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Harris’ phone buzzed as he stepped off the train. His hand dived into his pocket and he retrieved the vibrating phone as he headed smartly up the platform with Parsons following close behind him. At the end of the platform, a group of armed officers waited for them, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible whilst keeping a sharp look out for the two detectives marching towards them.
Harris didn’t recognise the number, but he answered it anyway:
‘Harris, this is Commander Declan,’ the voice on the other end announced. ‘Met Police.’
‘You are running the Barker case, am I right?’
Harris shot a glance towards Parsons.
‘Yes, sir,’ he replied hesitantly.
‘Are you tracking Barker now?’
‘We believe they are heading towards London Bridge station, sir. We’re here now but no sign so far…’
‘Well, there won’t be, Detective,’ the irritated voice replied. ‘I have some information for you…’
Harris moved through the barrier and hung up the phone. Parson was already a few metres ahead, making their introductions to the armed response team. He knew something was up the moment Harris joined them.
‘Barker,’ Harris replied simply as his mind struggled to find the right words to describe what he just heard. ‘There was a shooting in Brixton. Apparently Barker was seen fleeing the scene with a woman matching Giles’ description…’
Parson bit his lip angrily. ‘I knew we shouldn’t have trusted her.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ Harris replied thoughtfully. ‘The address belongs to Giles’ sister. The victim has been identified as a police dispatch officer – someone called Alison Carew…’
‘Bugger,’ Parsons replied. ‘Not one of ours…’
‘But get this. She was the daughter of Edmund Carew…’
‘And a close friend of Giles herself.’
‘You think she was helping them? That Barker offed her to cover their tracks?’
Harris waved him away – he had something else on his mind. Alison Carew had been the one passing on Giles’ whereabouts. She had been the one to tell them they were heading towards London Bridge station.
Even as Parsons briefed the armed officers, Harris couldn’t help thinking that he had just been massively played…
‘Keep going,’ Barker ordered, keeping the gun level with Giles’ waist.
Ever since they left Claverdale Road, Barker had been slumped as low as he could possibly get into the passenger seat of the Micra. Every time he heard a police siren, he pressed the gun tighter into Giles’ body – a helpful reminder that she wasn’t to try attracting anyone’s attention.
Giles drove as sensibly as she could. She knew Barker couldn’t see over the dashboard to work out where they were, but she had an idea that he knew vaguely where she was going. As she drove through the busy streets, she kept her driving as strictly to the speed limit as possible and – wherever she could – she let others pull into the lane in front of her.
She was in no hurry.
She needed all the time she could get.
As the car crept closer to the Thames, Giles’ mind flashed with images of Alison lying sprawled on the floor. The first respondents were sure to have arrived by now – trampling through her sister’s house like it was just another crime scene.
What the hell is she going to say when she gets back?
Giles shook it from her head. There was no time for that now. She had to focus on one thing and one thing only – getting through the rest of the day alive.
It was only after they crossed the junction near to the Brixton Academy that a thought seemed to occur to Barker. With his gun hand still firmly planted in Giles’ waist, he gestured with his spare hand – clicking his fingers at her.
‘SIM card,’ he barked.
Giles knew exactly what Barker was after – that didn’t mean she was going to make it easy for him.
‘The SIM card you took from that girl’s phone,’ he explained. ‘Give it to me, now.’
‘That girl had a name…’
She winced as Barker pressed the gun in even tighter.
‘SIM card. Now.’
There was nothing she could do to resist him anymore. Keeping her eyes set on the road, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the small SIM card, tossing it to her side without even looking for Barker’s hand. As he fumbled to retrieve it, he pressed the gun hard against her skin, relaxing only when the card was safely in his hand.
He examined it for a moment before placing it against the dashboard and smashing it a couple of times with the butt of his gun.
‘What are you doing?’
Barker glanced triumphantly up at her.
‘That card has evidence on it,’ he declared. ‘Now you need to keep me alive.’ He picked up the remnants and dropped them delicately on Giles’ lap. ‘Here, have a souvenir.’
Giles glanced down at the shattered pieces of plastic and metal.
‘They’ll need supporting evidence,’ she muttered. ‘They won’t honour an immunity agreement if you can’t prove it. You’ve just destroyed your chance of freedom…’
‘Don’t worry about it. They’ll get their evidence.’
Barker leant up a little, risking a glance over the dashboard. They were on the other side of Brixton now, but still he didn’t feel safe.
Giles glanced in the rear view mirror – not a police car in sight.
