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55

M orris had found the security room on the top floor, at the end of a corridor off which there were half a dozen bedrooms. It wasnt difficult to find as it had the word SECURITY in large capital letters on the door. There was a bank of monitors on one wall and on a table in front of them were a keyboard, three telephones and a MacBook laptop computer. There was a black leather swivel chair pushed close to the table and behind it a stainless-steel bunk bed. To the right was another door leading to a bathroom.

You were right the CCTV system has been switched off, said Morris. State-of-the-art system, must have cost thousands.

Yeah, Mitchell wasnt short of a bob or two, said Nightingale. He sat down in the swivel chair and put the diary on the table. Can you show me how it works?

What is it you want? asked Morris, leaning over him and switching on the laptop.

I want to see what was recorded on November the twenty-seventh.

Shouldnt be difficult, said Morris. He flicked on a switch and the monitors flickered into life. Views of the interior and exterior of the house filled the monitors. Thats the live feed.

The centre monitor was larger than the rest and it was the main computer screen. By moving the cursor across a panel Morris could change the camera input to any of the monitors, and show up to sixteen inputs on any one screen. He quickly filled all four of the surveillance monitors, which meant that he had the views from sixty-four cameras and almost all were inside the house. One of the screens showed the back of the chair and the monitors.

Nightingale twisted around in his seat. He couldnt see a CCTV camera but there was a stainless-steel light fitting on the wall. Sneaky, he said.

Morriss fingers played across the keyboard and a menu appeared on the main monitor. Okay, there we go, he said. He pointed at the monitor. Therere the dates; you scroll to the one you want and click on it. He moved the cursor to 27 November and a second menu filled the screen. Those are all the feeds, by number, and the times. You choose a feed and then click on the time. Its all digital so it should be quick. What part of the house are you interested in?

Ill do it, said Nightingale. You wait in the car.

Morris picked up the diary and flicked through it. Whats this? he said. It doesnt make sense.

Its mirror writing, said Nightingale. You have to hold it in front of a mirror to read it.

Why would anyone bother to write like that?

I told you, he was a nutter. No offence, Eddie, but will you piss off and leave me to it?

Morris put down the diary and headed for the door.

And dont think about pinching anything, warned Nightingale. Im going to pat you down before we leave.

I hear you, said Morris.

Yeah, well, hear and obey, said Nightingale.

As Morris left the room, Nightingale tapped on the keyboard and scrolled down to 26 November. He clicked on the feed for the camera covering the patio. A view of the flagstones filled the main screen. According to the digital timer running along the bottom of the screen it was the view at midday. He pecked at the keyboard and the timecode clicked to 23.59.50 on 26 November. Nightingale saw himself sitting in the centre of a pentagram, with candles burning at the five points of the star within the circle. The wind was ruffling his hair and he was holding a book in his lap. Nightingale smiled to himself. At least he hadnt imagined the pentagram. He looked around for some way of boosting the volume but realised that the cameras probably didnt have microphones attached, so there were pictures but no sound. Not that it mattered he knew exactly what had been said.

The recorded Nightingale stopped reading, closed the book and stared out over the lawn.

Nightingale leaned back in his chair, waiting for Proserpine and her dog to appear on screen. The timecode clicked over to 00.00.00 and the date from 26 November to 27 November. Nightingale frowned. Proserpine had appeared at exactly midnight. So where was she?

The recorded Nightingale got to his feet and opened the book. He began reading aloud from it. Nightingale leaned forward, peering at the screen. Where was Proserpine? Why wasnt she there? She had appeared at midnight and Nightingale had started to read from the book, so why wasnt she on the screen?

Nightingale stared at the digits of the timecode: 00.00.45. Another second clicked by. And another.

This isnt what happened, Nightingale muttered to himself. She was there. I know she was there.

Nightingale continued to stare at the recording. Nothing was happening. The timer at the bottom was ticking off the seconds but the Nightingale on screen just stood there, alone. There was no Proserpine. No dog. And no Mitchell being sent to burn in Hell.


| Midnight | c