This section covers more of the hot day in June.
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Undepoldus at Work
George waited impatiently for the due time and grew even more impatient when it passed. At 13:42 the door processor announced. 'Two engineers, Kevin Watson and Arthur Williams request admittance. ' "Admit them, they are expected, Gee-Mac 207." said George.
The door did not open.
George said. "Give reason for not opening."
'Engineer Kevin Watson does not match profile. Engineer Arthur Williams shows signs of duress. '
George said. "Emergency code six. Gee-Mac 207."
George then noticed Undepoldus had left his position, leaving
the replica in his place. Undepoldus went to the door and the
The two engineers came in, not knowing what had transpired inside Undepoldus House. George wondered why the door had opened when Undepoldus approached it. Then George saw Undepoldus disappear in front of his eyes. Neither of the men had seen him beside the door.
Arthur Williams said. "We have come to fix your air-conditioning
system. We are sorry that we are a bit late but we got held up."
His tone of voice indicated that he was under some strain although
he was doing his best to try to mask it.
George said. "The controller and heat exchange unit are through there." He pointed to the utility room. He watched Kevin Watson carefully to see if he made a suspicious move. Kevin stole a glance at the display area and then followed Arthur into the utility room. Arthur started to dismantle the heat exchanger while Kevin watched. George noticed this but then went back towards his desk as if he suspected nothing. He wondered what Undepoldus was up to. His disappearing trick had been revealed. George realised that his whiskers could work both ways. If he had chromatophores, he could do the chameleon trick and apparently disappear. Even so George thought that his disappearance was much more rapid than a chameleon could manage. It was more like the sudden switch of a squid. The effect was the same. Undepoldus had somehow made himself unnoticeable. If Kevin was a fraud, Undepoldus would know. If Kevin threatened to do anything to harm Arthur, Undepoldus would try to do something to stop him. He remembered the incident on the strip. Neither he nor Kerstin had seen Undepoldus move and presumably the gunman had not seen him move either. The vidcom came alive and flashed a silent signal. George pressed a series of buttons on the keypad and the door opened slowly and quietly. The vidcom went blank again. George was pleased to see Kerstin with two of her colleagues come in. George put his finger to his lips to suggest that they keep quiet. He then pointed to the utility room and made gestures to indicate that Undepoldus was in there too.
Undepoldus had chosen his moment to act. In the silence they heard a faint "Uh." and the sound of someone falling on the floor. Arthur emerged looking scared. He seemed to be somewhat relieved when he saw Kerstin and her colleagues standing by the door. He was somewhat lost for words and didn't know whether to talk to Kerstin or George.
George said. "I know that the man who called himself Kevin
was an imposter and you were under threat. You are safe now."
Arthur said tremulously. "I swear I didn't touch him guv, he just collapsed as if someone slugged him. I couldn't see anyone who could have done it. There he was, watching me and then it was like a ghost came up behind him and hit him with a blackjack. He never knew what hit him and I'm sure I don't. I wouldn't believe it myself if someone had said to me what I just said."
Kerstin said. "Don't worry about it Mr. Williams. I know that these Spacers have very secret defences. The man who threatened you was identified as a fraud before you came in here. We were called automatically by the defence system. We also knew that you would come to no harm while you were in here in Undepoldus House and that the fake Kevin Watson could not get out."
Arthur looked a little less worried.
Kerstin continued: "Please can you tell me what happened to you and Mr. Watson and where."
Arthur said. "We was just getting off the strip in Marylebone Road when two men came up to us with guns. One looked a bit like Kevin. They said that Kevin had to go with one of them and the other one who looked a bit like Kevin would take Kevin's place. They said I had to do what I was told or Kevin would get it. Kevin is a good bloke. I wouldn't want anything to happen to him."
Kerstin used her communicator to pass on a summary of Arthur's story. There was a faint moan from the utility room. The fake Kevin was regaining consciousness.
Kerstin said. "Maria and Peter check the man over. If you see any wetness that is not blood, do not touch it."
