A Game of Life and Death · Uncategorized · Writing

Part 2 – Chapter 3: Explorations

Cassie and Novel’s plane landed early the following morning. The airport was full of people and Cassie was continuously aware of Novel’s tight grip on her waist. From the airport, they got a taxi to one of the local hotels – which had been designated as base station.

They waited in relative silence for the next few hours. Their entire journey had consisted of careful glances around her – she could feel eyes following her everywhere.

Her musing was interrupted by a knock on the door. Agent Smith was quickly let in and they were handed an envelope while he greeted them warmly.

“We leave in the morning,” he informed them.

The briefing envelope informed them that the plan was to leave the following morning and head out towards the jungle. This would be a good days drive away an then they had to cross a river. Interpol had acted as a liaison to organise travel clearance across borders. From there they could only go towards the last theorised place of encampment for the gang.

It was early morning when they left. The air was full of a thick mist and it was difficult to see more than 100 yards ahead. There was a team of 20 of them piled into the back of an old and rather rickety 4 by 4. Smith was currently driving and Cassie – being the only female – had managed to gain herself the passenger seat. Novel was not amused with having to sit in the back with the ‘lads’.

The day passed at a slow clawing pace. They were stopped for over an hour by an over eager police officer – who had a gun shoved in Smith’s face. A few high level phone calls were required with the satellite phone. This informed the officer that what was going on was not his business and that he needed to back down. He did, but after that they attempted to gain some more ground quicker because of the risk someone unsavoury might be told as an act of revenge. They needed to get over the border before day break if they hoped to stick with their time frame.

They arrived at the lake a few hours after nightfall. Smith exited the vehicle for a few minutes. Cassie watched him walk over to a small shack beside the lake, he was let in by a gentleman around the age of 40 and the light of a candle briefly lit up the scene. For those brief seconds Cassie could make out what seemed to be a relatively old boat. She would almost go as far to say that she was not entirely sure she believed that it would float.

“He recons we can make it across in one trip,” reported Smith when he arrived back at the car.

Cassie chose not to vocalise her opinions and nervously followed Novel over to the boat.

“I hate this thing,” she whispered to him as they squeezed themselves into the relatively small boat. Looking down at her feet she could see that it was only the waterproofing on her walking boots that were keeping her feet dry.

“We’ll be across soon,” Novel informed her, “just think about how much fun my mother and the cat are having together.”

Cassie had almost forgotten about the cat. The image of it chasing – or at least attempting to chase – birds around the garden almost made her smile.

When they reached the other side the boatman quickly returned to the original shore. Smith gestured for them to follow him west – leading them into the forest.

The group moved as silently as they possibly could – their tight clothing preventing unwanted insects making skin contact. In the night the entire forest had gone deathly quiet. It was a bit like something out of a horror move that Cassie had seen on telly.

Novel was of a similar opinion. He had quickly decided that any more work involving traipsing through wooded forest areas were to be avoided at all costs. With the light of his head torch he could make out all manner of small insects scuttling along the floor and he had never been a fan of any creature with more than two legs that was not a cat or a dog. The sudden movement of branches – seeming ten times louder than it was – almost making Novel feel a bit skittish. Not wanted to further alarm Cassie he managed to rain himself in. She seemed to be slowly returning to her usual abilities. However, he doubted she would be on full cylinders until these inconveniences were apprehended.

The hike continued for miles. They had to extend it by about half a mile to skirt around a herd of elephants who had required the use of a small clearing.

“Bloody wildlife,” one of the officers behind Novel had muttered. Nobody disagreed with him.

Within another few hours some sort of structure was just about visible on the horizon. Cassie felt herself being to shake slightly but calmed a little when Novel placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. The group continued forward and all those with guns encircled the property.

“They’ve gone boss,” Cassie heard over the walkie-talkie. Her heart sank.

“Damn.”

They regrouped and began surveying the scene. There was little sign that any life had been her for a while. However, a receipt dating the week previous had shown them that whoever had been living there had been relatively good with the clean-up. The only other things that were found was a list of number and some scribbles which could only be presumed to be predicted profit margins. It was in the order of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Cassie found a series of tire tracks baked into the mud leading north and they decided that this was the only lead they had to go on.

“At the very least that will take us in the direction of the airport, so, if the trail has gone cold we’ll regroup and rethink,” Smith decided, ordering the group to follow him with a quick pace.

By now, the morning light had begun to emerge over the horizon and the shear scale of the task before them was becoming evident. As they reached the edge of the tree line on the crest of a hill they could see the forest sprawled out before them.

Whist waiting for his food to cook, Novel walked a little away from the main group – wanting some time away from the crowd of people. Off the path the vehicle seemed to have taken – judging by some tire tracks that appeared to match the ones they had found before – he found a small slope which led to a river. It was easy enough for Novel to get down to it and have a look around.

“Smith,” he muttered into his walkie-talkie, “you might want to see this.”

