Sunday, 13 November 2011

Episode 87

“This is highly irregular!” The young nurse’s voice was stiff with disapproval. “Mr Box is sleeping and mustn’t be disturbed.”

“But this is really urgent,” said India, “Please, can we have just a few minutes. We’ll be very quiet, I promise.”

Standing behind her, Harold favoured the nurse with his friendliest smile and was pleased to see a little uncertainty creep into her frosty expression.

“Please,” he added, “We just need to give him some very important family news. We’ll be gone before you know it.”

The nurse glanced around to see if anybody else was watching and sighed.

“All right,” she said, “I’ll let you see him, but you get five minutes and that’s it.”

“Thanks,” said India. “That’s all we need, honestly.”

It had all started with India wishing out loud that Box could be there to offer his advice about the current situation. Mr Teeth had offered to loan his not inconsiderable resources to project Distraction, as Harold had insisted on dubbing the current phase of activity. India had been uncertain whether to accept more of his help – so far, his house and the use of a car had been the only things they’d had from hm. All along, India had been squeamish about collaborating with someone who was almost certainly involved in who knows what criminal ventures, but she was pragmatic enough to realise that beggars cannot always be choosers. Still she had sighed and wished for Box’s counsel.

Harold had suddenly had an idea and, well, here they were.

Box was sleeping like the proverbial baby when the nurse ushered them into the dimly-lit room. She went over to the bed and roused his gently.

“Mr Box,” she said softly, “There are a couple of people here to see you. I can send them away if you don’t want to be disturbed.”

Box blinked blearily around the room for a few moments and then his eyes settled on India and Harold.

“No, it’s fine, they can stay.” He pushed himself up the bed and fumbled for the controls to raise the end of it.

“Five minutes.” The nurse said sternly as she left the room.

India and Harold moved over to the bedside.

“I take it things have gone awry.” Said Box, “Pass me that water will you? Thanks.”

Harold handed him the glass from the nightstand while India quickly outlined what had happened.

“And you’ve not been able to contact Mercury and Co since.” He confirmed when she had finished.

“No.” she replied, “But we’re thinking of putting together some kind of a distraction and using the invisibility suits to get inside Infinity Recycling. You’re a much more experienced agent, though, and I wanted to get your take on it.”

“Well, it’s going to take more than a few hurried minutes for me to get my ideas together.” Box said, “Do you have layouts of the uilding, things like that? How many people can Mr Jackson provide?”

“We can go into that back at the house,” said India.

Box blinked.

“Are you fixing to break me out of the hospital?” He said, his voice a mixture of disbelief and just a little glee.

“You’ll be walking out on your own.” Said Harold.

Box frowned. “Say what now?”

“We don’t have a lot of time to explain.” Said India, “The demon here thinks he can fix your leg. I have pointed out that it’s a bit more complicated than a china mug, but he seems to think he can do it and, given the urgency of the situation, I think it’s worth a try.”


“OK, I’m here,” said Flowers, as she walked into the cramped security office containing Moon.

“Doctor, we’ve had some developments tonight. Some OGS Agents have discovered our little hideaway and, while we’ve rounded up some of them, there is at least one other, plus a Fallen running around loose. We need to know where they would most likely have gone. We’re so close now with this project, we simply can’t have things ruined by a couple of loose cannon.”

Flowers frowned.

“And you’ve called me in because – ?“

“I was thinking that you could maybe,” Moon was suddenly less sure of himself, “well, give one of them a shot of something that might, you know, loosen their inhibitions a bit, get them to tell us where they’ve been hiding out.”

“I see,” Flowers said, hesitantly. Her cabinets down in the lab did contain several drugs that would undoubtedly do the trick, but... She knew she was being a total hypocrite for being so precious all of a sudden about using her drugs in this way, especially when she had already done so once. Nevertheless, her conscience had been nagging away at her since then and she was not keen to feed it any further. Then she remembered something.

“I think I might have an idea where we can look for your loose cannons,” she said.


Box gingerly lowered his feet to the cool linoleum of his hospital room. The stab of pain he had been expected did not come and he breathed a sigh of relief. “So far so good,” he murmured.

Carefully, India and Harold helped him to transfer his full weight to his feet and stand. On the bed behind him lay a tangle of discarded bandage and broken chunks of plaster of Paris. Box had taken a bit of convincing to get him to allow a Fallen – even one he’d recently been working with – to touch him. In the end, though, he’d relented and Harold had set to work with, it now appeared, good results.

Box took a few test steps unaided and pronounced himself satisfied. He was just pulling on his leather trousers when the door opened. The nurse froze in the doorway when she took in what was going on.

“It’s OK,” Box said quickly, before she did anything rash. “I’m going to discharge myself. I’m a whole lot better and my cousin needs me. Can you get the paperwork ready please?”

“Mr Box,” she gasped, “It’s the middle of the night! I strongly advise you at least to wait until morning, I can’t in all conscience – “

“Please,” said Box, in a firm voice. “I’m leaving. Now. I’d rather not make any more fuss than I have to, so please get me whatever I need to sign and I’ll be on my way.”

And, twenty minutes later, with India at the wheel, they all headed back towards Mr Teeth’s.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Episode 86

No sooner had the words left her mouth than India could have kicked herself – really, really hard. Unbelievabley, she had just blurted out to one of the Fallen that it had hold of technology that could render it completely undetectable as it went about its wicked business. Brilliant work there India, she told herself severely, truly outstanding!

She half-expected Harold to pounce on her mistake with an evil cackle or something, but the stupid demon just tugged of the ski-mask and carried on drinking its coffee like nothing had happened. Maybe she’d got away with it after all.

One look at the suddenly thoughtful expression on Teatime’s face, however, instantly disabused her of that notion; the demon may have been too slow-witted to realise the strategic implications, but the monkey-thing clearly wasn’t.

When the little monkey spoke, however, it was not to gloat over her foolishness.

“That might well be jolly useful, actually,” he said.

“Oh?” said Harold.

“Well,” continued Teatime, “I was wondering how we were going to get around the fact that these wretched people seem to have a way of detecting your kind, and this just might be it. If Agent India’s gift doesn’t work when you’re in that ridiculous getup, then perhaps the Infinity Recycling people’s machines won’t either.”

Keen to keep the conversation going down this particular track, India said.

“We have two of these suits, so we could both sneak in, couldn’t we?”

“Yes,” replied Teatime, “But as I said earlier, we still have the problem of physical obstacles and guards to bypass. Magic suits aren’t going to get us through locked doors. We will need a diversion, as I said.”

“It would have to be something pretty big,” said Harold, “those guards seemed quite professional and well-organised.”

“Then it sounds like we’re going to need some help.” said India.


“No, we do not give him what he wants,” declared Prada, folding her arms firmly across her chest. “India and the demon are the only ones who know what’s going on and where we are. We cannot possibly allow Moon and his friends to get hold of them.”

“Assuming the demon hasn’t just run off somewhere, of course,” observed Othello, “If it was looking for a chance to get away from us, it’s just been handed the best one yet.”

“I don’t think it will do that, somehow.” Said Mercury. “It has been pretty helpful thus far, besides which, the Reckoner made it quite clear that he would take it personally if the demon betrayed our trust in any way. No I suspect it will follow the plan and go back to the -” He stopped himself and grinned ruefully. “Oooh, I nearly blew it then, didn’t I? Heh, I bet Moon’s got this place bugged in some way – I would if I were him.”

Moon did indeed have the place bugged, and could not help but smile at Mercury’s stopping himself from blabbing at the last moment. He leaned back in his chair, away from the security console. A small screen showed a grainy video feed from the conference room with the three OGS agents in it. It was clear they were not going to give anything away for free, but Moon had just that moment had an idea. He picked up the phone and dialled a number. He drummed his fingers lightly on the arm of his chair as the call went though.

“Hello?” came a woman’s sleepy voice. It was, after all, the middle of the night.

“Dr Flowers? This is RolexBoy. Can you come down to Infinity Recycling right away please?”

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Episode 85

India flung open the door before Harold even had a chance to ring the bell. He allowed his hand, with finger extended, to hang in the air for a moment for comic effect.

“Get in here, demon, and tell me everything that happened!” she barked.

“Pleased to see you too, Agent,” Harold replied, which earned him a Look.

Between them, and with many an irascible shouted instruction from Teatime, Harold and the little monkey had managed not only to get into the car (Mercury had the keys), but also to get it going and to pilot it back to Mr Teeth’s swiss-cheese house without crashing into anything or drawing unwanted attention from the police. Quite an achievement, Harold thought.

He recounted the night’s events in detail to India, a mug of steaming coffee in one hand. He purposefully left out anything about the two silvery cases he had liberated from the crashed truck. He wanted her to ask about them. When he was finished, she obliged him. She pointed to the silvery cases.

“What are those things, then?”

“Well,” replied Harold, lifting one on to the table and opening it, “they might just be the answer to our prayers.” He lifted a bundle of sleek, silvery material out of the case and shook it out for India to see.

“OK” she said carefully, eyes narrowed, “I’m seeing a fancy-looking oversize romper suit. How is going to help us?”

“This is what the guards who captured us – or should I say Prada – were wearing that allowed them to sneak up on us.” Harold explained.

“Seriously? They were dressed in a thing like that and you didn’t see them coming?”
Harold set aside the clothing and reached into the case a second time, lifting out an object the size and shape of a small backpack – complete with straps. “I think this is the power unit or something. When it’s switched on, you can’t be seen or heard, it’s really spooky!”

