Saturday, 25 September 2010

Episode 58

Agents Mercury, Othello and Prada, along with Harold and Teatime stood outside the entrance to Mr Teeth’s palatial home. India had gone over to the ornamental pool to fish for the keys.

“Who would have thought Mr Jackson would have such refined tastes,” said Othello, casting an appreciative eye over the bold pink lines of the house with its randomly placed circular Swiss-cheese-hole windows. “If I’m not mistaken, this is the work of Nina Roden.”

“Who?” asked Prada.

“Nina Roden,” replied Othello, “An English architect, worked out of Los Angeles. She liked to design buildings that look ‘edible’. She did the McCleod Higher Education Centre .”

“I don’t think I know it,” said Prada,

“The Chocolate Bar?” Othello prompted.

“Oh, right! That one!” laughed Prada, “I’d say she succeeded there – it really does look kind of yummy.”

“Yeah,” sighed Othello, “Pity she didn’t live to see it finished. She died of a brain tumour a couple of years back. Nobody even knew she had it: one day she was running round like the Energizer Bunny, the next – “ he made a gesture of hopelessness. “She left a lot of really exciting buildings behind, though. I guess they’re her eulogy in a way.”

“It must be nice to leave behind something lasting.” Said Prada, thoughtfully, “I wonder what people’ll say about me when I’m gone, nothing extra-special, I bet. My parents think I’m in the noble and estimable profession of Day Trading , for goodness sake! Hardly the stuff of legend!”

“You’ve never told them what you do?” said Othello.

“Are you kidding?” laughed Prada, “They’d freak out. They don’t believe in demons or anything like that. Listen, when all my kindergarten friends were getting bedtime stories full of magic elves, dragons and princesses, my dad would send me off to sleep with the Wall Street Journal!”

“That must have been awful,” said Mercury, appalled.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Prada brightly, “I made my first million on the stock exchange before I was eighteen.”

Just then, India returned with a dripping plastic bag containing the house keys. She stopped in her tracks at the sight of the stunned looks on the faces of everyone but Prada, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“OK,” she said eagerly, “What’d I miss?”

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Episode 57

It did not take long for Mercury, India, Othello and Prada to get their stuff together, each had only brought with them an overnight bag with a change of clothes and some toiletries, as was usual when out on a mission. Harold had only Teatime and his rucksack, and Box had just a single rucksack of his own.

“You go on ahead,” Box said to the others, “I just need to straighten the place up a bit, leave it nice and tidy.”

The others climbed into the OGS car and set off.

Box went quickly from room to room, humming to himself, making sure there was no mess anywhere. Satisfied, he returned to the kitchen and filled the sink with hot water to wash the few cups and plates that had been used. Someone had left an empty can on the counter – McKinleys Classic Carrot Soup. The label showed a stereotyped fierce-looking Scotsman (‘Auld’ Jock McKinley, himself, apparently), complete with red hair, improbably bushy eyebrows, bagpipes and kilt, against a backdrop of green fields and grey mountains. Shaking his head at the tacky ways of marketing types, Box dropped it into the trash. The soup had probably been manufactured in that well-known outpost of Scotland known as Mexico.

The washing up completed, Box surveyed the kitchen: all evidence of occupation had been cleared away. He scribbled a quick note of thanks to the house’s owner on the little message pad next to the phone. Right, time to get moving, he told himself. He shrugged himself into his bike jacket, donned his rucksack, and picked up his helmet and keys. As he did so, however, a movement out in the street caught his eye.

A white truck had just parked outside. Against the greys and browns of the houses opposite, it stood out like a polar bear in a coal cellar. Behind it, a car in the same company livery – Infinity Recycling Inc – also pulled up and stopped.

A pleasant-looking blonde woman and a young man got out of the car and started up the drive towards the house.


“You just wait till you see Mr Jackson’s place,” said Harold, as Mercury piloted the car through the afternoon traffic. “It’s got everything: a gym, a pool, a grand piano even, although I suspect nobody ever plays it, which is a crime in my book.”

“So, he cleared his busy diary to take you on a guided tour, did he?” said Prada, somewhat sceptically.

“No,” laughed Harold, “Some of the doors were open and you’d have to be blind not to have seen the stuff he’s got. State-of-the-art sound system, plasma TV”

“The Devil looks after his own, I suppose,” said Othello.

“Not so’s you’d notice,” replied Harold, wryly.

Othello raised an eyebrow, “Really? So why’d you side with him then?” The sudden turn in the conversation caught Harold off-balance.

