Chapter 6:

Agents of the Agency

Drinking Coffee while Dinosaurs Roam My Backyard

The doorbell rings just as I put the coffee pot on the stove. Milla and Meri are out so I don’t have to race to the door this time. Ever since we ordered pizza they’ve been hung up on the idea that the doorbell sound is linked to delicious things. I blame that guy with his dogs.Bookmark here

Now that I think about it, it most probably is them. It’s weird how they can name every pocket monster there is and recite the pi to ten thousand decimals but remembering to take the key when they go out is beyond their scope.Bookmark here

“Did you want the water guns after all?” I ask as I swing the door open. It’s not Milla and Meri. It’s two people in black suits with black ties, sunglasses that seem to be just a little too big and black hats. Zucc me, it’s the Agency.Bookmark here

The older one is a woman. Well, I say older but she’s about my age so I better keep that characterization to myself or it’ll come back to bite me faster two girls can devour a bar of chocolate under optimum conditions. The other one is a young guy, on the lower end of his twenties. He pulls out a badge from his pocket and brandishes it at me.Bookmark here

“This is to be regarded as an official business. We are from–“Bookmark here

He gets cut off by the woman.Bookmark here

“Take it easy, Jakke. He knows us already.”Bookmark here

“Huh? I haven’t been here before.”Bookmark here

“I mean he knows whom we represent. Isn’t that right?” She moves her head from her colleague to face me.Bookmark here

“Right,” I say, even though I couldn’t really say. In the beginning I kept asking who the agents who came to see me worked for. I got five different names from three different agents. After that I gave up and decided to just call it the Agency. I’d bet my front teeth that amongst themselves they call it that too.Bookmark here

“So, what’s up? I’m pretty sure my time machine ban is still in effect,” I say. “I made an infomercial about it, in fabulous technicolor. It plays during breakfasts.”Bookmark here

“We are not from the Chrono Division,” the man who is apparently named Jakke says. “We are–“Bookmark here

“Nevermind that, Jakke,” the woman says. “We can cut to the chase with this fellow.”Bookmark here

“But the protocols…”Bookmark here

I kinda pity the rookie. They are taught to be real sticklers to the rules and I sort of see why that is, considering the situations they are prone to encounter. That makes them more or less gung-ho and downright arduous to deal with. It’s only with experience that they seem to mellow. Witness the other agent present.Bookmark here

“My name is Maggie and this is Jakke. We’d like to have a brief word with you if that’s ok?”Bookmark here

I shrug. In my experience these meetings are best when dealt with as soon as they crop up. It’s not like I’m in a hurry anyway. I’ve got a laundry basket full of sheets that were previously hung to dry but had an unfortunate fate of getting in the middle of a paintball war zone. Just pistols can make quite a mess, but that’s nothing compared to machineguns or light artillery. I’ll gladly postpone that chore a bit. “What seems to be the problem?” I omit ‘this time’ for my sake as much as theirs. We are repeat customers and they know it.Bookmark here

“Mammoths,” Jakke says and tries to maintain a level stare behind his glasses but I can see how he is a little shaken up. He really is fresh as a loaf of bread just out of oven. I make a circular motion with my hand prodding him to go on.Bookmark here

“A herd of mammoths,” he blurts out apparently exhausting all the details he is about to share.Bookmark here

“There were five mammoths in a forested valley in the Alps,” Maggie offers in a way of an explanation. “They have been already removed so the situation is over, but we’re doing some post-incident fact checking. If time travel is not involved do you have any idea how they could have come to exist?”Bookmark here

As a matter of fact I do. Last week while eating dinner Milla and Meri were discussing something that I took to be about the Clone Wars that we’ve been watching on DVD for a month now but as they say, assumption is a mother of all zucc ups. Evidently the remarks about ‘the cellular deterioration prevention field’ and ‘specimen maturation enhancement cylinders’ was not some jargon from the series.Bookmark here

As for the apparent source material we did visit Siberia on a hot air balloon a while back and the girls collected plenty of samples. Like a mountain of bone fragments that’d put the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora to shame.Bookmark here

I parse together an explanation with as few details as I can get away with. Jakke makes furious notes on a tablet.Bookmark here

“Cloning, that’s a class four incident, reviving extinct species makes it sub class–“Bookmark here

“Don’t sweat the small details,” Maggie cuts in. “We can do the paper work back in the office.” Then she wiggles her index finger at me.Bookmark here

“I’d like to request, again, that you remind your daughters to pick up their projects after they are done playing.”Bookmark here

I offer my most sincere apologetic smile. “Yeah, that’s a daily thing around here I can assure you. You wouldn’t believe how many superballs were around the house the other day for example. When I went to look for girls I stumbled upon this greenish leaf door and found myself in–“Bookmark here

“Not another word,” Maggie snaps and put her hands on her ears. “Please.” However his colleague failed to get the memo.Bookmark here

“Found yourself in where? That sounds awfully much like Category B transdimensional infringement incident.”Bookmark here

Maggie grabs Jakke’s ear and yanks him closer. She attempts to whisper but can’t really control the volume in her current state of mind.Bookmark here

“Shut up this instance. Do you really want to know where he’s been?”Bookmark here

Jakke nods while grimacing. His ear must be smarting something fierce.Bookmark here

“Do you know how big a stack of papers you have to fill out for a cat-b TD case?”Bookmark here

Jakke shakes his head.Bookmark here

“It took me five days the last time and I can navigate the intricacies of the PIB-form. Do you know why it’s called the PIB-form?”Bookmark here

Another shake, now with a more concerned look.Bookmark here

“Because it’s such a pain in the butt. Now, let me ask again, do you really want to know where he’s been?”Bookmark here

A vigorous shake, which is commendable seeing how his ear is still in Maggie’s firm grasp. Maggie turns to look at me. “Never mind us. We’re good. We’re done here.”Bookmark here

“I’m about to make some coffee. Would you like to come in and have a cup? I call tell you all about our adventures then.”Bookmark here

“No thank you, we really must be moving along.”Bookmark here

They turn and walk briskly away, Maggie pushing Jakke forward by the neck just to make sure his curiosity doesn’t get the better of him.Bookmark here

“Move along, move along,” I mutter. Then I break into a grin and have a small laugh about it all. Works every time. The PIB-form has a strong influence on the weak-minded.Bookmark here

Something’s whistling in the kitchen.Bookmark here

Ah, beans. I left the coffee pot on the stove.Bookmark here

Good thing the agents didn’t come in. There’s water left for just one measly mug.Bookmark here

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