“See you tomorrow.” That’s what Perry had said to Marie when he left on the launch for the mainland. He might have given more thought to his words, if he’d known they were the very last he would ever say to his wife.

The Brandon Sea Fort was a few kilometers off a major estuary in eastern England, built during the Napoleonic Wars to forestall a French invasion. It had eventually been occupied by the French after all, but as hoteliers rather than conquerors. Converted into a low-capacity super-luxury hotel with just eight bedrooms, it had seemed like the perfect honeymoon getaway when Marie picked it out. The cost was steep, but the brokerage had a good year.

“See you tomorrow.” Perry had grimaced more in embarrassment than pain when the management had ordered him evacuated to the mainland. Cavorting poolside had exacted a heavy toll when he fell on a champagne glass, which caused a surprisingly deep gash and superficial but profuse bleeding.

The NHS nurse onshore had rolled her eyes at Perry’s poor attempts at humor as she had stitched him up. Seventeen stitches, five more than his personal record acquired during an abseiling expedition to Iceland not long after he and Marie had become an item. The doctor insisted on keeping Perry overnight after labwork for blood poisoning came back inconclusive; the pilot of the tiny boat which had brought him ashore agreed and refused to make the trip at night. Perry later learned that he had used the paid leave time ashore for a liaison with his mistress.

“See you tomorrow,” Perry whispered, a hand pressed against a pane of glass agains the roiling cauldron which the sky had become. A vicious early-season storm had swept in, lashing the estuary into a frenzy of whitecaps and hurling ferocious oily swells into the seawall. The Brandon Sea Fort Hotel was occasionally visible in the distance; it had been designed to endure, and had endured, worse storms over its 200-year existence.

There had been a total wireless signal disruption when a local tower fell in the storm, and the harbormaster expected that similar damage to the hotel kept them from responding. Once the weather had calmed after three days, Perry boarded the boat back over the still-angry waters. The hotel had a 14-day supply of food and water; there was no cause for concern.

“See you tomorrow.” Perry could only whisper the words as he stood inconsolable in the hotel’s central promenade. There had been seven couples staying there, supported by a hotel staff of twenty-five; the only living thing in the fort on his return was a goldfish. No signs of struggle or inundation; meals were laid out and hotel doors hung open and unlocked.

A five-day search by the local authorities and Royal Navy search and rescue turned up nothing; no bodies, no clues. The media was agitated into a froth by the mystery, hounding Perry and the boat pilot mercilessly. An inquest eventually concluded that a rogue wave had swept the fort early in the storm, and that the survivors had drowned trying to rescue those swept out to sea. As to why no such wave had been observed from shore, and why there had been no flooding of the lower machine spaces, the official record was silent.

“See you tomorrow.” Perry silently swirled his finger in the goldfish bowl and stared out to a sea as unwilling as ever to divulge its secrets.

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