By Cover of Darkness Part 03

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Review Chain
The third part of 'By Cover of Darkness' the dark, mysterious and complex novella by Paul Phillips. In this instalment, we discover what happened seven years ago and led to the Doctors arrest and conviction. In addition to this, we will follow George on his one-man mission to uncover to truth.

Submitted: April 02, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 02, 2017



For more Information on the author -

Part One -

Part Two -

Three Days Later

'Here we go again' George Parker says while climbing out of his car and making his way towards 12 Weatherall Avenue. He is here to see Gemma McGregor, a former employee of Doctor Lenny Fletcher, and the second name on his list of people he wants to re-interview.

It was starting to get dark, it may only be half-past three in the afternoon but with the dark sky covered in white clouds, George is starting to believe the predictions the weather reports are making that snow is on the way. Yawning he pushes the small green gate open and makes his way towards the white front door.

After a few seconds, the door is opened and, for the second time today, a blast from the past is standing in front of him. The first had been Sue Fletcher, who’d recognised him the moment she saw him. 'What the hell do you want?' she had demanded before folding her arms and refusing to allow him access to her new home. 'Mrs Fletcher, I don't know if you still speak to your husband or not but I have recently visited him in jail and because of those conversations I have a few questions to ask you about his case'.

As the wind whistled around his face the chill in the air made him silently curse the nasty posh cow for refusing to let him in. As he tucked his fingers deep into his pockets he’d, had to remind himself that this is what he had begged and pleaded for over the past few days. Ever since he was finally given permission to investigate the doctor's coded messages late yesterday afternoon, he had started to compile a list of the people he wanted to see and any information he could find about their life since the trial. Much to the amusement of his London colleagues, he had worked tirelessly and late into the night. 'You know this will all probably come to nothing' his friend DI Stuart Flint had asked him at half past seven last night. 'He had the stuff in his garage George, we all know he killed those girls' his friend had said blissfully unaware of the secret George was now struggling to keep in.

For the past two days, he had wanted to confess his past sins and hope that that would be enough to open everyone's eyes to what was going on. Yesterday he had spent his twenty-minute lunch break playing with rather than eating the expensive but rubbery tasting pasta he had bought on his way into the office and struggling to decide what to do. As he sat there, plastic fork in hand, he had gazed around the room filled with strangers and people who he just couldn’t seem to connect with. He had been desperate at the time to convince just one of them that he was on the right track and that the way to solve this was to follow the doctor's clues. Yet he knew it was pointless, they had no reason to question the original conviction. 'Put yourself in their shoes' he had said to himself later while standing in the grey and cold bathroom splashing water on his face and looking back at a reflection he barely recognised as his own. 'We found the girl’s things in his garage and up until now he has never even contested the conviction...of course they don't believe you' he said while angrily twisting the handle of the tap to off and making his way back into the office.

It hadn’t helped when confirmation came through that the house on Pemberton Drive, Emily Royle’s resting place, turned out to be owned by Doctor Lenny Fletcher. In the two interviews that London's finest had with him since this revelation, they had managed to get no more than a 'hello' and 'goodbye' out of him. His wife, Sue was no better. 'My husband handled all the family’s business' was all she was willing to say. It was, in everyone else's eyes, the ultimate proof of his guilt. However, George knew different. He now believed Lenny Fletcher to be both innocent and the only chance they had of solving these crimes without any more bloodshed, but convincing everyone else was, he knew going to be a problem.

If Chief Inspector Cunningham, the man who had sanctioned his transfer down to London in the first place, had not called him into his office a short time after and given him the green light to look into Lenny's claims he is sure that he would have come clean. 'Given the seriousness of this case and the discovery of Laura’s body yesterday we cannot allow any leads to go un-investigated' he had said in a very business-like manner. 'As I am sure you know myself and the team give little if any credence to Lenny Fletcher and his sudden claims of innocence. We neither have the resources nor the will to take men away from finding this new killer but as you seem to be a bit of a spare part at the moment, I am willing to grant you a few days to look into this and see what you can find'.

It was still a risk to keep the illegal search to himself but right now it was a risk he was willing to take. It was better, he reasoned, for him to be in the hunt for this killer than not and confessing his past sins would almost certainly have seen him removed from the case. Besides, it is not like they are not looking for this guy, there would be no extra resources thrown at this case because of his confession, no the only difference would be it would be someone else digging into the past and given his determination and personal reasons to find the truth George believed that that would actually weaken the team’s chances of finding the bastard.

He had driven through the night with every intention of calling home to see his wife before starting work this morning. Yet as he sat outside his home and watched the window, he knew to be the master bedroom, filled with darkness he had lost his bottle and not gone inside. Maybe it was the fear of another blazing row or perhaps it was the worry that pretty much all the things his wife complained about these days he knew he was guilty of that made his mind up, but whatever it was he had sat there in the darkness of the early morning and done nothing. Eventually, at half past four, he had turned the key and driven away, falling asleep in the car while parked in the police station's car park.

