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So, hi and all that. I used to write here a while ago, like maybe a few months ago? No, it's cool if you don't remember, I wasn't really any good. I've been away for the past whatever length of time because I had to write dissertations and essays at university, and ponder the potential for metaphorical gender rape within Kate Atkinson novels. Y'know. I'm not particularly back at all, but I have recently just handed in my dissertation for university, which happened to be a short story - I do creative writing as a joint honours degree, because I made a lot of poor decisions in life during secondary school. (Don't do creative writing, kids! It's worthless! Especially at a university positioned in the middle of bloody nowhere). This is the short story I wrote - or, rather, it's the second-to-last draft I did of the story, leastways. If you're bored, you could read it and stuff, although there's no particular need unless you truly have nothing better to do with your time.
I mean - read it! You'll love it and your eyes will be astonished by the sheer entertainment this story will feed directly into your brain-endings. Cheers.
== The Kids Of MI18 Vs The Agents Of SWERVE ==
Somewhere Airborne Over England The Private Jet Of Maxwell Botham, Entrepreneur
Scott ducked under a hail of gunfire and flicked one of the stainless steel chairs into the face of his nearest attacker, who collapsed with a startled grunt. With effortless grace he then jumped over both man and chair and hurtled into the two guards below, throwing them to the ground. He delivered a swift punch to the face of each and they fell backwards into unconsciousness.
“Was that the password you were looking for?” he quipped, before grabbing their guns and marching on into the next room. He was on a mission, and time was running out. He didn’t have more than a few minutes left if he wanted to catch Botham before the satellites were activated and a global crime network was initiated in space.
Scott Vaughan was a secret agent, and this latest mission was proving to be his most dangerous yet. If he didn’t stop the plans of Maxwell Botham – a member of the terrorist organisation SWERVE – Britain would never be the same again. Botham was planning to use his network of intergalactic satellites to steal information from all the Government agencies in existence, and sell the information on the black market to the highest bidder. Among the codes he was looking for were those which accessed the National Bank, and the British Secret Service bases. There was a lot of money at stake, so Scott couldn’t afford to make any mistakes as he continued his assignment.
He opened the door slightly and looked through the crack. Four guards were lounging around in the room, far too many for him to take out on his own. Luckily for him, though, he had just the thing to hand. He threw the prototype ‘net canister’ Q had given him into the room and shut the door behind him, timing the device against his signature ‘Warsong’ watch. Three seconds passed in silence before a banging noise like someone tapping a microphone echoed from inside the room, followed by four muffled yelps. Scott sauntered in without a care in the world, and laughed as he saw that all four of the guards were now struggling in opposite corners of the room, struggling to escape the individual nets the canister had trapped them inside.
“Hello, boys!” he said quietly. “Sorry to be so disarming, but I’d appreciate it if you’d keep the noise down for me. I’m on a mission here.” Seeing them all trapped like wriggling rats, he couldn’t help but smile. He loved it when everything went according to plan. With a cocky smile still on his face, he marched into the final room and raised his machine guns up at the men inside.
“Attention, gentlemen! Your plans have just been foiled by Scott Vaughan. I work for the British Government – MI:18, to be precise – and as you can see I have you all covered with these hefty machine guns here. Drop your guns now, and nobody will get hurt!” He winked and flashed them a winning smile.
There was a brief pause in the room, before the sound of guns dropping to the floor echoed around. Good. He lowered his guns to show that he meant no real harm to them. “Excellent work, chaps. Now, where’s Botham?”
The barrel of a gun tapped him on the back of the head, and a chill of fear ran down his spine. “I’m right here, Mister Vaughan. Turn around.” Trapped, Scott did as he was told, and found himself staring straight down the business end of a pistol being held by his long-time arch-nemesis. “We meet again, Mister Vaughan!” said Maxwell Botham. “I see that you still haven’t learnt your lesson from last time I defeated you.”
