"Hey Chief, where's my lobster?" Jim came down the stairs
from his visit with Clive and found Blair and Katie sitting in the kitchen, drinking
"Oh, right, lobster." Blair smiled, "I knew I forgot
"Come on Sandburg, I'm not eating those." He waved
a hand towards the sink full of sea urchins soaking at the opposite end of the
kitchen. "No offense," he added to Katie, who smiled at him and nodded.
"I'm not going back down there, it's just too cold."
you can follow me with that camera you're so fond of." He slapped Blair on
the back and walked to the door. "Let's go." He could hear Blair's sigh
from across the room.
"Okay, okay. I'm coming."
Jim was laughing
as they walked outside, "You know, I just can't picture it. No matter how
hard I try."
"What?" Blair hurried to catch up and walked beside
Jim down the steps. "Picture what, Jim?"
He's exactly what I picture a college Professor should look like. I mean the grey
hair, the sweater, the pipe. I just can't picture you like that."
Like Professor Hathaway? Come on, Jim, you need to get out more."
laughed again and shook his head. He had tried to form a mental image of Blair
Sandburg, with a pipe and cardigan, and it just didn't work. They were approaching
the barge and Jim could hear the unmistakable sound of bubbles making their way
to the surface. He focused for a moment and could discern the workings of three
separate regulators a few yards off the pier. They boarded the vessel and Blair
led the way to the bow and into the remote station where Amy was still working.
"Hey, I was just getting ready to send Igor back out." She smiled
as Jim and Blair entered, then patted the machine affectionately. "I found
"Great. I was just getting ready to go down and look
for them myself." Jim was smiling, then looked out the window at the bubbles
surfacing just off the bow. "Who's out there now?"
Amy rolled her
eyes slightly, "Kenny, Larry and Ross. I don't know how they can do it, after
what happened just two days ago." She paused, glancing at Blair. "Lucy
is around here somewhere I think."
"I'm right here." Lucy stepped
in then and stood in the hatchway. "The guys are coming up now. You'll need
a partner, if you're going down."
"No thanks. I'm an old hand at
this." Jim glanced at Blair, then Amy. "Besides, Igor here is coming
"That's right. Blair, give me a hand, will you? I need
to get his claw attached again, it keeps slipping off."
Jim waited until the two of them left, then he looked at Lucy, who stood farther
back now, watching Blair and Amy take Igor to the stern. "I understand you
catalogue and pack all the findings from the wreck?"
She turned to Jim.
"Yes, that's right. I record them, pack them, and get the customs paperwork
Jim nodded thoughtfully and walked past her, towards the lower
hatch. "So, you have a record of everything brought up?"
So does Professor Hathaway." She was following Jim now and he entered the
"And you record all of your findings?"
course. That ship represents a piece of history, and it involves three separate
countries." Lucy continued to follow Jim down and now stood with him next
to the tanks. "America, Mexico, and Canada, all have a vested interest in
the artifacts. You wouldn't believe the scrutiny when it comes to what is recovered
and where it goes from here."
Jim nodded, glancing at the tanks. His and
Blair's from their morning dive were still at the end of the row, with three more
missing. Lucy reached for the next tank in line and handed it to Jim.
any help getting dressed?"
"Thank you, no." He smiled and raised
his eyebrows. He hadn't pegged Lucy as the forward type. "But your friends
are back, maybe you can help them."
Lucy shrugged, setting the tank down
in front of Jim, and turned to leave.
Jim waited until she was gone before
stripping down and putting on a dry wetsuit from the lockers. He checked the tank
she had set out for him, tested the regulator, then tapped on the pressure gauge.
Everything checked out okay, so he picked up the tank and carried it to the deck.
Kenny and his cronies were already onboard, with Lucy assisting them in the removal
of their gear. Jim took note of Kenny watching him as he crossed the deck to where
Blair was waiting, focusing on the small group of students.
