To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/
When D’arby was about halfway to work he sat down on a brick wall, took the parcel out of his backpack and examined it. It was in one of the carboard boxes that they sold at the post office and it had stamps on it, but D’arby couldn’t see a postmark.
D’arby rattled the box but it didn’t make any sound. D’arby sniffed the parcel, but it only smelt like cardboard.
D’arby wondered for a minute whether he should take the parcel to Sonia and get her to open it, but decided against it. Although he was a little bit worried that it might explode or contain a listening device, D’arby thought it most likely was that the parcel was meant to be seen by him on his own.
There was stickytape holding the box closed so D’arby cut it using a key. Then D’arby gently opened the box. Inside there was a white envelope and inside the envelope were photos. The photos were of people entering and leaving the secret RenewBank office plus some photos of D’arby at his desk and of everyone having lunch in the rooftop garden. D’arby could easily see the significance of these photos – they meant that someone knew where the real RenewBank work was being done, and who was doing it, and if they knew that they could know more. What D’arby didn’t understand was what the motivation was for sending him the photos, and then it occurred to him that there might still be a note hiding somewhere in the box or envelope. D’arby shook the envelope and out came a folded-up piece of paper. The note said:
“I was commissioned to find out what RenewBank is really up to, and I did. What will RenewBank pay me to keep this quiet? I will contact you tomorrow with payment details”
D’arby put the note and photos back into his backpack and continued walking to the official office. The sense of urgency D’arby felt made him want to run but he knew there was no point getting to the office before 7:30am so he walked, and tried to calm himself down by concentrating on his breathing.
At the official office D’arby calmly followed the usual security procedures and Sonia didn’t notice that anything was wrong, but as soon as D’arby was on the way to the secret office he rode his bike as fast as he could, and managed to arrive at the secret office just before 8am.
Nobody else had arrived yet so D’arby had to wait. He went to his desk and looked at the photos and tried to work out where they’d been taken from. Some were taken from above and some were on street level so D’arby guessed they must have been taken from different levels of a building across the street. D’arby looked out the window and saw that there was a ‘For Lease’ sign in the building directly opposite. Then he looked down and noticed that Rudnika and Leopold were both approaching the office. D’arby ran downstairs to meet. He showed them the photos and told them how they’d been left for him by a mysterious man early that morning.
When Carol and Valentine arrived Rudnika gathered everyone together around the meeting table. After D’arby explained what had happened and everyone had looked at the photos it was time to decide what to do.
“I think we need to move the office today” said Leopold. “If we do it before whoever took the photos shares them with whoever commissioned them then things might be ok.”
“Yes, we should move today, but we also need to find out who took these photos and who they were taken for” said Rudnika.
“Can’t we just see how much money they want? It might be cheaper to pay than to move” said Valentine.
“We could pay, but how do we know that will be the end of it?” said Rudnika. “And how do we know they won’t tell anyone else about us?”
“Why would someone try to sell us photos they had taken for someone else?” asked Carol.
“This is why we need to find out who did this” said Rudnika. “Then we will know what we are up against. But first we need to move and we need to make sure nobody manages to follow us.”
Rudnika packed the photos and the note back into the envelope and postbox and put it into her bag.
About an hour later a moving van arrived and everyone had to help load all the RenewBank stuff into it. Then the van drove away and Rudnika took everyone to a café down the street to discuss what was going to happen next. Rudnika had organized for the van to disappear into a busy industrial area, where their stuff would be moved to a different van and taken to the new office. The new office wasn’t far away. Rudnika told them the address and made everyone memorise it because she didn’t wany anyone to write it down. Nobody was going there today though. For the rest of the day they were going to investigate how someone had managed to find out where the secret office was, who had found out and why they’d done it. They brainstormed for ways to find answers and then divided the tasks up and set off. D’arby and Rudnika were going to work together, Carol and Valentine were another team and Leopold was going to work on his own. D’arby was pleased with this because he wanted to get to know Rudnika better and because the first thing they were going to do was investigate the empty building across the road. Rudnika was sure that the ‘For Lease’ sign hadn’t been there on Friday.
D’arby was expecting that Rudnika would pick the lock so they could sneak into the building and have a secret look around but instead she lead the way to the Real Estate agent that was managing the property and pretended that she was interested in leasing it.
The agent was a man called Ross who tried to get them to come back at 3pm because that’s when he’d organized to show another potential tenant around. D’arby had suspected that something like that might happen and turned to Rudnika to see how she would deal with it.
