The Worst Agent

Based on my brother who annoys me so.

"Get up Tom!" yelled Mrs Jackal.

Tom stirred and began to slowly wake up.

"TOM!"

He sat up quickly with a yawn and a stretch, you really didn't want to know his mum when she got annoyed, especially in the mornings when they were all tired from getting up early for school. He pushed his blonde hair out of his eyes, pulled on his uniform which mum had already put out and staggered downstairs.

"Have you done your teeth?" she asked.

Tom swore but the words were not as bad as they could have been after all, he was only eight. He climbed the stairs again and rushed into the bathroom. He glanced in the mirror and his reflection looked back at him plainly. His hair was a mess, what a surprise. It always stuck up oddly in the mornings. Wiping the sleep out of his snake green eyes he reached for the nearest comb. But as he touched it another hand jumped onto his trying to shake his grip free.

"Linda! Get off!"

"No you get off, ladies first!"

"Get the other comb!"

"What that mangy one? No chance! That belongs to you."

"It's not mine and you know it!"

The family didn't have many combs and when they did buy another one it was a vulgar colour and was covered in horrid smelling disinfectant due to an 'accidental' spillage that the kids refused to own up to. It was instantly dismissed as naf by the siblings and it was always a fight to get the other comb.

"I got it first!"

"That is so not true!" shouted Tom angrily.

"Well either way, second the best, first the worst." She replied smirking.

"Oi! What happened to zero the hero?"

"Did someone say something? Oh no it was just a sissy."

Tom felt as if he'd been slapped across the face. That was what everyone always said about him; "You've got such a girly scream! SISSY!" they'd jeer and chant if they ever heard him. Luckily he didn't scream that often. If he didn't have such good friends he'd be an even worse laughing stock than he was at the moment. He hurled himself at Linda his long uncut nails pointing at her. It seemed to be a habit not to get his fingers cut. He was always forgetting about them. Linda gave a high-pitched shriek. Mrs Jackal came rushing upstairs.

"What's happened this time?" she asked tiredly.

"Tom scratched me!" she said using her puppy dog eyes on her.

It was not fair at all, Tom being the smaller therefore hopefully cuter than his monster of a sister, should've been able to use the eyes but he could never do it. It was an unfair advantage and had always been irritating.

"I didn't touch you!" he yelled in frustration.

"Tom."

"I was getting ready! You didn't even give me a chance."

"Tom!"

"It's not fair! You always trust her but what about me?"

Tom had hit a nerve and his mum was not having it.

"TOM!"

"WHAT?"

"Say sorry to your sister." she said struggling to keep her patience.

"For what? Being stupid?"

Linda tried to punch Tom but narrowly missed as their mother frantically tried to gain control of her children.

"STOP IT BOTH OF YOU!"

There was silence. They'd done it now. It was always a bad idea to get their mother worked up on a school morning.

"ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MINDS? IT'S A SCHOOL MORNING; IT'S A COMB, WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT? IF YOU'RE GOING TO ACT LIKE CHILDREN I'LL TREAT YOU AS CHILDREN! NONE OF YOU ARE GOING TO USE THAT COMB FOR TODAY! Now, we're all going to go downstairs and think about what we just did. Think!"

"Hello? We are children." Thought tom but he didn't dare to say it out loud.

They both wanted to protest but they both knew it would just make things worse. They looked at each other. But none of them said sorry.

"I'm not sorry." Thought tom and he knew his sister was thinking the same thing. Lead by the hard grip of their mum they went into the dining room and both sat down at the table pouring out their cereal. It was silent still. They were both glaring at each other between cereal boxes just itching to get back at each other but their mum was watching. So they carried on eating. Tom rustled round in the cereal box.

"What are you doing Tom?"

"I'm looking for the freebie. It's supposed to be a pair of sunglasses this time…"

The only other sound from then on was the rustling of the cereal.

"You do know it's about the cereal not the silly free stuff they have inside." Said Linda in her kiss up voice.

"Too true Linda, well done."

Tom smiled and gave off a loud BANG! He laughed at his sister's complaints and carried on eating, it felt good to annoy her but he was still angry. He tried to think about all the vehicles he was mad about, he had a thing about cars and planes and trains. It was a boy thing his sister had told him many times before. He was quite good at making explosion noises and could really sound like a realistic James Bond gun shot. He glanced at the clock in the kitchen. And started to search for the glasses faster.

