In the freezing dark, it was hard to remember the glorious morning that had been. The winter sun glowed shyly, rosy golden beams piercing the freezing fog. Frost was on the ground as thick as a light snowfall, crunchy under foot but yielding and not treacherous. Crow cackles echoed through the crisp air. It was the kind of morning that inspired songs and poems, odes to winter, and woke the sleepy spirit temporarily from hibernation.
On mornings like that, the cold was inconsequential. It was a joy to feel the bite of the still, fresh air on your face. It was good to rub your numb gloved hands together and stomp your feet to revive the blood flow. Mornings like that were good for the soul, reminding you that you were alive and that life was full of beauty and wonder if you only took the time to look.
But now it was late evening, dark and mysterious, still shrouded in fog that glittered in the light of white and amber streetlamps, betraying its frozen nature. Tiny little diamonds drifted slowly to the ground, settling on everything, spreading a deathly cold sparkle wherever they touched.
The darkness crept and clung, having a weight to it that defied rational thought. It pressed on your shoulders like heavy hands grasping and it breathed in your ear, whispering nasty little nothings to make you wide eyed and vigilant. You couldn’t help but notice it if you were daft enough to be out in it. Something about it felt frightening. Something ominous. Something that sent people scurrying for bright lights, warmth and civilisation. It was a night when the Mr Hydes of the world roamed the streets and the Draculas swooped at darkened windows. Perhaps it was the stillness, or perhaps it was the stark contrast to the day that preceded. Something seemed changed, though few felt more than the sub zero chill. Even fewer felt at peace.
A glimpse at Ivan
Ivan is a misanthrope to say the least. He doesn’t often go to the city and can’t bear to be around people. Every time he has to go into town though, he’s struck by the changes in society. He rants inwardly:
“He was appalled by men who had evolved to have no physical or moral backbone. People called them homosexual as an insult but they weren’t. He understood homosexuality – that had always been there and it wasn’t the same thing, although modern society couldn’t make the distinction. Effeminate and homosexual were not the same at all. The most masculine of men might have a predilection for other men. Feminised heterosexual men would at one time never have found a woman that paid them more than a sisterly notice. Now though, now that women were as free as men to play any role in society, a whole new type of man had emerged, one that knew nothing of what it once was to be a man. Some women now even sought these men ‘in touch with their feminine side’. But what good would they be if the world suddenly reverted to what it had been a millennium ago? It wouldn’t take much. Men were not all men anymore, and even fewer were gentlemen. But why was a gentleman needed when so few women were ladies. He couldn’t relate to these new types of people. So many distinctions, so many blurred lines, so few solid boundaries. Did it matter? Was it of any consequence what impression he made of himself when all were so self-interested anyway? Of course not. He laughed a dry laugh. Human life had tried to infect him with its desperation to belong, but it would have to be cleverer than that!
He found it a strain to blend in. It made him weary. Having to listen so closely to what anyone said, having to analyse the tone against the facial expression and both of those against the body language. People were so seldom sincere, so frequently embellishing the facts, so often using sarcasm and humour to veil a slight. He wondered how anyone lived and communicated among such a society and survived. Perhaps they didn’t really. Maybe that explained the superficiality. How could anyone afford to feel anything, to register what was really going on, to give more than a cursory glance, when to do so could only open them up to the brutality of the world beyond their tiny existence? How could they afford to have depth when it would only show them the depths to which humanity had sunk? Some, he knew, created their own micro society around them and shunned all others. That had gone on for a long time. Now it was even more complex and he wondered at the truth of it all. Who could really live like this without losing sight of true life? He could not slot in to this world. But so what? He didn’t need to make friends, only get by here for a little while.”
His thoughts are many and about everything. Don’t get him started on architecture!
Meet William Walker
William is an old fashioned policeman. He follows hunches and doesn’t consult databases. Nearing retirement, he thought transferring to a quiet country post would be a great way to ease into the years to come. He was wrong.
“Even in the middle of nowhere, no, especially in the middle of nowhere, you couldn’t keep anything quiet. The middle of nowhere had a grapevine the like of which you never saw in the city. Out here everyone was interested. Everything that happened was news because not very much generally happened. A broken leg was headline news. City folk might pay a passing notice to something and that was it, on to the next thing. Country folk would watch every move with interest, give theories half of which would be superstitious and they would still be talking about it in ten years’ time because nothing else would happen in the meantime. Walker thought it would be more comfortable out here; less overlooked. He could not have been more wrong. Everyone knew he got through a bottle of brandy a week, did his laundry on Saturdays and the Times crossword on Sundays. With nothing but space for a mile in any direction, you could feel intensely claustrophobic.”
With the discovery of human remains and lots of them, he wishes he’d stayed in the city. Now he has to find out who these people were and he doesn’t look forward to much help from the locals, especially when it turns out the first seven burials are about 140 years old. He has a bad feeling and knows this is something much bigger than the experts seem to think.
Little does he know he’s about to be caught up in a current investigation and more mysterious deaths as Inkredible unfolds.
Dr Peter Phelps
A snippet from ‘crime’ scene number two where we meet Peter for the first time:
“At the mention of his title Dr Phelps came over. “I don’t know what to think, Jim. The torso is like a bag of soup, but the skull and legs are intact. I’ll know more once we open him up, but I’d say his insides are a pulp. I’ve heard of similar things in accidents, people crushed between or under vehicles, but that’s extremely rare, I’ve never seen one, and how it might happen on a sofa in a first floor flat, I couldn’t begin to guess.”
“Ok doctor. No way the body could have been moved?”
“No way. We’re going to have a hell of a job getting him into a body bag without, well, to put it bluntly, without spilling him everywhere.”
The D.S. grimaced and decided he’d rather be elsewhere when that happened.”
I like Peter. He doesn’t so much enjoy his work as know that it’s necessary – unpleasant business but someone’s got to do it. Rolling up his sleeves and just getting on with it is the only way for him. If you like a bit of grim and gruesome, Peter Phelps is the man. The plain-speaking blitz-humoured coroner works round the clock to find answers on the rash of gruesome deaths in the city. Even he struggles to deal with shocking things done to the victims coming in to his morgue. He starts to see a pattern emerging and only prays someone puts an end to these horrible killings and soon.