An autopsy was not Owen Harper’s favourite start to the morning. The body had been sent to him by Tom Merrick, the senior pathologist at Southern General Hospital. There was a message with the corpse.
“This looks like your kind of weirdness. Found by his cleaning lady on the floor of his own living room. Would appreciate your second opinion about cause of death even if it isn’t anything involving aliens. If it is, I’d like to know how the buggers did it, and why.”
Owen sighed deeply and began his preliminary observation while his mortuary assistant, Darius, read from the dead man’s medical records remotely accessed from his GP’s supposedly secure patient database.
“Lionel Meldrum, aged fifty-six, formerly a senior partner with accountancy firm Meldrum, Powell and MacKenzie, retired early due to ill health,” the vampire said n a matter of fact tone.
“What sort of ill health?” Owen asked. Of course, Merrick had already performed the standard autopsy. The internal organs had been removed and examined. There was nothing unusual to be found in any of them according to the pathologist’s very thorough report.
“He had Leukaemia,” Darius replied.
“He received a bone marrow transplant six months ago that resulted in complete remission. His GP noted that he had taken up running as a retirement hobby and completed two mini marathons, raising money for Leukaemia Research. That... was nice of him. Helping those less fortunate than he was.”
“Yeah, he was a real star,” Owen commented. He meant it, too. He gave an impression of being a cynical bastard, but he had every admiration for people who battled through painful and debilitating illness the way Mr Meldrum had done. But the effort seemed all for nothing now he was lying on a mortuary slab with his organs removed and his chest roughly sewn back up.
The interesting thing about Mr Meldrum’s corpse wasn’t his internal organs, anyway. They weren’t what had struck Tom Merrick as so odd. It was his bones.
Every one of them was broken. Some of them were sticking out through skin that was black and blue with bruising that had clearly occurred before he was dead. Owen passed the full body scanner over the examination table and looked at the x-ray that was produced. That silly song about ‘the leg bone connected to the thigh bone’ came to mind as he looked at a skeleton that proved the song wrong. Not one single bone was connected to the next one. Every single joint was snapped. If rigor hadn’t set in long ago, the body would have sagged like a blancmange.
What the fuck!” Owen exclaimed as he carefully examined the most easily accessible of the protruding bones, the left tibia. He checked the right tibia and fibia and concluded that they were the same. Then he reached for a telephone.
“Tom,” he said when Southern General’s pathologist answered. “You saw it, too? The body has had every bit of the bone marrow stripped from it.”
“That’s why I thought you should see it,” Tom Merrick told him. “Because I don’t know any way that can even be done. I’ve never heard of such a thing. It’s got to be your kind of weird shit.”
“It’s that all right,” Owen agreed. “But if you’re looking for an easy answer, then I have to disappoint you. I’ve never come across an alien that sucks bone marrow from Human bodies, before.”
“Even if you had, I’m fucked if I’d be putting that down as the cause of death,” Tom replied.
“Have any family members seen him?” Owen asked.
“He doesn’t have any family,” Darius said, reading the medical record again. “His wife died two years ago. They had no children. He lists his former business partner as his next of kin.”
“Ok,” Owen decided. “Tom, put him down as having sustained a broken neck in an accidental fall. Christ knows, it’s near enough the truth. The neck bones are broken, too. I’ll do a few more tests, then send him back to you. The business partner will probably want to make funeral arrangements.”
“I’ll do that,” Tom Merrick sad. “But we both know there was nothing accidental about this. Doctor Harper, somebody did that to him. And I think he was alive when it began... when they started breaking his bones. I’m guessing the shock and pain killed him eventually. But he must have gone through hell before then. And... well, it’s not my job to care about these things. I just have to find something to put on a death certificate. But if the next one I write has to be a lie, I would like to think that somebody other than me wants to know what the truth really is.”
“I want to know,” Owen assured him. “I’ve never seen anything like this. But I agree with you. It was murder, cruel, terrible murder. And I want to know who or what did such a thing.”
After all, there were plenty of ways to kill a man. If somebody hated Meldrum enough to make him suffer before he died, there were plenty of ways to do it slow and painfully. And all of the ways Owen Harper could think of were far easier than breaking every bone in his body and extracting the marrow from them.
“That’s ironic, isn’t it,” Darius commented as he assisted Owen in the ‘extra tests’ he said he wanted to do.
