Glimmer in the Dark
Aftermath of a Visit
The suburb of Norwood, on the northern side of Tearmann, was poorly lit during the early pre-dawn hours with the sun not even a glow in the sky. Though this part of the city had light-poles along the streets that stayed switched-on all night, the local neighbourhood here was posh. The radiance from the lights on top of each pole wasn’t adequate for the area to be well lit. The street was wider, yet not a single car was parked near the kerb. Lining both sides, were shadowy century-old trees on wide grassy verges. Trees of full branches heavy with foliage that didn’t allow many of the light-poles to be directly seen, and certainly interfered with the purpose of having any street lighting. Driveways spaced far apart told of how large the houses were – none of which could have been seen easily from the point of view of any passing car.
At this time, there was a lonely patrol car proceeding at a leisurely pace up the slope of the street. The all-white car carried two members of the Tearmann Metropolitan Police, as the emblem and large printed lettering on the sides announced. The five-litre vee-eight engine of the twenty-twenty-four Brumby model sedan manufactured by the American Motors Corporation purred low. The sound quiet enough that it was unlikely any of the local residents heard the car pass their houses by. They should all have been asleep at this time regardless.
Only the flashing blue and red lights on the roof may have alerted someone of the approaching police officers.
The police parked by the kerb about three-quarters up the slope of the street, then both got out. A man and a woman. Two young cops dressed in the grey-blue shirts and navy blue slacks of the Tearmann Metropolitan Police and each wearing a light ballistic vest despite the heat of the summer night. The patrol car had been air-conditioned, yet the perspiration began showing on their youthful faces almost as soon as they’d exited their vehicle.
The police woman glanced around, stretching and turning to get the kinks out of her back at the same time. She grimaced, blinked, then spoke into her lapel microphone, “This is Williams and Bennet, over . . . Yeah, we’re at the address, just to confirm, over . . . Number eighteen, over . . . Wattle Avenue, over . . . Lights are on inside, no visible movement, over.”
“Ready?”, the male cop asked.
“Yeah, except for this heat.”
“Weather report said it’s going to be a little cooler than yesterday… Only a balmy thirty-five degrees Centigrade in the shade.”
“Only? What was it yesterday?”
“Forty-three… an official record breaker… but I saw it reach forty-five in Westfield yesterday.
“Yeah, anyways, let’s hop it...”
Neither did more than keep a hand close-by their holstered matte black automatic handguns as they strolled up the driveway towards one of the houses.
They reached the closed modern styled gate, three metres high and several wide. A sensor-tripped light came on, brilliant, and momentarily blinding in comparison to the night. The coppers blinked. In the light, they more clearly saw the gate’s red painted steel vertical bars, each with a shiny yellow reflector at waist height. On either side was a tall block of rough stone-faced concrete. Beyond each way right and left could be seen that the estate had walls of the same appearance and just as high.
The man pressed the intercom buzzer by the gate. Several times. There was no response.
“This is Williams and Bennet, over . . . The property is walled and no answer when we knock, over . . . Yeah, ruddy great gate won’t open, over . . . Okey-doke, over.”
She turned to her companion, “Wait a tic, looks like the code for the door is listed.”
The man nodded, finally spoke, “Good for us, but fools for them. Kid crackers are going to nick those lists one of these days. If they haven’t already.”
There was a brief welcoming jingle, then the gate rattled aside to the left on rails. The two coppers glanced at each other a moment, gave a shrug, then with caution started creeping step by wary step towards the house. More spotlights switched on, illuminating the broad front gardens within the walls of the estate. These weren’t well maintained. The owners seemed not to have much enthusiasm for the work needed, nor had they hired someone else to look after it.
“A rich man’s dump”, commented the male police-officer as they went up the steps to the patio before the over-sized front door.
“Mister and missus Dunleah”, the woman informed him, keeping her voice down, “He’s thirty, she’s twenty-four, married last year and bought these flash diggings with his old man footing the bill.”
“Didn’t see that on the heads-up in the car.”
“I checked this address on my phone, wonders of the Infoweb . . . On his Spy-On-Me page, Mister Jason Dunleah mentioned plans to invite friends over for tea and a get together around the pool last night.”
“It was a scorcher yesterday, wouldn’t have been a bad idea at all.”
