by David A Riley

DOMINIC HAD NOT wanted to accept the assignment even though it might give him the promotion he needed. It worried him. And he bitterly resented having to return to his roots and resurrect a family history he would have preferred to forget—just as he had pushed it to the back of his mind for the past ten years. Even his wife, Angelique, expecting their first child in four months’ time, had tried to dissuade him. Before he set out for Police Headquarters in Manchester to be briefed on the assignment, she had pleaded with him to find some reason to turn it down. Her large brown eyes stared into his, emphasising the earnestness of her words. But with a family on the way, Dominic knew this was an unexpected opportunity to impress his bosses and gain the promotion he needed. Angelique had told him she wanted more than one child; how could they afford that on his pay scale?

‘You can’t have it both ways,’ he muttered to himself as he switched on the car radio. The midday traffic was too heavy to make much speed.

‘Do you really want to be forced to brag about that man?’ Angelique had finally asked in a last-ditch effort before he left home.

‘That man’. That was all she would ever call his father, even though she never met Maxime LeBlanc. He had been in his grave ten years before she and Dominic met. One drunken night, when all the guilt he had felt for his father’s past had welled up inside him in a tide of self-pity and self-disgust, Dominic had told her about him, even though most of what he knew came from his mother. Dominic was too young when the family still lived in Haiti for him to remember much of what his father did as an officer of the Tonton Macoute, the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale, Baby Doc’s dreaded secret police, who had tortured and murdered anyone who opposed the regime. In Haitian Creole ‘Tonton Macoute’ meant Uncle Gunnysack, the bogeyman, an appropriate description for Dominic’s father. Standing six feet five, with curly black hair and ritual scars on his skeletal cheeks, he had been a terrifying figure, though nothing about the man had frightened Dominic more than his eyes. Tinged a disgusting urine yellow, 
they were as dead as a shark’s. To Dominic they had the power to stare straight through him deep into his innermost thoughts. ‘He was nothing but God-damned torturer, him,’ his mother whispered in Dominic’s ear the day of the funeral. Dressed in her finest black dress, there was a tear-filled smile on her creased face. She made no effort to hide that she felt triumphant at her husband’s death—at long last giving her a taste of freedom in her remaining years. Sixteen when his father died, Dominic was old enough to realise that his father had brutalised her, turning a beautiful wife into a cowed slave, at the same time terrifying Dominic and his siblings into subservience. The man would think nothing of beating them. Thank God, the old man had smoked like a chimney and died from lung cancer while in his fifties.

Now Dominic’s superiors had decided that his father’s role in the Haitian regime would be useful to them.

But he could not help asking himself if he wanted to be forced to glorify his father, even in pretence? It would test his powers of acting to their limit. Of all the officers available, though, he knew his background gave him unrivalled access to the Haitian gang that dominated part of Pire, a once prosperous mill town in East Lancashire, twenty miles from Manchester.

Ever since the early seventies, the terraced streets in the Grimsdyke area had been dominated by immigrants from the West Indies. As second, then third generations extended their grip on the area, unemployment, depravation and a feeling of hopelessness turned many to the street gangs that prospered on the sale of drugs, which was the only means available for most of them to make any money. Turf wars abounded; none more so than in the streets surrounding Bullough Park, where a Haitian gang called the Samedies were dominant—a gang Dominic had been told to infiltrate.

‘If they find out who you are they’ll kill you,’ Angelique insisted last night in a tear-filled attempt to change his mind. He knew he should have said nothing about the assignment to her, but Dominic had never been any good at keeping secrets from his wife, however adept he may have been at subterfuge with anyone else. Perhaps that was proof how strong the bond between them was. He was not sure. All he knew was that it had taken an extreme effort to resist her pleas. ‘They’ll not only kill you, they’ll torture you first,’ was his wife’s final attempt to dissuade him, though Dominic knew this even better than her. Unlike Angelique, he had seen photographs of what the Samedies did to their enemies, especially suspected police informers. He had no illusions what failure would mean.


Arriving at Police Headquarters, Dominic drove into a vacant space in the car park. For a moment he sat with the radio off, feeling the need to think in silence. It was not too late. He could still turn the assignment down. His superiors wouldn’t blame him if he did—openly, at least—but whatever chances he might have had for promotion would disappear.

