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Authors: Stephen Booth

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective

Already Dead

BOOK: Already Dead
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About the Author

Stephen Booth is the internationally bestselling, CWA Dagger-winning author of twelve acclaimed thrillers featuring Cooper and Fry. The series is in development as a TV programme. Booth lives in Nottingham.

Also by Stephen Booth

Black Dog

Dancing with the Virgins

Blood on the Tongue

Blind to the Bones

One Last Breath

The Dead Place

Scared to Live

Dying to Sin

The Kill Call

Lost River

The Devil’s Edge

Dead and Buried

COPYRIGHT

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 9781405525121

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 Stephen Booth

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.littlebrown.co.uk

www.hachette.co.uk

Table of Contents

About the Author

Also by Stephen Booth

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Epigraph

Chapter 1: Tuesday

Chapter 2: Wednesday

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9: Thursday

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17: Friday

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26: Saturday

Chapter 27: Sunday

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30: Monday

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35: Tuesday

Chapter 36

For Lesley

Acknowledgements

As usual, the fact that a book has made it to publication is due to the efforts of many people, to whom I’m grateful. But the one person who has been there from the very beginning of the Cooper and Fry series is my agent, Teresa Chris – and to her I owe my thanks many times over.

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
Confucius

1

Tuesday

Glen Turner awoke to a drowned world. His brain felt waterlogged, his skin loose and wrinkled, his body as sodden as if he’d stayed too long in the bath. He was lying on his back, and shivering so uncontrollably that his hands twitched in helpless spasms. An icy chill had spread through his limbs and struck deep into his flesh, knotting his stomach with fear. Things had gone wrong. Very wrong. More badly wrong than they’d ever been in his life.

Turner’s mind churned frantically, flailing for something to cling to, a solid fact that he could recognise as reality. For a while, there seemed to be nothing. Then, with a shock, he realised he was naked.

A flood of panic surged down his spine. Where were his clothes? What had he been doing before he went to sleep? Had he been asleep at all, or was it something else? Had he had an accident? Had he been taken ill? A heart attack? A stroke? Could he be lying in hospital? His memory was totally blank.

Turner tried to force his eyelids open, but they refused to move. He sensed that he was surrounded by darkness and water. An unnatural silence was broken only by a faint pattering, like thousands of tiny feet. And it was
so
wet and dark, and cold. Wet, and dark, like – what? He didn’t know. His mind couldn’t focus enough to come up with any connections, let alone an explanation. The great blank space in his mind terrified him. Not knowing what had happened was more frightening than anything. It made him feel physically sick. His guts heaved, but his muscles cramped and seized rigid, forming a hard ball of pain in the centre of his abdomen.

He really was
so
cold. As cold as stone, and as stiff. He had to do something
now
, or he would die here.

With a great effort, Turner managed to move a hand. It seemed like a huge achievement, with each finger so inflexible that it was reluctant to peel away from the next. Slowly, he slid the hand across his body, finding that his wrist was too weak to lift it clear. He felt it crawl crab-like across his stomach, his muscles twitching as he recoiled from contact with his own skin. His limbs were completely numb. There was no blood circulating into his hand, and he had to push the entire forearm from the elbow, dragging it in a clammy trail across his hip until it dropped down and fell with a splash by his side.

Yes, that was a splash. He heard it clearly. So he really was lying in water. He could feel the liquid movement now, the water surging sluggishly against his shoulders and lapping around his ears, as if his numbed hand had been a fish disturbing the surface of a pond. He wanted to lift those fingers to his face, to feel his eyes and reassure himself they were still there. Why were his eyes still closed? Or were they actually open, and he’d gone blind?

For a few moments, Turner lost all self-control. His chest tightened, and his breath gasped in his throat. A sound came from him – a faint, whimpering croak that he would never have recognised as his own voice.

‘God forgive me, whatever it is I’ve done.’

He said it again, over and over – but only inside his head, where no one but God would ever hear him. He was screaming in the darkness of his own soul, his terrors lashing out blindly inside in his brain.

Blindness was one of Glen Turner’s greatest fears. The dread of being alone in the dark had haunted him since he was a child. He could still remember lying in his bed night after night, crying out for his mother, for light, or just for the sound of another person near him. He couldn’t bear the thought of total darkness, even now. And blindness was surely his ultimate nightmare. It was being alone in the dark for ever.

He began to weep, his tears hot and slow as they slid across his face and dripped soundlessly into the water. They made no difference to his fate. Inch by inch, all around him in the darkness, the water continued to rise.

His paralysed body was trying to respond to the danger. It knew he was about to drown in the rising water, that in the next few minutes it would reach his mouth and cover his face, and that would be the end of him.

Yet Turner’s mind was saying something different. It was sending him the message that he’d drowned hours ago. He could recall the pain in his airways, the gasping for breath, the pounding of his heart. In his memory, he relived the frantic, failing struggle to draw air into his lungs instead of water.