Did his tiredness play any part in his interview with Sue Fletcher going so badly? He knows it is hard to say if it was his lack of sleep or his anger at the lack of impact her husband’s conviction appeared to have had on her which got his back up so badly, but from the moment he saw the large house and the expensive black Mercedes in the driveway George had felt a rage building up inside of himself.

'I told the others yesterday I don’t know anything about who stayed in the home before my husband went to jail, nor have I not spoken to my husband for several months and I no longer care about him or any developments in his case' she had said while trying to close the door.

With one hand holding the door open he had almost shouted at her 'You don't care that he now claims to be innocent?' his voice filled with contempt before watching in shock as she brushed his arm from the door before slamming it in his face.

He couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this morning and the day that would forever change his life. Just like that day, he had left the Fletchers yard and slammed his car door behind him. Then, like this morning he had hammered his hand on the steering wheel and let out an angry flow of curses before struggling to see what to do next.

After the anger lifted he had driven away from Sue Fletcher's home and made his way back to the station to prepare for the next interview. He had reasoned that if Sue Fletcher knew anything or understood the riddle behind her husband’s words he would be back and next time he would make damn sure she had no option but to talk to him. If only he had taken this course of action last time. If only he had given himself time to breathe and allowed the clouds to clear from his mind. If he had he knows there is a good chance that he wouldn’t have broken into the garage and whatever link Lenny Fletcher seemed to think the two had maybe wouldn’t even exist.

Seven Years Ago

‘It’s that bloody detective again!’ Sue Fletcher says to her husband while peering around the curtain and staring at the two men on her doorstep. Gently Lenny folds the newspaper he was enjoying and straightens his tie ‘my friend George or that little fat one’ he asks while making his way towards the front door.

‘Both’ Sue says while following her husband into the hallway. ‘Oh good’ Lenny says a mischievous smile appearing on his thin lips. ‘Please Lenny’ Sue says while reaching out and gently grabbing a hold of his cardigan covered wrist ‘don’t wind him up today…just tell him the truth’ she says the expression of worry on her face seemingly a constant thing these days.

‘I will do no such thing’ Lenny confidently says, his smile growing when he hears the officers knock on the door again. ‘People would get hurt Sue. I have done nothing wrong and these buffoons can waste as much time as they like asking me their questions. Innocence is the only defence I need’ he confidently says before reaching out and opening the door. As he greets the two visitors and the three men make their way into the recently decorated living room Sue Fletcher, as she has done on almost all the police visits to her home, hurriedly makes her way past the stairs which lead to the basement before climbing the carpeted staircase and entering the master bedroom.

‘Gentlemen’ Lenny says as Detective Parker and Detective Inspector Shaun Evans make their way into the living room and take a seat on the black leather sofa by the large white window ‘it really has been too long, I mean it must be a day or two since you last turned up, uninvited, to my home. May I offer you a drink.’

On the ride over Shaun, the more senior and experienced of the two officers had spent most of the drive pleading with his young colleague to keep his cool. ‘We are going out on a limb here as it is’ Shaun had said ‘if it wasn’t for the fact that he spoke to Emily two days before she disappeared there is no way the chief would have let us come back out here and have another go at him’.

It was, he knew, all for nothing. There was something about Doctor Fletcher which seemed to get under his partner’s skin. They both believe him to have something to hide, some secret that he is refusing to share and both believe that if and when he does it will have some bearing on the missing girl's case. However, the two have very different outlooks when it comes to the man’s overall guilt. Right from the start of this investigation, the doctor's name seemed to be constantly mentioned.  ‘Look’ Shaun had shouted at George a few days ago, ‘I want it to be him as well. I want it to be him and I want us to be able to prove it but you must face facts we have nothing on him. If he wasn’t the girl's doctor, we wouldn’t even be looking at him’ he had said before slumping down into his chair and starting to play with the cheap biro on his desk.

‘But he is their doctor’ George had shot back. ‘He saw all four of the girls a week or so before they went missing, he refuses to tell us where he was on the nights they went missing and he treats every interview like a fucking game’ he continued while rising to his feet, his entire face taking on a bright red complexion. ‘Why can’t you all see it’ he said while waving his hand across the office and pointing at all his work colleagues. ‘He is taking these girls, he is killing them and he is fucking laughing at us as he does it!’ George had shouted before storming out of the office, out of the station and ending up in the car park opposite with his head resting on the roof of his car.

Two minutes later Shaun had appeared and gently placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘You have to let this go, George. You know the same as I do we don’t chase people, we chase evidence. You are not doing yourself or Emily any favours losing it like that. Come on, let’s go for a ride’ Shaun said while gently taking the car keys from his friend’s hand and opening the car door.

