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The Secret of Peacock Flats

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Socrates Poole took another dainty draw from his shotglass, his eyes flicking between the sealed envelope he’d placed upon the section of bartop before him and the doors of the Golden Horseshoe. His fingers drummed upon the worn wood for a good number of minutes, and sometimes he even caught the rhythm of the raucous, jangly piano tunes underlying the throaty murmurs of men in the midst of having a good time. Mostly, though, it was impatience which drove that drumming, rather than the musician’s questionable rendition of “Sweet Marie”.

At least, that’s what Soc thought the musician was playing. He wondered how lesser-refined ears might interpret the song. Perhaps, a lengthy tribute to feline caterwauling?

“Barkeep!” he called, hoping to make himself heard over the din. He didn’t. “Hello?” he said, louder this time. “MY GOOD MAN!”

The barman heaved a great sigh and meandered over. “Anything I can do for you, Mr. Poole?”

“Another whiskey, if you please.”

“You ain’t finished your first, Mr. Poole.”

Soc gave the barman a sour look. What did it matter whether his first glass was empty or not? The man would get his coins regardless!

The barkeep responded by tapping the mouth of the whiskey bottle against Soc’s half-empty glass. “I can’t pour you another if you ain’t finished your first.”

Ah. Soc’s sour look waned into a remorseful one, and he heartily grabbed at his shotglass. He licked at his lips, gazing at the dark amber liquid and readying his insides for the inevitable burn as that liquid trickled down into his stomach. He pressed the glass to his mouth, tensed all his muscles to steel himself, and tipped the whiskey down his gullet.

“Good to see you, Soc!”

Strong hands whacked him upon the back, just as he’d begun to swallow. This sent Soc into a coughing fit, ragged breaths heaving in and out of his lungs as he struggled to clear the liquid out of his windpipe. More slaps on the back followed - just as strong - though now they felt a bit more desperate.

“I’” Soc managed to say between coughs.

“Boy, am I glad to hear that. Barkeep! Another whiskey. Make that two, and uh, hold off on the choking this time, okay?”

“Right away, Mr. County.”
Soc finally settled into normal breathing again, thanks in no small part to Brisco’s backrubs and his encouragement.

“Sorry about that, Soc,” Brisco said. “Didn’t mean to send your drink down the wrong pipe. Let me make it up to you. Hey, barkeep! Make one of those whiskeys a double!”


“You’ll never make it anywhere in this world if you can’t hold your drink, Soc.”

“Brisco, that isn’t important!”

“Let me help you. I got a few tricks I use when--”

Soc shoved the envelope towards Brisco’s elbow.

“What’s this?”

“The reason why I requested the meeting in the first place. A special assignment.” Soc’s voice lowered to a whisper, his fingers tapping faintly on the envelope. “From the government.”

“Oh, yeah? Why all the secrecy?”

“I’m only a messenger, Brisco. I don’t make the rules. Look, I was told to keep everything under wraps. I haven’t even opened the envelope myself.”

“Glad to see that working for the government hasn’t done nasty things to your sense of honor and fair play,” Brisco said, slipping a finger beneath the flap to take a peek at his ‘assignment’.

Soc hesitated a moment. Then cleared his throat in a rather dramatic fashion. “Well, I took the liberty of doing some...outside research on where you’re headed.”

“Forget what I said about honor and fair play.”

“This place you’re headed, it’s somewhere up north. Peacock Flats. There have been rumors surrounding this town, Brisco. Unsubstantiated, of course.”

“That’s basically what rumors are, Soc,” Brisco reminded.

“Anyway, all these stories concerned the discovery of...and I’m not making this up...a glowing blue rod.”

Brisco’s right eyebrow arched sharply. “Okay, now I’m interested. But Peacock Flats has to wait.”

“Wait? Why wait?”

“Wickwire’s got something he wants to show off. It’ll revolutionize bounty-hunting, he says.” Brisco took the envelope and tucked it into a jacket pocket. “See ya around, Soc. I gotta go see a man about non-deadly force.”

Socrates Poole forced his double shot of whiskey down in a single gulp.

“This is the strangest gun I’ve ever laid eyes on, Professor.” Brisco turned the oddly-shaped pistol over and over in his hands. Its barrel was wide, like a shotgun’s but resting against a handle not much larger than the carved ivory on Brisco’s own piece. “Balance is all off for this thing, Professor. What kinda bullets does it take?”