Dominic stared at a silver crucifix left to him by his mother, cupped in his hands. He kept it with him in his jacket pocket. He remembered the last words she said before her death. ‘Don’t you be like that man your father, you. You’re good boy, Dominic. Remember that.’

He had. All his life. That was why he joined the police. That was why he needed this assignment now. Not just for what it would do for his career, but to atone for what his father had done. He knew the people he would have to befriend were the kind of men his father had worked with. They were just like him, men who would torture for the hell of it. And kill for no reason at all. They were men to whom life meant nothing—and power meant everything.


Two weeks later Dominic left a tearful Angelique on the doorstep of their home, still complaining that he was a god-damned fool. He ignored her as he headed for his car, feeling guilty but determined. He knew from his meeting at Police Headquarters that a successful conclusion in Pire would make his promotion certain. It would mark the start of his career. In a few years he could be an inspector. By which time he and Angelique would have a house in the suburbs where their kids could grow up in a safe environment, with enough money to ensure they had the right start in life.

All for a few months of risk.

In his pocket Dominic carried a handful of documents relating to his father’s time in the Tonton Macoute. He found them years ago in a trunk in his mother’s house after her death. More than once he had thought of burning them. They included a photograph of the old man shaking hands with the Haitian dictator, Baby Doc, who was probably thanking him for torturing some poor bastards who’d been plotting against him.

Dominic had been given a cover story to explain what he’d done since his father’s death. Instead of joining the police, he would claim to have converted to Islam and become involved with a group of Jihadists who persuaded him to go to a training camp in Syria. Several years of terrorist activities followed before, disillusioned, he decided to get out. On the run as an apostate, Dominic had decided to head for Pire because he’d heard that his father’s reputation could help him gain access to people who would protect him against his Islamist enemies.

As a cover story Dominic considered it plausible in its sheer outrageousness, while his claims to have had terrorist training would make the Samedies look more favourably on recruiting him. For the past two weeks Dominic had been given training in the kinds of skills he would need to convince gang leaders that he had been a terrorist. He was also given a crash course in what he looked on as an Idiot’s Guide to Islam in case anyone questioned him about his former faith. It had been physically, mentally and emotionally gruelling. But now that his assignment was about to begin, Dominic felt relief. His only regret was having told Angelique too much about what he was doing. He could have done without all the emotional trauma of the past few days. He had never wanted to upset her. Nor had he thought she would react like she had. Perhaps she saw things more clearly, he thought, though he knew the risks. He knew what he would have to do. And he was sure he could manage it. His father’s reputation would pave the way—which would have the old bastard spinning in his grave.

Dominic’s mouth moved into a thin smile at the thought.


With its boarded-up windows painted red, The Baron’s was one of the most rundown, rough-looking pubs Dominic had seen in years. The rusted bracket it had once swung from was all that remained of the sign above its door. Incongruously, surveillance cameras had been installed below its roof.

His heart racing with trepidation, Dominic stared at the pub before leaving his car. When he exited it, he crossed the road as quickly as he could, unwilling to give himself time for second thoughts.

Beyond its reinforced wooden door, the pub was dark. Dim lamps, mostly around the bar, provided what illumination there was.

Dominic sniffed suspiciously. There was a distinctive smell of sweat, marihuana, stale beer and rum.

At first glance half the guests were women; girl friends or prostitutes, Dominic was unsure from their dress. Most of the men, all of them black, wore hoodies or oversized leather jackets, sometimes both.

Inhospitable faces stared at him from around the room. Dominic could feel their hostility.

‘This is private club, mon,’ a West Indian said in a surly, no-nonsense voice. ‘Strangers no welcome here.’

Dominic cast the speaker a glance. The man’s eyes were hidden behind dark glasses. He had broad shoulders, thick wrists and blunt, powerful-looking fingers. In one hand he held a glass of a clear liquid that could have been gin or vodka or just plain water. In his other he held a joint. Smoke leaked from the wedge of ash hanging from its end.

Despite the gloom most of the men wore shades too, an affectation Dominic knew to have been in favour with the Tonton Macoute, who believed they added to their aura of intimidation.

‘I was told I be welcome here,’ Dominic said.