Not for the first time, the entire forty-minute car ride had turned into a brainstorming session. Repeatedly the pair spoke through what they knew, what they believed and what they needed to do next. Both had been careful to avoid using the doctor's name but both knew that while Shaun’s ideas were targeted at tracking down a mystery killer George was still hell bent on proving Doctor Fletcher’s guilt.

It is why as he sits in this horrific black leather seat that Shaun jumps right in and fills the gap the doctor purposely leaves at the end of his sentence. He had seen the fury in Georges' eyes at the mention of the last interview so decided to take the sting out of the situation by taking the lead. ‘We do apologise for any inconvenience our visit has caused you, Doctor, however with three girls dead and another missing you will understand why your convenience is not much of a concern of ours’

With a nod of his head, Lenny Fletcher acknowledges the police officer’s words without saying anything back. Slowly he makes his way towards the large desk that sits in the corner of the room and takes a seat behind it.

‘Well I guess we are not bothering with the pleasantries this time officer’ he says with the smirk still on his face. ‘So please tell me why are you and my favourite detective wasting your time in my humble home when there is apparently a killer on the lose?’

'Is that what you think this is Doctor, us wasting our time?' Shaun asks while keeping an eye on his partner.

'Well, what else would you call it?' Lenny confidently asks 'Four young girls have died and all you two ever seem able to do is come to my house or my office and waste time by asking me questions. I mean if that isn’t wasting time I don't know what is' 

Having sat perfectly still and remained silent so far, it is a shock to both his fellow officer and the Doctor when George Parker springs to his feet and marches towards the doctor. Stopping in front of his desk he leans down onto the wood, palm first and with his voice barely above a whisper says 'do you know how we catch most of the bad guy’s doc? It isn’t like it is on the TV or the books people read, we don't normally find some missing piece of evidence and dash off to chase the killer. I mean that would be much more fun but in reality, it doesn’t happen like that. No in the real world we either get lucky or the bad guy makes a mistake. Now tell me something doctor was your declaration that Emily Royle is dead us getting lucky or you making a fucking big mistake?'

'Oh, please detective' Lenny says while taking out the pipe he keeps in the top drawer of his desk. 'After all this time, have you not realised yet that your chest pumping and low talking has no impact on me'. Lighting the pipe and twirling a little in his chair Lenny Fletcher gave off the outward appearance of not having a care in the world.  His stomach may feel like it is doing summersaults and he may be secretly cursing himself at the silly and potentially dangerous slip his overconfidence has caused him to make but to the detectives at least he was still the cocky, arrogant man they have come to despise.

He was still in control.

It helped his cause no end that his words have prompted the rash and seemingly impulsive younger detective to spring into action. Most of Lenny’s confidence in avoiding detection in all of this stems from his belief that he can run rings around the uneducated and in many ways vulgar man leaning on his desk. The older officer was more of a problem to him. Shaun, he believes his name to be, or DI Evans as he insisted he be called during these little get together’s was far more of a dangerous opponent. He was calmer, cooler and altogether more complete than Parker. Not once had he reacted to any of the doctor’s little jabs and flippant comments. Just last night Lenny had written in his diary that if he had to ask for a detective to solve a crime for him he would pick the determined and focused Evans, but if, like he is right now, he had to pick one to avoid detection from he would take Parker any day.

‘You think this is all a fucking joke, don’t you?’ George asked with his temper starting to get the better of him. He was in the zone now, so focused on the man he was certain had taken these girls that he failed to notice his partner walk towards him. It is only when Shaun gently placed his hand on his forearm that he both notices his presence and slowly pushes himself off from the desk.

‘I really don’t know how many more times we are going to have to dance this little dance’ Lenny says unable to hide his amusement at the senior detective retaking control. ‘Let me see if I can remember how this goes…first, you will ask me where I was when the girls disappeared, I will refuse to tell you. I believe from there we will move on to why I won’t tell you, a second, more serious attempt to threaten me into providing you with an alibi and then ultimately a few more threats and some very manly chest beating before you both walk out of here with your tails between your legs with nothing more than my time being wasted to show for your efforts.’

Out of the corner of his eye, Fletcher can see the anger on both detectives faces. Yet for the first time since this intrusive harassment begun, he no longer gains any real pleasure from it.

‘You evil piec…’ he hears George shout before watching DI Evans grab him by the shoulders and whisper ‘calm down!’ at him.

‘Evil, no, no Detective Parker I am not evil, however, what I am is bored. So far, I have answered your questions and put up with your many, many visits without complaint. Today, however, is the final straw. Either arrest me or get out of my house. I can do no more to help you officers’ he says while twirling around in his chair and gazing out of the window and watching in shock the image of his wife making her way across the lawn, walking in the direction of the large gates at the bottom of the drive.

