A Spot of Trouble

‘This isn’t going to work,’ said HyJean for the seventh time.
‘It will, trust me,’ said Captain Clean. ‘It’s an old trick I picked up in Denmark.’

The squad were all gathered in the base on the second floor of the Filtham community centre ready to witness Captain Clean’s attempt to hypnotise their newest recruit, Nelson Gush. Having been experimented on in a lab, Nelson had the extraordinary ability to produce large amounts of water from his body at will, which had been controlled by HyJean using a pair of gauntlets with some technology embedded within them that was far too complicated for anyone without a science degree to explain. With his abilities now controlled, he was part of the grime fighting group known as the Sanitary Squad, with his new alias, Faucet.

When Captain Clean and HyJean first met Nelson in the hospital, he had very little memory of anything prior, other than being a lab. HyJean suspected this was a form of amnesia brought on by the trauma of the experiments that had been done on his body. On this particular morning, they had been attempting to recover some of Nelson’s memories using various methods, none of which had worked. But the captain was now sat very close to Nelson holding up a bath plug on a chain.

‘I’m going to slowly put you into a trance and when you’re under we should be able to access your subconscious memories,’ Captain Clean explained.
‘Okay, let’s do it,’ said Faucet as he took a deep breath and relaxed, before quickly adding, ‘just keep away from any private memories or… mature content.’

The captain nodded and started the process, but rather than swinging the watch side to side like a pendulum, he instead held the watch perfectly straight and swaying his body left and right.

‘You are feeling veeery sleeeepy,’ he began in what he thought was a soothing voice, but actually came across quite sinister, with an unintended accent that made him sound like Count Dracula.
‘Shouldn’t it be the watch that’s swinging?’ asked Suds from behind.
‘This is a seeeecret variaaaaation that is much more effeeeective,’ said Cap in the same breathy lilt, still staring directly at Faucet. ‘Veeeeery sleepy… veeeeery sleepy.’
‘He should just give him one of his pre-mission motivational speeches,’ Flush muttered to HyJean, ‘That’d send him right off.’
‘When I make a bird noise, you will be under,’ said the captain, who then did a loud ‘SQUAWK!’

Though the others jumped a little, Faucet seemed to suddenly snap into a hypnotic state, staring straight ahead blankly with wide eyes and a totally emotionless expression.

‘You are now under my spell,’ said Captain Clean. ‘To confirm, please state your name.’
‘My name is Nelson Horatio Barbara Gush,’ said Faucet in a monotone voice.
‘And where were you born?’
‘I was born in Washington DC, United States.’
‘Do you know the name of the person who experimented on you in the laboratory?’
‘Are you able to tell me the name?’
‘Okay, tell me the name.’
‘His name was…’ Faucet said, with a long, dramatic pause for effect, ‘Mick Goldman, otherwise known as Sergeant Suds.’

Everyone let out a surprised gasp and turned around to Suds, who spat out his tea in shock.

‘What?!’ he cried, stuttering to try and explain himself to the baffled squad. ‘I never… I didn’t… I wasn’t…’
‘Nah, I’m just messing with ya,’ Faucet chuckled, quickly returning to his normal state. ‘The hypnosis didn’t work. But man, you should’ve seen the looks on your faces!’


‘Here’s your order ma’am. I hope you enjoy your food and have a happy happy day.’

It was Wendell’s first day working at Happy Happy Burger, the city’s beloved fast-food restaurant. After studying for 5 years at medical school, his sudden change of mind about his career path was seemingly paying off. Now, as he stood wearing his customary burger-shaped hat, he felt like he was ready to take on the world… or at least the Filtham branch of Happy Happy Burger.

The fast-food joint was not the best, nor was it the cleanest, but it was cheap, so it was popular. It was originally called Happy Burger, but the owner felt this wasn’t positive enough, so as part of a very expensive rebrand, it was renamed Happy Happy Burger. The staff were mostly young post-graduates, desperate for a successful career but too lazy to get one. Wendell was no different. With his spotty face and square glasses, he looked like a stereotypical nerd – his naïvely optimistic outlook gleaming in the sparkle of his braces.

