tagNon-EroticConspiracy Theory Pt. 02

Conspiracy Theory Pt. 02


Puppets who kill

Offices of the Voice, Ludgate Circus

Tuesday 4:40 pm

Dan slumped down into the empty desk opposite Amy. He picked up a Styrofoam cup from his desk and tipped its contents into his mouth.

"That's nearly eight hours old." Amy said without looking up from her computer screen.

"Doesn't matter." He replied. "I struck out with the Iraq connection, but I did learn something interesting."

"What?" Amy stopped what she was doing and looked at Dan.

"Close was an ardent Catholic – this Tim Smith chap doesn't think that he'd top himself. Against his religious upbringing and all that." He placed his mobile phone carefully on the desk. "After I interviewed Smith I spoke to three other members of the survey team by telephone and drew a big fat blank on them – although a couple of them thought that they were being followed." He paused for a minute. "But they could just be being paranoid."

"That lends further credence to your theory then." Amy added. She handed him a piece of paper. "Those are the folks that worked with Close on that inter-departmental software thing that he was involved in – I don't know if they'd be able to shed much light on things but it's worth a shot."

"True." Dan replied. "Has Dixon introduced you to Ackland yet?"

"No, not yet – they've been in some sort of meeting most of the afternoon. Mister Ackland has an associate with him, I haven't actually seen the guy so far." Amy said. "Look, Dan, do you really think someone would murder Doctor Close for the comments he's been making about the Government's involvement in the Middle East?"

"People have been killed for less." He replied as he had a look at the list again. "He's become a figurehead, someone for the uneducated to rally around and use to support their cause."

"You make it sound like it's not a cause worth supporting." Amy said. Dan shook his head.

"That's not the point, the point is that Close was the de facto symbol of the anti-war movement, the public face of it, if you like." Dan clarified. "And now he'll be a martyr to that cause, whether he killed himself or not. For all I know it was some long haired hippy of a supposed radical who killed him." They both heard the sound of the door to the main conference room open – Dixon exited and was accompanied by a rather burly looking bald chap.

"That's Ackland?" Amy asked. Dan nodded.

"Yep, that's Kirk Ackland." He said. "Our wondrous American benefactor." Amy looked at him with distain.

"Isn't there anyone you like?"

"Oh I like Ackland – he's funny in his own way." Dan said as Dixon and Ackland made their way across to where they were seated. Dan got up as the American had a big beaming smile on his face.

"Hey there Danny, how are you?" Kirk's voice had a warm, mid-western accent to it. He wrapped his thick arms around Dan and hugged him, lifting the Englishman off the floor momentarily.

"I'm good, thanks Kirk." Dan replied once his feet touched the ground. "I'd like to introduce you to Amy Hemming." Amy stood up as Kirk extended his bear-like hand. His grip was surprisingly gentle as they shook.

"Pleased to meet you little lady." He said. He looked over at Dan. "You got any plans for tonight?" Dan shook his head. "Great – you can join us for dinner. Paul tells me you've got the beginnings of something that I might like."

17 Birchmoor, St Dunstan-in-the-East

"For God's sake turn that racket off!" Anastasia put her nose out of her door and shouted back.

"Sorry, can't hear you."

"I said, cut the noise!!" screamed Rebecca.

The thump of what sounded like jungle drums accompanying a maniac dentist subsided by about a third. She decided that represented enough of a victory and returned to reading her 'Country Life.'

The front door bell rang and she looked up in surprise. They had very few visitors here. Anastasia usually went out to join her friends up in town.

She got up, smoothed her skirt and patted her hair into place as she walked through into the hallway. It was doubtless a wasted effort. It would be the Jehovah's Witnesses or someone else selling something.

Through the frosted glass she could see it was a single woman standing there. Rebecca opened the door.

"Mrs Nash?" said the woman. The doorstep gave Rebecca a slight height advantage. The woman had curly brunette hair. Beyond that she looked sort of 'neutral'. She was just average in so many ways.


The woman held up a small folder. "Might I have a few minutes of your time?" Rebecca looked at the folder. MI5! What on earth could they want with her?

"Well yes I suppose so," she said. "Please come in."

"Thank you," said the woman. She waited while the door closed and then followed Rebecca through into the living room.

