The Hostile Game: Book Three in The Hostile series
Best Book Bit:
Later that day, a lorry that looks too large for the narrow street, pulls up outside the house with the full skip, blocking the light from the Drummond’s living room. Tristan kneels on the sofa and stares out of the window, open-mouthed, as a man-mountain with a bald, tattooed head, hooks impressive chains onto the skip and launches the unwieldy container into the summer air. It sways alarmingly, almost hitting a parked car and the Drummond’s front wall. With the skip safely in place, the lorry slowly drives away, much to Tristan’s dismay.
The old bricks are being recycled as part of a new building project by the same builders, Bob and Darren, who’ve been busy working on the extension next door to Serena’s house. The tattooed skip driver transports the full skip to the new site and offloads it.
‘Here’s the bricks you’ve been waiting for, Bob,’ the driver shouts to a couple of builders who are standing around drinking tea in the sunshine.
Bob and young Darren, who’s half the age and size of fifty-something Bob, each grab a wheelbarrow and start filling them with the old bricks. Like most builders, they are used to juggling several building jobs at once. Bob makes a point of working harder at shifting the bricks than Darren, so he can shout at him and mock him. Bob calls it banter, but it’s tantamount to bullying; as Bob’s the boss, he regards belittling Darren as perks of his job.
‘Put your back into it, Daz. You’re only on your third load and I’m already on my fifth. Stop being such a girl,’ Bob yells over his shoulder as he barrows another load over to the gaping hole in the ground that’ll be a house at some point.
Darren doesn’t even bother to answer. He swears under his breath and looks morosely into his bleak future. He hates what he sees. Can’t stick this much longer. Back’s killing me and my asthma’s getting worse. If he shouts at me much more, I’ll take a pick axe to his head, I swear to God. He spends the next few minutes imagining the satisfying crunch the axe might make as it shatters bone, then imagines Bob’s brains splattering all over the ground for the crows to peck.
When they are about three-quarters of the way down the skip load of bricks, Darren stops dead in his tracks after removing a handful of bricks to chuck into his wheelbarrow. Is that a hand or a brown glove? He shifts a few more bricks and discovers that the hand is attached to an arm, wrapped in a white plaster cast.
‘Quick, Bob … get over here! There’s something weird in the skip.’
‘A unicorn, perhaps?’ shouts Bob with a sneer. He carries on chucking bricks into the hole, deeming anything Darren has to say isn’t worth listening to.
‘I’m serious. Come over here right now. Think there’s a body at the bottom of the skip.’ Panic rises in Darren’s throat. He’s too scared to dislodge any more bricks, for fear of what else might lie underneath the rubble.
With a deep sigh, believing his whipping boy is freaking out over nothing like a soppy girl, Bob stomps over to the skip and looks inside. He soon changes his tune when he spies a grimy, smashed human hand and forearm peeking out from the bricks.
‘Shove over! Let the dog see the rabbit,’ says Bob. Darren hears an unfamiliar tremor in Bob’s voice. Bob jumps into the skip so he can remove more bricks. Rather him than me, thinks Darren, feeling queasy. There is silence except for the dull thud of the bricks as Bob throws them out of the skip onto the ground, to reveal what lies beneath. A torso in a black T-shirt is soon revealed, the chest seeming more concave than convex, due to the weight of the bricks that have been pressing down on top of the body. Bob chickens out before shifting enough bricks to reveal the head. If the chest’s in such a terrible state, I don’t want to see what the head looks like. It’d haunt me forever.