h2g2 Storytime II: Part XXIII

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Back in the present and as this brief chapter in our tale draws to a close we can reflect that the celestial balance has been restored and the Apocalypse neatly sidestepped - but the vigilant reader will no doubt be left with many questions at this point.

What, for instance has become of the Leicestercat, and his minion/feeder Tim? What, for that matter, happened to the ill-fated kitty whose mind was transferred into the demon body?

Who is Annabel's mysterious superior? What is their nefarious scheme? How were the reviews for Cliff's rock concert? Who succeeded Rasputin as President of the United States? What happened to Stonehenge which is, after all, a World Heritage site?

Will Bob defy fate, pre-destination and God and, in fact, get it together with Jill?

To shed a little light on some of these questions, we go to a house....

It was a small, thatched-roof house, more of a cottage really, tucked away from prying eyes on a tree-lined little country lane. In the golden light of evening, clouds of tiny, pointless flies hovered above the fern-lined track and thought their tiny thoughts, mostly concerning reproduction.

In the cobbled yard about a dozen cats of all hues sprawled sunbathing, yawning toothily and thinking about food, sex and how exceedingly fine it was to be a cat.

In fact, the only lifeform within a square mile which wasn't currently thinking about propagating their species was Mrs Waverly, and this was because she was eighty-four, arthritic and blind as a dead bat - and apart from a brief, torrid fling with a GI back in the War, her life had been fairly short on passion. Except for her cats, of course.

She was pottering about in the shady kitchen, very carefully preparing her supper, when there was a scratching at the door. Pausing to take a carefully-placed kitchen knife in her blue-veined hand (Mrs Waverly had no illusions on the State Of The Nation, it was A Disgrace, all this crime), she creaked her way to the door and tugged it open.


"That you, Godfrey?" she croaked.




Waverly cocked her head to one side. "You're new, are you? Well, there's always enough milk and scrapings for another kitty. Coochy coo? Coochy...?"

There was a hiss, and she heard a slicing sound, like a razor-blade sliding through a raw pork chop. She drew back her hand, frowning slightly, then smiled.

"Don't like to be petted, no? Well, never mind. Here you go..."
She tossed out a handful of dry feed, and was gratified to hear a rapid snuffling and gulping, followed by a deep, rattling noise, like a log being sawn in half.

The new cat was purring.

Mrs Waverly smiled again, and closed the door, fumbling for the bolt. Then she went back to her supper.

And that was pretty much the end of it. To Mrs Waverly's relief, the other cats seemed to take to the new one - in fact, they were more quiet than ever - and if there was any cloud on her horizon, it was that the postman hadn't visited in over a month. Probably the postal service, she decided. Another Disgrace.

Tim was busy trying to extracate the desicated corpse of the postman from a branch high up in a great oak that overhung the thatch.

"Poor guy he must have come up here to get away from the cats...they kept him up here till he starved."

He heaved the body off of the limb and it crashed down into a fern-covered gully that run down the side of the cottage.

Leicester polished off the last cat feed.

TIiim, We ShAlL Maaake THiiIiSs our nEew bAasssE of oPpeRrrations."

"Err...good idea." he called down.

courssse it iiiis."

Tim from his high vantage point on the wooden limb survayed the idyllic peaceful countryside.

Pure yellow sunlight filtered through thick high-branched canopies, a pleasent breeve took and lifted the grasses that wallowed in far fields and on the edge of hearing a small brook babbled and meandered.

Whatever apololypse had been brewing only hours before, it had not apparently touched this quite slice of paradise.

Down on the ground somewhere approaching ankle height, Leicester sat with his head resting on his paws.

Sweet visions of vengence flashed before his eyes.

Seeming to make his mind up about something leiscester rolled over and did that funny stretch that cats do.

Well' he thought. '
a favour is a favour.'

Pausing only to behead a row of daffodils he troted out of the front gate and went searching for a cow for Mrs Waverly to have for dinner.

Meanwhile many, many miles away, in the heart of the nation's bustling capital city; on the banks of the River Thames, doing it's best impression of aesthetically arranged blocks of lego, stood the MI6 Headquarters.

The building, and indeed much of MI6 itself, was merely to distract attention from the real spy network that operated from within the nation's capital.