“And I see you still haven’t found a wig that suits you,” Scott replied. “I guess that makes us as bad as each other, huh?”
Maxwell gave a nasty grin which showed off a full set of platinum-coated teeth that glimmered against the artificial lights. “Oh no, Mister Vaughan, I’m a lot badder than you could ever imagine. I’m tired of your meddling, boy.” He gestured to his goons. “Tie him to the Death Chair, boys! I think it’s time we taught MI:18 a lesson.”
“…Death….Chair?” Scott stammered, as he was dragged over to the corner of the room and forced to sit down.
“Yes. It’s a lot like a normal chair, but with far more death involved,” Botham explained. “It may have come to your attention that we are currently in a plane flying over England, Mister Vaughan. If you add to this the fact that the death chair my guards are currently tying you to appears to be situated on top of a trapdoor, and I’m rather sure you’ll be able to work out what’s going to happen here.”
Scott blinked rapidly. Could Botham be so villainous? “You’ll never get away with this!” he yelled.
“Oh, but I already have! And come midnight tonight, I’ll be at my American Bunker holding a keycard with all the passwords for the Bank Of England on it! And for once, there will be no meddling kids from MI:18 to get in my way.” He strolled over to a lever that hung out from the wall, and rested a jewelled hand on it. There was a pause, and then Maxwell Botham pulled the lever, activating the trap door and sending Scott hurtling out into the sky.
“Goodbye, Mister Vaughan.”
Kent, England The Household of Mr and Mrs Deacon
The dinner party was now in full swing, and Felicia had to keep a constant eye out to make sure that the party guests didn’t knock her over in their hurry to move from the canapés to the bar, and then back again. Her parents organised these parties about once a fortnight, and invited round all their friends to talk and have fun. For her, it wasn’t usually much fun at all. Her parents were quite old now, and all their friends kept looking down at her and telling her that her hair looked pretty, and wasn’t she growing, and she looked very smart and grown-up in her dress. Mum had bought her the dress a year ago, especially for wearing on occasions like this; and even though she always wore it every time one of these parties happened, people still said that she was growing up quickly. How could she be growing up if she still fit the same dress she’d been wearing since last year?
The only good thing about these parties was that last year some of the guests had brought their children along, and Felicia had made friends with them very quickly. Now, along with her brother Martin, she quite looked forward to when she’d get to see Alice and Lee again. Dad usually sent them to the potting shed once all the guests had finished arriving, so they could to whatever they wanted without their parents checking up on them every few minutes… sometimes.
Sometimes. Alice might be in a strop (she was only ten years old, three years younger than Felicia was, and she got into a mood really easily) and they’d have to spend ages trying to calm her down. Those days weren’t much fun at all. But, happily, Alice was in a good mood at the moment, eating a piece of garlic bread and leaving the crusts scattered over the table-top. Over at the other end of the room, Dad was playing his guitar and Martin was watching him in rapt admiration. Dad was getting quite good at music now, and sometimes he’d join in with Felicia while she practised her clarinet.
They both liked listening to classic rock music like The Rolling Stones and Creedance Clearwater Revival – Martin and Dad, that is, not Felicia – and Dad was currently playing something that sounded like the new Oasis song, ‘Wonderwall’. She didn’t personally get all the interest people had in that band, and the lead singer looked like a nasty piece of work. She ducked away from the hustle of the crowd and sat down on a chair in the corner, before the doorbell suddenly rang. Sighing, she got up and scattered across the floor to the door, and opened it.
It was Lee and his Mum. She smiled and welcomed them in.
“Good afternoon, Miss Deacon,” said Lee’s Mum. She was possibly the nicest one of all of their parents’ friends, and pretty cool too. She wasn’t even wearing a dress today, but instead she had on a smart shirt and tie. Felicia said hello back, and then grabbed Lee by the arm and pulled him to where Alice was eating. Having now gathered two of her friends, she braved Dad’s musical chair and tapped Martin on the shoulder.
