To read each chapter in order, which is recommended, click here.
To read Part 8, click here
Synopsis of the story so far…
Location: Ripley, UK (the specific Ripley is never disclosed)
Ellie and Susie were childhood best friends aged 11 and 12, in the year 1995. On the last day that Ellie saw Susie alive, they had met at their favorite spot where Ellie had taken pictures with a disposable camera. Susie’s body is found the following day, strangled, and sexually assaulted; the killer is never found. The film sat undeveloped for 11 years.
Ellie became engaged to Steve Marchant at the age of 22. Going through old keepsakes, she finds the film and has it developed. Examining the photos, she sees Steve standing in the background, somewhat camouflaged. He appears to be spying on them. Confused, she becomes withdrawn from Steve and eventually leaves stating she is staying with her friend Carla.
Detective Walker is preparing to retire, but this unsolved case has been bothering him. He goes through the files once more and discovers something he missed 11 years prior. There appears to have been a second, smaller attacker. He calls Susie’s Father, Dave, who does not answer. Detective Walker leaves a message.
Dave has had a difficult time recovering from the grief that struck him following Susie’s death. He divorced Susie’s mother, Sonia, who appears had been cheating on him for several years and moves away. Dave receives a phone call from a number in Ripley. Upon seeing the number, he appears ashen.
Meanwhile, Steve who is an estate agent meets a man named Mr. Yarnold at an apartment, hoping for a large commission. Hearing footsteps behind him he turns and sees a woman wearing a red dress and heels, but just before he can make out who it is Steve recalls a suppressed memory. On the day Susie died Steve ran into Ellie’s brother Pete who he accompanied to a game. Pete left the game 15 minutes before Steve, leaving him to walk home alone. Steve comes across Susie and Ellie in the woods and overhears Susie talking about how she had a secret date. He notices Susie looks similar to a woman in an old photo he found at his Dad’s house. Once Ellie runs off, Steve sees Susie waiting by herself and wanted to approach but left after hearing a male voice.
Now Ellie is standing above Steve, enraged. She throws the picture from 11 years before at him and tells Mr. Yarnold to kill him. Steve denies killing Susie. Walking out the door she hears gunfire but doesn’t turn around.
A crying Ellie arrives at the local pub where she tells Dave that Steve has been killed. Dave hopes that this allows Susie to rest.
The reporter Ken arrives at Ellie’s apartment. We learn that Susie was his first killing.
In the struggling that ensues, the hitman Ellie and Dave had hired, ends up dead. Ken too loses his life and Steve is heavily wounded.
Meanwhile, Pete returns to his job far away at an oil rig.
Fiction Relay Part 9 – Such A Sweet Girl
“Carla!” She stopped in her tracks. This was not the tone of voice one could ignore.
“I thought it was you. How long has it been?”
“You know full well, Ken.”
“Don’t patronise me.” His demeanour changed instantly.
Why was she yet again feeling butterflies in her stomach, even after all this time? Every sense she had tingled and urged her to run away, but instead of listening to her instinct, she smiled. “We both know what happened last time we were together.”
“You were always my favourite Angel,” Ken said.
“Charlie’s Angels, that’s what you called us.” Carla vaguely smiled at the memory.
Susie, Ellie and her were always hanging out together. They even had matching dresses, hideously red. They thought they were so grown up and mature. Now, two years later, Carla could only scoff at their foolishness.
Ken pulled her in close. “But I was never your Charlie. The things I wanted to do with you.” He licked his lips.
Carla cleared her throat while a blush coloured her cheeks. “I, erm, I need to go. I’m late for my, erm, appointment.” She jerked loose of his grip. “I’ll see you around, Ken.”
“Don’t forget our deal,” he called after her as she hurried away. Oh no, she wouldn’t forget. Even after all this time the ‘deal’ still haunted her at night. How could this man add so many layers to his words, so many hidden meanings? She walked away quickly. That’s what she should have done back then.
“Wow, Pete, that was amazing.” Carla turned on the bed with a satisfied sigh.
Pete stroked her back with a finger. “You’re completely right. I always forget just how good you are.”
