Posts Tagged ‘BSL’

A solitary figure sweated profusely as he toiled away, unconcerned by the confined space of the basement he worked in or by the wooden floorboards that formed a ceiling just a metre or so above his head. Claustrophobia, it seemed, wasn’t an issue. Stretched out full length on the concrete floor, he worked by the light of a torch he’d left resting beside him. His full attention was on filling a hole, brick by brick, in a wall that dissected one corner of the basement.

It was a painstakingly slow process. He was a thinker and a planner, not a bricklayer or labourer. Even so, he understood the basics of bricklaying and he was blessed with a certain amount of natural strength, and this was helping him now. To protect his hands, he wore a pair of snug-fitting, black, leather gloves not unlike driving gloves.

A little research was all it had taken to familiarise himself with the rudiments of bricklaying. The upshot was he used quick-mix cement. Three parts sand to one part masonry cement. That’s what the supplier’s instructions had stated, but he’d added an extra spadeful of cement for good measure because he felt it needed that.

The instructions also advised using fine-grade masonry sand and fresh masonry cement preferably from an unopened bag. That he hadn’t managed because he didn’t want to be seen purchasing the product, and so he’d had to use what was available. And what was available was a half-used bag of course-grade masonry. Touch wood, it was doing the job – so far at least.

“Mix only what you need” the instructions had read. He’d estimated half a wheelbarrow-full would do it with some to spare, so that’s the amount he’d mixed. Because of the basement’s low head-clearance, he’d had to pour the mixture into buckets – six of them – and drag them one at a time to his cramped workplace.

Two extra trips had been required, including one to fetch a bucket of water. He was using the water to keep the cement from setting before applying it. The other trip had involved dragging the object he was now concealing from a room on the lower floor of the building directly above his head. That had required the most effort as the object weighed almost as much as he did.

The instructions had also recommended the addition of lime to the mixture – “to bond and strengthen the stonework you are building,” according to the supplier’s instructions. He didn’t have any lime, and that had bothered him initially. Now, as he saw how well the cement was bonding with the bricks, he relaxed a little. Easy, he thought. Like falling off a bike.

He was quite proud of his trowelling technique. It improved with the laying of each brick, but it was tricky and he found he had to focus.

“Hold the trowel at a ninety degree angle,” he’d been advised, but he had quickly discovered ninety degrees was a bit too ambitious in the confined space. It wasn’t as if he could work standing up. Lying down, seventy degrees or thereabouts was the best he could manage with the trowel, but that was sufficient.

The main challenge, he’d discovered, was ensuring the quick-mix cement in the buckets didn’t set before he could apply it. Premature setting was only avoided by regular application of water, which he dispensed by using his trowel to transfer small amounts from the water bucket to the other buckets and then giving their contents a good stir. It required some effort, and despite the basement’s cool temperature he found he was sweating more with each passing minute.

Ever so gradually the hole in the brick wall grew smaller as he laid more bricks.

Despite what was at stake, he worked at a leisurely pace, all the while thinking. That was something he did a lot these days. Thinking, that is.

The hole was now so small he could hardly see the object he was concealing. Only the deceased’s face was visible, covered by the transparent plastic bag he’d used so effectively to cut off the other’s air supply just thirty minutes earlier.

He smiled at the memory of the deceased’s final moments. Those last seconds when the young man had recognised his attacker and realised he was about to die.

Beautiful…poetry in motion…slow motion.

Oh how he loved the exhilarating, orgasmic-like feelings he’d experienced as the life of another was snuffed out. He willingly embraced them as he relived the moment. It was as if the helpless young man before him was still dying.

Studying the deceased now, or what he could still see of him at least, he recalled how he’d laughed uproariously just before death came to his victim. The visuals replayed over and over in his mind. He remembered how the veins in the young man’s eyeballs, face and neck appeared to burst as he was deprived of air, and how fragile he’d looked – like a child being tortured.

The icing on the cake had been when he’d used his hands to communicate a final message via sign language. He could still see the look on his victim’s face when, seconds before death came, he realised what was being communicated to him. It was a look of total horror, which was somehow more accentuated when viewed through the transparent plastic bag. That had made this killing even more satisfying.

