Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Fourteen

The Girl in Grey looked up at the massive pyramids as they loomed out of the gloom of dawn. She sighed in wonder at the massive structures.

"Impressive, aren't they?" the Green Man asked, walking alongside her. "You know, we'd have trouble building them today."

"Amazing..." the Girl in Grey shook her head. "How'd they do it?"

"Lots and lots of Egyptian peasant famers on their off days," the Green Man chuckled. "But it seems like someone's decided to turn this one into a fortress of evil."

"How do we get in?" the Girl in Grey cast a critical eye over the mighty structure.

"There's always a weak point," the Green Man told her confidently. "Remember, the pyramids at Giza were all robbed."

"I can't remember that," the Grey girl replied, "I never knew it. They never taught me it."

By this time, they had reached the foot of the pyramid, and the sun was in the sky (mostly because of the fact that we have a picture of a lone pyramid). The Green Man looked at it and seemed less impressed by the massive structure than the Girl in Grey.

"There's a ventilator close to us," the Green Man explained, pointing to what looked like a sand dune. "We'll climb down that way. Unless, of course," he turned to the Girl in Grey, "you have a problem with confined spaces."

"None at all," the Girl in Grey laughed. "You should see some of the places I used to live when I was a student."

"Ms. Madison said the same thing the first time she had to climb down a ventilation shaft," the Green Man chuckled. "Is student accomodation really that bad?"

"Yes," the Girl in Grey knelt by the sand dune. Lifting what turned out to be the corner of a square of lino, she revealed a grille. Some quick work with tools from her utility belt dealt with the grille, and soon the crime-fighting pair were descending a duct, into the bowels of the pyramid complex.

The shaft was dark and constricted, the humm of machinery ever-present. As they descended further into the bowels of the earth, voices could be heard a long way off. At last, the duo left the duct and descended onto an empty balcony. Below them, a man seated on a throne was reviewing troops. Only the troops were domestic appliances, thousands on thousands of them. The Girl in Grey gasped in shock.

"All right, girlie!" Two men stepped out of the shadows, brandishing guns.

Monday, October 30, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Thirteen

The bedouin spurred on their horses and camels, as the battle at the monastery hotted up. The Green Man rode ahead, drawing his long-barrelled revolver. He fired at one of the camoflaged men attacking the monastery. Despite the man having been at the very limit of his range, the man fell dead. A cheer went up from the gathered bedouin, as they fell upon the hapless goons. Being goons, they fell easily, killing a couple of bedouin and wounding a few more. The machine gunner tried to attack them , only to be felled by another shot from the Green Man. The Girl in Grey gave a whoop of joy as the few remaining mercenaries turned tail and ran. The Bedouin rode in pursuit, but the Green Man rode up to the great gate of the monastery, which was slowly opening.

"Green Man!" a man dressed all in black, with a

black skull-cap embroidered with gold braid crosses, stepped out, smiling. "You have come at last!"

"Abbot Girgis," the Green Man dismounted. "It's good to see you, too. Did you get my message?"

"But of course," the Abbot laughed. "Why else would wicked men attack our haven? Now, who is your charming friend?" He looked up at the Girl in Grey.

"This," the Green Man explained, "is The Girl in Grey, a very dear friend of mine. She's helping me with this case."

"And the lovely Sister Lynette?" the Abbot smiled, his voice soft and a little harsh.

"Is on holiday," the Green Man informed him. "So I needed some different help. Besides, the Girl in Grey and I are both pledged to fight crime anonymously, not revealing our identities."

"I understand all about the wish to chage names when engaged in the battle against the darkness," the venerable abbot chuckled. "Once, I was a priest in Cairo, and there, as Saaman Bey, I was the masked avenger of evil. But now I am retired to this monastery, to serve the Lord in a new way - and to lead the bedouin in a war against the drug importers who use this desert. That," he turned to the Girl in Grey, "is why I ma so keen to help the Green Man when he tells me about a hidden pyramid which is now the seat of Satan. We shall gave you a squad of crack troops to help."

"Thank you, father Abbot," the Green Man bowed, "but we cannot accept your generous offer. We go in alone -tonight."

Sunday Supplement: The Authentic Church, part 2

After last week's excursion to the countryside outside East Dereham, this week's church visitation took me to the bustling metropolis of Norwich and what some enthusiastic person called 'a new way of doing church.' This is The Cess-Pool Church. Housed in a modern (well, pretend 1970s) building on the outskirts of the city, The Cess-Pool Church, Pastor Martin Maren Martins, advertises itself as a new and inclusive church where all are welcome, from stockbrokers to tramps. Being located close to the suburb of Drayton, where most people earn lots of money, the only tramp there is one they had to hire to stick around and drink Old Mill Vodka/White Lightning in the foyer, make strange noises and generally disconcert people.

He did his job pretty well, until last Sunday, when he jumped out at Lady Arcos and yelled 'boo!' He is currently in intensive care. Of course, he wasn't to know that the little lady is a bit jumpy right now, on account of the Mafia having a contract out on her. But it's to late now, and I'm sure he won;t miss his left arm for long.