"Anastasia," called Rebecca. "I've got company down here." The noise cut right back and she reflected that things could have been much worse. "Can I get you anything?" she asked politely.

"It's been a long day," said Rachel. "A cup of tea would be lovely, so long as you're having one too."

"I'll just be a moment then," said Rebecca.

"Why don't I come through and help," Rachel replied. "It's only a routine visit and we can talk while the kettle's on." She seemed to be happy to put Rebecca at her ease and so they started chatting. After a few moments Rachel brought the subject round to her visit.

"As I said it's just routine. You sit on the IDCES I believe?"

"That's right. Milk? Sugar?" Rebecca asked.

"A little of both please. I'm afraid I'm not sweet enough yet!" Rachel watched her closely. "So how well do you know Donald Close?"

"He's Revenue and Customs. Apart from the committee I don't really know him at all. What's the problem?"

"Mr Close was found dead yesterday. There don't appear to be any suspicious circumstances but we have to follow up anyway. Let me take the cups through for you." Rebecca reached for the biscuit tin and so missed the small tablet that disappeared into her tea.

"Donald dead? What happened?" The shock was evident in Rebecca's voice.

"I'm afraid it looks very much like suicide."

"That's very unlikely," said Rebecca decisively. "Mr Close was a staunch Catholic. He wouldn't take such a drastic action against his faith."

Rachel waited until they'd both sat down. She took a sip of her tea.

"Lovely," she said appreciatively. "What you say is very interesting. What else can you tell me about him?"

"Well…" Rachel's gentle questioning quickly established that Rebecca knew virtually nothing about her colleague. But it allowed time for the tablet to work. There was a light sheen of sweat on her forehead now. Suddenly she broke off. "I don't feel well," she said.

Rachel put her cup down. "What's the matter?" she asked sympathetically.

"I don't…" Rebecca tried to stand but fell backwards. She took several gasping breaths and then just sat there, her eyes wide and staring.

Rachel quickly confirmed that Rebecca was dead. She replaced her gloves and then took both cups out to the kitchen and then the biscuit tin.

She washed, dried and put away her cup but left Rebecca's by the sink. She wiped the saucer for prints. Had she touched anything else? She couldn't think of anything. Then she buttoned her coat and walked out into the hall. She listened at the foot of the stairs for a moment and decided that the music was loud enough to drown her exit, so she did so.

Twenty minutes later Anastasia put her head round the door. "I'm off out," she announced. Then in a move that would haunt her for years she walked to the door and out to meet her friends, not noticing that her mother hadn't replied.

The Monmouth Hotel

By the time Dan had arrived at the Monmouth Hotel for dinner with the others he realised that he was marginally late. As he entered the restaurant he excused his tardiness. He noticed that there was an additional guest for dinner – sitting between Paul Dixon and the empty seat that Dan had earmarked was an immaculately dressed Japanese woman.

"Sorry I'm late – I was busy filing my notes." He said as he sat down.

"Don't sweat it," Kirk said. "I've gotten you a drink already." He indicated to the glass of amber-coloured liquid that sat in front of his place setting.

"Cool." Dan said.

"Dan Crossman, this is Yuriko Obato," Kirk indicated to the unknown guest to Dan's left. "She's in town from our Asian shareholders."

"Very pleased to meet you Crossman-san." Her English was perfect, if somewhat formal. "Ackland-san has told me a lot about your work – it's very…perceptive."

"Thank you," Dan said, somewhat surprised by her comment. "I wasn't aware that my work was particularly widely read outside of the local area."

"Only the kooky stuff." Paul quipped.

"It's, how you'd say, conspiracy theory?" Yuriko asked. Dan felt himself blush slightly and become marginally uncomfortable. "JFK, Aliens, phoney Moon landings, Bigfoot…"

"Bigfoot is crypto-zoology." Dan corrected her. "But, yeah, that's sort of the stuff that I write about."

"He's our regular little hierophant, aren't you Danny." Kirk added. Dan smiled and nodded.

"Yeah, that's one way to describe it," Dan said. "Although, if you want to talk about aliens I suggest you speak to Kirk here, he spent an obscene amount of money to acquire the original Majestic 12 documents." Kirk nodded to acknowledge the point.

"Oh God, you're not going to start on that are you?" Amy asked.

