A whole squadron of butterflies was scrambling in the aerodrome of Box's stomach – it had been a long time since he'd been involved in all this cloak and dagger nonsense on a regular basis. He heard the Infinity Recycling man's hand rattle the handle of the French doors, groping for the key which he, Box, had foolishly left in the lock. The man would be inside the house in moments. Box remembered one of his old partners - Agent Solitaire, a neurotic chatter box of a man – telling him that the best defence is not to be there.
Box looked up from where he was crouching behind the kitchen counter. The door from the kitchen to the garage was about ten feet away. Quietly and quickly, he began to move towards the door, keeping an eye on the kitchen window to ensure that the woman that had rung the front door bell didn't see him moving and raise the alarm.
As he dodged through the garage door, he heard the squeak of the French doors opening. He'd not had a moment to waste then. He carefully, oh-so carefully, eased the door so that it was nearly, but not completely closed, and listened.
He heard the man walk from the living room into the hall, straight past the kitchen door and then there came the sound of the front door opening.
"Doesn't seem to be anybody here but us chickens," said the man, and Box heard the woman walk into the house.
"Doesn't mean there isn't, Church," she replied, ignoring his tongue-in-cheek manner. "RolexBoy's info is usually good and these things are capable of hiding in plain sight if it suits them. With the field up, it can't get away, so all we have to do is find it. Here, take this and do the downstairs and I'll do the upstairs."
What 'this' was, Box couldn't see, of course, but soon he could hear Church moving around the living room and every now and then there was an electronic beep. The woman had trotted up the stairs and Box could hear her moving around up there, too. Were they using some kind of scanning device? If so, what were they scanning for? And what was this 'field' the woman had mentioned?
Box could feel his heart pounding. It wouldn't take long for Church to work his way round the living room and kitchen. If he was to make his escape, it would have to be soon.
The bike was parked where he'd left it, facing towards the back of the garage, which was awkward. If he was going to ride it out the front, he would have to turn it around, which would take precious time. Then there was the garage door itself. He had the remote control in his pocket, but the door would take a while to open enough for him to get out and that would also give plenty of warning to the Infinity Recycling people that something was up.
He glanced around the garage. Its shelves were a typical dumping ground of domestic bric-a-brac: candles, matches, half-used tins of paint, barbecue charcoal, lighter fluid, rags, an old car battery, a tow-rope. For a moment, Box considered using some of the combustibles to create a diversion, but quickly dismissed the idea as too dangerous (plus the house belonged to a friend, after all). Then his eye fell on something he had not noticed before. A hand-lettered placard bearing the slogan 'Save Our Schools' was leaning up against... another door! The garage had a door into the back yard, then.
Box quickly moved the placard out of the way. The door looked just about wide enough. He tried the door handle. Locked. Box scanned around desperately. There, on the wall, a key hanging on a nail. Box grabbed it and fitted it quickly into the lock. At first it seemed to be stuck but with a grunt, Box managed to get it to turn. He shouldered the door open and grabbed the handlebars of the bike to wheel it out.
At that moment, the door from the kitchen opened and Church stepped through. His eyes were fixed on some kind of hand-held device so it took a moment for Box's presence in the garage to register.
A moment was all Box needed.
A half-used tin of 'Hint of Peach' completed its short ballistic trajectory and struck Church cleanly in the face. Startled, dazed and in pain, he staggered backwards with a roar. Crashing into the shelves behind him, he managed to dislodge their contents which showered down on him in an impressive display which, if someone had filmed it, would have been a sure fire hit on YouTube.
Not waiting around to admire his handiwork, Box quickly lugged the bike out through the door. Once outside, he jumped aboard, fired it up and with a roar was quickly round the side of the house and heading down the drive to the road.
In the bike's mirrors, he saw the doors of the big white Infinity Recycling truck fly open and a couple of white overall-clad figures leap out. One of then seemed to be pointing something at him, but they were too late by a country mile.
He grinned. Ha! Still a little life in the old dog yet, then!
He was still grinning when the pain hit.