The security lights at the rear of the property had come on and in their fierce white glare, the little monkey could see two men sprawled on the ground near the open patio door. They appeared to be wearing silvery suits, whose metallic sheen was now being spoiled in places by trickles of blood from the men’s wounds. The men were still moving feebly, and Teatime could hear their faint cursing.
Abruptly, the sound of another shot rang out – a different weapon this time, by the sound of it. This was followed by the sound of something smashing and tinkling inside the house, but Teatime could not see who had fired. It certainly hadn’t been the two men on the ground, so that must mean there were more invisible types about. How jolly annoying! If it weren’t for the fact that the demon and India needed the invisibility suits that Harold had liberated, he was all for going back and advising that they drive away and leave Mr Jackson to sort things out himself. He seemed capable enough.
The suits were needed, though, and they were in the house. Teatime scratched his chin thoughtfully for a moment. If Mr Jackson could see the intruders properly, he could probably deal with them: he’d probably faced worse odds in his time on the streets as a young man, and he clearly had no qualms about shooting people.
As he gazed around for possible solutions, Teatime’s eye was caught by something over at the base of the back wall of the house. An idea suddenly sprang into the little monkey’s head. It would be risky, as he would be in plain sight if he went over there. Still, he was confident the two wounded intruders were in no position to interfere with his plan, and he was willing to bet that any others would be intent on the doorway into the house.
There was no time to lose. He leapt from the tree, landing lightly upon the smooth green expanse of the lawn, and raced for all he was worth towards the thing he had seen.
“I should have gone with him,” Harold said, as the sound of the second shot came to their ears.
“No,” said Box, firmly, “Those people are bound to be looking for you, and we don’t know if they have any more of those freezing machines. You’re best staying away from them.”
“But what if he gets hurt?” protested Harold, “You humans seem to have no qualms about shooting each other for the slightest reason – a little animal isn’t going to be very safe, is he?”
“He’ll be OK,” said Box, “He’s a smart little creature; he won’t take any unnecessary risks. Just sit tight.”
Harold slumped unhappily back into his seat. Box was probably right, but if anything happened to the little fellow....
He drummed his fingers.
He tried to think calming thoughts; usually, a nice piece of music would pop into his head to do the job but, tonight, his mental orchestra seemed to be gigging elsewhere.
It was no good.
Harold flung open the car door and jumped out.
“What in the name of Zeus are you doing? Get back here!” barked Box, opening his own door. He and
India exited the car as Harold set off down the street towards the high wall encircling Mr Teeth’s garden.
The other two set off after him, India lugging out her taser as she ran.
Harold was already astride the top of the wall when they reached it.
“For pity’s sake, come down!” urged Box, his voice ragged from running.
India didn’t say anything, she simply whipped up her taser and fired.
Teatime covered the ground between the trees and the house in several nerve-wracking seconds. Banking on the idea that the intruders would be looking anywhere but into the garden, he ran in a straight line across the lawn, veering off as he reached the edge of the pool of radiance shed by the security lights. Here, he ran round the edge of the lighted area so as to remain invisible as long as possible.
A low stone balustrade ran round the edge of the patio, which was a stone-flagged area slightly higher than the lawn. Teatime kept this low barrier between himself and the area of the doors as he scrambled quickly round to the house’s rear wall.
Another shot roared from within in the house; the first weapon Teatime had heard had evidently been discharged again. Although the weapon made a terrific racket and shot peppered the area, it had no other effect. Teatime hoped fervently that this did not mean that the other intruders were inside the house already. If they were, his cunning plan would be to no avail.
Crouching as low as possible and thanking the universe for his grey colouring, he made his way to his objective. At the base of the wall, there was a hinged metal cover. Teatime flipped this up, glancing around nervously to check that he was not being observed. Idiot! He chided himself. They’re invisible. How in the name of all that’s unholy are you going to know if they’re watching you?
Having no means to prop the cover open, Teatime resorted to the undignified expedient of resting it on the top of his head. Behind the cover was a simple control panel, whose controls were labelled in Spanish. Teatime pressed the large green ‘Activar’ button and the ‘sistema de aspersión‘ sprang into life.
India skipped smartly out of the way as Harold hit the pavement with a crunch that made even the grizzled Box wince.
“Are you out of your mind, Agent?” Box whispered furiously. Somewhere over the wall, another shot rang out.
“Sorry, didn’t exactly have time to discuss it,” she replied, rolling Harold onto his back with her foot. She leant over him. “Listen, demon. Believe it or not, I did not want to have to do that, but I am not going to let you ruin everything by running off and getting yourself caught. I get that you’re concerned for your little monkey-thing, but he’s way smarter than you are and knows how to keep his head down, which is more than can be said for you.”
The effects of a taser are more severe and longer-lasting for demons’ vessels that they are on humans. This was just as well, because if Harold had been able to move right then, he would have liked very much to throttle Agent India on the spot. She was right, of course– at least in part – which was pretty annoying in itself. Teatime was smart and quick. The thing that really galled him, though, was that India had used her taser on him – again! He hadn’t been planning to just go running in willy-nilly; he had learned that much from recent events, at least. But the fact of the matter was, she clearly still didn’t trust him or respect him.
After all they’d been through. After all he’d done to convince her that he was on her side!
What did you expect? said a cynical little voice at the back of his mind. Did you really think they would ever see you as part of their cosy little team and all go running around having jolly adventures together? Wise up, dummy! They’re just using you, and when this is over, it’ll be back to the Basement like nothing ever happened.
“We don’t have time – “ India’s voice trailed off.
When she’d shot Harold that first time, his eyes had displayed shock and surprise more than anything else.
This time, however, they were absolutely ablaze with anger.
Mr Teeth’s expensive garden sprinkler system came to life. From many artfully concealed nozzles, jets of water gushed out and began to play over the garden, soaking everything in sight – including the patio.
The state-of-the-art Rainbow Industries camouflage suits were fantastic pieces of technology. Although they were sufficiently waterproof to keep on working perfectly well as the sprinkler water landed on them (they had been developed for the military, after all), they – and the men wearing them – still provided a physical obstruction to the water’s inexorable journey to the ground. At once, two intruders were outlined by the water, sparkling silver in the glow of the security lights, splashing off them. From inside the house, Mr Teeth’s deep bark of laughter came to Teatime’s ears, followed immediately by the roar of his shotgun. The blast caught the two men, who had been crouched close together by the doorway, obviously looking to creep into the house and take its owner by surprise.
As the buckshot tore into them, the hi-tech suits immediately stopped working, leaving two more sprawled silver-suited bodies on the patio. Teatime pushed a large red button on the control panel and the water shut off. He watched as Mr Teeth strode out through the ruined patio door and deftly disarmed all four intruders, before turning to where he was crouched.
Seeing that his saviour had been none other than the tiny monkey, the big man’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Thanks, man, that was good thinking – and good timing.” he rumbled, “I owe you. Never would have thought of using the water like that." His voice turned thoughtrful, "Pity the fancy suits got wasted, though.” Setting his shot gun against the wall, he checked the four men’s injuries – the buckshot had left multiple wounds, but none appeared life-threatening.
He retrieved the gun again and leaned up against the wall where he could see all four downed men.
“What now, Mr Jackson?” asked Teatime.
“Now we wait for Pauli and his boys and then we’ll figure out what to do with these guys.” He waved the tip of the shotgun’s barrel at the erstwhile intruders. Where are the others, anyway?”
“They’re waiting in the next street,” Teatime replied, “I’d better go and fetch them I suppose.” He scampered off into the trees once more.