One day in Croker (Part 16)

Aoife shuffled in the bed and slowly opened one of her eyes. It was brighter than she expected. She moved her arm from under the bed covers and reached for her mobile to check what time it was.

Damn it! It read 9.30am.

She needed to get up and get ready fast. She had to be at Stephen’s house in under an hour. Her alarms had failed to go off. Oh, would she ever learn?

Forcing herself to sit up, she took a moment to sit at the side of the bed. How she wished Stephen had been by her side the night before.

Realizing that the minutes were ticking by, she rushed in to the bathroom to shower. It was friggin freezing. But needs must.

This was normally her favorite part of the day but she was just so stressed. This day needed to be just perfect and it was off to a bad start.

.A quick blow dry of her hair and a touch of make-up and she was on her way.

Stephen and his Mum were already in the wheelchair modified van getting ready to go.

“Oh, so sorry I’m late.”

“Don’t worry love, we came out a bit early to get him all set up with all the straps and everything. You’d swear we were going to the moon or something..”

“Hey, Aoife I thought you were going to stand me up!”

“Nooo, I would never that!”

“She was just being fashionably late Stephen.”

Aoife sat in beside Stephen to the rear of the van. The seat was was small and cramped but she couldn’t have been happier.

It was only a short drive to where they were going. She had heard about the Gap of Dunloe during her school days. All she remember was that it had something to do with the last ice age and that it was a major tourist attraction.

The roads were perfect at first but gradually became rockier and narrower. Mountains appeared in the distance. After another few minutes, they came to a small white cottage and a sign sitting right in front of them stating that the road was closed.

His Mum roared back –

“Hope the two of yous are okay. We’re at the start of it now. Most people walk it but it would tough on the wheelchair.”

With that she squeezed by the sign and they were on their way.

The Irish Ripper (Chapter 18)

Months passed and once more there was no more sign of The Ripper.  It was as if he had just vanished once again but few thought it would become permanent.  Christmas was now fast approaching. 

Usually, it was a time of year not relished by Sean but this year was different, and Laura was that difference.  Her enthusiasm and exuberance gradually rubbed off on him and he found himself looking forward even if he knew it meant getting her an expensive present. 

He would be spending the day at her mother’s house.  Laura had assured him that she was an excellent cook.  Her father had died two years previously and didn’t want her Mum spending the day alone.  In any event, she lived in Navan, so it wouldn’t be much of a drive in any event.  He wondered what her Mum thought of her daughter dating someone in a wheelchair. 

In the intervening period, Sean’s notoriety within the force had grown immeasurably.  He was now considered somewhat of an expert on the behavioral science of homicide and had found himself being called out to multiple murder scenes to give his opinion.  It didn’t matter if the scene was up a flight of stairs, his fellow Gardai were happy to lift him and his wheelchair up. 

It was assumed that because he had voluntarily gone to see one of The Ripper’s slayings, that there was nothing that could phase him.  But that wasn’t totally true and he found himself having sleepless after visiting one particularly gruesome scene.  Though the Garda who found it first had to retire afterward. 

He had moved office as a result and was now playing a central role in the new Garda Behavioral Unit.  The central focus was still the hunt for The Ripper, but it also encompassed much more than that with three Gardai now under him and at his disposal.  In truth, he wasn’t quite sure what he thought of that as he had never seen himself as a boss or manager.  At times, he felt awkward giving orders and being responsible for discipline but he persevered.  He was also very lucky with the young Gardai who had been top of their class, that were allocated to him.  They were eager to learn everything they could from him and hung on his every word, so unlike him during his early years.  They also worked ferociously; Sean was almost always the first one to head home at the end of the day.  But he did find himself wondering if they would have the required grit for what lay ahead. 

For instance, Sean already had to visit a crime scene where a man with very severe mental health issues decided to attack and kill his roommate for no particular reason whatsoever.  There had been no disagreement, nothing to cause the frenzy of stabbing.  Then he decided it would be a good idea to cut up his victim to examine his heart and brain whilst smearing the walls with blood.  Nothing can prepare one to witness such things. 

But as cases go, it was an open and shut case.  He said that voices told him to do it.  There was no need for a court case, it was straight to the Central Mental Hospital for him, where almost certainly he would reside for the rest of his days. 

That was the worst he had come across; the rest were more palpable.  The young woman stabbed violently by her jealous boyfriend and the old homeless man kicked to death for a few laughs amongst others.  Sean could compartmentalize all these murders without difficulty.    

But still every night, it was The Ripper that he thought about last at night.  He wondered where he was now and what he was up to.  His instinct told him that he had returned and it was only a matter of time before his next atrocity.  He hoped that his fellow officers wouldn’t end up with their own Ripper to torment their nights.   

There was one other thing that bothered him too and it was the thought of the work Christmas party. It was scheduled for the week prior to the big day itself.  Strangely this used to be the only thing he liked about this time of year but this would be the first year that he would be going coupled up.  Nobody else would know that though and they had decided they would arrive at different times, but still, he worried he might get drunk and snap if he saw someone chatting her up.  Still, they both had to go, not showing up was not an option as their colleagues would not be impressed.   

Some decorations had been put up around the station by now, save for the public areas.  They couldn’t allow the ordinary criminal to think they were going soft but behind closed doors, there was a bit of a buzz.  It was a pleasant distraction from what seemed his ever-increasing workload. 

Ireland as a country loves to do Christmas.  Whether it’s the round the clock of ads on television with a Christmas theme, the office Christmas party or the street lights you’ll always know it’s that special time of year.  On the day itself, the country literally comes to a halt.  It is a religious or family day, like it or not.  Some Irish people find it strange when they visit other countries and the day is barely marked.  Maybe you need long nights with dreary weather to really appreciate the celebration. 

Sean need not have worried about the party.  It passed by without incident.  Sean behaved impeccably not even having much to drink.  It was all so different than his old life, at times he almost felt nostalgic.  The old him would have spent the night trying to get drunk and get laid.  Of course, that life was far easier when he didn’t have to rely on a wheelchair.  Whereas once as midnight approached, he would have gone looking for ladies to occupy him for the night; he now found himself hemmed into a corner forced to chat with those closest to him.  Fortunately, he was quite content with this knowing that Laura awaited him that night. 

She didn’t know, but he had bought an engagement ring the day before.  Yes, it was fast but he was certain that she was the girl for him so there was no need to wait.  Furthermore, she had hinted at times that it was what she was hoping for.  As they would lay in bed at night, she would instigate conversations about their future lives together and how they could still have children together.  These were the type of conversations that Sean thought would never happen to him in the days after his accident. 

He was planning to do it Christmas Day after dinner; it would be perfect.  Hopefully, she would say “yes” and then they could celebrate with her Mum.  If things went badly, he could drive back to his own house to rethink everything.  But he was optimistic that things would go well. 

As the day grew closer, Sean found himself growing more and more nervous, and unsure if he was doing the right thing.  But all he had to do was think how much his life had improved because of her and it refilled him with a steely determination. 

So, it was that he found himself at Laura’s Mum’s house on a crisp Christmas morning with a ring in his pocket.  Both women gave him a warm hug on his arrival.  He had only met his Mum, a petit old woman with flowing gray hair once before and he was glad he was already being welcomed as a member of the family.  It was hopefully a positive sign for the rest of the day. 

He went into the sitting room to watch tv while they continued preparing the dinner.  Then just as Laura came in to offer him a cup of tea, his mobile phone rang.  This was most unexpected and he answered it immediately.  It was the dreaded news he feared, The Ripper had struck again and he was expected at the crime scene as soon as possible. 

He knew from Laura’s shocked facial expression that she knew what had happened.  She told him that she would keep some food for him for later as he wheeled himself out to the car.  Sean grimaced as he thought about how The Ripper had spoiled his big day.  But there was nothing for it but to see his latest handiwork.  All he knew was that the latest attack happened on the outskirts of Swords from the GPS coordinates he had been given, which would take about fifty minutes to reach.  During the drive, he began to fear what he was heading to.  This was almost certainly going to ruin the day for the whole country. 

It took what seemed an age to reach there.  The house, a large two-story mansion surrounded by a formidably tall wall had already been cordoned off.  Sean drove down the long driveway through an opened electronic gate, this would have been the last place that he would have expected that The Ripper to target.  Garda Cummins, one of his subordinates was there waiting outside for him.   

As Sean got out of the car and into his wheelchair Garda Cummins tried to speak but couldn’t.  Sean looked up and saw not a Garda but a broken man with pale, sickly face and tears rolling down his face.  For most people, there is only so much grisliness the mind can take, so Sean told him that he would go in alone once he saw there was no step in the front door. 