The morning had gone well, with a series of happy customers and an even happier manager. But things took an unexpected turn after one young girl took her Cheery Cheeseburger meal and a group of masked people in home-made costumes strode up to the counter. Wendell clung a little tighter to the till for support. He was new to the city and had not yet heard of its team of government-funded grime-fighting heroes. He struggled to maintain his professional manner as he sheepishly greeted the first of the costumed customers.

‘Hello sir, what would you like today?’ he muttered as confidently as he could manage.
Flush leaned in and spoke with a low, gruff voice, ‘I’d like a city full of law abiding, respectful people with a side order of justice.’
‘Um… wh… I uh…’ stuttered Wendell as beads of sweat started to form on his brow.
‘I’m just kidding,’ laughed Flush, returning to his normal jovial state. ‘A Blissful Beef Burger meal with fries and a strawberry milkshake please’

Wendell breathed a sigh of relief and gathered the items that made up the man’s meal, including a little toy burger with arms and legs protruding from its burger body and a big smiling face on the front. He handed the meal to the masked man and continued to serve HyJean and Suds, who had equally enthusiastically named meals. All the meals had positive, happy names, although the quality of the food generally had the opposite effect on the customers themselves.

Faucet, meanwhile, was back at the base working through the physical training routine that Captain Clean had set him. The captain had never actually trained anyone from scratch before, so he mainly stole ideas from the film Rocky and mixed in some cleaning tutorials from YouTube to personalise it a bit. Faucet didn’t mind, he was just enjoying being part of the team.

‘Where’s Cap?’ asked HyJean once they’d all got their meals.

They looked around the restaurant and spotted Captain Clean in his trademark micro-fibre cape and marigold gloves on the other side of the restaurant. He was currently having an argument with one of the staff about the cleanliness of the tables. The girl was also in her late teens and was clearly not paid enough to care about giving each table a thorough clean between customers. Nevertheless, the captain started scrubbing a table with his sponge – he always carried one with him – and aggressively lecturing her on the importance of using anti-bacterial spray to make sure there was no leftover sauce or grease that could contaminate a customer’s meal. The squad walked over to break up the lesson, with Suds calmly pulling the captain away while HyJean apologised to the girl, who by this point was on the verge of tears.

They all sat down in a booth and began eating their meals. Despite their job revolving around sanitation, most of the squad enjoyed eating at the unhealthy Happy Happy Burger. It felt like a bit of a break from their daily hygiene-focussed work. Captain Clean, however, did not share their feelings and was always reluctant to meet there. He’d even brought his own sandwich to avoid eating the poorly prepared food from the unclean (he suspected) kitchen. He was also picky about what foods he ate, preferring chicken or beef over any kind of pork, as pigs were notoriously dirty and he couldn’t bear the thought of eating meat that had come from such an unclean animal. He laid a handkerchief out on the table and took out an anti-bacterial hand wipe from the dispenser on his belt.

‘So, any news on Faucet’s history?’ the captain asked as he wiped his hands.
‘I’m afraid not,’ said HyJean. ‘I’ve searched the Washington records and there’s nothing. It’s like he doesn’t exist.’
‘And we’re absolutely sure he does exist?’ asked Flush.
‘I‘m pretty sure he does,’ said HyJean sarcastically. ‘I poked him quite a bit.’
‘Have you spoken to the police?’ asked Suds.
‘Well I’ve emailed them, but you know what they’re like. It’ll take at least a couple of months until we hear back,’ said HyJean, dipping a couple of fries into a little cup of something that looked not unlike ketchup.
‘And what about the laboratories?’ Captain Clean asked as he started on his chicken sandwich.
HyJean held her finger up, gesturing for the captain to wait a second while she finished what she was eating. She was polite like that. When she was finished, she answered, ‘I’ve found a few laboratories in the city, but all of them seem pretty clean – figuratively, I mean. I can’t say how clean they are literally.’
The captain was just about to reply with a plan when he suddenly felt a gentle tug on his cape.
‘Excuse me mister. Can I have your autograph please?’ came a young sounding voice behind him.
Captain Clean turned around to see a young boy, no older than 7, standing next to him, shyly holding a Happy Happy Burger napkin.
‘No,’ said the captain. ‘Go away.’
HyJean kicked him under the table and made a little grunting noise.
‘Sorry,’ the captain said in a politer tone, ‘No, go away please.’
The boy sulked off and Captain Clean turned back to continue eating his meal.
‘How could you do that?’ fumed HyJean, ‘That little boy considers you his hero and you just tell him to go away.’
‘I said please,’ said Captain Clean with a little embarrassed shrug.
‘She’s right Cap,’ agreed Flush. ‘That was a bit of a douche move.’
‘Go and apologise to him now,’ HyJean insisted.
‘But I’m eating!’ he pleaded.
HyJean quickly leant over the table and grabbed the sponge off the table.
‘Go, now!’ she said in an authoritative voice. ‘Or you won’t get your sponge back.’
‘Fine,’ the captain sighed as he stood up like a schoolboy that had just been sent to the headmaster’s office.
He unwillingly went over to a table where a family were sitting.
‘Sorry kid, here you go,’ he scribbled his name on a napkin and gave it to the young boy.
‘Who are you?’ asked the young boy with a confused look on his face that matched those worn by the rest of his family.
‘I’m Captain Clean, you just came and asked me for an autograph,’ the captain replied, a little irritated.
‘No I didn’t.’
‘Yes you did.’
‘No, I really didn’t.’
‘Yes, you really did. Right over there,’ insisted the captain, pointing over to their table. On second glance, he noticed HyJean was mouthing something and pointing to a different table where a familiar looking boy was sitting. ‘Okay, sorry to bother you.’

