When they returned to the hotel, Agent Octavian described his plan to Alek, and then curled up on the television for a nap while Alek made preparations. When Octavian woke just before midnight, Alek was wearing an olive green uniform and cap, and was sticking on a thin brown mustache. At his feet was a bulky black duffel bag.
“Jump in, Eight. We’re going for a ride.”
Inside the duffel, Octavian could feel himself being carried down the hall. They stopped and then the floor lurched.
“Sorry, Eight. We’re in the freight elevator. I’ve got a van out back.”
When Alek finally unzipped the bag, Octavian found himself in the back of a van filled with cleaning fluids, mops and brooms. He was thoroughly dizzy.
“Nex tim, warn me, OK?”
“A thousand apologies, Eight. And there’s more coming. Get your harness on and climb into the vacuum bag.”
Octavian looked at the bright red standup vacuum with the canvas bag attached to the back. “Yu got to be kiddin, rigt?”
“’Fraid not, old man. You said I was to get you in with the night cleaning crew and this is how we’re doing it. Oh, one more thing. I have to rub ink over your white spots.”
“Yu not toutchin mai tukseedo!”
“Don’t worry, it’s temporary. But you can’t afford to show up in the dark. And don’t forget: if anyone shines a light toward you, shut your eyes or at least squint. Otherwise, your cat eyes will show up like a highway reflector.”
“Huh. If M din’t want a kittee peeple fer this job, she shud hav foun a hoomin.”
But he allowed Alek to dye his white spots and wriggled into his harness, and crawled grumbling into the vacuum bag. Alek climbed into the driver’s seat and they were off.
Operation “No Tickee” was underway…