and Constable Green to
hospital. DI Yew had been the first to be taken away by the paramedics, carried
off by the air ambulance. His injuries too severe for him to be taken to
hospital by regular ambulance.

“Detective Inspector Anderson, I’ve been
placed in charge of the situation here,” he introduced himself. “The chief
inspector was a little rushed this morning when he gave me my instructions, so
I hope you’ll forgive me if I go over things you think I should already know.
Actually, if you don’t mind, is there someplace we can go while you tell me
everything that’s happened here in Greenville, somewhere I can also get a
coffee?”

“Sure,” Jason said. “My place is just down
the road, we can go there.” He pushed away from the police car he had been
leaning against and started off down the road. He had been wondering how long
it would be before the inspector came to speak to them; the man had arrived
just over half an hour before, and spent all of that time dealing with the
paramedics, and the forensics team that had arrived with him.

“Lily,” Jason called out the moment he was
through the front door.

“No need to shout, I’m right here.” Lily
Jenkins, Jason’s former sister-in-law, appeared in the living room doorway
almost immediately. “What’s all the noise about?”

“Sorry, I didn’t know where you were; could
you make us some coffee?”

Lily looked as though she was going to say
something sarcastic, but the sight of the stranger behind Jason made her resist
the urge. “Sure, I think I can manage that.”

“Thanks; is Lucy in there?” Jason asked,
lowering his voice as he nodded toward the living room.

“Yes,” Lily said, not sure what the look on
her friend’s face, or his sudden change in volume, meant. She guessed that
things were pretty bad, based on what she had seen out in the road.

“Could you take her into the kitchen and keep
her there with you?” he asked, keeping his voice low so the young girl wouldn’t
hear him. “Donna and I need to speak to the inspector, and I don’t think she
needs to hear everything that’s happened just yet. She’ll need to at some
point, but now isn’t the time.”

Lily nodded. “How do you take your coffee,
Inspector, Constable?”

“Black, with three sugars, please,” Donna
requested, too tired to even think about being embarrassed by her need for
sugar.

Anderson looked askance at the constable for
a moment. “White, no sugar, thank you,” he said finally.

Lily didn’t need to ask Jason how he liked
his coffee, she already knew. “Lucy, could you come and help me make some
coffee?” she asked of the teen, who was being distracted by the television.

Lucy Davis looked up curiously, surprised
both by the presence of the stranger, whom she regarded warily, and the request
and nodded. Getting to her feet she limped across the room and edged past those
in the doorway; once out in the passage she followed Lily into the kitchen.
Despite her youth, she wasn’t so naïve that she didn’t realise she was being
kept out of the way so Jason and Donna could speak to the stranger.

Anderson looked around the living room, with
its boarded up windows and lack of furniture, bemusedly for a moment. He then
followed the example of the other two and settled onto one of the cushions that
were being used in place of seats. “Now,” he said once he had made himself as
comfortable as his awkwardness would allow, “would one of you mind telling me
what’s been going on in this village of yours? That was a hell of a mess I saw
up the road.” Though he directed his question at both Jason and Donna, his
attention was on the constable, whom he clearly expected to be the one to
provide the answers he was after.

Donna was silent for a few moments while she
tried to decide how best to explain what had been going on. So much had
happened that she wasn’t sure how to condense it into a simple explanation.

Jason stepped in with a question of his own
to bridge the gap. “How much were you told about the situation here?” he asked.

“Almost nothing,” Anderson admitted. “The
chief inspector said little beyond that I was to get out here as soon as
possible, and that the situation would be explained to me by Inspector
Livingstone. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of your inspector, though, and from
what little I can gather, Constable, you’re the most senior officer left in the
village.”

With a reluctant nod, Donna indicated her
agreement. “I’d guess you’re right, Sir.” She hesitated for a moment longer
before recounting the events of the past week – it hadn’t even been that long,
she realised as she told the story. It didn’t seem possible that so many people
could have died in such a short space of time; the events that had torn the
village apart seemed more the sort of thing that happened in the United States,
not the United Kingdom.

Donna paused as Lily entered the room with
their drinks, giving the DI time to catch up with the notes he was scribbling
in a pad. Once Lily had gone, and she had taken a few sips of her extra sweet
coffee, Donna continued. “Jason was arrested for a second time on Sunday
evening, after the attack on Jessica Davis, and was again released after being
questioned. That night there was another attempt on his life and he ended up in
hospital.”

“What else led to the massacre I saw this
morning?” Anderson wanted to know when Donna took another pause to moisten her
lips and throat. “There must be more to it than what you’ve said so far,
especially given the suspect you arrested is an eighteen year old youth.”

Still aching from her fight with Michael
Davis, and tired from the limited sleep she’d had since the discovery of
Danielle Pale’s body, Donna found herself biting back the urge to say something
inappropriate to the DI as she continued with her story.

“There isn’t a lot more to tell,” Donna said
finally, wanting to finish things up quickly. “DI Yew got Will Davis to confess
to the second attempt on Jason’s life and set a trap for the killer, using me
as bait; unfortunately, he got away. DI Yew was injured, as was I, while
another officer was killed.

“This morning, Lucy Davis discovered that her
brother was responsible for the murders; he tried to kill her and she was saved
by Jason. He reported what had happened and DI Yew and I, along with Sergeant
Underwood and the rest of the village’s officers went to the farm to arrest
Michael Davis. He killed Sergeant Underwood and Constable Collar, and then
tried to escape. Jason and I were able to stop and arrest him. That’s
everything, sir,” she concluded in a rush, glad to have her story finished.

Anderson was silent for a short while as he
alternately drank his coffee and scribbled down notes on what he had been told.
When he was finished, he set his mug down on the coffee table and shoved his
pad and pen into a pocket. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight.” He looked
over at Donna, on her cushion. “You’ve already caught the person responsible
for the murders that have taken place in your sleepy little village, and he has
been taken to hospital.” Donna nodded. “So my job here, as I see it, is to
clean up the mess resulting from DI Yew’s incompetent attempt to arrest this
Michael Davis.”

While Jason was able to keep his expression
bland, Donna found herself staring at him, unable to believe what he had said.

“Did DI Yew not call for armed officers to
assist in the arrest?” Anderson wanted to know.

“No, Sir,” Donna shook her head, “I believe
he considered five officers, including himself, sufficient to make the arrest.”

“Clearly he was wrong.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And now I have to clean up this mess.”
Anderson let out a sigh of frustration and awkwardly pushed himself to his
feet. “Thank you for the coffee, Mr Denton, I’ll be in touch later today about
getting a formal statement from you, and anyone else that might have
information relevant to this case.”

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