Chapter Twenty Nine
“This will wreak havoc with my skin.” Doctor Which complained.
“Girl. Get in the spirit of the thing.”
“Look, surely we could just creep down there and…”
“That’s not the point. If we’re going to do it, let’s make it look good.”
Which regretfully finished daubing mud across his cheeks.
“That’s the ticket. Now, synchronise watches.”
“What time have you got?”
“Half ten. You?”
“Nineteen eighty three. I remember when…”
“Never mind, just shut up – Which, your time?”
“I see. Where, what do you make it?”
“Hair past mole. I dropped my watch in the toilet.”
“Alright then, ignore your watches. Okay, Speakup’s on watch duty.”
“I thought you said ignore our…”
“On lookout duty. If you see anyone coming, make a noise like an owl.”
Wassat practised his noise.
“That was a dog.”
He tried again.
“Platypus. Don’t bother – if you see anyone coming, just blow into your ear trumpet. Which and Where, you’re with me. I’m Alpha squad. Which, you’re Bravo.”
“Like Juliet Bravo?”
“Sort of. Where, you’re Charlie.”
“No, Charlie Squad.”
“Never mind. Just pretend your name is Charlie.”
“Charles is more refined.”
“You always make it difficult. Be Charles then. Which, You stay low on the left, I’ll take the high ground on the right, Where can stay central.”
“Affirmative. Maintain radio silence.”
“But I like the shipping forecast.”
“Just keep quiet. Really, you’ve no sense of fun. Move out.”
What crouched low and ran to the right, taking cover behind a rhododendron. He looked back to check Bravo and Charles Squads progress.
“Bravo, What are you doing?” He hissed.
“Get up, you fool. I meant duck a bit and trot off down the left hand side of the garden.”
“Why didn’t you say that then?” Grumbled Bravo Squad as he pushed himself off the sun lounger.
Shaking his head Which walked over to the left side of the garden and ducked his head a little. He walked slowly along the fence, repeatedly looking back at the house and half expecting to see Bob’s angry face at a window
“Should have stayed inside,” He grumbled as he walked, “What will Bob say if he catches us.”
“Dear me, I just trod on a snail,” Said a dismayed Charles Squad, “I knew I should have put my slippers on.”
“Radio silence!” Shouted What.
Where raised a hand in apology and shuffled on. As he approached the shed at the end of the garden he looked over to check what What expected from him next.
“What are you doing,” He exclaimed, “That’ll never hold your weight!”
What tried to wave away Where’s worries. This proved to be a bad move as his remaining hand slipped from the washing line he was pulling himself along and he swung backwards, now suspended by his feet wrapped around the line. He swung back and forth for a few moments, a look of fear and confusion on his face, before there was a loud crack as the abused washing line gave out.
Which and Where winced as What landed, and ran over to help their colleague. As they did so Which became aware of an increase of light from the house. Glancing back, he saw a light had been switched on upstairs.
“Stay down,” He whispered, “You’ve woken Bob.”
Which and Where put a hand each on What’s shoulders, holding him where he had landed. After a short while the light went out and Which exhaled heavily.
“You and your shenanigans nearly got us caught.”
“Just give me a hand – I’ve got frog spawn in my teeth.”
Which and Where grabbed a hand each and helped haul What out of the pond and to his feet. Which appraised the dripping, dejected Doctor and shook his head.
“That’ll learn you.”
“Let’s just get in the shed – I think Bob’s got a heater in there.”
They approached the shed with caution, unsure if there would be a security light or similar. When no light flashed on, no siren sounded and no dog barked they walked up to the door and looked at the padlock.
“I knew we’d forgotten something,” Said Which, not sounding as dejected as he should, “Let’s go back inside for a nice sherry.”
“Cease your nincompoopery! We’ve come so far, endured so much,” Blasted What, his sense of adventure returning, “A mere lock shan’t daunt us.”
Reaching into a pocket he pulled out a length of wire, bent and twisted at strange angles. He shoved the end into the padlock and twisted it back and forth. In seconds the lock sprang open.
“So it was you who got into my chocolate bon-bon cupboard.” Grumbled Where.
“Um, yes, sorry about that. Anyway, on with the show.”
What pulled on the shed door and it slowly opened. They stood at the doorway awhile, staring inside.
