Following on from a conversation with my partner, Benedict Roff-Marsh, where I had posted a tweet complaining about a lack of time writing, he came up with the suggestion that I actually write my story on Twitter.
Each tweet is a segment of the story. I can’t go back and edit, so what you see below is the story as I write it on Twitter, tweet by tweet. As I finish each chapter, I will move it off onto its own page and just keep the chapter in progress below, otherwise, it gets too unwieldy for the reader and possibly causing WordPress to lunch itself.
The first story is a continuation of my novella, “The Map in the Fortune Cookie“.
The Body in the Building
I ended the call and tossed my phone onto the coffee table.
“Well, I guess that’s that for now,” I said, exasperated.
“Yeah.” Dave walked over to the window of my apartment and looked down at the street. “There’s a squad car outside.”
“At least Symonds did something,” I answered.
“His hands are tied,” Dave said. “Without evidence or reasonable assumption of guilt, he can’t go randomly holding people.”
“I know. But we have a lot of evidence of subterfuge here, enough to kill for.”
Dave nodded. “We do, yes. But is there anything that definitively links it to Samuel Olsen?”
I paused. “I guess not. Only circumstantially.” I clenched my fists in frustration. “It has to be him.”
“I agree,” Dave replied. “But we need to prove it.”
“The question is, how do we do that?”
“There has to be something somewhere, just one thing. Every criminal makes mistakes. When we find what it is, we got him.”
“I don’t even know where to start,” I said. “It was lucky I found the changed geo report.”
Dave rubbed at the dark stubble on his chin thoughtfully. “Well, how did you find the changed geo report?”
“I managed to get a backup from Simon.”
“Simon Fielding, your sysadmin?” Dave had met him once at a work function Simon had deigned to attend.
“Could you talk to him again? He may be able to dig out more information.”
“I don’t know what else he can uncover for me, but I’ll ask.” I thought back to Simon’s reticence when I asked for his help last time, however, he did provide what I asked for.
“It has to be worth a shot,” Dave said. “I need to speak with my insurance company about the damage to my car. We’ll need a hire car until it’s fixed.”
I’d forgotten about that. “My car is still at work, you picked me up from there to go to the site.” I frowned. “How am I going to get to the office with no car?”
Dave gestured at the window. “You’ve got a nice policeman outside, maybe ask him to take you,” he smiled.
“That’s not a silly idea!” I laughed as I picked up the dirty breakfast dishes.
Dave stood up and put our empty coffee mugs into the sink. “Just grab an Uber, probably less likely to draw attention than turning up in a cop car.”
“Good point,” I answered. “Speaking of work, I really need to have a shower and get ready to go.”
I stood on tiptoe and gave Dave a peck on the cheek. “On top of all of this, I still have my job to do.”
“Samuel Olsen will not be delighted to see you after his being arrested last night.”
“It is going to make for a rather interesting day,” I said.
An hour later, I stepped out of an Uber at work and took the lift up to my floor. It was still early, and the floor was quiet. After dropping my bags in my office, I went to the kitchenette to put the leftovers I had brought for lunch into the fridge.
I was surprised to see James Anderson, the senior partner in the business, standing in the kitchenette making himself a coffee. He looked up when I entered, startled.
“Ah, hello, Nat. I didn’t expect to see you today.” His face was pallid, and he looked thin. “I heard what happened yesterday. My God, are you okay?” A look of concern crossed his face.
“I’m fine, James, thank you,” I replied. “I’m a bit rattled, but I’ll be okay.” It was my turn to look concerned. “Are you okay? You don’t look so well.”
He waved away the question. “Just a bit of a stomach bug the past few days, probably something I ate. I’m all right.”
“Looks nasty,” I said. “I hope you feel better soon.”
“Thank you, Nat.” He became all business. “I know it’s not good timing, but how is the Olsen job going?”‘
“I actually needed to speak with you or Geoff about something I found,” I replied. “It’s significant enough that it could jeopardize the whole project.”
“Sounds serious,” James said. “I will need you brief me of your findings.” He checked his watch. “Look, I have a meeting in about ten minutes that is going to go for a few hours. Can you put together everything you have? I’ll call you when I’m free and we can go through it.”