The West Indian looked him over with deliberate insolence.

‘What makes you think that?’

Dominic reached inside his jacket and took out a picture of his father.

He dropped it on the table in front of the West Indian.

The man raised the dark glasses from his eyes to gaze at it. He glanced up when he had finished. His eyes were large, like shelled eggs, and bloodshot.

‘The man with Duvalier, he is something to you?’

Dominic nodded. ‘My father.’

‘You born in Haiti?’

Dominic passed the man a second photograph, the only one he had of him in his teens with his father.

‘My father died a month after this,’ Dominic said. Already the ravages of the incurable cancer that would kill his father had worn away the strength on his face, though he was still recognisable as the man in the previous photograph.

The West Indian smiled. Two of his teeth had been capped with gold.

‘Your old man Tonton, mon?’

Dominic nodded again.

The man laughed. It was loud, raucous, full-bodied. He called over his shoulder to a group of men at the next table in a patois too dense for Dominic to follow. Grins creased their hard faces.

Dominic gave them the potted biography he had put together.

‘You good Catholic now?’ the man said. ‘No more fuckin’ Muslim?’

‘They hate me for leaving. I’ve a fatwa against me.’

‘You no worry, mon. No fuckin’ Muslims here. All good Catholics.’ The man laughed again.

Dominic knew being a Catholic was a vital part of Voodoo culture. Based on a perversion of Christianity, tribal spirit worship, myths and superstitions, no one could be a true follower if they were anything but a Catholic. It was the cornerstone upon which the whole rickety mythos was built.

Even so, Dominic knew he would not be accepted without further questions over the next few days. The photographs helped, but they could be faked too easily these days to be accepted as undeniable proof. Luckily, there were people he’d been brought up with who could back his story.

After three days Dominic began to feel secure amongst his new comrades. Half-remembered tales about his father, whispered to him by his mother years ago, had impressed enough of them for some to call him Tonton with an air of respect. For now, that was enough. And was more than Dominic had hoped to achieve.

Which may have been why he found himself being involved with something more serious than he had expected so soon, something which his superiors would certainly not condone, however important his infiltration was.

When he arrived at The Baron’s that night he was told to go upstairs.

‘Cree wants to see you,’ he was told by the barman. ‘First door.’

This was the first time Dominic had been told to see the boss. Up until now he had only talked to his captains.

‘What’s he want?’ Dominic said.

‘How should I know, mon?’ The barman shrugged his thick shoulders. Like most of the men he was into steroids and bodybuilding in a big way. The air reeked of testosterone. ‘All I know is youse got to go up and see him soon as you get here. Which you is.’

Like all the floors, the stairs were thickly carpeted in red. To cover up spilt blood? Dominic wondered, though he knew better than that. Spilt blood didn’t stay red for long. He was being overly dramatic. But although part of him was pleased he was about to meet the boss, another part of him was wary, unsure if he might have made a mistake and been found out. If he had, he knew the one thing he would not be doing was walk back down these stairs later. Unconsciously, he fingered the edge of the unsheathed knife in his inside pocket, much good it would do him. If Cree knew who he really was, he would have no chance to defend himself. They would be ready for him, waiting to truss him up like a Christmas turkey, plastic ties around his wrists, then a world of pain.

Despite the nonchalance with which he climbed the stairs, Dominic’s heart was pounding. He could feel beads of sweat across his forehead; he wiped them off with the back of his hand. Nervousness would make them suspicious even if they weren’t already.


Cree was a big man, bigger by a head than any of his captains, with chest and shoulders to match. He was older too, his grey hair bleaching into white. Like Dominic’s father, his cheeks were furrowed with ritual scars, zigzags of thick tissue like lightning bolts beneath his flesh. Unlike the others, he wore a strange mixture of contemporary and African clothing, with a necklace of what looked like finger bones across his chest. He welcomed Dominic with generous gestures, fingers heavy with gold rings, ushering him into a large room crowded with most of his captains. Seated around its perimeter, most were smoking, and the air was thick with the smell of ganja.

‘We have a big job for you,’ Cree announced as if addressing a public meeting, even though he was speaking to Dominic. His every movement was theatrical, though, and Dominic guessed this was his persona and perhaps some of his power too. He had protuberant eyes like a black Peter Lorre; like Dominic’s father’s they were stained yellow.