‘Well you could let us look around your house’ DI Evans says to the back of the man’s head. I mean if you have nothing to hide and me and my partner are wrong you could always let us take a look around.’

With a sigh, Lenny Fletcher rises to his feet and walks towards the two detectives. He is shaking his head as he reaches the door before, in one quick motion, opening it and gesturing with his left hand. ‘If that is what it will take to be done with the awful business then gentlemen be my guest’ he says before returning to his desk.

For the next hour, George and Shaun work as hard as either can remember going from room to room desperately trying to find something that linked the doctor to the murders. Eventually, the pair come to a halt in the large kitchen area, their bodies aching and their minds frustrated at their lack of progress. ‘One more room to go old timer’ George says to his partner before making his way towards the kitchen door.

‘Excuse me officer but where do you think you are going’ Lenny says from his position in the kitchen doorway.

‘To check the garage, you did say we could look around’

‘Tut-tut officer, I said you could search the house, I made no mention of the garage or my garden’

With his hand on the steel handle, George Parker rests his head against the cold glass in the door frame. ‘She is in the garage isn’t she Doctor’ he says in a voice that is barely above a whisper. ‘Emily is in the garage isn’t she’ he shouts while turning to face him.

‘Oh, for God’s sake you really don’t give up, do you? Well enough is enough I really must ask you to leave. If you want to search any more of my home or my land, please return with the warrant that we all know you can’t convince a judge to give you’

In temper, George Parker swipes his hand across the kitchen table knocking the cups and papers onto the tiled floor. In a flash, his partner grabs a hold of him and frog marches him down the hallway and out of the front door. ‘I will nail you for this’ he is shouting ‘I know now. I know where she is Doctor and I won’t stop until the world sees you for what you are’ he declares while Lenny slams the door in his face.

Two minutes later both men are sat in the car at the end of the driveway and the air is turning blue. ‘Now do you believe me!’ George shouts in desperation at his partner ‘I am telling you, Shaun, she is in that fucking garage and if we don’t move quickly the bastard is going to beat her, kill her and dump her like the others!’

‘Get out of the car’ Shaun Evans says to his young partner before leaning over and opening the door.

‘You don’t believe me, do you? Even after all of this you still don’t believe me!’

‘I DON’T KNOW OK!’ Shaun shouts at him. ‘I am not like you, I don’t go off gut instinct I go off evidence and fact. Now please get out of my car and don’t let that damn garage out of your sight’ he orders.

Slowly George exits the car before leaning back in and asking what is going on.

‘I don’t know if Emily Royle is in that garage, but I know that I won’t be able to live with myself if she is. So, you keep watch while I go and get us that damn warrant’ he replies before closing the door and quickly driving away.

For the next hour and a half, George stands firm and keeps a watch on the garage. It is only the sound of his Nokia ringing that makes him take his eyes away from the grey concrete tomb.

‘Go home Inspector Parker’ his boss says into the phone the second he answers. ‘There will be no warrant and I want you in my office first thing to discuss your behaviour today’ he says before ending the call. For ten seconds George stands still with his fingers tightly gripping the phone. ‘Go home’ he says into the silent street ‘not a fucking chance’ he declares before pushing a few buttons on his phone his eyes never once leaving his target.

Four Hours Later

Any movement’ George asks his wife. ‘No, nothing’ she replies her eyes dark with worry. ‘Can we go home now please’ she asks her husband her green eyes giving away just how concerned she is at his current mental state. Over the past few weeks, his entire demeanour has changed. Her loving and fun husband has been replaced by a tired and irritable man who, no matter how much she pleaded with him, couldn’t let this case go. It had not come as a shock to her when four hours ago, her husband had rung her and pleaded with her to drive their car over to the doctor’s house. As she wrote down the address her hands had been shaking, but despite her pleading, she knew that George was not going to change his mind.

For two hours, the pair had sat next to each other and watched the garage in virtual silence. They watched as the sun went down and the grey bricks appeared to turn to black. ‘She is in there’ he had said almost as much to himself as to her. ‘I know she is in there’ and then nothing. Just silence for the next two hours. On a few occasions, she had tried to convince him to give this up and for them to go home, but the look on his face had let her know that it was pointless.

The silence was broken a few seconds ago, when, without warning, George opened the door and climbed out. Reaching back in he gently kissed his wife on the forehead and thanked her for waiting with him. ‘Drive down the street and park up babe’ he had ordered. ‘If I am not back in half an hour drive home and wait for me there. Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone about any of this’ he says before slamming the car door and jogging down the street.

As Linda Parker drives away from the home The Sheep quickly jogs past the car before turning into the driveway and almost running towards the front door. Quickly the key is turned in the door and The Sheep enters the house and stands perfectly still in the darkness of the hallway. It has been a long and tiring afternoon and ever since leaving this house a few hours ago, everything seems to have gone wrong.

