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Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad
THE HARVEST MAN
Mother and Father were sharing a bed. The Harvest Man hesitated in the open bedroom door, staring down at his bare feet, his face flushing scarlet beneath the plague mask. Mother and Father had always slept in separate rooms. He was certain of it. But perhaps their habits had changed over time. That made perfect sense. If they had remained the same, he felt sure he would have found them long ago.
Mother stirred in her sleep and the Harvest Man finally moved. He wasn’t ready for her to wake up. He uncorked a bottle of ether and placed a folded face cloth over the rim, tipped the bottle up and held it until cold liquid soaked through to his fingers. He set the open bottle on the floor next to the doorjamb, where he knew the liquid would silently turn to gas.
Everything always changing, things disappearing without a trace.
He moved forward in slow motion, keeping his head and shoulders straight up and down, only bending at the knees. He made no sound. Mother stirred again, rolled onto her back, and the Harvest Man moved around the foot of the bed to her side. He preferred to deal with Father first. Father was bigger and stronger and, if he woke early, he always caused trouble. But Father was snoring and Mother was moving, on the verge of waking. Better to tend to her.
He knelt by the bed and gazed at Mother’s sleeping face. The room was dark, but the window was open and the moon shone bright. He could see well enough even through his thick lenses. Mother was pretty. He thought she had always been pretty, but she didn’t look like he remembered. It took him a moment to categorize the differences. Fortunately, he had a very good memory for faces. Mother’s nose was slightly larger now, and was turned up at the tip. Her eyes were spaced closer together and her lips were thinner. She had lost a little weight, and her forehead was wider, her hair a different color, her neck longer, her cheekbones more prominent. He shook his head and the heavy beak at the front of his mask moved back and forth. Why did they always make so much work for him? They shouldn’t change so very much. It always made him cross.
Mother opened her eyes and they were not the same color as he remembered. He hesitated, confused, but when she opened her mouth he clapped the ether-soaked cloth over it, held it tight to her face. She struggled for a moment, then relaxed and her arm fell limp over the side of the bed. He picked up her hand and placed it on her chest.
Around on the other side of the bed, Father shifted his position and so the Harvest Man leaned far across Mother’s limp body, stretched out his arm, the moist cloth pinched between the ends of his two longest fingers, and shared the ether fumes with Father. When both parents were insensible, he left that room and explored the house. He had been in a hurry earlier and had bolted for the attic without taking his customary tour.
There were two children, both boys, sleeping in a small bed tucked under the staircase. He pushed the plague mask up to the top of his head so he could see them better, enjoying the feel of fresh air on his cheeks and chin. He rubbed his ear. Sometimes it still itched where the top of it had been pulled away. The mask’s goggles rested against the back of his head and the long pointed beak stood straight up like the face of a baby bird straining for food. The Harvest Man stood and watched the children’s chests move gently up and down. He gazed without affection at the nearest boy’s chapped lips, which were parted, the upper lip deeply grooved and dark pink. The boy’s eyelids fluttered. The Harvest Man placed his drying face cloth between the children, trusting that the remaining essence of ether would keep them from waking.
He climbed up the stairs above the sleeping boys and retrieved his boots and knife and a coiled length of stout rope from the attic. He sat on the top step and pulled the boots on. He tugged the plague mask back down into place and adjusted it so that it wouldn’t slip from his face while he worked.
He decided to ignore the boys. He didn’t know them. They might be his brothers, but he couldn’t remember their faces and so it would do no good to remove their masks. He would ask Mother and Father about the other children when they woke later. Then they could determine together what was to be done. As a family.
But first things first. Before they could be a family again, he would have to remove Mother and Father’s masks to reveal their true features. He smiled, excited, and stood, picked up the curved knife and the rope and trotted down the stairs, no longer concerned about making noise. He couldn’t wait to see his parents’ faces again.
How happy they would be that he had finally found them.
From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.
All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do—
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.
The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.
Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.
—Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Land of Nod,” A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885)
In the late spring of 1890, Number 184 Regent’s Park Road was a flurry of activity. Upon receiving news of the arrival of twin grandchildren, Mr and Mrs Leland Carlyle ordered their luggage to be packed for an immediate holiday in London and took up residence across the park from their daughter’s home in Primrose Hill. Mrs Carlyle visited Claire Day early each morning and stayed on past tea most evenings. She found the household in a state of disarray (or, as she put it to her son-in-law, a state of near vacancy) and determined that her first order of business was to hire a staff. Fiona Kingsley, the young lady who had stayed at Number 184 to look after Claire during the pregnancy, was sent back to her father’s home. Within three days, a new governess had been acquired, along with a cook, a scullery maid, and a head of housekeeping by the name of Miss Harris. Mrs Carlyle also arranged for three boys from the local reformatory to help clean the house once a week between seven-thirty and nine in the morning.
Overnight the household became too large to be sustained on the salary of a policeman and Detective Inspector Walter Day began to feel vaguely anxious. The two babies woke at odd hours and Day, who was a light sleeper, rose with them and tried to stay out of the way as the governess tended to them. He did not remember the governess’s name, nor did he know the names of the cook and scullery maid. Nobody had bothered to introduce him to Claire’s staff and he felt certain he was going to have to let them all go once his in-laws departed. He made no effort to get to know them.
Violence had recently been visited upon the Day home in the form of a double murder, and reasonable precautions had been taken against future ugliness of the sort. A retired inspector by the name of McKraken had volunteered to stand guard on the house. He kept to himself, but his presence added to the general quality of congestion at Number 184.
Some sensation had returned to Day’s right leg and he got around with a degree of confidence using a cane. The commissioner of police, Sir Edward Bradford, had assigned Day a number of tasks designed to supplement the efforts of the rest of the Murder Squad and, clearly, to keep him sitting at a desk for the bulk of his shifts. Day had petitioned Sir Edward for a meeting on several occasions, hoping to convince the commissioner to give him more challenging work, but he had been ignored. Everyone at the Yard was bustling about, working to catch a murderer known only as the Harvest Man, and boxing up all nonessential items for transport to the new headquarters that was being built for them—had, in fact, been nearly finished—on the Victorian Embankment. Nobody was sitting still except for Day; change was everywhere. The flow of life, he felt, had plucked him off his feet and deposited him on some deserted beach.
Feeling useless both at home and at the Yard, Day began to spend much of his time at the Chalk Farm Tavern above the canal. That is where Nevil Hammersmith found him at teatime on the first Tuesday of May. Day was at a table in the back, talking with a trio of young solicitors. He had lost track of the amount of ale they’d had and he doubted the other men would make it back to their office in Camden Town. When he saw Hammersmith at the tavern door, he stood and moved stiffly around the table. Hammersmith saw him and made his way across the room, through a maze of mismatched tables and chairs. They greeted each other warmly and Day introduced him to Haun, Moore, and Peck, the solicitors. After shaking hands all round, those three men politely gathered their glasses and retired to the counter near the front of the pub, surrendering the table to the inspector and his friend.
“I’m headed to Bridewell right now,” Hammersmith said. “I assume you’ve heard the news?”
“I’m sure I haven’t. Nobody tells me anything anymore.”
Hammersmith blinked and pulled out a chair. “You look rough,” he said.
“Do I? And how have you been, Nevil? Breathing well enough?”
“I’ve been careful,” Hammersmith said. He had been promoted from constable to sergeant after helping Day catch a child murderer, but then almost immediately dismissed from the Yard. In the brief course of his duties he had been poisoned on two occasions, bludgeoned, nearly frozen to death, and stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors. It had all been too much for the commissioner of police to bear. “I don’t move as quickly as I once did.”
“Nor do I,” Day said.
“How’s the leg?”
“Better than it was. Will you have a pint?”
“Tea for me.”
“Good. And then you must tell me your news.”
Day called over the proprietor and ordered a pot of Imperial and brown bread. The man nodded and hurried away. Hammersmith watched him go, then leaned forward across the table. “Never mind the news. That can wait. I want to know, are you with me?”
“Now I’m sufficiently mobile,” Hammersmith said. “I’m going to find him.”
He didn’t have to explain. Day knew who he was talking about and he unconsciously rubbed his leg. The scars there were ugly and they ached, and he had been told he would never walk properly again. The most dangerous man in London had held Day captive in a devil’s workshop deep beneath the city, had tortured and taunted him. Day had barely escaped with his life.
