N ightingale got home just after two o’clock in the morning. He called Jenny to tell her that everything was okay, then he showered and fell into bed, exhausted. He woke at ten and made himself a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee, and spent the rest of the morning watching television. At just after midday Jenny phoned and asked him if he’d heard anything and he said that he hadn’t.
‘I’ve been checking the internet and Sky News and there’s no word of any escape from Rampton,’ she said.
‘I’m assuming they’ll phone me if she does get out because I’m down as next of kin,’ said Nightingale. ‘What about your Welshman? Caernarfon Craig?’
‘He’s emailing me through Facebook again, fishing for personal stuff, but I’m still ducking and diving,’ she said. ‘I’ve logged onto some of the suicide sites that he’s told me about. There’re a lot of very depressed people out there, Jack.’
‘State the economy’s in, I’m not surprised. But you be careful, Jenny. If this guy is behind the Welsh deaths then you could be playing with fire.’
‘I know what I’m doing,’ she said. ‘I’m copying everything he’s sent me and once I can identify him I’ll pass it all onto the cops.’
She ended the call and Nightingale showered again, then shaved and changed into a clean denim shirt and jeans, made himself another mug of coffee and lay on the sofa watching television. At some point he must have fallen asleep because he was woken by the sound of his door intercom buzzing. He went to answer it.
‘Open the bloody door, Nightingale, or by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin I’ll blow the thing down.’ It was Superintendent Chalmers.
‘What do you want?’ asked Nightingale.
‘I want you to open the door now. If you don’t there are two big men here who’re going to kick it in.’
‘Big men? Are you trying to scare me, Chalmers? Because it’s not working.’
‘I’ve got a warrant, Nightingale. And I’m counting down from ten.’
‘Yeah, using all your fingers, I’ll bet.’
‘One way or the other we’re coming in, Nightingale.’
Nightingale pressed the button to open the downstairs door. He switched off the television and then opened his front door. Chalmers was wearing a dark raincoat and a sour expression as he clumped up the stairs followed by two uniformed officers.
‘Where’s the warrant?’ asked Nightingale.
Chalmers handed Nightingale an envelope and pushed him to the side. He walked into the sitting room and looked around while the uniforms checked Nightingale’s bedroom.
‘Nothing here, sir,’ shouted one.
‘Check the bathroom,’ said Chalmers. ‘Count the bloody toothbrushes.’
‘What are you looking for?’ asked Nightingale.
Chalmers gestured at the envelope. ‘Not what,’ he said. ‘Who. It’s in the warrant. Your sister.’
‘How many sisters do you have?’
‘She’s in Rampton.’
Chalmers sneered at him. ‘Not as of today, she isn’t,’ he said.
‘No one knows what happened,’ said Chalmers. ‘Her room was checked this morning and she wasn’t there. But she’d left a whole lot of weird stuff behind.’
‘So what’s that got to do with me?’ asked Nightingale.
The superintendent pointed a finger at Nightingale’s face. ‘See, there’s a funny thing. Most people would have asked what sort of weird stuff. But not you.’
‘Okay, I’ll humour you. What weird stuff?’
‘You know what weird stuff. There was a pentagram on the floor, candles, a bowl of herbs. And according to the security logs, you’re the one who took it in to her.’
‘I took her a few things that her psychiatrist said might help her. The guards checked everything I took in. Even had a sniffer dog go over it.’
‘You helped her escape. I know you did.’
‘Yeah, and what exactly did I do? I smuggled in a hacksaw so that she could saw through the bars, did I?’
‘The bars were fine, all the doors were locked, there’s nothing on the CCTV. She didn’t walk out, she just vanished.’
‘And you think I had a hand in that?’
‘Where were you last night?’
‘I was in Gosling Manor until about midnight.’
‘You had a party there, did you?’
Nightingale shook his head. ‘I was alone.’
‘On New Year’s Eve?’
‘I just wanted some quiet contemplation,’ he said. ‘I was making my New Year resolutions, if you must know.’
‘Can anyone confirm that you were there?’
‘I told you, I was alone. Then I came back here.’
‘About two o’clock.’
‘So no witnesses?’ said Chalmers.
‘Chalmers, if I was up to something I’d have sorted out an alibi for myself, wouldn’t I? I was in the Job, remember? I know how it works. But I drove, so I’m sure you’ll be able to catch me on CCTV somewhere.’
‘What’s going on, Nightingale?’
Nightingale shrugged. ‘I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,’ he said.
‘Where is she?’
Nightingale put his hand on his heart. ‘I have no idea. And that’s the truth. Scout’s honour.’
‘You know who her last visitor was?’
‘I’m guessing that would be me.’
‘Yeah, well, you guess right. On Thursday you go in to see her. Saturday morning and she vanishes. I don’t believe in coincidences, Nightingale. Let’s go.’
‘Not without a warrant,’ said Nightingale.
Chalmers reached into pocket and took out a second envelope, which he thrust at Nightingale. ‘Get your coat,’ he said.