P.S.O Jules Stewart
The sun is rising as we reach Otterspool Skypark and my eyes are gritty with lack of sleep. I explain everything to Fat Peter on the way. He’s not been to Otterspool before, he doesn’t have the right strata privileges ordinarily to gain access. I drag him past the Victorian glass house with it's wrought iron spiral staircases
'No time for sight seeing today.' I tell him.
‘Of course when I was a player I went to the Skypark all the time in Warsaw. I used to train there. It was from a similar era. I guess they were all the rage for a time,’ he says.
We both set our realities to Far East with Insects and head for the pagoda to a soundtrack of droning bees.
‘I still don’t really understand what Roberto had to do with Estelle’s disappearance.’ Fat Peter says.
We both sit on the ornate bench.
‘He made use of the instability of this tech to mask a momentary unhitching of Estelle from the network. So she could get away unnoticed.’
‘Just like he did for me.’ Fat Peter shakes his head, staring down at his feet. ‘So she ran away, of her own free will?’
‘I believe so and whatever she gave Roberto in payment is around here somewhere. And this was what he was killed for.’
I push my feet down into the gravel again and break up the image. I get up from the bench and kneeling in front of it run my hand along the underside of the seat until my fingers hit a package taped in place.’ I pull it out triumphantly.
‘Ok – never return to the scene of the crime, but be unpredictable.’
‘But why the leave the payment here?’ asks Fat Peter.
‘Insurance. Whoever was out to silence Roberto didn’t want this finding, so he left it for us,’ I say, unwrapping a bundle of photographs and an old data storage device.
The photographs look like they were taken about twenty or so years ago in what was once a suburban cul-de-sac of semi-detached houses with gardens. Several of the houses are boarded up and the road is pockmarked with holes in the tarmac, the gardens overgrown. The first photo in the pack is looking up the street, the houses at the top of the street facing. In the house to the left there is a face peering out of a window on the top floor, above the front door. From the distance this was taken it’s hard to tell who the face belongs to, quite possibly a young woman.
The second photograph shows the same house only where the top window was there is now a wrecking ball on a chain and the left side of the house is smashed to rubble, the front door has gone and inside the stairs and landing are visible through the gaping wound in the side of the house.
The next photograph is a closer shot. It’s easy to imagine the photographer running to the rubble and looking for signs of life. And here in amongst chunks of sandstone and pebbledash is an arm crooked around a section of window frame, in a red corduroy sleeve.
Another image shows a crouched figure, a woman in a yellow hard hat. She is reaching into the debris it seems to pull out a child’s pink teddy bear. Next to her, in the garden at the edge of the destruction stands an older woman, she’s shouting and carrying a small child balanced on her hip.’
The identity of the woman in the yellow hard hat is clear in the final image. Jet Wong is now carrying the child away from the house, the other woman is being restrained by two men, she’s shouting after Jet.
‘Is that Estelle?’ Fat Peter asks. 'And Jet Wong?'
‘I presume so and I expect Peta might be able to shed some light on the street and perhaps this other lady.’
‘What about this? What is it?’ asks Peter, holding up the pen drive.
‘That is data storage and I know just the person who has the technology to unlock this. But we need to act fast if we’re going to find Estelle in time.’