Bill Kitson

 

Read below for an extract from Minds That Hate

Becky saw his expression change. The tension was back; in full. He gestured to Becky. She didn’t understand at first. He signalled again, a driving motion. It was only when he got out of the car that she got the message. He was still clutching the mobile to his ear as he opened the passenger door. She slid across to the driving seat, adjusted the seat and mirror, fumbling with the unfamiliar controls. Nash began to speak. Not to her but to the caller, his voice barely above a whisper. ‘I’ll be there as fast as I can. Keep out of sight. Don’t try anything. Don’t provoke them. I’ll come to the back. Five minutes.’

Becky engaged first gear and waited. Nash pointed ahead. She let the clutch out slowly. The car moved off easily. Nash was still listening. Then he lowered the phone and looked at the screen.

‘Where am I going?’

‘Grove Road. I’ll direct you.’

‘What’s happened?’

‘Potential hostage situation,’ Nash pressed a button on the phone and waited.

‘Clara? Get to Vickers’ ASAP. Bring as many uniforms as you can. Better request an ARU from Netherdale too. Ronnie Fletcher’s turned up. He and one of the Floyd brothers have got hold of Vickers. Viv rang me. He was out of the room when they arrived. As I was talking to him the phone went dead. I’m on my way there now.’

‘Direct me where to go.’ The tension had got to Becky.

‘Turn right in about a hundred yards.’ Nash pointed. ‘Just past where that van’s parked. Keep moving. Drive slowly to the end of the street, then turn right at the junction. There’s a back lane runs parallel – turn into it.  I’ll tell you when to stop.’

Nash kept one eye on his mobile. Willing it to ring again, hoping Viv had cut him off to avoid discovery. Praying he wasn’t a hostage; fearing the worst.

‘What are you going to do? I assume Pearce is one of your men, but who are the others?’

‘DC Pearce is one of my officers and the home owner is under our protection. I can’t explain why. The others are the ones we’re protecting him from.’

‘What will you do?’ Becky was persistent.

‘I’ve no idea till I get there.’ Nash was coughing from speaking so much.

As they turned into Grove Road, Nash shuffled sideways. He leaned as far across her as was safe. He could smell the mixture of her perfume, smoke from the fire and perspiration from their ordeal. He found it mildly erotic and distracting. ‘Slow right down,’ he said. ‘That’s thirty-two, the one with the bay.’

Becky took her eyes from the road for a second. Subconsciously her foot eased off the accelerator. ‘Not too slow,’ Nash warned. ‘We don’t want to stall it.’

Becky glimpsed a figure standing inside the bay. They were alongside now. She dare not risk another look. The space between parked cars was too narrow for one thing. Nor did she want to risk discovery. ‘Who’s that?’

Nash had time for a longer look. Too tall for Vickers, not broad enough for Pearce. ‘That’s Ronnie Fletcher.’ His tone was grim.

‘You know him?’

‘Too well.’ Nash was busy with his phone. ‘Clara, go round to the back. Fletcher’s looking out of the front.’ He glanced sideways. ‘Look for my car. There’ll be a young woman waiting, name of Becky Pollard. I’ll explain later. I’m going to try and get in.’

Becky followed Nash’s directions, still driving slowly. ‘I thought it better not to speed up after we passed the house,’ she explained. ‘That would look suspicious.’

Nash eyed her approvingly. ‘Good thinking. We need to go ten houses up.’

The lane was little wider than an alley, certainly not broad enough to allow cars to pass. Becky pulled up opposite the rear of number thirty-two. ‘What now?’

‘Wait here until my sergeant arrives. Her name’s Mironova, Clara Mironova. Get her to follow me in with the uniforms. Whatever happens, you stay here. Clear?’

Becky watched Nash walk into the back yard but couldn’t see what he was doing for the boundary wall. There was a sudden blaze of reflected light. The door had been opened. By Nash?

The car felt too confined. She got out and leaned against the door. Where was this sergeant? What was her name? Mironova, that was it. Clara would be easier to remember. Why hadn’t she arrived? Helmsdale wasn’t that big. What was keeping her? Nash was up against two dangerous men, without backup.

She paced to and fro. Her journalist’s instinct took over. She walked slowly towards the gate. If she opened the back door, she might be able to hear what was happening.

Nash tiptoed across the kitchen, careful not to ground his heels. There was no sound. The dining room door was ajar. Nash eased it wider. The room was empty. Nash gambled everyone was in the lounge.

Pistol in hand, he gently opened the hall door. Prayed it wouldn’t squeak. No guard in sight. He heard a noise, the low sound of a voice from the lounge. He crossed the hall and had almost reached the lounge door when he heard the squeak of a trainer on the polished floor. He turned as a shape flung itself at him. Nash was never sure if he fired the gun, or it simply went off. His assailant crashed into him and Nash felt a sharp pain in his left arm. He was thrust violently back. He hit the doorknob; painfully. The door burst open under their combined weight. Nash squirmed to disentangle himself from his attacker. He had a fleeting vision of Pearce and Vickers on the sofa, linked by Pearce’s handcuffs. As Nash fell, the side of his head struck the door knob. Then everything went dark.


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