The red phone on Molly’s desk rang.
She knew it was him, as he’d insisted on installing the old-fashioned bright red phone a couple of weeks earlier. It had no dial or keypad, just a large red button on the phone’s body which flashed in time to the ringer. Molly had asked if it was the actual Bat Phone, but Monty had just smiled a cryptic smile, tapped one finger against the side of his nose, and left.
Molly had, of course, made some modifications of her own. Old telephones are all very well and retro was quite the thing these days, but they gave a girl neckache, cradling the receiver on your shoulder and all that.
She pressed a button on her bluetooth headset.
“What’s the worst thing that you can hear when walking through a minefield?”
She paused. She was used to Monty calling her at random times wanting something or other. Was this a trick question?
“Let me rephrase that. Aside from the sound of the explosion, moments before your legs shoot past your ears, what’s the next most frightening sound?”
This time he didn’t give her a chance to answer before continuing.
“Actually, I suppose you wouldn’t actually hear the explosion, what with pressure waves and the fact you’d been more or less instantaneously turned into so many pounds of damp pink goo, but…”
She could almost hear the cogs turning in his brain.
“Sorry, yes. Where was I? Ah. I can reliably inform you that it’s the sharp ‘click’ of a pressure sensor being activated. And, since I’m still here talking to you, no prizes for guessing which one I’ve just heard.”
“Exactly, my dear. Are you terribly busy? I really could do with a spot of help. Rather urgently, if possible…”
Molly arrived on scene some twenty minutes later, having broken most of the major traffic laws getting there, along with a sizeable selection of the minor ones for good measure. Her car slewed to a halt, kicking up clouds of dust from the dirt track. She checked the GPS and dialled Monty’s number on her cellphone to confirm that she was in the right place.
He gave her detailed instructions on how and where to get over the imposing stone wall, and exactly the route to get from where she’d parked to where he was.
“Be careful” were his last words.
The clearing was exactly where he’d said it was. He was stood, exactly where he said he’d be. He looked rather grumpy.
“Ah, there you are. What kept you? Did you bring the things I asked for?”
Molly supposed that she could forgive him being a bit terse, given the circumstances. She confirmed that she had brought the items on his list, though she admitted to being a little curious about some of them. She dug one in particular out of her bag and held it up.
“I’m not sure how a chocolate bar is going to help, boss.”
“Brilliant! That’s exactly what I need. Stand back, and chuck it over here.” He snatched it out of mid-air, tore off the wrapper and started eating.
“Bloody starving. Been here for ages.”
He chewed thoughtfully. “Now, what I don’t understand is the click. I’d always assumed that mines would do more of a KABOOM thing when you stepped on them, rather than ‘click’.” He shrugged.
“And who the hell puts mines in their gardens? Bloody Cornelius bloody Zenn.”
“Of course, this is the first mine I’ve actually stood on, so I’m new to the whole experience. Hand me the toolbox, if you’d be so kind.”
Several minutes later he’d carefully cleared the area around his foot, revealing a metal disk, about eight inches across and three deep.
Monty removed three screws holding a small access plate, and peered inside.
“Did you bring your laptop?” he asked. “Look up ‘Strassenblat 43268’ for me.”
Molly sat, flicked open the slim laptop and started typing. The results didn’t take long to come back.
“Got it boss. Schematics and everything. Looks pretty straightforward.”
She ran her finger down the screen.
“Wait… did you say 43268A or 43268B?”
Monty scratched at the metal casing. He squinted, tilting his head this way and that. “A. Definitely.”
Molly sighed. “Good, they’re a lot more straightforward to…”
“Unless that *is* a ‘B’. Could be a ‘B'”
She gave him one of her Looks. “This is serious! Is it an A or a B?”
He tried giving her a Look back, but it didn’t quite work as well as hers did. She had had more practice.
“What’s the difference?” he asked.
“If it’s an ‘A’, then you just need to cut the red wire and it disables the firing pin”
“Hmm. All the wires in here seem to be red.”
“Shit. Then it’s a ‘B’. Says here they made some modifications as the ‘A’ model was too easy to disarm.”
Monty paused, thinking. “It’s amazing what you can find on the internet these days.”
She grinned. “Who said I was on the internet? This is from the Strassenblat company secure filestore.”
“Good girl. Remind me to give you a raise.” He ignored the snort of disgust, and dug into his trouser pocket, removed his wallet and flicked it over to her. “There you go. Buy yourself something nice.” He smiled at the stunned silence. “Don’t say I never give you anything.”
Molly was surprised to find that the wallet actually had some real money in, along with various cards…
“This isn’t even your bloody wallet!”
“Details. It’s all money. Probably best not to use the credit cards though, I’m sure Zenn had them cancelled.”
“Look. I hate to be boring, and be all ‘me me me’, but do you think that we could return to the matter at hand.” He looked down. “Or should that be foot?”
Molly had continued looking through the wallet. Various exclusive credit cards, high denomination notes, dollars, sterling, Euro, nothing unusual there…
She pulled out a jet-black square of plastic, turning it over.
“What have you got there?” Monty asked. Molly ignored him and returned her attention to the screen. She typed for a few moments, sat back and blew her bangs out of the way of her face.
“Do you trust me?” she asked.
“Implicitly, my dear. What have you found?”
“Step off the mine.”
“What? Are you insane? Has the money gone to your head?”
She savoured the moment. It wasn’t often that she had the upper hand. “I thought you said that you trusted me? ‘Implicitly’, you said. I distinctly recall you saying it, just now. Step off the mine.”
Monty closed his eyes, offered up a prayer to whichever gods might happen to be in the vicinity, just in case, and lifted his foot.
A barely audible ‘click’.
“I really wish it would stop doing that,” he said, backing away carefully. He dusted himself down, and took a deep breath. “Now. I would like you, my dear Miss Scott, to explain exactly, using very short words, what just happened there.”
She grinned and waved the black card at him. “Proximity sensor in the mine. If you’ve got one of these with you, the mine is deactivated. Zenn’s goons are probably all carrying them…” Her voice trailed off as she noticed the expression on his face. “What?”
“That gives me an idea…”