The kitchen is small and chaotic, unwashed dishes piled on the side and half eaten dinners strewn across the breakfast bar. The hob is marred with baked on grease and ANYA, mid thirties, average in every way possible, stands in the centre of this pandemonium. She watches a small telly, half buried in paper, as she fries an egg and some bacon absent mindedly. Above the television is a wall-mounted phone in a mucky cream colour and above that is a very kitsch clock.

The phone rings and Anya moves the pan off the heat before she answers it.


Hello? (pause) Oh hi, Carol.

(Another pause) Oh ok… no problem, I'll come and pick him up now.

She glances at the clock above her and continues to listen to her friend on the other end of the phone. She laughs suddenly, shaking her head fondly.



Honestly, it's not a problem. I'll see you in a minute. Bye then!

Anya puts the phone down and sighs, looking at the bacon and egg on the stove, which can still be heard CRACKLING over the HUM of the television. She grabs two slices of bread, squirts on a dollop of ketchup and tips the contents of the pan over it, haphazardly.

In a hurry now she takes a huge bite, groaning as ketchup dribbles down her hand. With her mouth full, she puts the sandwich down and wipes herself off with a cloth. She looks at the clock above the phone, signs and grabs her car keys from beside the little telly, running out of the door, carrying the sandwich.

A second later she re-enters through the door and reaches for her forgotten handbag which is hidden amongst a pile of pots by the sink. As she moves the bag the stack wobbles and she pauses, biting her bottom lip and hoping that the dishes will not fall.

They don't, and breathing a sigh of relief, Anya runs out of the house again.


Anya trots from her front door to the car, leaning forwards so that the yolk and the ketchup from the last corner of sandwich won't drip onto her clothes. She fiddles with the keys in her other hand as she hurries out, across the paved driveway to where her car sits in front of a smart garage.

The house behind her is reasonably modern but made to look like a country cottage by means of roses around the door and leaded glass.

Anya unlocks the vehicle when she reaches it and jumps in, starting the engine.


Stuffing the last crust of sandwich into her mouth Anya fastens her seatbelt and glances in the rear-view mirror. She brushes off her hands and wipes her palms on the thighs of her jeans. Another quick look back as she selects reverse gear reveals a small patch of tomato ketchup on her chin. Rolling her eyes she wipes it off and chuckles to herself. Slowly, she backs out of the driveway, onto the road.

She begins to drive off through the little village in which she lives.


The settlement is small and quaint, old miners' cottages line the sloping, winding lanes and gas-lamp style street lights illuminate the road. The gardens are large and well kept and the houses made of creamy coloured brick with timber doors and plants climbing the walls. The newer builds are all mock-Tudor.

Anya does not pay her surroundings any heed and at the boundary, with its national speed limit signs, she accelerates, impatient. Keeping her eyes on the road and steering with one hand she fiddles with the RADIO, settling on a melancholy acoustic song.

It starts to rain but Anya does not slow the car. She flicks on the wipers, clearly irritated by the weather, and checks the clock on the dashboard. She groans, fearing she will be late and continues to accelerate down an increasingly winding road. She obviously knows where she is going but the conditions are worsening. The road narrows into a lane, just about wide enough for two cars to pass one another at low speeds and the rain gets heavier. The RATTLE of the rain on the car begins to get louder and Anya tuts, turning up the RADIO volume to drown it out.

The tyres on the passenger side brush a few water-filled pot-holes and so Anya pulls further into the centre of the tarmac, concentrating on her steering so as not to drive through the deep puddles.

She does not notice the sign for a blind summit on the approaching hill, covered slightly by some overgrown branches.

As she crests the top of the hill she steers sharply to avoid a car coming in the opposite direction. The engine makes a loud CRUNCHING sound and the radio CRACKLES into white noise before turning itself off. The rest of the vehicles electrics do not take long to follow. Shocked, Anya brakes and coasts through the darkness to the roadside at the bottom of the hill. She sits perfectly still for a moment to steady herself and takes a few deep breaths before fishing around in her bag for her mobile phone. She DIALS home.


The number you have dialled is not in use. Please check and try again.