“I didn’t, not really.’ He sighed, not even remotely prepared to pour out his life story to these humans. “It’s complicated, and now isn’t really the time…”

Othello, clearly disappointed that more information was not forthcoming, nevertheless took the hint and turned back to face the front.

Agent India stared out the window at the passing cars and lorries, her expression neutral. If the demon had been telling the truth about not really siding with the Devil, then how come it had wound up in the Basement with all the other Fallen?


Box heard the man and woman’s footsteps approach, and the doorbell sounded its cheesy rendition of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. He had crouched down behind the kitchen counter where he could not be seen should the mysterious callers decide to try peeking in at the window. His bike was still in the garage and the OGS car had gone. There was nothing to suggest that the house was anything but empty. With any luck, they would see that and go away.

The doorbell sounded again. By Zeus’s ears, they’re persistent, thought Box. There’s nobody here but us chickens…nobody here at all.

He heard the woman’s voice ordering the young man to try round the back. Box glanced into the living room. He had locked the French doors, hadn’t he? He was pretty sure he had. He hoped he had. He didn’t have time to check, the young man would be reaching the back of the house about now. Suddenly, the handle on the French door rattled as the man tried it – rattled, and held!

Box allowed the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding to escape with a quiet hiss. He had locked it then.

The sound of smashing glass took him completely by surprise.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Episode 56

“Mr Jackson, we’d like to take you up on your offer – or at least some of it anyway,” said Mercury.

“OK,” rumbled the big man, “What do you need?”

“We’d like a place to work from, somewhere private where we won’t be disturbed – preferably with an internet connection.”

Mr Teeth produced a small note book and began writing. “Anything else?”

“That’s it for now, but we might need an extra car later, maybe if that’s alright.”

“OK, then,” Mr teeth said, tearing a page out of the notebook and holding it out to Mercury, “Go to this address, It’s my own place and it’s plenty big enough for all of us. Now I have some business to attend to, so I’ll meet you there when I’m done in about an hour. Key’s in a plastic bag in the pond – look for the mermaid statue.”

“OK ,” said Mercury , “and thanks, your help is much appreciated.”

Mr Teeth grunted acknowledgement and left.

“So, not only are we working with demons, we’ve taken up with criminals now as well?” India had been against accepting Mr Teeth’s help from the start
“Agent India,” said Mercury. There was just a hint of a snap in his voice and his use of her formal title caused her mouth to shut with an almost audible snap. “We’ve been through this and, as squad leader, I am making this decision and I will take responsibility for it.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Look, we’re all still tired. Let’s get packed up and get out of here as soon as we can.”

“Ooh, I think your charm must be working at last, old sock,” whispered Teatime gleefully, “You apparently rank slightly above the local criminal fraternity now – a step up, if I’m any judge.”

“Well, it had to happen sooner or later,” grinned Harold. “What with me being so irresistible and all.”


Dr Evangeline Flowers quickly scanned the document Haynes was holding out to her and scrawled her signature on the bottom. She sighed as he took the clipboard back and walked away. Was this what her life had come to? Scribbling on documents and organising the movement of boxes, crates and tanks?

It hadn’t always been like this, of course. She’d never been a ‘sugar and spice, all things nice’ kind of girl – had only ever wanted to be a neurosurgeon like her beloved father. She’d done well enough at med school to get an internship in a good teaching hospital – she’d even made Resident there and was looking at Attending in a couple of years, hospital politics permitting.

Then she’d slipped over on – of all the stupid things - some mixed nuts she’d spilt in her own kitchen, and had broken her arm, broken it badly enough to cause permanent nerve damage, leaving her right hand just a bit less sensitive and precise than the left. Not a big injury and, for anyone else, not even an inconvenience, really, but it was an earthquake of magnitude ten toppling the bricks and mortar of her ambition. Unable to bear the thought of having to start over in some other specialism, she’d turned to research. She’d done well at that too, and had found it fascinating in its own way - there were, after all, still plenty of diseases out there that needed to be conquered or at least understood properly.

She hadn’t been able to believe her luck when she’d got the call. Her own lab, her own staff and a budget she’d only been able to dream of before. All this to do pure research into why certain people had certain abilities and how they might be replicated technologically. That’s what they had told her, anyway.

And it was sort of true, she supposed. She cast a practised eye over the row of blinking lights on the side of tank three – all nominal.

Only the ’people’ hadn’t exactly been people.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Episode 55

To her annoyance, Agent India’s teeth were itching again. That could only mean one thing.

“The demon’s back,” she announced gloomily, heading for the front door. She knew she was being a bit irrational, the demon was helping them after all and if it had really disappeared, the investigation would have suffered a setback. It wasn’t like they had a back-up demon in the cupboard all ready to go that they could use to … Now that was an idea! Perhaps they were going about this whole thing entirely too passively. Maybe there was a way to force the hand of whoever was behind all this.