What he had communicated was simple yet definitive: “Game over!”

As he relived what happened, it felt like every cell in his body was jumping for joy. It was as if his very DNA had been created for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill.

He had been planning the murder these past six months. In fact, he’d first thought of killing him years ago, but it required time for those thoughts to solidify into a plan – a concrete plan in more ways than one.

Now that he’d acted, he wondered why it had taken him so long. It wasn’t as if he was afraid or anything like that. He’d delayed because he couldn’t decide exactly how he wanted the young man to die. Bludgeoning, shooting, stabbing, poisoning, gassing, drowning had all been considered. Finally, he’d opted for suffocation. Why? He couldn’t really say. Certainly he wanted to watch him suffer. And he wanted to prolong his suffering. But stabbing or poisoning or any number of methodologies could have achieved that.

Looking at him now, the killer knew he’d made the right decision. The deceased’s tortured face seemed distorted inside the plastic bag that covered his head, and his sightless eyes still registered the intense fear he’d experienced in his final ghastly moments.

Studying him in the torchlight, he felt his manhood hardening beneath him. He removed one of his gloves then, raising his pelvis off the floor, he reached down and began pleasuring himself, all the while looking at his victim.

Satisfaction arrived quickly and he groaned as he came.

Recovering his composure, he donned his glove and resumed working.

It wasn’t long before the hole was completely bricked over. He shone his torch on the wall and inspected his handiwork.

Perfect.

The newly laid bricks aligned flawlessly with the older bricks. That was no accident because he’d used identical surplus bricks the building’s owner had thoughtfully left in the basement. Finally, he cleaned up, removed his gloves and then began crawling back the way he’d come, taking his buckets and work tools with him.

As he departed, he knew he’d need to kill again. And soon. He had to experience those wonderful feelings again.

He was confident he wouldn’t have long to wait; his master plan was already in motion.

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Want to read more? The Silent Fear  paperback is available now via Amazon; the Kindle ebook can be pre-ordered now and will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on October 31.

 

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

 

Silent Fear, which is set in a university for the deaf in London, is dedicated to the many millions of deaf people around the world.

Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the Deaf in London, England. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world. When more Deaf students are murdered, it becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

 

See what the critics are saying:

★★★★★ “Can you hear me now? What a great story! I didn’t figure out who the killer was until the last chapter, and it still had a surprising twist! I had to read the book in one sitting!”-bccopanos

★★★★★ “Whoa! What a ride. Excellent book, well constructed, and with brilliant delivery. Great to have a female lead character who is: clever, resourceful, and adaptable. And love requited – or is it? Loved it. The re-romance of the central characters was engaging…(a) bewitching book.”-Jonno

★★★★★ “Spellbinding! I couldn’t put it down…The characters are very realistic and are described so well, they take root in your mind and become alive. The plot has so many twists and turns. Just as you think you have it figured out, they throw another twist in which sets you off in a different direction.”-P. Blevins

 

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Detective Valerie Crowther, the feisty heroine of our new release crime-thriller Silent Fear, is not one to mince her words. Here’s a random selection of statements our Val makes in the course of the novel…

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

“Now I have a serial killer and a killer virus to contend with!”

“Last I heard being gay doesn’t automatically mean you’re a serial killer.”

 

Detective Valerie Crowther Valerie Crowther

Our Val.

 

“This plonker’s going to be the death of me!”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Where do they get these guys?”

“Who do these bastards think they are?”

“All I wanted was a nice quiet life!”

You’ll have gathered by now that our Val is not to be messed with. Her feistiness is nowhere more evident than when she’s attacked by rebellious deaf students intent on escaping the deadly quarantine they’ve found themselves caught up in. Here’s an excerpt from that action-packed event: https://morcanbooksandfilms.com/2017/09/15/valerie-takes-on-a-serial-killer-and-a-killer-virus-in-thriller-novel-silent-fear/

As you can see, Detective Valerie Crowther really does kick butt in Silent Fear.

