Once again I found myself in that grotty cell underneath Empire City, locked in that small room with Prisoner 09643, who was both the most intelligent and the most crazy person I had ever met. After I moment of silence, I spoke;
“Yes, well I think it’s a signal, but I don’t think it was meant for you. “
“Then who for?”
“I don’t know.”
Another moment of silence followed, and I was beginning to understand that the prisoner wouldn’t talk unless you talked first. So I asked the obvious question,
“Well what is the ‘signal’?”
“I took the number of prisoners that escaped per day and turned them into letters of the alphabet. So day one 7 prisoners, day two 5 prisoners, day three 6 prisoners, day four 6 prisoners again, day five 5 escaped…ironic that, isn’t it?”
“I’m in a rush prisoner.”
“Day six, 16 prisoners and finally day seven, 25 escapees.”
“What does it spell?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Geffery!”
And suddenly, all that hope I had put into the prisoner, all of that information shared, the lies I had had to tell to get into here in the first place, was wasted. He had lost it, completely. An obscure reference to the number of prison escapees with the spelling of the word “Geffery” was what I had pinned my hopes on?
“No, wait, stop! Believe me!” He cried as I turned to leave. And then I said he last thing I ever said to Prisoner 09643,
“When I find those prisoners you’re going straight past the clinic to the nuthouse.”
Somehow today had gone from bad to worse. I thought when I had started with no leads that it couldn’t have gotten any worse - but now I couldn’t make a move in case the head of an international crime syndicate eradicated my friends. I didn’t know how to proceed and what had already happened was in itself a mystery, and it was with these thoughts that I stormed back into the office - I always seemed to be storming into the office for some reason.
Ignoring Livs and brooding over the days events at my desk, I got a call, another from Charlie.
“Max! Max! We found something - a pile of dirt in all of the cells! We took it to forensics and—”
“Charlie, I’m not in the mood to be thrilled by dirt.”
“No, it’s not the dirt that’s important - it’s what’s inside the dirt. We took it to forensics and they found it contained a very rare metal. The metal is only found in one place within 500 miles of Empire City - the junkyard. So that’s why I called - to let you know that I think your next move is the junkyard. Oh, and I have a message.”
“From Miss Foxton?”
“No one quite so glamorous - it’s the prisoner you talked to earlier. He is demanding to see you, he said something like he has worked out the pattern. What pattern?” I couldn’t tell Charlie that I was using a prisoner (and an insane one at that) to help me with my investigation, but I still needed an excuse to get down there.
“Oh, he looked bored so I gave him a puzzle book.”
“YOU had a puzzle book?”
“I’ll drop in on my way to the junkyard. Bye Charlie.”
I was at the address the prisoner had given me. The hallway I was in was surprisingly benign-looking, unguarded and, well, ordinary - if this really was an organisation as big and as criminally dangerous as Prisoner 09643 had suggested, then why did it look like any other building, why was it not more threatening, why was there no one around to protect it? But then it came to me that this organisation was SO big and SO criminal and SO dangerous that it didn’t need all of that, like others did. And that thought scared me to the core. Looking left and right, finding no one to stop me, I opened the door in front of me, half expecting the prisoner and Ingrid Foxton to be standing in there to say “gotcha!”.
But instead, when I opened the door, I saw the top of someone’s head poking up from beneath a large swivelling chair. The room was much the same as the hallway - it just looked like a normal office, not the workplace of the head of the most dangerous criminal organisation. But then, I suppose when no one knows of your existence you have no reputation to live up to.
“Ahh Mr Jones. I wondered what was taking you so long.”
“Sir, I am placing you under arrest.” I said in my most authorative tone, a fairly pathetic attempt.
The top of a head behind the chair laughed. “For what crime Mr Jones?”
“For assisting in the illegal escape of 72 prisoners from Empire City Prison.” All of a sudden the chair swivelled round, and I saw that the top of the head belonged to a woman who looked like she’d just woken up, still in her pyjamas, and clutching a small pet seal pup in her arms. I’d thought this was the strangest thing that would happen in that room that day, but boy was I wrong. Things got weirder from there on out.