The Agent moved quickly to locate Novel and was soon standing beside him to survey the scene. Before them, wrapped around a tree, was a decaying body of what appeared to be a young girl. She was possibly in her early teens and between them they could only assume that – based on her clothing – she had originated at one of the local villages. Her arms were tied with rope behind her back and it was possible that her legs had been previously tied as well.

“She must have attempted to escape,” commented Smith, not looking overly bothered by the situation.

“Not a good way to go,” murmured Novel, “what shall we do with her?”

“Leave her, we don’t have the equipment to move a body in that condition.”

They continued to hike through the forest for over a day. However, their search ultimately proved fruitless. They eventually came out of the forest onto a commercial airport. Smith’s first port of call was finding a decent loo – Cassie followed. Novel, on the other hand, had wondered in the opposite direction and had begun asking questions to the taxi drivers. He was hoping they might know about any cards that had come out of the woods in the last few days – they always seemed to know more that people realised.

“Just the one mate,” he was informed by a younger driver who spoke pretty good English, “parked in VIP carpark. Private jet, but don’t know where.”

“Would the airport staff know?”

“They know nothing,” he rubbed his finger together in the universal ‘they get paid’ symbol and shrugged.

As promised, Novel passed the kid some cash, which seemed to please him immensely. The he returned to group which now included Cassie and Agent Smith again.

“They’ve gone,” Novel stated in a very matter-of-fact tone, “Private Jet right out of here.”

“Damn.”

The trip back was done in a sullen silence. However, they were all pleased to eventually arrive back in the UK and get themselves a shower. Cassie was especially pleased to be out of those woods – Novel’s description of that girl had been giving her nightmares.

When they got into the office that morning Cassie as called into Smith’s office – Novel followed in behind her.

“Novel you are not needed in this discussion,” Smith informed him.

“She’s my officer,” Novel pointed out, making himself comfortable in one of the sofas and taking a sip of his coffee, “I’ll be involved in any discussions concerning or involving Cassie.”

Smith bowed his head in acknowledgement that there was no point in arguing. The new plan, now that the trail was as cold as the Artic, was to se Cassie to make the gang find them. She had not received a text from them since leaving for Africa, however, Smith wanted her to return to the flat alone.

“But she could be kidnapped!” exclaimed Novel, watching Cassie carefully as her face went as white as his shirt.

“That is the idea Novel. She will be wearing a tacking GPS device,” explained Smith, “we’ll implant the untraceable chip before you return. Your whereabouts will be known 24/7. As soon as we can catch them in the act we will stop and surround them.”

“But what about her?” questioned Novel, “we know what these men are like. It is not as if they are going to wait for her to seduce them before forcing her into bed! They have no respect for women and no gentleman inclinations of any sort!”

“What about all those girls that are presently being sold as sex slaves Novel!?” growled Smith angrily, “We’ve never had an opportunity like this before – to get into the heart of the organisation will allow us to tear it open from the top!”

“I’ll do it.”

Novel, who had just about to respond, stopped short. He had forgotten Cassie was still in the room.

“I’m aware of the possible consequences,” she continued, “but I have a feeling that the will continue to follow me until I am dead or captured. At least this will mean I have some chance of a living a life without having to watch over my shoulder. It will mean that other girls can be saved. A least like this then someone will know where I am and I can have some chance of rescue. There is no choice Novel – I don’t think there ever was one.”

Novel nodded, reluctantly giving in – even though every bone in his body was telling him that this was a bad idea.

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A Game of Life and Death · Uncategorized · Writing

Part 2 – Chapter 2: The Beginning of Something

The walls of their new place of business were covered in monitors and several individuals were sat at the desks analysing the footage.

“Novel?” inquired Agent Smith, “Can we have you both in this meeting? It will allow you to be brought up to speed on the investigation.”

They were led into a brightly lit meeting room. A long table was surrounded by many other senior officers. A projector was displaying a series of faces onto a white painted wall. Some familiar faces from Ireland stared back at Novel.

From what they could tell from their investigation and questioning, the group were a major supplier of drugs into the UK. It was being used to fund a trafficking ring that was based on the African Continent. Their main market was buying girls from poor families for use as household help from rich Western and Asian families.

Cassie still felt completely unsure about how she was going to handle this new situation she now found herself in. Her experiences in Ireland had left her feeling shaky and suspicious of those around her.

When Novel and Cassie eventually arrived back at the hotel, the sun was beginning to set. Novel as gracious enough to pick up the phone to order a take-away – neither could be bothered to walk to the restaurant around the corner. A Chinese turned up about an hour later and was silently devoured.

Shortly after the remains of the dinner had been thrown away, Cassie’s phone began loudly vibrating from the bedside table.

“Who is it?” asked Novel.

“I don’t recognise the number, but gave m number to most of my cousins at the wedding. It’s probably one of them,” explained Cassie, “I’ll see what they want.”

