Mickey was tired. At this point, he was wondering if he would actually recognize the footage if he found it, his eyes were so blurry. But, this is why he got into advertising—the creative energy, the rush of a deadline, the pomp and circumstance of it all. At least, that’s the stuff of legends that got him into the field in the first place. The room full of creative juices hadn’t lived up to the hype. At this hour, it was a room full of pizza boxes, empty 2 liter bottles, and exhaustion.

A couple-three years ago means I don’t know when, but recently. Basically, sometime in the last five years, although probably not last year, and that wasn’t an exact science so the range may need to be expanded if the search was unsuccessful. Finding the file by date would be difficult. He remembered being hot and miserable, so he limited his search to the summer months and had found nothing. Naturally it wasn’t saved as “lion footage”—he started there.

There was no naming system that had been consistent. For one project, there’d be different file name styles based on all the different people working on them. For another, there’d be an obvious naming formula, but for some reason no formula had become the standard. Some started with the date, some with the client name, some with a project title and some with the initials of the developer. Still others just said things like Scene 16, edited, which were the worst.

First, Mickey listed all the people he remembered being on the project. He tried to remember which ex-girlfriend was angry with him for that trip to help with the timeline—his relationships to date hadn’t survived his frequent travels, but the upside was that he could reasonably narrow the field to somewhere between 6 and 18 months if he could base it on the girlfriend. He felt rather clever for both of those strategies and yet had not been successful.

Mickey leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. It didn’t help matters. For a moment, he just saw two blurry screens instead of one.

Isabel dragged in. “Did you find it?”

“No. And I’m out of ideas, so I might just have to start from the beginning and open every file that isn’t obviously not lions.” Mickey was clearly not fond of that idea. “We have to make some kind of policy for file-naming or something.”

“That will help us tomorrow but not today,” Isabel said. “Where have you looked so far? Be specific. I don’t want to double-up.”

“Every May, June, July, August and September for five years. I tried looking for files by name of developer for those who were on the trip, too, at least those I remember, and if I’m right about April—the ex-girlfriend, not the month—then it has to be from 2016, but it’s just not there.”

“How can you be sure those are the right months?”

“May and September are really to cover any outliers. It was hot—I mean like please-don’t-make-me-do-this-again hot.”

“Right,” Isabel narrowed her eyes, “but it was in Africa, right?”

“Yeah. Africa gets hot.”

Isabel shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. If you were below the equator, the seasons are switched. It’s hot in December.”

Mickey stared at the screen blankly. “I don’t even want to count how many hours I’ve wasted.”

“And doing so will only make it impossible to keep going, so don’t,” Isabel said. “At least we have somewhere new to look.”

“Ok, I’m going to look in the winter—our winter, anyway—of 2016 for starters, but we have to find a solution going forward. This has been the stupidest thing…”

“I know. I know. Just keep looking, and—”

“Got it,” Mickey shouted. “And now I want to shoot this computer for making it look so easy after what I’ve been through trying to find it.”

“You found it?”

“I think so. Here’s a whole section of similarly titled…yeah, this is it. This is what we were looking for.” Mickey chuckled dryly, “And it only cost me my whole day and my sanity.”

“Go home. Now that we have the files, we’ll start working on the design first thing in the morning. Tonight, sleep.” Isabel smiled. “I just had another latte, so I’ll be up for a while. I’m going to see what we can do about our file-finding situation going forward.”