by Tom Hobson


Agatha Christie looked down at the Kiplinian rebel fighter's head as she held it in her hands.

"Sayonara, sucker," she whispered, leaning in close and breathing into his ear, and snapped his neck.

The body crumpled into a heap on the steps of the streetcar (The term "streetcar" is a holdover from the old days, of course. Actual streetcars were replaced long ago by giant winged transport bats after all the streets caved in), and looking up, she caught the frantic eye of Gord, the TTC driver, saddled atop the "streetcar's" furry shoulders. Gord was the regular driver on the route she took to the library every morning, but somehow he never seemed to get used to Agatha Christie's appetite for ruthless violence. It goes without saying that he was in love with her.  

She gave him a terse nod and clambered into the passenger carriage hanging from the bat's midsection.

"BACK people, move back, make some room!" she hollered, and pushed her way as far as she could into the cramped space.

Settling into a cranny between an exhausted coal-trader and a fully unconscious teenager wearing a shirt made of old pizza slices sewn together with what looked like the webbing from a tennis racket, she took her antique typewriter out of her knapsack and rested it on the teen's shoulders. In the mornings she liked to get started as soon as possible, and could usually get a few hundred good words down by the time the bat alighted on the roof of the Reference Library. A man in his early thirties caught sight of her and whipped around. He was wearing a small toque that he could only in the most charitable sense be said to have actually pulled over his head. His ears were fully exposed and blackening badly with frostbite.

"Hey  that's SO cool. Are you part of the mobile writer-in-residence program? My friend Nadia did that for a few months on the 501 before she got sent to the ice mines  did WONDERS for her network though, never mind her prose. Honestly, made a WORLD of difference, I swear."

Agatha Christie kept her eyes on her work. She briefly considered breaking the toque-boy's neck as well, but the Toronto Citizen's Wartime Defence Act expressly prohibited civilians from taking lethal action against anyone that did not pose an immediate physical threat to public safety. Things would be different if she still had her detective's badge. But the Chief wasn't anywhere close to forgiving her  and the Tribunal had yet to issue its verdict, anyway.

"Oh, uh, sorry?" he huffed. "I get it, that's ok. I'm just going to take a picture of you for my street fashion blog though? It's sort of an homage to The Sartorialist but I overlay quotes from my standup sets on the photos?"

Agatha Christie reached out without looking up and crushed the lens of his camera to dust. He looked dejected and ordered another one by cooing softly into his watch.

Agatha Christie didn't like to be distracted from her work, but when she did occasionally take a break, she found herself staring out at Gord through the window, as he tugged gently on the transport bat's reins. He directed the bat carefully, ordering it this way and that using a simple system of guttural clicks and shrieks. The bat purred through its tracheal vents in compliance. Gord was slender, bearded, and pushing sixty-five; the nicest, loneliest nice lonely man in the world.

"My friends might call me 'Ol Gord "I just do crosswords right now but if I think I would be more into Scrabble if I could just meet someone" Tomlinson,' if I had any friends, that is," he had said to her once, and had made a sound exactly halfway between a laugh and a sob.

Oh Gord, she thought to herself, you dumb lil' cutie.

Agatha Christie was so lost in this reverie that she didn't even notice the Kiplinian assault until after the first swarm had struck. About six months earlier the westerners had figured out how to modify their e-bikes to hover, and had been launching assaults on TTC vehicle beasts all over the city. They would amass in a cloud around a bat's head, playing whatever dumb stupid dumb music they pleased from their bikes' stereos. This had the effect of disrupting the creature's ability to echolocate and either sent it hurtling to the ground or forced the driver to relinquish the passenger carriage to the pirates.

The bat lurched violently sideways.

"Ugh Jesus," she muttered to herself, and stuck one arm straight out the window to clothesline the shit out of a passing raider. His e-bike was playing Life In The Fast Lane, and collided with another one playing Desperado, which seemed fitting. With The Eagles quotient in the cloud of noise significantly reduced, the bat was able to regain some of its balance.

She looked back up at Gord and her heart sank. He was slumped in his saddle, unconscious and bleeding adorably from the temple. A small envelope had half slid out of his pocket, and when one of the e-bikes whipped by the ensuing gust of wind tore it free. As it spiralled in the air around the whooping raiders, Agatha Christie could just make out some writing: the names "Agatha" and "Gord" intertwined like the first two plays of a Scrabble game, sharing the letter 'g.' Or at least something that like that because the 'a's were made out hearts sort of and the 'o' in Gord had a smiley face drawn in it. Her hands trembled.

"Gordon!" she yelled, and then softly and with a waver in her voice, "Gordon."

Tom Hobson is a comedian and engineer in Toronto. He's the co-editor of Vandercave Quarterly and hosts BUMP (is a comedy show) at Videofag. He is a nice boy and not a monster. Follow him on twitter @meisatom