She pressed the receive call button and put the phone on speaker-phone so Novel could listen in – and allowing her to have her hand free to make a hot chocolate from one of the provided free sachets. Cassie thought the chances of some scandalous secret being divulged were slim.

“Hello Cassie,” greeted a voice, “my names is Stevon. Do you remember me from the airport in Ireland? I was the nice man that gave you and your cousin a lift from the airport.”

Cassie froze and there was a smash as the mug she was holding fell to the floor. Novel started gesturing at her in an attempt to keep her speaking.

“H-h-how did you get my number?” she stammered, recovering from the shock a little.

“Your lovely cousin gave it me on the off chance I might want to contact you,” explained the man, “although it’s not so much me… More my boss is feeling a little bit more put out that you weren’t delivered. He’d invested a lot to get hold of you.”

“Well tell his to f-fuck off!” screamed Cassie down the phone, tears starting to fall down her cheeks, “nobody owns me and you can’t tell him he can go fuck himself!”

“I can… but he won’t like it…” replied Stevon, sounding calm and collected at the other end of the line, “where are you Cassie? We know you aren’t at your flat.”

“GO AWAY!!!”

She throw the phone across the room. It largely survived the collision, but the back fell off and battery came out – effectively ending the transmission.

Cassie sat on the very uncomfortable sofa and curled herself up into a foetal position. They were watching her flat! What on earth was she going to do? As the thoughts continued to swirl around her head, Cassie stared blankly into the space before her.

“I’m going to bed,” she eventually announced, “we’ve got an early start tomorrow.”

When they arrived at the office the following morning, the tech guys got hold of the phone and attempted to trace where the call had originated from. Their conclusion – some hours later – was that he was within the UK, which wasn’t much of a help. Cassie assumed that he must be in the group watching her flat.

“We’re heading out this evening,” commented Novel, interrupting Cassie’s staring match with the light switch, “They’re collected our bags from the hotel now.”

She nodded not really listening to what was being told to her. This entire situation had become absurdly strange. All she wanted to do was be a good daughter and go to the family wedding with her mother… Now it had somehow ended up with her assisting with the hunt for an international trafficking ring. She was never going to take time off again – for anything! It had all just seemed to go horribly wrong.

They headed out to Africa on a public flight – it had been decided that this would create less attention. The entire team had provided with fake ID’s (for some reason someone had decided that her and Novel were now ‘Mr and Mrs Morris’) and were seated separately over three different flights that headed out to the African continent within the next 24 hours. Their destination was the country that boarded the one that it was thought the gang was based in. It would allow them to enter undercover and hopefully regroup unseen.

Since the last phone call Cassie had turned her phone on to find three text messages from the number Stevon had called her on – he had decided that the best course of action was to make Cassie’s guard fall was to consistently remind her that she would be recovered sooner or later. There was also one from Novel’s mother telling her the cat was happy over at hers and enjoying cashing mice in he back garden. Apparently, this particular cat didn’t set off her allergies.

She had sent a reply back to Novel’s mother to inform her that she was pleased they were getting on so well and that she was grateful the cat was being looked after. Stevon did not get a response. They did not want to risk him being able to track the origin of the message.

A Game of Life and Death · Uncategorized · Writing

Part 2 – The Unsettled

Part 2

Chapter 1 – The unsettled

William Novel was not amused when he was forced by some busybody in Human Resources to take an additional 2 weeks off work. Nothing at work would be happening and his caseload would be a mess.

Cassie was not feeling so good. There was a slowly tightening knot in the pit of her stomach that made its presence known almost constantly. The cat had managed to nearly give her a heart attach in her first week back at the flat  it had hurtled it’s way into a window in an unsuccessful attempt to catch a Robin sat on the windowsill.

Novel – who had run out of the ability to cope with watching ‘homes under the hammer’ – returned to work before Cassie. The morning of his return to work, news of what had happened in Ireland began to filter through into the National press. A Crimestoppers appeal for additional witnesses ensured that Mohammed’s not particularly handsome face was branded about for all to see.

His return to the office surprised him in a way he had not anticipated. His office was surprisingly organised. Most of it was to his liking – although the ‘fresh looking’ vase of flowers did end up in the bin.

“Hello Sir,” greeted the voice of Sofia from the door. She had settled herself in the doorway with a cup of tea in her hand. Looking up from his keyboard, Novel noticed a second mug had appeared on his desk. She was now staring at the now empty vase with a slight grin on her face, “A no to the flowers then?”

“Definitely a no,” although he did give her an uncharacteristic nod of thanks for the coffee.

About half an hour later the phone started to ring. Novel stared at the object as if it was something foreign. However, after a few rings he picked it up and put it against his ear.

“Chief Inspector Novel?” asked a male voice at the other end of the phone.

“Yes?”

