An apology


Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a little lax in posting the last week or so, compared to previously, and I’m here to apologise. I’ve been struggling with my various mental health issues recently and that’s made it difficult to find either the energy or the enthusiasm to provide regular posts while keeping up with my writing and editing.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m cringing at every loud noise from the TV and it’s taken me all day to recover from a trip to the shops this morning where I nearly had a panic attack and was left almost in tears for most of the afternoon.

To make up for this lack, I’ve decided to give you all a preview of my new book, Written In Blood, it’s been quite a while since I did so, I hope you like it.


Emily was on her bed, reading a book, one eye on the clock on her bedside cabinet so she wouldn’t be late putting the potatoes on, when she heard the vehicle pull into the yard outside. Pushing herself up, she craned her head round to look out the window to see who it was; it was too early for it to be her dad or her brother, they were unlikely to get home until just before dinner was ready to be served.

The moment she saw the Land Rover in the yard she leaped to her feet, pleased that Zack Wild had returned. As pleased as she was, she was also more than a little nervous. She knew she had caught Zack by surprise earlier, she had caught herself by surprise as well, to such an extent that she had forgotten to grab her bag when she got out of his car; she had now had enough time to think about what she had done and realise what a fool she had made of herself.

On her way out of the bedroom and down the stairs, Emily imagined the possible reasons for his return: he could be there to return her bag, or he could be there to make sure she was not going to tell anyone what had happened between them; he might even be there because he had changed his mind about what he had said earlier.

She hesitated with her hand on the front door catch, a little reluctant to open the door and discover how her next encounter with Zack Wild was going to go. After almost half a minute had passed, she took a deep breath, summoned her courage, and opened the door so she could step out into the yard.

Zack was nowhere to be seen. Emily had thought to find him outside the front door, about to ring the bell, but he wasn’t there. She looked around the yard, but couldn’t see him, which made no sense to her; she couldn’t think where he might have gone. She walked to each corner of the house to see if he had gone round one of the sides for some reason, but there was no sign of him. Bewildered, she walked to where the Land Rover had been parked in the middle of the yard.

She wasn’t normally the sort of person to go rummaging around in someone’s car without permission, it wasn’t polite, but on this occasion she thought herself justified in doing so since she was after her bag. Her bag wasn’t where she had left it, though. It should have been in the foot-well in front of the passenger seat, but it wasn’t there. Not sure why the bag wasn’t there, she leaned further into the vehicle so she could search under the passenger seat, where she found a number of items, none of which were her bag.

The desire to find out more about the man who lived down the road, and with whom she had made such a fool of herself, made her take out each item in turn so she could examine it. She discovered little, other than that Zack Wild was messier than she had previously thought, at least initially; the first few items she pulled out were a road map of the county, an empty crisp packet, a couple of chocolate wrappers, and a hammer – she had no idea why he had a hammer under the passenger seat, it seemed a strange thing for him to have there, but it wasn’t as strange as the next thing she pulled out, a pink mobile phone.

For several long moments, Emily simply stared at the phone in her hand; the phone was familiar to her, she was sure she had seen it before, but she knew it wasn’t Zack’s. She couldn’t work out where it was she knew the phone from, and that annoyed her because she was sure it was important; it came back to her in a flash, whose phone it was and where she had seen it before, when the voice sounded from behind her.

“What are you doing?” The voice that uttered the question was curious, but evidenced no concern, not until she turned round and its owner saw the phone in her hand. “Where did you get that? Give it to me,” he demanded, holding out a hand insistently.

In an instant Emily knew who had killed Georgina Ryder, and Lucy Goulding, and it was the last person she would have thought of. So great was her shock that she was left frozen to the spot, unable to react to her discovery except by standing there and staring at him in slack-jawed shock. Only when he lunged at her, demanding, “Give me that phone, you nosey bitch,” did she recover the ability to move.

At the last second, right before his grasping hand closed around her wrist, Emily twisted away. She felt a small amount of satisfaction when his momentum carried him into the side of the Land Rover, which he collided with heavily, but didn’t allow that to stop her racing across the yard to the still open front door. Once she was through the door, she slammed it closed and, with fumbling fingers, dropped the catch; she didn’t suppose that was going to keep him outside for long, but any delay was good.