Don't worry. It's all taken care of."
"Yeah Luce, just relax. By
tomorrow, she'll be on her way."
Jim reached the side and Blair took the
tank from him. "I'm going to lead you to where Amy spotted the lobster, then
I'll use Igor as a grocery bag, okay?"
Jim nodded, still trying to listen
to the group at the opposite side of the deck, but they had stopped talking and
were beginning to move down below with their gear. "What were they doing?"
Amy glanced at the retreating students and shrugged. "Just having a look
around I suppose. I was following them with Igor for a few minutes, but his camera
started cutting out again and I had to bring him back up."
every time he goes down?" Jim asked, securing the tank's straps as Blair
lifted it to his back.
"Yes. He relays to a video tape machine here on
deck. But lately his camera's been having problems. Cutting in and out, sometimes
just transmitting snow for minutes at a time. We keep the tapes for review in
case the divers miss anything while they're down."
"Jim, here you
Jim accepted the regulator Blair was directing over his shoulder.
"You keep the tapes for how long?"
"Oh, usually long enough
to go over with Professor Hathaway. The divers have a limited amount of time,
due to the cold, so we review the tapes and see if they've missed anything, or
find an area they can concentrate on during the next dive. Typically, I'd say
we recycle the tapes once a week."
"Jim, what are you thinking?"
"I'm not sure yet Chief. Just thinking." Jim pulled his mask on and
gave Blair a thumbs up, stepping over the side.
He hit the water and let himself
float for a second, putting his flippers on. When he was ready, Igor was lowered
into the water beside him and Jim took hold of the camera, bringing it under the
surface. He started off in the general direction of the ship, waiting for Blair
to get back to the control room and turn on the propellor. After a few minutes
of idle swimming, the large blade began to spin gently and Jim let go, following
Igor out past the dock, then down. It was so peaceful under the surface, if a
little cold. Jim couldn't help but laugh at Blair's reaction to their first dive.
He had learned during his time in the service how to control his body's response
to the cold of that first submersion. He always did have a better tolerance for
cold, but had also learned how to turn down his sense of touch in a way that gave
him a definite advantage over his more sensitive partner.
Igor was moving off
to the left now and Jim followed, keeping an eye out for lobster, and anything
else that could be cooked or stewed. He had just spotted some strange marks in
the sand when he ran into the remote camera that had stopped just in front of
him. Sandburg! He recovered and stared at the camera eye facing him.
Igor tipped down for a moment, then back up. Jim looked around and saw the pair
of lobsters sitting just below him. He reached out, and with one finger, pushed
Igor back slightly, then waved his finger in front of the camera. Igor hovered
where he was pushed, then held out one clawed arm, extending the bag he was carrying.
Jim almost laughed, picturing Blair at the other end of the camera. He flipped
down and snagged the two lobsters, then righted himself and stuffed them into
the bag Igor held patiently for them. As soon as they were secure, the camera
dipped and turned, leading him on. A few yards farther and Jim was able to once
again pick up the marks in the sand. It looked as if something had been dragged,
leaving a wide imprint in the silt, and scraping barnacles off of several rocks.
Once again Igor stopped suddenly and Jim was able to avoid another collision
by inches. He glared at the camera again and looked around, spotting the large
lobster just below and to the right. He had just stuffed it into Igor's bag when
he felt the subtle change in pressure through his regulator. Quickly he checked
the pressure gauge. It read three quarters. He should have thirty minutes of air,
and he had only been down for ten. He took another breath and felt the same sensation
of pulling, more than the normal exchange through regulator valves. Igor moved
forward and stared at him, then turned to move on. Jim took another breath and
felt the unmistakable vacuum of an empty tank, pulling back against the air in
He didn't need to check the gauge to know he was out of air. Quickly
he reached out and snagged Igor just before it was out of reach, spinning it around
to face him. He pointed to his regulator and up, adding an urgent motion of slashing
across his throat. Immediately Igor spun back around and faced up, kicking its
propellor into high and pulling Jim as fast as it could to the surface.
