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inspector riley & the chip list (chapter 5&6)

by riley 

Posted: 22 October 2005
Word Count: 2191

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Chapter 5
The evil starts

At the end of the tunnel he came into a large room made from old food cans and general debris from the humans, there were thousands of ants all singing his praises and calling him ‘The Doctor’. He made his way through the crowd to a small lump in the ground, just enough to raise him above the level of the ants, to get a better look around. As he did so all the ants stopped, stopped dead, with the millions of eyes staring at him and the fine dust making him feel even more courageous now he said. “I AM the Doctor”, not knowing quite what this meant but it felt right, he felt as though he was becoming their leader. “I am the Doctor” he said again “and I have returned”, all the ants cheered loudly at their returning leader. “What do you want us to do?” exclaimed one of the largest ants close to him, “What can we get for you?” another cried. He thought for a moment as to what he could want and remembered how uncomfortable his bed of rough straw and sawdust was back in his cage. “I want you to get me a really squidgy mattress of feathers so I can sleep in comfort”. “It shall be done” was the reply and with that a small battalion of ants set off towards the shaft of light at one end of the room and disappeared. This light appeared to be sunlight, it was beaming in and bouncing off specially places shiny can lids lighting up the whole room. Only then did he have his first chance to look around the chamber fully, it was massive. The round room was carved out of the earth and so must have been underground, there was a floor covered with bits of carpet which all seemed to be stitched together making a wall to wall carpet. In the walls were hundreds of small caves with tiny paths in the walls leading to each one. This must be where the ants live, he must be in their home. In no time at all the ants that left by the shaft of light to get him a bed had returned dragging some feathers and some cloth through the small opening but along with the feathers there was a huge wasp entangled in the fine bird’s coat. The wasp was really angry and was shouting at the ants to stop dragging the feathers so she could untangle herself and fly off. Her cries were ignored and the wasp entered the room with the feathers and ants all over her.

The party stopped directly in front of ‘Fluffy’ and they all bowed, totally ignoring the wasp’s angry rantings. Then some of them went off to start sewing the cloth into a blanket while others gathered the feathers. “Fluffy’ saw the wasp and said “Who is this?”, the ants replied, ‘She is a wasp and she is very angry, do you want us to kill her, Doctor?’. “Fluffy’ thought about this while the wasp was struggling to free herself, now appearing a little scared of the ant’s threat. “No”, he said, “I want to talk to her”, “Be careful Doctor”, said one of the ants, “That sting is powerful against all but us ants as we are too small for her to sting us”. ‘Fluffy’ turned slowly towards the furious wasp with a plan forming in his mind, stared her deeply in the eyes and spoke. “I am the Doctor, and I have the power to kill you…” he left a long pause for added effect, then continued “But you are more useful alive than dead, I will set you free if you join me and help get riches and prizes you could only dream about”. He waited for her reply… “My name is Stingella and I am your prisoner, if you set me free I will promise to work for you from this day onward, I am useful in the sky and I am the fastest wasp in the whole town”. Fluffy’ thought carefully, “If you defy me I will have you killed, but I will set you free to fulfill your promise to me”. He waved his paw towards the ants, who immediately began to tear off the feathers that ensnared Stingella. She ruffled her fine wings, fanned them out and stood tall on all her six legs.

“What are these riches you say I could only dream about”, she asked, to which ‘Fluffy’ who was now getting to like the name ‘Doctor’, asked her to come into the tunnel from where he came. She obediently followed. Once in the tunnel the fine dust coated his wet nose once again, it also coated Stingella’s tentacles, she tasted it and very soon it had the same effect on her, she was turning evil, for this was evil dust!

A little while later ‘Fluffy’ emerged from the tunnel entrance and announced to the ants “I am the Doctor and from now on you will call me Dr ‘G’”. “All hail Dr ‘G’” the ants cried in unison. “I am returning to my lair now but I will be back soon, we have much work to do” said Dr ‘G’ before disappearing back into the tunnel to Stingella. The evil dust was working well now and Stingella became addicted to its taste & smell, she was at Dr ‘G’s side when they both came back into the ants chamber when Dr ‘G’ addressed them again. “From now on Stingella is my second in command and you will obey her” he said, “Yes Dr ‘G’” the ants replied. With that Dr ‘G’ went back into the tunnel with Stingella to talk of his plans to get untold riches, they talked for hours until Dr ‘G’ knew he had to return to the human world to avoid suspicion. He found the lever on the tunnel wall, pulled it downwards and the hatch began to open, quick as a flash he vanished through it back to his other life, back to his cage. Stingella went back down the tunnel towards the ants, her orders stored in her massive brain, ready to act and awaiting her masters return.