"Ah, yes – I've heard of those." Yuriko said with a slight giggle in her voice. "The documents purported to have been signed by President Truman to establish a group to investigate the crashed alien space craft at Roswell?" Dan nodded, impressed by her knowledge of them.

"Those are the critters," Dan said. "Kirk paid, what, fifteen grand for those?"

"It was closer to twenty," Kirk replied with a broad smile on his face. "But don't tell my wife that – she thinks I only spent ten thousand dollars on them. So, Paul tells me that you've gotten yourself mixed up with the death of this weapons inspector," Kirk changed the subject. "What's his name again?"

"Close," Dan replied. "Yeah, it looks like a Monroe." Kirk nodded, understanding what the Englishman had meant by the comment.

"Monroe?" Yuriko asked.

"Marilyn Monroe." Paul said. "There's a theory that she was murdered by a barbiturate overdose administered by an enema, hence the reason why there was no residue of the gelatine capsules in her stomach." He paused for a moment. "Dan believes that someone murdered Donald Close to stop him talking about something."

"Very interesting." Yuriko replied.

"Anyway, enough talking." Kirk interrupted. "Let's order some food and eat – I'm starving."

The Casterbridge Hotel

Rachel had wandered into the hotel lobby and across without paying any attention to the reception desk. The receptionist were busy with the new arrivals and if either of them registered her presence they would assume that she was already registered and taking her things through, or one of the diners who had arranged to use someone's room to change in. That was one reason she was carrying a dress bag and a small suitcase. The other was that in order to wander about she would have to fit in, and the entire hotel was reserved for the Gerton Old Girls February Ball.

A quick phone call when she had known both her targets would still be at work had confirmed that Sally Williams and Brenda Jameson would be sharing a room as they had for the previous three balls, two of which had been held at this hotel. It had also provided her with the room number. Rachel had taken the opportunity to stay at the hotel for an overnight stay a couple of weeks before so she knew the layout. There was a linen store three doors away from the target location that would only be opened for an emergency. The housekeeping staff all left at five and it was now seven fifteen. The formal dinner would start at eight with an entertainment and dance to follow until two am. So for the moment the vast bulk of the guests were in their rooms preparing.

Rachel used the electronic copy of the key she'd made to open the storeroom. Several of the staff kept things here as well as the hotel stores, so her bits and pieces wouldn't be obvious. It took a few minutes to slip into the long dress she'd brought with her and no longer to do a more elaborate make-up. Then she turned the light off and settled down to wait. At first there was quite a lot of noise from people passing but after a while it slowed down until by twenty past eight it was completely quiet.

Rachel allowed a few more minutes to pass before leaving the store with her bag of goodies. If anyone saw her she was just one of two hundred women in evening dress. But no one did. She quickly placed a bug in the hallway to warn her of company when things started to happen later on.

Her electronic key did its magic and she was into the room. It was easy to make the substitution. Sally had comfortable pyjamas while Brenda had a full-length nightdress in satin and lace. She checked the sizes. Just in case she'd bought the next size up as well but her estimates had been accurate. When she'd replaced them with the nightclothes she had bought and hidden the bug she returned to the storeroom again, and changed back into the outfit she'd worn on arrival and then added a domestic coverall. Now she was ready for a long wait. And when they returned to their room Sally would find a long black microfiber Cara nightdress with a thigh high slit and Brenda would have a backless Esme babydoll. Three hundred pounds worth of Agent Provocateur's finest.

Rachel didn't know whether there was anything between the two women or not. The previous nightwear suggested not. But to suddenly find expensive sexy nightwear would produce either a row or sex. Either way they would probably end up exhausted and in the finery. Why waste it after all?

The Monmouth Hotel

After the meal – and several bottles of wine that were consumed – the quintet began to break up. Amy heading home to get an early start on her research the next morning while Paul made his excuses in order to get home to his wife without incurring too much of her wrath.

As Dan got up to leave Kirk and Yuriko, he was slightly surprised to find their Japanese guest standing up at the same time.

"Crossman-san, if it's not too rude of me, I'd like to continue our discussion concerning your belief that Close-san was murdered at another time," Yuriko said. Dan suddenly realised that she hadn't had anywhere near as much to drink as everyone else.

"Sure, although quite what you folks would glean from it is a mystery to me."

"Call it a personal interest." Yuriko countered. "There is a coffee house around the corner from the Hotel – we could meet tomorrow morning."

