Longing for Gravity (Daily Prompt)

“You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?” (Daily Prompt)

It’s simply really (apart from books of course) … the Lake District in my beautiful England:

(All images by Dawn Hinsley, not to be copied or reproduced)

Six (pages 11-16)

The next five pages of Six Years, Six Days – a crime novel by Dawn Hinsley

Read pages 1-5 and pages 6-10


9.25pm: The vehicle made a slow circle around the park – white houses with black doors and iron railings encircled the entire urban green space. There was little human traffic out on the street.

But behind net curtains television screens flickered. Parents argued with their children about homework. A purple-haired pensioner with tight corkscrew curls sang softly to her aging Yorkshire terrier, while next door a middle-aged woman was reading a report she’d brought home from work – a glass of gin and tonic in one hand and a freshly made spliff in the other. A newly married couple, overcome by the excitement of fighting with washing up bubbles, were writhing on the floor of their kitchen completely naked.

The white van eased on by, swung a right, and disappeared beyond the tall trees which made the small car park at the north end of Horse Chestnut Park invisible from the road.


9.25pm: DCI Gabriel Fitzpatrick leaned back into the leather chair in his office and flipped open the case file. The photograph – of a grim-faced, detached and hard-bitten man in his 30s – stared back at him. Lucian Black, orphan, shunted around foster homes from the age of nine. First conviction, robbery of an automobile at gunpoint. Age 12. What’s the connection, thought Fitzpatrick. Where does Josephine even fit into your world? Did she try and make you better?


9.26pm: The boys had been summoned. There was no backing out of a summons. The smell of rotting meat didn’t help. “For the dogs,” was all the man said before delivering his orders. It was useless to protest. There were obvious holes in this plan, through which anyone could fall. And someone usually did – right across the sharp edge of a blade. The boys left; their fates as clear and unwavering to them as the rising and setting of the sun.


9.27pm: Buster had already enjoyed two walks in the past five hours. He’d have been quite happy to curl up in his basket for the night. But his owner was restless. Too much time and very little to fill the lonely hours since his wife died 13 months previous made 86-year-old Tommy Keeton a keen walker. And where Tommy went Buster always tagged along. Tommy hooked on Buster’s lead, lifted his padded jacket from the peg next to his front door, and stepped out onto the deserted street of Horse Chestnut Park Boulevard.



10.16pm: Maloney had taken the call just as he was about to clock off for the night. His day shift ended hours previously but time had become a master he’d never learnt to tame.

A girl, dead. In a local park. She was very young. Maloney got into his car and drove straight to the scene. The place was already swarming with men and women, some in white suits and others either in plain clothes or uniform. One of the uniformed officers greeted him.

“Hey Sergeant. This looks bad. She’s got marks around her neck. And…”

“What is it officer?”

“Well… she’s naked.”

“I see.” Maloney’s face gave nothing away. The officer at his side was still staring at the ground, as if something incredibly interesting was happening on his shoes.

Maloney felt something close to compassion. “Listen,” he said. “Will you organise a team to fan out from here, going through the grass blade by blade?”

“Yes. Straight away sir.”

“Who found her? I’d like to speak to them.”

“A dog walker. Old gentlemen. But he’s been taken by the paramedics to hospital, being treated for shock I think.”

“Okay. Get me his details.”

Maloney turned. The rain had ceased but the ground was sodden under foot. Maloney strode forward disregarding the mud sloshing onto his polished shoes. Fitzpatrick was hot on his heels, pulling on a pair of latex gloves.

“What have we got Maloney?”

“Female. Young. Naked. Perhaps strangled.”

Dr Cassius Colepepper was kneeling over the girl when they reached the prostrate little body led on her back. The doctor was lifting up an eyelid and shining a small torch into one eye. He looked up as the men approached.

“Notice anything strange gentlemen?”

“Yes,” Fitzpatrick answered. “She looks too clean for a night like this.”

“And what’s that smell?” Asked Maloney.

“Bleach or some other disinfectant I think,” said the doctor. “I’d hazard a guess she’s been washed in it.”

“Anything you can tell us yet?” Asked Fizpatrick.

“Rigor has appeared.”

“She’s been dead at least two hours?”