Reminding you the Kindle eBook version is available via Amazon Pre-0rders and will be auto-delivered to buyers’ Kindles on October 31st via: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

 

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

The paperback is available now via https://www.amazon.com/dp/0473408120

 

Here is Valerie’s character page on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/characters/…

Bloggers and reviewers note! ARCs (advance review copies) of Silent Fear  are available via this link: https://goo.gl/forms/Dv7GH9oJVAKLuRM23

 

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Deaf New Zealand filmmaker Brent Macpherson, of Stretch Productions, features prominently in the Acknowledgements for our new release crime-thriller Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes) – and for good reason: the story is set in a university for the Deaf, and Brent educated us on the unique challenges facing the Deaf community and corrected potentially embarrassing errors in our portrayal of Deaf and hard of hearing people.

 

Brent Macpherson

Brent Macpherson…acknowledged in new release novel.

 

As one of the world’s leading Deaf storytellers working in film, television and other creative mediums, Brent’s passion for bringing to life stories about diverse people, including those in his own Deaf community, really rubbed off on us. Without his assistance this novel may never have been completed!

His commentary on Silent Fear  from a Deaf reader’s viewpoint is included at the end of the book.

 

Here’s Brent’s unabridged commentary on Silent Fear:

Silent Fear is one of the few mainstream novels to address the unique challenges faced by members of the Deaf community in any great detail. As a member of that community, and as someone who has been Deaf since birth, I believe this book is an important addition to the dearth of literature that exists about Deaf people and Deaf culture.

In the interests of full disclosure, let me state from the outset I have a vested interest in this book: I liaised with the authors in a consultancy capacity to ensure their treatment of the novel’s (fictitious) Deaf characters and the often unique issues they and their family members face were handled accurately and with sensitivity.

The novel provides a valuable insight into the dynamics of the international Deaf community all in one setting. It highlights a wide range of Deaf cultural elements and behavioural characteristics that are unique to members of the Deaf community.

As you’ll have noticed, sign language features prominently throughout. Members of the wider society may have seen Deaf people signing which is often perceived as a different form of communication. This perception is only a small part of the proverbial iceberg: below water, it’s much deeper and more meaningful to be Deaf.

Like myself, most Deaf people acquire sign language at a school for Deaf. In my case, I attended Kelston School for the Deaf in Auckland, New Zealand, at the age of five and subsequently learnt NZ Sign Language (NZSL) from older students. I became disruptive at a ‘normal’ kindergarten and teachers didn’t have a clue how to cope with me. It was decided that I would attend a Deaf school. To do so, I had to catch a taxi and a bus (the famous white bus) to Kelston for the next four years. These trips would be an hour-and-a-half each way so around three hours a day was spent exclusively in the company of many deaf children of all ages.

Reflecting upon how I personally learnt NZSL, those bus trips have renewed meaning for me. It was a unique time for Deaf students to be able to freely use sign language to communicate away from the gaze of disapproving teachers. We didn’t need to hide from them or from our parents. The bus became a relaxing comfort zone where a hidden education flourished. It was a cultural hub on wheels! Signing in the bus was regarded as an ‘underground language’ away from glaring eyes of the public so we could pass on our language to the younger generation.

Sign language was forbidden during my days at the school for the Deaf. If teachers caught us signing in the classroom, they would use a large wooden ruler to strike our hands and then force us to sit on them for the rest the day. Nevertheless, we cleverly found ways of using sign language. Ways that came naturally to us. We hid from teachers during playtime to sign to our peers. I recall hiding in the toilet to be able to sign one of my friends without being caught.

My proud identity as a Deaf person stems from attending a Deaf school and undertaking those long, enjoyable daily bus trips. Today, many of those students are still close friends of mine.

I was mainstreamed to a hearing school at age nine and will never forget my first day at my new school: I was completely cut off from my Deaf friends and was swiftly assimilated into the hearing world. It was totally alien to me.

My soul, identity and pride as a Deaf young person were stripped away in a flick of a switch.

I had to act and speak like a hearing person to fit society’s norm. I struggled with enormous internal conflicts, and these contributed to a sense of identity confusion. People would often comment, “Oh, Brent, you speak very well.” Yes, thank you, but what about my Deaf friends and sign language? I miss them.

Back then, society viewed deafness as a deficiency or an inadequacy – and, to a large extent, it still does. Of course, my parents thought putting me in a hearing school was best for my education. This was based on advice they received from ‘experts’ in deaf education.

