Chapter 15 research
Since I didn’t have a computer, I had only one person to turn to. Sophie had been fun to hang out with today, but I needed someone who wouldn’t ask questions. Bear sat next to me at his laptop, tapping his thick fingers against the keyboard as he logged himself in.
His bedroom smelt of bananas, and I was looking for the source of the scent when he spoke
“It’s ready” his gruff voice croaked and he cleared his throat, standing up and moving away for me to use the computer. My memory of how to touch type flooded out through my fingers as I watched the screen. But I did have to ask Bear what our local newspaper was called. “La Vernia News of course” he joked and his hand swung out to hit me playfully. I tried to smile back and I think I convinced him. He sat on the bed, facing away from the computer screen and I heard the pop of a soda can and he placed one in front of me.
“Thanks” I said as the second pop of his own can sounded and there was a crash as he sat back onto the bed.
The search engine opened slowly, and I watched the screen in anticipation. I was researching the local news at around the time of my parent’s deaths. That gave me a time line between Caroline’s body discovery and the news of Emily’s father. Whatever happened to him?
Bear was silent beside me; he was flicking through a magazine. Every few seconds there was the scratchy sound of paper peeling away from paper.
When the search engine uploaded I typed: 1998 La Vernia News
The search was faster this time, and streams and streams of news came up, one after the other. News that was categorized into missing children, thefts and robberies, Drink driving and Deaths and murders. With slight hesitation I clicked on “Deaths and Murders” and waited as the cursor changed to an egg timer, loading the web page.
“Thank you for letting me do this” I said to Bear glancing at him to see that he was watching me. His green eyes had a pearly shine in the dim light of his room. He closed his magazine and turned his attention to me.
“It’s ok...you may not remember but Ryan has a computer...y’know for future reference if I'm out or something” Bear shrugged his huge shoulders and his mouth curved into a lop-sided grin. I hadn’t remembered Ryan had a computer, but it was no good to me now. I had no idea where Ryan was. I smiled and nodded, hopefully avoiding further conversation about him.
The page loaded and I stared at it, hoping to convey as much as interest as possible. I soon heard the sound of pages turning.
There were only three murders in the year 1998 and two of those were supposed murders, because of strange circumstances. The discovery of Caroline’s body had been in the same year of my parents death, evidently, Emily wanted to get rid of evidence a.k.a my mother. I skimmed the article, picking out stray words and sentences that were of importance. Emily’s father had been questioned many times, because the discovery of her body was not far from her home in Silvanus Wood.
That’s odd I thought reading the paragraph again. My mother had found Caroline in a garden shed. Maybe Emily’s father, who I could name from the article as John, moved her after my mother’s visit.
Maybe Emily moved her in attempts to protect her father; it would explain how the discovery was so soon after, Emily as a little girl may not have been able to drag her mother’s body very far. My mother’s thought made me sense. What about John, is there any news on him?
I clicked on missing persons, for the start of my search and skimmed through the alphabetical list. It was horrifying how many people just disappeared. I swallowed when I started passing names like Thomas and Ryan. When I reached John, I realized that I couldn’t remember Emily’s surname.
Newton. My mother supplied, she seemed as determined as I was as I sat on the edge of my stool.
When I reached the name John Newton I clicked, realising his disappearance was in the same month as his wife’s discovery. Again, my eyes ran down the article, pickings words for my answers. He had been missing two months, when they found his body. He had died mysteriously. The daughter was questioned but she had been moved to a permanent place at Greenings, she couldn’t have done it.
I was about to continue reading the article when Bear thundered “Morbid much? Why are you looking at that stuff?”
I felt myself reddening and any answers to questions like that vanished. I stared blankly at him.
“Err-well Bear if I explain you have to promise not to freak out on me”
I left my mother out of my explanation and tried in minute detail to leave out my worry about Ryan’s disappearance however it didn’t help when Bear started to worry almost as much as me.
“Ryan always plays ball with us in his lunch break and he didn’t turn up today either...wow, we should go to Otto’s...to see if he’s at work” I couldn’t help but see excitement in Bear’s eyes as he stood up and shoved his feet into his trainers.
“Its four o’clock, he would have left almost two hours ago” I sighed into the face of my watch.
“No, no. Ryan may have been asked to stay...I know Otto let ginger Dale go last week...he might have needed the extra hands”
Bear gripped the top of my arm and pulled me through his bedroom door and out of his house. I was quite thankful for a forward thinking friend like Bear. We jumped into my truck and he gave me directions to Otto’s.
“Take a right here...” Bear pointed to a bridge on our right and I turned. “Why would Emily take Ryan? I seriously doubt Emily has anything to do with it, she’s so tame y’know?” he asked his voice was level and calm – the exact opposite of how I felt. I rolled my eyes at how everyone seemed to think Emily as “tame, timid and everything else fine and dandy”
“I don’t know...I need to look for him first and time isn’t on my side, if she does have him she’s had him since this morning.” Bear gave me a quizzical look “She knew that he left me daisies...she must have watched him leave my house this morning or something” I could feel my voice rising in my throat, the anger and frustration mingled into one. I checked my watch: 16:30. I stared at the road, willing myself to be calm.