“Perhaps. It can be very unpredictable in children – a low muscle mass you see. I’m also willing to speculate COD was asphyxiation,” said Dr Colepepper as Fitzpatrick squatted down next to him.

He looked up to Maloney: “Let’s get Dr Copeland-Black out here before we move the body. Give her a call. In the meantime, get a team to circle outward from this point and see what they can find in the grass.”

“Already organised,” said Maloney, pulling his mobile phone from his trouser pocket.

Walking towards them was Trainee Detective Constable Alice Smyth and Detective Constable James Arden. Both looked apprehensive, especially Smyth. It was understandable. But Maloney gave her credit for not faltering in her step.

“Smyth,” said Fitzpatrick. “I want you to come take a look at this.”

Maloney, forgetting why his phone was in his hand, looked at Smyth. Smyth looked at Arden, who nodded an almost imperceptible gesture of encouragement. Smyth took a deep breath. She walked over to the body as Fitzpatrick stood.

“Tell me what you see,” he said.

“Well,” she answered, as her internal organs went into freefall on a roller coaster ride. “She’s young. And these are clear marks around the neck.”

“More than that,” Fitzpatrick said.

Smyth placed a hand on her forehead. The other was on her waist. The ground was spinning. She doubled over then spat and coughed. Her dinner of a cheese and pickle sandwich, can of diet coke and chocolate muffin were suddenly all over the ground in front of her. Including across her shoes. Smyth felt a hand on her back.

“I’m sorry,” she spluttered.

“It’s okay,” said Fitzpatrick.

The doctor riffled in his bag for a bottle of water. He passed it to Fitzpatrick who in turn handed it to Smyth.

“Wash your mouth out. Take a few deep breaths. Try again.”

Smyth did as she was told.

When she was ready Fitzpatrick continued: “It’s been raining all day, but the top of the victim’s body is very clean.”

“She’s under a tree as well,” Smyth offered.

“Good,” said Fitzpatrick. “What do you think about that?”

“She was placed here on purpose?”

“And what would all that lead you to conclude?”

“She wasn’t killed here. But brought here after? But possibly not very long ago.”

“I’d agree. I want you and Arden knocking on every door of every house in the vicinity. Someone may have seen something. I don’t care if we wake people up, by tomorrow they could have forgotten something – tiny but significant. A car heading into the car park over there for example. It looks muddy. I don’t know what the surface is but from here it doesn’t look like concrete. Take the camera and photograph all the tire marks you see that are fresh. The car park is floodlit so you should have enough light even at this time of night. By morning we may have lost some evidence. But come back first thing if you need more. You got all that?”

“Yes sir.”

Smyth did a double take: “Is it me or is part of the victim’s body moving?”


Smyth and Fitzpatrick turned in unison to see that a shortish man with strawberry blonde, wildly unruly hair had walked up behind them.

“What did you say?” Smyth asked him.

“Or more commonly known as blowflies or bluebottles. Their larvae are hatching in the body,” repeated the man. “That’s what you can see moving.” Dr Jack was looking at Fitzpatrick when he said this last sentence. Fitzpatrick’s face turned bleak.

“You mean maggots?” Interrupted Smyth.

“Err yes.”

“Smyth, let me introduce forensic anthropologist Dr Jack Stevens who you haven’t met yet,” said Fitzpatrick. “Dr Jack, this is the newest member of our team, Trainee Detective Constable Alice Smyth.”

“Hi Alice.”

“Isn’t this body a bit too fresh for you Dr Jack?” Maloney called over from where he was now standing with Colepepper.

When Jack answered he directed his reply only to Fitzpatrick again: “Was passing, thought I’d take a quick look. You might need me later; it’s going to be a big case. Best to have the benefit of the entire picture; see things from start to finish. Wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes of course. Take a look at whatever you want.” Said Fitzpatrick. He then turned back to Maloney: “When did you say that couple rang to report a missing girl this evening?”

“Around 5.30pm.”

“I don’t think this is going to be their child,” said Dr Jack. “Rigor, blowflies hatching – blowflies don’t even lay eggs at night. The numbers don’t seem to add up to me.”

Fitzpatrick nodded slowly. Contemplative. Then said: “Maloney. Is Dr Copeland-Black on her way?”

