Monday, June 6, 2011

Dead Rite chapter 62.07

“It's not though, is it?” Peters followed him to the stairs. “This is Laverstone, which is supposed to be a backwater village tucked away in the Wiltshire chalklands. What it actually turns out to be is spook central of Great Britain. I looked up the statistics last month. Did you know we have as many murders per capita here as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham combined? The police budget for Laverstone is a third of the budget for the rest of Wiltshire, and that includes the extra bodies drafted in for the festivals. Why is that, sir? Something in the water?”

“How should I know?” White started down the stairs. There was no suit of armour on the turn and he felt its absence. Nobody came this far down, that was certain. The air had a heavy quality to it. It felt as if it was settling on his skin. “I just work here. It's up to the super to do the budgets.” He paused and turned, shining the torch on Peters's face. “What were you looking up crime stats for? You putting in for your inspector badge?”

“What if I am? You wouldn't miss me these days. You've got all your dolly birds running about after you now.”

“Two. Two women in the last three years. You're so keen on Stats, Peters. You tell me why we've got a female DS and a female DC in a unit of seven blokes.”

“Diversity and equality? Is that it?”

“Diversity and equality.” He flashed his torch downward. “No more stairs. We're at the bottom at last.”

“No electricity, either. Can you see a switch?”

“No, but there are some candles in the niche there.” White shone the torch. “Matches, too.”

“Red tipped.” Peters struck one, the familiar reek of sulphur reminiscent of White's childhood. “You don't see red tipped these days. It's all safety matches.” He lit a candle and picked it up, shielding it with the other hand until the flame brightened. “What's that noise?”

White cocked his head. “Sounds like someone humming.”