Mayday, It’s Murder
Mayday’s zip wire had jammed. The jolt made her head ache. Friday thirteenth was not the time to attempt a mission.
A black cat ambled across the Persian rug covering the mansion floor. Big yellow eyes looked up and blinked; once, twice, three times. It continued its journey, hopping up onto the piano stool and then onto the top of the grand piano. Walking to the middle of the highly polished wood top, it paws making a soft tapping as it went, it stopped and looked up at her again.
The standard lamp formed a halo around the bald head of the figure sitting in the large high back Chesterfield armchair below. Their head was lolling forward. As she dangled twenty-foot from the ground, Mayday prayed he was sleeping soundly and wouldn’t look up.
You’d think a fellow feline would understand the perils of a cat burglar. Cleary not.
‘Shhh,’ Mayday hissed as quietly as possible and waited to see if Lord Barker was going to wake.
Bob had assured her it would not be difficult to get the jewels from the safe in the drawing-room. The company was being paid a lot for this job. A straight forward insurance scam. Lady Barker needed money. Lord Barker was not forthcoming. So she’d hired, Indigo Solutions to steal her jewels in order to claim on the insurance. The company would receive twenty-five percent when the jewels were sold on.
Lady Barker’s husband was reportedly a heavy sleeper. At one o’ clock in the morning, Mayday had assumed this meant he would be in bed. His presence in the drawing-room had only been apparent to Mayday once she was dangling from the skylight in the roof of the drawing-room.
The last job she’d been given was a husband who had wanted evidence of his wife’s affair. Ian, the client, had decided not to bother when he and Mayday hit it off. His wife was having an affair but now Ian didn’t care and the company didn’t get paid as there was of a conflict of interest. Mayday was now on an official warning. If she bungled this job Bob was going to fire her for sure.
The cat sat down and began meticulously cleaning its face. Mayday reached up behind her to unsnag the wire. There was a searing pain in her hand and a second later she landed in a pile on the floor sprawled across on the Persian rug, scrabbling to find her feet before Lord Barker awoke.
He didn’t move a muscle. The cat looked at her accusingly. The noise had been enough to wake the dead but Lord Barker slept on, his chin resting gently on his chest. His legs were crossed at the knee and his slipper dangled from the end of his foot; half on half off.
Mayday unclipped the wire from her belt. The light from the lamp meant she didn’t need a torch. Luck was on her side. The safe was in the opposite corner of the room to the sleeping Lord Barker. She had the code and opened the door easily. Lifting out the leather boxes and velvet bags she checked they contained the jewels on her list before placing them her backpack. Closing the safe again she walked back to the zip wire and went to clip herself back in, but Mayday hesitated. Something about the way Barker was sitting made her look again.
His skin was pale; grey almost, even in the light from the lamp. His position suddenly didn’t look natural anymore. She took a couple of steps forward. She could see a thin line of red running down the side of Lord Barker’s face. The glare from the lamp had hidden it until now but it was clear from where Mayday was standing, Lord Barker had received a blow to the head.
The cat stopped washing its face and looked from her to Lord Barker and back again. It waited for her next move.
A noise in the corridor startled her and the doors to the drawing-room opened flooding the room with yellow light.
‘What are you doing?!’ The aristocratic voice of Lady Barker was demanding.
‘It’s me Mayday,’ Mayday hissed.
Mayday never met clients but she recognised Lady Barker from the pictures in the paper. She tried again. ‘Indigo Solutions, Lady Barker.’
‘I’m calling the police!’
Mayday wasn’t giving her time to do that and took the few steps back to the zip wire and clipped herself in. An agonising thud made the world disappeared.
When Mayday regained consciousness there were two police officers standing over her. Her eyes flickered open and her fingers closed around a cold metal object.
‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’ one of the officers said.
He leant forward and took the heavy based silver candlestick from her hand and handcuffed her, the other read her her rights. She was dazed but her consciousness recognised the word ‘murder’.
‘Murder?’ Her throat felt full of gravel as she croaked the question out.
‘You are under arrest for the murder of Lord Barker,’ the officer repeated.
‘I didn’t kill him!’ was all Mayday said.
The court case was swift. Mayday had been caught with a bag full of jewels and the murder weapon in her hand. With no proof Lady Barker had employed Indigo Solutions and Bob leaving town the same day as Mayday was arrested, taking all evidence of the company with him, the conclusion was inevitable.
Lady Barker had used the second candlestick to – as she claimed in court – defend herself against Mayday. What Lady Barker didn’t say was that she had then placed the candlestick she used to kill Lord Barker, into Mayday’s unconscious hand. Mayday was sentenced to life imprisonment, Lady Barker had the money she needed and no one would ever know the truth.
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