Into The Silence, p.1Sarah Pinborough
Table of Contents
Coming soon from BBC Books TORCHWOOD THE ENCYCLOPEDIA
Also available from BBC Books THE TORCHWOOD ARCHIVES
TORCHWOOD ANOTHER LIFE
TORCHWOOD BORDER PRINCES
TORCHWOOD SLOW DECAY
TORCHWOOD SOMETHING IN THE WATER
TORCHWOOD TRACE MEMORY
TORCHWOOD THE TWILIGHT STREETS
TORCHWOOD PACK ANIMALS
TORCHWOOD ALMOST PERFECT
TORCHWOOD BAY OF THE DEAD
TORCHWOOD THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT
Coming soon from BBC Books TORCHWOOD THE UNDERTAKER'S GIFT
TORCHWOOD RISK ASSESSMENT
Recent titles in the Torchwood series from BBC Books
10. INTO THE SILENCE
11. BAY OF DEAD
12. HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT
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Published in 2009 by BBC Books, an imprint of Ebury Publishing
A Random House Group company
© Sarah Pinborough, 2009
Sarah Pinborough has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this
Work in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.
Torchwood is a BBC Wales production for BBC One
Executive Producers: Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner
Original series created by Russell T Davies and broadcast on BBC Television.
'Torchwood' and the Torchwood logo are trademarks of the
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Commissioning Editor: Albert DePetrillo
Series Editor: Steve Tribe
Production Controller: Phil Spencer
For the S.S.C.C.,
without whom I wouldn't have such great
and ridiculous friends. Stony Stratford rocks!
Heavy raindrops pattered insistently against the window, searching out a way to creep in. Watching from her bed on the other side of the room, six-year-old Kate Healey pulled the covers up a little further until they stopped just under her nose. Her eyes were wide and her breathing fast. It was only rain, she knew that, but, lying there in the dark with her parents all the way downstairs, she thought the drops sounded just like the hungry fingers of dead children tapping at the glass, wanting to get at her warm skin.
Sleep. She had to try to get to sleep because Shona at school said the monsters didn't come for you if you were asleep, and more than anything Kate wanted the monsters to leave her alone. For a moment she let her eyes drift shut, and when she opened them again she was relieved that there were no shapes moving in the shadows of her room. No dead children inside. Or monsters. Or maybe dead children were monsters. Everything was a monster in the dark.
Shivering slightly, Kate wished she didn't have such a vivid and overactive imagination. She wasn't entirely sure what the phrase meant, but she knew that whatever it was it made her afraid of stuff that people like her parents didn't even think about. Monsters. Dead people. The bad things that lived in the secret black country under her bed and came out at night. She'd seen her mum and dad both shake their heads and blame her vivid or overactive imagination for waking them up at night when they had to be at work early. But she couldn't help it, however much she wished differently. And how could she explain that the world changed in the dark? And it terrified her.
Outside, the wind became distracted and carried the rain in a different direction, giving the small terraced house's windows some peace. Kate let out a sigh, and her heart slowed slightly to somewhere nearer a normal pace. The dead fingers were gone, at least for now. If only she could see to the other side of the room, then bedtime would be so much easier. She peered at the empty space on her bedside table where her night light had been.
Big girls don't sleep with a light on. That's what Daddy had said when he threw it away, despite all her tears. She'd almost gone and fished it out of the bin when no one was looking, but Daddy could be really scary when he was angry and so she'd left it where it was until the rubbish men came and took it away for good. Daddy had thrown it out four days ago, and Kate hadn't slept properly since. It was too dark. Bad things came alive in the dark.
Pulling Lucky the stuffed sheepdog into a tighter hug, she curled her knees up under him and towards her chin. Despite her sockets starting to itch with tiredness, she couldn't bring herself to shut her eyes for more than a moment, knowing that as soon as she did all the shadows in her small room would pull themselves together into something fluid and ancient, intent on creeping up to suffocate her. She blinked. It was a fast movement, too quick for the shadows to act.
From downstairs, the theme tune for some TV detective show that her mum was fond of drifted up towards her, reminding Kate that her bedroom was not a dark universe on its own but was attached to the rest of the warm and brightly lit house. It was a slightly comforting thought and, as the loud music faded into dialogue that she couldn't hear, Kate concentrated instead on the sounds from outside: not the rain, the dead children's fingers, but the real-life human sounds of nine o'clock on a Tuesday evening in Cardiff. She was a big girl. She'd show them she didn't need a night light.
