Carshalton Estate, Surrey, England, UK – 2013
Death, sweat and fear drifted on the stale air.
The short, round figure of Lord Francis Butler gagged a second time as he walked down the old sandstone spiral stairs, the stench of it all causing his body to convulse. Dizziness forced him to stop and grab onto the rope balustrade with one hand, the other hand pushing up against the opposite wall. Passing seven locked doors that lined the dimly lit stone corridor that ran below Carshalton House, he stopped at the last room. Shifting his stance slightly, he felt himself getting aroused at the thought of what awaited him. Pulling at his white long shirt sleeves and readjusting his waistcoat, he walked into the open doorway and stood looking at the figure in the centre of the room.
Bound to a small wooden bench and positioned beneath a single hanging light bulb was the naked Monhinder Singh. The Indian billionaire’s cheeks were stained with tears and blood from the swelling around both his eyes. He trembled violently from cold fear and looked up at Lord Butler with begging eyes, mumbling something through the mouth gag.
‘Would you remove his gag, please?’ Lord Butler said to the well-muscled figure of Alex Brun, who stood beside the billionaire. He leant across the trembling man and yanked the dirty rag from his mouth.
Monhinder Singh gasped at the fresh air eagerly before focusing on Lord Butler. ‘What the bloody hell is going on here? What have I done to deserve this barbaric treatment?’
Alex punched the battered man in the face again, sending a spray of blood and sweat across the concrete floor. The captive man groaned and swayed to the side, his long black hair falling across his face.
‘Thank you, Alex, that is enough,’ Lord Butler said, pulling a wooden chair closer. ‘I think it is time that Monhinder and I have a little chat about his current predicament. Get him a blanket, please. He looks decidedly frozen.’
‘Thank you, Francis,’ Monhinder said.
‘You have disappointed me, Monhinder, and so you don’t get to address me by my first name anymore. Is that clear? Friends and those whom I trust may call me Francis, and at the moment, you are neither.’
Monhinder Singh leaned forward against his restraints and simply shook his bowed head. Alex grabbed a handful of long black hair and snapped the man’s head back, causing him to whimper in terror.
‘We have explained the generous offer on the table time and time again, and yet you continue to refuse to cooperate with us. Every single person at the lavish party upstairs has already signed up to be part of this organisation, including myself.’
The man stared at Lord Butler. ‘Why would I join your deluded organisation that is hell-bent on world domination and which mistreats its partners like this? You just proved the point that if I ever disagreed with you in the future, I would simply be tortured again. You are all bloody psychotic.’
‘Monhinder, dear fellow, you need to be more open-minded about this. We are a crucial organisation for the future of the planet and will do a lot of good in the world. We want you to be a part of that too.’
‘Ha! What a load of rubbish,’ Monhinder mumbled, a trickle of blood dripping off his chin.
Lord Butler shifted in his seat. ‘By pooling all of our wealth and assets, we will be able to control and influence government policy around the world, thereby ensuring that no one country ever gains any monopoly over the planet’s dwindling resources.’
‘Oh, that is a load of bullshit,’ Monhinder said. ‘Do you think I am bloody naive? None of you give a shit about the planet or its resources. It’s about you and the rest of the power-mad vultures upstairs wanting to control the world like spoilt little bullies trying to control a playground. I will have no part in it. There is nothing you can say that will change my mind.’
Lord Butler felt the ominous darkness rising within him. The man in front of him dared to question the motives of the Billionaires Club which he started two years before. The same darkness always took charge of his psyche when he retreated from making any tough choices. It was needed again with this problem. The small pine chair creaked as Lord Butler sat back. He ground his teeth in anger then nodded across to Alex, who then laid into the man with a flurry of fists. Loud screams echoed around the cold dark walls of the room. Lord Butler realised that he had an erection.
‘Now, Monhinder, let’s take a look at your dilemma here. Upstairs, there is a group of the world’s wealthiest and most influential men, all of whom witnessed you taking recreational drugs while seated at the dinner table then stagger off with a young prostitute to your room. She will, of course, testify to the fact that you collected her in London and brought her to the party knowing full well that she is below the legal age of consent in the United Kingdom,’ Lord Butler said. ‘This information is being prepared and will first be leaked to every member of your respected family back in India before being sent out to the global press.’
Monhinder Singh sat upright, his eyes pinched into a swollen squint. ‘Lord Butler, you cannot blackmail me with that,’ he said after a few seconds. ‘Go ahead and inform my family. They will forgive me my transgressions. My reputation might suffer a bit of a setback, but it will survive. I can tell you that you will not get away with this, of that I am sure.’
Lord Butler felt the last of his patience ebb away and the darkness rush in to consume him. It would only ever be satisfied with the spilling of blood. He leaned forward and sneered. ‘Okay then, Monhinder, have it your way.’
A slight nod to the two heavy-set men standing in the shadows at the back of the room signalled them into action, and they checked the binding that kept Monhinder tied to the bench. One of them suddenly heaved Monhinder forward and with his hands bound behind his back, there was no way to break his fall. A loud crack rung out as his face hit the concrete, and he screamed out in pain, wriggling to turn his face to the side.
The lord of the manor calmly walked over to a small metal side table against the exposed brick wall and ran his hand over the extensive range of Alex’s implements of torture. The cool feel of the metal excited the darkness within him. He lingered over one of them for a brief moment like a child picking his favourite sweet, and then eagerly grabbed it. Happy with his selection, he walked over to Monhinder and squatted next to the man’s head. ‘This could have been such a painless exercise, my friend, but now you must pay for your stubbornness and stupidity.’
