His secret Fortress of Ineptitude, as one wag had christened it, is actually a grubby one-bedroom apartment near the sewage treatment plant.
Sitting in near darkness, as most of the old light bulbs need replacing, he is lit only by the soft glow of an ancient and battered PC monitor. Once again he finds himself locked in a tense battle of wits with his nemesis, a notorious internet troll. The troll’s risible claims of a faked moon landing, Mars missions and various other ‘Illuminati conspiracies’ have set the Facebook group’s membership spinning into a maelstrom of argument, put-downs and amusing memes.
A red light begins to blink on the crudely fashioned wooden panel labeled Crime console in red felt-tip pen, signifying something is amiss in the city.
‘Oh great’, says Procrastination Man annoyed, ‘Not now, I’ve almost nailed this idiot.’
Grabbing another handful of Doritos, he glances up at one of the few CCTV feeds that still work – an alarm has been triggered at the National Museum for Ancient Cutlery. On the monitor, a shadowy figure leads a group of masked men through the darkened halls of the museum. For a brief moment one face is clearly visible on camera – Rex Loofah!
‘Shit!’ curses PM, scratching the thick stubble on his chin and belching loudly, ‘I thought they’d put that scumbag away for good.’ The gang head straight for the museum’s latest addition, its priceless collection of Mesopotamian spoons. PM half-watches with increasing irritation as they overpower the single night guard and crack the armoured glass display case with consummate ease. At one point Loofah actually looks up at the security camera and gives a little wave. The nerve of the guy.
Another light begins to flash on the console, and the second flickering monitor shows a blazing fuel transporter out by the city power station.
Cunning bastards! A classic diversion to keep the cops busy while Loofah’s gang pull off their heist. I really ought to get down there he thinks, grabbing another beer from the fridge. Just gotta finish writing this group comment and then I’ll check the headlines and weather report, maybe have a shave and then fire up the ol’ Procrastination mobile (an ancient and battered VW Beetle with two bald tyres and dangerously worn-out brake discs.)
Facebook b-doongs again with a new comment. He takes another large gulp of beer to wash down the last of the Doritos. The Internet troll has changed tactics, posting reams of questionably-sourced and cherry-picked data to supposedly back up his insane claims and taunting the group to disprove them.
‘Damn!’ says PM, spraying cheap lager and soggy food particles over his already encrusted keyboard. This troll is more cunning than I thought. Five more minutes, then I’ll get over to the museum. Or maybe the power plant. Perhaps I should find some clean underpants first and iron my costume?
Suddenly the room is plunged into total darkness.
‘Shit, damn and piss! Where’s that bloody torch?’
At the museum, Rex Loofah’s gang make their escape into the warm August night, while over at the power plant, the emergency services begin evacuating those local residents most at risk.
‘Shouldn’t somebody call whatisname, Procrastination Man?’ Says one of the cops on the scene.
‘Don’t bother’ says another, sneering, ‘He’ll probably turn up late tomorrow afternoon with some bullshit excuses.’
‘Yeah, you’re right’, says a passing Paramedic, helping an elderly man into a waiting ambulance. ‘That guy’s a friggin’ joke, always too late, if he turns up at all’
As the flames from the tanker threaten the city’s power supply, across town Procrastination Man curses loudly while stumbling around in the dark, a pathetic figure in his tatty food-stained underpants. Almost tripping over a pile of empty beer cans and pizza boxes, he finally locates a torch. The batteries are dead. Oh Great, just perfect.
Through the partly cracked and boarded-up window pane, the wind carries the sound of distant sirens, accompanied by acrid smoke and a foul smell from the blocked drains below. I must get that drain fixed he thinks. Maybe this weekend, if it’s not raining.
The old monitor suddenly flickers back to life and the PC starts to reboot. Power’s back, thank fuck! But as he takes his crumpled crime-fighting costume out of the broken wardrobe, a perfect comeback to the internet troll’s last comment pops into his head. Firing up Facebook, he opens the last of the beers. Just gotta post this one thing and then I’m definitely outta here. Definitely.
By three am, the legions of heroic firefighters, police, engineers and medics have averted another disaster, while at the museum, a bleary-eyed police detective starts searching for clues between sips of strong black coffee.
Back at the ‘fortress’ Procrastination Man, still in his grubby underpants, takes a short break from arguing with the internet troll to order a pizza and more beers. Catching sight of himself in the full length mirror, he pats his ample pot belly. Must start the new diet and fitness plan on Monday. Yes, definitely on Monday.