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In the thirteen years he'd been doing this, Moralee had visited TWOCville more than any other place in the city. He idly wondered whether there was in fact any square foot of the Capital he hadn't had professional cause to be in the vicinity of. Popular historical legend had it that one could formerly walk the length of the country without stepping off land belonging either to the monarch or the established church. His modern day urban version, saw every one of its acres marked out and ribboned by police barrier tape at some juncture in time. That's when the SOCOs bothered formally to secure the area. The recollection of Morton's swathed jaw flashed into his mind, but quickly mutated into the whole face being smothered in layers of incident tape. His mind cringed and hastened to wrench it off in strips. Only to reveal the formless face from yesterday's suicide. Simon stumbled with the jarring shock the image sparked in him. Fortunately the ground was so rutted, none of his colleagues regarded it as anything ominous within his state of mind.
The furrows were caused by tyre tracks churning up the mud, which had then set hard in embankments. Such gradients had in turn then been driven over, offering the joyriders their kicks at two-wheel driving and banking, thus the elevations also became imprinted with tyre treads. Hokusai's wave prints transplanted inland. In America they had the Body Farm where they forensically studied the decomposition of corpses under various conditions. Here was a database of every type of rubber tread for study, were anyone of a mind to.
His own noodle instead tracked back to sharp images of rampart walls built from beach sand, lovingly made in tandem with his father. Of turrets and finger-appointed crenellations along the keep walls. In advance of the sea sweeping in and breaching the fortifications at the end of the day, as they retired back to their own safe haven behind solid wood and brick. Until his father pierced its bastion from within by butchering his mother. And everything he took for solid ground was swept away in the tidal torrent.
What was happening to him these days? These flash memories from his childhood didn't usually bedevil him so. His head seemed all over the place. Perhaps his own emotional restiveness was infecting his visions and effacing their detail. That just couldn't be allowed to happen. He sought to fix his gaze on something to distract him back into the present. The two outriders were pointing animatedly and approvingly at the rutted mud, dreaming of pitting their own two wheels against such earthen trials. Now he was reminded of his own skateboarding days of ramps and rails, only back then the skater was solely responsible for his own momentum and hadn't been encased in a ton of lethal steel.
Forever man's rabidly reckless drive toward bigger, greater, faster, more powerful; the fatally futile pursuit of the impotent. Was it merely a similar heedlessness towards the risk of one's own death, as committing murder itself? Certainly it embodied a wholesale lack of concern for the wellbeing of others. Simon gazed around him. Everywhere he looked, the metal skeletons of dead cars. Where the rust of burned out automobiles was manifestly more red than the granular brown that pockmarked the rest of the city. The scene wasn't dissimilar to archive news footage from American turkey-shoot wars abroad. Where whole vistas in deserts and mountain roads were choked by gutted, smouldering vehicles. The only difference was that in such footage, there were countless incinerated bodies. Here somewhere in this metal-walled maze, was just one and it hadn't necessarily had its cremation yet.
"Is there a SOCO team on site?" Simon inquired.
At least their presence could act like a homing beacon to zero them in. Morton tilted his head upwards, sniffed the air exaggeratedly before responding.
"Nope. Can't smell anything... rank".
Apart from the stink of death that canopied the whole area. The metallic sting of corroded steel. This would have been a breeze for the canine squad if it hadn't have been put out to grass long ago. And the climate too cold to sustain any buzzards to help tip them off.
"Well is the body in a car or lying out in the open somewhere?"
"Laid out on the ground I was told".
"Well do we know in which part?"
"By the fountains".
The fountains. Holes in the ground where water once shot up in streams for people joyously to throw themselves into by way of delirious celebration. For TWOCville was erected, or maybe quarried would be more appropriate, from the site of the old National Sports stadium. A huge bragging monstrosity of concrete, glass and raised walkways, all topped off by a metal arch, a single steel frond lashing the sky. A raised eyebrow at America's span promoting a fast food company perhaps. Or cocking a snook at Iraq's pair of curved swords. This was a hoped for parochial symbol of national pride and triumph. Predictably it was vain swagger on both scores. The concrete had begrimed within two years of erection. The glass had lost its reflective lustre within the same period. Nor were there any glories ever achieved on the field of play to warrant people capering among the water jets.
Some folk had leapt into the fountains to douse their desultory sorrows. In the endemic corner cutting that infused the whole of the construction project (delivered a year late triggering prohibitive financial penalties), the water remained unfiltered and they contracted all sorts of bacterial infections. The Stadium managers were sued, necessitating them having their bank loans foreclosed. The concrete started to crack and disintegrate and then like the Colosseum in Rome, the local citizens took away pieces for their own abstruse purposes (unlike the ancient Romans, they certainly weren't augmenting their own homes with the stone). The glass was put through and shattered. Demolition by the Demos. Piecemeal, but no less thorough a levelling than a controlled razing. Very quickly the whole edifice was erased from the landscape. Save for the steel span. A wedding arch for an absconded groom. A buckling bow without any threaded flaming arrow of desire to discharge. A fitting national symbol. The rusted vaulting over the metallic graveyard beneath.
"There she is".
But Simon couldn't see any protuberance across the desolate panorama. The group continued walking.
"There. On the ground. Or maybe in it".
"What, a shallow grave you mean?"
"Shallow implies depth. Volume. So no. Not really".
Simon stopped short and stared at Morton quizzically, imploring he make some sense. Morton extended his arm out towards the area just off to the left ahead of them. The patch of ground was crisscrossed by recently churned mud and broken banks. Simon did a double take when he finally spotted her. Or what was left of her.
For she had been pressed down to merge with the mud. Squashed absolutely flat, so that she sat as flush as the earth, with no substance of her former solidity. Compressed beneath the wheels so as to lie in an unbroken plane, contiguous with the level of the mud track stretching off into the distance. Just another tread mark, only fashioned out of human flesh and pulverised bone. If a human being were filleted, this presumably would be what it would look like. Even the flies hadn't been able to gain purchase upon her, decamping elsewhere in order to roost their corpse suckling larvae.
Clearly her killer had repeatedly driven the car over her rag doll body, to crush every last drop of life out of her. A crime of absolute savagery and hatred. Piledriving her back into the humus. To serve as part of the landscaping. He was thrust back to images he'd collected of bodies crushed by tanks in global wars. It was only such inuring that prevented him heaving up his guts. But the same did not hold for one of the outriders bent double and vomiting. Maybe it might be bringing home the reality of what could possibly happen to him were he actually to tackle the banking with his bike, Simon thought ruefully.
Morton however was unperturbed as ever.
"You going to be able to perform your juju if the head's as flat as a pizza?"
"Think Farley here's just puked up some toppings" the uncompromised outrider offered gleefully.
Click here to purchase An Eye For An Eye For An Eye on Amazon
Marc Nash has published four novels and three collections of flash fiction on kindle. He lives and works in London and when not writing can usually be found agonising over the formation of his son's football team which he co-manages.
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