Dawn breaks across the estuary to the continuous drone of traffic on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. The reflected neon yellow of the city lights gives way to heavy grey cloud. Below the bridge a figure stands in the flat landscape of the Swanscombe Peninsula in the Thames Gateway facing the lightening sky. A dog walker investigating the static feature on the sands calls the police. A Copper finds identification on the body. ‘This guy, Everard Devereux, is reported as having fallen into the Regents Canal last night’. The call is put in to Inspector Lee & Sergeant Wade who drive over to examine the body.
Inspector Mary Lee, a tall frail woman with failing eyesight who exhibits almost alien quality’s. Wade is a drug user & petty criminal who doesn’t bother hiding his activity from his superior officer. Mary Lee worked in science prior to joining the police force. She saw something she couldn’t explain but instead of ignoring it or burying it, which is a common practice in science, she decided to pursue it. The more she investigated the more and more weird her discovery became. The work described bizarre packets of energy appearing as phosphorescent spots before rapidly disappearing. The spots weren’t ghosts in the machine but something she could physically see herself. One day she stumbled across a terrible accident. The place was covered in phosphorescent paint. She realises she is seeing energy given of when paranormal events are occurring – the laws of physics are being broken.
Lee observes the estuary scene, much of the Thames is glowing with the phosphorescence. This is potent, the paint is everywhere, Lee says nothing. Lee and Wade get out of their car and walk over to the body where a small crowd has gathered. Two coppers have securing the scene describe their discovery, suggesting Eveready floated down the Thames and has been washed up here. Lee is incredulous. ‘What? He topples into the canal at Little Venice yesterday evening. How the Fuck Has he got here so quickly? And, tell me. Why the fuck is he standing up?’
Wade goes over to the body “God, no eyes”. He turns to Lee & grins “Never patted down a stiff before”.
“Wallet. The Devils in the detail in the wallet. . .” Wade takes out a card and reads “ID – like they said. Everard Devereux. Keys – to what I wonder. Mobile. Oh. Hello, a nice bit of weed – a good quarter I’d say. Seasoned in the Regents Canal and the Thames, no doubt – that’ll fetch a fair bit on the black, black market”.
Inspector Lee mused ‘The body got into the canal then out to the Thames estuary. It’s theoretically possible. But it’s massively improbable. It’s impossible to have got here this quickly’. What’s going on here? Everybody knows, particularly those who wanted cadavers to sell to medical schools that most bodies falling in the Thames wash up at Surrey Water’.
Wade mawkishly rubbing his hands. “So what we have here is the famous Thames Skier. Little Venice is the scene of a grizzly supernatural drowning & watery resurrection of a bourgeois hippie who water-skis through the London waterway network to this idyllic beach’
“You said the famous Thames skier?”
“What’s that mean? Is there something your not telling me?”
“Haven’t you seen the news?
“No. I only just went home to Turnham Green. Now I’m here on the other side of town. I’m too old for this shit. I have a life, unlike you media and god knows what else junkie. Up at all hours of the day & night at the mercy of your TV, computer & mobile”.
“Well, it pays to be well informed & up to date”.
“For you. Yeah, I think it probably does pay well.”
Wade paused and shrugged before continuing, “In this case, I know the Thames Skier’s everywhere. The TV, the net, it’s even the papers. He was everywhere. Zooming up and down the Thames last night. Nobody’s got a clear picture or knows where he went. Here he is!”
“How can a dead man water ski? I mean, he looks pretty dead to me.” Lee remembered Mr Devereux’s words – “Oh he was dead alright”.
As they spoke a transit van with distinctive satellite disk attached to it’s roof pulled on to the sands & made it’s way towards them.
“Word travels fast.”
“Another tip off? The fourth estate? The rapidity with which they turn up they are more like the fourth emergency service.”
“That’s the AA, Ma’am.”
“The Automobile Association once billed themselves the fourth emergency service.”