Hammersmith had come even closer to an early death. His chest was a battleground of dried black stitchwork. Both men knew that Jack the Ripper was still at large, still roamed the streets, and had not finished his deadly work.
“Come with me now,” Hammersmith said. “Together we can catch him.”
He leaned back as the tavern’s proprietor reappeared with a wooden tray. The jittery little man set a teapot in the center of the table and ringed it with two cups and saucers, a plate of brown and white bread, lemons, a jug of milk, and tiny pots filled with sugar, jam, and thick white butter.
“Thank you,” Day said. “And a shot of whiskey?”
The man nodded and took the now empty tray back to his counter, out of earshot. Day and Hammersmith busied themselves with the tea for a moment. Day poured in a spot of milk and swirled the dark tea in after it. He spooned in sugar and stirred slowly back and forth, watching the murky liquid fold over on itself, ripple outward, and lap gently against the side of the cup. He set the spoon down and sipped, his eyes averted from Hammersmith’s face. When he lowered the cup at last, he wiped his lips and sighed.
“It’s my leg,” Day said. “I’d be useless to you.”
“Hardly useless. You’re the brains of our little outfit, you know. We can catch him, you and I. You figure his game and I’ll ferret him out.”
“Sir Edward’s been giving me busywork.”
“Yet here you are.”
“I can’t help you.”
“You know I’ll do it without you. But I’d rather have you with me.”
“I have two babies, Nevil.”
Hammersmith said nothing.
“And if I do go with you? If he catches me again…” Day shivered, remembering long hours underground, a scalpel, a laughing madman. “If he kills me this time, Claire and the babies will have nothing. They’ll be put out in the street.”
“Do you really believe that?”
Day filled his cup again and sipped. Claire’s parents would jump at the chance to have her back home with them. Her father no doubt already had a proper match in mind for her. She’d be remarried within a year and the twins would be raised by some other man. They would take that stranger’s name and call him Father. Day set his cup down and opened his mouth to respond, but there were no words. The pub’s proprietor arrived just in time with the whiskey. Day took the shot, swallowed it, and handed back the empty glass.
“Another, would you?”
“Right away.” The proprietor walked back across the room, wiping the glass with a dirty cloth.
Day looked again at Hammersmith, who held up a hand and nodded. “I apologize,” Hammersmith said. “You have a family. Of course you have a family. And so many other considerations I do not. My God, the Ripper even knows where you live. You must be constantly on edge. It’s only…I’m frustrated.”
“I know you are. I am, too.”
“Yes, you’re the only one who knows my frustration. That’s why…”
“It’s not just fear, Nevil.”
“It’s really not. They’re hunting this other monster now.”
“The Harvest Man.”
“Yes. He killed another family last week. The things he did…”
“You’ll catch him.”
“And I want to help you. But our fellow Jack, he’s all but disappeared.”
“Doesn’t that frighten you? What’s he up to, do you think?”
“He’s killing them. Somehow. He must be. Or planning to, at any rate.”
Jack the Ripper was embroiled in a personal war with a secret society of vigilantes who called themselves Karstphanomen. The notion that the Karstphanomen might have won, that Jack might be dead or captured, did not cross Day’s or Hammersmith’s mind. Jack was far too dangerous to go quietly.
“He hates them,” Day said. “And I honestly can’t muster much sympathy for them. It’s the Karstphanomen’s fault he’s at large right now. Their own damn fault he’s killing them off.”
“He’ll make a mistake and I’ll be on him before he can hide again.”
“I know you will. At least, you’ll catch him if he really does make a mistake, but I don’t share your faith that he will.”
Hammersmith opened his mouth to respond, but Day held a hand up, quieting him, as the proprietor appeared once again with a shot glass on his tray. Day took the drink and closed his eyes, held the whiskey in his mouth as it warmed, then finally swallowed it. He opened his eyes again and took a deep breath.
“I must do my job. And only my job. Sir Edward won’t acknowledge that Jack’s even still alive. I can’t make him see the truth and I can’t risk my job.”
“Then I’m on my own.”
“Get one of the others. Constable Bentley might help.”
“I’m not a policeman anymore, remember? Nobody’s going to help me. Not officially.”
