The night was an inky black, and Agent K huddled under her gillie suit, trying to stay warm. The gillie suit was made of thousands of pieces of black, green, and tan scraps of wool, and no Agent graduated from the Academy without one. They were standard wear on nights like this, when Agent K had to wait for hours in the cold and dark for the alien movements that might never happen.
The Agency had intercepted a message the day before, naming this time and place for a shipment of sheep to be herded to the slaughterhouse. The intelligence suggested that these were prime wool sheep, not your average mutton on hooves. Such important sheep would have to be rescued from the aliens, and that’s where Agent K came in.
Agent K had been in place for hours, waiting for the aliens to make their move. She’d nearly finished the socks she had brought along for the long wait and hoped the aliens would turn up before she ran out of wool. The needles she had brought were specially designed for stakeouts, in a dark color with minimum clicking. (They came in handy at the movies, too!)
The night wore on, and Agent K began to suspect that they had mistranslated the time and date of the intercepted message. Greboldepock was notoriously difficult, with five genders and forty-six tenses. It wouldn’t be the first time the geeks in Translations had gotten things wrong, but for the sake of the sheep, Agent K hoped that they hadn’t.
Suddenly, a flash of truck headlights split the night and her radio crackled. She picked up the radio and listened.
“Agent K, Agent K, trucks headed your way, over,” Agent J told her. “Trucks carrying sheep at 4 o’clock.”
Agent K checked her watch. It was 3:58 am, so she had two minutes to finish this row. One fast row later, and she was stuffing the socks into a draw-string project bag (in camouflage print, as per Agency regulations). Just in time, too. Precisely at 4 am, two trucks rolled into the empty lot next to the slaughterhouse that Agent K had under surveillance.
Agent K shook the green strands of her gillie suit out of her eyes and peered through her binoculars. She counted three, no, four aliens getting out of the trucks, doing that weird thing where they touched their tentacles to each other’s eyeballs. It had been explained to her that was similar to how guys slapped each other on the back, but she didn’t really get that either. She shrugged. Aliens and guys were both weird species.
One of the aliens opened the rear door of the truck, and frightened bleats issued forth. Agent K wondered how many sheep were packed into the trucks. Poor things were probably terrified. This might affect their wool! Agent K had to act fast.
“Agent J, come in Agent J, we have two trucks, four hostiles, and an undetermined number of sheep, over.”
“Agent J here, forces grouping up now for the assault. You know what to do!”
“Agent K, acknowledging. Ready when you are, Agent J.”
Agent K leapt into action.
“OI! ALIENS! OVER HERE! COME GET ME IF YOU CAN!” Agent K waited just an instant to see that Agent J’s border collies were sweeping in from the opposite direction, then turned tail and ran. The aliens, stunned at first into inaction, started after her, shouting her name. The border collies silently and swiftly crossed the vacant lot to the trucks, unnoticed by the aliens. Agent J had the task of rounding up the terrified sheep and leading them to safety, while Agent K led the aliens away.
The night seemed much darker now that Agent K was running for her life. Every tree seemed to loom out of nowhere and she barely missed tripping on several tree roots. She shot out of the small grove of trees she had been using for cover and pounded down the sidewalk, her gillie suit streaming out behind her and her sneakers squeaking on the damp pavement. She risked a look behind her.
Oops. Bad idea. The aliens were in hot pursuit. Agent K briefly pondered how dumb aliens were. All four of them had taken off on her heels, leaving the sheep unattended to be rounded up by Agent J and the border collies. Agent K sped up, running as fast as her legs would carry her. She only had to make it to the next corner, where a yarn shop would protect her from the aliens. Nearly there!
A slimy green tentacle snaked around her ankle, tripping her. She went down hard, scraping her hands. The gillie suit protected most of her, but it would a few days before she knit again. Her training kicked in, and she swung the drawstring project bag at the alien’s eyestalk. It contacted the eyestalk with a sickening thunk, thanks to the weighted bottom of the standard-issue Agency bag. (The bags were a pain to carry around, but could be life-saving in situations like these.)
The alien reeled back, howling in pain and clutching its eyestalk. Agent K scrambled to her feet and raced off. The other three aliens were slowed by their comrade, who was stumbling about and generally getting in their way. Agent K skidded around the corner and into the safety of the yarn shop.
Agent K leaned on the counter, chest heaving. Her palms were smarting from her fall, her knee was throbbing in a way that promised an ugly bruise tomorrow, and her gillie suit was in tatters, but she had made it. The aliens, foiled by the presence of yarn, paced back and forth in front of the yarn shop and growled to each other about what they would do to Agent K if they ever managed to catch her. Finally they tired of this and headed back towards the slaughterhouse. Agent K prayed that Agent J would have had enough time to remove the sheep before the aliens could return. She might have a bit of a wait to hear from Agent J, so she did what came naturally whenever she found herself in a yarn shop. She browsed the yarn and patterns.
“Agent K, Mission Sheepskin is a success. Repeat, Mission Sheepskin is a success. All clear.” Agent J sounded elated, and no wonder. The debriefing the next day would reveal that thirty sheep had been rescued from certain death and two alien trucks had been disabled. A good night’s work, all around. Agent K celebrated with two skeins of superwash merino sock yarn and a new pattern book.