Of Mice and Monsters
by Debra Hicks
"We're going where?" I don't normally think the Cow is crazy. Sneaky, conniving, sadistic - but not crazy.
He looked me straight in the eye. "I was not aware that your hearing was impaired, Bodie. You and Doyle are going to Loch Ness. Do you have a problem with that?"
Doyle, bless the bionic golli, came to my rescue. "No, sir. No problem with that point. Was the other bit."
I think the Cow actually coloured up, but it could have been a trick of the light. He turned those icy blues on Doyle, daring him to laugh. "You will met two other agents and investigate the renewed sightings of a creature in Loch Ness."
Doyle's eyebrows were doing a fast crawl toward his curls. "You mean the Loch Ness Monster?"
Cowley very calmly went back to his paperwork. "The sightings are quiet numerous and include some very reliable witnesses, including the Mayor of Kingussie, the Mother Superior of St. Andrews and myself."
Thinking your boss is crazy is one thing - having him prove it is another. I was distracted from that startling thought by the rather odd choking sound coming from Doyle. With a concentrated effort I switched from my intense study of the wall above Cowley's head to Doyle's adorable face. Normally adorable face. Right now he was looking decidedly weird, what with trying not to laugh while his mouth hung open.
One thing was very evident - Doyle was about to get us in serious trouble with his next comment. Having your boss prove he's crazy is one thing -pointing it out is another. Three options came to mind; goose Doyle hard and hope it distracted him, kiss Doyle knowing it would distract him or exercise the better part of valor and get us the hell out of there. He was too far gone to goose, kissing in front of Cowley would be almost as dangerous as Doyle's comment, so...
I grabbed Doyle in one hand and the folder Cowley had indicated in the other. "Running all the way, sir."
Cowley looked up in surprise. He had obviously expected us to say something more. He recovered in typical Cowley fashion. "See that you are!"
There were signs of the monster everywhere. There was a sign on the rail station, there was a sign on the local, there was a sign on the hotel, there was... And Ray giggled at every damn one of them. If he didn't stop that we weren't going to get anything done. And I wasn't thinking of the job.
We followed standard operating procedure after we checked in. I unpacked while Ray read the report aloud. It's a good system since I can't stand the way he throws clothes in the wardrobe and he can't handle my ad-libbing through reports.
"What the hell are we going to do, Bodie?" Ray finally queried.
"Do about what?" I asked.
He stared at me with those beautiful green eyes. "In case you haven't noticed George Cowley has us hunting imaginary monsters." I detected a slight note of sarcasm in his voice. Seriously he asked, "Think the pressure has got to the old man?"
"No." And I meant it. "But the malt might have. Think about it, Ray. Dark night, relatives driving him batty, a dram or two or three, walking along the loch, something strange in the water. So, it's either send us out or admit to being pissed. Can you picture the Cow admitting to being pissed?"
That stopped him for a moment. "No. But what are we going to do about it?"
"We," I explained patiently, "are going to take turns walking around the loch for a few days, file a lovely daily report then go home." With an innocent (I can do one) expression I added, "Nice hotel, few days in the open air, few afternoons kissing my way around that gorgeous body of yours. Not a bad deal, actually."
True to form the little bastard found something else to complain about. "The report doesn't say who the other agents are. Just that they'll find us."
He frowned, I leered. I didn't care about the other agents, was in fact hoping they would be very late. I had already tested the big old four poster bed's strength with a couple of good bounces and was now ready for a complete test drive.
Ray closed the report, walked across the room and lay it on the night stand next to me. The gorgeous ass was more temptation then I could resist. (Not that I usually resist temptation, usually grab it with both hands.) Which is what I did, grabbed Ray with both hands, spun him around and down into the bed.
Was no use letting him get any further. I'd heard it. I started a kiss that was guaranteed to curl his curls even further. There was a nanoseconds (and Ray says I don't know big words) worth of resistance before his hands came off the bed and went straight for my shirt buttons. And he complains about my will power.
"I say, is that all you chaps think of?"
I knew that voice. It's a good thing Ray had the lip-lock on me he did or I would have screamed. As it was I think I bit him. He glared at me as he pulled away, a blush darkening that charming cheekbone. I dropped my head to his chest.