“Ringing her now chief.”

As Smyth headed off to find Arden, Maloney held down the speed dial number to call Dr Copeland-Black on his mobile. He waited, listening to the ringing against his ear.

10.35pm: As Copeland-Black eased herself down on top of Lucian she wondered if the past six years would feel different once he was inside her again. She couldn’t bring herself to look down. It had been a long time, and bashful self-consciousness had somehow tiptoed back into a space where previously no inhibition lived. There was a moment between the first gasp and the deep swelling beneath – that felt almost akin to pain – and the sensation of his hands on the small of her back, when she knew everything from this point on was going to slip out of her control. Josephine didn’t hear her phone’s incessant bring.

Six (pages 6-10)

The next five pages of Six Years, Six Days – a crime novel by Dawn Hinsley

Read pages 1-5 here


5.35pm: Maloney waited for the signal. He had driven a short distance out of town. The contents of the rucksack weighed heavily on his passenger seat. His mobile phone was also flashing, an incoming call on silent. Fitzpatrick. It was becoming harder and harder to find explanations for these periods of absence.

When the break lights ahead flashed three times, he knew he was following the right car. He made a right, then a left, before taking a turn through tall metal gates hanging from their hinges. Beyond the entrance, what had once been a car park was now a series of fractured concrete shapes, laying like an ill-fitting jigsaw with grass and weeds growing rampantly in the cracks. No windows on the building to their right were left intact, even on the fifteenth floor a hole in each pane of glass was splintered by weaving fissures.

When the car in front pulled to a stop, a man in a faded shell suit got out from the driver’s door first – his greying hair slicked back into a pony-tail, matted chest fuzz to match on munificent display. The man opened the rear passenger door for another man to climb out. He uncurled his tall frame, then straightened his tie and rearranged his jacket; buttoning up an expensive grey silk suit.

Maloney got out of his car too, a good twelve feet back. Immediately the man in the shell suit pulled a gun.

“Whoa,” Maloney protested, hands in the air. “What’s this all about?”

“Just being careful,” the man in the smart suit replied, smiling indulgently.

“Have we come here to do a deal or what?” Maloney continued.

“Why the impatience?”

“Let’s just say what I’m packing is burning a hole.” Maloney nodded back towards his car.

“TomBoy get the stuff, MeanMax here is a busy boy.” The suited man smiled again, but this time there was a twitch of caution in this eyes.

TomBoy pulled out a small velvet purse from his boss’s trouser pocket. Maloney found the performance uncomfortable. Then TomBoy walked forward towards Maloney, still pointing a gun at him. Maloney reached out to take the purse, but TomBoy prodded him painfully in the ribs with his firearm. Maloney winced.

“This is an exchange dumb boy. Go get your ‘burning hole’,” shrieked TomBoy. His voice had a metallic quality. He started laughing in the same high pitched squeal, like a pig at an abattoir. His eyes, wild and bright yellow where the whites should have been, were darting all around in a disconcerting manner. Maloney turned and began walking back to his car.

Suddenly TomBoy let off a shot that carved the concrete a foot away from Maloney’s pace. Maloney wasn’t aware of it at the time but he screamed. TomBoy, behind him, was laughing again. Maloney felt sick.

“That’s enough,” shouted the suited man.

Maloney found himself frozen to the spot. His heart was racing excruciatingly in his chest. The governor was suddenly at his side.

“Let me see you’re good for it then son,” was all he said, complete serenity in his voice.

Maloney managed to find a shrill of a response inside his tight throat. “Like we said, half now and half later. Once it’s verified. Yes?”

The suited man nodded, appraising Maloney the entire time.


5.55pm: Copeland-Black edged down the stairway to the basement cells. She showed her ID badge to the guard on duty. He smiled and let her pass. It was a quiet night. The person she had come to see was in the last cell, at the end of the moss green painted brick-walled wing. It smelled strongly of ammonia and putrid sick.

The man sat, head bowed, on a tiny cot. Both hands clutching the edge of the bed either side of him. Shoulders curved. His white shirt, with barely visible navy pinstripes, stretched tight around the clean lines of his biceps. Cropped hay-coloured hair.

