Expect Christmas chaos in this year's festive short story from Jodi Taylor, set in the world of the Time Police for the first time.
It all begins when the Time Police hold their first Children's Christmas Party. Their most dangerous mission yet . . .
No good deed ever goes unpunished. Lt Grint succumbs to his softer side and soon lives to regret it. The combination of bubble universes, candy floss, a small boy, a toad named Mr Fluffy, Mount Fanboten, £6.5 million, and a love-struck Officer Lockland are all hard enough to believe, but imagine a situation so dire that only Officer Parrish can save the aforementioned Grint from a lengthy stay in prison. At least, he can - but will he?
And, most unlikely of all, has Commander Hay's long-suffering adjutant finally experienced the first faint stirrings of romance? Is such a thing even possible?
(P) 2022 Headline Publishing Group Ltd
Release date: December 25, 2022
Print pages: 320
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Listen to a sample
Time Police Personnel
Has had a Brilliant Idea.
Unsuccessful reindeer obtainer. On the other hand, he does meet a kindred spirit. Watch this space . . .
Manages to avoid any direct involvement. Smart.
Is not about to have the best day.
It’s all his fault. Everything is his fault. Even Jane thinks it’s his fault.
You can’t teach children to eat jelly by numbers. I’m sorry, but you just can’t.
Failing to fulfil the function of four fully trained sheepdogs.
Concussed but does have a mountain named after him so not all bad.
Ventured too close to the koi pool and never seen since.
Dubious sleigh-bell duplicator
Member of the by now legendary but for all the wrong reasons Team 236. Phallic balloon creator.
Grint’s partner in crime. Has a bit of a revelation in the garden shed.
In plain clothes again. Can be seen from space.
Artificial snow manufacturer. Failed artificial snow deliverer.
Officer Kohl (Socko)
Reluctant Santa Claus.
Time Police helicopter pilot
Refuses to give his name for fear of retribution from the Union of Helicopter Pilots and Associated Trades.
Appearing in his alter ego of one-legged reindeer.
Can hardly believe she’s risked her life going out with Team 236. AGAIN.
Commander Hay’s box of emergency tissues
A second outing!
More normal people
Sad. So sad. Her only friend is a toad.
Princess Fiona. And don’t you forget it.
Going to the seaside as soon as his legs are mended. His mum says so.
Receptionist at the Little Petals Residential Childcare Community for Exceptional Children
Bit of a mouthful. No one gets it right.
Francis of Assisi
Raffy and Jugs
Not Brain of Britain material.
Simon’s mum. Illegal? Not illegal? Immaterial, really. Smallhope and Pennyroyal have her in their sights.
Lady Amelia Smallhope
Her alleged butler.
Possibly beginning to regret his son’s burgeoning sense of responsibility. His expensive burgeoning sense of responsibility.
Instigator of the psychic link connecting all PAs throughout the universe. And benefits from a rather nice bottle of wine, as well.
Author note to self: write books with fewer characters in future.
The story doesn’t really begin here, but it’s as good a starting place as any.
It was Captain Farenden’s habit to withdraw to his own office and give his commanding officer a few minutes’ peace at the end of their working day. On this occasion, however, and in anticipation of his commanding officer’s reaction, he had carefully left their connecting door ajar.
Commander Hay closed her last file, shut down her data table, and reached for her very excellent coffee, freshly brewed in her very excellent new coffee machine which, for some reason never adequately explained, had been installed in Captain Farenden’s office rather than her own. She switched on her screen. It was her habit to watch the early evening news broadcast – partly to keep herself up to date, but mostly to discover whether everyone else’s day had been as bad as hers.
Closing her eyes, she sipped slowly, relishing the end of an unexpectedly peaceful day. The internal difficulties of last year, while not exactly melted away, had certainly retreated to a safe distance. For the time being. Life, she felt, had improved to the extent that, even after all this time, the unfortunate combination of the Time Police and the partial destruction of quite a large area of the formerly respectable London borough of Mile End no longer featured quite so prominently in the headlines.