Contrary to popular belief spies do not wear long trenchcoats, trilbys and dark glasses or read papers with eyeholes cut out of the middle. They also don't wear tuxedos under their wet suits unless they can forge the cheque to pay for the dry-cleaning bill.
The Gentlemen Spy should desire annonimity above all other things. Which doesn't explain why they always hire womanisers, gambling addicts, hopeless winos and extroverts to to the job.

Spies, let us emphasise, do not wear trenchcoats or trilbys or dark glasses because it's completely impractical. You can't run in them for starters (very necessary on occasion.) You can't see very well either and you stick out like like a sore thumb in public,tending to look like a charcter staight out of Dick Tracy comic.

A spy would probably hand in his casino chips and retire if it came to that.

Your average spy certainly wouldn't wear any one of these items within spitting distance of MI6.

Which is why the figure standing patiently at the zebra crossing waiting for the lights to change; flanked on both sides by assorted pensioners, mothers and screaming children, Japanese tourists and pigeons, looked so helpless, lost and thoroughly out of place.

The traffic slows to a stop and the mass of people collecting on the kerb step forward at the sound of the familiar beeps and make their way forward as one. In the middle gliding silently along is our spy. The brim of the hat keeps his face perpetually in shadow on this bright, warm day. Detatching himself from the group he side steps into an annonymous seeming alley way. picking his way over discarded boxes and other asorted mess, he emerges in a secluded courtyard.

Mustapha Kofi's Franchised Egyptian Family Bistro was de riguer for MI6 spies. No one made sauages rolls like Mr Kofi, as all the local spooks respectfully called him. And his coffee mocha was worth ten times it's weight in international trade secrets.

Our spy strode into the British Security Communitie's favourite coffee house without a second thought.

As he waited in line, our spy surveyed the blackboard that hung on the wall above Mustapha's head. Mustapha was cleaning a glass using a teacloth when the spy approached the counter.

"How may I help you sir?" Mustapha inquired

"I'd like to order the Double espreso with steamed milk and chocolate sprinkles."

"Grande or Regular?" asked the owner pointedly.

"Dammit - I always forget his part...er...um...Grande?"

"Close enough." shrugged Mustapha, "but you look quite odd in all the getup Si Bob, you should take notes from Guy how to dress up and be sneaky - he's terribly good at that sort of thing."

"Here are you groceries Mr Kofi." said Bob reaching into the deep pockets of the trenchcoat and producing a bag of grapes and some fresh fruit.

"Most kind young man, I'd hurry up though if I were you, the others are already in the basement, I'll have the coffee sent down to you. Extra chocolate sprikles for you. I'll buzz you in - one second."

Bob settled himself down at the table in the alcove

Mustapha pressed on the secret pedal hidden under the counter and in the corner Bob was suddenly whiped round through the secret wall into the stairwell on the other side.

He made his way down the steep flight into a long gloom, periodically off-set by single strip lighting that continued onto vanishing point. He set out to take the long walk down the faceless concrete walkway but instead Bob took the first door on the left he came to and walked into the middle of a meeting.

"So you see it was Archbishp Desmond Tutu who was the majority share holder all along and...oh hello Bob!" said Richter conversationally.

"Ah there you are," said Guy looking up - "Bob, what the hell are you wearing!?!?" spluttered Guy.

"I'm incognito" said Bob with a touch of pride, putting his hand conspiritorially to the side of his mouth and winking .

"Your IN-sane...get over there...and take off those dark glasess!"

Bob scurried around the large round table and took a seat between Jill and Heddingly who was still nursing some colourful bruises and had his arm in a sling.

Guy addressed the assmbled agency.

"Rasputin as you well know is dead. There's still the problem with the hypnotised members of the cabinet who think they are all chickens but we've gotten lucky with that one - so far nobody has noticed.
Our souces have revealed a couple of worrying events.

I instructed a second unit to track down the Cryo clown labatories when we got there the labs had been cleared but we hacked into the mainframe and recovered some revealing documents.

It seems that The Cryo clowns were indeed being manufactured by The Smittington Labs. Smittington is incidentally the father of Annabel, that woman who was conspiring with Rasputin and escaped on that clothes wringer thingy.

"WHAT!!?" screamed the the rest of the group.

"Yes I know hard to believe isn't it?" Said Guy scrathing the back of his head. "We did get some good news. Smittington appears to be dead. Well at least we found his body in some apartments at the labs, however, there is some doubt as to whether or not he really is that dead.