“For future reference Mr Jones - don’t call me sir.”
“Sorry miss. Now, you’re coming with me to the station.”
“But you’re not a police officer Maximillian.” The amount this woman knew about me scared me, scared me more than my life was worth.
“Yes, but surely you know that I am assisting the police in this investigation and am being treated as an officer, miss.”
“Mr Jones; I grow tired of your constant babble and care nothing for your history and excuses. We will continue the investigation here on my grounds.”
“Miss, you do not ha—”
“You do know what to do, don’t you Mr Jones?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then begin Mr Jones.”
“Now Mr Jones, how did you find out the prisoners?”
“A friend…. He is in the police.”
“Very good, keep going Mr Jones.” How was she doing this? This encounter definitely wasn’t going the way I’d planned…
“I wasn’t supposed to say that. How are you doing this???”
“It’s called reversing the scenario, you are a detective-you should know this.”
“So, you’re interrogating me? For what purpose?”
“Actually, it’s never worked before, no one else has ever cracked under the pressure. Please keep going on how you found me. A friend you say.”
“Oh come come Mr Jones, we both know that’s a lie. Who else did you speak to?”
“A prisoner Mr Jones. Hmmm interesting and the prisoner gave you the address of my head quarters.”
“Yes, he did.”
“Well done Mr Jones,” she started clapping, “congratulationsyou have just told me your friends name and the Prisoner.
“How? Who? Don’t hurt them!”
“Don’t worry, we won’t touch them, unless Mr Jones you make a mistake.”
“No.” This woman had crossed the line. I stood up and went to stop this. ”I’m a detective; this is not how this is going to roll.”
“Oh a spine! Now that is a surprise. Mr Jones…”
“Don’t Mr Jones me! I have evidence; you are going down for an incredibly long time….”
“Mr JONES! No one is going to believe the incomprehensibly ramblings of you - a so called detective who couldn’t solve a mystery in CLUEDO. Nor is anyone going to listen to your evidence, a prisoner with a well known record of insanity. Anyway who would you report it to? Only 4 people and the UEG known about the missing prisoners, if you told the rest of the police force what would happen then? The media, no you can’t tell them, because they don’t known about the other 65 prisoners. Just face it Mr Jones, this has led you no where. But I now know your informants and they shall be fumigated if you stick your nose anywhere near my organization.
“Good day, Mr Jones.” She swivelled around in her chair, so that only that top of a head was poking out once again. Back to square one. Except now she had names. Proof. A threat for if I didn’t do as I was told.
“Fine. I’ll leave, but on the blood that flows within my veins, we shall meet again, and one day I’ll put you behind bars.” So I stormed out. Stormed out of the office of the most powerful and dangerous woman in the world, sitting in her pyjamas and threatening to kill the people I cared about. Things were getting weird, and quickly…
‘Alright Geffrey - this is it. It’s now or never.’ I told myself. It was another normal day; I was sitting in the lab, making tea, while Jess was observing our latest experiment through a microscope. She’d been working for me for a year, and most of the time, it felt like she was my colleague, not my assistant. I walked downstairs, my heart pounding, my tea tray shaking and spilling Earl Grey on the Hobnobs.
‘Maybe I’ll go with never?’ I heard my limbic cortex ask, but eventually the pre-frontal won the argument. I sat down next to her, moving the microscope slides over to make room for the tea tray, and took a deep breath.
“Jessica, how do you find working here?” I was starting to clam up.
“I love it! I kind of wish I didn’t have to go home at night.”
“Jessica…did you ever feel that maybe we’re meant to be together.” I could feel my heart rate accelerating in my chest.
“You sound so corny!”
“But seriously…” My hands were shaking.
“Yes - for all the 8 months we’ve been dating, silly!” Out of my pocket my trembling, clammy hands pulled out a ring - a beautiful pearl surrounded in silver - that had belonged to my grandmother. I had inherited it when they pulled her out of the woods after that fateful meeting with the wolves. They’d had to put her down - it was the kindest thing to do. The ring slipped out of my hands - shaking and clammy as they were, and in my scramble to catch it, I jumped up and held it up to Jessica.