“Leaving aside for a moment the ironic fact that one of the Fallen thinks something’s spooky, how can we make use of it?” India had reached out and was rubbing the cloth between her thumb and forefinger, like it was a blouse she was considering purchasing.

“Well, I thought we might wear them and sneak back into Infinity Recycling, rescue our people, put an end to whatever’s going on and every one lives happy ever after.” Harold said, brightly.

“If I might inject a much-needed note of reality,” said Teatime, who had been watching. “Even with your magic suits, you can’t just waltz in there. There are still physical obstacles to overcome – locked doors and suchlike.”

“But, I can deal with those,” said Harold, “I – “

“Yes, old stick, I’m sure you can, given time.” Said the monkey patiently, “But don’t you think someone will notice a door opening all by itself – they’ve clearly got cameras all over the wretched place and probably heaps of guards. No, we’re going to need a diversion.”

“Actually, before we all rush down the road making plans,” said India, “we should probably make sure the suits actually work. We might need a special code to operate them or something. If we can’t get them switched on, there’s no use wasting time planning to use them.”

“You make an excellent point, Agent,” said Teatime. He turned to Harold, “Well, off you go old shoe.”

“You sure you want me to do this?” asked Harold.

“Well, the suit’s too big for the monkey, and if it goes bang or something, I’m not indestructible,” retorted India, “so, yes, demon, you get to do it.”

Harold was secretly rather pleased. He’d been itching to try out this clever bit of human technology. Yes, ok, he was a demon and many demons could and did make themselves invisible at will, but he’d never had the time to work on that – and probably never would now. He slipped off his jacket and began to undress down to his underwear. India took one look, blushed and stalked out of the room.
Harold grinned. Teatime sighed and rolled his eyes.

Harold wriggled into the romper suit which was quite stretchy when it came to it, and fitted his six-foot frame quite well. In addition to the suit, there were bootie-like things with soft soles, gloves and a ski-mask. Harold donned all of these.

“It’s safe to come back in now,” he called out to India. “I’m decent.”

“That’s something you’ll never be,” she muttered as she came back into the room.

“Aww, I’m hurt!” said Harold, mockingly, placing a hand over where his heart would be.. “Just when I thought we were beginning to get along and all.”

“Hmph!” was India’s only response. She walked over to the empty case and looked inside. “Hmm, I guess it was too much to hope that they’d leave a handy instruction booklet lying about.”

Harold had picked up the backpack-like object and was examining it.

“There’s a cable here,” he said, “Maybe it connects to the suit somehow.” He ran his hands over the suit until he found a hard lump in the collar of the romper suit. He teased it out between finger and thumb and slid the jack on the end of the cable into it until a soft click told him it was seated correctly.

“Am I invisible yet?” he asked.

“No.” chorused India and Teatime.

“Hmm, obviously, there’s a switch somewhere that’s easy to get to – it would need to be. There’s not one on the backpack, so it must be around here on the suit somewhere.” He put his arms through the straps and shrugged the backpack into place, being careful not to pull the connection apart. He cast his mind back to when the guards had first magically appeared. They had drawn weapons, but before that they’d been apparently clasping one wrist with the opposite hand.
“Got it!” he cried in triumph, pressing the small stud located on the left hand cuff.

He felt a soft vibration start up in the backpack. The biggest change though was that the world had suddenly been re-rendered in weird colours – all purples and greys in lower definition than normal.

“How bout now?” He turned round to see a look of utmost surprise on India’s face, and Teatime bolt upright on the table, his tiny teeth bared – an instinctive monkey reaction to the strange, no doubt.

“Very well, turn it off, turn it off, old sock!” urged Teatime, “We don’t want to run the battery down, do we?” Harold pressed the stud again. The vibration stopped and the world returned to normal colours.

Now he could see her again properly, Harold could not but help notice that India had gone very pale and very quiet.

“Agent? Are you alright?” he asked. “Shall I get you some water?”
“Turn it on again.” She said faintly.

Harold shrugged and did as he was told. The purple-o-vision bloomed silently, filling he field of view once more.

“OK, off again.” India’s voice was firmer now.

Harold complied.

“That is so weird,” she said, shaking her head.

“What is?” asked Harold. “Didn’t the suit work properly? Was I still visible?”
India wiped a hand across her forehead.

“Not only were you not visible, demon,” she replied grimly, “but my teeth stopped itching. I couldn’t sense you at all.”

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Episode 84

Agents Mercury, Othello and Prada looked up guiltily as the door opened. They had been going through the few drawers and cupboards in the conference room, looking for a plug-in telephone after Othello had spotted a socket for one on the wall.

Agent Moon walked in.

“Moon! Tell your goons to let us go!” Prada was on her feet and shouting before the door was even closed behind him.

“Agent Prada,” warned Mercury, “let’s just stay calm and see what Moon has to say for himself.” He looked enquiringly at the latter. “Well?”

Prada slumped grumpily into a seat and began to worry at a hangnail with her teeth. Moon perched himself on the corner of the long conference table and surveyed the three of them. He looked different somehow, more confident, more mature and self-assured.

“Look,” he began, “I realise that this looks really bad –“

“Ya think?” muttered Prada, which earned her a frown from Mercury.

“- but, please believe me when I say that what’s going on here, what I’m involved in, is one of the most important projects this world has ever seen.”

“That’s a bold statement,” said Othello, “Care to elucidate?”

Moon took a moment to scratch at his temple as he composed his thoughts.

“I’d be more than happy to, believe me, but first I need some information from you guys.”

“Oh?” said Mercury, guardedly.

“Yeah, it’s just a small thing really, but I really need to know where Agent India and your pet demon are right now.”

Mercury, Prada and Othello looked at each other briefly, then Mercury spoke.

“And why would you need to know that, Agent?”

“We’re at a very sensitive stage in our work here,” Moon replied, “We really can’t afford to have unpredictable elements running about the place, disturbing things. It’s just too important.’

”You don’t seriously expect us to tell you, just like that, surely.” Said Prada.

Moon sighed. “I suppose not, but I thought it was worth while to ask, anyway.”

“So what now?” said Prada, “You going to start threatening us? Get one of your goons to shoot one of us like you did to Emerald? Like you did to Box?”

Moon’s face reddened.

“Those things were never meant to happen like that, I swear.” He said fervently. “A few people misunderstood what they were supposed to be doing and …” he trailed off, and suddenly, for a moment, he was the Moon they recognised - young, uncertain.

“Did whoever it was who planted the bomb in the warehouse misunderstand as well?” asked Othello, “Only, it seems to me that setting up something like that would take a certain amount of premeditation. Firing a gun can be a spur of the moment thing, but not planting explosives, that takes planning. You’re going to have to do better than that, Moon.”

Moon showed his palms in a conciliatory gesture. “You’re right, of course. In retrospect, it was a stupid thing to have done and, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry, I really am. It’s just that what we’re doing here is so very important.”

“Look, Fallen and Loyal alike have disappeared completely,” said Mercury, “Gone. Vanished. Not dismissed – which was always sufficient before now, but vanished. Are you destroying them somehow? And why target the Loyal when they’re on our side, for pity’s sake! Don’t you realise that you’re upsetting an ancient arrangement that has stood the test of time for centuries?”

“I understand that there are serious implications to what we’re doing here, believe me,” said Moon, “We appreciate that neither the Basement nor the Penthouse is going to be happy with what we’re doing here, but – “ he stood up and began pacing, as if about to deliver a speech.

“Humans have always been stuck in the middle between the two of them, at the mercy of either temptation from the Basement or whatever crumbs of bounty the Penthouse sees fit to bestow.”

“But that’s how it’s meant to be,” interrupted Prada. “If it – “

“Let me finish, please,” said Moon, cutting her off. “The Fallen and the Loyal have abilities that none of us humans can match and yet they hardly ever use them. There’s so much good they could do in the world but they don’t. Why? Because of some ancient agreement – to which we were not even party!”

“Moon, you know perfectly well why they can’t get involved in human affairs,” said Mercury, a not of irritation creeping into his voice. “Any one of them could rule this world without hardly lifting a finger if it so chose. The arrangement is for our protection, so that we are free to conduct our affairs as we see fit. They can try to influence us – that’s all. Our free will is what’s at stake here.”

“I know that!” Moon was beginning to sound angry himself now, “But is it an infringement of anybody’s free will if they get cured of cancer, or if a drought-stricken region suddenly get some rain for once? If a starving kid gets a bowl of rice? They see all this misery and they stand by and do nothing! If somebody saw an old lady fall down in the street and hurt herself, and yet just walked on by, we would be outraged at their lack of compassion. If we mortals can act altruistically, then why can’t they? It would be nothing to them.” He stopped, a little out of breath.

“I’m sure the Loyal at any rate would agree with you,” said Othello, “And I’m sure they very much want to help, but where do you draw the line? You can feed a single starving mouth easily enough, you might even feed a village or a town. Then you might just say to yourself, well, I can end starvation in this whole land altogether by getting the government to stop fighting internecine civil wars with their neighbours. Oh, and while I’m at it, I should get the neighbour governments to improve their human rights records. Pretty soon, if you go down that road, you’d be running the whole place. So it’s best not to even start down that road – hence the arrangement.”

“Well, I think it’s time things changed.” Declared Moon. “If they can’t – or won’t - help then –“

“- you’ll wipe then out.” Prada finished for him, flatly.

“No. That is not what’s happening here – the last thing we want is for any of them to be wiped out.”