She checks the battery and signal strength but both are full. She places the phone on the dashboard for a moment as she resumes the search through her handbag. This time she pulls out a bruised leather wallet from which she takes a pristine AA card. Checking the number against the one on the yellow piece of plastic she reaches for her phone again and dials.


The number you have dialled is not in use. Please check and try again.

Hesitant now, but clearly very frightened, Anya dials 999.


The number you have dialled is-

Anya hangs up the phone half way through the message and tosses it angrily onto the passenger seat.


Frightened, Anya pulls her coat close around her and leaves the car, squinting against the rain. The puddles surrounding the vehicle show a wreck, piled into a heavy oak tree which Anya sees as being a few feet away. She does not notice these reflections as she circles the vehicle. As she walks past the front windscreen, the shadows suggest a body in the driver's seat but again, this goes unnoticed by Anya.

She is soaking wet and frustrated, the rain still heavy. Angrily, she stomps around to the passenger side of the car where she opens the door and pulls out her phone, trying again to call home. When this fails she kicks the tyre, aggravated.

She takes a long, deep breath and leans against her car, her brow creased in thought. Nervously, she lifts a hand to her face and begins to chew on her thumb nail. She looks about almost ready to cry.

Out of the corner of her eye she sees a sudden movement amongst some nearby trees. Turning quickly and squinting through the rain she sees the silhouette of a MAN (TONY). He is lit by an ethereal light, certainly not of his surroundings. His coat is drawn up around his face and he's looking down so she can barely make out his features. A camera is hung from a thick strap around his neck. Anya gets a shock at the sight of him and gasps, stepping back a little.

The phone still in her hand, Anya gives it one last try but, as on previous attempts, she only reaches the recorded message. Hesitantly, and out of other options, she walks towards the man. She stomps determinedly and throws her shoulders back, trying to look brave. When she is in earshot of him she talks, and sounds far calmer than her wringing fingers would suggest.


Excuse me, but my car's broken down and I can't seem to get a signal on my phone. I don't suppose I could use yours, could I?

The man does not reply and breezes straight past Anya. With determined movements he walks around the car, taking photographs which do not flash, despite the darkness. The puddles next to him still show the car as a wreck and at the front of the vehicle he avoids the space where the heavy oak tree should be.



Hey! I asked you a question! You can't just waltz up to my car, start taking pictures of it and then ignore me!

She tries the police on her phone, grits her teeth when there is no answer and turns her attention back to the man. He is now kneeling by her front bumper, looking at it carefully. Nervously she approaches him, reaching out her hand.



Hey, I thought I said-

She stops talking as her hand brushes his coat. She snaps her arm back to her as if she's just been burnt. The man stands up and they face one another, eye to eye and both terrified. Anya and the man step back.

The man turns away, looking over his shoulder. He disappears. Anya is left standing alone in the rain, staring at where the man had been.


The kitchen, though very dated and kitsch is clean and tidy. Surfaces are shades of beige and brown while the wall paper displays large seventies style prints. All of the crockery is mismatched but is on proud display in glass fronted, wall mounted cabinets. There is a table in the centre of the room with three chairs arranged neatly around it. JANET is unceremoniously prodding a teabag in a pot, still wearing faded pyjamas. She is in her early fifties, plump and not particularly attractive with a stern expression and puffy red eyes.

TONY wanders into the kitchen from the dining room through double doors wearing smart navy trousers and a white shirt. He is detached and flicking through the morning's post, bored. Janet looks at her husband and sniffs. Tony appears to be in his late fifties, pot-bellied and stout though he is still in possession of a full head of greying hair.


Sally didn't come home last night…


What do you expect me to do about it? I've already told her if she comes back knocked up then I'm chucking her out. If that's not deterrent enough then I don't know what is.

Tony slumps into a chair and looks expectantly at his empty mug. Janet glowers at him before pouring him some tea. Some of the liquid splashes onto the table and Tony frowns until Janet mops up the spillage with some florally patterned kitchen roll. Tony tosses the letters aside.



Oh give over, Tony, she's a smart girl.


She's not that bloody bright if she's not come home.


You're a fine one to talk. When was the last time you came home after a night down the pub?

