A ‘Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons’ short story
“I’m sorry sir, but what I said was; ‘You can’t park here’.”
“You can’t park your tank here, sir,” the brown uniformed individual repeated to the scarlet-and-charcoal-clad officer.
Captain Scarlet gave the man a look of disbelief. “It is not a tank,” he retorted, wondering how he’d managed to get into this discussion in the first place. He took a deep breath. “It’s an S-P-V, and this is Spectrum’s administration complex,” Scarlet waved vaguely in the direction of the large conglomeration of buildings nearby.
“I’m sure it is,” the inspector replied somewhat patronisingly, “but you still cannot park your SPC here. It is too large for the parking space for starters.”
“SPV,” Scarlet corrected. “Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle. So where can I park it?” he added impatiently.
“Well, that I don’t know yet,” replied the inspector consulting his vehicle authorisation list. “There’s nothing in here about ‘SPVs’. In any case this zone is reserved for family passenger vehicles, strictly two hours metered parking. To park in one of the council’s other designated areas you would need to apply for a parking permit. And if I may point out sir, it is customary to apply for a permit well in advance of the required date. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve visited our fair city?” the inspector suggested.
“No,” replied Scarlet tersely.
“Well first time in a tan- I mean SPV perhaps,” remarked the inspector, seeing an excellent opportunity to provide a lesson on council procedures to the Spectrum officer.
Captain Scarlet nodded vaguely, wondering how long this was all going to take. Not for the first time did the Spectrum captain bemoan the limited parking available for wheeled vehicles inside the compound - and the fact he’d forgotten to request a space when he’d submitted his itinerary for the visit. And why in heaven’s name the meeting he’d arrived for couldn’t have been held on Cloudbase in the first place… He sighed as the parking officer droned on.
The inspector soon realised his target audience was not paying attention so he quickly concluded his speech, “I repeat - you should have applied in advance for a parking permit.”
“This is an official military vehicle!” exclaimed Captain Scarlet sharply, having caught the last sentence. Taking in the stubborn expression of the parking inspector Scarlet paused and, suspecting he was going to regret it, he asked resignedly, “What kind of parking permit?”
“Well, there’s lots of kinds of permits - one of them should suit,” replied the inspector cheerfully, his good humour restored. “Let’s see, there’s the Resident’s permit… No? Well, how about a Community Service Organisation permit - it’s for local charities and the like. No? How about a Tradesperson’s permit …or a Party permit maybe? Not here for a birthday party or something celebratory like that are you sir?”
Scarlet shook his head and glanced quickly at his watch.
Noting his impatience the inspector muttered under his breath, don’t think he qualifies for a Disabled Parking permit either. He continued aloud, “Here’s something - a visitor’s permit.”
“And how do I get one of those?” asked Captain Scarlet.
“You have to fill in a form and deliver it to the council offices and we’ll post the permit vehicle sticker back to you in due course.”
“What!” Scarlet looked desperately around for help. “Look, there must be an exemption or something for government vehicles.”
“Government, eh? Hmm. Local?” the inspector asked.
“World,” replied the Spectrum captain coldly.
“I see. Well in that case … I do have the discretion to grant a temporary parking permit,” replied the inspector carefully peeling off a bright fluorescent orange sticker to place prominently on the SPV, “…which can be issued for vehicles (excluding the more domestic means of transport) for the purpose of government business. Sorry, I forgot - I don’t get many of these requests. Actually your, um, SPV is the first one I’ve ever had to fill the paperwork out for. And now that I think about it, I know just the place to park it - over on that vacant block of council land should be fine. I have another sticker for that,” the inspector added ingenuously, peeling off a much larger and equally garish fluorescent pink sticker.
Captain Scarlet stared across the road and eyed the boggy ground of the vacant block with misgivings.
“Now if I can just get some details for the paperwork. Vehicle weight?” asked the inspector.
“Eight tons,” replied Captain Scarlet, pleased to be able to supply a correct answer at last.
“Good. Vehicle registration number?”
“SPV C42,” answered Scarlet.
The parking inspector gave the Spectrum captain a doubtful expression. “Are you sure sir? In fact I don’t see any sign of registration plates or a current vehicle registration label on the, erm, SPV at all.”
“It’s not commonly displayed. For security reasons,” answered Scarlet, suddenly getting very cunning. He stared defiantly at the council officer daring him to challenge the statement… and was gratified to see his opponent look away first.
“I see. Most unfortunate…no plates…” the inspector’s voice trailed off. He glanced again at the impatient Spectrum officer and back at the paperwork… and had a sudden brainwave. “Of course if I can see some ID… and you could sign an indemnity form absolving the council of any responsibility for your, ah, SPV… just in case anything should happen to it while it is temporarily parked on council land?”
“Fine,” replied Scarlet through gritted teeth. “Give me the form and I’ll sign it.”
“Identification first, if you please sir,” the inspector countered primly.
Captain Scarlet showed the inspector his Spectrum ID. A quick look at his antagonist’s face told him there was another problem. “What now?” he asked crossly.
“Mmm. You wouldn’t happen to have a proper driver’s licence, sir? Preferably endorsed for handling heavy vehicles? I mean this Spectrum ID is a bit sparse on the necessary details,” suggested the council officer peering sceptically at the proffered card.
“I assure you it covers driving SPVs,” Scarlet replied firmly, “it’s a multi-purpose ID.”
“Oh, I see,” said the inspector who plainly didn’t.
Captain Scarlet held out his hand for the paperwork and the parking inspector realised he could go no further. He gave the Spectrum captain the forms and watched carefully as everything was signed and dated as required. Without another word Captain Scarlet handed back the signed documents and after a look of disapproval at the SPV’s colourful new parking authorisation stickers he nodded a pointed goodbye to the parking inspector, got back into the SPV and drove to the nearby vacant lot. He completely missed the inspector’s parting shot to ‘drive carefully’.
Captain Scarlet parked his SPV on the disused block and delayed leaving the vehicle for a minute, briefly closing his eyes. He had an idea he should be profoundly grateful there were no parking inspectors on Cloudbase. Enough. With a mental shake he opened the SPV and stepped gingerly out onto the muddy ground. A quick glance down the street bordering the nearby Spectrum buildings told him the inspector had gone. He hurriedly strode across to the complex.
~ n ~
Captain Scarlet arrived at the meeting with a few minutes to spare, much to his surprise.
“Glad you could make it, old buddy,” noted his partner Captain Blue, with a glance at his watch. “I expected you sooner though.”
“You wouldn’t believe the trouble I had,” replied Scarlet ruefully. “It started the minute I arrived in the SPV…there was this unbelievably petty bureaucrat, complete with forms and labels and well…” he broke off with an apologetic shrug.
“Ahh, I get it. You must have met the local council’s newest parking inspector,” grinned Captain Blue. “I’ve heard all about him from the staff here. Takes his duties seriously, doesn’t he? I’ve also heard complaining to the council about him won’t do any good either. It’s already been implied he lies in wait to specifically ambush Spectrum personnel - not that anyone can prove it of course. If there’s the slightest chance of a parking infringement he appears almost like magic. Would you believe he has even dropped hints that Spectrum Saloon Cars should be a different colour as only the local metropolitan fire engines should be red….” Blue paused, taking in his partner’s grim expression as Scarlet suddenly stood up and walked purposefully towards the door. “Hey! The others will be here any second and the meeting’s due to start in five minutes - where are you going?”
“Too find that damn inspector…after I’ve made a little detour,” replied Captain Scarlet.
“What detour?” asked Blue, recognising his partner’s determined look.
“To get the Mysteron detector.”
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