1. THE SWOOP
SUTTON LEE HILL - JUST OUTSIDE OF LONDON - 3.40 a.m. July 2005
The SWAT team had arrived at the Station at Sutton Lee Hill just after midnight in their very bulky but discreet, black Mercedes Vito van. They quickly joined the rest of the teams in the Situations Control room where they had been working on the final planning phase for almost two hours.
Jack immediately recognised his old Royal Marines buddy Andy Brennan. They greeted each other with a firm handshake, pat on the back, and a knowledge that they could count on each other.
Before Jack had joined the Met, the two of them had spent many a long night covering each other back's on the streets of Belfast where they truly got to know more about each other's real hopes and dreams.
The brass had already indicated that these cases had gone nowhere for too long and only recent developments could hope to change that. He needed this case to come to finality, for his health, for his sanity, and to give him some time to work on bringing his family back together.
The briefing took another hour and a half after which they set off for the swoop on the House in Exmouth Road, each Team knowing their tasks and what the other Teams expected of them.
Their arrival at the House was almost silent, with all the vehicles parking nearly two blocks away, well out of site of the front windows. Jack had arranged for the streetlights to be turned off, the darkness offering almost perfect cover for the SWAT guys in their Black standard uniform and face camouflage.
Andy's SWAT team took up their positions behind the low hedge at the front of the house. Two of his men crouched in the driveway of the house that backed on to the Exmouth Road house and another two, stooping, already making their way down the side alley. Dressed all in Black, Jack imagined that if he took off his squawking headset, he could probably hear a pin drop. These were thoroughly trained professionals, which was why Jack had requested to use them rather than his own entry team. Jack's own team was fine for a regular fugitive, but with the likes of Tom Harrop, you could never be too sure.
"My team's ready to go on your command" came Andy's voice whispered over his headset.
" Met teams in Place" Jack replied, "Secure the property now."
Within seconds, two burly lads, clad in heavy body armour and carrying a hefty looking ram, were up the three front steps and at the door. Six other SWAT members, each with head mounted night vision goggles and sporting laser sighted automatic rifles, were behind and to the side of them.
The doorframe splintered at the first charge and the heavily booted foot of one of the SWAT team followed through, sending the door swinging back violently on its hinges.
The next few minutes were a blur of activity with lights darting around inside the rooms, lots of radio noise and plenty of shouting. As they moved from room to room, the sound of "Clear! Clear!" came firmly over the headset. Eventually, room-by-room, the inner lights of the house came on.
"Building secured Jack, send your boys in" said Andy, " seems like your bird has flown though."
Jack had almost presumed that this would be the case but also had to presume that a madman like this could have many tricks up his sleeve - he'd avoided detection for almost 30 years and only a stroke of luck had allowed Jack to link the cases together. Modern technology had made the links possible and the last two years involved hundreds of personnel and volunteers capturing cold-case data on a National basis, making it possible for Jack to find the links that had allowed him to confirm his wildest suspicions.
Jack's teams moved quickly into the building, each knowing well what was expected of them.
As Jack moved in through the Front door, he could see the layout and felt immediately familiar with the rooms as he had seen them on the Council plans.
He turned left into the Lounge expecting to see the standard "movie-like" scene, with newspaper cuttings, action plans and even grisly memorabilia pinned to a large wallboard.
Wrong again Jack, he thought.
The lounge was an ordinary one, nothing exceptional. Typical three-piece suite, coffee table, TV Cabinet, unused ashtray, the only thing slightly out of place was an empty Pizza box.
A white-coated forensics man was busy dusting and sniffing through papers, drawers and cupboards, looking for anything that would give them a positive clue.
Jack moved from room to room, seeing the same desperate but careful levels of activity.
Andy tapped him on the shoulder, "Sorry Jack, but it looks like your man was one step ahead of us. I think I can confidently hand things over to you now - Got to get the lads back to Farnham"
"Thanks Andy, I hope I haven't wasted your time on this one" Said Jack "but you never can be too careful, can you"
"Never Jack - Don't want to appear rude but we must be off. Let's get together sometime, soon. Promise you'll give me a call when you get a break. Good luck with this one, nail the Bastard!"
"Will do, on both counts!" Said Jack to an already retreating Andy Brennan.
"Best come take a look at this - in the Garage" interrupted one of the Constables who promptly turned and walked outside.
