Submission Details

Paranormal Nonsense: Blue Moon Investigations Book 1
Paranormal Nonsense: Blue Moon Investigations Book 1
Steve Higgs
Crime
Yes - full manuscript is available


The genre should be Crime-comedy but no option to select that above. Tempest Michaels, a Paranormal Investigator by pure accident, sits reading a report by eyewitness Dr Bryson, a noted zoologist, about a Big Foot that has been spotted roaming the Kent Weald when he receives a text tipping him off about a third victim of a killer dubbed ‘The Vampire’. At the murder scene, he meets PC Amanda Harper whom he is immediately infatuated by. When his investigation leads him to respond to a client’s call for help he stumbles across a local vampire-wannabe club whereupon a fight breaks out. 'The Vampire' is the master of the club and both the club members and the killer himself believe he is a true vampire. Tempest’s interference causes the killer to target him and his family binging real jeopardy to his doorstep. With no client paying for this investigation he is motivated by the belief that a successful conclusion will bring press coverage to promote his business and please the alluring PC Harper but he must take on paying work at the same time. He investigates a Poltergeist haunting an old couple and tackles the Big Foot case when suddenly hired to do so following an accidental death. With several cases overlapping he calls for expert advice from Frank Decaux, the owner of a local occult bookshop. The bookshop assistant is Poison, a very attractive 19-year-old who is clearly interested in him. The client engaging him to investigate the Big Foot siting’s wants a result and gives him 3 days to deliver. PC Amanda Harper comes to his house early the next morning to report that there has been a double murder with the same puncture wound to the jugular. She wants to advance her career and plans to use him to help her solve the case in a bid to gain promotion. Tempest believes ‘The Vampire’ is just a man acting out a fantasy, but is he right? As Master of the vampire-wannabe club they pay him fealty and perform tasks for him to gain his favour and earn the right to be ‘turned’. A famous vampire slayer, Vermont Wensdale, appears to bring the beast down and offers a reward for information leading to its capture. Tempest learns that the vampire-wannabe club members may intend to do him or his family harm and approaches them only to find that the offered reward has caused a mob to form at their clubhouse. The clubhouse is on fire and a fight already in progress. Arrested in the ensuing confusion for the second time that week Tempest is released later that evening to find ‘The Vampire’ has attacked his parents. Picking up the investigation again the next day he discovers that Poison has been snatched by the vampire-wannabes and is to be murdered in a ritual to 'turn' them. Before he can pursue this however he is confronted by Vermont Wensdale and his associates who want him off the case. Now chasing for information and aided by PC Amanda Harper, Frank Decaux and a former Army colleague he joins the dots to find the crypt ‘The Vampire’ is using as a base. It is located in the grounds of a nearby privately owned castle. At the crypt, they meet the vampire-wannabe club again and endure a fight that they only survive by the timely arrival of Vermont Wensdale. The team are arrested once more by Police alerted to the site by Castle staff. Out of handcuffs, but with no sign of Poison or the vampire killer, he stumbles by accident across them both in the dark not far from the crypt. Another fight, this time against a seemingly impervious foe he survives only because Poison’s screams draw others. ‘The Vampire’ chooses to flee and is found dead not far away having run into a broken fence post that impales his chest. The stake through the heart is sufficient to perpetuate the beliefs of those who support the notion of the supernatural. In the fight, Tempest suffers a dreadful personal loss but is given no time to focus on his grief as a single clue seen earlier tips Tempest off to the identity of the Big Foot. When confronted, Dr Bryson confesses to dressing up as the Big Foot to promote a book. He tries to kill himself, almost taking Tempest out in the attempt. Tempest hands Dr Bryson over to PC Harper. Throughout the story Tempest Michaels is drawn to the attractive ladies around him such as PC Amanda Harper, Hayley from the coffee shop, Natasha the barmaid at his local pub and Poison the delightful assistant at the bookshop. To add to this his Mother, desperate for grandchildren, sets him up with an unsuitable blind date. Having had no luck for months, but now utterly confused by his sudden glut of choices, the story ends with the battered and bruised hero opening his door late one night to find a lady on his door step asking to be invited in. Entirely missing from the synopsis, which focusses on the storyline, is the comedy that runs throughout the book and is really the point of it all. The closest I can find to what I am doing is the work of Wilkie Martin or the bestseller Janet Evanovich.

The wrong route home

The Wrong Route Home. Wednesday 22nd September 2217hrsFor Victoria, the evening had been a complete loss, although her friend Sarah would not have agreed. Sarah had badgered her to come out as a date for her new boyfriend’s best mate and like a fool she had acquiesced. Sarah’s boyfriend seemed nice enough; she had met him already last week, and Sarah was certainly into him, but the best friend was a bore who spent the evening bragging about his football skills and telling her all about himself.
He had shown no real interest in her, which was something she should probably be thankful for but was actually a little bit insulted by as she felt she was catch enough to have at least warranted some flirting or cheap passes. Worse though he had not offered to pay for anything so the crap night out had cost her £30.