“I’m agent Smith from the Serious Crime Unit,” continued the unfamiliar voice at the other end of the phone line, “you were involved in the arrest of a number of serious gang members. We want you and your Deputy on the case. We believe your additional awareness of this gang will assist the investigation. I have agreement of your superiors. You’re both being seconded to my team.”

Novel made sure that he was fully briefed on the final fates of the men n the warehouse.

All of those handcuffed at the scene had been taken to the Serious Crime Unit and thoroughly cross examined. Some had agreed to a deal. However, the breadcrumbs they had provided on a human trafficking ring would need to be substantiated before that were able to follow through on the promise of shortened jail time.

As Novel began to stare at his desk, he realised the rest of the day seemed to lack all of the excitement of the previous couple of weeks. Even the paperwork seemed to have been completed – an unusual occurrence.

That evening Novel headed back to the flat to find that Cassie had left hm a portion of cold pasta bake on the side. He decided that the best idea for him next plan of action was to eat it quickly now – before informing her that she would be returning to work on Monday.

“You snuck in,” she commented, noticing the now empty plate by the sink as she headed towards the kettle.

“I was hungry,” he responded.

Cassie looked quickly towards the door. She’d hardly been out since she’d got home, “you sure you locked it properly?”

He nodded before delivering the news, “We’re being sent off to work with the Serious Crime Unit for a while. Start Monday and we’ll be living away in secure accommodation. Might be worth packing a toothbrush or something.”

With that, he left the room.

Authors note: What’s everyone thinking about the story so far? Any feedback would be very useful 🙂 

A Game of Life and Death · Uncategorized · Writing

Chapter 5 – A rescue Attempt

Chapter 5

A Rescue Attempt

Her whole body ached.

With slow, uncoordinated movements, she moved her head up off the cold, hard floor and surveyed her surroundings.

A series of plug sockets around the room suggested that this space was original meant to have been an office – as opposed to a prison. It currently only contained a solitary cushion and a thin mattress with a blanket. There were no windows and only a solitary door provided any exit or entrance.

Cassie gingerly moved herself from her current position to the mattress – her bum was getting cold. The room was freezing and she pulled the thin blanket around her. Looking around, she quickly realised that there was pleasantly no one else in the room.

Looking around her, there was no way of telling how long it had been since the in-flight meal. While staring at the useless door before her, she began to wonder whether Mohammed had gone home and told everyone that she had arrived safely. Maybe it was Thursday already and she had already missed a day of work… Cassie groaned.

Her stomach began to cramp with an in-build method of self-punishment for not eating on time.

Two men entered the room, disturbing her self-pity party. They were smartly dressed and seemed to examine her as if she were a rare species of animal.

“So this is what he’s chasing…” commented the slightly taller of the two.

“How does it feel to know you own cousin his sold you out?” This was directed at her.

“What do you want with me?” Cassie was attempting to sound bored.

“Your friend Novel is the only member of the team who is still alive that disrupted a very profitable business arrangement we had. We have still become very rich, but it did disrupt our retirement plans.”

“What were you doing?” her curiosity getting the better of her.

“Replica designer goods – lots of profit margin… The plan worked anyway, when you didn’t show up for work, your boss got on a plane.”

When Cassie did not respond, the room fell into relative silence. That was interrupted by a series of loud footsteps behind the door.

The door burst open with a bang. Cassie shrank back from the door to the room as Novel’s form was dumped on the metal flooring. She quickly realised that he must have been sedated.

Cassie sighed after the group left the room, Novel’s rescue plan was currently not looking particularly successful.

After somehow manging to drag her boss on the mattress, she pulled the blanket around her (now aching) shoulders. About an hour later, Novel started to slowly blink back into consciousness.

“How did you find me?” She asked bluntly, feeling a bit let down.

“It wasn’t difficult,” explained Novel.

Her initial reply was a sharp glare before she continued, “so how do you plan on getting us out now you’ve managed to get yourself caught?”

Her new companion was saved from replying when the door to the room swung open. A large man in a suit walked slowly, but purposefully, into the room – his beady eyes staring directly in Cassie’s direction. Looking into his eyes, she feel the calculative look burning through her skull.

She didn’t have time to react when he grabbed her arm and pulled her over to him. Her arms were pulled behind her by one hand and his other arm pulled tightly around her neck.

“Let go of her,” growled Novel, who was now struggling to get up.

“My dear Inspector, it doesn’t feel good to be held captive does it? It’s fun to give you a taste of your own medicine. The last time I saw you was when you raided my apartment in the early hours of the morning.”

Cassie watched as Novel’s eyes widened in realisation.

“You broke the law and I fixed it. Seeing you again was not one of my life goals.”

If she hadn’t been being held in such an awkward position, Cassie would have rolled her eyes. Novel was being ridiculously unhelpful.

She started coughing as the arm began to pull tighter around her neck. The hand around her neck suddenly released her neck and covered her mouth instead.

