"Gone" chapter 1 and a bit

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  1. #1

    "Gone" chapter 1 and a bit


    The sun beat down through the windscreen. Tom’s arm turned browner by the minute, hanging elbow high out of the passenger door window.
    Carol and Tom had past the tea time traffic on the M1 and looked forward to a straight and clear run back up north. Tom had elected to let Carol drive on the way back from his parents.
    The couple rarely had time to spend with each other as is was, so this weekend was a nice change. Carol felt lucky she had a good relationship with her in-laws. Since the first day should was introduced to Bill and Ida she felt like part of their family. Her husband Tom was a warm, generous and kind man. This was due she was sure to his upbringing. “ If we carry on at the rate we will be back home in no time” Tom said taking a look at his old but reliable watch.
    Carol pushed the button in her door frame, sending down her driver side window until it vanished leaving a nice breeze in its place.
    Vans, cars and motorcycles over took the old Honda, they had purchased the car through a friend of Tom’s at work. It was cheap to run and in fairly good condition to say the miles it had on the clock. “If there is one thing I hate it’s bikers. It’s like they have a death wish the way they ride” she said.
    Tom watched the biker in question weave in and out of the vehicles in front. He nodded his agreement. “ The problem is they think they own the road” he said reaching for the water bottle front the holder. He held it out to Carol. She shook her head.
    Flicking the blue stopper cap off, he gulped a few mouthfuls down and placed the bottle between his legs. “ I’ve really enjoyed this trip” Carol said smiling. She glanced at her husband. He gave her a smile back, “we need to do this more don’t we?” Tom replied.
    Placing his hand on her leg. He gave her a real look of love. He hated working long hours, but the new role at Damsons ment that with more money came more responsibility. He was lucky that he had such an understanding wife.
    Carol’s career had come to a hold after they had lost their first baby to a miscarriage. They were both hit hard by tragedy, but both were strong for each other.
    She was thirty-five and looked twenty. Tom knew he was a very lucky man indeed. Her long dark hair and natural beauty made heads turn everywhere they went. Even wearing a plain blue vest top and jeans like today she looked hot.
    He wondered why he was so lucky to be the one all those years ago in Dreams night club. Nine years to be exact. In those nine years he could only remember a handful of arguments. That’s quite an achievement for any couple.
    As their car travelled further up the motor way Tom could not help thinking about the mountain for ahead of him on Monday morning. “ Andrew messaged me this morning while we were packing. He thinks the deliver driver on the Scottish run has been stealing from the van” he said.
    Tom worked for a large haulage firm in Sheffield and had taken on a few new drivers. They had suspected this guy for a while, but Andrew had set a little trap for him. It was Tom that would have to confront the new guy on Monday. If Tom could avoid confrontation he would, so approaching the suspected thief wasn’t a take he relished.
    Carol rolled her eyes, “ So I’m guessing it’s you that’s got to deal with him now?” she replied. She knew how hard Tom had worked to get to this position at work and the pay raise was a big help at home. Especially because she had taken some leave from her career.
    “Yeah, Andrew said it would be good experience for me to deal with the shit aspects of being a manager” he said. Carol gave a little smirk, “what that actually means is he doesn’t want to do it himself”. Taking another swig of water from the now warm water bottle. Tom looked out of the open window seeing the landscape start time get more rural.
    Passing car after car the couple talked about how they should plan their next trip away. Sooner rather than later. The heat from the sun was not letting up at all. The back of Tom’s grey tee shirt felt sticky pressed against the seat. Carol looked at the near empty water bottle in Tom’s foot well. “is that all the water gone” she asked. He raised his eyebrows “yeah, let’s stop at the next services and get a drink” he said.
    A few miles further along Carol looked up to see a sign for the services. She was doing about eighty-five in the fast lane. Looking in her mirror before indicating she manoeuvred the car crossing the white lines.
    Suddenly a blue van missed the left side of the car by inches forcing Tom to pull his arm into the car with great hast. A loud continuous beep from the large van was met by Carol’s rage. Hitting her horn repeatedly “what a fucking arsehole! I signalled you saw me!” she said. The van continued at speed into the distance.
    Tom knew that Carol had bouts of road rage. The air would turn blue if ever she got cut up or someone didn’t wave a thank you. Sometimes he thought she was quick to react. But in this case she was definitely in the right.
    The service area was only a mile down the road now and they could see that there was a Burger King sign posted. Pulling off the motorway, this time with no crazy van drivers in sight. Carol slowly made her way into the car park.
    It was fairly busy. Tom could see at least ten coaches in the bays near the cafe area. The blue rinse brigade on their annual outing no doubt. Finally Carol found a space near the entrance. The pair got out of the car. Tom stood there hands on his hips looking round the car park. Not a cloud in the sky as Carol’s arms stretched and she began to shake some feeling back into her legs.
    Two solid hours of driving was enough for her. ‘Tom could take the last shift’ she thought. She walked to the front of the car and up the four steps to the double doors. She turned to see Tom starring into the car park. “What’s up?” she asked.
    Tom looked into the second row of vehicles and spotted the blue van that had cut them up on the road earlier and nearly sliced his arm right off in the process. He turned to look at his wife and smiled. “ nothing “ he laughed and made his way up the stairs. “I need the loo” Carol said pushing the door open. As they made their way into the fairly large open seating area. Tom saw the old folks sat at tables eating and drinking.
    The place was packed full. To the left was a small phone accessories shop where a bunch of kids looked like they were about to nick some phone cases. Carol pointed into the far corner. “right I won’t be long” she said. Handing him her bag and making her way to the toilet. “ I’ll wait in the cue” Tom replied. Just walking through the front door placed you more or less at the back of the cue to the food counter.
