For some reason Ren can’t get onto campus in his car today. There are witches’ hats blocking off all the entrances. He finally finds a parking spot off-campus and walks from there to the University. It’s not what he wants to do as his leg, although much better, still hurts if he walks too much.
When he arrives he sees that there are police cars on the campus. He hobbles towards where the commotion seems to be. It’s the Psychology Building, which has been taped off by the police. He asks some students if they know what has happened.
‘The rumour is that it was animal rights activists who broke in, in the early hours. They’ve trashed the place, smashed up all the computers, and let all the experimental animals out.’
‘I heard they liberated, as in kidnapped, the animals,’ says another student.
‘I hope they took the animals with them rather than just letting them loose,’ says a third student. ‘You wouldn’t want chimpanzees running around the grounds here. That won’t end well.’
Ren can’t get in to the Psychology building, so he goes to his office and rings Miles’ office, and then Miles’ home. Miles isn’t answering, but that isn’t a surprise, he’s probably got his hand full at the moment. He can’t raise him on his mobile either, so he sends him a text and an e-mail. He wonders whether he should inform the police about Andrea, but decides that Miles will be telling them about her, and he has a busy day with a lot of teaching on which he needs to get on with.
When Ren gets back to his office in the late afternoon he sees on the internet a report saying that five people have been arrested in connection with the attack. Miles still hasn’t been in touch, but there’s no mention of any harm done to any psychologists, so he’s presumably okay. Perhaps he’s at the police station telling them all he knows about Andrea. Or is he lying low at home, pretending Andrea is nothing to do with him, and not answering the phone?
By evening time Miles still hasn’t got back to him, so Ren drives around to his place. Miles lives in the suburb of Campdown, in a semi-detached house. His car is outside, so Ren knocks on the door. There’s no answer. He walks around to the back of the house, and tries the back door. It’s unlocked, so he goes inside.
‘Miles,’ he yells. He hears a rattling sound from upstairs. Like metal being shaken. He runs upstairs and opens the door where the sound is coming from. Inside there’s a metal dog cage on the floor of a bedroom. Miles is inside the cage, naked, and trussed up and gagged with gaffa tape.
‘Goodness me, a prize turkey all ready for Christmas dinner. What a treat. Listen carefully, Miles. This is very important.’
Miles stays still, his frightened eyes wide open, looking at Ren.
‘Have you got any cranberry sauce in your fridge?’
Miles eyes crinkle in anger, and he shakes the cage as best he can while making what noises he can with his mouth.
‘All right, all right, let’s get you out. Are you unharmed?’
‘Good. I should be able to force the door. It’s got a padlock on it, but the metal around it should be breakable.’
While Ren attempts to force the door open, he sings to himself. ‘I was right, I was right, I was right.’
There are two places where a padlock could be fitted on this cage, on the upper and lower parts of the door. Only one padlock has been fitted, to the upper part. Ren can’t get this section to break, but he can force open the lower part of the door enough for Miles to squeeze through. Ren unwinds the gaffa tape from around Miles’ head.
‘Andrea!’ Miles gasps.
‘No!’ says Ren. ‘I never would have guessed if you hadn’t told me. In fact, I refuse to believe it. You’re maligning the poor girl. Someone in an Andrea mask, perhaps, but never Andrea herself.’
‘Shut up, you fucking cunthead. Has she done something else?’
‘Only killed most of your department, sparing only you and Lucius.’
‘Bullshit. If she’d spared Lucius you wouldn’t be so happy. What did she really do?’
‘Trashed your department, apparently. Destroyed lots of computers, and kidnapped the test animals. Stay put, I’ll get a knife from the kitchen to cut your ropes.’
When Ren finally comes back, Miles says, ‘Why did you take so long?’
‘I was looking for your camera. Where do you keep it?’
‘Somewhere you’ll never find it. Just cut the ropes. I feel ghastly.’
Ren has also brought a towel, which he throws over Miles’ mid-section. While he is carefully cutting through Miles’ bonds he says, ‘So, sex game gone wrong? Or gone right?’
‘Last thing I remember is being in bed last evening with Andrea and her friend Coyote.’
‘Coyote? You went to bed with a woman called Coyote?’
‘She’s quite sexy, if a little unhygienic. I remember getting sleepy and then waking up in the daytime in here.’
‘Drugged? Good to see a traditional black art coming back into fashion. They’re not all bad then. Or perhaps you were just drunk? Keep your hands still while I finish this last bit.’
‘Did you say they’ve destroyed our computers? Is that for real?’
