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July 10, 2011 / whirlingneedles

Sticky situation


Agent K crouched in the bushes, biding her time. The street was not a busy one, but there was just enough traffic that her job wasn’t an easy one. The alien’s truck was parked directly under the only working street lamp for a half mile in either direction. Now, his back was turned, the street was empty, and Agent K seized her chance.

She dashed across the road and rolled under the truck. Her heart was pounding and her breathe came in short gasps,  but she didn’t take any time to settle her nerves. She slapped the top of the can against the underside of the truck, where it hung suspended by the magnet in the lid. A quick twist with her trusty pocket knife, and a satisfying blob of dye came out of the bottom. She quickly reconnoitered for a moment, then raced back to her hiding place in the bushes.

She was just in time. The alien came out of the alleyway and got in the truck just a split second after the bushes stopped flailing from her hurried passage. The alien’s truck started up, went into reverse, then headed down the street. Agent K took her glasses out of her pocket and perched them on her nose. She smiled as the trail of dye became evident to her, but remained invisible to anyone without Agency-issued glasses.

This was the first test of the invisible ink tracers that the techies had just developed. Originally, it had been conceived as means to pass messages. An agent could knit a fair isle or intarsia pattern using yarn dyed with the special dye. One of the strands would use the special dye, but to the naked eye, all the strands would be the same color, and the garment would appear to just be a thickly knit fabric. The receiving agent, however, could put on their glasses and see the code.

The problem was that the agent doing the knitting couldn’t see the code as he or she knit unless he or she wore the special glasses. So far, the techies could only make very large, very heavy, and extremely dorky-looking glasses, and few agents wanted to wear them long enough to actually knit anything. Wearing them for a short time while decoding wasn’t too bad, but wearing them for hours on end? The Agents in the test group rebelled, and the project was nearly scrapped.

Luckily, one of the techies on the project refused to admit defeat and came to Agent K to ask her help to field test his idea of using the dye to track the aliens. He had noticed an oil leak in his car the day before and the trail of oil leading out of his garage and down the street gave him an idea. Agent K agreed to field test the idea, and now here she was, following an alien to his base. She only needed to put on the glasses at intersections to see where he had turned, so the major drawback of the dorky glasses wasn’t so bad. (Plus, it was dark and no one would see her. She hoped.)

The truck appeared to be headed towards the docks. Agent K peered through the glasses again, and sure enough, the splotches of dye were leading to the waterfront. The scents of the docks wafted through Agent K’s windows. (She hastily rolled them up.) She rounded a corner and saw the truck parked in a lot near Joe’s Worms ‘N’ Things (“Slimiest Bait in the State!”). She drove past at a normal speed, then parked in the next dark alley she saw. She slipped on her coal black balaclava and gloves, and cautiously got out of the car.

There was a back alleyway and Agent K blended in nicely with the pitch blackness behind the shop. She felt her way along the sooty brick wall to a spot just below an open window.

“I’m tellin’ ya, those Agency jerks won’t know what hit ‘em!” wheezed a high-pitched voice. “I can’t wait until we spring the trap!”

“Patience,” replied a deep, gravelly voice. “This plan will only work if you keep your eyestalk on. If you go off all half-cocked, you’ll ruin everything!”

“What’s the plan again, Ken?” asked the wheezy voice.

Ken gave an exasperated sigh. “How many times do I have to tell you?” he growled. “First, we establish a perimeter.” Another exasperated sigh. “That means we surround them. Then we strap glitter bombs to the sheep. Once the sheep are released back into the pens, we’ll activate the bombs, and glitter will go everywhere!” The aliens laughed uproariously at this.

Agent K looked around the alley and found an orange crate. She quietly placed this under the window and stood on it on tip toe. She could just see into the room where the aliens were plotting through the slit of the open window. The two aliens were standing at a craft table, wearing some sort of alien biohazard suits. Agent K wondered briefly if glitter was a problem for the aliens in the same way that wool was a problem, but dismissed the thought. If she were forced to fill balloons with glitter to make bombs, she’d probably wear a biohazard suit as well. The room was covered in a half-inch thick layer of glitter. She estimated that only half of the glitter was actually getting into the balloons, while the other half floated about the room and settled on all flat surfaces.

This explained why the truck was parked outside of a big box craft store. Where else could one buy such large quantities of glitter? The Agency had worked hard to have glitter classified as a Code A biohazard, but no luck so far. (The summer camp crafts lobby was deep in the pockets of many politicians.)

Agent K slowly lowered herself off the orange crate and thought hard. She would have to foil this plot by herself. If she waited for backup, they might have finished their bombs and teleported away by the time it arrived. She wracked her brains for a minute and hit on a solution in a very short time.

She slipped back to her car and opened her trunk. Good thing she hadn’t remembered to take it out of her trunk yet. She picked up the jumbo-sized bottle of Elmer’s glue that she had been meaning to take into the Agency for months and carried it back to the alley. She set the bottle down on the orange crate and craned her neck back at the window.

One side of the window was ordinary glass, but the other side was a fan. It was currently off, presumably to keep the glitter from blowing all over the room, but the glass portion was open to allow some fresh air into the room. Agent K picked up the bottle of glue and cut a small hole in the bottom with her knife. The hole was big enough that the glue would flow freely, but small enough that it would take a minute or two to completely empty the container. She held one finger over the opening to prevent the glue from flowing out too early.

Agent K balanced precariously on the crate again, one hand clutching the bottle of glue and the other slipping a crochet hook through the open window. The aliens were still laughing over their plot, which luckily covered the scratching sound her hook was making against the fan switch.

Finally, she caught the switch, gave a jerk, and the fan turned on at top speed. She had a momentary glimpse of two eyestalks staring at the window through the plastic biohazard screens, then took her finger off the hole in the glue bottle.

The fan sprayed the glue all over the room. The aliens roared in consternation as the glitter was caught in a thick layer of glue. They struggled towards the window, but the glue was flying through the air like a blizzard and both of them got eyestalks full of glue. By the time the bottle was empty, both aliens lay on their backs, feebly waving their tentacles and trying to wipe the rapidly-drying glue off their suits.

Agent K radioed in the location of the shop, and peeled a bit of glue off her fingers. All in a night’s work.

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One Comment

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  1. Rebecca WS / Jul 10 2011 8:47 pm

    Glitter = major regretsky! Too funny!

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