"Muuum!"

"What?"

"I'm late!" said the mum's pet.

"Oh dear! We'd best get going. Come on Tom!"

Tom found the sunglasses at the last minute and was tugged out of the door. Just when he noticed there was some extra writing on the cereal box. He stashed the glasses in his pocket and followed the others. They rushed off to the school where their mum kissed them goodbye and left them to their teacher's wrath.

"Tom. Where were you? It's register. You're very lucky we haven't already taken it to the office…" began Mrs Game.

"It's never going to get there if you keep ranting on about me." He pointed out. "Now mark me in and get on with it."

She looked infuriated. Tom quickly went to his seat before she could say anything else. After a good shout from Mrs Game and a couple of hours he was finally allowed out to play with all his friends at breaktime. He walked along the quiet corridors. He could feel a gentle tugging at his jumper. He turned round and made an explosion noise to ward off intruders but nobody was there. After blowing the smoke off his imaginary gun he carried on walking towards the playground.

"Ouch!" he yelped and turned around as he felt himself being sharply pinched but there was still no sign of anyone. Now what had felt like a light breeze on his back was becoming a strong pull. Panicking slightly he tried to walk away but the grip was getting so powerful he couldn't even move his legs! He turned his head in a desperate attempt to see where he was being pulled. To his surprise he noticed that he was being dragged towards the caretaker's closet. He could hear his shoes squeaking horribly as he tried to run. He was getting closer and closer! And soon…THUMP! He banged into the door. The wind had disappeared at that moment. After looking round anxiously a couple of times he opened the door and stepped inside. The door slammed shut behind him and he was left in the dark hammering on the door trying to get outside again. It was so dark he couldn't even see the glint of a CCTV camera in the corner of the ceiling. And the people watching from the other side were interested in him.

"Turn on the midnight setting I can barely see a thing!" ordered a stranger.

The guard flicked a few switches and the screen lit up in an eerie green light showing all the details in the room and the boy frantically scrabbling at the door trying to find the handle. Tom had never been too fond of the dark.

"Help!" he was shouting.

"He's the one. He's perfect. Look how scared he is just because of a little dark! What do you think? He'll never suspect a thing!" asked another stranger.

"You're right. He'll do just fine." Replied the first stranger.

"Open the hatch!"

The guard pushed a lever and Tom felt the floor beneath him give way. He began to scream as he was plunged into a dark abyss.

"Ahh! That boy really screams like a girl! Turn the volume down now!" demanded the stranger in command with his hands plastered over his ears. The guard turned a large knob and the sound slowly deduced. "I think we've seen all that we needed to. Thank you Boris."

The two men left and Boris, the guard sat back trying to get to sleep.

Tom hurtled down and down. He'd collapsed onto something that felt a bit like a slide. But it was very greased and slippery and he couldn't stop himself from moving down it at a rapid speed. He was turning sharp corners and twirling in circles as another sharp turn came. It was like a roller coaster and if he hadn't been so worried about where he was going to end up he would've quite enjoyed it. He couldn't stop screaming. He felt himself slowing down and starting to climb upwards. Upwards? How did that work if he was on a slide? He could finally see a small light on the other side of what looked like a large track. The track was getting steeper and steeper. He checked around his waist, there was nothing for him to hold onto. As he got to the top he closed his eyes and braced himself for a long fall. He was tumbling down and down. He could just make out the outlines of a huge oblong shape below him. Before he hit it hard. It felt soft and comfortable. Suddenly blinding lights came on again. He blinked and sat up. A figure wearing a short skirt and a tight top came into focus. Without saying a word she helped Tom up. She didn't look that old, perhaps his age? Eight or so. He thought she looked beautiful.

"Um…hi? I never thought I'd say this but, where am I?"

"Don't you know? You're an agent for crying out loud! Come on Spicer, I didn't think you hit the mattress that hard!" she sounded surprised.

"What? There must be some mistake, I'm…"

But before he could continue another person in a suit interrupted him.