    It must have been twenty people deep. Tom looked around and noticed a rather large guy sitting on his own at the burger king side of the food court.
    On his tray were three unopened burgers and one half eaten one. The guy was stuffing a handful of fries into his mouth. This sight would have put most people off their food. But not Tom he was starving now.
    The cue moved forward little by little. More customers started to wait behind him. He looked at his watch and then glazed over to the entrance to the toilets in the far corner, no sign of Carol at all. Panning his view around the full area she was nowhere to be seen.
    A tap on his shoulder from the gentleman behind him, followed by a look of I’m waiting for you! Brought Tom’s focus back to the cue. He stepped forward a couple of steps. He pulled his phone out of his back pocket and opened his messenger. Carol was always the first in line to message.
    They would message each other at least twenty times a day, when he was at work. Even just random GIFS of cats farting and running away from the smell or popular funny memes from Facebook.
    He typed out ‘ Have you fell in and got stuck lol ‘ he clicked send. Within two seconds he heard the ping of her iPhone. He pulled her small black hand bag from under his arm and reached in realising she didn’t have her phone. He looked over again toward the toilet area. She had been gone over ten minutes now at least.
    At what point do you start worrying about the length of time someone is out of your sight? It has to be relative to the situation. ‘was nearly fifteen minutes in the toilet normal?’ he thought. Tooling the hand baggage again underneath his arm he found himself at the front of the cue. At last.
    A young lad that looked no older than thirteen with more spots on his face than a dot to dot, adjusted his cap and asked “ what can I get you ?” Tom was now ravenous. But he was not a dilemma. Should he go full on greedy pig like the huge guy at the table earlier or just get something to fill a gap?
    He elected to order something to put them both on until they got home. Two medium sized meal orders were placed. Tom stepped to one side letting the cue shrink by one his end. But only to be added by two more at the back. He waited for his food.
    Leaning against the counter clutching at his wife’s bag head looked of once again to where his wife had headed. Scanning the whole room now but still not seeing her anywhere. It was well over twenty minutes now. Turning slightly and catching the attention of the burger king teen he called out “I’ll be back in two minutes lad alright”. Tom set off through the sections of tables filled with dinners. The bag still under his arm, he got to the sign and entrance for the female toilet block. But social etiquette ment he couldn’t just walk in.
    Placing one hand on the wall he leaned in and shouted “ CAROL ..” Nothing.
    Again he called out into the small corridor hoping the noise would bounce loud enough for a response. “CAROL!” He shouted, will more volume and tone this time. He then heard what sounded like a flushing lavatory. A few seconds later the buzzing of a hand dryer and then. A short chunky old woman walked out.
    She looked at him with an untrusted gaze, who could blame her. He did look a little strange clutching at a handbag and shouting into a female bathroom.
    Seeing a different woman emerge out of the toilets didn’t make Tom feel any easier. This was beyond a joke now. He looked at his watch nearly twenty-five minutes and Carol was nowhere to be seen. He was worried.
    Another woman approached the entrance that Tom was now blocking. “excuse me” she said. The young woman was greeted by Tom with a real look of anguish on his face. “ could you do me a favour and check if there is a woman in there called Carol, and tell her I’m waiting outside, please” Tom requested.
    The woman looked at him and with a smile said she would. Tom stepped aside and waited as he watched the woman disappear. In less than thirty seconds the woman leaded around the wall and called out to Tom. “ There is no one else in here “. The news that the bathroom was empty didn’t make any sense.
    Tom’s eyebrows narrowed, confused and now genuinely worried he replied “ are you sure?”. The nod of her head ended the conversation. Tom turned around Panning his vision across the sea of bodies. His hand rubbed the back of his head something he loved Carol doing. It gave him comfort and normally helped relax him. But he was far from relaxed, he was anything but.
    A tall black man stud near the cash machine, wearing a white shirt and black tie. Around his neck a blue and white badge. His sleeves rolled up and looking somewhat bored he turned his head and looked at Tom. Tom approached.
    “please could you help me I’m trying to find my wife..” he said. The guard looked at him. By now Tom looked more panicked and stressed. “ ok sir, when did you last see her” the security guard had an African twang to his voice. His hand reached to the radio on his belt.
    “about twenty-five minutes ago, she was only going to the toilet” he replied, Tom looked around the open space again at all the people going about their day. Trying to spot Carol’s face, hair, clothing. Anything that looked familiar.
    The entrance to the food hall was made up of two large double doors and two larger windows either side. WELCOME REST was written in green vinyl in the middle of the windows. It was a chance look that allowed Tom to see the old blue van from the motorway encounter drive past the entrance slowly. The windows were heavily tinted and the side sliding door looked a different shade of blue than the rest of the van.
    Tom turned back to the guard. “ what is your wife’s name?”, “Carol Reece” Tom replied. Holding the walkie-talkie to his mouth the guard placed a call to what must have been his office to ask for an announcement over the speakers.
    They both waited. “COULD CAROL REECE PLEASE MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE CUSTOMER CARE BOOTH PLEASE. YOUR HUSBAND IS WAITING” The call out was loud and clear. The guard asked Tom to follow him to the booth in the far corner of the building. The two stood for what seemed like forever, Tom couldn’t stop scanning the entire open area.
    His stress levels were now going through the roof. But he was trying to stay calm. “look is there any other way out of this building ?” Tom said, why he was asking this he didn’t even know. Why would she leave and be gone nearly half an hour. The guard pointed into the distance at a fire exit. “just there sir, but if that opens the alarms go off.” The guard replied.
    Without saying a word Tom walked away from the tall guard and made his way to the front doors. Heading outside and standing once again in the blistering heat. He visually searched the sea of cars and people, sporting the old Honda still sitting there untouched.
