Last time Bill headed into Merthyr Tydfil to have a talk with the local police.
Bill was soon in his car and on his way to Cardiff. The drive took less time than he had expected it to, and soon he was trying to locate the main police station with what turned out to be an out-of-date map that had been left in the car. Soon he had gotten fed up of driving in circles, parked the car and went into a corner shop to ask directions from the friendly woman behind the counter who was all to happy to tell him he was only five minutes away, but it was best that he walked as she only knew the way on foot.
He was a little puzzled by this, but politely listened to her directions, and by way of thanks bought a few bars of chocolate which he stowed in the glove compartment of the car. He considered just driving anyway, but if it really was only five minutes to the police headquarters it couldn’t hurt to stretch his legs and walk along. As he expected, he arrived having walked a route he could easily have navigated in the car, but at least the woman had got him there. He checked the correct ID was at the forefront of his wallet – nothing worse than announcing yourself as a Chief Inspector and flashing the badge of a constable – and walked through the imposing double doors.
The desk sergeant looked up as Bill approached, looking uninterested until Bill was right in front of him and flashing his badge. The man stood up and saluted hurriedly. “How can I help you, sir?” the sergeant asked as Bill signed his false identity into the visitor’s book.
“Inspector Morgan, I telephoned ahead,” Bill said. The sergeant was treating him with respect now that he knew who he apparently was, but he could see that he wouldn’t get the same awe and reverence as in the little station at Merthyr.
The sergeant phoned through to Inspector Morgan and the inspector came down to the lobby himself. “It’s a pleasure to have you,” Morgan said, shaking Bill’s hand. “Let’s go to my office and we can compare notes.”
Inspector Morgan turned out to be quite a young man, the type Bill supposed might have had some sort of radical idea or great success which had propelled him through the ranks at speed. He exuded confidence that seemed to belie his youth, and a charisma that helped explain his high rank. Bill settled himself into a comfortable chair in the inspector’s well-appointed office and waited politely for the inspector to be seated himself, and to speak first. He might have outranked the other police man (both in his fictitious persona and his real one) but when on another man’s turf it was polite to allow him the pretence of being in charge.
Inspector Morgan settled into his own chair and cleared his throat. “If you are able to fill me in more fully with what you know, then I can see where I can help,” Morgan began carefully, not wanting to give out more then he was being asked for.
Bill had already gone over at least some of the story on the telephone but it was easier to start afresh so he began at the beginning of his story. “So, you only have the children’s note that asserts that anything is going on?” the inspector asked as he finished his tale. “The lake in the cave is peculiar, I’ll grant you, and I’m just as concerned as you about your missing children, but…” he tailed off for a moment, wanting to choose his words carefully as to not cause offence. “Is it possible that they have exaggerated some part of their story?”
Bill smiled grimly. “No, but I can understand why you would want to consider that possibility. I suppose you’ve heard of the discovery of the treasures in that Austrian cave a few years back?
The inspector looked nonplussed at the sudden change of topic, but nodded. “Yes, I remember it was being guarded by an elderly couple who had no idea the war was over.”
“That’s right,” Bill agreed. “It just so happens that the treasure was discovered by the children I’ve just lost. The same children who helped rumble a gun-running operation last summer in Scotland, and a counterfeit money scheme off the coast of Cornwall the year before that. So if they say one of them has been kidnapped, and that a helicopter has been landing atop a Welsh mountain, then it’s the absolute truth.”
Morgan gave a low whistle, “Good heavens. With all respect, sir, I never for one moment expected children to get involved in such things. I had heard rumours of some plucky kids being involved in those cases, but I didn’t know it was the same group. They must have the most horrible luck to keep running across these things!”
Bill barked a sudden laugh. “I never expected such a thing either, and then I ran into the Mannering and Trent children. They could stumble across criminal activity in the middle of a nunnery.”
“So a Welsh mountain is nothing to them then,” Morgan shook his head, laughing a little. “Well, what is it that I can do to help you?”
“If I may, I’d like to look through your intel on the helicopters that have been disappearing in the area,” Bill said. “The Merthyr lot let me look at their files, but I imagine yours are far more comprehensive. I want to know where the helicopter comes from, and you’re wanting to know where it’s going so it seems we might be able to help each other out here.”
“There isn’t a great deal,” Morgan said, shuffling through the files on his desk to find the one on the helicopters. “Ah, here it is,” he said handing over a manila file to Bill. “This is what we have found out so far.”
Bill thanked him and opened the file, idly wondering if this was everything or a carefully selected set of documents for him to look at. Some police forces liked to look like they were fully cooperating while really keeping their cards – or indeed telling files – close to their chests. Yet when he looked through it seemed quite comprehensive. The investigation centred on three or four airstrips who were reporting suspicious behaviour from some of their pilots. Helicopter flight plans which didn’t tally with the time really taken for the flights, helicopters being refuelled after apparently only flying a few miles, helicopters flying off and not returning for hours – or in one or two cases for days – for no apparent reason. Unfortunately several of the pilots involved had already been fired for their refusal to explain the discrepancies, and had disappeared entirely.
Well, it was all very interesting. Bill took out his notepad and after checking with Morgan that it was all right, he started making notes about these airstrips. The Cardiff police had obviously been looking to see if the helicopters which were temporarily going missing were turning up at other airstrips, or if any had been seen landing anywhere unexpected. It was hardly unsurprising. then, that they had not found anything if the helicopters were landing on a mountain top in the middle of nowhere.
After an hour or so Bill finished his meeting with Inspector Morgan. He tucked his notebook on his jacket pocket and stood up. “Well thank you, Inspector, you have been very helpful!”
Inspector Morgan stood too. “Pleased to be of assistance,” he said. “I trust you will keep me informed on your progress?”
“I will,” Bill agreed. “I’ll be in touch, and would you let me know if you come across anything new, especially about the children I’m looking for?”
“Yes, I’ll send word to the boys at the Merthyr station, they’ll be quicker than a telegram,” he agreed. “I hope you find them safe.”
“So do I,” Bill said grimly, thinking of just what he would do to anyone who may have caused them harm.
To be continued…