“That’s the beauty of it, Brisco!” Wickwire said. “It doesn’t take ‘bullets’ at all. Here, have a gander at a round.” What he offered Brisco was basically a cigar-shaped glass vial, with a stopper at one end and a disturbingly large needle at the other.

“I don’t think a little pin prick’ll be able to stop even a kitten in its tracks.”

“No, no, Brisco. There’s more than one way to skin a cat! Or...stop a kitten, as your case may be. Do you have any knowledge of the native tribesmen who populate the jungles surrounding the Amazon River?”

“Yeah. They use blowguns to stick poison darts right into the animals they hunt. Not as messy as getting right up there with a knife if you let the poison do all the work. But Professor, even the quickest poisons won’t take someone down as quick as a bullet.”

“Not poison, but a kind of tranquilizer. Take your pick. I hear morphine does wonders. And if your bounty is still alive when you bring him in--”

“He lives to face his accusers in a courtroom. I get it. Not bad, Professor. What’s the range on these things, anyway?”

“Ah...that’s where I’m running into a little trouble. Y’see, the impact of propellant against the glass which holds the tranquilizer kind of...sort of...causes it to shatter.”

“Sort of?”

“Sort of...” said Wickwire, whose face eased considerably from its initial enthusiastic grin. “With certainty. But we could utilize the same techniques as those Amazonian tribesmen? If there were a way to propel the darts with air--”

“Like with a bellows?” suggested Brisco.

“I’ve always admired the way you think!” Wickwire exclaimed. “Give me a week, and I’ll give you a working Sedation Gun!”

“I don’t have a week, Professor. But I’ll take some of these things if you don’t mind?" Brisco wrapped his hand around the darts. "Your inventions have meant the difference between life or death more often than not, and I’m not gonna pass up these sedation darts.”

The sun’s heat was surprisingly relentless for spring, meandering through layers of clothing and making Bowler shift uncomfortably in his leathers as another bead of sweat formed at the base of his neck and trickled down his spine. “What kinda gun does that thing belong to?” he asked.

Brisco tucked the dart back into the rucksack hanging from Comet’s flank. “The Professor calls it ‘non-lethal’.”

“Ain’t the whole point of shooting somebody so’s they don’t get up again?”

“Shooting without permanent injury or killing. It’s the future, Bowler. Guess we gotta live with it or get out of the way.”

“A shotgun’ll persuade any man to stand down. Don’t matter if it’ll be fired or not.”

“Fear’s always a good motivator.”

“Speaking of ‘motivations’...” Bowler steered his horse towards a nearby tree and dismounted. “Time for my mid-afternoon constitutional.”

Briso’s eyes rolled. “We passed a town with a saloon some miles back. You said you didn’t have” He twirled his right hand, tracing small circles in the air.” ...constitutionalize then.”

“I didn’t have to go, then! And we ain’t gonna reach Peacock Flats before dark. Not at the pace we’re goin’.”

Brisco sighed. A great, big, dramatic sigh.

“A man has needs, Brisco.”

“Okay, okay! I don’t need a detailed run-through of your...constitutional. Just make it quick.”

Comet muttered a brief, nearly mocking whinny as Bowler ducked behind the tree, and Brisco had to stifle a laugh.

“What'd he say?” Bowler growled.

“Oh, uh, it wasn’t about you!” Brisco called, then he leaned closer to Comet’s ear. “I’ll remind you to take care with your words around others in the future. The man’s sensitive!”

Comet gave a whicker.

“It doesn’t matter if you think he deserves a dressing-down once in awhile. All I’m asking is that you think of a man’s pride before you--”

“You’re talkin’ about me!” Bowler said, loudly so as to mask the sound of his 'constitutional' sprinkling against the base of the tree. “I can tell ‘cuz my ears are burning!”

“Oh, that? That’s just the sun. Sure is hot today! Whew!”

Bowler grunted as he finished. “I don’t believe it’s just the sun, Brisco.” He twisted around to get back on his horse. His now missing horse. “Very funny, Brisco! Can I get my horse back?”

No answer. Bowler grumbled and peeked around the tree, only to find a hunting rifle aimed right at his face.

“Look,” Brisco said, calm despite the constant presence of a gun barrel butted right up against his ribs. “I’m telling you the truth. We’re on special assignment from the U.S. government.” He tried reaching for the envelope in his jacket pocket, but only got another jab with the rifle. “I don’t care how many times you shove me with that thing. It’s never going to change the truth!”

