Juggernaut chapter 2

 

Carrying on from the first chapter this is very much a work in progress. At the time of writing I haven't a clue where its going to go, although one idea is to make it a sequel to a novel which I have just finished writing. Whether I do or not, time will tell. Once again this is more or less first draft as it came out of my head and is miles away from the finished article.

Chapter 2

Casey woke to the unfamiliar sound of heavy rain drumming on her car roof. She groaned and looked at her watch. Then groaned again. She’d only been asleep for twenty minutes which wasn’t surprising given the horrific events of the previous night. Her first thought had been to drive straight to her lovers house in Richmond, her sixth sense which for the last twenty four years had served her so well told her otherwise and instead of crossing onto the south side of the Thames she'd hidden herself away in a corner of an industrial estate in Brentford.

           She couldn't stay here for ever though. People were already starting to arrive for work and eyeing her with some suspicion. None more than the driver of a yellow skip lorry who'd made a deliberate point of slowing down and creeping by. She glanced around her surroundings which were becoming more visible as dawn gradually broke. To her right was  a scrap yard which euphemistically called itself a reclamation centre. To her left was a yard full of bright orange vans belonging to a nationwide parcels company. Not the sort of place where you would expect to see a tall blonde in a privately registered Range Rover.

            Bloody hell Casey, what have you got yourself into...?

It had seemed like a good idea to take a picture of her cheating husband using the wall mounted mirror and would have been if she’d had the forethought to disable her flash. As it was the image which could both cost and save her life was only half legible. Her husband, Sir George Welton, was obscured from the waist up and largely unidentifiable if it hadn’t been for the distinctive birth mark on his right hip. It was a similar story with Shanice who was turning away from the camera in a desperate bid to avoid George’s knife wielding hand.

The only saving grace was George didn’t know the photograph was less than perfect. He might suspect, but there would always be that element of doubt and for that reason the photograph was priceless. Whether Casey used it as a bargaining chip or handed it over to the Police she didn’t know. What she did know was George had the means to buy the best legal team money could buy. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t done it before. Forty years ago when he’d been studying at Oxford he’d been implicated in the disappearance of another young girl. Something he’d always vehemently denied.

Casey had known about this stain on Sir George’s otherwise unblemished character from the very beginning. Had it unnerved or deterred her when she’d read how a twenty-two-year-old night club hostess was last seen getting in the back of a taxi with George Welton never to be seen again? Initially maybe, although any reticence was quickly dispelled when she’d found a billion or so other reasons why she should put it to the back of her mind. It wasn’t in the back of her mind now, far from it. Nor were the threats and bone chilling taunts he’d made when she’d fled from the scene of the crime. His crime…

            What troubled her most, was she’d heard Sir George boast on more than one occasion how the 1984 court case against him collapsed on the first day. Chillingly she’d also heard him boast how he’d seen to it the investigating Police officer lost his job. Something which wasn’t lost on her and was the main reason why she’d hadn’t gone straight to the Police. When she’d sped away from Sandsworth Hall she’d fully expected to see a host of blue lights heading in the opposite direction. The live-in staff couldn’t have failed to hear Shanice’s scream of mortal terror. Surely one of them dialed 999, or at least went to investigate. There were no blue lights though, not one which to Casey was frightening beyond words.

            With her ever increasing paranoia gnawing away at her she checked the news bulletins on both the national and local radio stations. Every one of them was headlining with the two-day old story concerning a leading politician and his secretary. It was the same with the major news channels when she flicked through them on her phone. A cold chill ran down her spine. It had been six hours now since Shanice had been murdered, word should have got out. Between the butlers and the maids there were a dozen staff living on the upper floor of Sandsworth House. One of them would have let something slip.

            Janice Hunter’s Twitter feed, check Janice Hunters Twitter feed…  Casey quickly brought up her own twitter feed. It wasn’t in her own name of course having been specifically created so she could snoop on those members of staff who were on social media and find out what they really thought of her. One such staff member was Janice Hunter who most mornings tweeted a picture showing the sun coming up over the Sandsworth estate. Surely this morning there wouldn’t be a picture. Or if there was it would show a mass of police vehicles congregated in front of the big house.

            It only took Casey a matter of seconds to pull up Janice’s Twitter page and what she saw made her recoil back in her seat in horror. She could never have imagined a photograph of the early morning sun rising over the scattered Oaks of the Sandsworth deer park to be so terrifying. Underneath it was the caption “How can you not be glad to be alive on days like these.” It was as if nothing had happened. What made it even more terrifying was the fact Janice’s staff accommodation was one of the few which overlooked the front of the house. It would have been impossible for her not to have heard Casey and Sir George screaming at one another, and yet it was just another day….