With her purse feeling deflated she was glad that they had ended up at the River Angel public house after their meal out as it was close enough to walk home from and thus saved her the cost of a taxi. Darren, her date for the night, had offered to see her to her door, the only chivalrous act all evening, but she had politely refused and was glad to be away from his boring conversation.
Pulling her coat tight against the cool air outside Victoria paused just outside the door to take off her heels and slip on a pair of flat ballet pumps she kept in her bag. Instant relief washed through her and she wriggled her toes briefly while debating the best route home.
Home was little more than half a mile from the pub if she took the path that bordered the river. It would be dark and always gave her the creeps but the alternate route went around onto the edge of the dual carriageway and through the houses. It would take at least twice as long and she was tired and her feet hurt and she had work in the morning so telling herself to be brave she set off towards the river. It was cold next to the water at this time of year and dark so her pace was quick, eager to get home.
The tarmac path was not in the best state of repair plus the bank to her left was steep in places so any heavy rainfall swept dirt down from the bank to wash over the path. It was rarely cleaned off by whomever was responsible for such things so the path was a little squidgy with mud in a few places which she tried to pick her way around; light coming from the moon and stars and from the lights of the city reflected back down from the few clouds still hanging around from this afternoons rainstorm made it possible for her to see where she was going.
Walking towards the canopy of trees where the light currently illuminating her surroundings would be cut off she thought to pull out her phone and utilise its torch function, but then decided she was actually quite ticked off with Sarah so was going to text her an angry message. She had been largely abandoned this evening so Sarah could focus solely on her boyfriend and suck his face. Come to think of it his face might not have been the only thing getting sucked since she had disappeared with him for twenty minutes at one point.
Tippety-tapping on her phone Victoria felt that odd sensation that one gets when someone is looking at you, it caused her to look up where upon she saw ahead of her a figure barring her path. Now under the canopy of trees and night-sight shot from staring at the bright screen of her phone she could still determine that the figure was a man. It gave her a start, her legs seemingly coming to a halt without her instructing them to do so.
The man looked to be wearing a dark suit, the little bit of light that came between the trees was catching on the shine of his shoes and the white vee of the shirt between his lapels and either side of his dark tie. He was not moving but there was nothing threatening about his stance and she could see both his hands, which were empty and hung loosely at this sides. She could not make out his face at all but from his shoulder to waist proportion could tell that he was muscular.
Feeling silly that she was now also just stood still on the path and becoming ever more aware of the cold air on her exposed skin she called out to him.
'Hello?’ The man didn’t answer nor did he give any indication that he had even heard her.
'Hello?’ she tried again, this time suppressing the quavering uncertainty in her voice. Still no reply. Unnerved she told herself that she was being ridiculous and it was probably nothing more than a chap out walking his dog late at night after either a hard day or work or perhaps an evening out. Maybe the dog was a cute little Pug she thought; she liked pugs. Chiding herself for her trepidation she started forward again closing the gap between them. She was a strong independent woman who would pass this man by like she would if it were daylight and would think nothing of it.
The forced confidence didn’t last long though as her heartbeat increased its pace with every step in his direction. He continued to just stand unmoving in her path as if waiting for something to trigger his motion.
Her next thought was to wonder if this chap was actually alright but then finally he moved. He raised his head slowly and deliberately so that he was looking directly at her. In the darkness of the shadows she had not realised that he had been looking down but now he leaned forward just a little and his face became highlighted by a shaft of light coming between the trees and he smiled at her.
There was nothing pleasant or engaging about the smile. The smile inferred bad things and when he opened his lips the smile contained far too many teeth and canines which were distinctly longer than they should be.
A heartbeat passed and then he moved, exploding into action towards her. Too shocked to scream Victoria span away from him. Her feet slipped on the debris and mud of the path and she pitched forward, corrected the downward motion with a hand on the path and took off at a sprint back towards the pub.
Naturally athletic, Victoria was a sprinter through her school years and was running at speed after a few paces. Now that she was moving she felt a growing confidence that she could outpace the man. The pub would soon be in sight, a faint glow from the outside lights already visible past the trees fifty yards ahead. Her breath started to tug in her chest but she pushed harder determined to get away from whatever menace the man intended.
The blow came as a surprise, she had no sense that he was even close to her, but it landed hard behind her right ear instantly knocking her off balance and stunning her at the same time. She stumbled, legs tangling as the sideways shunt ruined her forward motion.
As the floor became a painful eventuality that she could barely see Victoria put her hands out to arrest the impact. Out of control though she hit first with her right hip and still spinning crashed over onto her back where her left shoulder bit painfully into the path tearing her skin. Finally, the back of her head smacked into the tarmac bring a taste of blood. Coming to rest in the nettles and litter at the side of the path she rolled to get her hands back under her so she could get up. There was no sound apart from her own ragged breathing, so where was the attacker? Had he run off?