He didn’t look up until Copeland-Black had rested her forehead against the bars of his cage. She wore a flowing emerald green shirt. A close-fitting straight black skirt, which fell to the floor, outlined her curves like a yacht’s sails as it traced the arcs of its owner’s thighs on the way down. Her auburn hair fell to her shoulders, where it curled. A neat fringe.

Dr Josephine Copeland-Black bent a forearm above her head and stretched the other out along the bars. The man stood, then walked towards her without a sound. He too placed his head against the bars – a few inches away. Sideways on he stared at her. His navy gaze was sub-zero. It always had been. Copeland-Black stared back.

“Hello Lucian,” she said.

The man didn’t speak.

At the top of the gloomy passageway Fitzpatrick stopped in his tracks.



7.20pm: There was an ache to embrace that delicate, pallid skin once more, but the smell of disinfectant scratching at the insides of his nostrils was a reminder not to. At least there would be no struggling now.






8.34pm: The rain had been relentless all day. It was now dark. A smudgy orange darkness. The kind of night that made people embrace their own bodies. Copeland-Black backed up as close as possible to the limestone Georgian building, which had been the city’s policing headquarters in the centre of town for 55 years. Hugging the river, the building had once been owned by a tea merchant and a stone plaque by the main entrance still read Stanley Peterson’s Tea Distributors. Now it was home to every department involved in the city’s law enforcement including forensics. Also, a morgue and autopsy rooms in the basement area. Everyone who worked in the building referred to it affectionately as Canton.

Dr Josephine Copeland-Black’s heart sank when she saw two men descend the stone steps from the foyer and approach.

“Long day?” Fitzpatrick spoke first, his civility watchful in tone. Copeland-Black was about to answer but Maloney cut in. Savage and bitter. “We had to let him go. Just so you know. Not enough on him. He’s a cool customer that friend of yours.”

Dr Copeland-Black didn’t reply. Fitzpatrick’s eyes were on her. Tracking her facial expressions. Noting their alterations – accidental and contrived. Doc Cop wasn’t the only one who knew how to read the nuances of body language.

“Alright Sergeant,” he said.

But Maloney wasn’t to be silenced. “All I’m saying is…” he continued. But further discussion was interrupted by the reverberation of a black 1960s Triumph GT6 Spitfire swerving throatily to a stop curb-side. The passenger door pitched open. A man, recently released from their custody, leaned across the red leather front seat and beckoned Josephine in.


8.35pm: Maloney’s mouth hung wide.

As Copeland-Black stepped forward she caught him in her peripheral vision – running a hand through his dark brown hair and mouthing ‘Jesus Christ’.


8.37pm: “What the fuck is going on here?”

“I don’t know.” Fitzpatrick was still contemplating the backend of the panther-black car as it eased into traffic.

“I don’t like this one bit chief. This smells off, real off to me.”

“I hear you.”

Maloney leaned back against the wall and clenched his fists by his side, fury flaring his nostrils. Fitzpatrick simply stared. His sharp mind, behind hazel eyes, busier than a bird in spring.


8.41pm: Dr Copeland-Black pressed her index finger hard against her glabella and closed her eyes. Lucian glanced over at her and something in his mind’s eye snagged on the familiarity of the mannerism. Little had changed in six years.

Neither spoke for 20 minutes.

“Why are you here?” she said.

They’d come to a standstill for a red light.

“Where do you want to go?”

“This isn’t a game Lucian.”

“Tell me where you want to go?” Lucian moved to touch her. Josephine flinched.

“Somewhere. Anywhere.” She said.

Under the Moon (map of touch)

Another poem from a sci fi and fantasy book I’m writing,

written completely in poetry.

Read the title poem here.

Tell me what do you think???

Map of Touch

Thick paint, down a whitewashed wall

Ever ceaseless, eternally warm
Like silk, after wet scratchy wool

Violent pleasure and abject calm
Map reading by exquisite touch

But no need to hasten or rush

Linger a little longer

Laze in the relative hush

The most sensitive thing
Those tips of receptive pleasure

Tracing an outline, finding a path
Sinking deep, sliding further

The first time his fingers

Navigated their track
And wandered a route

Down her long and naked back