"Skin Deep" drabbles by Neville Hunt

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Skin Deep #258

Twigg would have to acquiesce to the request from this mysterious Commander Bayliss of the Special Intelligence Service, aka MI6.

First though, he had to stop Rufus's screaming. The previous evening, after the first session, he'd decided not to interview Rufus again that night. 'Let him stew in his cell', he thought. It didn't occur to him that the screaming might start again. He'd gone home for supper. The shrink should arrive tomorrow.

The next morning, Twigg arrived at West End Central to find that Rufus had been screaming in his cell since 5am.

Twigg reluctantly returned Mac2 to Rufus!

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National security

Skin Deep #257

Commander Bayliss of the SIS read Amy's profile of Rufus. He was determined. He had to talk to the young man. A few phone calls later, he was speaking to DCS Twigg.

"Need a word with your young chap", he said mysteriously, having established his credentials.

"Not a chance!", responded Twigg, "and even if there was, you'd have to stand in line after the shrink, when the bugger finally arrives, and me. And none of us will speak to him while the little shit's screaming!"

"It's a matter of national security and I think, old chap, that rather outranks you!"

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Killing Genius (allegedly)

Skin Deep #256

The Goss needed a Rufus story quickly. One of the other 'red tops' had an exclusive about football corruption and was stealing a march and readers.

The Goss Editor gave Rufus a 'handle'.

'THE KILLING GENIUS (allegedly)' filled the front page and led a story, penned by Amy Tate, about his exceptional performance at university. A pretty woman, she had easily managed to interview his tutors and other students, including some in his hall of residence.

The profile of Rufus was 'loner', 'boffin', 'workaholic', and from a couple of women in his hall, 'vicious rapist, who'd got their friend pregnant'.

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Shrink alert

Skin Deep #255

The solicitor did go home, but not before, in the interests of her 'client', she talked to Twigg.

"My client indicated earlier he'd been experiencing extreme headaches and, together with his apparent 'confusion' about some of your questioning, I think it would be in both his and your best interests to have him medically examined. It seems to me that he might be suffering from amnesia or something worse."

"I'll think about it" was Twigg's parting shot.

"Shit!" he announced to the PC, "the little bugger's trying for unfit to plead or diminished responsibility! Get a shrink down here fast!"

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Home time

Skin Deep #254

The solicitor, dumbfounded at how blatantly Rufus had ignored her advice in the interview room, saw him afterwards.

"Mr Johnson, I suggest that you try to resist the urge to deny everything that DCS Twigg says. As I said earlier, the best thing is to say nothing. Twigg is trying to goad you into making a slip and admitting to one of the murders you are charged with."

"I've got no idea what he's on about!"

"I think maybe you do..."


"If you won't take my advice then I can't help you."

"Then I suggest you fuck off home!"

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Semblance of guilt

Skin Deep #253

Rufus was returned to his cell, without Mac2. Despite the outer aggression, inside Rufus was anxious. He couldn't recall where he'd got Mac2 from, but he knew he needed it for these terrible headaches he was getting. Maybe he should ask to see a doctor about them. The coppers must fix it.

The coppers, or at least Twigg, were rather stymied. Twigg was aware that Rufus had got the better of him, the upper hand, and that couldn't continue. He knew for absolute certain that Rufus was guilty of lots of murders, but he didn't really seem guilty at all!

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Skin Deep #252

"OK, Rufus, have it your way. Let's move on. When did you last visit your father?"

"Bastard! If I knew where he lived I'd go over and kill the fucker!"

"So you admit you killed your father?"

"Aren't you listening, c*ntstable? No! I don't know where he lives!"

"I think you do, Rufus, because you killed him and the woman he lived with!" Twigg ignored the insult.

"Crap! Ask my mum where he lives but get there before she does or she'll kill him first! Silly cow, I'm amazed she hasn't topped herself after his beatings!"

"Interview terminated at 8.38pm."

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Skin Deep #251

If 'say nothing' was what the stupid woman had advised him, contrary Rufus would do the opposite. He had no recollection of anything that had happened in the past 12 months or so. From his perspective, everything was as it was before he'd met Marcus and before he went to university. It was like a mental rewind.

"Tell us when you met Marcus Branthwaite", Twigg started.

"Who the fuck's he? Never heard of him!"

'Oh dear," thought Twigg, "he's gonna be like that and deny everything.'

"We found you living at his house."

"Bollocks! You're talking out of your arse!"

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Nothing, nowt, nix.

Skin Deep #250

The solicitor was unusually frightened by Rufus's outburst upon hearing what he was accused of doing. He not so much denied everything, but did so in such a convincing way that she had doubts she'd not had before. She too had read the stories in the paper.

It was very difficult to advise him in such a state of anger. A PC rushed in to check what was going on, but there was no sign of physical attack and the solicitor indicated she was OK.

"If you have not committed any crime, then say absolutely nothing." was her considered advice.

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Highly charged

Skin Deep #249

The solicitor who came to advise Rufus was not really a lot of use.

Rufus asked her at the start why he'd been arrested. She looked at him quizically and answered "I think you know Mr Johnson."

"If I knew I wouldn't be fucking asking!" Rufus's memory might have been reduced, but there was absolutely no diminution of his aggression.

"There's no call for that kind of language, Mr Johnson." the woman replied calmly. Rufus was not the first angry young man in police custody she had advised.

She told him what police claimed he'd done.

Rufus hit the roof.