The young woman currently in charge of that rifle blinked behind her large, owlish glasses. Her choice of dress veered towards practicality rather than fashion. A men's shirt had been tailored to fit her slimmer form, and miners' trousers were cinched to her waist through the use of a belt. A boy's belt, by the looks of it. Brisco knew that you could tell a lot about a person by the clothes they wore. She had no use for frills and airs. A girl after Brisco's own heart.

Now if she'd only lower this rifle.

“Your orders. Let me see them," the woman said. "But make it quick!”

Brisco retrieved the envelope with steady hands and offered it to the woman. “There you go, ma’am,” he added, doffing his hat.

“My name is Agatha,” the woman said. “Agatha Washington.” She shook the folded piece of paper open and scanned it quickly.

“That’s really the presidential seal and everything,” added Bowler.

Brisco gave a quick nod. “Yeah, d’you know how hard it is to forge one of those things? Along with President Cleveland’s signature? Because believe me, I’ve tried, and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to accomplish.”

“I don’t much like the tone of your voice, Mr. Country,” Agatha said.

“It’s ‘County’. No ‘R’. You gotta believe us, ma’am. Miss Washington. Agatha. Aggie--”

“It’s Miss Washington. No nicknames.”

“Fair enough.”

“It says here that you’ve been requested to investigate unusual activity in a town called Peacock Flats.”

“And if you leave us be,” Bowler said, “we’ll just head on up over there and--”

“It’s gone,” Agatha said. “Peacock Flats is gone. All the townspeople have fled, and what's a town without its townspeople?”

"That's not a riddle, is it?" Bowler asked. "Because I am not in the mood for riddles!"

"It's rhetorical, Bowler. Means she just wanted to make a point, not ask a question. Miss Washington, we're here to figure how why those townspeople fled."

“Oh,” Agatha said, her voice low. “I know why.”

“I bet you do,” said Brisco. “Tell me, Miss Washington. You wouldn’t happen to have heard anything about a glowing blue rod? About yea long?” He spread his hands about a foot apart.

“That’s when the troubles started.” Agatha said. “With that blue rod.”

“Brisco’s fate is all wrapped up in those things,” said Bowler.

“'Things'?” Agatha said. “There’s more than one of them?”

“Well now,” said Brisco. “It looks like we’d both benefit from an exchange of information, Miss Washington. We tell you what we know, you tell us what you know.”

Quid pro quo,” added Bowler, which caused both Brisco and Agatha to give him funny looks. “You ain’t the only one who's read up on his Latin, Brisco.”

“Bowler and I,” Brisco started, “we’re special agents for the U.S. Government. We have a liaison and everything.”

“And a real pain in the behind he is, too,” said Bowler.

“Nevertheless, some of these assignments have to do with tracking down those blue rods. Combined together, those rods make up something called ‘Orbs’. They...they were gifts, from the future, and they contain mysterious powers. Healing the injured. Gifting incredible strength. Even creating pathways to the past.”

“Pathways to the past,” Agatha repeated. “Now that makes a heck of a lot of sense. A rancher was out in the fields tending to his sheep when he spotted a crackle of blue lightning. He went to investigate and was never seen alive again. The sheriff found his body torn to pieces. Most of the sheep too. And it wasn’t wolves or coyotes that attacked the flock. I should know. I’m a naturalist. The savagery of the attack, I’ve never seen its like before. More attacks followed and people got scared. People left. I’m the only one left, now.”

“What’s keeping you here, Miss Washington?”

From a distance came a series of chirping noises, but Bowler couldn't identify the bird that sort of noise would emanate from. “That ain’t no peacock call,” he said. "I know that much. Whatever it's big."

“They’re awake,” Agatha said, with a mixture of pure dread and pure awe. “Come on, we can’t stay out here. We’re not safe. Especially the horses. They adore horses. For supper.”

Brisco frowned. “‘They’?”

“Moe, Larry, and Curly.”

Agatha led them away from the odd, rumbly twittering and towards a small cabin sitting in the middle of the woods. After Brisco and Bowler secured their horses in the attached paddock, Agatha ushered them inside. “We’ll be safe here. It’s too far outside the creatures' territory to attract their attention. This used to be a hunting lodge, but I've been here for the past six months. It was the peacocks that got my attention at first. That's why I made for the woods in the first place but...but I've got the Three now.”

