I’ve managed to do a bit more scribbling on the story I’m working on… here is a bit of a taste of what I’ve done recently…
Fresh snow had recently covered the ground as he made his walk across the council estate towards a tower block which was the address he was sent to look at, when he finally made his way up to the correct floor level after trudging up several flights of sleet covered stairs he came upon a scene of total carnage…
A male and female police officer stood watch outside the flat, a shorter female with dark curly hair sticking out from underneath her police hat glanced about, looking somewhat bored and embarrassed while her taller colleague in his florescent jacket laughed and smiled at his own jokes… He’s probably a transfer from a traffic unit thought Ashford taller than Mark but with a red nose from the winter conditions.
He silently noddled to them both, flashed his ID badge and ducked under the crime scene tape and walked into the entrance.
Blood on the walls and blood on the ceilings. That was the scene that greeted D.I Mark Ashford as he entered the one bedroom flat.
He stood on the welcoming mat and glanced about the lounge.
The forensic team had already been in during the early part of the morning to douse the surfaces with luminol, but apart from their recent activity and the yellow crime scene tape that they’d tied up outside the flat there wasn’t any trace of them right now.
On one side of the lounge room presumably where the crime had taken place a wall now sported a stain of blackened carbon which had ran up a length of wall where once pictures and a mirror had hung which now was splintered into hundreds of shards and half way across the lounge carpet.
An electrical appliance, possibly a hi fi or computer terminal had melted at the foot of the hot spot which was most probably the source of the fire.
Close to the ignition source, metal components and what appeared to be lumps of organic remains had coalesced in globs of solder and circuitry which had meshed together. The smell of burning carbon was still present mixed with a pungent smell of faeces and death.
Ashford scanned the room…
Remnants of shredded clothing were matted with blood and other bodily tissues to the surfaces of what was left of the remaining upholstery.
On closer inspection he’d notice fragments which were embedded into the walls and the kitchen door on the lounge side opposite the blackened scorch marks.
A partial skull cranium with matted hair which had coagulated with arterial blood and brain tissue was found next to a splintered coffee table near the center of the room, in close proximity to a charred foot with purple nail varnish most likely from a female victim.
Ashford held a hanky from his pocket to his nose, he could never quite get used to that smell of dead things… it always made him want to gag. There were times when a putrid waft would sometimes trigger a memory he thought he’d once buried in his subconscious. Memories of old cases the ones he’d help solve or the times when they sometimes went cold.
He’d been in the force with the Avon and Somerset Police for over twenty years and was called in to investigate crimes such as this one, as was sometimes customary when the situation was at a standstill or or when manpower dictated.
He’d been witness to the aftermath of murder and unexplained death for almost all of his career and he’d seen just about everything you’d expect to see within the homicide division, such as the violent crimes perpetrated by thugs and low lifes out on the rob, or the gang land style executions by the powerful elite and their unscrupulous no marks, to the unlucky criminals on the receiving end of deals gone wrong.
There were crimes of passion metted out by jealous husbands and wives…and of course there was those people who were suicidal, those poor bastards who’d jump in front of a train, or off themselves by leaping from a bridge or high vantage point.
They all had to be investigated, especially the suspicious ones.
Most of the time a case would have a logical explanation, a natural cause of death for an individual or cicumstances that might appear to lean towards non suspicion, and then other times they’d call in Ashford.
Mark Ashford sent in to make sure a systematic approach was being applied to the behind scenes forensic activities and to sometimes think outside the box if all avenues of an investigation had been exhausted, which meant it had to be seen to be done by the book albiet sometimes obliquely.
He thought of himself as some kind of super plumber, shoring up blockages in the system and circumventing the flow of water in order to deliver a honest result, although never at the expense of other colleagues he’d like to think.
Rarely was he called in to the actual crime scene itself, most of his regular duties involved organising other detectives back at the office.
‘I see you have made a quick glance of the crime scene Mark’
It was Chris Porter from homicide division one of the leading detectives on the case. He’d walked in on Mark who had been surveying the scene from the doorstep.
