Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tuesday Tease - Beneath the Boards by David Haynes

We have a treat for horror fans in this week's Tuesday Tease and this is an excerpt from David Hayes' latest release 'Beneath the Boards'. I started reading it last night and it's off to a cracking start!

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Beneath the Boards by David Haynes
Chapter 1

Stokes knocked on the door and waited. Four unanswered phone calls and three unreturned text messages had left him with no choice.

“Just answer the door,” he whispered.

Natalie Sutton was a mess. In almost every part of her life she had, at one point or another, made the wrong decision.

Do you want to start smoking cannabis at thirteen, Natalie? “Yes, sir.”

Do you want to have a baby at fourteen, Natalie? “Yes, please.”

Do you want to have another baby at sixteen, Natalie? “Of course! Who wouldn’t?”

What about starting a relationship with a man twice your age? He’s a real catch; he’s beaten every woman he ever knew to a bloody pulp. “Oh, go on then, if you insist.”

He exhaled loudly and banged on the door. “Natalie? It’s DC Stokes, can you open the door please?”

He knew she was in. He’d had a quick look through the lounge window on his way up the driveway. The TV was on and kids’ toys lay strewn about. There was even a half-eaten chocolate biscuit on the carpet.

He crouched and pushed the letterbox open. “Natalie, I only want to ask you a quick question, that’s all. Just open up and I’ll be out of your hair in two minutes.”

He’d worked in the Domestic Violence Unit for the last eight years and in that time he’d investigated just about every crime imaginable. He’d also dealt with the unimaginable ones too.

‘High Risk’ – that was the designation given to the victims he worked with. These were the women who appeared on the front page of the newspaper when they’d been murdered by their devoted boyfriends, husbands and lovers. These were the women he wanted to protect.

He had six other women on his workload and they all needed his help, but there was high risk and then there was Natalie Sutton. She courted violence; she sought it out wherever and in whomever she could. He’d been visiting her for the last six months, trying to make her see, trying to make her understand that there was another way to live. He’d backed her when the other agencies wanted to close the door on her and take the baby into care. He believed in her and he believed he was right.

He walked back to the lounge window and cupped his hands around his face. For a brief moment he looked into his own eyes and saw seventeen years of policing staring back at him. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

The room was the same as it had been just a couple of minutes ago. The half-eaten biscuit, the beaker lying on its side with a purple stain spreading across the carpet. Someone ought to clean that up before it...

The smashed mobile phone.

The cracked television screen and a thin mist of blood up the wallpaper.

Stokes unclipped his radio and lifted it to his mouth. “NA, this is DC Stokes. Can I have another unit to join me at 18 Scarsdale, please?”

“Received. What have you got?”

Stokes walked quickly to the front door and tried the handle. It didn’t move an inch.

“Not sure. Send someone with the big key.”

“Received. One unit en route to you now.”

There were times when things weren’t exactly as they first appeared and there were times when they were spot on, or as near as damn it. He’d been a copper long enough to know this was the latter.

The intelligence on Natalie was that she was in a relationship with Shane Young. He was a nasty, violent shit and Stokes had sent him to court seven years ago for trying to demolish his previous partner’s face with a hammer. Shane Young was not the right man for Natalie Sutton, not now, not ever.

He ran around the side of the house and pushed open the wooden gate. The backyard was a mixture of dog crap, abandoned dolls and rotting marrow bones. The smell was powerful but nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary.

“Natalie!” he called out.

Stokes paused at the patio door and unclipped his baton from the covert harness. He’d been bitten by both dogs and humans before and it was nasty. A sight of the baton usually calmed...

A smear of blood and handprints on the inside of the patio doors which were slightly ajar.

“NA from DC Stokes.”

“Go ahead.”

“There’s blood inside the property and signs of disturbance. What’s the ETA for uniform?”

“They’re en route. Do you need them to come code blue?”

“Yes.” He kept his voice as level as he could but already the adrenal gland was doing what it did best.

How long could he stand there waiting for assistance? He should wait, he knew he should. He should stand down and wait for the uniform lads to come with their wailing sirens and stab-proof vests. But he couldn’t and he wouldn’t.

He gripped the plastic handle and slid the door open.

“Natalie? Are you okay?“ He cocked the baton over his shoulder and listened. There was nothing, not even the sound of a two year old playing. He glanced at the blood on the door and stepped further into the room. It smelled of stale cigarette smoke and blood. It smelled of violence.

The kitchen door was off the lounge, just beside the patio doors and he stepped toward it. The kitchen was an arsenal for someone with the wrong mentality. However he was feeling, he needed to check the rooms systematically, starting with the kitchen. He took another step and froze.