“Then what?” asked Mercury.

For a moment, it looked as though Moon were actually going to tell them, but he obviously thought better of it. He shook his head.

“Sorry,” he said, “As I said, I’ll tell you gladly, but only when India and the demon are secured.”

He moved to the door. “Have a think about it and if you change your mind, just tell the guard. In the meantime, I’ll have some drinks and sandwiches sent in.”

The door closed. Mercury, Prada and Othello looked at one another.

“So,” said Mercury, “Do we give him what he wants?”

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Episode 83

“You have absolutely no right to keep us here! Let us go!” Prada’s pale face was flushed with anger.

“Please sit down, miss, and stay calm.” Said Nugent, patiently. “I’m sure everything will be fine, but we have our orders. Someone will be along to speak to you soon.” He closed the door firmly behind him, leaving Prada, Othello and Mercury alone together for the first time since their capture.
Othello waited a few moments and then went over to the door. He eased it open a crack, glanced out and quickly closed it again.

“Two guards outside,” he said. “Armed.”

Mercury, meanwhile was checking the windows.

“These can’t be opened,” he sighed. “Looks like we’re here for the duration.”

“And since they have our phones, we can’t even let India know what’s happened.” Said Prada. The guards of units Three and Four had searched them quickly and professionally before ushering them into what looked like a perfectly ordinary conference room.

“She’ll know something’s up when we don’t make the check-in call.” Mercury looked at his watch, “in about ten minutes or so.”

“Were the guys that nabbed you wearing Predator-suits as well?” asked Prada.

“Predator suits?” Mercury inquired with raised eyebrow. “Oh! The fancy invisibility things? Yeah, they flat-footed us quite handily. What I wouldn’t give for a few of those things!”

“They’re some seriously advanced tech,” said Othello, “Military maybe. There’s a pile of money being spent here. I think we’re definitely on to something now.” He turned to Prada, “ So what happened to the demon? Did they capture it?”

Teatime crouched under a hedge, straining his tiny eyes and ears to the maximum to reassure himself that there were no perishing humans about. The car they had all arrived in earlier that evening sat, apparently undisturbed, just in the spot they had left it. During their earlier planning session at Mr Teeth’s, it had been decided that the car was the place to meet up if anything untoward happened. Well, untoward was certainly an understatement. A supposedly low-risk recce mission had turned into a complete shambles.

Teatime hoped Harold had a) got away safely and b) remembered this part of the plan. He was a good-hearted chap but, honestly, sometimes he could be such a complete duffer. Besides, it would be colossally inconvenient if the silly oaf had got himself captured. Not only would the investigation be severely hampered, but Teatime would have to explain things to Harold’s father. Not a pleasant prospect.

Harold had not forgotten the plan. It had taken a while, but he had eventually managed to find a service ladder and climb out of the culvert. As soon as he had emerged, he had tried calling Mercury’s phone to let him know what had happened. It had just rung and rung and then gone to voicemail. So had Othello’s. He even called Prada just in case, somehow, she had managed to escape herself, but the result was the same. This did not bode well. Maybe all the agents had been captured then. Well, all except one. India. His number one fan. With some trepidation, he dialled her number.

“All of them?” India cried, incredulous.

“It would seem so, I can’t raise any of them on their cells.”

“But you managed to escape. Just you.” Her voice had a hard, suspicious edge to it.

“Well, Teatime too, probably. We got split up in all the confusion.”
India rubbed her eyes. She needed to think. This was one scenario they had not rehearsed. She was effectively in charge now all of a sudden. This was only her first proper mission. She was the most junior member of the team, she couldn’t be expected to tackle this level of responsibility. It just wasn’t right. Get a grip, she told herself sternly. She took a big breath.

“OK, demon, try and find the monkey-thing and then both of you get back here, so we can figure out what to do next.“

“Will do.”

The line went dead. Well that went surprisingly well, Harold thought as he put the phone away. He had been expecting much more of a tongue-lashing than that. She must be softening.

Right then, back to the car and hopefully a reunion with Teatime.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Episode 82

Harold dropped the twenty feet or so into the culvert, landing lightly. He trotted over to the crashed truck. Some kind of liquid was leaking from somewhere and spreading in a dark pool around it. Harold hoped it wasn’t fuel or anything else flammable: he’d seen lots of movies and TV programmes since coming to earth and vehicles inevitably seemed to go ka-boom shortly after crashing. If motor vehicles were so dangerous, why on earth did humans routinely trust their lives to them? Harold wasn’t afraid for himself; his clothes would be ruined, of course, if the truck blew up, but he would be basically unharmed – if a little weak and in need of pizza. The humans inside would not fare so well, however, so chop-chop, old bean, he told himself in his best mental imitation of Teatime.

The truck’s rear end was closest to him and one of the doors, having burst open in the crash, was lying invitingly open on the ground, providing a handy means for Harold to scramble in.

The inside of the truck was a shambles. There had clearly been a lot of complicated and delicate equipment in here, but most of it had been torn from its mountings in the crash and was smashed and scattered all over the place. Bits of broken glass glittered everywhere. Thankfully, there was no electrical sparking – indeed, all was eerily quiet. Harold’s night vision, demonically good as it was, soon allowed him to spot the rear compartment’s lone occupant.

The man was unconscious with a sizeable gash on his forehead which was bleeding freely. He was lying sprawled on top of a small heap of busted up equipment. Further examination, however, was hampered by two large silvery equipment cases which had tumbled onto the man’s body and legs. Harold grabbed the handle of the nearest one and unceremoniously slung it out through the door-hole, where it landed with a clatter on the concrete beyond. The second one followed suit shortly after.

Harold crouched next to the man. He was quite young by the looks of it, which was good as it meant that he would be strong and healthy. Humans’ bodies were so terrifically delicate, though. One wrong move from Harold and a bad situation might become much, much worse. Harold had seen fly-on-the-wall documentaries about hospital ERs and knew that broken necks and spines were bad news. If he moved the man… He wracked his brains for a moment, wrestling with the beginnings of an idea, then shrugged to himself: it was worth a try, surely?

He tentatively reached out his hand and, using the same facility that had allowed him to sense the locks on the various doors he had opened, he tried to ‘see’ if anything was broken in the man’s body. The rush of sensation he received in return was very odd indeed: humans, it transpired, were basically a big bag of warm squishy with a bony frame. Fortunately, the man seemed to be undamaged apart from the knock on the head he’d received.

Harold carefully manoeuvred the limp and distinctly uncooperative form out through the door hole and dragged it far enough away (he hoped) from any potential ka-boom. Not knowing anything about recovery positions or anything much else of First Aid (the Basement did not have this subject on its curriculum for some reason), he made the fellow as comfortable as he could, then headed back to the van.

As he trotted past them on his way to the front of the truck, Harold glanced at the two bulky cases he had ejected so carelessly. They bore the Rainbow Industries logo as well as some other black stencilled lettering: RI-180-A Smart Camouflage (Medium). Harold felt a stab of excitement: if those cases contained what he thought they did, then getting Prada back might be a tad easier.

There was no time for that now, however.

Harold scrambled up onto the passenger side of the vehicle, which was now effectively its roof, and made his way over to the driver’s compartment. Through the broken passenger side window, Harold could see that both airbags had gone off and then deflated, leaving their fabric draped in pale folds eerily reminiscent of a shroud, over the occupants, neither of whom was moving.

Harold stood up and tried to tug the passenger door open, but it was badly buckled and refused to budge. Favouring the universe with a gimme-a-break-already sigh, Harold crouched down again and used his abilities, just as he had done on Mr Peck’s cable-tie handcuffs, teasing the molecules of the twisted metal apart bit by bit, so as to avoid sparks and subsequent unwelcome ka-booms.

The door now open, Harold reached in and gently lifted the air-bag material out of the way, the better to see the two men. A hand-scan (as he suddenly decided to called it) revealed that the passenger had a broken arm and a couple of cracked ribs, as well as a large egg of a bump on the side of his head – no doubt the cause of his unconsciousness. He tried to reach down to the driver to check on him, but the bulk of the passenger’s body prevented it.

The passenger himself was probably not in too great a danger from his injuries, Harold thought (so, you’re a Doctor all of a sudden, taunted his own inner voice), but clearly the man would benefit by not being in the truck any longer than was necessary.

But how to get him out safely?

The truck’s front windshield was a spider web of cracks, but was, miraculously, still more or less in one piece. If Harold could just remove it, there would be a nice big aperture through which rescue could be effected. He was just starting to congratulate himself on his own inventiveness when the sound of a passing siren drifted down from the highway above.

He smacked himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand. You idiot! he told himself, you should have rung for an ambulance before getting stuck in!

He reached for his phone, but, as his fingers curled around its cool smooth plastic, he suddenly remembered all those NO MOBILE PHONE signs displayed so prominently in filling stations. Mouthing a silent phew at his lucky escape, he jumped down to the ground.

Once he got to work on it, the windscreen all but fell out of its own accord and, with the large gap it left, Harold was now able to check on the truck’s driver at last.

The driver’s corner of the truck had borne the full brunt of the vehicle’s high speed impact with the unyielding concrete of the culvert’s wall. There was nothing anyone could do for the driver now.

Shaking his head, Harold carefully eased the passenger out of the truck and dragged him as gently as he could over to where he had left the other man, laying him down beside his comrade. He then dialled 911 and gave brief details of the men’s injuries and the location.