“Bloody hell.” They said in unison.
Sat in the dark at his window, looking out over his garden, Bob smiled. It had taken them a while, but they had finally found some initiative. He just hoped his prize carp weren’t too emotionally scarred by the experience.
“They’re still behind us.”
“We’re only seven roundabouts from my house.”
“How far away is that?” Asked Darren.
“About half a mile.”
“They’ll track us right to your door!”
“Don’t worry,” Said Tel, “I have a trick up my sleeve.”
Approaching a mini roundabout, Tel slowed down and indicated as if to turn left. He began to turn the wheel, then at the last second span the wheel to turn right. Once they completed the turn he stepped hard on the accelerator.
“That should do it.”
“They’re still behind us.”
“They’re actually a bit closer because you slowed down.”
“Alright, I get the point.”
“Where will this road take us?”
“Still my house. If I go left at the next roundabout, straight over the next three roundabouts, right at the next on then left at the next one, we’ll be back where we just were.”
“Who designed Swindon?”
“Dunno. Probably the same bloke who designed Dougal, Dylan and Ermintrude.”
They turned a hard left at the next mini roundabout, and the big black car followed them.
“I’ve got an idea. Darren, grab that bottle.”
“The one you told me not to drink out of? Not likely.”
“Give it here you wuss.”
Sky picked up the bottle, sensibly using her forefinger and a thumb.
“How good a throw have you got?” Asked Tel.
“Just because I’m a girl don’t assume I can’t throw straight.”
“Great. In a minute I’m going to hit the brakes and turn hard right. Bubb’s drivers side window is open. Open the window behind me, take the lid off the bottle, then when I spin the wheel you’ll have a clear shot. Lob it at him.”
“That’s disgusting. It’s tantamount to chemical warfare.”
“It’ll put him off at least. Do you notice any other weapons of messy distraction in here?”
“It’s our best chance then. Ready?”
Sky gingerly undid the lid of the bottle and held it far from her face, which wrinkled in disgust.
“Good God, you foul man, that’s pungent!”
“Sorry,” Said Tel, “I really shouldn’t eat asparagus.”
“Let’s just get rid of it quickly.”
Tel slowed down as they approached a turning on the right.
“Now!” He shouted.
He braked sharply and turned the wheel hard. As he did so Sky slid open a side window to the van and heaved the bottle. She caught a glimpse of Bubb’s angry face behind the wheel.
“I thought you said you could throw well.” said Tel, looking in his rear view mirror as he accelerated away.
“No I didn’t. I just said that because I was a girl, you shouldn’t assume that I can’t.”
“But you bloody well can’t.”
“You didn’t know that.”
Tel looked in the rear view mirror again and saw the windscreen wipers on Bubb’s car flying back and forth.
“At least you obscured his vision.”
“What do we do now? How do we get away?”
“He’s faster than us and we’re running low on fuel. We’re done for.”
What, Where and Which crowded into the shed, mouths open in awe.
“Bloody hell, it really is everything.” Said What.
“I heard that if you know how to use it, you can see everything that’s already happened as well.”
They slowly turned their heads, taking in all the sights that the world had to offer.
“Here, Which, step outside a moment.”
Tarquin Which duly did as he was told.
“Ha! I can see your bald spot.”
Which stamped back inside.
“Really, What, this isn’t a toy. It’s so detailed, so complete. It’s a thing of rare beauty, a wonder of the universe.”
“The fun you could have. I wish I could remember where that female mud wrestler lived.”
“It was not created to satisfy your perversions!”
“I’ll bet Bob has satisfied a few over the years. Think of all the Peeping Tomming you could do and never be caught.”
“Henry, it would be a terrible thing for a device created to span the globe, to provide instant access to all areas of the Earth, to be corrupted into a tool for pornography.”
“Still, you could get a glance at some capital knockers.”
Which stamped his foot, which looked rather camp.
“Okay, you win,” said What, “We’ll do the thing we came to do. How do we start?”
Which stroked his chin.
“Doctor Why, Reveal Yourself.” He tried.
“Don’t be a clod, you’re not Ali Baba, and this isn’t Sesame Street.”
“I don’t think…”
“Doesn’t matter, nor do I. Let’s just have a glance around, see what we can see. Maybe there’s an instruction book.”
