Emile sat as his desk organising papers into neat and largely random piles when there was a knock at the door.
“I’ll have it Saturday,” he shouted without moving.
There was a short pause then another knock.
“Alright, Friday then,” said Emile.
The door knocked a third time and Emile got up with a sigh. He went to the door and opened it.
“Thursday is probably…” he started but was stopped when a green coloured hand grabbed him by the throat. Clackprattle pushed Emile back into the apartment while Pook followed after and quietly closed the door behind them.
Emile was making soft choking noises as Clackprattle held him. The skin around Emile’s neck and chin was starting to age rapidly, wrinkling and thinning.
“We’d better make sure, before his face is gone,” said Pook and took out a piece of paper from his jacket. He looked at the small daguerreotype of a man and the details written on it, then at Emile then back and forth rapidly.
“Emile?” Pook said, “Emile Planquette? Of the Société d’Evénements Mystérieux?”
Emile looked over at him, his eyes wild as the skin around his mouth aged rapidly.
“I’m pretty sure it’s you,” said Pook. “Let me check these papers.”
Clackprattle continued to stare at Emile as the corruption spread up to his nose.
“Sab…” breathed Emile liquidly, “Sab…ine.”
“Is that a lover, wife or mother do you think?” said Pook looking at the piles on the table. “It’s always women at the end isn’t it? Ah, yes, this is definitely the right chap. He has signed something here.”
Pook turned back around and saw Clackprattle continue to stare manically at Emile as the aging reached his eyes. They bulged rheumily as the aging spread further over the temples, Emile’s hair fell out in chunks onto the floor and at last the eyes went blank, all light behind them gone. Clackprattle let go and and the wizened corpse of an old man fell to the ground.
“Well, that was the last one,” said Pook. “I imagine this one will arouse a little more suspicion given the state of him.”
Clackprattle put his green hand back into its glove and looked around the room for the first time.
“Filthy,” he said.
“Well, shall we be off?” said Pook.
“Yes, yes,” said Clackprattle, then hesitated.
“This is the last one, isn’t it Pook?” he said.
“Indeed Master,” said Pook. “We have discharged our side of the bargain in this regard.”
“I just wonder, a little,” said Clackprattle. “Now that we have done what they wanted and given the blasted luck we had with the key, whether, whether the order may see us as… disposable in some sense.”
Pook’s eyes widened dramatically.
“Master Clackprattle,” he said, “I am sure that a company as prestigious and courteous as theirs would always understand that bad fortune could befall a man and would in any event be certain to value one as esteemed as your good self in the highest possible manner. I think you need have no fear in that regard.”
“And you…” said Clackprattle hesitantly. “You will be there to support me?”
Pook looked at his feet and smiled vacantly.
“I will always be there to do the bidding of my master,” he said. “Always.”
Clackprattle nodded once.
“Your a good sort Pook,” he said and the two men left the apartment.