“Come on, we’re going to the shed! I want to know what this thing you and Lee were talking about was!”
Martin looked pained, but after a second he gave in and left Dad playing his guitar. They pulled open the patio window and walked outside into the brilliant sunlight which radiated through Felicia’s hair in a way that she thought made her look quite pretty. Alice bounded through at her own speed, off in her fairyland, while Lee and Martin tried to look as cool as possible. Lee even brought out a pair of sunglasses which he put on and pushed up right to the end of his nose.
“I’m just like in Reservoir Dogs.”
Martin laughed and nodded. “Exactly!”
Martin had absolutely no idea what Reservoir Dogs was, Felicia knew. Lee was always talking about bands and movies he liked that none of them had ever heard about, and his parents let him watch whatever he wanted. He told her once that this one time he’d been to see a film called The Exorcist, which was about ghosts and was really scary. She hadn’t been very impressed by that, but Martin had.
Alice was waiting for them at the potting shed, having run on ahead. She was dressed in dungarees for some reason, and she was wearing a backpack which probably didn’t have anything in it at all. Alice collected backpacks, with her most favourite being the Thunderbirds one, shaped like Thunderbird II and only had one jet exhaust left, the other having been ripped off. This bag, however, was a yellow rabbit which zipped up behind the ears and wore a constant lopsided grin that made it look really creepy. Lee opened the door up, and they dipped inside the shed.
The boys had a mystery to show them.
One Week Ago Oakwood Park, Kent
It’d happened last week, when Martin and Lee had been walking through the park on the way back from the boys-only school they both attended. They always took this shortcut in summer, even though it was muddy, because the ice-cream van parked by the pond nearby, and they were both partial to a ‘99. Making their way through the woods of the park was more of an adventure anyway, and if Martin and Lee were anything, then it was adventurous.
On this particular Thursday afternoon, however, the walk proved even more daring than usual. As they were making their way through a set of beech trees, a loud crack sounded from somewhere above them, followed by a thump in the distance. Before they could go to investigate the cause of the noise, a small item fell to the floor just in from of them, narrowly missing Lee.
As Martin slowly walked over, Lee bent down to investigate the strange object, and picked it up. “It’s a Rubik’s cube, I think? One of those old toys from when our parents were young. I saw it on a TV show once.”
A quiet buzzing noise came from the cube, and after a quick glance at Martin he decided to keep it for further investigation later on. As the two stared at it curiously, a noise came from somewhere behind them, a series of shouts. “Over there, team! Quick, make sure the area is contained!” Lee and Martin paused for a second, but then heard some dogs barking savagely, and decided to run. Lee pocketed the device as they ran off.
Now Colin Deacon’s Potting Shed
The four children looked curiously at the cube, which sat on a stool between them while they in turn sat around in the grimy potting shed, surrounded by bonsais.
“Why haven’t you opened it yet?” asked Alice.
Lee looked up at her in surprise. “What?”
With a sigh at how silly her friends were, Alice jumped up off the box and grabbed the cube from his hands. “It’s not a Cubrix Cube, dummies! It’s a music-box! You put all the pieces together in the right colours, and then once you got everything in place it opens up…”
She set about trying to prove her point as she spoke, her hands fiddling all over the cube in an effort to match up the colours in a series of straight lines which ran across the middle sections of the box. She worked like a pro, flipping pieces over with the greatest of ease, and the rest of the group watched her eagerly, excited to find out what might be inside the cube - all apart from Felicia, that was.
“Alice, are we sure that we want to open that?” she questioned, voicing her concern, but by this point it was all too late and she was interrupted by a triumphant cry from her young friend.
“Alright! I did it! I love doing puzzles. I have all these Where’s Wally books at home, and…”
The buzzing from inside the cube stopped, and was replaced instead with a high-pitched clicking noise that echoed loudly round the shed. The object flew from Alice’s hands with a sudden burst, making her scream, and Lee quickly pulled her out the shed to safety, followed by the others. They watched back from the garden as a red beam shone out from the cube like a laser. The beam grew brighter and brighter until there was a flash of yellow and orange together, forcing them to cover their eyes as the potting shed filled with dust and smoke.