    ‘the keys’ he thought, opening the handbag and searching through the contence. He emptied the items out on top the bench next to him. A phone, tissues, lipstick, a purse, pen, two cinema stub tickets from a couple of nights ago During their stay at his mom and dads and the car keys.
    He piled the items back in the bag. Then made his way back in the building. He approached the guard yet again. “mate, look I’m really worried about my wife. Shes not her!” he said. The guard was at a bit of a loss of what to do next. Kids wondering off is one thing. But adults doing the same thing is much less common. “All I can suggest is you call the police and take what steps they suggest. If you leave me your details and a description of her I will see if she comes back. Then contact you” the guard was very matter of fact. But it was true. There was nothing more he could do, Tom knew this.
    After leaving him with all the information he needed, Tom left the guard and the building and made his way back to the car, this was not like Carol. This was totally unnatural behaviour for her.
    That fucking van. He couldn’t get it out of his head. Surely whoever was driving had nothing to do with Carol’s disappearance. Why would they? Over a silly thirty second bit of road rage. Never.
    Tom sat in the drivers seat, bag on his lap. Pulling out the IPhone it started to bleep. The low battery icon on the right side of the screen was flashing. 3% blinked repetitively. He put the phone bag in the bag and tossed it on the passenger seat. He hit the steering wheel with the flat of his hand.
    “Where the fuck are you” he said out loud. Annoyed and agree he gripped the wheel with his right hand. Pulling his own phone out he brought up his key pad. He paused, what would calling the police do? She’s been gone for thirty minutes. He hit three nines and held the phone to his ear, the car was boiling hot so he opened the door. The full glare of the sun invaded the right side of his body.
    “nine-nine-nine whats your emergency?” a female voice asked. “ Ugh, i need the police. My wife is missing” Tom waited for a response. “could I first take a few details from you sir” the operator said. She sounded very robotic and in control. The nature of that job is to try and keep calm when people are panicking and in a state on the other end of the line. Tom gave his name and was then asked how long his wife had been missing. “ about forty-five minutes now” Tom said.
    “Mr Reese, we don’t even make a missing persons report out until after twenty-four hours have past. Have you and your wife had a falling out and she’s walked off” the call handler said. He had just explained where they were so how did this operators brain come up with ‘she just walked off’?
    “ No we didn’t have an argument! We don’t .” Tom was getting pissed off.
    Tom knew something was wrong. When you know you just know. “ So what do I do now ?” he snapped. “Mr Reese, I logged your call but that’s all I’m able to do at this moment in time.” The voice on the end of the phone could do nothing to calm Tom. He didn’t even reply. He was utterly livid, he ended the call with the operator half way through another sentence.
    Stepping down the stairs slowly still panning the car park for a glimpse of her. He sat directly down on the last step. Elbows now resting on his knees.
    It was the a blink of something shines caught his eye on the other side of the road near the curb to the footpath. Shifting from the make shift seat he made his way to the object on the floor. The closer had got to it the more familiar the item was. ‘it’s Carol’s bracelet!’ he registered. His mind went into over drive as he picked up the silver charmed piece.
    He held it in his hand, the silver horse shoe charm and the red heart motif on the links was the confirmation he needed. ‘she must have came outside. But why? And who with?’ he was now imagining also responsible of horrific possibilities. “fucking pull yourself together. Think” he said out loud.
    His bad language was meet with a series of unapproving looks by the coach travelling oldies as they walked pass Tom to their particular vehicle.
    The heat showed no signs of getting any cooler. Making his way back into the building he spotted the security guard straight away dealing with a female customer. Tom clutched the bracelet as he approached. Standing right behind the larger older lady, Tom couldn’t help but listen to the tail end of their conversation.
    “I mean it maybe nothing at all, but she just looked really scared that’s all” the woman said. The guard was writing down the information she was telling him. The guard looked up. “Ah Mr Reece, this lady may have some information regarding your wife” he said. The woman turned to face Tom, adjusting her glasses slightly.
    “was that your wife I saw?” she said slightly shocked. Tom described her to the woman. Nodding and placing a hand to her check she said “ yes that was the woman I saw with two men!”. Tom’s heart dropped through the floor.
    “what men? What do you mean?. Where did you see her?” firing questions at the now flustered looking woman. He stopped and waited for a response.
    The woman started her story from the top again. “ well me and my Mal were just putting his walking frame in the car. His legs aren’t good anyone more you see. I mean he trys to be active as much as he can be but..* her Lancashire twang and eagerness to make giving information a long drawn out affair. Immediately started to vex Tom. He strained a smile, a polite smile that was hiding a million emotions “ please madam my wife?”.
    “yes dear I were just gettin there. Well we saw a lass with two strapping fellas either side of her. They walked her, well more or less carried her cus her feet hardly touched floor to a van and slung her in back.” She said.
    Tom looked at the guard. Then back to the old woman, “your positive?” Tom asked. This was turning from bad to worse. “ oh yes mi dear, I remember saying to my Mal. I said Mal, look at those two over theer”.
    He suspected this but it seemed so far fetched he was trying to think of something more rational. But to have it confirmed by someone else was heart rendering. Remembering seeing the van drive past the entrance not fifteen minutes before, he knew time was against him. He ran to the car frantically. Leaving the lady and the guard standing there.
    Climbing straight into the drivers seat he started the engine and hoped that the van was still on the road. The old Honda flew out of the car park and along the slip road, joining the M1 north bound. Tom was driving like a mad man. His head a mess wondering who these men were and why they had taken his wife.
    Surely a little bit of road rage an hour ago didn’t warranty this reaction. Tom’s driving was becoming more and more erratic, several cars had to get out of his way and his actions was met by angry horn blast.

