The Surgeon’s Blade
Playing this game was a major enjoyment. It had been played many times before and, this time, it was proving even more of a thrill.
The watcher spotted her immediately. She was seated at a table for two, and from the number of times she glanced at her watch, it was easy to deduce she had been stood up by her date. The watcher was cautious by nature and spent the time covertly observing the woman from a chosen seat which was half-hidden in the shadows behind a potted palm. She was one of those women in their thirties who looked attractive in a quiet, unassuming way and could have been stunning if she had spent more time over her hairstyle and makeup. Her dress was an off-the-rail model, most probably from one of the departmental stores and in a different colour would have enhanced her prettiness. Unfortunately the dull fabric did nothing for her hair and skin colouring.
Of course, the watcher knew who she was. She had been seen many times around the hospital and came across as confident and sure of herself as far as her work was concerned. Watching her now, sitting forlorn and alone at the table, casting wistful glances at those couples who sat with bent heads as they shared a whisper and promise of the night to come, the watcher knew right away how easy it was going to be; especially while witnessing her nervous, girlish pleasure when she answered a call on her mobile phone minutes later, only to see her face pale in distress as she replaced it into her evening bag.
With a cold smile, the watcher raised a glass and, with the slightest movement in her direction, offered a silent toast.
Why waste time yearning over a date that would never show when your prayers have been answered, dearest girl, the watcher demanded silently. From now on, you’re mine, all mine.
Three o’clock. The dead hour. It was rain lashing against the window that woke Libby. Cursing under her breath, she glanced at her clock on the bedside cabinet and contemplated the day ahead: nearly three-thirty. She must be mad! At the end of June, the weather really should be fine. ‘Flaming June’, they called it; well there hadn’t been too much flaming lately. This was the fourth day in a row of seemingly endless downpours. Dratted weather! Well, she was committed to today’s race, and there was nothing she could do but put on a smiling face.
Less than an hour later, showered and dressed, Libby finished a quick breakfast of toast and tea and headed for the door. Her cat followed her and meowed loudly as Libby put on her jacket. The fluffy, pale ginger cat was obviously thinking her mistress was quite mad, not only for disturbing her slumber at this untimely hour, but for leaving the flat on such a cold and wet day. She sat on the rug looking quite put out.
“Okay, Rommie, I’ll see you tonight. Don’t fret. The automatic feeder is primed to open for your tea and I’ve left you plenty of biscuits in the meantime. If you feel you can bring yourself to use the cat flap, please do, because I don’t want any little accidents before I return.”
Libby reached down and gave Rommie a final stroke, thinking the cat had the right idea. The morning so far looked awful. She took a quick look round her flat, mentally going through what she would need for the day: wet weather gear, life jacket, and sailing gloves. With a shrug she picked up her bag and locked the door behind her.
Despite the foul weather, she was excited. Being chosen as part of the crew on a fast yacht for the Isle of Wight’s prestigious ‘Round the Island Race’ had a certain cachet, and she had been delighted when Nigel had chosen her. It was Libby’s first major sailing event, and Nigel’s reputation as a first-class skipper was well known in the yachting fraternity.
Libby unlocked the door to her Mini and threw her bag down onto the passenger seat, rain splattering against the hood of her jacket. She had promised to pick up Jem, another crew member, before going to the marina where ‘Tourbillon’ was moored. Jem was like her, in his late thirties, worked in the Southampton General hospital and loved sailing.
Jem was a good friend to Libby and had been instrumental in helping her get the post of junior sister on the general surgery ward. He had been there ever since he had first qualified, whereas Libby had come down from London, looking for a place nearer to the sea to work. She had met him on a course in London some years back, and on their first introduction, they had hit it off. Over the past few years, six-foot-four Jem, muscle-bound and fun-loving, had become her biggest friend and confidant.
Libby’s Mini glided to a stop outside the house Jem shared with his partner, and not wishing to antagonise the neighbours by hooting at the early hour, Libby ran the short distance up the flooded garden path to his door. The door opened at Libby’s knock, and Jem ushered her inside.
“Won’t be a jiffy, I’ve been listening to the national news on the telly. Hang on, I’ll just turn it off.” Jem walked into the living room and crossed over to the television. “It sounds like there really is a dangerous weirdo stalking nurses in London. Another nurse was assaulted during the night at St Thomas’s hospital. There’s very little detail released by the police though; only that she’s being treated for shock.” Shrugging on his waterproof jacket, he picked up a bag lying near the door and gestured for Libby to precede him.
She paused in the doorway. “That’s awful. Isn’t that the third one now?”
He nodded. “Fourth, if you include that girl who was raped after accepting a drink from a stranger in that Southwark pub. What was it called? I think it was the Golden Ram or something like that. It’s becoming really serious.”
“I’d forgotten her. She wasn’t a nurse though was she?”
“No, but she’s a radiographer from the same hospital. The police haven’t said for certain whether they think it’s the same attacker. And if you add these girls to the two who went missing in the last year or so, then London has a big problem on its hands. Come on we’d better run for it.”
The Surgeon's Blade is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK
See all of mystery writer Faith Moritmer's novels here on Amazon.
Faith Mortimer was born in Manchester and educated in Singapore, Malaya and Hampshire, England. She is happily married with four children.
For information about Faith and her writing please follow on Facebook on page, www.facebook.com/FaithMortimer.Author and Twitter at @FaithMortimer
Her website is http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com