As Sean entered the house the first thing he saw, was a large majestic Christmas tree adorning the central hall, full of decorations with numerous presents laying unopened underneath.  It stood in stark contrast to the horrendous scene just a few feet away in the dining room. 

It was another family annihilation.  Sean tried to numb his mind before entering the scene but to only limited avail.  It is impossible to inoculate oneself against such a stomach-churning scene.  The scene was eerily similar to the last family attack. 

A male in his forties and presumably his two sons, not yet teenagers tied to chairs with their throats slit.  The blood had flowed from their necks and into a puddle that was just a few feet from the woman who bore the greatest savagery.  Her naked, battered and mutilated body bore all the hallmarks of The Ripper.  Sean felt incredible disgust, the horrific scene with the joyous decorations, it was as if hell itself had been to visit. 

Nevertheless, Sean knew he had to steel himself for what lay ahead.  The family deserved justice and he was probably the only one that could deliver it.  Yes, the scene was similar to previous murders but also very different.  Something had irked The Ripper and he hadn’t chosen as soft a target.  This time he had attacked an upper-class urban area.  There were likely to be CCTV cameras everywhere. 

Sean immediately took control of the situation and set up Garda teams to go house to house and to talk to people in the neighborhood to see if they had seen anything suspicious. 

It wasn’t long before Sean’s suspicions were proved correct.  For the first time, The Ripper had left valuable evidence behind.  Part of the attack had been captured on CCTV from the house on the opposite side of the street.  For the first time, after many years he had been caught on camera. 

It showed that the previous night The Ripper already wearing his ski-mask and black clothes had easily managed to scale the wall, a formidable athletic feat.  Several Gardai would try it the next day but only one came close to accomplishing it.  As suspected, The Ripper was a very fit, athletic and agile man.  He simply opened the electronic gate on the way out as it still remained. 

Unfortunately, The Ripper had destroyed the CCTV recording at the victims’ house, although given that he was already in full regalia it may not have provided more clues in any event.  There was more surveillance gleaned further down the street showing him walking on the footpath towards the house.  Irritating though, he appears out of a small park where none of the cameras catch him. 

Over the following days, one of the largest funerals ever to be held in Ireland occurred on a damp, miserable day as all the victims of the latest atrocity were laid to rest in a joint ceremony.  Sadness pervaded the city and disillusionment grew about the effectiveness of the Gardai.  Sean and Laura attend, Sean all the time trying to keep an eye out for suspicious mourners.  He knew from the FBI materials that he read that serial killers often attended such events in order to glory in their actions.  Laura told him to relax, that there were too many people and anyway, the whole thing was being recorded from afar in any event.  Later, Sean would spend hours poring over the videos but to no avail. 

The investigation now felt very personal.  Sean was beginning to feel like he knew all the victims personally; he had spent so long looking at their photos and reading about them.  For instance, the latest victims were a banker, his much younger wife, and children.  Their oldest son suffered greatly from dyslexia but had started making good progress at school.  That was all for naught now.  As Sean saw the coffins in the distance, he thought of the battered and mutilated bodies he had seen.  Sometimes, it was all too much as tears rolled down his face.   In that, he was similar to most people at the time, broken and terrified; wishing the nightmare would finally come to an end. 

Then for a split-second, Sean thought he saw something as he glanced up and away from the casket being lowered.  It was fleeting and in the far distance as the burial of the youngest and final child was taking place.  Later, he would check the CCTV for that location but it was obscured by a large oak tree.  Perhaps, it was nothing, just his mind playing tricks on him.  Perhaps, it was something and a missed opportunity. 

Over the next few weeks, the pressure on Sean grew more and more intense.  The country as a whole no longer cared about drugs, sex slavery, robberies or even crime generally.  Nobody talked about homelessness or hospital waiting lists anymore.  There was only one topic of conversation – The Ripper. 

Parents would complain about their children being terrified and wetting their beds; teenagers and young adults stopped venturing outside and the elderly tried to stay awake all night.  He had already captivated the country but now, true to his name, it seemed he might rip it apart too.   Where once there had been marches, now there were protests; the largest of which was held in front of the Dail. 

It was having a major effect on Sean.  It had been a long time since he had a full night’s sleep but now it was the overwhelming pressure to find a breakthrough, or at least have something meaningful to say at the next meeting rather than just the nightmares that made it impossible for his eyes to remain closed throughout the night. 

He was also starting to argue with Laura each night.  He knew that none of this was her fault, but it seemed now even the most minor of things would set him off.  This fact made him feel even worse about himself.  All he knew was that he now dreaded the thought of life without her and he couldn’t risk losing her like he had lost Aimee no matter what.  So, then thoughts of just quitting the force entered his head.  Perhaps they could just both sell up and go live on some quiet Caribbean island and never have to hear tell of The Irish Ripper again. 

It was while he was daydreaming of that island that he got a call from Jim in England.  It was a call that would change things utterly. 

The Irish Ripper (Chapter 17)

Sean always had the inclination to believe that The Ripper would be identified through his earlier rape crimes; he was still the only police officer to be a hundred percent convinced that he was the Reading Rapist.  Each night he would pore over the documents from England, hoping to see something that had been missed till then.  Occasionally Laura would do the same but it was all to no avail. 

Then one night as they lay in bed, Sean had a sudden burst of inspiration, a true eureka moment.  In his excitement, he woke Laura from her slumber so that he could tell her immediately lest he forgets it during the night.  At first, she thought there was something wrong but was soon also entranced by the idea. 

The Reading Rapist was extremely proficient at breaking into houses to carry out attacks; he must have learned it beforehand.  Perhaps, he had been a run of the mill house burglar prior to escalating to rape; this would have given him the opportunity to perfect his skills. 

But the thought that really excited Sean was that it was unlikely that he was so careful all that time ago and just maybe he left some evidence behind that could identify him.  Finally, it seemed there might be something to get excited about.  He struggled to sleep afterward that night with his mind racing from thought to thought. 

The next morning, he immediately contacted Jim, who by now was the official contact person in England.  He too was enthralled by the idea. 

“So, your theory is that like many criminals, he has evolved over time and our best bet to catch him is from a crime he committed at the very start?” 

“Sin e,” Sean replied in Irish, much to Jim’s befuddlement before confirming in English, that yes, he was correct. 

Then discussions turned to how exactly they would find his earliest crimes.  Sean inquired if they had a criminal database.  They did, but it was hard to know what the right inquiry would be.  There would literally be tens of thousands of both solved and unsolved burglaries on the system.  They would be proverbially looking for the needle in the haystack. 

After a half-hour discussing the matter back and forth, they decided that the first place to start would be to do a profile of the young Ripper.  He would have many of the same characteristics as in the profile from the FBI, but would surely be in his late teens or very early twenties back then.  Almost certainly he would have problems with authority and would perhaps have been expelled from school.  The Reading Rapist was both prolific and intense, committing all his crimes in a relatively short burst.  Perhaps, his earliest phase of criminal activity was likewise.  

Gradually, both officers began to feel that they had built up a pretty good picture of who they were looking for.  But what they were seeking would be impossible to glean from a computer, rather it needed the human touch.  Jim then said he would formally write to the head of each police station throughout England that day, hoping to jog their memories of a burglar who might fit the bill. 

Then all they could do was wait.  Each morning Sean would open his email first thing in the morning at the kitchen table on his laptop, hoping for a lead but each time he was met with run of the mill spam messages.  There was a lot riding on this now and as two weeks turned to three, he felt overcome with disappointment. 

But then just as he was about to retire home one evening, he got a message from Jim.  He had received a communication from the station in Bristol of a suspect who might just fit the bill.  In the message, Jim promised to send on a much longer message later that night. 

After writing a short reply acknowledging the exciting news Sean went straight home, hurriedly had something to eat and anxiously awaited by his laptop.  Close to midnight, it finally arrived but that did not deter Sean from reading it over and over again. 

The subject line was the “Bristol Burglar”.  It was about a prolific burglar who terrorized the city of Bristol and its environs for a period of one year before he abruptly stopping.  The houses targeted resembled those later targeted by the Reading Rapist.  The suspect was also implicated in a murder.  There were parallels and it certainly could be the same man. 

Sean now almost felt like he could reach out and touch The Ripper; that what was once so elusive was gradually coming into focus.  Jim was going to Bristol the next day.  The case of The Irish Ripper was now a high priority case for the English police too due to its international notoriety.   

Sean wished he was over there rather than waiting on the sidelines.  He wasn’t the only one and he soon found himself on a ferry ordered to follow up the lead in Bristol.  It was one of very few lines of inquiry and the Gardai wanted to be seen as being proactive. 