Victoria started to get up, but as she did saw that he was stood right by her feet. She made a little choking sound of fright. He was stood looking down at her, hands at his sides as they had been before. His suit looked unruffled. The moonlight was sufficient to show his face now, his expression quite calm and unthreatening as if he were about to ask the time
Propping herself up slightly on her elbows Victoria squirmed back a few feet to slide away from him. The exposed skin of her shoulder was rewarded with more stings from the nettles behind her though she barely registered it. She really needed to pee now and wished desperately she had taken the long route home.
'What do you want?’ she asked.
He crouched down then. He did not touch her, but came as close as he could without doing so, then leaned forward so his face was mere inches from hers.
'I want to drink your blood, little lamb.’ he said calmly, his voice a soothing baritone with a European accent. Then he hit her.
A massive hand grabbed her hair and twisted her head cruelly to the side forcing her to turn with it. The hand continued to twist and pushed her face into the dirt. She scrambled with her legs trying to find any purchase to fight him off but was no match for his strength or superior body weight. His knee went into the small of her back and she could no more move a building than get him off of her then.
She felt him move closer yet, bending right over her to nuzzle her neck like a lover might and then he bit down into the soft flesh of her neck.
She felt hot liquid on her skin and knew it was her blood. It began to pool under her chin and was getting into her hair. She wanted to fight back but all too soon she found that trying to do so seemed like a lot of effort.
He held her in place as her frantic struggling lessened. What was he doing now? Blearily Victoria could see something silvery, like a jug near to her face. The man was doing something with it but she was getting a headache from her pulse hammering in her head and the jug didn’t really seem that important. Her heart felt like it was banging in her chest and her eyes were getting heavy. Why are my eyes so heavy? She wondered briefly. It was her final thought as unconsciousness thankfully took her.
The man stood back watching her last breaths. In his left hand, he held a silver chalice. He checked his watch, moved the chalice so he was holding it with both hands and set off back down the path leaving Victoria where she lay.
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The body of Victoria Turnbull

The Body of Victoria Turnbull. Thursday 23rd September 0500hrsPC Amanda Harper checked her watch, 0513hrs. It was neither light nor dark, that time of the morning when the first rays of sun have begun to pierce the gloom yet hadn’t really done anything to lighten the surroundings. She was stood on a narrow path that bordered the river Medway near to Maidstone. The path was tranquil, picturesque and thoroughly safe during the daylight hours, she had walked along it many times in the past, but in the dark, it was far less pleasant. Starkly, she found it was foreboding and anxiety inducing and was telling herself to man-up and stop imagining that the things rustling in the undergrowth were coming to get her. Her shift had started at 1800hrs last night, a Thursday, and she should be finishing her shift in less than an hour. Experience had taught her that it was not going to go like that though; after seven years on the beat this was not her first murder scene and there was no way they were going to replace her this side of breakfast. If anything, they needed more people on the scene to manage human traffic, keep crowds back and assist SOCO to conduct their investigation. She would be swept up into the day of important tasks that needed doing fast.
She checked her watch again and shifted her feet a little. Trying not to look like she was dancing she moved her arms about a bit to keep the stiffness out and the cold away. The warmth of August was long forgotten replaced by the coolness of autumn. Amanda was thankful that this September morning was dry. However, the early morning mist forming on the river was still damp and the cool air had penetrated her layers of uniform a good half hour ago.
Sgt Dave Barnet appeared out of the gloom a few yards away where he had undoubtedly been involved in something far more interesting than perimeter security. Dave fancied her, she knew that although he had never said anything and was quite polite and avoided flirting in general. She could tell though, when she caught him glancing away when she turned, when he smiled at her and gave one too many work-related compliments. She was attractive. She accepted that as one accepts that your hair is brown or your eyes are blue. She understood that genetics had given her an athletic figure, high cheekbones, flowing hair and a strong jaw line that could have led to modelling had she wanted to pursue a line of work that did not require her brain. It was not a career choice that had interested her, although right now the thought of a bikini shoot in the Bahamas for some new swim wear firm sounded like a vast improvement. Come to think of it topless glamour modelling sounded good about now when compared with freezing her nipples off next to a river in the middle of the night, guarding a murder scene in Maidstone.
Dave looked over and caught her eye and began walking towards her. Emerging from the gloom his face was pretty grim.
'What have we got?’
'Nasty and weird murder, that’s what.’ he answered. 'Another bitten throat. Poor girl would have bled to death and it was clearly quite violent.’ neither said anything for a moment while the river mist swirled about them.
'Is it like the others? Same MO?’
'I wouldn’t go on record with that, but yes, essentially it appears to be the same.’ Even up close it was difficult to see his features, but he sounded weary and stressed. Amanda had seen a few bodies, murder in Kent was relatively rare but she had been around long enough to have attended a fair number of murder scenes. The recent series, if they were allowed to call it that, were something else though. Each of the three victims, assuming this was number three, had been attacked alone, at night and were found with wounds to their throat. The press had gotten hold of it almost two weeks ago two days after the second murder and were already calling it the vampire attacks or other such crude but catchy names. The term “The Vampire” had been coined immediately by “The Weald Word”, a local rag more used to reporting jumble sale successes and prize-winning turnips. Their lead reporter, if such a small paper can claim one, led with the legend “Vampire killer loose in Maidstone” the morning following after the second murder. This had been seized upon by the National press in what was a slow news week and now it was hard to think of the perpetrator by another term.
