Mad Jack had his feet up on the desk and his chair tipped back while he watched the rerun of an early episode of Downton Abbey on the office TV. The phone had not rung for several hours and he could feel a snooze coming on. The polite tapping on the office door was a surprise. Through the frosted glass he could make out the silhouette of someone short, in what looked like a flat cap or beret. It was as he rose to investigate that the penthouse windows blew in.
An indistinct something mauve whirled across the room, there was a blinding blue-white flash and his brain went into meltdown. It rebooted slowly, consciousness returning in random and unrelated snippets. He was staring at a moth hole in the Moroccan rug that was pressing into his face and a distant muffled voice was calling his name.
“Stay down. Don’t move.”
He could not help but comply, the mauve blur was kneeling on his shoulders. It dragged his arms back and slipped a nylon tie-wrap round his wrists.
“It’s safe to come in now, Mr Desai.” Dark Flo pulled the veil from her face as Ferdy entered. She lifted Mad Jack with one arm and dumped him back in his chair. “Now Mr Belvoir, I believe explanations are in order.”
“Damn right they are? Who the Hell are you and what…?” blurted the still befuddled hussar. Flo fingered her feather duster menacingly.
“No Jack. You. What are you up to?”
“It’s to do with one of Slasher’s plans, isn’t it?” asked Ferdy.
“Ferdinand, oh thank God! Who is this mad woman, and what just happened to me?”
“You have been liberated,” Flo’s steely eyes shone through the black grease paint that smeared across the upper half of her face. She spun his swivel chair, just once, for effect. “Talk.”
“McGoogs recruited me to infiltrate the British Government in Exile’s invasion force and disrupt their plans, but I’m all alone and I can’t find any plans to disrupt. Fluffy has strategically withdrawn to the Tyranny of Sark and Captain Midlands has gone rogue up north.”
“Off-piste, independent. No one’s reporting back here to HQ.”
Beryl, in the BMW 740, picked her way carefully through the rubble strewn streets of the harbour district, ruined warehouses still smoked, wrecked freighters tilted, half sunk, in the docks. The fighting had moved on towards the centre of town. They drove along the prom and it was Phoebles who spotted Ferdy’s Cierva C30 parked outside the Grand Jersey Hotel. They abandoned their car at the main entrance.
“Should we torch it?” enquired Phoeble.
“Best not,” replied Boz, “it’s not nicked, we commandeered it.”
The foursome dashed into reception. A large union jack above the desk had detached itself to hang forlornly by one corner and a sign on the counter announced ‘FLUFFYFORCE HQ Top Floor’ with a stencilled hand pointing upwards. They rushed through the deserted security checkpoint, where a metal detector set off an annoying alarm, ignored it, took the lift and burst into Mr Fluffy’s office as Mad Jack was winding up his tale of woe.