"Tell me it isn't..." I pleaded.
"'alo DM, Penfold." He prodded me in the ribs as he said it trying to get me to move.
A cute little voice said, "Good day, Mr. Doyle, Mr. Bodie."
"Bodie," I corrected. Figuring it was impolite to just lay I rolled off, sat up and looked toward the voices.
Dangermouse and Penfold were standing on the window edge. DM had his arms crossed in front of him and looked highly displeased at what Ray and I had been up to. Penfold on the other hand was smiling broadly. At least I think he was smiling, considering the suitcase he was holding just about covered him it was hard to tell. Couldn't tell what kind of suit he was wearing either.
Ray took our miniature intruders in stride. "What brings you two...hang about! You're the two agents we're suppose to meet, aren't you?"
"Affirmative," DM said. With more enthusiasm than anyone should show toward something that wasn't food or sex he added, "And we'd better hop to it."
Penfold sat the case down, opened it, started rummaging and mumbling at the same time. "Sonic tracker, super periscope with special lens, automatic Nessie call..."
"Penfold..." I tried.
"... tranquilizer rifle, water marking dye..."
He glanced up. "Have I forgotten something?"
"Yes," I said firmly. "We have just arrived. I would very much like time to unpack."
"We've already unpacked," Ray put in innocently.
"I'd like to eat." I gave him a look that should have told him I wasn't talking about food.
"We had lunch on the plane."
I was running out of suggestions. "A shower?"
"We're only going to get wet when we go out on the loch," DM volunteered.
I gave up on subtly, bypassed tact and went straight for crude. "I would like to fu..."
Ray kicked my ankle, hard. "Excuse us." He grabbed my arm, opened the door and tossed me into the hall. "Bodie, try to behave. DM is very by the book. He'll report everything that happens, including a delay in the mission because we were .... otherwise busy."
This serious little speech might have had more effect if Ray hadn't been smiling all the while. For some strange reason whenever that one-eyed rodent shows up Ray's sense of humor goes round the twist. I briefly considered throwing him onto the floor and having my wicked way with him but dismissed it immediately. With the way my luck was running some middle-aged tourist from Dublin would wander out, see us, kneel over and we'd waste the rest of the evening reviving the old bat.
I stepped over and banged my head against the wall, a rather nasty habit I seem to be developing whenever the six-inch-high spy is involved.
Ray ran his hand lightly down my back. When I turned around he hit me full force with his patented 'please-Bodie-I-love-you-don't-be-a-twit' look. If there's one thing that I can't resist it's those beautiful green eyes... that strange cheekbone, those strong shoulders, that cute bum...
"Okay, I'll behave."
Ray kissed me chastely on the cheek. "Good. The sooner we get started the sooner we'll be back." He turned toward the room. A horrible thought struck me.
"Oy, you don't think they're going to share the room with us, do you?"
I hate boats. Especially small boats. In the rain. At night. With a wind coming up. Wind brings up waves and waves bring up my last meal.
Sometime during all this I vaguely realized that I should have been nicer to Penfold and DM. Being interrupted while kissing Doyle really shouldn't be considered a capital offense. Not the first time anyway. After all Penfold and I had been drinking mates that one night. Unfortunately thoughts of that night conjurored up memories of that morning after. Those thoughts must have been enough to turn me a shade of pale that was noticeable even in the dark.
"Oh, crumbs, Mr. Bodie," Penfold whistled. "You look a fright."
That made Doyle turn away from his intense study of the loch. What he expected to see in the dark with no moon I'll never know. "Bodie, you okay?"
"No, I'm bloody not okay!" I snapped at him. "I'm wet, I'm seasick, and I'm randy."
Doyle looked sympathetic and amused at the same time, a reaction I had seen before and that would one day get him killed, preferably by slow and interesting means. He ignored the obvious and the hopeless and commented on the other. "Ex-merchant seaman? Tough SAS sergeant? Seasick? I didn't think anything stopped..."
