A huge snowstorm is howling outside the crumbling tower block of Specto Vale in the East Midlands, early 2013 has seen terrible winter weather hit a country ill-prepared to deal with such conditions; the result has been people confined to their homes and roads packed with snow and ice, becoming impassable to all but the sturdiest of vehicles. Several feet of snow have piled up around the base of Specto Vale, the ground floor holding a handful of shops, takeaways and a single public house the Red Lion, after a few weeks all contact with the outside world has been cut off by the constant flurry of white falling from the sky, people have emptied the shops of what little food they still contained and most of the businesses have closed their doors. Up on the 13th floor an old polish gentleman Mr Jakub Bodak makes his way along the dimly lit corridor outside his flat, the mans walking stick tapping its way along the concrete, barely carpeted floor of the building; the floor is quieter than the others, something of a local mythology has built up about the strange folk who make their home on the unluckiest floor of the building, and that’s just the way that Bodak likes it, keeps people out of his businesses. Today however, he has some business of his own with Samuel Carson the manager and owner of Specto Vale who lives (if rumours are to be believed as the sole occupant) of the buildings top floor.
Reaching the limit of the elevator, Mr Bodak is forced to walk up a small flight of stairs from the fourteenth to the fifteenth floor, he is greeted by the overweight, blustered figure of Mr Carson who ushers his tenant into his warm office and offers him a cup of coffee from a bag of fine columbian beans sat on the side; it would appear as though the scarcity afflicting the lower floors has not yet reached the lofty heights of the fifteenth. Jakub expresses his concern that he has heard rumours that numerous people have been ejected from the building due to a slight falling around on their rent, in order that immigrant families can be crammed in to make the management more money; tactful as ever Jakub phrases his concern without mentioning the money aspect but pointing out that such ‘re-allocations’ may damage the sense of community in the building. Still blustering Mr Carson says that he will look into what Mr Bodak has said (although his tone suggests anything but) and dismisses the elder gentleman, saying that he is sure they both have work to do; dissatisfied Bodak returns to his flat.
Joe “Smokey” Thomson is stood out the back of the flats in a covered over delivery area, smoking a cigarette when he hears a strangled cough from behind one of the snow covered skips; investigating he finds the badly beaten body of Mr Lung, owner of the local Chinese Takeaway (one of the many businesses that contributes to Thomson’s monetary income), slumped by the side of the skip. Picking up the injured man Thomson began to head back towards the inside of the building, clods of white powdery snow falling from the injured shop owner.
Brian “Bulldog” Best had finished emptying the cab of his lorry, it had been sat unused in the delivery bay since he had returned from his last job; Brian had been carefully extracting his portable DVD player and a selection of Star Trek DVDs, planning to bed down until the storm had passed. As he turned round a figure carrying what appeared to a be a sack or a bundle of sticks loomed out of the white sleet flurry, slowly resolving itself into the shape of “Smokey” Thomson carrying the injured body of Mr Lung over his shoulder; after some initial confusion Brian helped Thomson carried the injured chinese man to the door of the closed takeaway. Banging on the door and shouting lead to Mr Lungs two teenage daughters and mother-in-law opening the door and helping them bundle the injured Mr Lung inside. Having worked several times as a hospital emergency driver, Brian recognised that Mr Lung appeared to have been beaten several with some sort of implement and that he needed some immediate medical help; remembered that a hospital worker lived on the fourth floor he went off in search of Cathy Williams.
As he passed by the door of Maggy Pike, local hippy and well know purveyor of herbal relief, a familiar smell drifted out from under the door and Brian could hear the voices of Maggy and Cathy talking inside; thinking it a stroke of luck he knocked on the door and was soon explaining the situation to both of the women. Accompanying him to the takeaway Cathy was able to use her emergency medical supplies to stabilise Mr Lung and make him as comfortable as possible, although the elderly gentleman drifted off into unconsciousness. After leaving the herbs that Cathy had purchased for one of her patients behind Maggy left and began making her way back home, she passed by half a dozen young men wearing an assortment of hoodies, one of them carrying a crimson spattered bike lock, luckily none of them paid too much heed to the young Ms Pike, one of them even stopping to ask her about buying a ten-bag.
