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Run! Episode 14

Run!

Our heroes are about to risk everything for a daring escape, but not everyone will make it out of the warehouse.

· 22:05

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This is it, my friend. The final part of Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle. I’ve had fun telling you about the fine and furry folk of Fogsworth, but we still have to deal with some of the less-than-fun folk.

When we parted ways last time, Molly had confronted our villain, known to most as Professor Fritz. Everything was looking pretty neat and tidy, with all the baddies in their place, and the hamsters almost home and dry.

But in all the commotion, they’d forgotten about a small primate, with big eyes and strong little hands. There’s no time to lose, so for the final time, Mark, hit the music.

“What’s going on?” A panting, panicking terrier, clearly unaware of the commotion going on in the workshop behind him, runs in-between the hamsters who’ve all stopped peddling in their glass hamster balls. “And why are you helping them!?” This he screams at the iguanas, who are letting the last remaining hamsters out of their glass balls so they can run to the head of the sets of columns, where Mrs Toggle lies on the ground, a wisp of smoke curling from her head.

“Killing hamsters was never part of the job”, says one of the iguanas, throwing off his lab coat and hurling it at the little terrier’s feet. Once all the hamsters are freed, the remaining lizards join their friend in throwing off their lab coats, and they all make for the exit.

“Mrs T! Mrs T! Come on love, come on.” Ms Pickles presses her crossed hands on Mrs Toggle’s chest and pumps to a steady beat.

“It’s not working”, says Mr Nibbs, quietly.

“It has to! Now come on. Come. On!”

With one more push, two closed eyes blink open, and Mrs Toggle’s round face begins to regain just a little colour.

“Oh, thank goodness!” Ms Pickles throws her arms around her friend.

“Gently Ms P, you might break her”, warns Mr Nibbs, but he’s smiling. Everyone’s smiling.

“Right, this changes nothing. Everyone, back to your positions.”

But no-one’s interested in what the little terrier has to say.

“You know what?” thinks Mr Nibbs aloud. “Those hamster balls are surprisingly roomy.”

“D’you know, I was thinking exactly the same thing”, adds Ms Pickles, and slowly, and from all directions, eight hamsters approach the little dog, and lift him straight up in the air.

“I found this skulking around the exit”, says the labrador, holding Sam aloft, and letting the slow loris dangle by an ankle.

“Pa-atchee I’m s-s—” but it’s all Sam can get out.

“Don’t make any sudden movements” cautions the dog, “or I’ll cure his little speech impediment, permanently.”

“Don’t you dare touch him!” yells Patchee.

“What is it for, anyway?” enquires the labrador. “For all I can see, it just seems to exist only to be frightened.”

”Listen here, you mutt”, spits Molly, “it’s over. Your boss is tied up, the machine’s broken down; what have you got left?”

“Only the greatest invention in modern history”, says a thick voice, emerging from the shadows. Quite how the pug manages to remain hidden behind the much slighter labrador will continue to be a mystery, “and my chance to finally bring this town to order.”

If this were a different kind of story, the fox and the dogs would start cackling together. But this isn’t that kind of story, and these villains don’t like to waste time laughing at their own plots.

“You’ll never get away with this!”, yaps the tiny grey terrier, while shaking a quivering fist.

“Sorry chap”, says Mr Nibbs, “it’s pretty hard to hear you in there. What did you say?”

“I said —” but the hamsters have already turned away and ignored him. They couldn’t fit him in the harness, so all the little dog can do is try and balance on the pedals inside his glass prison.

“So, what d’you think, Ms Pickles? Your teeth still sharp enough?” asks Mr Nibbs.

“I reckon so, and I daresay there’s a few others here with a good set of fangs on them.” And with that, Ms Pickles leads a small team down the centre isle to the raised platform, where they start, very carefully, to climb up the side of the large glass bowl, using the brickwork to help give their tiny fingers something to dig into.

With great care, they skirt the rim of the bowl, before jumping up to the thick rope connecting the bowl to the ceiling. With a hamster each taking a third of the rope, they begin to gnaw, each cutting a straight line that will meet with the other two until the rope finally snaps.

It’s a thick rope, so it’ll take a while.

“I assume you’ve signed a contract?” enquires Molly to the dogs.

The pug cocks his head to one side.

“An agreement between both parties, stating that you’ll be paid a certain amount — or be given a certain title — once you’ve delivered the hamsters…” But she stops herself in her tracks, and turns to the fox.

“My word, you devious little —” she begins.

