“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.
-0-0-0-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.