They faced an enemy that didn’t exist, an enemy that was a small part of everyone’s mind, that could not be touched or even approached. An enemy who threatened to bring mankind to its knees.
Each had to try and defeat it in their own way – there were no rules.
Traffic on the M62 was light and Paul was making good time. His mind, however, was not on his driving. The death of Constable Whirren, shortly after visiting the Brody house had him seriously worried. He needed to know exactly what had taken place, what the Constable had done while she was there, and he knew that by doing this he was also placing himself at risk. Risk of what, he did not know, but he would have to be very, very careful.
Before leaving Bootle Street he had given instructions that all information related to the impaling, to the Brody family and to Constable Whirren’s death was to be collected together but on no account examined. At sometime this would have to change, but until he could work out how to process this information safely he wanted it quarantined.
His colleagues and staff were starting to look at him as if he’d lost the plot, but it couldn’t be helped. Awful though it was, Whirren’s death helped, as it had jolted them all. Although they didn’t understand his reasons, they complied.
But how did he look for an answer he mustn’t find? The deaths; Christopher Lake–the young man impaled on the sundial, Elizabeth Brody–and very likely her husband, Constable Whirren, and probably others he was unaware of were, if Katherine’s observations were correct, all part of a larger pattern. A pattern not only of bizarre and self-inflicted death, but outrageous and reckless risk-taking that seemed to be gripping the country. Not simply dangerous sports such as sky-diving and base-jumping, but boy-racers playing chicken with their cars, people with no experience climbing the outsides of buildings, lying on the tracks under trains. Even the media was starting to comment on ‘the country going mad’.
Commentators were talking about disaffected youth, a reaction to an over-protective society, even simple boredom. Katherine had hinted at something very different, and very, very dangerous. Paul found her suggestion difficult to accept–even to understand—but he could not get it out of his head. He was very frightened and at a loss as to how to proceed.
Suddenly he thought of his wife, Jude, and a wave of panic spread through him. He pulled over onto the shoulder and grabbed his cellphone.
“Jude? Hi. Listen, I know this is going to sound strange, but I want you to do something. I don’t know when I will be home–I’ll get there as soon as I can–but until then I want you to stay at home. You must switch off your cellphone, the computer, the radio and television, unplug the phone and not answer the door to anyone.”
“Yes. Look, I don’t mean to scare you, but you must just trust me. I’ll explain everything when I get back but for now, please, promise me you’ll do as I ask. I love you. I must go now–I’ll be as quick as I can.”
Paul switched off his phone and sat, motionless. He knew his wife must be terrified, but he could not think what else to do. Finally, he restarted the car and pulled back out into the traffic.
When he finally arrived at the Brody house he nodded to the constable at the door and let himself in. Janet Brody was sitting in the living room where the three children were watching television. She looked up, startled, when Paul entered the room.
He motioned with his hand for her to stay seated and took a chair opposite her. He glanced at the children, with a concerned look.
Reading his expression, Janet interrupted, “Don’t worry, it’s a DVD. I pulled the aerial”.
“Oh, good.” Paul was surprised–he had neglected to mention the TV. This woman may be frightened, but she was no fool.
“I thought I was being a bit paranoid, but when you wouldn’t say what was going on and to avoid all contact I thought I’d play it safe. You will tell me now?”
This was more of a plea than a question and Paul’s heart sank. What could he tell her? What did he actually know? However, from the manner in which she had reacted so far, she would at least listen to him.
“Janet, I can really tell you very little. Not because I don’t want to, but because I simply don’t know. Your sister-in-law killed herself in bizarre circumstances, and she is not the first. We have to accept that there is a good chance that your brother has done likewise. I’m sorry to tell you that–I know it’s tough–but I also know that this probability has already occurred to you.
“Why this is happening I have no idea, but–and please don’t panic when I tell you this–Constable Whirren, who first interviewed you, drove her car off a cliff after leaving here.”
“How do you fight something you can’t see? The fertile mind of Pat Whitaker tackles the question with typical aplomb in this thought-provoking work.”
“A chilling first chapter sets the scene, and readers are led at a gripping pace on a suspense-filled tale of unexplained events and seemingly unrelated deaths.
“Take heed, this novel may portend a reality which could subjugate you before the last page.
That said, accept the challenge and read it anyway … preferably alone.”