By the time we got back to the station another body had been found. Tranqs again – different brand, same results. The machines had provided estimated times of death and they spread over three days. The body we looked at on Monday was the freshest, her death had been called in by her roommate who had asked her if she had wanted a cup of tea through the bathroom door and then when she got no reply found her friend lying dead in the bath.
Thompson and Van Dorn had wanted in on the investigation and the chief had told us that the four of us were now a task force – whatever the fuck that meant. So far the media hadn’t gotten hold of the story but it was only a matter of time before someone leaked the news and kick-started yet another conspiracy theory. Then it would be a matter of minutes before one of the news hounds sniffed it off the socials. Lara had been nominated to issue a public statement when the time came.
‘Can we try and figure this out, rather than trying to script Lara’s debut in front of the cameras? Is that okay?’ I asked.
‘Take it easy Mike,’ Van Dorn said. He was a tall guy from a Dutch family and we’d been at the academy together. We hadn’t been rivals because I hadn’t cared to compete.
‘Yeah, take a chill pill man,’ Thompson said. They were quite the double act. If Van Dorn was Stan Laurel, then Thompson was Oliver Hardy – a rotund desk jockey who was a year behind Charlie in terms of retirement.
The wisecrack about the pill momentarily made me wonder if Lara or Grant had blabbed about my history with narcs, but I realised I was being paranoid and Thompson wasn’t that sophisticated a wind-up merchant.
‘I just think we’re getting a little distracted here,’ I said.
‘What have the Algos come up with?’ Lara said.
The Algos were thought of as genius gremlins that inhabited our desks and threw us up case solutions which were right about 50% of the time and thoroughly misleading for the other 50%. In reality it was a bunch of computational models that ran on rented space at the central processing facility at Langley.
‘With four cases to cross-reference the estimated crack rate should in theory rise,’ Lara said.
‘That’s what they taught you in crime school,’ Van Dorn said.
‘She’s right,’ Thompson said.
‘HIGHEST SIGNIFICANCE GIVEN TO VICTIMS’ SHARED INTEREST IN GOTHMUSE FAN SITES. SEE DISPLAY FOR MORE DETAILS,’ my desk announced.
My mind flicked back to the hair and the makeup.
‘For once I think the Algos might be on to something,’ I said.
‘You think it’s a suicide pact?’ Van Dorn said.
‘Maybe,’ I said. I flicked through the supporting material that floated above the desk and was duplicated on the display wall so my three colleagues could see it.
‘There’s no evidence in recent fan-site traffic about such a pact. No significance increase in discussion threads on the topic of topping oneself,’ I said.
‘Quite a bit of fresh jibber-jabber about a gig last Saturday at this club, Dominion,’ Lara said. She had one eye closed again. It reminded me of the times she used to wink at me in the canteen. ‘Band called Scratch it ‘til it Bleeds.’
‘Sounds great,’ Thompson said.
‘Was it ticketed?’ I asked.
‘No, free entry. The Algos would have spotted the attendance of the four victims if there had been transactional evidence,’ Lara said.
‘Guess that’s what the fuss was about,’ Van Dorn said.
‘Any of you heard of this band? Or the club?’ I asked. ‘Lara?’ I asked her because she was ten years or so junior to the rest of us, but in generational terms I guess it was a continent away from the dead girls. Who knew what they were into when they bothered to disconnect from the web.
‘It’s not really my scene,’ Lara said.
(C) 2015 Matthew Haynes extract from The Sun & The Rainfall.