Dirtection Inc: episode 4

In which a bit of fluff leads to a deadly encounter...

The philosopher George Formby had much of interest to say on the subject of window cleaning. It was his opinion that more people would join the profession if only they realised the intellectual satisfaction which it offers. Or, as Formby so eloquently put it: “I go cleaning windows to earn an honest bob, for a nosy parker it’s an interesting job.”

The same can be said of cleaning computer keyboards.

Little did I suspect, when first I plucked it, that a piece of fluff nestling in the keyboard of Fenella Marbury-Heighton (MBE), director of the top secret Pen Wiggessy Research Base, would lead me on a trail of corruption, deceit, violence and murder!

But this was no ordinary fluff.  Laboratory analysis had shown that this tiny piece of detritus was impregnated with a chemical of which the Drugs Squad would take a very dim view. One suck and you’d be flying around the room on tangerine elephants!

I was thus musing as I happened to walk past a room from which emanated a buzzing noise that sounded to my ears like hordes of horseflies on a rampage of revenge. My ears were not deceived. On entering the room I saw that it was filled, from floor to ceiling, with rack upon rack of glass cases each of which contained several thousand loutish-looking flies.

In the middle of the room, a venerable white-haired, white-coated man crouched over a laboratory bench. One sleeve of his coat was rolled up and he was holding a pair of tweezers to his exposed arm. Imagine my horror when, on closer examination, I perceived that clasped between the points of the tweezers was a horsefly – that vile vampire of the insect world – with its well-honed mandibles sunk deep into the aforementioned venerable codger’s quivering flesh.

I fancy I may have gurgled involuntarily at this sight. At any rate, the man looked up at me, smiled, informed me that he was having a mid-morning fly and asked if I would care to join him. I declined his offer, telling him that flies were not within my province of expertise but if he happened to have a computer keyboard about the place I’d be overjoyed to give it a spring clean.

A storm cloud passed over his face: “So it’s you!” he snapped.

I could not deny that it was.

“You! You! You!” he repeated, fearing, apparently that I might have some doubts on the matter, “The cleaning man! The man who scours, sterilizes and disinfects!”
This was not an accurate description of my methods and I told him so. But to no avail. On he rambled, applying to me a variety of colourful epithets the gist of which was to suggest that I was the sort of chap who went around stealing sweets from small children and kicking old ladies’ kittens. But worse than all these crimes was my desire for cleanliness which, I gather, is inimical to the horsefly.

I was beginning to get the impression that my presence was unwelcome and so I bid the venerable duffer a friendly good day and quickly retreated in search of calmer climes. Gravitating instinctively towards the hot drinks machine in the foyer of Building C, I chanced upon Ethel from Admin sucking down a surreptitious cigarette between sips of something brown and scummy (possibly tea) in a plastic cup. Ethel is my source of all knowledge in and around the base and she did not disappoint me when I embarked upon the theme of the gent with the flies.

He was (said Ethel) one Professor Augustus Goodbody, a man famous for his knowledge of all things that creep and crawl and infamous for his extreme ill temper and poor personal hygiene. It was, according to Ethel, entirely possible to detect the Professor’s approach at the distance of two miles with the aid of the nostrils alone.

“He can’t stand anything clean so it’s a fair bet he must hate your guts,” she added and gave a high-pitched cackle that made hairs on the back of my neck stand up and do somersaults.

Could it be, I wondered, that his hatred for a person in my profession would extend to the deliberate falsification of my record on the computer database? Not to put too fine a point on it, I was starting to suspect that it might have been the professor who entered a ‘Fail’ into my ‘Security Clearance’ field along with the chilling recommendation: ‘Lethal Force Authorised’.

I decided to have it out with him once and for all. I sauntered at a brisk pace back towards his laboratory and, without even bothering to knock before entering, I thrust open his door in a surly manner.

The sight that met me (not to mention the smell) took my breath away. The glass cases which hitherto had contained his beloved horseflies, lay scattered and broken upon the floor. And there, lying amidst the wreckage, covered in a swarm of feasting flies, was the hideous, staring corpse of Professor Augustus Goodbody!

Dirtection, part 5 – In which the mystery of the psychedelic fluff deepens and we enter a spider’s web of deceit and horror.




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