The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 24 - Action In The Alcove
ALEX FOUND A small glass and filled it with the spiked wine. He poured in a dose of the ipecac, swirled it and returned to the alcove.
The girl was no longer sitting like a stone. She was talking with Pookiterin, looking him firmly in the eye, as if she were interrogating him.
"What makes you think that poor drunken old man is a spy?"
"He does not interest me," said Pookiterin. Her gaze was steady and seemed to disconcert him.
"Did he fit a description? What were your orders?"
"He was simply out of place!" he said. He pulled back and went to the other side of the table to face her. Then he paused and suddenly laughed. "You are flirting with me!" he said with a grin. "Please continue!"
Now it was the girl's turn to look disconcerted. She stared at him for a moment, mouth open. But then she took a deep breath and continued her interrogation, with a fake simper in her voice:
"All right. Tell me, my precious darling colonel, did you have a report of a spy on that train? Is that why you are here?"
"My interest is in you, my dear," answered the colonel. He got up and unbuttoned one more button on his already loose shirt. "Please, remove the scarf so I can see your face properly."
"I must keep it on," said the girl. "I am bald."
The colonel paused, and a flicker of disgust crossed his face, but then the girl's eyes flicked upward, to the colonel's own bald pate, and he knew he was being made fun of. Rage twisted his face and like a shot, his hand flew forward. But he didn't strike her, he only grabbed her scarf and yanked it off.
She was not bald. She had a thick, shiny head of wavy chestnut hair, cut into a short bob. Alex stepped into the alcove before things could go further.
"Would you like some brandy, sir?"
"Get out!" roared Pookiterin. Alex set the drink on the table in front of him, and backed out -- but no further than necessary.
Pookiterin went back to leering at the girl. He put his fingers on the base of the glass... and pushed it toward her.
"Please, for you, my dear."
Oh, crap. The last thing Alex wanted was to make her sick.
The girl looked at the glass with distaste. Alex tried to catch her eye. She glanced up, and he shook his head vigorously. Did she see? She picked up the glass and smiled at the colonel. Alex raised his hand signal more obviously.
"No thank you, you old lecher!"
She jumped to her feet and threw the wine in his face. She then dashed toward the door of the alcove. Alex stepped back to make way, and block any interference from the guards.
But she didn't even leave the alcove. Instead, her fast break was for the corner where the colonel had hung his coat... and his sword belt.
She had his sword before he could even clear his eyes of wine, and she whirled it around over her head. It was a small space, but she managed to not hit anything but the tip of Pookiterin's mustache, which she trimmed as neatly as with a pair of scissors. She then pressed the tip of the sword to his throat.
"Back!" she said. "To the window with you!"
He stumbled backwards, the sword point pushing deep into the soft part of his throat, under the chin.
She backed Pookiterin to the window, and made him open it. Then she maneuvered around and pushed him back. With a quick, backward leap, she was up on the window sill, and then she vanished.
Alex glanced back, and saw that there were other people in the room now, including Rozinshura.
There was nothing Alex could do for Thorny just now, but he was closest to the window. He could pretend to chase the girl, and hamper the efforts of others.
Alex went straight out the window, but the girl had already disappeared.
Stay Tuned for Episode Twenty-Five: "The Chase"
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