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!