The phone rang. Sarah lifted the receiver then replaced it looking annoyed. “Nothing”.
She glanced at Gerry whose face was buried in a newspaper. Then she poured their coffees and brought them over to the oak dining table.
“There’s another one”, he said, lifting his mug.
“A teenager was stabbed waiting at a bus stop. The bus was five minutes late. They think it was gang members but they have no idea who”.
“So. It’s very sad, but it happens”.
“It happens too often”.
Sarah nodded agreement cradling her coffeee cup in her hands.
“Indian kid. Bit of a mathematics genius, was going to a top university”.
Gerry looked at Sarah his eyes bright. “That’s the third one this year. There was that black boy who was a talented footballer. A random attack on the way to school”.
Sarah nodded. “And that girl who was killed at university. Studying law, wasn’t she?” Sarah added.
“And then there are those children who get killed or go missing” Gerry continued. “One her father was picking her up from school but got caught in traffic, was a few minutes late. Just disappeared”.
Sarah frowned. “And that little girl visiting her aunt in the country was snatched playing in the front garden. That was last year”.
They sat drinking their coffee in silence. “You know what happens next, don’t you?”
Sarah nodded no.
“Firstly the children and teenagers were all special. Specially beautiful, specially intelligent or talented, or just special. They had good prospects before them. And they were all good kids from good families, lower social class, but looked after. And they disappeared in a window of opportunity of a few minutes in situations where everyone would expect them to be safe. A late bus. A lift delayed. The child minutes from home. An opportunist perhaps or someone had stalked them and knew when the opportunity would arise.
Then there is the police investigation. They always botch it one way or another. The perp was a nutter they knew about but just didn’t bother with. Or it is a complete mystery – no-one is seen and they completely disappear. Or they know who done it but they waste so much time barking up the wrong tree he gets away”.
Sarah nods. “That’s true. What are you getting at?
“After the police have botched the investigation they start a smear campaign against the family, turning the family over for any wrong doing or dodgy associations”.
Sarah frowned. “I wonder why they do that”.
“Look, there’s a pattern. 1. Special kids. 2. Killed or kidnapped. 3. Botched police investigation. 4. Harass the family. It’s like some formula is being followed”.
“I suppose the smear campaign is to draw attention from the botched investigation” Sarah suggested.
“Yes, and it focuses attention either on the relatives or the police and people stop looking at the murder or kidnapping. Also when the police harassment goes on and on everyone just wants it to stop and forget about the whole thing”.
Sarah picked up the paper and read the latest story of a murdered child. “I feel there is something I’m missing”.
“What if” said Gerry, “we are looking at the situation back to front. “Remember the formula? Killing or kidnapping. Botched investigation. Smear campaign. The police have a hand in most stages of the process. They instigate the smear. They botch the investigation. They might have known about the killer before the attack, but didn’t bother. The only thing they don’t seem involved in is the actual murder or kidnap. What if the whole thing is arranged by the police? All the subsequent action is just to cover their tracks?”.
Gerry shrugged. “Those are lower class kids with great potential. Perhaps someone felt they threatened the status quo. Get rid of the competition before it becomes competition. Ruthless social engineering”.
“And the ones that disappear?” asked Sarah.
Sarah and Gerry stared at each other as realisation dawned.
They had no time to react as their kitchen door blasted apart in a shower of splintered wood and the bullets tore through them.