A is for...
It was dark, raining, chilly, and both agents were starting a cold – not ideal conditions for a surveillance operation. The window was filthy; they had had to force it open from necessity to see what might or might not be happening below. They were well-enough wrapped, but it was a miserable night.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to come,” said Napoleon thickly through his handkerchief.
A snuffle was all Illya could summon up.
“Challenge you,” said Napoleon, clearing his throat. Illya looked round suspiciously. “How many cities can you think of beginning with A.”
“How many, or which?”
“Think of some.”
“Aalborg,” said Illya and added, “Aachen, Aarhus, Abaiang, Abong M’bang.”
“Okay, okay, stop.” Napoleon blew his nose again and sniffed.
“No. I give up already. Try something else – I spy – something beginning with A?”
Illya sighed and looked out. It had stopped raining and the sky had cleared. He smiled to himself. “Aldebaran,” he said.
“It’s that bright star up there – near the Pleiades, see?”
Napoleon looked up at the cool, impersonal sky. It was a bright star. Beautiful. So much purer than anything below. And utterly indifferent to them.
“None of this matters a damn, does it?” he said. Illya smiled again, this time a sweet smile at his partner.
“No,” he said, “but I suppose we’ll stay, anyway.”