Taking the steps two at a time The Sheep almost runs up the staircase and doesn’t bother to knock before opening the door to Dr Fletcher’s study.

Standing by the bookcase with a medical textbook in his hand Lenny is shocked at the appearance of the person standing before him. ‘What on earth has happened to you?’ he asks while quickly walking towards the person and gently taking a hold of the bleeding forearm.

‘Something… something bad has happened’ The Sheep says while pulling the arm away. ‘Everything has gone wrong… there is no way out now. They will come for me. Oh, God, they are going to come for me! That bitch has ruined everything’

Dr Lenny Fletcher is a man who likes to be in control of every situation. His life is run based on order and things running exactly how they should. In his medical career, he failed as a registrar at the local hospital due in no small part to his inability to deal with sudden change. He had been able to handle the cases where a long-term illness eventually took the life of a patient but never could he accept the cases that changed so suddenly it was impossible to save someone. His breakdown after a young lady who he was certain was on the mend suddenly passed away due to unforeseen complications had led him to become both a GP and a pillar of the local community.

It is this control that allows him to plot and always keep one step ahead of the people he is deceiving. Take tonight, for instance, his wife, Sue has been packed off to the theatre to see the latest production of some dreadful Shakespeare play. Her absence leaves him free to pop into the garage, pick up his prepacked rucksack and head out towards his mistress Kathleen Sears. For the past year, he has managed to manipulate his wife and any other guests in this house to be well out of the way during his visits to his Kathleen.

Yet now, standing in front of him and taking in riddles is someone, who is not just making a mess of his plans but who is giving the doctor a very worried feeling. ‘Who has ruined everything? Please calm yourself down and try and explain to me what is going on’

But The Sheep is not in the mood to calm down. Walking around the room while holding onto the small plastic bag which contains some of The Sheep’s treasured possession the doctor’s words have little or no effect on the troubled guest. ‘You don’t listen. No one listens. When I am like this I am a nothing, a person to be ignored. Even when I am at my most dominant she didn’t listen. She didn’t just do as she was told. No, she had to run at me... To attack me.’ In a sudden movement, The Sheep drops down to his knees and lets out a primitive howl that sounded like it could awaken the dead before bursting into tears. Over and over again the sheep says into the mirror opposite ‘It is all ruined. Everything is ruined’

With a glance at his watch, Doctor Fletcher finally loses patience with the performance going on in front of his eyes. Aggressively he slams the medical textbook down before storming over and grabbing The Sheep, hard, by the shoulders. ‘I don’t have time for any more of your nonsense’ he says while shaking The Sheep’s thin shoulders. ‘Either tell me who has upset you or get out of this house and do not return until you are more in control of your emotions!’

Whatever words the Sheep says are lost on Dr Fletcher as out of the corner of his eye he spots someone running across his large back yard. A smile breaks out on his face as the man looks up at the house and he instantly recognises the gentleman as his old friend officer Parker. Letting go of The Sheep’s arms the doctor is just about to make his way down the stairs and out into the yard when The Sheep says the words that will forever alter his life.

Unable at first to comprehend what his guest has just said Lenny slowly lowers himself down to his knees and makes direct eye contact. ‘What did you just say?’ he asks, his entire body dreading the answer that might come back.

‘I told you... she has ruined everything. They are going to come and get me now, aren’t they?’

‘No, before that, what did you say before that?’

‘Emily Royle… she cut me. She has my DNA, she will never be one of my special girls now… she has ruined everything!’

Reaching forward and wrapping his hands around The Sheep’s shaking body the doctor quietly rubs his long fingers through the thinning hair and whispers into the left ear. ‘Calm down. You are safe now. Why don’t you tell me all about it?’

‘Fuck sake!’ George Parker whispers into the cold night air. His suit, a present from his Mother last Christmas, is now ripped down the left leg and the cold metal bar used as a fence by Dr Lenny Fletcher and his neighbour has taken a chunk of both the cotton trousers and his skin. Looking around he notices a light on in one of the upstairs rooms, the study if his memory of this afternoon's search was right, but no obvious signs of life. ‘Well I’ve come this far’ he says into the darkness before turning his coat collar up and quickly running across the recently cut garden. His heart is in his mouth when he takes a hold of the small silver handle that stands between him and entry to the garage but his luck is in and the side door swings open allowing him to quickly duck inside.

Standing perfectly still he shouts out ‘Emily’ two or three times his confidence sinking with each silent response. Looking around the large empty space his heart sinks as the realisation that he was wrong hits him right between the eyes. For the next five or ten minutes, he makes a token gesture of looking around the pitch-black garage but other than a few bikes, a few old children’s toys and the doctors gardening equipment the place is virtually empty. There is no pit with a young girl hidden in, no blood stains on the floor and nothing that can be used to prove the doctor's guilt.

