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The Retribution Conspiracy by Mike Carver

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Title: The Retribution Conspiracy
Genre: Fiction, Political thriller
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1904976-09-7
Price: £5.99
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Mike Carver

Two parents are totally devastated when their pretty teenage daughter, Rebecca, is murdered on her way home from school. Her killer is quickly apprehended but the police have a weak case as they cannot find the murder weapon or the killer’s accomplices. And then things get worse. The trial is hampered by the unexpected death of the only witness, the jury is nobbled, and there is interference from corrupt freemasons who are members of the same lodge as the killer’s father. As a result, the accused youth walks free, even though his guilt was never in doubt.

The murdered girl’s father, Tony Stewart, cannot come to terms with the fact that the British legal system has failed him so badly and he has only one thought on his mind - retribution! He knows the murderer cannot be tried again for the same crime so there is only one possible solution. He must wait for the perfect opportunity and then take his revenge. He is determined that Terry Smailes must pay the full penalty for his crime and yet he knows that, if he is caught, the same legal system that denied justice for his daughter may not look favourably upon his own actions. But there are others who also aim to rectify deficiencies in the legal system and Tony is caught up in their conspiracy.

Vengeance can be his after all ... but the cost may be greater than he imagined.

The far-reaching consequences of this tragedy also have long-term effects on the lives and relationships of many of the main characters. They are all involved by circumstances surrounding the murder and they react in different ways. Some are forced apart as passions subside; others are drawn together as torrid desires take over their minds and bodies. In a way, they are all indirect victims of the killer.

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The Retribution ConspiracyIt wasn’t working! No matter how hard Angie Stewart tried to convince herself that her worries were unfounded, the churning, sickly feeling in her stomach and the tensing pain in her neck and shoulders told her that she had good cause to be worried.

For more than half an hour she had stayed by the lounge window, half hidden behind the curtain, watching anxiously. Her eyes repeatedly scanned to the far end of the quiet avenue where she lived, searching for any sign of movement between the leafy birches that lined the pavements. But she saw nothing.

She turned and glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. It merely confirmed that she was right to be concerned. Something was definitely wrong!

The pressure in her chest became suddenly unbearable, as though her upper body was in the grip of some invisible vice. Her heart was pounding furiously and her breathing was shallow. Her normally calm disposition was being taken over by unmistakable symptoms of panic. And she could do nothing to stop it.

She turned again to the clock. Only a few seconds had passed since she last checked yet it seemed like an eternity. Again she glanced down the avenue, her eyes searching in desperation. Still there was nothing!

She knew she could wait no longer. She ran to the hall, snatched the telephone off its cradle and nervously tapped in some numbers, shuffling impatiently, biting her lip as the seconds ticked away - seconds that each seemed like a minute.

At last she heard a woman’s voice; timid, uninformative, not quite what she had expected. The woman merely said, “Hello.” Nothing else.

Angie tried to speak but her throat was now completely parched. She sucked what little saliva remained in her mouth and swallowed quickly. Her words were croaked and barely audible. “Could you put me through to the office, please?”

“Sorry, love,” came the reply. “I didn’t catch what you said.”

Angie took a deep breath and raised her voice. “The office. I’d like to be put through to the office.” Her words sounded snappy but it was not intentional.

The woman at the other end hesitated for a moment. “This is the office, but there’s no one here. They’ve all gone home.”

Angie was momentarily puzzled but the woman enlightened her almost immediately. “I’m only a cleaner,” she informed almost apologetically. “I’m not really supposed to answer the phone ... but it rang for so long.”

Angie was pretty certain a cleaner would not be able to tell her anything. She had hoped to get one of the staff. This would be a complete waste of precious time. She might just as well mutter her thanks and put the telephone down.

The woman pre-empted her. “Who did you want to speak to?”

“My daughter,” Angie replied.

“She’s on the staff, is she?”

“No. She’s a pupil.”

“Well, there’s certainly none of the kids here, love. The last left more than an hour ago.”

“How can you be so sure?” Angie asked.

“Because the caretaker locks the gates when everyone’s gone home and I know he’s already done that.”

“Does that mean all the teachers have left?” Angie asked.

“I’m afraid so, love.” The woman laughed sarcastically. “Between you and me, I think they’ve had enough by the time the bell goes. They don’t hang around much after four-thirty.”

“The head-teacher?” Angie enquired optimistically, even though she sensed she was probably grasping straws.

“Sorry, love,” came the anticipated reply. “He’s gone as well.” The woman paused for a moment. “Your daughter ...  you expected her to be here?”

“No,” Angie replied. “I expected her to be at home. But she’s not.”

The woman sighed. “All I can tell you,” she said sympathetically, “is that she’s not here. But I know how you must be feeling. My own girl used to give me the jitters when she was at school. Always off with her friends, larking about after school instead of coming home. Never gave me a second thought. But you know what kids are like. Perhaps your daughter’s called at the shops, or gone to the park, or something. I wouldn’t worry if I was you. She’ll be home soon. You’ll see.”

Angie considered the woman’s words briefly but they held little comfort. Other children might go off without letting their parents know, but Becky never did. She always came straight home. Without fail.