"Oh Spicer! You were always such a kidder!" said the stranger forcing out a laugh. He gave Tom an urgent look, which roughly translated as don't say a thing, or you'll spoil it! Tom nodded and tried to laugh along. The girl seemed satisfied for the moment. But oh no, another question!

"Well Jim you've got another job. The agency requests that…" but she stopped mid sentence and started to stare at the stranger behind Tom. Tom turned round just in time to catch him bringing his finger across his neck mouthing NO.

"Is there a problem?" Tom asked hotly.

"Course not Jim." Said the stranger putting on a very strained smile.

"Um…do you want a word Joe?"

"Yes I do." Replied Joe his frustration beginning to disappear. "Stay put. STAY, stay!"

Joe walked across the room towards the girl and started to talk to her. Tom did as he was told and stayed put. But it was too quiet.

"Boooom! Ksshhhplat!" he murmured happily.

At first they took no notice but as Tom got more confident he got louder and when he got louder wherever he was there was always trouble. Every time he did it Joe seemed to get redder with anger. Kind of like Tom's sister when she'd applied too much rouge from her mum's make up drawers.

"WILL YOU SHUT UP!" he yelled.

The girl looked shocked.

"I think it's kind of cute. Is that a new phase?" asked the girl.

Cute? That was new!

"Phase?"

"Yes phase. You have a new one almost every time you come here."

"Joanne! For gods sake, it's an annoying gesture made to irritate his elders."

Joanne. So that was her name. It sounded pretty. However, after that she remained silent hiding underneath her long ginger red hair. And just nodded when Joe spoke to her. But as Joe turned back to Tom he could see Joanne sticking her tongue out behind Joe's back. Tom grinned. But then decided he ought to tell them the truth. Joanne certainly didn't know but he was not too sure about Joe. It was worth a try.

"Listen, this all very nice and all but I'm not an agent and I don't even know who Jim Spicer is. I'm Tom Jackal."

There were a few seconds of silence that consisted after Tom's little speech. But not long after Joe was starting to protest.

"Jim! Don't be so silly!"

"I just told you, I'm not Jim!"

"Oh really? So you don't know who this person is then." Said Joe holding up a magazine that said Spy Daily. On the front of it there was a large picture of a boy about Tom's age with blonde hair, a thin figure and about the same height almost exactly as Tom himself. The only difference was the boy's piercing blue eyes. If you forgot about them though, it was like looking in a mirror. Tom gently fingered his hair and then touched the magazine.

"Wow." He whispered. "Could that really be me?"

"You'd better believe it." Said Joe in a triumphant voice and with a smug look on his face. Tom then looked at the bubble-writing caption below. Agent barely ten saves the day. Again.

"Sorry, I don't know what I was talking about!" said Tom still sounding a bit surprised. He knew that was not him, but they looked so alike! Something was up and Tom was going to find out what.

"Come with me."

Tom followed Joe out of the mattress filled room over to a door. Joe used the silver key in the lock and it slid open. Then an electronic voice said:

"Please place your hand on the second lock."

"What?"

Another little door slid to one side to reveal a shiny handprint space where Joe obviously had to put his hand to gain access. His put his hand in place.

"Entrance denied."

"Joanne? A little help please!"

The girl came over to the door and quickly checked some of the wiring in the compartment below the handprint.

"That's odd. It says you haven't been registered. You're biometrics isn't in there."

"Well you know how it is, there are so many security things you have to get registered for nowadays. It's hard to keep track."

Joanne frowned at him and then put her hand in the place for him. She pushed Joe to one side and opened her eyes wide as a thick blue ray examined her eyes. The door slid open.

"Thanks."

"Your welcome. But I'm only doing it for you this once. You have to get registered Joe!" Joanne came through the door with them and showed Joe where to get registered. Tom gaped. It was like a gigantic lab, and in ways I guess it was. They walked past a complicated surgery on an octopus that, to Tom's surprise, said hello as they went past.

"Hiya Olivia! How's the operation coming?" asked Jo smiling at the octopus.

"Oh you know, same as always. Eap! Is that the Spicer kid?"

"You bet!"

"You've done some great stuff for my ancestors, thanks!"

