Welcome to The Great Chocolate Conspiracy!
Chocolate Digestive biscuits have disappeared from the shelves right across the eastern seaboard of the USA, and now the shortage has spread to London. Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson and his international team of investigators from the Metropolitan Police’s Confectionery Crimes Unit (CCU) have been tasked to solve the mystery.
This is the tenth installment of a multi-part flash fiction story that originated during a chat between the authors on Twitter. You can read how it all began here. (Links to all the installments will be added to the author list as they are posted)
The next installment will appear on Friday, November 12th at Angie Capozello (aka @techtigger)’s Techtigger’s Soapbox, and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.
“Sacramento?” The name of the city burst from Juniper’s lips the moment she and Marier left the debriefing room. “Why are we going to California?”
Marier slowly unwrapped the chocolate bar. She seemed lost for a moment in the crinkle of the plastic wrapping, and she took a long whiff and a small bite before answering.
“Think, Juniper. Why would Adamson be splitting us up, especially now when we’re so close?”
The Italian agent took a bite, and she raised her eyebrows. “He doesn’t intend for us to go anywhere! But who’s he trying to throw off? And why?”
Before Marier could answer, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Excuse me, agents?” Marier turned to see a tall woman in her thirties with chin-length curly hair the color of an old penny. She wore a lab coat and glasses.
“I’m Doctor Dominic, the liaison between the Intelligence Communication and Super Powers Departments…” She smiled and shook her head. “Sorry, I can’t say that with a straight face. You know – mind control, subliminal messaging, telepathy, those sorts of things. Chief Henderson wanted me to talk with Agent Bronyaur about his dream, and he mentioned that you two were in close proximity when he’d had it. Would you mind coming with me?” She tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow. “That wasn’t a question.”
“I would rather not.” Marier looked at the sealed door to the debriefing room.
“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice.”
The next thing Marier knew, she followed Doctor Dominic down the hall and into an elevator. “Wait a minute. Did you just subliminalize me?”
“Me?” The doctor’s facial expression was the picture of innocence. “I’m afraid that’s against my ethical code.”
Marier and Juniper exchanged glances. However, when they reached the exam room on the minus twenty-fourth floor, they realized they weren’t the ones who needed help.
“Is all this necessary?” Agent Bronyaur asked. He looked at the Velcro cuffs a large male nurse had just fastened around his wrists and ankles. He had electrodes fixed to his head and face. Agent La Paglia hovered, but each time she tried to reach him, the nurse blocked her way.
“Don’t worry, Agent Bronyaur,” the doctor said. “It’s because you’re the extra intuitive and sensitive one in the group who had the dream.”
He leaned back with a grin. “Really?”
Doctor Dominic winked at Marier and Juniper before she measured a clear liquid into a syringe. “I’m going to have to put you under to achieve a steady alpha state so you can revisit your dream and communicate with us simultaneously. When you come out of it, you may become disoriented, and I can’t risk you harming yourself or us. Ladies, if you will please stand back.”
“You’re not going to hurt him, are you?” asked Marier.
“Of course not! I’m just going to give him a little sodium thiopental, or truth serum, to make sure he doesn’t hold back on us. Don’t worry,” she assured Bronyaur, “it won’t hurt. In fact, people say it’s quite pleasant. Now take a deep breath, and Nurse Brutus will start the i.v.”
Marier watched the doctor and nurse, and although she couldn’t verify the liquids, she could hear Bronyaur’s breaths become deep and even.
“There, now,” the doctor said. “Agent Bronyaur, can you hear me?”
“Say yes, please.”
She smiled. “Okay, then. I want you to go back to this morning, when you got on the airplane, just before your dream. What were you thinking about?”
“Mmmmm, thong panties… Hot pink…”
Doctor Dominic raised her eyebrows. “Thong panties?”
Marier blushed and saw that Juniper had turned a similar shade of red. “He, ah, had to do some packing for us. We left in a hurry, you see.”
“I’m sure. Now, Agent, I want you to go back to that dream state, the one you were in on the plane. What do you see?”
“SUV’s. Big, black ones. And a short, fat Sheriff with a handlebar moustache.”
Dominic scribbled the notes on a pad and watched the agent’s brain waves on a computer screen. “What happens next?”
“There’s an office, but it looks more like a basement. A lab. An explosion… Blood… Chocolate…”
“Okay, let’s go back to the SUV’s that picked you up. I want you to tell me the distances and turns.”
“We go twenty feet, right out of the airport…”
Marier watched, open-mouth, as the doctor took Bronyaur back through the dream and extracted every last detail. By the end of it, they were all sweating.
Or maybe the air had cut off.
“Doctor, there’s something wrong!” Marier stepped forward.
“No, he’ll be fine. It looks like the villains have provided a map, whether intentionally or inadvertently.” She rubbed her eyes. “I wish I could tell you more, but I didn’t get coffee this morning, and I’ve got a splitting headache. I’ll run the information through the analyzer, which will plug it into algorithms in the UK’s and United States’ databases.”
“I meant with the climate control.” Marier gestured to the vent, which was no longer blowing cold air.
“You’re right – we should be getting more air.” Dominic moved quickly, measuring out more clear liquid from a different vial. “I’m going to bring Agent Bronyaur out of his trance with a mild stimulant.”
She pushed the liquid into the i.v. Bronyaur gasped and struggled against the restraints.
“Wait, I see her! Motley was directing everyone in the dream! It wasn’t a store – it was a lab!” He opened his eyes, and the nurse released the restraints.
“And she’s up there with Adamson!” Marier, Juniper, and LaPaglia ran out of the room, followed by a rubber-legged Bronyaur.
Marier fidgeted in front of the elevator. Every time she closed her eyes to blink, she saw the crumpled body of DCI Adamson just after the explosion that injured his leg. I’m not failing you again!
The building shook, and everything went dark.