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.’Gilbert M decided to be co-operative.‘I think they just nipped under the table,’ he said.‘What do we do?’ whispered Earl.‘Follow me,’ said the Doctor.The sucking noises were getting louder as the Kandy Man approached the table.Just as he was bending down to look under it the Doctor, closely followed by Earl, slipped out and headed for one of the ovens.They took cover behind it.‘There’s no one here,’ said the Kandy Man, summoning up all his reserves of patience.Gilbert M scratched his head.‘But I saw them.We had a bit of a chat.They seemed very pleasant.’The Kandy Man gritted his teeth.‘Show me,’ he said.The Doctor and Earl were watching the scene from behind the oven.‘I thought you said you wanted to meet him?’ said Earl.The Doctor had changed his mind.‘Another time perhaps, At the moment things are looking a hit sticky.’The Doctor glanced around the Kandy Kitchen.They were near the stairs leading to street level.‘We’ll try for the door,’ he said.Gilbert M was under the table, scratching his head.‘Well I’ll be blowed.I could have sworn they were under here.’The Kandy Man had had just about enough of this ridiculous charade.It was all Gilbert’s fault, as usual.‘I can feel one of my moods coming on,’ he growled.The Doctor judged that this was the moment for them to make their break.‘Go!’ he whispered, shoving Earl towards the stairs.But the Kandy Man had seen them.He flicked a switch near his hand and an ornamental metal grille slammed down in front of the Doctor and Earl, barring their escape.As they struggled with the bars in vain, the Kandy Man sauntered over to them, his feet popping and squelching as he moved.‘Welcome to the Kandy Kitchen, gentlemen,’ he said pleasantly.The Doctor raised his hat.‘I’m sure the pleasure will be ours,’ he said.‘I do hope so,’ replied the Kandy Man.‘I like my volunteers to die with smiles on their faces.’He threw back his head and laughed.His teeth were black.If the Doctor and Earl had escaped to the street they would have found Ace, who was on the run from the Happiness Patrol.But she was heading away from the Kandy Kitchen.She paused for breath, only to find herself looking at a huge poster announcing:TONIGHT– THE GRAND HAPPINESSPATROL AUDITIONbut she ran on, listening to the sporadic rounds of machine-gun fire in the distance.Then a voice close behind her called: ‘Halt, or I fire!’Ace continued to run, gasping for breath.But now the machine-gun fire was much closer – a series of small explosions, almost inside her head.She dropped to the ground for cover.Then there was silence.She quickly looked around, saw nobody, and started running again.Down this street, up that street, down some steps, through an archway, round a corner – straight into Daisy K and her smoking fun gun.Ace was beaten.Daisy K said nothing.She just waited and watched as her guards joined her and slipped the handcuffs over Ace’s wrists.The Kandy Man was closing in on Earl and the Doctor when he was distracted by Gilbert M, who was fussing over the stove.‘It’s boiling over, Kandy Man,’ he said.‘Not now, Gilbert M!’‘But the pan’s boiling over.’‘Ruins the flavour,’ offered the Doctor.The Kandy Man turned slowly and looked at the stove.He glared at Gilbert M.‘It’s not my pan,’ he said softly.‘It’s one of your pans.’The Doctor had seen a way out.There was a manhole cover only a few feet away.While Kandy Man and Gilbert M were distracted by their argument, he started to move towards it.He gestured to Earl to follow him.‘It’s one of your special non-stick pans,’ said Gilbert M.The Doctor eased off the manhole cover.The Kandy Man’s lip was twitching.‘Can’t you see I’m busy?’‘But it’s sticking,’ said Gilbert M.The Doctor dropped down from the Kandy Kitchen into the pipes.‘What charming people, eh, Earl?’ No reply.‘Earl?’ But Earl was not following him.The Doctor hauled himself back up into the Kitchen.Earl had not followed him because Earl was otherwise occupied.He was being strapped into a reclining chair by the Kandy Man, who seemed genuinely pleased to see the reappearance of the Doctor.‘You’ve come back to the scene of my crimes,’ he smiled.‘I’ve come back for my friend,’ said the Doctor.The Kandy Man tightened the straps round Earl’s arms and chest.‘It’s very simple: your friend is going to die.Feel free to join him.’ The Kandy Man waved at an identical reclining chair, next to Earl’s.Gilbert M was waiting to help with the straps.Fifi was purring softly, as Helen A ruffled the fur behind the creature’s ears.Ace was horrified.She had never seen a creature quite like Fifi before, but she certainly wouldn’t touch her.She was reminded of the scavenging dogs of Perivale, which she would watch in the early hours of the morning as they fought over the contents of a filthy dustbin.Helen A planted a kiss on the top of Fifi’s head and spoke to Ace.‘But we were so looking forward to your performance.’ She tickled Fifi under her chin.‘Weren’t we, Fifi?’Ace was defiant.‘I didn’t feel like it.’Helen A looked as if she couldn’t believe it.‘You didn’t feel like auditioning for the Happiness Patrol? You didn’t feel like dancing?’The more Helen A smiled, the more Ace wanted to make her angry.‘I hate dancing,’ she said.But Helen A was again preoccupied with Fifi.‘Well, Fifi,’ she cooed, ‘what are we going to do about Ace Sigma?’In a flash Fifi bared her teeth and lunged for Ace’s throat.Ace recoiled straight into the nozzle of a Happiness Patrol guard’s fun gun.Fifi still snapped and drooled, but now Ace could see the leash digging into the creature’s neck.Helen A had decided to let Ace survive, at least for the moment.She closed her hand around Fifi’s jaw and suddenly the creature was calm again, enjoying the soft touch of Helen A’s hand on its scraggy fur.Helen A smiled at Ace.‘You mustn’t worry about Fifi,’she said.‘She’s only being friendly.’ She gave Fifi a chocolate.‘Aren’t you my darling?’Helen A glanced up at Ace, sharp now, harder than before.‘You’re from one of the other planets, aren’t you, Ace Sigma?’Ace didn’t know what she was talking about.‘I’m from Earth.’Fifi growled softly.‘You’re from Omega or Beta,’ continued Helen A, ‘your mission to spread discontent and dissension.Well, it won’t work, Ace Sigma.’Ace said nothing, happy to see the rising fury in Helen A.Helen A detested the girl’s insolent expression.‘My people are happy.They don’t know the meaning of misery or despair, and as long as I’m in charge, I’ll make sure they never do.’There was a knock at the door.The clouds lifted from Helen A’s brow as she cried out cheerily in a sing-song voice.‘Happiness will prevail!Come in if you’re happy!’Daisy K dragged in Susan Q by the hair and threw her to the floor.‘Excellent!’ said Helen A.‘Where did you find her?’‘She was hiding in a doorway at the Forum.’Susan Q started to pull herself to her feet.Helen A fixed her with her gaze.‘You were hiding.’ She thought for a moment.‘So you were unhappy about something?’Susan Q knew this was a trap.‘No,’ she said.Helen A persisted [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]