Chapter 14 Desperately seeking...

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Chapter 14 Desperately seeking...

Now that he at last had time to find one of the mysterious strangers who had been complicating his life for the past week, of course there was no sign of any of them. After following Christopher around relentlessly for days, they must all have decided to have a break from it. Or perhaps one of them was just sitting back monitoring Christopher's whereabouts electronically using the bugs planted in the parcel of money instead of having to use a shiny black or other appropriate car. More environmentally friendly, after all. And cheaper for whoever his paymasters were. Christopher no longer thought one of the paymasters was Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. It was obviously something far more sinister. The CIA, perhaps, or a similarly ruthless organisation. And was there still a KGB?

It was funny that before Christopher had ever encountered Simon Fairfax, he had found Steve Paxman a bit sinister. Now the latter seemed more like a powerless puppet, tied up so tightly in red tape himself that he wouldn't have been able to get a hand free to tie anyone else up in it even if that had been his mission. Christopher even felt the tiniest crumb of compassion for the man. He had probably led a completely grey colourless life too. Monochrome man, that was Steve. The most exciting thing he had ever done was to disappear suddenly and without a trace.

Simon, on the other hand, had probably been round the world several times, leaving a trail of people terminated with extreme prejudice, and perhaps a selection of heartbroken women too. Maybe Amaryllis had been one of them, and that was why she was so determined to work against him. Christopher's intellect told him that Simon and Amaryllis could still be working together, but the softer part of his brain - he refused to think of it as his heart - said they weren't. He didn't want to explore the reasoning behind that for the moment. There would come a time when it was right to do so.

Christopher's mobile phone rang. He contemplated switching it off again, but Amaryllis, Faisal, Mrs Stevenson and Big Dave, who had returned traumatised after his trip to the school gates with Marina, had all insisted that he switched it on and left it on, in case of emergency. Big Dave had been very indignant about the language he had heard in the playground. 'I've never heard anything like it! All that swearing, and the grammar! It's not a very good example for the teachers to set!' Nobody could work out whether he was joking or not.

'Hello,' said Christopher cautiously, hoping he was speaking into the right part of the phone.

'Egglegig.... Memorial....'


'I'm sorry,' said the voice at the other end, more clearly now. 'Did you say Egglegig?'

'Yes but - who is this?'

'Is that Mr Wilson?'

'Yes,' he said even more cautiously.

'It's Estelle McCrone, the nursing supervisor at Kirkcaldy Memorial Hospital, Mr Wilson. I've got bad news, I'm afraid.'

'Caroline? She's not - has something gone wrong?'

'Something has indeed gone wrong,' said the nursing supervisor severely. 'I'm afraid your sister has walked out of the hospital - wearing a hospital gown, which will of course need to be returned in good condition to us as soon as possible - and still in a confused state and in need of medical attention.'

'Walked out? You mean she's escaped?'

'She hasn't escaped, Mr Wilson, this isn't a prison, you know,' said the nursing supervisor reprovingly. 'But we are concerned for her health and safety, and yes, she is missing.'

'Missing? You've lost her?'

'I must emphasise that she left apparently of her own volition, Mr Wilson.'

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