Jack followed and met with the P.C. at the Front of the Garage.
"You can see from the overgrowth of weeds and from the state of the large hinges, that this door hasn't been used for a long time now" the P.C. said. Jack saw the rusted and sagged metal hinges had dropped badly so even if you wanted to, you couldn't open the heavy Teak Garage doors.
"We had to force entry via the side door Sir"
Again, Jack could see the remains of the splintered doorframe where a heavy-duty crowbar had been used to burst the lock from the doorjamb. Another set of rusty hinges, he noted mentally.
"Two things Sir" said the P.C. " First there's this computer you might want Forensics to take a look at and then there's this" he said, pointing to a pile of sacking in the Front right hand corner.
Jack ignored the sacking and focused on the back end of the Garage. He understood now why the Garage door was so neglected in relation to the rest of the neat well-kept Garden. The Garage had been carefully converted into an office and workshop of sorts, and Jack could see that this was a man who was meticulous in his attention to detail. Tom Harrop didn't want anyone accessing the Garage other than himself and the broken hinges along with a heavy chain and padlock on the inside hasp, made access impossible.
Tom Harrop obviously had a lot to hide.
Unlike Jack's own home Computer, everything was neat and tidy with all the wiring firmly cleated in parallel rows running from the phone Jack and power point to the back of the Computer. Small cubby-holes at eye level on the wall, held an assortment of neatly stacked books, files, computer floppy disks and C.D ROMs. The screensaver was floating around the screen trailing the acronym "FQ2." For who's eyes were they intended? wondered Jack.
Jack moved the mouse. The screensaver disappeared and the Windows XP Home screen came into view, wallpapered with a sunrise scene straight out of the Lake District.
Jack quickly ran his eyes down the screen icons and his attention was immediately drawn to a Happy Smiley-Face Icon, underneath which was the label "D.S. Jack Swan."
"Sir" said the same P.C. " I think you better come look over here Sir."
Jack desperately wanted to click on the computer icon, which was obviously addressed to him. Or did it contain information about him?
"What is it?" he asked the P.C.
"Sir, there's a lot of sacking here under the workbench, and I thought it rather strange that a house with no garden to talk of, would use so many chemicals and fertilisers."
The sacks were clearly labelled with names that suggested they were commercially intended for fertilising lawns, plants and Trees. The smaller print on the labels read "Potassium Chloride," "Ammonium Nitrate" and "sodium Hypochlorate." Jack stopped, racking his brain for the association. Jack sniffed the packaging, which immediately reminded him of the Pool and changing rooms down at the local Health and Racquet Club. Sodium Hypochlorate in its common form was known as chlorine, used to treat swimming pools and ponds to keep them algae free. Jack recalled that the Garden was what he called "Maintenance free," lots of flagstone-paved areas with small, neat beds and rockeries. Certainly no Pools or water features needing chlorination?
"But there's also this you might look at Sir" the P.C. said, pointing to what seemed to be the remains of aluminium drink cans.
The cans, or what was left of them, had been opened up with some sort of tin-snips, and then, judging by the impressions on the surfaces, hammered flat. A punch of sorts had been used to knock small, sixpence sized holes into the aluminium leaving a string vest of what was obviously not needed. All the sixpence sized discs were missing.
An empty Gas canister, several Pyrex mixing dishes and a couple of empty, unlabelled, one gallon plastic containers stood along side the empty sacks. Several empty smaller plastic bottles labelled "Acetone - Highly Flammable," lay scattered around the surface of the workbench.
"Have forensics bag that lot, I want to know exactly what was in those bags and containers and how much we're talking about" said Jack walking back to the Computer. "I need confirmation that we're dealing with explosives here," he shouted.
He stood at the Computer, trying to think about the explosive combinations of Chlorine and Garden fertilisers. "What the hell are you up to now Tom," he wondered out loud.
Click-Click on the Icon. A new window opened up. It contained only two files. Both were Microsoft Word files. One bore the title " Journal" and the other, "So now what Jack?"
Jack double clicked on the second Icon.
2. SO NOW WHAT JACK?
The Word file opened very quickly - nothing old or antiquated here Jack thought, the very latest Pentium 4 processor working at lightning speed, according to the badge on the front of the tower case.