It had come as a bit of a shock to Sean but he was determined to grab the opportunity with both hands.  It gave him a huge sense of pride too that his superiors now trusted him with something so important and he was anxious not to let them down.  This was something he had never felt previously, even as an able-bodied officer. 

Laura dropped him off at the airport.  She was excited for him but also nervous hoping that the trip would be a success.  After a passionate kiss, as if long lost lovers they parted.  On arrival in England, Jim was there waiting for him.  Sean barely recognized him though; he and a female companion were dressed in immaculate suits as if royalty was expected.  It was very different from the first time they met, disheveled in a loud, noisy pub. 

Jim gave him a warm hug, telling him that it was great to see him again and put his bag that had been hanging on the back of the wheelchair into the car.  Her name was Elizabeth, a slight fresh-faced woman in her mid-twenties and she greeted him with a warm smile.  A swift maneuver and Sean got into the back seat of the car, while they went in front. 

Sean was surprised and somewhat embarrassed to learn on the long road trip that he was now a local celebrity especially among the police; he even felt some hero worship emanating from Elizabeth.  Jim had told everyone that would listen about his great detective from Ireland in the wheelchair. 

If only he could arouse such affection back in his own home town, he thought quietly to himself but then quickly turned the conversation to the reason he had come – The Bristol Burglar.  Jim was only all too eager to talk him through all the details but first told their companion that their current theory was that Bristol was the training ground for the Reading Rapist who would later become the Irish Ripper.  Elizabeth gasped, saying that she didn’t realize The Ripper was also on the radar. 

The Bristol Burglar operated over a period of twenty-one months.  During that period, he was responsible for one murder and a hundred and twenty-five burglaries.  Most of The Burglar’s activities involved breaking into houses, searching through and vandalizing the owner’s possessions, scattering any women’s underclothing he found, stealing coins and low-value or personal items, while often ignoring banknotes and other valuable items in plain sight. 

Sean knew that this signaled that this was no ordinary thief motivated by a desire for monetary gain, but instead he was seeking a different thrill of power over his victims.  This was the very beginning of the evolution of The Ripper. 

Jim further expanded that the MO or method of operation also mirrored his later suspected crimes albeit with much lower levels of violence – 

  • scaling fences and moving through established routes such as parks, walkways, ditches, and trails. 
  • attempting to pry open multiple points of entry, particularly windows. 
  • leaving multiple points of escape open, especially windows as well as house, garage, and garden doors. 
  • moving removed window screens onto beds or into bedrooms. 
  • placing “warning items” such as dishes or bottles against doors and on door handles. 
  • wearing gloves (given the absence of fingerprint evidence). 

It was only upon reaching the hotel where Sean would be spending the night that Jim with a wide smile relayed what could be the most important detail.  They had retrieved DNA from two of the crime scenes and would have the results the next evening.  Sean could feel his heart almost stop.  Finally, he – the infamous Ripper -would be within their grasp. 

Sean woke early the following morning having had a restless night.  His mind was too excited for rest with different thoughts constantly zipping in and out of his mind, and he found himself moving from side to side unable to sleep.  This could be D-Day and he might yet be returning to Dublin a hero. 

Jim was somewhat surprised that Sean was waiting for him in the lobby when he arrived but was starting to get used to the peculiarities of his Irish friend. 

“So, are you ready to see Bristol.  I thought we’d drive around a bit to try and get a better idea of the place?” he said in his loud and strong Yorkshire accent. 

He merely received a nod in return but that was enough for him to know that Sean was satisfied with the idea.  As they drove through the city, Jim explained that the city was smaller than Dublin but still quite large.  It was the suburbs they were most interested in and especially those neighborhoods that had been most ravaged by the Bristol Burglar.  It amused them somewhat that they might even be driving past where he had grown up.  Just like his later crimes, the neighborhoods targeted were filled with bungalows.  It was thought they were easier for him to do his surveillance on, he didn’t want any nasty surprises in the midst of an attack. 

As midday approached, they headed to the local police station to see if the DNA results were back.  They needn’t have bothered; the results were in but there was no match on the databases of known offenders in either the United Kingdom or Ireland. 

A sense of shock and disappointment emanated from both Sean and Jim.  This was supposed to be a moment of triumph but it felt like the man that they were after was just as elusive as ever.  Sean wondered if this was the way it would always be; that The Ripper was just too good and would never be caught. 

That night they both retired to the bar at the hotel would be staying for still three more nights.  He had worried that his stay in England would be too short, but that when he was contemplating a major breakthrough, in the case.   That seemed like little more than a pipe dream now.   

He asked Jim if he should just go home the next day but Jim urged him to stay, that he should at least see some of the sites.  Sean decided there was little harm in staying and sure he could do with a bit of a break anyway.  Jim stayed late into the night as they regaled each other with tales of previous cases that they had worked on. 

Two mornings later and Sean was really wishing he had left as he lay on the bed when he received a text message from Jim that something had happened and he would be there in thirty minutes to collect him.  Sean knew that it must be something very important so he quickly got dressed and went down to the lobby. 

Jim was there anxiously waiting for him.  His face was pale and he looked quite sickly.  For a moment, he just stood there in silence. 

“It’s The Ripper!” Jim said in a broken voice. 

“What?” Sean replied, trying to coax another few words out of him. 

“Hee’s struckk here in Bristol!” 

Sean could hardly believe what he was hearing.  The monster must have followed him he thought to himself.  The attack had occurred less than five kilometers from where he was staying.  It was probably a message for him personally.  There were two victims, both women. They were butchered during the previous night. 

Somewhat to his surprise, Jim was there to collect him and bring him to the scene.  Sean had never previously been to a murder scene but didn’t want to seem weak or disturbed in front of the Englishman so he raised no objection.  In fact, he thought, this was a great opportunity to further immerse himself in the case. 

It didn’t take long to reach the scene.  There was a mournful crowd of people surrounding the cordon that they had to push through.  Once more, it was a single-story house that had been targeted.  Sean thought he was prepared for what he was about to see, but he was wrong.  Crime scene photos don’t convey the smell of death or show you the happy family photos on the mantlepiece with the mutilated corpse a few feet away. 

Both officers could only stomach it for a few short minutes, although neither said it explicitly to the other.  It was unspoken.  Sean had seen enough though to know it was the work of The Irish Ripper, unexpectedly far from his usual stomping ground.  From the photos, it was easily ascertained that the two female victims had been in a lesbian relationship, with one being quite butch and taking on more typically masculine characteristics like short hair and wearing a workman’s clothing; the other more femme, with long blonde hair and wearing dresses. 

It appeared that The Ripper was happy to accept these gender roles judging by the macabre scene that was before them.  The femme woman took the most punishment.  As in previous murders, she had been raped and left terribly mutilated having suffered multiple stab wounds with one of her breasts removed.   

The more butch woman simply had her throat slit; her role was simply to watch horrified as her loved partner was savaged. 

Jim mentioned it would probably for the best if they left the scene before journalists showed up, which was likely to be any second now.  Sean nodded in agreement; he didn’t want his face appearing in the papers either.  The two men spent the rest of the day together discussing the implications of the latest development. 

As they chatted gloomily in the hotel bar, they both agreed that it could be no mere coincidence that The Ripper struck in England while he was there.  The Ripper knew about Sean’s trip and had given him a sick surprise present.  This meant that the killer was either a police officer in Ireland or England or one was feeding him information perhaps inadvertently.  This was a disastrous scenario.  If the media got hold of it, which was probably only a matter of time they would have a field day.  It was as if The Ripper had found a new way to taunt them.  

So, it was with a dark cloud hanging over him that Sean returned to Ireland and Laura’s warm embrace.  It appeared that the trip had only been to document a further slaying.  However, his superiors didn’t seem to share his pessimism being particularly impressed that Sean had the gumption to visit the murder scene and wondering why he had never done so in Ireland.  When he replied that he had simply never been asked, he was told that was to change from here on in and to keep a mobile phone on his person at all times.  Although it may have just been the hope that The Rippers move to England would become permanent that had lifted the mood somewhat, they wanted out from his shadow any way possible. 

Laura would never admit it, perhaps not even to herself, but she was immensely relieved on Sean’s return even if she would never admit it, not even to herself.  She wasn’t even sure why exactly and perhaps it was even nonsensical. 

It started a few weeks before Sean had even left: a feeling of being watched.  She knew that she was being silly, and thought it was perhaps a figment of her imagination, but the feeling persisted.   A feeling some of her stuff had been moved.  Her apprehension had gradually grown so bad that she had more or less moved in with Sean.  Even though he was in a wheelchair, his presence made her feel secure and safe. 