“Bone marrow... it’s what saved his life, a transplant six months ago. And he was killed by somebody who took it from him.”
“Fucking hell!” Owen swore. He stared at Darius. “Is that what it was about? Is it tissue harvesting? Did somebody want his leukaemia free bone marrow to transplant to somebody else?”
It wasn’t unheard of for organs to be forcibly harvested. It was alleged to happen all the time in China, where inmates of the State were forced to sign away kidneys and executed prisoners were practically dissected for the several dozen organs and tissues that could be used in surgery.
Bone marrow was usually taken from a living donor. And since Meldrum WAS still living when the process began it was certainly a possibility, assuming that whoever extracted the tissue had the means of preserving it until it could be got to the recipient.
Owen usually worked with dead bodies, Human and non-Human, in a mortuary several floors below ground level. But that didn’t mean he was completely isolated. There was a network of fellow doctors and surgeons who knew him by name and reputation and plenty who knew him by EITHER his name or his reputation. He was damned sure that none of the medical men and women he knew would perform an operation using tissue that wasn’t completely traceable to either a living volunteer or a deceased donor for whom the proper paperwork had been completed.
He turned to his computer and sent a bulk email to everyone he knew with a medical qualification and a few more that he didn’t know, warning them of the possibility of forcibly harvested bone marrow. He knew that they would pass the information on. It would be a medical chain letter within a few minutes, letting every conscientious practitioner in the country know what to watch out for.
If he was REALLY lucky, somebody might get back to him with information. The killer might give himself away trying to sell on the harvested tissue.
He did what he could to make the body look presentable and arranged for it to be sent back to the hospital. From there the friends of Lionel Meldrum could have his body taken to a funeral home and a dignified burial arranged for him. That was the end of Owen Harper’s responsibility for him.
Shona Stewart was waiting in his office when he returned from seeing the private ambulance off with the remains aboard. Owen smiled warmly at her and told her to lie down while he used the same scanner that had recorded the murder victim’s broken bones to examine her unborn baby. Darius was there, too, in the capacity of anxious father-to-be. He would probably have liked to hold Shona’s hand during the scan, but she didn’t go in for that kind of thing. Instead he hovered nearby, watching the wall mounted screen as the 3d image appeared on it.
“Is... is the baby all right?” he asked.
“Of course it is,” Shona told him. “Why wouldn’t it be? I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing at this stage in the damned pregnancy. Everything other women do,”
“Running three miles every morning is not what other women do at thirty weeks,” Owen told her. “Try cutting it down to a single mile until week thirty-five. And for the record, the baby is fine. It’s the right size, the right stage of development. Everything is completely by the book.”
“And it’s Human?” Darius asked. Shona didn’t say anything, but Owen knew she wanted to hear the answer to that question, too.
“As far as I can tell, yes,” he answered. “There’s a strong heartbeat. Everything looks completely normal for a Human foetus. But, to be honest, I’m not sure what I should be looking for if it wasn’t.”
“A heartbeat is a good sign,” Darius said. “I don’t know much about it, either. This doesn’t happen often enough, and nobody writes text books about Human/Vampire cross-breeding.”
“All right,” Owen conceded. “As far as I can tell, there’s nothing to worry about. We’re well into the final trimester and I see no reason not to expect a normal full term birth without any complications.”
Shona looked relieved, but not as much as Darius did.
“I would not wish my Undead life on an innocent child,” he said. “I never intended for this to happen, but now it has, all I want is for Shona to give birth safely to a healthy child.”
“We all want that,” Owen assured him fervently. The promise of new life was a refreshing change from the death he normally dealt with. Monitoring Shona’s continuing pregnancy was a respite from all of that.
But not for long. Even as he sat writing a prescription for iron and folic acid tablets, Dougal came with a message from Tom Merrick.
“He has another body at the hospital. He thinks you should go and take a look.”
“Another with the bone marrow removed?” Owen asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Dougal responded. “But he said it might be related.”
“Ok, I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
He was slightly optimistic about the twenty minutes. He tried driving the Ford Escape that was Torchwood Glasgow’s official car in ordinary traffic, without using any of the alien technology that could make it easier. He had begun to think that they were over-using the ability to turn all the red lights green for themselves. He drew a line when Dougal used it to make sure their pizzas arrived on time one lunchtime and insisted that non-emergency travel should be alien tech free.