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MacCain and MacAbel

Skin Deep #248

Mac2 had protected itself by temporarily removing Rufus's recent memory. Nonetheless, an internal 'error message' in Mac2 was nagging. This was regarding the risk represented by its 'younger brother'. Mac was on the loose somewhere in London. It was another potential threat. Rufus was enough to contend with!

The Macs were configured to 'sync' with each other. But now Mac2 didn't want to risk sharing with Mac. It wanted to be top dog.

It wasn't able to destroy Mac, but sucked out its memory.

Pity the poor devil who next connected to Mac... it would be hungry for new life!

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No-one cares

Skin Deep #247

Over the river in the MI6 Building, The Goss article was read carefully, along with earlier reports, by Commander Bayliss, Recruitment Group Head. He was particularly interested in Rufus. Ruthless thugs were ten a penny, but this one was extremely clever and regarded as an electronics 'genius' by his university tutors.

Unlike the police, Bayliss appreciated Rufus's apparent cold-bloodedness, cunning and ruthlessness. If the reports were true, then he'd had no compunction in killing his own parents and anyone else who got in his way.

And the bonus was that he had no known relatives. Nobody cared about Rufus.

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Questions, questions.

Skin Deep #246

The Goss front page was ready. The Rufus story was hot and in the vacuum that usually accompanies an arrest in the case of serious crimes, they had to keep the initiative. Rufus was their story. Over a grainy close up of him from the picture Amy took as she retreated from her recent encounter with Rufus the front page headline ran

The Goss reporter Amy Tate gives answers.

It went on to say virtually nothing, except hint at police incompetence, naming DCS Twigg, and build on Amy's earlier story, with hints of his violence towards her.

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Skin Deep #245

"I don't remember" said Rufus in response to the question about where he'd bought Mac2.

"Oh, it's going to be like that, is it?" sighed Twigg.

"But I do remember that I have the right to legal advice." Rufus had watched quite a few cop films in his youth.

"You'd better call the DSCC and get someone down as soon as they can, constable. This here fella's going to be a tricky one!"

While the constable went off to call the Defence Solicitor Call Centre, Twigg called home to warn his wife that he would probably be very late back.

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Skin Deep #244

In the short time that Rufus was allowed to plug in to Mac2, the machine rationalised that it must strip Rufus of all memory of the past year. That part of Rufus's internal wiring was 'parked' - temporarily put into his brain's 'recycle bin'. The boy would not be able to remember anything that he'd done or had happened. Thus he wouldn't be able to give the confession that Twigg so earnestly craved.

Twigg called time on the connection with Mac2, having seen that Rufus seemed to be recovering.

"Interesting bit of kit that!" Twigg commented, "where did you buy it?"

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Skin Deep #243

Twigg went to grab Mac2 from Rufus, who had better reaction times. So important was it for Rufus to stop the excruciating headache, he would happily have killed the two coppers there and then rather than let Mac2 go. As it was he fought them both off quite successfully.

"I'm not gonna fuckin' kill myself, I wanna stop this fuckin' headache! Twats!"

For some reason Twigg let Rufus continue with Mac2, beckoning the PC to stand down. Within minutes, Rufus started looking much more relaxed. He indicated to the policemen that his head was improving.

But Mac2 was going further.

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Skin Deep #242

"Y'know I've seen one of them before." Twigg told the PC as they watched Rufus plug in Mac2's earphones. "Looks like a mobile but isn't. Now where was it?"

"Dunno, sir, never seen anything like it."

"Oh... I know where it was. A young copper was found dead listening to one a few weeks back. They couldn't fathom how he died. Perfectly healthy, but it looked like his heart just stopped beating. The copper who found that woman who tore her skin off."

It finally dawned on Twigg. "Oh shit. That was this bloke's mum. He's going to top himself!"

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Extraction strategy

Skin Deep #241

On the way to the interview room at West End Central, Twigg was concerned about the confession he was surely now going to extract. Was Rufus trying to outsmart him again by screaming, or was it genuine? Was Rufus utterly mad? Or was he trying to nobble Twigg with inadmissible evidence or get declared unfit to plead?

Twigg wanted a straightforward premeditated murder verdict - the kind that would have seen Rufus hanged in the good old days.

Whilst strictly against police procedures, when they reached the room, such was the noise Rufus was making that Twigg handed him Mac2, temporarily.

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Must confess

Skin Deep #240

Rufus lunged for Mac2, but was quickly stopped by Twigg.

"Steady on lad, what do you think you're doing? I can't let you have your phone!"

"Not a phone, it's Mac. It stops my headache. Let me have it." Rufus was desperate. The pain in his head was the worst it had ever been.

However, Twigg didn't believe him but saw it as a way to get a confession from the lad. He shook his head slowly.

Twigg told the constable to bring Rufus through to the interview room. Must follow due process!

Rufus writhed and screamed all the way.

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Pain reliever

Skin Deep #239

DCS Twigg visited Rufus in the cell. Still holding his head between his ears and screaming, nothing he said made any sense.

"Give me Mac, must have Mac!" Neither the PC nor Twigg knew what he was asking for.

"Was there a raincoat in his rucksack, constable?" asked Twigg.

"No, sir, nothing like that. He had food, T-shirts and a couple of mobile phones and various leads I think. No mac, sir."

"Bring me his rucksack. I can't interview him if he's screaming the place down!"

As things were emptied out, Rufus pointed at Mac2 ... "There it is!"