This was an embarrassing fact for someone working in the drugs branch of the force where bravery was expected as a given.  But the strange thing was that she felt fine when she was on the job.  When it was patrolling the street or charging headfirst into a drug bust with the possibility of getting a bullet there was no problem whatsoever; it was when she was in a house on her own that her fear surfaced. 

Maybe, she had just heard one too many tales of The Ripper from Sean; he was always telling her how he would leave his tools around the house prior to an attack and she constantly found herself searching everywhere for them just in case she was the next one on his list. 

So, when Sean left for a week, she made arrangements to stay with her Mum who was a bit perplexed but kept her counsel not wanting to bother her daughter.  It was a longer drive for Laura to go to and from work, but it was worth it for peace of mind.  Then news reached her of the attack in England.  At first, she could not believe what she was hearing.  She wondered what were the odds of The Ripper and Sean visiting England at exactly the same time? 

Very low, she thought to her herself and her mind turned back to when she was investigating Sean and the murder of Billy.  The Ripper must be keeping a close eye on Sean.  Her heart swelled with terror but mostly for Sean’s safety, as she was now deeply in love with him. 

Her fears were compounded when Sean rang her and told her excitedly that he had been given the opportunity to visit the latest murder scene telling her all the grizzly details.  She tried her best to sound no more or less interested than normal so as not to show her distress or give him an idea of her concerns.  That could wait for some other time, she just told him that she couldn’t wait for his return.  But also, so she could prepare for any future attack. 

So, it was with a warm smile and a loving kiss that she greeted him as he disembarked the ferry.  His disheveled appearance and obvious hangover were inconsequential. 

The Irish Ripper (Chapter 16)

Finally, the day came for Sean to return to work; it was almost like he was starting a new job such was his feeling of trepidation.  Laura told him not to worry, that he wasn’t the first Garda to go off the rails and he would be warmly welcomed back.  Sean, however, had his doubts but proceeded nonetheless.   

Of course, there was a part of him – albeit quite small – that wanted to return.  There was little to stimulate his intellect during the day, daytime tv just didn’t cut it and there was very little else for him to do.  At least, his drinking had filled the day if nothing else. 

Nobody at the Station knew of their relationship and they had agreed that was the way it would stay for now.  In fact, they decided they would stay apart as much as possible so there wouldn’t even be a suspicion, although Sean was quietly worried that might mean there was nobody, he would be able to have a friendly chat with.  In truth, her new post meant that she wouldn’t be around much anyway.   

So, they kissed each other goodbye and Sean headed to the Station, while she headed towards the next drug bust in Finglas.  The traffic was light, the kids were on their summer holidays.  It was to be an icy, cool day. 

Sean arrived early as he had planned, he wanted to at least start off on the right foot and made his way around the back of the station as usual.  He was able to get to his desk with barely having to glance at another officer.  His desk was clear as he would have expected, so he turned on his computer to read his emails; being anxious to create a decent first impression after having been off for so long. 

Over the morning different Gardai came in to welcome him back and to say how happy they were that he was doing better; some of the conversations lasted just a few minutes but others were longer, with one almost going on for a half-hour.  The atmosphere in the place was much better than he had remembered it. 

The Superintendent visited him just before eleven.  Like the others, he told him that he was happy to see him back but the topic of the conversation quickly turned to operational matters.  Sean was informed that he would be doing the same role as before.  In fact, it was only realized what a truly valuable job he was doing when he was gone. 

But he would be eased back into it and for the first two weeks he was to do his routine administration and avoid “The Ripper Case” altogether, there was to be no late hours or bringing work home.  Quite a lot had changed since he had been out sick; the force had realized things had to change.  Sean wasn’t the only one that had suffered psychologically from the gang warfare and then “The Ripper”.  Many Gardai had counseling, the take-home message was that they could only do their best, this was a marathon, not a sprint.  

Then the Super left his office and Sean readied himself for a tea-break.  Unexpectedly, Jack put his head in the door; they hadn’t seen each other for months and gave each other a warm smile.  He had made an effort to come in especially on Sean’s first day back, which was much appreciated. 

The canteen seemed much busier than he had remembered it and he asked Jack if his mind was playing tricks on him causing a startled look.  It was not his imagination, more Gardai had indeed been recruited.  “The Ripper” had caused such consternation among the public that the police went to the number one priority for the Government. 

Sean quickly changed the subject to keep the mood upbeat.  Instead, they talked about Jack’s new girlfriend.  She was a nurse and over ten years younger than him, which caused both of them to laugh.  For some reason, Sean had always envisioned him with an older woman, although he was never quite sure why. 

All too soon, the break was over and it was time for them to part, with Sean heading back to his desk.  He followed the advice he had been given and took it easy for the rest of the day.  He would be taking it one day at a time but knew eventually he would have to face his demons.  Later that night, Laura was full of questions about how his day had gone.  She was so happy to see back at work but secretly, she had some reservations and wondered if she was right to encourage him to do so.  It had taken so much to return him to his old self. 

Over the next few days though Sean showed her that there was little to worry about as he went from strength to strength.  He even had new colleagues to meet during his breaks.  Then one night as she gazed into his eyes, she asked about “The Ripper”.  It was the first time that she had mentioned him since they had got together.  To her, this was a real acid test to whether he was back to himself fully as it was something he used to talk profusely about. 

“Funny, you should ask,” he replied almost excitedly.  He then explained that it had been no ordinary day, he had received a phone call out of the blue from the state pathologist just before he left for the day.  It was about the latest victims of “The Ripper”; in particular the adult woman.  Hair from her vagina had been removed. 

Laura didn’t need to ask anymore to know its significance.  It hinted that there may indeed be a link to the Reading Rapist and justice could be a step closer to finding him. 

“What are ya going to do now?” Laura asked instinctively, her mind now more in a work default setting. 

Sean then explained that he would ring the Super first thing in the morning to try and get permission to contact England.  Hopefully, they might have got some lead on the Reading Rapist in the meantime.  They both found it hard to sleep with their hearts racing and a myriad of different thoughts swirling through their minds all involving the hunt for the killer. 

The next morning Sean rose early in an upbeat mood anxious to get to the Station as fast as possible.  He could never remember such enthusiasm going to work before as he imagined that just maybe they were on the verge of a major breakthrough.  Of course, he had suspicions about the link for months but at least now he had evidence that he could actually use to back it up. 

He rang immediately on reaching his office.  Alas, it went straight through to voicemail so he left a message to contact him urgently.  The wait was excruciating but fortunately, he was a patient man.  The return call came just before lunchtime, but unexpectedly, it was just before lunch and in person rather than over the telephone. 

This time the Superintendent was very interested in what he had to say and listened attentively.  DeRossi had since been moved on and he had now been given full authority over the team.  Sean told him about the signature both of them had in common, in at least some of the instances and more general information about the Reading Rapist.  When Sean mentioned that the Rapist enjoyed further humiliating his victims by ringing them months after the attack and breathing heavily down the phone line, the Superintendent opened his mouth in astonishment, he had received that some of the relatives of victims of The Ripper were getting similar calls.  He had heard enough and gave Sean the authority to contact England and notify Interpol; Sean was now to take a much more central role in the hunt for The Ripper. 

Finally, Sean felt things were starting to go in the right direction and perhaps finally there could be some justice.  Sean had sworn to himself that morning that he would never return to his old corrupt ways; the fate of those children forever changed him.  There was no doubt about who would be the first person in England he would contact. 

“Ah Sean, how are you my Irish friend?” 

Jim was always so welcoming on the phone and for a quick second, Sean wondered was he like that with everyone.  It’s amazing how quickly the human mind can sometimes drift, but he refocused after exchanging pleasantries. 

“I think I know where your rapist is gone,” Sean said emphatically. 

With that, he updated Jim updated on the latest developments, especially about how The Ripper was now displaying the same twisted behavior of taunting his victims and the same signature of removing hair from the vagina of at least his latest victim. 

“So, that’s where the bugger has gone, we were wondering what had happened to him.  It was like the attacks just stopped one day and we never knew why.  We were just jolly happy that they did,” Jim said in exasperation when Sean had finished and further promised to do everything he could to help.   

However, much to Sean’s disappointment, no progress had been made in establishing who the Rapist was in the intervening period, not even a hunch.  Nevertheless, they decided to share everything they had with each other even though it heightened the risk of a leak to the press.  Sean made sure to get a copy of everything so that he could look at it at home too if need be. 

Any other girlfriend would be repulsed by the gruesome and macabre photos left on the kitchen table, but she was no ordinary girlfriend and relished the opportunity to pore over the evidence; although even she could not bear to look at the children’s slit throats; everybody has their limits.  

