Sunday, 25 April 2010

Episode 36

“She won’t thank you, old button.” Said Teatime, “You do know that don’t you?”

Harold teased a tiny fragment of china into place and concentrated really hard. The fragment became part of the whole. There was no noise, no spark of eldritch blue light or anything, the shard was just suddenly not separate any more. Harold flopped backwards into his chair and let out a breath.

“I know, and I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t started this now,” he said ruefully, “This is tough!”

India’s mug was about half-reassembled – a triumph of gaudy flowers and pink lettering.

“Well it’ll do you good to exercise your abilities once in a while,” replied Teatime, eyeing Harold’s handiwork critically. “Not bad,” he murmured, “Not so much as a crack anywhere. Would have been quicker if you’d used glue though.”

“A true artiste such as myself does not use glue,” Harold said airily.

Teatime snorted.

There came a knock on the door and Moon entered with delicious-smelling takeaway cartons and cans of drink.

“I thought you might like Chinese for a change.” He said, placing the goodies on the table. He caught sight of the half-repaired mug.
“Wow!” he exclaimed, “I didn’t know you could do that! India will be thrilled when she sees it!”

“I rather think not,” said Teatime drily, “My bet is that it will be in the bin before you can say Jack Robinson.”

“Ten dollars says you’re wrong!” declared Moon.

“You’re on.” replied the monkey, sourly eyeing Harold, who was spooning – or chopsticking – strings of steaming flaccid noodles into his mouth at a rate of knots. Becoming aware of the little monkey’s baleful stare, he paused, several noodles still hanging out of his mouth.


“Great Cthulu’s ghost,” sighed Teatime, “A little decorum if you can possibly manage it, dear boy, a little decorum.”

“Sorry,” said Harold, having quickly made the noodles disappear, “I was really, really hungry. Must be all the jigsaw work.”

“Wasted effort, I tell you.” Said Teatime, shaking his head, “That woman hates you with a passion.”

“But I’ve never done anything to her.” Harold reached for a carton of duck in plum sauce.

“Perhaps she’s had a run-in with another demon in the past.” Said Moon, “I could find out for you if you like.”

“How?” asked Harold.

“It’ll be in her files I expect,” replied the young agent.

Harold frowned, “I’m no lawyer but I’m guessing there are rules about poking around in people’s personal information. Anyway, we’d probably find out her animosity was down to some demon misusing an apostrophe or something.”

Moon shrugged, “Heh! A demon with moral angst over accessing someone else secrets, whatever next? Well if you change your mind…” He got up and left the room.

“What an odd little fellow,” said Teatime.


Next morning, Harold, Teatime, Mercury, Prada, Othello and India were gathered once more in the Salamander room.

“So how long do we give Box to come up with this more and more spurious-seeming agent Iris and that shipping receipt?” said Othello.

“I take it he hasn’t called back then.” Said Mercury.

“Nope,” replied Othello ,”And I tried calling him again this morning: no answer.”

“He’d better not be pulling some kind of prank,” said Prada, “Cos if he is..”

“No, no, as mad as he is,” replied Mercury, cutting her off, “He’s not the type. Once upon a time he was one of our very best agents. In the nineties, he virtually single-handedly took down the New Genesis cult, he infiltrated no end of enemy operations, spotted more Fallen than you could wave a stick at.” He trailed off, shaking his head sadly. “He’s not playing games, I’m sure of it.”

“Perhaps we had better pay him another visit,” suggested India. “Maybe the monkey was right, maybe there was someone else with Box and that’s why he can’t or won’t answer us.”

“Well, we don’t have any other leads at the moment,” agreed Mercury, “Let’s go, people!”


From where he was parked some way down the street and across the road from Aunt Aggie’s, Mr Teeth was in an excellent position to observe the small group of people – including one trumpet-playing little punk - come out of the building and climb into a large car. Yes, he could have let Peck and his associates handle this but, truth to tell, he was getting to the point where the PI’s condescending manner was becoming more and more irritating, as good as he was at what he did. Besides, with the club still closed, there wasn’t all that much else for him to do anyway. Mr Teeth waited a few moments then started his engine, easing his nondescript vehicle out into the road after the departing OGS car.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Episode 35

“Oh, my aching bones!” groaned Mercury, clambering up into the sunlight once more. The ladder leading down to Box’s lair had been long and steep. “I don’t want to have to do that again in a hurry, It’s like climbing up a giant’s chimney.”