Just as he was ready to break the surface Jim heard Blair racing down to meet
him on deck. His lungs were burning, and he spat out the regulator as he let go
of Igor, reaching up for the ship as he came out of the water.
me your hand!" Blair was leaning over, grabbing Jim's outstretched arm as
he broke through the water.
Jim filled his lungs gratefully and steadied himself
against the barge, letting Blair hold him there for a few minutes while he inhaled
"What the hell happened!"
"I ran out of air!"
he gasped, breathing again.
"What? The tank was full."
still too winded for much conversation. He unclipped the tank and shrugged it
off, then handed it up to Blair. "Here, take this."
you all right?" Amy was beside Blair now, and took the tank from him, setting
it down on deck before reaching in for Igor.
"Yeah, thanks for the lift."
"Anytime. Come on." Blair reached down to help Jim out. "I hope
dinner was worth it."
Jim tossed up his flippers, then took Blair's hand
and pulled himself out of the bay and onto the deck. Kenny was there, but just
for a moment as he followed his friends off the barge and onto the pier. "What's
Blair turned to see the others just as they started walking
up the pier. "They've been down below until now."
take Igor inside, and get these lobster up to Katie. Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine." Jim nodded to Amy then sat down on a crate in the
center of the deck, pulling the tank over to him.
Blair followed and stood
beside him, looking at the tank. "What's up Jim? This tank was full when
you went down." He glanced at the gauge. "It's still more than half
Jim unscrewed the regulator and peered inside the mechanism. "I
don't know," he said, looking as far in to the tubing as he could. He lifted
it to his nose then and took a focused breath. "There's something in here."
"I'm not sure. Something smells strange...Like glue
maybe. Or sealant. Definitely something. This gauge has been rigged to read full,
when it's probably only a quarter filled." He glanced back up the pier at
the retreating students. "I'm afraid there's more to Emily's death than meets
the eye here Chief." He looked back out over the water and twisted his head
around. "God, my neck is stiff."
Blair was shaking his head, obviously
trying to absorb what was happening. Jim unzipped his wetsuit and began to slide
the top half down, moving his shoulders around to loosen up stiffening muscles.
"Give me a hand here, would you Chief?"
Blair was still shaking
his head when he reached out and pulled Jim's suit down, then he began to massage
his friend's shoulders. "I don't get it. I don't get it at all," Blair
said. "I mean, you're saying murder, right? You're saying Emily was murdered?
But why? What for?" He paused, but he was still rubbing Jim's shoulders.
"You think Kenny did it? Am I right? But why? God Jim, what is there worth
killing for up here?"
Jim was trying not to turn around, or make any movement
that would let Blair realize what he was doing. He knew his friend was so preoccupied
with the notion of Emily having been murdered, and Jim just running out of air
in a tank that was rigged to read full, that he had no idea he was giving him
a massage. And Jim wasn't about to clue him in. He opened up his tactile senses
and leaned slightly into it, relaxing his shoulders to absorb the full effect
of the impromptu massage. "I'm not sure yet, Chief, but I'm working on it."
A little lower and to the left.
"I don't know, Jim. I mean, Kenny's
a jerk, but a murderer? And why? What on earth could he have murdered her for?
She loved him. And he has his family's fortune waiting for him, so it can't have
been money. I don't get it. But if not Kenny, then who?"
Jim hadn't been
listening, he was becoming so relaxed with the massage, that he forgot what Blair
was saying. "Um, what was that?" God, he could fall asleep right
there! This was definitely going to have to happen more often.