She then called out for Sean who was busy studying various documents.  Once he saw that she had arrived, he wasted no time giving her an update about the day’s events.  She was enthused for him, but also a tad jealous that he had managed to become so central to an important investigation, while she was dealing with minor drug dealers. 

That night was a passionate one.  Sean was reinvigorated by the thought of being that bit closer to nabbing The Ripper and it heightened his sexual desire; Laura was only too happy to reap the benefits. 

But it was a false dawn, The Ripper would not be felled so easily.  Days turned into weeks and then months, but the hoped-for breakthrough never came.  All that seemed to happen was an increase in the number of victims, infuriating Sean as he once more gradually began to feel impotent and beholden to The Ripper’s next move.  If only there had been a scrap of DNA evidence or the like or indeed anything at all. 

The next development in the hunt came from a potential victim of the Ripper that narrowly avoided a horrific fate for her and her family.  She was gardening when she discovered his toolkit and a ski mask.  Petrified, she rang the shocked local Gardai immediately who were at the house within ten minutes.  The house was then searched and an item to tie people up was found; he had already been inside. 

The location in the foothills of Kerry was a vast distance away from his last attack although the rural location was somewhat similar; there was a wooded area close to the house but it was beside a very steep hill rather than a lake.  It was likely that he had intended to carry out a further attack imminently. 

Surely, he must have left some vital piece of evidence behind but no, there was nothing.  All the Gardai could do was to put out an alert to the general public that they should regularly check their homes and gardens for anything suspicious. 

But the public’s patience was now wearing very thin as the palpable anger grew to breaking point over the failure to catch the killer.  A protest was held on O’Connell Street and each day angry people phoned in to the radio stations as if to vent before an explosion occurred.  Sean had a feeling that The Ripper would be loving all of this, being the center of the nation’s attention.   Some tried to point this out in the midst of the frenzy but they would be quickly shouted down.  Every time a murder would occur, he was the first thought on everybody’s mind and the first suspect to be ruled in or out. 

Creed III (Film Review)

Hi readers. I know where have I been? Well, I was writing a short story for an RTE writing competition. It took me a number of days and my output suffered as a result. Unfortunately, I cannot put it up online until the competition ends.

Anyways back to the film. As we all know, Rocky got too old and Creed came along to save the franchise. As this is Creed III, it must have worked.

As all films of this type, it’s a slow burner. Creed has retired and is hit with a blast from the past in the form of Dame Anderson. Anderson has been in prison for eighteen years for.. It’s never fully explained. Was it gun possession? Did he take the time for inflicting the beating that Creed did? I don’t know. It’s like they didn’t want to sully their characters. It was woke, people are not responsible for their actions, its society – “they were just kids”. Blah, blah blah.

Anyways, Dame who was a great amateur wants to be the world champion, and Creed gives him the opportunity to do that in one fight. Wait! What?? Yes, you see Creed is the manager or something of the world champion.

Yes, forget about reality and the years of training and insight it takes to be truly great fighter. And Dame wins, with some dirty fighting. Nearly kills the other guy. But, the music turns dark. The fighting gods are not happy for reasons I don’t understand.

So, inevitable Creed returns to the ring. He is the man and he proves it to some gangsta rap, beating his ass. I did like the fighting scenes and apparently it well in the box office. Giving it a score of three out of five, I’m sure my readers have better things to do with their time than this drivel.

The Irish Ripper (Chapter 15)

Months had passed and there was much change.  The government poured money into the Gardai after crime went to the top of the political agenda after public anger reached boiling point.  The gangs and gang warfare that were destroying the lives of ordinary Dubliners were finally brought under control. 

Nobody was in any doubt that the drug dealing business was still alive and well, but hundreds of arrests had put dampeners on it, and more importantly, finally put a stop to the tit-for-tat killings that had plagued the city since Billy’s death. 

But “The Ripper” hung over the entire country like a dark cloud.  Kids would now taunt one another with the threat that they would send “The Ripper” after them and their families. 

The ghastly beast had further evolved; he was now a family annihilator.  The unfortunate Gardai who were called to the latest scene of horror were all traumatized afterward; one quit the following week; another was found hanging by his wife in the garden shed. 

The latest victims were found in a desolate house on a lakeshore close to Mullingar.  This time it was a married couple and their five children.  Both the kids and the husband were forced to watch as The Ripper performed his usual signature of rape and mutilation of the woman before they had their throats slit in turn.  In a cruel twist, it became apparent that the youngest was the last left to die. 

It brought a sense of horror to the entire country, which had never before even imagined such savagery.  Not only were women now openly told not to go outside alone, kids were locked in their houses and neighbors made sure to do night calls to everyone in the locality, to try to ensure evil did not come knocking. 

Then the newspaper messages started.  Nobody was sure if they were really from him, but the bloodstains that accompanied them matched some of the victims.  Some said that the newspapers shouldn’t have published them, but they claimed it was in the public interest and in any event, they attracted huge morbid interest. 

They mostly took the form of taunting the general public and jeering the efforts of the Gardai to catch him.  It terrified the general public and destroyed the morale of the force. 

Wherever you go I will be watching you; your wife and daughters will be mine.  Those pigs wouldn’t catch a fly. 

Have a beautiful woman?  I can fix that! 

It was now international news with extensive coverage on news channels throughout the world; The Ripper was almost certainly soaking up all the attention with glee; almost certainly relishing the pain, suffering, and fear of others. 

Sean was living a nightmare; once he had seen those photos of the kids with their throats slit, he couldn’t take anymore and went out sick from work.  The emotional pain and guilt that he was feeling turned him towards the drink.  His accident was nothing compared to this. 

Then his relationship quickly crumbled.  Sean didn’t blame her; he was unable to explain his despair or why he preferred drunken oblivion to her warm touch.  In truth, Sean just wanted to be left alone to wallow in his misery and so he shut everyone else out of his life too. 

Laura hated the Traffic Corp as much as she thought she would, deriving little pleasure from catching speeding motorists or drunk drivers; when there was real police work, she could be doing.  Her days were long and monotonous; at times she found herself longing for a fight to break out or for someone to try and steal a purse in front of her.  Alas not; she constantly found herself surrounded by mostly law-abiding citizens, much to her chagrin. 

To make matters even worse, she despised the colleagues she found herself working with; they were just so dull and conceited.  She doubted any of them had ever broken a law or cheated at a game.  She could no longer pop in for a quick cup of tea at the station and had been feeling quite depressed and isolated for quite some time. 

This wasn’t the life she wanted or had done so much training for.  Her life had been on such a better trajectory until Billy’s death.  At times she even considered quitting the force but it had always been her dream, she couldn’t just let it go. 

Then one ordinary Wednesday morning, she met Jack while he was on patrol.  They talked and talked, there was so much to catch up on.  Jack now had a steady girlfriend, which made her heart sink a little as her love life was still dismal, and he was loving his work.  Laura lied and told him that everything was fine with her, but he sensed something was wrong and gave her some words of encouragement. 

Then the conversation inevitably turned to Sean and how he was, which was not very good at all.  Jack told her that he hadn’t seen Sean in weeks, that he had gone really down-hill since his relationship break up. 

“I think they might be over.  From what I hear, he has gone into a real downward spiral so I can’t blame her.  The rumor is that he’s drinking heavily every day.  Perhaps he’s already worked his last day,” Jack said in a downbeat tone. 

Laura made a mental note that she must go see him.  In truth, she really missed him, which was not something she would have expected.  Sure, he probably wasn’t the most honest of guys but there a bit of a lovable rogue about him; it pained her that his life had become so wretched. 

That was the last topic of their conversation and with that, they parted ways but not before she got Sean’s eircode from him.  Laura then watched him walking off into the distance; anything to prolong the time before she had to return to her drudgery. 

Her shift ended at seven and when she got into her car, she immediately put Sean’s eircode into the GPS; she might as well strike while the iron is hot.  Forty minutes later, she was outside his house.  Strangely, she began to feel nervous as if she was doing something wrong.  But she gathered back up her courage and headed for the doorbell.  She rang it once, then again wondering if he was even at home.  But then she heard some rumblings from behind the door and a few seconds later, the door slowly opened and a very tired, haggard Sean appeared. 

“Laura, is that you?” he asked rubbing his eyes as if only wakened from a slumber. 

“Eh yeah,” she replied, not quite sure to make of the state that he was in. 

She then explained how she had met Jack earlier that day and it had made her wonder how he was getting on.  Sean looked somewhat puzzled but invited her into the kitchen nonetheless.  Her first impression was that the place had been hit by a bomb; the place was a terrible mess with grime and dirt everywhere.  The only order apparent in the place was in the rows of empty bottles dotted around the place. 