A few years after leaving school, I reconnected with the Deaf community at the Auckland Deaf Society. Ah, this was, and is, where I belong. I met many of my long lost friends from primary school there; I immediately felt re-engaged with my identity as a Deaf person.

I am Deaf – period!

The room was full of diverse Deaf people of all ages signing, telling stories and jokes, laughing, having a few drinks, playing pool, enjoying each other’s company – like one happy family. After more than a decade not being allowed to use NZSL, I was amazed I could still remember the signs, and I was able to quickly relearn my natural language. After all those years of identity confusion, I felt re-energised and enthused, having rediscovered my suppressed Deaf identity and I embarked on a journey into the Deaf world where I belong.

The Auckland Deaf Society is at the heart of the NZ Deaf community just as many other organisations around the world are performing similar roles. Each Deaf community is a cultural group which shares a sign language and a common heritage. Members of Deaf communities the world over identify themselves as belonging to a cultural and linguistic group. Identification within the Deaf community is a personal choice and is usually made independent of the individual’s hearing status.

The Deaf community is not automatically composed of all people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. It is not limited to those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. It may also include family members of Deaf people, sign language interpreters and people who work or socialise with Deaf people and who may display characteristics of Deaf culture. A non-deaf person may become member of the Deaf community by accepting and recognising Deaf culture, and this is usually strongly associated with competence in using sign language.

Deaf people as a linguistic minority have a common experience of life, and this manifests itself in Deaf culture. This includes beliefs, attitudes, history, norms, values, literary traditions and art shared by Deaf people. My language and culture includes body language, facial expression and hand shapes, which all constitute sign language. Behavioural characteristics associated with sign language and Deaf cultural norms are the heart of having Deaf identity. All these elements are critical components for this novel to ensure the Deaf characters portrayed are authentic.

In writing Silent Fear, the Morcans should be commended for the tremendous amount of effort they have invested in researching and ultimately understanding and appreciating the dynamics of Deaf culture and sign language.

The writers strongly recommended I reveal to you that, as Deaf readers will no doubt have noticed, they (the Morcans) have used lower case “deaf” throughout the novel when referring to Deaf characters and to the Deaf community in general – their rationale being that mainstream novelists and newspapers do not (generally) apply the upper case ‘rule’ when referring to this community and its members. This was the one issue we disagreed on…

Enough said.

I am proud to have been a part of this journey and have put my heart and soul into this novel, working closely with the Morcans. The process has been methodical and well considered to ensure the novel captures the essence of being Deaf. I sincerely believe Deaf and Hard of Hearing on a global scale will easily relate to Silent Fear, and I am sure will be enjoyed by all.

The end result is a story, which, in my humble opinion, does justice to the Deaf community.

Brent Macpherson

To learn more about Brent and the planned film adaptation of Silent Fear  visit his website at  https://www.stretchproductions.co.nz/silent-fear    

 

Silent Fear  is available via Amazon as a Kindle Pre-order book (launch date October 31) via https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

The paperback version is available now via https://www.amazon.com/dp/0473408120

Bloggers and reviewers note! ARCs (advance review copies) of Silent Fear  are available via this link: https://goo.gl/forms/Dv7GH9oJVAKLuRM23

 

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Media Release – September 19, 2017: A new thriller novel to be launched on Amazon next month was inspired by the true-life murders of students at Gallaudet University, one of the world’s premiere learning institutions for the deaf and hard of hearing, in Washington, D.C.

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes), by New Zealand father-and-son writing team Lance and James Morcan, has been dedicated to the many millions of deaf people around the world and was written under the guidance of one of the world’s leading deaf storytellers working in film, television and other creative mediums.

The actual crimes that provided the inspiration for the novel occurred at Gallaudet University between 1980 and the early 2000’s.

Image result for gallaudet university

Gallaudet University…scene of three student murders.

The 1980 murder saw one student stab another to death on August 16th of that year. The ‘dual’ killings two decades later gripped America from the time of the first of those murders until an arrest was made following the second some five months later. Washington Metropolitan Police didn’t know if these were ‘inside jobs’ and for a time nearly everyone connected to Gallaudet was under suspicion.

