Chapter 23. A step too far.
Adam was now the most urgent focus of Maeve’s attention, she knew a bit about diabetes enough to be aware that if they don’t get their insulin in time people die of it. It’s not an exaggeration. Time was of the essence. This didn’t just focus her attention, it put a lot of pressure on her, this was both the test that she could do some real good in the real world and how she could turn her burden into a gift. As soon as she put the phone down from Steve, she talked to Marieanne, giving Marieanne the job of the family logistics for the rest of the day with a promise that she, Maeve, would devote her time to supporting Marieanne starting tomorrow morning. Marieanne, laughed at her mother, “you always do this, you need something to drive you. It’s fine. I get it. This time it really is urgent and someone’s life is counting on you. But even if it wasn’t you would make whatever you were doing important. That’s all good and I love you for it. But I am not counting on you to give things up for me, however I am asking you to save enough time for us too.” Maeve was duly chastised, recognising herself in Marieanne’s description, she gave her daughter a hug and a kiss, “I am so glad you are my daughter. You are wonderful and yes I promise we will still have family time.”
Steve had told Maeve that the police team were working with the local authority to set up a search party. First the police community unit would start with a small team checking out the places that he was known to visit if they found anything he would let her know immediately. If they didn’t it would widen and the local authority were already contacting volunteer groups to have them on standby for a campus wide search before it was too dark.
The University seemed to be a linking factor but Maeve was a little disappointed that there was no connection to the rocket society as that seemed to link Susan to Kamal and Kevin. She had been planning how to do some online research into their members and activities to see what that threw up. Now she thought, if I can do some searching at least I can check that out with Tony and if he doesn’t have the answers he will be able to access any information we might need because he’s a member of staff. Kamal’s warning made sure that she wanted some additional info to cross reference Kevin. But should she trust this man that she had only just met with her newly acquired secret powers, she needed the information, how much should she tell him? He had been very dismissive of the ‘ghost hunters tour’, would this make him think she was deranged? She would have to take the risk, they were running out of time. They had agreed to meet for a coffee at 4.30pm in the Gulbenkian cafe on campus.
By this time Ada and Orla had arrived, and Marieanne had them up to speed. Orla said “as you have already brought me into this, I am coming with you, plus I think I need to check this guy out too.” Ada hadn’t wanted to be too pushy so she had waited a moment before suggesting, “ why don’t you get Orla and Marianne to do the internet research and you go and see if you can get anything out of Susan? Then maybe pop up to the campus if you have time to talk to Kevin too? I can make the tea.” They all looked at her, this was a new, more humble Ada. The media fiasco had clearly had an impact. It was an excellent plan, everyone set to.
Maeve was walking as fast as she could. Susan was already waiting for her in the park, “I knew you needed to ask me something, and yes you are right it’s really urgent.” Maeve went through a number of questions and Susan was thoughtful as she answered, “yes I knew Kamal, he was a funny guy. Why the rocket society? Sometimes the foreign students would get involved with activities to have something to do, as a way to meet people. But Kamal was passionate about rockets, good to do fun experiments with but otherwise he seemed to avoid contact with students particularly the other Iraqis. Kevin? Vaguely, I can see him, always smoking cigarettes. He didn’t smell good, so I didn’t go too near him. Anyway, he didn’t like foreigners. He talked a lot, I overheard him talking to the others, ‘we needed to destroy the elite’ he didn’t like women, or gay men. But he knew everything about the university. He will have useful information for you.”
Maeve was impatient, this added colour but wasn’t tangible information. She hoped the girls were having better luck.
