Searching for more alcohol, Gloria opened the fridge and frowned at the wall of packaged meat that greeted her. The chilled shelves were stacked from top to bottom.
Bacon lover, eh? she slurred drunkenly.
Jarvis mumbled an affirmation and smiled weakly.
Hold it steady, agent, the voice of control pulsed in his head. It's imperative that you reach the pleasure point with this female no room for mistakes here. Don't worry. We're all behind you.
If there's nothing to drink, Gloria said, closing the fridge and turning to Jarvis with a twinkle in her eye. What else can we possibly do?
Good Lord! the supervisor snapped. What's wrong with her face?
Mentally, Jarvis sighed. I believe the correct term is liberal makeup', sir.
I see. Then it washes off. It must take an age!
Still feeling the effects from copious amounts of beer, Jarvis ignored control's voice and concentrated on Gloria. She was pouting at him, doing her best to appear desirable. Jarvis shivered. It was the same shiver that had wracked his body when he first saw her in the Fox & Fiddler. Back then he had thought the sensation was arousal. Now he recognised it for what it was: fear.
Damned human ale! It had addled his sense of reason.
Do you like me? Gloria asked innocently.
Jarvis nodded, quickly.
Do you find me sexy?
Again Jarvis nodded, and then swallowed hard. He hoped he appeared sincerer than he felt.
Do you think I'm beautiful?
Erm, agent? said the supervisor. Do her words represent an Earth joke?
I don't think so, sir, Jarvis replied. It's difficult to say.
Then I advise caution. Answer her poetically.
Yes, sir. Jarvis thought for a moment. You are as beautiful as the hidden moon of Vulgar V, which no one has ever seen, he told Gloria.
Really? Gloria raised an eyebrow - surprising, Jarvis thought. One would think with that heavy makeup load such an act would be impossible. But do you respect me? Gloria purred.
Jarvis was stuck. He opened his mouth, said nothing, and closed it again. Unsure how to proceed, he told control desperately. Urgent assistance required!
Get a grip, agent, the supervisor snapped. The cavalry is here. Suggestions anyone?
Tell the truth, offered one voice.
No, put in another, quickly. Lie, for God's sake! She might turn violent!
I have an idea, Jarvis said confidently. He looked to Gloria and twisted his face into a cool expression he'd once seen that James Bond character use. I respect you like a bacon sandwich, he said. Squeal little piggy, he added to control.
Bravo, agent, said the supervisor. Take note, everyone. You've just witnessed a master class in thinking on one's feet.
Gloria's expression was bewildered. She mulled Jarvis' words over, and then broke into laughter of such savage intensity that Jarvis immediately crouched into a defensive stance.
Another Earth joke? asked the supervisor.
Apparently so, sir.
Gloria suddenly dropped to all fours. The bracelets around her wrists jangled. The long, chandelier-like jewellery hanging from her ears, swung with the same pendulous intensity as the breasts that squeezed tightly from the top of her short red dress. She began crawling towards Jarvis.
What's she doing, agent?
Damned if I know, sir. But I'm ready to kill if necessary!
Stand down! the supervisor ordered. Let's see where this leads.
Still tense, but holding his rising panic in check, Jarvis stood stock still and held his breath as Gloria made it to his position. She looked meaningfully at his crotch.
Let see what you've got for me, she said and began unzipping his fly.
Jarvis made a worried noise.
Gloria reached inside his trousers and paused. Oh, she said disappointedly. Too much beer?
What's going on, agent? the supervisor demanded.
Mr Soldier won't lock and load, sir.
Jarvis could hear the pencil pushers chuckling in the control room.
Quickly, the supervisor hissed. Rerun the recordings of naked volleyball. Play them directly into his head. Now!
Naked volleyball, Jarvis thought and smiled wickedly. No need for the tapes, sir. Emergency over!
That's better, Gloria said and opened her mouth.
. . .
. . .
Yes , said the supervisor. It does feel that way, doesn't it ?
Jarvis nodded. Yes, sir. He cringed as he realised he had spoken aloud.
Gloria stopped and looked up at Jarvis with a frown. The frown, however, quickly changed to a look of mischievousness. Oh, I see, she said. I like a bit of role-play myself. She cleared her throat. Hey, soldier boy, she called in a bad impersonation of an oriental accent. You like, yes?
Just play along, agent.
Jarvis looked at Gloria and nodded. She rose and walked to the kitchen table, where she shimmied up her dress, dropped her pants, and bent over. Love me, Soldier boy, she cooed.
The Moon of Vulgar V , Jarvis thought, wondrously.
Agent ! Achieve the pleasure point, if you will!
No assistance required, Jarvis growled and moved forward.
With the awkward ferocity of a punch-drunk boxer desperate for a come back, Jarvis set about Gloria. She pushed back against him, bucking her hips and shouting profanities. Jarvis felt like a God.
Agent? the supervisor said urgently.
Such feelings had enveloped Jarvis that he ignored the voice of control. This, he decided, was something he was definitely doing again.
Agent, snap out of it!
What is it, sir? Jarvis said. Even mentally he sounded out of breath.
Abort mission, the supervisor ordered. You are being invaded!
But, sir . . . I've only just started!
Our systems show alien creatures are leaving the subject and infesting your pubic area. They could be spies! Abort, agent! Immediately!
With all due respect, sir, Jarvis grunted aloud. You can send the A team for all I care. I ain't stopping for no bugger!
A curious feeling rumbled in the pit of Jarvis' stomach then. His movements became reminiscent of a clapped-out piston engine. The feeling spiralled up his body like a snake slithering from the pit, and then shot outwards to his arms and legs and head. All at once it was more than he could control and the feeling encompassed his whole body. He screamed, and Gloria did the same. Their trains were apparently arriving at Liverpool Street together.
* * *
Gloria left shortly after Jarvis started crying. He lay alone on the kitchen floor staring up at the cracked ceiling. All this temptation and corruption felt too good. He hated himself. Damn, if he wasn't beginning to enjoy the whole experience.
Control had informed him the alien spies were nothing more than pubic lice, which was a relief to them, but they weren't the ones left with an annoying itch. At least Jarvis had been spared a dressing down for ignoring a direct order from a supervisor.
The lice were easily gotten rid of, Jarvis reasoned. Just a simple trip to one of those curious chemist shops should suffice. Perhaps he could even boast about his night with Gloria with his new friends at the Fox & Fiddler - another experiment in-waiting perhaps.
Yes, a good night, Jarvis decided, easing his damaged conscious. He felt his spirits lifting. Perhaps this planet wasn't such a bad place after all. At least nothing else could depress him this night.
Ah, agent? the supervisor suddenly said. We've turned up something a little curious.
The subject's emotional fluctuations were monitored during the experiment, and . . . well, perhaps you could shed some light here. Can you think of any reason why Gloria would fake her pleasure point?