‘That’s what I’ve heard. I don’t know any details except campus rumour and what’s been on the news. Five people have been arrested. There were police all over campus today. The security department, it seems, didn’t notice a thing.’
‘They wouldn’t. They might do a walk once a night around the campus, but that’s it. This has been a previous concern for our department with its animals. In fact, that’s why all the real test subjects are located off-campus, at a private and secure location. Even I don’t know where it is. The decoy animals we have in the department are not used for much, and we don’t stick probes in their brains.’
Miles’ hand are now free.
‘Right, now for your feet. Then we’d better call the police.’
‘What? No fucking way are we calling the police.’
‘Not calling the police? But you’re involved. You were kidnapped. Sort of. If I hadn’t have come around you might have died.’
‘I don’t care, we are under no circumstances calling the police. I am not going to be known for the rest of my life as the guy who got tied up in a dog cage by animal rights activists.’
‘Is this because you don’t want to be seen as a victim?’
‘I don’t mind being a victim. But I’m not going to be a comedy victim. If they had sliced open my belly, or tortured me, then I wouldn’t mind being a victim. It would enhance my status, I’d be a brave survivor. I could show people my scars. If you’d have left it a week before you came around and I’d almost died from a lack of water, that would have been all right too. But, fucking hell, you come around the same day, that makes it all a joke.’
‘I’m very sorry I was so thoughtful and rescued you promptly.’
‘It wasn’t that prompt. But thanks, though, I do appreciate it. But I just can’t be forever known as “dog cage man”. Not without any real suffering involved.’
‘Well, it does smell like you’ve pissed yourself.’
‘Couldn’t help it. It’s the pooh I’ve been fighting to keep in. But that’s not enough suffering. The brave dog cage man who spent a week in the cage, great. But the dog cage man who spent half a day, and pissed himself, that will raise nothing but laughs. So no police.’
‘You want Andrea and Coyote to be free to do this, and maybe worse, to someone else?’
‘They’ll be free to do it anyway. They’re only going to get a slap on the wrist either way, aren’t they?’
‘Thanks to you progressives having taken over the punishment system, that’s true. Yesterday you might have denied that. Funny how being personally involved can make you see past the propaganda.’
The ropes around Miles’ feet are now cut. He gingerly gets to his feet, and hobbles off to the toilet. When he comes back, he’s still hobbling.
‘You might need to go to the hospital,’ says Ren. ‘Being tied up all day might have damaged you.’
‘No, no and no,’ says Miles.
‘You know you’re going to get investigated by the police, being Andrea’s boyfriend?’
‘I was never her boyfriend. Just someone who shagged her a few times.’
‘Won’t people in your department say that they saw her with you?’
‘I don’t know. I never introduced her to anyone. We will have passed a few people in corridors occasionally, but that’s it. You’re the only University person who met her who knew who she was. Even if the police want to talk to me, I’m not telling them about what happened here.’
‘Are there security cameras in your building?’
‘Won’t they find your fingerprints at her place?’
‘Why would they dust for fingerprints at her place? No crime took place there.’
‘A criminal conspiracy might have.’
‘I doubt they’ll dust for prints at her place. Her lot don’t meet there, and the police will know who the other members of her organisation are. And even if they did dust, my fingerprints won’t be on file. This stays here. You keep your mouth shut forever more. Even after I die. You take this to your grave, otherwise the grave is where you’ll find yourself.’
‘I’m beginning to regret involving myself in your sordid penile affairs.’
‘You can spend the rest of your life laughing to yourself about how you were right if you want, as long as you keep your mouth shut.’
‘Can I one day write a disguised novel about what happened?’
‘Definitely not. Look, one day we can look back on this and laugh…’
‘I’m laughing now. But if I was you, I’d want revenge.’
‘I do want revenge, but it’s out of the question. I just hope she gets some jail time.’
‘You keeping quiet about this means she’s less likely to get jail time.’
‘The pub!’ cries Miles. ‘Let’s go to the pub to celebrate my freedom! I’m paying.’
‘That was seamless,’ says Ren. ‘You sure you’re up to the pub?’
‘What I’m not capable of doing is not going to the pub right now.’
‘We could just stay and drink here.’
‘After so long in that cage I need to see people.’
‘It was only half a day, you said. You spend longer in your office without seeing anyone some days.’
‘It was more like a day, really.’
‘Half of which you were unconscious for. But I get it. You want to be in public so I don’t go on about calling the police. Very well. Clean yourself up while I go downstairs and drink your best whisky.’