She decided that after almost being hit by a car was a perfect excuse to start asking questions. She had copied all her Dad's computer files to her IPad and decided to go and talk to some more ex-Smilers. She looked for ones located in the UK and found: "Panther". Were they all animal names? she asked herself and she wandered to his address.
When she arrived at his block of apartments she suddenly realised she had no idea of his real name. She stared at the buzzers and finally decided to press on marked, L. Lyons. She thought that lions were closed to Panthers, right? She pressed the buzzer and a young women's voice answered the call. I doubt she'd know about her Dad's dodgy lifestyle but I s'ppose I must try, she thought.
"I'm looking for Panther..." The door unlocked.
"Floor Six" the girl replied.
When she reached apartment six she noticed everything was panther related. They had panther statues, panther books, panther cuddly-toys and panther photographs.
"Hello. My name's Miss Lyons but please call my Linda"
"Caitlyn" she said, "Is your father around Miss Lyons?"
"No, I live alone. Why?"
Suddenly Caitlyn realised. The reason this young women knew about "Panther" was because:
"You're Panther" said Caitlyn
"Yes. I suppose you were expecting a bloke in his 50s. Not me! I'm 22 and I've earned enough money to not have to work for the rest of my life. The Smilers was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I was sixteen my father had an affair with a young girl. My parents couldn't afford a divorce so it was just constant shouting matches. Our neighbours used to call the police everynight because they shouted so loud. Me and my brother eventually got taken in by the social and rehomed to foster parents but my foster Dad abused me and his wife. I ran away and begged on the streets before some guy said he'd offer me a job. He said his name was Peter"
"Peter Reydon?" asked Caitlyn
"Yes. I became his secretary dealing with all his information. I also had to deal with Phantom. Now he was a nasty piece of work"
"He was oily, manipulative and he used people. He would employ young girls, buy them champagne and drug it before having sex with them. We all knew it but we could be turned over to the police for our work so it was easier to let it happen"
"He raped his staff?" Caitlyn was shocked.
The attitudes of hacking was turning into that of a drugs cartel.
"Oh yes" she said quietly, "Peter didn't know. He'd 'ave killed him if he ever knew"
At least her father had morals, she thought. She thanked Miss Lyons for her time and gave her a card. She walked back home and typed up what she had been told. Phantom was a nasty bastard, she thought. I need to find out who he is. He's not addressed on any of Dad's work... That night she decided instead of a takeaway she would eat whatever was in the freezer: She pulled out a quiche and some oven chips; set the oven temperature and put it in the oven.
She sat down and watched the six o'clock news.
"The French are always up in arms about something" she snorted. Then the phone rang. She picked up the reciever and was met by a raspy voice that made her blood dry-up:
"Leave the Smilers alone! I have warned you. You may have escaped once but I will make sure you stay out of my business"
The number rang off. She tried to see the number but it was withheld. Caitlyn pulled her food out of the oven and dumped it onto a plate. She suddenly wasn't that hungry. She hated being told what to do. The catflap rattled a Moggie appeared. She put down her food and watched as Moggie demolished everything.
"You needed that more than me," Caitlyn said to the cat.
Moggie meowed in agreement. She looked up at her clock and sighed: quarter to eight. She watched the rest of the news and fell asleep.
* * * * * * *
Tim had just finished his Roast Dinner and was washing the plates up downstairs. There was a loud thump coming from upstairs. He dismissed it as his neighbours, a bunch of Uni students who frequently had parties and entertained men. He switched on the TV and caught up on Happy Valley, Tim usually avoided police sitcoms believing they were overdramatised but something made him watch this one with eager eyes.
When began to fall asleep on the sofa: he picked himself up; switched off the TV and sloped off to bed. THUMP! This time Tim did not believe that was neighbours.
He got up and walked into his spare room brandishing a crutch as a weapon. He looked around the empty room but before he could turn around he had a rope around his neck and an attacker pulling with brute force. His attacker dragged him as he kicked and choked onto the landing before pushing him over the stair rail and tying the end of the noose on the banister.
Tim hung over the stairs as blood dripped down his neck. He was still alive: just. His attacker ambled down the stairs before facing him, "Say hello to Caitlyn for me... In Hell" he laughed. Tim suddenly felt something sharp embed into his flesh. When the attacker held a blooded knife, Tim's eyes closed.