Authors: Chris Longmuir
First published in 2011 as a Kindle edition
Copyright © Chris Longmuir, 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical or photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
Night Watcher is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cover design by Avalon Graphics
July to September 2008
Mist shrouded everything except for the Discovery’s skeletal masts pointing long bony fingers into the sky. It was an omen. He had come to the right place.
There had been so many places since he had last been in Dundee, but he doubted anyone here would connect him with the skinny little lad ejected forcibly from his birthplace, and sent to a borstal far away. They were no longer known as borstals though, secure accommodation, that’s what they called them nowadays. As if the name made any difference. They were still the same brutal lockups they had always been.
Smiling grimly, he pulled his collar up and the brim of his hat forward until only his eyes showed. He turned his back on the glass frontage of the station and shuffled in the direction of the pedestrian bridge.
It was not there. Confused, he stopped and stared. Everything had changed. He did not like change, it unsettled, immobilized him. He turned in a slow circle. The Discovery was behind him, its masts now barely visible. Hazy lights from Tayside House’s tower building pierced the mist, over to his right, and in front of him the dual carriageway – but no pedestrian bridge.
He sent a silent plea to the voice asking him what he should do. But the voice had been silent for some time now, demonstrating its disapproval, because he had acted on his own initiative before he left Newcastle.
The voice had not told him to end the social worker’s life, nor had it instructed him to set fire to her office. But at the time he had been thinking clearly and, knowing he had to vanish, it had seemed sensible to leave no clues to where he had gone.
A cluster of people waited at the edge of the road and, although he did not like crowds, he followed them across both carriageways when the lights changed.
He was in familiar territory now, and his panic subsided as he started to walk up Union Street towards the familiar City Churches at the top.
A faint smell of smoke accompanied the grubby piece of paper and the bottle of pills as he pulled them out of his pocket. On the paper was written the directions to the hostel and all the instructions he needed to start the job the social worker had organized for him. Dumping the pills in the gutter, because he did not need them anymore, he followed the directions on the paper.
The hostel was no different from any other hostel; a grey, unwelcoming building, full of strange noises, strange smells, and even stranger people. He never felt safe in these places but it would have to do until he found something that suited him better.
That had been six months ago; six months of rest and regeneration, since the completion of his last mission in Newcastle. After it was completed the voice had told him to return to his roots in Dundee, but ever since then the voice had remained silent. Despite this, his faith never wavered. He was convinced there must be a reason why the voice had guided him to this place.
Over the last week he had been aware of his increasing restlessness. He was nervy and jumpy, forever fidgeting, unable to remain at peace for more than a few minutes at a time. This was a sure sign that the time was almost here.
As the days passed a fever engulfed him; his body burned and his skin itched. Insects burrowed below his flesh, eating him from the inside. Only one thing could quieten them and that was the completion of his next mission.
But though he continued to wait for instructions, the voice did not speak to him.
The waiting was more than he could bear and in desperation he followed several women, searching for the evil within them. But it soon became obvious to him they were not evil, only silly or misguided.
Then he found this one. She was not silly or misguided. Nor was there any other excuse for the bad things she did. But still he doubted, for although he had followed her every day for the past week and hoped she would be the one, the voice was silent.
Tonight, after leaving the department store from the back entrance in the alley, she walked confidently towards the street, unaware she was being watched.
He waited until she reached the street, then rose from the depths of his secret hiding place and followed her.
When she arrived home her house was empty. No husband waiting tonight. But the voice was silent and had not yet confirmed that she was the chosen one, and without the voice he could not act.
He followed her again when she left the house later that evening. He watched as she visited the man. He heard the argument and saw the despair in the man’s face when she left. And he was there at the end – at the killing time.
And he knew that if it were not for the woman, the man would not be dead.
Surely now the voice would come. It could not fail to see that this woman was evil through and through.
‘Where are you? Where are you?’ The question echoed through his brain although no sound issued from his lips. He did not need to speak aloud for the voice to hear him, for it was tuned in to his thoughts.
As if in answer to his plea the voice responded. ‘The evil that women do cannot be allowed to continue.’ It roared through his head so loudly he had to clamp his hands over his ears.
When the voice quietened and started whispering to him, that was when he knew he had been right to think this woman was the chosen one. And now his mission was clear to him. He had to watch her and prevent her from doing further evil.
He slunk off into the darkness, back to his hiding place. It was time to plan what form his mission would take.
‘It’s over. Finished. Can’t you get that through your head?’ Nicole’s hand was on the doorknob.
‘No!’ Dave lunged towards the door preventing her from leaving. ‘It can’t be. We love each other,’ his voice faltered.
Nicole looked up at him, and laughed. ‘Love,’ she said. ‘No it was never that. Attraction maybe, lust certainly. But never love.’
He reached for her, entwining his fingers in her blonde hair. ‘But I gave up everything for you.’ He fought against the tears pricking behind his eyes. Men didn’t cry.
‘Then you’re a bigger fool than I took you for.’ Nicole shook his hand off, and glared at him through icy blue eyes. ‘But you said you loved me. You said if I promised to divorce my wife, you’d divorce Scott and marry me.’
‘Words, words.’ Nicole laughed harshly.
His eyes filled with tears, and he ran his fingers through his short brown hair. ‘You knew I’d phoned her to say I was coming home to talk things over.’
‘That’s your problem, now get out of my way, and go back to your wife. At least she wants you.’
For a moment Dave wanted to put his hands round her lovely white neck and squeeze. But damn-it-all, he still loved her. ‘I can’t live without you, Nicole.’ He despised himself for having to plead.
‘Tough,’ she said, pushing him aside.