In the house, their parents noticed nothing.
The smoke eventually began to die down and when it did Felicia was the first to open her eyes. What she saw was unbelievable. Stood in the middle of the potting shed, staring bewildered at a bonsai, was a teenage boy. Even more unbelievable than this, he was floating a few feet off the ground.
Before she could do anything about the new arrival, however, Martin had already pushed past her. “Who are you?” he challenged.
The boy snapped out of whatever daydream he was in and promptly offered a transparent salute to Martin. “My name is Scott Vaughan,” he told them. “Err… where am I, exactly?”
“Lee, can you and Alice go back into the house for a bit, please? And uh, can you check that none of our parents have seen this?”
Alice rounded on her, “Why aren’t I allowed to stay?”
“It’s not that, Alice. It’s just that we, uh, have to talk to Scott about something in private. Something important.”
“…Are you guys going to talk about sex?”
Stunned, she took in a sharp breath. “No we’re not! I just happen to have a few questions I want to ask Scott, that’s all. Honestly. We wouldn’t leave you out of this.”
“Then why are you letting Martin stay?”
“I’m here to be Flick’s alibi, dummy! I have to make sure this jerk doesn’t try to escape before we can talk to him.”
Alice sniffed. “What’s an alibi?”
This was wasting time. Felicia looked despairingly at Lee, but he shook his head – he wanted to stay and hear this too. Defeated, she shrugged, and Alice sat down on the grass in triumph.
New arrival Scott, in the meanwhile, had been floating about and performing loop-de-loops, as if he was testing himself out to see what he could do. When he saw Alice sit down, he put himself forward. “Perhaps I should explain myself for you all?” he offered.
Felicia, a little dazed still herself, sat down on the grass next to Alice and crossed her legs. “Yes please,” she sighed.
“Okay. Well, I’m Scott Vaughan, and I’m an ectoplasmic, neuronically-immaculate grown multiple apparition – an E.N.I.G.M.A. Designed by the government.”
That was confusing. Felicia was more confused than she had been to start with. “So wh-what does that mean, exactly?” she stammered.
“I’m… a ghost, basically. And a spy. I work for MI:18.”
Martin was the only one of the group who wasn’t sat down or afloat at this time, and he stepped forward brashly. “There isn’t an MI:18. Dad told me. He said there’s an MI:5 and an MI:6, and that’s where James Bond works, but he never said anything about MI:18 or anything.”
He received a dazzling smile for his efforts, as Scott moved towards him with hands clasped together. “The Government likes to keep its secrets, friend. There are so many things you don’t know about – like, for example, that they can bring people back to life as ghosts, once they die. All operatives of MI:18 are teenagers. When they hire us we have to sign a piece of paper which lets the Government own our souls.”
“Once they die?” asked Felicia.
“Now you’re getting it. I was killed by a man called Maxwell Botham, who works for an international terrorist organisation called SWERVE. He dropped me out of a plane because I was trying to steal a keycard from him. On this card are all the secrets and access codes that belong to the British Government. If he looks in the right places on this keycard, guys, he can use it to shut down our army, or bankrupt the National Bank. He could reveal all the secrets the Government have been keeping from the public, although it’s more likely he’ll sell them off. When we found out that he was the one who had stolen this keycard, I was assigned to track him down and steal it from him, and I got so close to doing it that it’s not even funny. He got away and killed me, of course, which is a touch upsetting.”
“Why are you telling us all this?” asked Lee.
“Hah. Good question. One of the code sequences in my Entrapment Cube means that I have to tell the whole truth to whoever is in the room when I’m released. Of course, I don’t think MI:18 ever expected that the cube would be opened by… wait, who opened it?”