There comes a time in every man's life when something renders him totally incapable of moving, talking, screaming or breathing. (Though retching was still in strong competition.) The thing that rose up out of the water behind Doyle was it for me. It was green; it was big and it was ugly. And it had teeth. I know because I could see all 420 of them. Great Indian scout Doyle was staring in the wrong direction. I took a deep breath and screamed.
"Eep!" (Well it was suppose to be a scream.) I did manage to point.
Penfold looked at where I was pointing. "Eep!"
"Doyle!" I finally managed.
An upper crust accented voice sounded out of mid-air. "Duck!"
We all three hit the bottom of the boat. A fast, silver and red shape shot over us, firing a burst of blue laser light at the creature. The shot missed as the creature swung it's head down toward Doyle. By now Doyle had caught onto the fact that a large, ugly, imaginary monster was about to make him a dinner snack. He hit the throttle, turned the wheel hard over. The monster's jaws snapped shut on empty air.
DM, in the flying car, came in again as the monster turned to give chase. There was another bright flash from the car. It hit the thing square on the jaw. It shook it's head and made a horrible sound like a cat fight in a steel drum. We were moving fast by now and the curtain of rain settled in around us, blocking our view. There was one more flash of blue in the darkness.
"Bloody hell!" Doyle swore softly. He turned around to me. "A dram or two? That looked like a hell of a lot more than a dram or two!"
"Penfold?" I glanced around. "Where's Penfold?" He couldn't have gone over board.
There was a ticklish movement over my left chest. A small furry head peeked out of my jacket pocket. How the hell he got there I don't know. Very calmly he put his glasses back on, straightened his tie. (Was a nice tie.) He squinted, staring through the rain.
"Where's the chief?"
In answer the mini-flying car zipped into view, came level with Doyle's curls which were sticking a few inches above the side rail.
"I say, are you all in one piece?" We nodded. "Then you're going in the wrong direction."
I pointed toward where we'd been. "The monster is in that direction, right?" DM nodded. "Then we are going in the right direction."
"Come, come, gentlemen, we're all professionals here. We have a job to do."
"Right!" Penfold agreed readily.
"I managed to plant a tracking devices on the beast so..."
"So, we shouldn't have any trouble finding it after we get re-equipped," I interrupted.
"Re-equipped?" DM queried.
"We need a bigger boat." I felt like Steven Spielberg should have stepped out and yelled cut.
I also wanted a more suitable weapon, like a bazooka, grenade launcher, very small tactical nuke. I wasn't picky.
By the time we got back to the hotel, dried off and our equipment together the storm had reached a proportion that made going back out in a small boat suicidal. I was immensely grateful.
"We will have to monitor the tracking device until the storm clears, then we can continue the hunt," DM declared.
"Great!" A warm bed, the wind howling outside the window, Ray curled up next to me, sounded like heaven. I grabbed Ray by the arm. "Goodnight."
"Bodie." Ray pulled away. "This is a joint effort."
"Yes, quiet," DM agreed. "We'll take it in four hour shifts. Doyle and Penfold can take the second, Bodie and I will take the first."
"We'll what? Now, wait. Ray and I are a team." I protested. "We stay together."
"Bodie," Ray warned under his breath. Louder he said, "Come on Penfold." As he started by he leaned close and said, "The reason you two don't get along is you're too much alike."
I would have protested, long and hard if the little golli hadn't kissed me, long and hard. He pulled back and followed the giggling hamster into the adjoining bedroom. Giggling seemed to be contagious with those two. I stalked over to the table were they had set up the sonar tracking device, flopped down in the chair. DM wisely refrained from comment.
"I don't see why this takes two peop...agents," I complained.
"One to watch and the other to keep that one awake," DM said.
Three hours into our four hour watch disaster struck. Both screens went blank. I fiddled a couple of dials. "DM?"
"Yes?" He was sitting on the table sipping some of the tea I had made up. (Brought his own china. Mary Poppins has nothing on DM's suitcase.)
With a sigh that said he thought it was all my fault he scurried over, climbed up the side of the cloth chair and hopped to the table. He fiddled the same dials I had fiddled then declared, "Antenna must have gone down in the wind." He looked up at me. "We shall have to go out and check it."
