"Flowers," she snapped.
"Dr Flowers, this is Haynes."
"There's been a bit of a problem,"
Here we go, she thought.
She listened as Haynes outlined the events that had taken place at the address RolexBoy has given them. There had been no demon present when the team had arrived. One of the people on RolexBoy's list had been there, but had fled and was now in Mercy hospital, having been injured leaving the scene.
Flowers sighed, if it wasn't one thing, it was another. First it was the uprooting of their entire operation to a more secure location, based on RolexBoy's dire predictions of discovery, now he had led them all on a wild goose-chase looking for demons which weren't there, and had exposed their operation anyway. Some 'special advisor to the project' he was turning out to be. She was momentarily at a loss for what to say.
"Where is everybody now?" she asked eventually/
"Church, Ibbotson and Black are at the house still, looking for any more information. Jones and Charter are at the hospital. Charter has managed to confirm the identity of the guy they followed there, Nathaniel Box. He's scheduled for surgery, apparently, so he won't be going anywhere for a while."
Flowers thought for a moment. "Did you say Mercy Hospital?"
"OK, tell Jones and Charter to stay put and wait for further instructions."
"What about the others?"
"Tell them to clear out when they're done."
Flowers replaced the handset and thought for a few moments. Mercy Hospital, Haynes had said. Interesting. She'd spent six years, nine months and eleven days of her life walking its fluorescent-lit wards and hallways (not that she was counting or anything). All may not be lost, after all. She flipped open her File-O-Fax, located a phone number and began to dial.
India stopped the car on Ostrich Egg Drive which led onto Goose Egg, where Box's friend's house was, and switched off the engine.
There was a short, rather defensive silence, which India broke.
"I suggest we get to the end of Goose Egg and check out the lie of the land from there. If it all looks ok, we can move in a bit closer."
Harold nodded, it sounded like a plan, and they both got out of the car.
Teatime proved his worth when they got to where Goose Egg and Ostrich Egg joined. There was a high hedge bordering the end property on Goose Egg which meant that they could not see into Goose Egg Drive itself without walking around the corner and thus possibly revealing themselves to anybody who might be lurking at the house..
"Why don't I climb to the top of that hedge for a quick recce," the little monkey suggested, as Harold and India stood debating what to do.
"Go for it," said Harold, "If there is anybody hanging around there, they almost certainly won't be looking out for a monkey."
Teatime leapt lightly from Harold's shoulder, and quickly and competently scaled the hedge, disappearing from view.
"He's a smart little monkey," said Harold, keen not to let the silence deepen into awkwardness.
"I suppose," India agreed noncommittally. As a child, she had been fascinated by how clever animals were after hearing some old professor giving a series of talks about it on National Public Radio. Of course, she knew perfectly well that Teatime wasn't just an ordinary monkey, that he'd been given an upgrade, as it were. In her opinion, therefore, he didn't really deserve any credit for his cleverness, unlike the dolphins and pigeons in the old professor's talks.
"Yes," continued Harold, "he really is a masterpiece of infernal engineering."
"I'm not sure 'masterpiece' is the word I'd use," replied India, dryly. "I think what was done to him was wrong. There are some things that shouldn't be meddled with."
"Well maybe so," replied Harold, "but some human scientists were about to do some serious meddling of their own, so you can hardly blame him for wanting to get away."
"I guess," India admitted.
At that moment, Teatime's head appeared, looking down on them from the hedge-top.
"There's a big white truck parked outside the house," he informed them. "There's no sign of Reverend Box, though, that I can see."
"I wonder if he's hiding in the house, waiting for the truck to go away." said Harold.
"Perhaps we should approach from the back and see if we can see anything."
They walked back along Ostrich Egg until they came across a little side road running parallel with Goose Egg Drive. They turned down it and were delighted to discover that the backyards of the houses on Goose Egg backed directly onto it, screened off by a high wooden fence.
"We should be about there I think," India said, stopping next to a section of fence. She tried to peer through the gaps in the planks, but could see nothing but foliage. "Would Mr Teatime care to do the honours, once more?" she asked.
"I expect he'll b–" Harold started to say, and stopped.
India turned to him questioningly.
Harold was standing completely still next to the fence, and had frozen in mid-sentence, his lips parted to say his next word. He was looking straight at her – or at least at where she had been standing before she had turned back to him. One of his hands was stretched out where he had evidently been about to reach out and touch the fence.
"What's going on?" said India, "Why has it stopped?"
"I have no idea," said Teatime in a worried voice.
"Demon?" said India, peering up into Harold's still face. "Hey! Come on!" She snapped her fingers in front of his eyes but he didn't so much as blink. "If this is one of your tricks.." she muttered.
"I really don't think it's any trick," said Teatime.
India jabbed Harold firmly in the chest with a finger. No reaction.
Teatime tugged sharply on a lock of his hair. No reaction.
"Come on, old button," he urged, "Now's not the time to fall asleep on the job."
But Harold simply stood there, the breeze ruffling his hair, as still and as lifeless as a statue.