Being used to the unpredictability of public transport Novel was mildly surprised when his flight landed him into Northern Ireland on time. The only incident had been the disagreement with the immigration officer about whether he was indeed the man that was pictured in the leather bound document, the timewaster on the desk obviously seemed to think that Novel had time to update his passport picture. Right now, with Cassie’s whereabouts unknown, it wasted valuable time.
However, he did manage to safely navigate baggage collection. Once he was through, Novel pulled his phone from his bag and switched it back on.
A new message from Sofia appeared,
No luck with the taxi rank CCTV. Is there anyone that might have picked her up and given her a lift anywhere? There is no evidence that she is still in the airport.
Not helpful. If she hadn’t exited the airport in the taxi, it would be almost impossible to even know where to start to find her. However, Novel did make a mental note to permanently have Sarah attached to his office – before someone else pinched her.
Figuring that he should at least start somewhere, Novel strolled over to the taxi rank. Starring around him at the surrounding chaos of cases and sunglasses (a surprising amount considering that it looked like it was about to rain), he tried to spot something vaguely useful. Looking around him, he noticed a glass wall separating the taxi rank from the arrivals airport pub.
It was at the point that Novel realised that his stomach was starting to rumble from the lack of food. With that in mind, he headed back inside and settled on the other side of the glass wall with a pie and chips.
Staring over the last forkful of pie, Novel spotted a man that he vaguely recognised. Filtering through his memory bank, he realised the stranger pinged memories of Cassies’ cousin…. Worryingly, there was definitely no sign of Cassie and he was very quickly moving towards the airport terminal doors.
Deciding that this was the closest thing that even smelt vaguely like a lead. Abandoning the remainder of the chips, he grabbed his bag and left the pub. Thankfully, by the time he arrived outside, the taxi was still there and waiting for a new fare.
“Where are you headed?”
“This is going to be a strange one, but I need to head in the direction of the last guy you dropped off….”
Apparently this was not the strangest request the driver had received this week. He shrugged, “No problem.
“Be warned though, I picked him up from a bit of a dodgy area – high end dug gangs. That guy wasn’t local though and he had way more cash than people normally carry around ‘ere safely.”
Novel was eventually dropped off around the corner from what was reputably the best hotel in the area. It was slightly out of the centre of town. A few exiting guests disappeared down side alleys and other quickly jumped into awaiting taxies or other vehicles.
Looking around him, he was suddenly relieved about his choice of clothing. After attempting the smooth the creases out of his trousers, Novel figured he should not look to much out of place. Walking confidently through the doors, he made himself comfortable at the hotel bar with a glass of scotch.
Deciding that while he had no other current leads and there was no reason to move, Novel continued to nurse his whisky and then another for a couple of hours. It was near the end of this second glass of whisky that he tuned into a nearby conversation….
“…I’m not sure why we let that tosser leave with the money – his information was useless.”
“Because we know that Inspector Bastard actually went AWOL from the UK. Something must have got him rattled. I do rather like an individual who has enough ambition to sell out his own cousin though.”
One of the pair chuckled and Novel watched in the mirrored bar wall as the pair settle their bill before heading towards the front doors. Placing enough on the bar to cover his tab, he moved towards the exit.
With some luck, and good ears, Novel heard the name of a trading estate. Walking around the corner, he managed to flag down another taxi.
At the entrance to the estate, a helpful map set out the location of each business. There was only one that remained unidentified.
After flicking on his GPS signal he sent another text to Sarah.
Think I have her. GPS on. Send local backup. Novel.
He moved closer to a window on the side of the building and looked briefly in to survey the scene. There were a few people walking towards what seemed to be a set of stairs – although Novel couldn’t tell whether they headed up or down – but there appeared to be no other soul in the building.
“Hello inspector, you should have called to let us know you were coming. Cassie will be so pleased to see you.”
Unfortunately, the whisper in his ear came only milliseconds after a scratch in the side of his neck….