Amanda squinted at her Sgts face trying to get a read of his expression in the gloom. 'So, what is the scene like? Likelihood of useable evidence? she asked.
'Just like the last two I think. Not much of anything to help us.’ he replied, his tone carrying little inflection. 'There will be saliva around the wound, but that has already been checked and lead us nowhere. Other than that, this guy does not leave anything we can use. The SOCO chaps will be thorough, but whether they are able to find anything helpful
’ he tailed off just as his radio squawked, the sound cutting through the quiet stillness of the dawn in a shocking burst of noise. The call was for him so he left her there with a brief nod as he went.
Another forty-five minutes passed as the sun struggled lazily upwards lighting the sky and it felt like morning when PC Brad Hardacre emerged from the trees surrounding the tented crime scene. She spotted him because she was looking the wrong way again thoroughly bored with watching the ducks sleep on the bank next to her. Just before 0600hrs she had actually performed her function and turned away two joggers as they ran down the path towards her presumably on their usual route. Other than that, she had done nothing for the last two hours.
She checked her watch; 0602hrs. 'Good morning Amanda, how has your day been so far?’ hallooed Brad as he approached. Brad was an ok guy, most of them were with the odd exception, but she quite liked him and might have been interested if they did not work together.
'It has been sucky mostly, Brad, but nowhere near as bad as the girl lying over there had it.’ she gestured with her head to the tents.
'Another Vampire victim?’ Brad asked while making his canines stick out below his top lip.
'Didn’t you check in with control when you arrived?’ she asked with exasperation. 'You know the protocols Brad; how can you know what is happening if you avoid getting a brief?’
He smiled and waggled his eyebrows conspiratorially 'I quite like the idea of a vampire in Maidstone. It adds a bit of badly needed cool and hipness to the dreary landscape. Vampires are cool, right? Besides the Chief can eat my pants.’
'If you are a teenage girl and a virgin and have watched too much Twilight then maybe vampires are cool. Otherwise they are for geeks with Buffy the Vampire Slayer fantasies.’ she looked him dead in the face 'I doubt the victim will agree that vampires are cool.’ this was a little hard on him, a little banter around horrible events is completely normal, a coping mechanism, but he needed to reel it in for his own good.
'Well, now that you are here you can stand watch on this lonely, boring path while I get warm, get some blood back into my limbs and get a cup of tea. I’m off to see what is going on.’ with that she headed over to the tents covering the body.
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Rochester High Street

Rochester High Street. Thursday 23rd September 0830hrsMy name is Tempest Danger Michaels. You are probably thinking 'What a ridiculous name.’ Most people do.
It was not of my choosing of course; you understand how it works. As a child, I thought nothing of it until I started school and the reactions began. Of course, I introduce myself as Tempest, which raises the odd eyebrow but little more than that. It is not until my middle name is discovered that real comments begin.
My Father explained that he had wanted me to have a memorable name that would assist me in life. Personally, I think he watched too many adventure films and got carried away with romantic notions of heroes saving the day.
I admit that I have used the line 'Danger really is my middle name’ and proceeded to prove it a few times as an adult by producing my driving licence and that once or twice it has resulted, part way at least, in getting me laid. So, I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to my name as much as there are to any other. The problem generally is that people assume I have changed my name, that I chose it myself because I wanted to say ’Danger is my middle name’ before diving out of a window or something equally moronic.
Now that I have explained about the name I am still faced with the unfortunate task of telling you what I do for a living. I have my own business and that of course always sounds good, but when you are on the second date and the lady wants to hear more about you there is simply no good way of telling her that you are a paranormal investigator.
The reactions have been entertaining I suppose. Some freeze and ask me to repeat myself, some laugh and ask me what I really do. One called me a total loser and walked straight out of the restaurant, but not one lady has ever been impressed with my current job. Doubtless you are on their side but let me explain how it came about and let me first reassure you that I in no way believe that the paranormal exists.
Currently I am sat in my two-room office above a cheap, and by all accounts crap, travel agent in Rochester High Street. The location is fantastic; in the shadow of the Cathedral and surrounded by amazing architecture. Outside my door are myriad public houses, restaurants and shops selling baked wares, the smells from which combine to assail the nostrils and imbue hunger. The pavements are cobbled, the mere fact that it is a tourist location means it is always clean and litter free and at different times of the year, such as Christmas, it is delightfully decorated and cheer inducing.