“Then give it up. For your own sake. It’s too much for you. He’ll leave you alone if you let him be, but if you don’t he’ll get to you before you can find him. I know him. He’s almost…”
“No, what were you going to say?”
“I don’t think he is a man. I think he’s something else.”
“A woman? He’s not a woman. I heard his voice.”
“No.” Day sighed. “That’s not what I meant. Forget I said anything. Just let it be. For God’s sake, Nevil, you had your chest split open. You’re lucky to be alive. Heal yourself and, when you’re better, petition Sir Edward for your old job back. He’s fond of you. He’ll consider it. I’ll put in a word for you, you know I will. So will some of the others. Kett, Blacker, maybe even Tiffany.”
“What you said. I’m lucky to be alive. There’s a reason I am. I think it’s to catch that monster. Someone has to. He can’t be left to roam. If I’m alive, then I must make myself matter.”
Hammersmith pushed his chair back and stood, fished sixpence from his pocket, and tossed it on the table. “For the tea,” he said. He walked away without another word, out the door and into the sudden blinding sunlight. Disappointment shimmered like heat from his shoulders. The door closed behind him and the tavern was once more plunged into brown silence.
Day motioned for another shot of whiskey, stared glumly at Hammersmith’s untouched cup of tea, and waited for the man to bring his drink. It occurred to him too late that Hammersmith had come to deliver news. He wondered what it might have been.
Dr Kingsley stood in the doorway with his eyes closed, sniffing the air. He had got a glimpse when he first stepped into the house and he knew that ahead of him lay the parlor, big and empty, a rectangular rug covering the floor, and a fireplace directly ahead of him, its chimneypiece caved in, obstructing the hearth. To his right was another door and he had no way of knowing what was on the other side of it. To his left was a short hall that widened out into a dining room, where the family would have had their meals. Also to his left, between the parlor and the dining room, was a staircase. Policemen moved up and down the stairs in a constant stream. Kingsley smelled old food, an animal of some sort, and rot. There was a faint chemical scent in the air and something else, something sweet and dark, lurked just beneath the rest of it. There were bodies decaying somewhere in the house. But of course there were. If not, the policemen would be somewhere else, swarming about some other place, some other bodies.
All bodies ended.
“Do you feel all right, Doctor?”
Kingsley hung his head and opened his eyes. He looked up at his giant companion. “I’m fine, Henry, thank you. I was concentrating. You must let me think without interrupting.”
“What were you thinking about?”
“I was thinking about… Well, I admit my mind was wandering a bit. But I was smelling the air in this house.”
“It smells terrible,” Henry said. “It’s full of terrible things and you should try not to breathe it or those things will get inside your body.” As if in agreement, the magpie on Henry’s shoulder squawked.
“Actually, you’re not wrong,” Kingsley said. “The air carries particles of decay, along with little bits of everything else that’s been stirred up by people walking through the area. By sniffing those particles, I’m sometimes able to tell how long a body’s been dead before I see it.”
“Why do you need to do that? You can just go up the stairs and look at it instead of smelling it so much.”
“I’m honing my skills, Henry. I’m sharpening my instruments.”
Kingsley saw the big man struggling to understand. He waited for Henry to ask him what kind of instruments he played, but Henry smiled at him and nodded. He was learning. Kingsley smiled back and walked forward, looked at the useless fireplace, moved to his left, and passed two policemen who said something to him that he didn’t hear. He went up the steps with Henry behind him. Kingsley’s black leather bag swung in his hand, pulling him forward and up. At the top of the stairs, he looked right and left and he turned to the left, toward the stench of rotten meat, and marched past the blue-uniformed bodies that were upright and healthy and moving about, onward to a room at the end of the hall.
Inside, an enormous bed filled his frame of view. At least, it looked enormous to him. It was butted up against the wall all the way at the back, under a picture window that looked out on the semidetached house beside it, so close he thought he could reach out and touch it through the glass. On the bed under the window, two people, a man and a woman, lay curled in each other’s arms. Their lower extremities were properly covered with a heavy woolen blanket, yellow and brown, a floral pattern embroidered about the edges. Their shoulders rested on the windowsill behind them and their heads leaned in to touch, a tender gesture of love or comfort. But thick rope was coiled about them, snaking under the bed and back up, holding the bodies in place. Where their foreheads met, the skin had been peeled back so that the exposed muscle of one head joined the muscle of the other. The couple melted together in a parody of love, their torsos angled in toward the center of the bed, their arms draped over each other’s abdomens.