Despair flooded through him and he stood away from the door. ‘I won’t be responsible for my actions if you leave.’
‘You do whatever you have to do.’ Nicole hesitated in the doorway before stepping through it into the darkness of the corridor. ‘But I’m going and I’m not coming back.’
He followed her. ‘Don’t go,’ he said, catching the entry door before it swung shut, but she was already running up the street to her car. He watched until she was out of sight. Then, swearing loudly, he kicked the door shut and thumped the corridor wall with his fist. An upstairs door opened sending a sliver of light through the gloom of the landing. ‘Nosy sod,’ he shouted and the door closed.
He massaged his hand as he entered his own flat. It seemed empty without her. Picking up the framed photograph, he caressed the face with his fingers. But even her laughing image seemed to be mocking him and he laid it face down on the table. His fingers lingered on it for a moment, wanting to turn it over again, but he could not bear to see the mockery in her eyes. Anger surged through him, his fingers tightened on the frame and he threw the picture across the room. It hit the wall and boomeranged back to him, coming to rest at his feet. He ground his foot on top of it, and then covered his face with his hands. Life hardly seemed to be worth living without her.
The sound of the doorbell woke him out of his misery. No one ever came here except her. She must have returned.
‘I knew you’d come back,’ he said, opening the door and stepping out into the corridor.
The door at the end was open, although he was sure he had closed it when he came back. A faint light from the street filtered in, but the hallway was empty. The stairs at the other end of the corridor were shrouded in darkness. There was no movement or sound from them, so he knew it had not been one of his upstairs neighbours who had rung his doorbell or left the outside door open. It must have been Nicole with one of her unpredictable changes of mind. His heart lightened. She had come back, but had not stayed. That meant there was hope for him and their relationship, for he knew she was like a bird beating its wings in a headwind, blowing this way and that, ruled by the turbulence of her emotions.
He ran down the corridor to the front door. If he could catch her he would persuade her to stay. But there was no Nicole and her car had gone.
His shoulders slumped and the weight on his heart returned. Tears blinded his eyes so he did not see one of the shadows on the stairs detach itself and move towards him. And he did not expect the ligature round his neck as he turned to enter his room.
The sound of Dave’s voice echoed behind Nicole as she ran up the street. Even when she tumbled into her car she imagined she could still hear him shouting, and entreating her to return. The car roared into life, and with an earsplitting screech of tyres, she drove off, even though the temptation to turn back, to tell him it was all a big mistake, was overwhelming.
Tears trickled down her face as she drove. She had not meant to get so involved with Dave. It had just been a bit of fun – just another one of her affairs. But he had not seen it that way, and she had been drawn into a relationship that frightened her with its intensity.
She had tried to end it gently, without causing him hurt. That was the way she usually ended her affairs. But he was having none of it, and eventually she had come to realize that she would have to be brutal. However, what she had not banked on was this feeling of something having been ripped out of her.
It was too dangerous to continue though. It had to end. Scott was not a fool and sooner or later he would have become suspicious.
She had been with Scott since she was fifteen, and she could not imagine life without him. He was overbearing, opinionated, and he often made her feel worthless and like a child again. She should have been happy with him, but there was a void, an ache that constantly needed to be filled, and she did that through casual affairs with other men. It boosted her self confidence – made her feel needed.
Maybe if they’d had children she would not have this urge. But Scott had taken care of that, forcing her to have an abortion when she was fifteen. ‘You must have it,’ he had said, ‘or it’s prison for me.’ It was the after effects of the abortion that ensured she would never have a child.
Nicole turned into the gate and drove up to the house. It was in darkness. Scott was not home yet. She was grateful for that because she was sure her mascara must be streaked and her eyes swollen.
Entering the house through the kitchen door, she kicked off her stiletto-heeled shoes and eased her cramped toes on to the coolness of the tiles. She crossed to the sink and splashed cold water over her face, before pouring some into a glass and gulping it down. Leaning against the sink for a moment, she stared uneasily into the darkness outside. Then, shivering, she left the glass in the sink, padded out of the kitchen and through to her bedroom.
It only took a moment to shrug off her clothes, but she paused before releasing her breasts from the too tight bra. They were large, firm and shapely, but she was unable to see that, because Scott always mocked them. ‘You’re like a Jordan look-a-like,’ he often said in a tone of disgust, although she was sure she was not as well endowed as Katie Price. And when he was being particularly cruel, he would compare them to the udders of a cow.
She jumped into bed and pulled the duvet over her head, unsure whether she was crying because of Scott’s dissatisfaction with her body, or because she had lost Dave.
It was much later before Scott returned home, and it pleased him to see Nicole’s blue, Porsche Boxster, tucked up safely in the garage. She was at home, where she should be.
A smile flickered at the corners of his mouth as he walked silently to the bedroom. He stood for a moment considering whether to wake her, but decided against it. He really was not in the mood for sex tonight and would rather savour the successes of the evening.
Raising a hand to the back of his neck he tugged at the elastic ponytail holder and shook his hair loose. It swirled around his head before settling, in dark-brown waves on his shoulders, hiding the diamond stud in his left ear.
He was an attractive man, and he knew it. His chin jutted out more than most men’s, but that did not displease him because he thought it made him look masculine. If there was any fault with his features it was his nose which was slightly off-centre, making his face look a bit less than symmetrical.
He undressed, and walked over to the window, staring out at the darkness and the vague reflection of his body. At least it was still firm and muscled, like the body of a younger man. Not like Nicole, who was running to flab and needed to diet.
Making a moue of distaste he crossed to the bed, slipped under the duvet and, turning his back on Nicole, closed his eyes. He fell asleep still smiling and thinking about everything that had happened earlier.