Alice put up her hand, beaming.
“Really?” he murmured gently, his boyish face lit up by surprise. “I will have to keep an eye out on you… What’s your name, sorry?”
“Alice. She’s Alice. And I’m Felicia, and this is my brother Martin.”
“And I’m Lee,” Lee said helpfully, offering a hand to the ghost before realising his mistake.
“Ah, alright. Pleasure. And where am I, exactly?”
“Kent. And the year is 1997 – it’s Summer.”
He scratched the back of his head, and nodded. “I know that, guys. I only died a few days ago. But that’s for the clarification. Kent, eh? Lovely part of the country, never spent much time here before. Well, it’s nice to meet you all, anyway.
Would you like to come with me on a mission, guys?”
== Kent, England The Deacon Family Garden ==
“What the hell do you mean, ‘teleportation’?”
He’d been talking for the group for all of ten minutes, and already they were starting to wear him out. “It’s pretty simple, Martin. All I have to do is summon across the potential mass of all my psychic energy into a single telekinetic spike and focus it on where I want us to go. It’s a mental technique that all agents have to learn.”
“You’re not allowed to call something mental, Scott,” scolded Alice. “It’s rude.”
“Sorry, Alice. You guys are my only hope, remember. I head to MI:18 and tell them what’s happened I’d be so bogged down in paperwork that Botham will’ve taken over half the World by the time I get to actually do anything. You’re all unofficial members of the Secret Service. Now, if you could get into a circle I’ll active my orbital temporal shifts for you.”
He moved off anyway, without waiting for a reply.
“So did any of you understand any of what he just said?” Martin asked, standing to her left with a nervous expression.
“Yeah, jerk!” Alice said scornfully. “You just got to pay more attention to him, Marty!”
With a sudden frown, Felicia crossed her arms. “You shouldn’t use that word, Alice. And Martin – well, I only understood a bit of it, but it doesn’t really matter if we know how he’s going to teleport us. As long as he knows what he’s doing, we’re fine.”
Scott nodded happily, and closed his grey eyes as he circled upwards into the sky. Within a few seconds, Felicia watched on as all the movement of everyday life died down and stopped – all the birds, the cars, everything stopped and went quiet and made it feel unearthly and still in the garden. Then one by one all the colours drained away from sight so that the garden looked like something from a black and white movie, with just the black outlines left. Even then, the lines silently shattered in front of her and there was nothing left but white. Almost as soon as everything went blank, a new background shone out and up rose the sounds, colours, and outlines of somewhere completely different.
They were stood on a red rocky cliff, on a small ledge overlooking a deep valley gorge below. There was a metal grill embedded into the side of the cliff-face, about the same size as Alice and all around them was a vast expanse, with no hint of any sign that anyone else was nearby.
Colorado, America Maxwell Botham’s Base of Operations
“Well, that was easy enough,” said Scott, while the others looked completely shocked by what had just happened. Lee mouthed different rude words to himself and Alice scrambled over past Felicia so she could have a look over the edge of the cliff.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere, jerk! What did you do that for?”
Scott whooshed over and floated over the drop downwards. “ENIGMAs can’t teleport objects or people through walls, Alice. This is as far as I can take you without meeting anything solid. We’re going to have to walk the rest of the way.”
“Or float,” Lee pointed out. Martin, meanwhile, picked up a stone and lobbed it over the edge, cackling with glee at it fell.
“We’re not in the middle of nowhere either,” Scott, pointing to the grill. “That hatch behind you all leads to the storage chamber where the code key should be.”
“You certainly know your way around this place,” Lee remarked. “But how do you know this hatch isn’t alarmed, and we won’t have a load of guards waiting for us when we go through it?”
“Because the people who run this place don’t think that anyone would ever be able to get out to this ledge. Look around. In a sense, Alice is right. We’re in the middle of nowhere right now. Most of the guards are stationed by the border, keeping an eye out over the main fence. We’re way inside that border. Now Martin, can you pull out that grate so we can go inside? I’d do it myself, but an ENIGMA can’t physically move anything.”