"You're welcome?" he said slightly shocked, this Spicer person must've done a lot! But it left Tom wondering if he'd done so many amazing things and survived through so much, where was he? As they moved on the octopus raised a ninth tentacle to wave goodbye.

"I thought octopuses had eight tentacles?"

"She's my friend I was telling you about last time. You should have seen how many legs she had before the operation! They were getting in her way."

A black-coated scientist quickly walked past almost shoving them into a floating rock. Everyone seemed to be wearing black.

"Why black?" he asked.

"Muck shows up less. It works best to be honest." Replied Joanne.

Joanne appeared to be well known round the lab. Everywhere scientists or more agents were saying hello to her. Even a Dracula resembling professor seemed to know her well and stopped to say hi. In return she smiled at everyone who greeted her and said hello or good morning many times. They walked past an engineer working on something, which looked like unicorn horns. Except made out of metal.

"Everybody knows you really well Joanne!" exclaimed Tom.

"Well yeah. I do work here, you know that Jim. And call me Jo!"

"Okay…Jojo."

"Oi!" she protested but there was a grin on her face and her amber eyes were twinkling. "Now, where are you lot going then?"

"Joanne. Since when is where we're going any of your business?" questioned Joe also reminding Tom that it wasn't just him and Jo, there was still the mystery of the third person. Jo became silent. The trio carried on making their way through the crowds. Joe pushed his way past a wet dripping diver still in gear. They bustled past a serious looking desk there was a dark curtain over the desk hiding what was behind it but it was soon given away by the tell tale sound of a man shouting loudly; "The president?!" And the flickering of a torch showed a man's silhouette. He was wearing a pair of shades and looked very important. Jo leant towards Tom.

"That's the Top Secret Emergencies section. I don't think you've been there – yet. Have you?" She whispered as they walked past a wanted sign with a sinister looking brunette on the front. "That's El Bongo. You should definitely know him! I hear you've been against him lots of times!"

"Well…um…just back me up on him please, I like to know people's history."

On the contrary, Tom hated history, but this could be important.

"He's escaped from the Spanish prisons and has reeked havoc ever since. Not a nice character. Nobody knows what his proper surname is; we just made up the name Bongo. It's said to be so long and complicated we just haven't bothered to learn it, which is probably true."

"Where do you work?" he asked as innocently as he could manage.

"Jim! You know that!" she said in a playful manner.

"I've forgotten." He said struggling to cover up his mistake.

"We'll be coming up to it soon."

They finally reached a set of white stairs and began to ascend. They stopped for a rest halfway up. Tom was puffing and panting, so was Joe whose face was a beetroot colour. Jo however, just stood there smiling at them in perfect shape.

"Isn't there a lift for these things?" gasped Joe.

"Really. I thought you two working here would be used to this!"

"I haven't been up here much." Said Tom quickly.

"Really?" Jo looked puzzled. "I thought…never mind. Well we'd best get moving."

Poor Jo had to get Joe to stand up then push him to get him to move on. Tom was a bit reluctant but at least he went without getting pushed around like a baby. When they finally got to the top Tom took one look around and then found his one true love…

"Pretty amazing isn't it?" she said misreading his admiring look.

Tom just rushed over to the nearest bench and collapsed onto it. Joe joined him. He could hear an irritated sigh from Jo behind them but he didn't care. From where he was sitting he had a good view. There was a giant window in front of him. He looked through it to see that it was quite like a rather big glass cage. You walked down to the door and when you went inside you had entered the floor of the stadium like room. He looked at the rest walls around him and realised the corridor had plenty of windows around.

"This is where I work, the testing rooms. Remember?"

"Yeah…right."

Nearby the window there was a small set of controls that reminded Tom of DJ record deck at the last school disco.

"I need to test you Jim. Just to double check something." Joe explained.

Tom felt confused. Very confused. Test rooms? He looked down through the window and then understood. On the floor of the room there was an agent, alone and in a black suit. Nothing was happening but the agent was quivering.

"Test rooms? It doesn't look very safe." Observed Tom.

Jo followed his eyes.

"Oh he's probably new, new agents tend to get quite nervous. Don't worry."