And why? Jim, I just don't get it." Blair continued to massage Jim's shoulders
"I saw something down there. It looked like something big and
heavy was dragged through the sand and over the rocks, leading from the ship,
to the shore. I think they found something down there that they don't want customs,
or the University finding out about." Blair was still rubbing his shoulders
and Jim tried to move just enough so that his hands would move lower, without
him knowing. This was the most Blair had ever touched him, and he knew asking
for a back rub would be many years down the road, considering his friend still
didn't recognize a simple paint fight when he saw one. Still, if he was comfortable
enough to touch him subconsciously, then that was half the battle, wasn't it?
He worried sometimes that Blair felt uneasy around him, and never seemed to reach
out physically. But he saw his friend react to other people that way too. Was
he so afraid of rejection? Did he take Jim's house rules and orders on the job
as personal attacks? They were going to have to discuss this soon, especially
now that he decided backrubs should be in included in his partner's chores.
suddenly stopped and took a step backwards. "Jim, the crates. There were
some crates in the basement that looked like they were packed up in a hurry. Not
like the others. Do you think they found something and they're going to try and
ship it out with the rest of the artifacts?"
"No, they couldn't get
through customs without being inspected." Jim reluctantly stood and picked
up his gear. His back rub was over, but Blair didn't seem to have realized it
ever began. Just as well. "I'm gonna get changed, then make a phone call.
We've got a murderer, or more, on this island. And I think they're getting nervous."
He hefted the regulator. "Can you find the tapes from your little camera
friend of the last couple of days?"
Blair thought for a moment, then raised
his eyebrows. "Sure, but why?"
"I want to see if there's anything
on them that can explain those marks on the rocks."
He waited until Blair
nodded, then took the gear back down below. What he didn't want to say, and what
he would have to keep Blair from seeing, was that he hoped Emily's diving accident
would be on one of those tapes. Once below, he set the empty tank in a far corner,
then found a plastic bag in a locker and wrapped up the broken regulator. He then
finished pulling off the wetsuit and toweled off, walking back over to the other
tanks in the dive room. They all read full, except for the three new additions
to the back of the row. Kenny, Larry, and Ross had just come up, and each of their
tanks read empty. They had been down for the full thirty minutes, but had come
back up empty handed. If Amy was right, and they used the film from Igor's camera
to narrow the search of each dive team, then the three of them should have come
back with something. He doubted the University would encourage too many pleasure
dives with rented tanks, in seriously cold water. And Amy hadn't sent Igor down
with them. She and the machine were both in the control room when he and Blair
Jim decided then that each and every one of the students must be in
on it. Whatever 'it' was. Maybe Amy wasn't, but Lucy had made sure Jim picked
the right tank, even after checking the level himself. And all four of them had
been on the pier when Emily died. He had to get evidence now, but at least no
one would be leaving their little island any time soon. He finished drying himself
and changed quickly. The cold was beginning to seep in, as he had turned up his
tactile senses to get the most of his impromptu back rub. Now, his newly relaxed
muscles were getting cold. Once dressed, he returned to the control room where
Blair and Amy were stacking video tapes on a counter.
"Hey, we found the
last three days of tapes." Blair said, looking up as Jim entered the room.
"Yeah, but I don't think you'll find much here." Amy waved a hand
over the stack of tapes. "The camera was acting up a lot during this time
period. Professor Hathaway and I haven't gone over them yet, but while Igor was
down, I was having nothing but trouble with him."
"You know, I don't
get it." Blair walked over to the camera and picked up a screw driver. "I've
been all through this thing, and I can't find anything wrong."
up the tapes and noted the labels, choosing the two that were marked as having
been taken Friday and Saturday. He glanced at Amy, who took note of the tapes
he had chosen and looked at Blair. "Hey Chief, why don't you check this thing
out? If I'm right, someone's been tampering with it."
Blair looked up
and held Jim's gaze for a moment, then glanced down at the tapes he was holding.
"Yeah. Maybe I can fix it."
