The Write Stuff: Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes

Welcome to our regular feature showcasing the talents of the nation's best writers. This week, an extract from Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes

Edinburgh author Martin MacInnes. Picture: Contributed
Edinburgh author Martin MacInnes. Picture: Contributed

He got the call in the night, for some reason. His help would be appreciated going over a case. How recent was unusual – the man had been gone only three weeks. He was to put everything aside and concentrate, for a spell, exclusively on this. Resources would be made available. He would be given all the support they could provide.

He explained his doubts and received the necessary assurances: he would have authority and resources; he could work independently or in league; though he had officially retired, to all intents and purposes it would be just as if he remained a senior investigating officer.

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Carlos, the missing person, was twenty-nine years old, single, and lived in a small apartment under an informal rent agreement that afforded him little security. He had joined his workplace – a financial institution in the process of a large and complex merger, leaving it for the moment without a name – six years ago, straight from college. He was devoted to his job, known to forego holidays.

He had recently moved into his own office, with a personal secretary: a considerable forward step. His work demands were said to have increased three-fold, but remained nothing out of the ordinary. Reception records showed he was arriving earlier and leaving later every day.

Carlos took a metro and two buses to and from his work. To enter the corporation building he would wait for a vehicle to approach the basement parking lot entrance and jog or walk briskly in behind before the barriers closed. He phoned his mother, Maria, every second Sunday. Maria had been planning the meal at La Cueva for some time. It took around thirty-five minutes, after Carlos had got up from the table, for the party to establish that something had gone wrong. His cousin, Gabriela, had insisted they continue their meal, the price of which meant it was considered a treat.

Maria first reported her son missing the following morning, but he couldn’t be registered as such for another thirty-two hours. By this stage not only had all possibly significant forensic information been dispersed from the restaurant, but Carlos’s flat had also been reoccupied, his possessions, among which was either a telescope or a microscope, dumped in two black refuse sacks left out on the street.

The original investigating officers monitored his phone records, bank accounts and email addresses; all activity had ceased on the 24th. They interviewed his family, reconstructed the night in question, and promised they would do all they could to find him. Most likely, one officer had said, your son left of his own volition, and he will walk back in through this door just any day now.


Born in Inverness, Martin MacInnes has an MA from the University of York and is the winner of a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Infinite Ground is published on 4 August by Atlantic Books, price £12.99.