Captain Clean went to the correct table and gave the correct little boy the autograph. The boy got very excited and even the captain could see how much it meant to him. Although that didn’t mean he wanted to make a habit of doing it.


Meanwhile in the base, Nelson was busy taking his anger and frustration out on an unfortunate punching bag. He’d drawn an angry looking face on it that grinned menacingly at him as he stood before it.

‘Hey, you lookin’ at me? You want a piece of this, huh bag guy? Well here it is!’

He ran forward to hit it, but slipped on a towel on the floor, lost his footing and fell face first onto the bag, bouncing back and falling to the ground. He groaned as he looked up and saw the swinging bag grinning down at him. He quickly stood up and brushed himself off.

‘Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be is it? Well in that case, have some foot!’

He threw his leg in the air and struck the bag a roundhouse kick. Sadly, it seemed to do more damage to his foot than the bag.

‘Argh!’ he cried. ‘Right then, time to play dirty.’

He left the room and seconds later came running back in, screaming and holding a knife.

‘Surprise attack!’ he shouted as he jumped at the bag from behind and slashed it open.

Sand poured on the floor and the face slumped down as the fabric dropped down, making the bag take on a sad expression.

‘Ha! Didn’t see that coming did you?’ he said, putting his arms on his hips proudly. He stood and watched the sand pouring out all over the floor, and his face slowly sank with a heavy sigh. ‘Ah man, I gotta clear this up now.’


‘So, we don’t know anything at all about this guy, except his name and where he might be from?’ asked Sergeant Suds.
‘Pretty much,’ said HyJean with a shrug as she finished off her fries.
‘Do you really think it’s wise to let a total stranger join the squad, Cap?’ Suds asked.
‘Probably not,’ the captain admitted. ‘But we’re better off keeping him around so we can help him figure out what’s happened to him. I said he can sleep in the break room for now until he can remember where he lives.’
‘Hey, I’ve got a question,’ said Flush, who was playing with a little plastic mascot for Happy Happy Burger. ‘Why is the burger happy? Does he not understand his only purpose in life is to be eaten?’
The others chuckled while Cap gave a dissatisfied look.
‘Hey Flush,’ said Suds. ‘Don’t you have work on Tuesdays?’
‘Yeah, why?’ he asked, not taking his eye off the toy.
‘Well… today is Tuesday.’
Flush paused and looked up and suddenly realised he was late for work. He jumped up, climbed over the others and ran off. A few seconds later, he returned to pick up the remains of his burger.
‘This is your fault,’ he said to the toy and then once again he was gone.

Captain Clean was just about to take a sip of his bottled water, but as he did so he noticed a young boy who had been waiting patiently with a hand-drawn comic book in his hand. The captain sighed.

‘See, this is what happens when you do it once,’ said the captain to the remainder of the gathered squad.
‘Oh shut up,’ said HyJean.
‘Let’s have a look son,’ said Suds, taking the boy’s comic and flicking through it to show the others.
‘Wow, this is amazing,’ said HyJean. ‘You’re so talented.’
‘This is fantastic,’ added Suds. ‘Very creative.’
‘My legs aren’t that short,’ Captain Clean grumbled. ‘And the colours are all wrong.’

