The Water Thieves

The evening light was fading quickly as the flight from Amsterdam landed at Southampton airport. The passengers disembarked the plane and made their way towards the international arrivals area of the airport. After a while, the passengers’ baggage started to appear on the baggage carousel and after passengers claimed their bags, they headed towards to terminal exit to continue their journeys. Outside the terminal, there was a line of waiting vehicles, most of these were taxis but there were also some private cars.

In a workshop located just outside Southampton, a team of engineers were starting to finish their work for the night. They were working on a complex device that was able to multiply water molecules. This was the second such device they had built. The first had been an experimental version built to prove the theory and technology worked. Because the experimental version had been so successful, the team of engineers had received a large amount of funding from the United Kingdom government to build a pre-production version of the device. If this version performed, as well as the first, it would be possible to start real production of the device and start alleviating the suffering of people around the world who live in drought conditions most of the year.

As the passengers emerged from the arrivals terminal at Southampton airport two of them looked around for a moment and then made their way towards one of the waiting private cars. Because there was somebody seated in the passenger’s seat, they both got into the rear of the car. The driver who was standing on the pavement beside the vehicle walked around the car and opened the door. As soon as he was in his seat, he started the engine and drove the car towards the airport’s exit.

All the lights in the main workshop were now off and apart from the lead engineer, there was no one left in the building. The lead engineer was in a side office collecting up some papers and once he had placed them into his shoulder bag, he headed for the office door.

About ten minutes after the car had left the airport it pulled into a secluded lay-by where it parked behind a dark transit style van. The men who had arrived on the flight got out of the car and headed towards the back of the dark van. As they were getting into the van, another person emerged from the front passenger’s seat of the car and followed the other two passengers into the rear of the van. A small light built into the roof of the van began to glow and illuminate the inside of vans cargo area as the van door closed. The back of the van was empty apart from a large holdall, which, one of the men reached for and opened. The holdall contained a number of masks, automatic weapons ammunition. The man who had opened the bag started to pass the weapons around to the other men in the back of the van as the van started up and drove out of the lay-by.

The workshop where the water device was being developed was located within a large compound that included various other sized workshops. Although the compound did not have a high level of security there was a high fence topped with barbed wire surrounding it. The only way in or out of the area was via a wide main gate where a small security hut was located and manned by three security guards. To the side of the hut was a pedestrian gate that was used by people who parked their cars in a car park just outside the compound. This car park was where the lead engineer was heading because he parked his car there and was now leaving the compound and heading home where his wife would be waiting for him. As he passed the hut, he acknowledged the security guard who was standing in the doorway of the hut that was right next to the pedestrian gate.

Once inside his car, the engineer started the engine and headed home.

The van and car pulled up outside a house where the men in the back got out, went through a gate and followed the path up to the front door where one of the men knocked on the door. A few moments later, a woman came to the door and as she opened it, one of the men pushed it open sharply. The men all entered the house and as they did so, the sound of the van driving away could be heard.

As the engineer arrived at his house, he had to park a little further down the road than usual as there was a car parked outside his house. This was strange as he and his wife rarely received unexpected visitors. He got out of his car and walked towards the front gate to his house. As he reached the gate, he noticed there was someone sitting in the car. He could not see any of the person’s features as it was very dark now and the street lighting did not throw any light into the car. He carried on through the gate and followed the garden path up to the front door of the house which he opened with his key, entered the hallway and closed the door behind him.

As the engineer entered the living room of the house he soon realised his wife was not the only person sitting in the room. There were three men with weapons sitting around the room one of whom stood up as he entered the room.

“Good evening sir,” the man said.

“What is going on?” the engineer replied.

“All you need to do is keep calm, do as you are told and this will end well for you and your wife.”, “Please sit down beside your wife and listen.”

The engineer did as he was told and sat beside his wife on their sofa.

The man who was standing then said

“You will go with the driver in the car who will take you back to your workshop and drop you at the gate. You will then go into your office and collect the designs for the water device, the driver will then bring you back here and if the plans look complete to us we will leave you in peace.”

“If you try anything clever or do not hand over all the designs we will kill your wife.”

This last statement sent shivers down the engineer’s spine and as it did so, the man pointed towards the door and told the engineer to get going.

Once the engineer had left the house and got into the car the driver started the engine and pulled away in the direction of the workshop compound.

Although the compound was only about twenty minutes away from the engineer’s house, it seemed to take forever to get there.

The driver pulled up just short of the main gate, close enough to watch the engineer go in but far enough away for the driver to remain in the shadows.

The engineer got out of the car and walked towards the pedestrian gate of the compound where one of the security guards was waiting to greet him. Recognising him the guard opened the gate and allowed him to enter. The only conversation that took place as he passed through the gate was the guard saying,

“not in your own car sir?”

The engineer replied, “No, it’s a taxi. I have a quick task to carry out in the office and then I am going into town for some drinks with friends.”

Fortunately, the guards were employed by the owners of the compound so although they knew a lot about the staff working in the workshops, they knew nothing of the actual work being carried out there.

After about ten minutes, the engineer left the compound via the same gate he had entered and walked towards the car. As he got into the car, the driver started the engine.

The engineer said, “I told the guard you were a taxi and we were heading into town from here.” The driver pulled away and drove past the compound main entrance towards Southampton to reinforce the engineer’s story. This was not a big problem as there was another way back to the house, which the driver seemed to know.

All of a sudden, the driver pulled up at the side of the road and asked to see the designs of the water device.

The engineer was not expecting this but then nothing this evening was going as expected so he took the papers out of his jacket pocket and handed them over. The driver flicked through the papers and then folded them up and placed them into a pocket in his jacket. He then took out a mobile telephone, pressed a couple of buttons and placed the phone to his ear.

After a short pause he said, “Yes, everything is Okay.” He then put the phone back in his pocket, pulled away and continued to drive back to the house.

When the driver pulled up outside the house, he told the engineer to get out and go into the house.

As the engineer headed back into the house, he was aware that the car pulled away from the house and drove off.

Not knowing what to expect he went into the house and headed straight for the living room where he hoped his wife would be waiting for him safe and sound. He started to panic as he entered the room because there was no one there. He quickly went from room to room searching for his wife but there was no sign of her anywhere. As he searched the house, he realised his mobile telephone which was in his shoulder bag was ringing. His bag was down in the living room so he quickly made his way there, took the phone out of his bag and seeing his wife’s name displayed on the phones screen quickly pressed the answer button.

Placing the phone to his ear he heard a male voice say

“We have your wife, she will be released once we are happy we have the full plans. Do not call the police as this will endanger your wife’s life.” The phone then went dead as the caller terminated the call.

As the hours passed, the engineer got more and more concerned for his wife’s safety and was starting to consider calling the police when his phone rang again. The display showed his wife’s name once again so he answered the call and placed the phone to his ear. This time it was his wife calling.

Tearfully she said, “The men that had taken her with them had now dropped her off near the bus station in the centre of town.”

“I will come and get you and we will then contact the police to tell them what has happened.” The engineer said

As the engineer arrived at the bus station he noticed that there was a group of police officers standing with his wife and that she appeared to be handcuffed. He approached the group, identified himself as the woman’s husband, and asked what was going on.

One of the police officers asked the engineer to go with him into the bus stations cafeteria and he would explain everything.

Once the two sat down in the cafe, the police officer began to explain that because of the nature of the work the engineer was carrying out the security guards at the compound were under instructions to report any out of the ordinary events to the local police straight away. The guards had called the police because the engineer had never returned to the compound after leaving for the night before and the taxi he was in appeared to park away from the main gate. An unmarked police car went to your house and as they arrived, they noticed a dark van parked outside it. The police parked a short distance up the road from your house and while waiting for further instructions they watched your wife leaving the house with three men. The police followed the van into town where other police units took over the surveillance. We have now arrested the men in the van and recovered some weapons and papers, which we believe, belong to you.

The engineer said “that all makes sense, but why has my wife been handcuffed? She was kidnapped by those men to make sure I gave them the papers.”

The police officer replied, “When you wife was dropped off near the bus station one of the men got out of the van with her”. The officer continued, “To the surprise of the officers following them, your wife embraced and kissed the man and then casually walked towards the bus station.”

The engineer appeared stunned by this and the officer finished by saying “I am sure that once we have investigated what has gone on tonight, your wife will turn out to be a part of it.”