"Out!" I said loudly, then added in a more controlled voice. "In cause you haven't noticed, old chap, it is raining bleeding cats and dogs out there. Lion-sized cats and wolfhound-sized dogs."
"The creature has been moving in a very erratic pattern. We'll lose him if we don't get it back up." He jumped down, went over to that damn case and drew out a long, hooded rain cover. "Come along, it won't take long with two of us."
With a groan I stood up and started after him. "Lead the way, mon capitain."
"Better get a rain slick."
"Didn't bring one, did I?"
The little rodent shook his head. "Not very well prepared, were you?"
I considered kicking him through the door.
There is a certain sixth (or seventh) sense that a good agent learns if he wants to stay a good agent. Good agent in this case being a live agent. It's the uncanny ability to sense danger in small clues; the whisper of cloth against a wall, the shifting of a shadow in the dark, waking up tied spread eagle on the floor naked.
I cursed, loudly and in several languages.
"Ah, awake at last, I see. Your Swahili is terrible."
DM was tied in a similar fashion near my right hand. "Good morning, DM," I said cheerfully.
"Even assuming it's morning I fail to see anything good about it. Unless you're use to waking in this position."
"Twice but Doyle promised not to do it again."
He actually chuckled at that. "What do you remember?"
"I was on the ground holding the antenna. You where up top tightening it down." Things got a bit hazy at that point. "Let's see, uh, there was a bright yellow light, it hit the pole and the lights went out. Did you see something I didn't?"
"Yes, the monster."
"Pull the other one, DM," I argued. "The 'monster,' or whatever the hell it is, was over three klicks away in the middle of the loch when we went up on the roof."
"It was the monster," he stated firmly. "Only this monster reared back, opened it's mouth and shot us both with a bright yellow ray."
I stared at him. "You're telling me that we not only have to worry about a monster that measures forty five feet long by twenty four feet high, but a monster that thinks it's Darth Vader?"
"I'm saying," (I hate when he uses that Cowley-like tone.) "that we are dealing with a mechanical device. An android monster. Now, though this may be a bit taxing, when was the last time you encountered a mechanical beast?"
"The dog. And there's no need to get snarky. The dog that was really...uh, Greentoad, Greenleaf, Green..."
"Greenback, Baron Silas Greenback!" This very aggravate, nasal voice announced.
I stared down my legs to were the voice had come from. There stood, (sat, squatted?) the ugliest, slimiest looking amphibian I have ever seen. If he had been human he would have been either a pimp or an American televangalist. The fact that he was wearing a white suit only enhanced the image. A furry white worm sat on his shoulder glaring at me. The toad smiled, moved up to my knee and patted it. He had cold fingers but I managed not to cringe.
"I thought it was about time we were properly introduced Mr. Bodie, agent 4.5 of CI5," he wheezed.
"The pleasure is all mine," I said sarcastically.
The toad (and I use the term in both meanings) turned away from me to DM. "And my dear old friend, the white wonder, Dangermouse."
Before DM could reply I interrupted with a very important question. "Where's Doyle and Penfold?"
"Not to worry. Your respective partners will be joining you shortly. Once everyone is together we will be playing a short game of hide and seek with my new creation. A very short game." The white worm (caterpillar, I guess) snickered at this statement. I really didn't like these two.
Greenback moved to the wall nearest DM and touched some sort of hidden panel. A control board slid silently open. "You will now be given a chance to see my monster in action."
With that grand announcement he flicked a switch and the wall, which was really a screen, lit up. The monster was sitting, obviously shut off, in a brightly lit room. It didn't look as menacing as it had in the water, in the dark, from a small boat. Fact was I was beginning to feel silly over the whole thing. It's hard to take being threatened by a toad seriously.
"The monster can be controlled from here or from inside the mechanism. Your partners are on the loch, searching for you. I'm about to pay them a visit. I will herd them into this lair, then our game will begin."
"Could you repeat that. I'm having a little trouble understanding you," I goaded. "You really should do something about that cold."
DM groaned. The toad turned around. He wasn't happy. "Go, my pet, teach Mr. Bodie some manners."
The worm snickered again, jumped off his shoulder and started in my direction. A slight flicker of apprehension hit me. Some caterpillars are poisonous. I flinched as he reared up on his four back legs next to my hip.