The service began with someone ringing a hand-bell until the handle fell off. Then someone else lit a candle and invited us all to pray out loud. I hadn't noticed the prayer-sheet, so I just prayed as normal and got glared at.

There is no pulpit, only a low platform, which means that short people seated at the back can't see the minister. And there's no microphone, so we couldn't hear the opening lines. I called on them to speak up. And got glared at.

We were handed stones. I asked who we were going to stone. And got glared at again. Apparently, we were supposed to place them at the front after the prayers. Sadly, there were oo many, and the men handing in the collection plates fell over them. We sang a hymn, then a music group sang something, or pretended to.

There was no sermon, instead, we were invited to participate in a 'conversation.' Which was when we were put out for suggesting someone was wrong. We'll be back next week.

Friday, October 27, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Twelve

The party crossed a sea of shifting sand-dunes, the camels gently swaying as they walked over the apparently featureless desert. Above them, the sky was azure blue, below, the desert sands shimmered in the heat. The Girl in Grey raised a hand to her forehead. The glove came away soaked in perspiration. She found the motion of the camel uncomfortable, indeed, now she could see why the beast was referred to as 'The Ship of the Desert'. It was like a sea-crossing, only without water, and on a ship with a serious body-odour problem.

Looking across at the Green Man, she saw him seated cross-legged on his camel, reins held idly in one hand, as he surveyed the desert with binoculars. Even if she'd kissed him, she didn't understand this strangle figure in green. Sometimes he seemed just another man, but at other times...

And he could ride a camel without discomfort. As the camel made to climb a sand-dune, the Girl in Grey slid back on the saddle, only being stopped by the horns at the back. She was sure she'd be lack and blue for months, and be eating her meals of the mantlepiece for at least a week.

"The Bedouin say that there's an old pyramid a few miles ahead of us!" the Green Man called over to his confederate in crimefighting.

"Goody!" she called back," and what about the next Oasis?"

"None for miles more!" the Green Man replied, still scanning the horizon. "But that doesn't matter!"

"Not to you!" the Girl in Grey called back, "but I'm melting here! I could do with a good drink!"

"And drink you shall have!" the Green Man laughed. "Maybe there's no Oasis for miles, but there is a monastery!" He pointed towards a rugged collection of domes and sloping walls, a little way ahead of them. The same colour as the desert, it was almost invisible.

"Hang on a minute," the Girl in Grey looked confused. "But isn't Egypt a Muslim country?"

"Before even Mohammed was born," the Green Man explained, "there were Christians in Egypt. In fact, Egypt has its own national church, the Coptic Church. As well as having churches throughout Egypt, they have monks and monasteries. Some of them are in very far-away places, like this one. But Abbot Girgis is an old friend of mine. These Bedouin," he gestured to the men around them, "are monastery servants."

"They look fierce," the Girl in Grel sounded impressed.

"They should," the Green Man nodded, "they are sworn to defend the monks to the last man. We shall stay at the monastery, and tomorrow, we shall..."

The Green Man was cut off by the sound of rifle shots. At once, he spurred his camel forward.

"And perhaps now the Bedouin will have to act on that vow!" he exclaimed. "Come on!"

From the direction of the monastery, a machine-gun opened up.

When Green Meets Grey: Part Eleven

The supersonic jet flew low over the desert, just as dawn was breaking over Egypt. The Girl in Grey admired the scenery, while the Green Man was busy selecting a suitable landing ground.

"You know," the Green Man observed, "the ancient Egyptians believed that the sun was reborn every dawn, out of the Sky Goddess."

"I think we did that at school," the Girl in Grey nodded, "but it left me a bit confused."

"That," the Green Man replied, "is because you have to be over eighteen to know the whole nasty mess."

"Oh, brother," the Girl in Grey sighed. "X-rated religion. Shall we land?"

"Of course," the Green Man guided the silver 'plane into is descent pattern. In no time at all, chiefly because the author has no idea how to land a 'plane, the intrepid duo stood on the rock and sand of the Western Desert.

"And how," the Girl in Grey looked about her at nothing but miles and miles of sand and rocks," do we get anywhere, or is this your excuse to pretend to be Valentino? Not," she sighed romantically, smiling, "that I'd mind that one bit."

"We just arrived a bit early for the camels," the Green Man confessed. "Why don't you get in a cople of hours of sleep, before we have to search for this hidden pyramid?

"Because you're treating me like a girl?" the young lady in question shook her head.

"Well," the Green Man laughed. "You do happen to be one, my dear. Besides, there's no known way of sleeping on a camel."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Ten

The Green Man and the Girl in Grey ducked behind the heavy steel door, as hot lead tore into it. The Girl in Grey scowled, as the bullets thundered against the door. The wicked could be so cliché-ridden, she reflected. While she flattened herself against the door, the Green Man checked his revolver and re-filled it.

"Still cool as a cucumber, huh?" the Girl in Grey shook her head, "I don't know how you do it?"

"Either we die or we live, my dear," the Green Man laughed. "So why worry?"

"I can't see things that way," the Girl in Grey scowled. "I have several cats and a sister to look after - and believe me, Scruff needs looking after."