That done, he suddenly felt quite drained. All the tearing about at high speed, followed by all the scanning and cutting of metal and glass had apparently taken its toll. What he wouldn’t give for some pizza right now! No rest for the wicked, though, he told himself.

Slinging the straps of the two cases over his shoulders, Harold started walking along the culvert and away from the crash site – it wouldn’t do to be around when the medics (and Police, probably) showed up. Now, there had to be a service ladder or something around here somewhere.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Episode 81

Harold found himself running across an area of rough ground, mostly loose, dry dirt with the odd tussock of scrubby grass dotted here and there. Behind him, he could hear the truck’s engine being revved and what sounded like a very bad-tempered clash of gears as it was hastily slammed into reverse. Hopefully, the Infinity Recycling crew would waste a lot of precious time getting the truck back out of the loading yard and onto the road again, time he could use to his advantage.

He looked back to see if any of them had followed him over the fence, but could see nothing except the sweep of the truck’s lights as it swung around, and even these disappeared as it drove out of the yard.

Where would they go?

Harold’s mind raced: having seen him run off into the dark, they would try to find a way onto this open area as soon as they could. He wasn’t out of the woods yet by a long chalk. Heh, woods would be quite handy in his current predicament.

Then he had an idea. Whipping out his phone, he called up Google Maps. It took a maddeningly long time for the app to work out where he was and display the map of the area, but eventually it appeared.

Up ahead, about half a mile off, Harold could see a line of moving lights. So that would be the highway indicated on the map just there then. So, that bit was the business park and there was the loading yard. Harold zoomed the image out to get the whole of the rough ground onto the screen. It looked like there was just the one place that a vehicle could get through and was it just over there….

Sure enough, as if on cue, like the eyes of some malevolent creature, the truck’s headlights appeared and began to grow larger as the vehicle bounced and bumped its way onto the field.

Harold headed for the lights of the highway. Maybe he’d be able to persuade someone to stop and give him a ride (unlikely! he admonished himself), but even so, once he actually was on the well-lit main road, surely the IR people wouldn’t be able to try and capture him without drawing a lot on unwelcome attention. It was definitely the best bet at this stage.

The truck’s engine roared as the driver floored the accelerator. Harold risked a look back and saw that the truck was on a somewhat oblique course to his; it looked like the truck’s occupants didn’t exactly know where he was at this point, which was fine by him.

The highway lights drew steadily closer. He might make it yet.

Suddenly, the truck accelerated past Harold on what was now almost a parallel course, albeit a hundred yards to the side. Darn it!  They must have figured out the highway was his best bet and were trying to get there before he did. That was not good news: the open ground was a rough wedge shape with the narrowest part abutting the highway. If they did get there in time and got their freezing machine going again there was no way he was getting past them. He slowed to a stop; no point in running straight into their trap. The obvious thing would be to head back the way he’d come, putting maximum distance between himself and them.

He turned and began to run back.

Behind him, the truck’s engine, which had been a more or less constant roar suddenly rose in pitch, giving out a tortured mechanical scream. This lasted but a moment, however, before being cut off by a horrendous crashing sound, followed by the nails-on-blackboard screech of something heavy and metallic sliding against something very hard and very rough.

Then all at once there was silence.

Harold whirled round.

The truck was gone.

He stood there for a few moments, at a loss. In his experience, trucks did not just disappear. After a while, though, a new sound came to his ears, an irregular ticking interspersed with the occasional spong of cooling metal.

Harold made his way over to where the noise was coming from. The mystery of its sudden vanishing act was solved.  A twenty foot wide, twenty foot deep solid concrete drainage culvert ran more of less parallel to the highway. The truck’s driver simply hadn’t seen it in time.

The truck lay on its side at the bottom of the far wall. It must have hit at an angle, its momentum flipping it round a full 180 degrees given that it was now facing back the way it had been going. From what Harold could see of it, the driver’s side was completely staved in and the rest of the truck looked pretty bent and battered. It wouldn’t be following anyone anywhere now.

For a moment his spirits soared. This was his chance! He could get away, hook up with Teatime, Othello and Mercury and figure out how to rescue Prada.

But, a more level-headed thought insisted, there were people in that truck. If they had survived the crash, they were very likely to be needing medical attention.

So call an ambulance and leave them to take care of it.

But an ambulance could take ages, those people needed help now.

But if they weren’t that badly injured after all, he’d be walking straight into their arms.

Not badly injured?  Seriously?  The truck was a mess.

Harold gazed at the crumpled truck for a moment longer and then with a sigh, walked to the edge of the culvert and jumped down into it.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Episode 80

Harold risked a glance back over his shoulder as he ran. It looked like Prada was trying to make use of Teatime’s distraction herself: she was struggling manfully (girlfully?) in the grip of two of the silver-suited guards. The other two were pounding along the road after him. Of Teatime, there was no visible sign. He hoped the little monkey was ok. With any luck, the humans in their usual arrogance would overlook him as just a dumb animal and he would make good his escape.

What about Agent Prada, though?

A razor-edged icicle of guilt stabbed into his mind and he almost turned back for her. A second thought, however, hot on the heels of the first pointed out, quite reasonably, that getting himself captured would be no help whatsoever to anybody, so he shifted up a gear to put some distance between himself and his pursuers. His earthly vessel was not super-strong, but it was very fast and it did not get tired or out of breath. His pursuers were soon falling behind.

Inside the Infinity Recycling building, Nugent cursed softly as the red dot on the c-detector winked out.

“Unit four, this is Sec-1, what’s your status?”

Unit four’s leader responded after a few moments. “Sec-1, we have captured one of the intruders, the other one ran off. Roe and Rehman are in pursuit.”

“Copy that, unit four ”

Nugent switched to a different channel. “Mobile team, immediate scramble. We have a contact heading south.”

“Mobile team, acknowledged,” came the crisp reply.

Mercury and Othello were caught as flat-footed as Prada and Harold had been – only they didn’t have a handy monkey-shaped distraction, so ended up being matched ignominiously into the Infinity Recycling building by the unsmiling guards of Unit three.

As soon as he saw that Harold had got clear, Teatime leapt away from the flailing arms of the stupid human guards and set off in the same general direction as the demon. He had no hope of catching him, of course, but one direction was as good as another under the circumstances. Unlike Harold, however, Teatime had no qualms whatsoever about leaving Prada to her fate. So far as he was concerned, she could take care of herself and the guards’ weapons were clearly meant to intimidate rather than injure or kill since they had not tried to use them. Besides which, any humans struggling with her were humans who were not chasing him.

Somewhere far behind him, Harold heard an engine cough into life. This was not good: he could not possibly outrun a motor vehicle, and what if it was equipped like the one at the safe house that had managed to freeze him? He had to get away from the road and hope the vehicle was not set up to travel over rough terrain – not that there was much of that in this over-landscaped and asphalt-covered place.

The sound of the engine was growing louder now. It was a hungry, angry sound to Harold’s ears.

He veered off the main road and headed for a gap between Eaton-Brewer Inc and Knight Securities, a narrow service road of some kind. He hoped that the Infinity Recycling vehicle would carry on along the main route and that his short-cut would get him clear of the business park. If he could get to some roadless ground…

The buildings were two lightless boxes looming up on either side as he ran between them, his footfalls echoing madly off the walls. Behind him, he heard the vehicle shift down and slow – it was turning too! Harold was sure that the driver could not have actually seen him; the road was curved and he would have been far enough around to be out of sight, he was sure. Either the driver had got very lucky in his guesses or he had some means of tracking him. Now that would be really bad news. It made sense though: he and Prada had been very careful to stay a good distance from the cameras and lighting at Infinity Recycling and yet they had still been discovered. So, unless Mercury or Othello had blundered – and he could not believe they would have – it must have been his own presence that had alerted the strange silver-suited guards. It would appear they had some sort of demon-detection technology.

Project Dynamo had been perfected after all.

The service road emerged onto another road, running parallel to the original one. Harold ran straight across it, looking left and right in desperation, hoping for any kind of narrow gap that would prevent the vehicle from following. Nothing obvious presented itself and he could feel panic rising as the sound of the vehicle changed: it was now between the buildings and would emerge at any moment.

He took another service road. This one curved around the back of a building into a loading yard of some sort.

Dead end!

A high fence surrounded the yard. Harold glanced around wildly. He could hear the vehicle’s wheels bump up over a drainage grating that had marked the entrance to the service road. He could not be caught here!

Then he spied it – a dumpster hunkered down in the corner of the yard. He sprinted over to it, leapt up onto it, his feet clanging noisily on the metal of its lid, and bounced-jumped for the top of the fence.

His hands closed around the topmost horizontal bar and he began to heave himself up, ready to swing over the top.

The world was suddenly filled with light as the vehicle roared into the yard and screeched to a stop. Immediately, a strange whining sound filled the air and Harold’s vision swam crazily.

The freezing machine!

More terrified than he had ever been in his long life, he hurled himself over the top of the fence, not bothering to engineer a clever landing – he was a demon after all, and it was not like he would break an ankle.

He hit the dirt on the other side of the fence hard, rolled and staggered to his feet. His limbs felt unaccountably sluggish and heavy. He felt – what was the words the humans used, tired! His head was full of cotton wool. He lurched forward a step or two, the world tilting and listing crazily, then he took another few. A few yards behind him and a million miles away, the engine of the vehicle was idling now and he could hear shouts. They sounded angry. That was a good thing. He stumbled forward a few more drunken steps and suddenly started to feel more normal. Maybe the machine wasn’t fully switched on yet, maybe it had to warm up or something.

