As the flat door bursts open two dark figures rush in yelling and blasting away with automatic weapons. Having already broken the ceiling light with their earlier fusillade from across the street, the room’s darkness gives our hero and his visitor a slight advantage.
Crouched behind the sofa, PM steels himself and waits for Harry’s command as the bullets fly around them. He wonders briefly if a person can overdose on their own adrenaline.
By an incredible stroke of good fortune, the first gunman trips over the pile of shoes and pizza boxes and hits his head on the edge of the kitchen table. He slumps to the floor, unconscious.
The second gunman, weapon blazing, manages to hit the TV, the fridge and pretty much everything else. The air is thick with dust, smoke and debris. PM is saddened to see Panda lying on the floor nearby, badly hit and bleeding stuffing. Poor old Panda, he thinks, a fond memento, but also a painful reminder of the past. He’d won it as a prize at the fairground, a gift for the fiancée who eventually deserted him for a plumber from Aberystwyth. He feels a sudden surge of anger. Bastard!
As the gunman stops to reload, Harry yells ‘Now Pete, now!’
Obeying without thinking, PM leaps up from behind the sofa and blasts away at the figure in the semi-darkness. There is a heavy silence after he empties the gun’s magazine. His ears are still ringing. Somewhere in the distance a dog is barking and the offensive smell from the sewage works is once again very much in evidence through the now non-existent window.
Harry flips on a nearby table lamp and they find themselves facing a black-clad figure, rather incongruously wearing a Tony Blair rubber mask. Harry and PM look at each other, puzzled. He struggles desperately to unjam his weapon, apparently completely unharmed by PM’s hail of bullets, although the wall and the coat rack behind him look mortally wounded.
‘Jesus Pete, you completed missed him.’ says Harry, shaking his head in disbelief.
Seized by a sudden urge to put things right and sensing the brief moment of opportunity, PM grabs a large frying pan from the sink, then turns to face the attacker. The man responds by dropping his jammed assault rifle and pulling a huge commando knife from a leg sheath.
Oh shit, thinks PM. This is not good at all. He immediately regrets not attending the introductory self defence class he’d planned to book last month. The assassin advances, yelling madly and takes a wild swing with the knife, missing by a hair’s breadth. Harry shouts ‘Freeze asshole!’ while pointing a banana, which momentarily distracts the thug’s attention.
The frying pan connects with a rather comical clunk! and the man drops limply on top of his fallen comrade. The first guy groans slightly, so PM gives him a mighty whack on the head too, to be on the safe side.
PM stands back, staring in disbelief, pumped up on adrenaline and suddenly triumphant.
‘That’s for Panda‘ he says. He begins to laugh and Harry can’t help but join in.
‘You’re a fucking bona fide hero Pete,’ he declares, ‘Can’t believe you just took out a trained assassin with a frying pan.’
‘That’s makes two of us’ says PM, still dazed. ‘Although I think they may have scrimped a little on the training front. These two jokers were no match for Procrastination Man and Harry Ha.’
After clearing the flat of incompetent assassins with help from his colleagues from FECT and having had his wounded arm taken care of, Harry Ha invites PM to join him for a pint at the Black Crow public house. ‘I’m buying’ he declares, ‘You earned it mate.’
‘Do we have time?’ PM asks.
‘I think so, we’re going to have to wait for some intel from HQ before we can do any more.’
At the pub, they sit at a quiet corner table, Harry finally getting the chance to bring PM up to speed. He takes a swig of his lager, then begins.
‘I know it’s puzzled you from the start Pete, but hold onto your hat, this may come as a bit of a shock.’
Putting down his pint, PMs hands are still trembling, despite downing a large scotch and half of his beer in quick succession. His eyes are fixed on Harry’s face.
‘You never knew your grandfather, he was always a mystery in your life. Your grandmother started working in military intelligence towards the end of the war, where she met a brilliant young German scientist and embarked on a wild affair. When circumstances ended the relationship, they were both heartbroken. Your grandmother soon discovered she was pregnant.’
PM hangs on Harry’s every word, his eyes widening by the second.
‘Elvis Brandt’ as he later became known was born Wolfgang Heisenberg, and he was your grandfather Pete.’
‘Heisenberg. Wow, are you certain?’
‘Yep. Your grandmother and later your mother both kept it a secret. He got mixed up in some messy stuff, worked with a US secret bio-weapons research division, fell out big time over some ethics issues and did a runner. He created a new identity, as Elvis Brandt, and kept a low profile for many years. Somehow the North Koreans learned of hidden past and his work in the US.
‘Holy crap!’ Says Pete, downing the rest of his pint. ‘But what about Alanis?’
‘Yeah, I was getting to that. Your grandfather eventually met and married an American national. They had a daughter Priscilla, who gave them a granddaughter. They named her Alanis, your half-cousin.’
PM looks shocked. ‘I had been planning to research my family tree for ages, do some digging. There were so many holes. I don’t understand though, what could the North Koreans possibly want with my grandfather now? I mean he must be in his 90s?’
He takes another sip of his pint. In the background the jukebox is playing Love me Tender. Amazing timing, he thinks.