Brisco was about to mutter the word “Who?” when Agatha shoved an open sketchbook into his outstretched hands.

“That,” said Agatha, “is Moe.”

Bowler peeked around Brisco’s shoulder to get a good look at the drawing. "That ain't no chicken."

"Far from it, Bowler, but good eye," Brisco said. "The legs sorta do resemble the legs of a bird. But there's a snout instead of a beak, and its skin is pebbly. Nice job with the textures, Miss Washington. You ever take art classes?"

"Well..." Agatha said. "A couple. I'm quite surprised that you noticed, Mr. County."

"The composition of the piece is exquisite," said Brisco.

"Yeah, you really caught the personality of...of...whatever the Sam Hill this thing is," said Bowler.

The sketch depicted the creature in mid-romp. Two small arms were tucked tightly up against its chest, and its tail jutted straight out behind. Its hands and feet were tipped with gigantic claws, and Bowler held no doubt that it could rend a man to pieces without a second thought.

“I named him after my favorite Biology professor, Timothy Moe,” said Agatha, flipping the sketchbook page over to reveal a drawing of similar beast, though this one was decidedly smaller and ganglier. Agatha had given it a more docile stare than Moe. “That’s Larry, after Lawrence, my younger brother. And this is Curly.”

The last sketchbook page held a drawing of a beast even larger than Moe or Larry. Its mouth gaped open so that all its teeth were revealed in their dangerous, jagged glory. It appeared similar to the other two, but its neck and back were lined with dozens of curled feathers.

“Miss Washington, what you have here is a small pack consisting of an as yet unidentified species of dinosaur,” said Brisco.

“But all the dinosaurs died out a long time back, didn’t they?” asked Bowler.

“Yes. According to all scientific knowledge available to us,” said Agatha. “Now what you said about the Orbs. That they can create pathways to the past?”

Brisco said, “These things must’ve accidentally come through a hole from the far, far depths of Earth’s history to the present day. Miss Washington, they don’t belong here.”

“They’re unfamiliar with the territory but they can’t refuse their instincts. They have to hunt. To kill.” Agatha took a deep breath to steel herself to say what needed to be said. “To mate... And now they’re in the most frightful trouble.”

“I think we’d be in the most frightful trouble if we ever gain the misfortune of running into these terrible lizards!” said Bowler.

“Curly is nesting,” Agatha said. “She’s laid her eggs close to the river. Now you know it’s been an unusually warm spring. The mountain snow’s melting at an incredible rate and soon that trickle of river is going to turn into a torrent.”

“Brisco, you got that look in your eyes,” Bowler said. “It’s never a good look. It’s always the ‘I got a mad scheme that I’m gonna go through with and ain’t nobody gonna stop me’ look. I think it’s time someone put a stop to you!”

“I need your help, Bowler.”

“What you need are glasses, Brisco. You and me saw the same drawings, right? The same claws. The same fangs. The same malevolent, lizard stares. And now you wanna risk being breakfast for those mean critters so that more of 'em can hatch?"

"Then you won’t get paid. Simple as that.”

“Yeah...well...” Bowler crossed his arms. “I still got my principles.”

“Bowler, are you gonna let some innocent baby dinosaurs get water-logged and drown just because of your high-falutin ‘principles’?”

Bowler’s scowl deepened.

“Mr. County?” said Agatha.

“Oh, don’t worry. Bowler’s just an old softie at heart. Aren’t ya? Ya old softie?”

“Well...” said Bowler.

“For Curly?” Agatha said.

“C’mon, Bowler. For Curly?” Brisco added.

After a very long moment of introspection, Bowler sighed. “For Curly.”

“Get some rest,” said Brisco. “Tomorrow, we rustle up some dinos!”

Brisco’s plan was decidedly simple, in conception if not in execution: lure the dinos away from the nest long enough for Agatha to transport all the eggs to safer ground.

“I don’t know about this,” said Bowler, crossbow in hand. “We still got no idea if these sedation darts’ll work proper.”

“Have you ever known any of Wickwire’s inventions to fail?” said Brisco. “Wait, best not answer that.” He checked over his crossbow. The modifications he made to accommodate Wickwire’s darts seemed fine, though of course he wouldn’t know for certain until the time came to actually fire it. “Now, you know the plan, right Miss Washington? Once the dinosaurs go down, you’ve got to swoop in and grab those eggs quick as you can. We have no idea how long they’ll be out.”

