She pushed the buggy briskly, half listening to the twins yakking away about whatever, and half making a shopping list in her head. That double concentration must have been why she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her. She certainly never felt the stunning blow to the back of her head. She dropped like a stone, but it can only have been moments before she found herself looking into a pair of concerned eyes. She tried to sit up, but the world began spinning and she felt very sick.
“The children,” she managed to whisper, “are the twins okay?”
“What children? There are no children here.”
She managed to push the nausea back far enough to scramble into a seated position and grab her saviour by the arm.
“The twins. Eli and Ahab.” She could hear her own voice skirling up towards hysteria. “They are in their buggy. I was taking them to the supermarket. They love the supermarket.”
The man who knelt beside her turned his attention to the rapidly growing crowd.
“Anybody seen any children?”
“The place is lousy with ‘em,” a coarse voice replied. “What children?”
“Twins,” the man said, “twins in a buggy.”
“What. Them weird kids? I seen them just now, with a bloke in running gear pushing the buggy. I just fort they ‘ad a new nanny. They gets a new one about every month.”
The man looked down at the obviously concussed girl and smiled reassuringly.
“The police are on their way. We called them when it became obvious you had been attacked.”
As if the very words had summoned her, a young policewoman pushed through the knot of onlookers to crouch at the injured girl’s side.
“Can you tell me what happened?”
“The children. Somebody took the children…”
“No. I’m their nanny. But what does it matter who… You need to find them.”
On the other side of the park, a Lycra-clad figure pushed a double buggy out through the ornate wrought iron gates onto the street. He turned left and crossed the road via a blinking and bleeping pedestrian crossing. Five minutes later, man and buggy were in a multi-storey car park riding the lift towards the top floor.
When the lift doors opened a man’s body flopped onto the floor, half in and half out of the cabin. The doors attempted to close, but finding an obstruction remained half open. The two women awaiting the lift reacted in very different ways. One screamed and fainted, the other called nine-nine-nine.
Although the police arrived with commendable quickness, a knot of onlookers had gathered by the time two constables jumped out of their car. One went to the side of the woman who had fainted, while the other shouldered his way to the lift doors.
“Oh, shit” he said. “Oh very, very shit.”
His companion looked at his suddenly pale face.
“If you are going to throw up can you move away from the crime scene” she recommended serenely before uncurling from her crouch and going to look for herself. She was made of sterner stuff than her companion, but even so she didn’t look for long.
“Victor, bravo, delta to control. We seem to have an unexplained death here. One body, and a lift awash with blood and various internal organs. Also in the lift one upended buggy fitting the description from the incident in the park.”
She listened for a moment.
“Have I been inside the lift? No. And you couldn’t pay me enough to go in there.”
She listened again.
“Yes. We can secure the area and wait.”
Under the upturned buggy the twins eyed each other in silent congratulation. They could wait for rescue now….