“You know,” Nicky said thoughtfully, “that actually makes a lot of sense. I had wondered why my downstairs mix-up didn’t look quite right.”
“Surely someone’s mentioned it to you before,” Tim said, “maybe in a urinal? It’s the type of thing that would get commented on!”
“I always use the cubicle,” Nicky said, “never knew why before, was just my gut reaction to head for cover.”
“Have you never had a girlfriend?”
“Well no. I’m too eccentric, girls round our way aren’t looking for that. They want guys like that one Nigella’s always going after.”
“Do you fancy girls?”
“I dunno. Never really thought about it too much, to be honest.”
“Which did Nicky like before you mucked about with her brain,” Bracken asked, “girls or boys?”
“How should I know,” Magenta said irritably, adding, “I’d have to look it up in the file.”
“Can you reverse it so she can go back to the way she was?”
“Does she want to go back to the way she was?”
“Hoi,” Nicky said indignantly, “does she take sugar? I’m right here, why don’t you ask me what I want?”
“Well,” Bracken said reasonably, “do you know?”
“Not a Scooby,” Nicky admitted, “I feel as though I’m not in full possession of the facts which makes it something of a tough call.”
“Are you getting all this,” Tim asked one of the camera crew bitterly, “I’d hate for you to miss out on a good telly opportunity, just because your boss has hired a mercenary to manipulate several people’s lives, which is probably against the human rights act and might see his BAFTA nomination revoked.”
“Actually,” Brian told Tim in his head, “the whole thing has been going out live since the beginning.”
“Totally uncut. Using the telepathic powers the amulet has afforded, I’ve been able to blow this thing wiiiide open.”
“You know,” Tim thought back to him, “I’m actually not sure how useful that is. People will watch, be outraged on Twitter for half an hour, then forget all about it. Such is the fickle nature of our modern society.”
The fire exit door clanged open with an almighty ruckus. Bert and the scarred guard appeared through it in a flurry of dry ice, he with his hair blowing dramatically in tht wind and she cradling the wean protectively. They looked like some kind of unusual crime fighting duo.
“Stop everything,” Bert bellowed boisterously, “we have important information to impart!”
“Really, though?” Bracken was unimpressed. “I bet you a fiver that most of it has already come up.”
“The woman who calls herself Esmeralda is in fact Esmeralda’s identical twin, Magenta?”
“Yep, we know.”
“Esmeralda has been dead for years, killed by her sister’s own hand?”
“Posing as Esmeralda because her rogue methods have so incensed the global science community, Magenta has been conducting invasive brain experiments on unknowing people, with the full knowledge and financial backing of The Jeremy Kyle Show?”
“Tell us something we don’t know!”
“This little boy isn’t yours, Bracken.”
Her lip wobbled ferociously.
“I know that too,” she whispered, bravely biting back the tears.
“We have all the documentation to prove what’s been going on, so we can send these two down for a long time,” Bert informed them.
“Now that we did not know.”
Bert smiled victoriously.
“Here’s one for you then, Dad,” said Nicky. “Assuming that’s not a memory trick as well?”
“No,” Magenta drawled, “he is your father. The memory work there was mostly done by your mother, to be honest I just had to tweak it a little.”
“Right well, in that case… Dad, it turns out that I’m actually a woman.”
Bert looked surprised for a moment, then shrugged. “Now that you say that,” he meandered, “it sort of rings a bell.”
“I want to build up our relationship either way, assuming you still do.”
“Oh aye, definitely,” Nicky nodded. “I feel like I probably need to be supported through this traumatic time.”
“You’ll readjust surprisingly quickly,” said Esmeralda, “or at least, I think you will. Assuming you let me reverse the procedure.”
“Why does that not inspire me with full blown confidence?” Nicky asked scathingly. “Think I’ll just take it from here if you don’t mind.”
“Did you do anything to Nigella,” Bracken said suddenly.
“My cousin, Nigella. Well, I thought she was my cousin. Maybe she isn’t. She doesn’t know who the wean’s dad is, but she definitely thought he was mine.”
“Lanky girl, ginger, nasal?”
“That’s her,” grinned Nicky.
“Yeah, did some work on her,” Esmeralda confessed.
“Aaaaand here she is now,” said Kyle, “please welcome to the stage, Nigella!”
Nige appeared at the door, looking flushed and confused.
“How did I get here?” she asked Jeremy. “I was at home in the kitchen peeling a leek and then suddenly BAM, I was here!”
“Teleportation device,” Jez told her dismissively, “but that’s not important right now.”
“I disagree,” Nige disagreed, rather emphatically.
“You’re here today because you’ve got something to tell someone,” he bulldozed on in a vague sort of way.
“Well on you go then sweetheart,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the characters assembled before her, “spit it out.”
“Who am I meant to be talking to?” she enquired.
“That can be up to you,” he replied, “because at this point I don’t think it really matters.”
