He was confused.
He seemed to have reached the end of his journey but he did not have the answer. His client would not be pleased.
His stomach grumbled. Clearly the Artichoke he ate for breakfast was not enough but such was the nature of this work.
He opened his brief case to review the rest of the day’s work. The Bus ticket from home to the City was there as was the Energy saving Light bulb. The Desk lamp barely fit inside his case but was definitely present and correct.
He took a moment to blow on his fingers that bore the evidence of a Firework that had gone off a little earlier than he expected.
Continuing with his review he adjusted the strap on the Goggles he had been wearing since lunch time.
Was it the Hat? Maybe the hat was too much? No, surely not. The Stetson was a timeless classic.
He racked his brains further. He would have asked Ian but he had seemed uncooperative to say the least even after a lengthy explanation over coffee. This was often the way when involving members of the general public but was unfortunately an unavoidable necessity.
Had the jump not been far enough? Well if that was the case he should probably call it quits – he was not the most athletic person on the planet and he was always under the impression distance bore no relevance in these matters.
He rooted around in his case for the kaleidoscope and awkwardly tried to look down the tube as he rotated the psychedelic patterns. He gave up.
Looking at patterns wasn’t really the point of the kaleidoscope… it was more a case of looking for patterns.
He was starting to feel the evening cold drawing in. Soon he would run out of time; it was nearly to closing time.
The chill extended to the stone wall he sat on so he stood up, unpacked the square of lino from his back pack, rolled it out and sat back down on it.
His stomach rumbled again and he considered buying some chips from the vendor opposite but he had spent most of his money in the antique shop buying the Medal. It had been expensive purchase but at the time he had been confident of reimbursement by his client.
Now he was not so sure.
He recalled feeling a rush of adrenaline when there were numbers on the back of the Medal which, when punched into his GPS, corresponded to the longitude and latitude of his current location. He thought this was the lead up to the answer.
On his way to the coordinates things continued to buoy his confidence; the Origami crane he had found in the puddle, the Queen video that had been playing on the TV in the window of the electrical shop.
There was that steady metronome beat of items making themselves known in quick succession. This often happened the closer you got to the answer in this line of work and was a rewarding contrast compared to the often sluggish beginnings.
The Russian septuagenarian tourist asking for directions to the underground was a master stroke of fate. She had told him her age quite out of the blue. He felt that he should continue the small talk out of courtesy. He told her it was impressive that she still travelled and complimented her on her unusual felt boots. She thanked him and informed him they were known as ‘Valenki boots’. He could have hugged her. But being as she looked rather frail he thought better of it.
As he turned the corner to his final destination a large lake revealed itself replete with many Widgeon. Although he was an old hand at dealing with the coincidental matrix he still found himself pondering on the lack of any other species of bird in the area. Not even a pigeon to throw doubt on the significance.
The third to last item was always the trickiest, indeed back at the academy it was the point where most trainees dropped out (or in the case of one or two, broke down).
He had made all the right preparations; he made sure he was sitting down, facing north with his standard issue ancient dictionary firmly open at the beginning of the right section.
At first nothing seemed relevant among the throng of parents and children hurriedly making their way to the large gate. Then, just outside the family attraction that was to be his final destination he saw it; a market stall selling assorted hand carved wooden animals.
He flicked through the pocket sized word book and found it “xylotomist - one who sells wood”. Brilliant!
He worried that he still had one item to locate as he made his way into the zoo but as his fears were allayed by the name tag on the girl who issued his ticket “Yvonne”. Perfect now all he had to do was enter the Zoo and the answer would reveal itself and he could return to his client and collect his rather handsome fee.
Or so he thought. He watched as the security guard left his post at the large gates and was making his way over.
What was he missing? He had all 26 items either in descriptive form or upon his person. There was no doubt the Zoo was a classic finish to any Alphabet Chasers day. Why was he not able to figure it out? Why, why, why?
“I don’t know sir but I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave… we are now closed”
He blushed slightly as he realised he had said the last bit out loud. He picked up his bag packed the lino away and was about to leave when he heard a snort from behind him.
He turned and looked into the eyes of the striped horse like creature he had had his back to all this time.
Of course! It was all so clear. He had to restrain himself from punching the air. He finally had the answer.
His client would be pleased.
Simple idea: A collaboration based on short character studies.
Would be interesting if once there were a few (I'm an optimist) someone weaved some (or all) of them into a story. Then maybe someone else could film or animate it...
Just a thought. Anyhoo here are my two...