It was a boiler room. Dirty, oily, dark and smelly. Martin looked up at the wall. A series of crude hand-drawn arrows on plain paper pointed towards the opposite end of the boiler room. He looked at his watch; he was late. He shrugged and began walking, parallel to the wall.
‘Jus’ hold it right there, boy!’ The man stepped out from the gloomy shadows. He struck a martial arts pose, his hands weaving in front of his face as though he was miming walking through dense cobwebs. The rhinestone-encrusted white jump suit seemed utterly out of place in the dark, damp, boiler room.
‘Er… yes. Can I help you?’ Even Martin thought his comment sounded stupid and, possibly, redundant. He was relieved it was too dark in the boiler room for the other man to see him blushing.
‘What?’ The walking through cobwebs mime halted for a moment. The man advanced towards Martin threateningly. ‘This is the end of the line for you, boy, If you were looking for trouble you’ve come to the right place.’
‘Well, actually, no. I’m not actually looking for trouble at all.’ Martin stepped backwards for each step the other man advanced. He knew soon, after a few more steps he would be against the wall, or - just maybe - the door. ‘I was looking for Professor Stewart. Is that you?’
‘No. Say your prayers, boy!’
‘I feel I should warn you,’ Martin said ‘I’m a black belt in unarmed cowardice.’
‘Shut up boy, and prepare to die like a man.’
‘That’s just it….’ Martin could feel the wall behind him. Carefully he eased his hands along behind his back, searching for the door. ‘Due to my extensive training in the secret black martial arts of cowardice, I have no choice but to whimper, plead and cry. To an obviously macho man like you it would be a severe disappointment, maybe even embarrassment. Killing me would bring you no pleasure at all. I’m just not worth it.’ Unless the door was made of brick, he had miscalculated. Martin backed into the wall and, as it didn’t magically dissolve to let him pass through, slowly slid down it. The jump-suited man towered over him, glaring down at Martin as he raised his hand.
‘Just out of interest, why do you want to kill me anyway?’
‘Don’t try that with me, boy. You know why.’
‘Well, actually, I don’t.’ Martin glanced up, then wished he hadn’t. The deadly looking hands loomed over him. He ducked down and covered his head with his arms.
‘Aaiiieee - ugh!’
As far as Martin was aware, it was not the usual cry used by deadly karate killers, and he didn’t seem to be dead, either. He peered through his arms. There was no one there. Gingerly, he lowered his arms and looked around.
‘Sir! Sir? Are you all right, sir?’
Martin looked up. He had seen outfits like that before, but only in a certain type of magazine. Even in the gloom of the boiler room the black leather, what little of it there was, shone. Mandy was trying to push something back into her thigh-length leather boot.
‘Is that a… a vibrator?’
‘Are you sure? It looks like one to me.’
‘No sir, it is self-defence unit 0012KZ.’
‘Can I have a look at it then?’
‘No, not at the moment sir. We need to get out of here and get you to Professor Stewart’s room.’ She took a long brown thing from inside the top of her other boot. Martin relaxed when he realised what it was. Mandy lit the cigar and took a deep drag on it.
‘Right. But what about him?’ Martin gestured towards the inert form in the white jump suit.
Mandy knelt down beside the inert man with a creak of leather and felt for a pulse in his neck. ‘Elvis has left the building.’ She blew cigar smoke in the face of the corpse and stood up.
‘He… he’s dead?’
It was the first time Martin had ever seen a dead body. A real live dead person, as it were. ‘You killed him… with a vibrator?’
‘It’s not a…. He was trying to kill you sir.’
‘I know, but….’ Martin looked around the boiler room, what he could see of it in the gloom. ‘I was on my way to Professor Stewart. These signs….’
‘The signs were put there by him.’ Mandy kicked the lifeless body at her feet.
Martin thought about asking her to s
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