All Things Mysterious Volume Thirty-Five
Brand and the All-Seeing Eye--The Exciting Conclusion!
‘Come on, Brand, you don’t want to do this! Why don’t you come into my office and we’ll talk about it?’
‘No! Stay back! I’ll set this off! I mean it!’
‘You don’t want to blow yourself up, do you, Brand? And all these other nice people? And me?’
‘I do! I will! I mean it!’
Meanwhile on the bank of monitors on the wall, several images of Harold Who furiously typing away were seen.
The detectives were galvanized into action. At a mutual glance, the two sprang at Brand, Avery hitting him high, and Costello hitting him low, giving the man no chance to detonate the dynamite. They cuffed him and hauled him up into a chair. Playing a hunch, Avery took one of the sticks of dynamite and started eating it. Incredulous, Costello said, ‘What are you, nuts? Don’t eat that!’ Calm as a smooth sea, Avery said, ‘Hot dogs. Armour hot dogs.’
Brand and Avery were sitting in the detective’s office at opposite ends of the conference table, glowering at one another. Costello came in, leading a decidedly hangdog Harold Who who flopped into the chair in the corner and commenced staring at his shoes. This didn’t sit well with Avery. ‘No, Harold Who, that won’t work. Everybody sit around the table here. Now. I want some answers and I want them now. Brand, why were you wearing hot dogs and pretending they were dynamite?’
‘I had to do something to draw attention to the epidemic of obesity around here. Krock’s is one of the worst offenders, pushing fattening snack foods on kids, and I went right to the top and told Old Man Krock about it, too!’
‘That’s a pretty strange way to gain sympathy. What was his reaction?’
‘Oh, he pretended to be sympathetic and listen and all, but he just wants to make money, and he doesn’t care how he does it!’
Suddenly Brand started pelting Harold Who with the hot dogs from his belt, which no one had thought to take away. ‘Knock it off, you clown! shouted Costello. Stop!’ cried Harold Who. ‘You’re fat!’ shouted Brand.
That quieted things down. ‘Is that what this is about?’ asked Avery, incredulously.
‘Sure it is,’ said Brand.
Avery pounced. ‘What did you throw into that vat, Harold Who? Talk!’
Harold Who looked up at all the faces looking down on him and finally decided to come clean. Not that he had much choice.
‘It was easy to convince Mr. Brand that Krock’s Kandy was making people fat and unhealthy like me, and his confidential file revealed he’d been hired mistakenly so it was a snap to make him do what I wanted, like hold your attention while I went into the company’s website and changed some stuff. I couldn’t while everyone was watching me, so I gave him the hot dogs. I added an additive of my own design to make the chocolate just as tasty but non fattening. It’s Krock and people like him that have made me fat!’
‘Or you could just eat less and exercise more,’ muttered Avery, to a sharp look from Costello.
‘So I went onto the factory floor and added my additive to the batch of Krock’s Chocs,’ continued Harold Who, as if Avery had not spoken. ‘That’s why no one found anything out of the ordinary--there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, just a mixture of herbs and supplements in small amounts, nothing to arouse suspicion.’
Avery grabbed the phone and barked, ‘Get a rep from Krock’s up here--fast!’ He turned to Brand. ‘Now, mister, you started spouting some stuff about how Krock was going to get it, and so he did. How did you know?’
Brand cleared his throat. ‘Well, I..is this off the record?’
‘NO, this is not off the record!’ shouted Avery. ‘Everything said in here will be recorded and may be used against you in a court of law. OK?’
‘Ok, Ok, you don’t have to shout!’ shouted Brand. ‘I overheard it, all right?’
‘How’d you do that?’
‘I knew they really didn’t mean to hire me and I wanted to stay around as long as I could before they lowered the boom. That’s why I changed my appearance to look more like this guy Grand-I thought they’d be more likely to keep me on. I was in the executive washroom--don’t look at me like that, I have a key!--and I heard Krock say that there was too much negative publicity about people being fat and that some heads were gonna roll! The other execs didn’t like being told that their products were harmful to people’s health and after Krock went back to his office, they started plotting against him!’
‘But they didn’t!’ This from Harold, who evidently had gotten quite used to public speaking. ‘They were just talking, like anybody would who’d just gotten reprimanded.’
‘And you wanted to create a diversion while you hacked into Krock’s database, and you wanted Brand to keep an eye on Krock and the execs and report anything interesting back to you, right?’ fulminated Costello.