A balloon of hope and excitement suddenly inflated inside him and he pushed himself onward into the darkness, feeling better with every step.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Episode 79

Moon put down the phone and jumped out of bed. A mixture of excitement and puzzlement was building inside him. The c-detectors at Infinity had never so much as twitched before now, except when rigged for staff training exercises. Nugent had said the reading was low - a mere 3.5, but it was stable and seemed to be moving purposefully and systematically around the outside of the site.

Moon tugged on his trousers and hurriedly fished his shirt and jacket off the floor. One shoe was playing hard-to-get under the bed and he had practically to lie down full-length to retrieve it.

There could really only be one explanation for the blip. Somehow, Mercury and his team, plus their pet demon by the looks of things, had figured out where the facility was! Keys, phone, phone, phone! Where the hell was his phone? Oh, there it was on the bedside table. How on earth had they managed to find out where the facility was? Flowers's interrogation of Box had revealed that they knew nothing worth knowing. The facility wasn't even officially listed as belonging to Infinity Recycling - only some serious digging would have revealed the connection. Someone obviously had been digging, though, probably Othello, he would have been the only one smart enough. Flinging on his jacket, Moon headed for the door.

The quiet of the night was broken by the sound of an approaching vehicle.

"Quick, get down behind here," Prada whispered, tugging Harold's arm. They both crouched down behind Adept Engineering's conveniently placed and neatly clipped box hedge. Teatime hopped off Harold's shoulder and moved toward the hedge with a view to climbing up it.

"How exciting is this?" whispered Harold excitedly.

"Don't get too enthusiastic," she whispered back, "we're just keeping a low profile is all, just a precaution. After all, it's unlikely anybody would look twice at us anyway, but still..."

Teatime peered over the top of the hedge as the vehicle passed by. After a moment, he clambered down to ground level.

"False alarm, chaps," he said, "It was just a delivery van or some such."

Nugent repositioned the CCTV cameras to point to the area corresponding to the dot on the c-detector. Annoyingly, the area lay just beyond the reach of the perimeter lighting, so he brought the thermal camera to bear on the same spot. Aha! Two crouching figures could be made out, along with a third much smaller one on the ground next to them. Nugent spoke into his headset microphone.

"Units one, two and three, search your sectors, we have a positive in sector 4 and there may be others."

"Unit four. You have two targets and possibly a small animal of some kind on your front porch."

"Unit four, copy." came the crisp reply.

It was as if the guards appeared out of nowhere. Prada and Harold scrambled to their feet as the six men appeared suddenly to shimmer into existence around them. They were all dressed from head-to-toe in a snug-fitting uniform of some strange-looking material. It resembled more than anything the sort of shiny nylon silver suits actors wore in old sci-fi B movies that were meant to show that in the far, far future mankind may have had jet-packs and food pills, but absolutely no sense of style. The guards' heads were covered in a ski-mask like affair of the same stuff and round their waists they had broad pouched belts, a-la Batman, and some kind of oblong backpacks on their backs. Science Fiction props their costumes might have been, but the weapons they were now drawing looked perfectly realistic.

One of the men, a leader of some sort presumably, whipped off his ski mask. Underneath, he was revealed to be a pleasant-looking, blond man in his late twenties.

"Sir? Ma-am?" he began, "I have to inform you you're trespassing on private property and I'm gonna have to ask you to come with us please"

Harold and Prada glanced at each other, neither sure exactly what to do. Of course, the guards might just want to ask them a few questions and then let them go on their way, in which case, there would be no harm in going with them. On the other hand, if the guards were part of the shadowy organisation responsible for the disappearance of the angels and demons and possibly the murder of Agent Emerald as well, it would be very foolish to go with them right now.

Suddenly, one of the guards grabbed at his head as a quick, agile shape landed upon it and began tearing at the ski mask covering the man's face.

"Run!" screeched Teatime in Infernal and leapt off the man's head just as one of his colleagues took a swipe at him.

Harold vaulted the low hedge and ran.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Episode 78

It was night once more, with just a few stars showing, as Mercury stopped the car.

"OK," he said, "The place Moon visited today is just at the end of this road on the right – you've seen it on Google earth. We're just going to go around the outside and see what we can see for ourselves. Be on the lookout for cameras and any other security . The whole idea is just to get a good look and see if there might be a way in or if there's anything else we can learn about the place. Let's try not to arouse suspicion."

Harold could feel a tingle of excitement as he got out of the car. They had finally made some real progress, they were finally closing in on their mysterious adversary.

Looking around though, he had to admit that, as secret headquarters went, this place was a bit of a let-down. The business park was typical of its type – a campus of single or two-storey brick buildings, as alike as Lego blocks. Each pale brick-built building was surrounded by a block-paved parking area and the regulation amount of carefully landscaped but essentially uninspired lawn and planting. Each building had a tasteful sign proclaiming the name of the company housed in it – Adept Engineering, MillCo, Branch & Simons, and so on.

"We'll be approaching Moon's building from the rear, which should be less obtrusive, but we still need to be careful." Mercury said quietly. "Prada, you're with the demon and Mr Teatime. Othello, you're with me." He took out his phone and dialled India's number. "OK, we're at the park and we're about to do a circuit of the building."

They set off, splitting up at the next intersection, so as to approach the building from different directions and save time by covering the area in two teams.

"Looks like a few things have changed since Google maps last photographed this place." murmured Prada, as she and Harold looked at Infinity Recycling's premises. Unlike the other Lego blocks on the park, this one had a 10-foot high fence of sturdy metal railings running around it. The landscaping had been torn out and replaced by asphalt. The building itself was not noticeably different from any others on the park. A couple of white trucks and a handful of cars were parked in the parking area and, while most of the building was in darkness, light glowed behind drawn blinds in a couple of the ground floor windows. The parking area itself was well-lit by tall light poles around the perimeter.

"There seems to be an awful lot of security for a recycling business," said Teatime. "I can't imagine anyone wanting to steal what is essentially rubbish."

"Maybe they recover gold from old circuit boards or something, or maybe it's toxic stuff and they need to keep people out for safety." said Prada, peering up at a light pole next to the fence. "Is that a camera up there?"

Harold looked where she was indicating and saw the telltale shape. "Looks like there might be more than one." he said.

"Maybe they've got infrared as well, just in case." Prada got out her notebok and jotted this detail down, marking the position of the pole on a sketch-map.  She took out a camera of her own and took a few quick photos. "OK, Let's move around the next corner."

They started walking, being careful to stay well out of the range of the light.

Inside the building, a security guard set down his coffee mug.  The console in front of him had emitted a beep, and a red LED was flashing. Below it, a monitor showed a red dot moving slowly to the east of the building. The security guard's heart-rate increased: this particular monitor had never shown anything, except during training exercises.

He picked up the phone and dialled a few digits. "This is Nugent at Security-one. Sorry to disturb you, but I thought you should know that the c-detector's just lit up. Yes, for real"

Monday, 25 April 2011

Episode 77

Moon stopped his car at the entrance to a non-descript campus on an equally unimpressive business park. A uniformed guard emerged from the little hut next to the security barrier, clip board in hand, and motioned for Moon to lower his window.

Moon turned off his car stereo, cutting off the sound of Mitch Carpenter, lead singer of Chip off the Old Block, going on about how his heart felt like it had a great big Charley Horse now all his happiness had fled because of old ladies' gossip or some such twaddle - at least that's what it had sounded like. That was one CD that was definitely going back to its lender without being copied!

He gave his name and showed his id to the guard and was waved through quickly enough.

Now that he was actually here, he could feel the excitement building inside him. The phone call last evening had been most intriguing. If the project had actually come up with some real results, he wouldn't be the only one with cause for gratitude. The implications were staggering,

Haines was waiting for him in the Spartan little reception area. Moon signed in and the two men walked wordlessly to the laboratory where the demonstration was to take place.

As they entered the lab, Dr Flowers stood up behind her desk and greeted Moon warmly.
"Welcome, would you like some coffee or something before we get started?"
"No thanks, I had one just before setting out," Moon gazed around the room in bemused interest. There was a definite Heath-Robinson look to a lot of the equipment - a sort of mix and match approach, connecting all kinds of disparate bits of electrical and electronic components had been adopted, by the looks of it.

Flowers saw Moon looking.

"At this early stage, we're still trying to figure things out." she said, "Obviously, once we've refined our techniques, we can build something a little less messy-looking. Shall we start? If you take a seat here, you'll get a good view."

Haines sat down on a stool next to a large, blocky piece of equipment, encrusted with lights and dials and with numerous wires coming out of it. He then proceeded to pull onto his head what looked for all the world like a swimming cap. The cap was covered with round metal clips.

Flowers moved in and began to connect the wires from the equipment to the clips on Haines's swimming cap. When they were all connected, she flipped switches and the large box hummed to life.

"All set?" she asked.

Haines nodded.

Flowers picked up a telephone that lay next to the blinky-lights box.

"Pilkington? Switch on number three, if you please."

She replaced the handset and moved to where a lumpy shape lay under green surgical cloths on the bench.

She twitched these aside and Moon was surprised to see the body of a small monkey lying underneath.

Noticing Moon's startled reaction, Flowers smiled. "Don't worry," she said, "it's not dead, just anaesthetised." She lifted another cloth to reveal a surgical tray and instruments. Quickly donning some rubber gloves, she swabbed an area on the monkey's arm with antiseptic. It looked to Moon like a patch had been shaved in the monkey's fur. Flowers then took a scalpel from the tray and with deft precision, made a two-inch cut in the monkey's skin. Immediately, blood flowed out onto the green sheets. Flowers stepped aside and motioned to Haines, who stepped up to where Flowers had stood.