  2. #2
    The formatting makes this difficult to read. Maybe someone else has more time and patience for it, but not I.

    I don't think his arm was visibly turning brown. Tans happen imperceptibly. Also "Since the first day should was introduced" doesn't make sense. I think you meant "... she was introduced".

    Putting a blank line between paragraphs make it more readable online. And try reading it out loud to catch those incorrect words.

  3. #3
    Yeah i does just look like a long blog of writing. Not sure why its done that as it is not writen that way on office.

  4. #4
    Paragraphs please!

  5. #5
    Hey, Chrispt. You need to double space your paragraphs before you paste it on here. Otherwise, you'll need to manually separate the paragraphs once you've posted.

    Also, I'm sure you noticed that the system doesn't allow for indentations either. Don't worry, it's a problem we all have.
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    And check out Gertie's blog on her favorite top twenty-five albums between 1955-2017 Hidden Content

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrispt316 View Post
    Yeah i does just look like a long blog of writing. Not sure why its done that as it is not writen that way on office.
    When you see something in Office or Word, or whatever software, there's code that tells the software to show it a certain way. That code is not shown. It simply tells the program how to show what you typed. It has font information, paragraph information, etc. Think of it as being in French

    When you see something posted here, there's a different code that tells the system how to show it. Again, the code is not shown. But it is different code. Think of it as being in German.

    The actual words get copied. The formatting code is another story. Some of the code gets converted. Some of it gets ignored. That's just how it is.

    You might think it should all get converted, but only what's been programmed to be translated gets translated. It's like you're dealing with someone German with some knowledge of French. It's enough to get by, but not perfect.

    So, when posting, take the time to look at it and make adjustments for readability.

    If making changes in the posting box is cumbersome, try using NotePad on your computer. NotePad is for computer code, primarily, so it lacks much of the formatting stuff. By pasting in NotePad, you'll get to see how it will look here. Do your editing, like blank lines between paragraphs, then copy that and paste it here.

    In the meantime, you can edit your original post to add those blank lines.


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