Control give us two flat numbers. Apparently the caller is a third party in another city who doesn’t remember whether it’s 230 or 232. It’s after midnight. We feel bad ringing two numbers when we know one of them is wrong. But as it turns out, neither gets a response. Just as I pull out my radio to report back to Control, someone calls out to us from across the street.
‘Do you need to get in?’ says a guy, striding over. ‘You look like paramedics to me. And if you’re not, that’s a helluva lot of trouble you’ve gone to with the kit and the ambulance and everything, so fair play to you.’
He opens the door and then hurries on ahead, staggering slightly.
Up to the tenth floor, and the lift slides open to reveal a long, empty corridor, discretely lit by LED spots, humming with newness.
I knock on 230.
After a pause, someone speaks from behind the door.
Who is it?
A pause – just exactly the amount of time it takes to press an eye against a spyhole – and then the cautious turning of a key.
A young Korean guy stands blinking in the doorway.
‘Can I help you?’
‘We had a call to this flat. A twenty-year-old female. Would that be here?’
‘No. No, no. It’s jut me. I think you have wrong number. I got go work tomorrow quite early, so I er.. so gu-bye.’ He shuts the door. Locks it.
We walk further down the corridor, to number 232. This time Rae knocks.
Sounds of someone coming to the door – a pause – and then a young woman standing there.
‘Yes?’ she says.
‘Hello. Sorry to trouble you. We had a call to a twenty-year old female at this address. Would that be you?’
‘No. Why? What’s happened?’
‘We can’t really say any more than that. But we had a call from a friend of hers who said she needed medical attention. He couldn’t remember exactly which flat number. We tried the other one and that definitely wasn’t it. So that leaves yours. But you say you don’t know what this is about?’
‘It’s not me,’ she says. ‘It might be my flat mate, but she’s out.’
‘Can I ask what your flatmate’s name is?’
‘Am I obliged to give it?’
‘Not to us, I don’t think. But it’d really help us out. And if you don’t, we’ll have to report it to the police, and then they’ll probably come round, and so it goes on.’
‘Okay. Her name’s Sandra Highsmith.’
‘Yep. That’s the name we’ve got. And she’s not here, you say?’
‘No. She went out some time ago.’
‘Any idea where?’
‘No. She didn’t say.’
‘Fine. Can I just take your name so we can report back to Control and let them know.’
‘Yes. It’s Jayne – with a Y – McDonald, with a small c, big d.’
‘Great. Well – thanks for your help, and sorry to have disturbed you.’
She doesn’t close the door immediately, but stands watching as make our way back down the corridor to the lift.
Back outside in the truck, we wait for Control to get back to us with further instructions, or a stand down.
Nothing happens for some time.
The road ahead is utterly deserted. It’s as if when they designed this new quarter they spent so much on glass and chrome and ornamental granite features they had nothing left for people.
The radio buzzes.
‘The caller says she’s definitely there. Are you sure that wasn’t her you were talking to?’
‘Do you want us to go back and ask for ID?’
‘If you don’t mind...’
We get out of the cab again.
The girl in flat 232 doesn’t answer the intercom, so we have the same problem getting in. But luckily a young couple turn up. They don’t say a word as we tailgate them inside.
We ride up to the tenth floor.
As we walk back along the corridor I imagine the Korean guy pressing his eye to the security lens and wondering if he does, what he’ll make of it all.
Outside flat 232.
This time the woman comes to the door more quickly.
‘Yes?’ she says.
Rae comes straight out with it.
‘Are you Sandra Highsmith?’The woman holds on to the door for a moment, flicking her eyes from Rae to me and then back again. Finally she says: Yes, relaxes her grip, and quietly leads us inside.