By the time he parked the Escape in the ‘Doctors Only’ section of the hospital car park he was ready to lift that restriction. To his credit, he managed to shake off the road rage and put himself into a professional mind set by the time he reached the autopsy room, but he knew there was little going on in there that would lift his spirits.
“Not just one body,” Tom Merrick told him when he inquired. “I’ve got three that have come in this morning. And just tell me if you don’t think there’s a pattern here.”
Owen looked at the three bodies Merrick indicated. One was a woman in her late twenties, one a middle aged man, the other a forty-plus woman.
The younger woman had died just before or certainly very shortly after her heart and lungs were removed from her chest cavity through a hole punched through her ribcage.
The man had possibly lingered for a little while after his kidney was removed.
The older woman, also, might have held on for an hour, perhaps, getting increasingly weaker as her body tried to function without a liver.
“What the fuck is going on in this city? Murder by organ donation.”
“The way these organs were removed,” Tom Merrick pointed out. “Roughly, as if they were just yanked out of the bodies – look at the damage to the surrounding tissues - they would be no use for transplant. That isn’t what this is about. And... put a clean lab coat on and come up to where we keep the living patients. There’s somebody you should look at.”
Owen did as his fellow medical man suggested and followed him up to the trauma ward. The teenage girl Merrick wanted him to see was probably very pretty when her face wasn’t bruised and battered and her eyes weren’t bandaged tightly.
“This is Francine Gormley,” Tom Merrick said, introducing her to Owen. “She was picked up by police, stumbling blindly in the street and crying for help.”
“She was mugged?” Owen asked, noting that she had bandages on her hands, too. Tom Merrick confirmed that she had defensive wounds inflicted by a sharp knife, possibly even something like a surgical scalpel. She had fought back valiantly.
“Mugged?” Merrick shook his head. “I always thought muggers wanted money, mobile phones, ipods. I’ve never heard of them stealing somebody’s eyes, before.”
“What!” Owen stepped closer. “They took her eyes?” He reached towards the bandages but decided against it. Merrick would hardly be lying to him. He didn’t need to cause the woman distress and risk infection in order to look at a pair of empty eye sockets.
With some gentle prompting, Francine told her story to Owen. She had been making breakfast in her ground floor flat when her dog began to bark. She went into the other room in time to see the intruder club the dog unconscious and then grab her. He knocked her to the floor and held her down and the last thing she saw was his hand bringing a small, sharp knife towards her eyes.
She described the man as at least six foot tall, blonde with blue eyes, very thin and very pale of complexion. It didn’t seem a lot to go on, but considering her ordeal, Owen thought it was a wonder she managed to give any description at all.
“Blonde hair and blue eyes aren’t especially common in Glasgow,” Tom Merrick pointed out. “We’re a nation of brunette’s and gingers. The police might get lucky.”
“Did he say anything at all?” Owen asked the girl. “I’m sorry to press you at a time like this, but it could be important.”
“He said... they don’t belong to me,” she answered. “I think he meant my eyes. They don’t belong to me.”
“What does that mean?” Owen asked. It was a rhetorical question. He wasn’t expecting an answer from her. But she had one, anyway.
“I think, because it’s true. My eyes... or the corneas, anyway... are somebody else’s. I was blind from congenital cataracts since I was five years old. Six months ago, the miracle happened. A tissue match. It was good... for six months... being able to see. Now...”
She choked back a sob. She wasn’t able to cry tears. There was too much damage to the tear ducts. But she could be upset, and Owen didn’t blame her one little bit for feeling sorry for herself. He felt sorry for her. And angry that somebody had done this to her.
“You see the pattern, Doctor Harper?” Merrick asked as they left the girl in peace and headed to his office next to the autopsy room. “Five people, four dead, one maimed for life...”
“All with organs taken from their bodies. Organs used in transplants... but it’s not about harvesting organs. Because you certainly can’t just cut the eyeballs out of somebody’s head and use them in another patient.”
“You’re missing something,” Merrick told him. “Lionel Meldrum, the first victim to be discovered, the three I’ve got in the cold cabinets now, and Miss Gormley... all of them had organ transplants six months ago when they came up on the national database as tissue matches to a deceased organ donor.”
“Heart and lungs, liver, kidney, cornea. Those are the most common organs taken from a deceased donor. Bone marrow most frequently comes from a living donor, but it CAN come from a deceased donor as long as the tissue is extracted very soon after clinical death. But you’re saying all of our victims had a transplant six months ago...”