"Watch closely," said Flowers, and Moon leaned in, transfixed.

Haines reached over to where the little monkey lay and touched its arm, Moon wasn't sure, but he thought he saw the most minuscule flash or spark of blue run from Haines's finger to the animal. Haines then stepped back, a strangely euphoric look on his face.. With the blood covering the area, Moon could not see that anything had changed. He looked at Flowers with a quizzical expression. She grinned, stepped forward and swabbed the blood away.

"Amazing!" breathed Moon.

There was no sign whatsoever of the cut Flowers had just made.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Episode 76

Seeing Harold's crestfallen look, Teatime gave an exasperated sigh.

"Well you needn't look so sorry for yourself," he scolded, "I mean, you didn't seriously believe, even for one second, that you'd be staying here when this lot's all over, did you?"

"To be honest," admitted Harold, gloomily "I hadn't actually been thinking about it at all. I got kind of caught up the excitement of trying to solve the mystery and, well, you know..." he trailed off.

"Well, I hate to break it to you, old sock," replied the little monkey, "but for you and your kind, there just aren't any happy endings, and it's no use pretending there are."

Harold stood up, picked up his plate and cutlery and carried them to the sink before opening the kitchen door.

"Now, where are you off to?" inquired Teatime.

"Just going outside into the garden for a while." replied Harold, stepping outside, "The sun will be up in a few hours and thought I'd grab a chance to enjoy the coolness."

A few stars were out, scattered randomly about the dark velvet sky like shiny crumbs dropped from some celestial table. Harold took a deep breath. The rich scent of the night garden was magical, heady and musky. A light breeze fingered the trees and plants that grew in shapeless profusion in the large enclosure of Mr Teeth's garden, causing them to whisper to one another conspiratorially.

Harold strolled across the smooth green carpet of the lawn to where he could make out a small stone seat next to a pond. Mr Teeth – or his landscaper – had designed with sensitivity: the little stone bench was simple and the pond artfully natural-looking. Harold sat down and shook his head. He liked Teatime really, and was somewhat in awe of his intelligence and general savoir-faire, but most charitable thing that could probably be said of the little fellow was that he lacked empathy at times. Scratch that, thought Harold ruefully. Teatime, my friend, you might be able to out-think me blindfolded and with one hand tied behind your back, but you're about as subtle as a pregnant rhino on a bad hormone day. He smiled at the image his train of thought had conjured up.

Overhead, a shower of meteorites appeared in the sky, blazing for a few moments against the blackness, only to disappear as suddenly as they arrived. Harold watched it. The night was really putting on a show for its lone spectator, it seemed. He would miss things like this.  Humans had so much beauty to enjoy all the time. Still, there was nothing to be done about it, so there was no use moping. He lingered in the garden, savouring the time alone, until the first rays of the sun began to apply touches of colour to everything.


"Damn vending machine's only got mushroom soup, no tomato, sorry, Doc." The voice had lost its mosquito whine and was sounding more normal as it swirled into the consciousness of the Listener. How it knew what was normal for these voices it was not sure, but it did know, which was a small anchor-point in a vast dark sea of uncertainty.

"Oh well," Came the second voice (the Flowers woman, the Listener thought). "It'll have to do. Now let's go over what we're going to be doing this afternoon, I want RolexBoy to be genuinely impressed with what we're doing here."

"Enough to keep funding us, anyway." chuckled the first voice.

"There's more than just money at stake here, Haynes," chided Flowers.

"I know, sorry, Doc."

"Anyway," continued Flowers, "We had good repeatability yesterday with the monkeys, so I thought we should show him them."

"Just the monkeys?"

"Yes, why, what are you thinking?"

"Well," said Haynes, "I was thinking we could maybe do something a little more ambitious. Maybe demonstrate on one of us."

"On an actual human?" Flowers's voice had risen somewhat and was bordering on the unattractively shrill, "Are you mad? We've only just about got a reliable result with the monkeys – and that's only been since yesterday. It's way too risky to contemplate – and certainly not in front of the paying customer, as it were. Plus, there is the small matter of ethics. No, we'll use one of the monkeys to show him."

"I wasn't thinking of doing anything life-threatening, it would of course be a volunteer and there'd be just a small – "

"Absolutely not!" Flowers was adamant.

"You're the boss." sighed Haynes.

You're the boss.



The word sent a thrill though the Listener. He had been a boss once. He had been called that by somebody.  The memory was like the thinnest gossamer strand - if the Listener tugged on it too hard, it would snap and leave nothing behind. 

Gently, oh, so gently, the Listener allowed the whisp of memory to float where it would.  Soon, it touched something and other memories began to appear one by one.  A city, music, laughter.  Light.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Episode 75

“Quickly! Paper towels and boiling water, for pity’s sake!” gasped Teatime, as he hurtled past an astonished Harold and on down the corridor. Harold closed Moon’s door as quietly as possible before setting off after the little monkey.

“What on earth happened to you?” he asked as he caught up, “and – what IS that awful smell?”

“That perishing Moon fellow decided he wanted a midnight snack, so I was forced to sequester myself at short notice in his kitchen rubbish bin – a most unpleasant and malodorous place of concealment, I can tell you.” replied Teatime. “It is a mystery to baffle even the wisest sage why humans, with a world of delicious natural foods to choose from, still insist on filling their bellies with such disgusting lifeless fare as comes in little film-wrapped plastic trays, which they then consume whilst in the mindless, slack-jawed thrall of the television. I ended up sitting in the semi-congealed remains of such a dish – an experience which could actually be improved by a long hot soak in a bath of industrial waste!”

Harold burst out laughing.

“It’s not funny!” Teatime cried, crossly. “I was in there for simply ages. The fellow just would not go back to bed.”

“Begging your pardon,” laughed Harold, “but it is rather hilarious – having to hide in a bin – you couldn’t make this stuff up.”

“No, you jolly well couldn’t!” agreed the little monkey huffily.

“What were you doing in the kitchen, anyway?” asked Harold.

“Oh, I decided to take the opportunity to rustle up a three course dinner, of course!” retorted Teatime, “ What do you THINK I was doing there? I was looking for the key to Moon’s briefcase, the wretched fellow had locked it so I wasn’t able to plant the tracker inside.”

“I see. But you did plant the tracker somewhere?”

“Yes, yes, I settled for slipping it into the lining of his jacket in the end – I just hope he continues to wear it.”

“Well, that’s better than nothing anyway,” said Harold, “I’m just glad we weren’t discovered.”

“Indeed,” agreed Teatime.

Outside the building, the street was fairly dark and quiet. In the distance an ambulance siren wailed. Harold walked down the street and round the corner to where Othello was waiting in the car.

“Mission accomplished,” he said, climbing in.

“What took you so long?” asked Othello. “I was about to come in after you.”

“It’s a long story,” laughed Harold. “But not terribly newsworthy.” He added, seeing Teatime’s scowl. Othello grunted and started up the car.

They soon arrived back at Mr Teeth’s, where only Mercury was still waiting up for them.

“Well, let’s hope Moon doesn’t find the tracker or any traces of our little visit,” he said, after hearing the night’s events, as related by a grinning Harold, “he’s as sharp as a tack, that one, and can probably put two and two together as well as anybody.” He stifled a huge yawn, “Well, I think I’ll turn in now, see you in the morning.” He wandered off in the direction of the bedrooms.

“You know,” said Harold, “all that talk of kitchens and food has made me realise we haven’t had any proper food for hours – those sugar cookies have completely worn off. Fancy sharing some sort of disgusting lifeless fare with me?”

“Very funny,” said Teatime.

They wandered into the kitchen where a quick rummage through Mr Teeth’s cupboards and refrigerator yielded various cold meats, a heap of salad, bread and butter and a pile of enough fresh fruit to make even Teatime salivate a little.

“Right,” declared Harold, “that looks about enough. Let’s try it on for size.”

They set to.

“I hope this tracker device thing works out,” said Teatime, after a while.

“Yeah, it’d be nice to finally make some real progress at last,” agreed Harold. “Just think, we might actually solve the case in a few days. I can’t wait!”

“Really?” asked Teatime, “I’d have thought you would have wanted it to last as long as possible.”

“Why would I want that?” asked Harold, puzzled.

“Well, old biscuit,” explained the little monkey, “Once the case is finally over, these humans aren’t exactly going to let you hang about up here, are they? It’ll be back to the Basement for you before you can say Jack Robinson, won’t it?”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.” Said Harold.

He put down his knife and fork, his appetite had suddenly disappeared.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Episode 74

Teatime crouched anxiously in Moon’s garbage bin, keeping as still as possible. This was not easy, as he seemed to be sitting in a disgusting-smelling plastic meal tray, complete with popcorn-sized lumps of a decidedly squishy substance still adhering to it. As the sounds of Moon moving about in the kitchen came to him inside the malodorous receptacle (a bowl of cereal and a glass of water seemed to be in order), Teatime’s initial relief at having hidden himself so quickly disappeared like so much melting snow, to be replaced by an exasperated questioning in his mind of the wisdom of hiding in a place from which there was no possibility of escape if discovered.