Dejected George slumps down to the floor, and with his back resting against the wall looks up at the ceiling. For the next half-an-hour, George Parker does nothing but think about the case, the doctor, the dead girls and Emily Royle. Over and over again he asks himself if he has got this wrong? Has his obsession with the doctor allowed him to not look at other suspects? Has it clouded his judgement and forced him to potentially dismiss something important just because it didn’t fit into his already decided set of facts?

His head is in a scramble when he does climb to his feet and exit the garage. Looking at the garden in front of him and then turning to look up at the three-story home he decides to not bother with the fence this time. It doesn’t matter anymore that the neighbours holiday would provide him with the perfect cover should he decide to jump over the fence. What is the point in hiding? Instead, George quietly makes his way towards the house and walks down the long driveway. It is a long walk from the doctors to his home but with his faith shaken and his head cluttered George hopes it will at least give him the chance to think straight and hopefully allow things to start to look clearer.

Inside the house, The Sheep and the doctor have made their way out of the study and into one of the three empty bedrooms on the second floor. With The Sheep resting on the small single bed and the doctor sitting close by every detail of the kidnaps and murders of Bridget McCartney, Candy Clarke and Kimberly O’Grady and the attempted escape by Emily Royle have been laid out for his shocked ears. Other than a few seconds when the doctor spotted George exiting the garage and was puzzled by the expression on the naughty detective’s face, Lenny Fletcher has done nothing but listen to this person he now knows to go by the name of The Sheep. Lenny couldn’t hide the look of repulsion on his face as he looked through the small bag and flicked through the poorly developed pictures and various pieces of equipment his visitor had collected.

Holding The Sheep mask in his hand he turns to look at his guest and with tears in his eyes asks why this is going on.

Sitting up on the bed and looking the Doctor dead in the eyes a twisted smile appears on The Sheep’s lips. ‘You must see I have become a great artist. You may be a doctor but I, I am a visionary. I take these worthless, homewrecking tramps and I turn them into great art. I transform them from worthless to valuable. These girls use their good looks and their beauty to trap good men and ruin their lives. I beat the smiles from their worthless faces and leave them battered and bruised before I make something of them. You must see…I save these girls.’

‘This is all my fault’ Lenny says while closing his eyes and fighting back the tears. ‘I need you to do something for me, and it is incredibly important that you do as I say’ he says to his guest while trying to keep the worry from his voice. ‘I need you to go back to your house and pick up anything that connects you to the girls. I need you to make sure that the grave Emily is in is well covered and then I need you to come back here with a change of clothes, your passport and all the money you can lay your hands on’

‘Why do I need my passport?’ The Sheep asks his face twisted with confusion.

‘I caused this problem, I helped make you what you are and I am going to pay for that but in order for that to happen I need you to be as far away as possible for a couple of weeks.’

‘But where will I go?’

‘I don’t care and neither should you. The only thing that matters is that you do not end up in jail. Now go… go do as I say and speak to no one until you return here’

An hour or so later The Sheep is standing outside the home of Lenny Fletcher with two suitcases. In one is the few possessions of his artworks that The Sheep is willing to give up and in the other, buried underneath the clothes are the pictures and notebooks that The Sheep just can’t be apart from. This time The Sheep does not even make it inside the house, instead, Lenny opens the front door and walks down the three steps. ‘Follow me’ he says over his shoulder while leading The Sheep inside his garage.

‘Put the things over there’ he instructs before standing in front of the door and blocking The Sheep’s escape. ‘I am going to go away for a long, long time for you’ Dr Fletcher says his voice stern and threatening ‘but there will be conditions to my doing this’

When The Sheep doesn’t reply Lenny walks towards him and grabs a hold of the gloved hands. ‘This has to stop. All the killing, the suffering... It must stop. I will give up my freedom for you. I will let the entire world think that I did these things but only if I know that it is keeping you safe. I want you to promise me right now that this ends here. Swear to me that you will come and visit me every month in jail and allow me to help you stay away from these crimes or this deal is off’

‘I promise’ The Sheep says while looking deep into the doctor’s eyes. ‘I promise I will never do any of this again.’

‘Then go’ the doctor orders. ‘Get out of here and do not come back. On your way to the airport phone the police station and inform them that when cutting my grass yesterday you noticed a bag containing the girl’s things. Tell them the bag scared you but after thinking about it, you knew you had to call it in. The moment they start asking who you are, hang up and get as far away from the phone box as you can.’

‘You want me to pretend to be a gardener?’ The Sheep asks

‘No I want you to make sure they come and find this stuff now for the last time GO!’

