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Dept 17

THE ROOM

“I kinda feel a bit less bad about her getting squished,” I said. I hadn’t really felt that bad to begin with. It’s not like it had been our fault. But the room. The fucking room at the end of the hall. You can imagine what the room looked like. It was your standard, hidden Nazi shrine, in most respects. Swastikas and pictures of Hitler and the rest of the Third Reich (the Third Wrong, more like, eh?) A DVD of Amazon Prime’s Grand Tour. The only thing the room was lacking was the Ark of the Covenant.

“Maybe she didn’t know it was here,” said Sub, picking up a helmet and turning it around in his hands. “I didn’t know I had an airing cupboard.”

“How did you not know you had an airing cupboard?” asked Firelighter, amused, while I shook my head at her. I didn’t want to get into it. Not now.

“It didn’t have a handle,” said Sub, replacing the helmet and picking up a pair of spectacles. Funny round ones. He put them on briefly and we laughed.

“Okay, she knew it’s here,” I said. “In fact I’m beginning to think that she’s involved with the cowolf.”

“You think?” said Firelighter.

“I do, but I’m just not sure how.” I started to bite my thumb nail while I powerfully thought.

Puzzle pieces. Did I have them all? Maybe. I just had to fit them together. The Nazi stuff. Weird hybrid animals like the cowolf and the spidermouse. Mouspider. Mouspider? Mouspider. An old woman. Was there anything else?

I clicked my fingers. “Hey! Remember Chicken George.”

“That fucking bastard,” said Sub. Sub often seems like he’s totally gone under, but you say something and he responds. He can surprise you. Sub hated Chicken George’s decomposing remains. Some kids had found them in the woods near that shop where they sell hedge trimmers, and we were called out to investigate. Think of a Mermaid but the top half is a chicken and the bottom half are human legs. That’s what we were met with in the woods that day. It wouldn’t have been pretty if it was alive, but it’d been dead a while. That smell. You don’t forget that smell. It’s not something I can describe apart from saying it was almost sweet. A sticky smell. Like when you cut through the cellophane on a pack of chicken thighs on the last day of its use-by date. Sub took the presence of the body as a threat. He thought maybe Chicken George had been brought to the island to replace him, but the fact was nobody knew where it had come from. We’d just put it down to some weird east-side of Jersey shit but maybe somebody knew exactly where it had come from.

The puzzle pieces suddenly clicked into place.

“In the barn, I bet you there’s a big Nazi machine from the war. I bet you. One that creates hybrids when you feed two species into it. There has to be. It’s the only thing that makes any sense! Mrs Hitler here must have been experimenting. Trying to create an army to bring back her glory days. She tried to create a flying man, but that failed. That was Chicken George. But she did succeed in creating a cowolf, the deadliest combination of land animals imaginable. That’s why she called us! We’re the only thing standing in the way of Nazi domination of Jersey!”

“Urgh, what a turd!” said Firelighter.

“Yeah, people are shit,” I agreed.

“She’s dead now,” said Sub.

“That’s true, but for now her plan is very much alive,” I said. “But it’s going to die with the cowolf,” I added, nodding. I raised my eyebrows, “are we ready?” Subsonic stood and punched a gloved fist into the palm of his other hand. Tan stood and looked awkward with his laptop balanced on his forearm. Firelighter’s eyes began to glow a bright orange. “Not in here, you’ll burn the place down,” I said. She blinked away the flames. “Do it outside,” I said.

“I’m detecting movement!” said Tan. I looked at his screen.

“Can you get music out of that thing?” I asked.

“Yeah, if it’s on youtube.”

“Put Sabotage on,” I said and he did.