"As Ms. Madison has told me enough times," the Green Man chuckled. "Now, get ready to shout the old war-cry. We're going to make trouble." He pulled a couple of smoke grenades from his utility belt.

"Will do," the Girl in Grey drew one from her own belt, while unhooking her whip from the other side of it.

"Excellent," the Green Man laughed. "Shall we wallop the wicked?" He threw his smoke-grenades into the midst of the mobsters. The Girl in Grey followed up a few moments later.

As soon as the smoke was thick enough, the two crimefighters leapt over the stair rails. The Green Man fired repeated shots into the milling mass, while the Girl in Grey sprinted in for closer-quarters fighting. Her whip cracked, tearing guns from the hands of the wicked, while her boots sent men flying hither and yon.

The Green Man knocked a couple of men out with his heavy fists, crumpling a man's hat and tearing a man's suit. Soon, the runway was strewn with the forms of fallen mobsters. The duo tied them off and left for the 'plane. Soon, they were speeding away from the factory, as it exploded, showering the jungle with a great deal of burning debris, and probably causing untold damage to the environment.

"Well, now that we've had the pretty fireworks," the Girl in Grey laughed, "what's next on the magical mystery tour?"

"Egypt," the Green Man told her. "The Western Desert."

"Another factory?" the Girl in Grey tilted her head.

"A pyramid," the Green Man told her. "The secret headquarters of the villain behind all this. I found the plan of the place among the documents in the safe."

Monday, October 23, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Nine

"Well, look at that!" the Girl in Grey looked down on the massive factory which loomed out of the rainforest. The Green Man's jet hovered just a little way away from the factory, apparently undetected.
"This thing has a radar blocker," the Green Man told her, having read her part of the script as well. "But we need to take a closer look."

"Easy for you to say," his companion observed, smiling. "Green blends in nicely in the jungle."

The jet descended vertically, demonstrating yet another remarkable ability. As it did so, the Green Man directed the Girl in Grey towards the equipment locker at the rear of the cabin. Among the weapons, scanners and bombs were a couple of adjustable belts with numerous devices attached.

"Great," the Girl in Grey laughed, "we've got utility belts!"

"You're the one with the Batman fixation," the Green Man chuckled. "But Ms. Madison decided to have them put together, just in case we needed an easy way of carrying gadgets."

The cabin door opened, and the two intrepid crime-fighters stepped out. The Green Man drew his gun, while the Girl in Grey uncoiled her whip from her belt. They were tensed, ready for the wicked.

"We make for the offices," the Green Man told the Girl in Grey. "The records we need should be stored there. Keep to the jungle as much as you can. That way there's every chance we won't be seen."

As they spoke, however, the factory burst into flames. The fire spread swiftly, obliterating a huge part of the factory in a single explosion. The Girl in Grey started in surprise, while the Green Man drew his gun.

"What?" the Girl in Grey looked at the skyward-shooting flames.

"I was right," the Green Man shook his head. "The trail did lead back here. Now, we have to get to the offices, before the fire destroys them!"

The two crime-fighters ran out of the jungle, towards the factory, across the great runway where two helicopters stood, their motors idle. There were two guards, and they tried to stop the duo, but the Green Man shot them down. Soon, the two were on the office steps, with the fire still several hundred yards from the office. They mounted the stairs at a run. The guard at the top of the stairs was so surprised that he had no time to act before a jarring high-kick from the Girl in Grey laid him out.

"Good work," the Green Man kicked in the door. "Now, keep an eye out for the safe."

They moved into a small, intimate space. Although the safe was hidden, it was soon discovered. The act of cracking it took only seconds. Plans of a new factory were among the documents that the Green Man slipped into his coat. It was only five minutes later that the Green Man and the Girl in Grey stepped outside.

There they found a crowd of armed gunmen. As the duo stepped out, they raised their machine guns.

"Kill them!" someone cried out.

The men stepped forward and pulled the triggers of their guns. In an instant, the air was filled with hot lead.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Supplement: Among the Authentic Churchmen

Sir Richard Arcos writes: This Sunday saw me visiting my old friend Sir Ninian Loom-Ninian at his country seat, Lower Lumbar Manor, near East Dereham. Sir Ninian Loom-Ninian is lay defeaner and exhorter of the Authentic Church, a new pressure-group/sect/movement/confusion in Christianity/religion/spirituality. The Authentic Church was holding its annual/weekly/monthy/bimonthly meeting/bunfight/jamboree/inquest at Lower Lumbar church, a rather nice pre-Victorian structure. An attempt was made a few years back to re-seat the church, but the building is listed. So they attempted to build a new church, only to find that the place is a conservation area. One chap decided to re-interpret the planning regulations in the light of modern thought, the same way that they reinterpret the scriptures. This man may now be reached at Norwich Prison.

The Minister tried to enter through the north, rather than the south door. He discovered, however, that the North door had been bricked up for several centuries. His attempt to re-define the bricks as a door failed, and he knocked himself out. Fortunately, the Authentic Church believes in a conversation, so people were invited to contribute. I picked Sir Ninian's pocket, locked the door, got up into the pulpit and preached until it was quite dark. Fortunately, they redefined day as night, so they didn't notice. At the same time, some other people in the congregation declared that I was speaking to them. I told them they were very clever.

