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Thursday, 2 September 2010

#FridayFlash: The Great Chocolate Conspiracy – Episode 1

Magnifying glass image element courtesy

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, September 10th at Mari's Randomities, and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.

'What do you mean, there's no bloody choccy biccies?' thundered DCI Adamson, banging his mug down on the desk. 'I ALWAYS have choccy biccies with my morning cuppa,' he scowled, mopping at the puddle of tea soaking into the reports littering his desk. 'Oh, never mind. Just get out.' WPC Fox turned on her heel and almost sprinted for the door.

Out in the main office, DI Monica Marier rolled her eyes. Yes, she thought, the boss is well and truly back.

'Don't worry,' Marier consoled the sniffling WPC, 'The DCI's not himself. This is his first day back off sick leave after that terrible cinder toffee business last year, but,' she paused, 'You weren't with the Unit then, were you?'

WPC Fox shook her head and blew her nose productively into a tissue. No, thought Marier, I'm the only one of the original team left. She remembered the case vividly, it was the first major investigation for the Met's newly formed Confectionery Crimes Unit, someone had rigged a batch of cinder toffee chocolate bars with explosives and iron filings so they exploded when the packets were open and had then attempted to blackmail the manufacturer.

DCI Adamson had got very close to catching the perpetrator, until that fateful day he'd received a package of the bars and had absent-mindedly opened a jumbo sized one. The resulting explosion gutted the unit's office and left the DCI deaf in one ear and his left leg full of shrapnel. He'd been off work eight months and still needed a cane to get around, which had done nothing for his usually volatile temper.

The Unit had been re-housed in temporary offices above an Asian grocer's in Camberwell, for a time it had seemed they would be dis-banded, but recent events had seen the Unit reinstated, it's meagre staff bolstered by the addition of a couple of new members seconded from overseas forces.

Marier had overseen the office move and settled in the new staff, Vice Ispettore Mari Juniper of the Italian State Police, all designer suits and fine fragrances with a penchant for espresso, but an expert in all matters gelato-related, and the Unit's new forensics officer, Professor Grace Motley, formerly of UCLA, a crotchety woman of middle years, what the professor didn't know about US confectionery, or candy as she insisted on calling it, wasn't worth knowing.

Then there were the two uniformed PCs, Fox and Bournville who acted as runners, investigators' assistants and general dogsbodies. Both straight out of the Met's training college at Hendon, Marier presumed neither had actually volunteered to work for a unit run by a DCI passed over for promotion for “procedural irregularities” with the Assistant Chief Constable's daughter. She wondered just what they had done wrong to earn the assignment.

Her reverie was broken as the main office door flew open, heralding the arrival of DI John Hawthorne of the Met's Special Branch, Adamson's long time sparring partner.

'Morning Crumblies! Is he in?' Hawthorne didn't wait for a reply and marched straight into the DCIs office. Marier winced at Hawthorne's use of the Unit's unofficial nickname, the Crumbly Cake Squad.

* * *

'What the hell do you want?' barked Adamson.

'Charming,' remarked Hawthorne, nochalantly throwing his long raincoat over the back of a chair. 'Actually, I've got a case for you.'

'I've got a case for you, sir,' Adamson emphasised the “sir.” 'Just because you're Special Branch, don't think you can ignore proprieties.'

'Err, yes...sir. Sorry, sir.'

'Well, what is it then?' Adamson eyed the packet of chocolate digestives and the report in Hawthorne's hand.

'It's these,' Hawthorne indicated the biscuits. 'Every last one has vanished from shops right along the eastern seaboard of the USA. There've been riots, apparently.'

'So? What's that got to do with CCU? Unless it's escaped your notice, we're a British police unit.'

'Ah well, here's the thing,' Hawthorne warmed to his explanation, 'It seems the shortage is spreading.' He set the biscuits and the report down on the edge of the DCI's desk. 'There's not a chocolate digestive to be had anywhere in London as of last week, and reports of the same have come in from Manchester, Cardiff and Newcastle. The manufacturer's output remains constant, and the delivery firms have plenty in their warehouses, but any time they send stocks out to the shops, they've vanished by the time the truck arrives.'

Hawthorne watched in horror as DCI Adamson leaned casually over the desk, picked up the packet of digestives, opened it and proceded to dip one into the remains of his tea.

'But, but,' spluttered Hawthorne, 'Those are evidence!'

