Herbert Collins was dead. Of that there was little doubt. His death had been extremely public. Herbert Collins had been consumed by dark flames in the stands at the 3:30 Liverpool vs. Chelsea non league friendly match on a bright and Saturday afternoon in July. Strangely none of the people in the stands around him were injured by his incineration.
They were, no doubt, extremely traumatised by the event.
Something that was clear to Inspector Harrison as he questioned them one after another in the interview room at Gallashiels Road Police Station.
On the moors, high above Sheffield, Mandy and her friend Ashley stood over the corpse of Michael. Michael had been, until just recently, Ashley’s boyfriend. Had been until he had tried to cop a feel of Mandy at Tommy Pratchett’s birthday party last week.
Having lured him to the moor that afternoon they planned on giving him a bit of a scare with some cod Latin and Mandy’s uncles book of black magic spells he had from back in the 70s. They didn’t think for a moment that it would bloody well work!
I am always sleeping.
Until you call.
Inspector Harrison looked down upon the charred remains of Herbert Collins laid out on a metal slab in the morgue at St Anne’s.
“What caused it then Charlie?”
The coroner adjusted his spectacles.
“Well. Cause of death is, rather obviously, um… well. I’m still not a hundred percent certain… but I think that it’s probably safe to say that he burned to death.”
“You don’t say? Any idea what started it? Fuel on his clothes? Spontaneous bloody human combustion?”
“Sorry Ian. We’ll know more by the morning I’m sure.”
“This has to be the strangest bloody thing I’ve seen since…”
“Let’s not dwell on the past eh Ian? I’ll call you as soon as I know anything more.”
“Jesus fucking Christ, Mandy, what the fuck just happened?”
Both girls were covered in blood and parts of Michael that had, until moments ago, been inside Michael rather than outside.
“How the fuck am I supposed to know! It was that fucking book! I’m going to kill Uncle Terry, he said it was just bullshit. Like one of those nerdy games your brother plays!”
“Did you see it?”
“The thing. The thing that did that!” Ashley pointed at the viscera that had been Michael.
“The thing. Yes. I saw it.”
She wiped blood from her mouth and, realising it was coming from her nose, passed out.
The sins of the father
The sins of the son
Father is son
Son is father
“You aren’t going to like this inspector.”
Harrison sighed and placed his face in his hands, elbows resting on his paper cluttered desk.
“What is it Simms?”
“Turns out that your human torch only had one relative. A boy, Michael. Seems he was missing for a few days until they found him this morning.”
“They did find him then?”
“Well, what was left of him sir. It sounds like there wasn’t much left to find. They’ve taken two girls into custody over in Sheffield. Said that you were welcome to come over and question them.”
“And why would I want to do that then?”
“Well, they said that there may well not be a link but that they have, and I quote, ‘a bloody strange one’ and they figured seeing as you had ‘a bloody strange one’ involving the father it couldn’t hurt to compare notes.”
The girls sat together in the smoking yard of the custody suite at Pittston Police Station. Harrison approached them pulling a twenty pack of king size Regal from his jacket pocket. He offered it to the girls who both took one despite having lit cigarettes in their hands.
“You know, they banned smoking in these places years ago.” He put the flame of his lighter to the cigarette in his mouth. “I guess they’re making special dispensation for you two, on account of what you saw. Lucky for me.”
Ashley tapped the ash of her cigarette onto the floor.
“Yeah. Fucking lucky.”
“So. What did you see?”
All the things you hate
All your anger
I am all
Ashley took a draw of her cigarette.
“We only meant to scare him like.”
“No, fucking Marilyn Manson, who do you think?”
“Sorry. I just have to be clear. It was just the three of you up on the moor then?”
“Yes. We had this old book. Mandy got it from her uncle. Ow!”
Mandy had thumped her on the knee.
“I never thought it would work! My uncle said it was just some bullshit book he had had for years.” Mandy looked close to crying. Both their eyes were red from tears and probably from lack of sleep too.
“That’s ok. I don’t think either of you are in trouble. We don’t think either of you could have done what happened to Michael.
We just need to understand what happened.
You do know that Michael’s father died yesterday too and that I’m investigating this over in Liverpool?”
“That detective from here said. Cunt.” Ashley spat on the floor.
“No. Bert. Michael’s father.”
“Did they get on?”
“No. But. That’s the thing.” Ashley started crying and looked away from the Inspector.
“It’s alright.” Mandy put her arm round her friend.
“It’s not fucking alright!” She stood screaming in her friends face “You fucking saw it as well. That fucking thing! You saw what it was. Fucking WHO it was!” Ashley was backing away from them towards the centre of the smoking yard.
“Who was it Ashley? Just tell me and we can go and get them. Make sure that they can never do this again.” He stepped towards her.
“When we said the words. Those stupid sounding fucking words. Michael just started shaking. And then this shape… Out of nowhere… started ripping him apart. It was his fucking father!”
1000 words on the nose. 🙂