The office is rented from the owner of the travel agent, a chap that appeared to have been boil washed. Tony Jarvis Travel was a sorry little place which might have been a booming business twenty years ago, but had the appearance of a shop lost in time and purpose. The décor and displays were at least a decade old and poor Tony had the haunted look of a man that had already given up. Mousy, thinning ginger hair and a very pale complexion added to a tiny frame led to my boil washed analogy. I had heard his wife, had to be a wife because no one else would speak so harshly to a person, berate him for not trying hard enough to bring in customers. Despite her feelings on the matter a slow, but steady stream of pensionable age citizens shuffled in and out.
Anyway, I lost the point there. I joined the British Army as a young man and made a good career of it. However, they very generously offered me a substantial sum of money to leave during one their draw down periods and I took it. I was mid-thirties by then and was due to end my contracted twenty-two-year career at forty anyway. The pay out from the voluntary redundancy combined with my gratuity and immediate pension benefits made my bank account look quite healthy so there seemed no desperate rush to move into my next career. I had no idea what I wanted to do after the Army anyway, so for a period I bummed around walking my dogs, visiting places I had only seen on TV and doing a bit of DIY to the house I had bought as an investment a few years ago. This went on for a few months until my Mother asked 'Are you planning to never work again?’
My Mother generally didn’t leave much wriggle room so I set about finding a job. Disinterested in virtually everything that was on offer to me it was only when a friend enquired whether I had considered setting up my own business that I hit upon the idea of being a private investigator. I didn’t come up with the idea all by myself; it was not an epiphany or lightning bolt moment, instead I happened to be leafing through a magazine designed for forces personnel leaving the services and looking for new careers. There I found a half-page advert for starting your own investigation business. Curious, I grabbed the yellow pages and discovered that in my local area, which had several million people in it, there was not one private investigator advertised. This, I considered, meant there was a niche market, a gap, an opportunity and thus I applied to take the course and buy the equipment.
When considering what to call the business I immediately hit upon the name 'Blue Moon Investigation Agency’ and could not work out where I had got it from. A quick google search revealed that it was the name of the agency in Moonlighting, an eighties TV series that I had watched on reruns as a teenager. It was the show that launched Bruce Willis into the limelight. I saw no reason why I should not use it and it had a certain cool vibe to it so the decision was made.
Anyway, I contacted the Yellow pages and they were jolly expensive, so I went with a local newspaper that advertised local businesses. Best to start out small and keep the overheads down was my thinking, but life likes to laugh at my plans so what happened was the paper ran my advert under the title Paranormal Investigation instead of Private Investigation. In a loud and somewhat apoplectic voice I asked them how this happened the day the paper came out. They said that the girl writing the ad up saw the Blue Moon name and wrote paranormal without even noticing she had got it wrong. They apologised and made some placating noises; offered to run my advert correctly for a month for free, that sort of thing. The paper was published and in circulation though and so for the next two weeks I would be a paranormal investigator at the Blue Moon Investigation Agency.
I remember being distinctly irked about the advert and sitting in my office convinced that I could just shut up shop until the advert ran correctly again in two weeks’ time. Well I was wrong. The morning the advert ran I received my first phone call at 0912hrs and had a further three enquiries the same day. I have enjoyed a steady stream of business clients ever since.
That was six months ago. I kept the business name, kept the advert running and keep wondering if maybe I need to take on additional staff. Mostly I investigate strange events which turn out to be one too many vodkas, but mixed in with the stupid are cases that take some effort to solve. Included in this list have been a man that was actually attacked by a werewolf which of course turned out to be a drugged-up, hairy, homeless person with no shirt, a couple that had suffered a series of bad luck incidents and believed they have been cursed by their great Aunt Ida (who is definitely a witch, she has a black cat), but were just plain unlucky and an old lady that who was being kept awake by ghostly noises but turned out to have a flatulent dog.
Knowing with utter conviction, as any sane person did, that the whole paranormal world is a load of fantastic nonsense meant that I could ignore exploring the possibility that a werewolf was actually running around Chatham or Aunt Ida was actually a witch throwing curses at her lesser relatives and thus find a solution to each case that generally presented itself as obvious once the paranormal had been discounted. The best bit was that people paid me to politely point out how daft they were.
