This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 776 words.
Tim Drew was right to call it bad news. The pickup helicopters had landed as arranged, to find no trace of either Glen or Anita. One set of SCUBA gear was on the beach, but there was no sign of the other one. They had made a thorough search of the few ruined buildings close to the beach, and found the tents pitched inside one of them, and most of the equipment and remaining supplies in another, covered by a rubber sheet. As the rest of the island was little more than a large rock devoid of plant life or anywhere to shelter, they had to conclude that the pair were both in the water somewhere.
Contacting the Irish police, the Garda Síochána, on the helicopter radio, they had reported Glen and Anita as missing, and presumably in danger in the Atlantic Ocean. Then the pilot had received a severe talking-to from an officer who said they should have had permission to be there. When the pilot gave him the coordinates, he claimed there was nothing there on his map, and accused them of staging a practical joke, or publicity stunt. It took over an hour of to and fro arguments before a senior policeman eventually agreed to send out a police helicopter with some officers on board.
Mel’s date was a washout, but fortunately Caroline was in the business and completely understood. She left in a taxi for Chiswick, and Mel walked back to his office and started to make some phone calls.
Up all night ringing around, Mel watched the sunrise through his office windows, rubbing the stubble on his chin, and drinking a large vodka that he could hardly taste. Something very bad had happened on Balleycragg, and he was going to have to stay awake that morning to inform his insurers, as well as Glen and Anita’s next of kin contact numbers. Plus the Garda were treating the whole thing as suspicious, and had contacted the police in London asking them to take a statement from Mel as soon as possible.
The next few days were consumed with back and forth contact with Ireland, and constant calls from Glen’s father in Australia, asking about his son and daughter-in-law. Anita’s sister lived in Malta, and she had been laid back about the disappearance. “Oh, she will turn up. She always does”. When he had phoned her back to tell her it had been three days and no news, she hadn’t sounded quite so chirpy.
The debate with the Garda about the memory cards had been draining, but Mel had stuck to his guns about his ownership of them. Caroline had phoned to see if there was any news, and Mel just told her the basic facts. The last thing he wanted was Pangea Films deciding to steal the idea, and combine a documentary with a missing persons mystery. As much as he fancied her, Caroline was in the same game, and very good at what she did.
So here he was, laptop on the desk, and the memory cards laid out with small stickers on them numbered to show the order. Ursula had copied them without viewing them, as instructed, and everyone in the office had gone home, switching the phones over to messages. He took a bottle of Stolichnaya and a shot glass from one of the drawers in his desk, switched off his mobile phone, and put the first memory card into the slot on the side of the laptop.
Although he had given up smoking as far as anyone knew, he also produced a new packet of cigarettes and a disposable lighter from his jacket pocket, tipping out all the pens from his pen pot to use as an ashtray.
The video played, and it was familiar stuff. Glen and Anita sorting out the gear, the camera changing hands between them. This footage was often used as filler, something to show over the closing credits, or added to the later DVD as out-takes and extras. The weather was bright, but very windy. He could see material flapping around, and they both had their Helly Hansens zipped up to the neck.
After some minutes of black screen, the next part showed them inside one of the ancient buildings, erecting a tent on the dirt floor, away from the wind. There was no roof left on the structure, but the old stone walls were still up on three sides, offering a modicum of protection from the elements.
The camera was on Anita, and Glen’s voice was heard, right at the end.
“Hey, ‘Nita. Let’s get the kettle on. I could murder a coffee”.