When the front door, against which she was leaning, shook under the impact of something heavy, Emily left it and hurried up the stairs. Her fingers continued to show little willingness to properly obey the commands they were being given by her brain as she sought to unlock Georgina Ryder’s phone – she had seen it previously in the hands of her brother’s girlfriend, which was why she had found it familiar from the moment she picked it up – and call her father. She was beginning to think the phone was dead, after all it was more than a week since it must have been lost, when the screen lit up; unfortunately, that was as far as she got for Georgina had her phone secured with a password.

She was struck by a moment of inspiration as she closed the door to her bedroom with a bang and twisted the key in the old-fashioned lock.

The relief she felt when Georgina’s birthday unlocked the phone was amazing, she had never felt anything so powerfully before. That relief quickly disappeared, however, when she got no answer from her father’s number. Again and again she tried to get hold of her father, while she listened with one ear to the front door being smashed open, followed by the thunder of footsteps on their way up the stairs.

“Come on, dad,” Emily pleaded to the phone she had pressed to her ear so hard it was liable to stay there even after she let go of it. “Pickup, pickup, pickup. Where are you when I need you?” When the thunderous footsteps reached the top of the stairs and stopped, only to be followed by a crash as something heavy slammed into the door of the bedroom, Emily abandoned her efforts to contact her father and instead dialled the number for Oakhurst’s police station. She hoped, while dialling, that the solid, and old, oak door that she had always hated would prove to be strong enough to keep out Georgina and Lucy’s killer; so far it had stood up to the job – it shook and shuddered within its frame, but remained secure.

More than she feared being murdered, if it was possible for her to fear something more than that, she feared what he might do to her before he killed her. As she had told Zack on the drive back to the village, she knew what Sergeant Mitchell believed had been done to Georgina and Lucy before they were killed. Until about five minutes ago, she wouldn’t have believed that someone she knew so well could be capable of either rape or murder, and she certainly wouldn’t have believed Him capable of doing committing either act on her; having seen His face when he tried to get the phone from her, though, she found herself scared that he was prepared to do anything, to anyone, including her.

Sturdy the door might be, sturdy enough it wasn’t. Once, twice, three times, He threw his body against the door, and on the fourth time it burst open in a shower of splinters that made Emily duck for fear of being struck. When she straightened up, she saw the menacing figure of the man she had cared about approaching her through the ruins of her door. His face was a twisted, barely recognisable, mask of rage that made her tremble so badly she could barely keep hold of the phone.

“Gimme the phone,” he demanded in a voice that was so harsh and full of so much hatred that  it combined with the look on his face to give him an air of insanity.

Emily could only wonder how it was that she had not seen before how crazy he was. It didn’t seem possible that he could have concealed what kind of person he was from her for so long; not only from her, but from everyone who knew him. Someone should have seen through the act he was putting on, she thought during the millisecond or so where she was able to think with some semblance of clarity.

“I said gimme the fucking phone.”

Emily twisted away as he lunged for her and the phone she was holding. She tried to slip past him and out of the room, thinking that she if she could get out of the house without getting caught, she stood a chance of making it to the village – once there she would be safe. The idea was good, but it failed at the first hurdle; she was caught before she could even get out of the room. She was almost at the door when she was brought short by a sharp jerk on her top, the back of which had been grabbed by the killer she was trying to elude.

“Where the hell d’you think you’re going?”

The question, which was all but shouted in Emily’s face, was accompanied by a yank that sent her spinning and stumbling across the room. She hit the bed and fell over it, landing heavily on the floor on the other side of it; unaware that her call to the police station had been answered, Emily lost her grip on the phone, it bounced from her hand and slid out of sight under the bed. Being far more concerned with protecting herself from the maniac who was obviously intent on causing her serious harm, and most likely on killing her, Emily struggled to her feet, at least she tried to, before she could make it further than her knees she was grabbed and thrown onto her back.