Henry gasped and Kingsley turned around. The simple giant was using one hand to cover his bird’s eyes and the magpie was flapping its wings in irritation. A tear escaped Henry’s eye and rolled down his cheek. Kingsley sighed.
“Henry, would you like to wait downstairs for me?”
“I can’t, Doctor. I’m supposed to help you.”
Kingsley glanced back at the bodies and frowned. “This is more than you signed on for. I can handle things here.”
“It’s my job, sir.” Tears were spilling down Henry’s face now, but he was doing his best to put on a brave smile. It looked more like a grimace of fear and sorrow.
Kingsley tried a different tack. “Oliver’s still young.”
Henry looked at the bird and nodded. “He’s little.”
“You’re responsible for him. He shouldn’t be around a thing like this.”
“It’s bad for him to see it.”
“Very bad. Perhaps you should take Oliver downstairs and make sure he’s all right. We wouldn’t want him to have nightmares.”
“No, sir, we wouldn’t. Are you sure you’ll be…”
“I’ll be fine.”
Henry nodded and scooped the magpie from his shoulder. He cradled the bird in his arms and went to the stairs and down. Kingsley shook his head at Henry’s back. The giant had been living on the street, but had helped catch a murderer and Walter Day had taken pity on him, found a small strange home for him to live in, and asked Kingsley to find work for him. As an assistant, Henry was nearly useless, but he helped to remind Kingsley of the human aspect of what he did.
Kingsley took a step toward the bed. The woman lying there had long dark hair, wild and tangled and brushed back from her vulnerable brow. The man’s hair was receding, sandy brown, shaggy over his ears. Their eyelids had been cut away and their naked eyes, as if surprised by the frowning doctor in front of them, popped. Kingsley noted with regret that the woman’s eyes were startling green, sun-dappled seas that must once have sparkled with life. Even as he watched, the color appeared to drain from them.
He looked down at the floor. Bits of gore, grey and purple and pink and glassy yellow, were strewn haphazardly over the two-foot space between the bed and the wall. A streamer of something red clung to the skirting board. There was the end of a nose, what seemed to be an upper lip, a dimple cut whole from a man’s cheek, still rough with stubble.
Kingsley took another look at the faceless couple in their bed and turned his back on them. He crouched and ran his fingers over the floor, placed his palms flat and bent so that his cheek nearly touched the boards. He watched the slowly moving pattern of light from the window. He stood up again and turned to a constable who was standing just outside the bedroom door.
“Where’s Inspector Day?”
The policeman jumped and smiled at him nervously. He did not look at the corpses behind Kingsley. “It’s Inspector Tiffany on duty, sir. Want me to fetch him?”
“Um, then what?”
Kingsley sighed and waved his hand at nothing in particular. “Yes, very well. Please fetch Inspector Tiffany for me.”
“Right away, sir.”
The constable hurried away. Kingsley fished a handkerchief from his pocket and held it over his nose and mouth while he took a deep breath. He heard footsteps on the stairs and he counted slowly in his head, listened as two men came toward him along the landing. Tiffany entered the room, glanced once at the bodies, and approached Kingsley, stepping carefully around a chunk of human gristle.
“You asked for me?”
“Yes,” Kingsley said. “I mean no offense, Inspector, but would you mind telling me, where is Walter Day?”
“He’s not been working lately,” Tiffany said. He was a hard-edged man, gone grey all along his hairline, an inoffensive mustache kept carefully in line above his lip. “I mean to say, he’s working, but at his desk. Until he’s ready, you know.”
“Ready for what?”
“Well, you know. You know what happened.”
“Yes. But what’s he preparing for?”
“For work, I suppose. For this.” Tiffany held his arms out, taking in the bloody smears on the wall above the bed. “He had a rough time of it. He’s settling his mind, I suppose.”
“I’d like an opportunity to settle my own mind, come to think of it. This is a bit much, isn’t it?”
“This one’s ugly,” Tiffany said.
“Ugly doesn’t begin to touch on what’s happened here.”
“Is it him, you think?”