When the Morcans learned of the murders a decade ago, they came up with the idea of a novel set in a university for the deaf. It has, they say, been a labour of love ever since.

Speaking from his home in Papamoa, New Zealand, Lance Morcan says while Silent Fear  could have been set just about anywhere in the civilized world, he and his son chose to set it in London.

“We felt the thriller genre suits London,” he says. “This story has a very British feel to it and we set it in the upmarket Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.”

Morcan says members of Gallaudet’s senior staff are aware of the upcoming novel and requested an advance reading copy of the manuscript. No comment on the novel has been received back from them at the time of writing.

“Writing Silent Fear certainly presented challenges as neither James nor I were familiar with deaf culture or with the unique issues facing members of the deaf community. To this end we owe a debt of gratitude to deaf filmmaker Brent Macpherson, our number one collaborator, who figuratively held our hands throughout the entire lengthy endeavour.

“Brent educated us on the unique challenges facing the deaf community and he corrected potentially embarrassing errors in our portrayal of deaf and hard of hearing people. His commentary on Silent Fear from a deaf reader’s viewpoint is included at the end of the book.”

The premise of Silent Fear, in brief, is:

Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the Deaf in London, England. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world. When more Deaf students are murdered, it becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

The paperback version of Silent Fear  is scheduled for publication on Amazon on October 1. The Kindle ebook version is available now via Amazon’s Pre-order Program, and will be auto-delivered to buyers’ Kindles on October 31.

The Morcans, who are also screenwriters and filmmakers, are, in league with Macpherson, developing a feature film adaptation of Silent Fear. The following trailer promotes the novel and planned film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8bv1vbQxYo

END

Media information:

The Amazon link for Silent Fear  is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes) by [Morcan, Lance, Morcan, James]

ARCs (advance review copies) of this novel are available now via the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/Dv7GH9oJVAKLuRM23

 

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For lovers of thrillers with a touch of horror and sci-fi, we will email an ARC (advance review copy) of Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)  to you!

No strings attached. We simply seek advance reviews for our new release novel.

Simply fill out the form via the link below and your eBook will be delivered to your Inbox!

https://goo.gl/forms/Dv7GH9oJVAKLuRM23

***WE WILL NOT SHARE, SELL, OR SPAM YOU***

Your email address will be used for the sole purpose of delivering your eBook.

Offer open until October 30 – one day before Amazon’s Pre-order program for Silent Fear  ends.

 

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes) by [Morcan, Lance, Morcan, James]

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the Deaf in London, England. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world. When more Deaf students are murdered, it becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

 

Here’s what one reviewer says about this book:

★★★★★ “Whoa! What a ride. Excellent book, well constructed, and with brilliant delivery. Great to have a female lead character who is: clever, resourceful, and adaptable. And love requited – or is it? Loved it.”Author John Morris

See what other reviewers are saying on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35626239-silent-fear

And here’s a short YouTube video promoting the book and planned feature film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8bv1vbQxYo

 

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In a quarantined university for the deaf, there’s a serial killer and a deadly airborne virus.

Don’t blink. Don’t breathe.

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes)

Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes) by [Morcan, Lance, Morcan, James] 

Available now for pre-order now on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HRYTVC/

 

Enjoy the Silent Fear  trailer for the book and planned feature film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8bv1vbQxYo&t=1s

 

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For lovers of crime-thriller-horror novels with a touch of sci-fi here’s Chapter 6 from the upcoming novel Silent Fear — co-authored by the writers of The Orphan Trilogy, Into the Americas and White Spirit.

First, here’s the storyline in brief:

Detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the deaf in London. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world. When more deaf students are murdered, it’s clearly the work of a serial killer. The stakes rise when Valerie becomes the killer’s next target and the deadly virus claims more lives.

 

Silent Fear – Chapter 6

The two law enforcement officers looked on as Wandsworth University’s chancellor adjusted his hearing aid. It was one of several little idiosyncrasies Valerie had noticed Ron Fairbrother indulge in every so often on the other side of the large desk he occupied. Another was removing and polishing his fashionable glasses, which he had just finished doing before attacking his hearing aid for the second time in the last five minutes.

