Ray Sullivan publishes science based fiction adventures on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, WH Smith and other good eBook retailers as e-books. Additionally all of his books are available in paperback on Amazon. He also muses on technology, posts comedic books in serial format and discusses the world of self publishing.
Books written by Ray Sullivan
Friday, 14 December 2012
Parallel Lives chapter 32
Jack had tried Karen’s mobile several times, but
unbeknownst to either Jack or Karen, she had inadvertently turned the phone off
after calling Alan. When she called him back Jack couldn’t stop himself
snapping at her.
‘Where the hell have you been?’ Karen flinched at the
suddenness of the attack, not being aware of Jack’s day so far. Defensively,
‘The phone was switched off. Anyway I couldn’t raise you on
yours’ earlier, and all I got from your secretary was some vague bull about a
meeting. You always leave your mobile on silent buzz when you’re occupied, so
frankly I didn’t believe her,’ she said fighting back the tears welling in her
eyes. She half turned so that Alan couldn’t see her face clearly, even if he
could tell by the tone and words that all was less than peachy.
'So much for married bliss', he thought to himself. Jack
checked himself, realising that it wasn’t fair to take it out on Karen,
especially as she had no idea of what had happened. Apologising, he spoke
‘Sorry, that wasn’t fair or called for. I’ve had a rough
morning and it doesn’t seem to be improving,’ he said. After briefly describing
his one-way conversation with the MD he continued to explain that there had
been plant failures and maintenance problems all morning. Eventually he
remembered why he had been trying to contact Karen.
‘So, how did it go with Jackson? Did you get anywhere with
‘No luck,’ said Karen, bringing Jack up to speed on the
mornings events, ‘we think we need to move this one on a bit, and quickly.
Alan’s here, I think he should explain his plan,’ she said passing the phone
across. Alan took the phone off Karen and placed it to his ear.
‘Jack, I need you to take some time off work,’ he said
leaning back into the café chair. There was a marked silence at the other end
of the line.
‘Christ, Alan, there’s no chance. I’m under pressure here
and to be honest I’ve got to keep my head down, at least until the formalities
are complete. In fact, when can we expect the-all clear officially from you.
I’ve got the boss on my back and he’s smelling blood, unfortunately mine.’ Alan
absorbed the outburst while he thought the problem through. He couldn’t ask
Karen to drive to Fylindales to follow any movements out, she had commitments
with the kids, he realised. He also knew it would be risky if he turned up in
his car, the RAF police had paid him far too much attention for his own liking.
He reckoned that he had been captured on a security camera as well, so even if
the policeman who had been so rude wasn’t on duty (a probability, he realised),
he was on some record there and that could lead to embarrassing questions. Jack
broke the silence.
‘You still there Alan?’ Alan nodded, then realised that he
ought to speak if he wanted Jack to understand.
‘Yeah, I was just working out an alternative plan. I wanted
you outside of that place when I approached Jackson, so you could follow where
they took John. It sounds like we need another plan.’ Karen interjected:
‘We could still go to the police,’ she offered. Alan shook
‘We could, but what do we tell them? We have a guy who
tells outrageous stories and is believed to have been sent away by a shrink.
Sounds both plausible and appropriate to me.'
‘What about John being drugged and taken against his
wishes? That should make them sit up,’ Karen replied, not entirely convinced
‘We don’t know for certain John was drugged or taken
against his wishes. The first is an assumption we made from very restricted
views Jack had from his office window and the latter is pure speculation.
However I still believe them both to be true, or very close to the truth. But I
don’t think we’ve got anything to take to the police. If anything we could end
up getting accused of, I don’t know, wasting police time or something.’ Jack
interjected, having heard the exchange over the phone.
‘I doubt if that’s likely, but I also doubt they would do
anything either. What about you taking our car and phoning Jackson from it when
you’re on the spot. It’s not as personal a touch as you would like, I prefer to
look into the eyes of someone when I’m pressurising them too, but at least it
cuts down on the logistics. If you let Karen have the use of your car then it
might work,’ he said. Alan paused for more thought, stirring the remains of his
coffee as his mind ground round. Karen looked impatiently, having sat through
half an exchange not knowing what Jack had suggested. She was about to
interrupt for an update when Alan spoke again.
‘It still won’t work. Even if I managed to get through the
hospital reception barriers to him, and you know how efficient they are at
blocking callers at first hand, I can’t loan you my car. It belongs to the
department and isn’t insured for any other driver, not even against their own
insurance. I couldn’t let Karen run that risk with your kids in, so unless
there’s another vehicle available at short notice we need to think of an
alternative, sharpish.’ Karen spoke up.
