Jess spins the globe on Alfie Twitch’s desk and stops it at random with her little finger.
‘Huh, Luxor,’ she says, peering at the tiny writing. ‘Ever been there Alfie?’
‘Where’s Luxor?’ he says, still staring at the painting of London At Night above his desk. He has found himself counting the stars.
‘Egypt, you twonk.’
‘God no. Filthy place,’ he says absently.
‘The cradle of civilisation, not clean enough for Alfie Twitch. You don’t like mess then, Alfie?’
Alfie looks at Jess, remembers his predicament and shakes his head. Jess grabs his face and makes him look at her.
‘You haven’t even asked who wants you killed.’
‘Does it matter?’
‘And here, Alfie, is your fatal flaw. Your lack of inquisitiveness. Your bland, blind acceptance. Someone points a gun at you and it doesn’t even occur to you to ask why.’
‘Well if I’m going to be dead in a minute – ’
‘ – Oh, Alfie, I’m not going to kill you. What would be the point in that?’
Jess walks behind Alfie, running her hand along the back of his shoulders. ‘That would suggest you mean something to someone.’ Alfie swallows. ‘And we both know that isn’t the case.’
Jess emerges from around his right shoulder, perches on his desk and crosses her legs, causing her skirt to hitch up her thigh. Alfie makes a mental note for later, remembers the futility of such a thought and then remembers she said she wasn’t going to kill him. Jess watches these cogs turn in his eyes with a perverted pride. She was right and she is going to enjoy telling the others.
‘So what are you going to do with me?’ he says.
‘Finally, a question!’
Jess punches the air with both fists. She then stands over him, straightens up her skirt, flattens down her hair and flicks at the peak on Alfie’s cap.
‘Alfie Twitch, I have a quest for you. You are about to embark on a Hero’s Journey, from which you will return a changed man and will have saved the world in the process. It won’t be easy, of course, not least because you’re a dolt, but I suppose that’s the nature of the beast. Anyone with a semblance of self-awareness would be quite unsuitable.
Jess produces a flick-knife from her sleeve and cuts the plastic bin-ties that have been strapping him to the chair.
‘I would say no funny business, but you obviously lack the imagination to see a way out of this situation, so I’ll just say you need to get on the Northern Line and travel south until it stops. When the nice man says ‘this train terminates here’, get off and wait on the platform.’
Never knowingly outside zones 1-3, Alfie wonders if he might have preferred to have been shot.
This part 4 of the developing Alfie Twitch… saga. Yes, I’ll call it a saga. Earlier chapters below…