"I'll give you a hand. Here, you
can take these up with you." Amy handed Jim the bag of lobsters.
at each of them, then turned to leave, pausing for a second at the hatch. "Let
me know if you find anything, okay Chief?"
he left, carrying the tapes and the bagged up regulator. He knew Blair understood,
and he was grateful for his willingness to stay there, and not try to watch the
tapes. Although if Jim was right, there might very well be nothing on the tapes
to find. At least, nothing that they would see here. He'd have to give the tapes
to Tim, to be taken to his Precinct and analyzed. On the way back across the pier
Jim stopped, glancing into the bay. He focused through the dark waters and was
able to pick out footprints along the high tide line, where someone had crushed
the mussels clinging to the rocks that lined the beach, circling the island. He
strained to listen, but could only pick out the sounds of the waves as they crashed
against the rocks. The wind was picking up again and the sky was beginning to
cloud over. There would no doubt be another storm soon, he'd have to get inside
and phone Tim, get him out there first thing in the morning.
Once inside he
quickly glanced around, but could find no one on the first level. He changed focus,
and could hear Katie and Clive upstairs, discussing the coming weather, but no
one else was with them. After depositing the squirming lobster in the sink, he
"Ah, Jim. I was just telling Clive his supply plane won't
be out again today." Katie had turned to face Jim when she heard him coming
up the stairs.
"Well, if he had just come out this morning, when everything
was calm, like I asked him to, we wouldn't have to worry." Clive set his
pipe down and shook his head. "I really need to reevaluate our relationship
some day soon. Get us a skipper instead of a cheap float plane pilot."
looked around the room, trying to remember where he had seen the phone. "Mind
if I use your phone?" He had spotted it on Clive's desk.
help yourself." Katie stepped aside, then noticed the tapes. "What are
"They're the tapes from that underwater camera, I need
to have a look at them, as soon as I make a phone call." Jim set the tapes
and the regulator down on Clive's desk and picked up the phone. He held up the
receiver and immediately noticed the lack of dial tone. He tapped the connectors
a couple of times, then hung up. "Your phone's out."
It can't be." Clive stepped over and picked up the receiver, listening for
a moment, then hung it up with a frown. "It was working a half hour ago."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I was just downstairs eating lunch
and heard Kenny on the other extension. Our phones never go out, we've got an
underground cable out here." Clive was still puzzled as he walked to the
stairs. "Let me check the one down here."
Jim didn't stop him, but
he knew what he would find. "Is there a shortwave on the island?"
shook her head. "No. We've never needed one since the phones were put in,
five years ago. They've never gone out before."
"Is there another
way off the island? Any boats?"
"Well, there is an inflatable Zodiac
for emergencies, but it couldn't handle rough seas." She paused, watching
Jim as he was glancing around the room. "What is it, Detective? Is there
something going on?"
"Yes, I'm afraid there is. I need to have a
look at these tapes, where can I do that?"
"Over here." Katie
walked over to a table and pushed aside some papers, then pulled out a small television
and VCR. Jim helped her set them up, then pushed in the first tape as Clive came
"I don't understand. The other phone is dead, and I can't
find Kenny anywhere."
"The Detective thinks there's something wrong,
dear. Where are Larry and Ross?"
"Wrong? What's going on?" Clive
stepped over to see what they were looking at. "I don't know where the others
are, I haven't seen them since lunch."
Jim was watching a tape of three
divers as they approached the wreck, then entered the hull at the same spot Jim
had gone in earlier that day. The camera followed them down, then the screen was
filled with static. "I'm not sure exactly, Professor. But I have a feeling
Emily's death wasn't an accident."
"Oh my God." Jim could hear
Katie step closer to her husband. "You think she was murdered? But who?"
"I think I know." Clive said. "But I can't say I'm not shocked."
Jim fast-forwarded the tape, watching for the point when the snow would clear.
After several minutes of static, the picture sharpened again and he hit play,
watching as Igor followed three divers back up to the surface. "I think our
answer is down there." He said, taking out the first tape and putting in
a second. "Or was down there."