Agatha nodded, then crossed over to Bowler, stretching up as far as she could to give the man a quick peck on his bearded cheek. “For luck.”

Bowler’s scowl softened considerably. “Thank you kindly, Miss Washington.”

“Hey, don’t I get a kiss for luck, too?” asked Brisco.

“You don’t need luck,” said Agatha.

“That’s right. You’re getting by in this life through pure talent,” Bowler said.

“Terrific.” Brisco shouldered his crossbow and swung himself upon Comet’s back.

The horse gave a delighted whinny when Agatha planted her lips on his velvety nose.

“Oh, come on!” exclaimed Brisco. “That’s just not fair!”

“Good luck, Mr. County,” Agatha said, smiling broadly.

“Ma’am.” Brisco doffed his hat towards Agatha. “Let’s go, Comet. Hiya!” And he was off in a flash, Bowler following close behind on his own horse.

The pair rode at a good pace until Bowler caught the tell-tale signs of things pushing through the woods. A broken tree limb. Footprints in the dirt. Logs overturned and rocks upended.

“They ain’t even trying to hide from us,” said Bowler.

“These aren’t the craven members of Bly’s gang, Bowler. In their heads, they’re the alpha predators. No one would dare try to hunt them, so they don’t attempt to scurry away from anything.”

“There they are,” Bowler said, voice low. “In that clearing. Hmph, I thought they’d be bigger.” He reached behind his back to touch his shotgun. “Think it’d be easy to just shoot ‘em right here, right now.”

“And incite the wrath of Curly? No thank you!” Brisco aimed his eyes where Bowler pointed. The creatures were only a bit larger than cows, but Agatha’s pencil drawings didn’t prepare either man for encountering the real, living, breathing things. The beasts’ skin was a riot of mottled greens and greys, and they moved exactly like birds. Birds that could tear your flesh from your bones. The beasts echoed a series of squawks and squeaks and chirps at each other that just about sounded like a foreign language.

And for a brief moment, Bowler had the crazy notion in his head that Brisco could understand the beasts just as well as he understood his horse. But that couldn’t be!

Could it?

Brisco pointed at Larry, the smaller male, and then at Bowler. The larger one, he’ll have to take for himself.

Brisco slowly ratcheted back the string on his crossbow and laid in the first dart. The click was more than enough to catch the dinosaurs’ attention. Both their heads swiveled straight towards Brisco and Bowler.

“Brisco...” warned Bowler.

“In a sec. In a sec. I’m kinda busy at the moment.”


The dinos were stomping their way towards the two men.


“Ah-ha! Got it!”

“You best got it, cuz they’re right on top of us!”

“Hey, Moe!” exclaimed Brisco, and he fired a dart right into the bigger dino’s side.

And Moe did not go down.

In fact, the dart did little else but make Moe extremely angry.

And make Moe begin to dash towards Brisco.

Comet took off in a burst of speed, with Moe in close pursuit, roaring his fury.

"Comet! Comet! Easy, fella! We wanna keep pace with him, not outrun him!"

Comet snorted.

"There's a whole bushel of green apples in this for ya if you keep Moe just a length or two behind!"

Comet exhaled what sounded like a frustrated sigh.

"And don't you roll your eyes at me either," said Brisco. "That's rude."

Meanwhile, Bowler had fired his first dart into Larry. Larry, who was smaller than Moe. Larry, who was no less incensed than Moe. Larry, who was now aiming to take a large chunk out of Bowler’s horse. Bowler stirred his horse into a gallop, and all Larry got was clawfuls of air.

Larry howled and sprung towards Bowler, but the man sent off another dart into Larry’s flank. Larry howled again, angrier than before, his teeth bared for Bowler to see. And all Bowler could think of was how Larry’s breath stank like rotting meat.

Actually, Larry’s breathing began to grow more labored with each intake of air. He took a step towards Bowler, but he couldn’t keep his feet beneath him. Another step, wide and wobbly, and Larry went down.

Brisco had loosed all of his darts into Moe, but the dinosaur refused to keel over. Moe eyed Comet with hunter’s eyes, hungry eyes, but the horse would not flee. Nope. Comet refused to give the dinosaur the satisfaction of pursuit, of the hunt and the kill. Comet stood stock still, waiting for Brisco to pull off the miracle that the horse knew the man would manage to enact.

