It was the right town, but plan A was not going to work. There were no members of the local Black Corner Group at the station to meet her, there were very few people about. There was no sharp evil and nastiness in the air – there wasn’t any sharp no evil and no nastiness either, a little bit of hate perhaps.
Unfortunately Plan B was just plain old suck‑it‑and‑see.
She tried following her feelings, not much, but there was a trace of goodness. She followed it into the back of a small 24‑hour supermarket on the station concourse. There was goodness somewhere – she waited for it.
In it walked, it was a very large and marmalade-coloured cat, it was the cat. She stared at the cat and the cat jumped onto a table and stared at her. The cat had never seen a large piece of the goodness before. Betty had never seen an animal piece of the goodness before.
It was not a feral cat, it was not a domesticated cat, it was the cat.
Betty entered the cat’s mind – very interesting. The cat stretched out a paw and rubbed the side of it down her cheek several times. Betty knew what that meant: tone down the goodness, don’t advertise yourself.
Betty did that, the cat did that, the cat moved the side of its paw in a circle on her cheek. OK = Alles Korrekt!
The cat jumped down from the table and disappeared, he returned in a minute with a key in its mouth. Betty took the key and followed the cat out of the supermarket around the back of the shopping centre to the fifth shop. It had never been used as a shop – it was too hidden – it was the cat’s home.
Betty relocked the little shop’s door and looked around. It was clean, there were a few pieces of furniture. The cat lay down on a comfy char and so did she. The cat was a night-time animal and needed a sleep. Betty was tired from the very long journey and needed a sleep.
Betty put out an arm and squeezed her hand around one of the cat’s paws. No human had ever done that before. Betty’s grip was gentle but strong, very strong. This pleased the cat.
“My name is Angie and I’m doing the ten‑till‑six night-shift here in the supermarket. The cat likes you, so I like you. I’m not certain if you can hear me, you don’t say much, mostly nothing. I’m going to tell you about the cat.”
“The cat protects us, from the junkies, from the rowdies, from the management. I have seen the cat flatten junkies who try to gain money from us. We don’t carry cash and the shop only accepts cards, but the junkies still come and the cat jumps up and smacks his paw into them – there’s no walking away from that.”
“The manager secretly installed TV cameras in the supermarket including in our break room; the cat chewed through the cables. Very clever cat, that cat.”
“But now it’s eaties time.” She gave the cat a big piece of salmon. She split open a double pack of Scottish eggs and gave one to Betty. A bowl of milk for the cat and an apple and a bottle of apple juice each for Betty and herself.
The cat knew what the problem was, he had to show it to Betty, where was all the hate coming from. The cat used the backways, the alleyways and the dark corners. He also used the air ducts, the loose gratings and the service hatches, but not tonight, he was with Betty. Where was the hate?
And who is that? Two police androids came menacingly towards them. That did not trouble the cat – they were a push-over. The cat wanted to see how Betty would react. Betty pushed a button on the first android and the android’s belly opened up – the cat was amazed.
Betty removed a small, black, hate module and stamped her foot on it. She reactivated the human-awareness module and hit the party-time switch. Betty danced, the android danced, Betty danced “Dancing for Androids – Part 2”, the android shouted out “Party-time!” and down-loaded the video clip “Dancing for Androids – Part 2”.
The second android did likewise – Party-time!
They walked on and turned into a storage yard, the cat jumped onto a loading ramp and pressed a yellow-coloured lever. A door opened and Betty and the cat entered the building. They climbed four floors up a stairwell and there it was: the board room with a big table, big seats and a panoramic view of the best street in town.
Betty got the idea: wait a while and down the street will come the source of the hate. Have patience!
The street was modern and wide; however to the right was a medieval stone arch. It was narrow and was built to celebrate the winning of a very important battle that nobody can remember.
After an hour or three came the hate, the nastiness and the evil; then a band of soldier androids from the left, moving very slowly. They were followed by a tanker truck and a big flatbed truck carrying a large swimming pool, or at least a big container of water.
There was a very large flat fish in the swimming pool – it was the source of the hate. It looked like an enormous flounder, flat and dirty yellow in colour. The hate was overwhelming, it was enough to make you vomit.
Betty’s heart sank, how could you terminate such a beast? Betty’s usual method was a sharp punch to the heart or head. Punch this fish and your arm would disappear into it quickly followed by the rest of you – self termination is not a good idea.
This would take a lot of thinking, she knew what the problem was: the hate radiating fish. Next stage: what is the solution?
The fish disappeared very slowly into the arch followed by another tanker truck, a band of soldier androids and the rabble. That was reason that the parade was so slow. The rabble was perhaps half the town’s population crawling along the street and stopping now and then to lick the cobbles.
Betty and the cat returned home, feeling dismal and nauseated; the cat stopped once to empty the contents of his stomach.
Betty slept on it, Betty thunk it out. The fish had control of the town’s population, it used massive amounts of hate to subdue the people. The fish was guarded by police and soldier androids, hundreds of them. No way could anybody get close to the fish, no way that anybody could terminate it. She guessed that the cat knew this too.
Poison the fish! The tanker trucks contained water or perhaps liquid food for the fish; but they too were guarded by many androids. No way could anybody get close and poison a tanker.
Blow up the fish! Get some bombs, plant them in the arch and detonate them remotely. Where do you find bombs in a town? Not many quarries in most towns, probably none here either.
The next few nights found Betty and the cat searching the town for bombs. The cat soon realised what Betty was searching for. Bombs meant terrorists and not the fireworks that the cat hated. Bombs meant two weirdos preparing bombs in some cellar somewhere. Find it!
And find it they did. Betty kicked the door in and the two of them ran down the stairs and there they were. The cat terminated the two young men with a left and a right paw, EO2T. Not needed any more.
Betty found some completed bombs, each in a sports bag. Betty knew a little about bombs – disarming bombs by removing the detonators and the batteries – finding the remote control devices and removing the batteries – Betty had attended a training course “Disabling Bombs” at the Black Corner Group.
Stage two completed, find a solution, stage three started, implement the solution. Install the bombs!
Betty and the cat waited in board room with the remote control that night. Nothing! Not even a whiff of hate, perhaps the fish was ill, perhaps it had taken another route.
Two nights later it happened, Betty waited until the fish was in the arch. Betty held the cat very tight and pressed the first button.
WHOOFPH! The first bomb was under a cast-iron drain cover in the roadway. The heavy drain cover was propelled upwards through the fish up to the ceiling of the arch and back onto the fish. There was an immediate reduction in hate, big relief. Betty pressed the second button.
WHOOFPH! The second and third bombs were installed in the arch side walls, the arch collapsed and crushed the fish, EOF.
It was all quiet for a minute, Betty continued to hold the cat tightly, she knew that the cat had suffered.
The androids began to remove their hate modules and started to sing and dance. The rabble stood, sang and danced.
The cat stumbled to its feet and tried to balance on its hind legs, it was not very good at this, it needed practice.
Betty stood up and danced. She took the cat’s front paws in her hands and they danced slowly round the room. They had done it. They had done it.