An awkward silence descends on the room and Tony slurps his tea as a way to break it. Janet stares at him, getting increasingly angry, grinding her teeth.


(Cont. Blurted)

You don't in the least bit care, do you? Your little girl is somewhere out on the streets and you're happy just sipping your tea and ignoring the bills!

Tony does not answer and looks at Janet with deep contempt. He stands, ignoring what is left of his cup of tea as he stomps out of the kitchen into the hall.


Janet storms after Tony into the corridor which is decorated with cream floral wallpaper. She stands with her hands on her hips, watching him slip a police jacket over the top of his white shirt.


Well that's bloody typical – you'd rather go stare at dead bodies than look for your own daughter! (pause) If you found me or Sally dead on the roadside would you care about us then?

She pushes past him, close to tears and grabs the car keys off a little white table with a phone on it. She gives Tony a triumphant look and smirks, smug.



I'm taking the car and I'm going to go and find Sally.


What? You're going out in your pyjamas?

Tony SCOFFS, then pauses for a moment, realising that his wife is serious. He lowers his voice a little and talks through gritted teeth.



Give over, Janet, I've got to get to work.

They stare one another down for a long moment and Tony is the first to look away. He sighs, clenching his jaw and trying not to let his frustration show.


(cont. strained)

It's seven bloody miles away. I'm not walking.


Get Mark to pick you up.

Janet looks hesitant for a moment, then with stern resolve she puts on a pair of trainers and walks out, slamming the door behind her. Tony is left standing in the corridor, not quite sure of what to do with himself.


Tony and MARK are sat in the cab of an old transit van. Mark, an attractive young man in his late twenties, is driving. Both men are wearing fluorescent vests over their regular police uniforms. The RADIO is on, though the reception is bad and Mark fiddles with the tuner.


They moan about us being late all the bloody time but they only pay us enough for this pile of shit.

Tony ignores Mark and continues to stare blankly out of the window. The road ahead is frosty and little shards of glass can be seen on the asphalt. Tony's perpetual frown deepens as he silently assesses the area but Mark does not notice. They pass a sign for a blind summit and Mark slows the van accordingly.



A mate of mine who works at the scrap yard was saying that the vans they flog for parts are about ten years younger than this one.

Tony continues to ignore Mark. On the road ahead there are tyre tracks and a hole in the fence. The whole area is cordoned off by police tape and Mark stops the van a little way off, in a lay-by surrounded with trees.


You alright, man?


Yeah, I'm just waiting for you to shut the hell up so we can get on with this.

There is a moment's pause as Mark decides whether or not to push his question further. He grins, cheekily, cocking one eyebrow and tilting his head to the side.


What's Janet upset about now?



No one said anything about Janet and if you know what's good for you then you won't either. Now will you stop talking and get the stuff from the back?




Mark reaches into the back of the van, grabbing a box full of equipment and dragging it towards him. Tony watches silently for a moment, decides to let the insult go and climbs out of the van.


They leave the vehicle and a large group of POLICE OFFICERS can be seen doing various jobs around Anya's wrecked car.

Tony and Mark head off in separate directions though Tony does not approach the area which is cordoned off. He stands aside from it and smokes a cigarette by the van, watching Mark talking with members of the police by the crashed vehicle. After a few moments Mark returns to Tony.


Doug says we can get started in a minute. There's not much to do on this one – paramedics said they died instantly so they're pissed off they were even called out.


Another teenager?


Don't know – they didn't say.

Tony is silent. He stubs out the cigarette and takes a deep breath, eyes locked on a fixed point in the distance. When he talks, his tone is sharp and distracted.


Who found the crash?


Some teenager on a moped. He was the one who called the ambulance out.


Probably thought he could help, poor sod.


Bloody hell, Tony, is this what happens after twenty years? Do you get soft?

Mark glowers at him and Tony takes another deep breath. He frowns back at Mark, picks up his box of equipment and walks past the officers to the car wreck. He sees forensic experts examining Anya's body, her face hidden behind the backs of various PEOPLE IN FORENSIC SUITS. Mark follows and pauses in going past the car. When he sees the corpse his face pales and he freezes where he stands.



