THE TIME TRAVELLING DETECTIVES, BOOK 1 – MURDER NO MORE By ANGELA COWAN
My name is Martin Hollis, and I’m a serial killer. Or at least I used to be when I was alive.
Most people die once, but I’ve managed it twice. The first time was in 1970 when I was thirty-five years old and hiding from the police in a secret room behind a bookcase in my cellar. They emptied the bookcase, I panicked and dived into an empty steamer trunk, and the hasp swung shut.
The police never found the room, and I suffocated in the dark, cursing my stupidity and the resilience of nineteenth-century locks.
Then I resurrected in 2010 – still aged thirty-five – due to a psychic link with a fourteen-year-old boy. That life lasted a week before the connection broke, and I aged forty years. A massive heart attack checked in, and it was Goodnight, Vienna. 
Now I’m alive for the third time.
At some point after that last death, I resurfaced in an empty motorway service station. I stood in a sea of blue Formica and looked out of the windows at black swirly fog while hidden speakers blared popular songs from the 1960s played in a bossa nova style on the Hammond organ.
Heaven had let itself go a bit.
I figured I was there for a reason and waited for something or someone to appear. It didn’t take long. Footsteps sounded on the expanse of grey linoleum behind me. I spun around, but no one was there, and I turned back. “Yeeargh.”
A small dark man in a red suit was standing inches away. For crying out loud. Almost another heart attack.
“Martin Hollis? Known as Marty?”
He gestured towards one of the empty tables. “Have a seat, Marty. And coffee. And a doughnut.”
Coffee and doughnuts materialised on the table. I took a seat and a sip of stewed coffee and thought that Heaven would have cappuccinos or skinny lattes at the very least.
My companion slid onto the seat opposite, and I checked out the slim-fitting red suit, black shirt, red tie and black pointy shoes. He couldn’t be an angel – unless angels were shopping at ‘Pimps ’R’ Us’. So, if this wasn’t Heaven, it must be the other place. Made sense, I suppose. I had killed a few people. I looked at the man’s dark skin and pale blue eyes and then scanned the thick black hair for anything protruding. He caught my gaze. “I’m not him. Get a grip.”
“I’m Mr Scarlet.”
“Any relation to Miss Scarlet from ‘Cluedo’?”
He raised an eyebrow, and my heartbeat performed a Keith Moon drum solo. “I’m your supervisor. We’re in limbo, for want of a better word.”
“Why am I here?” I thought this was a reasonable question, and unfortunately, it would be the only sensible question I would ask for the rest of our meeting. He sipped his coffee, grimaced and pushed it away while I realised I was peckish and sank my teeth into a doughnut.
“Here’s the deal. The Committee had a meeting -” he forestalled my unspoken question. “Don’t ask. I don’t have the time. You’re getting a second chance. Well, technically, a third, although we weren’t responsible for that second resurrection. Anyway, you’ve been a serial killer, and now we’re giving you the chance to be a serial saver.”
“A serial saver? Like in a bank account?”
“No. Like in saving lives. Saving people about to be murdered and doing some good for a change. But first, you’ll have to travel back in time to meet your first potential victim and save their life.”
I considered this. It was a chance to live again and sounded good…apart from the saving bit. “How do I stop these people from being murdered? By killing whoever is going to kill them?”
“No. What part of ‘doing some good’ don’t you understand? There will be no killing, and you will save the intended victim each time and move on to the next.”
Damn. “Right.” I finished the doughnut and washed it down with the awful coffee. “And how do I support myself? Get around and whatnot?”
“You’ll have money. Clothes. Whatever. We’ll ensure you fit in with whatever period you’re sent to. Anything you need will be there – it’s how everything works. Oh, and you’ll be ageless.”
“What do you mean? I thought I was still thirty-five.”
He screwed up his face and sighed. “I don’t know all the details; I’m told what to report to you. You’ll feel the same as you do now. Most adults feel about eighteen or twenty inside, so that’s the age you’ll look. You’ll be a young man.”
I mulled it over. It sounded like a good deal. And what was to stop me from disappearing wherever I was sent and not saving anybody? I could change my appearance and carry on with my total. I’d only managed nine murders, not a great deal as far as serial killers go. A bit embarrassing, in fact – I’d been aiming for double figures.
“Don’t think you can go off and do whatever you want.”
Good grief, was this guy a mind reader? “I wasn’t.”
He did the raised eyebrow thing again. “If you deviate from the plan, you’ll be vaporised into black nothingness. For eternity. No more chances.”