Cassie felt his warm breath on her ear, “Calm down sweetie, I don’t want to have to harm you…”

She instantly stilled, understanding the potential implications.

“I wouldn’t do anything,” Novel growled, his gaze becoming more intense.

In response there was an almost maniacal grin, staring intensely into Novel’s eyes as he gave Cassie’s bum a squeeze.

The room almost seemed to freeze for a few long seconds.

This silence was suddenly broken by a sudden series of shouts and smashing glass that seemed to echo around the floor above. Within minutes, there was a team of armed police officers entering the room – all aiming their weapons at the man holding Cassie.

“Sir, I need you to let her go,” barked a police office – his gun aimed steadily for the man’s head.

Another moved over and pressed his gun into his back. This had the beneficial effect of Cassie being let go – he had realised that this particular game was up.

She quickly moved over to Novel, who was currently being looked over by a medic now that the man was being secured in handcuffs.

“Are you ok?” she whispered.

“I will be, but I need to give my mother a quick phone.”

Within hours they were both on a plane back to England. It was a chance for them both to start processing what has happened to them over the past few days.

The seatbelt sign had come on with a ding above them when Cassie finally plucked up the courage to turn to Novel.

“I don’t want to go back to the flat on my own.”

The man, who had been sitting silently in his seat for most of the flight, now turned to face her.

“I really can’t go back Novel.”

There was a long silence.

“What if I moved into your spare room? My mother’s been hinting that I should move out for years, so you’d be doing me a favour really.”

She paused, almost in an odd state of shock that he had offered.

“What would be absolutely fine, we’d need to clear my crap out of it. But that would be great – thanks.”

The pair then settled into silence for the remainder of the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

A Game of Life and Death · Writing

Chapter 4 – Irish Whisky

Chapter 4

Irish Whisky

 

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….

A Game of Life and Death · WIP SEWING · Writing

Chapter 3 – No Coffee

(a/n: In an effort to get this ‘out there’ as quickly as possible, and I don’t have a lot of time at the moment. I’m going to just focus the blog on getting this up and updating on my WIP progress for a while.)

No Coffee

Novel had only just arrived in the office and already his day was ruined. He glared at the flashing device in his hand as if he could scare it into submission. Predictably, that did no work and the message remained annoyingly unchanged on the brightly light mobile screen.

Missed booked flight home. Organising alternative. Will update you when I know more. Can you feed the furball tonight please?

She had promised him that she would be back in the office tomorrow. Now she might not be. He needed her here tomorrow. The office had already descended into chaos without her. Someone had attempted to reorganise the filing system on the computer yesterday – a phonecall confirmed that this had been IT – and now none of his desktop short cuts worked and he could not find a single thing. If Cassie had been here she could have fixed it – made them change it back.

But she was not here and the chaos had continued on. To make it worse, he would have to go and feed that stupid feline on the way home.

Unlocking the screen, he typed out a reply:

The cat will be fed. What is your flight number?

With this information he could at least keep track of her now.

He called HR to let them know that he has authorised an additional day of emergency holiday for Cassie. Then he started reading through the report he had been sent through.

When Novel arrived home – after surviving another ordeal with the cat – he pulled his mobile out from his pocket again. Cassie had sent him through the required flight number and he used this to check details of her flight. Apparently it had landed over an hour ago – perhaps she was still stuck waiting for her luggage?

It was almost time for the mid-week briefing by the time Novel realised something was missing. He check his phone again, there was still no message from Cassie, so the only conclusion was that she was already in the office…. But why had she at not at least apologised?

He stood and walked out of his office. Then he asked the room, “Cassie, can you come to my office please?”

There was no reply except for a few strange looks from the other officers. After meeting the stares, daring them to comment – no-one did – he stepped back inside his office.

His first action was to call the reception to see if they had heard from Cassie – they had not. The HR line was also similarly lacking in information. His gut was telling him that something was seriously off. But it had been feeling like that since Cassie had initially gone off on holiday – so a complete sense of trust could not be completely provided to him gut today.

He pulled his work mobile (only mobile) from his pocket.

“Call Sarah Lucas,” he told the phone slowly.

A non-descript silhouette of a person with the words Sarah Lucas appeared on his screen. The word Dialling… quickly followed.

It was answered after a few rings, “How can I help Assistant Chief Inspector?”

“I need you to see if you can trace someone for me please?”

“Yes Sir, who?”

“Do you remember Cassie?” there was an affirmative noise though the speaker, “she was due to return to work today after some delayed flight. I know her plane landed in Northern Ireland, can you access the database to make sure she went through passport control please?”

“Text me the flight number, and her passport number if you have it. Try calling her again – because I’m guessing you haven’t yet?”

“I’ll do that now.”

This was a number he could speed-dial. However, while Sarah’s suggestion had been a good one, it did not produce the results that he had been hoping for. The phonecall went straight to voicemail. Cassie either had no signal or her phone was off. This was not helpful and entirely out of character.