He knew it was impossible, but he remembered it clearly. And that was what bewildered him, the cause of his greatest fear. His brain kept insisting that he was already dead.

With a grunt of discomfort, Charlie Dean straightened his back and glared at his car. The night was as dark as he could wish for. As black as pitch. Night-time was his friend for so many reasons. And one of those reasons was pressing on his mind right now, as he stood by the side of a deserted back road in Derbyshire, with mud splattered on his trousers and the palms of his hands wet and sore from pushing.

Well, at least in the dark no one could see the colour of your car. The torrential rain falling on this part of the Peak District made his BMW gleam like a great, black fish. Charlie wanted to think of his car as a shark. Sleek and powerful, with a grille full of sharp teeth. But right now the shark was beached and helpless. The rear wheels of the vehicle churned uselessly in the mud at the side of the road.

He’d owned the BMW too long, of course. If he’d replaced it with a newer model, he could have had the all-wheel drive version. That would have got him out of the mud, for sure. Right now, though, he was stuck. The front wheels were on the edge of the tarmac, but there was no traction at the back, just his tyres hissing and screaming as they dug themselves deeper into the mire, spraying mud everywhere. Instead of creeping back on to the road, it was in danger of slipping further towards the shallow ditch.

‘What if someone comes? We’re sitting ducks here, Charlie. They’ll see us in their headlights plain as day.’

Dean looked at the woman standing in the roadway. He’d left only his sidelights on, to avoid flattening the battery. But they were good enough to pick out her skinny legs, a bright green skirt turning darker and darker in the rain, a pale face above thin shoulders hunched inside a totally inappropriate woollen jacket. When he’d picked her up earlier in the evening, her hair had been blonde and pushed into eye-catching waves. Now it was lank and sticking to her skull. The result wasn’t very attractive. Not for the first time, he wondered what it was that he’d ever seen in her.

Headlights. Yes, she was right. Anyone could see the colour of his car in the beam of their headlights. And worse – they could make out the number on a licence plate too, unless it was obscured by mud.

Dean made sure the handbrake was on, then walked back to the rear of the car. It wasn’t too bad. No shortage of mud there. He smeared a bit more across the plate, completely obliterating the numbers before the letters TKK. Those two numbers gave away the year the car was registered – narrowed it down to a six-month period, in fact. He didn’t know much about these things, but he imagined having the numbers would make it much easier to trace a vehicle. How many models in the BMW 5 series were registered in the UK in those particular six months? Not many, he supposed. Especially this colour.

‘Don’t worry, Sheena, we’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘There’s no one around at this time of night. We’ll just give it another try.’

Up to now, he’d been doing the pushing, with Sheena at the wheel. But she did have a tendency to press the accelerator pedal too hard. She didn’t seem able to exercise any restraint, no matter how often he shouted instructions at her.

‘Too late, Charlie,’ she said.

He looked up. ‘What?’

‘I said “too late”.’

And she was right. Again.

Dean twisted round when he caught the flash of light in his wing mirror. He couldn’t see the make of the other car as it turned the corner near the woods and came slowly down the road. Its lights were on full beam, and they dazzled him, so that he had to raise a hand to shield his eyes from the glare.

At first he thought the driver was intending to go straight past them, as most people would. Everybody was reluctant to stop and help strangers, especially late at night and in a remote spot like this. You just never knew what might happen, or who you were dealing with.

But the car braked and drew in to the side of the road. Dean found himself praying that the driver wouldn’t be someone he knew. They weren’t all that far from home, just a few miles outside Wirksworth. And so far tonight his luck hadn’t been good. He’d already missed the chance to push Sheena into the ditch and make her hide. They were picked out in those headlights like a pair of sitting ducks.

For a moment, the doors of the car remained closed. Who was sitting in there behind that glare? It wouldn’t be a woman on her own, at least. No solitary female would have stopped in these circumstances. It was much too risky. It would have to be a man, perhaps two or more.

Dean began to get anxious now. He started to calculate what possessions he had on him that might be valuable to robbers – about two hundred pounds in cash, his credit cards, an iPhone, a decent watch. And of course there was the BMW itself. If they could get it out of the mud, they were welcome to it. There was nothing else of any value.

‘Who is it, Charlie?’ asked Sheena plaintively.

‘I’ve no idea. Just keep quiet. Let me do the talking.’

He thought he heard her snort. She had an unappealing little derisive laugh that irritated him sometimes. But perhaps she was just catching a cold standing in the rain. He had a mental image of a sniffling Sheena with a red nose and watering eyes, her bag stuffed with tissues. That would be just great.

As he waited, Dean wiped the rain from his face and pulled up his collar. He was ready to run, if necessary. If there were two or three of them, it would be hopeless trying to resist. He pictured himself racing through the mud and hurling himself across the ditch into the trees, where he could disappear into the dark. They would never pursue him through the woods. He wasn’t worth that much bother. Darkness was definitely his friend.

BOOK: Already Dead
13.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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