“What the hell were you doing looking around in my car?” he demanded, punching Emily in the face as she tried to sit up. “Why are you so fucking nosey? I said, why are you so fucking nosey?” Grabbing Emily by the front of her t-shirt, he pulled her up so he could punch her again, as a punishment for not answering him, not that she could have done so for the first blow had rocked her head back so that it struck the bedside cabinet behind her.

Again and again he repeated his question, voicing it in different ways, and again and again he hit Emily when she didn’t answer him. Finally, it sank in that he was not going to get an answer because Emily was incapable of providing one. Once he realised that, he let go of her t-shirt, leaving her to drop to the floor with a thud. While the thud echoed around the bedroom, the madness that had overcome him began to fade and sense, or some semblance of it, began to return to his mind, though not before he was struck by a last – for the time being – burst of open insanity.

“Look what you’ve made me do. Look at the mess you’ve made me make.” He kicked Emily in the stomach; he was tempted to kick her again, but forced himself to hold back. He couldn’t afford himself the luxury of wasting any more time; now that the madness was gone, and he was thinking a little more clearly, he realised that he had to move quickly if he wanted to avoid getting caught.

He had no idea how much time he had before Zara got home, and he had to get Emily’s body out of there before she did, before she could see what he had done. He didn’t know where he could take her – he certainly couldn’t dump her body where he had dumped Georgina and Lucy, that would be the first place the police would look, but having a destination wasn’t half as important as getting her out of the house.

He looked out of the window quickly, to be sure the yard was clear, then he bent to grab Emily by the front of her t-shirt. With a heave, He lifted her up from the floor; he had a good set of muscles, but it took all his strength to get the dead weight of her to his shoulder, even though she was not all that heavy, and he staggered a little as he made his way out of the room.

The above is still in the rewrite stage and hasn’t gone through editing, so I hope you will forgive any mistakes there might be.

