Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters I have borrowed from MI High. I promise the action is going to start building up a little from now on. Hope you enjoy it.
Rose spent her morning stripping beds at top speed and photographing letters and notebooks she pulled out of the students' desks and shelves. She had to work quickly, worrying constantly that she would be caught going through the students' things. It was important also to replace things as she had found them. If anyone complained, she would be the first person suspected. She finished all the students rooms and moved on to the teaching staff bedrooms. She had been given a separate skeleton key which gave her access to their rooms. Working through the list of rooms she had been given to change, all was going well until she came to one door which would not open. She struggled to get the key to turn, but it subbornly refused to budge. The name on the door was 'Professor Kalkfarben'.
Puzzled, Rose put her contacts safely away in her pocket and returned downstairs with the laundry trolley. She had instructions to return her keys to Mrs Peabody as soon as she had finished. As she handed them over she explained that she had been unable to open the Professor's door.
"Well, that is odd," said Mrs Peabody. "That key is supposed to open all the doors. I had better get the caretaker to go and oil the lock this afternoon. Thankyou for letting me know. I will inform Professor Kalkfarben that we were unable to deal with his bedding today and put him on the list for tomorrow. Hopefully he will understand."
Rose reported for dinner duty as usual. Frank let her know that he had received all of the images and sent them on to Oscar who would work on them that afternoon. Rose told Frank about not being able to get into the Professor's room. Carrie had joined them by this time.
"Oscar said he was a bit weird," said Carrie.
"In what way ?" asked Frank.
"Oscar said that Kalkfarben is German for Whitewash, and he'd never heard of anyone called 'Whitewash'," explained Carrie. "Oh, and when he checked up on him, he couldn't find anything."
"Anything unusual you mean ?" asked Rose.
"No, anything at all," said Carrie.
"That is odd," said Frank worried. "He's the whole reason we are here in the first place. If there's something wrong about him, this whole mission could be compromised."
"What if he's working for SKUL ?" asked Rose. "Nobody told us anything about him."
"Well, I'm sure that Agent Stark would have carried out any necessary security checks," said Frank.
Rose and Carrie looked at him. "OK, you may have a point," he added. "Just to be on the safe side, why don't you try to get access to his room ? Oscar is going to be tied up all afternoon and I have classes. Check the notices to see when Kalkfarben has classes this afternoon and try to access his room then. Look for clues to his background and anything which might explain what he is doing here. I will keep an eye on him and warn you if I think he is heading up to his room. Be careful !"
"Chill Frank," assured Carrie. "We're always careful, aren't we Rose ?" Rose didn't look so sure. "Oh, come on !" said Carrie.
Later that afternoon, Oscar was lying on his bed in his room staring at the Spy-pod. He was having to alter the focus and zoom in and out of all the images which Rose had taken. It was time-consuming and boring. Once he could read the text it was usually disappointing or plain embarrassing. There were a lot of letters to girlfriends and boyfriends. They fell into the embarrassing category. Then there were letters to Mums and Dads, mostly boring. Some were in languages he couldn't read. Ukrainian and Georgian were out of this reach. Those he simply sent to Frank. Basically, there was a whole lot of nothing. He was deep in some boring notes about Russian history when there was a knock at his door. Absentmindedly, he said, "Come in."
The door opened and it was Illya. "Oh, there you are. I've been looking all over for you. Didn't realise you were studying. What's that ?" he asked looking at Oscar's Spy-pod.
Oscar froze in mid-translation. He'd forgotten he was holding the Spy-pod in full view. Desperately he tried to think of something. "This, oh, my Dad got it for me. It's a prototype, you can't get it in the shops yet."
Interested, Illya asked "So what's it called ?"
"Its, erm .." desperately Oscar tried to think of something, and then said the first words that popped into his head. "It's the new I-spud," he said. Illya looked amused.
"The what ?" he asked.
"Yeah, the I-spud," said Oscar frantically filling. "It's the upgraded I-pad, only more, you know, potato shaped ?" he trailed off.
Illya was looking at him in total disbelief. "Okaaay" he said. "Well, anyway, you haven't forgotten the big dinner tonight have you ? You have haven't you ?" This was because of Oscar's blank face. "The big meal downstairs, 7 pm with the tutors ? Dress up formal ?"
"Oh yeah. I forgot about that," replied Oscar.
"Boy, you have some work to do !" laughed Illya.
"What do you mean ?" asked Oscar, still wearing the same jeans he'd arrived in and with his hair wild from lying on the bed.
"You don't really do 'dressed up' do you ?" Illya teased. "You'd better get started. It's going to take you a while !" Still laughing, he left Oscar's room.
Oscar looked down at himself. He couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Then he went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Hm, maybe he could tidy his hair up a little. He flicked some sort of crusty stain off the front of his shirt. He checked his watch and it was already 6pm. Perhaps a shower and a change of clothes would be a good idea.
Rose and Carrie meanwhile had been following up on the Professor. First they sneaked upstairs and tried to pick the lock on the Professor's room, but with no success. Frustrated, they returned to their room to decide what to do next.
"This is ridiculous," complained Rose. "The locks on those doors are not difficult to open. I reckon he's replaced his door lock you know."
"Why would he do that ?" asked Carrie, "Unless he's hiding something."
"We've got to get into that room," said Rose in a determined way.
"Yeah, but how ?" asked Carrie. "We can't get in the door. What else is there ?"
"There's the window," suggested Rose. The both leapt to their feet and went outside the building. They located where the Professor's room had to be and looked up to his first floor window. This part of the wall was covered in a thick creeper.