But then, almost imperceptibly, something shifted in the night air. A few streets away, a dog set up an anguished howl, joined by two or three more before they whimpered into subdued silence. Kate frowned. Cats shrieked and hissed in the street outside. The music from the church a few hundred metres away faded in her head, the sound draining to nothing and taking the throbbing car engines and the raindrops with it.
Thump. Something landed heavily on the roof and Kate's terrified eyes rolled upwards, her mouth falling open a little. It was too heavy to be a bird or a cat. What was it? Sweat seeped from the palms of her hands into Lucky's fur. Mummy. She wanted Mummy. The thing on the roof moved and Kate froze.
With each leaden step taken on top of the house, sound faded from Kate's world. Cold silence oozed through the tiles and down through the attic, its fingers reaching for the little girl, wrapping round her mind and digging sharp nails in, squeezing tighter than she held the tatty toy. Her throat worked to make a scream, but she couldn't find it. For a horrible moment, she couldn't remember how.
The clock beside her bed ceased its quiet, steady electric tick, even though the luminous hands continued on their regimented journey. Her heart stopped its panicked beat in her ears. Even the inner whine that accompanied complete stillness vanished. Her head was empty, cut off even from the regulation clicks and whirrs of its own body. Alone. Vacant.
The monsters had found her in the dark and they were never ever going to let her go.
And then she gasped and sat bolt upright, air pounding noisily through her lungs, the clock bursting back into life, the rustle of the sheets and duvet an explosion of joyous sound as whatever had been on the roof took a final leap clear of the house.
Kate didn't go to the window. She couldn't bring herself to move, not even when she heard glass shattering just before the choir fell silent. Not even when a shriek of human agony filled the street and her head. She wasn't a big girl. She wanted her night light.
She finally found her own scream fifteen minutes later when the sirens' wails filled the quiet roads outside, but this time no maternal reassurance would calm her. Kate Healey slept in with her parents that night, curled up tight against her mother Cara's back. She stayed there for the rest of the week, and no amount of shouting from Daddy could move her.
Kate Healey had found a fear that made the dark seem like child's play. And it came shrouded in silence.
Gwen Cooper pulled up outside the Church of St Emmanuel and stepped out of the black SUV before quickly zipping up her fitted leather jacket, flinching a little against the rain. Bloody weather. It had been raining for days and showed no sign of letting up, the sky hanging constantly heavy and grey over the city.
Jack Harkness slammed his door and looked over at her as she tucked her chin into the fitted collar.
'It's only water, Gwen. Pure, natural, recycled for millions of years, good old Earth water.' He grinned. 'This little downpour's probably been through you a few times already. Embrace it!'
She stared at him for a moment.
'Thanks for that insight, Jack. It makes me feel so much warmer and drier.'
'You need a proper jacket.' He looked down at his grey wartime thick wool overcoat, which stopped somewhere around his shins.
Gwen raised an eyebrow. 'You wouldn't catch me dead in something like that.'
'Me neither. But then, what's the chance of that?'
Unable to hold back the smile, Gwen shook her head. 'Actually we have caught you bloody dead in it. You just don't stay that way long.' There was something about Jack that could always make her feel good, even after everything that had happened. She blew her damp fringe out of her face. 'Come on. Let's see what's causing all this excitement.'
The rain forgotten for a moment, Gwen took in the activity around them. Since joining Torchwood, her days in the force sometimes seemed like a distant memory, but she still approached situations like a copper. And there seemed to be a lot of police outside the quiet suburban church for what was reportedly only one dead body. The SUV had slid into a space between two police cars, both of which still had their lights flashing and, amidst the men in plastic suits that scurried to and from the SOCO van, three uniformed constables were stretching a crime-scene cordon around the front of the building.
Side by side, Jack and Gwen took the stairs up to the arched doorway two at a time, their easy confidence enough to deter anyone that might try to stop them. Gwen didn't spot the man between them and the entrance, but Jack did.
'We're Torchwood. We'll be taking over from here.'