Life, however, having lured her into a false sense of security, now prepared to pounce.
This news station liked to end the daily bulletin on a happy note. To brighten the unremitting gloom, they said. The And Finally snippet was carefully selected to imply that never mind all the crap just regurgitated for the benefit of the viewing public, there might – just might – be hope for the human race after all, that there was no need to go off and end it all just yet, and look at this adorable skateboarding duck.
Captain Farenden grinned to himself and waited.
‘And finally,’ chirped the newsreader. ‘They’re calling him The Time Police Officer with a Heart. In an organisation not known for its humanitarianism, one single Time Police Officer has surprised us all.’
Captain Farenden began an internal countdown.
The silence from Commander Hay’s office was absolute.
The newsreader’s voice continued. Unfamiliar words such as ‘Heart-warming . . . Compassion . . . Kindness . . .’ filtered through the open door.
‘Hope . . .’
‘Benevolence . . .’
‘While no one knows the name of this Good Samaritan, all indications are that the Time Police have finally taken on board the barrage of criticism provoked by their actions in Mile End last year – actions which resulted in widespread damage to property and threat to life – and are even now moving towards a more . . .’
And . . . Lift-Off.
‘What the fire-truckity fire truck? Charlie?’
Captain Farenden got up and carefully arranged his face. ‘You called, ma’am?’
‘No, I bellowed. What the fire-trucking . . .’
‘Can I gather you’ve just seen the news, ma’am?’
‘The Time Police officer with a heart?’
‘I don’t employ people to have fire-trucking hearts. I employ them to be hard-nosed bastards dedicated to keeping the Timeline straight. Who is this pillock? They didn’t give his name.’
‘Well, ma’am . . .’
‘Have him shot and thrown into the river. And then fish him out and do it again.’
‘Well, ma’am . . . actually . . .’
‘Come on – spit it out.’
Captain Farenden paused. Unkind people might have said he was savouring the moment. ‘Lt Grint, ma’am.’
She sagged back in her chair and then recovered. ‘You had me going there for a moment, Charlie. Good one.’
‘No, ma’am. It was Lt Grint.’
She sat up again. ‘They said he was overcome with compassion.’
‘Concerned with the welfare of those less fortunate than himself.’
‘It’s a news bulletin, ma’am. I don’t think they concern themselves overly much with facts.’
She reached for her paper knife. ‘Bring me Lt Grint. Now. I intend to close my eyes and when I open them again, I want to see him standing in front of me. With a more than adequate explanation.’
‘To be fair, ma’am . . .’
‘I have no intention of being fair, Charlie. Get him up here now.’
‘He’s in a briefing right at this moment, ma’am. If you could wait fifteen minutes . . .’
‘How the hell did this happen? I mean – Team 236 – yes. I wouldn’t put anything past those three idiots, but Grint . . . ?’
‘Well, ma’am, you’ll remember, there was a fair amount of grief arising from the damage we did in Mile End.’
‘You mean when we displayed exceptional bravery and determination against overwhelming odds, and a heavily outnumbered Team 236 rescued a prominent member of those bottom-feeding, shit-spewing incompetents we’re supposed to regard as a functioning government?’
‘That is certainly one way of looking at it, ma’am. Many prefer to describe it as demolishing her house and those of her neighbours, destroying the road outside, damaging private vehicles and generally frightening the living daylights out of the honest, God-fearing citizens of Mile End.’
‘Didn’t we leave the sewers intact?’
‘We did, ma’am.’
‘Make a note, Charlie. Next time – take out the sewers first. Give them something to really complain about.’
‘So noted, ma’am.’
She sighed. ‘I still fail to see what any of this has to do with a certain recent news bulletin.’
‘Well, ma’am, again, if you remember, there was a meeting at the end of November . . .’
Cue flashback music and wavy images.
Commander Hay, her adjutant, Captain Farenden, and Majors Ellis and Callen were sitting around her briefing table. Th. . .
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