“Bracken,” she started, walking up to her cousin, “I’m sorry.”
This was the first time Bracken had ever heard her cousin apologise, and she was flabbersmacked. That’s a mixture of flabbergasted and gobsmacked – Peter Andre taught me it.
“That’s alright,” she said, unsure what it is that she was apologizing for.
“Me and Al never done anyhin,” she continued, “I was trying to make you jealous so I wanted to make you think we spent the night together, sexwise. But we never.”
“That’s alright, even if you had done,” Bracken said magnanimously. “It’s not as if we’re going out.”
Nige smiled, and gave her a hug. Meanwhile it dawned on Al that maybe Bracken did like him after all.
“Nicky,” Nige continued reproachfully, “where the hell have you been? You had us worried. Thought the aliens had got you at last.”
“I’ve been in this place,” Nicky filled her in, “living in a tiny cell against my will for an as yet unexplained reason.”
“It’s because Esmeralda – sorry, Magenta – ” Bracken rolled her eyes, “thought that if she asked people whether she could experiment on them they’d say no. So she took them without asking.”
“Be fair though,” Magenta countered, “as soon as I gave her the option, she did refuse.”
“She?” Nige said, bemused.
“Oh, Nicky’s a girl,” Bracken explained.
“Oh right. Cool.”
“Really?” Nicky said, “why is nobody even remotely surprised by this news?”
“It’s because they knew you before,” Magenta yawned. “The residual memories cushion the blow of the shock.”
“Course they do.”
“So this woman here – what did you call her? Magenta? Locked you in a cell for two weeks?”
“Was the wean with you?”
“Not physically with me, no,” Nicky said, “although he was in the building, as it turns out.”
“I was keeping an eye on him,” said the scarred guard.
“And who are you?” Nigella enquired.
“I am his surrogate mother.”
“That’s a bit over the top, its only been a couple of weeks. He won’t remember that in later life.”
“She means she was the surrogate womb for him,” Bracken said sadly.
“The wean isn’t mine, Nige. That’s why I couldn’t answer your questions about the dad. I didn’t know, because I never had sex with anyone, because I’m not his mum.”
“So who is the mum, then?” Nige asked in a state of understandable confusion. “If you’re not, and this lady was just a womb for hire?”
“I am,” Nicky informed her.
“Oh. That’s odd. But I guess you two have always got on pretty well.”
Just as the conversation seemed to be in danger of getting awkward, there was a clap of thunder, and Dennis appeared.
“Oh, Christy,” said Tim.
The noise was high pitched enough to break Brian’s concentration, and he did a big amulet shaped poo.
“Yoink,” said Dennis, grabbing it.
“Did that guy just steal a turd fae under the dug?” Nigella asked.
“Yup,” Bracken confirmed.
“Is that a common Scottish phrase?” Jeremy asked with interest.
“It will be soon,” Nicky commented, “as soon as she puts it on her Bebo.”
“Dennis,” Tim said, “don’t be an idiot. Give me that.”
“Why does that guy want the poo?” Nige asked.
“He doesn’t want the poo,” Al explained, “there’s a magical amulet inside the poo, and that’s what he wants.”
“So that I can destroy it.”
“But if you don’t even like it, why not let the other guy have it?”
“Because it’s evil,” Tim told her, “and it needs to be got rid of before the evil spreads.”
He advanced upon Dennis and tried to forcibly remove the poo. Dennis flew up into the air and levitated just out of reach, which is one of the perks of being a ghost.
“Ha,” he gloated triumphantly, “now what are you going to do?”
“What are you going to do?” Tim asked, “if you can use the amulet to resurrect yourself?”
“I’m going to have a bowl of frosties,” Dennis replied. “Then I’m going to go to sleep in a comfy bed.”
Tim shook his head.
“I know that’s what you want to do now,” he said, “but honestly, all that will go out the window if you use that thing. Just look at it, for goodnessake.”
Dennis obliged, staring into the mottled glass surface. The piece of tentacle within seemed to pulsate ominously, and Dennis thought he could hear an insidious whispering noise. “Kill,” it said, “rip, tear, slash, inflate.”
“Inflate?” Dennis said aloud.
“Sorry,” said the whispering, “I got confused. Maim and hurt, destroy, poke out their eyes…”
“That’s not very nice,” he chided, inadvertently floating back down towards the ground.
“GOTCHA!” Tim shouted, grabbing his ankle with one hand and maintaining contact for just long enough to yank Dennis earthward and grab the amulet.
Dennis instantly vanished in a huff.
“Right,” Tim said, “now all we need to do is destroy it.”
“I wouldn’t be so hasty if I were you,” said a robotic voice from a fire exit which nobody had noticed until now.
It came from the mink caped, hooded figure. The boss, the man, the big cheese.
He or she had Adric in a vice like grip, with a flick knife tight against his neck, blade just millimeters from piercing the skin.
“Give me the amulet,” the figure said, “or your boy toy gets it.”