'Bollocks, John, they're biscuits, and they go lovely with my tea.' Adamson beamed. 'Anyway, what's this got to do with Special Branch? Oughtn't you be out catching terrorists instead of bringing me presents?'

Hawthorne fought to retain his composure. 'My boss had a call from Homeland Security in Washington D.C. last night. They don't have anyone with your, err...expertise over there, so my boss cleared it with ACC McVitie.'

Adamson shot him a sour look.

'And you're all off for a jaunt over to sunny America. I have plane tickets for you here,' Hawthorne fumbled in his jacket pocket, 'You leave for Washington D.C. tonight.'

As if on cue, the soggy half of a chocolate digestive detatched itself from the biscuit Adamson held and dropped into his mug with a dull plop.

'Shit!' muttered Adamson. 'See yourself out John, seems I have work to do. Oh, and on your way, ask Monica to step in for a moment, she'll be handling the logistics so I'd better brief her.'

* * *

It was a pleasant summer evening as the 747 lifted off from Heathrow bound for Washington D.C. Having pulled rank for an upgrade, DCI Adamson settled back in his first class seat, sipped his champagne and pondered the dinner menu. Secretly he was quite excited, not that he'd let any members of his team know it, he'd never been to America.


I hope you enjoyed the first episode. Don't forget to check out Mari's episode next Friday (Friday, 10th September) over at her blog, Mari's Randomities, and keep up to date with developments by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.



Icy Sedgwick said...

No chocolate biscuits in Newcastle?! Noooooo!

Glad to be a part of this, sir.

Marisa Birns said...

Absolutely wonderful! Love the cranky DCI Adamson. And he's one his way to D.C.? Perhaps I'll see him walking around and investigating this very serious matter of no choccy biccies.

You've done it again, Sam. Enticed me with your storyline and writing. *eats a plain biscuit*

Laura Eno said...

I love your squad of Crumblies! I can't wait to get to mine now. :)

Anonymous said...

Sam, you are awesome! I was laughing through the whole thing. Can't wait to see where the gang runs with it!

Eric J. Krause said...

This is quite a neat idea, and this opening chapter was excellent!

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Love seeing people from twitter as detectives in your sage. I can't wait for the next installment (and I don't even like chocolate - allergic, I'm afraid).

Anonymous said...

Excellent kick off to the blog tour! I can't wait to see where everyone goes with this. Thanks for coordinating everything, Sam!

Gracie said...

Hee, delightful! Hilarious kickoff, Sam. Gonna be fun!

Monica Marier said...

I love my DI Doppleganger, Sam! ^_^ I love the crumblies and can't wait to see what happens when they get to D.C.! Should be hella fun.

Mari said...

Loved the cranky DCI, and the poor Det. Monica... lol Oh, wait, I'm there too? I need an expresso...

Am writing the second episode now. Fun, fun! :D

Thanks for pulling this off Sam!

Deanna Schrayer said...

Love the set up of characters here Sam! This is snort-out-loud hilarious and I can't wait to see where everyone takes this.

So glad all you Highly Creative People happened to meet up at the same time.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Would I out myself as a stupid Yank if I admitted that I had to look up what the heck a Chocolate Digestive Biscuit is? This is hysterical! Love the characters. And the biscuit plopping in the coffee -- oh, I hate when that happens!

Looking forward to being able to contribute!


PJ said...

Sam - this is a terrific concept - i chuckled my way through this story - can't wait to see what happens next! (no pressure, mari ;-)

Jason Coggins said...

Sorry to come late to the party! Sam, it's difficult to talk about humour in writing without mentioning Prathcett & Adams ... so I won't! You have such a gentle and warm style that it is impossible not to be enchanted by your tales. At the rest of sounding like a sychophant you are an original voice out here in the interwebs.

That said and done my father and I would be absoluetely devastated without our "dunkers" with our moring cuppa 'cha.

J. M. Strother said...

Great opener, Sam. I will enjoy keeping up with this team of stalwart investigators.

David G Shrock said...

The "Crumbly Cake Squad" - like it. This is serious business. Never mess with chocolate! Off to read the next episode.

Theres just life said...

Oh no. What a horrible thing to happen. No chocolate biscuits ...It has to be a nightmare. I saw the news on Laura's blog and had to check it out. Please hurry and solve this before we all go insane with chocolate cravings.

Adam Byatt said...

This reminds me of The Bill (may it rest in celluloid peace).
Catching up on the serial in preparation for my turn.
This has great humour and a wicked flow. Something to emulate and copy with great abandon.
Adam B @revhappiness

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