I’m really happy to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Implant, the third book in the Gardener and Reilly crime series by Ray Clark. Today, I am able to share an extract from this grisly serial killer story, and one that definitely leaves me wanting to read more! Warning – the extract contains swearing!
Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.
Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence. Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?
Alex Wilson still had no idea what was going on, or the length of time he’d been wherever he was. In fact, he had no idea how long he had been awake: it could have been minutes, it could have been hours.
It was still pitch black, but whatever thoughts he’d harboured about his possible non-existent carcass were disappearing as feeling had begun to return.
And fucking hell did it hurt!
His first sensation was the feeling of pins and needles overtaking his entire body, as if the circulation had been stopped and then started again. All his limbs had felt heavy, and he’d felt sick. Within minutes that had turned to pain, proper pain, and the level was increasing with each passing second.
But he still couldn’t move. Not fully anyway. He knew there was something hard against his back, and it felt like his arms were stretched out. The slight movement he was allowed seemed to create a gap between the hard surface and his limb. But that was as far as he could go. The same could be said for his legs, a little movement and no more, as if his feet had been pinned, but by what he could not see because it was still too fucking dark!
Furthermore, something was stopping him opening his mouth. It wasn’t a gag, and it hadn’t been taped up, but he still couldn’t open it. He could only breathe through his nose.
What the hell was going on?
He’d managed to work out that he was vertical, because if he moved his head, it hung forward very easily and it preferred to stay there. Returning it took an effort, and it wouldn’t have done if he’d been lying down.
Had Lance Hobson given him something? Was he under the influence of some new and untested hallucinogenic drug that only Hobson knew about? Was he a guinea pig?
If it was a new kind of drug they were going to knock out, they had better do something with it. People wouldn’t come back for any more if they suffered symptoms like these.
Hobson was a dangerous bastard, a very rich, dangerous bastard who had everything simply because he had everyone else do his dirty work. Wasn’t that the way with the people at the top of the drug chain? They never sullied their own hands.
Alex went into a spasm as his whole carcass was wracked with a pain equivalent to nothing he’d ever felt before. It filled his entire body from head to foot, as if someone had pulled his fucking nerves through his skin and plugged them into the mains.
Alex twisted and writhed and still could not break free of whatever held him in position.
As his body calmed, he could feel himself bathed in sweat. He was shaking, and although the pain had subsided, his hands and feet continued to throb incessantly.
And then he heard something that momentarily distracted his thoughts.
Footsteps from above.
After telling Richard Jones to stay outside and keep an eye open for his colleagues, Gary stepped inside the shop.
Armitage’s hardware store was a shrine to the past. Moving from the doorway into the main area was like walking through a tunnel. Display boards on either side were crammed full with Hoover bags and belts and other accessories. In front of him was a stand with gardening products and implements, ranging from plant food and compost, to small trowels and forks.
He moved forward slowly, peering into the dark shop. From his vantage point, he could not see anything untoward. He listened carefully for any movement. There was nothing.
He glanced to his right and saw the counter in front of the back wall of the room. On the extreme left side, near a window – looking out onto what he presumed would be a back yard – was a lift-up hatch, which was down at the moment. Behind the counter he saw a cabinet with hundreds of drawers with brass handles on them. God only knew what they contained.
The store probably hadn’t changed in years, and seemed to stock everything anyone would need: tools, paint, varnish, wood, and tiles. If you could name it, old Armitage had it.
A range of smells pervaded the building, comfortable aromas that DIY enthusiasts would soak up every time they entered. The fragrance of pine was the strongest, and beneath the frame holding the lumber, the excess shavings supported the fact. He could smell polish, and linseed oil.
The ceiling had beams with old-fashioned arc lighting and copper shades, none of which were lit, and couldn’t possibly be helping the environment when they were. But he doubted old Armitage would believe that.
The only illumination Gary could see was a floor lamp. It resembled an ancient, upright mantle, around six feet tall and gun metal grey in colour; the type used in London streets in the early nineteenth century that ran on gas and had to be manually lit.
In his opinion, the lamp had been placed there deliberately, and had probably come from Armitage’s stock.
He gazed back around the interior to see if he could confirm that. A sudden movement caused Gary to jump, which in turn made him lose his balance. From there he crashed backwards into a stand with dustpans and mops and buckets and other cleaning materials. The sound seemed louder than anything he had ever heard in his life, one that could have woken half of Bramfield.
Mops, brushes, and buckets fell to the floor all around him, along with brand-named containers like Flash and CIF Cleaner. As he was about to move, one struck the corner of his eye. He lost his temper and yelled an obscenity.
“Are you okay in there?” shouted Richard Jones from the shop doorway.
Gary allowed the dust to settle before he quickly found his feet, desperate to keep the man from entering.
“I’m fine, but don’t come in. It could be a crime scene.”
“You don’t have to worry about me, son. I know about this kind of stuff, I’ve watched them all. Morse, Frost, The Bill…”
Doubt you’ve learned much, then, thought Gary.
As he glanced around he realized what had caused him to react like a tit: the appearance of his own reflection in a mirror.
Disgusted with himself, he straightened his uniform and ran his hands up and down his body, clearing the wood shavings from his clothes.
Gary jumped again at the sound of a phone receiving a text message. He reached into his inside pocket, only to discover it hadn’t been his.
So whose was it?
He moved toward the counter. Under the light was a retro mobile with the screen lit up. Gary recognized the phone as a Nokia 101, only because he’d bought one from a car boot sale earlier in the year. He didn’t have to touch the phone to be able to read the message.
“The station at Bursley Bridge holds the key to a terrifying secret.”
He grabbed his police radio and contacted Cragg.
About the Author
The British Fantasy Society published Ray Clark’s first work in 1995 – Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. In 2009, Ray’s short story, Promises To Keep, made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. Ray is based in Goole, and has set his Gardener and Reilly crime series in nearby Leeds.
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With thanks to Urbane Publications and to Kelly Lacey from Love Books Group for organising the blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the tour: