Though Jean tried to focus it was so difficult to concentrate. She couldn’t even decide where to start. It was all important. She began to write down telephone numbers and account details. Because her mobile had been taken with her contact lists she needed to look up all the relevant numbers. Everything that was literally at her finger tips under normal circumstances was now only on hard copy. It was all filed away neatly but it was taking much longer than she had anticipated. On top of that there was the inevitable call queuing. While she waited, and waited, listening to messages of reassurance or bland music, her mind was drawn back to just a short twenty-four hours ago when she had decided to take a walk.
It seemed that even as she had left the house to walk in the cold and rain the poor girl could have been dead, already in the canal, perhaps not. Perhaps she was right then in the middle of awful moments of fear and dread. It was a terrible thought. In the face of it all, even this intrusion into her private life paled. Nevertheless, she had to get on with it.
A car drew up in the road outside and when she looked through the window she was relieved to see that it was the locksmith. Bob had been right, he had arrived much more quickly than she expected. She went down to let him in and the next half hour was spent discussing her needs and his recommendations.
“Right Mrs Duncan. I’ll fit your new door locks and a chain now, if that’s alright, and then tomorrow afternoon I’ll come and do the windows and I would recommend something stronger on your side gate?”
“That will be lovely, thank you so much Mr Palmer?”
“Just call me Ron. Right I’ll get on with it then.”
“Shall I go and put the kettle on then?” she smiled at him. He was younger than she had anticipated but friendly and calm, and the presence of someone else in her home was reassuring. She must get over that. She lived alone, happily, she wouldn’t let some young drug addicts threaten her independence.
Once Ron had his tea and Hob Nobs Jean went back to her office to continue the task of changing her passwords, using only the small screen and keyboard on her Kindle Fire. She had the phone on speaker and was waiting in a queue for the emergency number at one of the banks that would need to be informed. It was tedious work. She had committed the unspeakable sin of writing down her passwords, in code admittedly, but she knew that even the cleverest codewords that she could invent would be no match for any sort of decent hacker.
The little book that she used had been on her desk and it had gone. So, whoever had her laptop also had all the information to access the sites that she used for shopping and chatting and research. She gritted her teeth, she mustn’t think about it she must work fast and hope for the best.
Bob called up to her and she had to drag herself away to admire the newly fitted deadlocks and chain, and arrange a time for him to come back to secure the windows and the side gate.
“That should make things a lot safer for you. Bit late I know but there we are, it’s life these days isn’t it. At least they didn’t trash your place. You wouldn’t believe the mess they make sometimes. These kids. I’d give ‘em a good hiding I would.”
“Yes, I suppose I should be glad, in a way I might have got away lightly eh? The police think it might be the same gang who have been thieving over in Calthorne.”
“Oh well then, you have been lucky. My mate’s mother was hit by them, what a terrible mess they made, smashed up her lounge and the things they did in the bedrooms you don’t even want to know about.”
“Terrible. So, I should just count my blessings then.”
“Aye that’s it. Though I doubt you feel like that right now. Well I’ll let you get on. I’ll see you tomorrow, afternoon it’ll be.”
When he had gone with his tales of woe and misfortune, Jean went back to her work. The banks were done and that was a huge relief. Most of her passwords were changed.
There was a message in her inbox. The sender name was not one that she recognised. Her stomach fluttered with nerves, had she been too slow? Had her account been compromised. She wavered, maybe she shouldn’t open this. Perhaps she should just delete it, or maybe even go further and close the account. She hoped that she wasn’t going to have to go even further and close them all and open new, the very thought of the number of people she would need to notify made her feel tired.
Taking a deep breath and crossing her fingers that she wasn’t about to make everything even worse, she opened the image.