“This is a kind of trial: a social experiment. If it works for you, we may widen it across the board. And you won’t have to worry about your compulsion to kill anyone.”
“We’ve deprogrammed you. You’re incapable of causing harm.”
My mouth fell open. “But that’s my work…my aims and ambitions. If I can’t be a serial killer, I won’t be me.”
“Rubbish. Anyway, I told you, you’ll be a serial saver.”
“Will you stop saying that? You make me sound like a bank manager.” I crossed my arms and sulked. Mr Scarlet examined his black nails – which weren’t painted. Maybe he’d shut them in a door. I dragged my gaze away.
Then he looked at me. “The Committee doesn’t want you to be alone in this experiment, so we’ve arranged for you to have company.” He looked towards the seat on my left, and my spirits rose.
I thought of someone tall, blonde and shapely.
I followed his gaze and saw something squat, brown and hairy. “It’s a dog.”
The dog turned, looked at me and curled his lip.
“Frinkin’ balloobies. You don’t miss much, do you?” He said it in a broad Glaswegian accent: “Ye don’t miss much, dae ye?”
“Wha…huh…?” I looked from the dog to Mr Scarlet, who grimaced.
“I know,” he said. “We reprogrammed him not to swear, but he’s found a way around it. Still manages to sound obscene.” He shrugged. “He’s called Weedgie.”
“Too frinkin’ right,” Weedgie said.
I took a deep breath and addressed Mr Scarlet.
“My problem with, er, Weedgie is not so much the language he’s using: it’s more the fact that he’s talking.” I looked from Mr Scarlet to Weedgie and back again, and both sported expressions saying your point is…?
“Forget it, I’m good. Talking dog. No problem.”
I sat back, stared at the tabletop, and then jumped as ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ by Meatloaf rang out. Mr Scarlet delved into a pocket, produced a slim silver rectangle, glanced at it, and stood. “Sorry, I have to take this. Talk amongst yourselves.” He pressed the phone to his ear and strolled away, and I heard him say, “Mum? I’ve told you not to call me at work.”
Weedgie and I sat in awkward silence. I squinted to my left and studied him, noting that he was roughly the size of a Labrador but had scrubby brown hair, a bit of an Elvis quiff and a whiskery face. To my horror, his teeth looked human, and he had big lips for a dog. He resembled Mick Jagger on a bad facial hair day.
“So…Weedgie.” I was opening a conversation with the canine equivalent of the Rolling Stones’ lead singer, but I did my best to ignore that. “I’m here because I’m a serial killer, and now I have to save people, but why are you coming with me? What did you do?”
“Bit the postman. Or mebbe stole sausages.”
“Oh. You’ve always been a dog, then?”
“Whit? Ye’ve never bitten a postman or stole sausages?”
“Um…no.” I didn’t know if he was serious or not. “So you were human once?”
“That means ‘no’, right?”
“And that means ‘yes’. But do you mean yes it means ‘no’ or yes it means ‘yes’?”
Weedgie turned to face me, grinned with his big, scary mouth, and laughed a deep, creepy laugh.
“Heh, heh, heh.”
“What’s so funny?” I shrank away.
“Ye’re a numpty.”
“A poultice. A daftie. A pillock. A complete -”
“Okay, okay, enough with the insults. I’m not taking this from a stupid dog.”
“Oh, aye? You have nae idea, pal.” He leaned closer and snarled.
“Are you trying to scare me?” I was unnerved but still angry. “With a name like Weedgie? Sounds like wedgie.” I sneered at him.
His eyes narrowed. “And your name’s Marty? Rhymes wi’ farty.”
My blood pressure soared. “Right, that’s it, you little -” I launched myself at Weedgie, my hands reaching for his throat – and then something unexpected and disturbing happened. Instead of strangling him, I stroked him and fondled his ears. He bent his head towards me and purred through his Mick Jagger lips. “Aargh.” I leapt back.
“Heh, heh, heh.” He grinned at me. “Cannae hurt me, can ye? Cannae hurt naeboady. Some serial killer you are, pal.”
I was speechless. And devastated.
So it was true. I’d been deprogrammed and lost the ability to kill or even maim. I slumped in my seat and contemplated my new future…as a serial saver.
Weedgie leaned towards me, rested his head on my shoulder, gazed into my eyes and whispered:
Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed this first chapter in the Time Travelling Detective Series. Can’t wait for Chapter 2? Get your hands on the whole book on Amazon:
 The Next One
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