Dominic nodded his head. ‘Whatever you want.’

Cree smiled indulgently. He pointed towards one of the few men not smoking. He was seated hunched between two of the captains. For the first time Dominic saw the man’s hands were bound with rope and he had been beaten. Large scabs on his face looked fresh; some still leaked blood. And a large swelling had started to rise on one cheek, its skin so badly torn Dominic knew he must had been hit by brass knuckles. The injuries were unmistakeable.

There was terror in the man’s eyes as he stared at Dominic, who wondered if this was how men used to look at his father. He felt sick with nausea, knowing how his old man would have relished it.

‘This vermin tried to steal from us,’ Cree said with what Dominic could easily see was a shallow pretence at indignation. ‘Would you believe it?’

There were murmurs of amusement from the assembled captains, who had turned their attention back to the captive.

‘We must do something about it,’ Cree said. ‘Something appropriate. Something to act as a warning to others tempted to steal from us.’

This was leading to what Dominic had feared all along. It was the one flaw in his superiors’ plan for his infiltration, that eventually he would be expected to do something which he could not possibly do, something so illegal it could not be sanctioned. It was obvious this man was going to be killed. He had already been beaten. He had probably been tortured too. There was only one thing left. Dominic gritted his teeth, fearing what he would hear next.

Cree turned to one of his captains, a scrofulous old West Indian with a drop or two of the Oriental in his slitted eyes. Dominic had rarely spoken with him. Baptiste was a quiet, withdrawn man who seemed to regard everyone other than Cree with disdain. He was also the nearest thing the gang had to a Voodoo priest; Dominic had heard rumours about his alleged powers that were held in childish awe by most of the men, whose ignorance was matched only by their mindless brutality.

‘It’s time Tonton was introduced to our special treat.’ Cree glanced at Dominic with quizzical, half amused eyes. ‘It’s what our enemies fear,’ he said.

Baptiste eased himself off his chair with as much effort as a crab emerging onto the shore as he left the buoyancy of the sea. He nodded at the prisoner, who was roughly manhandled to his feet.

‘Come, Tonton,’ Baptiste said to Dominic, his use of the name sounding disdainfully ironic.

The five of them, Dominic at the rear, with Baptiste, the prisoner and his two captors leading the way, went down the stairs, Dominic conscious every eye inside the club was staring at them. His mind raced with possibilities, none of them good. Silently he cursed his superiors for placing him in this position, even though he knew he had come here of his own free will, that this was part of the price he would have to pay for whatever promotion he gained afterwards. If it meant being a collaborator in the prisoner’s death, would that be worth it, though, knowing that this was something he would have to hide from his superiors—though he suspected they already knew he would have to conceal it and had allowed for this when he was assigned? It was collaborate or share the prisoner’s fate, this much he knew. How his father would have laughed at the irony. Dominic could see him now, his eyes overflowing with amused contempt.

They left the club through the back door, exiting into an alleyway stinking with refuse. Flies battered their faces as they trudged from it into derelict streets in a part of the area Dominic had never entered before. There were warning signs of demolition work, though none was in progress, and Dominic imagined these streets had stood like this for decades of decay. Some houses had already collapsed, roof slates littering rubble-strewn streets like oversized playing cards, grey with age.

Where the hell were they going? Now and then he spied someone watching them, perhaps more of Cree’s men stationed as lookouts. Though lookouts for what he couldn’t imagine. All that would be here besides flies were cockroaches and rats. Was that why they were taking their prisoner here, so he could be tortured even more, then murdered and disposed of without prying eyes? Not that they needed to go somewhere like this for privacy.

Dominic was puzzled. He was puzzled even more by the voodoo symbols daubed on some of the tumbledown walls and the occasional juju doll left hanging from broken lampposts, like some kind of warning against intruders.

He wondered whether to ask Baptiste about them, but there was something about the man’s manner that dissuaded him. He wasn’t just taciturn; it was more as if he already knew that Dominic was not what he claimed, though he was certain the man couldn’t know for sure.