'Torchwood?' Concealed in the shadows of the doorway, only the glowing end of his cigarette visible, the man's accent had the gravelly edge of North London.
'Gwen Cooper and Captain Jack Harkness.' Gwen spoke firmly, but the man's dark outline didn't move from blocking the entrance. She glared. 'Let us through please, this is our business now.'
'Well, well, well.' The man laughed drily and stepped out of the gloom. 'I thought you lot had gone down at Canary Wharf.' He threw his half-smoked cigarette down and crushed it with a scuffed lace-up shoe. 'But I guess I've never been that lucky.' He looked up. 'DI Tom Cutler. Murder squad.' He sniffed. 'I'm on secondment from Hammersmith.'
Gwen looked the man up and down. His suit was scruffy and it was obvious he hadn't shaved for a day or two. His eyes were sunk deep into their sockets as if they'd tried to bury themselves somewhere where they wouldn't have to look at the world. She'd seen that look before. Drinker?
'What did you do wrong to make them send you down here?'
The man's eyes hardened, but the sharp grin stayed sliced on his face under his dishevelled blond fringe. 'That's none of your business, even if you are Torchwood.' He leaned forward a little. 'And tell me if I'm getting it wrong, but you lot don't seem too popular among the ordinary rank and file.' He nodded towards the men and women working in the wet road, many of whom cast a suspicious glance over at the two dark-haired plain-clothed strangers.
'All part of the job. Most of them know we're all on the same team at the end of the day.' Jack smiled, but Gwen could see that he was eager to get inside and see the crime scene. The clock was ticking. Still, she was curious and the question tumbled out of her impulsive mouth before she could stop it.
'What do you know about Torchwood anyway?'
'Ran into some nasty trouble in Hammersmith with a case back in 2003. Torchwood came in and dealt with it.' Pulling the collar of his suit jacket up and tugging it round his neck, DI Cutler stepped out into the rain, leaving the doorway clear. 'And back then I was very happy to let them. There were some things that I didn't want as my responsibility.' The smile fell, and for the first time Gwen could see the haunted depth in the man's hollow eyes. Maybe he did drink, but maybe he had good reason to.
'Like whatever happened to that poor sod in there. So be my guest and take the case. It's all yours.' Cutler turned his back on them and headed down the stairs. 'The ME's still inside waiting for you. If you don't want the body, then he'll take it,' he called back over his shoulder. 'And good luck.'
Gwen stared after him. 'Are there a lot of people in the system that know so much about us?'
'Sometimes people are valuable out in the real world with a little knowledge.' Jack watched the disap
She raised a dark eyebrow. 'Trust? It'd never work.'
Jack frowned. 'Well, I bet they had more permanent solutions for when they weren't feeling the love. Maybe our DI Cutler was luckier than he thought.'
Gwen's expression darkened as she took one last look at the shabby figure embracing the gloom. 'Still, it looks like whatever happened to him left him pretty messed up.'
'He'll be fine. Eventually.' Jack turned back to the church. 'Let's get in out of this goddamned rain.'
'It's only water, Jack.' Gwen found her own smile again. 'Good old pure, Earth water. Embrace it.'
Four minutes later, the grin had fallen from Gwen's face. The bright church was empty apart from the plastic-suited medical examiner and a constable at the door, who was very intently facing the thick wood rather than looking in towards the crime scene. Gwen didn't blame him. For a long moment neither she nor Jack spoke, the sound of the rain hammering on the roof keeping time with the thud of her heart and the churn in her stomach. There was a lot of blood.
'I can see why DI Cutler was so keen to hand it over.' Her mouth couldn't decide if it wanted to be wet or dry, and her legs trembled slightly. The body in the church was very definitely dead and, despite all the things she'd seen since joining Torchwood, Gwen was pretty sure she was in a fifty-fifty situation with regards to throwing up. She pushed her hair away from her hot face and took a deep breath. She was buggered if she was going to lose control in front of the police ME. They'd love that back at the station.
Jack crouched beside the body, his eyes running over it thoughtfully. He didn't look up. 'It's OK, doctor. We'll take it from here.'
The ME pulled his plastic hood back and mask down to reveal a pale, middle-aged face. 'Are you sure?'
Into The Silence by Sarah Pinborough / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes