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Authors: Hazel Edwards

Tags: #Children's Fiction - Mystery

Artnapping (6 page)

BOOK: Artnapping
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Chapter 8

The Mysterious Mr Ng

Music sounded for the start of the news on the TV screen high on the wall.

Amy ripped out Mr Ng's advertisement.

Tess had been in Amsterdam. Was that a clue? But so had Brut.

Where would you hide a Ming vase? Would it break easily? How big was it? If western buyers would pay big money for just the one vase from an ancient family shrine, it would be worthwhile for the thief. If Tess was carrying one in her luggage, did it belong to her? Was she an artist or was she just a thief? Mr Kei with the silver padlock looked so official and Tess's luggage was such a mess. Could she be a courier too? Even one way Sydney to Tokyo was expensive. If she was an art student, where did her ticket money come from? Even if her uncle had left her an artefact, she hadn't sold it yet, so she wouldn't have the money. Tess was a mystery.

‘Is this your Mr Ng?' Amy showed the torn newspaper. Tess read it quickly.She seemed a bit concerned, ‘Ming vase. Coin.' she muttered.

‘Is that the same Mr Ng?' repeated Amy.

‘Could be. It's a common name. Look! We're on the news!' Tess pointed to the TV screen on a shelf up high on the wall.'That's our plane.'

The news reader stated, ‘A flight heading for Tokyo has been forced to make an emergency landing at Sydney after cabin crew reported an unusual fine mist-like condensation forming in the cabin. But after the Sydney- Tokyo passengers landed, the mist was thought to be harmless. The plane will leave soon. Earlier today, Federal Police reported arrests at the airport. Details will follow in our later news. ‘

While one of the brides complained, ‘Oh, nice if they'd told us first!', the twins realised that Tess had cleverly changed the subject from Mr Ng. And who had been arrested? Was it someone on their flight?'

‘Sorry madam, we just found out,' the captain explained to the bride as he passed through the transit lounge. The twins weren't sure whether he was talking about the plane delay or the arrests.

‘Who was arrested?' Amy blurted out.

The captain turned, ‘You'll have to watch the later news. Security was involved. Our undercover people.'

‘Security.' Amy turned to her brother. ‘D'you think Gloria is here, undercover?'

Just then, Red stormed past and grabbed hold of the guard's arm.Red was very uptight as he pulled at his shelf-like beard. ‘All my prints and the copies of our exhibitions game! I'm devastated. First our FAST-FOTO mixed them up. Now someone has taken my bag while we were playing in the lounge. Totally irreplaceable. I need them as proof of our original ideas. And that's not all that's missing!' He started to mumble.' My valuable...'

‘I'll see what I can do sir,' soothed William. ‘Come this way.'

Next Amy decided to investigate the prints mix up. Unluckily,the FAST-FOTO airport shop was closed. But she did notice something else. ‘Look!' Amy pointed. On the windows were photos of the faces of the staff who worked there. Their names were printed underneath. ‘Recognise him?'

Christopher nodded. ‘That explains something. Perhaps the others are chasing all over Australia giving back the right prints.'

Just then, they saw Gloria. And she was shadowing someone! A chunky man with a bag.

The man looked behind him. He saw Gloria and started hurrying. Gloria took off too. Her feet tapped on the floor, faster and faster.

‘Mr Yap!' she called. Then she tried to use her walkie- talkie to summon help. ‘Suspect heading for exit! Need help! Cover exits.'

‘Gloria!' cried the twins. ‘We'll help.' Then Christopher recognised the man. The man scuttled around the lounge chairs and headed for the doorway.

Suddenly Tess raced past. ‘Stop!' The man looked over his shoulder, seemed to recognise Tess and took off!

Tess was a fast runner. Her legs were so long, she could take great strides.

And she was quick.

But so was the suspect. He would pretended to change direction, then swerve and keep running flat out, while Gloria following couldn't alter direction fast enough. She twisted on the slippery floor, went over on her ankle and fell to the floor! ‘Ow!' Her walkie-talkie hit the ground too.

‘Oh no!' cried the twins. So they took up the chase. If Gloria needed to stop this man, they'd help. Amy's legs raced. Christopher put on speed.

The suspect cradled the bag in his arms as he ran. That bag made it harder to keep his balance. His long hair streamed behind him. He ran past the gleaming windows of the Duty Free. His running reflection ran with him, like a moving mirror, flapping his baggy trousers.

‘Stop!' cried Tess, closely followed by the twins catching up,with Christopher just a little in front of Amy.

But the suspect kept running. Passengers pulling luggage on wheels paused to look, but didn't stop him.Nobody grabbed at him. Like zombies, they just stared, as if he had run out of a virtual reality entertainment set.

Some thought it was a rehearsal for an airport film. Thinking Tess must have been a famous actor, a passenger whipped out his camera, and shot her. ‘Thanks darling,' he called as she ran past. ‘Don't worry about an autograph.'

The suspect was a clumsy runner despite his new NIKE running shoes. He wasn't fit, so he panted heavily.

‘Stop him!' cried the twins. But he kept going.

Lights flashed enticingly. Music jangled. Games machines were lined up, like hungry robot waiting for a money-feed.Outside the Bureau du Change, was a patient line of people waiting to cash travellers cheques or exchange notes.

The suspect ran full tilt into the line. Coins, notes and people went everywhere. One coin rolled on its side, made a ringing noise on the floor, curved and then fell flat.

‘Look where you're going!' ‘Watch it!'

A visitor complained in another language which Tess didn't speak, but she still got the message.

‘Sorry,' she panted over her shoulder and kept running after the suspect who had run around three sides of the block of shops. He seemed to have lost his sense of direction. Or perhaps he was running too fast to read and follow the EXIT signs. Turning to check how close they were behind him, the suspect ran into a rubbish bin. It clattered noisily, rolling on the ground.

He tripped and recovered quickly.

‘Ready?' Tess called over her shoulder, as she approached the final lounge before the main exit. The twins were right behind her.

Tess took a flying leap. She landed on the man's back, grabbed the bag from him and threw it at Amy. Bending at the knees, Amy caught it.

‘Take it to Gloria!' Tess struggled with the chunky man.

‘What is it?' cried Amy, surprised that Tess knew Gloria's name. Tightly, she closed her fingers around the bag. It was a saggy bag with something heavy inside. ‘Stolen artwork! He took Red ‘s samurai sword too!'

Brut was exhausted. He slumped against the wall, securely held by one of the guards. ‘I didn't want the sword!' he panted. ‘I wanted the print of the Ming vase. But they were all in the same bag.'

It turned out that this time Tess got it wrong. She thought BRUT has taken Red Cloak's bag to steal the samurai sword. But it turned out that he was interested in the Ming vase photos. Amy gulped more air into her lungs. She sounded wheezy and yet she didn't get asthma. She was just excited. 'Were you trying to find clues to the real owner of the photo?' asked Amy. ‘On the envelope?'

Brut nodded sullenly.

‘D'you think the photo owner would have the real Ming vase?' asked Christopher who was slowly putting the clues together. Christopher checked in the bag. The Ming vase photo was down the side pocket.It was in an envelope. There was a return address on the envelope. Wang was the name. He handed it to Gloria who seemed strangely pleased when she read the name. Amy was getting suspicious. Tess had used Gloria's name. So she must know her. ‘Excuse me Tess...'

Tess put up her hand.' Don't ask me ANYTHING until we get to Tokyo.'

Tess had hurried away, leaving Gloria who raised her eyebrows at the twins. ‘You heard Tess.' She turned to the guards. ‘Now take Mr Yap away. INTERPOL wish to interview him about his luggage and about his late night visit to a museum in Amsterdam. He's now a media star, but only on a security camera.' The guards pulled Brut upright.

‘Mr Yap?' Christopher was puzzled .'But I drew him earlier. His name is Mr Brut.'

‘One of his names,' explained Gloria. 'And if you do have one of your sketches Christopher, that might be useful for the police.'

‘Oh!' Christopher suddenly remembered. ‘He tore it up.'