“Oh, you are a clever one”, coos the fox. “She’s right of course. Not only is there no contract, no paper trail whatsoever, but also, my hands are entirely clean. The machine was my father’s invention, I haven’t actually paid for any of the equipment —”

“Yet”, cuts in the General.

“Indeed”, continues the fox, all but ignoring the pug entirely, “so there’s nothing you can pin on me.”

“Except you were the one who started the machine”, says Roscoe, although a little uncertainly.

“Think about it”, says the fox, patiently. “I wasn’t the one who pressed the button.”

Patchee thinks back to the earlier demonstration, and how the fox passed the button to Sam.

“Well, I suspect it won’t matter too much”, says Molly, inspecting her paws for dirt that isn’t there, “since the hamsters are about to break your precious new toy.”

All eyes turn to the giant green bowl, swaying from side to side.

“No!” The fox jumps up and heads towards the bowl with such speed that Roscoe doesn’t have time to force him back down. However, the fox appears to have forgotten that his hands and feet are still bound, so it only takes him a few steps before he trips over his own feet and lands with a smack, followed by a very slight bounce on the concrete floor. There’s an unpleasant noise, almost like a bit of his head came off, although on closer inspection, everything looks to be in one piece.

In the confusion, Roscoe tackles the labrador to the ground and pins him just long enough for the dog to drop the slow loris, who runs to the safety of the rabbits.

“Partner?” Roscoe indicates with a cock of his head, and Bailey runs over to the struggling body of the labrador.

“Neither of us has any handcuffs left”, Bailey reminds her partner, remembering the two guard dogs, still slumped on the floor behind them.

“But I’ve still got this”, says Roscoe, brandishing the black device with the mean-looking antennae, “and I suspect he knows all too well what it can do, which means he won’t give us any more trouble, will he?”

As if in response, the labrador stops struggling, and lets his head fall backwards with a small thud against the cold concrete of the workshop floor.

“Run!” screams Mr Nibbs, at the top of his lungs, as he and one of the other young hamsters hauls Mrs Toggle to her feet, and run as fast as they can to the exit. They make it with only centimetres to spare before the giant bowl crashes to the floor, sending shards of glass back up into the air and green acid spattering the walls and spilling over the floor, bubbling and frothing as it meets the concrete.

At the same time as the hamster shouts “Run!”, Patchee grabs Sam firmly by the wrist and flings them both in the direction of the exit. The cats follow shortly, one dragging a trussed-up fox by the scruff of the neck, the other thumping a couple of moody guard dogs in the back. Bringing up the rear is Molly, who looks back in the direction of the cut rope, now swinging wildly this way and that.

Having jumped to relative safety mere seconds before, Ms Pickles and her small team now dart across work surfaces and cupboards full of equipment, before swinging on light fittings and landing in the dry safety of the exit doorway.

Finally, the labrador and the pug make their way out, casting an eye back to the invention they’d worked so hard to build. They hold their paws aloft as they walk into the sunlight, where two uniformed cats arrest them.

Now, all that remains in the silent factory is a small terrier, trapped in a glass bowl. He’ll be fine; there isn’t enough acid to make it anywhere near him. But it might be a while before anyone comes to his rescue.

“Who’s my clever boy?”

“I am”, says Roscoe, quietly beaming, “I’m your clever boy.”

He and Po are in the Vineleaf, one of Fogsworth’s few very posh restaurants. They’ve just had a rather delicious meal, and are finishing it off with a small glass of wine.

“So, what were you able to charge Fritz with?” asks Po.

“We got him on conspiracy to kidnap, reckless endangerment, threatening behaviour, and plagiarism.”

Po blinks. “Really?”

“Oh yeah” says Roscoe. “Fogsworth police take it very seriously when someone passes off another person’s work as their own.”

“Well,” says the tall lizard, taking one of his paws and wrapping a thin green hand around it, “I’m very proud of you.

“Now though”, she says, finishing the last of her wine, “I think it’s time you took me on a carriage ride. I’d love to see the outskirts at this time of night. I hear the stars are beautiful.”

“Of course”. Finishing his drink, Roscoe stands, and linking his date’s arm with his, walks out into the fresh evening air.

And very quickly, both the cat and the lizard dart back under the canopy of the restaurant.

“Maybe let’s hang on until the rain clears”, suggests Roscoe.

“Another glass of wine?” asks Po.

“No more wine for me, thanks love”, sighs Bailey. “I’m stuffed. Let me just go and check on the little bean. Then when I come back, I’ll be expecting snuggles.”