Jack smelled the comforting aroma of strong black coffee. He looked up to where the P.C. was holding a steaming thermos cup.
"Thought you might need this Sir, two sugars!" he smiled, handing the cup to Jack.
Jack Swan sat back in the soft Vinyl covered chair and started to read.
The fact that you are reading this file Jack, means that you are, as I thought, extremely predictable and obvious. If you care to look at the date on this file, you will see that I've been on to you, long, long before you got on to me!
Yes, over the years there have been a couple of worrying "enquiries," but no one got anywhere nearly as close as you have, but I'm afraid Jack, not close enough.
As I said, you are so obvious and predictable.
Yes, you've had your suspicions but so have I. If you were so confident, why didn't you just come and take me in for questioning?
Why? Because even with my last little blunder, you actually had nothing concrete on me. Nothing and no one who could prove a damn thing Jack! And even now, if it wasn't for the fact that I'm tired of all this bullshit, and physically tired, you'd still have nothing on me other than an I.D. from some drunken slag who's word can hardly be taken above a man of good standing like myself.
But she was also asking for it Jack, just like all the others, and if it wasn't for the fact that a bunch of bloody do-gooder Boy Scouts heard the commotion and started shouting, I would have finished the bitch there and then, for good.
Let me just explain the way I'm thinking on this one Jack and maybe you can get to understand that If anything, I'm doing the world a bloody big favour by doing what I do.
These people don't deserve a place on this planet.
They are scum.
They are nothings.
They don't realise that the world doesn't want shit like them around, making things unpleasant for everyone.
So there you have it Jack, Nothing, absolutely nothing! Other than this document, which is my record of the cleansing I've been left to handle all by myself over all these years.
Without this document, you would spend the next ten years trying to put all the facts together, and by then, who knows?
Would you still be sane Jack?
Would you still have a Family to go home to Jack?
Why am I doing this? Giving you my Journal and my records on a silver platter? Because I don't think you belong with the rest of them Jack, you've worked pretty hard trying to prove you have a case against me. You deserve a rest too Jack. Your Family deserves the rest. I deserve a rest. It's hard work, doing the job that others should have been doing. Work that our supposedly organised and disciplined society should have been doing. We're very similar Jack. We've both worked thanklessly trying to clean up the scum that walks this earth.
I like you Jack. I like the way you do your job, other than the time you're wasting on my case. Imagine if you had spent all that wasted time getting rid of more of the scum that walks our streets. Scum that really shouldn't have been allowed to mature into the sick individuals they've become.
In a way, your cleansing is as dedicated as mine, maybe not as severe but then, why burden society with all the paperwork and formalities when your cleansing can be quick, final, and totally anonymous?
I read articles almost daily about cleansing - ethnic cleansing, racial cleansing, and religious cleansing. My cleansing is along similar lines but mine is for the betterment of all of society.
Why am I telling you all this?
Until recent events took place, I would have happily carried on with my chosen tasks, doing a very necessary job that the rest of the world seems to ignore the importance of.
I recently visited my G.P. as I was concerned about an ongoing sore throat. He examined me and noticed some lumps in my throat, which were not very painful, but made me sound a little like a bad impression of Rod Stewart. A small biopsy returned not very favourable results and to cut this story very short, the cancer, the "Big C," is rapidly invasive, non responsive and very definitely, terminal. It won't be long before it's in my lungs and from then, it's only a short time. It's such a pity that cancer's not transmittable, otherwise I could have spent the rest of my days doing some very good contagious cleansing!
So, I don't have that much time for anything Jack! About five months they say.
Which is why I've left you with my Journals.
Over the last year or so I've taken the time to put onto my Computer, a summary of parts of all the handwritten records I've kept for myself over the years, as well as a few insightful events in my life that made all of this possible. I've cut out all the boring bits that one tends to write in diaries and stuck to the parts that have contributed to my success.
Am I such an animal? Is this a Monster you're reading about?
Don't I fear God, you may ask yourself?
I recall the 17th century French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal posing a question about the belief in the existence of God. This question is known as Pascal's Wager. "God is, or he is not," asserted Pascal. "But to which side shall we incline?"
He then went on to say that even though we can't provide the answer to the question, we would still better off choosing to live our life as if we believe in God. After all, if it turns out that there is no God, the worst that can happen is that we have missed out on some earthly pleasures we might have engaged in. But, if we choose to live as if God doesn't exist and just happen to be wrong, then the consequences could be somewhat hellish.
