Chocolate Digestive biscuits have disappeared from the shelves right across the eastern seaboard of the USA, and now the shortage has spread to London. Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson and his international team of investigators from the Metropolitan Police's Confectionery Crimes Unit (CCU) have been tasked to solve the mystery.
This is the ninth installment of a multi-part flash fiction story that originated during a chat between the authors on Twitter. You can read how it all began here. (Links to all the installments will be added to the author list as they are posted)
The next installment will appear on Friday, November 5th at Cecilia Dominic's Random Oenophile, and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.
* * *
Adamson leaned back in his chair. It tilted with his movement, and he grinned. He bounced back and forward, reaching under the chair to yank on the levers. The chair slid down with a hiss. Juniper rolled her eyes; no inspector would be that impressed by ergonomic furniture in Italy.
"Having fun there?" asked Agent Bronyaur. Aside from the dark circles under his eyes and the slightly vacant expression, he seemed none the worse for wear after his 'episode' at the crime scene.
"By Christ I am," replied the DCI. "My chair back home's held together by sticky tape and good luck. If I leaned back on that, I'd make a right arse of myself."
Bronyaur and Juniper exchanged a smirk. Adamson had relaxed the moment he dunked his first chocolate digestive in his coffee. La Paglia made an obscure Jekyll and Hyde reference.
"You seem unusually buoyant," she remarked.
"I think we've made some progress. Might get this wrapped up sooner than we thought," replied Adamson.
"So we'll have chocolate again?" asked Bronyaur. Adamson couldn't tell if his eyes glazed over at the thought of a decent Mars bar, or if he still suffered the effects of the tranquilliser.
"That we will. And coffee." Adamson took a swig of his cappuccino. He didn't normally like "that fancy stuff" but La Paglia persuaded him to try it. Juniper giggled at the DCI's new foam moustache.
"Can we get started soon?" asked La Paglia. She drummed well-manicured nails on the table.
"Not without Motley and Marier," replied Adamson.
"Motley and Marier...they sound like they should fight crime," said Bronyaur.
"Oh give over, you pillock. They already do!" said Adamson.
Agent Bronyaur hid his blush behind another chocolate digestive.
"Where are they?" asked Juniper.
"Motley said something about needing to make a personal call while they were in the briefing. Marier's gone to get her," said La Paglia.
The door opened. Motley walked in first, followed by Marier. She cast glances at Motley all the way to her seat beside Adamson.
"You alright there, Prof?" asked Adamson.
"Yes, fine. Everything's fine." Motley looked at the replenished platters of biscuits and chocolate.
"Help yourself, Prof," said Adamson.
"So what did the Sheriff want?" asked La Paglia.
"Just a run down on what's been going on. Who it could be, why, and whatnot," replied Adamson.
* * *
Somewhere in the depths of Middle America, a man shouted "Eureka".
* * *
Motley's phone buzzed. Everyone turned to look at her. She pulled the phone from her pocket, and glanced at the screen. A smirk hovered around the corners of her mouth.
"Something you want to share with the group, Prof?" asked Adamson.
"Just good news, that's all," replied Motley.
"About your...ah...family matter?" said Marier.
"As you were saying?" asked La Paglia. She glared at Motley before turning back to Adamson.
"You and Bronyaur are going back to DC. I need you to investigate the Biological Weapons division of the Counter Terrorism and Terrorism Departments. Bronyaur will fill you in on the details on the way," said Adamson. "Marier and Juniper, you're going to Sacramento to check out the Intelligence Communication Department."
"What about me?" asked Motley.
"You're coming with me," replied Adamson.
Bronyaur and La Paglia left the room. Marier and Juniper headed to the door. Juniper cast a longing gaze over her shoulder at the platter of biscuits. Marier cocked her head, looking at Motley. The professor returned her scrutiny with cool detachment.
"Go on then, clear off. Yes, Juniper, you can take some biccies with you," said Adamson.
Juniper squealed with delight, filling her pockets with biscuits. Marier relented and grabbed a chocolate bar. They closed the door behind them.
"So, DCI. What's the plan?" asked Motley.
"Well first of all, you're going to tell me why the hell you never said you were allergic to chocolate."