It was worse than I could have imagined. It tickled! He went up my hip, did a slow rumba across my stomach and waltzed toward my ribs. By the time he'd made the sixth one I'd had all I could take.
"Stop!" I yelled. "I'll talk, I'll talk!"
"I haven't asked you anything," The toad said.
"I'll make something up."
The worm snickered again, a habit that was beginning to annoy me no end. But he got down and returned to his master. "Not to fear," Greenback grated. "We shall return, with company." They left. The screen stayed on.
"That was a wonderful display of will power," DM said sarcastically.
"Got him off, didn't it! Now, what kind of magic gadget have you got to get us out of here?"
"Yes, he'll be turning that thing loose on Penfold and Doyle soon," DM actually sounded worried.
"I'm not worried about that." I lied through my prefect teeth. "I just want to be out of here before Doyle and Penfold have a go at rescuing us. I hate being rescued. It's embarrassing."
"I do hate to throw a spanner into your plans but in case you've failed to notice I am in a similar state of undress. They took everything."
On the screen the monster was stirring, heading for a sliding door that had opened to the right of the screen. (Place had more sliding doors than the Enterprise on a good day.)
Our options were severely limited; we could lay there helpless like characters in a tacky sex story until Doyle and Penfold were brought in, we could lay there helpless hoping that Doyle and Penfold would come and rescue us (something I would never hear the end of) or we could squirm uselessly around trying to get loose. At this point the loss of a little skin was nothing compared to being rescued by a partner with a warped sense of humor and a suited, bespectacled hamster. I started doing my best Houdini impression, twisting and flexing.
The screen switched veiwpoints to what must have been a camera planted on board Doyle and Penfold's boat. Nothing was happening yet. I tugged at the ropes again and accidentally goosed the mouse. DM let loose with a very uncharacteristic squeak.
"I say! Do watch what you're doing. That tickled."
I looked over at him. He was right next to my wrist, right next to the ropes. He was also looking at the ropes. The idea hit us both at the same time. (Doyle might be right when he says we think alike. Frightening thought that.)
"Go to it, mate." I urged.
"To what?" Now he was just being stubborn.
"You know, Trigger, Silver, Rin Tin Tin... imitate Lassie and chew the ropes apart."
"I am neither a dog or a horse. I am a spy," He said with as much dignity as he could muster, which wasn't a lot considering the circumstances.
"Look, mate," I explained patiently, "either you chew me free or Doyle, Penfold and that fake Nessie join us for a before dinner jog around the lake. I don't know about you but as good as we all are we might have just a weensy bit of trouble with a four ton, twenty four by forty five foot, laser-armed monster."
Ten minutes later we were free. I have to remember never to get the resident super-spy mad enough to bite me. Those teeth of his went through that rope smooth as oil over Ray's bottom. I went to work on his ties, a real challenge considering the size of his 'ropes' and the cold of my fingers.
On the screen the action had started. The monster reared up in front of the small boat, swung it's head down toward Doyle. Doyle swung the boat around just as Penfold, in the flying car, used the same move DM had and fired at the androids jaw. The monster bellowed. The battle was joined. (Nice poetic turn that.)
The ropes came free and DM sprang up, ran toward the control panel. I stretched out next to him, that being the only way I could get a close look at the tiny panel. That's when a certain part of my body informed me of just how cold stone floors can be. My balls retreated into my stomach. At that point I would have sworn that even Doyle's talented fingers wouldn't be able coax them back down. I bravely ignored that depressing thought, squinted at the control panel. DM was staring at it.
"Well?" I demanded.
"Um." Was the very definitive answer.
With great willpower I restrained myself for, oh, five or six seconds. "Do something!"
"Greenback may be an egotistical maniac but he, unfortunately does not have the habit of many egotistical maniacs - he doesn't label his computer." He frowned, looked up at the screen. "This may take a while."
The battle on the screen was beginning to look like the end of the first half of a "Batman" episode. You know, the half where the heroes get captured so they can escape in the second episode. Only I didn't want to wait until the second episode. The metal monster was bellowing even louder now.
"Push something," I urged desperately.