‘How about hiring a car?’ She saw Alan wince and guessed
Jack would be mirroring the expression on the other end of the phone. Alan
shook his head.
‘Apart from the cost, we don’t know how long we need it
for. And there’s the logistics of my finding my drivers’ licence and tracking
down a rental company with a car for immediate hire,’ he explained. ‘If we’re
going to do this we need to do it now,’ he continued, looking at his watch as
he spoke. Karen nodded, although she felt the fiscal argument held more water
than the rest. It couldn’t take that long to tee up a rental, it could be done
by phone while Alan retrieved his licence. The reality was that they had become
involved in something that probably was nothing to do with them, might prove to
be a storm in a tea cup and would almost certainly fizzle out in a day or two.
The common sense part of her guessed that John would breeze into work in a few
days time, full of the joys of spring following a relaxing time at a Government
sponsored health farm, his head adjusted and his conscience wiped clear by
mumbo jumbo jabbering shrinks. In the meantime she, Jack and Alan would have
missed sleep, wasted working hours chasing shadows and spent scarce spare cash
on car-hires for a man she had never met, Alan had only seen from a distance
and Jack had spoken with perhaps four times in the last year, including the
burden unloading session that had started all of this. She became aware that
Alan was looking at her intently, having said something she hadn’t responded
‘I said, where do we go from here? Jack is out of ideas.’
Karen leaned forward, acutely aware that Alan followed the fall of her breasts
as she did so, his eyes unashamedly fixed.
‘We actually have very little to go on here. Common sense
tells me we shouldn’t be meddling and wasting time and money on this. Part of
me thinks that we will invest all of this effort only to find John back in work
and unaware of any problems in a few days. But,’ she held a hand up, index
finger extended, ‘I don’t think so. You were probably reaching when you decided
to follow Jackson the other night. I guess you and Jack both had vibes that
didn’t feel right, but if he had driven to a hospital or clinic in Warrington
or anywhere else then we would have been justified in walking away. Put it down
to experience, whatever. But when Jackson took the guy straight to a military
base the alarm bells started to ring. I know we are short on proof that what
you saw did happen, and in any case it falls short of suspicious from the
police’s perspective, but it doesn’t feel right.’ Alan took up the baton.
‘Even with all of that I might have let it go, but I’m damn
well certain I was moved on for a specific purpose that night. There was a
collection of parked cars along that road, and it looked as though it was a
popular parking place. I’ve seen vehicles outside military installations all
over, usually filled with wannabe soldiers and airmen getting their kicks
spotting versions of Land Rover or counting the number of Harriers landing. The
military don’t usually bother with them while they remain on a public road,
after all they can control what is capable of being seen from that vantage
point easily enough. Plus, and I can’t be sure of this because of where I was
moved onto, I think there was a fracas at the main gate. Certainly there were
some raised voices and erratic vehicle movements shortly after Jackson entered
the front gates.’ Jack spoke, startling Alan as he had allowed Karen’s mobile
phone to drop away from his ear, the voice tinny to both of them.
‘So what’s the solution? I can’t get away, you feel your
car is compromised and we can’t swap vehicles. I think it’s fair to say none of
us are comfortable about spending perhaps a couple of hundred on car hire when
all of this may prove to be nonsense, even though it’s clear there’s something
amiss. What’s the alternative? We carry on as though nothing has happened,
perhaps keep on pressurising Jackson to the point that it becomes in his
interest to give us more on John, always risking his moving the guy again.
Karen picks up the kids, I get machines mended in between stand-up bollockings
and you write reports for the HSE and coroners. It doesn’t feel as though we’ve
done anything, it’s as though we’ve copped out at the first hurdle.’ Alan and
Karen had moved their heads close to each other during this diatribe, pitching
the phone roughly equidistant between the two so that each could hear Jack.
Predictably Alan had focussed on Karen’s blouse again, noticing the separation of
the top buttons as she leaned forward. Instinctively she reached up and
gathered the loose material together, aware that Alan was spending an
inordinate amount of concentration on that area. Alan was unconcerned at
Karen’s attempt to close up the slit-like gaps at the top as the action merely
tautened the material around the outside of her breasts, squeezing and
enhancing them in his opinion. Karen sprang back suddenly, her eyes alight, her
hand dropping to strike the table top.
‘That’s it, that’s exactly it. What we need to
do, to help John and get to the bottom of this, is get back to doing our jobs.
Especially you, Alan.’