Two Kittens of Chaos flew at the startled guard before he could react. Kitty went for the face and thrust a velvet paw into his gaping mouth, smothering a cry; Scarlet took out his legs. Kiki joined in, pummelling him mercilessly until Consuella and the Mother Superior dragged her off. Mrs King gathered their discarded bonds and soon had the Chat stripped to his vest, trussed and gagged, Master Dorje checked the corridor outside; it was deserted.
“Kitty, put on le Chat’s trench coat and pickelhaube,’ urged Dorje. Kitty was not an albino Sphynx, she was downy light grey with a white muzzle, but with her collar turned up and the oversized tin hat resting on her nose she might just pass casual inspection.
“I can’t see anything through these goggles,” she said, pushing them up above the peak of her helmet.
“Taking the prisoners for interrogation you are. The rest of you, putting your hands behind your backs, hanging your heads and shuffling you will. Round the bend a guardroom there is, maybe remembering I am. Once safely beyond, retracing our steps to the portal we shall.” Master Dorje nodded politely to their ex-warder, closed the cell door and locked him in. “Proceed.”
The guardroom door was ajar and they could see deux chats inside playing cards.
“Snap,” cried one and the other pushed his chair back in exasperation. They did not look towards the door. Our pals held their breath and once clear broke into a trot.
“Left here,” whispered Augusta, “and then up the stairs,”
Boz downed his cocoa. “I, for one, am knackered. It’s been one hell of a day. Let’s get some kip and then up and at ‘em at sparrows’ fart tomorrow.”
“What have you got in for breakfast?” Phoebles asked Zelda before they turned in.
Porridge and burnt toast. It transpiered that Zelda was not adept in the catering department. But Flo brewed up a decent cuppa and they all felt remarkably chipper after a good night’s sleep.
“Everyone back on the bus,” said Boz, “You’d better drive, le Brocq.”
“We’ll look in on my unit’s forward camp on the way. I can tell the boys what we’re up to and see if theyre able to rustle up some bacon and eggs.”
There was general approval.
“So where’s the door gone?”
The escapees were standing at the top of a blind staircase facing a blank wall.
“You’ve brought us the wrong way.” Accused Kiki.
“Not at all,” said Mother Superior, “This is the way we came in.”
“Yeh, like the door’s vanished or summat. You couldn’t just have got us all lost.”
“Save it,” snapped Augusta King, “I have a plan B. Head back down the stairs and look for a green door further along the passage.”
By the time she caught up the Kittens were milling around outside her workshop.
“It’s locked, miss.”
“No it’s not.” Augusta applied a boot to the door and it flew back. The second door, the floaty one, looked less likely to oblige. Mrs King opened the top drawer of a dusty roll-top desk and took out what looked like a TV remote. She pointed it and keyed in a long series of digits. There was a buzz, a click and the door cracked open.
“Everyone in. Master Dorje, can you close the door behind us? Make sure it’s latched”
“Twiddlewiddle, Da Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Diddly, Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Diddly, Deedoo… PomPom Piddley.” The ionised rings crackled as they whooshed down the spacetime tunnel.
“Wow. What the…?”
“Don’t ask. Just follow me,” urged Augusta as she launched herself into the pulsating, luminescing turquoise tube.