By nine o'clock at night, people were very hungry, and one faction in the congregation/gathering/witches' sabbat were all for redefining another faction as food. The church had to be opened. A few attempted to leave by the north door and knocked themselves cold as well.

I have been invited next week to the Cess-pool Church, Norwich, one of the leading churches of the Authentic Church.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Have you ever found yourself sat at home after a long week, drained and tired? Unable to lift the telephone?
Ever worried that the life is going out of you?

That you couldn't go on after a few more weeks?

Does your boss think you're past it?

Do your friends comment that you seem tired, drained?

Does your wife worry that you're losing your manliness?

Does your secretary think so too?

Can't last a round of golf?

Or a round with Dempsey?

Well, The Bawdeswell Beverage Company has the answer to your Friday blues. Old Mill Vodka. It peps you up like electricity!

Just like this mill.

Old Mill Vodka: You'll be a babbling drunk in no time.
The Bawdeswell Beverage Company: A family company.

When Green Meets Grey: Part Eight

The Girl in Grey looked down at the great city below, then down at her watch. She shook her head.

"You know," she declared, "I think my tummy's still somewhere over the Atlantic."

"Along with the villains, kmy dear," the Green Man replied, as he expertly manipulated the controls. "They'll have had to stop for fuel at least twice."

"While this thing flies so fast it wouldn't have been able to stop for a little thing like an island." The Girl in Grey shook her head in wonder. "I wonder what the illustration will be?"

"Knowing my agent," the Green Man chuckled, "the item in question will be something from the film Flying Down to Rio."

"Corny," the Girl in Grey sighed. "Can we land, or does this thing hover?"

"This thing hovers," the Green Man replied.

"Forget I asked." the Girl in Grey shook her head. "Where are we going?"

"Not to the city by the Sugarloaf," the Green Man let in the throttle. "Our goal is a little vacum cleaner factory up the Amazon. It supplies cleaners for export. And the machine from Carmarthen County Hall was made there less than three months ago. It was bought as part of a massive special offer the new owners of this factory offered all of Carmarthen."

"The plot thickens," the Girl in Grey smiled.

"Like day-old custard," the Green Man concurred, as he turned the supersonic jet towards the rainforest (which, our continuity supervisor reliably informs us, is what they call the jungle these days. Suffice it to say, the man in question was fired). "Now, even if this isn't the goal of the villains, we might be able to find where the killer household gadgets have gone."

When Green Meets Grey: Part Seven

The girl in Grey looked out at the Welsh countryside as it flashed by, then at the Green Man, who was bent over the wheel. Masked once more, she could not tell whether he was smiling (her mask had slipped a bit).
"A...about last night," she spoke at last.

"Last night was a nice time," the Green Man smiled. "The food was lovely, and so were you." But now the day has dawned, and we're back on the trail of the villains."

"And that's all there is to it?" the Girl in Grey looked disappointed.

"That," the Green Man sighed, "is not what I said. And no, I haven't received a call from Ms. Madison, before you ask." There was a note of banter in his voice. "It's that I received a new lead on this villain. The radar stations picked up the helicopter landing close to Barry. Apparently the vilains took a private jet from Cardiff Airport and are headed for South America."

"And what do we do?" the Girl in Grey smiled.

"Easily," the Green Man headed down towards the airport. "We get to Rio ahead of them."

"How?" the Girl in Grey looked alarmed. "If they took off first?"

"Ever flown at four times the speed of sound?" the Green Man laughed, drving through a staff gate onto the runway.

There, gleaming and beautiful, was a huge silvery jet, shaped like a rapier. The Green Man laughed again.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Six

The Girl in Grey adopted a fighting stance, despite the fact that she was facing an inanimate foe. She dodged its flew, which was fishing for her neck, landing a blow on the thing's plastic casing. Although the thing cracked, it had no discernable effect.

"I've got a little problem here!" she spoke into her wrist-watch radio. "Believe it or not, I'm being attacked by a pyschotic hoover!"

There was no reply. Before the Girl in Grey could complain, however, a skylight shattered, as the Green Man dropped through it. In his hand, he held a strangely-shaped gun. Fired at the vacum cleaner, it quickly reduced it to a lump of melted plastic.

"Microwave gun," the Green Man informed her. "It made quite a mess of Monty Bristow's monster on Mount Sinai. And it works on animated machines as well."

"How...?" the girl in Grey regarded the melted vacum cleaner incredulously.

"I'll tell you over supper," the Green Man told her.

"And where," the Girl in Grey asked, "are we going to eat?"

"Come with me and I'll show you," the Green Man held out a hand.

Moments later, the two crime-fighters were sat on a tartan rug by the lake of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the scene illuminated by the moon and the great glasshouse. Champagne glasses touched, as they unpacked the picnic before them. The Girl in Grey wore her mask and cowl with a floaty gown, while the Green Man wore his usual costume.

"The blackmailer threatened that the population of Carmarthen would be killed," the Green Man confirmed. "But we didn't know how he meant to do it. Now we know that those people would have been killed by their own domestic appliances."

