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Perhaps at this point I should introduce myself. My name is Diana Jones – just Ana to my friends. I’m English by birth, and resident of Brighton (well, on the border with Hove, actually, for those who are into geography). Working with books in all their various forms is the only job I’ve ever had, or ever wanted to do. God knows what Sterling must have told you about me. There was nothing between us, if that’s what you’re thinking. I only worked for him for a few months. Besides, he was married.
Sterling had an advance to do a book on the film director Harry Rubik. Rubik was a man who had been into some weird stuff… Really weird stuff. As you know if you’ve ever seen any of his films. All of the speculations about alien moon babies was just scratching the surface of it.
His interest in the films of Harry Rubik was what lead to our involvement in the Moonchild affair and the unfortunate events on the glacier in Switzerland – but I’m getting ahead of myself. A few months after I went to work for him, in the winter of early 2009, Sterling inexplicably disappeared.
It was a late night in January when I got back from a night’s drinking at The Borderline, a pub located on the intervening point between Hove and Brighton, originally two towns that make up one city (for those of you not versed in Sussex geography!). All I wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep – except that I knew that Julia, Sterling’s soon-to-be-ex-wife, was coming over in a little while, having phoned earlier on near-hysterical about her husband’s “disappearance.” I had foolishly told her I’d listen to what she had to say, and she had simply insisted on coming over, right away. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had only gone AWOL in order to get away from her, but of course I didn’t say so.
Julia had sounded pretty shaken up on the phone, and for all their arguing, I knew they still cared about each other. I knew that pretty soon she would arrive at my door – wearing that little faux fur coat that she used to wear – and that I would have to pour her a drink, and sit her down and listen to what she had to say, and try to somehow cheer her up. So I booted the computer up of course – to keep myself from falling into sleep that seemed over-anxious to come. ‘Sometimes I miss my pre-internet brain’, I thought, as I sat down and settled in to check in with the World Wide Web. Hadn’t Douglas Coupland said that? And it was well-known that modern children’s brains were already wired up differently from adult’s brains, because of having grown up with information technology. Now smart phones were coming that would keep us connected all the time, whether we wanted to or not. Perhaps we were all being conditioned to think a different way. But how much should we believe of what we saw in front of us?
Sterling had gone missing for two or three days at a time before, and Julia suffered from bouts of anxiety, amongst other things, which reassured me a little that I shouldn’t be that worried about him, anyway, even though of course that didn’t prove anything.
That was when I got the email…
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From: Sterling (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: take care!
As you know, I’m going to look for the missing cans of film that Rubik left behind. I can’t say any more right now, but I hope to have more to tell you when I get back!
On my way I am planning to make a detour to research another area of interest that seems to have preoccupied our late filmmaker friend – an area that I am excited to say no one else seems to have covered before.
While I am away I have sent you something for safekeeping, as someone seems to have been going through things in my study, and I am not convinced it was Julia.
If someone called Varley attempts to contact you, DO NOT talk to him. I will be back soon.
I checked the mailbox. There was someting there, a brown paper parcel hidden beneath the advertising and final demands. I took it out: an ancient leather-bound pocket book, written in a scribbled hand, complete with a more recent looking newspaper cutting that fell out as I tried to turn the pages…