“Absolutely, Daisy, I’ll just hoist old Marvin on my shoulder and off we’ll go. Come on, lad, that’s a good dog.” Tompkins picked up the dog under one arm and then hoisted him over his other shoulder, much to the dog’s consternation but Tompkins’s soothing tone stopped him barking.
“Daisy, when we get to the House, can you try your thermal imaging app and see whether it picks up anything?”
“Will do, Tomcat, how’s the dog?”
“He’s very well behaved, because he’s been in a house with two children, so he’s used to attention.”
When Daisy reached the dark wall of the house, she handed the stone and stick to Tompkins, which he gripped in one massive hand. She opened her laptop and peered around the corner of the house. No lights from the house were playing their light onto the flower beds and hedges. No vehicles were visible.
“Tomcat, I will take a risk by running along behind that hedge to the fountain. From there, I can see the whole of the house and use the heat seeker to its best effect.”
“Sounds splendid, Daisy, Marvin and I’ll watch the house and I will bark if I see or hear anything suspicious.”
“Yes, I will and if Marvin joins in then that’s even better, do you see?”
“Yes, I think so, anyway I will try and find something for us.”
With that, Tompkins watched as Daisy ran to the yew hedge and then used it to disguise her progress as she moved towards the water feature. When she arrived by the copy of the Latona fountain at Versailles, she pointed her screen at the house and played it around. Tompkins looked at the house and saw no movement. No lights came on. He did notice something swinging from a branch of a tree and his mind went numb for a few seconds. He ran alongside the hedge and joined Daisy.
“There’s a faint reading from that room up there,” said Daisy pointing to the right-hand most room on the first floor.”
“Yes, the au pair’s room. We’ve been set up, Daisy, what’s the betting that the boys in blue will arrive in the next few minutes to arrest us. We shall have to move quickly. Follow me to that tree.”
Tompkins hurled down the stick and stone and marched to the pine. He looked at the object hanging from the branch. Someone had tied a noose around the garden scarecrow and hoisted it high, mimicking the Albanian au pair’s apparent suicide.
“Daisy, go back to the car now, here’s Marvin’s lead and here are my keys.” Tompkins placed the dog on the ground. “I will go up to the au pair’s room – I feel I’ll find Spinky there. They’re copying events that have already happened here. Anyway, please go. Marvin should fit into the back seat.”
Daisy nodded and walked Marvin. Tompkins shinned up the drainpipe to save time. He peered inside and saw a body lying on the bed. He opened the window and jumped inside. Spinky Mills was dead, killed in the same way as Stalky Stark had been. Tompkins rifled the dead man’s trousers and found the tracking device on the key fob. He removed it and headed out the way he came in.
The sirens started as he reached his car. Marvin was sleeping in the back and Daisy was monitoring the police messages.
“They’re coming down the coast road, so we might have to make a fast exit, Tomcat.”
“We can soon arrange that,” replied Tompkins and sped away. He braked by the gate and left the engine running as they both exited the Jaguar. Daisy moved the weeds as Tompkins hauled the gate aside, the hinges screeching in protest. He drove the car through the opening and parked it by the far side of the pond in the shadow of an oak tree. He switched off the engine and hurried back to close the gate, helping Daisy pile the weeds and detritus against the bottom bar to make it look like it hadn’t opened in years. With that completed they ran back to the car, closed the doors, and sat low in their seats so they wouldn’t be seen.