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#23: Not A Bomb, But Still An Explosion

“Great peril to yourself?” Reginald Crothall gave yet another derisive snort. “We were all in the building when the so-called bomb was delivered!”

Giles gave a quick, curt shake of the head, fixing Crothall a look that said: Not now.

But the message didn't appear to get through, nor did it seem that Vincent noticed the silent exchange going on over this head. The latest comer to the MDOPFGIASA offices launched into his favorite topic . . .

“My good gentlemen—and lady—it saddens me how little you know of your own town and the danger it holds deep within, you who work in upholding the law,” Vencent Wexley leaned forward in his chair, elbows on his knees, his eyes adopting the faint glimmer such as a feverish man might carry.

Newberry pursed his lips and walked away. He'd heard this rant before and did not need to hear of his friend's ravings once more. He had paperwork to do and there was still a teapot to procure.

Unabashed by his friend's embarrassed abandonment, Vincent's monologue pressed onward. “Yes, until this very morning, I had not deigned to set foot outside the safety of my humble abode these seven years. The fog. Oh, the fog!” In naming that atmospheric peculiarity ever-so-common to London and the surrounding parts, the speaker's voice rose and fell in a quavering moan. Even Professor Perrigordon found he could not suppress a shiver.

“Good God, man, what the devil is wrong with the fog?” Reginald tried to keep the fear from his voice and found he was only partially successful.

“Nothing is wrong with the damned fog!” Newberry had returned to the conversation, his sharp objection cutting in and forcing the red glow of anger into his friend's cheeks. “And nothing is wrong with the snow, or the rain, or the sun, or the damp, or the wind, Vincent. As I'm sure you've discovered, after finally rejoining the land of the living.”

“Now see here!” Vincent was on his feet in an instant.

“No. You see here!” Giles thundered, “This is a government office. We do important work here—” —some days— “—and I'll not have you running around giving lectures on your crackpot theories. Genius doesn't excuse crazy and the sooner you realize that, the sooner we can all get on with our lives and stop looking over our shoulder just because you said to.”

“Giles, Giles old fellow—” James had lent his girth to the fracas, stepping between the two gentlemen.

“Don't you 'old fellow' me!” Newberry was in high dudgeon and not to be stopped.

“What is it you want from me then, Giles?” Vincent voiced an interjection of his own. “You want my brain when it's convenient, when your little posse here is stymied. You want my wits when it's your ass on the line-”

“I want you to be normal, Vincent!” Giles pleaded, “Fog is fog. Murder is murder. I understand that one can aid the other but—”

“You still don't believe me,” Vincent appeared shocked. “All these years you let me stay holed up in my home and. . .” He shook his head, “I thought that was what all this is about-” Vincent waved his hand, indicating the paraphernalia of the MDOPFGIASA offices.

“It's about justice, Vincent.” Giles' response was quiet and he didn't even look at his friend.

“So am I, Giles,” Vincent's reply was equally soft, “I'll show myself out, if it's all the same to you.”