An Extract from Chris Calder’s Celeste Three is Missing.

Context: Current timeline: Greg Topozian and his deputy Jack take ex-pilot John Sturgess to view the proposed landing site on a Greek island. The space plane had been designed to land only at its base in Arizona.

When dealing with the Americans, Gregory had maintained the pretence of being Greg Todd. Now he and Smith were on Xanthos on a hot afternoon with John Sturgess, who was seeing the island for the first time. He was not happy.


   “You guys are nuts,” he fumed. “Freaking, off-the-wall crazy.”

The island was not a comfortable place to be at mid-day in summer and Sturgess was hot, sweating and plainly upset. A few minutes earlier the Robinson helicopter had descended in a graceful, sweeping arc before setting down gently on the helipad. The three men had emerged into the shimmering, eye-watering heat and walked the short distance to the top of the road.

Gregory was concerned that the helicopter pilot might be within earshot. He moved close to Sturgess and whispered, “Careful, John,” nodding towards the pilot. “We need to keep it down, don’t want him getting curious.”

Sturgess lowered his voice. “OK, OK.” He put his hand out, pointing down the road. “Look at it, Greg. It’s a freaking switchback. I’d have problems putting a Cessna down, no way the Celeste’s gonna make it.”

Jack Smith nodded to Gregory and went back to the helicopter. He spoke to the pilot and led him towards the house. 

Gregory took off his sunglasses and wiped his brow. “The road’s going to be levelled. It’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

“Don’t worry? Don’t worry?” Sturgess spread his hands. “You got no freaking idea what’s involved. I’m telling you, this is impossible.