Today was a day like any other day. It was a Thursday so my internal calendar was programmed for me to be doing some form of work but on this particular Thursday I had no current cases. Despite that I had risen early, lifted some weights and walked the dogs. I was now sat in a coffee house opposite my office reading the news and relaxing with a cup of tea. The front page of the Times was mostly dedicated to further trouble in Syria with a large picture of the new Princess baby being held for the camera at her first outing. It was nothing that I found noteworthy
I switched to a local rag, one that ran my business advert actually. On page four, just after a report of a stolen river boat, I found an interesting headline which declared 'Bluebell Hill Big Foot?’ above a grainy picture of a blob on a landscape. The first few lines gave the usual overview of the entire story which was about reports of a large beast that had been seen several times in the last few weeks. Kent has a lot of country side, but not so much that a Sasquatch could be living in it with no one noticing. The paper was not given to tabloid nonsense though so I read on. The first sighting had been three weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon. Mr and Mrs McCarthy of Aylesford had been walking their Labrador, Max, when they saw a large, hairy bipedal creature walking upright no more than thirty metres away. It disappeared into the treeline before Mrs McCarthy, fifty-seven, could get her phone out to take a picture. The Labrador gave chase but returned when they called it back. Clearly shaken they stated that the creature was not a bear, which was their first thought, but moved like a man and by judging the apparent height of the Beast against the trees they estimated its height at over seven feet. There were no footprints, they said, because of the recent dry period and hard ground. The creature was muscular around the thighs and shoulders and thick at the waist. They did not report the sighting until a local radio station ran a story a week ago following several other sightings. The radio had brought in local Doctor of Zoology and second person to have made a sighting, Dr Barry Bryson. Their 'Expert witness’ had apparently supported the notion that there could indeed be a large bipedal mammal living in Kent, but was quoted as having said 'The United Kingdom has over seven hundred thousand hectares of forest, most of it linked to support wildlife migration patterns. That there are creatures we have not yet discovered, living right next to us, is highly likely. Siting’s of a creature matching what I saw have been reported several times before in the same area over the last few decades. It is entirely tenable that a large nocturnal bipedal mammal exists and that we have not seen it because it lives underground and only ventures out at night to forage.’ Was there a big foot living in the Kent Weald? Where had it come from? The article went on to recount in less detail the reports of three other persons that had claimed to have seen the Big Foot. Each one reported more or less the same description. Dr Bryson had gone on to tout a novel that he had written loosely based on the subject. When asked if he felt the creature posed a threat his response was 'Absolutely. It is most probable that this creature is either carnivore or omnivore, it is doubtful that it would see a human as a viable meal but if startled it may attack as a defensive measure.’
I looked up as the door chimed. Two young ladies dressed for office work came in chatting. Both were pretty, but a little young for further attention.
I cast my gaze back to the article. Dr Barry Bryson, Manager at Kent Predator and Prey Park, a failing local wildlife park just outside Maidstone, had seen the creature from his car, he claimed. Driving to work early on a Tuesday morning he had suffered a puncture and pulled over onto the hard shoulder of the A229 to deal with it. It was early morning so traffic was very light and he spotted the creature moving away from him. He pursued and found a giant footprint perfectly preserved in thick mud where the Big Foot had disappeared into the wood line. The print measured over eighteen inches in length and showed five toes with no claws. The writer proceeded to discuss what creatures in the natural kingdom could leave such a print, concluding with none other than the North American Big Foot. The footprint was shown in a picture which was better quality than the grainy photograph shown earlier and was considered to be fairly concrete evidence that 'something was out there.’
The story had not attracted the interest of National press yet. It was the first I had heard of it, which made me feel like I was failing in some way since I am the only paranormal investigator in the book. But since it was probably a homeless man or a chap out shooting ducks illegally and wearing a camouflage suit I was not going to let that trouble me too much.
Sat there pondering whether I should pop to the gents now or wait until I had walked the fifteen metres to my office I was interrupted by my phone receiving a text: 'Third vampire victim found by the river 200m south of River Angel Pub. Fresh scene, go check it out.’ the text read.
It had been sent by Sharon Maycroft, a former several nights stand and current local newspaper journalist for the very paper I held in my hands. Sharon was one of the few that accepted my profession without the slightest interest; it had no impact on what she wanted me for, which was mostly sex, but had on occasion resulted in conversation. Not that we still liaised, but we moved in the same social circles occasionally and had an amicable relationship. She clearly believed I would be interested and was very kindly supplying me with information.
Would the information from Sharon require reciprocation? If so would that mean a nocturnal activity session? Buoyed by the thought of that I folded the paper and returned it to the little rack on the wall. I had discovered some time ago that an old school-friend, a chap I met on my very first day in school in fact, was a PC in the Maidstone police force and had utilised the connection a few times to get vital nuggets of information. I flicked to his number and pressed the green button to dial his mobile.
Calling Darren Shrivers was displayed on the phone but it did not connect. When it switched to voicemail I hung up and tried the number I had for his work desk. It rang briefly and was answered by a female voice.
'PC Callwell.’ that was all I got.
'This is Tempest Michaels calling for PC Shrivers.’
'May I ask what it is pertaining to?’
'I’m an old school-friend, I am just calling to arrange meeting for a few beers.’ I lied rather than compromise him in any way. 'Please don’t drag him away from anything he might be doing, I can catch him later. Or could I leave a message for him?’ I suspected she would not disturb him if he was busy anyway.
'I’m afraid he is away on a course and will not be back for several weeks.’
Well that ended that line of enquiry. Even if I could get him via his mobile later he would have no idea what was going on with cases back at the station.
'Oh.’ I said simply. 'Well, thank you anyway. I’ll catch up with him later.’ I added just to wrap up the conversation.
I popped the phone in my bag, slung the bag over my shoulder and stepped out into the street.
It was cool out, one of those early autumn days that people call fresh rather than cold. It would be cold if you stayed out in it but of course most do not; they merely travel through the cool air on a brief transition between house and car, car and office. There was no need to button my coat though as it was only a handful of strides from the coffee shop to my office door.