He placed the scalpel at the base of the man’s buttocks, which were now comically raised into the air, then swiftly made an inch long incision, drawing a small trickle of blood which followed gravity down the groaning man’s back towards his neck. Lord Butler continued with a second cut, then a third, each getting deeper along the spine. The tortured man’s groans grew louder, and Lord Butler felt the euphoria growing stronger. The darkness sang out with happiness.
Alex walked over and placed his hand over the scalpel in Lord Butler’s hand. ‘Shouldn’t we move on with the next phase of the plan, sir?’
Lord Butler blinked slightly, disorientated with pleasure. He smiled up at his trusty henchman and nodded. ‘Monhinder, now listen to me, you ignorant sack of shit. I am going to give you twenty-four hours to reconsider the offer on the table. I will be upstairs having a wonderful time with our other colleagues if you do have a change of heart. This will be your last chance to reconsider, and if you fail to change your mind, I am going to instruct Alex to go to work on your delicate bits with some of his favourite toys over there. He won’t be as nice as I have been. You see, I have witnessed his work in Equatorial Guinea on many unfortunate prisoners of war, and I can assure you he understands the finer art of inflicting pain and terror.’
Lord Butler nodded to Alex, who opened the heavy wooden door. Two more of Lord Butler’s men dragged a corpse of a naked woman into the room and laid it down on the floor next to the Indian billionaire. Monhinder Singh desperately tried to turn his head away from the lifeless face of the girl, placed only inches away from his. Her dead opaque eyes stared at him coldly, and the smell of death stung his nostrils. He started to sob. ‘Please, Lord Butler, you cannot leave her here. I have never seen her before in my life.’
‘I know you have never seen her before, Monhinder. She is just another young prostitute who caused me some embarrassment yesterday, so I had her killed and placed on ice. Such a pity really, she seemed like such a bright little thing. At least her death won’t be in vain because you see I had such a great idea this morning, I could put her corpse to good use.’
Lord Butler threw the scalpel back onto the table, grabbed an old wooden cricket bat that was leant against the nearby wall, and walked back to the whimpering man.
‘I have always loved the feel of wood, you know, Monhinder. The feel against one’s skin is just so… just so natural,’ he said. Clenching his fists around the wooden handle, he swung the bat over his head and slapped it across the man’s exposed buttocks. He slammed the bat down again and again until the darkness ebbed away, satisfied. Wiping away beads of sweat from his reddening brow with his forearm, he tossed the bat across the floor.
One of his henchmen handed him a small tied-off plastic bag, which he threw onto the ground in front of the crying billionaire’s face. ‘That’s what’s left from her so-called heroin overdose. You have twenty-four hours to make the right decision, Monhinder. Don’t cock it up.’
Walking down the stone-walled corridor to the staircase, Alex turned to his boss. ‘I’ll check on him every hour, sir.’
‘Oh don’t worry about checking that often. Let the bastard stew in his own private hell for a night,’ Lord Butler replied.
‘As you wish, sir.’
‘Thank you for pulling me back from the edge there, Alex,’ Lord Butler said. ‘It has been quite a while since I lost control like that.’
‘I am always here to assist you, sir, although I have never seen you give a man a second chance before. What if he won’t sign?’
Lord Butler stopped at the base of the stone spiral staircase and placed his hand on his long-serving bodyguard’s shoulder. ‘I need him to sign over all his wealth to us. He is one of the only billionaires in India who we deemed as controllable, you know, with all his illegal vices. However, my patience is wearing thin with him so if he doesn’t sign we’ll just get someone else. Then, Alex my friend, I will have no further use for him, and you can have him for as long as he will last.’
Lord Butler and Alex Brun walked through the high-ceilinged reception room at Carshalton House, taking in deep breaths of the fresh, sweet-smelling air that came through the large bay windows on either side of the open front door. Alex whistled across to one of the young waitresses carrying slim flutes of champagne on a silver tray as she headed towards the group of billionaires gathered in the main lounge. She hustled over to give Lord Butler a glass, which he downed in a single gulp.
One of the wealthy guests noticed the approach of Lord Butler and peeled away from his tall brunette escort to intercept him.
‘Alex, would you mind if I have a word with Lord Butler?’ the slim, balding man asked. Alex bowed slightly and took two steps to the side.
‘Hello, Jürgen, I hope you are having fun tonight,’ Lord Butler replied.
‘Has the man signed yet, Francis?’
‘If you don’t mind, Jürgen, I would just love to relax with my friends and colleagues tonight and not bother with Billionaires Club matters.’
The forty-something German billionaire took a sip of champagne. ‘Just answer the question, Francis. Did he sign? We cannot afford to be without a presence in India much longer.’
Lord Butler frowned and clenched his teeth. ‘I said I would make it happen, Jürgen. One way or the other we will get into India, okay?’
‘Why are you taking so long to bring him around? Maybe someone else should try and speak to him. You know…nicely.’
Lord Butler took a step forward and in a hushed tone said, ‘Jürgen, I have warned you before about questioning my wishes.’
‘Or what, Francis, will I end up like your best friend, Michael Mercer? Found rotting at the bottom of a gorge with my car brakes that have accidentally failed? I am not intimidated by you or your methods, Francis,’ Jürgen said, and turned away.
‘Tell me, Jürgen. How is that beautiful wife of yours and what about those two handsome young boys?’ Lord Butler asked. ‘What are they now, fifteen and sixteen?’
The German spun around, his face pale with shock. He walked back towards Lord Butler, his finger pointing. ‘You stay away from my family, you depraved…’
Alex moved in front of Lord Butler and took a step towards the approaching German. ‘I think you should go back to the party, Mr Kohler. You don’t want to make yourself look like a fool by creating a scene, now do you?’
Jürgen Kohler looked past Alex Brun. ‘Francis, your henchman won’t always be around to protect you.’
End of Chapter 1
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