But Brisco had nothing. Nothing but his revolver, and Agatha would be livid if she found out that Brisco had to shoot Moe dead. This thing was named after her favorite professor, after all. That had to count for something.

Moe lumbered closer and closer to Comet, each of his steps shaky but still planted firmly on the ground.

“Looks like I got no choice,” Brisco said. He tugged his gun from its holster, and aimed right between Moe’s cold, yellow eyes.

Moe growled.

Moe stopped.

Moe’s eyes turned glassy.

And Moe dropped to the ground in a great, big heap.

Behind Moe was Bowler, crossbow still aimed at the immobile lump of dinosaur just in case it decided to get rowdy.

“You’re welcome,” said Bowler.

“Thanks,” Brisco said. “You got any darts left?”

“Nope. You?”

“Nope. How’re we gonna take care of Curly?”

A long, mournful bellow echoed through the trees.

“Would you listen to that?” Bowler said. “We brought down her family, and now Curly’s crying!”

The bellow waned briefly, but then returned, sounding less like a mournful animal’s wailing and more like--

“Bugles. Brisco, those are U.S. Calvary bugles!”

“Soc! He must’ve figured out where we were and got his bosses to send over a Calvary unit to help!” Brisco set Comet to head towards the sound of the bugle, and Bowler hurried alongside him.

They spotted Curly, festooned with ropes around her neck. Holding onto each of those ropes was a Calvaryman on horseback, tugging her away from her precious eggs.

“Brisco! Bowler! So glad to finally discover you at last!” Soc hurried towards the pair, closely followed by Agatha. “The two males, where are they?’

“Sedated,” Brisco said, dismounting. He angled a thumb towards the woods. “And back that way. Soc, what the heck’s going on? Why ‘re the Calvary here?”

“There’s no argument that these creatures are incredibly rare and valuable,” said Soc.

“Exactly,” said Agatha. “And now they’re going to be under government protection! Mr. Poole explained everything to me. They’re relocating the dinosaurs somewhere else. And, as the naturalist who has studied these creatures for these many months, I’ve been designated their official caretaker!”

“There are uninhabited islands throughout the South Pacific which belong to the United States,” Soc said. “The creatures will be deposited there to live out their lives. And Miss Washington will continue to study them and report back her findings to Washington. Uh!” Soc began to chuckle awkwardly. “Washington, D.C. Not that Miss Washington would be reporting to herself. That would be silly.”

“The threat’s gone, Mr. County.” Agatha said. “People can return to Peacock Flats without fear. Without the dinosaurs, there’s only the peacocks to study and...and I am sick to death of studying peacocks.”

“How d’you feel about studying inanimate, glowing, blue rods?” asked Brisco.

“Those aren’t in my area of expertise either,” said Agatha.

“No one’s set eyes on the blue rod that started this mess since the shepherd died, right? I gotta find out what happened to it.”

“Ac-tually,” began Soc, index finger pointed straight upwards to emphasize his point. “I have another assignment for you two. A special one from Her Majesty the Queen."

"The Queen?" asked Brisco.

"Ruler of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," intoned Soc reverently, as if saying the words in just the right way would somehow cause Queen Victoria herself to appear. "There are reports of a mysterious creature lurking in the depths of one of Scotland’s lochs. A monster, they call it. The Monster of Loch Ness.”

“Ain’t no way on God’s green Earth am I gonna travel halfway around the damn world to go monster-hunting again,” said Bowler. “I am headed back to what we humans call ‘civilization’, where the only beasts are the ones with bounties on their heads and six-shooters in their hands.”

“Sorry, Soc,” Brisco said. “Tell Her Majesty the Queen ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ The search for the Loch Ness monster is gonna have to wait.”

Comet gave a knowing neigh.

"Comet says he'll do it for two bushels of apples," said Brisco. "You gotta be kidding me, Comet! How 're you gonna get all the way to Scotland? You know you get seasick!" He grasped at Comet's bridle, and began to tug the horse aside from the group. "Excuse me, I gotta go talk some sense into my horse. See you later, Soc. Bowler. Ma'am."

"Is he really able to communicate with his horse?" asked Agatha.

"Think of it this way, Miss Washington," said Bowler. "Does it really matter?"

"No," Agatha said, chuckling as she watched Brisco and Comet adamantly arguing. "No, I suppose it doesn't. Though it's refreshing to witness a man who gets ideas straight from the horse's mouth."