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.
“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.”