I bounded up the stairs to my office, unlocked the door and left it open while I pulled together the gear I would need. While I had not been engaged by anyone to investigate “The Vampire” murders (might as well call it that since everyone else was) I had nothing better to do and perhaps solving this would get me a truck load of publicity.
As I set the business up I had invested in decent cameras, recording equipment, hidden microphones and video equipment and professional looking stationary and notebooks that I could take to client meetings and wherever else my work took me. Since then I had bought ancient looking texts and grimoires to complete the image of the serious paranormal investigator and carried ridiculous extras such as salt, stakes and silver. So far, I had seen a lot of weird stuff but nothing that could convince me that the supernatural existed.
I carry a shoulder bag with me just about everywhere I go. I started doing so not long after I left the army and no longer had a back pack for daily use. I have phones, business cards, notebooks, cameras and recording equipment in it generally and trivia like a pack of tissues because you never know when a lady might need one and a condom because the lady might be impressed by the tissue. I’m a man ok? It’s how we think.
Bag packed I locked the office and jogged down the stairs, out the front and around the back to the car park.
I love my car. My sister says I am compensating, but I think that is a load of clichéd nonsense. If I swapped it for a 1970s battered Austin Allegro in shiny turd brown it would not suddenly transform Mr Wriggly into Penisaurus Rex so having a car that I enjoy driving does not mean I am hung like a baby carrot. It was a beautiful black 2009 Porsche Boxster S with a full Porsche body kit and fat nineteen inch Porsche cup alloys.
I plipped it open and got in, swinging my bag of goodies onto the passenger seat.
The journey was perhaps five miles or so and would take anything between twenty and forty minutes depending on traffic. I used to run a lot of the route I was about to take whenever I was spending time at my parents’ house in Rochester so I knew the roads could often be jogged faster than driven. Nevertheless, driving was the right option and I got there in twenty-four minutes.
I parked at the River Angel pub that Sharon had said was near to the scene. The pub was an attractive two story building set on the river front. I had no idea how old it was although it had old oak beams were set into the walls and a several centuries old look to it, but it might have been made to look like that whenever it was that it was built. It was shut, no lights on but at 0937hrs no surprise. I wondered if anyone lived there. It looked like a nice place to live so perhaps the landlord and his family were in residence.
I walked around the side, passed the wooden trestle tables laid out for al fresco dining and spotted the on-duty police officer on the river path immediately. Beyond him there were the familiar white tents they erect to preserve a scene and prevent gawking passers-by from having anything good to look at. There were a number of persons moving about in full-body forensic suits and several more police officers in uniform along with one or two others in suits and coats that were probably also police all near to the tents and not visibly doing much. The established perimeter was set at a distance that meant conversation at the site could not be heard and the detail of what people were doing was impossible to make out.
From where I stood the river looked lovely, the setting was beautiful and must draw scores of people all year round; a great site for a pub. Mooring points allowed boats to pull up right at the pub and they were fitted along the river bank as far as I could see in either direction.
The tents were tucked in under a few straggly trees just off the path that follows the river. It was cooler here than elsewhere, the local temperature kept low by the river. I approached the uniformed police officer blocking access to the site.
'Good morning. I understand there has been another murder. I am a private investigator looking into the deaths for a third party.’ OK so I was the third party but the lie was far better than 'Hi I investigate weird stuff like vampires and werewolves for a living’ because that never gets me very far.
I didn’t really expect help or an invite to see the victim for myself. 'I know who you are, Sir.’ said the officer much to my surprise. I noted his number in my notebook just in case I needed to refer back to who I had spoken with. 'I saw you in the local papers after that Werewolf thing.’ he was grinning now. 'Watch too many episodes of X-Files by any chance?’ clearly entertaining himself.
It occurred to me that I could simply be an equal arse to him and leave him feeling small and pathetic, but that would not get me any information. I grinned back in what I hoped was a congenial way 'Too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer actually, but what I proved in the incident to which you refer was that the supernatural does not exist. I get paid to prove it does not exist by people that fervently believe that it does.’ mostly true. 'The very fact that this is being called a vampire slaying means a pay day for me so I am hoping you can help me out with a few very basic facts.’
At this point over his left shoulder I spotted a second uniformed officer heading over towards us. Very different in appearance to the chap I was currently conversing with though; this one was gorgeous. I have never been impressed by ladies that dress for a night out like they are auditioning for the Pussycat Dolls, nor am I inspired by flawless makeup so the fact that the lady walking towards me now in coppers boots, a heavy, unflattering uniform and bereft of makeup and hair styling could grab my attention so instantly meant she must be a knock out in her usual clothes. Get a grip Tempest I chastised myself. There are plenty of attractive ladies around, no need to start dribbling.
Opting to look focused and professional I hoisted the camera out of my shoulder bag and took a few shots of the area in general.
'My turn again. There are bacon sandwiches if you are quick.’ the new officer informed her colleague on arrival.