“All within two days of each other,” Merrick confirmed.
“It sounds like they all received tissue or organs from the same donor, then.”
“That information isn’t on the patient’s records. And I don’t have the sort of access it would need to find out the details of the donor. That would be a sealed record.”
Owen was already on the phone to Toshiko. There was no such thing as a sealed record when she was around. It took five minutes to find out that the deceased donor was called Michael Anderson. He had been pronounced brain dead after a road accident and because he was on the national donor register, his organs were used to give a new and improved quality of life to eight other people.
“Eight?” Owen immediately sought out the information about three people who, as far as he knew, were still alive. A man called James Grainger had received a bone transplant, replacing part of a tibia that had been eaten away by cancer. Natalie Ferguson was given a new stomach relieving her from another form of cancer.
And Anthony Devlin received the dead man’s testes.
Owen tried not to laugh. He knew that sort of thing was possible. Just about any part of the Human body apart from the brain could be transplanted these days. He was just heartily glad he wasn’t Anthony Devlin for all sorts of reasons.
“Those people all received ‘fresh’ organs within the first twenty-four hours after Mr Anderson’s death,” he said, moving on quickly. “But according to these records, blood vessels, adult stem cells, Islets of Langerhans and skin from the face and neck were also taken. Those tissues can be frozen for use at a later date. By now there could be people walking around with bits of Anderson’s face or his blood vessels as part of their living bodies.
“Even you couldn’t find out who they are,” Merrick told him. “Information about the origin of stored tissues isn’t kept.”
“Then those people are probably safe. But the other three need protection.”
“Protection? You think somebody will be after their organs, too?”
“Why not?” Owen pointed out. “There’s no connection between the other victims except receiving parts of Mr Michael Anderson. There’s a distinct possibility that the killer wants to finish the job.”
Tom Merrick did his best not to smirk.
“Nothing... only... I’m glad it’s not my job to tell Anthony Devlin that somebody is after his balls.”
Owen appreciated that small glimmer of humour in a situation that had very little to laugh about. He used Merrick’s telephone to pull what strings he had to arrange police protection for the three potential victims. Then he made a note of Michael Anderson’s next of kin and told Dougal Drummond and Munroe MacDonald to be ready to join him on a field trip.
He didn’t mess about with red traffic lights this time. He had Toshiko clear the roads all the way back to the Hub and then out to the rural hinterland of Glasgow, to a property just beyond a village called Howwood which struck Owen as a very odd spelling. Munroe MacDonald told him that it was a contraction of Hollow Wood, but he still thought there were too many ‘w’s’ in it.
He forgot about local spelling as he stopped the Ford Escape in front of a wide wrought iron gate. It had an electronic lock and an intercom system as well as security cameras keeping watch. A brass plate fixed to the gatepost indicated that this was the rural Retreat of the Brotherhood of the Last Day Resurrection.
“Religious establishments,” Dougal commented. “Always tricky. We have no jurisdiction...”
“We’re Torchwood. We have no jurisdiction anywhere,” Owen replied. He fished in his pocket for one of several pieces of fake ID he always carried. He held it up to the nearest camera while he identified himself on the intercom as Detective Chief Inspector Owen Harper. If the security guards tried to find out if there really WAS a DCI Harper in the Strathclyde Police department, a neat bit of hacking that Toshiko did on her first day in Torchwood Two would confirm his identity.
“Jurisdiction or not, we’re on shaky ground here,” Dougal continued. “How is this even Torchwood business? Ok, there’s something nasty going on. But it’s nothing to do with aliens. Shouldn’t we leave it to the police?”
“When a body winds up on my autopsy table, I make it my business,” Owen replied. “We don’t need aliens fucking up this world. Sometimes Human beings do a good enough job all by themselves. I want to get my hands on the bastard who made a good man die in agony and left a girl’s life in ruins. I’ve MADE it Torchwood business.”
The gates were opened. The Brotherhood of the Last Day Resurrection clearly didn’t want any trouble with the police. Owen parked the car outside the unremarkable looking late Victorian house at the end of a short drive and presented himself at the front door, flanked by his two honorary Detective Inspectors.
“Reverend Anderson is a very busy man,” said the dour looking youth in a loose black robe unadorned by anything other than a small wooden crucifix on a piece of cord. “But he can spare you a few minutes of his time.”