‘You think they’ll just let you walk away?’ she asked. ‘After what you did to Alison and that guy in Edenbridge…’
‘That’s kind of what an immunity agreement is for, Giles,’ Barker smirked. ‘They let me go and I give them something better. Simple trade.’
‘Aren’t you afraid of your conspiracy?’ Giles fired back. ‘How do you know you can trust who I’m taking you to?’
Barker settled himself back down in his seat and peered up at Giles.
‘You know, for all your morals and your hatred of people like me, you aren’t half corrupted yourself. You think that girl… Alison? You think she was innocent in all this? She was up to her neck in it. She was your friend and she nearly had you killed. And as for the guy in Edenbridge, don’t even get me started on what he was. Those people I killed are not deserving of your sympathy – not for one moment. And that’s just what Harris and people like him will think of you if I put a bullet in your head right now – just another chink who broke the rules…’
‘So, who was he?’ Giles fired back. ‘Who was worth you travelling to Edenbridge?’
‘Like I said before, just some hit man who couldn’t do his job properly…’
Giles felt him shuffle his shoulders back as he tried to stretch them out.
‘Why so coy, Daniel?’ she asked. ‘Like you said, you get your immunity either way so what does it matter?’
‘It matters because I haven’t got my deal yet.’ Barker lowered the gun slightly as he swapped hands, stretching out his fingers to restore the blood flow.
‘You have a deal with me…’
‘That you broke when you tried to go around me with that Carew bitch. I don’t trust you, Giles, not after that. I don’t say anything until I have that paper. Signed. In my hands.’
He brought the gun away from her waist and lowered it into his lap. As he relaxed in the passenger seat, his arms shook with nervous tension and his eyes strained hard to try to recognise the passing buildings that towered over the roadside.
‘Do yourself a favour,’ he mumbled. ‘Just drop it. You’re going to drive yourself mad thinking about it. Just focus on what we need to do.’
‘And what do we need to do?’
‘We’re going to Scotland Yard,’ he replied. ‘But we’re going to make damn sure that the world hears my story the same time they do…’
The armed response team moved quickly across the station, following behind a couple of plain clothed officers who moved through each section of the terminus in their search for Giles and Barker. Parsons had even sent a few into the nearby Shard building to start sweeping the CCTV cameras there, just in case they had chosen a more obvious place to hide.
Meanwhile, in a small office building that was usually passed unnoticed by the multitude of passengers that traipsed through this station, Harris sat with the station security – watching the screens carefully as a train pulled neatly alongside the platform and the travellers hopped off before heading towards the ticket barrier.
This had been the fifth time that Harris had made them replay the security footage and the operator next to him was starting to get a little restless. Harris scrutinised each passenger’s face, the way they walked and who they were travelling with – and still he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Giles or Barker. And all the while his mind was gripped with a terrible thought – a horrific idea that made him shiver with panic.
Did that Carew woman con me?
For the tenth time in as many minutes, he glanced back down at his phone and reread the message:
‘Giles reported heading for Borough Market. Intercept her there.’
He should have known something was up the moment he received that message. It hadn’t occurred to him at the time – he thought it was just some dispatch operator being over efficient – but now his confidence was shaken.
The news that Parsons called in didn’t help either.
‘Sir, we just got to Borough Market. There’s no sign of her.’
It was as Harris had feared.
‘Do they have a CCTV control room there?’
Parson paused for a moment as he spoke to another officer.
‘Yes, sir. There’s a sub station nearby.’
‘Then get in there. I want to be sure that Giles and Barker haven’t been there in the last hour…’
‘Yes, sir, but…’
‘But what, Sergeant?’
‘But, if Giles and Barker were last seen in Brixton. Why would they still be coming here?’
It was a good question – although Harris didn’t like to admit it.
‘Just do it.’
He hung up the phone and pondered it quietly.
They have to still be on their way here, he thought. They have to be.
It was the only hope he had.
He raised the phone to his tired eyes and scrolled back through his recent calls. One of the Met team had managed to get hold of Giles’ mobile number from one of her team and Harris had already called it three times to no avail.
Whispering a silent prayer, Harris selected the number and raised the phone to his ear. There wasn’t even a ring tone before the number switched to Giles’ voicemail.
‘This is Evelyn Giles, I’m not available at the moment. Please leave a message and I’ll…’
Harris hung up the phone, thrusting it angrily into his pocket.
Dammit, Giles. Where are you?
Nick R B Tingley is a crime writer from the UK. After several years working as a ghostwriter, Nick released his debut novel The Bluebell Informant– the first in his DS Evelyn Giles series. He is currently working on the second in the series – The Court of Obsessions – as well as a Victorian-era mystery novella called The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow.
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