Dominic noticed the men holding their prisoner were growing increasingly nervous, as if they knew there was something ahead that frightened them. Their prisoner had relapsed into an apathetic stupor that looked, for the moment, as if he had gone beyond fear and had resigned himself to his fate, though Dominic suspected this would change soon enough when this fate, whatever it was, became imminent.

For his part Dominic was more concerned how to lessen his part in what they did to their prisoner. He didn’t want the man’s blood on his hands, though that might be unavoidable. Whatever happened, he was certain it would be his last involvement in anything here. If the man died, surely that would be enough for Cree and the other members of the gang to be arrested.

‘Here,’ Baptiste said, breaking the silence. He pointed to a ramshackle house. Its door stood open, though a couple of gang members were stood inside it, keeping guard.

Curious, Dominic studied the house as they approached it.

At first glance there was nothing special about the building, just an end of terrace red-brick cottage long overdue for demolition, though its roof for once looked intact.

Even from the doorway, though, the place smelt bad, like old meat, sweat, the distinct odour of blood and something sickly sweet.

Inside the smell was even worse, as if the place were never ventilated except when the door was open, which was probably not often. It was gloomy as all the windows were thickly curtained. Too keep out the light or stop prying eyes, though Dominic doubted there were many of them in the area.

There was one big room, the dividing wall into the kitchen having been demolished. Little else had been done: the walls were covered in scabrous patches of old wallpaper and cracked plaster. The floor was so filthy with debris of all kinds of stuff, from old newspapers to bits of clothing and food, all covered in mould, it was a plague ready to happen, and Dominic felt queasy as they filed into it. But if he felt sickened, their prisoner had become frantic, struggling against his captors even though there was no chance of breaking free. Dominic wondered how much of what was about to happen next he already knew or suspected.

Someone switched on the light, a bare bulb hanging from a length of flex from the ceiling, which was when Dominic saw the crude altar that had been erected where a fireplace would have stood. It was tiered, with umpteen large candles, most partially burned and covered in stains and melted rivulets. There were what looked distinctly like Catholic effigies of saints, a two-foot-high Virgin Mary and various Apostles. They were old and cracked and had obviously seen a lot of use. There was even an elaborate crucifix made out of what could have been pewter or even silver, dulled dark grey. Above all of these was a stuffed doll covered in sacking with bits of straw poking through. It had black beads for eyes and a red slash for a mouth, lopsided and spikey and probably drawn with a felt tip pen. It looked devilish and evil. Standing at least three feet tall, it had the appearance of being an idol, though to what Dominic had no idea. On the floor in front of the altar was an earthenware bowl half-filled with what looked like watery porridge. A rubber hosepipe and a plastic funnel lay beside it. Their captive’s eyes almost popped from their sockets when he caught sight of these, and his struggles intensified.

‘No, you don’t,’ one of his guards grunted, tightening his grip as they pushed him forwards. One of them kicked him in the back of his legs, making them buckle so he fell on his knees.

Baptiste walked past to the altar where he made an obeyance, mumbling what sounded like prayers. The rest of the group spread around the room in silence.

Baptiste turned and, glancing at Dominic, said, ‘This is where we teach those who act against us what obedience is.’

He nodded and more men moved in on their captive, turning him over on his back, while they pinioned his arms and legs to the ground with their bodies. Baptiste picked up the rubber hose and attached the funnel to one end of it. Another man grabbed the other end and hoisted it towards the captive. It was the work of seconds for the hose to be forced deep into the prisoner’s mouth, despite his frantic efforts to resist.

Baptiste smiled as he picked up the ceramic bowl and poured its contents into the funnel. Their captive managed to spit out some of the ‘porridge’, but most of it he had to swallow or suffocate. It was a disgusting spectacle and Dominic couldn’t help wondering what it was all about besides some bizarre kind of sadistic humiliation.

Grunting with submission the man finally swallowed the last of the ‘porridge’, splashes of it scattered across his face.

Dominic sensed a feeling of anticipation as the men watched in rapt silence and he wondered what they were waiting for next.

It wasn’t long in coming. As if he had been poisoned by the stuff he had been forced to swallow, the man started to convulse. Anytime else Dominic would have instinctively gone to his aid, but that was impossible here and all he could do was stand there and watch along with all the other gang members.

