Having broken a twenty day silence to send me this most recent package, Marlin again fell silent. This change in behaviour puzzled me somewhat. He had previously appeared keen to follow up my actions (and indeed any lack of them) with close attention, expressing impatience at my failure to do his bidding. This pattern appeared to have changed with my discovery of the 12PM memorial. Quite why this should be, I am unsure. It perhaps indicates that Marlin had accepted that I was unlikely to go public with his story in the manner he had initially expected, and realised that to harass me further would be futile. The alternative view, to which Marlin himself would allude, is that he had merely been occupied elsewhere with his mission.
Whatever the reason, I did not hear from Marlin again until Friday, 17th October 2003, a further ten days later. Out of the blue, I received a telephone call to my office. It was placed at 11:43am, significantly later in the day than Marlin's previous efforts, and the conversation which ensued (see Call Three) was notably brief. Though I did not know it at the time, this was to be the last telephone call I ever received from Peter Marlin.
The purpose of the call was unclear, though in the light of what was to follow, I am inclined to suppose that perhaps Marlin was checking my presence at work that day, or more simply preparing me for the possibility of imminent action.
The afternoon passed without incident, and I left work at 4:30pm. My car was parked directly outside the building, and as I approached it I noticed an envelope placed under the windscreen wiper on the driver's side. The envelope was both sealed and unmarked. I opened it to be greeted with a now familiar sight: the photocopied paper of a Marlin note (Note Five). It read:
"WE SET SAIL TONIGHT ON HMS GANGES. MEET ME AT THE GATE AT 7.
As a local journalist, the words 'HMS Ganges' were familiar to me. There had existed in Suffolk for many years a Royal Navy shore establishment by that name, located approximately ten miles outside Ipswich in the village of Shotley Gate. Though it did not immediately occur to me, I suspect that Marlin's use of the phrase "meet me at the Gate" may have been a play on words, and an attempt to provide an additional clue to this location.
Though the establishment closed in the 1970s, the fabric of the site remains intact to this day, and has continued to operate in various incarnations, most notably a sports facility and, in more recent years, a police training centre. At the time of writing, the site has lain dormant for some four years, and is earmarked for a possible housing development. Throughout these transitions however, the 160 acre site, situated on the very tip of the Shotley Peninsula, has retained the name 'HMS Ganges'. For whatever reason, it appeared that Peter Marlin wished to meet me there.
I will admit to feeling a certain unease about this apparent invitation. Marlin gave no indication of his reasons for requesting a meeting, nor why he should want to choose such an unlikely location. I felt a nagging temptation to ignore his instructions, feeling that if he had any desire to talk with me, he had at his disposal a plethora of ways in which to do so, without any need to resort to unexplained rendezvous in remote locations. My patience was at a low ebb, and I came close to dismissing his request out of hand.
Ultimately however, I felt some form of duty, perhaps to myself, perhaps to the investigation as a whole, not to ignore such an opportunity. I had made repeated requests to Marlin to provide me with the details of his own story, yet no such information had been forthcoming. If there was a chance therefore, that Marlin may have had a change of heart, and that his previous reluctance to engage with me on a more personal level had perhaps dissipated, I surely had, if not an obligation, then at least a reasonable cause to travel to Shotley Gate that evening.
I elected to make the journey.
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