"No wonder they paid up," the Girl in Grey sighed.

"In one, my dear," the Green Man smiled. "And Carmarthenshire paid up. That must have enboldened the villains. And there's no guarantee that the next target 'll pay up."

"We have to stop them," the Girl in Grey looked annoyed.

"And that starts tomorrow, my dear." The Green man smiled down at the Girl in Grey. "After all, right now we haven't any clues to pursue."

"And I've got a better idea, anyhow," the Girl in Grey smiled, reaching for the chin of her cowl. Moments later, she had pulled off the mask and cowl, and was looking appealingly at her companion. "Can you guess what it is?" She openied her mouth slightly, still smiling cutely.

"Indeed, my dear," the Green Man removed his own mask. "But no comments about my face."

"Why speak?" the Girl in Grey leaned forward, yes closing. "I've always said that actions speak louder than..."

She did not complete the sentence, for at that moment the Green Man's lips met hers.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ms. Madison proves she's never on holiday

Ms. Madison reports: A sweep of the blogosphere reveals some worrying news. Our first return of a super-villain. Monty Bristow, alias the Disturber, is back! He replied to a post of the Green Man's on Triablogue about the terror of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In the course of his remarks, the super-villain, who has vowed revenge on all humanity, revealed that he not only survived falling off Mount Sinai, but has slave workers toiling in the kitchens of his secret lair to create an army of Flying Spaghetti Monsters. I tried to explain this to Mr. Rake, but he confiscated my handbag and told me on no account to try to leave the island or he'd have me arrested. So this little alert is addressed to all you Green Man fans out there. Keep an eye open for Monty Bristow, and watch out for anything made of pasta.

Still, I hear Bristow won't be ready to make a move for a couple of weeks, which is enough time to make up with Mr. Rake, or at least get back into the habit of using his first name and then correcting myself. But right now, I'm in the dog-house with Mr Rake. Apparently he thinks I'm not as fond of him as I should be. Which is irritating, as this was supposed to be a chance for met to recover from the wounds inflicted by the charming Ygraine (who is now doing several life sentences in a maximum-security gaol for super-villains and their henchmen (or women). But when Mr Rake and I are shouting at each other for most of the day, even on the beach, no-one's relaxing.

But enough with the complaints. The evil Monty Bristow lives. He escaped from Mount Sinai. And I was practising belly-dancing while he was getting away. I wouldn't be so cut up, but it turned out I was no great shakes as a belly-dancer. So that's one career option out of the way...

When Green Meets Grey: Part Five

Night had fallen over Carmarthen by the time the Girl in Grey slipped through an upper window, landing lightly on her feet. Inside, she spoke hurriedly into a small radio on her wrist.

"I'm in," she told the Green Man. "Tell me where to go."

"Wait a moment," the Green Man's voice dropped to a whisper. "I need to have another look at the plans." Paper rustled.

"You mean you don't have it on computer, like in the movies?" the Girl in Grey looked annoyed with things.

"Ms. Madison does the computers, my dear," the Green Man drawled urbanely. "I'm afraid you'll have to bear with the low tech. Move to the left."

The Girl in Grey did just that. She walked into a door.

"There's a door here," she told the Green Man, pulling open a fire door that had been added since Carmarthen County Hall was first built.
"Not on my plan there's not," the Green Man pointed out. "Third door on the right."

The Girl in Grey moved through the building with the grace and stealth of a cat, only flicking on her torch now and again to make sure the Green Man's plan was reliable. She had no desire to walk into another door. Then she saw the flash of a light through a security window in another firedoor. At once, she flattened herself against the wall, catching her breath. She got ready to thump the man in he noticed her. The torch beam did not catch her, however, and the man moved on. Safe again, the Girl in Grey moved forward, slipping through the door in question.

"There should be a safe in there somewhere," the Green Man declared.

"Or was in the 1950s," the Girl in Grey scowled, turning on her torch. "Where are we dining tonight?"

"That depends on what you find," the Green Man chuckled. "We could be speeding towards somewhere else if you get caught."

"I," the girl in Grey replied, "don't..." her voice trailed off, as she realised there was someone, or something in the room with her. Swinging her torch around, she saw it.

And it was a vacuum cleaner. Although not plugged into the wall, its flex and other parts were waving menacingly, as it moved towards her, cutting her off from the door. The Girl in Grey flattened herself against the wall, as the thing moved towards her, its lights glowing wickedly. She could not help screaming.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Delayed Sunday Supplement: Cat Baptism Revisited

Ms Madison writes: On arrival at Bermuda with Mike - Mr Rake - we had to change hotels. Someone had booked us into a double room, and I'm not that sort of girl. Oh, and Mike isn't either (in fact, he's no sort of girl. He's a man). So we had to take the only hotel with spare rooms, a dingy back-street place. We were separated. By two floors. So on Sunday we were too glad to get out of the smelly, dirty place and into the nearest church.

The church turned out to be a mission station of the Cat-Baptists (headquarters Pudding Norton), Norfolk. I recognised it at once from the scratched and pitted faces of the deacons who waited to greet us. One man had an eye-patch, while another had a few fingers missing. The large number of cat-boxes being carried into the church building was another clue. Talking to a woman with a couple of large scars on her face, we ascertained that a baptism was due to take place. Thus, taking our seats as far from the baptistry as possible, we sat down.

