Alison Bambridge led us up the garden path with this deceptively simple story.
‘PC Scanlon,’ he says. The woman standing at the park gates, face taut, phone clutched in her hand, gives a tepid smile.
‘A man threatened me.’
‘In the woods.’ she points behind her.
‘What did he do?’
‘He said he needed a victim.’ Her voice catches and she pauses, wrapping her arms around herself.
‘A victim?’ The policeman perks up.
‘Yes.’ She bites her lip. ‘He said if I didn’t find one he’d kill me. That he’d be watching.’ Her voice drops to a shadow.
After manhandling a BMX from a glue sniffer and dragging two drunks out of Asda, Scanlon is pleased to be cast in a more heroic role.
‘Right. Don’t worry. You’re not going to be anyone’s victim.’ He gives her shoulder a squeeze before heading towards the trees.
‘No’, she says, softly, as he disappears into the woods. ‘But you will.’