“Well, they’ve got competition now from the these fucking hacks – like vultures turning up . . . I wonder if it’s a symbiotic relationship we have with them, or whether it’s more straight forward parasitology? Get rid of them will you and get some more uniform down here, ASAP. If this thing is as big as you say it this place is going to be crawling with them. I don’t want my crime scene turning into a media vulture circus. Oh god, no it’s Fidel.”
Journalists using the black arts have been recruited to media organizations. One “seer” on the makes up all his articles. Matthew Fidel – reporter. A sleazy as the columns he makes up. Professor of making it up at London Met. Always tries to keep the prevailing light behind him so he appears in shadow. He sits in the pub all day until he quite literally starts seeing things. At night he can’t stop gorging himself on curry. Bold & underhanded at the same time nobody, can believe he has got away with it for so long. Turns up the next day looking exactly the same as the day before. It is apparent that Fidel sleeps in his clothes. He laughs like a seal “Ack, ack, ack!” Far too loud. A real, look at me I’m happy! Despite everything I’m happy. His work colleges hold a sweepstake on what time he’ll suggest going to the pub.
Wade went over to deal with the media intrusion.
“You got here quick!”
“Yeah I was in the area, working on a parallel storey.”
“How much do I get?”
“How much do I get for the tip off? Tasty one this. Should be a BIG storey for you. Should be at least a couple of K, I reckon. What do you say?”
“Not me mate, I got my own methods.”
“You listen to me you fucking fat worm, I want my money.”
“You wanna watch it sunshine. I don’t know who you tipped off, but they haven’t arrived yet. We’ve been parked up watching the dawn & PC plod roll up to unveil the identity of the Thames Water Skier when half the world has been up all night, or day, depending on where they are in the world, wondering, researching, who or what the Thames water skier really is. Well, I’ve already sent my report out a while ago. Ready for the early breakfasters.” Fidel made the universal gesture for a big media story, crossing his hand in front of his fat chest and arching them out in the end of the theatrical song style & reaching out to the world.
“Everard Devereux, son of renowned aristocrat and antiquities dealer is the lone Thames Skier! Quite moving, what him standing up & the sunrise and everything.”
Fidel smiled. “And now footage of a copper demanding payment for a tip off a pretty good morning I’d say”
“But how did you know?”
“Like I said I have my methods. Is that Inspector Lee?” Fidel waved and called “Inspector Lee!?” as if greeting a favourite aunt.
“Yeah she’s gonna go apoplectic with rage when she sees you, I can’s imaging why.”
“Oh look. Here come your boys now.” Fidel said as another white transit van came into view. “Do you mind if we get some closer pictures, now its common knowledge? It’s just like being at the Roswell Alien Autopsy”.
As Fidel made his way towards the cadaver he was meet by the irate Inspector Lee.
“Can’t you fucking do anything Wade? Do I have to do everything myself?”
The ensuing mêlée, a ridiculous spectacle of a tall frail woman tussling with corpulent bedraggled ape went viral. About twenty members of the public watched the fight with bemusement, some had been out walking, but an increasing number had deliberately come here to observe in the ghoulish spectacle as new spread. Finally a flat foot intervened dragging the red-faced Fidel back to his van.
Lee turned to Wade “Get forensics out here, not much else we can do. What you reckon? No footprints, no sign of a struggle. Find somebody who knows about bodies in the Thames.” She thought “So much paint here & quite a lot on paint on Fidel.
Fidel climbed unenergeticly back into his van. Through the open window his calls to the police “No time to lose! On to the next part of the story!” & waves.
“Do you think he followed us?” Lee asked
“I doubt it. He seems to getting his information from somewhere else.”
“Not you then?”
Wade stared into the Thames “Where to boss?”
As Fidel’s van made it’s way off the sands more of the press pack are just arriving. Fidel toots at them and gives them his open handed wave like an ape trying to catch a tossed banana.