He wasn't thrilled by the idea but pushed several buttons. We both looked up at the screen and waited. Three seconds later something happened. But it had nothing to do with what the white wonder (bit much, that one) had pushed.
It rose up out of the water directly behind Greenback's monster. It was a lot different from the first it. It was bigger, it was greener, and instead of being uglier it was actually kind of cute, in a prehistoric kind of way. Greenback must have sensed it because it (monster number one, Greenback) turned around, looked, stopped, looked again. It (number one) didn't have time to do much else because at that point it (monster number two) smiled (there was no other word for it) and let out this cooing sound, like two doves in a steel drum. (Big doves.) It wrapped it's long neck around monster number one's long neck and proceeded to pull it away from the boat. I'll give Greenback's monster one thing, it put up a great fight. But true love won out. The last we saw the real Nessie was playing kissy-face with Greenback's monster as she drug him toward the opposite shore.
Doyle and Penfold looked at each other, DM and I looked at each other. We laughed until Penfold was rolling in the bottom of the boat, Doyle was clutching his side and I had tears in my eyes. I only hope that the real Nessie finds it as amusing when she twigs to the fact that monster number one can't fulfill certain nuptial duties. Or maybe it can? What do I know?
I rolled over, yelped as my arse hit the cold stones. "Can we find our clothes now? Certain extremities are starting to complain."
"Certainly," DM agreed.
"Mr. Doyle!" On the screen Penfold was going on about something. "Look. The homer is still pointing in that direction. It must have dropped it when it took the Chief and Mr. Bodie. We could follow it to them."
"Great," I said. "We can be sitting here nonchalantly when they arrive." I stood up. "Where would I be if I were my clothes?"
"Bodie," DM said. Was that a note of hesitation I detected in his voice?
"Uh, I know you hate being rescued but it's not very often that Penfold gets to play rescuer rather than rescuee."
"Yeh?" I asked a little warily.
He looked up, up, up at me. "I say, would you mind terribly pretending to be rescued for Penfold's sake?"
I groaned. I'd had a feeling that he was leading up to something like this. Still, a man...mouse, has to look after his partner. Besides I liked the near-sighted little bloke, despite his bad suits and not being able to get a hangover. Hangover? Now there was an idea.
"One condition," I demanded.
"Yes?" It was his turn to be wary.
"When this is all wrapped up you and me..."
"I," he corrected.
"...go tie one on."
He thought about it for a minute then nodded. "Agreed. Though I'm not in the habit of 'tieing one on.'"
"Think we have time to look for our clothes. I mean we don't have to be rescued naked do we?" I asked hopefully.
He studied the screen, what he expected it to tell him I don't know but he said confidently. "We should have time."
Luckily our clothes were in the room stuffed in a wooden box, unluckily mine were still wet. It would probably be good for getting some sympathy out of Ray. We set about figuring out the logistics of our 'rescue.'
Twenty minutes later Ray dramatically kicked open the door and charged in. He found one tied rodent spy and one 'unconscious' (but dressed) CI5 agent. Penfold ran in after my love, started untying his chief while Ray brought me around in that charming way that he has; a whisper of my name, a soft kiss, a slow stroke along one cheek. Being rescued does have it's perks. I even managed a quick grope as he helped me up.
"Are you okay?" All four of us asked.
"Fine," we answered.
"Penfold, you're a genius," DM started. "I'll look forward to reading your report on how you found us." Penfold didn't see him wink up at me.
Penfold also didn't see any point in waiting on his report. "Crumbs, Chief, it was Mr. Doyle who figured out that your disappearance was connected to the monster and that if we followed the homer..."
His voice faded as they walked out. Ray smiled at me and I knew that he knew everything that had gone on. He leaned forward, put a warm hand on either side of my face and kissed me lightly. "Let's get you warmed up."
"Right here?" I quipped. I then turned around and kicked the control panel into several dozen pieces. Ray looked at me, question in the lovely green.
"Trying to give Nessie a night of wild abandon," I explained. He didn't understand a word. "Let's catch up with them." I slipped an arm around his waist. "I need to ask DM a very important question."
"Yeh. Need to know if mice get hangovers."
-- THE END --