After leaving the message, he hung up. The phone started ringing again about 30 seconds later.

“Any luck with the phonecall?”

“Straight to answerphone.”

“Well she definitely landed in Northern Ireland. I cannot find any details of any flight or ferry crossings, so she is definitely still in the country.”

“Any other details that might be useful? I really would like to be able to get in contact with her ASAP. This is completely out of character for her.”

“For some reason she appeared to be traveling with some guy named ‘Mohammed’. He’s got a different surname to her – any thoughts?”

“No. But she left me an emergency contact number at hers. I’ll give her family a call and see if they know anything. Can you check any CCTV from the airport? I could do with a lead as to where she went from the airports. Can you put an alert on her passport? I need a warning if she leaves the country.”

“Get me the paperwork and I can have it with you in 30. I’ll email it over to you.”

After disconnecting the phone, he left the room and headed down the corridor. He needed to ask for some time off and to explain what little he knew about the situation.

Within 15 minutes he had the equivalent of a blank cheque for resources he needed – providing he got a sanity check on anything that involved foreign governments. He forwarded the confirmation email to Sarah and headed out of the building.

Within half an hour he found himself staring at the Cassie’s white plastic front door. He hovered there for a few minutes before eventually knocking.

No answer.

He knocked again, louder his time. Then shouted a greeting through the letter box.

If in the increasingly unlikely event that she was in he would have to re-explain basic etiquette to her. This was just rude.

After a pause, he wondered how she would have got in anyway. He had new locks put in after the break in…

After using the key to let himself him, he scanned the small entrance hall. It was as he had left it.

There was a small black folder on the left side of the desk labelled ‘travel papers – Novel’ on the spine. That would be a good place to start.

He picked up the folder and made himself comfortable in the lounge with a coffee. Flicking through the folder, he quickly found a printed itinerary of her trip. A neatly typed page of emergency contacts was next.  Her place of accommodation – the house of a cousin – would have to be his starting point for intel.

After deciding to use the landline, the phone was picked up after a couple of rings.

“Hi Cassie,” greeted a woman, “how was your trip back? We were expected to hear from you yesterday.”

“This isn’t Cassie. I am her boss, Chief Inspector Novel. I’ve been looking after her cat while she has been away.”

“Chief inspector, may I ask why Cassie isn’t calling?” the woman on the other side of the phone was starting to sound worried.

“She has not made it home yet. All I know is that she missed her initial flight, took an alternate flight home to Northern Ireland and I can’t trace her from there.”

“The last time I saw her was when she left from here with her cousin, Mohammed, he kindly agreed to escort her to the airport.”

“He was still with her in Northern Ireland. Can you think of any reason why?”

“Perhaps he was still escorting her? He did promise to keep an eye on her…” the voice was sounding less than convinced at this point, but she would not elaborate any further. However, she did make him promise to make Cassie contact her once he had found her.

Upon returning home, he gave his mother a summarised version of events so as to explain why he would be leaving.

Her only reply had been an enigmatic smile combined with a set of twinkling eyes. However, she did offer to make him a sandwich for the road – so he presumed she understood.

Within an hour, there was a taxi by the front door. His passport was tucked safely in a hidden pocket in his backpack – along with his credit card.

It was the middle of the afternoon when Novel arrived at the airport. The driver handed him his backpack and received his payment before driving away.

After moving into the airport, he walked purposely over to the ticket desks. After reaching the front of the queue, he inquired as to the availability of tickets.

“Good morning Sir, how can I help you today?”

“I could do with getting to Northern Ireland as soon as possible. Do you have any available seats please?”

She smiled politely and did a quick search on the computer in front of her.

“We have a spare seat in business class on a flight leaving 3 hours from now. How does that suit?”

“That would be ideal. I’ll pay by card.”

After the payment had processed successfully, she handed Novel his newly printed ticket. “We hope that you have a pleasant trip. Please take the time to enjoy the airport’s duty free facilities and the executive business lounge.”

“Many thanks,” he replied, carefully storing the ticket in his jacket pocket and moving in the general direction of Check-in.

“Holiday Sir?” asked the man at the check-in desk. He paused briefly to peer over his glasses at Novel to compare to the unflattering passport picture.

“Just meeting up with a friend.”

After receiving back his passport along with a bright pink stick emblazoned with HAND LUGGAGE he headed in the direction of security

Eventually, Novel emerged into the brightly lit shopping mall that was the duty-free area. It was packed full of items he would not normally buy and people he did not have any inclination of speaking to.

He had some time before his flight, so he headed into the calmness of the business lounge. Once he had found himself an armchair, he settled himself down with a coffee to wait.

After the customary safety talk, the plane took off without incident. Once the seatbelt sign had been switched off, Novel reached into the back and retrieved the paperwork Cassie had left for him.