‘Its OK detective stay there I’ll walk over to you’
Chris was donned in the usual forensics garb to prevent contamination of the scene. He walked over towards Ashford.
‘Good morning Chris, Yes I have… whats your take on things?’ replied Ashford who turned to face his colleague.
‘They got you down here then, sorry to pull you away from that nice warm office of yours hows things Mark’, joked Porter.
They shook hands, exchanged pleasantries, and spoke of the football scores and about drinking establishments and changes to work related business, the usual stuff.
‘Well for all intents and purposes we have what appears to be a fire of some sort and some kind of explosion that occurred within the flat.’, started Porter.
‘Thats quite unusual in of itself unless it was terrorism related, which we don’t think it is at this early stage’
‘What is remarkable is that the windows in the property are not shattered and yet the damge to the vics and I say vics because there is more than one person who died here tonight, sorry I meant yesterday… is quite substantial’
‘Coupled to that we have no reports from any of the neighbours over loud noises’
‘So who rang it in then’, replied Ashford.
‘A delivery agent dropping a parcel off to next doors and happened to notice a burning smell from outside the property he looked through the letter box apparently he noticed the general chaos inside’
‘Any details on the vics’, Ashford pointed to what was left of them on the interior carpet.
‘Yeah the first victim was an young Caucasian female by the name of Emily Prior, 26 works as a hairdresser, self employed… no partner or relatives to speak of according to a neighbour, although we’re still looking into her life’
‘The second victim again a Caucasian, male, similar age… name unkown so far…maybe a boyfriend or acquaintance of hers, we’re not really sure at this stage, but we’ve got a copy of the flats surveillance camera that was taken from outside her flat the night before the delivery agent noticed the smell … IT have already extracted the video file so we know what he looks like… we’re running prints off the walls and fixtures as we speak’
‘OK thats good, its a bit strange as you mention the explosion or lackof… have you got any of the forensics to get a sample of the carbon for anaysis yet’, queried Ashford.
‘Yes, that’s just been done and is winging its way back to the lab, along with the prints’, replied Porter.
‘It’ll be good to know what caused it’
‘We’ve also got bobbies out door to door and I took the liberty of sending out a couple of PCs to obtain surveillance footage in case it reveals anything suspicious in the neighbourhood or to do with the male that visited Emily… it looks like he could be the last one to see her alive and may possibly be a victim himself, who knows’, Porter gestured towards the broken table and skull fragment littered on the floor.
‘Good work Chris’ remarked Ashford with a smile.
‘I see you’ve locked down the area and are working quickly enough out from the scene itself… standard stuff, but obviously you’ll need futher forensics over the next day or two, I’ll look into granting you the necessary resources when I speak with management, but what you have so far is a jolly good start’
Porter nodded in token agreement.
‘Its puzzling..’, Ashford continued…
‘An explosion and yet no explosion at the same time, no sounds heard of a domestic incident or some violent event, its almost as if they both died some place else and were transferred here.’
‘And yet we have the bone fragments buried into the verticals which definitely suggests otherwise’, mused Ashford.
‘See if you can work out if the fire was separate to or the cause of the explosion will you Chris’, Ashford pointed towards the source of where the fire had started.
‘You’ll obviously need to look at the bone fragments buried in the walls and whatnot and get someone to take detailed pictures of the scene and measurements, you’ll have to fine tooth comb this one OK Chris. Fibres the works’
‘Aye Sir, I’ll do that right away’, replied Porter in a more formal tone.
Ashford left the scene of crime, and headed back down towards his car which was waiting for him at the road opposite the block of flats. It was his pride and joy his old racing green Aston Martin DB4 Zigato. Thankfully it still had its wheels left on it when he returned and he was glad to be heading away from this neighbourhood.
He took out his phone to make a recording of what he would have to write in his report when he got back to the office.
He was glad to getting out of the chill but unsure of what management would say about granting Chris Porter more bodies on the ground… All the talk in the office these days was of cuts to the service and at his level of policing it was not something Ashford agreed with.
Although for now he returned to more mundane thoughts of the present, of escaping the winters bitterness, exiting the shitty housing estate and getting back to that warm office of his.