The mini (gratitude, shadows, sufferin' succotash, flattery, piglet)
His real name was Archibald Theodore Penry-Jones, but everyone at the prestigious Greystones Academy, from the Headmaster down to the Caretaker, knew him as Piglet. There were two reasons for this. Arriving as a New Boy at just six years old, he had been a rather tubby child and, as if this were not enough to earn him his porcine soubriquet, he was by nature somewhat timid. His dormitory-mates, with the shark-like predatory instincts of young children everywhere, had quickly sensed this and had soon began to torment him, eliciting from him the high-pitched squeals that ensured that, even when he grew out of his puppy fat, the name still stuck. Now, at seventeen, he stood before the mirror and surveyed himself. He had turned on all the lights, the better to see himself without either the deceit or flattery of shadows. Tonight was the Big Night in the school’s calendar - the Annual Prizegiving and Summer Ball - and everything had to look just right. His fellow students would have spent hours in their rooms combing their hair to perfect neatness. Piglet ran his hands through his own long blond locks, mussing them up, just so. His fellow students would have fussed over spotless cuffs, cummerbunds, and finicky bow-ties. Piglet grabbed two handfuls of black tee-shirt and tugged, tearing it artfully, just so. His fellow students would have pressed creases into their trousers you could slice bread with. Piglet hitched up his favourite pair of torn and tattered jeans, just so. He glanced at his watch: time to go. Mouthing a silent prayer of gratitude to whichever deity it was that had granted the gift of music to a lonely, scared little fat boy all those years ago, Piglet Penry-Jones, lead singer of the international supergroup, Sufferin' Succotash, stepped out of his dressing-room and headed for the stage.
The 10-Worder (Cleopatra, Saturday, perfume, suicide, guaranteed satisfaction, germs, stop in the name of love, Swiss cheese, cheap, luggage)
New to Harold? The summary is here.
“You’ll be needing some clothes,” said Box. “Wait here a minute.”
As the little man went upstairs, Harold looked down at himself. The reverend was right: the bomb-blast had pretty much reduced what he had been wearing to rags and tatters, but with all the excitement, matters of a sartorial nature had been the last thing on his mind. Of course, more experienced demons than him would be just able to change their appearance to mimic any clothing they desired, but Harold had not developed his skills beyond maintaining a basic simulacrum of human form – hair had been the hardest thing to do and he hadn’t even bothered with details like a belly button. He sighed. He had such a lot to get to grips with.
Box reappeared. “Try these, they might be just about big enough.” He said, dumping an armload of clothes onto the living room sofa. Harold quickly picked through the stuff, rejecting a tee-shirt declaring Guaranteed Satisfaction! for one adorned with a spoof road sign ordering everyone to Stop in the Name of Love. The jeans were a little short in the leg but fitted well enough otherwise. A far-from cheap black leather jacket completed the ensemble.
“Whose things are these?” Harold asked wonderingly, carefully folding the items he’d rejected. They were clearly not the property of the five-foot-nothing Box.
“A friend’s.” replied Box, tersely, “Owes me a favour or two so lets me use this place on and off. Are they coming or not?”
Taking the sudden change of subject as a hint not to enquire further, Harold fished out his phone, “No reply as yet. “
“A traitor? In OGS? That’s not possible, surely?” said India, aghast.
Othello snapped his phone shut. “Well, it’s a rarity, but it has happened. When you get a chance, you should read up on Operations Swiss Cheese, Left Luggage and Black Saturday – so-called agent Cleopatra really did a number on us until she was found out. We lost a dozen good agents because of her.”
“How did she get into OGS, though?” India persisted, “When I joined, even my germs were background checked!”
“Well, we’re a lot more careful these days.”
“What happened to Cleopatra in the end?”
“She committed suicide, had some poison hidden in a perfume bottle.” Othello’s voice was grim.
“Ingenious,” commented Prada, “But what are we going to do now?”
“I think we should do as the demon suggests.” Said Othello. “Someone’s definitely been a step ahead of us. I vote we go to the address it gave us.”
“I agree,” said Mercury, “But I suggest we approach with caution in case the demon wasn’t the one who sent the message. Somebody else may have got hold of its cell phone.”
They were about to get back into the car when the door to Aunt Aggie’s opened and Agent Moon came trotting out.
“I thought I saw your car,” he cried, excitedly, “Thank goodness you’re safe! It was on the news, there was a big explosion near where you guys were going. Director Opal wants a full report right away.”