Orla met her on her way back to the house, saying “I’ll brief you on the way. Let’s take the car, that hill is a killer when you are in a rush.” Maeve smiled, Orla was being very practical, good to have on the team. On their way, Orla told her what they had found. Adam had come to UKC last autumn to start his PhD, his subject was early medieval archeology, and the great reveal was that his PI was one Dr. Tony Blackstone. “PI is principal investigator which means that they applied for the grant that pays for the work, it doesn’t mean that they actually do any of the work. They might, but they don’t have to.” “Do we know the subject of his PhD?”, Maeve asked, she had remembered Tony saying sometimes he had no signal, so it sounded like something underground or in a remote area away from any signal. “No, well I couldn’t find anything, it seems that they don’t say until it’s finished and published. But my guess is that it will have something to do with the Cathedral, I mean why else would you come to Canterbury?”, Orla was an efficient researcher and had a good command of the facts. Maeve knew they didn’t have much time, “so what do we say to Tony? Tell him the truth or go on with our ruse that you are trying to find the right University and I want to keep you close to home?” They were parking the car as Orla said, “go with the story, we might put him off with talking ghosts. Your line is ‘my daughter has been telling me tales of mysterious deaths connected to the University’ do you know anything to set her at ease? That way we can ask some direct questions.” “Good plan.”, Maeve was enjoying seeing Orla in this new light.
They were both very aware that time was ticking by. Maeve definitely wasn’t in the right frame of mind to check out a potential new man. It was a good thing that Orla was there, she was great at wildly exaggerating lurid tales to lead Tony into revealing what he knew. “Yes, I knew Kevin, poor man. Helpful with practicalities of University life, heating, lighting and such like. Of course he was a conspiracy theorist, sometimes I worried that he might have acted on his theories. He probably knew where the bodies are buried so to speak,” Tony laughed at his own joke, “but there is nothing suspicious about his death, sad but not of concern, he broke his neck falling down the stairs in his own apartment. Nothing to worry about. And if Orla does decide to study here I can always keep an eye on her.”, Tony smiled a little patronisingly. “Now if you will excuse me, something urgent has come up. One of my students has gone AWOL, probably just lost his keys, the family are making a fuss so I have to go. But always happy to share my experience when I have the time. So don’t hesitate to book in another chat.” He flashed a smile at Maeve, and left them to finish their drinks. As soon as he had gone Orla didn’t hold back, “Mum, don’t you even look twice at him, he is so full of himself he would be unbearable. He is too neat, too clean, and in case didn’t you notice he has one ear pierced, so either he is too trendy for his age or he might not be interested in women.” This made Maeve laugh, “so glad I asked your opinion. Just because he is not your type which I guess might be with dreadlocks and a hand spun woolly jumper, doesn't mean he wouldn’t do for me.”
It was time to check in with Steve, he gave his update first, so far they had no trace of Adam. He had left his rooms as normal, and from the stock left in the fridge they had been able to work out how much insulin he had with him. It was getting critical. The search had been escalated, they were working out the routes across the campus right now.
With her fingers crossed and wishing that she had more hard facts, Maeve said, “I am convinced that there is a serial killer. If there is and Adam is being held then I believe that it's in the derelict building St John’s Stone House.” Steve replied with the unhelpful “you had better be right.” Maeve thought that Tony may be full of himself but at least he was entertaining, had lots of stories about his adventures, and wasn’t putting her under any pressure, right now, that made him pretty attractive.
Steve also crossed his fingers when he pushed the team to divert men to the derelict site. His nemesis Tim had come in with a “no one goes in there since the fire, unless they are up to no good, or are hiding out. Is that what you are saying Steve? On a hunch you want to divert precious resources to go on a wild goose chase, your own pet project? This really isn’t the time for that.” Having made his statement, Tim hadn’t tried to stop them, in fact Tim was quietly hoping they would go and it would be a waste of time and he could heap scorn on Steve. Egos meant that they couldn’t have a proper planning session, Tim had been keeping Steve on the sidelines. Normally Steve would just step back but there was a life at stake. Weighing on his mind was the fact that if he had acted earlier on Maeve’s tip off he might have been able to save Anne.
Maeve was desperate to know what was happening but she didn’t know how she could get involved. She didn’t have to wait long.