Clocks and Boxes — Part 32: Robbery

It was night, and a nearly full moon hung in the sky and/or orbited the Earth. Donna had been checking the potted shrubs near Carpets! Carpets! Carpets!, when the gunshot rang out. She raced across the tarmac of the carpark towards Harry's House of Ethanol Based Beverages. As she ran, she was joined by two or three of the fugitive Pavilionites, armed with sticks and crowbars.

At the door to Harry's, a silver-clad Barnling was running away from Harry Montressor, who was throwing bricks at the man. The air was scented with gunsmoke and there was broken glass across in the doorway, but Donna could see no sign that anyone had been hurt. She gestured for her colleagues to chase the Barnling, and went to talk to Harry.

"He had a gun," Harry said, in between heaving breaths. "Tried to rob me."

"Is anyone hurt?"

"Some bottles. Mostly I broke them. When he fired the gun, I think the bullet went into the ceiling."

Donna poked her head into Harry's shop. It was a large, brightly lit shop, with four aisles in the middle and beer and wine fridges around the walls. A couple of scared customers stood here and there, to shocked to move. Harry had been right – a chunk of the ceiling had been shot away and a pile of bricks stood behind the counter.

"The Barnlings have been becoming more bold since the prison break," Harry said. "They know you have an army now, they have given up on subtlety."

"Why do you have all those bricks?"

Harry said nothing, but looked across the carpark with narrowed eyes, towards Emile's House of Fine Liqueurs.

Donna sighed. "I guess it doesn't matter."

The Pavilionites returned, panting and shaking their heads. Harry let out a bitter laugh.

"We knew this would happen," he said. "We all did. This is why we sheltered Ms Shan, made her our leader. This is why we listened to what she said, and gave jobs to those Pavilionites who weren't arrested – because we knew that the DIY Barn was not dead. Ten thousand injuries of the Barnlings have we borne the best we could. But when they ventured on insult…"

"Yes, it is an insult to you, your shop, and your customers," Donna said quickly. She knew from long experience that once Harry Montressor got to talking about revenge, his speeches could last for hours at a time. "But we have the forces now to drive out the remaining Barnlings, and also shouldn't you be calling the police round about now?"

"I'm a witnesh," said an unshaven man in an ill-fitting suit, who carried a plastic shopping basket full of bottles of absinthe. "A very reliable witnesh, too. I saw both of the men escaping on that zebra!"

The Pavilionites looked uncertain at the word 'police' and at the word 'witness' they would probably have vanished into the darkness, were they not in a brightly lit carpark. As it was, they walked briskly away.

Harry ordered a sales assistant to call the police, then glowered at Donna. "I want to talk with Ms Shan."

"She's busy…"

"She's always busy."

"Would you rather a resistance leader who just sits around doing nothing all day?"

Harry made a 'that's a fair point, but go to Hell anyway' sort of face. "We need to stop these Barnlings, sure, but we are businesspeople too. We have affairs to conduct, buying and selling to do. Revenge... sweet revenge to…"

"All right!" Donna said, hurridly. "All right. We'll organise another meeting asap. All the shopkeepers of the Super Centre."

"Do not be a fool. Are numbers are dwindling. More and more go over to Theopoulos and his Pyramid worshippers. Every day more – Wilberforce from the bodybuilding supplies shop! Kabak from the hobby store! Emile Fortunato… Fortunato!"

"I just wanted a job, okay?" Donna shouted. The usually confident Harry started at this sudden outburst, and fell silent.

"I just needed a job. A little job. A McJob to give me a little income. So I could make some purchases that didn't shop up on my parents' credit card, you know? You know what I mean? I think you do. And then I'm working with angels and fighting battles to the death with weird forces of some ill-defined cosmic struggle, what's that about?"

"Something to do with lodges? Or mystic houses?" Harry mumbled.

"Something like that. I can never keep it straight. I don't think I care. The important thing is I was trying to earn some money and now I'm in a war and I don't even want what I originally tried to earn the money for and my parents aren't talking to me since I was arrested and it's all gone to Hell and there's no backing out now. So hold your ground – Delia and Alfred are investigating Theopoulos and Ms Shan will be rallying our forces, now that we have some. Okay? Okay?"

Harry rubbed his stubbly chin. "Yeah, I guess," he mumbled.

"Good," Donna said. "Now the police will be here soon. Just be straight with them. Don't tell them about the war, because I've tried and believe me they don't want to hear it."

Harry nodded.

"And I'll speak to Ms Shan as soon as I can," Donna said, technically honestly. "And arrange a council of war."

Harry nodded.

"Okay," he said. "But what are you going to do about that?"

Donna turned. Behind her in the sky an enormous object was moving in the direction of the Super Centre on giant, slowly flapping wings.

Donna turned back to stare at the drunk with the basket of absinthe. "Okay. You know what to do."

The drunk nodded seriously. He stepped forward, looked at the flying object, looked away, then did a double take. He looked down at the basket of booze that he was holding, shook his head and threw it over his shoulder.

"That works better with a single, open bottle," Donna said.

"Do what you can, with what you have," the drunk said. "That'sh always been my motto."

"You're paying for those," Harry said.

"Worth it," the drunk replied.

"Anyway, what fresh Hell is this thing?" Donna moaned, looking back to the sky. "Okay. Dragon? Kaiju? Dr Doolittle on a giant moth? Taking all bets!"

As it happened, it turned out to be an ornithopter.

Next -- Part 33: Computer

Previously: Interlude -- Searching

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