An excerpt

The long road through rural Hampshire was devoid of any other traffic, and John Wilkins’ mind began to wander. Increasingly it focused on the meal he had waiting for him when he got home, not to mention a nice glass of cider, rather than on the road ahead of him or on his surroundings.
He was snapped out of his reverie by a noise that dragged his attention back to the here and now, a noise his instincts and experience recognised all too well – a gunshot.
Though he was sure of what he had heard – he had heard enough gunshots during his time in the army to recognise one when it reached his ears – his brain reminded him that he was no longer in the military, no longer in Afghanistan or Iraq; no longer did every noise signal a threat to his life. Just to be sure, he reached down to turn the radio off; no sooner had he done so than he heard a second report, this time there was no mistaking the sound. His head snapped round as he searched his surroundings for the source of the gunshots, at the same time he tensed, ready to react the moment he detected danger to himself.
He could see no-one, though that didn’t surprise him; to his right was woodland, it wasn’t dense but there were enough trees and bushes to provide concealment for anyone who didn’t wish to be seen, while on his left was a four-foot-high hedge, which made it all but impossible for him to see anything of the farm on that side of the road.
His eyes had just returned to the road ahead when a figure appeared from behind the hedge. John slammed his foot on the brake and spun the wheel in a desperate bid to avoid the figure, which he realised was a teenage girl when his brain caught up and processed what he was seeing. He missed the girl, to his enormous relief, but there was no way he could avoid the man who ran out after her – he didn’t even see him until the moment of impact.
The man was caught a glancing blow by his Audi and he spun away before collapsing to the ground, where he lay, unmoving. The moment his car stopped, John released his seatbelt, threw open the door and got out. A small part of his brain was concerned about possible damage to his car from the collision, it was overridden, however, by worry for the girl he had almost hit and the man he had hit. He looked around for the girl, but quickly turned his attention to the immobile figure in the middle of the road when he didn’t see her.
Unsure what sort of situation he had found himself in, but certain that it was a dangerous one, John approached the man cautiously. He stopped a dozen or so feet from the prone figure when he saw the gun on the ground, and turned slowly on the spot, his instincts and his senses in overdrive as he searched for an ambush or some hidden danger, like someone else with a gun.
His heart raced as he mentally returned to his tours of duty in the heat and the dust of Afghanistan and Iraq. Everything and everyone there, at least everyone who didn’t wear an Allied uniform, was a potential threat, including – especially – the environment.
It was a good half a minute before his brain and his body accepted that he was no longer in danger from the Taliban or IS insurgents hiding amongst the local populace, and he didn’t have to worry about the possibility of stumbling on a hidden bomb that was going to tear his body apart.
Slowly, he approached the prone figure, stopping when he reached the dropped gun. He bent to pick up the pistol and examined it quickly – the muzzle was warm, and there were traces of gunpowder around it, which told John that it had been fired recently and was the source of the gunshots he had heard. Hoping that there were no other gunmen around, he slipped the safety catch on and then ejected the clip and the round in the chamber. Once he had made it safe, he tossed the gun and the clip in opposite directions and moved to check the man he had hit.
He had studied first aid, both before he joined the army and while he was in uniform, but his medical knowledge was still limited. As far as he could tell the man had, miraculously, suffered no major trauma, though there was still a chance of internal injuries – it was impossible for him to tell. It was no consolation to know that there was no way he could have avoided the collision, and he wasn’t legally culpable.
His brief and, he was sure, inadequate examination completed, John stood and reached a hand into his pocket for his phone. The emergency operator answered almost immediately and John quickly explained the situation and gave his location – he couldn’t be exact since he was on a back road between two villages with no real landmarks or signs, but he was sure the ambulance and the police would find him without too much difficulty; it would actually be harder for them to miss him than to find him so long as they were on the right road.
When a second examination of the man he had hit revealed he was still breathing okay, and was not about to die or suffer complications from his injuries in the immediate future, John went looking for the girl he had somehow managed to avoid. He had seen no sign of her since she ran across the road in front of his car, but he was sure she was still nearby; the road they were on ran for almost four miles, with only a few farms and a single stretch of half a dozen houses along its length; the nearest place the girl could make for, other than the farm she had run from, was about half a mile away.
He searched the woods around where the girl had disappeared with his eyes; it wasn’t easy, for the only light came from the headlights of his car and the pale moon overhead, which was alternately concealed and then revealed by the wispy clouds being blown across the sky by the brisk breeze.
He saw movement out the corner of his eye but dismissed it as just the breeze playing with the foliage; when the movement came again, he turned towards it and spotted the girl, who was hiding behind a tree and using a bush to conceal herself, not very well, as she peered out in an obvious effort to see what was going on.
“Hello,” John called out, keeping his voice as friendly and non-threatening as possible. “Are you alright?” There was a quick rustling and the girl’s eyes disappeared. He wasn’t surprised by that – he didn’t know who the girl was, or what had happened to her, but it was clear that something serious had. “It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you.”
John waited a few moments to see if the girl was going to respond, when she didn’t he called out again. “It’s okay, you’re safe now, he can’t hurt you anymore.” The girl still didn’t respond. “What’s your name?” he asked, trying another tack.” I’m John, John Wilkins,” he said, hoping that by giving his name he would appear less threatening to her, which would encourage her to speak – it worked.
“Are you one of them?” she asked. Her eyes, the only part of her that was visible, were filled with fear while the concealing bush shook in time with the trembling of her body.
“No,” John called back with a shake of his head, not that he had the first clue who ‘they’ were. The news that there was more than one person to worry about had his eyes darting all around, searching again for any possible danger; the figure in the road hadn’t moved and was, apparently, still unconscious, and John couldn’t see anyone else, despite that he remained alert. “I was driving home when you ran out in front of my car – as he said that he couldn’t help wishing that he had stuck to the dual-carriageway, instead of leaving it to avoid the chaos caused by a three-car pileup – what happened? Who are you?”
“Alice Keating.”
The reply came after a silence that stretched on for long enough that John thought she wasn’t going to answer him. He knew the name, he had heard or seen it somewhere recently, he just couldn’t remember where.
“I was kidnapped, I think it was a couple of days ago,” Alice said uncertainly. She wasn’t sure exactly how much time had passed since she was taken from the back of her family’s Bentley, she had lost track of how long she had been locked in the room she had escaped from.
The moment she said that, John remembered where he knew her name from – he was surprised he hadn’t remembered it straight away, after all, her kidnapping had been all over both the local and the national news the last few days.