And so the reign of Dr ‘G’ and Stingella had begun. Over the following months Dr ‘G’ would use all the 17 tunnels to reach the outside world as he masterminded evil plots to make him the most powerful gerbil ever. All the time with Stingella by his side and the ‘Taffia’ the ants army willingly doing his dirty work.

Chapter 6
The big tip off

Two months later back at the Pawlice station Inspector Riley and Sergeant Johnno were deep in conversation. “The tip off for the straw theft was wrong” started Johnno, “I know” replied Riley with a voice full of amazement, “my source usually supplies good information but this one was obviously forewarned to Dr ‘G’”. “He is a slippery character for sure” said Johnno, knowing full well that Inspector Riley would find out one way or another what had gone wrong,

Over the previous months there had been a large number of crimes committed, all of which seemed to lead back to Dr ‘G’. The taffia, the well known ant army of criminals were busier than ever but the arrest rate for the taffia was falling. The trouble with the taffia was that as they were all ants, they all looked alike, you could arrest a few of them but they looked just like so many law abiding ants. They would also have fantastic stories from other ants who would swear they were not at the crime or it simply wasn’t them. What often happened was they were arrested and then because of lack of evidence and witnesses they had to be released. This was frustrating to Inspector Riley and the whole of the pawlice force as lots of criminal ants they knew had committed crimes had to be let out onto the streets only to commit more crimes.

The straw theft at No 36 Yateley Crescent had actually happened after all, but one week after the date it was supposed to be. Inspector Riley had thought this might happen and so stationed Flash and Bobby to keep watch on the house for a few more days. The very day after the watch had been finished and they had been assigned to other duties the raid had happened…amazing! Another theft was a huge haul of sunflower seed stolen from one of the human shops on the high street without a trace, not even a whisker, a paw print or anything. Inspector Riley had a strange kind of respect for Dr ‘G’s crimes simply for their professionalism, they seemed to be planned down to the last detail and everything seemed to go to the plan, every time…it was weird and Inspector Riley didn’t like it.

At the station the following week a strange coded message was recorded by Flash who reported it directly to Inspector Riley but it was in a code he had never seen before. The two of them listened to the recording many times, they wrote it down forwards, backwards, upside down and inside out. They looked at it in a mirror and even used some of the old codes they had already cracked, but it was no use, the code was new…and it was very good. When they thought they could not solve it Flash said “Hang on there a jiffy, my wealthy uncle is sending me his latest invention, a universal code breaking machine, I should get it this afternoon and I’ll set to work”, maybe that will crack this new code. Perfect, thought Riley, if anyone can crack it, it’s Flash; he was a master code beaker as well as a communications expert. How often Riley had seen Flash at work in his shell using a huge array of specialist equipment that looked extremley complicated but Flash would almost ‘play’ the equipment as a master conductor would play the orchestra…and he always got a result. So Inspector Riley went back to his desk to look through some other documents about some minor crimes to solve while he waited for Flash to do his work. The afternoon wore on into the evening and Riley sat at his desk, papers neatly stacked in piles amongst the discarded takeaway food tray he had ordered in earlier. He had eaten takeaway milk and some tuna with garlic from the local restaurant, his favourite. The other pawlice cats hated garlic so the Inspector’s meal never got touched except by him. Late evening came and all the day shift pawlice officers went home while the night shift started their work. Riley was tired after a long day and thought ‘That’s enough for today, time to go home’. So he closed his desk drawer, got his hat & coat and switched off the light in his office then proceeded down the stairs to the main hallway. He stopped to say goodnight to the desk sergeant, an old sausage dog named Sid. Riley remembered how Sid had helped him get used to the way the Pawlice force worked when he was a cadet and how he dropped little tit-bits of information to Riley to help him in his career, Sid was a good dog. Riley tipped him a friendly wink and made for the door, passing a row of petty thieves lined up & pawcuffed waiting to be questioned about their various crimes.

