The most chilling was a girlie calendar with Tania’s head superimposed. Sunday’s date had been circled by a red felt tip pen – and a comment.
‘Can’t wait to taste you, tonight you’re mine.’
Hillock didn’t waste time but as he explained after cursing his way through several irate phone calls, emergency back-up could be delayed. According to him there was a major drugs bust which was set-up for early the following morning. Pre-dawn raid, he called it.
‘The timing is shit,’ he said. ‘Looks like we’re the A team.’
Paul tried Jackie’s phone. No answer.
Smithy was left to guard, and hopefully secure the premises until the crime scene investigators arrived, while Tony radioed in to locate Tania’s address; her phone – anything they could think of, to warn her. Maybe even scare-off Boyson. They were pretty sure it was Boyson’s flat; although it had to be confirmed.
Hillock kept looking at his watch inside the patrol car. Snow was starting to fall. ‘What’s keeping them?’
The radio crackled into life. An address was given. Tony put the siren on and floored the accelerator. While the motorway to Stonehouse was clear of snow, when they exited it was a different story. Slow moving traffic behind a gritter lorry.
Tony grimaced. ‘Hold on tight. It could be tricky.’
The patrol car swerved past, sending up a spray of snow and grit into the air, and narrowly missing an oncoming van. It shot across the Easington roundabout, up to, and past, the industrial estate and under the railway bridge.
‘Turn off the bloody siren.’ Hillock commanded. ‘Cut the headlights when we get close.’ He prodded Tony. ‘You cover the back, while we hit the front.’
Tony pulled up at the beginning of the cul-de-sac and killed the engine. He handed Hillock a truncheon and Paul a pair of handcuffs – just in case. They jumped out, there was only one cottage with lights on; a Land Rover was parked outside. Hillock and Paul crept up to the front door while Tony was directed around to the back.
‘This is it, all right,’ said Hillock looking at the house number. ‘Can you hear anything?’
Paul listened, bent down and lifted up the letter box flap. ‘Lights are on, but the room door is closed. Muffled noise ... sounds like a woman ... could be Tania.’ He listened again; jumped up. ‘That was a scream for help.’
Hillock pointed to the pane of glass beside the door. ‘Stand back.’ He swung the truncheon and crashed it through the glass; reached in with his other hand and freed the door catch. Another scream. ‘Follow me,’ he shouted, as he barged into the hallway. There was a closed door in front of him. And another cry for help, inside. Past the staircase; a dog was whining at the top.
Hillock hoisted the truncheon above his head and wrenched open the door.