For his part, Moon was a little puzzled: as he’d made his way across the living room with a view to fixing himself a little snack (the macaroni cheese ready meal had been as unsatisfying as it had been unappetising), he’d been sure he’d heard a noise coming from the kitchen, but when he’d arrived and flipped on the light, all had been still and quiet - apart from one thing. The cutlery drawer had been slightly open. Now Moon was sure he’d left it properly closed. Nothing else was amiss though, so he dismissed the noise as a product of the imagination of a half-asleep brain.

As he dipped his spoon into the cereal and munched, he thought about the possible new chapter in his life that looked to be opening up. The message he’d received earlier that day had been most promising, but on no account was he going to get his hopes up too much – that way lay disappointment. Still, so long as his informant hadn’t been painting too rosy a picture of things, there was much to hope for.

Moon paused for a moment to give silent thanks for the wanderlust that had taken him on that trip to Europe. It had almost cleaned out his then meagre bank account, but it had been so worth it to have run purely by chance into his uncle in Switzerland. And what a momentous meeting it had turned out to be. They’d met on a climb and had hit it off almost immediately. It had taken them both some time to realise they were related, but by then they were fast friends anyway. Once back home, Moon had found a job in OGS more-or-less waiting for him. Everything had been going along very nicely after that - until Moon had got a call telling him his uncle had been injured in a climbing accident. As the last of the cereal disappeared, revealing the ridiculous hearts-and-flowers motif at the bottom of the bowl, Moon felt more hopeful than he had at any time since then. If things worked out, after tomorrow, everybody would have to sit up and take notice: not just OGS, with its internal politics and adherence to the old ways, but eventually the whole world.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Episode 73

The sweetness of the sugar cookies was but a distant memory. The minutes ticked by as Harold loitered in the corridor awaiting Teatime's return. The little monkey seemed to be taking an awfully long time and Harold was feeling more and more conspicuous. Should anyone happen along, the sight of a strange, unkempt fellow clad in too-short jeans and scruffy leather jacket would be sure to raise an eyebrow or two. It wasn't a bit like on TV, where, whenever there was any kind of covert operation going on, they never showed this side of things - the waiting about while someone else did all the exciting bits. Earlier that day, they had discussed the idea of Harold himself going into Moon's apartment to plant the trackers, but it was agreed that Teatime, who was small and nimble would be less likely to disturb a sleeping Moon.

Inside the apartment, which was dark now that Harold had let the front door close, Teatime was doing his very best to be silent and to disturb nothing. He waited for a few minutes in the main room to allow his eyes to adjust fully to the darkness and to get his bearings. He had a torch (a tiny booklight, actually), but was loathe to use it unless absolutely necessary. Around him, the shapes of the furniture gradually began to take dim shape out of the darkness. Human things looked so big and clumsy-looking! Somewhere in the room, a clock ticked away, neatly snipping off each pregnant second. From the bedroom, Teatime could just hear Moon's deep regular breathing. Good, he was properly asleep.

Once satisfied that his night vision was as good as it was ever going to be, he began the search for Moon's briefcase. The OGS agents were sure that he took this with him just about everywhere, so it was a logical place to hide a tracker. In one corner of the room, there was a small computer desk. Thinking it a likely place for Moon to have left the case, Teatime headed over to it, but there was nothing to be found except an old book of matches that had at some point been dropped on the carpet under the desk. Tut, tut, messy boy, thought Teatime. He scanned the room again, this time from the higher vantage point of the desk itself. Aha! There by the coffee table! That had to be it, surely. Teatime jumped noiselessly down to the floor and padded over the expanse of carpet to the dark oblong shape. Carefully, he laid it on its side and examined the catches. His hands being as tiny as they were, Teatime needed to use both on one catch. He pressed with all his strength on the little button that would release the left-hand clasp. The button pressed in alright, but the clasp stayed firmly engaged. Locked! Of all the bad luck! Now he'd have to go searching for the key.

As quickly and quietly as he could, Teatime went around the room looking on every flat surface – climbing up onto every shelf, peering under every piece of furniture. Humans were notoriously careless about these things, so the blasted keys could be anywhere. He'd overheard dozens of conversations involving people having lost keys and things simply because they could never be bothered to designate a particular place to put the perishing things. Honestly, for a dominant species... Teatime could feel the frustration building up inside himself. He had covered the room now and all he had discovered was a biro, a model space ship, a tasteless pair of earrings in the shape of tiny corn-on-the-cobs (a present for some unfortunate female, no doubt) and a crib-sheet listing the keyboard commands for a computer game which rejoiced in the peerless title of Moustache-Monty and the Cabbage-Lords of Pluto.
Where else could the keys be? Teatime heartily hoped that Moon had not taken them into the bedroom with him - that would put the tin lid on it for sure. Maybe in a kitchen drawer....

A streetlamp outside the kitchen window provided a more convenient level of illumination. Teatime hopped up onto a counter and looked around. On the drainer was a mug with a wishing well on it, a plate and some cutlery. In one corner, a biscuit barrel in the shape of an ample bodied piggie grinned back at him from next to a jar of instant coffee and an open packet of sugar. The front of the refrigerator had been turned into an ad hoc notice board with things attached to it by little magnets in the shape of cute chubby angels (Teatime quelled the urge to vomit). His eye fell on a note containing a reminder to tell Annie to "buy some make-up for the baby shower". Whose baby shower it was, or who Annie was, Teatime could not begin to guess, but these little snippets of another's life were quite fascinating in a way. Still, there was no time for such distraction now.

Carefully, he tried one of the top drawers. It was not easy to get the thing open from his position on the countertop, but he couldn't reach it from floor-level. He managed to slide the drawer open about an inch. Feeling that any speed added to his search by having a light far outweighed any risk of discovery, Teatime switched on his little booklight and peered in. Cutlery and no keys. The next drawer had cooking utensils and no keys. The last one had tea towels – and no keys. It looked like he would have to take the plunge and search the bedroom after all. How annoying!

Teatime slid the last drawer closed and then froze. A light had come on in the apartment somewhere, he could see it lighting up the living room through the kitchen doorway. There came the sound of a great yawn, followed by the creak of the bed as Moon got out of it. Then the soft sound of bare feet padding across the living room carpet presaged Moon's imminent appearance. Suppressing the indescribable urge to let out a monkey-screech of fright, Teatime looked for a hiding place.

There was but one, of course. Typical, he thought as he scrambled in. It was like the worst soap opera plot: the bad guy just has to get the midnight munchies at the worst possible moment and the only place to hide is... the rubbish bin!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Epsidoe 72

"Hold on, not so fast." said Harold, "We can't just go running in there. Agent Moon won't be asleep yet, we have to give him chance to eat his supper and go to bed - or whatever he does at the end of the day. Agent Othello said he would call us."

"True enough, old Sock," said Teatime, "Got a bit carried away by the drama of the thing. So now we wait, I suppose."

Harold sat down on the floor and leaned back against a wall. He fished in the sports bag and brought out a paperback he had picked up earlier that evening - The Curious Case of the Candle-Holder and the Wind Chimes. It was a cheap and tacky murder mystery, but it would pass the time. Teatime tutted and fetched out a book of his own - an altogether more worthy tome on the history of the Inuit. About an hour went by when Teatime closed his book with a snap and said,

"Right, why don't you break out some of those sugar cookies you bought? I'm quite keen to get on the outside of some of them."

Harold shrugged and brought out the cookies. Soon he and Teatime set to and it wasn't much longer before there was nothing left but a few crumbs and the wrapper. Harold idly turned it over in his hands. It was a gaudy paprika-coloured thing, with a sickly-sweet close-up picture of a child's smiling mouth wide open to devour one of the cookies. The name of the product was written in such bizarrely stylised lettering that it might as well have written in ancient runes. Harold crumpled it up and tucked it back into the sports bag.

"No sense leaving behind evidence of our being here." He said, "Or of making a mess."

Teatime rolled his eyes, "A litter-conscious demon!" he sighed, "You're still not getting the hang of this whole evil malarkey are you?"

"I can't see the point of it." replied Harold, "The humans seem quite good at it all on their own without us lending a hand."

"That's not the point, though, is it?" said Teatime, his voice assuming that familiar didactic tone that Harold wasn't particularly keen on, "Your side lost. The losers don't get to dictate the terms of their surrender, the winners do. So you get to do the dirty work of providing mankind with a means to exercise his free will. End of story."

"Doesn't mean I have to like it," grumbled Harold.

"Well you should have thought of that before you threw in your lot with your so-called father."

"I know," Harold sighed, "But there's no going back now. The Penthouse does not forget - or forgive. Not the likes of us, anyway."

"So what have you got to lose? If there's no hope of a way back...?" The little monkey let the question hang in the air.

"You sound like my father," said Harold, "He keeps saying that and then calls me stubborn when I refuse to agree. Anyway, this is more fun than running around tempting silly humans, don't you think?"

"It has a certain appeal," admitted Teatime, "Although I wish we didn't have to spend all our time with those stick-in-the-mud agents."

"Well we're stuck with them unless we want to spend our time dodging Baruthiel and that big sword of his."

Demon and monkey lapsed into a rather tense silence after this. After about another twenty minutes, Harold's phone buzzed.

"Moon's apartment is in darkness from what I can see," came Othello's voice. "Suggest you make your move."

"Will do," said Harold and ended the call. "Right then," he said brightly, "Let's go." He replaced the black wig and the spectacles, but left his face as it was - he would change it only if they were discovered. He handed Teatime a small drawstring bag, which the latter slung over his shoulder.

They made their way quietly down the stairs to floor six. Harold pushed the door open quietly a crack and looked up and down the corridor.