“The Harvest Man?”
“Yeah,” Tiffany said. “Him.”
“It does look like the others.”
“Just like them…” Kingsley’s voice trailed away at the end of the sentence and he turned around to look at the door, at the narrow wedge of landing he could see outside the room. “The bodies are set in the same sort of tableau.”
“That’s it, then, do you think? He’s making tableaus?”
“That’s what I thought. At least, initially. But I can find no trace of photographic equipment having been used. No indication that a camera was set up. It would have to have been placed right around here on the floor and its legs would have made marks.”
“Could still be a tableau vivant,” Tiffany said. “We don’t have to assume he was taking photographs. Could’ve been for an audience of one: hisself.”
“It’s possible,” Kingsley said. “Let’s not rule it out.” He glanced down. “Were there children in the house?”
“Oh,” Kingsley said. He was unable to think of any other words to sum up his sudden fear. He could think of nothing worse than a murdered child.
“But it’s different this time,” Tiffany said. “It’s why I wasn’t sure. Not absolutely. Follow me.”
He led the way out of the room and across the landing to a staircase. Tucked under it was a narrow bed, pushed up against the wall, its blankets rumpled and wadded. A miniature cupboard was situated near the bed at the base of the steps, one door hanging open, clothing pouring out onto the floor, the top of it stacked with children’s things: a toy ark, tiny wooden animals spilling out of it; a larger wooden horse, from a different set, one leg broken off; a pink teacup with a chip on the handle; a stuffed dog with button eyes, its head resting in the lap of an ancient baby doll that had no eyes at all; a single shoe, smudged with mud, its buckle scratched and dull.
To Kingsley’s great relief there were no small bodies in sight.
“I think there were two of them,” Tiffany said. “Two pillows, two sets of the same puzzles in there with the toys. And no signs of anyone else in the house.”
“But where are they now?”
“That’s just it. Can’t find ’em anywhere.”
Kingsley looked up at the ceiling. “These stairs lead to an attic?”
“Yeah. First thing we looked for, knowing how this bloke likes to do his deeds.”
“They’re not up there, then? The children?”
“Did he…” Kingsley paused to take a deep breath. “He didn’t take them with him, do you think?”
“We’ve checked the ground outside. There was a little rain last night, but no footprints out there, nothing disturbed. He’s vanished same as he always does, but so have these kids.”
“Maybe they weren’t in the house when it happened.”
Tiffany turned again and led the way back to the landing. Just outside the bedroom that housed the two mutilated bodies, he pointed down. Kingsley dropped to one knee and squinted at the dark corner where the doorjamb met the floor.
“It’s a partial footprint,” he said.
“That’s what it looks like to me.”
The long outside edge of a tiny foot, ridged with whorls and topped with the impression of two perfect little toes, was inked in blood. Kingsley set down his bag and fished out his lens, he hunched low over the print and stuck out his tongue, licked his lower lip while he peered through the curved glass.
“Most definitely the foot of a child.”
“Any way of telling whether it’s a boy or a girl?”
“No,” Kingsley said. “He or she was perhaps seven years old. No younger than five, I’d say, and no older than eight or nine if it was a boy. If it was a girl, depending on nutrition and medical history, she might be as old as twelve.”
“Yes. Of course, barefoot.”
“Possibly injured, too.”
“If it’s the child’s blood. Considering the scene here, there’s no reason to assume anything yet.”
“Good thing it’s warm out.”
“If there are two of them, at least they’re together.”
“Might be,” Tiffany said. “Might not be.”
Kingsley stood and looked past the bed, past the embracing corpses, out through the window behind them at the bright blue sky. “If he’s got them…”
“He’s never taken anyone before.”
“I’ve got every constable on alert. We’re going from door to door. We’ll find a neighbor who knows them, knows their names. Might even find the children themselves if someone took ’em in last night.”
“We can’t simply wait.”
“Not much else we can do right now.”
“There is one thing.”
“Find Inspector Day and bring him here.”
“I told you…”
“Inspector Tiffany,” Kingsley said. “Get Day here as soon as you possibly can. I insist on it.”
Tiffany opened his mouth, then closed it and nodded. He walked back across the landing and down the stairs. Kingsley entered the bloody room again. He took a tape measure from his bag and got to work.