"You thinking what I'm thinking ?" asked Carrie.
Rose looked around to check how easily they could be seen from where they were standing. "It's possible, but it's risky. It all depends how strong that creeper is," she said.
"I'm willing to give it a go," said Carrie. It's only one floor up and I reckon I'm light enough to make it up that creeper.
"Alright, lets get some equipment," said Rose. They returned to their room and kitted themselves out with better shoes, microphones to talk to one another and took their Spy-pods. Carrie took a small rucksack.
Back outside the Professor's room the two girls checked out that the coast was definitely clear. This was a quiet part of the grounds and it appeared there was nobody nearby.
"OK," said Rose. "When you've climbed up to the height of the window, look around and make sure you still aren't visible to anyone. If you are, you're going to have to come straight back down. We don't want to blow our cover now."
"Don't worry," said Carrie. "I'll keep my eyes open." With this she started climbing up the creeper. She moved one foot or hand at a time and let her weight down gradually each time she grabbed a new piece of the creeper. It was dusty and awkward, but she managed to make her way up to the right window. Carefully she turned around to make sure she now wasn't in sight of anyone who wouldn't have seen her on the ground. "All clear Rose," she whispered. "I'm going to try to open the window now."
Carried inched her way to the window and slowly looked in. The room was empty. The Professor was supposed to be in classes for another hour at least. She pulled a metal bar from her backpack and levered it under the window. Luckily it wasn't locked and was one of the old style sash windows. It creaked open quite easily. "I've got it," she told Rose. "I'm going in."
Keeping lookout on the ground, Rose said, "You're clear to go. Be careful !"
Carrie slid through the open window and quickly looked around the room. First she looked in the wardrobe where there were only a few clothes and shoes. A jacket hung on the back of the door. She checked the pockets. There was one folded piece of paper which she took out, photographed with the contact lenses, refolded and replaced it. Then she moved to the bedside table and looked inside its small drawer. There was a faded black and white photograph of a large family. She copied this also and carefully replaced it. Then she moved on to the desk. It was the tidiest desk she had ever seen. As she opened the desk drawer a small thread fell on to the floor. Carrie remembered in her spy training that spies would place threads in drawers to catch people going through their things. She would have to replace the thread where it had come from. Only a few English teaching books were in the drawer so she closed it and put the thread back on the top of the drawer. There was no laptop and only a few letters and papers relating to the school.
Disappointed, she was considering searching the chest of drawers when a voice broke into her thoughts. It was Frank.
"The Professor is on the move. I think he's returning to his room. I repeat, the Professor is returning to his room. Get out now !" he ordered.
Replacing everything as carefully as she could, Carrie dashed for the window. Getting out was much more difficult than getting in because she had to get her feet safely back on to the narrow branches of the creeper. Once she had her balance she slowly pulled the window down. She heard the key turning in the lock. She had only just moved away from the window as the door opened. As quietly as she could she shuffled sideways into the bushiest part of the creeper next to the window. She could hear the Professor moving around his room. Suddenly the window was flung open and the Professor stuck his head out of the window. Carrie froze. Please let Rose be out of sight !
The Professor looked around but thankfully, did not spot Carrie in her dark clothes, hidden in the creeper's leaves. Rose had taken cover under some bushes and he also did not see her. With a huff he closed the window and returned to his room. She heard the door open and close and the lock turning again. "Frank," whispered Carrie. "Tell me when the Professor comes back downstairs please ?"
"Not yet," replied Frank. "Don't break cover yet."
Carrie waited for what seemed like an eternity before she heard the door lock turning a second time and then the door opening and closing. She breathed out a huge sigh of relief. "Has he really gone this time ?" she whispered.
"Just a minute," answered Frank. After a few seconds he said, "Yes, here he is. Now get out of there."
As quickly as she dared, Carried climbed down the creeper to a relieved Rose. The two of them then dashed to the back of the house to go in the trade entrance. Frank followed the Professor as discreetly as he could to the front door. He realised the Professor was going outside to check on his bedroom window.
"Rose, Carrie, he's coming out to check his window. Get out of sight quickly !" instructed Frank.
"It's alright Frank. We're back inside now," said Rose. See you in a minute ?
"Yes, Study Room 3 when nobody is looking," said Frank.
Once safely in the study room, Carrie downloaded the photos on to Frank's laptop. They all studied them. The folded paper was written in a foreign language, which Frank identified as Polish using some software on his laptop. They all looked at the family photograph, hoping for some clues to who the people were. Everyone was looking rather stern and they appeared to be sitting in a garden, but there was nothing particularly interesting which told you where it was taken. Frank said that Oscar didn't speak Polish, so there was no point asking him to translate it. He would send it off to HQ along with the photograph to have them analysed. Carrie was sorry she hadn't been able to find out more. The others consoled her that she had done all she could do. After Frank checked the coast was clear, Carrie and Rose left for their room to get ready for the special evening meal.
As they changed, the two discussed the mysterious Professor.
"He definitely knew someone had been in there," said Rose. "He pretended to leave to draw you out. I think there's definitely something fishy going on."
"The trouble is," pointed out Carrie, "he might have guessed that we are on to him. What will he do ?"
"We'll have to wait and see," said Rose.
"I wonder what he's going to wear," said Carrie.
"The Professor ?" asked Rose, baffled.
"No ! Oscar of course !" laughed Carrie.
"Oh, I don't know." said Rose. "Jeans, shirt. Does he ever wear anything else ?" They both laughed.