Agent Prada was idly perusing a magazine article about the film star, Lavender Oakenberry's new film, Under the Wide Tibetan Sky, when the radio beeped and a panting Agent Mercury requested she bring the van to the old warehouses on Lamont.
Harold was running as fast as he had ever done in his life. He had crashed through the bathroom window (no time to open it) and had landed on the crumbling tarmac 12 feet below, broken glass descending all around him like falling leaves.
As he'd scrambled up, two shadow figures had resolved themselves into the forms of a man and a woman both running towards him out of the darkness, pointing some kind of weapon at him. As the woman had got closer, Harold had realised with a shock that she was the one that had helped him with the postcards at the station. He'd let out a yelp of surprise, and they would have caught him right then if the higher functions of his brain cortex had not over-ridden his impulse to stop and ask her what she was doing there. As it was, he had veered off just in time to avoid the crackling discharge of the male human's weapon.
Agent Mercury barely suppressed a curse as the darts of his Taser flashed harmlessly past the demon as it suddenly changed direction. Man, but this one was fast! He reached for his radio as he set off after his quarry.
Agent India was hot on his heels. She was filled with a mix of nerves and start of school-type excitement. You could say practice makes perfect all you liked, but practice was nothing like the real thing! Heck, if someone had told her a year ago that she'd be chasing demons in the dark, she'd have thought they belonged in a mental hospital.
Harold could hear the sound of the humans' pounding footsteps grow quieter as his superior speed began to tell. His vessel was not particularly strong, but his reflexes and stamina were demonically good.
Suddenly, a shocking question jumped into his mind: where was Teatime? In the excitement, he had left the little monkey behind! Dammit! The sprawl of warehouses was just ahead, maybe he could lose the humans in there and double back for his companion.
He raced round a corner and down an alley between two buildings – to a dead end. He looked around quickly for somewhere to hide: going back would run him into the humans again for sure. He ducked through a busted-in door into one of the warehouses. Luckily, there were old packing crates for him to hide in or behind. He chose a dark corner and slipped in behind a crate which once contained bottles of apple cider.
"Which way'd he go?" Mercury panted as he and India rounded a corner. The demon was nowhere in sight. "I'll call the others, we need everyone searching."
India nodded agreement. She switched on her torch and began to shine it around, looking for any clues as to where the demon had gone.
In the darkness, Harold was berating himself for being so useless. If he'd only practiced a bit of shape-shifting now and then over the years, he could have escaped this situation quite easily but, no, he had to go and waste his time re-working old Jazz tunes like Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey instead! Fat lot of good that was going to do him now! Who were these crazy humans, anyway?
India's torch played over the side of a particularly derelict-looking building, illuminating spray-painted gang symbols and startling a fat rat that was preparing to chow down on a discarded hamburger. Hmmm, she definitely had a feeling about this place...
The rest of Joshua squad had arrived by now with the van. One of the other agents, Othello, was carrying what appeared to be a pillowcase with something struggling inside it.
"What's that?" asked Mercury.
"Demon left his pet monkey behind." Othello explained, "Thought we could drop it off at the animal shelter after. It's not his fault his owner's a demon, after all"
"OK, put it in the van for now." sighed Mercury, "Did you clear out the room?"
The agent nodded then deposited the pillowcase containing Teatime into the arms of a startled Agent Prada.
"Ok, here's the plan..." said Mercury.
Harold counted four humans entering the warehouse, too many to even think about fighting with - not that he was much of a fighter, anyway. They spread out and began poking around the crates. It was only a matter of time before they found him unless he could sneak past them and out the door.
As quietly as he could, Harold began to edge towards a patch of shadow a bit closer to the door. So far so good: the humans did not appear to have noticed. He paused a moment to ensure no-one was looking in his direction, then carefully moved to the next hiding place. He took his time and his bare feet made no sound on the rough concrete. At last, the invitingly open doorway was just a few feet away and they still weren't looking his way.
Harold slipped out from behind the last crate and was through the door before they could even turn round. Now to get back and find Teatime!
As fast as he was, Harold was nowhere near quick enough to dodge the twin barbs of Agent India's taser as they stabbed into his back. He crashed twitching to the ground.
"It worked!" India called out, stepping out of the shadows by the door. She smiled down at Harold. Her first Spot and first catch, did it get any sweeter than this?