Home > Dark Water (DCI Erika Foster #3)(3)

Dark Water (DCI Erika Foster #3)(3)
Author: Robert Bryndza


‘… It’s a hard plastic shell casing, around four feet square… It’s packed in under the mud… ’ There was interference, which Erika realised were bubbles from the divers’ respirator. ‘I’ll need help if we’re going to pull it out…’

She pressed her radio, ‘Okay, I’m sending Paul and Clive in with the winch, over… This could be it, ‘ she added looking up at Erika.

 

* * *

 

The temperature plummeted by the water as darkness fell. Erika and John paced up and down within the arc of light spilling out of the support vehicles. The trees behind them had vanished in the darkness that seemed to press down on them all.

One of the divers, slick in his dry suits finally emerged up the steep banks of the quarry carrying what looked like a large moulded plastic suitcase streaked in mud. Erika moved over to join the group helping him up and onto dry land, the box was placed on the ground, a torch was trained on it. There were two padlocked latches either side of the carry handle.

‘There’s a pressure equalisation valve on the case,’ said Erika indicating a mud - covered button underneath the handle. John took a pair of long handled metal cutters from one of the dive team, and deftly clipped both locks. He stood back.

‘Do you want to do the honours, Boss?’ he asked.

‘Yes, I do,’ said Erika pulling on a pair of latex gloves. She crouched down in front of the plastic case and gently turned the pressure valve, which was followed by a hissing noise. She then unclipped both latches and pulled up the lid. Inside, packed neatly in long rows, were bags each filled with the rose-grey coloured powder.

‘Got you,’ said Erika. She stood up and John raised his hand. Despite herself she high-fived him. ‘We’ve got him!’

‘Jeez, Boss, now I know what four million pounds looks like… It’s horrific, but I can’t stop looking,’ said John turning back at the contents of the case.

‘Thank you, all of you,’ said Erika, turning to the silent faces that stood around in a small semi circle, staring in at the case full of drugs. John was right; it was both captivating and horrific to see that much in one place. It had an almost dangerous power to it. A crash of interference came through the comms unit from one of the divers still working out by the support boat, Lorna she went over and started talking to the diver over the radio.

‘Okay, John, put in a call to control. We need this moved securely to the nick, make sure the fingerprint team are ready to pull this apart the moment we get back. We’re not taking our eyes off it until it’s safely locked up, you understand?’

‘Yes, Boss.’

‘And get one of the large evidence bags from the car.’

John went off as Erika pulled out her iPhone and took some photos of the open case, the flash briefly illuminating the darkness on the common. She closed the case again, locking the latches.

‘DCI Foster,’ said Lorna coming over from where she’d been talking on the comms unit. ‘One of our divers has just been doing a sweep of the area where we found the case, and he’s found something else which, perhaps you should see…’

 

* * *

 

A few minutes later, another diver emerged from the water with something dark and misshapen cradled in his arms. He brought it over to the floodlit area of ground, where they saw it was a mud- streaked bundle of plastic entwined in rusty chains, which were looped through and weighed down by what looked like exercise weights.

No one in the team said anything. It was no more than five feet long, misshapen, and had folded over on itself. The plastic was old and brittle and seemed bleached of colour.

‘It was found four feet away from the plastic case, partially submerged in silt on the quarry bed,’ said Lorna. It looked as if it had been down there for longer than the past few months. As the diver placed it on the floor, the weights clinked and jangled.

‘I need the bolt cutters,’ said Erika, breaking the silence. John pulled on a fresh pair of latex gloves, and gently set to work, clipping the rusty chains, which were thin but woven over and under several times. The plastic was so brittle it had become rigid, so it crackled as the chains were unwound, and water began to seep out onto the grass from inside. Erika pulled on a fresh pair of latex gloves and began to help John as they slowly worked unfolding the plastic.

They were silent apart from the hum of a generator, and despite the cold, Erika realised she was sweating. The plastic was folded repeatedly and rolled over, and as they unwrapped the layers, she thought whatever was inside was small. It smelt only of pond water, stale and a little unpleasant, which set alarm bells off in her mind.

Then they reached the last fold in the plastic, and opened it out with a crackle. Inside lay a small skeleton, a jumble of pieces, amongst a layer of fine silt. Little remained of its clothes, and scraps of brown material clung to a piece of ribcage. Below it was a small thin belt with a rusted buckle looped around the spinal cord, still attached to the pelvis. The skull was loose, and nestled in a curved pile of ribs. A few murky wisps of hair remained attached to he top of the skull.

‘Oh my god,’ said Lorna.

‘It’s very small… It looks like a child’s skeleton,’ said Erika softly. John stood and moved quickly away, out of the darkness to the edge of the quarry, where he was violently sick.

 

 

3

 

 

The banks of Hayes Quarry had been chaotic after they found the human remains. It had started to rain heavily. Lorna had withdrawn her team from the water; they had all exceeded their dive time, and had to rest up so the levels of nitrogen in their blood could level out. Backup officers were called. Valuable time passed as statements were taken and the small remains were photographed by an official CSI.

As the pathologists van pulled away with the small skeleton zipped up in a black body bag, Erika couldn’t shake off what she’d seen. The empty staring eye sockets of the small skull. A thin belt with a rusty buckle looped around the spinal column, and the wisps of long hair still attached to the skull, coarse and tangled by the water. She’d felt a pang of regret she was no longer in her old job on the Murder Investigation Team at Lewisham Row. She was now working in conjunction with The Projects Team, fighting organised crime. It would be another officers job to find out how the small skeleton ended up thirty feet down, in the freezing blackness.

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