Ragen lay spreadeagled on the floor, blood oozing from his battered head. Petal stood above him, spinning a truncheon between her fingers. There weren't many men who got their kicks by being smashed about the head by a Police Regulation Issue No. Seven Truncheon at the moment of climax, she mused. Sex and violence wasn't in it.
Petal dressed and left the office (after dropping a line to A10). Too much time had been spent in the quiet backwater. Things had to get moving again. At the entrance of Police HQ she asked the duty Sargeant to call her a cab. "You're a cab," he said.
Petal casually kicked him in the goolies. "No old jokes on the page," she smiled.
A cab took her to a seedy rip-off joint in Soho. It was called 'The Seedy Rip-Off Joint'. Inside it was dim, dank and reeking of cold vomit. It was here that Princess Anne had been busted for dealing in illicit substances; it was here that Lord Lucan had disappeared, to return as a bingo caller in Hackney. In this club, the only straight coppers were in the fruit machine, the beer was £5 a pint (alcohol extra) and the women had been condemned by the London Housing Authority as unfit to dwell in.
Petal slid down the greasy steps into the entrance. She didn't leave her coat in the cloakroom; it cost nothing to leave it, but ten quid to get it back. She sat down at an empty table and ordered a drink. Five minutes later the waiter brought it, swimming in a tray. She had forgot that the glasses were extra. Suddenly a man sat down beside her. "Would you like to earn two hundred pounds?" he whispered.
"What would I have to do?" asked Petal.
"Anything," said the man. "As long as I could watch."
She shook her head. Funny place to see Tony Blackburn, she thought, as he disappeared into the gloom. A figure emerged from the darkness. "HE will see you now," it hissed.
The figure turned and led the way across the crowded dance floor (only two couples were actually dancing, the rest were ... uh, coupling), through a low door into a dimly lit passage and thence into a brightly illuminated ante-chamber. "Wait here," instructed the figure, who in the bright light looked remarkably like a troll.
A door in the far wall opened and in walked Huw Ah Yuw. "You have done well Petal," he said. "Things are looking up."
It was then that Petal noticed that the floor was covered in mirrors. She sat down hurriedly. "Yes," he continued. "Now that Ragen is in the slimy hands of A10, the only man who could foil my plan is nullified." He cackled nastily.
Discontinuity Twenty Two:
I awoke and found myself all trussed up. My last memory was of being beaten around the head by a surgical appliance. I let my body figure out if it would remain conscious and looked around. The room I found myself in was light and airy. I lay on a double bed in the middle of a vast expanse of carpet. Makes a nice change, I thought. I started to take a look at the plot. My brain started to hurt, so I stopped looking. A voice broke into my reverie. "Ah, Mr. Gilbert. So glad you are awake."
The speaker stood in front of me. He was big and black and round and he moved in and out when spoke. "My name is Notafunnynameatall. I intercepted your rescue by the forces of law and (not necessarily) order because I have uses for you."
"Oh no. Not again." "I am afraid so Mr. Gilbert. If you have any doubts about assisting me, I shall be forced to persuade you otherwise."
"And how to you propose to do that?" I asked.
"You would like to be set down in the middle of the Notting Hill Carnival, wearing a National Front Lapel badge?"
"Okay, you win. What do you want me to do?"
"We'II get to the good bits later dear," he said. "Firstly, I want you to go to The Seedy Rip-Off Joint in Soho and discover what Huw Ah Yuw is upp tuw. After that, we shall see."
Soon I was inside the club. It hadn't changed much since the last page, apart from the fact that Jimmy Hill had replaced Tony Blackburn. I hailed a waiter. He snowed at me in response. "Have you thought about doing anything about your dandruff?" I asked.
"No," he answered. "It's the only thing that gets me a job as Santa Claus in Horrids."
I decided to take the subtle approach. "Is Huw Ah Yuw here?" I inquired.
"I'll see sir." he replied. I gave him a fiver tip. He took his foot of my head.
I sat down and waited. A woman neared my table. She was slum property, over-ripe for clearance. "Come with me, baby." she commanded.
Not likely, I thought. I'd have more fun with an old sock full of custard. "Huw Ah Yuw is ready to see you," she whispered. I stood up and followed her.
Huw Ah Yuw was still cackling nastily when I entered the room. "Good of you to return to the fold, Gilbert. " he said. "As you see, Petal is already here. Now we can begin work."
I decided not to tell him about Notafunnynameatall, at least not until his name was more believable. I snatched a glance at Petal; I'd have liked to have snatched more but time was running out fast.
"Time, come back here!" called Yuw. "This is my lab assistant," he explained. "He's rather shy." Yuw led us into a laboratory.
Inside the room, apart from the usual laboratory paraphernalia of flasks, retorts, answerbacks, smart ass one-liners and Pirelli calenders, sat a huge machine. Yes folks, it's loony scientist time. "My God," I gasped. "What is it?"
"This device," said Yuw, "will enable me to rule the world!"
"What a boring ambition. Haven't you got anything better to do with your life?"
"I am taking my revenge on society." he screamed. "It was society's fault that they wouldn't let me join the cubs, that Susan Burton wouldn't play Doctors and Nurses behind the shed and that I never won the Nobel Physics Prize."
"You need help." I said. "Not to mention the story. What it needs is a twist."
"Please sir, may I have some more?"
"Oh no. Not that sort of twist.
More like this ... "
With a crash like thunder, the outer wall of the laboratory collapsed into a steaming heap. Over the top of the heap bounced what looked like a large ball of polyproplyene. It stopped and gradually formed into the shape of a man.
He spoke: "Okaya Yuw. Dis is da enda of da line for you."
Yuw groaned. "It's the Plastic Mafia. After all this time they've caught up with me."
"Yeah," agreed the man from the Mafia. "Likea spring onions, we always come back."
We were bundled into the back of a van and driven off at speed. When the amphetamines had worn off, I looked out of the grimy windows, but all I could see was the back projection screen. Yuw sat in the corner, sobbing quietly. "What's wrong with him?" I asked Petal. "Is he crying because he's lost his chance to rule the world?"
"No. They trod on his corns when they put him in here."
Sometime later the van screeched to a halt. The back doors opened and two guys with nasty looking weapons motioned us out. They had guns as well. We were pushed into a bare room. The door was closed and locked behind us.
"I really get claustrophobic in this sort of situation." said Petal. "I could swear the walls are closing in on us. How silly of me."
The only problem was that Petal was not being silly. The two walls were slowly and inexorably moving closer together ...
TWO BEE KONTINYOUED ...