Some of the recovered documents point to an accident of some sort occouring not too long ago.

"Seems Smittington was," Guy scanned ahead a few lines..."electrocuted or something."

"Good." husked Heddingly , who'd been on the wrong end of a cryo clown fist before.

"Well actually - no. Not quite quite as simple as that. Smittington seems to have survived - his personality was downloaded into the CPU of a model Clown he was working on at the time. This appears to be corroborated - " Guy pressed a hidden button on the desk in front of him and some security footage from The London Underground began playing on the wall behind him. Nothing much happened for a few seconds - "This came to light only yesterday....here it comes." he said

Suddenly a man could be seen approaching and casually hoped over the security rail - pursued by a fleet of security guards the film cut to another camera over the platform. The figure ran through the bustling crowds and leapt straight onto the track punching his way through the wall and dissappearing though the gap.

"How old did you say this Smittington was?" Asked Jill.

"Um..." said Guy conslting the sheafs of notes again... "Seventy - Six."

Gesturing behind him at the security fottage replaying endlessly "I trust you all noticed the..

- "metallic" inturrupted Jill, thinking out loud.

"Indeed - metallic appearence of the man we just saw punch his way through a tunnel wall on the Central line?"

"Seems our Mr Smittington may be At Large." Guy mouthed the words deliberately.

"It also goes without saying that he is to be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

That's the first of my reasons for sending you all on a little... ENFORCED holiday.

Smittington may well yet re-emerge and I don't want him turning up like some huge, malevolent, ill-tempered, battle-armoured bad coin and for you to be here if and when he does.

There was a hushed silence over the group.

"I said that was the first of my reasons, I do have another. We all saw Leicester underneath Stone Henge..."

If it was quite around the table before it was positively grave like now.

"...I ...I thought he was dead. NO. I know he is dead. Unfortunately in the aftermath following the implosion beneath Stone Henge, We can find no evidence of his whereabouts - he might as well have vanished off the face of the earth."

"And after what he did to Bob..."

Jill looked away.

"Simply it's too dangerous to have you all at the Agency - For my own peace of mind and for your safety, I've arranged to have you stay on a Carribean island for a few months get some well deserved R and R and you - " Guy pointed to Heddingly, "You need to get mended. and a month or two cooling your toes in crystal clear waters under blue skies might be just the ticket."

"Your plane leaves in," Guy consulted his watch "about 16 hours so I suggest you start packing."

At this a secluded door opened in the wall and some agency staff appeared though it.

Heddingly nodded in appreciation. Jill helped him to his feet.

Richter raised his hand - "Can I go too?"

"Don't see why not." shrugged Guy.

"We're all going on a summer holi - "

"BOB!" yelled Guy, exasperated.

Bob turned around a little sheepishly.

"Just go. and have a great time."

They all began filing out accompanied by the entourage of agents.

When he was certained they'd left Guy gathered up the remaining papers and left by another door. Walking alone through several annonymous corridors, quite what he was thinking was a mystery his face was entirely blank.

Walking by his office he scanned his access card through the reader and walked inside. He left the papers on his desk and picked up a photograph of himself next to his mentor Boutros Boutros Ghali. Tapping it thoughtfully, he glanced again at his watch realising the time set it down again and walked out. Picking up his pace he walked quicker now passing down through several levels; past several security checkpoints. He made his way to the communications centre.

There in front of a battery of screens a technician handed him a headset and ear piece.

After some static and the occasional period of empty silence Guy could hear the voices on the other end.

Holding the 'secrecy' button on the mouthpiece in he asked the technician, "How is it?"

"Signal's clean but unstable we keep loosing it - you may not have long."

Guy nodded.

"Strawberries and cream, Strawberries and cream are you receiving? Over."

There was a loud noise followed by some more static.


"We're....here..Guy." Arthur was heaving, out of breath.


Guy could here a strong wind howling in the background and the sound of things being blown about.

"Is it safe?" he asked.

"Not for long."

"Fine get yourselves out of there and we'll re-establish communications in 48 hours."

"We are being tracked so that might be a little tricky but we'll see what we can do."

"Did you find it?"Guy asked.

"Oh we found something all right. A whole lot of something!"

"We'll talk again."

Guy heard X shout: "They're coming!" and the line went dead.

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