Mark's skin is pallid and grey, but Tony walks past to examine the front of the car without pausing. Mark runs quickly back to where Tony had been smoking and is sick. Tony hears him and pauses, looking unsurprised.

Mark sinks down to sit by a tree, taking deep breaths. One of the paramedics from the ambulance crew walks over to see to him. Tony pulls a pad of paper and a pen from his uniform pocket, letting out a long, deep breath.





The Police Officers and forensic staff are preparing to move the body from the car and into the ambulance that is stood waiting. Tony puts his paper away, looks up from his place at the front of the car and notices that Mark is speaking to an ATTRACTIVE PARAMEDIC. He is still pale, but pats his stomach and shrugs, as if to indicate some sort of food poisoning, rather than shock at having just seen Anya's body.

Tony stands and stretches slowly, grumbling as he does so. He searches through his pockets for something and then rolls his eyes, realising that all the camera equipment is back at the van. He stomps towards it, meeting the INSPECTOR as he goes.


You almost done, Tony? We want to shift the body and the car as soon as possible - Get the road open again by rush hour.


Just got to take a couple of pictures of everything in situ and then you can move whatever you like. It'd all go a whole lot quicker if Mark'd pull his bloody finger out.



Don't be daft, Tony, there's a pretty girl around. It's amazing he's still fully clothed…

Tony makes a vague attempt to smile before he and the Inspector go about their individual business. Back at the van Tony shoots Mark a bitter glare and picks up a camera from the box. A strong breeze is blowing and Tony shivers from the cold. He stomps over to the van and fishes around in the back until he finds a tattered jacket belonging to Mark. Without thought or hesitation he puts it on. The jacket is the same as the one worn by the man Anya saw, photographing her car.

Tony stalks towards the vehicle down the same route as the man. He takes pictures from all around the wreck, concentrating on the front end, crumpled around the tree. He works with a frown, quickly and professionally. Because it is so light, the camera does not flash.

Tony does not photograph the body within the car, leaving the interior of the vehicle until last as he is not properly dressed for it yet. He is about to cover his clothes with one of the white forensic suits when he notices a torn scrap of fabric on a jagged piece of metal by the front bumper.

He moans, looking around for the forensic crew as the fabric appears to be part of their white suits. Shaking his head a little on finding no one he kneels down by the bumper in order to get a closer look.

A hand reaches towards Tony's shoulder and brushes his coat before withdrawing. He frowns and stands, turning, mouth open and ready to berate Mark for not helping him. When he sees Anya staring back, his expression changes to one of shock and disbelief.

They stare at one another for a long moment, Anya looking desperate and Tony frightened. Both Tony and Anya take a step back, Tony looks around to check if anyone else can see her but when he looks back Anya is gone.

He pales and drops the camera by the car. He takes a few hesitant steps towards where the body is slumped over the steering wheel. Reaching into his police-coat pocket beneath Mark's scruffy old jacket, Tony finds a latex glove which he pulls on. Hesitantly and with shaking fingers he brushes the hair back from the corpse's face and sees a lifeless version of the helpless eyes he started into seconds before. He stands and pulls off the glove, discarding it in a pile of similar equipment by the car boot.

Walking determinedly now, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his mobile phone. His movements are confident and determined.

He dials a number and slaps Mark gently on the arm as he passes. Mark glances as the pretty Paramedic with a confused expression and then turns to Tony, walking with him towards the van, where they stop.


Take me back to the bus stop on the edge of town.


You what?


It's not like you're doing anything here, anyway, save trying to get in that girl's knickers. (Pause) Sally didn't come home last night, and I want to find her and make sure she's not as scared as the poor creature in that thing was.

Tony gestures to Anya's car and CLICKS the call button on his mobile. He is silent for a moment as his phone connects. Mark regards him suspiciously, looking him up and down with a frown.


What about work?


(Hand over the receiver)

You might have to pull your finger out for a change. The camera's over by the car.

Mark looks insulted but pulls his keys from his pocket and goes to start the van, all the while, eyeing Tony warily.


(cont. On the phone)

Janet, love? It's me… I'm on my way.


Frances Robinson