Episode 2: The Black Cab

“So where are we heading, Mr Simile? Disaster or ruin?” asked Verb, his footsteps echoing out of sync with his client’s as they descended the stairs to the lobby.

“Mr Verb, you are like a ray of light on a foggy day,” chuckled Simile. “Your comedic repartee is more appropriate than you realise… You see, I own a joke shop in the city. It’s on Amusing Avenue; which I know is a bit like having a bakery on Loaf Lane, but that’s the truth of it, I’m afraid…”

“Well, what can I say?” said Verb. “That must be great for business, what with your shop fitting its location so perfectly,” he grinned, turning to make eye contact with his client.

Simile’s silhouette was striking against the mist through the stairwell window, which had taken on a blue hue.

Like the occasional streak of red in a rare evening sky this fleeting colouration dissolved back into wisps of grey and white. Colour in this life was fleeting but for a man as busy as Verb it was impossible to savour.

Simile was dragging his heels and Verb paused to wait for him. He was met by a fixed grin. Simile had done nothing but smile since he had set foot in the office. There was something about this odd little man, something hidden behind that happy facade that made Verb’s skin crawl, but there hadn’t been a case he and Maleficent had not cracked and today would not be the day he registered their first strike in the supernatural column of defeat.

“This encroaching evil of yours must be destroyed Mr Simile, but before we can go about dispatching it, we must be certain of its identity and its intentions, oh, mind your step, Maleficent spilled her latte macchiato earlier this morning.

I told her there was no use crying over it, but that’s Maleficent Metaphor for you.”

“Very good Mr Verb,” Simile chuckled, nudging the glass aside with his instep. “As to the identity of my ghost, I’ve about as much foresight as the back end of a pantomime horse, I’m sorry to say.”

“Surely, you have a hunch of some degree?” asked Verb, running his right hand down the banister.

Simile just shrugged. “That’s unkind, Mr Verb. It is merely the way I walk. Some say my spine curves like the smile of a man with something to hide.”

Verb shot him a curious glance. “The stage is always open for a willing jester, but our concentration must remain on said spectre. There must be a clue in its behaviour, Mr Simile. Tell me, what has your spirited spook been up to?” he asked, turning to his client, as the bulb above his head flickered poignantly.

“Apart from stabbing at me like a vengeful blade you mean?”

“Apologies, I mean is there anything of a specific nature – the inconceivable sight of moving objects, the sudden fizz of electrics or merely an unexplained presence that grates and wearies?”

Simile shrugged, still wearing a grin as wide as the sweep of the dark staircase.

Verb nodded. “Your shrug is reason enough for summoning our assistance. Mark me Mr Simile, that by the day’s end this apparition will be vanquished,” he paused. “Do you have a fog mask?” he asked, as they approached the foreboding lobby and the radioactive glow of the exit door.

“To leave home in this city without a fog guard is like failing to call the great Deed Verb when something supernatural comes a calling,” grinned Simile, delving  into his jacket pocket for the mask.

“Nicely put. I don’t suppose I may bother you to place such a quote in writing? It would make a marvellous motif to hang in the office,” smiled Verb, as they both strapped on their breathing apparatus.

Simile just chuckled.

Pushing through the exit door, they were quickly engulfed by the miasma, which poured over the threshold from the alley.

Verb pulled up the collar of his long, plum jacket, tapped his bowler hat, straightened his pin-tie and ushered Mr Simile further into the fog.

As he slammed the exit door behind them, the rumbling of an engine split the quiet of the alleyway and through the mist came the electric glow of headlamps that resembled a pair of lightning bolts.

It was a sight that struck terror into the souls of the creatures from the netherworld that lurked in the darkest corners of the city.

It was the Black Cab.

Follow the link for the next installment of Deed Verb: Episode 3: Proverb