Sean, perhaps anticipating her dismay explained that his housekeeper had quit three weeks ago and that he was still looking for someone to replace her.  Laura thought that was far from an adequate explanation, but kept hum; he obviously wasn’t in a good place. 

The kitchen wasn’t much any better than the rest of the house but Laura nervously sat down on one of the chairs, hoping that she wouldn’t encounter any nasty surprises.  Fortunately, she didn’t. 

“So how have you been?” Laura asked, saying it as more of a conversation starter than anything else.  She was already pretty sure of the answer. 

Sean looked around at the kitchen and replied, “Not too good to be honest.” 

Laura gave him a moment or two to collect himself and then slowly, but surely, he let it all out explaining how everything had just become far too much for him.  Of course, he couldn’t just tell her the truth, so it was a somewhat doctored version of it, but it was straight from the heart nonetheless. 

The relationship break-up was the final straw, not that she could be blamed.  He made the mistake of becoming his work, in this case by “The Ripper” in particular.  He would come home and lash out for no particular reason or just drink himself to oblivion.  So, one day he came home late from work as usual and she along with all her belongings were gone.  Her mobile phone was on voice mail and he did leave messages each day for a week till he received a solitary call in reply telling him that they were finished and not to contact her again. 

Then everything just seemed so pointless to him; he stopped going to work (he was currently on sick leave) and looking after himself.  The last person to abandon him was his housekeeper who used to come in for a few hours per week to look after the place.  She thought that the paralysis was the problem and that he couldn’t accept his new life in the wheelchair; probably better she thought that. 

Laura felt a pang as he relayed the story; many Gardai would have a very similar story to tell.  The only stable relationships they seemed to be able to have were with their fellow colleagues and that was nearly always frowned upon, especially in its earliest stages. 

For a moment she wondered what to do or say next, struggling to find any words of comfort.  Instead, her practical nature took hold and she just started cleaning up.  Sean, who was slightly taken aback at first gradually, followed her lead.  For two hours they toiled leaving Sean surprised that his mood lifted somewhat as progress was made. 

Of course, there was still plenty left to do when they finally stopped from exhaustion.  Laura, almost without thinking, offered to come back in a day or two to help finish the job. 

“Are ya sure?” Sean replied, not quite sure what to say.  He wanted her to return; this was the best he had felt for quite some time but didn’t want to be a nuisance either. 

She was sure, she wanted to do see Sean again whatever the pretext.  So, two nights later she returned and finished the job.  Then she started to call around every second night and ring him every other one.  Sean was unsure what to make of it and couldn’t decide if she just a concerned friend or if there was something more growing between them.   

He wasn’t even sure what way to feel about it.  He was not the person mentally or physically that he was when they slept together.  Not as self-confident as he was back in those old days but also an emotionally deeper person who was no longer interested in just having a one-night stand or losing a close female friend just for sex. 

Then again, maybe it was just friendship, in which case he didn’t want to end up looking a fool.  No, better just to put it to the back of his mind; she was too pretty and smart to be interested in him long term.  Anyway, she still had a boyfriend. 

But Laura herself was also noticing that her feelings for him were growing.  He was a release from the drudgery in other parts of her life, something that she looked forward to every day.  It was when she started to dream about kissing him that she knew something had fundamentally changed.  At first, she thought it was just a once-off, not to be repeated but then it became a regular occurrence. 

Then, she thought; why not?  Sure, she had no experience of having a relationship with a paraplegic, but she knew he was a good man.  Strangely, she would never have thought about a relationship with the old pre-accident Sean but everyone changes, including herself. 

Of course, she wasn’t even sure that Sean felt the same way.  Perhaps, it was him that only saw her as a friend.  During quiet periods, she agonized over what to do next; she pondered if she should make the first move.  It was something that she had done previously in her life and she just didn’t want to let the moment pass and he finds someone else. 

So, there they were in his sitting-room about to watch a movie; it was a thriller but that was of little consequence.  Laura was sitting on the sofa and Sean in his manual chair beside her.  Laura was nervous but she knew now was a good time to act.  At first, she just casually mentioned that she had become single a few months prior before saying nothing for the next few minutes. 

“Why don’t you come sit beside me on the sofa?  Be more comfortable than sitting on the wheelchair?” she asked innocently. 

Sean was a bit surprised by the request but nevertheless quickly transferred from his wheelchair onto the sofa besides in an effortless, quick maneuver.  It was something that he actually practiced quite regularly to keep fit in his spare time. 

They were now side by side and unbeknownst to each other, both their hearts were beating ferociously.  Sean sank somewhat into the seat, which leaned slightly onto Laura.  He apologized awkwardly but she told him not to worry. 

The film itself turned out to be a bore but neither of them mentioned it, silently enjoying the excuse to be physically close to one another.  Laura tilted her head onto his shoulder, enjoying the moment but all the time wondering how to advance matters.    

Meanwhile, Sean was in two minds about what to do next, still not quite sure that his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him.  Laura was a good friend, and he didn’t want to lose that by doing something stupid. 

Laura sensed that the film was coming close to the end and knew inside that this was the opportunity she had been waiting for and that she couldn’t let it pass. 

“This film really has been terrible, has it?” she said matter-of-fact, looking directly into his eyes after lifting her head from his shoulder. 

For a few moments, they gazed into the eyes of the other, before slowly moving their closer together.  At first, their lips only met briefly but then Laura took the initiative, opening her mouth and slipping her tongue into his.  This continued for a few minutes but the positioning was awkward, so Laura whispered into his ear for them to go to his bed. 

Sean tried to appear confident but a million different thoughts seemed to be zipping through his mind.  Since the accident, he had only been with the one woman and she had had a very similar disability to his own, their lovemaking consisted of things above the waist.  For instance, should he take Viagra for her pleasure even though he would feel nothing and be unable to ejaculate? 

Then he remembered that it was Laura that he was going to be with, not some strange woman that he had just met that was going to laugh at him.  Laura, in fact, had already done her own bit of research on the subject, expecting that the penis would not be the focus of attention and was willing to learn.  She knew what she wanted and that was him. 

Sean got on the bed first, then Laura climbed on top of him after taking off her clothes.  Once more they began to kiss passionately, their hands roaming over each other.  They were both desperate to give pleasure to the other.  Laura had done her research and knew that in cases of paralysis, new parts of the body can become used to bring pleasure so she spent time sucking on his nipples, which led to a tingling sensation running through his body.  In return, he used his fingers to rub her clitoris bringing her to orgasm, then another. 

After, a half-hour they collapsed into each other’s arms, fatigued by their exertions.  This was an intimacy that neither had experienced hitherto in their lives; a feeling of full acceptance and love. 

The next morning Laura had already left for work by the time Sean had awakened from his slumber.  But this time it was very different from the old days, he knew by the note left on the small bedside table that she would be back and hadn’t regretted what had happened. 

It was true, she did return later that day; there was no pretense that what had happened was anything other than the blossoming of a relationship.  That relationship had a profound, positive effect on both of them. 

It provided the stability that Sean needed to turn his life around.  He now looked forward to each new day rather than in dread.  His health gradually improved from greatly reducing his alcohol consumption and he rang the station to say that he would be returning to his post. 

It was something a huge part of him dreaded, he knew it would mean bringing “The Ripper” back into his orbit.  Since he had gone off sick, he had made sure never to watch or listen to the news, he had clung to wishful thinking that “The Ripper” would simply disappear in time.  But he was stronger psychologically now and knew he had to and could face his demon once more. 

Laura too felt benefits from their relationship that were not as obvious to a third party, but was just as significant; it was like she now had something that she never knew she needed.  She now had a sense of stability and emotional support at home that built a solid foundation for her to take on the outside world.  There was nothing that she liked more than to awaken each morning and gaze at his handsome face; sometimes she liked to place her hand on his hairy chest and feel the beating of his heart. 

Then while at the drudgery of her work she could daydream about the cozy night in that lay ahead later and how he would nibble at her ear while they sat on the sofa.  It wasn’t one thing that made the difference, it was the cumulative effect of a myriad of little things that might have seemed insignificant at first.  She just wished it hadn’t started in subterfuge when they first met. 

It wasn’t long before her happiness started to have positive effects on other aspects of her life.  Soon she had received word that her stint in the Traffic Corps was coming to an end and a new Challenge in Narcotics lay ahead. 

It had been too long.  Infamy is a curse.  Now when I came across a potential victim, they would look over their shoulders at just the wrong time, be part of a group or take other extensive security precautions.  It was incredibly frustrating and I could feel incredible anger swelling up inside me, growing greater by the day. 