“And you think she’s the one who tried to kill you?” Bear was more disbelieving now and I caught doubt in his expression before he turned away from me. “Keep going along this road...Otto’s latest project is at an old mining factory...if Ryan is at work, this is where he’ll be”
“She basically admitted it to me. I know my word isn’t exactly trustworthy...with the memory loss etc but she threatened me, she said “I’ll get you again” what else could she have meant?”
Bear seemed to be defeated. He rubbed his wide forehead and watched the road. “Have you tried calling Ryan?”
“Of course I have” Rolling my eyes, we turned a left onto a dirt track and followed it.
The beautiful weather did not reflect my mood at all, which was dark and shaped with Emily and Ryan in pain, whist I was on a random goose chase. Emily must have him.
In the distance there was a factory. Its metallic grey walls gleamed with the sunlight. It looked abandoned. There were no cars outside, or by the looks of it, anyone inside.
I pulled up outside and got out. Squinting in the sun and strong breeze that whipped the dust around us. Bear stood next to me, gawking up at the factory. The doors were closed, and bolted – it was clear no one was working here today.
“So where do we look now?” Bear asked, opening my car door. The sun hit his hair and turned it a mahogany colour. He gave me a blank look before slamming my door shut with a snap.
I felt like I was breaking the rules taking Bear to the desert with me. I gripped the wheel and tried to focus, but my lack of sleep the night before wasn’t helping my concentration and the fading sunlight wasn’t either. It felt intrusive and wrong as I pulled up a few metres from the creosote bush, I knew he wasn’t here but I got out of my truck.
The dust misted around my ankles and the cool air was a relief to breathe in as I thought of what to do now. I checked my watch again: 17:15.
“I promised Nanny I’d be back for supper in fifteen. He’s not here” I said with a croak. My voice broke and stung in my throat.
“Hey, Liv we will find him” Bear patted my arm and he wasn’t as convincing as I thought he would be. His pearly green eyes almost smiled, I was obviously missing some joke.
“Sorry I took you on this wild goose chase...I’ll get you home” I didn’t look at him as I spoke, I just jumped back into my car and started reversing before he jumped in with me.
I drove quickly, just to be rid of the company. Bear joked and tried to make me smile when all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball, and become as pathetic and useless as I felt. He took my hand before jumping out. “We’ll go to his house tomorrow...and then we’ll go to Emily’s”
I didn’t reply but nodded and watched him run up to his front door. I didn’t wait to see him enter, but started backing out.
Bear lived at the top of Bellerose, within three minutes I was back at Nanny’s. She was humming in the kitchen when I closed the door; she shuffled through to the hall and looked up at me. Her blue eyes full of emotion she didn’t need to say. I followed her through to the kitchen and sat in my seat, in a daze. I wanted sleep, but the thought of lying in bed watching the moon through my window without Ryan there was agony.
Nanny had a starters of Nachos and then chilli, she told me it was my favourite meal and although I picked at it, my appetite imitating my lack of will and concentration, my mouth watered at its spicy, cheesy smell. Nanny watched me, and urged me to eat but I couldn’t.
“So you checked his work and the desert? Are you going to his house tomorrow?”
“Yes, I will look everywhere for him”
You are wasting your time. You know that Emily has him. Go to where she would have him. My mother’s voice was stern, and I was beginning to think that that was only tone she had. I tried to shake her out of my head, without proving to Nanny how insane I felt.
I washed and dried up, ignoring Nanny’s nagging for me stop and when the kitchen was free of mess I went upstairs, and got into the shower, I wanted to delay going to sleep but my body wanted it so much. The warm water let me dissolve in daydreams that I had to wrench myself out of whenever they were too painful and graphic. I yawned continuously and the sound of the whirring hairdryer didn’t help. I crawled into bed and the dread covered me like an extra quilt. I ached for Ryan’s face to move above mine, and to hear the tapping on the window. But nothing happened, the moon stared back at me, as useless as I felt.
I drifted in and out of sleep, my dreams whirled with Emily’s dark eyes and Ryan’s smiling face, his burning touch. When I woke it was still dark, my dreams fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and I had new answers that would help lead me to where I now believed Ryan was. The answer was clear to me, and somehow I understood why he was there - parts of my memories were back and I understood where Emily would take him.
I got out of bed and dressed, pulling jeans on and a dark top knowing that bright colours wouldn’t help me in my task now. I knew going down stairs would wake Nanny, so I opened my bedroom window and climbing knowing that it was possible because Ryan had done it. The night air was hot and my jeans clung to my legs as I climbed down, the mossy roof of Nanny’s house. There was quite a jump but bending my legs I flew down noiselessly.
When I reached the ground I knew something was wrong. The night was dark, the moon obscured by the tree tops and there were crunching foot falls approaching me from behind but before I could turn. There was darkness.