Saturday, 7 August 2010

Episode 51

The UPS truck rattled to a halt and the driver turned off the ignition. After the racket of the truck's diesel engine, the quiet was sudden, and Harold was surprised to hear birdsong coming from somewhere nearby. They were here, then – wherever 'here' was.

The back doors of the truck were opened and the occupants got out. Wherever here was, it was certainly nice. A long curving gravel drive wound its way up from the main road through a grove of scented orange trees. In front of a large house, fountains played noisily up and down in a large shallow pool the size of a small lake. The house itself looked like one of those experimental projects that architects like to feature in their portfolios to impress rich clients – it was a bold statement in wedding-cake pink stucco. Here and there, circular windows had been dotted, seemingly at random, giving the whole thing a curious Swiss cheese look. As he was marched up the gleaming white marble steps leading to the house's huge front doors, Harold could not help but think that there were worse places to end one's days – if it came to that..


Teatime worked on the delicate operation of freeing the stupid human OGS leader with as much speed and as little blood-loss as possible. Once or twice, he had to control a sudden desire to bite the man's hand – the old un-reconstructed monkey in him coming out, no doubt. He hated being this close to humans, they smelled horrid and had big, frightening hands that could grab and hold onto a little monkey like him and do whatever horrible pointless experiments they wanted - and had done just that in the past.

Finally the last bit of plastic parted and the job was done. Mercury briefly rubbed his wrists where the cable-tie had dug into his skin, thanked Teatime, and went into the kitchen to find some scissors or a knife to free the others.

Teatime looked up to see the other agents looking at him with a quizzical expression.

"What's the matter?" he asked. "Have I got something in my teeth?"

"Oh, nothing, "said Prada, "We just didn't realise monkeys could growl, that's all."


The interior of the house was cool, pale and fashionably minimalist in decor. The tasteful monotony of cream walls and blond wood floor was relieved here and there by vividly–coloured abstract paintings. To Harold's untrained eye they looked more like the frantic daubings of a chimpanzee than the subtle expression of some deep artistic truth, but then Harold would be the first to admit that his knowledge of painting was marginal at best.

'Jeff', the fake UPS worker, knocked politely on one of the pale wooden doors leading off the hallway, then opened it to allow Harold and the other UPS guy to enter.

Whatever Harold, in his current, rather paranoid state had been expecting, it certainly wasn't the sight of an african-american man-mountain sitting behind a desk, a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles perched with incongruous delicacy on his nose, fingers tapping away on a computer keyboard.

Mr Teeth removed his glasses and used them to point to a chair.

"Siddown," he growled, "You got some explainin' to do."

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