Colorado, America Inside Maxwell Botham’s Top-Secret Military Base
Through the grate was a long ventilation tunnel which they had to crawl through one after another. Martin went first, followed by Alice, then Felicia, with Lee at the end of the line. It wasn’t that cramped or anything, but Felicia knew that Martin had a fear of small spaces, so she spent most of her time as they crawled through worrying. Every few minutes they’d crawl over a hole where the air conditioning came out into the rooms of the base, but it appeared to be empty. Scott said that they were planning to start their plans tonight, so all the guards must have gone off on their missions by now.
After what seemed like a very long time, Felicia finally saw Martin climb out of a hole at the end of the shaft, and into an empty room. He helped Alice out, and then left Felicia and Lee to get out by themselves. As Felicia tried to get out by herself she snagged her clothes on something and tipped out backwards onto the floor, which was covered in sawdust. With disgust, she tried to wipe the flakes off her dress, but they remained painfully resistant to her brushstrokes. Mum would be cross when she got back.
They were in a small storage room, nothing special, metal walls floor and ceiling, with long bookcases on both sides and a portrait of an old guy hanging on the other wall, next to a door which led away. As she looked around, she suddenly saw a CCTV camera and dropped back to the floor, pulling Lee with her.
“What is it?” he squawked, as she dragged him, alongside her.
“There’s a CCTV camera up there!” she whispered. Martin looked up, but then turned back to her.
“The light’s off, Flick. It’s not turned on.”
Oh. Embarrassing. She got up again, and brushed sawdust off her clothes again. After giving Lee an apologetic look, she turned back to the others. “So what do we do now, then? Do we go through the door?”
“Well yeah of course we do, moron,” Martin said. His time in the ventilation had made him nervous, she could tell, and now he was taking it out on her. Well, great. He went for the door at that moment, but as soon as he put a hand to the handle Scott materialised through the door and soared straight through him. Her brother yelled in fright and fell over at the sight, covering himself in the same dust which Felicia knew would never come out of her dress. “What are you doing, Casper?” Martin yelled angrily, but Scott put an immaterial finger to his immaterial lips.
“Shh. Don’t be too loud, we don’t want anyone to know we’re in here. Can you take that painting off the wall, please?”
Martin was still sat on the floor in an angry heap, so Lee went over and lifted the picture up and away – revealing behind it a safe, which Scott casually stuck a hand into. As Lee looked at the picture he was holding with a frown, Scott managed to make the safe click open, and the door automatically swung open.
“Is that another ghost-trick, then?” Lee asked, as he reached inside for whatever was lodged at the back of the safe.
“We can tamper with mechanics and electronics,” Scott replied, pausing for a second before adding; “I turned off the CCTV camera, too. All I do is walk through something electric, and it breaks down. Nobody understands why, but it’s a pretty handy trick.”
Lee took out a small piece of plastic, about the same size as a bank note, and lifted it up into the air so they could all see the light reflect off it. “Is that it?”
“That’s the one!” Scott said happily. “Smaller than you expected, huh? That one card has all the information anyone could ever need to take over the world, though?”
“I think you should hold onto it, Flick,” Lee said. He passed it over, and Felicia pocketed it. This entire experience had been far less adventurous and thrilling that she’d expected, but the thought of possessing one of the most important computers in the world gave her a slight chill of excitement.
“So… is that it?” Alice asked Scott, obviously disappointed.
“Spying isn’t as glamorous as you thought it was, is it?” Scott said, with a ghost-grin which quickly vanished as someone suddenly banged on the door loudly.
“Who’s in there?” a muffled voice demanded.
“Quick, Lee! Close the safe and put the picture back up!” Felicia ordered, grabbing Alice and pushing her under the table in the centre of the room. “Everyone get under the table!”