Softly, she pads up the stairs to her baby’s room. There, their little three-week-old kitten sleeps soundly, its big eyes closed on the day’s events, dreaming his tiny dreams.

She finds her husband Joe in the kitchen, washing plates and stacking them up on the dish rack.

“You know, I think I might’ve finally picked out a name for our little one”, says Bailey, winding her arms around her husband.

“Oh yes? What were you thinking?” he asks.

“I thought Sam might be a nice name.”

“Sam…” Joe rolls the name around his mouth, and then asks “Isn’t that more of a dog—”

Bailey shoots him a look to suggest that he might be best not to speak for a bit. Then they both laugh.

“Sam it is”, says Joe.

“Goodbye, Sam. Let’s meet up soon”, says Patchee, as the carriage pulls away. They’ve had a nice night, he, Sam and Molly, and he hopes to see the slow loris again.

As he closes the office door behind him, he finds his boss sat at her desk, arranging some scraps of paper like a jigsaw puzzle.

“Sit down, Patchee”, says Molly, softly but firmly. After a moment, she seems to slot the final piece of the puzzle in place, and looks at it, then at the rabbit, expectantly.

Patchee reads the re-assembled note, and the colour drains from his cheeks. “Molly, I…”, but he doesn’t have anything to say.

“I was very angry when I read this”, says Molly, pointing at the paper puzzle, headed “Molly Whiskers Irritability Scale”.

“I know, and —”

“Let me finish. I was very upset, and a part of me is still upset, but not because of what you wrote. I’m upset because you never told me this is how I made you feel.”

“Honestly, I don’t think we ever had time”, says Patchee.

“I suspect you’re right”, says Molly, taking the note and crumpling it into a ball. “But could you do me a favour?”

“Of course”, says the rabbit. He’s had an incredible time with Molly, and although he knows he is about to be fired, he would still do anything for the famous detective of Fisk Lane.

“From tomorrow onwards, promise me you’ll come to me if ever I act in a way that doesn’t make sense to you.”

“Tomorrow?” asks the young rabbit, cautiously.

And then, looking at a calendar on her desk, Molly says briskly, “Oh, of course, tomorrow’s Saturday. Well, Monday, then.”

“Monday?”

“Yes, we’ve got a waiting list now. Lots of cases to get through.”

“Do you mean—?”

“Yes, and if I do have to pop out for a few minutes, promise me you won’t trash the place again?”

“Yes boss”, says a proud Patchee, rising to stand and holding out a paw.

A moment hangs in the air, waiting for someone to tell it what to do, then Molly finally says “Honestly, where is my head? So sorry.” And rising to place an empty mug in her assistant’s paw, says “Coffee, black, no sugar”, and promptly sits back down again.

Patchee grins, and puts the kettle on.

Outside, the rain continues to bounce gently off the cobblestones and speckle the street lanterns of the town centre. We see a slow loris step out of a carriage, pay the driver and hurry into the tavern.

The band strike up a familiar tune. It’s music night, tonight, a fact that goes mostly unnoticed by the patrons of this particular pub. The crows continue their suspicious, whispered discussions, the cats play their card games, and over on another table, a goat carries over a pint and three half glasses, and sets them down.

“So, how long have you been in the estate agency business?” asks one of the plump, pink pigs at the table, taking a half pint.

“Well, I’ve been doing similar work, buying and selling, for a good while, but Toply’s Estate Agents has only been open for the last week.” He slides the two remaining half pints to the other two pigs.

“Don’t I recognise you from somewhere?” asks the pig directly opposite the billy goat.

“Ugh, I dunno, I get around a bit.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you behind the bar here”, says the one to Toply’s left.

“Only last week, if I recall”, confirms the one on the right.

“Well, be that as it may, I’ve a lovely new property to show you. All straw interior, very comfortable, absolutely gorgeous.”

“Sounds lovely” says the piggy in the middle.

“Although, I would advise you”, counsels the goat, “given the current climate, to sign up for our Big Bad Wolf insurance package.”

That is the end of Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you’ll tell your friends if you have.

Molly will return in The Song of the Unicorn. To be the first to know when it’s ready, you can join her Detective Team at MollyWhiskers.com. It’s free, and all you need is a grown-up’s email address, and their permission.

Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle was written by Ashley Kingsland, with production help from Mark Steadman at Origin.fm. I’ve been your narrator, Imogen Church, and if you’d like to read the story for yourself, you can buy the paperback and Kindle book from Amazon.

We’ll meet again soon, so until then, take care, be kind, and look after your friends.

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