Yes, I had never before had such influence, over so many others but my heart panged to see terror and fear in their eyes.  For it to be up close and personal; for them to know that the timing of their deaths was entirely a matter for me alone and just as importantly, I would be the harbinger of how much they would suffer before it came. 

So, I had to cast my net that bit wider than hitherto and seek out a victim that would be particularly vulnerable.  It was difficult and took some time but eventually, I found her.  I realized that with almost the whole country on edge, it would be best to seek out a target who lived on the margins of society and who would never in their darkest nightmare expect me to come knocking at their door. 

Then I remembered that in my youth I had seen a television program about hippies who tried to live solely with what nature provided, growing their food organically and the like, and without modern comforts such as electricity or running water.  They would have no CCTV cameras or those pesky neighborhood watches; they were exactly what I needed at this point in time. 

There were surely people of those persuasions still around, it was only a matter of figuring out how to find them.  It took me a while to think of it but then I thought they’d surely sell some of their produce and at least some of them would surely use the internet to do so.  The rest was only a matter of time and that was something I had plenty of. 

So, I searched and searched trawling through various websites to find her, the next object of my affections.  It was difficult.  At times I even wondered about terrorizing the copper instead, but I needed to save him for the future and it would be glorious indeed.   

The first two targets turned out to be a total waste of time.  I arranged to meet them at a parking lot; of course, I never actually showed up.  No, I lurked in the background and carefully followed them back to their place of residence wherever it may be. 

One was guilty of what could only be called false advertising – and they say that I’m the devil.  I should have known when I first saw her in the distance.  She was very overweight, large breasts with long flowing red hair and freckles.  Her face even turned a deep red when I failed to show.  But I wasn’t the only party guilty of deception; as I followed her, I learned that her vegetables were far from the organic variety.  Of much more serious concern were all the security precautions such as the electric fences and cameras that surrounded the farm.  Her male companion looked like a brute best avoided also. 

The second target looked far more promising at first.  She was slim with long, black hair with torn, shabby clothing and was accompanied by a slight man.  Immediately, I felt that I was on the right track and felt an immediate tinge of arousal. 

There was no sense of anger when I failed to show up, just a quiet resignation.  They got into their ramshackle car, with me following in the distance.  The journey went from the outskirts of a town to a remote rural area and down a narrow lane.  Then my excitement quickly turned to disappointment.  They were from a commune, I immediately put on the brakes.  It was a large community; their homesteads set out in the center of a large field, with only the one way in and out.  This was far from ideal, from an attack perspective and already, I could see that I had been spotted in the distance.  There was only one thing for it and that was to turn the car around and try again. 

Then finally the perfect target fell into my lap two weeks later.  I followed the same routine as before.  She was haggard, scruffy and scrawny with greying, shoulder-length brown hair.  Her face was one of despair when I failed to show up to purchase her produce, which made me chuckle. 

I wondered where following her would lead me to, but I need not have worried, she led me to a picturesque paradise, the perfect place for an assault.  On one side there was a lake and on the other a forest, which would be ideal for reconnaissance.  Then I left knowing that it was too soon.  Much better to come back in a month when the online communication would be lost in a sea of other ones. 

It was the longest month of my life, there was just nothing else on my mind than tearing her to pieces, night and day.  Then the time was up and it was time for the preparations to begin.   

The forest proved to be as useful as I thought.  Each night I observed their comings and goings.  She was part of a family of seven.  Fortunately, the children were young and would cause little difficulty even if they had not been malnourished and weak.  The man was very thin and gaunt, I couldn’t see him putting up much resistance. 

The night before the attack, I brought my equipment and hid it close to the house, which was the routine that I always followed.  The thrill of the hunt was almost becoming too much but I knew that the ultimate release would soon be forthcoming as I masturbated looking at the house of my twisted affections.  I closed my eyes and imagined the terror on their faces; it would be magnificent. 

Finally, the moment that I waited for had arrived.  They never saw it coming and put up almost no resistance.  There was no television or radio in the house, so I can only assume they had not heard of my previous exploits and presumed that if they complied with my demands, they would survive the night. 

With a knife to her throat, the man meekly did my bidding tying up the children and then himself.  She begged me to rape her outside away from their eyes but I wanted the audience. 

I could hear their squeals behind me as I ripped her off her clothes and entered her, then their gasps of horror as I plunged my knife into her.  This time I could do as I pleased and follow through on my full routine. 

When I finally looked back on them, I could see that they finally saw me for the monster that I am.  Somewhat disappointingly, they had resigned themselves to their fate and the final child, like a good boy lifted his head before I slit his throat. 

The euphoria of the kill lasted for days as I constantly replayed it in my mind.  It had been perfect and it was spoken about wherever I went.  It felt like I had reached out and metaphorically wrenched the heart of everyone in the country.  The only slight concern I had was that this was my nadir and never again would I fly so high.  The next attack could not possibly be as good. 

The Irish Ripper (Chapter 14)

As Sean reached the station, he began to feel something different.  For a few moments, he wasn’t quite sure what it was.  Then it hit him; it was relief.  Billy was dead and now a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.  He was finally free from the blackmail. 

Nobody liked Billy anyway, Sean thought to himself.  It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person; though Sean feared that innocents may also have gotten caught up in what had happened. 

The station felt alive: there was a frantic hustle and bustle everywhere.  Sean asked a new recruit what was going on and after getting a somewhat quizzical look in return, the young officer explained that Billy’s killing had set off a night of retaliatory attacks even though it might not have been gang-related.  The young officer hadn’t heard anything about the killing itself, only that it was gruesome. 

Sean pushed himself down to his office and turned on his computer; he knew that information about the killing would likely cross his desk later that day.  In the meantime, he could try to clear some of his emails, after all, he now had a future to worry about. 

But then he stopped in his tracks and shuddered, scarcely believing his eyes.  For a few seconds, all he could do was stare.  It was written in bold on the subject line of an email sent from the dark web –   


Eventually, Sean plucked up the courage to open it. 

My dear Cripple, 

It appears you were having some trouble from a local thug.  Fear not, that has now been dealt with.  This is our story and you are my nemesis.  Others have no part to play and I am the only person allowed inflict misery on you. 

For a few minutes, his heart racing, Sean contemplated what to do next.  He could report the communications to his superiors but that would bring the spotlight onto himself too. 

But if he didn’t, it would not only mean a possible lead could be missed but also that he might become the next victim.  Sean tried to take some solace from the fact there was no overt death threat but the fact he mentioned inflicting misery didn’t sound like something to be too positive about either.  

Sean quickly resolved that he would say nothing; he was a survivor and believed that he would somehow find a third way.  But what that way would be, he had no idea whatsoever. 

Laura then popped her head in the door and asked if he wanted to go for a quick cuppa, which he replied in the affirmative.  At times though it felt more like an interrogation than a friendly chat, with questions such as 

Why are you in late? 

How did your medical appointment go? 

But perhaps it was mere paranoia after the strange turn of events.  If he couldn’t trust her, there was nobody. 

A few hours later the report and photos of the latest killing came onto Sean’s desk.  It made for somber analysis.  Sean had heard earlier in the day that there were two victims; this came somewhat as a relief to Sean as he understood Billy had three children and would much prefer not having to look at their mutilated bodies.  He was with a mistress rather than his wife at the time of the killing. 

This killing was very different from those that came before; it was hurried and rushed.  It was only the mutilation and savagery that led you to suspect it was the work of the Irish Ripper.  Perhaps this is what happens when one psychopath meets another; Sean knew that Billy would have put up a fight and cared little for his companion, no matter what he had previously told her. 

The Ripper would almost certainly try to use the woman as leverage to control the man but Billy would not have let that happen.  Sure enough, the photos of the scene paint a picture of a violent struggle; the woman’s throat was merely slashed as if he needed to kill her quickly and she had not been raped. 

Billy had died from multiple slash wounds, but most significantly there were traces of blood on his fists, the results of which would be available later that day.  At last, The Ripper would be brought to justice, albeit not from an expected sequence of events. 

A meeting was scheduled for four o’clock leaving Sean impatient as he repeatedly looked over the photos.  He came up with his own narrative of what had occurred.  The Ripper must have followed him to his meeting to Billy and realized that Sean was in trouble for some reason.  Being a narcissist, he decided in his twisted mind that it should only all be about him.  So, he followed Billy with the aim of removing him from the picture. 

The motivation for this murder was different from the others, leading to him being less meticulous and sloppy.  It may also be down to him getting over-confident after getting away with so much.  In any event, he decided to proceed hastily. 

The woman would likely have been targeted first; perhaps as she lay asleep in her bed.  But he killed her quickly when it became apparent how little Billy cared about her; to him, she would have been little more than a favorite sex doll. 