‘You’re right to be puzzled, he is indeed getting on in years. But your grandfather’s mind is razor sharp and his memory is quite astounding. We believe his knowledge of the bio-weapons field and the types of research being undertaken by the US and her allies would make him a potentially valuable asset to a rogue enemy state. Naturally the North Koreans will deny all knowledge of the operation and claim it is western propaganda.’
Their conversation is interrupted by Harry’s phone. ‘Harry Ha’ he answers and listens for several seconds, nodding his head. ‘Yeah, okay, that’s good news. We’ll get down there asap. Thanks. It looks like we caught a break. They’ve traced one would-be assassin’s incoming calls, it looks like some were made from Portsmouth. It makes sense, lots of eastern shipping is handled there. If we grab a ride in the chopper, we can be down there in no time. I just hope we aren’t already too late.’
As they leave the pub, there is one more question bugging our hero.
‘I don’t get why those jokers would be so keen to see us dead Harry. If they had the Prof and his daughter, why risk killing two foreign nationals like that. What were they after?’
Harry meets PMs enquiring gaze. ‘Because my friend, I suspect you know more than you realise. Did your mother leave many personal effects, any letters or documents when she passed away?’
PM remembers the cardboard box he has stashed in his wardrobe. ‘There were some old letters, notebooks and documents, some in German. I was originally thinking about getting them translated, but hadn’t gotten round to it. I nearly threw them out with the other recycling last week. It was on my To Do list actually.’
‘Bingo!’ says Harry. ‘I’d put money on there being some very interesting stuff in that box Pete. We suspected your grandfather may have kept detailed notes on his research, I think those documents may prove very valuable.’
On reaching Portsmouth docks after a hair-raising helicopter ride, Harry and PM are met by the head of FECT’s field team, agent Anderson, who has some mixed news.
‘We’ve recovered the Professor and the girl, she’s fine, but he seems in pretty bad shape. I don’t think he’ll make it,’ he tells them, ‘We believe the North Koreans may have been about to release an experimental bio-weapon into the wild. We think they wanted to assess the west’s capacity for neutralising the threat, using Professor Brandt’s vast knowledge of the field. His granddaughter was simply leverage.’
‘What kind of bio-weapon are we talking about?’ asks Harry, tensely.
‘The details are slightly sketchy right now, we’re still interrogating the suspects. It seems they were developing some some sort of cleverly modified flour and sugar products, to be distributed via fast-food outlets across the country. They act like cocaine in the brain’s receptors, making the foods highly addictive and leading to obese populations, eating themselves to death.’
‘The cunning evil bastards!’ says PM, horrified.
‘If unchecked this shit could have killed millions over the next few decades’ says Harry, grim faced, ‘leaving our nations weak and demoralised. We can start testing national food supplies, but I think we might have caught this just in time. I suspect the Professor’s notes may offer some insights into how we might tackle this type of threat in the future. It’s a bloody good thing you didn’t get around to chucking out those documents Pete,’ says Harry, with a chuckle.
‘Yeah,’ PM agrees, grinning, ‘You know me, never do today what you can put off till next week..’
It is one week after the Brandt affair as PM had started calling it.
Peter Pike – Procrastination man – is sitting amid the chaos of his desk, writing a list.
1. Tidy desk.
2. Get window fixed!!
3. Clean up and get new stuff.
4. Get a haircut.
5. Pay tax and insurance on the car.
6. Have Panda repaired.
7. Look for a new flat!?
The phone interrupts him. “Pete? Hello mate, it’s Harry, how’s it going?”
‘Great to hear from you Harry,’ says PM, ‘Things are okay, almost got the flat back to normal,’ he says, surveying the complete devastation of his wrecked home.
‘Good to hear Pete. Alanis is out of hospital and receiving therapy, she’s still upset about losing her grandfather, naturally, but she’s handling things pretty well, considering. She wants to come and meet you soon and thank you in person. The documents you saved from the Prof have proved a goldmine. Between those and some stuff Alanis had, we’ve got lots of useful data.’
‘Brilliant news Harry. We must grab a pint some time soon. Be good to see you.’
‘Likewise amigo, give you a call on Friday, see how you’re fixed.’
‘Okay Harry, sounds good, thanks for calling. Bye.’
PM smiles, returning to his list. He looks down at the ample belly spilling over his belt.
Ah yes, number 8. – Join the gym. I’ll do it tomorrow, if it’s not raining.
Peter Pike receives the Queen’s commendation for bravery. He becomes firm friends with Harry Ha and is delighted to finally meet his half-cousin Alanis, who considers him a true hero. He eventually finds a modest but comfortable new flat over the chip shop and a job in telesales. There are rumours of a romance with a beautician from Hull. His colourful crime-fighting costume remains in a plastic Tesco carrier bag in the back of the wardrobe. He still hasn’t joined the gym.
If the time ever comes and his country needs him, Peter Pike will perhaps step back into the limelight as Procrastination Man and don his costume once more. But first it will need some repairs and a really good wash.
Copyright J.Lennick 2015 All rights reserved.