They were shown into a room that seemed to be part office, part drawing room and mostly prayer room with a large wooden cross hung on one wall and a kneeler in front of it. Reverend Anderson was kneeling with his eyes raised to the cross and intoning a prayer. Owen waited several minutes out of respect before deciding that he was just being ignored. He cleared his throat meaningfully. Several minutes after that he stepped forward and touched Anderson on the shoulder. He gave a pretence of being startled and stood up.
“My apologies,” he said as he went to his desk. “When I am in prayer I am often oblivious to the material world.”
Owen was tempted to say that he got the same way after four glasses of scotch, but it was just possible that this man was genuinely religious and might be offended by that. From everything Toshiko had found out for him about ‘Reverend’ Connor Anderson and the Brotherhood of the Last Day Resurrection in the course of his journey out to the ‘Retreat’ he wasn’t so sure about that. His qualification to call himself ‘Reverend’ came from a mail order ‘college of divinity’ in South Carolina and his home made brand of religion excluded women from participating, insisted on celibacy and sobriety, and had very little else to say except some garbage about the bodily resurrection of the righteous.
And he looked an awful lot like the man Francine had seen just before her eyes were cut out of her head. Tall, thin, blonde haired with blue eyes.
Owen was forming some very unpleasant theories.
“Mister Anderson,” he began, taking a seat even though he hadn’t been invited to do so. Dougal and Munroe remained standing, with their hands on concealed guns that Owen really didn’t want them to use if he could help it.
“Reverend Anderson,” Anderson corrected him.
“I’m here about your late brother,” Owen continued, not bothering to amend himself.
“It’s a little late for the police to start caring about my brother, now,” Anderson said, coldly. “Six months ago, when his body was mutilated, violated, cannibalised like a scrap car in a junk yard, nobody would listen to me....”
“I wasn’t in charge of the investigation six months ago,” Owen said, pretending to read from notes on his PDA. “Your brother, Michael, died in a road accident, I understand. Nobody was held responsible... it was just an accident. He suffered severe brain injuries and was pronounced clinically dead...”
“And that is when the criminal act occurred,” Anderson spat bitterly. “The hospital authorities claimed that my brother was a registered organ donor, and before I could raise any objection his body had been cut to pieces like meat on a butcher’s slab.”
Owen wondered how many more colourful metaphors for a deceased donor Anderson had. Scrap car, meat on a slab....
“Yes, I have the details of your complaint,” Owen said. “The NHS Trust investigated and found that there had been a mistake. A different Michael Anderson was on the database. But it was too late by then. The transplant operations were completed. The investigation concluded that it was a computer error, and that no NHS employee was in any way negligent. No criminal act took place. There was a recommendation about tightening the database procedure, double checking identification, that sort of thing. But the only court action was against you, Mr Anderson. Two senior surgeons took out injunctions against you for threatening behaviour.”
“My brother was not an organ donor,” Anderson insisted, ignoring the implied accusation of misconduct on his part. “He was a believer in the Last Day Resurrection.”
“Why does that exclude him from being an organ donor?” Owen asked. “Giving new life and hope to others seems a decent, Christian thing to do. I carry a card myself, though I’m not sure much of me will be in a fit state to help anyone else by the time I’m done with it.”
“It is an abomination against the dust that was made flesh by the breath of God,” Anderson replied. “When the flesh dies, it must be allowed to return to the dust, not used for unnatural purposes. The only resurrection is the resurrection of the whole body on the Last Day. My brother is denied that resurrection because he was mutilated. His heart beats in another breast. His kidneys are in another body...”
“Yeah, I know. And somebody else has his balls,” Owen added. “At least he does right now. But I’m wondering how long he might keep them if you’re allowed to carry on.”
“Carry on what?” Anderson asked. “The law has prevented me from making any further protest. I have obeyed the law, despite the injustice of it. I have done nothing but pray for the soul of my departed brother, that he might still be saved despite the desecration of his body.”
“Yeah, right,” Owen said sarcastically. “So you prayed for a decent man to die in agony while your brother’s bone marrow was extracted from his body? You prayed for a girl to have her eyes gouged out, for a woman to die without a heart and lungs...”
Anderson stared at Owen in horror.
“I didn’t... I have never... I would not...” he stammered. “I would not pray for such a terrible thing...”