The two dragged the man out with his arms over their shoulders. He was regaining consciousness slowly. The man looked at Kerstin with half glazed eyes. Kerstin stood close in front of him as if her size alone would force him into submission. She waited until she saw that he was conscious enough to understand what she said. "I am arresting you on suspicion of kidnapping. Anything you say may be recorded and used in evidence. If you say nothing, it will be noted. That is my formal statement of arrest."
After a pause Kerstin continued: "In the circumstances I can say that if you lead us to where Mr. Watson is held, the charge may be reduced to that of attempted kidnap. Do you understand?"
The man nodded. Kerstin continued: "If you do not cooperate with us, we will leave you alone here with the worm. I have seen him kill and it is not very pleasant, I can assure you."
The man looked terrified. He said. "Uh, I'll do what you say, but don't let that worm near me."
Kerstin saw Undepoldus appear near to her so she stooped down and put her hand out towards him. He obligingly crawled up her arm and onto her shoulders. The man looked even more terrified if that were possible. Kerstin's colleagues were amazed.
Kerstin said. "The worm knows that you are a criminal and that I am a police officer. He is on my side. He will do whatever I ask him to do. He will be with us until Mr. Watson is released and is unhurt."
George said "Open, Gee-Mac 207." The door opened and the man followed closely by Kerstin's colleagues went out quietly.
Kerstin said to George. "Mr. McFigg, I hope that you don't mind me borrowing Undepoldus for a while. He seems keen to help me keep an eye on things."
George said. "If it's OK by him, it's OK by me Sergeant Berry. What I need is my air-conditioning fixed."
Arthur said. "You spoke to that police lady like you knew her."
George said. "She is in charge of the section that looks after the Park. We meet quite often. The worm Undepoldus likes her. She told the truth when she said that she had seen Undepoldus kill a man who was threatening someone with a gun."
Arthur asked. "Does the worm know the difference between good guys and bad guys?"
George said. "I have never seen him make a mistake yet. My job is to look after him. I think that he thinks that his job is to protect me. He is a bit like a guard dog who will do anything to protect its master."
Arthur said. "I think I can fix your air-conditioning. You certainly need it in here. If you can give me a hand to lift and hold things, we can do it together."
George said. "That's fine by me. Let's get started."
After a lot of parts had been removed, Arthur announced. "Here's the culprit. It's a stuck bearing. The motor won't turn."
Arthur replaced the bearing and checked that the motor would turn freely.
As they were reassembling the unit George asked. "What did that man want you to do?"
Arthur showed George a small canister. It showed signs of damage where it had been dropped on the floor. George saw what it was and immediately took it from Arthur and dropped it in a rubbish bin. He then grabbed the top of the rubbish sack and twisted it to seal it.
Arthur wondered why he had done so.
He said. "The man said it was a sleeping gas canister made by a company called Hartley, Cross and Newbold. He said that they planned to knock the worm out with it."
George said. "The letters H C and N mean something quite different to me. It is the gas that was once used to execute criminals in gas chambers. If much of that gas leaked out, it would kill both of us in seconds."
Still holding the bag tightly, George opened a cupboard where rubbish bags were stored. He said to Arthur. "Get several of those bags. This bag may leak. I want to put this bag into another bag and that bag into another bag. This stuff is too dangerous to play around with."
Arthur assisted until George had used four bags.
"That will do for the minute Arthur. Will the airconditioner start now?"
Arthur checked some indicators and switched on. The motor started and George felt the slight breeze from one of the ventilators. It was still warm but would start to cool in a few minutes.
"I watched the way you helped me just now. You worked as if you had been my mate for years and I could swear that you had not seen inside an airconditioner before. You are a very smart man and no mistake."
"My job is to look for and care for any life which doesn't come from Earth. A lot of the time when I am travelling in space I am a passenger with nothing to do. Because of that I get asked to help by engineers who know that I'm not very technical. I have got used to holding things and screwing in screws even though I seldom know what they are for. Thank you for the compliment."
"Your policewoman friend is big isn't she. She's like a giant. I bet that any man that tangles with her would regret it. Do you think she will find my mate before he gets hurt?"
"I know that she will do her best. If she needs help she can call on all the resources of the London police. I don't think it will take her very long to free your mate."