            Casey was still staring transfixed at the photograph of the Sandsworth estate when it morphed into an all-black screen with the legend George flashing across the middle of it. Her immediate reaction was to red button him, only as much as she didn’t want to talk to him her steely inner resolve told her other wise and she answered the call.

            “Casey?” The voice of a murderer asked. “Talk to me Casey.”

            “About what?”

            “Casey, oh thank God. Where are you?”

             “Nowhere near you.” As if she was ever going to tell him…

            “Look Casey I know what you saw, or what you think you saw, but I can explain.” His tone was completely level-headed, conciliatory almost. Nothing like the death threats he’d hurled at her only hours before.

            “Why don’t you put Shanice on the phone and let her explain? Oh, that’s right you can’t because you fucking killed her.”

            “Don’t go getting clever Case. Like I said it’s not what you think. Come home and let me explain.”

             He must think I’m bloody mad. “Tell me now?”

            “I can’t. Not over the phone.”

            Casey was about to go back at him when she became aware of another faint sound in the background. He wasn’t alone. In her mind’s eye she saw an image of a man hunched over a piece of machinery twiddling knobs and pressing buttons as he tried to trace her call. Once again, her immediate reaction was to thumb the red button and kill the call, only killing the call didn’t buy her time and she needed time.

            “I’m not sure George. Let me think about it… I’ll call you back later.” This time she did red button him before going a step further and turning her phone off altogether. Paranoid or not, phones could be tracked, and she wasn’t taking the risk.

            It was time to move. She needed to lose the Range Rover which was too conspicuous. Half a dozen cars had driven past since the skip wagon crept by and everyone of them had slowed whilst it’s occupants gave her the once over. More than anything though she needed to see Roger, or at the very least hear his voice. Roger would know what to do and would get her out of this mess, only Roger wasn’t answering his bloody phone. Something which never happened. The more she tried, the more paranoid she became as it stood to reason if George was capable of killing Shanice he was also capable of… a shudder of pure dread ran down her spine as once again she heard his voice bellowing from the bedroom window.

“And as for that boyfriend of yours…” Wasn’t that what he’d said. It wasn’t a threat, more a statement of fact. So why did it feel like a threat? She turned her phone back on and called Roger again, willing him to pick up. Just like before the call went straight to voice mail. Hi this is Roger please leave a messa… She didn’t need to hear any more.

            Casey fist met Roger Coombs two years ago at a charity event. If she was being honest, she hadn’t taken to him at first. He might have been tall, dark, and handsome, with an undoubted charisma which would have made him irresistible to most. Not so Casey however, who’d found him to be too pushy, too eager and more than a bit arrogant. To the point where she’d been quite rude and openly blanked him.

            Two months later their paths crossed again in Richmond. This time the venue was a Welton family wedding which as far as Casey was concerned meant she was being forced to spend the day with people who hated her. She’d tried everything bar feigning death to avoid having to go. George was adamant however, and she’d had no choice other than to suck it up and reluctantly accept her fate.

            The church service itself was tolerable. She was sat with George and there was a certain amount of expected decorum. The same couldn’t be said for the reception which was held in an up-market Hotel on the banks of the Thames. Everyone to a man woman and child ignored her. Including her own husband who bolted for the bar with some of his old cronies at the first available opportunity. It was as if Casey had turned into a leper overnight, although she felt sure there were lepers in medieval England who were shunned to a lesser extent than she.

            That little bitch Alicia was there of course, along with her halfwit of a brother James. More than once, Casey caught the pair of them making some whispered comment to one of the guests who would either laugh or register a look of pure disgust before glancing in her direction. After a while Casey sickened of the whole charade and with a glass of wine in hand wandered outside into the sun. There were three full length terraces at the rear of the hotel, each terrace having its own seating area.  The first two were infested with over-spill from the wedding reception who all regarded Casey as if she was something unpleasant they’d just scraped off the bottom of their shoe. She ignored them and carried on to the third where she found a small table tucked away in a corner which as well as being Welton free, had a good view across the river.

            She’d spent the best part of an hour chilling and checking through her social media accounts when a dark shadow fell across her. She peered over the top of her phone to see who had blotted out the sun’s warm rays. Oh, for fucks sake…

            “What’s wrong Casey doesn’t anyone want to talk to you?”

            Casey let out a long-exasperated sigh. “Walk away Alicia while you still can.”

            “No, I think I might stay here. It’s nice in the sun, even if the company is a bit…undesirable shall we say.”

            “I’m not in the mood Alicia, just leave me alone.”

            “Aww poor little Casey.”