“No, I don’t believe you did,” Owen told him. “I believe you actually went out and committed those disgusting crimes. You’re a murderer, MISTER Anderson. A fucking raving loony religious nut murdering innocent people because of your crackpot religious ideas. You’re as bad as the ones who kill abortion doctors and gays because ‘God told them to do it.’”
“No!” Anderson cried. He rose from his chair and then fell to his knees, wringing his hands as tears rolled down his face. “No. I could not. I would not. That would be against everything I have ever believed. I would deserve God’s wrath on my own soul if I did such a thing.”
“You’re a fucking liar and a murderer,” Owen replied. He made as if to grab him by the throat and was surprised when Dougal restrained him.
“Boss, no. I think... I actually think he’s telling the truth. He was shocked when you mentioned the murders. It was the first he knew about them.”
“He’s not,” Owen insisted. “You were right. This isn’t a Torchwood case. It’s not aliens or anything supernatural. It’s just a crazy murdering bastard.”
“No, boss,” Munroe told him in a quiet, yet resolute tone. “Look.”
Munroe took his hands out of his pocket. He didn’t, in fact, have a gun there. It was a portable version of the lie detector they used in the Hub when questioning suspects. And Owen could plainly see that the light was green, indicating truth.
“That thing isn’t always reliable,” Owen replied. “Besides, the girl, Francine, identified him. Tall, thin, blonde....”
“His BROTHER was also tall, thin, blonde,” Munroe pointed out. “Maybe this IS Torchwood business, after all. Not just a nasty, disgusting, but ultimately Human murder.”
“No,” Owen insisted. “There’s no need to complicate it. He did it. Another Human monster.”
“Boss... we have to consider the possibility,” Dougal told him. “Ask him what happened to his brother’s body after his organs had been donated. Where is he buried?”
“We don’t bury our dead,” Anderson volunteered. “We bind them and keep them until the Last Day.”
“Bind them?” Owen was puzzled at first, then a possibility occurred to him. “You mean... you mummify bodies?”
“Where?” Dougal asked before Owen started imagining all kinds of other possibilities.
“In the charnel house.”
Owen grabbed Anderson by the arm. He was still half convinced that he WAS just simply a murderer driven by half baked religious ideas. He held onto him as he guided them through the substantial house. His Last Day followers came from their prayer rooms and meditations protesting about the way their Reverend was being treated, but, surprisingly, he told them to take no action.
“These men mean me no harm,” he said to them. “There is no cause for alarm. Go about your Holy work.”
Anderson showed them a stout oak door leading off from the hallway. Beyond it were stone steps leading down to a whitewashed basement. A second oak door was closed on what Anderson had called the charnel house.
It was so called because there were bodies down there. The smell was not as bad as it should have been. The three dead men were embalmed and wrapped in linen bandages exactly as Egyptian mummies were before they were lain in their tombs.
No, not quite the same, Owen amended. Because the Egyptians actually eviscerated the bodies, putting all the organs that would putrify within the embalmed flesh into canoptic jars. Egyptians believed in a bodily resurrection of a kind, but they seemed to assume that it could happen only if the heart, liver and kidneys were stored separately.
Anderson’s lot didn’t believe in that. They kept the bodies whole.
“Three of them?” Owen questioned. “Who are they?”
“Two of the Brotherhood who died of natural causes in the past year,” Anderson said. “And my brother. Death certificates were issued. There was nothing illegal about any of these interments. The only crime was the desecration to my brother’s body.”
“Which one is he?” Dougal asked. Anderson pointed. Munroe stepped forward and slowly began to unwrap the body. The smell of embalming fluid got stronger as the covers came off.
“No! Stop!” A voice cried in horror from the outer room and a young man came running, his sandaled feet tripping on the hem of his robe. Owen noted that he was also tall, thin, with pale complexion, blonde hair and blue eyes. He was a good ten years younger than Connor Anderson.
A younger brother to the older twins.
He blanched even paler as he saw what Munroe was doing. “No, you will ruin everything. I risked my soul to save his, and now you... you....”
Dougal grabbed the hysterical young man before he could sink the small sharp knife into Munroe’s back. He disarmed him and plasicuffed him before making him kneel on the stone floor.
“Frazer!” Connor Anderson looked at him in astonishment. “What have you done? What risk?” Then Munroe swore uncharacteristically loudly, distracting everyone’s attention back to the body he had finished unwrapping.
