Manchester, 25 September 3124
Tom Carter sat across the table from the woman from Dudley Street. He was leaning back in his chair, his arms folded across his chest, staring at her, willing her to break her apparent vow of silence. She had refused a lawyer before the interview, refused to answer any questions put to her, and seemed intent on playing a staring contest with Tom until he gave in. She would not win. Tom was used to this type of suspect. While she stared at him and he stared back, he put his body into autopilot, fixed in his current pose while his mind browsed the mental snapshots he had taken of the suspect’s flat.
One of everything, except mugs and plates. Either Carlos was very good at covering his tracks, or he did not live with the woman. The fact that he was registered to that address and the fact that the woman had a restricted occult book in her possession suggested he was there, however. It was too much of a coincidence otherwise.
The interview room door opening brought Tom back to the real world. He glanced around and saw Eric motion him outside.
‘Interview suspended at 02:14,’ he said as he rose from his chair.
Outside the interview room, Eric stood with a man Tom did not recognise. He was short, thin, and bore a long, drooping moustache like so many young men seemed to these days. Apparently the old soup strainer was back in fashion, although Tom could not for the life of him understand why.
‘What’s the matter?’ asked Tom.
‘Forensics went over the flat,’ said Eric. ‘We found more books and some statues of some kind hidden in a secret compartment in the suspect’s bed.’
‘So we’ve caught ourselves a cultist. Is that all?’
‘Not quite,’ said the moustachioed man. ‘We also found a key to the downstairs apartment in the secret compartment. We let ourselves in. You might be interested in what we found.’
The man handed Tom a large folder full of photographs. Tom flicked through them, examining each one quickly, not needing to look at them for long to realise the significance of what he was seeing. Walls covered in occult markings, diagrams like those at the flat of John Edward Collins. A room with two bunk beds in it, and only one bunk showing signs of use.
‘So this is where he was staying,’ said Tom.
‘From the look of things,’ said the moustache man. ‘Apparently he was eating at your suspect’s flat but sleeping in this cult place. We found a carryall with men’s clothes in it and documentation in the name of Carlos García Arroyo.’
Tom closed the folder and turned around to head back into the interview room. ‘Give me five minutes.’
‘We haven’t got to the worst part yet,’ said Eric. ‘Take a look at the last photo.’
Tom turned back to the two men, giving them a quizzical look as he opened the folder once more. The final picture was of a dark room made of thick stone, with broken wooden boards on the floor. In the centre of the room, a set of manacles hung limp from the ceiling; a dark stain coated the floor below.
‘What’s this? Some sort of dungeon?’ asked Tom.
‘It looks that way. We found the trapdoor into it hidden under one of the bunk beds.’
‘Any evidence it has been used?’
‘The samples we took haven’t come back yet but we should know in an hour or two.’
Tom closed the folder again with some force and headed back into the interview room.
‘Interview recommencing at 02:31,’ Tom barked. ‘You have some explaining to do, Missy.’
He threw the folder across the dull grey table. The photographs spilled out over the woman’s lap. ‘Get talking. I want to know about your fucked up dungeon, and I want to know now.’
The woman looked at him with blank eyes and said nothing.
Tom spread his arms wide on the table and leaned in close to the woman. He was so close to her he could smell the sweat and grease in her matted hair. She was hideous, totally repulsive and her stench was enough to make his stomach churn but he held his place nevertheless.
‘If you don’t talk,’ he growled. ‘I’m sending you down right now. We’ve got enough from the blood samples to put you away for life, and your fucked up spellbooks will mean you’ll never get parole.’
The woman snickered. It was the first sound she had made since the interview began.
Tom held his stance for a minute more, then pulled back and stood up straight. It was obvious she was not going to talk. Fine, he thought. Let’s play it that way.
‘Interview concluded at 02:40. Amelia Morrison, I hereby charge you with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of illegal texts. You will be taken from this place to a secure facility where you will await trial.’
He turned and made his way out of the room as calmly as he could manage.