If you like this excerpt, you can buy the book for the kindle here or read it free if you use Kindle Unlimited, coming soon to paperback as well.

Coming soon…

It seems like now would be a good time to tell all of you that there is only a week to go until my debut novel is released. I have all but finished the editing, the formatting will only take a day or so to get organised, and the cover has already been created, so next Thursday it is.

I will be pressing the publish button in time for it to go live somewhere between Thursday and Friday (you can never be sure how long it will take Amazon to get a book onto its virtual shelves).

For the time being I will have Where There’s A Will exclusively on Amazon, which will make it possible for people in Amazon Prime to get it through the Kindle Owners Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited.

Now that’s out of the way, here’s a bit about the book

Where There’s A Will

Inspector Stone Book One

Alex R Carver


An armed robbery, a kidnapping, and an enemy that’s closer than anyone realises.

Inspector Stone has to put aside problems at home and an ambitious underling when the daughter of a local businessman is kidnapped, and a multi-million Euro ransom demanded for her return.
Can he find her and return her safely to her parents when the kidnappers are dangerously close to home?

Coming 3rd November 2016

Sunday Sample

Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now here on Arcbookblog is put up a regular sample to show where I am with my writing. I have a bad habit of procrastinating, however, with the result that I haven’t done as intended – I’m changing that today, though.

Without further ado, here is my first Sunday Sample, it’s chapter 33 of Where There’s A Will, which has just received it’s first editing pass of three (just to be sure there are no typos or other errors that readers wouldn’t like)


Stone was in his office, reading the reports from his various teams when he received the summons. He had spoken to the DCI after the briefing earlier, so he couldn’t imagine what his superior needed to see him about urgently – if there had been any developments, he should have been notified before the DCI.
“Nate, we’ve got a problem,” Collins said without preamble.
Another one, Stone couldn’t help thinking, after an armed robbery; a hit-and-run and a kidnapping in less than a week, he could only wonder what else had happened. “What sort of problem, sir?” he asked.
“I understand Detective Grey told you he couldn’t find DS Mason earlier.” Stone responded in the affirmative. “Well he’s been found; it seems he was on the way to work when he witnessed a purse snatching – he left his car and gave chase; unfortunately, during the chase he fell down the steps of the East Walk Underpass, broke his leg and knocked himself out. While he was out of it someone, presumably the purse snatcher, took his wallet and mobile, not to mention his keys, warrant card and cuffs.
“Which is why we’ve only just found out where he is. Once he woke up he was able to tell people who he is, and let us know where he is. Apparently, he’s going to be out of action for about two months, perhaps longer, which, I’m afraid to say, means you’re going to have to take over the investigation into the festival robbery and the hit-and-run, while running the kidnapping.”
“That’s not going to be easy, sir,” Stone said. He didn’t like the thought of trying to run two important investigations simultaneously.
“I appreciate that, Nate, but there’s nothing to be done about it,” Collins told his inspector. “Both the festival robbery and the Keating kidnapping are too important to leave to a junior officer. I’m sure between you and Stephen you’ll manage.” He had confidence in Stone. “You’re both very good officers, and you’re making good progress with the kidnapping.”
Stone recognised the compliment for the flattery it was, still, he accepted it with a nod of gratitude. “I’ll do my best, sir,” he said. “As will Steven.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Now, you’d better check in with Grey, I believe he’s made some progress with the festival investigation.”
Stone nodded. “Yes, sir, he called me earlier. He had a couple of witnesses come forward first thing this morning with a description of the car used in the hit-and-run, they were also able to provide the license number of the vehicle, apparently.”
“I know; things have progressed beyond that, however. I don’t know the details; you’ll have to check with Grey to get them, but I do know he’s been busy while we tried to locate Mason.”
“Before you go,” Collins stopped Stone as he was heading for the door. “You should know, I was forced to release Ben Logan earlier, his solicitor was kind enough to point out that he had been in custody for twenty-four hours. I reviewed the evidence, but there wasn’t enough to charge him, or to justify keeping him for any longer.
“I realise he’s almost certainly the second person from the festival,” he said quickly to forestall a protest that Stone showed no sign of actually making. “But right now there’s no evidence to back that up. I hope you also realise that there’s only five or six hours left for you to find enough evidence to charge Jerry Logan, and David Ashford; if you can’t they’ll have to be released as well.”
“Surely there’s enough circumstantial evidence to justify holding Jerry for another twenty-four hours,” Stone said, “even if we can’t yet charge him.”
Collins looked dubious. “I’ll review the evidence an hour before he has to be released,” he said. “But right now, I’ll probably order his release, unless you can come up with something more definite than you currently have – the identification of Jerry Logan from his tattoo is far too tentative, while the lack of a confirmed alibi means nothing, since you can’t prove he was involved with the robbery. “As for Mr Ashford – you have no evidence against him whatsoever.”
Stone accepted that with a nod. “I’ll see what I can come up with between now and seven. Since Mason didn’t make it to work this morning, I believe Jerry Logan and Mr Ashford are still waiting to be questioned; I’ll make that a priority while Inspector Evans is able to keep an eye on things at the Keatings’, he should be able to handle anything that comes up until I can get there.”