The woman pressed the doorbell this time. Again, no answer. The man rapped on the door, listened, then rapped again.
“No use even trying to kick this open, it’s got steel behind that lovely timber veneer…” he said, stepping back.
“This is Williams and Bennet, over . . . No answer at the door. Can you unlock it from over there, over?”
The door’s tumblers hummed, there was a solid metal thunk inside. The woman copper lightly gave the door a shove with her hand and the door opened wide to reveal a darkened hallway. Carefully covering for each other, the two entered. The man found the light switch, and with a soft plastic click, the twenty-metre corridor was illuminated by a row of five crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Other than that, there wasn’t a sound except for the police-officers breathing and the odd whisper of their uniform fabric rubbing against their ballistic vests.
“Williams and Bennet, over . . . We’re entering the premises, no sign of the residents as yet, over.”
“This house is too damn big”, her partner grumbled.
“They’re likely hanging about by the pool, but I don’t like this quiet.”
“Yep… No party music. Maybe they’re playing at mimes.”
Each door they passed, the coppers took alternate turns opening and checking while the other covered. At last they reached the end of the hallway, facing double-doors of a dark rosewood finish. The woman tried the handles, which moved easily, then pushed at the doors, but these scarcely budged. She tried to briefly shoulder charge one of the doors to no avail, and grunted.
“Unlocked but won’t open”, she commented.
The male copper tried to push the doors too. Tried the door handles as if to check. Then took a few steps back.
“Okey-dokey, my turn.”
With a run-up he slammed hard into one of the doors. There was a splintering crash, a thud of something falling on the other side, but he got one of the doors open. There was a chair fallen over, as if it had been used to block the door from the inside.
“Why not just lock it?”, the guy asked.
The woman shrugged.
The man stepped in first, and looked about at an exceedingly spacious room that had a pair of rather long black-leather sofas facing each other with a low wooden coffee table in front of each. The room was brightly lit by large saucer-shaped lights in the ceiling. He could see another pair of double-doors, white painted, at the wall to his right as he’d entered the room. Those doors had glass panes in small windows, but one of the doors was ajar, not quite closed. He glanced up at the circular lights attached to the ceiling. He sniffed the air, and wrinkled his nose.
“Gawd, smells like an abattoir.”
The woman came in, looked around as well.
“Human blood… Not a butcher shop smell… and smoke from a barbie, I think.”
They stared at each other for a few seconds with eyes widening. The woman’s complexion had turned pale, but the man merely nodded. They moved together towards the next set of doors. A little closer to each other than before.
The man pushed open the already ajar door. There was whimpering, and shuffling. He tried to take in the whole scene but could barely hold onto his lunch. Blood. Lots of the stuff in splashes over the dark slate tiles. More turning brown on the white-painted wrought-iron table and the chairs around it. Some more of it on a wickerwork chair in which one skinny man was sitting, rocking his body back and forth and crying. The skinny man’s rainbow dyed T-shirt was splashed with brown of drying blood.
Between the nearby furnishings and the pool just beyond the patio, were two bodies. More exactly, the remnants of two men who appeared to been half-eaten by a wild animal. Clawed and torn to pieces, innards scattered, throats ripped out.
For the first time, the copper pulled his gun out of his holster.
“What the hell was here? A bear? A lion? Did dogs do that?”, he exclaimed with a shaking voice that squeaked too high.
He turned around, and both he and the woman cop saw the other survivors at the same time. Three women, young definitely, maybe early twenties, stark naked. There was some drying blood smeared on their uncovered skin as well. They were huddled together against a wall behind a large potted palm. If not for the blood and their terrified expressions, all three could’ve graced the covers of a fashionable magazine or a men’s porn rag.
The female police officer was shivering, as she called it in.
“Williams…. And Bennet… over… We need paramedics, trauma counsellors, at eighteen…. Eighteen Wattle Avenue… I think it’s another… Code Bravo Mike... Oh shit…. I can’t do this…”
She crouched down, and started to cry.
The male police-officer answered his own radio, “Yes sir… it has to be a Code Bravo Mike… It was him…. I think it has to be… We have four survivors… Three female… One male… The male survivor has lost it totally… Two dead males… Yes sir, but I’m sure it was him…”
(Part-1 to be continued soon)