England, London, Thames House (MI5 Headquarters), High-security detention wing.
A cold, white walled room built from sturdy blocks of stone. Sat around a heavy wooden table were three men. Two were in suits and sat at one side while the third wore simple street clothes and sat opposite them. His hands and feet were in chains.
“This is agent Ryan Smith and agent Thomas Hawke interviewing David Black, serial killer,” stated one of the suited men after pressing a button upon a recorder at the end of the table. He turned a cold glare upon the man opposite him.
“Looks like we finally caught you. Its took eleven years for you to make a mistake but your rampage is now at its end.”
His companion continued , running a hand through his short blonde hair. “Now that we’ve got you here, how about you answer some of our questions. We’ve been dying to ask them for over a decade now.”
“That’s only fair,” answered Black calmly. “As ever, the Hawke has found his prey. Ask away.”
Hawke sighed as he thought through his words carefully. He had been in this business his entire life but facing down a man such as David Black, or the Angel of Death as he was often referred to in the worldwide media, was a new experience. His twisted beliefs combined with his incredible intellect made him the most wanted man in Britain.
“Why do you commit such crimes? What is your motivation?”
A short, sharp laugh escaped Black’s lips. “Motivation? You haven’t figured that simple thing out yet? It is simple, I remove undesirables from the world in an attempt to make this pleasant green land a better place for those that deserve it. Is that so bad?”
“A better place! You have murdered hundreds of people. How is that ‘not so bad!’” snapped the other agent. Smith was a young man chosen for his exceptional skills but he had yet to learn the art of controlling his emotions as shown by all veteran law enforcers.
Black leaned forward and locked eyes with the younger agent. “I have seen how the world has changed. Brutal murders on a daily basis, elderly women robbed, children carrying knives and guns. Litter covers the streets. The seven deadly sins are rife within the souls of man and woman. Corrupt governments, ignorant masses. Is this the sort of world you want your children to grow up in?”
“You are the kind of person that needs removing!” hissed Smith, his plain brown eyes blazing with anger. “You destroyed an entire school filled with children! Four hundred and seventy two kids killed!”
“My former methods were proving ineffective so I decided to nip the problem in the bud. By removing the roots you remove the weed,” Black answered like it was the obvious thing to do.
Smith started forward to Hawke placed a firm hand upon his shoulder and gave him a warning look.
Hawke continued the interview. “What was it that pushed you over the edge, the final straw before you killed a Mr Peter Welkins, a renown drug addict and petty thief?”
Black looked amused. Both his eyes and mouth held a smirk. “You guys really are dumb. You honestly think that that was my first step down the path of purging. I’d killed twelve people before that wretch.”
Both agents looked puzzled. Smith flicked through his notes again but shook his head. “Their wasn’t any reported murders before that for several years. You were only nineteen at the time. The prior suspicious deaths to that were six years before the death of Mr Welkins.”
“That would be the three bikers from Liverpool?” guessed Black. “The hooligans who went around the country stealing whatever they could. Yeah, I remember them. One stole my Auntie’s handbag. That was my first experience with explosives. A small, remotely detonated device that I fitted to his bike’s fuel tank when they were filling up. I watched them as they sped off, waited until they were all packed close together then pressed the button. The large crash that it caused simply covered up the evidence.”
“But that wasn’t the first time?” ventured Smith.
Realisation suddenly struck Hawke. “Dear God. Nine murders before you were thirteen. The Moordocks.”
“Moordocks?” inquired Smith, unable to grasp his partner’s revelation.
“You hadn’t moved here back then. This was back twenty one years ago.”
“But that would make Black-”
“Nine,” injected Black himself. “Toward the end of my fourth year of primary school.”
Hawk provided the information, more for Smith‘s benefit than anything else. “A family of nine burned alive during a fire at their home. It was investigated as suspicious but nothing ever came from it. No one was ever charged.”
“That family was a disgrace to humanity. Six children within six years, each with the violent nature of a blood frenzied shark. The parents leeched off of the benefit system while the children bullied everything that move and committed petty crime on a daily basis. It was people like my parents that paid to rectify their vandalism and fuel their continued existence. It disgusts me just thinking about it.”
“All six of them bullied me among others. It became too much, a me or them situation. I choose them. Their sleeping habits were precarious but I finally found the time when all of them slept. Breaking in was easy, then I just started to cook and let things escalate. It was a bit of a stretch since they lived off of fast food but it worked out in the end.”
Smith noted this down then scribbled frantically as he cross analysed this new information with the existing parts.
Hawke ran a hand through his stubble. “So this was the true start of you’re criminal career then? A career that cost the lives of hundreds of people. A career that spanned twenty one years and every county.”
“It has worked though,” spoke Black with utter confidence. His eyes flashed with a righteous knowing. “Crime levels have fallen dramatically, over sixty five percent last time I checked. My methods are working. Before our very eyes the world is becoming a better place.”
“That’s because the people are scared of you! You haven’t changed human nature, you’ve just played upon its fears! The second that they know we have you and they’ll be quickly back to their old sins,” Smith roared, smashing a fist upon the desk.
“Then is it really wise to tell them? In your own words, I am the best defence against crime.”
“The ends don’t justify the means. We joined the law enforcement to protect people, to stop crime without creating more pain.”