“It may be a bit soon, but…I don’t want you ever to go home again, I want you to stay here with me.” I looked into her eyes, hoping to guage her reaction, but as usual my small shortsighted eyes picked up nothing. “By the way it’s totally OK if you say no; you can keep on working here full pay.”
“What?” She rose up and looked me straight in the eyes.
“Yes, of course I want to marry you, idiot!” And she grasped me in a hug. All of a sudden all the effort I’d put into that proposal seemed worthless - she deserved much better.
“Don’t be sorry! You may be the sappiest theoretical physicist I’ve ever met, but I love you Geffrey!”
Asked by Anonymous
The next movie (which is called The Other Side of the Moon - TOSOM) is currently is pre-production. Filming will begin next month (July ‘11) and hopefully should be ready later this year, although no earlier than September. TOSOM is essentially a love story, although it also involves werewolves, family alliances, secret children and being fired. That’s all I’m going to say at this point, but be sure to keep checking regularly. Oh, and hopefully Time’s Up should be on in the next few weeks. :)
As soon as I got the call from Charlie, I hurried over to Empire City Prison, a building that must have once been large and imposing, but now just presented so many health and safety issues that I was surprised it was still standing. Down I walked, past the loud and raucous noise of the prisoners of Wings A, B, C…all the way down to the most dangerous and volatile of all - Wing D and lower lower basement, with germ infested puddles on the floor and cardboard stuck over the walls with ducktape - god knows what went on down there.
The guard that brought me down had the look of someone who had been there too long, his spirit crushed and dejectedly getting on with his job. The poor guy looked like he hadn’t seen sunlight in years, and was still terrified although all the prisoners were gone, like they were about to materialise through the walls. He guided me into a cell dear the end, which looked the same as all the rest - empty. He even had the courtesy to call out “Be careful Mr Jones” as he locked the cell door abruptly in my face. Guessing the prisoner was actually in the ell, I called out;
“Hello? Prisoner 09643?”
“Welcome Mr Jones. I trust you are well?” spoke the disembodied voice with a terrifying amount of clarity.
“Who said that? Where are you? How do you know my name?” came my reply, a lot less smooth than I would have liked.
“You called me Prisoner 09643, so that is my name. I am in the cell, in front of you. And I know your name because the guard just said it.”
“Oh.” The prisoner came forward, giving me the shock of my life. He was sitting in a wheelchair, his prison uniform covered in tape, going about barefoot with ragged long hair and large shadows around his eyes. Now I understood what Charlie had meant about this prisoner.
“Why are you hear Mr Jones?”
“I want to know what happened here.”
“Isn’t it obvious? All the prisoners, as far as I can see, belong to one group…the UEG.”
“You don’t have a clue who they are, do you?”
“They’re an unheard of organisation, but don’t get me wrong - they are HUGE. Obviously, judging by the fact that they can break out 72 prisoners unnoticed, just as bodyguards.”
“You mean there are more of them?”
“Mr Jones.” The prisoner drags me in close and whispered in my ear. “On the piece of paper I am sliding you is the address of their headquarters. No doubt they are already expecting you.” He passed me a ragged old piece of paper, with small neat writing.
“Do you wish me to work out the pattern?” At this point I was willing to give almost anything a shot.
“I would be most grateful.”
“The eagle will fly 5 times, decisions will be made and heads will roll.” And with that the prisoner scuttled into the corner. No matter what I said, no matter how loud I shouted, he wouldn’t come back, and eventually the guard called from his cowering position through the bars;
“It’s no use Mr Jones - he won’t talk to you. Best leave before he gets angry.” As I left, making suer the guard sent me a record of anything the prisoner said, Prisoner 09643 sat in the corner, muttering to himself and scratching numbers in the dirt. It was true, he was mad - but somehow I had a feeling that would work to my advantage.