Welcome to The Great Chocolate Conspiracy! Chocolate Digestive biscuits have disappeared from the shelves right across the eastern seaboard of the USA, and now the shortage has spread to London. Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson and his international team of investigators from the Metropolitan Police’s Confectionery Crimes Unit (CCU) have been tasked to solve the mystery.
This is the first installment of this multi-part flash fiction story that originated during a chat between the authors on Twitter. You can read how it all began here (links to all the installments will be added to the author list as they are posted).
The next installment will appear on Friday, December 3 at Lily Mulholland’s and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.
Sam followed Agent D. Ling’s tweed covered derriere up the ladder, trying not to gag on the bitter smelling ointment under his nose, but enjoying the view.
Agent Ling pushed the trap door open and Sam followed her up into a small storage room full of cleaning products, mops and buckets. The door lead into a convenience store, stocked with all manner of condiments and tins of food. The fridges hummed a merry tune, the cartons of milk glistening with condensation. Sam did a quick reconnaissance of the shelves revealing a large gap where the chocolate biscuits had been. And the boxes of tea bags sat forlornly without their caffeinated cousins. A faint whiff of chocolate hung in the air.
“Blimey,” said Sam, his stomach growling. “I could murder a cuppa and a biccie.”
“How about a museli bar?” asked Agent Ling.
“No thanks. Birdseed never was my thing. Now there’s something worth eating.” Sam reached for a bag of crisps and ripped it open.
“Come along, Detective.”
With his spare hand, Sam grabbed a packet of custard cream biscuits. “For later,” he said sheepishly and followed Agent Ling to the front window of the store.
The street had the appearance of normalcy except there was no one wandering the streets.
Agent Ling opened the door, the little bell jangling above it. The aroma of chocolate assaulted Sam’s nose; his mouth became a tidal wave of Pavlovian response. However, the sight of mutilated bodies piled against one another turned his stomach.
“That’s sickening,” said Sam, his face turning green. Agent Ling turned to her right and strode away. Sam trotted after her, his limp slowing him down slightly.
“Steady on. It’s been a bit of a rough day. What happened here?” asked Sam.
“The side effects of the additive FRAPPE added to the coffee and chocolate are devastating. Think caffeine withdrawals taken to the extreme. Once people were moody and irritable; now they are homicidal and will do anything to feed their addiction.”
Sam whistled under his breath. He shuddered to think how much of a moody bugger he was without caffeine. Agent Ling continued as she stepped over a severed limb.
“It turns people into caffeine zombies, craving only one thing, to the exclusion of everything else. When it doesn’t get it, the victim turns psychopathic.”
“Imagine if you were Elvis?” said Sam.
“FRAPPE started with additives in chocolate biscuits and coffee, but they went one further here in Grimsville: airborne chemical warfare. They used simple household air fresheners containing the additive like the ones in doctor’s waiting rooms.”
A pager beeped on Agent Ling’s waist. “Your team is here.”
Sam shaded his eyes against the sun and watched as a dark silver Bentley turned into the dusty avenue, followed by a black van, until they pulled up beside him. The side door of the van opened dispensing Marier, Juniper and La Paglia.
“My Crumblies.” A still slightly groggy Agent Bronyaur stumbled into the sunlight.
A gentleman exited the Bentley, his moustache elegantly grey to match his receding hairline. In one hand was a thermos, the other, a chocolate bar.
“DCI Adamson, my name is Earl Grey, leader and co-founder of TEA.”
Adamson accepted the Earl’s extended hand and the thermos and chocolate bar. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.”
“And you too. Your unit has done admirable work. We are the invisible support behind the CCU. Tea and coffee have coexisted for centuries, but FRAPPE’s plan is heinous. Dr. Nishida and Professor Motley are to be stopped at any cost.” Earl Grey glanced at his watch. “It would not be prudent for me to be found here. Agent Ling will assist you. Farewell.”
The Bentley and van disappeared back down the avenue.
“Come,” said Agent Ling. “We have work to do.”
Gunshots startled the party, scattering them behind the nearest parked car.
“Who in blazes…?” Adamson cursed.
Marier poked her head over the bonnet. “It’s Professor Motley.”
Motley charged at the Crumblies, firing randomly in their direction. Sam looked around for options.
“She’s out of bullets,” said Agent Ling.
Sam spied a wrapper in Marier’s breast pocket. “Quick, give me the chocolate bar.”
Beside him pink elastic poked out of Agent Bronyaur’s trouser pocket. Sam whipped it out.
“How the hell did you get my pink thong?” interrupted Juniper.
“Never mind how,” said Sam. “Time to get my Macgyver going on.”
Sam grabbed the lingerie and improvised a slingshot. He broke off a segment of chocolate, pulled back on the waistband, took aim at Motley’s mouth and let it loose.
The piece of chocolate hurtled through the air and lodged in the back of Motley’s throat setting off a chain reaction. Motley’s face turned a shade of red usually seen on the rump of a baboon. Her hands scrambled at her throat trying to dislodge the chocolate. Guttural gasps of air gurgled in her throat as she collapsed to her knees. Motley’s head snapped back suddenly, her body going rigid, before collapsing face first into the dirt.
“Death by chocolate,” Sam quipped, standing to his feet.
A shadowy figure stepped into view. Dr Nishida eye’s bored into Sam from a distance.
“DCI Adamson, you tea-swilling-chocolate-biscuit-stealing lump of congealed monkey vomit who wouldn’t know art if it bit his rather ample backside!”
Sam tried to get a look at his backside but only succeeded in looking like a dog chasing its tail.
“Look at me, Adamson,” Nishida yelled. “You will pay for what you did to my culinary masterpiece!”
“Bugger me,” said Sam. “This is going to get ugly.”