            “For God’s sake…Isn’t it about time you kept up the family tradition and went and fucked your brother behind the bike sheds or something,” Casey snarled drawing herself up to her full height and towering over Alicia who suddenly didn’t look as brave as she did a few seconds ago.”

            “Ladies, ladies,” a calming voice interrupted out of nowhere. “It’s a beautiful day there’s no need to go spoiling it.”

            Casey turned to see the interloper was the marketing executive with an overly high opinion of himself she’d blanked a month or so before. Great just what I need…

            “It’s ok, Alicia was just leaving, weren’t you?” Casey said with a patronizing sneer.

            Alicia shot her the blackest of looks before storming off toward the reception party.

            “Friend of yours?”

            “Would you believe stepdaughter?”

            “Oh, so you must be…?”

            “The wicked witch of the West, yeah that’s me.”

            “Really? Where’s the flying monkeys?”

            “I gave them the day off,” Casey laughed.

            “So these seats aren’t taken then?”

            Casey laughed again and shook her head. “No, I’m Billy no mates as far as this lot are concerned.”

            “Their loss,” he replied pulling up a chair and sitting down beside her.”

            Casey felt a bemused smile pulling at the corner of her mouth.  “I don’t know which side of the family are on, but you do realise you’ll be excommunicated if you’re seen with me.”

            “I doubt it. I’m not on any side of the family. I was just passing when I saw you out here all on your own. Thought I would come and say hello.”

            “I’m not sure whether that sounds sad or creepy. Probably both.”

            “It would if we hadn’t already met at the FDF charity ball. Sort of...”

            “You mean when I blanked you?”

            It was Rogers turn to laugh out loud. “Yeah, you did. Which wasn’t very nice.”

            “And what makes you think I won’t this time?”

            He laughed again and made a show of looking at the empty seats around her. “Call it intuition.”

            “I suppose when you put it like that…”

            They’d talked for hours then and despite Rogers inherent arrogance Casey found herself warming to him. At the time she’d thought it a result of being starved of male company for far too long. Or to be more precise male company which originated in the same millennia. There wasn’t much of that back at the open prison otherwise known as Sandsworth Hall that was for sure.

The truth was Roger Coombs had got under her skin and no matter how hard she tried couldn’t get him out of her head and agonized for two long days over getting back in touch. She had his phone number, having swapped details minutes before her husband’s search parties finally sought her out. Go on Case text him you know you want to.

Could she? Should she? She was under no illusion as to her motives and knew she would be risking everything. Her mind was made up when she lay in bed watching her hideous husband undress, more so when he slipped in beside her and she felt his hot, grubby hand on her thigh. The following morning she’d texted Roger with a simple four-word message which irrevocably altered the course of her life. Hi how are you? Four words, that’s all it took to set her down a narrow, dangerous path where one slip would result in an ignominious fate at the hands of her many detractors. A path which was turning out to be far more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

            She parked her Range Rover in a supermarket car park as far away from the main road and prying eyes as was possible. She knew in her heart of hearts she wasn’t coming back for it. No matter what happened. As far as she could see her only two options were to go to the Police or disappear. Either way she was done with Sir George “murdering bastard” Welton. No doubt a parking ticket would eventually drop through the Sandsworth estate office letter box informing him of the car’s whereabouts. By that time she hoped to be long gone.

            Mercifully the evening before Casey had placed her sports bag on the Range Rovers back seat in anticipation of her customary early morning visit to the local gym. Consequently, once she’d found a secluded parking place on the industrial estate, she’d changed into her powder pink Nike track suit and matching trainers. Casey had been going to the gym since she first left school having originally seen it as a means to an end, growing up as she did reading  her mothers glossy magazines which were full of pictures of rich powerful men with beautiful women on their arms. None of whom were the slightest bit overweight.

Over time she’d come to enjoy her daily workouts and on a friends advice taken up running. Something which she thoroughly enjoyed. Three years later running became a means of escape and she found herself jogging around the leafy lanes surrounding Sandsworth Hall. Last year she ran both the London Marathon and the Great North run, running the three or four miles from Brentford to Richmond wasn’t going to present her with much of a problem that was for sure.

            Before she abandoned her pride and joy, she tipped out the contents of her handbag onto the back seat and sorted them into two piles. One contained those items which she deemed essential to her survival. Her phone and bank cards, especially the one in the name of Laura Carlson which would allow access to her secret bank account. These along with the keys to Roger’s flat she put into her bum bag The rest went back into the handbag which she stuffed out of sight in the rear foot well. If George thought she was driving around in her nightdress without a penny to her name, he was sadly mistaken.

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