The Reviver
enclosed in an arch of foliage, tree branches and huge bushes shaped by the passage of trucks that she hoped she wouldn’t encounter coming the other way. She drove under the arch in the patches of sunlight, resenting her anger more because without it, she knew, she would have loved this drive.
    The private lane leading to the house appeared, and she turned the car. As the house became visible between the old oaks that lined the way, her chest tightened, taking her by surprise. For the whole journey, it had been annoyance she had felt, turning to anger. But now, suddenly, there was something else. Something that her anger had masked, too strong now for her to ignore.
    No, she thought. Not you. Not now.
    She parked quickly, ran to the door and rang the bell. She waited for a count of ten, then rang again. She called out. She ran to the rear, glancing in windows. Nothing.
    The spare key was under a large planter near the back door. She returned to the front and let herself in.
    ‘Dad?’ she called. Half-hearted. ‘ Dad? ’ There was no sound. Leaving the front door wide open, she opened the living room door, bracing herself, suddenly aware that among her fears, there was one that was lucid and specific – that she would find him here, motionless and cold and alone. The living room was empty. Kitchen next. Washed dishes and empty wine bottles in the drainer by the sink. She opened the fridge. Some salad leaves in a bowl had turned. The milk was tainted. The smell of sour milk gave her another thought. She had not noticed a smell when she came into the house. The thought – just having that thought – made her feel sick.
    Move on, she told herself, and went first to the dining room and then the play room with its pool table and the giant television on which she and her father would contest whatever video games she could convince him to play.
    Upstairs, then. Her old room, with its comforting barrage of colour and eleven-year-old posters. Two spare bedrooms. Both empty. The bathroom, as with the rooms in use downstairs, was untidy. The whole house could have used a sweeping and vacuuming, layers of dust everywhere she looked.
    The door to her parents’ bedroom. She steeled herself for it, grabbed the handle and pushed. The bed was unmade. A deep laundry basket in the corner was overflowing. There was nobody here – sleeping or otherwise. ‘So where the hell are you?’ she said.
    The last room upstairs was her father’s office. His computer would be inside. Daniel Harker didn’t own a laptop, preferring to be chained to an office rather than make everywhere his workplace. Annabel understood the reasoning. For her, leaving the office didn’t mean leaving work. Her job was with her wherever she went. It usually struck her as liberating, but she would admit there were times when it was simply oppressive.
    Annabel hoped to be able to find all his contacts there, and then she could start calling around, just as soon as she was sure she hadn’t missed something obvious – a note, perhaps, pinned up or fallen to the floor. Perhaps his emails would reveal something.
    She went into the office and bent under the plain pine desk his monitor and keyboard sat on, finger poised to switch on the machine. She froze, confused for a moment. The computer wasn’t there, just unplugged leads and indentations on the carpet.
    She noticed the state of the desk, uncharacteristically empty – computer monitor, lamp and a desk tidy. Then she noticed behind the desk, where her father had a cork board, normally covered in scraps of paper – notes for his work. Apart from a scattering of map pins, the board was bare.
    She checked drawers. Several reams of unopened printer paper in one. The others empty. His desk had been cleared out. The fear in her chest was limbering up and turning toward panic. Something was wrong. Part of her had known it for hours.
    Call the police, she told herself, but the thought felt like giving in to the

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