The Service began in the traditional manner. 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing' was sung, with which we joined heartily (I was tuneful, my escort wasn't). The Pastor was helped to the pulpit by two deacons, having been blinded a couple of weeks ago by a large black tomcat. He prayed for all present, including the very large number of cats present. The sermon included a large number of references to the belief that the Cat-Baptists were the only true church, as they were the only people who administer the right of baptism to cats. Then the cat, a small fluffy black thing, was led to the Baptistry. It was led through the preliminaries, and it was decided that the creature had a sufficient understanding of the faith. As the cat was led to the Baptistry it purred.

Then, as it was intoduced to the baptismal waters, the cat's mood changed. It spat and began to scratch the pastor's scarred face. The Pastor began to sing, presumably to dull the pain. That was when the cat clawed his tongue. The cat was dropped, and three deacons immered it three times, while the pastor silently repeated the baptismal lines, before passing out through loss of blood.

We decided to go somewhere else for the evening service.

When Green Meets Grey: Part Four

The thugs had no sense of aim, and managed first to hit the chapel, breaking several windows. Then they fired too low, causing ricochets. In this time, the Green Man and the girl in Grey dropped behind the comfortingly solid granite and marble of the graves. A few of these were chipped, but the two crime fighters remained uninjured.

"How do we get out?" the Girl in Grey hissed, as a stone chip flew past her head. "You don't have Merlin's matter transporter, do you?"

"That," the Green Man observed urbanely, "would be cheating." He removed an egg-shaped object from beneath his coat. "This, on the other hand..."

He threw the object. There was a very large explosion, and the shooting stopped. The Green Man and the girl in Grey rose cautiously from behind the gravestones. The armed thugs were scattered about like the broken dolls of popular cliche. But the leader stood a way off with a black briefcase.

"Carmarthenshire Council was smart!" he called out, "unlike you!"

So saying, the exotic figure stepped into a waiting helicopter and flew off.

"That," the girl in Grey observed, watching the man leave, "was some villain. I take it we follow him?"

No," The Green man smiled. "We find out who he is. And then we speak to someone at Carmarthenshire Council."

After some heavy torture involving several gallons of water and a cream horn, one of the surprised thugs was finally induced to talk. He revealed that all of them had been hired in a damp and dingy bar in Swansea. After more torture, he revealed that the bar had been called 'The Dolphin's Arms'. After the Girl in Grey observed (correctly) that Dolphins have no arms, the men were left tied up for the congregation to find on Sunday, or for the wildlife to eat (or for the congregation to eat, if the mood took them). And our two intrepid adventurers headed down the Towy valley to the town of Carmarthen, once the Royal Seat of English Power in Wales, and now a very human town. Their target: the Council buildings, sited within the walls of the ancient castle.

The Green Man's agent attempted to gain entry, only to be rebuffed, so the Green Man resolved that the building had to be burgled. This seemed to cheer everyone up, so they went for a meal in a restaurant a long way from anywhere at all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

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When Green Meets Grey: Part Three

The mist hung heavy about the remote Capel Nebo, as the Green Man and the girl in Grey approached. They had travelled in the Green Man's Rolls-Royce (which was painted green, of course), which was parked off the road, but travelled the last couple of miles on foot. As was only right, for otherwise the agents of the blackmailer might have heard the engine. They trod carefully, keeping an ear out for any sign of suspicious activity. With the weather the way it was, it was probable that they'd hear any trouble before seeing it.

"Well," the girl in Grey whispered, "the pay-off should arrive in about half an hour. What do we do till then?"
"We try to find the blackmailer or his agents," the Green Man replied softly. "If the blackmailer's on hand, we could end this now. But if he's only sent agents, we have to track them. Remember, we don't know exactly how this man's planning to kill everyone in Carmarthen."

"Man?" the girl in Grey smiled. "How can you be sure?" There are female super-villains, too, you know."

"But I'm a gentleman," the Green Man replied gallantly. "Ms. Madison has to knock out the girls."

"But now you've got me," the Girl in Grey laughed, "and I can do that, too."

"Of course," the Green man laughed softly. "Now, we need to be quiet, or someone might hear." By this time, they were close to the stone wall which encircled the chapel graveyard.

"Split up," the Green Man whispered. "Stay low, and use the gravestones for cover." He sprang over the wall. The Girl in Grey followed close behind.

While the Green Man went to the right, the Girl in Grey headed to the left, keeping low behind the gravestones. Some dull, others shining black marble, they spoke of the life and death of a tiny community. But the Girl in Grey did not have time to read the inscriptions, no matter how pious the sentiments expressed. She was too busy looking out for the people detailed to pick up the money. At last, she saw a figure who was clearly not the Green Man standing by the chapel walls. She stealthily made her way towards him, careful to keep low. Indeed, she was almsot upon him when she became aware of a presence behind her.

Turning, she saw three large men who looked decidedly unfriendly.

"Uh-oh," she sighed, "gorrilas in the mist."