She yanked open the door - and stepped back in surprise.

The demon was there just as she expected, grinning all over its stupid face like it was pleased to see her. Behind it, however, stood a huge African-American man - a veritable inverted pyramid of immaculately-tailored muscle.

“Hi,” said Harold, “I’m back. Can we come in?”

Wordlessly, India stepped aside and allowed the two to enter.

“And so,” said Harold, having related the events of his life in the last few hours, “The long and the short of it is: Mr Jackson has decided to offer us his help.”

“Well, that’s a kind offer, Mr Jackson,” began Mercury, “What exactly did you have in mind?”

“I can get you stuff you might need: vehicles, guns, people, place to work from.”

“I see,” said Mercury, somewhat nonplussed by the big man’s openness, “We don’t tend to use guns in our operations, they don’t work on demons and they can always be taken away and turned against us. While, we are definitely having some internal difficulties with our organisation, I don’t think - ”

“Your traitor?” interrupted Mr Teeth, “Yeah, Harold told me about that. Look, if he’s as deep in your outfit as you suspect, you should drop right off the grid until this is all over, or until you can figure out who he is. If you don’t, he’s gonna be bird-dogging you at every step. It ain’t gonna matter how clever you are or how much preparation and planning you put in, he’s gonna know about it and is gonna rip your operation apart like wet toilet paper. I can give you anything your outfit could. I know a few people in this town.”

“I have to say,” piped up Teatime, causing Mr Teeth’s eyebrows to shoot up in surprise, “That I think Mr Jackson has rather hit the nail on the head. I vote he join our little gang.”

“You never told me bout any talking monkey,” he said, looking at Harold, “And you didn’t have him with you before. What’s the deal?”

“My father sent him,” explained Harold, “to investigate the disappearances. That was before I met these lovely people, of course.” He directed a sunny grin at the OGS agents, at which India rolled her eyes in disgust, “ He’s very smart and being so small, is very good at hiding. He rides on my shoulder so he can talk to me without people noticing.”

“Hmmph,” rumbled Mr teeth, “I guess it’s a good job your father didn’t send you a talking orang-utan then.”

There was a small amount of rather tentative laughter at this, as the others weighed up what Mr Teeth had said, and decided that the dour black man-mountain had actually made a funny of sorts.

“Anyway,” Mr Teeth continued, “I’m offering you a safe place and whatever you need to get the job done.”
The others looked at each other.

“Do you mind if we discuss it for a minute,” said Mercury. Mr Teeth shrugged his massive shoulders and walked out into the garden.


“Infinity Recycling. Ernesto speaking. How may I direct your call?” There was just a hint of Spanish in the man’s accent.

“I have some greasy dishes that need to be dealt with,” said the caller. Ernesto didn’t miss a beat. “Putting you through now,” he said. There followed a series of electronic clicks and a ringing tone which was soon cut short.

“Special Projects, Haynes here.”

“This is RolexBoy. I have a specimen for you.”

“Really?” Haynes didn’t much like RolexBoy. Sure, he had his uses and had ultimately been responsible for the formation of the Special Projects group, but he was still an arrogant, over-privileged, young pup.

“Nothing’s showed up on the network or we’d have known.” He said.

“This one’s not been up here before and is a bit weedy, so won’t have high enough C.”

“Can I ask how you know about it then?” Haynes’s voice leaked a little irritation. He was busy, dammit!

“I’ve seen it and spoken to it. It’s real” replied RolexBoy.

“I’m not sure we need another specimen just now – especially if it’s low C. Dr Flowers and the rest of us are up to our eyeballs in the move. Maybe after we get set up in the new place?” Haynes was hoping that RolexBoy would take the hint and ring off, but he didn’t.

“You need to collect this one,” he said, “Because it has got together with a group of OGS and they are intent on tracking you guys down. “

“I see,” Haynes was sensible enough to know that they could not afford any loose ends on this project “Do you know where it is now?”

“Yes, 1472 Goose Egg Drive.” Haynes scribbled it down.

“OK, I’ll talk to Dr Flowers and see if we can get a team over there today.”

“Good,” said RolexBoy, “I’m emailing over pictures and details now.

Sure enough, the computer beeped for an incoming email. Haynes opened it up and studied the pictures and text for a while, before tapping a few numbers into a desk phone.

“Dr Flowers?” he said when the call was picked up. “Haynes here. We’ve still got a holding tank here haven’t we? Only I think we’re going to need it.”