[When we last saw the Diner, it had just received new paint and fixtures, with a bit of a twist... or is that ... a slide? Something delicious was cooking up in the kitchen, Sarah was speaking backward... wait, *backward*? And everyone was looking for Rex.]
The front door bell jingled as Chris walked in.
"Still looking for the little twerp?" asked Chris.
"I thought you were out by 61 Cygni?"
"Hey, faster-than-light, faster-than-time." Chris stepped behind the counter, grabbed a sandwich from the refrigerator case and propped his elbows on the edge of the kitchen window. "Just picking up a snack then gettin' the heck out of Dodge 'fore Wolfie shows up."
The front door chimed sounded again, and the bellow: "FRENCH!" was heard.
"Whoops, gotta go. You can give Wolfie this." He laid a battered brown wallet on the window ledge. "*After* I'm gone." Chris ducked behind the counter, pulled back his sleeve and pressed a button on the elaborate electronic band strapped to his wrist. With a shimmer of sparkling light, Chris French had left the building.
And with another shimmer, Chris French was back. Fortunately he muttered the curses under his breath so that Sarah didn't have to take *official* notice. He stabbed at buttons on the wristband and Sean advanced on him.
"French. Speaker's taught me all about some nice little toxins. You're going to *love* being a Zombie."
Chris gave up on the transporter and decided to bolt for the Men's Room.
"Zombies?" asked Eeyore, as he and Dick walked in the door. "I'm gonna have to go back to the Madhouse for more gear. Dick? What've you got"?"
"Nine mil, forty-five, Garand, AR-10, twelve-gauge, what do you need?"
"Gentlemen," said Sarah, sternly. "This isn't the Tavern. Are you lost?"
"Ah, no, Sarah, we're just following our noses. Dick doesn't really have all of that." Eeyore turned to look at Dick who was smiling and nodding his head. "You do?" Eeyore asked. Dick nodded. "On you?" Dick continued to nod. "Damn. You sure can put it away. Speaking of which… What's that wonderful smell? You can smell it all through the Tavern next door. Given John's long absence, the stock's getting a bit thin over there."
"Tell you what," smiled Sarah. "Put the firepower away and bring over that 21 year old Oban this evening and you can join the lunch crowd."
"You mean supper, right? But sure, it's Speaker's anyway. We just keep it safe for him over there." Eeyore grinned. "…and here, and there, and wherever there's a Scotch-aficionado. We should have a bit left."
Eeyore and Dick headed for a booth, but instead of sitting down, Eeyore turned and said: "I think I'll hit the head first. Order me a Diet Coke?"
Dick nodded, then looked down and noticed The Drool, hiding out under the jukebox. Normally, the Bassett showed up, *then* the drool, but The Bassett was nowhere in sight. Was The Drool now arriving *ahead* of The Bassett? Sort of a mucous version of the Stench of Foul Ol' Ron?
"One last thing, Ma'am." Mack caught Sarah's attention again. "One of my guys said there's something wrong with the Men's Room door. It seems to be locked from the inside. We've got a locksmith down at headquarters. Would you like me to send him out tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow? Isn't there any way to get him today?"
"Today? Ma'am? I don't understand, it's nearly Midnight! Why, that would be Double Overtime! In another few hours it would be a normal charge."
"What? No. It's just noon… isn't it?" Sarah looked outside. It was dark. The lights were on and traffic was light. The parking lot over at Ringo's Tavern was full, but they were all night owls, anyway. "What happened? Weren't we just about to serve Lunch?
"Laura?" she called out to the kitchen. "What time did you get here?"
"About nine. I popped the casserole in the oven around eleven and it's nearly done."
Amanda was looking at Sarah strangely. "Sarah, we got here right before noon!"
Just at that point Chris French raced past muttering something about Rex and the restroom. He managed to stay about 3 feet in front of Sean. "Chris? What time did you get here?" Sarah asked.
"Around two, I think. Flime ties when you're having *such* fun." He said sarcastically.
"Wolfie?" Sarah called after them before they got to the front door.
" 'round four." Sean called back over his shoulder as he raised his sword and raced out the front door. They raced past too quickly for Sarah to consciously note the change in their appearance. " '…and all for one!' my *ass* French…" could be heard echoing down the street.
"Dick? What time did you and Eeyore get here?"
"We walked in at six on the nose, Sarah. You *know* how punctual Eeyore is."
The front door had barely slammed shut behind Wolfie when Speaker walked in the door, several Lab Rats™ peeking out of the pockets of his lab coat. "Cleaning crew's here. Wow! Nice paint and wax job, Mack! Laura! That smells just the way it should – did you make more? Was it a hit?"
"Speaker. Quick. What time is it?" Sarah had an edge of panic to her voice.
"Just past midnight. Same as usual, you know I can’t start writing until late."
"Oh. No. … No! Swords? Feathered hats? Burgundy, white and *black*?" Sarah stared as Eeyore returned from the restroom. He *looked* the same, well, except for the long brown hair, pencil thin mustache and small goatee.
"Milady. Might we trouble you for some repast?" Eeyore asked. "My companion and I are famished. He stared at her intently and continued:
"Oh hostess, fair and comely
Of sustenance we crave
Our fealty unswerving
To slake our thirst and waite
And till yon daybrake dawning
We rest in your demense
The light of new day find us
And break our fast with thee."
"Eeyore?" Sarah said tentatively.
"Sarah? Please? I'm starving. Oh, and a Diet Coke, please?" responded Eeyore.
[Now, *why* is Eeyore speaking in blank verse? Who is Chris French, and why has he stolen Wolfie's wallet? Tune in next time when we meet the Lab Rats (tm) and discover the strange blue glow coming from around the Men's Room door!]