“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.”