Then a physical confrontation would have ensued.  It would have been a clash of titans; The Ripper’s blades versus Billy’s fists.  It must have been an epic; either way it was decisive with a bloodied heap left in the room which led to retaliatory attacks against the wrong enemy across the city. 

Sean was well prepared for this meeting and made sure he had a position near the front.  But there were troubling signals from the very beginning that things were not going to end well.  The murmurings were more about gang warfare rather than the work of a serial killer. 

Those murmurings reflected the general tone of the meeting that followed.  There was no real evidence that The Ripper was involved whatsoever; it didn’t have his signature and was far more likely just made to look like it to cover his tracks.  The rest of the meeting was spent erroneously trying draw up a list of suspects from gangland. 

Sean wanted to scream that he had the definitive link, that The Ripper had contacted him directly; that what seemed strange from their perspective actually made perfect sense.  But he couldn’t, he would implicate himself.  So, with increasing sorrow, he watched and listened as the investigation went down the completely wrong track. 

Then things went from bad to worse.  They stated that there was no match in the database from the blood analysis; this was a sickening blow.  Up to that point, Sean had taken solace from the fact that The Ripper would be caught for at least one murder. 

The rest of the meeting went in a blur as Sean watched helplessly from the sidelines; it seemed like a sick joke and Sean pondered how much The Ripper would enjoy viewing it if only he could.  Sean left abruptly as the meeting ended, too sickened to look another Garda in the eye. 

It wasn’t only Sean though that was having a miserable day.  Garda Mulhern had been told earlier that day that following Billy’s death, Special Branch would no longer be requiring her services. 

She was gutted; this had been her big opportunity to make a breakthrough in her career but it had resulted in failure.  Worse still, she was being transferred in her general duties to the Traffic Corps.  Special Branch had been blocking the reassignment until now but there was no longer a reason to do so. 

Although every Garda was expected to spend at least some time in Traffic, it was something she was hoping to skip; lots of long boring days lay ahead. 

Review of “Children of Ruin” by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Well readers, Just a quick recap. Previously I read the first book in the series “Children of Time”. I gave it five stars out of five and thought it was just swell. This is the sequel of a three book series. First off, while “Children of Time” is a great stand alone, this one is not. You would definitely be left wondering what is going on! Also, leave plenty of time in your calendar. It’s a long one.

This novel follows a similar timeline as its predecessor and you already have somewhat of an idea of what to expect. That is, what happens in the opening chapters will play out over a long period of time to be very consequential. This time, rather than seeing the evolution of spiders play out, it is the turn of the octopuses. The writers great creativity and imagination is to be admired. But this time, there is another truly alien species whose evolution also plays out in the same system. It is parasitic in nature and destroys whatever it comes into contact with.

Long ago, Earth’s terraforming program sent ships out to build new homes for humanity among the stars and made an unexpected discovery: a planet with life on a planet they called. But the scientists were unaware that the alien ecosystem was more developed than the primitive life forms originally discovered. Then, the Old Empire collapsed, with ramifications spreading out throughout the galaxy.

Still the humans of the time continued on their mission and terraformed a different planet. It was supposed to be for Humans but it was colonized by octopuses with the same virus that accelerates evolution.

Present day, a ship of Humans and Portiids (spiders) visit the system and find themselves in a system of ruin. This is a story of misunderstandings but also of hope when all appears lost.

I did really enjoy this novel, but it didn’t have that special feel of the original. Therefore, I’m going to give this three stars out of five. Still, I know what I’m going to read next.

One day in Croker (Part 15)

Marion stayed for some time asking Aoife many questions about what she did and where she came from. At times, it felt like a strange sort of interview.

After what seemed like a good hour she exclaimed “Well, I guess I’ll leave you two love birds at it. You didn’t come all this way to see me. And Aoife, next time you come there’s no need to stay in a B&B. There is a spare room here.”

“Wow, thanks. That is so nice of you.”

With that, she left and they were alone once more.

“You have a lovely Mum, Stephen.”

“Ah yeah, she has a heart of gold. She wasn’t supposed to ask ya so many questions though! Think she was as excited to meet you as I was.”

“It’s alright, she just wants to make sure her son won’t be led stray.”

“Oh, you can lead me astray anytime.”

Aoife gigged and moved closer to him.

She moved her hand through his hair. Then moved closer again and began to kiss him passionately slowly raising one of his hands up to her breast.

“You are so beautiful Aoife.” He was looking right into her eyes.

Nobody had ever said that to her before and she knew it wasn’t just words.

She felt a warmth growing inside as she lost herself in those eyes.

For the next few hours they talked, kissed and watched tv. Neither wanted it to end.

Eventually, it came time for her to go.

“What will we do tomorrow?” she asked.

“How about visiting the Gap of Dunloe? My Mum said she would drive us and maybe drop us off somewhere afterwards?”

“Sounds cool!”

The Irish Ripper (Chapter 13)

It was not the kind of job that Laura envisioned for herself, going undercover against another cop.  But she believed in duty and at the time there seemed to be nothing worse than someone who would betray their colleagues. 

Special Branch called to her home, two weeks before Sean was due to return after his accident.  It was explained that there had been suspicions against Sean for some time, but these had been put on a back-burner when it looked unlikely that he would return to duty. 

But those calculations had now changed.  Laura, of course, asked why didn’t they just say that he was no longer fit for duty and that would be the end of it.  But they explained that the optics would be terrible.  The force had to be seen to be doing everything to help a fallen member.  It was entirely possible that he was totally innocent and he deserved his chance. 

They knew about their dalliance and that was why she was chosen; it would only be natural for her to approach him.   Indeed, she had intended doing so anyway especially since he crashed his car after leaving her place.  But she wasn’t sure she could do undercover, especially against a fellow Garda.  The ranks hated rats almost as much as those who collaborated with the gangsters. 

But then she thought about the reasons she joined the force: it was to do good for her country and bring justice where previously there had been none.  Lofty goals but these were her motivations nonetheless.  So, she accepted the assignment. 

It was therefore with mixed feelings that she heard he had returned to work.  It was now game-on.  She waited a few days before making her first approach; she wanted to come across as being natural.  In truth she had little to worry about; he had been sitting on his own during any breaks and seemed happy to have some company. 

So, it happened that they started to meet up regularly.  Before long they were joined by Garda Halpenny; that hadn’t been part of the plan but instead, it seemed to happen organically, although Laura was pretty sure that he fancying her had at least played some part. 

After some time, she almost forgot about her assignment; they were just three good friends that happened to meet regularly.  In fact, at times she felt guilty as if she was betraying them by her subterfuge, but she still had a job to do and hopefully, they would never find out anyway.   

But then things began to change.  She noticed that Sean seemed to be more stressed and agitated than he had been; Special Branch told her that there was definitely a leak and he was still a suspect.  It seemed to happen after he made that pass at her. 

There was no way that she could get involved with him; it would have compromised her assignment and even if it didn’t, she wasn’t sure how she would feel about it.  Yes, they had sex previously but that was only a one-night thing and that was all.  She also wasn’t sure if she could date any paraplegic; she enjoyed the rough, physical sex after-all.  None of these were reasons she felt she could say to Sean so she told him that she saw him only as a friend.  In truth, she had mixed feelings when she heard about his girlfriend though, which she hadn’t expected to happen.   

But it could have been “The Ripper” that caused his changed demeanor.  From the beginning, he seemed to lose himself in the investigation and would sometimes talk about the case for the whole break. 

Laura thought that he was definitely on to something when he returned from England; she even relayed it to Special Branch but they stated it might just be a diversion.  Cruelly, they even informed the Super that he was not to be trusted.  But she knew that Sean wouldn’t be capable of doing that even if he was the mole; it mattered too much to him. 

She knew that Sean hadn’t been invited to that meeting but they needed to hear what he had to say; it was just too important for them to ignore.  So, she took the opportunity to rush him up to it and hoped with bated breath that things would work out. 

It was with much relief that she heard that he had been listened to.  But everything in their intertwined lives seemed to be up, then down.  She was as disappointed as Sean when the pathologist could find no apparent link. 

She was bothered though by Sean’s supposed medical appointment that morning.  It seemed to come totally out of the blue and he wasn’t able to give much of an explanation.  She knew when she was being fobbed off and this was definitely it.  A few minutes after he had left, she darted into his office to see if she could find anything and there it was.  

He had left his mobile phone behind, something that was important to him and that he would usually never forget.  But it was something he would leave behind if he didn’t want to have his location tracked.  This was the first time she was now felt very confident that she was being lied to. 

It dawned on her that Sean may be a dirty cop after all.  She had wanted to follow him, but irritatingly she was down to do surveillance in a different case within the hour.  But she knew there would be a next time.