Chapter 1

Creatures of Habit

Richard Kenny peered out of the window and watched a thin, feral-looking cat pass silently along the line of parked cars, slide underneath the nearest one and leopard-crawl to a prime position beneath the still-warm engine to carefully observe the outside world. There it remained, silently looking, always alert but feeling warm and secure, very aware that any activity in the vehicle would provide plenty of notice to move to another warm and yet protected position.

The traffic lights covering the crossroads outside the window like sentinels monotonously changed their colours: red, amber, green and back again. Still no traffic. The bricks on the building opposite blossomed, the road brightened, and a small, dark car gently came into view towards the junction below the window. The lights were red. The car slowed and then stopped. Kenny leaned forwards slightly to watch more closely; he could see the car clearly now from above – dark roof, clean, apparently just the driver inside, no music.


From experience, he had always been encouraged by the fact that similar operations had confirmed his theory that everyone had certain habits and routines, that, generally didn't change, from the manner in which they brushed their teeth to the way they tied their shoelaces, to their morning and evening rituals. These processes provided structure to their lives and he was confident that Warden was no different.

Chapter 2

Splendid Isolation

The sea tumbled into the bay as it had done for thousands of years, the lines of surf climaxing onto each other as they rolled onto the rocky shoreline. It was only about two to three hundred metres across and nestled between huge granite outcrops, like the paws of a gigantic lion that poked out into the sea protecting the low-lying softer core between them from the worst excesses of wind, sea and rain.

Some of the waves were taller than a standing man and the steady, deep, resonating hum that surged inland was only interrupted by the occasional thump as a wave slapped against a resistant rock, causing water and foam to surge up into an ever-changing flute of intolerance and annoyance.

Chapter 3

Thickening Plot

He moved as quietly as he could, into the undergrowth. The initial set-up and exit were always the trickiest. Not being familiar with the terrain, eyes adjusting to the light and movement, getting kit out of his bag, unwrapping his poncho, uncapping his bins. He had done this procedure many times and some golden rules applied: get it done quickly, don’t faff around, keep all the kit in the bag so you don’t lose it in the dark, and then find the right place, settle down and get as comfortable as possible – do not fidget.

He put on his balaclava, being careful not to dislodge his earpiece. He drew the poncho over himself and spread it out so it covered his entire body, stuck his head out through the hole in the top and put the hood over his head. He then sat down, making sure that he could see what he needed to see through the undergrowth in front of him that screened his bulk, and that he was below the level of the bank and therefore not profiled against the lights that were behind him. His bag was to his right side, up against his body, with everything to hand.

Chapter 10

A Stick in the Spokes

After what was probably no more than forty-five seconds, but felt like five minutes, Kenny saw the newcomer, the unident, who had been facing towards him throughout, come very close to Loader. They were about the same height and their noses appeared to be touching, with heavy eye contact. Still the third man hung back; he started looking around, much more aware of what was happening around him than the two opponents. No-one else was about. Traffic passed, unaware of, or ignoring, the altercation. Still Kenny took pictures, he was taking a series when he saw the unident’s head rise by about two or three inches, he was on the balls of his feet and his head was thrown back, his mouth thrown open, and then his body settled back momentarily to its normal position. He looked Loader in the eyes until a second violent spasm engulfed him and he again pushed himself onto tiptoe and threw his head back with his mouth open.


The man who had been stabbed walked forward about six paces, his hands clutching his stomach and then fell to his knees on the pavement, settling on his haunches. He removed his hands and looked down; his abdomen was bloody, he lifted them to eye level and looked down again at the mess; finally his back buckled and he slumped forward and gently rolled onto his left side.