This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 763 words.
The camera angle was from the floor of the boat, pointing up at the sky. Mel could hear the sound of the engine start up and reach maximum revs. Moments later, Glen was on camera, the small inflatable out to sea, well away from the rock. Anita was trying to keep him in shot as the boat rose and fell in the waves.
“We were around a hundred feet into the cave, and ahead of me I could hear noises. Splashing, and crunching. Like someone eating something hard. There was something else too, echoing further down the opening. I think there must be a dry open cave somewhere in there. Anita heard it all too, so not my imagination. The something else I heard sounded like speech. Not any human speech I ever heard though, that’s for sure. We are going to head back to our camp for now. No way are we going any deeper into that sea cave.”
Tamara opened the door of his office, so Mel paused the video and closed the laptop. She looked serious. “I need to talk to you about Darius. He is off sick again, and he has already had a letter warning him he won’t get paid. His parents are so rich, he doesn’t care about money, but his work isn’t getting done. I think he needs to go, and I want to check with you if it’s okay to give him notice”.
Ruben De Leon was one of Mel’s first investors, and had become a friend over the years. He had serious inherited money, and a horrible son called Darius. He was an obnoxious child, but also a very clever one. After being expelled from a couple of expensive private schools, Darius had been given one last chance by his father, and achieved a good degree in computing at Durham University. But he didn’t really want a job, so Ruben has called in a favour asking Mel to take him on. He was a genius with all the computer stuff, and could fix them too, when asked. But he rarely showed up. Still, Mel didn’t want to upset his old friend.
“Leave it with me, Tam. I will have a word with his father”. Tamara was not pleased, and left the office without replying.
It took a while to track down Ruben, and the conversation about giving Darius one month to improve was rather strained. So it was the end of the office working day by the time he got to look at the rest of the memory card, waiting until everyone had gone home, and opening the vodka first. Mel was filming, and doing the talking. Anita was in one of the ruined buildings, surrounded by all sorts of stuff.
“While we were away checking out the sea cave, whoever it is has been into our stuff again. So far, ‘Nita can’t find anything missing, but it is going to take us until it gets dark to sort it all out and put it away. This is actually getting worrying, and Anita is scared. If it wasn’t so far to the mainland, we would seriously think about abandoning this job, and going over to Donegal in the inflatable.” The screen went black then, and the next part didn’t come on for well over a minute.
Glen was holding up a long sword. It was in a decorated metal scabbard, and the leather fitings were badly decayed, but still attached.
“Can you believe this? We were checking the equipment, and found this inside the waterproof box we use to store new camera and light batteries. It couldn’t have just fallen in there. Someone has opened the lid, emptied out the batteries, put the old sword in, and closed it again. And this is no Viking sword, it is much later, probably thirteenth century. I mean what the hell! Who would do that? Mess up the camp, scatter our stuff everywhere, and then leave a relic inside the battery box?”
The camera turned onto Anita, who was kneeling down packing tins back into the provisions container. She looked up at Glen.
“As far as I can tell, nothing is missing, nothing at all. Yes, everything has been gone through, and probably looked at, but it seems to have been random, and not a search for something specific”.
She stood up, and pointed at the sword lying on the beach.
“And where that is concerned, I think as strange as it sounds, it’s a gift. A present. Maybe in exchange for the camera or sat phone.”