After Riko and Ethan put out the fire in the canoe there was little left to identify the body.
“Everyone get inside and let Riko do her job.” Zoe’s voice was shrill and betrayed how close to panic she was. Thankfully the crowd listened and started moving towards the hotel.
The exception was Abe, who was holding his cellphone as a flashlight. “I can help,” he said. When Riko gave him a questioning look he added, “I’m a doctor now.”
Both Ethan and Riko had trained with forensics, but not enough to compete with a doctor. Abe looked at the body and reached out for it. He stopped himself before touching the body. “I can’t tell anything in this light. We’ll have to bring it into the hotel.”
“It’s ok doc,” Ethan said, moving to the back of the canoe. “We’ll have forensics here in the morning. We’ll use one of the empty rooms to put the whole canoe.”
They took some pictures for evidence and carried the boat into the hotel. The music had been turned off and the only sounds were the faint hum of the florescent lights.
Taking the elevator was impossible; the boat was too big. Riko was happy they had taken the stairs once she smelled the body. It smelled of burnt flesh and hair. All three of them where gagging as they exited the empty room.
Riko dialed 911 on her cellphone as they walked back to the lobby. It didn’t connect. The phone said she had full bars but she couldn’t call out. “I’m not getting through. Can you?” she asked Ethan.
He creased his brow in concentration as he tapped the phone. She knew he hated using it. “Not getting anything.” Shaking his head, he added, “I’ll look at reception.”
They left Ethan at reception and headed to the dance hall. It was quiet and those in it seemed mostly sullen or scared. Jonathan had a glass of something amber and was nursing it in the corner near the bar. Someone had turned off the music.
When the three of them walking into the room, everyone turned and stood up. Someone asked, “Who was it?”
“We’re not sure who was in the boat. The body was too badly burned. Is anyone’s cell able to call out?”
“Nope,” slurred Jonathan, “Wifi’s down too. It’s like 1996 in here.” His laughter bordered hysterical.
“Does anyone have a satellite phone?” It was a long shot and everyone shook their head. “Ok, who’s here and who’s missing?”
Zoe stood up straighter and started pointing people out, “Well there’s Jonny, me, Abe, Arun, you, we all came on the second boat. Then there’s Sandrine, Missy, and Kate. They were on the first boat with Zane, Blane, and James.” Sandrine, Missy and Kate were in the room but the other three weren’t.
“What about Allison?” Sandrine asked. She had barely changed since the last time Riko had seen her; all scorn and muscle. She and James had been an unstoppable bully team in high school. Riko shuddered at the memories. They’d loved calling her stupid names like Flied Lice, Eggroll, and Riko the Hun.
“No one’s seen her. Right?” asked the Zoe. Riko was starting to suspect that the woman’s perkiness increased with stress. “Oh my god, she must be the body!” Zoe looked ready to faint or do a somersault, it was hard to tell.
“There’s no way to know that for sure. There’s still the plus ones right?” Riko looked around the room and was shocked to see everyone shake their heads. “No one brought someone?”
“My husband’s with the kids, our babysitter cancelled at the last minute,” Kate smiled apologetically. She’d been their class’s star athlete until a drunk driver had hit her while she was jogging in their senior year. Riko reconnected with the feisty redhead when her sister had needed a wedding planner. She and Riko had been training together for marathons.
Looking anxiously from her phone to Riko, Missy said, “I was going to bring my sister; she had a big crush on Arun, but she had to work at the last minute.” The nervous glances at her phone told Riko that Missy didn’t like being off the grid. She’d seen Missy on the news a few times, especially during the elections. Missy had run and won in their old riding for the provincial conservative party.
All their stories were similar. Each of those that had planned to bring someone, that person had canceled at the last minute.
Sighing at the odd coincidence, Riko tried to be as calm as possible as she said, “There are four people missing. I’m going to wait until my partner gets back and then we’re going to search the hotel to find them.” She wished the hotel had staff instead of being a giant rental. The idea behind the hotel was complete privacy. It was self-contained and fully stocked. When rented, the client could bring their own staff or not. It looked like Allison had decided not.
“Riko,” Ethan didn’t look happy as he walked it. Whispering he said, “All the phones are voice over IP and not working.” She’d guessed that, it wasn’t easy getting a landline to an island.
He gulped and she knew there was something else going on. “What?” she asked a little too impatiently.
“I found another body,” he said it too loud and Zoe screamed.
“Abe come with us, everyone else stay here,” she ordered.
Ethan pointed inside the elevator and once again the three of them were staring at a dead body. It was James; although he’d lost a lot of weight, his beady brown eyes were the same. He’d been hung with a long USB cable.