It was evident from the paperwork that she have planned to return on the booked flight. There was a clear travel timetable typed up, along with the confirmation email of her flights. It was unclear how she could have missed her flight from the plans – although the escort of her cousin could have thrown her initial planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Game of Life and Death · Uncategorized · Writing

Chapter 2 Why Family Weddings Should be Avoided

A/N: Apologies that this didn’t go up  last night. My went out to a work do last night and drank to much prosecco (it’s amazing how much pregnancy reduces your ability to drink).

 

Chapter 2

Why Family Weddings Should be Avoided

Family weddings were a particular breed of nightmare.

Although, to be fair on her cousin, this one had been relatively bearable so far. However, this did not prevent the sense of relief that she felt on the day of her return home.

It was the departure of the happy couple the night before that had eventually opened the floodgates. She had been cross-examined for over an hour before dinner about why she was not yet settled down with a husband. Her mother’s ‘helpful input’ of “she’s married to her job” had not stemmed the tide.

It had been a sympathetic female cousin who had let her into the secret that they were placing bets on Cassie getting married next. She had sighed, exasperated.

Cassie could not remember who had made the original comment at dinner. But, in the same vain as the pre-dinner conversation, Cassie traveling independently home seemed to be another hot topic of debate. Cassie’s grandmother was only silenced when her cousin Mohammed offered to accompany her. He said he had business anyway in the UK and his flight was leaving a little later, so he did not mind being a bit early to the airport.

“The taxi’s here!” Cassie’s cousin called from the bottom of the stairs, “Cas are you packed?”

“Coming!”

Cassie checked the guest room one final time, making sure she had not left a stray book under the bed. It would be a while before she returned and she did not feel like giving them an excuse to visit.

After the traditional series of goodbyes were completed, she finally escaped into the taxi.

Her face was creased with worry as she checked her watch again – making sure she had read the time correctly. How was this trip taking so long? Nervously, her eyes flickered back to the watch face, it was already 15 minutes after the time she had originally planned to be at the airport by.

“Is it just me, or is it some sort of ‘National Roadworks Day’?” Cassie inquired, only half joking as she stared at another group of fluorescent jacketed men the car slowly crept by.

There was a small sound of laughter from Mohammed, “don’t worry so much! You’ll be where you need to be on time.”

By the time the pair arrived at the airport, Cassie was seriously regretting accepting the offered lift. Upon arriving through the departure entrance, her eyes quickly located the nearest flight information screen.

Her heart sank like a rock in a mineshaft.

“I’ve missed check in…” she moaned, realising the possibility of making it home today was starting to slip through her fingers.

“Cassie I am so sorry, I really did not thing that journey would take us so long,” Mohammed had materialised back into her field of vision and was offering her a coffee, “Look, it’s my fault and I will get it sorted.”

Gratefully, she accepted the coffee. It would be nice not to have to worry about paying a horrendous amount of money to replace her non-fundable ticket.

Pulling her phone from her pocket, she figured she had better get in contact with Novel. Otherwise the cat would go unfed and she did not want to have to deal with a grumpy fur ball when she arrived back in the UK.

The phone’s screen flashed into life and a poorly taken picture of the aforementioned cat stared back at her. After deciding that the price of an international call would be higher than her month’s rent (or at least her electricity bill), she made the decision to text her boss.

Missed booked flight home. Organising alternative. Will update you when I know more. Can you feed the furball tonight please?

Cassie knew that Novel could be depended on to be annoyed. It had been hard enough to book the original required number of days off for this trip. God forbid anyone had lives outside the office!

Her eventual return to the office later in the week would then be met with an annoyed glare for the inconvenience she had caused him.

Mohammed’s return interrupted her thoughts.

“The earliest ticket to England is in three days. However, I have managed to get us on a flight to Northern Ireland. It leaves from here in 3 hours’ time and so I’ve got our bags all checked in,” he explained quickly, gesturing her to follow him towards the security and passport control areas of the airport, “I am sorry you know. I know you wanted to get home on time.”

“Thanks for sorting it out,” Cassie replied with a smile, “you managed to get the family off my back yesterday because of the offer. I think that more than makes up for this!”

They shared a mutual chuckle.

“If you’re interested, there will be about 7-8 hours before we’re able to get a connecting flight out. The woman at the desk advised that it might just be quicker to hop on a ferry. So I left booking the transfer flight for now.”

“That makes sense,” Cassie replied, “It will be fun to have of a bit of a sightseeing if we’re having an unplanned delay there.”

They made their journey to duty free relatively successfully and they quickly found somewhere to eat. About half-way through the meal, Mohammed disappeared for a long while to the loo. She used this opportunity to check her phone.

There was a message, and it was from Novel.

The cat will be fed. What is your flight number?

With a couple of clicks, she had armed Novel with the ability to stalk her for the next few hours. Hopefully that should keep him happy and at least the cat would get fed….