‘I'm not surprised.' said Gloria. ‘He wouldn't want that floating around, so he could be identified as Mr Brut by keen eyes like yours. ‘

‘You'll never catch Wang,' Mr Yap-BRUT was scornful. ‘He's too clever for all of you.'

‘We've been told he's on this Tokyo flight,' replied Gloria in her official voice.' And there's a contact address on this envelope. .P.O. Box 13, Newtown.' ‘I bet you don't find him!' shouted Mr Yap as the police dragged him away.

WANG was the name on the envelope, remembered Christopher as he flipped through his notebook and found the second sketch he'd done of BRUT, immediately after the first had been torn up. He gave it to Gloria.

‘Thanks,' Gloria said.' INTERPOL will look after Mr Yap now. At least we've stopped those drugs. Now I ‘ll just have a word with the guards to keep a look out.'

‘For Mr Wang or something else? ‘Amy looked at her twin. What drugs was Gloria talking about? Who was Mr Wang? It was so annoying when people talked as if you knew things when you didn't. Then if you asked, it made you sound like an idiot. Was Christopher thinking same thing? He was. But he had seen the name WANG on the envelope and Amy hadn't.

‘What drugs?' Christopher asked Gloria.

‘The big haul we found this morning, on the plane from Kuala Lumpur. Brought in by some Japanese tourists who claim they were set up. The drugs were hidden in their cases.' Gloria was looked pleased.

‘And who's Mr Wang?' Amy decided it didn't matter if she sounded stupid. She wanted to know all the details.

‘Our Mr Big. The kind stranger in Kuala Lumpur who offered to replace the Japanese tourists' damaged bags with new suitcases, for free. Unfortunately the suitcases were packed with heroin. The tourists didn't know, or so they said.'

‘Did they really believe that!' The twins were amazed. They knew never to accept gifts from strangers, especially ones that had to be carried through customs. Their parents and Aunty Viv reminded them, every trip.

‘What tipped you off?' asked the twins together.

Gloria smiled at their eagerness. ‘I was here early, for another reason. One of our duty officers was suspicious when he saw the Japanese tour group. ‘

‘Were they from ‘Sunny Tours' ?' asked Amy quickly. Surely the honeymooners hadn't travelled to Malaysia too.

‘No, a different group. Firstly, the guide was not dressed like the usual tour leader. Secondly, the group was smaller than the usual and was not made up of honeymoon couples. ‘

‘Like ours,' interrupted Christopher.

Gloria continued. ‘Thirdly, they were not carrying rented suitcases used by most Japanese tourists.'

‘Why do they all use rented suitcases?' Amy thought back to the pairs of honeymooners and their matching luggage.

Quickly Christopher suggested, ‘Because there's not enough room in small apartments to keep suitcases. Especially if you only use them for one week's holiday in the year.'

‘Right.' agreed Gloria. ‘So we see the same suitcases coming through quite often. Hot pink is a honeymoon favourite for some reason.'

‘What did you do?' Amy asked eagerly. Smugglers fascinated her.

‘The group's body language gave them away. They didn't speak English, but there was a great deal of toe tapping going on.'

‘Was it a direct flight from Malaysia?' asked Christopher.

‘From Kuala Lumpur. Four of the six bags were found to be three kilos overweight. They were placed in a nearby X ray machine. This showed they contained packages hidden in the lining.'

‘The drugs?' asked the twins. Gloria nodded. ‘As soon as I emptied one of the bags and felt its weight, I knew I'd found a group of smugglers. It was too heavy. Our Customs officers recovered 12 kilos of 70% pure compressed tile heroin. It's the biggest ever drug bust involving passenger luggage. We were very surprised.This is the first time that Japanese nationals have been used as ‘mules.' Gloria winked at the twins. ‘I know, you're going to ask me about ‘mules' next. But I'm sure you can work it out for yourselves.'

‘Are ‘mules' the drug couriers who risk taking the goods through the customs checks?' asked Christopher. He already knew about ‘ratting'. The airport seemed to use as many animal terms as Aunty Viv and her Animal Actors.

BOOK: Artnapping
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