‘Sure. No one will take a young, fat guy seriously and I thought it would be better to have someone on the inside,’ agreed the youth.
‘And you chose Brand? That the best you could do?’ asked Avery.
‘Hey, listen…’ began Brand.
‘No, you listen to me!’
Before anyone could listen to anyone, the door opened and a uniformed officer came in. ‘This is Ms. Slidell, from Krock’s Kandy.’
‘Come in, Ms. Slidell, and sit down. Is there anything more you can tell us?’
Ms. Slidell was fairly bursting to talk; she said: ‘First, we’ve learned of the mistake in hiring Mr. Brand, who has been terminated effective immediately.’ This roused Brand from his reverie, which included unicorns, rainbows, voluptuous blondes, and top shelf liquor, and he was moved to say, ‘Wait, what?’
‘Never mind him, what about Harold Who and Mr. Krock?’ queried Avery.
‘We did some checking on Harold Who. He left a virtual trail a mile long!’
No one is safe anymore, thought Avery. Everything you do or say might as well be on the front page of the paper! ‘What about Harold Who’s sabotage?’
‘That’s just it-there was no sabotage--the formula works!’
‘Hurray!’ cried Harold Who.
‘How about that?’ mused Brand.
‘It actually works?’ wondered Avery.
‘I want some!’ rejoiced Costello.
‘I’ll write out the formula and decide what percentage to ask for and--’ Harold Who was cut off by the Krock’s representative.
‘I beg your pardon, Mr. Who, but our own food science technicians have been working on this for some time and since your formula is identical to the one we’ve developed and since you’ve committed numerous crimes, there will be no deal with you. In fact, I wonder if these gentlemen’--indicating Avery and Costello--’would be so kind as to inform me which charges may be brought against Mr. Who for espionage and trespassing, at the very least.’
‘Gee whiz.’ Harold Who was crestfallen.
‘Buck up, Harold Who! You’ll invent something else before too long!’ cheered Costello.
‘But you can’t steal my formula!’ whined Harold Who.
‘We don’t even have to change the website that you so thoughtfully hacked and altered! Which is another charge on you!’ added Ms. Slidell.
‘Whatever you threw into the vat dissolved into the chocolate-there’s no proof that you added anything to anything. Our own non-fattening formula will be out in test markets this spring.’
‘But what about the video of me throwing the formula into the vat?’
‘What video?’ queried Ms. Slidell, innocently.
‘Harold Who, if I were you, I would start thinking about how to avoid time behind bars and quit complaining about your formula,’ Avery opined.
‘Not to mention the murder of Mr. Krock!’ reminded Costello.
‘Oh, but our data indicate that Mr. Krock was not murdered,’ put in Ms. Slidell.
‘Are you still here? Anyway I thought you were in personnel.’ said Costello.
‘I got promoted to general troubleshooter. And Mr. Krock, well, he really did care about his company and his trusted employees. He heard rumors about possible infiltration into the factory, then he went to check the vats for himself, slipped, and fell in. Our secret second-level surveillance video confirms this. Just an accident. No murder,’ said the woman.
There was a pause as all this non-crime sank in.
‘So that’s about it, then. Lou, get the chief on the phone and see what we can charge Harold Who with, and I think threatening to explode a precinct is some kind of a crime so let’s not forget Mr. Brand. Thank you, Ms. Slidell.’
‘You can’t do this to me!’ bleated Harold Who.
‘Just think, Harold Who, you’ll have lots of time to plot your revenge,’ said Avery, helpfully. ‘And lose some weight.’
Will Harold Who, the teenaged expert on everything, return? Possibly! And we might not have seen the last of Ms. Slidell either! And of course, stay tuned for the next Brand adventure, not forgetting the inimitable Lieutenant Jones! Soon we’ll start our newest series, an appreciative look at some of the unheralded giants of crime fiction!
As we enjoy the first fruits of the summer, check out these books of industrial espionage, chocolate, spying, or all three!:
The classic tale of fantastic confections. Don't eat too much blueberry pie, or watch too much teevee! There's no such thing as too much chocolate, of course.
What more does anyone need?
The secret to the best chocolate in the world is in this book! Quick, someone tell Harold Who!
The corporate world collides with manipulation by the CIA and MI5, as Alec Milius begins to rue the day his slacker existence was rudely interrupted when a relative offered to set him up in the intelligence service.
Questions/Comments/Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two?