I need to add a footnote to Pascal's summation; if there truly is a God, then why does he allow me to do the things I'm doing if they are so wrong? Or is he allowing me to do them because he knows I'm right?
If my actions are so wrong, then why hasn't this God provided some divine intervention to smite me from the face of the earth? Struck by lightning or mowed down by some drunken driver or the likes?
Why, because He probably doesn't exist.
Nor is there a Hell or fiery pit of eternal damnation.
Maybe this Cancer is his way of saying "You're Job is done now Tom, You've worked hard enough. Come and take a well deserved rest."
When you go, you go. When you leave this existence, your success can only be determined and measured by the legacy you leave for others. I choose to leave a cleaner, better world. It's a thankless task to rid society of these sick and evil parasites.
Jack, I've also given you something of an opportunity. A chance to shine again. A chance to get back some respect from your colleagues and more importantly, from your Family.
It's here, it's in the text. It's in the documents. It's a chance to prove that your mind is far greater than those around you.
I've made my plans and my final preparations and now I'm ready for one final big cleansing. To get rid of as many of these parasites as possible in one go! What a wonderful ending. What a wonderful legacy!
I really don't intend dying, lying flat on my back in some cold hospital ward, stoned on morphine, waiting for the final lights to go out. No, that's just not me Jack.
When I go, I'll go out at the time of my choosing, in the way I choose. No fanfare, no parties, just one big bang!
If you're as good as I think you can be Jack, you might be able to stop me and for that, I may forgive you, as I know that's your duty. We'll be going head to head but I think I already know who the winner will be - Me. In fact, I've already won Jack.
But first you have to read my Journal - this should give you a few clues. Then you have to decide which Chapter is relevant or should I say, which is the relevant Chapter?
Then you have to work out my true motives - simple motives.
And then you have to answer one final question - what have I got to lose, and what have you got to lose Jack? Even if you do catch up with me, you'll be asking this one very important question right until the end!
My legacy? Other than a great job cleansing this world of sicko's and people that don't deserve to carry on in this world? They'll talk about this case for years and years to come and my name will be synonymous with the good tradition that should be carried on by others like me in time to come. Maybe then, we'll have a world that is liveable.
Maybe I'll inspire my successor?
I've exposed the root for you Jack, dropped my pants and shown you the heart of my soul. Now it's up to you.
Oh yes, and if you're wondering about the cans - they're my contribution to re-cycling and cleaning up the environment - damn it, there's another clue Jack!".
Jack sat back, somewhat shaken by the intimacy with which he had just been addressed. Not only does this guy know that we're on to him but he also knows a lot more about me than I'm comfortable with, thought Jack.
The rest of the search of the house was fairly uneventful. No Murder weapons, no Photo's, nothing to link this house to any of the Murders.
To all intents and purposes, this was just another ordinary house in an ordinary suburb occupied by an ordinary man.
When Forensics was called into the Garage, he had them carefully bag and label the entire contents of the Desk.
" I want a copy of the hard drive on my Computer by the end of today as well as a copy of each of the CD ROMs and Floppy disks. At the same time, I need phone records for the last three months as well as all the information his I.S.P. can provide us on his Internet browsing." Jack briefed the Team.
"At the same time, I want a printout of the U.R.L's from his Browser History."
It's all very well having a personalised letter from this maniac thought Jack, but I need to know him better than that.
"I need to know what this guy had for breakfast, lunch and supper for the last three months, who he called, which websites he visited, who he had email from and who sent mail to him."
"P.C. Harrison, I want his banking details, credit card transactions, who he bought from and what he bought down to the last detail." Said Jack, "By this time tomorrow, I need to know more about this man's life than he's already forgotten. Get someone on to the paperwork, find out who his G.P. is, and get him in for an interview"
It was obvious to him that this Man, this Monster, was beyond caring. Sometime soon, definitely in the next few days, Tom Harrop would try to prove that he was a bigger monster than Jack could even start to contemplate.
The nature of this "one final big cleansing" was the new priority in Jack's life.
The questions he had to ask himself, were beyond his reasoning right now.
© Copyright 2017 ARTHUR HOWE. All rights reserved.
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