Rosie and I found Cat at the studio where they both worked, she was still at work editing some of last night’s footage before narrow casting it to the subscription channels they contributed content to. Cat was surprised to see us both together, but offered us some coffee from the filter machine on the kitchen counter. I made some more coffee while Rosie filled in Cat on what we knew so far.

The studio was an only very slightly converted two bedroom flat. The kitchen served as the main editing suite, as well as sometimes being used for making cookery videos. The sitting room had been converted into a couple of different sorts of studio. Depending on the camera angle you could do a talk show with the sofa, a talking head shot close on the presenter, an open box demo on a table and stand up green wall that would let you do a weather forecast or similar shot.

One of the bedrooms was a bare green room, including the walls and ceilings to shoot absolutely anything you wanted. The other bedroom was still a bedroom. The studio was out for hire to anyone that wanted a properly edited video using props or space they couldn’t get for themselves. Cat told me that there were a number of regular clients.

“So we need to find out what happened yesterday then” Cat said.

“Yes. We need to track down Mark, Rog and Geoff. We’ve already been to see Charlie Too to kick off that part of the plan.” Rosie replied.

“Ah, that would explain the status updates then,” said Cat, “I had wondered why Charlie was so active on the social networking and how he’d sprained his ankle.”

“All part of the plan. Have you seen anything from either Mark, Rog or Geoff?”

Cat looked at her screen for a moment and there was a burst of typing as she searched out the three boys.

“Nothing from Mark or Geoff, but Rog posted an update yesterday evening from a cafe. He said that he’d been mugged and lost his terminal, but the police weren’t interested.” Cat informed us without looking away from the screen, another burst of typing followed.

“Sounds like a good cover for going off grid if you ask me.” I said, handing Cat and Rosie a cup of coffee each.

“It’s exactly that, if he’s following the plan then I know where we can find him. But it might take a day or two before we can speak to him directly.” Rosie continued, “Cat, you need to reply to his update that you’re sorry the police aren’t interested, but that you’d love to come round and give him some sympathy.”

Cat did yet another burst of typing, I was impressed at how fast her fingers moved when she did it, they practically blurred over the keyboard. I wasn’t sure how the monitor was catching it all.

“Done. He says he was mugged in the middle of the afternoon, about 15:30. There’s absolutely nothing from Mark. Mark’s feed shows him off-line from half past ten yesterday morning, with nothing at all since then. Geoff’s is more interesting. He came online briefly at 15:33 outside the shops and walked away from them broadcasting video. Here, see for yourselves” Cat turned the screen round and hit the play button.

The view was from a glasses’ camera and showed a street with a row of nondescript and mostly empty retail units on one side of the street with a couple more across the road. The other side of the street had a pub on one corner and a cafe on the other. Outside the cafe were a few tables and chairs, only one of which was occupied. The person walked towards the cafe and paused briefly to look both ways before crossing the road. As he looked, there was a dirty white van turning right to go into a road behind his point of view.

Crossing the road and walking towards the corner cafe, the view briefly lingered on one of the tables with abandoned crockery. A half-eaten sandwich and a full and still slightly steaming cup of tea sat on the table, suggesting a hasty departure. It changed to look ahead and turned the corner. Coming down the road towards the viewer were two heavy police riot vans, painted dark blue and with wire netting over the windows. They also had fold out wire netting to block the street, although this was folded back against the vans.

The point of view kept walking but focused on the two vans, which looked somewhat incongruous in the leafy suburban street they were rolling down. The vans moved silently, without lights or sirens and apparently using electric motors. There was no apparent engine noise. They slowed as they approached him and stopped about ten metres ahead of him. Their position would be out of sight from the street round the corner. Out of each van came a stream of police in riot gear and carrying truncheons and shields.

Our man kept walking, even though he was watching the police. The view was a bit less focused now as he was walking past the first police van and he obviously didn’t want to attract their attention. There were a couple of officers unhooking the netting to block the street on the side closest to the camera. Another team could be seen assembling an entry ram at the back of the van.

‘HOI! YOU THERE!’ comes a shout from the right, the view turns to an officer in riot gear ‘Who, me?’ we hear Geoff ask him, stopping. Then the video becomes just static for a few seconds before stopping.

“Wow! Looks like we know where Geoff is.” I said.

“We can’t be sure, but he might have been lucky. Perhaps they just arrested to stop him giving away the raid by accident. He might appear in a day or so when he’s been processed.” Cat suggested.

“Either way, we know that the police raided the office. Question is, did they get Charlie, or is he lying low somewhere?” Rosie looked thoughtful, then a moment of clarity showed on her face before she continued, “Cat, wind back to when he was crossing the rood, and look at the van that turned into the street behind him.”

Cat worked her magic with the keyboard and brought back the piece of footage Rosie had asked for. She slowed it down and we looked at it one frame at a time. There was a brief pause of about a second where the van stopped before turning right across the traffic stream. Both the driver and the van’s number plate were clearly distinguishable.

“That’s Mark!” Rosie cried. “See if you can track where the van is now, and where it went.”

“No good, the transponder seems to have been switched off not long after the video. It appears to be parked somewhere in, oh. Bugger! In the police station compound.” Cat swore a bit more copiously about this and banged the worktop in frustration. It seemed that Mark was a particularly close friend of hers and she was clearly upset.

“What do we do?” I asked Rosie while Cat continued to vent her anger.

“We need to get out of here and make contact with Rog. We also need to discreetly find out if the police are still holding Mark, Charlie or Geoff. We have some fall-back plans for this. Charlie and another cell member have an escape route with the terminals they use. Someone takes a van to the back door to collect the rest of the equipment and the fourth cell member tidies up as best they can to cover the traces.”

“We know that Mark was driving the van, and they must have got him. Geoff would have been the clean up guy and he got stopped round the corner. Probably because he was live streaming his video feed. Rog appears to have got away to lie low, his status update tells us that much.” Rosie was re-capping out loud to try and re-focus Cat on what we had to do next. “But we still don’t know what happened to Charlie, even lying low he’d be able to pass a discreet message to tell us, and he hasn’t done that.”

Cat joined us again, “Well we do know they got Mark red-handed. They’ll have him down as involved and they’ll be throwing their full weight at him to find out who else is involved. They’ll also be data-mining his history to see who else he has had contact with, which includes me. That will make them raid our house, which will close the loop with Charlie if they have him too. Also here.”

“And us” I added.

Continued in Imperfect: Scene 5 – Questions

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