They watched. All was quiet. Suddenly a blue ray appeared out of nowhere and started to shoot towards the agent. The agent started to hop about the room dodging and whirling and very narrowly missing being dissolved by it. Then somebody in a long black cloak appeared out of nowhere and started to come towards the agent.

"It's only a hologram. It can't do any harm. These are testing rooms after all." She reminded seeing Tom's startled look.

"It doesn't look too harmless to me." He noted as the agent was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and brutally flung against the wall.

"What? They're supposed to be a challenge for the agent but not actually dangerous! That's why it's a test room!"

Jo started to run towards the control panel. Tom followed leaving Joe on the bench.

"What are you doing?" she asked, horrified.

"Nothing, it just happened!" replied the controller looking nearly as horrified as Jo but not quite as much. Tom looked at him unsure whether he was worth trusting. He watched the controller closely and noticed his fingers make a discreet movement towards a button. Hearing a shout Tom looked up.

"He's gone." Said Jo looking shocked.

"So's the kidnapper." Said Joe joining them.

"I'm going to alert the others." Said Jo rushing off.

"Now that she's gone shall we do our little test then?" asked Joe.

"In this room? No way!"

"Tom."

He felt a shiver go down his spine, he knew.

"Pardon?"

"I mean Jim. We've had this room booked for a while. You are going to use it."

Tom tried to calm himself down as he was shown to the entrance of the room. Joe couldn't do anything to him, of course with Tom Jackal being Jim Spicer or could he? Or was Jim not as heroic as he claimed to be? Either way he had to face it. Tom opened the door and braced himself for horrors unseen. But instead there was nothing. He glanced up to the huge window and saw the controller push a button. Still nothing. The controller violently banged the machine and instantly a blue laser shot out towards Tom. Forgetting about his high reputation Tom ran round in circles like a headless chicken screaming for mercy. He was too busy screaming unfortunately to notice a small crack forming in the glass. It was slowly growing bigger and bigger until…SMASH! The glass gave way and Tom dived for the exit covering his head as the shattered pieces started to rain down.

"Ouch!" he yelped as the tiny pieces scratched him.

He suddenly felt a searing pain on his forehead and then everything went back.

"He's the one." Said the controller to his companion, who agreed thoroughly.

Jo heard the loud smash and ran towards the test room. Everyone in the building heard the loud echo; soon there was a huge crowd around the remains of the broken glass.

"Where's Jim?" she asked.

The controller pointed towards the centre of the mess to show a blonde kid in a tight black suit lying on the floor. He had a nasty cut on his forehead and blood was trickling down the side.

"Oh my!"

Jo rushed down through the door and helped a medic to carry the unconscious agent out. She could hear the reporters for the spy Daily trying to ask them questions and the flash of the cameras were nearly blinding her, but it seemed as if she was in another world, she felt completely numb. The boy she'd known and had a crush on for years, she smiled as she remembered when she'd first had a mission with him. Her heart had fluttered just being in his presence but now he had just been knocked unconscious and sliced like a kebab after all that stuff she'd read about him it just didn't seem possible. He'd always blast his way out of trouble according to the magazines. Seeing him actually hurt made it too real. She shook herself out of her thoughts and tried to tell herself that she was being silly. But she kept on thinking back to what Jim had said earlier, Tom Jackal. Jim didn't normally make stuff up…

"Hey girly, do you know what's up with the Spicer kid? Why was he acting so stupidly earlier? I mean, only a scream on a very high pitched frequency can break glass and he was nearest in the vicinity." Asked a reporter.

Jo finally saw red.

"CAN'T YOU JUST LEAVE HIM ALONE?" she yelled.

The reporter looked startled and backed away nervously.

"I just wanted some info."

"THAT'S ALL YOU EVER WANT, INFO. DON'T YOU EVER CARE ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU'RE DISSING?"

The medic beside her decided that was enough.

"Okay, back away people. Nothing to see here, give the agent some space."

They walked into the medical room and the doctor started to treat the agent. Jo sat down mixed up in her thoughts. Tom blinked.

"Ouch!" he winced at the pain in his forehead.

"Ah! You're up. That's good. I've been checking you over Spicer, you should be fine but it was a close thing. There will still be a little pain before it stops hurting completely."

"Who are you?"

