Thursday, 27 December 2012

Chapter 15.5

“You know the drill, ladies,” bellowed Ronald from back atop the pipette tip box, “arseholes and elbows! Just because the institute is on lock-down, it doesn’t mean we can be a bunch of slackers. We’re Murines! Not a bunch of monkeys from the primate lab.”
  The declaration was greeted with a mixture of groaning, muttering and eye-rolling among the assembled mice. The exception was Mel, who snapped to a smart attention.
  “Sir, yes, Sir!” he squeaked.
  “Nim,” Ronald pointed with his match. “You, Disco, Mel and Luke are on tech duty.” He paused. “Where’s Luke?” he demanded.
  “Coming!” peeped a small mouse from beside the water bottle in the corner of the cage. “I was just taking my pill.”
  Nim watched him scurry up and squeeze into line beside her. Luke was so-named by the lab technicians because he had been a leukaemia animal model in Bristol University. They had supplied the pills he was taking when the trial had been cut short and he continued to take one a day. One day, Nim was going to ask him what was in them but somehow the time never quite seemed right.
  Ronald leant forward and stared at Luke sternly. “Quite ready?”
  Luke nodded mutely. Like Mel, he was terrified of “The Gouti”, who was twice his size.
  “Good.” Ronald pointed at Nim. “You’re with Nim, Mel and Disco on tech duty. Wierzbowski reported one of the wheels was a bit sticky yesterday.”
  “Number two,” Wierzbowski confirmed.
  “No one likes a sticky number two!” sniggered Hutch, beside him. Hutch was still sniggering as Ronald scampered over with surprising speed and jabbed him hard in the chest with his safety match baton.
  “You think there’s something funny about a sticky number two wheel?” Ronald asked, leaning in close until their whiskers were almost touching.
  Hutch pursed his lips tight, trying to think of an appropriate response. He was saved by Wierzbowski blurting out a repressed giggle of his own. Ronald left his stick pressing against Hutch’s chest but stepped one pace to the left, snapping his head round at the last minute to fix his gaze on the new transgressor.
  “Looks like we have today’s cleaning duty,” he announced, looking from one mouse to the other. He took another step to his left. “You too Tyree.”
  “Yes, boss,” Tyree muttered sullenly.
  Ronald took a step back and surveyed the line.
  “Now, does anyone else have anything to say?” he asked.
  The question was greeted by a general shuffling of feet and, with the exception of Nim, refusal to meet his stare.
  “Good. There’ll be no sticky number twos on my watch.” he told them. “Dismissed.”

Chapter 16.1 ☛

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Chapter 15.4

Detective Inspector Ifan Rhys-Morgan stared at PC Rhys Thomas until the big man began to feel rather uncomfortable, then glanced back down at the report. Rhys-Morgan had spent the night in the station and not enjoyed a particularly long or restful night’s sleep. He blinked a few times to get the words back into focus. They still said the same thing.
  “Tommo?” he sighed.
  “Yes, Guv?” answered Tommo, staring at a spot on the wall a foot or so above his superior’s head, hands clasped firmly behind his back.
  “Why didn’t you enter the building through the large hole blown in the front?”
  “The Element of Surprise, Guv.”
  Rhys-Morgan nodded slowly. “I see. And The Element of Surprise necessitated knocking another hole through the wall, did it? You couldn’t have just broken a window or something?”
  Tommo shrugged. “All the windows were already blown out by the blast, Guv.”
  “Of course they were, Tommo.” He sighed again. “And you think this... squirrel... is the mastermind behind the whole operation?”
  “Caught him red-handed, Guv,” Tommo smiled proudly. “Using The Element of Surprise!”

