He comes with the rain…

He comes with the rain.

Every single disappearance (to use the police’s pet word – I guess they’re reluctant to use the ‘m’ word when no bodies have been found) has happened when the rain was falling.

Of course I’m positive about that, Lara. I know it rains a lot here – we don’t get too many days like today in the winter – but not one disappearance has occurred in dry weather. Not one.

Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me – all you have to do is look up the weather reports for the dates on which the disappearances occurred.

And before you ask, the answer is no, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Perhaps if we were talking about, say, eight or nine disappearances. But thirty-six? No chance.

There’s something else, too: Chief Constable Wilson thinks our friend is working to a pattern. He bases this notion on a single fact: our chum never strikes twice in succession within a certain radius.

So Wilson’s had teams of mathematicians crawl all over the data. The city’s been cut into squares, divided into sectors like an orange, subdivided every which way you can think of. They’ve tried binary, hex, Fibonacci sequences, primes, semiprimes, calculus, Euclidean geometry and a whole bunch of other things I’ve never heard of. Results so far: nothing, zip, nil, nada.

Oh, I don’t blame Wilson for clutching at straws. He’s got to, given that we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever. And who knows, Wilson could even be right – there may be some sort of meaningful pattern – but I’m more inclined to think that our friend is just toying with us.

Not that he needs to. Right now it would take a massive stroke of luck to stop him. I mean, we have no idea who he might be or why he’s doing this.

I do, however, have a hypothesis about how he’s doing it. I admit it’s a little wild at first blush, but hear me out.

Let’s go back to the start and look at victim number 1: Jason Armitage, last seen leaving Zeta’s nightclub on Zetland Street, which, as we all know, is a cul-de-sac. The only way he could go was east towards Maynard Avenue, so he should have been picked up on CCTV when he reached the junction of Zetland and Maynard. But he wasn’t. Nor, for that matter, was anyone else within five minutes either side of the time he reportedly left Zeta’s. And then there’s his wallet, found 20 yards from the entrance to Zeta’s. Add it up and it’s clear: the poor blighter never made it out of Zetland Street.

Strange, isn’t it? But pick any victim and a similar story unfolds: James Anderson, left his flat on Drammore Street to walk 200 yards to the local off-licence but never arrived there. Toni Salerna, last seen leaving the gym at Pickford Avenue. Her car was found in the gym’s car park the next morning, keys in the door. No Toni, no sightings of her. And then there’s Charlie McTavish: a friend who was driving in the opposite direction on Western Road saw Charlie walking in the rain. The friend stopped, did a u-turn and drove back along Western Road so that he could give him a lift home. Only problem: Charlie wasn’t there any more.

Please do read through the files, but be forewarned: all you’ll find is an abundance of nothing.

So how is he doing it?

Well, we know that he’s silent and quick – it’s obvious that he completely overpowers his victims before they can scream or fight back. We’re pretty sure that he’s not using a vehicle (too many cameras) and he sure as hell isn’t carrying or dragging his victims through the city streets. But in nearly two years, we’ve spent heaven knows how many hours on this and we still don’t know his modus operandi.

The thing is, Lara, we’ve been looking at this problem in two dimensions whereas our friend has been working in three.

Yes, I am saying that he strikes from above, overpowers his victim and departs the same way that he came.

Oh, I’m well aware of how crazy it sounds, but it fits the facts. Think about it: who looks up in the city, particularly when it’s raining? Not pedestrians, not the police, not CCTV cameras.

No, I’ve not run this theory past Wilson yet. I wanted to hear your thoughts on it first.

How about you take some time to read the files. And then tell me whether or not you think I’ve lost my marbles. Deal?

Good. We’ll leave it at that for the day.

Right, that’s the computers switched off. Let’s go.

Blasted keys. Be a love, Lara, and hold my briefcase while I lock the door. Thanks.

There. All done. Fancy grabbing something nice to eat? I think we’ve earned it, don’t you?

Lara?

Lara?

Lara!!!!!!!!!!!!

He comes with the rain.

Mostly.

Note: a slightly earlier version of this story can be seen here. And, yes, that noted Italian ‘fence’ Felo Falori (say it quickly…) and I are one and the same. Except that I’m not Italian. Nor a fence…

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