Monday, 30 July 2012

Silhouettes - Third Instalment

SILHOUETTES - Third instalment - Chapters six and seven.
For more information on this novel, click Here. Next instalment coming next week.


The fat controller, as the security company area manager was affectionately called, behind his back, appeared across the street only forty minutes after Dave had left. He looked flustered and sweaty, even from a distance, and as he waddled up the steps to the office block, his aura sweating heart disease just as his facial pores did perspiration, Dave felt a little remorseful about the insulting fax. He wasn’t a bad boss, just a poor sod who had a hard job managing mostly no-users. It was too late though for recriminations, the fat controller might be remembered with affection sometime in the future, but now was a time for planning his future without any assistance from the Agency. He had been told, if he wanted to stay, to basically, do his own thing, but keep a low profile, don’t attract undue scrutiny, and don’t make official contact with anyone. No problem, he thought, though he wondered if he should have maybe worked some proper notice with the security company he'd just quit, instead of giving them the finger like he had. These things are remembered, and talked about, and loose talk was always to be avoided. He was glad the Agency had let him loose, but he still didn't want any faux pas he may make to come to its attention. The street outside was too busy with people, shoppers, workers, tourists, wandering up and down, to get a good view of the building from here. Why was he even concerned, he wondered, and decided it was because he didn’t want the fat controller to think ill of him, despite the fact he probably had ruined his day. 

He had stayed in the bar all afternoon. It was as good a place as any to decide what his plans should be. Maybe travel round the country, that would probably be the best way to learn more of Scotland and the Scots. Come to think of it, if they had set him free, did that mean there was another from the Agency being sent to the Glasgow area? The fact that he’d had nothing much to report for the last six months meant probably not, even though there had been an increase in state security activity in the city of late – the silent copters were becoming increasingly common in the skies of the city, and he knew that kind of technology wasn’t used to joy-ride over civilian areas, it would be hard to explain away an accident with a craft that most of the population didn’t know existed. He would have to dismantle his communication centre and get rid of the pieces, especially so he could then give up the rent for the garage under the railway arches where it was stored. These thoughts were going through his mind as he made a pretence at reading the Herald, which was opened on the table in front of him, occasionally turning a page for effect. He was feeling the alcohol in his system, feeling a little light-headed. It wasn’t often that he drank, and then always stopping at two or three. Today, though, he felt good, and decided to have another, and was just about to go up to the bar when he noticed the youth in denims manipulating the keys on a mobile. He instinctively touched his chip, but it was sensing nothing. He stared at the guy, but he didn’t seem to be an Agent. He began to relax, but then his gaze was returned. He recognized him. From where he wasn’t sure, but he did know him. 

It was like his dreaming, a haze, a piece of memory here and there disconnected, though in an order of such randomness he never quite knew what was real and what was programmed. The face across the bar could be one of him, or could be an enemy, or friend, or someone met in the ordinariness of life, standing in a queue, a passing acquaintance on a bus or train journey, or even someone met before in a bar such as this. It intrigued him, and frustrated him at the same time. Always he had to wait for recognition to come from the other party in order to gauge what his reaction should be at any particular time or place. All he could be certain of at this moment in time was that the face was familiar. He finished his drink and took the empty glass to the bar. 

‘Same again?’ asked the barmaid, and smiled at him. She had that kind of smile that could cheer up your day, no matter how bad a day it was. Young, maybe twenty, twenty-one, dyed blond hair, nose pierced, and he noticed the shadow of a tattoo through her blouse, above the left breast. 

‘Yes,’ he replied, returning her smile, ‘and a packet of chicken crisps.’ 

‘I know you!’ 

It was put as a statement of fact, not a question, and rather loudly, by the guy who’d been manipulating his mobile phone minutes before, and it gave him that tingle of fear that made the hairs on his neck stand erect. This was where the programming he’d been given was seriously fucked up, the fact from fiction, dream from haze, real or imagined, and why didn’t he remember which. It wasn't an ideal situation for an Agent to be in. 

‘Yeah, I know your face, pal,’ was the standard reply he could make in these situations, and wait for the other party to elaborate on the where and when, and if the previous encounter had meant they were friend or foe, or just two people who’d nodded on passing. 

‘Last night,’ he said, ‘you were in here last night?’ 

This time it was a question, and Dave noticed the guy was quite inebriated. 


He gazed up at the overcast sky, then out at the dull grey of the city. Detective Sergeant Hartless scratched his stubble, then looked over at the mainly plod smokers, who came up on the roof of the Strathclyde Police HQ building for a puff, with envy. The plod congregated on that side of the roof. CID on this side. 

'Fucksake, have a ciggie if you're that desperate,' said Oswalk, his DI. Detective Inspector Jenny Oswalk lit her second cigarette from the end of her first, adding to his pain. 

'I'm fine,' he said, and he tried to hide the nicotine need from his eyes. Four weeks, three days, ten hours, and the craving still as bad as it was the first few days. Would it ever fade? 

'You only drag me up here with you to prolong my pain,' said Hartless.

'I'm all heart, I am,' she said. 'I brought you up here, cause if you're in the office alone, you get asked where I am, and you won't fucking lie.'

They had both just been carpeted by Chief Inspector Lang about the lack of progress in the Suzi Tanner case so far. Missing two days now, Hartless knew what everyone was thinking, but no one dared to utter the D.E.A.D word yet. The girl was last seen leaving Angelico's Club, a city-centre nightspot, alone on Saturday night. The friend she had gone with had got lucky and pissed off with some bloke. She had stayed inside with another lad, but then decided she'd rather go home alone and left him in there. He had a clear alibi. Everyone in the club that night, it seemed, had a clear alibi. 

They had scoured endless hours of CCTV from every camera in every street within a half mile radius. Checked the security cameras on late buses that had routes near the area. Questioned every taxi driver known to be working that evening. She had disappeared into thin air.

'C'mon,' said Oswalk, stamping her cigarette out. 'We'll go back to the club, get that list of bouncers we haven't seen yet.' 

Hartless wasn't hopeful. It didn't feel like the disappearance was a result of anyone at the club. If it was a quick rape that had got out of hand, then they would have found the body by now. Maybe she had done a runner, which was another avenue they had yet to fully explore.

Next instalment coming soon...

Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved

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