"Okay – that's cool." He answered. "About ten?"

"That would be most appreciative." Yuriko said. She then turned to Kirk. "Ackland-sama your company has been excellent as usual, however I still haven't gotten over my jet lag so I will bid you gentlemen good night." Her polite bow still retained an air of formality to it before she left them. Neither men spoke as they watched her leave.

"Okay Kirk, I'm going to head home." Dan said as the large American got up from his chair.

"You take it easy buddy boy." Kirk replied as he shook Dan's hand.

"Will do," Dan said as he made his way out of the hotel and into the stormy night.

The Casterbridge Hotel

Things started to wind down after midnight. But the bug remained quiescent until just before one o'clock. Sally had been on the organising committee forever and Brenda had been helping her now for several years since they met at an earlier ball. So they would probably return together.

'I say, what's this?' she heard Brenda say to herself. 'Agent Provocateur. That's nice. But why would Sally buy me this? And what's that on her bed? God, she is a lez. Now what do I do?'

There was the sound of moving around for about five minutes then the door opened again.

'Sally, it's very nice but I can't accept it.'

'What on earth are you talking about?'

'The babydoll.'

'What babydoll?'

'It's very nice but I'd like my nightdress back now.' Then Sally discovered the nightdress on her bed. In minutes a row was blazing. Rachel listened with interest to see if a blazing row turned into blazing passion, but instead the room subsided into a cold silence. People moved about. After a while that ceased and one and then both started breathing regularly.

The first sleep cycle is the deepest. Rachel added some disposable gloves to her coveralls then entered quietly and gave both women the slightest dose of anaesthetic to ensure they didn't wake up too soon. She rolled back the covers on Brenda who was the lighter and awkwardly arranged her beside Sally on Sally's bed.

Carefully she lifted Brenda's right hand (she'd checked it was her usual hand) with her left and held it above Sally's breast and then stabbed down repeatedly with the stiletto in her own right hand. Then she dropped the hand on to the bloody corpse to extend the evidence. She returned Brenda to her own bed as if sitting, carefully avoiding stepping into the blood splatters. Then she slit both of Brenda's wrists, finally wrapping a bloody hand around the stiletto. After a moment the knife fell on to the bed with a bloody handprint on the handle.

When the blood had stopped spurting she carefully removed the gloves and coveralls and reversed them. The bug went into her pocket and the incriminating clothing into a laundry bag, which she would take out in her case. Quietly she returned to the storeroom and claimed the rest of her things. On the way back she detached the other bug.

She remained in the murder room until seven o'clock. Being in a room with two corpses didn't disturb her at all. Even though it was a Wednesday, most people on this floor wouldn't be in a hurry to get up. But there would be a few. She checked her wig and makeup and then made her departure. One of the night staff looked at her as she headed out but Rachel smiled, pointed up and then made the sign of someone asleep.

"My roommate will sort things out when she wakes up," she said. The woman nodded. They had everyone's details after all, so whatever happened later between the people sharing the hotel would get its money. Once outside she took a cab to Charring Cross and then a tube across London. The blonde wig disappeared when she changed lines, dropping down beside the platform where no one would find it for long enough.

When the bodies were discovered they would be in the kind of nightwear that would suggest a lovers' quarrel followed by murder and then suicide. The anaesthetic should have broken down long before any autopsy and the amount in any event was tiny.

Wednesday, 9:32 am

Yuriko found it hard to speak to him as she sat in the coffee house. They hadn't parted on particularly good terms and recent events had made it more difficult to re-establish the connection they once had.

"Miyamoto-san asked me to say hello if I saw you." She said. He nodded, a rueful smile on his face.

"How is he?"

"Coping through his indulgences." She paused for a moment. "I'm sorry to hear about…" she started.

"It's okay." The stony mask slipped from his face for a second as he interrupted her. "She'd been ill for awhile, in a way, it was for the best." Neither of them spoke for a moment. "So, you really think you can get hold of it this time? The real thing, not some shell that looks a bit like it in the right light?"

"Ah…" he'd changed the subject, catching her off guard. "Yes – I believe so. In fact, someone is meeting me here shortly that might give me some direction on where it now is." She took a drink from her cup – the hot chocolate they served here reminded her of happily times. "We both know Hamilton's death wasn't an accident…"

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