isn’t about Banana, is it?’ He took her arm gently, and didn’t let her shake him off. ‘It isn’t about the shopping trip either. What’s happened, love?’

‘You weren’t to know,’ she said softly, and went to sit on the sofa. ‘I left Tosh to tie up the loose ends. There was an attack at the Pendefig Mall this morning.’

‘Oh, well, I left when I heard the fire alarm go off. Radio says it was kids arsing around. I saw one of them. Stupid Halloween mask. Throwing his weight around on the escalators.’

‘It wasn’t kids.’

‘Hooligans, then. Probably rehearsing for the match this afternoon.’

‘Not hooligans. It wasn’t a mask, Rhys. It was a real, live, deadly dangerous Weevil.’

‘I thought it was a teenager,’ Rhys mused. ‘You told me that Weevils don’t like bright places. They prefer gloomy surroundings. Nocturnal. Skulking around with their own kind.’ He considered this for a second or two. ‘Now that I think about it, that sounds more like teenagers, don’t it?’

‘Definitely a Weevil,’ insisted Gwen.

‘Like that thing you showed me in your underground cells?’ Rhys gave a low whistle. ‘Wow. I didn’t look at yours all that closely. But still, you don’t expect to see one at the shops.’

‘And something else. Something worse.’

Rhys sat next to her, and Gwen let him put his arm around her. ‘No trouble for you, I’ll bet. Hey,’ he went on, ‘remember them first few days on the beat? Thought you’d never cope with the yobbos. Now you’re more used to handling the Creature from the Black Lagoon…’

‘People died, Rhys,’ Gwen persisted. She studied his surprise.


‘I couldn’t stop them.’ Gwen heaved a disconsolate little sigh. ‘You wouldn’t have stopped them. And you could have been killed. Right before our wedding.’

‘C’mon,’ he cajoled her. ‘Is this what our marriage is gonna be like then, Gwen? You can’t protect me every day. I’m a big lad now. Maybe a bit too big, but the suit’s booked now and I’ll just have to fit…’

‘You shouldn’t underestimate what you don’t understand.’

‘Thanks,’ he grumbled. ‘That one of Jack’s sayings, is it? “What doesn’t kill us just makes us stronger,” is that another of his? Or what about “Tomatoes show the difference between knowledge and wisdom”?’

‘I have no idea what you’re banging on about…’ Her voice trailed off, and she stood up.

Bloody hell, Rhys, you’ve done it now. ‘All right, I should have told you,’ he admitted. ‘I’m sorry.’

Gwen hunkered down in front of him to briefly place her hands on his thighs and kiss him. ‘I’m sorry too.’ She moved over to the counter. ‘And I shouldn’t have thrown these…’ She was at the sink, picking bedraggled cards out of the dirty water between thumb and forefinger.

Rhys joined her, scooping some of the scattered deck from the tiled floor. The stylishly portrayed creatures snarled and threatened, harmless cartoon monsters. He didn’t understand why they were so popular with students and the like. He picked fluff off a couple of them and stacked most of the deck back together. Most of them were still presentable, and if he had to discard the ones that had dropped into the sink, well Banana wouldn’t notice or care.

‘Where d’you get these?’ Gwen asked. She was frowning at one of the cards from the sink. ‘Rhys, did you look at these properly?’ She showed him the face of one card. It said it was a ‘Toothsome’. The cartoon monster’s brow was furrowed even more than Gwen’s.

‘I got them from a games shop in the mall. They had costumes in there, too. So when I saw a yob in a Halloween mask, I didn’t give it a second thought…’ His voice trailed off as he made the connection for himself. ‘Not a yob, you said.’

Gwen shook her head. ‘A Weevil. The Cardiff sewers’ best-kept secret, thanks to Torchwood.’

Rhys took the damp card from her and looked at it. Suddenly the cartoon creature didn’t appear so harmless. ‘What’s a games shop doing selling cards and Halloween masks of monsters no one knows about?’

Gwen had grabbed her jacket from the sofa, and was already at the short flight of stairs that led out of their apartment. ‘Let’s go and find out. You’re going to show me where that shop is. No matter what the danger, eh?’

Rhys hesitated for a moment. ‘What doesn’t kill us just makes us stronger?’

‘You’re a big lad now.’ She threw him the car keys. ‘I’ll let you drive.’


Snow in November would have suited Amur, thought Malcolm Berkley. The zookeeper watched the magnificent orange-brown Bengal tiger prowl around the limits of her compound as she explored the familiar concrete boundaries with her usual incurious grey-blue stare. She’d been like this for a month, ever since the death of the other tiger, the White Bengal called Ussuri. Tigers tended to be solitary, and until the zoo worked out how to introduce another companion animal, life would be lonelier and colder for Amur in the absence of her snow-white companion.

But there was no prospect of snow today. On this freezing Saturday morning in November, the skies were a solid, icy blue with no clouds in sight, no downpour in prospect.

Torlannau Zoological Park was quiet, so close to opening time, and the staff were preparing for the arrival of visitors. Saturday morning was the day for Amur’s treat. Most feeds included heart and ground beef, with a smattering of vitamins and minerals smuggled into the mix. Today there’d be a whole rabbit. Some days, thought the keeper, the animals ate better than he did. Maybe if he was feeling generous he would throw in a cow femur, too. That might enliven the afternoon viewings. The public loved to see the big cat gnawing on a large bone. It made Malcolm laugh to watch the kids in their tiger-print earmuffs as they pressed their eager faces to the plate glass of the transparent wall that separated them from the big cat. That and the brick-and-concrete wall around it in front of the six-metre-wide moat, of course.

Amur continued her circuit of the compound, skirting easily past the twisted trunk of a tree near the centre of the compound. She knew if she touched it, the electrified wires around its base would give her a gentle but discouraging shock. There was no likelihood of her climbing up and launching herself over the moat from its decorative branches.

A flutter of movement in the tree caught Malcolm Berkley’s eye. A large carrion crow, perhaps, dropping bravely on a fast raid, taking a chance to forage in the scraps of Amur’s last meal.

That was no bird. It was a young man. What the hell was he doing in there? Surely it couldn’t be one of the other keepers, he wasn’t wearing the blue and yellow Torlannau uniform, nor the white coveralls of the service staff. Berkley choked off a warning cry – unsure whether his shout would cause the man to panic and the tiger to locate him. He reached to his belt for the walkie-talkie, and cursed under his breath when his hand found nothing. He’d left it on his desk back in the administration building. Even in the biting cold of the morning, a colder chill ran through him.

He couldn’t leave the man in there. Berkley ran at full pelt around the enclosure, skittering on the gravel pathway, hurrying to the keeper’s entry for the enclosure. He had his security keycard, thank God. Berkley fumbled it into the access mechanism, and slipped softly through. He swiftly negotiated the outer gates, and snatched up a bucket of ready-prepared ground beef. He might need that to distract the big cat and get the man out to safety.

The inner door creaked on its unoiled hinge, a hideously penetrating noise in this freezing air. Amur’s head twisted round; she recognised the sound.

‘Get over here!’ snapped Berkley to the intruder.

The intruder turned to face him. Berkley felt his own cold fear turn to hot anger. It was Gareth!

‘Gareth, what the hell are you doing? Walk over here now! Don’t dawdle, but don’t run. You must remember the drill?’

Gareth just stood and smiled. He was three or four years older than Berkley remembered. Longer hair, shabbier appearance. But still recognisably the summer student who’d worked at Torlannau.

‘Mr Berkley.’ Gareth’s laconic, mocking words showed a disturbing lack of concern.

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