"You think they found
something in the wreck? Like the gold we were talking about earlier?" Clive
asked, leaning forward to watch the second video tape as it began to play back.
"But those stories aren't true." Katie said, still standing behind
her husband. "And even if they were, how on earth could they bring up gold,
then get it out of here, without us finding out?"
"I have an idea
about that, too." Jim said, once again fast forwarding through the static
that began as soon as the divers entered the hull. "You said Kenny, Ross
and Larry were on the pier when Emily died?"
"Yes." Katie replied,
stepping around both men to stand behind the desk where she could face them. "So
was Lucy. She's the one who came up to get me."
"And who went in
to the mainland for the coffin?"
"Kenny and the boys. Lucy and Amy
were both here. They spoke with the Inspector for a while, then they got into
his boat and went to the mainland. Lucy came up here with the Inspector, I assume
they were discussing the accident, then she went back to the barge with Amy. The
two of you showed up just about an hour later. Inspector Phillips was sure it
had been an accident. But then, so was I...Oh dear God. The coffin?"
"We had no reason to suspect anything dear. No reason at all."
Clive reached over the desk to pat his wife on the arm. "What do we do now,
Detective? Are we in danger?"
Jim stopped the tapes. It was useless. Until
they had better equipment, they weren't going to find anything on those tapes.
They needed to find the gold, or whatever it was that Kenny and his pals had been
bringing up from that ship. "We need to find them, get that phone fixed,
and get some help out here." He walked over to the windows and glanced down
at the pier to see Amy rushing up the steps towards the building. "Where
do you keep that boat?"
"There's a shed, on the other side of the
island. It's in there, but I don't think they'd be fool enough to take it out
in this weather. Those swells are getting pretty rough. And once they get out
into the channel, it'll be too dangerous for such a small boat."
we found the problem." Amy was breathless as she appeared at the top of the
stairs, hurrying over to Jim. "It wasn't in Igor, it was in the recorder
on the barge."
Jim took the object Amy was handing him and examined it.
"A magnet. That would effectively erase anything on the tapes." He turned
it over in his hand a couple of times, trying to find some identifying marks.
"But if it was left in, the entire tape would be erased."
still trying to catch her breath. "I know. But Lucy was there, each time,
helping me with the equipment. I was always controlling Igor, and she was recording.
Blair figured she must have put the magnet under the case whenever they were approaching
something they didn't want us to see."
Jim looked around the room then,
"Where is Blair?"
"He said he had an idea where they were, and
for me to come up here and stay put."
Jim was about to say something when
there was a sudden clap of thunder, followed immediately by every light on the
island going out.
"What the...?" Clive stepped forward and Jim put
out a hand.
"Hold on. Is there an emergency generator?" It was mid-afternoon,
but the now darkened sky effectively put them at a visual disadvantage with no
"Yes, but it's not automatic. I'll have to go outside and prime
Jim opened his focus enough to fill the room with light. "No,
you three stay up here. I'll go." He gently pushed the three of them towards
the couches, glancing outside as the sky opened up with rain. "Where is it?"
"On the south side of the island. Take the trail you were on yesterday,
and follow it all the way till you see the shed."
"Amy, did you see
the others on your way up here?"
Jim nodded, "Okay,
you three stay here." He moved easily to the staircase and descended, keeping
his eyes focused enough to let him see in the growing gloom. The sky was entirely
filled with black clouds now, and the rain was coming down in buckets, adding
to the darkness. He crossed to the main door and found a coat, then moved to the
middle of the room and listened. He expected the three wouldn't leave without
their bounty, but if they knew they had been found out, they just might get scared
enough to take the emergency boat and leave the island. But he didn't think they
had. He moved his head slightly and thought he heard movement in the basement.
Stepping closer to the staircase, he let his eyes lose focus and concentrated
on his hearing. The instant between the thunder striking outside, and the pain
exploding between his ears, he realized his mistake.