“That’s unfortunate” said Rudnika. “We have a tight deadline and need to decide on an office space by 2pm today. If you think that showing us the office before 3pm is a waste of your time then you must not be very confident that we will want to lease it, which is fine because my colleagues are looking at other places this morning so we will just take one of those instead.” Then Rudnika paused for a couple of seconds before handing her mobile phone to D’arby and saying “Can you please call Valentine and let him know that if the Bourke Street office is ok that we will go with it”
D’arby didn’t really know how to use the phone and he definitely didn’t know how to call Valentine so instead he called the number of his old flat and wondered how many times he should let it ring before pretending that Valentine had answered.
“If you do that you will miss out on a great office space” said Ross, who was trying to sound calm but gave away his anxiety by speaking too fast. “It feels unfair to show it to you before the person booked in for 3pm, but it is my duty to get the best tenant for the place so I will get the keys and take you there now”
When Ross turned away to go and get the keys Rudnika winked at D’arby. D’arby gave Rudnika back her phone and smiled. He was glad he hadn’t had to deal with Ross on his own.
As they walked down the street towards the vacant building Ross pretended to be friendly and asked lots of questions but even D’arby could tell that Ross was just trying to find out what sort of tenants they’d be. Rudnika gave polite answers but soon took control of the direction of the conversation by asking Ross about the previous tenant and why they’d left.
D’arby could tell that Ross was trying to think of how to put a good spin on his answer. “Lawrence ran a successful investment business and I was going to enjoy having him as a tenant” said Ross. “But his mother became sick on Friday and he had to leave in a hurry to go and look after her in Perth”
“The owner must be in a hurry to lease the property then, after the sudden loss of rental income” said D’arby. He was hoping the question would annoy Ross.
“Well, actually Lawrence paid the rent in advance for the whole 5 years so there is no pressure to fill the building for another 4 years and 11 months” said Ross, sounding a bit smug.
D’arby was feeling pretty clever for having tricked Ross into giving away how long Lawrence had been in the building.
Ross unlocked the front door and while he was disarming the alarm Rudnika watched but D’arby started looking around. D’arby took note of the view from the downstairs windows and was sure that this was the building where the photos of people entering the RenewBank office had been taken from. He was keen to see the view from upstairs and so didn’t pay much attention when Ross started explaining the facilities downstairs. Rudnika was more interested. There was a bathroom and kitchen downstairs and she wanted to see them both.
D’arby watched Ross and Rudnika walk into the kitchen and then he rushed upstairs. There were two windows that faced towards the Renewbank Office. D’arby noticed that one had a dusty window sill and the other didn’t so he looked out the window with the clean sill. He could see into the office where he, Valentine and Carol had been working and there was also a clear view of the roof garden.
“It is a nice view, isn’t it?” said Ross.
D’arby got a bit of a fright but tried to pretend he hadn’t.
“There is a lot of dust” said D’arby and he ran his finger along the dusty window sill.
“I haven’t actually been in here since Lawrence left but I will forgive him for not having taken time to clean when he was so worried about his mother. If it is an issue I can organize for a cleaner to come through before you move in” said Ross.
“Ok” said D’arby and he looked towards the stairs, wondering where Rudnika was.
Ross noticed and said “She’s using the bathroom”.
D’arby doubted that Rudnika was really using the bathroom and realised that he should try to keep Ross busy.
“Do you know how old the building is?” asked D’arby.
“Not sure exactly” said Ross. “More than 100 years old though. But the owner had the wiring and plumbing redone a couple of years ago and there aren’t any leaks”.
D’arby asked a few more questions and Ross dutifully answered before Rudnika came upstairs.
“Thank you Ross. This is a very nice space” said Rudnika. “I need to talk to my colleagues to find out about the places they have looked at before I can apply for this place. I will get back to you in 30 minutes. Will you be back at your office then?” asked Rudnika.
Ross looked at his watch and said “Yes. Don’t waste any time though. 2pm is approaching fast.”
Rudnika smiled then turned and hurried downstairs. D’arby said goodbye to Ross and then followed Rudnika.
When they got outside Rudnika put her arm out to attract a taxi and she and D’arby hopped in. D’arby was surprised when Rudnika asked the driver to take them to the police station, but he didn’t want to ask what was going on infront on the taxi driver.
When they got out of the taxi infront of the police station Rudnika said “I have a friend here who is going to help us. You wait outside and I’ll be back in 10 minutes”.
D’arby didn’t like standing out the front of the police station because the people who came and went tended to glare at him. Fortunately Rudnika returned as quickly as she’d said she would.
“What’s going on?” asked D’arby.
“I lifted some fingerprints and a friend is going to check them” said Rudnika.
“How did you do that?” asked D’arby. “And won’t your friend get into trouble?”
“Make-up and stickytape, and no he won’t get into trouble because he is investigating identity crime, and I bet the person spying on us didn’t use their real identity” said Rudnika.