Chapter 9

Written by: Anna Zhigareva

They stood beside her mother’s grave, Samantha’s hands clasped together, Alan’s in the pockets of his long coat. The daughter of a prominent aristocratic family, her mother had been buried in the cemetery of a little central chapel hidden amidst towering stone buildings and busy streets.


“Why are we here? You remember everything?” Rage was starting to boil up within Samantha. 


First he acts like he remembers. Then he glazes over and it’s like he’s a robot receiving orders from some alien species on planet Uranus!


“I needed to see my mauve-haired princess.” Her father’s mouth was curled in a simple smile. Crooked, with his head tilted slightly to the right, his slightly dazed expression took on a comical look.


“No, Dad! Inspector McCready has that hair. Not Mum. Mum had blonde hair.” Samantha pulled one of his hands out of his pocket and started dragging him along the grassy trail and onto the street. She had just taken out her phone to text Jeremy when her father spoke again.


“She did have mauve hair. Before you were born. Inspector McCready also has mauve hair, purposefully dyed. She is a cunning woman.” 


Alan turned to face Samantha sharply and for a split second she felt the moisture dry completely at the back of her throat. His eyes were crazed, full of malice. “She tried to trick me into thinking she was my long lost wife. She wiped everything from my brain, that day you lost me, but I remembered what happened to my wife. And I remember you, Sam.” Any previous hesitations were fading by the minute.


In a flurry of movement, he pulled his other hand out of his pocket. Between his index and pointing fingers a little white pill was suspended. Harmless, upon first look. But the way he dangled it so close to his mouth, swerving as his whole body seemed to recoil at what he was about to do, Samantha knew it was probably cyanide. 


“They tell me to kill myself. All I’ve ever wanted was my life back. I wanted to find you, I didn’t know how. I found…” He looked back – a fleeting glance – towards the chapel cemetery. Then his razor-sharp eyes refocused on Samantha, her fingers stuck mid-text.


“It had all been a ploy. They gave me to the Syrian forces. They let them enslave me. They finally had a double agent. They threatened me. You see …” 


“… see what?” McCready clearly hadn’t let them go.


There she was, mauve hair, black trench-coat, on the pavement.


“We will go to the station and you will finish this once and for all, Agent Sharp.” She glared at Samantha. “No use avoiding it. You owe us this much.”


“I owe you nothing!” Alan almost spat, there was so much vehemence in his voice.


But the instruction was clear. As though at gunpoint, they walked back to the Liverpool Street Station, Sam clutching her father’s hand, the pill gone.


Oh my goodness, Anna. What an outstanding chapter. You had the very difficult job of bringing all the loose ends together and you have done it remarkably well. Every sentence adds meaning and insight to the his look back at the cemetery, his tilted head and crooked smile among many.
A good storyteller spins a tale with much believability and flowing narrative. That is one thing. To do this and also gently nudge the script back on course takes skillful manipulation and great understanding of the plot. Wonderful work, Anna.