God’s Fist. Paul Finch

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Название God’s Fist
Автор произведения Paul Finch
Жанр Ужасы и Мистика
Издательство Ужасы и Мистика
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9780008173739

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      God’s Fist

      Paul Finch

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      Published by Avon

      An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

      1 London Bridge Street

      London SE1 9GF


      This ebook edition published by HarperCollins Publishers 2016

      First published in paperback in A Walk on the Darkside by ROC Books, 2004

      Copyright © Paul Finch 2016

      Cover design © Debbie Clement 2016

      Paul Finch asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

      A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

      This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

      All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

      Ebook Edition © January 2016 ISBN: 9780008173739

      Version: 2015-12-18



       Title Page

       God’s Fist

       About the Author

       By the Same Author

       About the Publisher

      Skelton didn’t know which one of the photographs he found the most disturbing.

      The first depicted the aftermath of a brutal lynching in Serb-occupied Kosovo; a man who had been murdered by being hacked and disembowelled, had been hoisted into the air on a metal pole – several children, presumably that same man’s children, were screaming and crying and trying to console each other around his dangling feet. The second featured a murder actually in progress; it had been taken during the atrocities in Rwanda, and showed a child – perhaps no more than two or three years old – naked and curled in the dust, but shrieking with pain and terror as two men in baggy jungle fatigues and big, heavy boots, stamped it to death. The third picture was an odd one, but was explained by the rough caption someone had handwritten on the back of it: Congenitally-deformed prostitutes, Rio. It displayed a hellish backstreet slum, where two women waited idly amid the trash. One wore a very short dress and high heels, the other a halter top and tight shorts. There, the charm – if ‘charm’ was the correct word – ended. The woman in shorts had both her legs in callipers; the right one ended in a hefty clubfoot, the left tapered down to a stump at the point where the ankle should be. The woman in the dress and heels had a nice figure and shapely legs, but bizarrely, her face had sunk inward – scrunched like a deflated football. Presumably, they’d both got used to their disabilities; by their shoulder bags and saucy postures, they were touting for business.

      Skelton assessed the pictures for several minutes, his heart thumping. He’d seen a lot of nasty in his time, especially during his ten years as a beat cop in one of the city’s most rundown districts, but never anything quite like this. He laid the pictures to one side, and continued to empty the filing cabinets, shoving files and folders into the various cardboard boxes. When he’d been told the narrow, dusty room was a library, the least he’d been expecting was reams of heavy books – probably video tapes and microfilm cans as well. Of course, newspaper libraries were slightly different. He should have realised that when he’d first found out where they’d be working today. Not that this operation was a newspaper as such. The Catholic Echo was a hefty broadsheet that came out weekly, but it catered exclusively to the Catholic communities of Britain and Ireland, detailing the latest developments in Church affairs, plus world news of interest to the religious-minded. The majority of the photographs in the drawers reflected this, showing groups of monks and nuns smiling, priests posing beside their altars, celebrities launching charity events, or landscape views of St Peter’s Square, Knock and the Holy Grotto at Lourdes.

      Skelton looked again at the three horrific photographs.

      Even a Church newspaper had to cover the real world, of course, the downside of life. There’d also been shots of dismal ghettos, discarded syringes in gutters, nervous British troops on the bombed-out Bogside streets – but these three particular images had an unsettling quality all of their own. He gazed at the prostitute with the head like a kicked-in football, at the mangled remains of the Bosnian father, the weeping, wailing children gathered beneath him. Again, he placed the photos to one side. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t throw them into the boxes with all the rest – at least, he wasn’t sure yet.

      “Ray!” Jervis said, sticking his tousled head through the door. Jervis was Skelton’s foreman. “How you doing, pal?”

      “Almost there.” Skelton closed a couple of the fuller boxes, and stood up.

      “Good … ’cause we want to start shifting the computer gear next.”

      The tousled head disappeared. Skelton glanced around the narrow room. The shelves were now bare, the bulk of the drawers hanging open and empty. The company librarian had already removed the various A, B, C, D and so on stickers from the fronts of them, as well as the posters from the walls and the sheaves of old back-copies from the rack underneath her desk. Her own personals had also been taken, which meant there was virtually nothing else in there – apart from the three black-and-white photographs.

      Skelton considered tossing them into the last box, but instead slid them under his overalls.

      Outside, the newsroom was alive with people bustling back and forth: removals men mainly, but also secretaries and admin girls, plus a couple of the journalists who the company management felt would be more of a use than a hindrance during the move to new premises. One of these was The Catholic Echo’s editor, Len Hoggins. His name suggested a plump, pig-like man with a mop of greasy grey hair and an irascible, middle-aged temperament. In fact, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Hoggins was only in his mid-thirties, slim, a smooth dresser, and rather good-looking in a blond ‘film star’ sort of way. He was patient with his staff, polite to visitors, and of a generally amenable nature.

      He was also a complete bastard – at least, that was the way Skelton felt about him. And Skelton ought to have known, having been a classmate of Hoggins’s all the way through infant, junior and finally middle school. Of course, time had rolled on since then, and Skelton and Hoggins’s paths had