"The lead man only smiled, as he drew a long-barrelled revolver from his coat.

"So, someone decided to take a hand..." he bared his teeth viciously. "Pharaoh doesn't like people who poke their noses into his business. "Especially not girls in grey." He cocked the gun.

And that was as far as he got. A blow from a cane in the hands of the Green Man sent the pistol flying across the graveyard. Before any of the men could react, a blow from the Green Man's fist had sent another of the men flying over a gravestone. He hit his head on a particularly unyielding piece of marble and did not rise.

A high-kick from the girl in Grey sent the third man stumbling back into a freshly dug grave. The two remaining men stood no chance. The man who had drawn the gun was thrown over the wall, while the man by the chapel, having entered the contest too late, found himself pinned to the wall of the chapel by the Green Man.

"And now," the Green Man told him soberly, "you're going to tell me anything I want to hear. Who are you working for?"

The man's eyes suddenly widened, as he looked beyond the Green Man and the girl in Grey.

"Him!" he pointed. There, on the barren hillside, stood a man in Bedouin dress. And around him, although at a distance, were twelve men, all armed with assault rifles.

"Kill them!" the figure declared imeriously.

Before either the Green Man or the Girl in Grey could react, the men opened fire.

Friday, October 13, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part Two

Before the Green Man drew his gun, the figure on the floor got unsteadily to her feet. Slight, and dressed in a form-fitting grey suit with cat's ears, whiskers and a tail, she was quite a sight.

"The girl in Grey, as I live and breathe." The Green Man rose slowly to his feet, smiling with amusement.

"Whoops," she laughed. "Wrong chapel. I was looking for..."

"A blackmailer," the Green Man smiled. "I know. I'm after him, too. How did you get to know?"

"I was rescuing Sir Richard Arcos from the pantry at Plas Llangarmon, and I happened to hear about it." She smiled sweetly. "Now, how come you got away so soon after our date?"

"Because someone needed killing," the Green Man explained. "And not because Ms. Madison was jealous, as you assumed."

"Well, that was less grim, wasn't it?" the Girl in Grey bubbled. "Say, do you have spare food?"

"For you, my dear Grey Girl," the Green Man drawled, "always. Do you drink?"

The Girl in Grey glared at him.

"We had wine on our date!" she bridled. "Or do I mean so little to you?"

"As I said, my dear," the Green Man sighed, "I had to kill someone right after our date. Yelling for mercy in the most selfish manner and blood tend to cloud the memory. Especially if the wine in question was red."

"I suppose so," the Girl in Grey shook her head, smiling. "But you must understand how I feel..."

"I'm afraid not," the Green Man chuckled. "After all, it's on my account that Ms. Madison keeps breaking her dates with her young man."

The Girl in Grey made a face.

"But right now, I'm glad she's in Bermuda with him." She spoke spiritedly, leaning on the former communion table, where the Green Man was eating. "Mind if I pull up a pew?"

"Try a seat," the Green Man replied. "The pews are fixed down. And while you eat, we can decide our strategy for tomorrow."

"Our strategy!" the Girl in Grey's eyes were big as saucers. "You mean I'm in on this?"

"You heard right," the Green Man chuckled. "Tomorrow, you and I will be taking an early morning trip. So you'd better get in some sleep once we've finished plotting. The old vestry's still cosy."

"What about you?" the girl in Grey looked concerned.

"Lecture hall," The Green Man explained. "Chicken wing?"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

When Green Meets Grey: Part one

A long way from London, in a massive country house, surrounded by rolling parkland, lives the Green Man. The house holds no clues as to his true idenity, save for the top room in the tower, which is closed due to 'structural weaknesses'. In fact, this contains the Green Man's communications hub. With Ms. Madison sunning herself in Bermuda, the Green Man had to do his own 'phone answering. When the instrument rang, the Green Man snatched it up.

"This is the Green Man," he declared softly. "What's your number?"

"Seventy-nine, Carmarthen," came the reply. "A message was received at County Hall threatening the death of everyone in Carmarthen if a massive ransom isn't paid. The rendezvous point is a tiny Welsh Chapel graveyard above Myddfai." The speaker was male, possessed of a strong Welsh accent. "I got it out of one of the council staff who drinks a lot."

"Send me a full report," the Green Man spoke soberly. "Fax or e-mail. I need to know the location and the procedure. And I need to know this isn't a trap."

"As you say, Green Man," the Welsh farmer chuckled. "Remember to visit Llandudno for the Red Kites."

The Green Man smiled, assured by the repetition of this simple and common error that he was speaking to a man of integrity.

And so it was that, just under a day later, the Green Man arrived in the small town of Llangadog, one of the most stylish towns in the Towy Valley. Passing through the town, the Green Man was able to establish himself in a deserted chapel a little outside, ordering in a good meal from another of his contacts, a chef at a local hotel. With candles burning all around him, the Green Man settled down to a good meal. He kept on his mask, although removing the lower part so that he could eat.

It was while he was finishing his pudding that one of the two huge windows in the chapel facade exploded into thousands of tiny fragments.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Merlin's Revenge: Epilogue

"What I don't understand," Ms. Madison confessed, over a cocktail in the bar of the Priory Hotel, Caerleon, "is how you managed to turn up just in the nick of time."

