Changelings

Changelings by Jo Bannister Read Free Book Online

Book: Changelings by Jo Bannister Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jo Bannister
straight, shone with health and was chopped off at shoulder level. Broad bones gave her a square face, a love of sport gave her scrubbed ruddy cheeks, and for a moment Liz thought she was looking at herself at the same age.
    She’d been a plain child, but she hadn’t spent enough time looking in mirrors to worry about it. As long as her pony attracted its share of admiration she was happy. It came as a genuine surprise when, in her late teens, she started attracting admiration as well. She still did. No one but immediate family had
ever called her beautiful, but she was both handsome and striking: tall, strong and fit.
    She introduced herself again, to the girl. ‘I just stuck my head in to see how you were feeling.’
    Saffron shrugged. ‘I’m all right. But Mum said I could stay home if I wanted, so I did.’
    Liz nodded. ‘Good choice. What do you get on Tuesday – geography?’
    â€˜Double maths.’
    â€˜Eeugh!’ They traded a companionable grin.
    Liz turned to Miranda. ‘It must have given you a hell of a start when you heard what happened.’
    â€˜Heard about it? I was there. I was more hysterical than Saffron was. It seemed forever before we could be sure that, actually, no one was hurt. Until then we all thought something terrible had happened. The place was a mad house, with parents trying to find their children and children trying to find their clothes.’
    â€˜Did all the girls have parents there?’
    â€˜Not all. There were probably five or six of us cheering from the sidelines. Or not, in fact, because it was a pretty pathetic performance.’ This time she and Saffron swapped a grin.
    â€˜If the game wasn’t worth watching, maybe you had time to look around a bit. Did either of you see anything odd? Anyone acting strangely; anyone round the changing rooms who didn’t seem to belong there?’
    They thought for a moment but remembered nothing out of the ordinary. ‘Of course, there was a lot going on,’ said Miranda, ‘with the rugby match as well. There were a lot of people, adults and children,
who didn’t look familiar and were wandering round as if they weren’t quite sure where they were going.’
    â€˜The jelly was in a white plastic drum about so big.’ Liz demonstrated with her hands. ‘Did you see that at any point?’ But they hadn’t.
    â€˜I was over at BioMed earlier today,’ Liz volunteered. She thought it best, since someone was bound to mention it when Miranda returned to work. ‘The previous threat mentioned botulism, and I heard the laboratory was working with it.’
    Miranda Hopkins nodded. ‘I work with it myself.’ She frowned, concerned. ‘Does that make me a suspect?’
    â€˜Not for the moment,’ smiled Liz. ‘Right now we’re concentrating on people with access to raspberry jelly.’
    Â 
    Â 
    The rest of the day passed without incident. Close of play found Liz and Shapiro sharing a last pot of coffee in his office. Like most police stations, Queen’s Street ran on coffee and angst.
    â€˜What do you make of it?’ asked Shapiro. ‘Has he had enough? Made his point and called it a day?’
    It was a nice thought but Liz wasn’t convinced. ‘Made what point? If he was a disgruntled ex-employee taking a swipe at the supermarket, what was the business at the school about? And if it was about showing he can strike at this town anywhere and any time, why call it a day before he’s got a penny out of us? He can’t be scared we’re on to him – he hasn’t given us enough to work with. So why go to the trouble of setting it up and then lose interest? I’m
sorry, Frank, but no. He hasn’t gone away. He has something else in mind.’
    Shapiro thought so too. ‘So what’s he been up to this last twenty-six hours that’s more important than making his next

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