And yet today, she hadn’t.

The woman spoke again: “I’ll tell you what. I’ll check with the caretaker ... just to make sure. What’s your daughter’s name?”

“Becky ... Rebecca Stewart.”

“Rebecca Stewart,” the woman repeated. “I’ll see what I can find out. It’ll take me a few minutes to find the caretaker. Give me your number. I’ll ring you back.”

Angie told her the number and replaced the handset, hoping that something might come of the cleaner’s enquiries, but with nagging doubts at the back of her mind. She glanced again at the clock and she knew she really had no more time to waste. It was now 5:45. Becky was never this late.

She took a deep breath and held it for several seconds, trying to bring her panic under control. But her mind was in turmoil and she knew she wasn’t thinking clearly. Her first effort to trace Becky had led nowhere. She clenched her fists, digging her nails into the flesh of her palms, deliberately inflicting pain to make herself concentrate.

She closed her eyes and walked Becky’s route in her mind. A straightforward route from the town centre to the house. A walk that should take no more than thirty minutes. A journey that should have ended more than an hour ago. But hadn’t!

There seemed to be no ready answers; nothing to explain Becky’s undue lateness. Just more questions. Where the hell was she? What was she doing? Where could she have gone? Who else might have seen her?

Then something clicked. That was it! Of course! She would have walked home with Joanna Hartley. They always walked home together. How stupid to forget!

Angie thumbed through the telephone pad, then she dialled another number. This time, the phone was answered almost immediately by a voice she recognised. “Joanna,” she said. “It’s Becky’s mum.”

“Hi, Mrs Stewart. How are you?”

This was no time for idle chatter. “Did you walk home with Becky this afternoon?” Angie asked.

“Yes. Why?”

“Where did you see her last?”

“By the railway crossing. That’s where we usually split up. Why? Isn’t she home yet?”

Angie ignored the question. “Did Becky say where she was going after she left you?”

“No. She said she was going straight home. Mind you, we were a bit later than usual because we called at the Gift Box on the way home.”

“Gift Box?” Angie queried.

“Yes, you know ... the little gift shop in Church Street. I bought Becky a silver necklace and some matching earrings for her birthday.”

Angie felt slightly relieved; the delay at last explained. “Thank God! I had no idea. I’ve been going out of my mind.” The tightness in her chest started to ease and her breathing felt instantly more relaxed. “I expect she’ll be home any minute now,” she added.

Joanna hesitated, but she realised something must have happened after she left Rebecca. There was no point in lying. “Look, Mrs Stewart, I don’t want to worry you but I’ve been home more than an hour.”

“An hour?” Angie repeated, biting her lip, trying to fight back the fear that suddenly engulfed her. “Then where the hell is she?” She paused for a second, searching for answers. There weren’t any. “Joanna,” she said, the pitch of her voice rising noticeably, “I’ve got to go. I must find her!”

“Mrs Stewart, wait!” Joanna shouted down the line, hoping to offer some assistance. But it was too late. The line went dead.

Angie’s thoughts were now muddled and confused. Her heart was racing even faster and the crushing pain in her chest was worse. The level crossing was only ten minutes walk from the house. Becky should have been home more than half an hour ago. Something must have delayed her. Angie rushed into the lounge and stared through the window again. Still there was no sign of Becky.

This was now crisis point and she felt desperately alone. She glanced at the clock. It showed almost six. Tony wouldn’t be home for at least an hour - two if he decided to let the rush hour traffic subside. But she needed him now more than ever before. He would calm her down; apply rational thought to the problem. He would know how to handle it. She returned to the hall and dialled his office number.

The ringing tone sounded only four times before the answering machine cut in. The offices of Mitchelson Design are now closed for the day. If you leave your name, telephone number and a brief message, we will return your call as soon as we can. Please speak after you hear the bleep.

The bleep sounded almost immediately. In desperation, she shouted into the mouthpiece, “Can anybody hear me? If you can, for God’s sake pick up the phone.”

She waited for a few seconds.


She tried again. “Tony! Eva! Anybody! Can you hear me?”

Again she waited.

Ten seconds later the machine cut in automatically: Thank you for calling. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Good-bye. Then the line went dead.

Angie replaced the handset, hoping against hope that anyone working late in the office might spot the message light flashing. But, in her heart, she had a sinking feeling that this wouldn’t happen. Nothing was going right so far.

For the moment, she was on her own.

She knew she had to pull herself together and act responsibly. She considered her options. There was only one: to drive down to the railway crossing and start searching. If that revealed nothing, then she would have to contact the police.

She rushed to the hall, snatched the car keys from the coat stand, and swung the front door open.

The sudden movement startled the couple standing in the porch. The woman nervously retracted the finger that had been poised to ring the bell. Angie stared at them both: they were the last people she wanted to see right at that moment.

The woman spoke first. “Mrs Stewart?”

The colour drained from Angie’s face; she felt feint, unsteady on her feet; her fingers clasped the door handle for support; her stomach knotted; her throat was dry. She couldn’t answer.

The woman understood and spoke softly. “I’m WPC Jane Easton.” She turned and pointed to her companion. “And this is Sergeant Roberts. Do you mind if we come inside?”

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