Sitting alongside Bennett, Valerie sensed the chief was growing impatient, but he hid it well. She knew him better than most so picked up signs others may miss.

On the desktop between the two parties lay a copy of today’s Daily Mirror newspaper. Its centre spread was devoted to the global flu pandemic, and the main headline screamed “Global death toll soars as Monkey Flu claims more victims!”

Neither Fairbrother nor his two visitors mentioned the H7N7 pandemic, but they didn’t have to: it was always there, in the background, whenever they opened a newspaper, turned on the television, checked social media sites or listened to the radio.

Valerie turned her attention to a spiral-bound set of profiles of all Wandsworth’s students and staff. It was one of three sets Fairbrother had ready and waiting for them upon arrival – Bennett now had the other two – and it was in addition to an electronic copy he’d emailed to the chief thirty minutes earlier. The glossy printouts included head-and-shoulder photographs of everyone involved with the uni – even cleaners, security guards and part-time teachers on call – together with personal details for each.

Fairbrother finished fiddling with his hearing aid, and eyeballed his visitors. “Nothing like this has ever happened here before,” he lamented. “I’m still reeling. I can’t believe such a horrific… thing” – he couldn’t bring himself to use the word murder – “happened right under our noses.”

“We are sparing no resources to solve this crime,” Bennett assured him. “As you know, Detective Superintendent Crowther is spearheading the investigation.”

Valerie noticed the dapper West Indian cocked his head slightly to one side whenever someone spoke, a sign he favoured one ear when listening.

Fairbrother looked at Valerie. “The Chief informs me you are proficient in sign, Detective Crowther,” he said.

Valerie confirmed that by answering in sign language. “Yes, that’s why I’ve been brought in to head this investigation,” she signed.

Responding in like fashion, the chancellor signed, “It’s a relief you’re here. Police efforts to date have been hopeless.” Fairbrother remembered Bennett and reverted to the spoken word. “Sorry, Chief Superintendent. We use sign all day here and it’s easy to forget our manners.”

If he was annoyed, Bennett hid it well. “Are you aware of friction between any of the students?” he asked. “Especially the international students?”

“You must understand, Wandsworth is more than a university,” the chancellor said. “It’s a minority community.” He swivelled ninety degrees in his chair and looked up at the large, framed photograph of Wandsworth’s four hundred and fifty students hanging on the near wall. “There’s a common bond inside the deaf community… it seems to cancel out other differences. They’re accepted for who they are here in Wandsworth. Within this institution, they have a sense of belonging. Outside, beyond these walls, only the strongest of them will cut it.”

Valerie stood and walked over to study the photo up close. She noticed Jamie Lewis. The nuggetty student was hard to miss given he was near the middle of the front row of students. He was smiling directly at the camera. His was an endearing smile. Valerie’s heart went out to his family as she replayed his ghastly death in her mind.

Fairbrother continued, “These students become like family during their time here. You would not believe how tight-knit they are. It’s just such a shame that some outside influence has breached the walls of this sanctuary under cover of darkness and committed the ultimate evil.”

Dismissing the chancellor’s comments as highly speculative, Valerie tapped the glass covering the photo. “That’s a lot of students to keep track of.”

“Yes, and I know every one of them personally. None would ever harm a fellow student. Whoever killed Jamie was an outsider, trust me.”

“We’ll see. For now, every single student, staff member and associate of Wandsworth will be treated as a potential suspect.”

Fairbrother looked at the chief to ascertain whether he agreed with the high-flier female detective who, if he wasn’t mistaken, seemed to be Bennett’s equal in every way except rank.

“Detective Crowther will tread carefully, Chancellor,” the chief said a little too quickly for Valerie’s liking.

The chancellor took that on board and wondered if in fact the career woman standing close by was the subordinate in this relationship. Not for the first time since meeting them he sensed the pair shared some kind of personal history. Looking at Valerie, he asked, “Where do you want to start, Detective Crowther?”

Valerie returned to her chair. “I’d like to start by addressing the students and staff as soon as possible… together.”

Humming to himself, Fairbrother casually referred to a diary planner on the laptop screen in front of him.

Valerie bridled at the lack of urgency the chancellor showed. She felt it was as if she was some trainee teacher who had just requested a meeting concerning the amount of calories being served up in students’ lunches in the cafeteria. “Like now, Chancellor,” she prompted, “as in this morning.” She ignored the sideways glance Bennett flashed her way.

A perturbed Fairbrother looked up from his electronic diary. Shaking his head, he said, “I have a meeting soon with the family of the deceased, and then I have an urgent meeting with the board about the state–”

“The board members will have to wait,” Valerie said in a tone that signalled she’d brook no argument.

The chancellor immediately backed down and nodded. “I could arrange for students and staff to assemble in the assembly hall on the first floor in, say,” – he glanced at his watch – “forty-five minutes.”

“Thank you,” Valerie said. “I also need to requisition a roomy office to serve as my site headquarters whilst I’m here.” She wasn’t asking. She was demanding.

“There is a spare office on the first floor.”

Valerie shook her head. “It needs to be here on the ground floor. I want to be close to your office and to the main exit so I can come and go easily.”

Fairbrother thought for a moment. He glanced at a closed door behind his chair. “There is an office through there I often use as a meeting room. I guess you could have that.”

“Can I see it?” Valerie was already standing.

The chancellor stood and opened the door.

Valerie marched through, took one look around and saw immediately that it would meet her needs. It had lockable filing cabinets and a large desk complete with a high quality printer-scanner and desktop computer. There was a comfy couch, which she could see pulled out into a bed, a well-stocked bookcase, glass coffee table, wall-mounted television set and an expensive fish tank complete with rare and even more expensive-looking tropical fish. There was even a bench and sink with tea and coffee-making facilities, and there was an outer door leading to the corridor. “This will do fine,” she said. “Can this door be locked?” she asked, referring to the connecting door Fairbrother had opened.

“Yes I’ll have my PA provide a key for you.”

Valerie took a final look at the room then resumed sitting next to Bennett who was now studying the framed photo on the wall.

“Four hundred and fifty students actually doesn’t seem that many for a university this size,” the chief observed.

“It’s all about maintaining efficient student-teacher ratios,” Fairbrother explained as he sat down. “That and future-proofing the university.” When he saw Bennett wasn’t following him, he said, “For optimum academic results we have found a ratio of one staff member per ten students works best. Hence the forty-five educators we have on staff.” The chancellor added, “And they’re the best available.”

“Sounds costly,” Valerie said.

“It is,” Fairbrother admitted. “Hence our high fees. Wandsworth is one of the most expensive universities in Britain to attend.” Returning to Bennett’s question, he said, “As for future-proofing the university, our founder Lord Wandsworth wanted to establish a learning institution that would last a hundred years. The only way to do that was to attain and maintain high standards of academic excellence, which I believe we are doing, and to ensure we have the space to accommodate future growth, which we obviously have.”

“I understand,” Bennett said, glancing at the wall clock behind the chancellor’s desk. He saw the morning was already half over. Standing, he said, “Well, I will leave you in Detective Crowther’s good hands. Thank you for your time.”

The two men shook hands. Fairbrother didn’t immediately relinquish his grip. Holding on to the other’s hand firmly, he said, “We are relying on the police to solve this terrible crime quickly, Chief Superintendent.”

Bennett nodded and only then did the chancellor release his grip.

On the way out, Valerie paused in the doorway and looked back at Fairbrother. “What are the board members discussing, by the way?” she asked.

“Whether to cancel this afternoon’s lectures, and tomorrow’s, too… Out of respect for Jamie Lewis and his family,” the chancellor said.

“We’d prefer they don’t,” Valerie said quickly before Bennett could comment. “It will make my job easier if all students and staff are here and accessible.” She turned and strode off down the corridor.

Behind his subordinate’s back, Bennett flashed a look Fairbrother’s way that signalled the board would be well advised to do as suggested. He hurried to catch up to Valerie.

Fairbrother observed the two law enforcement officers with some trepidation as they left his office.

Here endeth sample chapters from Silent Fear. (See recent blogs for earlier chapters). If you want to read more, the novel will be published soon… Watch this space!

 

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35626239-silent-fear

 

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