The man’s convulsions went on for several minutes, then stopped. Dominic was sure he was either dead by now or had fallen into a coma, though his chest seemed too still for that, he was sure.

Finally, unable to stand back any longer, Dominic stepped forward, but Baptiste snapped, ‘Stop!’ He glared at Dominic as if he were daring him to disobey his order. Others turned their attention to Dominic, and he had a feeling it would take only a nod of their leader’s head for them to grab hold of him.

Dominic stopped. Whatever happened to the man there was nothing he could do to help him, he knew.

Finally, Baptiste stepped up to him and crouched by his head. He took out a small mirror and held it in front of the man’s nostrils and mouth. He kept it there steady for at least a minute, then he rose, holding the mirror out in front of him so that everyone could see it had not been fogged.

Having proved that the man was dead, Baptiste turned to him again. This time he held a small wax doll dressed in tatters of clothing similar to the ones the man was dressed in, and shook it at him, burbling obscure words, part French, part some kind of African language unfamiliar to Dominic, a patois he was sure came from Haiti. There was something horribly familiar about some of it, reminding him of the curses his father would shout at him and his brothers if the old man got upset at anything they’d done.

This went on for some time, yet none of the others in the room looked bored. The intensity of their interest in what was happening was uncanny and Dominic knew they must have seen this happen before. Was this how they punished people who went against them? But now the man was dead surely that made the rest of it totally pointless. How utterly crazy were these people? Dominic was more convinced than ever that his time amongst them had to come to an end now. He wasn’t even dealing with sadistically evil criminals, but madmen as well.

A collective sigh passing through the men made Dominic concentrate once more on what was happening. Baptiste had stopped chanting at the corpse on the floor and had stepped back from it, though the wax effigy was still held in front of him.

To Dominic’s surprise, with a spasmodic jerk as if he’d just been woken up, the dead man moved. Clumsily, as if his joints had stiffened, he started to clamber to his feet till he was stood swaying from side to side. There was no expression on his face, which was slack as if he had lost control of his facial muscles as if from a stroke, while his eyes looked dull, staring ahead of him blank and unfocussed, almost as if blind.

Baptiste looked around at his audience, a self-satisfied smile beaming across his face.

Dominic could see awe and fear amongst the men.

Drawing a hatpin from inside his clothes, Baptiste held it aloft so everyone could see it, then stepped to the captive. After he had spoken to him the man raised one of his hands in front of him. Baptiste grasped hold of it and thrust the hatpin through the palm so that it exited from the other side. There was no blood nor did the man react, as if he felt no pain.

‘This is how we deal with our enemies,’ Baptiste announced.

Dominic wondered who his words were intended for.

Baptiste laughed. He snapped something in a strong patois to the man, who bowed his head and shuffled forwards.

‘He zombie now,’ Baptiste told them. ‘That all he will be—my slave from now on. That’s what happens to people who steal from us.’

Baptiste led them through a door into the adjoining house where Dominic was surprised to see that at least three or four along the terrace had been opened up into one, creating a long open room at least sixty feet long. All the windows were covered in newspapers while its floor was filled with row upon row of cheap tables. Others like their ‘zombie’ captive were stood at them performing rudimentary jobs; preparing drugs for sale on the streets: mixing the pure powder with other substances, before weighing out small amounts into sachets. Each ‘zombie’ did just one simple part of the task before passing what they had done onto the next. It was a factory system for the brain dead, Dominic thought, since that was what they had been reduced to by whatever Baptiste had done to them. It was crudely effective: a ready-made workforce, unable to strike or create problems or steal what they were sorting.

‘Are you impressed, Tonton?’ Baptiste said to him. ‘Is this not better than turning them into plantation workers like in the home country?’

‘They must make more per head than any plantation worker,’ Dominic joked, though it made him feel sick. Some of the ‘zombies’ looked as if they had been this way for far too long, with emaciated, almost skeletal bodies. Their clothes hung from them in tatters. Some had skin that hung in tatters too.

Baptiste laughed, pleased with Dominic’s comment. He slapped him on the back. ‘You not bad, Tonton. You not too bad at all.’