Once on the street into the cold night air he pulled up his collar, pulled down his hat and set off down the way towards home. On the way he passed Baldrick on a street corner. Baldrick was a frog and an old friend of Riley’s aswell as being a brilliant musician who played the accordian beautifully. He was playing for small groups of passing animals that evening and received small amounts of change in his cap on the pavement in return for some wonderful tunes that echoed down the streets of Scoldfield. Riley stopped to listen for a while, the music mixing with the sounds of the night, the insects chatting away up above him, the moths fluttering about trying to find a bit of warmth in the street lights, and the constant comings and goings into the bars and clubs that lined his way home. He put a few coins in Baldrick’s cap and thanked him for playing so well, he also asked quietly, as he bent down to place the coins “everything clear at ‘The Three Way Split?”, “All clear and thanks for the coins Riley”, whispered Baldrick with a glint in his eye. Baldrick was not only a musician, but he also worked quietly for the pawlice force, so quietly that only a few officers even knew he was on the payroll. That was perfect, he could watch all sorts of things and report back to Riley when something was out of order. “Yes sir, You’re welcome” croaked Baldrick loudly, keeping up the act for any watching eyes.

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Comments by other Members

Issy at 21:15 on 05 November 2005  Report this post
Sorry to have been so long commenting. I have now read all the parts in the archive, and the latest chapters.

There's loads that I like but I can see a few problems:

It's a wonderful, wonderful, sleazy world that's been created. Makes me think of the 1920s New York "cops/gals/gangsters". I wondered if you were aiming for a pastiche of this. It also made me think of The Pink Panther film series (except that the inspector isn't a bungler)" Roger Rabbit" and "Vardek Paw" by S F Said which I read recently though it's not that similar other than featuring cats and dogs.

There are a host of characters, captured individually in a few lines. I think that by using animals in human situations what's happened is the reader can quickly grasp the idiosyncracies - good or bad. A masterly idea to make the gerbil, a quite inauspicious animal, the big Mr Bad. Minor characters like Baldrick stand out superbly.

There are some great turns of phrases that had me laughing out loud: 'The trouble with ants is that they all look the same..." "...not for all the sunflower seeds in the world..." This so keeps in mind the natural characteristics of the animals.

What I didn't find so successful was:

The beginning - I feel the need for an attention grabbing hook right at the start. This does mean that all the world building can't be attempted in the direct way as at present - it's going to have to be introduced little by little. I am just concerned that at the moment the reader (would think this is pitching to 8-11 year olds) will be lost because of the exposition at the beginning. Maybe action/dialogue is the way to start this one. Perhaps try the point at which the twins burst into the Tuna (great name by the way - can just see the sign - tin of tuna) asking for the Sergeant. Or maybe even better at the point at which Inspector Riley says about the tip off and Dr G resurfacing (chapter 3)

All the characters are beautifully drawn apart from the main character Inspector Riley. I felt that he should be introduced very early on, preferably before anyone else (could slide in a introductory chapter of him in his office receiving the tip off if you wanted to still start with the Tuna). I didn't pick up on his thought processes, or pick up his worries, concerns, or indeed idiosyncracies. He needs something about him to strike the reader and remember him. We know all the ladies are crazy about him, so maybe that's a starting point. I wondered how he reacted to that. Maybe could take off an actual detective in human terms - is he plodding and finnicky like Poirot or aristocratic and debonair like Inspector Lynley or maybe a streak of the crazy like in the pink panther.

Maybe the style of writing needs to be simplified. Need to keep events going and slipping in the world building but perhaps shorter sentences and paragraphs with one key thing per paragraph would be better. Shorter sentences could also increase the tension where needed and could "cut short" the thoughts of the main character as events happen and they all dash off to the expected scene of the crime. (sorry am rambling here myself - I can't quite describe it - likely to need a bit of playing about with words to get there.)

I am not sure about the flashbacks -at the moment they seem to get in the way of what is happening, but they are interesting. They might work better when the pace is quicker.

I think some problems might be solved by having one viewpoint character and seeing everything from that person's perspective. The obvious choice is Inspecter Riley, but it could be one of the others, even Dr G.

I think this is a terrific idea. It's all going to need a lot of rewriting in my opinion but it's fresh and relatively unusual,with masses of humour. Please ignore me if any of this isn't helpful.

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