This is the first part of a fiction serial, in 805 words.
Mel Whittaker opened the padded envelope and tipped out the pile of camera memory cards onto his desk. Just a week ago, he had received the message from the company that the helicopter crew had located the camp. The two tents were still there, and all of the personal possessions were inside. Two of the six cameras were found, along with one set of SCUBA gear, and a box of provisions. It had taken some persuasion to get the Irish police to send the memory cards that had been discovered in a waterproof pouch, and his argument that he had funded the trip finally worked.
So they said they would send the memory cards, but everything else would be held as evidence, and the memory cards had already been viewed and the footage saved anyway. Until they had found any bodies, the case would remain open, and everything would be held in storage. Mel would get Ursula to copy everything first, then he would set aside some time to view each one. Hopefully, even if he didn’t solve what had happened, he would still get at least a ninety-minute documentary out of it.
Unicorn Films was Mel’s baby. He had taken it from two rooms above a shop, to becoming one of the most prestigious travel and nature documentary film companies in Europe. He always used the best, and paid through the nose for quality. Okay, so he hadn’t won an Oscar, but there was that nomination six years ago, and a cabinet full of European and South American awards too.
Glen Mayhew was one of the very best. He had an Australian passport, but anyone who met him would be pushed to state where he came from. During his career he had lived in London, Zanzibar, Singapore, Florida, and even Ecuador. A real citizen of the world, that was Glen. He met his wife Anita when she taught him to dive in Cyprus, and after that they came as a pair, never separated. Mel had used them for four films, and would have used them more often, were they not in such demand.
An obscure article he saw online had started it. Off the coast of Ireland, a transatlantic yachtsman gone astray had reported sighting a small island that wasn’t on his charts. North-west of Donegal, out in the Atlantic, it appeared to have some old ruins on it. At the time, the sighting was discounted as an error, but Mel got his team of researchers on it. It took a couple of months, but someone came up with an early nineteenth century newspaper description of the supposedly lost island of Balleycragg, some twenty nautical miles out to sea.
That was a similar distance to the Channel crossing between England and France, and it seemed impossible that nobody had known about the island for almost two hundred years. Mel paid someone he used regularly to fly over the area in a light plane, with a passenger taking video footage. When it came back, it showed small ruins on a tiny island, but even more extensive ones under the water off the seashore. That was enough for Mel to set the ball rolling.
The first thing he did was to email Glen Mayhew.
After a long meeting in London, Mel had a list of things to arrange. A helicopter to drop off Glen and Anita with their equipment, which included an inflatable boat with a small motor, two tents, a generator, and supplies of fuel, fresh drinking water, and non-perishable food for two weeks. With all the small extras adding up, it was decided that they would need two helicopters, as the large cargo one would not be able to land on the island.
With no conventional phone signal, a satellite phone would be bought for the trip, in case of emergencies. Glen wanted to land on the island in late July, when there was the best chance of reasonable weather in that notoriously stormy area. He had another job to go to straight after, so it would be up to Mel to arrange the retrieval of him and Anita and all the equipment after two weeks. Glen would be using the latest digital slr cameras, secured in waterproof undersea housings.
They were much easier to operate under water than the large film cameras, and they shot video in high definition. He already had all those of course, and would factor in the cost of using them as a hire charge.
Because of space restrictions, it was agreed that no producer or production assistant would travel with them. Glen and Anita were experienced enough to work alone.
Once everything was in place, Glen made one more trip to London to check everything, and signed the contracts while he was there. Mel was happy.
The start date was set.