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February 18, 2011 / whirlingneedles

Agent K, Defender of the Earth


Agent K adjusted her sunglasses and straightened her tie. It was time. The aliens were coming, and she had to get the message through to headquarters before it was too late. She calmly got into her shiny black Agency-issued Cadillac and pulled out into traffic. She patted the package on the seat next to her, to reassure herself that it was still there. It was a squishy package, wrapped in brown paper and tied with a bright strand of Chroma yarn. The Chroma yarn was the only indication to the casual observer that the package was special.

Oh, but it was special. Agent K had outdone herself this time. The Agency trains its agents well, but Agent K was even better trained than the average agent. She could decrypt a message with the greatest of ease, and compose a reply in no time flat. Of course, composing the message wasn’t as time-consuming as actually preparing the message. You see, the Agency passed messages through knitwear.

Agents throughout history have passed coded messages through knitwear. The least successful, but most famous, of these agents was Madam DeFarge. In those wild days of the French Revolution she had been most careless. She had applied the Agency tools for her own nefarious ends without Agency permission. The Agency was just lucky that she did not compromise security any further. Most people assumed that she invented the method and never passed the skill on. The only reason A Tale of Two Cities was allowed to be published was for the plausible deniability.

Fortunately for the Agency, aliens are easily identified. They inevitably break out in a rash when exposed to wool. All the Agency’s communiqués are knit in wool, so that if they fall into alien hands, those hands will be raw and scratchy very quickly.

The Agency’s sister division, The Bureau, uses crochet. Agent K has some experience stepping in to assist the Bureau from time to time. Those crocheted toilet roll covers were a brilliant invention. They repel ordinary humans, but can be hidden in plain sight for unattended pick-ups.

Agent K, using all her training, suddenly noticed an ice cream truck had been behind her for some time. She squinted at it in the rear view mirror. Yes, it was definitely following her. The aliens were quite good at disrupting the Agency’s message deliveries, and chocolate ice cream smeared in her message would definitely wreak havoc.

Tires squealing, Agent K skidded into an alley and gunned it. The ice cream truck awkwardly tried to follow, but Agent K was already at the other end of the alley. Across another main thoroughfare were railroad tracks. Agent K held her breath, glanced in the rearview mirror again, and scowled with determination. More tire squeal, a cloud of smoke, and the Caddy was across the tracks, moments before the alien ice cream van came out of the alley. Too late! A train was roaring down the tracks. The ice cream van skidded to a halt, and Agent K waved jauntily at the chartreuse alien angrily waving a tentacle at her.

“That was close,” muttered Agent K. “Too close.” She had to get this message through. The aliens were getting bolder as the day approached.

Ah, yes, the day. The day that the aliens had sworn to rid the earth of sheep. Agent K gripped the steering wheel and frowned indignantly. Sheep were inoffensive creatures. Unfortunately, they were also easily herded. The Agency had recently gotten word of the overthrow and enslavement of Planet Border. Residents of that planet were smallish, black and white, furry, and extremely effective at herding sheep. The plan was, according to records smuggled by a brave droid, to round up the sheep and pen them up on Pluto, where their wool would be forever out of reach. NASA would never agree to a rescue mission, especially since now Pluto isn’t even a planet anymore. Well, that wasn’t going to happen, not on Agent K’s watch.

Agent K reached the drop location at long last. No more incidents, but she would have to report the ice cream alien to headquarters ASAP. Just as soon as this message was delivered. She walked into the store front that cleverly disguised as a local yarn shop. Not only was it seemingly innocuous, but they could store their message material in plain sight.

Agent K approached the counter with her package, casing the store as she did so. The operative behind the counter, code-named Lyso, nodded to her, then jerked her head at a browsing customer. They would have to speak in code.

“It’s so nice to see you, Kat,” said Lyso loudly. “You have not been in here in a while.”

“No,” replied Agent K, matching Lyso’s tone. “It has been a long time. I have been knitting from my STASH.” Agent K knocked on the counter twice. (I have a message.)

“Indeed,” said Lyso. “You will need to replenish your stash. Have you seen the new merino?” (The aliens are getting bold and eating ice cream.)

“I will need lots of merino – I am almost out.” (I know. The message is urgent.)

“Let me see what you’ve made.” (Let me see what you’ve made.)

Agent K unwrapped the package. It wasn’t her most spectacular project ever (that title went to the thigh-high lace stockings made with 000 needles), but it was nevertheless a gorgeous fair isle pullover. The pattern held the message, but only a trained Agent would be able to tell that it meant anything.

“This is spectacular work,” gasped Lyso. “I have to show it to my employee in the back. Wait here, please.” Lyso took the package and disappeared into the backroom. Agent K browsed through the shop’s wares, nodding at the customer and humming “Girl from Ipanema” to herself.

Lyso returned to the shop. “Find anything you like?” (The message has been passed.)

“Maybe next time,” replied Agent K with a rueful shrug. (You know I’m paid a government salary, right?)

“Well, stop by again soon,” said Lyso, handing Agent K a package identical to the one she had brought in with her. But Agent K knew that the sweater had been removed and the package filled with some wonderful surprise. Would it be the merino Lyso had mentioned? Maybe some laceweight alpaca? As long as it wasn’t fun fur again. (THAT had been a horrible Agency move. Some bigwig with no field experience and no knitting skills had tried to economize. Then someone pointed out that the aliens weren’t actually allergic to fun fur, but the agents were, and that was the end of that.)

Agent K headed home, secure in the knowledge that Earth’s sheep were safe. For the time being, anyway…

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. madmoon / Feb 18 2011 9:46 am

    Very clever. I love it. 🙂

  2. LtdEdition / Feb 18 2011 7:01 pm

    Is the Agency recruiting, by any chance. It would make for an interesting career change. 😉

  3. Gail / Apr 17 2017 4:57 pm

    LOVE this! Started at the beginning here so I can follow her adventures right from the start!

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