Upstairs on the thirteenth floor, Mr Bodak watched the unfolding events from his flat window; picking up his stick Bodak began making his way downstair, but his false leg and age slowed him down a lot.
The youths began to hammer on the door of the chinese takeaway, shouting for them to send out Mr Lung, they began to shout about Mr Lung being responsible for the local cats disappearing and that he was using them in his takeaways. Braced behind the door Cathy and Brian were holding their own when Thomson asked them to open the door; fronting up to the leader of the mob, Thomson warned him to leave and then, when he didn’t respond, smacked the youth in his jaw, the loud sound of a cracking jawbone echoed down the corridor, although Thomson took a crack on his arm as the youth wildly swung his bike lock. Seeing their leader go down so swiftly the other youths lost their courage and turned tail, Thomson carried the injured youth outside and dumped him face down in the snow.
By this time Bodak had made his way down the stairs, both being connected with the old-school criminal element, he and Thomson warily recognised each other and it was clear that Bodak both disapproved of the youths actions and approved of how it had been dealt with. Brian and Thomson picked up the youth with the broken jaw who, through painful clickings of bone, said that his name was Rob Smith and he really believed that the chinese were stealing the local cats; attempting to allay his fears the youth was taken to his flat (a dirty, messy affair), given some pain relief by Cathy and was then warned not to interfere again, Brian telling him that the youth had learnt a valuable lesson.
Returning to the takeaway Brian began to root through the chest freezer of the takeaway, finding it mostly empty aside from a few bags of frozen vegetables and a batter rucksack; with a sinking feeling Brian removed the rucksack and peered inside, a frozen feline with clouded green eyes stared back at him, unmoving from the bottom of the bag. Taking the bag into the main room Brian showed its contents to the others, which resulted in explosive vomiting from the squeamish Cathy, Brian was about to carry the bag away when he felt it twitch and, with a screech, the cat (now seemingly alive) leapt from the bag and quickly disappeared out of the door of the flat. Lung has regained consciousness and seemed entirely surprised when the cat was mentioned explaining, via his daughters interpreting, that the bad was not his, a man in a large duffel coat and a hat had paid him £50 to stash his bag in the freezer.
Following the cat outside Brian spotted a man with a thick coat and wide-brimmed leather hat, the man was carrying a burlap sack that he tried unconvincingly to tuck into his coat; Brian spoke to the man briefly, although when he mentioned cats a look of fear crossed the man’s face and he slugged Brian on the chin before taking off, dropping his sack in the progress. Brian, nursing his jaw, picked up the sack; although it was empty there were traces of what looked like animal fur clinging to the inside of the sack.
Later, whilst escorting Cathy back to her flat, Brian and Thomson spotted the strange animal-napper watching them from the top of the stairs, Brian gave chase and was in time to see the man dive into a flat on the 6th floor. Attempts to verbally convince the man to let him in didn’t succeed until Thomson arrived and made some (thinly) veiled threats, finally persuading the man to let them in. The man’s apartment appeared as though it was decked out for a survivalist apocalypse, tins of beans and dried food were stacked in orderly piles; a large blueprint of the flats covered one of the walls, it was studded with red pins and a long red line connected a flat on the 13th floor to the 15th floor diagram. Miles explained that he had been one of the pest control specialists who had recommended getting cats to control vermin problems in Specto Vale, since then he had fallen on hard times and had moved into the apartments volunteering to keep an eye on the vermin problem as a favour to the management.
Miles outlined a fantastic tale that the cats in the block appeared to be behaving abnormally, they were watching people and congregating in certain areas; the most fantastic element of the tale was that apparently Miles had seen a number of cats be apparently killed and then emerge unharmed, he had stored one in the freezer of the chinese takeaway apparently planning to return and examine it later. Although initially believing the man to be crazy, Brian found himself thinking back to the supposedly frozen cat and how it had revived once the rucksack had been removed from the freezer; the two men left with Miles promising to show them proof if they returned tomorrow evening.