Carla pouted. “I thought I was unforgettable?”
“You are, honey, but spending weeks on a grimy oil rig darkens even the brightest memories,” he replied with a wry grin.
“Why are you even home?” Carla asked.
Pete looked away. “Personal circumstances.”
“Anything serious?” she inquired.
“My mum is pretty upset now that everything is being hacked up again. All these assaults and murders don’t usually happen in a place like Ripley.”
“I could be mistaken, but it seems to be connected to that Susie murder.” It was like the air in the room chilled when Carla had spoken these words.
Pete was silent. “Seems that way,” he uttered after a while.
“I remember her well. Never speak ill of the dead,” Carla said with a grim expression.
Pete frowned. “Why would you? She was just a child?”
Carla sat up in bed. “Just a child? Yeah, that’s what they wanted you to believe. I hung out with both her and Ellie around the time she was murdered. Let me tell you this, she was no sweet cake.”
Pete scrambled up too.
Carla continued: “She could play the little angel, but do you remember what she looked like when in town? Always with kohl eyeliner, always in the shortest and most provocative dresses she could find. Her mother hated it, tried to steer her in the right direction, but it didn’t help.”
Pete frowned. “Do you know anything?”
Carla huffed. “I’m not the police.”
“Dan came to me right after it happened. He was white as a sheet when I told him the news of Susie’s murder,” Pete said.
Now Carla frowned. “Dan? You mean Dan Trent? That figures. Susie always made sure she looked just fine when going over to the Trents. It drove her mother crazy. And now she’s hooking up with Dan’s father, Billy. I always wondered what was up with that.”
“You never asked Susie?” Pete asked.
Carla shook her head. “Susie and I were never that close. I only hung out with her because I liked Ellie, and those two were inseparable.”
Both Pete and Carla were lost in their own thoughts.
“Did you know I once picked up the strangest remark while I was at Ellie’s? Your mother was on the phone with Sonia, again discussing Susie, and she said the weirdest thing. I’ve never forgotten. She said: so you want to get rid off Susie? And the way she said it too.” Carla shuddered at the memory.
“You must have heard it wrong.” Pete got up from the bed and put on his jeans.
“No, that’s really what she said. And then with Susie’s disappearance, I thought it better not to pry any further. I didn’t want any inquiries into me. You gotta remember, I was just a teenager.”
“Yeah, weren’t we all?” He put on a t-shirt. “I, erm, gotta run. I’ll see you again soon.” He leaned in and gave her a quick kiss.
“Wher’re you off to?” Carla asked, but her only answer was the door falling shut. That was strange. He was usually up for round two. Ah well, a lot was going on. He would be back for more, Carla was sure of it. If only people wouldn’t dig too deep. Some secrets were better to remain hidden in the dark.
Bill stuffed the candy wrappers into his plastic bag. The park should be tidy. Empty wrappers on the ground were dirty and wrong. Boo-Boo liked eating wrappers. That was wrong. Dogs can get sick. Cats can get sick. Bill laughed out loud. Dogs and cats hate each other, but both can get sick.
Boo-boo was very sick too. Bill sniffed. He missed Boo-boo.
“She’s in heaven now!” he exclaimed and instantly felt better. She was playing with the other not-sick-anymore dogs in heaven. She loves to play catch.
Bill picked up an old newspaper from a bench. Every day there was a new newspaper, so old ones were trash. While stuffing it in his plastic bag, a picture caught his eye. Susie!
She had been his friend a long time ago. Susie loved Boo-boo. Bill missed Susie. He tried to think real hard. There was something with Susie. After everyone had gotten real sad, he had found something. It was something real important. He should find it now!
On TV they had said to bring everything important to the police. If Bill could bring the papers to the police, it was the right thing to do, and maybe Bill would be important too! Maybe he could be police too!
But the police had been very mean to him when Susie was dead.
Bill thought harder. The TV-police had said to tell everything if someone knew. And he had found something. So it was the right thing to do. And it’s important to do the right thing. He found what he was looking for and left for the police.