The Darkness in the Tree – Part 2

Leung waited until the forensics team had arrived and left Wong in charge. He and other DC returned to CID in Police Headquarters to await the report and put together everything they had on the case so far, the three victims, he felt he could now officially classify them as such, and see if there were any similarities. He also had to interview the persons making the missing person reports to see if anything could be gleaned from them such as the approximate time they had gone missing and if anyone knew for sure that they had gone to the park that day. 

Calls were made and two of the three people concerned agreed to come in. The third was wheelchair-bound and Leung arranged for a DC and a WPC to go and take a statement from her. 

There was not a great deal he could do now until wait until the reports and information started coming in. And then he got the news about a fourth possible victim who had gone missing over a month ago, supposedly in the same area. 

Leung called in one of his men and instructed him to compile a list of disappearances in the same area. At the same time, he asked the officer to find out when the park had been officially opened. The results were not comforting. 

According to official records and past police reports the park was officially opened 20 years ago and since then there had been 27 reports of missing persons, 17 of them had been connected one way or another with the park. 

At the same time word came down from DCI Wong that they were to carry out a bait operation. That entailed sending in a female police officer dressed as a jogger that would hopefully flush out the killer, or killers. She would, of course, be well protected and Leung asked to be placed in charge of the operation. 

The next day the preparations began. Ten metres away from the scene there was a water control point. It was a small concrete structure just over a metre high on which they could mount an infrared camera. Technicians from the Technical Services Division arrived in plain clothes so as not to raise too much suspicion and worked quickly and efficiently to install it. 

The control post would be set up at the park office 30 metres in the opposite direction. It was further away than he would have liked but there was no other suitable location and no way to conceal four to five officers and the monitors required for surveillance. There, Leung and his team would monitor the cameras and be ready to move instantly should anything untoward happen. 

The Woman Police Officer chosen as the bait was Angie Yung, affectionately known to her colleagues as ‘Angelina’ after the famous actress. It was because of her way of tying her hair in a ponytail. And also because of her rather prominent breasts, which were the envy of her lady colleagues and a subject of much locker room conversation among her male colleagues. 

While officially posted to PHQ she had applied for a transfer to the CID and the Detective Training Course. The paperwork was still going through but she had been interviewed and the transfer was only awaiting the completion of the formalities. 

Late in the afternoon of the day chosen for the operation, Angie was wired with a transmitter. Due to the habit of joggers and walkers carrying iPods or similar the microphone and earphones would not raise any suspicion. Leung did the sound check himself. He had been on sting operations before and had been the bait himself, so he knew how it felt to be up the sharp end. Then it was only a matter of waiting for nightfall and hoping for a quick result. 

000 

It was 7:45 and full dark. The street lamps were on but there were still areas of shadow that could conceal a potential assailant. Anyone entering the park was photographed and numbers were taken to ensure that anyone entering, also left.

However, they were other ways in which to enter the area. Leung and Angie went over the plan one more time and for the seventh time, he checked the reception of her transmitter. 

Then it was time to go. The plan was for Angie to jog up to the end of the path and then walk back slowly as if she had injured an ankle. It was twenty minutes later that the officers in the control room received word from Angie that she had reached the end of the path and was starting back. The plan was for her to pause at the point where the victim’s wallet had been found and make it look as if she was checking her ankle. 

The walk back up to that point was a test of her nerves. Angie was a brave woman and had shown her mettle in several instances, but tonight every shadow was a potential hiding point, and walking slowly was more frightening than the jog in the opposite direction. To make matters worse the street lamps started flickering. She whispered this to Leung who cursed under his breath. There was nothing he could do anything about having them checked at that moment in time. Then she was there. 

She stopped, and as per the plan started flexing her ankle. A noise in the bushes startled her and she made a prearranged signal to let the officers know that she had heard something. Leung and the others were ready to go but had their eyes glued to the infrared monitor. Apart from Angie, there was nothing to be seen. 

She stood up and looked about her, listening intently for any noise. Apart from distant traffic noises, there was nothing. Then something touched her shoulder and she spun around and went into a fighting pose. It was a branch, dangling down from the tree above her, strange that she hadn’t noticed it before. There was nothing else. She was physically exhausted now from the tension and ready to call it all off. She stood up and looked in the direction of the control room and suddenly something reached under her right arm, snaked across her body and around her back. She gasped as she was hauled bodily into the air, whatever had grabbed her crushed her breasts painfully against her chest. She sensed that she was several feet off the ground and pulled at the branch crushing her. Vines wrapped themselves around her face and across her mouth which she opened involuntarily, gasping for air. Then she was face to face with something. Her consciousness was fading rapidly but she knew it was evil. It was like a storm cloud, dark and malevolent, and she knew it was laughing. 

Leung and his team watched in numb shock as Angie was lifted off her feet by something unseen and ran out of the control centre, weapons drawn. They raced to the spot where Angie had disappeared and used high-powered flashlights to peer up into the tree above them. There was nothing. No sign of Angie. 

Leung called out, hoping for an answer, when Angie’s body landed amongst them, and around them. She had been severed in half and in the instant that Leung saw her he realised that there was massive tissue loss from her upper torso. 

(c) Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2017 – Not for Distribution 
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