Sunday, 16 May 2010

Episode 39

Whilst life in the world of men was a definite improvement over the one he had led in the Basement, Harold could not but help being a little disappointed sometimes that things were not more, well, glamorous. He and Teatime found themselves, once again, in a narrow alley. This one was behind the crumbling old building that was supposedly the home of a hi-tech medical plastics company. The alley was a classic of gritty gumshoe movies and hack cop-shows. Rubbish lay everywhere, piles of cardboard boxes labelled McKinley's Organic Carrot Soup were stacked untidily, ready no doubt to be crashed into at any moment and sent flying by a speeding car. There were a couple of dumpsters (with bodies or incriminating evidence in them for sure) and Harold expected at any moment to turn the corner and come across some ill-lit figures conducting a furtive and shady deal of some kind. Yep, definitely not glamorous, but at least he wasn't sitting in his little room at Aunt Aggie's, being bored to tears.

Earlier in the day, Prada had visited the place and had found it locked-up and deserted. Far from being the home of a hi-tech medical supplies manufacturer, the place looked more like an abandoned warehouse. There had been nobody around to ask about it either, so it had been decided that a night-time visit was in order.

"OK, demon," Came Prada's soft voice in the darkness next to him, "time for you to do your thing."

"My, my, what it's like to be in demand, eh, old sock?" came Teatime's amused voice from his shoulder.

"Yeah, yeah," replied Harold, "It's what we ache for, now step back please, ladies and gentlemen." He flexed his fingers theatrically. India rolled her eyes: what a show-off!

Harold placed his hands against the peeling paintwork of the door.

"Ta-daa!" he sang softly, as it clicked open after only a few moments' concentration - he was definitely getting better at this.

They quickly entered the building and Agent Othello closed the door carefully behind them. No point advertising their presence, after all.

They paused for a few moments to listen out for any signs that their ingress had been detected, but the dead stale air in the place was playing it cool and was not being split by the sound of wailing sirens, angry shouting or the thudding of running footsteps.

The humans clicked on their flashlights.

"Mag-lights?" Harold said to Prada, in mock disappointment, "I'd have thought you agents would have had some fancy gizmo like a powder puff that turns into a set of night-vision goggles or something."

"Mag-lights are reliable and cost less," replied Prada.

"Yes, and they're just about heavy enough to make a handy bludgeon as well," added India darkly.

"Focus, people." admonished Mercury.

They were in a narrow hallway. A door led off one side of it and another stood ajar at the opposite end to the one they came in by. A cursory glance through the side door revealed an empty room.

The door at the far end gave out into a large space which was mostly empty. Here and there, the concrete floor had metal brackets sticking up out of it - presumably once used to bolt down machinery, and the odd wooden pedestal here and there which may once have supported a tool rack or a workbench. Two rows of metal column marched down the room, holding up the corrugated metal roof. The agents played their torches around some more, and the shadows rose in clouds like dust before settling back into place once the light had moved on.

"Well, this looks like a bust." said India, with a sigh "If those records ever came here then they must have been picked up long since."

"Spread out and keep looking," ordered Mercury.

Harold and Teatime wandered over toward the farthest corner, away from the OGS agents and their lights.

"Oh," he said disappointedly when they reached the corner.

"Oh, what?" demanded Teatime, "You know, you could turn on your flashlight, old bean. You might be able to see like a cat but I see like a monkey."

"Oh, sorry, I forgot," laughed Harold. He got his own light out and switched it on. He shone the bean down at the remains of a cardboard box. "I thought I saw something here, but it's just an old box after all."

He knelt down to look more closely. The box was labelled Changeling Electronics Inc – Amplitude Modulation Circuits.  Setting down his torch, he lifted the top flaps to see inside.

Behind him, he was dimly aware of Agent Mercury announcing that he found an old speeding ticket, but that was all a very long way away.

The inside of the box was dimly lit by a single red LED, whose sullen light also showed a tangle of wires and a slab of something that looked a lot like Play-Doh, but clearly wasn't.

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