They returned to The Barons where for once Dominic felt like a drink. There was a festive atmosphere to the place now as if the creation of one more ‘zombie’ on their workforce was cause for celebration, and many gang members were quickly succumbing to alcohol and drugs. After two whiskies Dominic knew he had had enough, conscious he needed to keep a clear head. Now, if ever, there was a real opportunity to get some evidence against the Samedies and put an end to his involvement with them. He knew he had had more than enough of them.

Which was why when the night wore on he slipped away as unobtrusively as he could. He got into his car and drove away towards the house they visited earlier. If he could get the man who had been drugged into some kind of zombielike state back to police headquarters that would be all the proof needed to get the gang arrested, especially its ringleaders, even more so as he knew where their drug factory was as well. An analysis of what the man had been given would be damning too.

Dominic parked his car outside the building. As earlier, two gang members were stood outside the door on guard. They watched him as he walked towards them.

‘What you want?’ one of them asked, a broad-shouldered man with a goatee beard, hands stuffed in the pockets of an overlarge leather jacket. Both men looked like they were feeling the cold.

‘Baptiste sent me,’ Dominic said. ‘Told me to bring him the guy we brought here before. I think he wants to entertain us with him again.’ Dominic shrugged, grinning. ‘I think he wants a bit of fun.’

The other man, taller, thinner, with a downcast look, brightened with a grin. ‘That Baptiste, he got weird sense of humour. Downright nasty. You no tell him that though.’ He laughed.

‘You got it,’ Dominic said, following them as they went inside.

‘We’ve already put the thieving bastard to work,’ leather jacket said.

His face as blank as before, the ‘zombie’ was stood at one of the tables, fumbling with a small plastic bag he was filling with a measured amount of white powder passed onto him by the next one down the line.

‘He was a dumb fuck before he got upgraded,’ leather jacket joked, thumping the ‘zombie’ on the back with a touch of malice. ‘Weren’t you, dumb arse?’

Dominic dutifully laughed.

‘Looks like he’ll be giving a few of us some laughs tonight,’ he said.

‘All the fucker’s worth. Never did like the bastard.’

Dominic turned the man away from the table. ‘Follow me,’ he ordered as he headed towards the door. Which was when Baptiste entered.

As if on cue, the men behind Dominic grabbed his arms.

‘What the hell is this?’ he cried out, a sinking feeling coming over him.

Baptiste laughed.

‘Did you think you fool us, Tonton, because your father was big man back in the homeland? He was true to his people. He was man to respect, not some policeman’s snitch like you.’


Angelique missed Dominic. She worried about him constantly. She didn’t think he realised how much she worried about him. If he did he wouldn’t have accepted this assignment, whatever promotion he might get out of it. It wasn’t worth it. She knew that deep inside her. It wasn’t worth any of the danger at all. And she hated the men who had talked him into doing it with their promises. What were these worth to a dead man? Because that was what Dominic would be if he made a mistake.

A handkerchief in one hand, she tried to watch television, but she could not concentrate on the silly dramas paraded before her eyes. They were so false and trite.

It was late and she hoped Dominic would come home soon, though he usually stayed out till the early hours of the morning, sometimes even longer. On occasion it was dawn before he returned. Those were the absurd hours the people he was working with lived. Creatures of the dark, that was what she called them.

She could have called them worse.

Far worse.

Her heart leapt when a key turned in the latch, though she hadn’t heard Dominic’s car pull up on the drive. Perhaps he had got a lift home. She got off the sofa. He would be ready for a coffee and something to eat. Those people he was with never ate properly. Junk food, badly cooked chillies, bags of crisps and stuff like that. Dominic was always hungry when he got back.

Then he was there. And she hugged him. Though he looked exhausted. More exhausted than she could ever remember seeing him before.

‘Is everything all right?’

All this undercover work was taking its toll on him. His skin was grey from tiredness. And his eyes looked dull and lifeless. They chilled her when she looked up into them. Even his pupils were small, just pinpricks of black. Like a blind man’s, she thought, feeling apprehensive, especially at his silence, just standing there like a shop window dummy. What was wrong with him?

‘Dominic? What’s the matter? Why are you acting strange? You’ve been mixing with those people too long. I keep warning you. You’ll end up following in your father’s footsteps if you stay with them much longer.’

It was then that he reached for her throat.

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