I hope you like it, and it whets your appetite- if you’d like to read more of the book, which has been nominated for an Ethereal award, you can read the unedited version on Wattpad

A new chapter and a new blurb

I was looking at the blurb I put up on Wattpad earlier and decided that I wasn’t happy with it, so I spent a short while playing with it until I came up with something I think will interest people more.

Here’s what I’ve come up with, I’d like any thoughts and opinions you might have.

Where There’s A Will

In the middle of the day, Alice Keating, daughter of multi-millionaire games developer Owen Keating, is kidnapped from her chauffeur driven car. The kidnappers want 3.5 million Euros or they’ll kill her.
Detective Inspector Stone is already on a case, an armed robbery, when the kidnapping happens, but he’s taken off that and assigned to find Alice Keating, even though he’s never investigated a kidnapping before.
Can he find her and return her safe to her family before the money has to be handed over?

While on Wattpad I also took the time to put up the latest chapter, I now have 7 chapters up for people to read. I hope they’re being enjoyed.

“Hello, Nathan.”

Stone recognised the voice before he even turned to face the speaker.

“Louisa.” His voice was neutral as he greeted the reporter.

It didn’t surprise him to find Louisa Orchard waiting by his car as he left the station for the evening, she had been trying, without success, to get hold of him all day; he had ignored her calls to his mobile and had Sergeant Oakley, the duty sergeant in communications, screen his calls so she couldn’t get through to him. It wasn’t a tactic he followed often, but occasionally, like today, it was necessary since he knew why Louisa had been trying to get hold of him.

Read the rest of the chapter here –

There’s a new chapter in town

writeStone and Burke had not long finished taking the official statements of David Leigh, his wife and son, and the two other witnesses to the robbery, none of which had taken long individually but which cumulatively had mounted up, and were updating the incident report when the door swung open and DCI Troyes entered the office.

“Sir,” Stone acknowledged his superior without shifting his attention from the keyboard in front of him. Touch-typing was a skill he had never been able to get the hang of, which meant he had to keep his eyes on the keyboard to limit his mistakes as he four-fingered – that was his limit – his way through the statement he was typing up.

Another day, another chapter


Where There’s A Will – Chapter Four

For those of you among my growing band of followers and readers, I have just posted chapter four of my debut novel to wattpad, you can find it – I hope you’re all enjoying it and looking forward to each new chapter; I hope to get one posted every day.



I’ve spent part of today setting myself up on Wattpad, where I will be putting up the first draft of my debut novel; so far I have 2 chapters up and hope to be adding a fresh chapter every day, as long as my work rate is sufficient and I don’t get lazy.

Please visit and let me know what you think of my novel, what there is so far –

My First Novel

For my first post, if you don’t count my welcome message, I thought I would tease my early readers with the opening scene from my first novel, Where There’s A Will, the first title in my Detective Stone Series, so here it is, I hope you like it.

Where There’s A Will

Side by side, as though they were joined at the hip, Ben and Jerry stepped through the flaps that Jerry had just swept out of the way and into the pavilion. They blinked in unison as they went from the darkness of outside, it wasn’t pitch but it was hard to see anything, to the almost blinding brilliance of the pavilion’s interior, which was lit by a multitude of portable lights placed around the edges.