He could hear the sound of a child crying upstairs. It wasn’t a full heartbreaking howl but it was a forlorn whimper. It was the sound of a child used to being ignored; the sound of a child who knew nobody would come however long she cried.

He needed to get up there quickly, before any more blood was spilled. Natalie was vulnerable enough but the little girl needed taking out of this situation. Whatever had happened here, whatever was happening here was toxic and it was time to put a stop to it. His heart was beating like a drum and although he’d been in these situations before, it never felt good. It never felt right.

He took a step forward, toward the hallway and the little baby upstairs when a great roar sounded from behind him. He turned just in time to see the snarling face of Shane Young smash into his own face and knock him backward.

The kitchen. He hadn’t checked it.

The little girl had disturbed him before he’d had a chance to check properly. His eyes immediately filled with tears and for a moment his vision was gone. It was enough time for Young to drive a fist into his face and knock him and his baton to the grubby carpet.

As soon as he hit the floor, Stokes rolled to the side. He couldn’t see anything but he was damned if he was going to make it easy for Young. He just had to last long enough for the uniform to arrive.

“I’ve always wanted to do a pig.”

Stokes blinked and cleared his vision enough to see Young coming toward him with a knife in his hand. He looked around for the baton but it had rolled to the other side of the room in the initial assault. He still had his gas but there wasn’t enough time to unclip it, let alone point and spray it. Think fast, Stokesy, think fast.

He rocked onto his knees and lunged forward, colliding with Young’s shins. The move shocked the other man and he stumbled backward and went down. As soon as he landed, Stokes drove one of his own fists into Young’s nose, sending an arc of blood over them both.

Young yelped and tried to push the knife toward Stokes’s neck but he batted it away easily, sending it skidding across the threadbare carpet. He drew back his fist and punched the man again and this time the fight went out of Young completely. Stokes reached into his harness and pushed the red button on the top of his airwave radio.

“More units to 18 Scarsdale!” he shouted.

A mixture of sweat and blood dripped off the end of his nose and landed on Young’s cheek. Even though the fight had lasted only a matter of seconds, he was exhausted and already his muscles were aching.

He unclipped his cuffs and rolled Young onto his side. “I’m arresting you on suspicion of assault, Shane. You do not have to say...”

“What have you done to him?”

Stokes looked up into the bloodshot and bruised eyes of Natalie Sutton. “Are you all right, Natalie?”

She stared back at him. “If you’ve hurt him I’ll...” Her words were distorted to the point of being almost unrecognisable. Her chin was covered in blood and her vest was a crimson bib. She opened her mouth to say something else, revealing two missing teeth and another which dangled precariously.

“Why didn’t you answer my calls?” Stokes finished handcuffing Young and rose slowly to his feet. Forty-three was too old to be fighting with anyone and every inch of his six-foot frame ached to the point of pain. He’d feel this for the next week.

Natalie looked down on her boyfriend and started to cry. “Look what you’ve done to him. He said you lot were bullies and...”

Stokes took her gently by the shoulders. “Did he do this to you, Natalie?” She looked vacantly at him. It was the look of someone who had nothing, nothing at all.


The searing pain in his side stopped him in his tracks. At first he thought might be having a heart attack but the pain was much lower than that. It was somewhere beneath his ribcage. He gasped and tried to steady his breathing.

It was probably just a bad stitch, he really ought to start going to the gym again. Maybe after today he...

He looked down and saw a red bloom spreading across his white shirt. Instinctively he dropped a hand and touched the cotton – it was warm and sticky. Natalie’s lost and desperate eyes met his own and as he opened his mouth to ask her why he was bleeding, a second burst of terrible pain exploded in his side. It squeezed every molecule of air from his lungs.

“Do it babe, do it again!” The sound of Young’s shrill voice echoed in the room. Stokes caught sight of Natalie’s arm thrusting forward again. This is it, he thought, and allowed his legs to collapse under him. Gutted by someone I was trying to protect. The irony of it all.

The sirens screeched and then squealed in the distance and the child upstairs screamed in perfect harmony.

Click here to buy Beneath the Boards from Amazon

About the Author

David Haynes has been making up stories since he was very young. His first story entitled, "How the Greenhouse Actually Got Smashed, Dad!" got him into trouble and went unpublished. Nevertheless, the stories continued and the desire to write them down grew stronger.

David now writes stories in the genre he loves the most - the dark, mysterious and delicious world of horror! The two main influences on his writing are Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe who he considers masters of the shadowy world.

So far he has written a collection of sinister stories set on the dark streets of Victorian London and in the gloriously opulent Paris of the nineteenth century. Both represent his love for the history of our greatest cities and the dark deeds that were done on their shadowy streets.

One day he hopes to be able to write full-time in order to get all those stories out of his own mind and into the minds of others.

The question is - dare you read anymore?


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