The Darkness in the Tree – Part 3

Leung sat at his desk in E-Section, PHQ, staring into middle space. He had been sitting like that for hours judging by the ever-brightening sky. He glanced at the wall clock and saw that it was just after 6:30 a.m. 

On their return to PHQ, the team had made statements. Angie’s remains had been delivered to the morgue and the duty coroner had been called. DCI Wong had made an appearance and made conciliatory noises before leaving as early as was politely possible. Leung had gone to his desk and sat there, going over and over in his mind what had happened. Reliving the moment when Angie’s mutilated body had fallen to the ground.

He was still sitting there when DCI Wong returned at 9:15. For once Wong was not his usual sarcastic self. He asked about the other members of the team. DC Wong, Leung told him, was in shock and had been sedated at Queen Mary Hospital. The others had appointments with the Force psychologist, as had Leung himself. But he had other plans for the day as well. 

The press had gotten hold of it, despite a blackout issued by PHQ but the results were better than expected as it created a fear psychosis, which kept even the news ghouls and sightseers away from the crime scene. 

Being a member of the Criminal Investigation Division and a Detective Sergeant, Leung was entitled to draw any weapon, within reason, he wanted. He handed in his trusty .38 revolver, which, fortunately, he had never had to use in anger and asked for a nine millimetre Glock. He would have preferred something more powerful but the .45 calibre 1911s that the force had in stock were somewhat antiquated. 

Despite being asked to take official leave he returned to the park. The area had been cordoned off and police officers posted at various points along the footpath. They travelled in pairs and never let the other out of sight. They acknowledged Leung, but did not speak unless spoken to. They saw the sadness and fatigue in his face. He walked the entire length of the footpath and stopped at the tree on both legs of his walk. 

It was after 7:00 p.m. before he climbed back into his car and drove home.

000 

He was woken by the ringing of his mobile at 6:45. It was DCI Wong asking him to get into PHQ as quickly as possible. Had there been a break in the case, he asked for details, but Wong had already hung up. Leung showered and dressed and arrived at Wong’s office just before nine.

For once Wong was not smoking. He was in the company of two men, neither of whom Leung knew. Wong introduced them as Edwin Chan, from the office of the Secretary for Security and Professor Law, from the Botanical Gardens. Sec for Sec, as the Secretary for Security was known, had taken over control of the case. It was too high profile and had been blown out of proportion by the press. Reports of a murderous, wild animal running rampant in the Tai Po area had been reported in the international press. Whoever, or whatever was responsible had to be found and stopped immediately. 

Leung looked at Professor Law and Chan anticipated his question. 

“Professor Law is here to advise us. You will take both of us to the crime scene and let him examine the tree where WPC Yung was killed”.

Leung doubted the purpose of the visit but kept his mouth shut. He arranged for a CID vehicle and the three of them set off for Tai Po. 

Unbeknownst to Leung, Law had requested a mobile crane to be brought in. It was the type that electricians used to fix the overhead lighting on the roads. He was to use it so that he could examine the upper branches of the tree. The officers on duty, still travelling and working in twos let them through the barriers and escorted them to the tree. 

Professor Law climbed unsteadily into the mobile crane with his notebook and camera. Leung saw no reason to accompany him and stayed on the ground. Edwin Chan made a point of studying the bushes around the tree and avoided eye contact with Leung. After fifteen minutes Law climbed down out of the crane, as unsteadily as he had ascended and looked extremely happy to be back on the ground. 

“Can you tell us anything of value,” asked Chan. 

“Well,” said Law, “It’s a Tectona Grandis of the family Verbenaceae.” He smiled at Chan and Leung as if he had just solved the case. Leung did not think it wise to point out that there was a small plaque on the lower part of the tree that identified it as such. 

“Can you tell us anything else? Asked Chan. 

“Well, this particular type of tree has never been known to harm anyone, unless of course, it fell over them.”

He smiled at his own humour and if he was disappointed at the lack of response from Chan and Leung he hid it well. Leung had seen no point in the visit and this had just proved his point. What he didn’t see was the thing that was watching them from above. 

In the next tree, on one of the upper branches crouched the Darkness.

It was not at its strongest in the daylight but was still incredibly powerful. To the human eye, it resembled a static cloud of smoke or mist, varying from grey to dark grey. It had been in existence for a thousand years, created by a fool of a necromancer that thought he could control it. The necromancer soon found out to his dismay that no one could control something made of evil and elementals that could not be destroyed by any human device. 

The Darkness looked down at Leung, recognising in him a potentially worthy foe, one that might give him some moments of amusement. Then it sent out a whispered command to an egret that was crouched in a nearby tree and the bird’s eyes gleamed. With a hoarse ‘caw’ it rose up into the air and flew towards the sea. 

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