“I suppose living in a place like that is one way to ensure a certain amount of peaceful solitude.” Said Othello, “I can’t imagine he gets many people dropping in – unless they fall in the hole.”

The others laughed.

“It’s interesting you should say that, Agent,” said Teatime, “Because I had the distinct impression that someone else was there but keeping out of sight, in one of the side rooms perhaps.”

“If I was associating with a nut job like Box, I’d been keeping out of sight too!” laughed Prada, “What makes you think someone was there?”

“There was a faint smell of spearmint in the air, like chewing gum or toothpaste or some such” replied the little monkey. “And Reverend Box was not the source of it – more’s the pity.”

“Well, the man’s allowed to have friends over – or down – I suppose we should say.” Said Mercury.

“Anyway, let’s get back to the ranch and check out this Agent Iris fellow.”

“That was pretty neat!” grinned Harold as they headed back to the car.

“I have my uses, old sock,” replied Teatime smugly, “I have my uses.”


“Nothing!” said Othello, slapping the table next to his keyboard, “Not a trace of any Agent Iris anywhere in the OGS system. Either Box lied to us or his memory’s gone the way of his sanity. ” He rubbed his eyes. “I‘ll call him and check the name.” He punched numbers into a nearby desk phone, listened for a while and then left a message, asking Box to call and confirm the name of the Agent he had worked with on project Dynamo.

“Well that’s all we can do for now, I think", said Mercury

"Yeah," agreed Othello, "Let’s hope he comes through with the name and with that shipping receipt. Oh, thanks!” This last was directed to Agent Moon who had just placed a fresh coffee on the table in front of him. The young agent smiled.

“You looked like you needed it. Tough case, huh?”

“Yeah,” sighed Othello, “One step forward, two steps sideways.”

“I’m sure you’ll crack it,” Moon paused, “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, go ahead.” Moon perched on the edge of the desk and lowered his voice.

“That demon that’s hanging around here, how long is it going to be around?”

Othello shrugged, “Till we solve the case, I suppose. Look, if it bothers you, I can get you a transfer till it’s gone.”

“Oh, no, nothing like that!” protested Moon, “It’s kind of interesting actually. Did you know it likes music?”

“I did not.” Othello frowned, “Have you been talking to it?”

“Well, yes, actually,” admitted Moon, “When I delivered the pizza last night, we got to talking.”

“Well, if you take my advice,” said Othello, “Don’t interact with it – it can’t be trusted and will do its best to deceive, disarm and ultimately ensnare you.”

“I’ll be careful.” Promised Moon.

India wandered into the break room and was irritated to see Harold and Prada sitting at one of the tables, sipping coffee and chatting - for all the world like normal people. Yes, yes, Othello had said that Prada was just probably pretending to befriend the Fallen, to see if it knew more than it was telling, but still, such flagrant fraternisation was immensely galling to witness and no amount of platitudes about who was fooling whom would change that.

Annoyed by the situation, and annoyed at herself for being annoyed, she swilled her own coffee mug under the tap and banged it down on the stainless steel drainer with a little more force than was necessary. To her chagrin, it shattered and pieces flew everywhere.

Prada and Harold stopped talking and looked over at her in surprise.

“Everything all right?” asked Prada.

“Fine!” India snapped. She began angrily picking up pieces of crockery and dropping them into an old cardboard box.

“But that was your favourite mug!” Prada hurried over and began to help. She picked up the largest piece. The motto “Spring has sprung!” in bright pink lettering was still just about readable – the mug had been a promotional item for India’s favourite uncle’s flower shop. India took it off her and dropped it into the box with the other pieces.

“I was getting tired of it anyway,” she lied.

Harold got up and slipped out of the room. He had an idea.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Episode 34

“Give me a minute,” Box scurried through a grey painted metal door, leaving the others staring bemusedly around them at the large underground space he’d led them into.

The deep dark hole they’d all climbed down into had turned out to be an access shaft leading to what was by the looks of it an old military or Civil Defence bunker of some kind. The large main room into which Box had led them was about twenty feet by twenty feet with several doors – one of which Box had just disappeared though – giving off to various side-rooms and tunnels. Relics of the place’s cold-war past remained in the form of an old PA speaker system mounted high on one wall above a row of dusty clocks, all stopped, labelled with the names of various capital cities. Below the clocks was a row of old-fashioned CRT screens, also dusty and non-functional. Of more modern addition, the walls also boasted some neatly-mounted slabs of stone engraved with what looked like someone’s – presumably Box’s - attempt at calligraphy using Greek letters.

