This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1065 words.
When the silver car pulled up at the corner of the street, Anita handed Ian the door keys. “I closed the front door behind me, and the windows are all locked. Whoever it is should still be in there”. Ian was smiling, obviously enjoying the situation. “Leave it to me. You get in my car and lock the doors. Don’t open them for anyone except me. If I am not back in five minutes, drive to the police station and ask for Jane”.
She took the car key from him, and sat in the driver’s seat.
He was back a lot quicker than she expected, and beckoned her to get out of the car and follow him back to the house. “The place is empty, Mrs Hollis. The window lock on one of the bedroom windows has been forced. It still closes, but the lock will have to be replaced at some stage. My best guess is that they jumped down into the garden, then away over the back fence. No point me searching around, they will be long gone, and I have no idea who I am looking for”.
Inside, the house looked completely normal. Nothing was obviously disturbed, no drawers or cupboard doors open, and no sign of anything missing. Anita was puzzled. “What do you think they…”. Ian’s finger was over her lips, and he was shaking his head. He made a zip motion across his own mouth, and went back outside to his car. Moments later, he returned with something that looked like a portable radio with an extending aerial. Still motioning for her to be silent, he waved the aerial around for a few moments until a red light came on when he was close to the house phone. Reaching under the side table, he produced a small button-like device. It reminded her of the expensive hearing aid Mike’s Dad had bought a couple of years ago.
After sweeping the device around the living room and kitchen, Ian went upstairs. Shortly after, he returned, showing her three more identical devices in the palm of his hand. Unlocking the doors to the garden, he walked over to the stone bird-bath, and dropped all four into the murky water.
“One in the bedroom, under the phone extension. One in the room Mike used as an office, under the desk, and one in the toilet, behind the cistern. Whoever was in here wasn’t looking to take anything. They were planting listening devices”. Anita shook her head in amazement. “Why would they want to listen to me using the toilet?” That made Ian, chuckle, and Anita noticed that he looked very handsome when he was laughing. “When people think they might be bugged, and being overheard, they often go into the toilet and run taps or the shower, to muffle their voices. It’s not a place they ever expect to find a listening device, so it has become quite common for those in the know to start leaving one in there”.
Anita sat down on the sofa. She was still recovering from the trembling that had affected her when she heard the floor creaking. She indicated that Ian should sit. “Ian, won’t they realise that they have been found now? Surely dumping them in the bird-bath will make them stop working?” He nodded. “I want them to know. Besides, it would have made life very difficult for you, knowing someone was listening in. Your conversation wouldn’t have sounded natural, believe me”. Anita could see that he knew what he was talking about. “Won’t they just break in again though, put them somewhere else? And who do you think it was?” He was very certain of his answer. “No, once they realise that they were rumbled, there would be no point. As for who it was, it could be the Secret Service, or it might be the other interested group. They all want to try to find out where Mike is, and I’m betting that they think you know”.
Before she could ask any more questions, he nodded at the pile of papers that were still on the sofa and coffee table. “I hope some of that made sense to you?” Anita stood up. “I have no idea what it means. I will make us some tea, and you can tell me”.
By the time they had drunk their tea and Ian had finished talking, Anita had a headache. It was starting to make some sense though.
He had laid it all out for her, and although it was still mainly a theory needing to be proved, it was a good theory.
Some time ago, Mike’s company had come up with a new formula for an industrial glue. Thicker and longer lasting than even Super Glue, it was discovered to be able to bond anything together. Metals of all weights, plastics of any description, and one to the other if necessary. It also worked on wood, and even stone. More importantly, it could withstand extreme stress, and any temperatures, hot or cold. It was taken up by all the aircraft manufacturers, as they could save weight by replacing metal parts with glue. Then the military here and in the US became interested too.
Although it was bought by many companies and governments, the news of the invention was never made public. Nobody wanted to fly in a plane that they imagined might be glued together, even if it wasn’t used on huge areas like the wings and fuselage. However, they did use it in areas like landing wheels, crucial control levers, and some internal structures. Ian was adamant that all this was fact.
“As you can tell from the documents, Mrs Hollis, failure of the glue over time caused some terrible air crashes. At first, nobody associated it with the glue failing, but people at Mike’s company started to suspect it, as they knew who had bought it. When it was hushed up by the governments in various countries, Mike took it upon himself to become a whistle-blower and contacted some of the victims, as well as leaving a message for the reporter in India”. Still trying to take it all in, Anita was wondering where they would go from there. “So what do we do now, Ian? What’s our next step?” He smiled.
“We have to find Mike. And I think I know where he is”.