Strangers | Chapter 38 of 53 - Part: 1 of 4

Author: Paul Finch | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1166 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 31

The remainder of that night was something of a blur to Lucy. They insisted on taking her to hospital, which she steadfastly maintained she didn’t need – only to remember, somewhat belatedly, that in actual fact she did need it, because she had a broken arm.

While she waited to see a Casualty doctor and then waited for a late-night X-ray and then for the diagnosis, which was a hairline fracture to the ulna, and lastly, as she waited for treatment in the Fracture Clinic, she gave innumerable statements to various officers of different rank and from different departments. But it was increasingly difficult to work out who these people were or why she was talking to them – not just because of shock and fatigue, but because she was also by this time on a heavy dosage of painkillers and antibiotics. All the while she remained in a bedraggled, bloodstained state, until at some point in the night one of her colleagues brought her a change of clothes: a black GMP tracksuit with white piping, which was neat enough to look at but too large for her, and a clean pair of trainers. She wasn’t really aware who was responsible for this or at what time it happened, but was vaguely cognisant that her own clothing had to be taken away for forensic analysis, as she too had fired shots during the roadside battle.

It was confirmed to her repeatedly that Tammy Nethercot had been pronounced dead at the scene, having suffered fatal gunshot wounds. Each time, Lucy received the news dully and without further comment. Deep in the stew of her thoughts, she was already one hundred per cent certain about this, because she’d been there and had seen it for herself. But during the few occasions that long torturous night when she was able to snatch some sleep, usually while propped up in one of those uncomfortable, plastic waiting-room chairs, she relived the incident in vivid if disjointed fashion: stroboscopic flashes of gunfire; wooden workmen’s cabins flying to pieces; broken, gritty ground hitting her in the face; the smell of blood and cordite; and then a terrible tunnel, a long concrete tube filled with refuse and ditch-water and rats, and then Tammy’s face, bluish/white and yet peacefully reposed as if she was asleep, and improbably beautiful, not a speck of dirt to mar her girlish looks aside from a tiny droplet of red at the left corner of her mouth.

But of course that hadn’t been right at all; it had been much, much worse than that. And so Lucy would always wake in a state of grogginess and confusion, and would ask the first person she saw: ‘What happened? Did Tammy survive?’

This was a repeating, seemingly endless pattern, thanks to which she barely noticed the hours creep by or the changes of staff in the hospital, or the return of gloomy November daylight to the car park outside. She actually managed to sleep properly, or so she thought, while they were working on her in the clinic. If not, it was a mystery why she had no recollection afterwards of who was responsible for encasing her lower left arm from the elbow downward in plaster and gauze, and suspending it across her chest in a sling. However, when she finally emerged into the waiting room, which, as it was now almost noon, was buzzing with the next batch of patients, she felt a little bit fresher even if still deeply tired.

In that regard, the first person she saw was probably the last person she particularly wanted to converse with, but the look on Priya Nehwal’s face as she came down the central aisle between the rows of occupied seats was less truculent than usual.

‘So … what exactly am I supposed to do with you?’ was the DSU’s opening gambit. But she still didn’t look vexed. If anything, her tone bordered on the affable.

‘Sorry, ma’am?’ Lucy replied.

‘Let’s chat.’ Nehwal indicated a far corner where most of the seats were still empty.

Wearily, Lucy limped over there and slumped down. Nehwal sat on the seat next to her.

‘In the last couple of days, PC Clayburn,’ she said, staring directly ahead, ‘you’ve broken just about every rule that British police officers are supposed to abide by. Including disobeying a direct order from me, which is the one I’m really narked about. But –’ Nehwal shrugged, as if it were all now beyond her control ‘– you’ve also displayed remarkable courage and tenacity, and have cleaned out a whole nest of villains in the process; a bunch of lowlifes whom most of the rest of us thought were immune to any serious charges. So I repeat … what am I supposed to do with you? How exactly do I reprimand the woman of the moment?’

‘I …’ Lucy struggled to find an answer. ‘I don’t know what’s been going on, ma’am. I mean while I’ve been in here.’

‘Well …’ Nehwal lowered her voice. ‘To start with, Suzy McIvar has been arrested on suspicion of murdering Tammy Nethercot and of attempting to murder you.’

‘Already?’

‘You said it yourself. These people are good. We had to move fast.’

‘Pity no one moved fast enough to save Tammy.’ Lucy felt like crying, though no tears seeped from her tired eyes.

‘Suzy McIvar’s not having it, obviously,’ Nehwal added. ‘But the evidence we’ve got seems pretty conclusive. Your statement wouldn’t serve on its own, but we also found the ski mask she dropped at the scene, which has blood and saliva on it. It’s currently being tested, but the DNA will almost certainly turn out to be hers. You said she shot at you with some kind of machine-pistol?’

Lucy nodded. ‘I think so, yeah.’

‘Well, the spent magazine that we recovered indicates that it was a Shipka, a Bulgarian-made 9mm submachinegun. Particularly deadly at close quarters. We haven’t found the weapon itself, but after arresting McIvar a couple of hours ago, we searched her apartment and found the same kind of clothing you described. Again, it’s a bit early to say for sure, but forensics already reckon there’s firearms residue on it. The Corsa was reported stolen a few days ago of course.’

‘Of course.’

‘That’s been found too. Dumped and burning.’

‘Great,’ Lucy groaned.

‘But not completely incinerated. There’s still plenty evidence of the shots you fired at it, and there are even a couple of bloodspots on the bonnet.’

Lucy looked round. ‘That’ll be Suzy’s too. She got hurt …’

‘And that’s the other thing,’ Nehwal said. ‘You mentioned in your statement that the gun-woman was wounded in the side of the neck.’

‘Yes …?’

‘Well, Suzy McIvar has a fresh graze on her neck. It’s only slight, but I think it’ll be more than enough to send her down for life.’

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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