Lee slammed the painting back over the safe, knocking the frame a little out-of shape as he did so, while Scott fell into the floor so nobody could see him. After another knock and demand, the door was thrown open with such force it bounced against the back wall and almost closed again. A guard walked on through, and immediately saw the four of them in their not-so-secret hiding place under the table.
“Who are you kids? What are you doing here?”
Just as they thought that they’d managed to escape without being detected, one stupid guard had somehow managed to spot them. Bad news. And worse, because before Felicia could stop her, Alice had already stood up and gone over to where he was stood. She had a cross look on her face.
“We were playing spies, until you came over and messed it all up!” she shouted, and crossed her arms. “You’re the worst guard ever!”
With dismay Felicia watched on quietly, but suddenly felt a chill by her ear and realised that it was Scott. “His name is Brian,” the ghost told her. “When he starts asking questions, tell him that you’re friends with Phillippa. And try to stop Alice before she says anything stupid, yeah?”
“Who’s Phillippa?” she whispered back, but he was gone.
“How did you get into this restricted zone, little girl? Who gave you permission?”
Alice kicked him on the shin. “Nobody gave us permission, you jerk! We’re spies, and that means we have to sneak around without being caught and we have to stay hidden and nobody gives us any permission to go anywhere, and we aren’t meant to tell anyone about it!” Felicia groaned, and stood up. “…And I’m not little, either! My mum says that I just haven’t had my growth spurt yet.”
The guard rubbed his leg angrily. “Who is your mother, girl?”
Felicia took this as her chance to interrupt. “We’re friends of Phillippa, mister. We’re sorry, we didn’t know that we weren’t supposed to come down here.” As soon as she said the name Phillippa, the guard had gotten all tense, and she could tell that he was going to let them go. Phillippa must be someone really important.
The guard stopped rubbing his shin and stood up, and Lee took hold of Alice so she wouldn’t kick him again. After a while, the guard nodded his okay to their story. “That makes sense enough for me. Alright then, but I still have to ask you all to leave this area. You know where the exit is, kids?”
“Yes, sir,” said Felicia meekly, bowing her head a little at the time. The others all followed her lead, lowering their heads in unison to form a little parade of defeat. The guard, seeing the impact his words had had on these children, pursed his lips and nodded, before stepping backwards out of the room, closing the door behind him.
“So who is Phillippa?”
“Oh. Well, Phillippa happens to be Maxwell’s sister. You remember that Maxwell is the guy who owns this place, right?”
“We’re not little kids, Scott,” said Alice.
“I was just checking that you’d been paying attention,” he said, passing it off with a charming grin. “Alright, well when Phillippa was a child she was in a car accident, her parents took her off for a holiday but forgot to make sure she had her seatbelt on, and them drove into the back of a lorry. She was badly hurt, was in a coma for a while, and when she came out they found that she’d developed some mental disability as a result. Maxwell, who never really got over it, looks after her, and every so often he invites local children round to keep her company. He’s got a caring side,” Scott admitted. “When he isn’t busy being a terrorist.”
“Woman. She’s thirty-seven years old. So anyway, you got the keycard, Felicia?”
Felicia put her hand in her jacket pocket, and pulled out the small device, which she presented proudly. “Yep! So what do we do now?”
“We go back to your house. There’s no particular need to get this back to MI:18 straight away, and we need to sort out your cover story anyway, so…”
“A cover story?”
“Yeah. We need to put together a story about how you came across me which you can all agree on, so they know you aren’t lying. They’ll interrogate you once they found out what you did, and you need to make sure you don’t disagree on anything.”
“You think the best way to not be arrested for lying is if we think up one gigantic lie and all stick to it?” Lee asked, with a hint of sarcasm.
“If we…” He stopped, and interrupted his previous train of thought. “well, let’s teleport back, and then we’ll sort all of the details out there, eh?
