Lost? The beginning of this story is back here.
The street was full. There were children in every garden playing on battered old play equipment and cycling up and down the pavement and throwing balls. Or at least they looked like children at first. On closer inspection a couple of the children were just short adults.
Chris had folded his yPhone back down to phone size. Mycroft was still running as a remote app on it but it just looked like a blank screen. He hung it from a lanyard round his neck. I was impressed with the camouflage. Next to me were two of the greatest intellects in the whole of the UK, possibly the world, but they looked like a skinny geek and his iPhone knock off.
Mycroft had searched through the records for the likeliest ring leader and his guess pointed to number 3, at the end of the short road. The Garden in front of Flat 3a was full of play equipment. There was barely room to move from the Trampoline to the slide and there was a small sandpit underneath the Trampoline. A large fat middle aged man sat on the doorstep with the front door of the building wedged open behind him watching the children play and smoking a roll up.
He was staring at us. There was an implicit challenge in his gaze. Clearly he was the man to speak to. As we walked up his gaze shifted. He was looking at something low and to my right and a look of horror and awe spread over his face. He stood up. He pointed.
“You are not taking that into my building.” He said.
I resisted the urge to ask what he mean. Never let them think you don’t know what you’re doing was rule number two in the guide to field work. Instead I looked where he was pointing. He seemed to be pointing at my walking stick.
“What.” Said Chris. I really must give him a loan of my copy.
“She knows.” Said the large man.
I didn’t but I knew I had to work out quickly. My stick. It’s an adjustable aluminum walking stick with a wooden derby handle. There are millions like it. Now my one is Department issue so it has a couple of tricks but nothing spectacular and you’d need x-ray vision to spot it. He didn’t look like he had x-ray vision. After all I’m fat and 40 and I’ve had two kids. No-one with x-ray vision would willingly look in my direction.
What could he possibly see in the stick of…Oh. Oh that made sense. I looked back up at him.
“I think I’ll come in if I want to and I don’t see you stopping me.” I said.
He stared from me to the stick and back again. “But I beg you not to. Please?” He didn’t look happy to be begging. I probably shouldn’t be pushing my luck when I wasn’t quite sure what was happening.
“Of course not. I’ll be happy to talk to you here if you’d rather but you might want to get someone to take the children to the park while we talk.”
“Of course. Yer a fine upstanding witchy and a credit to the Department.” He lent into the doorway and shouted something in a language that wasn’t English. At first I thought it was travelers cant but I didn’t recognize any of the words and the cadence was wrong. Before I could get a feel for it Chris was tugging at my sleeve.
“What the fuck? How does he know about the department and what was the thing with your stick. It was your stick he was pointing at wasn’t it? Is this something to do with the rubber thingies you picked up from your office? What’s going on?”
Before I could even begin to answer a skinny teen-aged girl emerged from the house, shouted a few words and ran off with all the children in tow. We were alone and the large man was staring at us and expecting us to take charge of the conversation.