This is the third part of a fiction serial, in in 989 words.
The wine bottle on the coffee table was empty when Anita finally woke up, still sprawled out on the sofa. Despite the pounding in her head, and a shiver running through her joints, she jumped up and ran upstairs. Mike would be there. He would be asleep in bed. She would shout at him in a rage, then fall into his arms and be so glad he was home.
Even as she pushed open the door, she knew that the bed would be empty. In the bathroom, she splashed water over her face, and drunk some straight from the tap. Time to make some calls.
Still nothing on Mike’s mobile. Next she tried his company. Sitting through the automated options, she hit nine, to talk to a member of staff. The receptionist sounded bored, but Anita woke her up with the urgency in her voice. “I need to talk to someone about Mike Hollis. He hasn’t come home all night, and I am worried about him. This is his wife Anita speaking, so please put me through to someone, his manager, or a person in charge”. The music played as she was put on hold.
“Mrs Hollis, Ian Winkowski here, sales manager. How can I help you?” The voice was guarded, businesslike. “Mike hasn’t been home all night, Ian. That’s not like him. I’m terrified something bad has happened. He’s not answering his mobile, in fact it sounds dead. Do you have any way of getting in touch with him? I am beside myself with worry. And you may know that I am six months pregnant too”. As she waited for him to reply, she unscrewed the cap on a bottle of water, and gulped down as much as she could in one breath.
“Mike didn’t come into work yesterday, Mrs Hollis. He rang in sick quite early, left a message on the reception phone. In fact I thought you were calling to let me now how he was. If he was out all day and last night too, perhaps you should contact the police. I would be grateful if you could let me know what you find out, as I will have to reschedule his business meetings, and get someone else to contact his clients”.
Anita was angry. All this guy cared about was that Mike wouldn’t be around to make it to his appointments. “So he wasn’t at work yesterday, Ian? He left at the usual time, and drove off in his car”. Businesslike again. “As I have just told you, he rang in sick. I’m sure reception will still have the message, they have to save them for the people in HR”. That was something. “Okay, Ian, please ask them to make sure to save that for the police, and can you send me the registration number of his car so I can give that to them too?” She gave him her email address, and waited until he read it back to her before hanging up.
As the kettle boiled for some tea, it occurred to her that the news from Ian changed everything. If Mike hadn’t gone to work, then surely he had been missing since just after seven yesterday. Plucking two paracetamol from a packet in the drawer, she put her mobile on charge, and went into the living room to get the house phone. This time, she rang the police emergency number, and it was answered immediately. The man at the other end took her seriously, and said he was making a missing persons report that Mike had been missing for more than twenty-four hours. Anita checked the email from Winkowski on her i-pad, and gave him the make and colour of the car, along with the registration number. When he had repeated all the names, checked the spelling, and confirmed the contact numbers, he asked her to write down a reference number that was unique to the case.
“Someone from missing persons will contact you later today, Mrs Hollis. Meanwhile, keep trying your friends and family, and please let us know if and when your husband turns up somewhere”.
Some food would be necessary before she starting making more calls, but she only managed half a bowl of muesli before her impatience got the better of her.
Mike’s Dad answered the phone. “Hi, Jim, it’s Anita. I hope I’m not disturbing you, but I wondered if you had spoken to Mike recently?” He was very jolly. “Hello, love. How’s my granddaughter? You both doing well? Mike? No, he hasn’t phoned. I think Dotty spoke to him last weekend, but not since. Hang on, I’ll go and ask her”. Dorothy came back on the phone. “What’s wrong, Anita? Why are you asking about Mike? She sounded worried, which was to be expected. “Well Dotty, he didn’t come home last night. I can’t get him on his phone, and his boss says he wasn’t at work yesterday. I got so worried, I have reported him missing with the police, and they said to call all the relatives and friends.
Her mother-in-law was angry now. “Why did you wait so long to let us know, Anita? For God’s sake, I know we are a long way away, but we should have been told. Anything could have happened to our only son, and you wait a whole day to tell us. What’s wrong with you?” Anita wanted to explain her reasons, but she didn’t get the chance as Dorothy rambled on. “We are coming down. As soon as I can pack some things and tell Jim what’s going on, we will drive down. It’s going to take almost four hours, so make sure you are around the house when we get there. I don’t want us to be stuck outside”. Without waiting for a reply, she hung up. Anita didn’t have time to think about her angry in-laws now.
She had more calls to make.