It was clearly a body that had been dead for a good six months. The skin was grey and beginning to look waxy. The flesh where the chest had been cracked open recently was dried out like the strips of ‘beef jerky’ sold in pet shops as chew treats for dogs.
Owen hadn’t looked any closer at the chest cavity yet. He was still staring at the eye sockets. Two bloody eyeballs had been inexpertly fixed into them.
He turned from that to look inside the body. As he expected, a pair of lungs and a heart had been lain roughly where they were supposed to go. Lower in the abdomen were two kidneys and a liver.
Munroe reached gingerly inside the body and extracted a sealed glass jar. For a few seconds Owen stared at it before he realised the substance inside was bone marrow.
“Frazer!” Connor Anderson groaned aloud. “Frazer... what have you done?”
“I did what I had to do for our brother,” the young man replied. “His soul is in purgatory. But if I can restore him... he may know peace.”
“No!” Connor exclaimed. “Oh, no. You... killed people... No. Please, tell me you didn’t.... You have damned him and yourself, too. And me... I taught you... ever since our parents died... I brought you up in the faith. I taught you to believe... It’s my fault that you did this terrible thing. We are all damned through your actions.”
“I did what I thought was right!” Frazer said, stunned by his brother’s reaction. Had he expected praise from him? Thanks?
Owen wondered what he should do, next. If he really WAS a DCI then there would be no question. Frazer had as good as confessed to four murders and a dreadful mutilation. He would have to be arrested. He could do that, anyway. He could hand him over to the real police and make a statement that would get him sent to a secure mental institution for life.
As for Connor Anderson, he was already in hell. He knew that it was his own religious teaching that had driven his kid brother to such a terrible deed. If he knelt in front of his cross for the rest of his life he probably wouldn’t forgive himself.
Frazer was plasicuffed. He couldn’t defend himself, and he might not have expected his devout brother to attack him. None of the Torchwood team expected Connor to move as fast as he did. In seconds, he had the knife in his hand. He slashed it once across his younger brother’s throat then turned it and plunged it into his own heart. He fell to his knees murmuring prayers for forgiveness, clutching his dying brother’s body. Owen and Dougal stood and watched, shock rooting them to the spot. Munroe quietly but quickly left the room. When he returned a few minutes later with four of the black-robed members of the Brotherhood the two men were dead. He let the Brothers gently lay out the bodies side by side and kneel in prayer with them. Two more men came down and began to wrap the body of Michael Anderson back up again before they prepared his two siblings for the same posterity.
Owen promised to make out certificates citing accidental death and left them to mourn. There wasn’t anything else he felt he could do. He and his team walked back to the car.
“I didn’t expect it to be a man who did it,” Dougal Drummond admitted as they drove out through the electronic gate.
“Nor me,” Munroe added. “I was surprised to find it was one young laddie who had lost the plot.”
“So what the fuck did the two of you think?” Owen asked.
“I actually thought it was some kind of alien force using the re-animated body of Michael Anderson to take back his own organs or...”
Coming from anyone other than a man who couldn’t die because aliens tinkered with his DNA, that would have sounded far-fetched.
“I wish it bloody well had been. I know how to handle aliens. This was just humans fucking it up as usual.”
“I don’t know, boss,” Munroe said. “Maybe there WAS something more to it. The lad did the murders, right enough. But think about it. How could he have extracted the marrow from every bone in the first victim’s body by himself? Or punch through a woman’s chest to reach her heart and lungs? And I’ll swear that when I took those bandages off it was the first time that body had been unwrapped since the body was embalmed. The lad might have had some kind of supernatural help.”
Owen considered that and sighed again.
“Oh, bugger it,” he said. “I hope you’re wrong. I don’t want to have to tell Anthony Devlin there’s a GHOST after his balls.”
“It was Frazer’s obsession, fuelled by his brother’s religious mania that set it all in motion,” Munroe again pointed out. “Both of them are dead. If they had inadvertently raised something beyond nature, there’s a good chance it might lie quiet with them, now.”
“Meanwhile, this goes in the ‘fucked if we know’ file,” Owen conceded. “Two more people dead. Poor bloody Francine living with a horrible disfigurement for the rest of her life. Not exactly a successful resolution whichever way you look at it. Sometimes this job is fucking depressing.”