Box re-emerged a few moments later, clad in a pair of crumpled khaki shorts and some sort of singlet that looked as though he’d made it himself by cutting up an old jute sack with blunt scissors.

So this was where Reverend Box lived, comfortably cool away from the desert sun. Comfortably cool and comfortably, period. Box was clearly no desert ascetic: all the amenities were here. In addition to the basics of electric lighting and power, a large refrigerator hummed away in one corner and on a counter nearby sat a microwave oven, coffee machine and toaster. On the other side of the room, a laptop lay open on Box’s desk – currently showing a split-screen picture of the wooden “church” above and its surroundings fed, presumably, by a number of hidden cameras.

“Saw us coming then , eh, Box?” said Mercury, seeing the display.

“A man can’t be too careful these days.” came Box’s gnomic reply. He wandered over to the kitchen area. “Coffee? Orange juice?”

“No thanks, we’re not staying long. We just wanted to ask you a few questions about project Dynamo.”

“That old thing again?” said Box, pouring himself a glass of juice from a cardboard carton.

“Again? What do you mean ‘again’?” asked Othello.

“Well, let me see it was…” Box stopped to scratch absently at his hairless scalp, “Hmm, It would have been about two months ago. I’d just finished researching the Eleusinian Mysteries as I recall. Did you know the Mysteries were celebrated for over two thousand years? Of course, we have resumed celebrating them here now rather than in Eleusis. Had to piece them together myself, though, from vase-paintings here and there and scraps of writing, because those old Greeks were very secretive and the rites probably involved the use of drugs of some sort which doesn’t exactly make for full and clear descriptions of what went on.” His eyes took on a faraway look, “I think Peyote might be an acceptable substitute these days and – “

“Box?” prompted Mercury, “ Project Dynamo?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry.” The snapping of Box’s attention back to the here and now was almost audible. “Yeah, a couple of months ago I got a call from a guy claiming to be from OGS asking about that old project, wanting to know if I had any records of it.”

“And what did you tell him?” asked Othello.

“I told him yes and that he could have them if he was willing to come out here and pick them up.”

“And did he?”

“He did. Well, when I say he did, what I mean is he sent a courier for them. There were several boxes and some old video tapes and whatnot, must have cost him some to get them Fed-Exed like that.”

“So you never saw the man?” Mercury could not hide his disappointment and annoyance. “Never met him in person and yet you let him have confidential OGS records without checking him out?”

“Who says I didn’t check him out?” retorted Box, “He knew all the right things when I challenged him, used all the right terminology and I was satisfied – and still am – that he was definitely OGS.”

“I’m sorry,” Mercury showed his palms in a conciliatory gesture, “I didn’t mean to insult you, it’s just that we lost an agent recently because of project Dynamo. We’re a little jumpy.”

“I see,” said Box, somewhat mollified, “But don’t go assuming that because I live in the desert, the sun has baked my brains. Don’t forget: I was an agent before your daddy had his first shave.” He took a slug of his juice.

“Excuse me,” said Harold, “Perhaps I missed something here, but what was project Dynamo actually about?”

Box regarded him coolly for a moment as though weighing up whether he should give anything away to one of the Fallen, one of the enemy. Eventually he said.

“Dynamo was all about us trying to find a way to detect your kind using technology. With Spotters being as rare as hens’ teeth, we were trying to improve our rates of detection.”

“So why was it shut down?” asked Prada.

“Because we spent a ton of money on it and we never got it to work.” replied Box, “It was deemed too costly to continue, so it was disbanded and all of us agents returned to our normal duties.”

“Were yours the only records of the project?” asked Othello.

“Agent Iris might still have some, I suppose.”

“Agent Iris?”

“Yeah, he and I led the project together. Haven’t heard from him in years though”

“Well, I guess we can look him up – OGS will have some record of his whereabouts I daresay,” said Othello, jotting down the name. “Oh, just one more thing: do you have a receipt from the courier company for the boxes they took?”

Box scratched his head again, “Probably, but it’ll take me a while to dig it up. I can email you the details when I find it if you like.”

“That would be great,” said Mercury, “Thanks for all your help.”

With that, they said goodbye and started the long climb back into daylight.