The squad all signed the cover of the comic and handed it back to the boy with more encouraging remarks and cheery smiles. The boy happily skipped off and the squad returned to their food and conversation. However, within seconds there was a cough behind them requesting their attention. The captain turned around and saw a dozen little boys and girls queued up in a line holding napkins and drawings.

‘Oh great,’ Captain Clean sighed.

‘FAUCET!’ came the booming voice of Captain Clean from the training room. Seconds later, Faucet came running in, breathless and worried as he looked at the captain staring at the deflated punching bag hanging from the ceiling.

‘Hey Mr Cane, sorry about the punch bag. Mary’s ordered us a new one.’
‘I don’t care about that. Why is this place such a mess?’ the captain asked.

Faucet looked around the room and couldn’t see any mess at all. True, it had recently had a big pile of sand on it, but he’d swept it up and vacuumed twice to be sure.
‘What do you mean? I swept up after I’d finished training and wiped the stuff down like you said.’
‘The floor is filthy,’ the captain replied, pointing to a spot on one of the mats. ‘Look.’
Faucet bent down to look closely and noticed three grains of sand still on the wooded floor. He winced a little and clicked his fingers. ‘Ah man, I thought I got it all.’
‘Nelson, something you must learn is that no matter how clean you think the world is, there is always more to clean. It’s our job to look for these grains of sand and pick them up when nobody else will.’ The captain bent down and picked up the sand, holding it out in his hand as if he were performing a mildly interesting magic trick at a child’s birthday party. ‘Only then will we be able to live our lives in cleanliness.’
‘Okay man, got it,’ Faucet nodded as he took the grains of sand from the captain’s hand and sheepishly left the room.
‘Man, I’ve never seen someone get so worked up about a few grains of sand,’ he said as he tossed them in a nearby bin and sauntered over to HyJean and Suds who were sat at the central desk reading a magazine and a newspaper, respectively.
‘That’s nothing,’ said HyJean. ‘One time I had a packet of crisps and he found crumbs on my desk. He flipped out so bad that downstairs called the police.’
‘Yeah, I remember that,’ said Suds. ‘Was that the time they tranquilised him?’
‘No, that was when we spilt the bag of rice in the kitchen.’
Faucet was starting to look a little concerned. ‘Y… you guys are joking right?’
HyJean smiled, ‘Yes, of course.’
‘Phew,’ said Faucet as he sat down. He looked over at the newspaper Sergeant Suds was reading and an article, or rather the accompanying picture, on the front page caught his eye. ‘Hey, who’s that guy?’

Suds closed the paper to see who he was referring to. ‘Hm? Oh, that’s Doctor Friedrich Ozone,’ he explained. ‘A local scientist and philanthropist.’
‘I think… I think I know him,’ Faucet said with a furrowed brow, like he was trying to coax a long-lost memory from his brain. ‘I’ve seen him somewhere, I’m sure of it. I think he might be to do with the lab.’
‘Really?’ asked HyJean, putting her magazine down and sitting up intently at the revelation. ‘I think we should tell Cap about this.’
‘Tell Cap about what?” asked the captain himself as he came into the room.
‘Faucet here recognises Doctor Ozone,’ Suds explained. ‘Thinks he’s something to do with the lab that experimented on him.’
‘Hm, seems unlikely’, said the captain. ‘But we can go speak to him anyway. Come on, Nelson, let’s see what we can find out. No time like the present. Except maybe the past, that was pretty good.’

Faucet got up and headed over to the door with Captain Clean, who didn’t bother with his usual routine of arming himself.

‘I think I’d better go with them,’ said Suds as he stood up from the table. ‘By the way, why did you say we were joking earlier? We did have to tranquilise Cap that time.’
‘Well, we don’t want to scare the boy off,’ said HyJean. ‘Besides, Cap’s not that bad anymore.’
‘Really? Yesterday he punched a guy because he didn’t use a handkerchief when he sneezed.’
‘That is pretty unhygienic.’
‘The guy was a fireman hanging off the edge of a building!’
‘Fair point.’