As he watches The Sheep walk past him and hurry down the driveway Lenny Fletcher slides down against the same wall Detective Parker had just a few hours earlier. Now alone, and awfully afraid he does his best to fight back the tears he can feel building up inside of himself. No, no there isn’t time for that. Instead, he makes his way back into the home and using the cheap pay as you go phone he always does he places a call to his mistress. A lump appears in his throat when he hears her sweet voice for what he is sure will be the last time ‘Kathleen’ he says while trying to regain his composure ‘you are going to hear some dreadful things about me’ he says his voice shaking with emotion. ‘I want you to know that all of the crimes I am going to be charged with took place on evenings that we spent together. I am not going to contest the charges and I will not mention your name, my darling. Please lose this number and forget that we ever met’ he says before hanging up and slumping down onto the table, large sobs leaving his body with so much force his entire body shakes.


Present Day

I remember you from the first-time round’ Gemma McGregor says to DI Parker as he takes a seat on her comfortable sofa. ‘Yes, for my sins I just can’t seem to get rid of Dr bloody Fletcher’ George says trying to keep the mood light. From his notes that he had read this afternoon he has managed to rebuild his memory of Gemma and remind himself of her views during the first investigation. She was, and he suspects still is, fiercely loyal to her old boss. At a time of great stress in her life, the loss of her first child, Doctor Fletcher had provided her with tremendous support and when she felt up to it a job working as his personal secretary at the surgery. There are a few scribbled notes in the old file about rumours of an affair but George is certain they are nothing more than gossip.

‘Do you still have any contact with the Doctor?’ George asks while taking a sip of the strong coffee he had gladly accepted when offered. ‘I went to visit him once but after that, he ordered me to move on and to go find happiness. I didn’t want to abandon him and leave him in there. Hell, the idea of him locked up with killers made my skin crawl, but Doctor Fletcher is not someone to argue with. He told me to move on, and move on I did.’

‘I understand Gemma’ George says trying to reassure her. ‘Do you remember at the time you told me that you were certain that he didn’t commit these crimes. We were in the doctor’s office and you shouted at me and my partner telling us to leave him alone. Why were you so sure Gemma? What made you believe in him so strongly?’

‘It doesn’t matter now’ Gemma says while straightening the hem on her long white skirt. ‘He pleaded guilty and is in jail, why does any of this matter anymore?’

Leaning forward in his chair and placing the white cup on the coffee table in front of him George makes eye contact with Gemma before telling her of the doctor’s recent change of heart. ‘Not only does he now say he didn’t do it, but I believe him, Gemma. No one else does, it is down to me to help him so if there is anything, any small detail that you believe can help him I am begging you to tell me.’

George had deliberately left out any mention of the new murders. From his dealings with Gemma in the past and already from observing her behaviour this afternoon he knows she is a delicate and emotional woman, adding extra pressure to her shoulders he decided was not the way to get her to open up to him.

Gemma plays with the chain that hangs from her neck while considering what to say to the older, greyer but still handsome policeman in her home. ‘He told me to never say anything to anyone…he made me promise’. When DI Parker doesn’t reply and instead allows the silence to linger Gemma keeps talking ‘but if he wants to get out and I can help, I should tell you, shouldn’t I?’ she asks while looking at him with her big blue eyes.

‘Gemma, if you can help the doctor I need you to forget about some seven-year-old promise and just tell me. I promise you I will only use any information you give me if I need to, to help the doctor.’

Standing up and walking towards the filing cabinet in the corner of the room Gemma twists the key in the top drawer before opening it and removing a folder. Without speaking she walks back to her seat and sits down before gently flicking through the papers inside. Eventually, she stumbles across the one she is looking for and pulls it out, laying it on the coffee table that separates the two of them.

‘There’ she says with a satisfied smile on her face ‘that is a copy of the diary he refused to let you see all those years ago. As you can now see Officer he couldn’t possibly have taken the girls on the nights they disappeared unless he took his mistress with him that is.’

For a few seconds, George reads in silence before rising to his feet, the paper dangling from his left hand. ‘You mean to tell me that he had an alibi and you, this Kathleen woman and him have kept quiet all of these years? Why would any of you do that?’ he demanded more than asked.

‘I did it for Doctor Fletcher, now if you don’t mind I would like you to leave officer’

Walking to the door George stops dead in his tracks and turns to face the crying women who now looks very uncomfortable despite being in her own house. ‘Do you know who killed those girls?’ he asks while folding the paper and placing it in his pocket. ‘Tell me, Gemma, are you helping the doctor cover up for this monster?’

From her seat, Gemma looks up from the carpeted floor and the anger on her face is easy to read. ‘No!’ she shouts back. ‘No I do not but I do know one thing Doctor Lenny Fletcher would never hurt anyone, now please get out of my house’

Just an hour later George Parker pulls his car up outside the address the police have for Kathleen Sears. As he looks up at the small cottage that is located on the outskirts of Leeds he can’t help but shudder at that thought that he is close now. Stepping out of the car and making his way to the door George is convinced that soon, very soon he will be able to stop this killer before they strike again.

