This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 970 words.
Tina Collier tapped her foot impatiently as she listened to the Chief Constable ranting at her. She had overstepped her authority, spent too much money on overtime for officers, and was out of order requesting specialist units. She was only going to get the helicopter for thirty minutes, and the crew would do a thermal camera search. Search dogs would not be available until tomorrow, and she could forget any underwater teams unless she had some good reason to suspect the missing girl was in the water. Blah blah. He stopped talking, and when Tina said nothing, he finished with, “Don’t forget that most of these cases are solved by looking closely at the home life. Concentrate on the suspects you have already, and let’s not get over excited until we are sure she’s not out sitting in some burger bar somewhere”. Tina shook her head. The Chief will be sorry, she was sure of that. She barked, “Thank you, sir” into the phone, and hung up.
Phil’s head was spinning. A combination of too many beers, and too many hours of rolling news. Still nothing. No reports of a missing girl, nothing more exciting than a bad traffic accident on the motorway, and the visit of a foreign minister from China. He felt edgy about tomorrow morning, deciding that he would get out to the Calder house early, and get it over with.
Marjorie had finished all the food except for one banana, which she saved for later. After swigging some of the lukewarm mineral water, she turned to look at the man sitting next to the table. “This water is horrible. Couldn’t you have got me some Coke, or apple juice?” He didn’t reply. “So what’s this all about then? Why did you drug me and bring me to this crappy room? Is it a sex thing, or are you just a weirdo? If you intend keeping me here you should have got me a change of clothes. I am going to need clean underwear tomorrow, and somewhere to wash. I bet you didn’t think about any of that, did you?” Rodney preferred it when she was eating. At least she wasn’t firing questions at him when her mouth was full of food. The girl tipped over the open box, spilling the magazines onto the floor. “And these are rubbish. They’re all out of date too, like I would be interested in reading this crap anyway. At least give me back my school books, so I can do something useful while I’m sat here”. He hadn’t expected her to talk so much, and his head was beginning to ache.
Danielle put down a wobbly slice of four seasons pizza, and answered the phone. She nodded a few times, then hung up. “Boss, they have tracked Marjorie’s phone. It’s close to the house”. Tina nodded. “Good, tell the patrol officers to make a search for it, I’m going to talk to the taxi driver”. Marcus Weber had been sitting in the room for a long time. A uniformed officer stood by the door, a very bored expression on his face. The same door opened, and a grumpy looking woman entered, accompanied by a tall young man who didn’t look old enough to be a cop. They sat opposite, and she began to read from a file, without looking across at him. “Marcus Weber, born in South Africa, living here for the last fifteen years. Thirty-eight years old, divorced, no children. Formerly managed a cycle shop, and now a taxi driver”. He saw no need to reply, he knew all that anyway.
Tina suddenly looked up, a strange knowing smile spreading across her face. “So tell me Marcus, do you like young girls?” Marcus swallowed hard. He had come in voluntarily, to help out. But he didn’t like that question, or the tone of it. He sat back, and looked around the room. “I am answering no questions without a lawyer. Please arrange to get one for me”.
Rodney hoped the girl would stop talking soon. What was most annoying was that she was right. He hadn’t thought about clothes, or underwear. He expected her to wash in the cage, and had brought shower gel and a cloth for that. Hot water was easy enough to find around the Zoo too. But she wasn’t acting anything like he had imagined. No tears, no pleading, no apparent fear. In one respect, that might make things easier, as he wouldn’t have to keep trying to comfort her that nothing bad was going to happen. But he was at a complete loss as to why she was acting so calmly, and that confused him completely. He stood up, and walked closer to the bars. “You will not be raped, or harmed in any way. All we want is for your father to pay a ransom, and we will let you go. Until then, you will get food, be kept warm and comfortable, and nobody will touch you. If you cooperate, nothing bad will happen to you”. It was wearing to keep trying to talk in such a stilted fashion, pronouncing each word slowly and clearly, and he was aware that he had let it slip a few times.
Marjorie had noticed that he had said ‘We’. That meant he wasn’t acting alone. Despite her outward appearance and attitude, she had never been so terrified. Nobody knew where she was, and she was at the mercy of this man, and whoever was helping him. Her mind envisioned all manner of awful things that could happen to her, and now she knew it was a straightforward kidnapping, she was even more worried.
She couldn’t imagine Tom Calder paying so much as one pound to get her back.