Scene of crime officers had been on site for twenty minutes.
Detective Inspector George Haven had arrived about ten minutes after them – he hadn’t been the closest Senior Investigating Officer that could have been called out, but somebody thought he’d be the best for the job.
It was another ten minutes, ten minutes of standing around and searching the area, before the body arrived.
Haven had paced the area.
Seven Dials, Covent Garden – an iconic part of London. Not exactly on the tourist trail as such, but it received a huge amount of footfall from the regular tourist trade to the West End and surrounding areas and, even at 1am the area was still busy with those leaving restaurants in Theatreland and heading to nightclubs in nearby Leicester Square and Soho.
Haven had found nothing.
The call had come to him only a few hours after he’d finally slipped into sleep, although it felt like mere moments – the imminent prospect of becoming a grandfather did that to a man, he’d discovered that in recent weeks – a constant and unshifting need for more sleep than he was ever likely to have the chance to get.
The scene of crime team had already carried out a sweep of the area as soon as they had arrived, their vehicles parked inMonmouth Street just off the main mini-roundabout from which it and the other six of the seven dials’ streets fed off like arteries. They’d all raised their hands almost in unison as Haven had stepped from his own car, signalling that they had found nothing.
Each and every one of them had received the text message. A body had been found in suspicious circumstances in the area and their attendance was required urgently.
Missing Haven by just a few feet, the body suddenly appeared directly in front of him as he passed the entrance to the Monmouth Street Hotel for the second time.
It slammed into the pavement at speed, a vicious mix of snapping bones, liquid echoing in the otherwise quiet street, blood spattering up and over his sturdy polished brogues and up to the knees of his trousers.
Haven stood dead still, took a quick snapshot view with his eyes of the corpse which lay before him- it was more than enough,despite the fact he couldn’t even tell if the body was male or female from its crumpled form, lying face down on the paving – then looked upwards, towards the top of the hotel. He expected to see a window wide open, or being hastily closed, but saw neither of those things. He was in shock and remained there staring up as he listened to the sounds of movement – people were rushing towards him, figures dressed in white coveralls.
Something new, he thought.
A new game had begun – calling the cops before the crime had even happened.
He’d been taunted in a similar way before, years before.
But that killer was long gone – surely dead by now.