Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Episode 5

"Right," declared Teatime, having polished off the last of the cheeseburger. "What we need now is to get you a job and a place to stay. Let's go and purchase ourselves a local newspaper and see what's about."

So saying, he hopped smartly up onto Harold the demon's shoulder as the latter got up from the table. Harold reached out to pick up the plastic tray containing their food wrappers and paper cup.

"Leave it there, old fruit, leave it there." whispered Teatime into Harold's ear.

"Why?" asked Harold.

"Because this is a self-clear eatery." Teatime explained.


"Look, if we leave the tray," the monkey continued, "it will cause annoyance to staff and patron alike, but most people are too polite to do anything about it so they'll just seethe inwardly. It'll put them in a bad mood and they'll probably take it out on their loved ones when they get home – which is a result for us."

"Well, OK, if you're sure..?" Harold quickly grabbed his rucksack and walked away from the table.

"It's the little things," sighed Teatime happily, as he looked back over Harold's shoulder at a young woman in a charcoal suit who was definitely glowering – and probably seething too if he was not mistaken.

Agent India was glowering. She had hoped to get close enough to her target to plant a Ladybird, but it (the target, not the Ladybird) had got up and left just that bit too soon. She let it move off a bit, so it wasn't too obvious that she was following, then casually walked after it.

Harold and Teatime wandered over to a newsstand. The little kiosk was piled high with colourful glossy magazines whose covers shouted things like: The Secrets of Cajun Cooking Revealed! Creationism Must Be Taught in Our Public School System! and Sun, Sex and Sangria – Get All the Gossip from the Soap Operas! (the exclamation mark was mandatory, it seemed).

Harold bought a paper and turned away from the counter, almost bumping into the young woman in the charcoal suit, who had come up close behind him whilst he had been making his purchase.

"Pardon me," said Harold, as the young woman skipped smartly back a couple of steps.

"It's OK," she replied, "You weren't to know I was there."

Harold flashed her a quick apologetic grin and made his way past her and a couple of other people who were waiting to buy something.

Drat it! Thought India furiously, missed my chance again! Planting trackers had been so easy in training, how come it was suddenly so hard? She took a calming breath. Well, if at first you don't succeed... She set off after the demon.

"We should have bought the paper first, then we could have read it at the table while we were eating," said Harold, "Now we'll have to find somewhere else to sit down since we can't go back to that place, thanks to you."

"Oh, pish, my dear fellow," replied Teatime airily, "it was worth it. Anyway, this is what you're supposed to be doing up here – it's not all about getting people to sign the Contract, you know?" He glanced around, "And, if I'm not mistaken, there's a new opportunity for you just over there." He pointed a tiny black finger across the concourse to where a girl – in her early teens, by the look of her - was just in the act of furtively trying to slip a cheap silver pendant from the station's jewellery stall into the pocket of her jacket.

Unfortunately for the girl, the concourse security guard had also spotted the theft and was starting to head her way.

"We need to distract him," said Teatime, "See that stand over there? Accidentally on purpose knock it over."

Harold did see, and walked purposefully over to one of those rotating displays of postcards - which just happened to be between the girl and the guard. As he walked past the stand, Harold turned suddenly, as if remembering something important in the other direction, and allowed his rucksack to clout it.

It had the desired effect: the display went down with a satisfying racket and suddenly there were bits of shiny card all over the floor. The guard was not to be put off his quarry that easily, but had perforce to go around the mess. Harold, meanwhile, was busy making a nuisance of himself, getting in the way by diving around and snatching up the scattered cards, all the while apologising noisily to everyone in sight. Several other people had also come forward to help clear up the mess, adding to the confusion.

Hearing the racket, the girl turned and saw the guard for the first time. A momentary look of blind panic flashed across her face, but seeing the guard somewhat hampered by the idiot with the rucksack, she seized her moment and was away on her toes before he could get anywhere near.

"Bravo!" crowed Teatime, as Harold righted the stand and started to replace as many of the cards as he could under the scowling eye of their owner. "Now that girl has had a taste of shoplifting and, buoyed by her success here today, is likely to try it again! Good work, old boy, good work!"

Suddenly, the woman in the charcoal suit was beside him, a bunch of postcards in her hand.

"Erm, I think this is the last of them," she said, offering them to Harold.

"Why, thank you, Miss," he replied, taking the cards, "that's very kind of you." He spread his hands in mock helplessness and grinned, "I'm such a klutz!" His twinkling blue eyes and perfect smile would melt any woman's heart.

"It's no trouble at all," she said coldly, and with that, turned and walked briskly away into the crowd.

"Obviously not your type, old boy," sniggered Teatime, "Come along. Let's see if we can find a low-rent apartment that isn't positively crawling with fleas. You have no idea what a torment they can be, no idea at all"

As demon and talking monkey headed out of the station concourse into the city proper, India fished in her bag and brought out a small hand-held device. To the casual observer, it looked like a typical modern cell phone. India touched a button and the device came to life. Its display brightened to reveal an aerial view of the railway station and its environs. In the very centre of this was a red dot, which was moving slowly along the street outside the station.

India smiled in satisfaction. It had been so easy to plant the Ladybird this time: the stupid demon had been so busy mucking about with the postcards and whatnot that it had totally failed to register her presence as she slid the little device into one of the pockets of its stupid rucksack. India knew that the technology was not exactly legal, but you simply couldn't have AFOs running around the place, free and easy. In the battle for men's souls, there were higher laws to be obeyed.

Previous <----- > Next

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm as needy as anyone, so your feedback is very welcome indeed.