The Darkness in the Tree – Part 4

The Darkness watched as Leung, Chan and Law left to return to PHQ. Over the next five evenings, despite being ordered to stand down Leung carried out solo bait operations, offering himself to the killer. The Darkness watched him in amusement and was tempted to strike but decided that he was enjoying the game too much to end it so soon. It did, however, ensure that Leung was entertained with falling branches and flickering street lamps.

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Leung attended the funeral of WPC Angie Yung. It was attended by the unit and of course, the Commissioner of Police, who took the time to speak with Angie’s parents and family. He assured them that the killer would be found and brought to justice.

After the funeral, Leung did not attend the customary dinner but instead returned home, changed into casual clothes and made his way to Tai Po. He decided not to use his car in case the killer had been monitoring his movements. The quickest way to get killed in this job was to underestimate your opponent.

He traveled to Tai Wo Station on the train and from there it was a ten-minute walk to the beginning of the park. He showed his police ID to the officers at the barrier and walked into the park.

Nothing seemed to have changed except for the egrets, huge great migratory birds that frequented the Lam Tsuen River. It didn’t occur to him that it was unusual to see them in such numbers so far away from the water. Then he was at the tree. The crane had been removed days ago and there was nothing to indicate that it was anything other that what Chuen had said it was, a Tectona Grandis of the family Verbenaceae he read from the plaque. You didn’t need a university degree or to be a professor to be able to read a plaque.

There was a swoosh as something passed him over just feet away and he felt the flow of air. In shock, Leung looked about himself and saw an egret climbing upwards. He watched as it settled in a tree near the building they had used as a control center on the night of the bait operation. Leung eased his hand off the butt of the Glock that he had reached for unknowingly. Then something touched his shoulder and he spun about in the opposite direction. This time he did draw the weapon and realised that he had not chambered a round. He racked the slide, arming the gun, but his training made him keep his finger out of the trigger guard. A branch was dangling in front of him, swaying in the wind.

The Darkness looked down at Leung, if it had a mouth it would have smiled.

Leung grasped the end of the branch and gave it a tentative tug, not really knowing what to expect. And unbeknownst to him the egret he had seen earlier flapped into the air to gain height and then started a dive, behind it another started off from a nearby tree. The Darkness had become bored of the game. Leung was busy peering up into the tree and didn’t see the egret until it was too late. All he saw was a flash of white as the bird struck him full in the chest crushing his sternum and sending bone shards into his heart. Leung fell onto his back, numbed by the force of the impact, without realising it his finger had tightened on the trigger and he fired off two rounds which alerted the officers at either end of the park.

As Leung lay on his back, fighting the pain in his wounded heart the egret, its neck broken by the impact, fluttered in its death throws on his chest, the second egret landed just above it and tore out Leung’s throat in one quick movement. It had flapped away, its bill covered in gore long before the officers arrived to find Leung’s mutilated body.

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The Darkness watched Leung die from its point near the top of the tree, it felt the rush of energy flow into it as it did every time it caused the death of a living being. It had seen many men die over the centuries and would be sure to see many more. It sent whispered blessings to the egrets that had done its bidding and decided that it had had enough of Tai Po Park for now. There were other pickings to be had elsewhere, and other Leungs to torment.

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

 

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