"Of course, you haven't really got too hurt on any of your missions so you won't have met me. I'm Dr Eins."

"Eins, zwei, drei!" Recited Tom. "You're first in the line."

Luckily he did German as well as French at his school.

"That's a lot more like you Jim!" Laughed Jo. "You just haven't been acting normally today up till now that is."

"You were being silly!" Jo thought to herself. "He's perfectly fine."

"Now you're up you might as well go back to my brother and get your briefing sorted."

"Brother? Who's he?" said Tom puzzled.

"He's Joe obviously!"

"What!? I mean, sure. I'll get going straight away."

"Don't you even remember my brother? You are so forgetful! Mum couldn't think of any variety in names, ring any bells?"

Tom remained blank. Jo sighed. He stood up and made his way towards the door. Then he paused.

"Where exactly is his…um…office?"

"I'll lead you there. I guess you haven't had that many missions with him." Sighed Jo.

Soon they arrived outside a plain wall.

"I don't see anything."

"Use your imagination Jim!"

She touched a brick, which slid out to reveal a speaker.

"Who's there?" crackled Joe through the radio.

"It's me, Jo. I'm with Jim."

"Good. Bring him in."

The wall seemed to slide upwards but Tom realised that it was a camouflaged curtain revealing a door. Jo gave him a gentle push and an encouraging smile. He entered and stifled a gasp but before he could do anything else he was pulled out of sight and shoved onto a chair. It was almost like a movie scene, a large chair turned round to face him and Joe was there staring at him.

"Can I help?" asked Tom not taking kindly to being goggled at.

"That's why you're here. Glad you're better. But first of all I need you to do something for me, put these on."

He handed out a pair of contact lenses.

"What are they?"

"They are strictly only to be used for missions, X ray lenses. Put them on then!"

Tom reached out and wondered how to apply them. He opened his eyes wide and tried to put them in place but it just stung. Finally on his third try he succeeded in putting them on. He looked around at the room again. It now had a slightly blue tinge. "Strange." He murmured quietly to himself.

"Perfect!" announced Joe smiling. It was the first time Tom had seen him smile properly. It was not too pleasant; he looked more like he was leering.

"No wonder he doesn't smile too often!" Thought Tom.

Joe started to frown again and Tom nervously wondered if he could read thoughts.

"You're job for today is checking something out."

"Yeah, but what? I mean you've got to be a tincy bit more specific."

Joe held down his clenched fist with determination and thought: "He's never going to do what you want if he's knocked out cold."

"Recently there's been some break ins at a very, very important place."

"Really? I wonder why…" Tom said sarcastically his sister may be incredibly annoying but he did pick up a few good offensive tips off her. "Where is this place then?"

"It's the local club, Dancing Divas."

"What? How is that important?" asked Tom confused.

"As I said, it's a very important place. There is a safe underneath the building. That's why there's so much security. I need you to keep intruders out."

Tom not knowing too much about drugs and spiked drinks and people in general needing to be protected accepted the explanation.

"Get going then. Shoo!"

"I've never been to a club before, how do I get in?"

"Here you go, this is a free entrance pass. It also makes you look the right age to be let in."

Joe handed it over to Tom.

"Don't I need gadgets?"

Everybody knew about special gadgets whether they were agents or not.

"Um…here you go."

Joe handed out a pink key ring with a rubber picture of large but pink high heels dangling off it. High heels with decorative flowers painted on.

"And this is?"

"It's very special. It's a throw bullet. Throw it at someone and it will act just like a bullet but beware, you only have the one."

"Okay."

Tom left the room. As he opened the door he sent an eavesdropper backwards into the wall. As he left she rubbed her sore leg and limped after him. But in mid pursuit her brother's voice came from the speaker.

"Joanne? I do hope you weren't eavesdropping again. It's a very nasty habit you know." He said smugly. "Well seeing as you're around you might as well go take Spicer to the exit."

"He's smarter than you think you know. What those newspapers have been saying is rubbish."

Jo had spent her spare time leafing through magazines trying to find one that didn't have any dirt on Jim after his incident but had thrown all of them down angrily with no success.

"Just get him."

She hurried after Tom and tried to catch up, her brother could get pretty mean if you said the wrong things.