The Curve of The Earth
    “Courier job, eh? Where you going?”
    “Seattle,” said Newcomen. He was disturbed by the lack of response from Petrovitch, sat in the seat next to him, bag firmly on his lap. He glanced around to see him with his head turned to face the back window.
    “Are we,” and he struggled to look for himself, “being followed?”
    “Yeah. At least three cars broadcasting encrypted burst transmissions on shortwave. There may be more than three, but at least they’ve the good sense to keep radio silence.”
    “What this you’re saying? We’re being tailed? Better call the cops.” The driver reached to turn his phone on.
    “He is the cops,” murmured Petrovitch. “So are they. Don’t sweat it. We were followed on the way from JFK, too, just more artfully.”
    The taxi man pulled his hand back. “As long as you’re sure. You guys in some sort of trouble, then?”
    “I didn’t think so,” said Petrovitch, “but now I’m not so sure.”

    They were over Nebraska, doing five hundred k and climbing to get over the Rockies.
    Petrovitch had been sitting quietly, hands folded in his lap, seemingly asleep. Newcomen was next to him, watching the clock and growing increasingly fretful.
    “There’s plenty of time,” said Petrovitch, his voice barely louder than the hum of the air scrubbers.
    “I thought you were…”
    “You were wrong. Again. I’m working.” Only his lips moved.
    “On what?”
    “Who might have taken Lucy. Working my way through all her contacts, cross-referencing phone calls, debit payments, key uses, CCTV captures, computer logins, canteen swipe cards. It’s a complicated four-dimensional map, but it’s the easiest way to spot patterns.”
    Newcomen looked around the cabin, at the stewards and stewardesses moving quietly among the passengers. Differentto the flight across the Atlantic: not one had called on them, even once.
    There was a different pair of NSA agents with them, too, sitting apart from each other and at least making an attempt to blend in. Petrovitch had pointed them out as soon as they’d taken their seats. He’d identified the account used to pay for their seats as being the same as for the flight from Heathrow.
    “Found anything?”
    “Yeah.” He opened his eyes and pushed himself up slightly using the arms of the chair. He reached out and pulled the screen from Newcomen’s pocket. “This man: recognise him?”
    Newcomen put his palm behind the screen and waited for the image to brighten. “No. Should I?” A tousle-haired, ruddyfaced youth with a lopsided grin stared out at him.
    “Jason Fyfe. Canadian citizen, twenty-three years old, degree in meteorology, studying for a doctorate in ionospheric interactions at McGill. Should be at Fairbanks, whereabouts currently unknown. Last seen a week last Saturday.”
    “Last seen, as in, he’s disappeared too?”
    “No one’s reported him missing, if that’s what you mean. He hired an all-terrain vehicle and headed off into the wilderness. No communications with him since.”
    “But you can track the RV through its locator, right?”
    “I would if I could. He’s gone off the radar completely. I don’t know what that means yet.” Petrovitch looked down at the geometric patchwork of fields swept with blown snow, thousands of metres below. “The university has ATVs of its own, and he’s not doing field work. The timing of this unscheduled trip is making my spidey senses tingle.”
    “Anyone else?” Newcomen rolled the screen back up.
    “I can, with varying degrees of accuracy, place everyone inthe physics faculty. I’m widening the search across the whole of the university, and eventually, everyone in Fairbanks. But let’s start with Fyfe.”
    “I’ll talk to the Assistant Director. We’ve two agents in Fairbanks: they can interview his friends, see if he and Lucy were…” he paused. “Close.”
    “Don’t be so
coy, Newcomen.” Petrovitch turned and focused on him. “That’d be a

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