George recalled the previous time when Undepoldus visited a kidnappers' hideout. Now he was bigger, more powerful and could disappear in a second. If Kerstin could not free Arthur's mate Kevin, Undepoldus certainly could.
The air-conditioning system had reduced the temperature to a more comfortable 34° and the vidcom announced the fact by switching itself back on.
George said. "Emergency Code four, Gee-Mac 207. Assistance
required to remove a hydrogen cyanide gas canister. Patch through
to Sergeant Berry of the London Police."
"Sergeant Berry. Please state the nature of your call."
"Mr. McFigg here. Please advise status of Mr. Watson."
"Mr. Watson is with me. He is unhurt. I will arrive in four minutes."
Arthur looked almost happy. He said. "I'm really glad my mate is OK. I didn't know that those men wanted to kill your worm and maybe you as well. It is a good job that they didn't know about your secret defence. It was marvellous how it was able to knock that man out without killing him. I saw him hit and fall down but I never saw what hit him. Now I know about the poison gas, I know why you need defences like that."
After a pause Arthur said. "You need someone you can trust to check your air-conditioning. I think that I can help you in future by checking it on a regular basis. If you can arrange it, I will just turn up and say who I am and that I have come to check your air-conditioning. That way nobody will know when I am coming here so anyone who might want to kidnap me won't know where I am."
"That is very kind of you Arthur. I can arrange that now. When the processor says identify, say Arthur Williams, engineer, in a normal voice.
George said to the processor. "Gee-Mac 207, additional authorisation. Arthur Williams, engineer."
The processor responded.' Identify'.
Arthur said. "Arthur Williams, engineer."
The processor said. 'Please repeat.'
Arthur said. "Arhur Williams, engineer." again, but with a little more confidence than the first time.
After a pause the processor said. 'Arthur Williams is recognised. Arthur Williams, entry will be permitted if you arrive alone or with any person who can also be recognised and you are not under any duress. '
"This is a job I will have pleasure in doing. Your worm scared that man witless. I will be glad if he is on my side. He might be able to protect me in future."
George thought to himself, he already has.
The vidcom announced Kerstin's arrival. 'Sergeant Berry
and Mr. Watson wish to be admitted. '
"Admit them, Gee-Mac 207" George answered.
The door opened and Kerstin came in with Kevin Watson.
Kevin asked immediately. "Arthur, are you alright? Did you get it going by yourself? It seems like it is working now."
Arthur said. "I'm OK. I had a lot of help from Mr. McFigg. We fixed it between us. Are you OK?"
"Yes, but I don't know how it was done. I was locked in a room with no windows and there was no way that I could get out. Then, suddenly there was a big hole in the wall and I could see the garden outside. I looked out and saw that the police had arrived so I climbed out through the hole. It was like magic."
George noticed that Undepoldus had resumed his normal feeding position although he did not see him come in with Kerstin.
Kerstin said. "Mr. McFigg, a special disposal squad will
arrive shortly to collect the cyanide. I trust that you have made
it safe temporarily."
"I hope so. It is in four plastic bags, one inside another. It is safe as long as it does not get hot."
"The disposal people are civilians. I will call in help to check that they are genuine before they get here. In the meantime I suggest that the bag is put outside where any gas liberated will be dispersed more quickly. I will station a crew to guard it and to keep people away from it."
"Open, Gee-Mac 207." The door opened to reveal two policemen waiting outside.
Kerstin said. "This bag contains cyanide. Put it in an open space and keep everyone away from it. A disposal squad has been called for."
She turned to Arthur and Kevin. She said. "I can arrange transport for you to wherever you want to go. I ask you both to try to write down everything you can remember about what happened to you. Then put it in an envelope addressed to me, Sergeant Berry, Camden Centre, and drop it in at any London police station. The two kidnappers have confessed to everything but it will be helpful to us to have your stories as well. Is that OK?"
Arthur and Kevin agreed.
Kerstin said to George. "Mr. McFigg, I will take charge of the cyanide disposal. My colleagues will guard it until it is safely removed. The door opened automatically as she approached it with Arthur and Kevin.
The next section covers the rest of the hot day in June.
Viewers familiar with this subject may pass on to the following section.
Please select PASS or CONTINUE.