“Calm down,” ordered Hawke softly. “It’s over now. We can lock him up and get on with trying to change the world in a positive way. We have all that we need for now. Guards, take him away,” he ordered, motioning to the two imposing men that had stood either side of the only door in the room. They moved briskly toward Black and grabbed firmly onto his shoulders.
The criminal offered no resistance. As he rose though he addressed the agents. “May I ask a single question before I leave?” Hawke nodded an affirmative. “What is the time?”
“The time!” started Smith. “That is your single question?”
Black smiled at them innocently. Hawke glanced at his watch. “Seven minutes past three.”
“Excellent,” stated Black, his smile morphing into a toothy grin. “Any second now.”
“Until what?” asked Hawke cautiously.
Smith shook his head. “Mind games. He’s just trying to make us doubt ourselves-”
At that moment another agent rushed into the room. His face glistened with sweat and his uniform looked unsettled. He held a single sheet of paper in his hand. Staring at Black as though he had three heads he passed the note to Hawk. His eyes scanned through it then very slowly he passed it to Smith’s awaiting hands. A few seconds later he placed the paper down silently, his face a mask of blankness.
There was utter quiet for a while. The guards didn’t know what was happening so stood beside Black awaiting further orders.
Hawke finally broke the silence. “When did you rig it up?”
“I’ve had eleven years to free roam the country. I haven’t been idle with my time either. There are hundred of similar set ups throughout the country, all on timers to factor out my own further input.”
Smith stood, his face blanch. “An entire housing estate. Hundreds of people young and old. You heartless bastard!” he swung, smashing his fist into Black’s cheek. The guards moved to restrain him but Hawke signalled them to leave him be.
“What gives you the right to be the judge of peoples fate. This wasn’t select, there were babies, pregnant women, hard workers, war veterans! Why did they have to be involved?”
Wincing, Black righted himself. “Did you know, in that town sixty three percent of the crime was rooted in that single estate. The children were little thugs and vandals, terrorising the other occupants of town, stealing and intimidating. Seventy percent were on state benefits, twenty nine percent having never worked a day in their lives. The women mostly incompetent as mothers, pregnant with their fifth child when they don’t have the means to look after the first. The babies may have been innocent but they were growing up under this and would have become the same. I think of it as giving them mercy, placing them before God before they have wrecked their lives with sin.”
Again Smith looked ready to attack but this time Hawke stepped in. “Lock him up, otherwise I’ll have even more paperwork to fill in when Smith kills him.” The guards nodded and led Black away.
As Black passed through the door he turned back and shouted. “Can’t you see? It’s what must be done!” Then he was gone.,
“I’m sorry,” sighed Smith. He slumped back into his chair. “I just can’t understand how he feels what he is doing is right. It makes me so angry.”
“Don’t worry, if I was your age, or closer to retirement, then I’d have done the same,” confided Hawke warily.
The third agent who had entered with the note cleared his throat. “The boss wants to see you.”
“Right. Come on, best not keep him waiting,” muttered Hawke as he heaved himself up. With a haste that neither felt like using they traversed through the corridors and stairs until they came to the door of the Director General’s office.
They braced themselves then Hawke knocked. A deep voice told them to enter.
The room they passed into was large and spacious, filled with cabinets and bookshelves but little else. The Director General sat behind his expensive dark wood desk. A water dispenser sat in the far corner.
The director himself was a well built man a few years Hawke’s senior. His hair was a silver grey flecked with black. His eyes held a sharp quality like those of an eagle. They studied the two men like a poker player studies his opponents. Despite this, there was a tired edge behind the predatory glare.
His voice was stern. “Was it him?
“Yes,” affirmed Hawke. “He states that there are others.”
“Do you think it’s a bluff?”
“I doubt it, sir. Black is crazy enough to have rigged every building in the country with explosives. He’s had over a decade to do whatever he wanted.”
“Will he talk?”
“No. He enjoys to watch us squirm. He intends to go through with the destruction of what he deems to be corrupt.”
The Director General fell into a contemplative silence. With careful deliberation he addressed the two men again. “What I say now is not to leave this room. Take Black down to the vaults and lock the door. I’ll be down shortly after making a few arrangements. Ensure that no one else is on the lower level.”
Hawke was quick on the uptake. “You can’t seriously mean-”
“I do. Don’t question your orders. Understood.”
Smith wasn’t the sort to question superiors or say anything that may be seen in a negative light but when he saw the look on Hawke’s face he couldn’t help but inquire. “Mean what?”
The Director’s mouth opened but Hawke cut in before the man had chance to speak.
“He means to torture him to get the information.”
Smith looked taken aback. “That goes against everything this country stands for.”
“It protects this country!” boomed the Director. “America did the same with their terrorists and it was the main reason that they caught many high level threats.”
“But that just makes us as bad as him! The means don’t justify the end.”
“The possible saviour of hundreds of human lives is worth that man’s suffering a million times over. We do this for the greater good of society,” the Director snapped.
“That’s exactly what Black is doing in his own mind!”
“The difference being that we have the authority to do so and we are sane of mind,” the Director stated, managing to keep his voice in check. “Can’t you see? It’s what must be done.”
Hawke and Smith’s eyes met. They had heard that exact sentence only minutes before.
This is a story that I wrote around the same time as Pinnoca for a different English teacher. The darkness with the minds and hearts of humans is always something that has interested me. Looking back through my work, I see these themes of twisted killers with cold outlooks on humanity keep popping up. This isn’t a great story but it is in a style I don’t often write in.