“I phoned ahead,” Mohammed explained, noticing Cassie had spotted a sign with his name on, “A business associate of mine owed me a favour. He agreed to pick us up as I have to discuss a potential project with him anyway, saves trying to get a Skype call to connect.”

“That makes sense. If I could beg that we locate coffee before we leave the airport though please? I could really do with caffeine being injected directly into my bloodstream – but an espresso will suffice.”

The pair headed towards the awaiting blur of signs and faces. Mohammed steered them towards his name – which was being held by a smartly dressed man who was tall and has slowly thinning dark brown hair.

“I’m Steven,” introduced the stranger, “sorry to hear about your flight troubles and many thanks for allowing me to take some time out of your day so that I may speak with your cousin.”

“It’s no trouble,” she replied, shaking the offered hand.

“There is a cafe truck just by the taxi rank,” suggested Mohammed, pointing in the required direction before pulling out a rumpled 20 from his pocket, “do you mind grabbing 2 white coffees and what-ever you need while we load the car please?”

She looked to Steven, who nodded in agreement to the suggested coffee order and she headed over the source of her next caffeine hit.

“Have you managed to sort out a connecting flight?” Cassie inquired as they headed towards a smart black Mercedes, trying not to spill the 3 slightly overfilled cardboard cups of steaming coffee.

“I said to your cousin that my secretary would organise the next stage of your trip while we’re in out meeting. I’m a frequent flyer and we get remarkable deals – she’ll ensure you’re comfortable for the rest of your trip.”

Their drive from the airport entailed a road that appeared to skirt around the nearby city. Around an hour later – Cassie could not be completely certain as she had dozed off in the back seat of the car for a large portion of the journey – the trio arrived at a rather bland industrial estate. They stopped in the car park of what appeared to be one of the cleaner buildings.

After Mohammed’s sensible suggestion that she would be comfortable in the office than waiting in the car, Cassie followed the two men into the building. She was led into a spacious office reception area on the ground floor. It was an open plan space and the majority of the walls surrounding the room were glass rather than brick.

After her two companions left her to conduct their meeting, Cassie took the opportunity to study the only other soul in the room.

 

The only permanent fixture within this reception space seemed to be the receptionist. Her action of handing Cassie a cup of coffee scented water in a thin polystyrene cup was the only clue that she was not an innominate object.

As Cassie attempted to consume the ‘coffee’ without wincing, she watched the other woman out of the corner of her eye. After a long span of staring at the computer monitor, the woman shredded some paper – which Cassie was pretty sure was blank – before resuming the staring contest with the computer.

Even the phone was not appearing to be busy – it had not made a sound since Cassie had arrive.

Feeling bored, Cassie pulled out her phone to give Novel an update. No signal. She would have to get back in contact once she was back in the car.

“Do you know how long they’ll be in the meeting?”

The woman almost looked startled for a second – apparently she had forgotten that Cassie was still there. After holding up a quick finger to gesture her to wait, she made a quick call and spoke briefly before responding.

“They think they might be some time yet, can I get you another cup of coffee?”

Knowing that some caffeine was better than no caffeine, Cassie agreed and another cup was passed in her direction.

Instead of the desired buzz of caffeine, she started to gradually feel more tired.

“What is this? Decaf?” She joked as he peripheral vision slowly started to cloud.

That was when the panic quickly set in…. what the hell was going on? Cassie attempted to stand. Maybe, if she could run…

Any option to escape quickly was removed as her legs gave way beneath her. The door that she had used to enter gave a slight squeak as it opened and an unknown man came through.

Her vision slowly began to return to her and she tried to move her arms and legs. However, she quickly found that this option was impossible.

Cassie’s hands were secured behind her back and her legs beneath her.

“You’re awake,” the voice was sourced to her right, just out of her line of sight, “you’ll be pleased to know that your cousin has left you in my tender care.”

“Why the hell has he done that for?” she was started to feel an odd mixed of pissed off and scared.

“I’ve been made aware that you are currently romantically involved with one man known as ‘Novel’. We have crossed swords in the past and I wanted to show him what it feels like to be left rotting in a cell.”

If the situation had not been so serious, Cassie would have laughed. She had never known Novel to be romantically involved with anybody. Ever.

“Your sources are talking shit. If you’ve been paying for your intelligence, well I would be looking at a refund…”

A tall, balding white man in an off – the – rack suit stepped within her vision. There was a rather dangerous looking scowl on his face.

“Your cousin seemed to have the impression that you were engaged to be married the copper.”

“I can promise you that I am currently free and single – with no hope of a husband in the near future. But no, that is not a desperate plea for you to offer,” Cassie responded with a chuckle. If she was engaged to anyone then at least her family would leave her alone for 5 minutes and lose interest.

Without warning, Cassie felt a sharp scratch in the back of the neck.

Aurthors note: That’s all from me! Please feel free to share 🙂

Love to you all and happy knitting!

MrsKirstyHoll

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