“Why would Bob write an instruction book for himself?”
“He is very thorough.”
They stared around the shed, trying to ignore the images from around the globe that flashed before their eyes.
“I swear I just saw some flesh. No, wait a minute, that’s a pig farm.”
“I think I’ve found something?” Said Doctor Where from beneath the table on which the world rested, where he had been rooting around while the others bantered. He reached out and grabbed at the plastic edge he had spotted. Pulling it out he revealed it to be a rectangle of plastic with rows of buttons in the middle. The three men peered down at the hand written script beneath each button.
“Why, What, When…,” Read What, “We’re all here. It’s all our names.”
“Bubb’s on it as well, and Tel, Steve. He must use it to find out where we are.”
“I told you so! Look there – Catherine the Great. Sly old dog. The button’s virtually worn away.”
What’s hand reached out for the remote control, his finger extended.
“Leave her alone,” said Which, slapping the offending digit, “We don’t want the thing to go jaunting about time as well as space. Hit the button for Why to see if it works.”
Where pressed the suggested button, and the miniature world span before them before settling to reveal a large house at the end of a long driveway. There were no other houses in its vicinity. The scene zoomed in on the house and through a window, angling down towards the floor as it did so.
“It worked – there’s Crawford.”
“And he is in strife.”
The three Doctors gazed down at the bound and gagged figure of their leader, huddled in the corner of a room.
“We’ve got to do something!”
“Where the blazes is he, though?”
Where scanned the remote control and spotted a button marked ‘text’. He pressed it and a few lines of text appeared, hovering in the air in front of them.
“An address – that’s near Cirencester.”
“No distance at all. Let’s get going!”
“How? Why and When took the coach.”
“We’ve already sneaked into the Shed – nicking Bob’s Rover won’t make it any worse.”
“Fear not, Cerberus. Soon their fuel will run out, and when they stop we shall overpower them. No damage to Darren, and we shall find out from Thelopius what that debacle with Why last night was about.”
Cerberus grunted his assent. Long car journeys with no opportunity for violence were not his cup of tea.
“They seem desperate, hurling bottles of drink at us. As if half a pint of apple cordial would deter us from our purpose!”
Cerberus fiddled with the control knobs nearest him, absent minded and bored.
“Careful what you press, Cerberus.”
“Just the blowers, Boss. Thought I’d get some fresh air in here.”
“Good idea. Turn them on full bore for a bit.”
Cerberus twisted the dial round hard.
“Whoops.” He said.
“Clumsy oaf – put it back on.”
Cerberus fiddled with the snapped plastic knob that he had gripped in his outsized fingers.
“I can’t Boss, it’s busted.”
“Ha! I was responsible for them too. Just leave it – the fresh air will keep us alert.”
Bubb breathed in deeply.
“Bloody hell, that’s not fresh.”
He coughed, the odour catching in the back of his throat.
“That’s quite rank. What on earth is it?”
Cerberus made a gagging sound.
“It smells like after I’ve eaten asparagus and I go to the…”
“The foul creature – that wasn’t apple juice! It’s got into the air ducts. Oh how it stings.”
Bubb’s left hand strayed from the wheel to rub his watering eyes. The car veered slightly.
“My eyes! My eyes! I can’t see a thing!”
“I’ll help, Boss.”
“Cerberus, no, you’ll have us..ugh.”
The car jolted in the air and landed with a crash. Bubb could see nothing through his streaming eyes, but could hear a cracking and rustling sound. He stamped on the brake pedal and felt the car slide sideways before coming to a halt.
“Let me out!” He cried, scrabbling desperately for the door handle.
When the door finally popped open he fell out of the car and rolled away on the soft earth, both hands grasping at his burning eyes.
“The monster, the foul man!” He cried as the stinging subsided and he struggled to his feet.
By this time Cerberus was beside him and placed a comforting arm around his shoulders.
“Did you see where they went, Cerberus?”
“Straight on I think, boss. Where are we?”
Through his tear blurred eyes Bubb surveyed his chosen parking spot.
“Appears to be a rather large ornamental roundabout. Open the car doors, break the bloody blowers, air the car out and let’s get going. I don’t know where they were headed, but I’ll bloody well find Thelopius and have my vengeance!”