They had been working together for so long that neither needed to speak, they knew what it was they had to do; while Ben made for the young man who was busily gathering up the plastic glasses that littered the tables, and then wiping down the tables, Jerry threaded his way through the tables to the bar.

“On your knees.” Ben’s voice was barely above a whisper, just loud enough to be heard, but he didn’t need any volume to make it clear that his command should be obeyed, the sawn-off shotgun in his hand, which he had concealed under his black leather jacket, did that for him.

Ben was pleased, but unsurprised, to see the young man drop the cups he had gathered up and fall to his knees, almost hitting his head on the table he was cleaning as he did so.

“What do you want?” Fear filled the cleaner’s voice, making it tremble, as he addressed his question, not to the man standing over him but to the gun being pointed at him – he couldn’t force his eyes any higher than the twin holes at the end of the barrel.

“The money,” Ben admitted candidly before slamming the butt of his gun down on the man’s head, causing his eyes to roll up into his head before he slumped to the ground, unconscious. Ben stepped over the immobile form and crossed to where Jerry was waiting for him by the partition that led into the rear section of the pavilion, the part that hadn’t been accessible to those who had filled it during the day, searching for liquid refreshment.

Like his partner, Jerry was holding a sawn-off shotgun, which he clutched tightly while his finger twitched on the trigger, ready to squeeze it at the slightest provocation. “Three,” he told Ben quietly, having risked a look through the partition to see how many people they were up against, and to make sure they were at the right pavilion . His eyes shone greedily at the thought of the money he had seen.

“Let’s do this,” Ben whispered. He stepped past his partner and through the partition. “All of you on the ground,” he said loudly, swinging his shotgun from side to side so that the muzzle was pointed in turn at the two men and one woman who were in the process of counting the money collected by the three beer tents run by the owner of The Stag Inn at the Rock Radio music festival.

“Do as he says,” Jerry ordered, standing shoulder to shoulder with his partner. “Get on the ground, hands behind your backs.” The moment the three of them had done as commanded Jerry lowered his shotgun and slid the bag he was carrying from his shoulder. He took several lengths of rope from the bag and used them to bind the hands of those now on the ground, he then blindfolded them, and finally, just to be sure they weren’t going to cause any trouble, he knocked them out using the butt of his shotgun. He was uncaring of whether he had done any long-term damage to them, only that he had hit them hard enough to make them unconscious.

“Let’s get this done,” he said to Ben once he had finished.

As quickly as they could, the pair grabbed up the bundles of cash that covered the tables like the obscene cloth of a rich person and stuffed them into the bag. It took longer than they had anticipated to empty the tables, and there nearly wasn’t enough space in the bag for all of it, for there was more money than they had expected, not that either of them thought that that was a bad thing. As far as they were concerned, there could never be such a thing as too much money. By the time they were finished, the sports bag they had brought was full to bursting, leaving them both to wonder how much it was they had stolen, and eager to find out.

A little over five minutes after entering the temporary drinking hall Ben and Jerry left it; if not now rich men, they were certainly far better off than before, and they were both feeling full of themselves.

“Didn’t I tell you it’d be easy?” Jerry said exultantly, pulling off his balaclava to reveal shaggy brown hair that had clearly not seen either a comb or a brush, or shampoo, for several days at the least, and stubble of an age with the dirt and grease in his hair. “We’re loaded, fuckin’ loaded.” He let out a short sharp whoop of glee, heedless of the fact that there were still others clearing up after the festival. “How much you think we got?”

“More’n you said we’d get,” Ben said as he slid into the passenger seat of the car they had parked as close to the pavilion as they could. While he did that his partner tossed the bag into the back seat before taking the driver’s seat. “Forty grand, at least, mebbe more. We’ll find out when we get home.”

Jerry gunned the engine, which he had left running, and raced away from the pavilion, narrowly missing one of the festival staff who was cleaning up the vast amount of rubbish left by the revellers. He paid no attention to the man, who was forced to dive out of the way of the racing car to avoid being hit, as he sped through the field towards the makeshift exit from the festival grounds.