.” He then picked out a set of long johns, “100 Markkas please.”
“But if you are a Britannic agent should you not give them to me?”
“Strict instructions from N, you have to pay for everything. Something to do with your devastating clumsiness.”
Arthur got his credit card out.
“Ooh,” exclaimed Sid, “can I have some sweets as well? I love Finnish chocolate and I can’t get my change out, being in my battlesuit.”
“Alright,” grumbled Arthur.
“And an ‘I’ve been to
’ sticker for the back of my battlesuit.” Helsinki
“you are lucky we do not have to get sponsorship deals, you would have logos all over.”
“All over logos,” thought Sid, “sounds like… “
He didn’t come up with anything.
“What’s the matter Sid?” I asked, “are you stuck for a witticism?”
“Well, I don’t know what all over logos does sound like. It sounded like you wanted a good punch line but nothing materialised.”
“You haven’t lost your mojo?” I asked, “We are near the beginning of the book, I can’t have one of the funniest characters losing his mojo.”
“That means you think…” began Arthur.
“Shut up Arthur,” I said, angrily, “this could be potentially serious.”
“You still have me,” said Arthur, who was now a little hurt.”
“I am sorry Arthur, I shouldn’t have snapped. I am just concerned about Sid.” I spoke then to Sid, “Do you need some Sid pills Sid?”
“Naw, I don’t take Sid pills anymore. That was just in a piece of flash fiction, I don’t want to get addicted to them. They may have side effects.”
“Do you want to try for that punch line again Sid?” I gently coerced.
“All over logos,” tried Sid again, “sounds like someone called Loe goes all over the place.”
We all laughed, but nervously, because it was a bit of a weak joke.
“I must get into my long johns,” said Arthur. “Is there anywhere I can change?” He inquired of the proprietor.
“You’ll have to use the loo,” replied the proprietor.
“I hate having to get changed in public lavatories,” grumbled Arthur.
“Excuse me, but are you casting aspersions on my toilet?”
“Er, of course not old chap, I would not cast aspersions on anyone’s toilet. Could you show me the way?”
“Up the stairs, turn left, follow the hall down to the end, up another flight of stairs then the last door on the right.”
“Stairs, left, hall, stairs, right,” mumbled Arthur.
“Are you sure you’ve got that? It’s just that I don’t want you seeing my wife.”
“What’s the matter with your wife?”
“Nothing, she is very beautiful.”
“Then why don’t you want me to see her?”
“In case you scare her.”
“What’s the matter with me? Am I scary?”
“Yes. No. I mean she might think it’s me using the loo and get a fright if she sees it’s you.”
“Oh. Well it’s the stairs, left, end of hall, stairs and the door on the right.”
“The last door on the right.”
“Last door,” memorised Arthur as he started up the stairs.
Sid chewed some sweets and asked the shop proprietor to stick the sticker on his back.
Arthur found his way to the lavatory without any mishaps and got changed into his long johns. As he left he heard a strange sound coming from one of the rooms. It sounded like Classic FM. He was tempted to look in but remembered the proprietor’s caveat, so he made his way back into the shop. When he got there Sid and the proprietor were nearly crying with laughter. “Did I miss anything?” he inquired.
“It was so funny,” said Sid, “those boots fell down onto that… Aww you had to be here really, it was an exceptional piece of visual comedy.”
“Visual comedy doesn’t translate well into a book,” commented the proprietor.
“Rather,” agreed Arthur, “funny how it happened when I was out of the room.”
“Yeah it was funny,” sniggered Sid.
“I suppose they will make something of it if it ever goes into film.” Arthur turned to the proprietor, “thank you for your long johns. By the way, what is your name?”
“Helstig. That means you can use it when you see me at the end of the book.”
“Do you know something I do not know?”
“I’m just guessing.”
“Well thank you again, goodbye.”
“Bye Helstig,” said Sid as both he and Arthur left the shop.
Sid didn’t allow Arthur a breath before he picked him up and began to fly again, towards Varangia.
The proprietor flipped the lid up on his counter to reveal his radar monitor and radio. “Father Christmas calling Rudolph, come in.”
“This is Rudolph,” said a voice on the other end, suspiciously like N’s.
“Arthur has just flown off from ‘The North Pole’ with Sid the dwarf. On the way to pick up the parcel.”
“Oh bother,” said Rudolph, “I didn’t want him to go with anyone else. That might muck things up.”
“I did give him a special ‘I’ve been to
’ sticker. If it comes to the worst and they look like they’re going to succeed I’ll blow the electrics on the suit.” Helsinki
“Very good Santa Claus. Keep our eye in the sky on them once they get into Varangia. Over.”
“I’m Father Christmas, not Santa Claus,” blubbed Helstig.
“Same difference. Over and out.”
In a wooded area, near some trees, by a copse, landed Sid with Arthur. Sid popped his helmet open. Rock music was blaring out of his speakers. “So we’re here then,” he said.
“Can you not turn those speakers down? We do not want to draw attention.”
“Don’t you like Steamhammer?”
“It is not about my musical taste but about the covert nature of the operation.”
“Sorreeeee!” exclaimed Sid as he turned down the volume.
“That reminds me, I must send some flowers to her, to say sorreeeee.” He got his mobile phone out and dialled. “I don’t seem to be able to get a signal.”
“Here let me try,” offered Sid as he held out his gauntleted hand.
“I can boost the signal with my suit.”
“Okay,” relented Arthur as he handed Sid his phone.
Sid attached a wire into the phone and pressed redial. A voice answered, “Romance Flowers, can I help?”
Sid gave the phone back to Arthur.
“Erm, I would like to order some flowers please, to be delivered today.”
“Of course Sir, what is the name and the address please?”
“Arianne Pendragon, The Castle,
Castle Road, Undercastleton, CAS CZ1.”
“Thank you Sir, and what would you like to send her?”
“How many Sir?”
“A baker’s dozen in case one gets lost.”
“That is thirteen roses Sir.”
“Never mind about the spare, send her 12.”
“Alright Sir, and can I ask for your credit card details?”
“I do have an account with you, can you charge it to that?”
“Let me just check…”
Arthur put his hand over the phone, “I was going to say that sounded I was going to get lost.”
“You know, when I said in case one gets lost it sounded like I might get lost.”
“Oh you mean the royal we type thing?”
“Yes that is it.”
The flower shop owner came back on the phone. “That’s fine Mr. Pendragon, I’ll see she gets them today. Can I ask what the personal message will be?”
Arthur tried to whisper into the phone with his hand over it slightly, “From Fluffy to Bunny, kiss, kiss, kiss.”
“Right Sir, is there anything else?”
“Goodbye,” replied Arthur as he cancelled the call. He then put the phone back in his pocket.
“I thought that phone was in your holdall?” queried Sid
“It was,” replied Arthur, “continuity mistake maybe? Never mind it’s in my pocket now.” Arthur looked beyond the tree cover. “Where are we then?”
“In a wooded area, near some trees, by a copse.”
“I can see that, although that description is the same thing thrice. I meant are we in St. Cyrilsburg?”