The walk back to the block of flats was over all too soon. Laura made the most of every second, drinking in the sights and sounds of the city, as well as the feel of the sun on her back. She had a horrible feeling that she would be expected to stay cooped up in the flat for a while longer. It was interesting to see the block from the outside in daylight. She’d hardly been in a position to notice much about it when they’d first arrived that night.
She remembered Joseph saying something about it being unfinished, despite the luxury inside the flat she was occupying. Now she could see that the outer structure was complete – windows were in and there was no scaffolding. Most of the panes of glass were covered in plastic however, and a tangle of cables lay on an open balcony that had no balustrade or guardrail. She asked Harry about it as they picked their way across what was presumably supposed to have been the garden to reach the boarded up doors. He told her what he knew about the foreign owners, and how the block had been left standing empty while the litigation rumbled on.
“Did SSS do the scaffolding?” she asked.
“Yes, but Mr Singer took it all down as soon as he smelled a rat. There’s a court order now stopping anything being removed from the site. Not that there’s much to remove, apart from all the fancy stuff in that show flat of course, but I don’t think anyone even remembers it was fitted out. No one ever came to look round as far as I know.”
They had reached the lift and Harry rode up to the tenth floor with her.
“Are you making sure I go inside?” she asked him.
“I’m just doing my job Miss.”
“Of course, I’m sorry,” and she opened the door and went in.
A wonderful smell greeted her, two smells in fact. A bunch of freesias sat in a glass on the table, and there was something baking in the oven.
“Did you have a nice lunch?” asked Mrs Patterson who was peering into the oven.
“Yes thank you. You’ve been busy.”
“Not really. Jeannie called in – she brought the flowers and a cherry pie, ready to go straight into the oven so I can’t take any credit. There are some new dvds too, they’re on the coffee table.”
Laura flopped down onto the sofa. There was indeed quite a collection of films and tv box sets piled on the low table, enough to occupy a fair amount of time. Her face fell, she was going nowhere.
Slowly the days passed, and Laura sank into a depression. The battery died on her phone and she didn’t recharge it. She couldn’t be bothered to watch any more dvds and spent most of her time gazing out of the window or trawling the internet for clues to what might be happening. There was an odd incident in the Mediterranean, the so-called rip tides again, but she wasn’t sure that proved anything. Then Thames Water issued a water quality alert and sales of bottled water shot through the roof, share prices in soft drinks companies continued to climb and the news websites and bloggers speculated about the cause. Conspiracy theories abounded blaming variously global warming, evil corporations and naval exercises. If only they knew, thought Laura.
Mrs Patterson had endless patience, putting up with Laura’s increasingly fractious moods, remaining calm but firm. There were still the discreet phone calls, who to Laura didn’t know, but not Joseph that’s for sure. He was obviously long gone – so much for him saving the world.
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