Meanwhile, across town, Maggie Jones is sitting in the cold dark basement shivering. Her captor, the freak in the mask, is upstairs stomping around. She knows this because for the first time since it kidnapped her earlier this week she has been able to hear his movements clearly. For the past three days, everything has been silent down in the basement until the door opened and the Sheep mask appeared ready to photograph her and touch her gently. It is utterly terrifying to her why it doesn’t speak or ask her for anything other than her choice of meal. This morning, however, she had been jolted awake by the sound of a large crash above her head.

Alone and afraid she had crawled into the furthest corner and sucked on her thumb as the bangs and crashes continued for what felt like forever. She was certain that the sheep thing was going to appear at any minute, that once the crashes stopped it would be ready to hurt her or worse but she was wrong. Instead when it did appear her captor ignored her completely. She had screamed when she caught a glimpse of the hammer in the black gloved hand, certain that this was the time her sick captor killed her. Yet The Sheep had instead simply nailed a piece of paper onto a wooden board and then placed it, out her reach, on the floor by the stairs. For a brief second, she thought that it had looked at her but if it did it didn’t react like normal, instead it walked out of the room ignoring her and her screams.

That had been about an hour ago and now while Maggie does her best to decipher the bangs and crashes above, a cold shiver passes through her body and the tears that have flown down her face almost constantly these past few days return. One final crash above makes her yelp out in fear and she turns her head against the wall. Whatever the hell is going on above she no longer wants to know. She doesn’t care if the sick freak is hurting himself or smashing up the building above her. She just wants to go home. She wants to be back at her Mum and Dads house having a long soak in a lovely bath while her mum cooks her tea. Closing her eyes, she remembers vividly the last time she went around to her parents and the memory fills her cold body with a moment's joy. In the now silent basement, Maggie Jones wraps her arms around her stomach and enjoys the memory of her mother playing with her hair and the family enjoying rubbish Saturday night television. If she had known then, that she would never see them again she would have spent longer hugging her mother and accepted her dad's offer of a lift home. As it hits home again, that she will never see her parents again Maggie lets out a pained cry, made worse when she opens her eyes and sees once again the darkness and hell that she will call home until the freak above her decides to kill her.

‘JUST LET ME OUT!’ she screams into the darkness ‘PLEASE, I’LL DO WHATEVER YOU WANT ME TO DO… PLEASE, I JUST WANT TO GO HOME…. I WANT TO SEE MY MUM’ she cries before pulling on her chains and battling with all of her might, to break free.

As Maggie comes to terms with how useless her struggles are, George Parker stumbles out of Kathleen Sears house his mind and his body tired, confused and struggling. His legs are so weak that he needs to use the open door frame to hold himself upright.

‘You are sure about this, aren’t you?’ he asks Kathleen for the third time in the past ten minutes.

‘Yes, officer I am very sure’ she says while looking out at the cold night.

‘All these years… I never even knew…. You do know what this means don’t you?’

‘To be honest no, I don’t really see what bearing it can possibly have on your investigation?’

Pushing himself away from the wall Parker takes out his mobile phone while maintaining eye contact with Kathleen. ‘Did you read in the papers about a body discovered a few days ago?’ he asks her while fiddling with the buttons on his phone.

‘No officer, I do not read the papers’

Shaking his head George could almost cry at the number of circumstances which have led to this entire thing being possible, the biggest of course been his own failure to look into things properly seven years ago, ‘Of course you don’t’ he says with the phone pressed to his ear. ‘If you did you would know that the body belonged to Emily Royle, the fourth victim of this bastard. You might also have noticed that she was found in the garden of 187 Sanderson Drive, the very address you would have your dirty little sessions with Doctor Fletcher and the address you have just told me the missing link in this whole fucking case lived at!’ before she can reply the ringing phone is answered by DI Flint and his cheerful cockney voice booms into Georges' ear. ‘How is the digging going buddy?’ turning away from Kathleen and walking towards his car Parker speaks quickly and with a tone that leaves his London friend in no doubt at the seriousness of his message. ‘Listen to me Stuart I need you to track someone down for me’

‘I am a little busy here pal’

‘I know you are Stu, but if I am right I think I know who the doctor is covering for…I know who is killing all of the girls…………’

I hope you have enjoyed the story so far. Part four will be released on Sunday 16th April 2017 exclusively on my Author Facebook page ( to receive this and find out who The Sheep is and if George has finally got it right click the link, like the page and enjoy more FREE stories, a blog and news updates about my upcoming book ‘Obsession… You Will Always Be Mine’.


© Copyright 2020 Paul Phillips. All rights reserved.

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