Although she had changed back into an elegantly tailored suit, Ms. Madison's face was still cut and bruised. Indeed, the black eye she was sporting did rather spoil the girl's normally immacculate appearance.

"I'm only sorry I wasn't able to keep you from the beating Ygraine gave you," the Green Man sighed. "At the time, I was breaking into the laboratory through the back door. After that, I had to 'persuade' the Professor's Assistant, Bach, to re-programme the matter transmitter, first to dump the Professor's mercenaries in the Bristol Channel, and then to give me a sword when I needed it."

"Oh, I can forget the beating," Ms. Madison laughed. "Remember, I paid that little fury back in her own coin."

"How could I forget?" the Green Man chuckled. "You are a most accomplished girl, Ms. Madison. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

She did not reply at once. For a moment the air was filled with tension, as Ms. Madison looked down into her cocktail. The Green Man nodded soberly.

"Don't be afraid to tell me what's on your mind," he told her. "At worst, three others have gone before you. And all with my blessing."

"Thanks," Ms. Madison managed a tight little smile. "But I'm not leaving you permanently - at least not yet. Remember the message I got at reception when we walked in here?"

"Of course," the Green Man nodded, understanding, voice level and calming.

"It was from Mike - Mr Rake," Ms. Madison coloured becomingly. "He wants me to take a holiday with him to Bermuda. Oh," she shook her head, "I know we've been to Bermuda this year, but I'd really like a holiday where I could just lie on the beach in my swimsuit all day and dance the night away, rather than dodging bullets."

"If you want a holiday," the Green Man replied, "be my guest, Ms. Madison. And you show Michael Rake you are fond of him. Remember, no man can wait forever, no matter how pretty the girl."

"Thank you!" Ms. Madison rose from her seat and scampered upstairs.

By nine o'clock that evening, she was in the Savoy ballroom, dancing in the arms of Michael Rake. Her bags were packed, and all she could do was wonder just what the futue held for her. Not that Rake noticed. He was far too busy gazing into her eyes.

The Green Man Returns tomorrow in a brand-new adventure

When Green Meets Grey

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Merlin's Revenge: Part Fourteen

The exotically dressed Professor Gawain laughed, as his battalions slowly faded from view. Ms. Madison could only watch helplessly. And the Green Man still stood a little way off, hands above his head, watching in silence. Ygraine glared at Ms. Madison, while the blonde found herself quite unable to smile.

"Now you shall see my triumph!" the Professor laughed, raising his hands to the sky. "Not even the Green Man was able to stop me!"

"In a moment," Ygraine told Ms. Madison sadistically, "you'll be dead."

"Will she?" the Green Man spoke again, and there was a note of amusement in his voice.

"You saw my legions depart!" the Professor shouted, a look of aprehension creeping into his voice. The Green Man laughed mockingly.

"Afraid?" the Green Man shook his head. "What can I do to the successor of King Arthur?"

"What have you done?" the Professor approached the calm figure of the Green Man face becoming redder than before. The Green Man only laughed.

"Not afraid, Professor?" The Green Man laughed, as a sword materialised in his raised right hand.

"No!" the Professor turned to Ms. Madison, drawing his sword. "Try anything, and the girl dies, Green Man!"

"So that's how the new kingdom of King Arthur begins," the Green Man shook his head. "With the death of a helpless girl?"

"I don't care!" the Professor laughed, "I shall be king! Even now, my legions are taking over Buckingham Palace!"

"Your legions," the Green Man replied mockingly, "are drowning in the Bristol Channel - if not already drowned. Their armour..."

"No!" the Professor turned from Ms. Madison, raising his mighty sword. The Green Man easily parried the blow. Moving forward to engage the would-be monarch, the Green Man laughed.

"Ready?" The Green Man laughed, moving fluidly under the raised sword of the desperate Professor.

At the same time, Ms. Madison broke free of her captors. Finding Ygraine distracted by the sword-fight, she struck the brunette on the jaw, sending her reeling. A high-kick knocked out one of the guards, while a foot in the stomach winded the other. Now it was only Ygraine. And that was a grudge match.

The Green Man cut a hole in Professor Gawain's cloak. The next blow almost connected, drawing sparks from the Professor's sword. The Green Man laughed, knowing that the end was close.

"How did you do it?" the Professor demanded.

"While you were busy with my poor Secretary," the Green man laughed, "I was altering the settings on you matter transporter so that it landed your men in the Bristol Channel. You see, when your dear daughter volunteered to join Ms. Madison and I, she did so swiftly and with very few qualms. It was all just too convenient."

Before the wicked man could say anything more, the Green Man's sword severed his right arm. The Professor fell to his knees before the Green Man, hands clasped in pleading, eyes wide.

"You have killed enough" the Green Man severed the Professor's head from his body. The headless corpse crumpled to the ground.

Ms. Madison was stood next to the unconscious form of Ygraine, smiling with definite satisfaction.

"That," she grinned, wiping blood from her mouth, "was well worth it."

The Green Man was just able to get to Ms. Madison in time to catch her as she passed out cold.