Hi and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Last One To See Her! Thanks to Mark Tilbury for the invite!
It is my absolute pleasure to share with you today the prologue of Mark Tilbury’s latest, but first let’s take a look at the blurb:
He says he is innocent. So why did he lie?
Mathew Hillock was the last person to see eleven-year-old Jodie Willis alive. When her dead body turns up four days later in his garden shed, the police think he’s guilty of her murder. So do most people in the town. But there’s no DNA evidence to link him to the crime.
Battling the weight of public opinion and mental illness due to a childhood head trauma, he sinks into a deep depression.
Can Mathew do what the police failed to do and find evidence linking the real killer to the crime?
The Last One to See Her is a terrifying story of what happens when you’re accused of a crime and no one believes you are innocent.
Admit it, that does sound brilliant, doesn’t it! Ready for the prologue? You sure? Okay, here it comes!
2 a.m. August. 12 years earlier.
The baseball bat is wet and sticky with blood as Paul Whittacker opens the door to the master bedroom. He’s already killed the young boy and the young girl. Sleep tight, little ones. Now it’s the parents’ turn to die.
The landing light, probably left on for the children, casts shadows across the bedroom and turns it into an old black-and-white movie set. Even the blood on the bat appears grey and less indicative of its macabre history.
He stands for a while, catching his breath, observing, listening. His arms are shaking from the exertion of the kill. He needs a fix. To slip into the warm syrupy blanket of oblivion. But there is still much to do before he can allow his body to succumb to the needle.
He takes a few steps into the room and stops. His heartbeat pulsates in his ears. Sweat dribbles down his back. He tells himself to calm down and make ready for the kill.
The man snores and makes a strange gurgling noise in his throat. He smacks his lips and rolls over to face his wife. Hesitancy, that powerful adversary to careful planning, suggests it might be better to use a knife on him, but he doesn’t want to waste time going downstairs to look for one.
He creeps towards the bed, weapon raised, threat-level raised, blood pressure raised. He makes ready to strike. The woman sighs. It’s a seductive sound that arouses him. He considers raping her once he’s finished with hubby, but that means getting into a whole new area of forensic jiggery-pokery.
Sweat dribbles into his eyes. He stops, bat hovering two feet above the man’s face. He wipes an arm across his forehead. He’s seized with an uncontrollable urge to laugh when a bright-pink moth flies across the bedroom and lands on the wall just above the headboard. It’s strikingly beautiful in this black-and-white movie. He knows it’s just a hallucination. Residual imagery from last night’s acid trip.
He raises the bat and brings it crashing down on the side of Hubby’s head. The man responds by pawing his wife’s face as if trying to provoke foreplay. His legs kick out under the duvet.
Whittacker smashes the bat down again, this time eliciting a muffled scream from the victim, who raises his head six inches off the pillow. The bat wastes no time sending that head right back to where it came from. This time he is motionless. Not so much as a whimper.
Whittacker considers checking the man’s pulse, but his wife is now awake and exercising her right to scream. Her arms flail in what appears to be an attempt to defy physics and fly.
Whittacker steadies himself, takes aim, and raises the bat. But he is stopped by a sudden sharp pain between his shoulder blades. At first, he thinks he’s having a seizure. This thought is replaced by a more serious self-diagnosis – a heart attack brought on by stress.
The pain comes again, accompanied by a wet slapping sound. He cries out, blood bubbling on his lips. He drops the bat, legs bucking, spilling him to the floor.
Too many drugs spoil the moth.
He checks above the bed for the bright-pink insect, but the only splash of colour in this black-and-white world has gone. Something warm and sticky runs down his back. Sweat? Too thick. The golden-brown liquid from every needle he’s ever jabbed into his veins? Too painful.
The woman screams again. The sound bounces around the walls and pounds on his eardrums. This can’t be happening. Not now. Not when he is so close to…
The room suddenly goes quiet. Deathly quiet, you might say. Paul Whittacker doesn’t hear the woman wailing like a malfunctioning police siren. He doesn’t feel his body being turned over, or hear a male voice trying to soothe Mrs Wailing Siren with assurances that everything will be all right.
By the time the police arrive twenty minutes later, Paul Whittacker is lying on the bedroom floor in a pool of his own blood. The baseball bat lies next to him, pieces of skull and tufts of hair decorating the wood like ghoulish artwork.
The ceiling light has now switched the room from black and white to high-definition colour. Blood drips onto a white rug next to the bed, and Hubby’s gore saturates the pillows and duvet.
Whittacker doesn’t hear a policeman walk into the room and tell his colleague that there appears to be two child fatalities. One male, one female. He doesn’t hear Mrs Siren sobbing on the deathbed.
The world is now as black and silent as death itself.
Wow! I’m going to need a breather from that prologue alone 😳 Do check out the other stops on the tour: