Bill Kitson

 

Read below for an extract from Chosen

The road was a cul-de-sac; number 11, a small, neat semi. The garden looked as tidy as the house. Nash was reminded of Joan Kelly’s house. He was looking for similarities in the lifestyle of the missing girls. Here was one, albeit a tiny one.

‘Quick refresher before we go in. Julie Cummings disappeared in November 1991, when she was eighteen. She was a student at Grantham Technical College. In good health, wasn’t in a relationship, nor had she been. Last seen leaving college after an evening class; intending to catch a train back to Barkston Frome. She wasn’t sighted at either station, or on the train. She was never seen again.’

Nash laid the file on his lap as he pondered what he’d just read. ‘Probably the most significant fact is that she wasn’t seen on the train.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘Julie was strikingly attractive. Not someone people would miss. The train was at 20.25 and was a local service. It was a wet night, mid November. If the train was a quarter full, I’d be surprised. Passengers would probably have remembered her if the train had been packed, certain to have done so if it was almost empty.’

‘What do you deduce from that?’

‘I very much doubt if Julie got on that train. In fact, I don’t think she even reached Grantham station.’

As Nash was thinking, he saw the bright sunlight of the afternoon fade. He visualized a rainy November night as he waited in the car. The meagre light from a street lamp glistened on the rain-soaked tarmac. Ahead of him a modern, two storey-brick building, functional in design like a hospital, a school, or a college. He let out a sigh. He was sure now, certain of exactly what had happened to Julie Cummings.

‘Mike?’ The single word was sharp with concern. Nash blinked and looked at Mironova. She was staring at him. ‘You alright?’

‘He was waiting for her,’ Nash whispered, ‘waiting in his car, outside the college. He was waiting because he knew she’d be there. He sat there in the street. It was no matter of chance. He knew Julie was inside the building, knew she’d be coming out. He knew she was attending a lecture, knew what time it would end, probably even knew the subject.’

‘Mike!’ Clara protested.

‘When Julie came out of the college, he still waited,’ Nash continued as if he hadn’t heard Mironova. ‘Waited to make sure she was alone. He had to be sure she wouldn’t be being met or picked up. He had to be sure he’d have her all to himself. Then he started his engine and crept after her. He crept along, keeping far enough back so Julie didn’t suspect she was being followed. When he judged the time was right, sure she was alone, when he was sure he could claim her, he pulled the car alongside and wound the window down.’ Nash spoke in a whisper. The menace was louder than a shout. ‘Hello, Julie. I thought it was you. Can I offer you a lift? It’s on my way. It’ll be better than getting colder and wetter. Have you been at college? Jump in then, and when you get home, you’d better take those wet things off straight away. We don’t want you catching your death of cold.’

‘Mike, stop it please.’ Mironova had witnessed this before but was still appalled yet fascinated by Nash’s scenario.

‘Sorry, Clara.’ Nash smiled ruefully.

‘How do you do that? It sounds so realistic. Almost as if you were there. I know that’s impossible, but anyone else would have been convinced.’

‘I have the advantage of knowing the killer must have been acquainted with his victims. Well enough for them to be at ease with him. From there it’s just a small step to imagining how he achieved the abduction.’

‘It might seem a small step to you, but it sounded like a giant leap to me. Do you mean you actually visualized that taking place just now?’

‘Something of the sort.’

‘If it happened as you imagined, like you said, it had to be someone who knew Julie. She wouldn’t have jumped into a stranger’s car?’

‘That’s right.’

‘And you think that was the case with all of them?’

‘Yes, I think so. All we have to do is find the one person all the girls knew, and we’ve the identity of their killer. Couldn’t be simpler.’

‘Of course not: dead easy.’



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