An experiment gone wrong places everyone in danger and Conal Mitchell is tasked with clearing it up, but five years later he realises that things were not as they seemed.
Conal Mitchell, PA to one of the world's richest men - Lyra Harrison, a city girl tasked with looking after her aunt's smallholding - Piers Booth, set on revenging his mother's death - five teenagers searching for a party.
When they meet on Flat Rock Island, it becomes a race against time for survival.
Conal Micthell, PA to Dermot Drewsbeck, multi-billionaire and sole owner of Tirolean Enterprises, was tense. He was running out of time and daylight. It was fast getting too dark to fly, and if he didn't land the helicopter pretty soon, he stood a good chance of ending belly-up in the drink.
Giving a small grin of satisfaction, he relaxed. There it was, dead ahead, just off the Sussex coast, exactly where it should be. Flat Rock Island. Spot-on old son. No probs.
The island was aptly named, looking as it did, as though a giant with an outsize scimitar had sliced the top clean off. Conal swung out from the coast and headed in over the tear-shaped formation from the thin end, searching in the dimming light for the helipad. It had been a long time since he was last here, and he wasn't too sure how the setup might have changed. He'd have to keep an eye peeled for any obstructions.
The project was situated in a natural indentation at the larger end of the island, or rather, the big slab of concrete that was its roof was. The laboratory itself was buried deep underground.
As Conal approached the helipad, the halogen lights edging the slab burst into life, and for a few precious seconds he was blinded.
"Damn! Bloody idiots. What the hell do they think they're doing?"
Blinking back tears, Conal landed in the centre of the big white circle painted at one end of the slab and turned off the engine. Flicking switches, he sat waiting for the rotors to wind down. Giving his eyes a few seconds to adjust to the dark, he jumped from the chopper and slammed the door, turning towards the entrance. He set off at a brisk pace, going through the bollocking he was going to give the idiot who'd just nearly blinded him.
As he strode across the concrete, a sudden thought struck him, and he shook his head at his own stupidity, giving a wry smile. The outside lights came on automatically at dusk; he'd been unlucky enough to be landing at that particular time. He couldn't make out much of the island through the haze of the lights blazing all round him, just the single, lonely looking structure that was the project's entrance.
Making his way towards the glass box stuck on the far side of the slab, he wiped a hand over his bald head, casting glances right and left as he went.
Conal was stocky, 1.7 metres tall and muscular. He always wore a black leather jacket over a white shirt and red tie, matched with grey slacks and highly polished shoes. His co-workers joked that he'd probably bought a job-lot years ago and hadn't worked his way through them all yet.
Conal had been Dermot Drewsbeck's PA for the last five years. The Old Man - as he referred to him in private - had head-hunted him after he'd left the Special Forces, making an offer so outrageous that he couldn't turn him down. Over the years, he'd earned that money though, saving the Old Man's neck on more than one occasion.
Conal was edgy, and with good reason, because he was near enough now to see into the glass walled entrance building. The big curved desk facing the doors sat empty, as did the glass sided lift shaft. The car was obviously down at the basement level. There was no sign of anybody anywhere, and that worried him.
Reaching the doors, he pushed the entrance button, the harsh buzzer making itself heard through the reinforced glass. He knew a second buzzer would be sounding down in the laboratory below, in case the security guard wasn't at the desk for some reason.
Getting no response, Conal punched the over-ride code into the entry pad, clicking impatient fingers as he waited for the glass doors to slide aside. A shiver touched the back of his neck as he entered. Glancing back over his shoulder, he shook his head at his uneasiness.
Walking around the large desk, Conal sat in the seat, staring down at the bank of CCTV screens set in a semi-circle in front of him. There were five, all showing different views of the rooms below. Nothing moved in any of them.
He sat back in his seat for a moment, a puzzled frown on his face, then sat forward with a jerk as he caught sight of something on Camera 5, the one covering The Pit.
Because that particular room was kept in perpetual darkness, the camera was fitted with an infra-red filter, giving everything on the screen an ethereal glow.
Something white lay on the floor, just at the edge of the picture - something that looked familiar.
Grabbing the control stick, Conal moved the camera to get a better view, zooming in on the image. A long, sibilant hiss escaped his lips and his eyes widened. Zooming in some more, he felt his heart rate increase and a patch of sweat break out between his shoulder blades. Yes, he'd been right. There could be no mistaking what lay waiting for him down in the lab.
Picking up the desk phone, he thumbed in a number available to only a few select people. Holding the phone to his ear, he continued staring at the CCTV screen. When his call was answered he uttered four words, his tone a dull, flat monotone.
"Jizzle. Island. Now. Alone."
Taking a few deep breaths, Conal placed the handset back on its cradle and stood, surprised at how unsteady his legs had become. Making his way over to the lift, he pressed the call-button, tapping his finger-tips against his thigh as the car whirred its slow way up from the bottom of the shaft.
The lift seemed to take forever, but when the doors did finally slide open, Conal hesitated, having to stop them closing again with an outstretched hand. Rubbing the back of his neck, he stepped inside.