Kent, England The Deacon Household
The return jolted Felicia onto her bum, as she tripped off her legs and went over onto the ground. Luckily for her all the others had fallen over too, so she didn’t look so silly, but when she got up to her feet the first face that greeted her wasn’t of Martin, Lee, Alice or Scott. Instead, it was of a woman who looked instantly familiar but years older than she ever remembered her. It was Lee’s mum, Mrs Meloy. Her tie was undone.
“Hello again, Miss Deacon,” she said. “Can we use your shed as a debriefing centre, please? I have a few things to discuss with you.”
Felicia looked across at her friends, who walked off silently into the potting shed one after another – all apart from Lee, who was stood shuffling a hand through his hair.
“Mum, what are you talking about?” he asked.
“Just get inside, honey. You’re going to be in a lot of trouble unless you do exactly what I say. I’m your mother, trust me on this.”
Lee didn’t look like he was prepared to trust his mother on this, but she took him by the arm and marched him into the shed anyway, closing the door firmly behind her as she went. Now that there was an adult in the shed the atmosphere felt a lot different from usual, and Felicia felt cramped – she never usually felt cramped in this shed. Alice and Martin were already sat down, so she joined them at the far side and waited to find out what was going on now. Lee’s Mum wasted no time in telling them.
“I work for the same branch of the Government as your new friend Scott Vaughan does, kids. I work as an ENIG-MATER for MI:18, which means that I look after the agents who have died. Where is Scott?”
“I’m here, Agent Meloy,” Scott announced, walking through the wall of the shed startling Felicia yet again. She didn’t like it when he did that. “And we’ve just recovered the keycard, which means-”
“Don’t you know where he is?” Lee’s mum repeated, blankly ignoring Scott directly to his face. He floated up to her and waved a hand in front of her eyes, but she didn’t seem to see him at all.
“He’s right in front of you, mum,” Lee said, and Mrs Meloy shook her head and frowned a little.
“I was worried this might happen.”
“What?” asked Scott, but she didn’t reply, so Felicia repeated the question on his deceased behalf.
“If the operative is off-grounds when they are activated, there have been documented cases of transparency.”
Alice leant over to Felicia’s ear. “That isn’t a real word,” she whispered.
“What that means,” continued Lee’s mum, who seemed to hear Alice’s whispers somehow, “is that because Scott was activated without the correct procedure, only the people who were present when he came back to life are able to see him. You say he’s right here now?”
“Yes, Mrs Meloy.”
“We recorded teleportation warp energy resonating in this garden a short while ago. Where did he take you? Don’t worry: everything you tell me will be in the strictest confidence. This potting shed is now Governmental property.” She took out a card from her wallet and handed it over. “Just don’t tell your parents that we own it, ok?”
“Well, he… he told us that the Bank Of England was going to be robbed unless we stopped a terrorist who lives in America, so we went with him to America and we stole a passkey card thingy and brought it back here,” Martin stumbled suddenly from over Felicia’s shoulder, and she turned to watch him. “Flick’s got it now, haven’t you sis?”
“I…” she put a hand in her pocket and took out the keycard, still a little confused at everything that was going on. Lee still looked absolutely gobsmacked by everything. His mum took a hold of the keycard, dropped it on the floor after the briefest of glances, and crushed it beneath her boot.
“Good work!” she beamed, unexpectedly. Felicia was finding that recently, almost everything happened unexpectedly. “Now, seeing as you are the only people who can see Agent Vaughan, and he is currently in position of some vital intelligence which we need in order to protect the county…
Felicia and Martin Deacon, Leonard Meloy, and Alice Khan, I pronounce that you are now all Agents of MI:18!”
Only one problem - no point in anybody trying to bankrupt this country's banks - they're doing it very nicely for themselves. Excellent tale though.
tallulahbang 12.05.2009 20:17
You know what? I think you came up with the acronyms first and worked backwards. Also, no-one needs to steal information from the government; it's only a matter of time before they leave a laptop containing the nuclear launch codes on the train to Swindon. xx