"Coast's clear," he said quietly, "Come on".

They walked quietly along the corridor to Agent Moon's door. As the corridor was lit, albeit quite dimly, it was not easy to see if Moon's lights really were off or not. They would just have to trust Othello's judgement.

Harold placed his hands against the wood of the door and felt with his senses for the lock on the other side. Moon was obviously security-conscious: the door was secured with both a five-lever mortise plus a chain. For several seconds, nothing happened.

"Hurry up, old button," urged Teatime, "If someone should happen along..."

"I'm doing my best," Harold whispered back, "Why couldn't there have been a handy heating vent leading into Moon's place that you could have crawled into, then I wouldn't have to stand here like a lemon."

"That kind of ridiculously contrived convenience only happens in films and those cheap novels you enjoy so much, now do get on with it, there's a good fellow,"

Harold returned his attention to the door and concentrated harder. Minutes ticked by. If Harold had been human his muscles would have been seriously cramped and sore from crouching over the lock. As it was his mind was beginning to get fuzzy when, at last, there came a soft click. Harold eased the door open a little, as far as the chain would allow. He gestured for Teatime to go through the gap.

"Are you mad?" whispered the little monkey, "You couldn't get an envelope through there. We need to undo the chain, for pity's sake!"

Allowing the door to re-close a little and propping it open just a crack with his foot, Harold picked up Teatime and held him while he got his tiny arm through the gap and disengaged the chain - which had just enough slack to allow this.

"Ok, in you go and good luck" whispered Harold as the tiny simian disappeared into the darkness.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Episode 71

It was past sunset when Agent Moon opened the heavy glass front door to his apartment block and stepped into the porch. As he fished about in his pocket for his key to the door leading into the entrance lobby proper, he caught sight of a movement reflected in the glass in front of him. Tugging out his earphones (the soundtrack of Kissing Cousins would have to wait), he turned round to see a rather scruffy-looking man of about his own age approaching, toting a large sports bag. The man's unfashionably long black hair flopped over his spectacles with every step as he bounced up the steps. He pushed open the outer door.

“Excuse me,” the newcomer gasped, “I’ve gone and left my building key in my apartment. Do you mind if I come inside with you? I'd really appreciate it.”

Moon wasn’t keen. He didn’t know this man. Granted, he didn’t know many of the people in his building, but he thought he’d seen most of them around at least. This fellow he had not seen, and didn't quite like the look of, although he didn't seem to be drunk or whacked out on drugs or anything. Anyway, in the confines of the porch, it was going to be difficult to stop him if he really wanted in. Moon shrugged.

“Sure,” He applied his key to the lock.

“Open Sesame!” said the stranger, theatrically..

“What?” Moon turned, frowning. This guy was beginning to creep him out.

“Oh, nothing,” said the stranger with an apologetic little laugh. “Sorry. Just something my old Dad used to say." He glanced at his watch, "It was really handy you turning up when you did, I didn't fancy having to hang around till morning.”

Moon grunted, turned the key and pushed the door open.

At this hour, the lobby was dim and quiet, and smelt faintly of floor cleaner and eucalyptus. A long polished oak counter ran down one side where, during the day, the concierge sat grumpy sentinel. Behind the counter was a bank of pigeon holes for residents’ mail.

Moon skirted the counter and collected his letters – two bills, yet more junk mail from Bucket List Superior Holidays (how he wished he’d not left his details on their website!) and a poor photocopy of a proposal by the building’s residents committee on tackling the rats in the basement, detailing who much everyone would be charged for their eradication.

When he turned around again, the stranger was strolling towards the building’s single elevator, his heels clicking on the polished black and white parallelogram-patterned tiles. Moon followed. He was not entirely happy about having to share the elevator car with this odd fellow, but there was only the one car and he didn’t fancy the stairs.

The stranger pushed the call button. The elevator emitted a soft bong, the doors slid open and the two men got in.

“Which floor?” asked Moon, hand hovering over the button panel.

“Oh, er, seven, please.” replied the stranger.

Moon jabbed seven, then his own, six. The doors wheezed closed and the car began its groaning and rattling ascent. Not being the most modern or rapid of transports, the journey took the best part of a minute, which both men spent in slightly awkward silence. The stranger glanced at his watch again, Moon noticed.  At last the elevator stopped and Moon was able to step out into his familiar hallway. He hurried along to his own door and, with some relief, heard the lift doors close and the machinery start up once more. Once safely inside his own appartment, Moon relaxed.

"You're growing old and paranoid," he said to himself as he dropped his keys into the conveniently-shaped lap of a jade carving of the Buddha which sat on the hall table. "That guy was just a guy that got locked out, nothing more."

He wandered into the kitchen area.

There was nothing in the freezer but a few icicles and a macaroni and cheese ready meal which had been there for some time. With a sigh, and a promise to himself to go shopping the next day, Moon extracted it, removed the packaging and tossed the unappetising thing into the microwave to heat before flopping onto the couch and turning on the TV.

A documentary about some volcano was showing, and over the sound of ritualistic chanting, the narrator was just describing how the mountain had been sacred to the locals, who would make sacrifice to their gods by hurling people and animals into the fiery chasm at the mountain's heart. The man's face was sweating and flushed, bathed in the lurid orange glow coming from the crater behind him.

The hum of the microwave mixed with the chanting and the smooth tones of the presenter in a pleasingly soporific way, and Moon soon felt himself slipping toward sleep, only to be startled awake by the shrill beep of the microwave, alerting him to the fact that his dinner was ready.


In the stairwell leading down to the sixth floor, the black-haired stranger knelt down, placed his sports bag carefully on the floor and unzipped it. At once, a small grey shape clambered out of the opening.

"About perishing time, too!" grumbled Teatime, "I was almost suffocating in there."

"Nonsense," laughed Harold, "You were fine. Anyway, we're in!"

"Hmph, well, anyway.  Do you think he suspected anything?"

"Nope," said Harold proudly, "I think I convinced him I was some oddball living on seventh." He pulled off the black wig and glasses, and allowed his face to resume its usual shape and colouration. He'd worked hard all afternoon on a suitable disguise but, with his limited abilities, had just about managed to get to the stage where he could only reliably hold his new face for a short period of time – hence the incessant clock-watching. As hair had proved too tricky a proposition altogether, a wig had been found, and the spectacles were added as an extra layer of distraction, just in case.

"Right then, old Sock, let's get busy," said Teatime.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Episode 70

“If Moon is our traitor,” sighed Mercury, “I suppose it would explain a lot. We weren’t being particularly secretive about our investigations when we were operating out of Aunt Bessie’s, were we? He could easily have overheard what we were up to, and he would have access to our files as well." He shook his head sadly, "I still find it hard to believe, though.”

“The thing is, what can we do about him?” said Othello.

“We could grab him and threaten him till he sings like a canary!” suggested Prada, “Only kidding,” she continued hastily, “but we could maybe confront him.”

“He’d just deny everything and act all innocent, and it would be our word against his.”

“We could tell Director Opal our suspicions,” suggested India. “He might be persuaded to launch an official investigation.”

“He’d want more proof than just our suspicions, and all we really have is circumstantial stuff.” replied Mercury. “We really need to get something more concrete if we’re to get rid of him.”

“Are we sure we actually want to, as you say, get rid of him?” said Teatime.

“What do you suggest?”

“Well, our traitor’s biggest advantage has always been that we didn’t know who he was. Now we do – or think we do - and he doesn’t know that we know, if you take my meaning.”

“So the question then becomes, what use can we make of this situation?” said Othello. “Hmm, We need to know exactly how he’s connected into all this – is he just naively passing information or is he actually organising things. I, for one, would definitely like to know whether he knew about the bomb in the Osprey building.”

“OK, so let’s think about how we can de-claw our tiger then,” said Mercury, relieved to have something concrete to focus on, “Box? Do you have any ideas?”

“Well, there’s one that springs to mind,” replied Box, “You could follow him around, see where he goes, who he talks to and so on. If he doesn’t realise he’s been rumbled, he won’t be taking too many precautions against that kind of thing.“

“Maybe you could plant one of those clever little tracking things on him.” suggested Harold who had been quite impressed with this particular piece of technology.

“That’s actually not a bad idea,” said Othello.

“We should do both,” said Mercury. “Someone should be close enough to Moon to get pictures – both for our own investigation and also for evidence to show Opal if needs be.”

“The best place to hook up with him again will probably be at Aunt Bessie’s,” said Prada.


Dr Flowers finished off the last of her bagel, pushed aside her empty plate and picked up the newspaper. She always liked to have a few minutes alone with some carbohydrates and the daily news as a way to re-focus after the nightmare of the morning traffic and the tedium of the morning checks. The headlines were full of a mixture of gloom (Tensions Heating up in Middle East) the promising (Seventy-Year-Old Inventor Patents Non-Stick Chewing Gum) and the frankly odd (Sotheby’s Declares Hitler’s Shoe A Fake). There came a brisk knock at the door and Haynes walked in. Flowers folded up the paper with a small sigh and tossed it on top of a pile of medical books.

“Sorry to disturb you, Doctor,” Haynes said, “the computer’s finished analysing the last batch of readings and I thought you’d be interested to see.” He held out his clipboard. Flowers took it from him and inspected it carefully.

“Looks like we’re finally getting what we need.” She said.
“We’re double-checking, but if these numbers are confirmed, we could move to the next stage as early as tomorrow.”

“I think so, too. Give RolexBoy a call and tell him we’re almost ready for him.”