“Of course,” I answered. “I’ll have it ready when you’re available.”
“Thanks, Nat,” James replied. “Good work, it’s always best to deal with anything that exposes us to risk. We’ll go through it and make a call on the best way to proceed.”
“No problem, James,” I said, relieved. I’d worked on this project for two years, what Elliot Walthers had uncovered and lead to his death had started a series of events that could mean everything I’d done over that time was for nothing. With James Anderson’s help, we may be able to salvage something out of the whole situation.
I felt a momentary pang of guilt about my selfish thoughts. A man had died, and I was worried about my job. To be fair, I had found the body, been accused of his murder, discovered a coverup, got accused of that too, then had someone try to kill me. I sighed inwardly. After all that, perhaps I was entitled to a little bit of selfishness and a return to normalcy.
“We’ll speak later, okay?” James said. He walked toward the boardroom, coffee in his hand, as I returned to my own office and sat down.
I needed to put together a summary of what I’d found and how it impacted on the Olsen project. I’d given the original note I’d found in my bag to the police; fortunately, I had taken a photocopy, which I took from my drawer and laid out in front of me.
I thought for a moment. The note was more relevant to the murder investigation than the fraud I’d uncovered. But it had been the catalyst for discovering the modified geological reports. It might be useful for James to see the extent of what we faced.
The modified geological reports. That reminded me to speak with Simon to see if I could find out who replaced the originals. I quickly stood, went to the lifts and rode to his floor.
As usual, he wasn’t at his desk. He was probably in the server room. I walked over and knocked on the door. No response. I tried again, knocking harder, and again, no response. It wasn’t unusual for him to not be able to hear over the noise of the servers inside. I tried one last time before deciding to try again later.
As I reached to press the button to call the lift, the lift door opened and Angie Mahoney, the company’s receptionist, stepped out. She was looking at papers in her hand when she looked up at me, startled.
“Nat!” she exclaimed. “You surprised me!”
“Sorry, Angie,” I said. I looked back at Simon’s vacant chair. “If you’re looking for Simon, he doesn’t seem to be around.”
“Oh!” she replied. “That’s odd. He was here earlier. I saw him getting out of his car in the carpark when I arrived.”
“That’s early for Simon,” I said, surprised. “He’s not normally here until at least ten or so.”
“I know!” Angie answered. “I was surprised as well. There must be something he had to take care of with the servers, or the computers or something.”
“He must be in the server room. I tried to get his attention knocking on the door just now, but if he’s caught up with trying to fix something, he’ll never hear us.”
“Or he’s ignoring us,” Angie said. “He has a habit of doing that when he’s busy.” She looked down at the papers in her hand. “The toner is going in the printer at reception, I was hoping he could fix it for me.” Angie sighed. “Oh well, I’ll have to try him again later.”
“Me too,” I said. We both stepped back into the lift.
Angie pressed the button for my floor. “I’ll come up with you. I have to give these to James,” she said, nodding at the papers in her hand. “I can’t fix the printer now so they’ll just have to make do.”
“I’m sure it will be fine,” I said with a smile.
Concern crossed her face. “Speaking of fine, are you okay? I heard about what happened last night,” she said. If anyone in the building was aware of anything that was remotely gossip-worthy, it would be Angie.
“Rattled, but I’m okay,” I replied. “I won’t feel safe until the police catch whoever who shot at us, but they have assigned an officer to make sure they can’t try again.”
Angie’s eyes were wide. “It must have been terrifying for you,” she exclaimed. “I would have fainted from fright!”
“I would have too, given the chance,” I said. “We just ran as fast as we could to try to get away.”
“Well, I hope that the police can find the man responsible, I can’t imagine how scary this all must be.” The lift doors opened and we stepped out.
“Thanks, Angie,” I replied, touching her arm. She smiled warmly and walked toward the boardroom as I returned to my desk.
I sat down. There was more than enough information to show James when we met later, even without the questions I had for Simon.
I opened a new file and started to collate everything I had; the water seeping into the basement, the modified geological report, the note from Elliot Walthers, why he was killed and how Samuel Olsen was behind it all.
This was going to take a while.