Chapter 15.5 ☛

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Chapter 15.3

The atmosphere in Control’s office was definitely on the frosty side as Sir Henry took a seat next to Watson.
  “Good morning, Sir Henry,” greeted M. “I assume that you have been briefed about 001 by now?”
  Sir Henry nodded. “I’ve heard enough,” he answered, not wanting to hear the sordid details.
  “Good. With any luck, and a bit of plastic surgery, we expect Wainbridge to make a full recovery. In the meantime, we still need to sort out this shit storm that is taking place in Swansea.”
  Sir Henry opened his mouth to comment but the other man continued regardless. “I’ve just got off the phone with the PM. He’s keen for MI6 to take the lead on this one. I’m putting 003 on the case. He’ll be heading back to Swansea right after this meeting.”
  Sir Henry looked at M and then glared at Watson. “So, I’m losing my car as well as my driver?”
  “Alec was never on permanent assignment, Sir Henry.” M explained. “I’m sure you’ll get your old driver back. Er...”
  “Smithers,” Alec told him. “His normal driver is Smithers.”
  Alec turned to Sir Henry and met his stare, daring him to challenge the statement. “And don’t worry, Sir Henry. I think I should take the other car.”
  “The Aston?”
  “No, Sir Henry. The other car.”
  Sir Henry grimaced. He did not approve of the other car. Charles Wainbridge would not have taken the other car.
  “But,” he complained. “that’s the kind of car one of the office drones would drive. Good grief man, it’s not even British. Where’s your sense of style? Or patriotism!”
  “I’d prefer to be a bit less conspicuous, Sir Henry. An Aston Martin might draw a lot of unwanted attention in the valleys.”
  “Since when did that matter?” scoffed Sir Henry.
  “I’m in the Secret Intelligence Service, Sir Henry,” Watson replied, coolly. “Perhaps I have misunderstood but I’ve always interpreted that to mean that the service should be secret, not the intelligence.”
  “You didn’t go to Eton, did you?” Sir Henry sneered.
  “Rhyl Valley Community College, Sir Henry,” Watson answered, emphasising Welsh accent.
  Sir Henry looked across at M, who wore the expression of someone waiting for events to take their course. He could tell that he was not going to win this one.
  “I’m not sure that the Home Secretary...”
  “You can tell the Home Secretary,” interrupted M, rising to his feet. “That I shall keep her informed of progress. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have a potential terrorist threat to neutralise.”
  It took Sir Henry a few seconds to realise that he had been dismissed. He was never dismissed. The two MI6 men watched in silence as he stood, opened his mouth to say something, then changed his mind and stormed out as words failed him.
  Sir Henry had barely cleared the office before M pressed a button on the underside of his desk and the door panel slid shut once more. At the same time, the office windows overlooking the Thames darkened as the anti-espionage screens were activated and a sixty inch touch-screen computer slid into view from the centre of the conference table.
  “Now, Alec.” said M, joining Watson on the other side of his desk. “Tell me what you know.”
  Watson summarised the visits Sir Henry had made to BIRD-FLU over the past couple of days. Although he did not like the man, he had to admit that he made very thorough case notes.
  “The police seem to think that a local pet shop owner, Peter Lloyd, is behind the original explosion,” he told M. “Professor Greenwood was just collateral damage. Sir Henry, on the other hand, seems to favour the Animal Liberation Front.”
  “He doesn’t approve of liberals or liberators,” Watson offered as way of explanation.
  “And you?” M asked.
  Watson’s hands skimmed over the screen with practised ease. The screen began populating with all the available information on Patrick Edwards, including the video footage that Watson had taken the previous night.
  “There’s something funny about the janitor, Patrick Edwards - also known as Ricky - and his relationship with the Professor,” Watson explained. “Stuff that was kept off his record. Then he was acting very strangely last night.”
  Alec paused the footage from the previous night as the figure in the cottage was holding the unknown object aloft. “I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, sir, but something about him just doesn’t seem right. Personally, I think that Patrick Edwards is our man.”
  M stood silently at the screen for almost a minute, taking in the information.
  “I find that highly unlikely, 003,” he said eventually.
  “Why is that, sir?” asked Watson, surprised that his superior had formed an opinion so quickly.
  M pointed at the bottom right corner of the screen where a police report from the night before was blinking.
  “According to Swansea CID,” he answered, “Edwards is dead.”

Chapter 15.4 ☛

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chapter 15.2

“All right, ladies,” yelled Ronald, “what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Form up!”
  The other mice groaned at their large yellow-furred leader as he took up position on top of a small box of pipette tips on the lab bench outside their their cage. The furry ball of sleepy rodents slowly began to untangle itself as it did each morning in laboratory three of the Brecon Institute for Research and Development - Flavivirus and Lentivirus Unit.
  “Breakfast in bed would be nice,” muttered Tyree.
  “Ssshhh,” Mel told him. “The Gouti will hear you!”
  Apart from Ronald, Mel was the only non-white mouse in the lab and therefore carried a certain paranoia about standing out: paranoia that was not helped by his generally nervous disposition. Tyree grunted and buried his head into the shredded paper towel that served as bedding.
  “Why do you insist on calling him ‘The Gouti’?” Nim asked Mel.
  “Because he is a Gouti!” Mel answered.
  Nim rolled her eyes. “He’s agouti, not a Gouti! You're a research mouse. Don’t you know any mouse genetics?”
  Mel stared at her vacantly. Nim was not entirely sure why she seemed to be ten times smarter than the rest of the gang but she suspected that the answer lie in the mouse lab at the University of Bristol from whence they had come. It was not always easy being the clever one but she tried not to let it frustrate her.
  “Never mind,” she sighed. “C’mon.”
  The other mice were already beginning to assemble in a rough line in front of Ronald 'The Gouti' and Nim grabbed Tyree by the forelimb and dragged him after her, still protesting.
  “Move it, ladies,” Ronald goaded. If he had noticed the muttering, he was paying it no heed. “You ain’t being paid by the hour.”
  “We ain’t getting paid at all!” grumbled Tyree. “And I wish he’d stop calling us ladies. Nim’s the only girl here.”
  “I hear you there, brother,” answered Wierzbowski, lining up next to him.
  “I’m a girl!” said Disco from further up the line.
  “You’re not a girl, Disco,” Nim told him despairingly.
  “I am too,” Disco retorted proudly. “I’m transgender.”
  “You’re transgenic, you idiot!” Nim told him.
  “Quiet in the ranks!” Ronald snapped, with a hint of irritation, letting his gaze linger on Tyree. “You get paid by not being fed to a snake. NATO has given us refuge; given us purpose.”
  He jumped down from the box and walked the line in front of them, an extra long safety match tucked under his right arm like a sergeant major’s swagger stick.
  “Another glorious day in the Corps!” he told the assembled mice. “A day in the Murine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet! Every formation a parade! I love the Corpse!”
  “Shouldn’t that be a silent p, sir?” Nim asked him.
  “If you’re lucky, son,” Ronald told her. “If you’re lucky.”

Chapter 15.3 ☛