He turned to go but looked back and offered 'Good luck with the investigation Mulder.’ as he went. I had considered that he might just be bored and thus the initial thrust and parry of our few shared words were merely to brighten his day, but no, I concluded; he is in fact just a dick.
'What did he mean?’ asked the vision in uniform. Her face betrayed boredom and little else.
'I’m the guy in the papers investigating supernatural events. Not that I expect you to have heard of me, but he clearly had.’
'That thing with the werewolf?’
'Yup. That was me. I’m Tempest Michaels. I think this attack is linked to the previous two, which is no great leap given the proximity of the crimes to each other. Solving it will assist my business.’ I was looking beyond her rather than at her, but focused now on meeting her eyes. Wow! They were fantastic and boy do I need to get laid at some point soon. I realised I has stopped speaking during the internal dialogue. 'What can you tell me about the circumstances?’
'Nothing, Sir. Official statements will be issued once the details of the crime have been verified and the victim has been identified.’ it was the answer I expected although it never hurts to ask.
'I’d like to give you my card.’ fishing in my bag. 'I would be very interested in following up on this with you when you are off duty.’
'To what purpose?’ Ok brain, get it right and you have a shot, get it wrong and the lovely lady will identify that you are a complete knob and that will be that. How can I get across that I am a cool guy just looking to solve a crime and be professional but that I am actually available and interested? I opened my mouth to express that I find senior police officers have no time for me and that her colleague was clearly not interested in helping and that thus I hoped that she could provide some perspective so that, through spit-balling our ideas together, we might both do well, when a voice came from behind me.
'Wotcha, Dangerman, I knew you would get here before me. Still convinced that there are no vampires?’
'Bollocks.’ I muttered to myself
'Chatting up another fine woman I see. I don’t know how you keep up with them all.’
Perfect. The voice, I knew without turning, belonged to Frank Decaux. Frank was the owner of an occult book shop and believed with a foaming-at-the-mouth fervour that everything supernatural existed. He stood about five feet four inches tall, had a forgettable face, a scrawny body and light brown hair which was not complemented by a sallow complexion. The overall effect was as if a witch had changed him from a weasel into a man and not done a very good job. Frank arrived at my office about ten minutes after the advert for paranormal investigations went out and I had not been able to shake him since. Largely this was because he was determined to be there when I came up against something that proved to be genuinely supernatural and partly because he turned up anywhere that might have a supernatural link. Such as the site I was now stood at. I think he is harmless and generally well-meaning and I have called upon him on occasion for expert advice. He can be an annoying tit though.
'Good morning, Frank.’ I replied ignoring my desire to throw him into the river. 'How unsurprising to find you here. The Officer and I were just discussing the case. Or rather, I was asking questions and the officer was deciding how to answer them.’
PC Hotstuff, as the chunk of my brain controlling my penis has now labelled her had a question 'I have been stood here for ten minutes and so far, you have been called Mulder and Dangerman. Do you get called a lot of names?’
Halfway through turning to look at Frank I turned back to her, smiled and said 'What I get called depends on whether I have been naughty or not.’
She just rolled her eyes. I had been aiming for cheeky scamp but had clearly missed in her opinion.
'So, what’s the plan Tempest? What are we up against? Lone vampire or nest? Personally, I think a lone vampire is more likely and a very young one. Very unusual for them to make this much mess and leave bodies around the place. Only a young, inexperienced vampire, a new born, would be so amateur.’ I swivelled to look at Frank’s face, but he was of course deadly serious. 'Traditionally vampires prey on those that will not be missed or on rural communities, which has of course become far harder this century with the internet, CCTV, mobile phones etcetera. The TV wants to show them as flamboyant creatures that live among us and impress us with their charm and looks, but they are shadow creatures in reality, keeping to the dark and trying to remain unnoticed.’
'In reality?’ PC Hotstuff had an incredulous look on her face and was staring at Frank as if trying to decide whether he was dangerous or just stupid. 'In reality, a young woman had her throat ripped out twenty yards from her door by a crazed murderer. If it turns out that the perpetrator is some pathetic moron acting out a vampire fantasy
’ she tailed off as if unsure how to end the sentence.
'What she said.’ I chimed, agreeing completely but also noting that the victim was a young woman and very local, which given the geography must have meant that she was on her way back from the pub and only had a two hundred metre walk. That alone explains what she was doing out by herself in the dark on a dodgy looking path at night. Not a good place to walk, but if it is only a few hundred metres and the alternative well-lit route is over a mile then I’m sure most would have taken the same option as she did. Doubtless she had taken the same route home hundreds of times before.
'Frank, you are completely mad, yet thoroughly entertaining at the same time.’ I said turning back to PC Hotstuff. 'You have my card. See you around.’ I popped the camera back into my bag and left to head back to the car.
Behind me I could hear Frank explaining to PC Hot stuff that the world Joss Whedon created for Buffy the Vampire Slayer had actually been quite accurate on some of the details
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