A strange banging sound woke Naomi. She opened her eyes and sat bolt upright, feeling disorientated and uneasy. In the pitch dark the bedside clock’s green luminescent display showed 3.20am. Robert was sleeping undisturbed beside her, softly snoring. It must have been a dream, she reassured herself. But just as she was calming down, the sound recurred loud and clear. Three heavy, low, menacing thuds.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
She switched on the light and shook Robert urgently. “Rob, wake up!” He groaned and rolled over. They had spent the evening with friends and he had drunk too much as usual. Then the noise came again, this time louder and deeper. Three separate, thunderous reverberations.
BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
Rob roused, confused and groggy. “What the fuck…?” He staggered out of bed and as he was pulling on his jeans it happened yet again, even more loudly. Three deafening thumps seemed to shake the whole house.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Shaking with fear, Naomi and Rob went to the top of the stairs and looked down at the front door. A large dark shape was apparent through the glass panels. “Oh God, who is it?” cried Naomi, “I’m calling the police…” Her words evaporated as the next violent, guttural roar almost burst her ear-drums.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
“I’m going down,” yelled Rob, now crazily emboldened by a massive adrenaline surge, “I’m going to see who’s doing this. I’m not being intimidated in my own house!”
“No Rob, no, no!” screamed Naomi. He descended the stairs and opened the door.
Naomi woke suddenly with a faint gasp. For a few moments she genuinely believed Rob was still alive, until the miserable facts of real life reasserted themselves. The cancer had taken him over five years ago. He was gone. Nobody was beside her where his warm body once curled. She could get through the working day on automatic pilot, but there was no escaping a grief that had now taken up residence in her dreams.
She looked at the clock. It was 5.30 in the morning. She could hear splatters of rain swirling against the window pane in the cold November night. Wide awake, she lay there listening for a while. Eventually she decided she might as well get up. She showered, dressed, went down to the kitchen, made a coffee and began checking her phone. And then she heard it.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
“Well,” said Carl, “What do you think? Any Goosebumps? Any shivers up spines?”
“I’ll give you an E for effort mate,” came in Sam quickly, “but it’s a bit sub-Stephen King multiplex for me.”
“Um…about as chilling as this luke-warm prosecco,” giggled Ffion, “and it wasn’t Stephen King it was James Herbert who did the grim reaper comes knocking thing. They made a movie out of it, what was it called…?”
“The Fog. John Carpenter. Or was it The Mist?” suggested Sam. “Anyhow, crap story Carl, my turn I believe. Chop some lines Fi”
The door-bell rang. “That’ll be the Deliveroo guy. I’ll go,” said Sam. “Naomi? Where did you get that from? Wasn’t she my sloppy seconds from Tremorfa you had a thing about?” he scoffed as he went to the front door.
“Hmm, I see you what you mean sergeant,” said Detective Inspector Alun Prothero, “not a pretty sight.”
“We’re not sure yet what did the most damage, the bad batch of MDMA, the food poisoning, the tainted alcohol or the acid attack. The lab will find out when they get the bodies,” responded DS John Morris.
“They’ve got their work cut out with three corpses in this state,” remarked Prothero ruefully. “There’s nothing more to see here now, sergeant, we should get back to the station to interview the suspect.”
“It looks pretty cut and dried sir,” offered Morris, “she’s confessed, hasn’t she?”
“That’s right, and she’s getting psychological assessments right now, hearing voices she reckons” said the DI. “She’s clear about her motives. She says Carl Tucker and Sam Boyd gang-raped her ten years ago and, as for the pizza delivery man, what was his name…?” Prothero hesitated.
“Simpson, Robert Simpson,” helped Morris.
“That’s it. Well, according to her he was her ex-husband, a man she trusted and loved. He had restored her faith in men after the rape, and then he cruelly dumped her for a younger woman. Hell hath no fury, Morris, hell hath no fury like Naomi Simpson scorned.” John Morris nodded in agreement.
Prothero took one last look at the gruesome scene before he and Morris left the building and headed back to the police station together in an unmarked car. Prothero settled in the back seat while Morris drove.
“Pity you and the wife couldn’t make the Benevolent Fund do last night, sergeant,” said the DI after a while, in a bland, chatty way. Negotiating a roundabout, John Morris didn’t reply.
“We haven’t seen her for ages,” Prothero continued, “how is Ffion these days?”