As they walked across the foyer, the three grime fighters received many bemused looks from passers-by. Cap and Suds were used to it by now though, as they found themselves in their work attire in the most unlikely of places. Only last week they’d been investigating a strip club called whilst in costume. To their frustration, they’d been mistaken for one of the acts, with several women stuffing bank notes into the captain’s utility belt. It was an embarrassing, if prosperous night, which both agreed never to talk about again. However, Faucet was new to the attention, and felt a little embarrassed as the people looked at him and muttered to themselves.

They called the elevator, and when it arrived, they stepped inside, standing next to a young woman who was not wearing a white coat, so she probably wasn’t a scientist. After a brief moment of awkward silence, the woman asked, ‘Excuse me, but are you boys from Ruby Strippers?’
Faucet was surprised by the question, as it almost seemed like the woman recognised them. Both the captain and Suds gulped a little, hoping she wouldn’t elaborate.
‘No ma’am,’ said Captain Clean proudly, ‘we’re grime fighters.’
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘That’s a shame.’

The rest of the vertical journey returned to the awkward silence, partly because the woman was wondering if she could get similar outfits for her husband and partly because Suds had farted and didn’t want to draw any attention to himself. After stopping to let the woman off, they continued riding upwards and Faucet finally broke the silence.

‘So, who exactly is this Doctor Ozone guy?’ he asked. ‘What does he do?’
‘He’s a scientist, specialising in ecology,’ Cap explained, ‘Living organisms and their environment.’
‘He’s also a notorious criminal,’ Suds added, which piqued Faucet’s attention.
‘Really?’ Faucet asked.
‘No, he’s not,’ the captain reassured him. ‘The rest of the squad seem to have something against him, but he’s a perfectly upstanding citizen who’s done a lot of good for this city. His research and new technologies have helped reduce carbon emissions, doubled our recycling output and made us one of the leading cities in renewable energy sources. He’s a good man.’
‘Cap, we literally stopped him from poisoning the whole city last week,’ Suds pointed out.
‘I told you, that was a misunderstanding,’ the captain sighed. ‘He was the one distributing the antidote.’
‘WE distributed the antidote that Jean made!’ Suds argued.
Their arguing was interrupted by a loud ding as they arrived at the top floor, where Dr Ozone’s office was located. At the end of a short corridor, they came to a large set of doors, which Captain Clean knocked on. A door opened slightly and a young woman answered. She had jet black hair with a few green streaks, and was dressed in similarly dark clothing.

‘Yes?’ she asked in a dreary voice, like a teenager who’d just been disturbed whilst listening to sad music.
‘We’d like to speak to Doctor Ozone, please,’ Captain Clean said with a smile.

The girl looked back into the room and then back at them with an expression that gave away nothing. ‘He’s busy.’

She went to close the door, but Captain Clean was clearly used to this reaction and quickly wedged his foot between the door and the frame. The girl seemed to have some strength behind her, as the captain let out a little yelp as the door closed on his foot.

‘It’s rather urgent,’ he said through a wince. ‘He might have some information that could save a life.’

There was an audible sigh from behind the door and a voice with a distinct German accent spoke out.

‘It is okay, Polly, let them-‘

Before he could finish, Sergeant Suds’ foot came smashing through the door. He’d grown impatient and decided to use brute strength to gain entrance, much to the surprise of everyone else inside and outside the room.

‘… in,’ the doctor finished with an unamused roll of his eyes.

The grime fighters strode across the room, which had black walls lined with paintings that were all primarily blue. There was a section of the wall dedicated to framed degrees and newspaper clippings featuring photos of a German man in a white coat smiling. The room was relatively tidy, save for a large desk at the farthest end that was covered with papers and random metal objects that looked like they were parts of something bigger and more complex. Behind the desk was sat Doctor Ozone himself – a wiry man with messy black hair and thick rimmed glasses, which he adjusted as he stood up to greet them.

‘Good afternoon, gentlemen,’ he said, extending a hand for any of them to take. The captain seemed reluctant, and Suds was visibly turned off by the gesture, so Faucet leant forward and shook the hand. ‘How can I help you?’ he asked as he looked down at his now slightly moist hand. He wiped it on his trousers and continued. ‘I believe you said there was a life that needed saving?’
‘Ah yes, well I may have embellished that a little,’ said the captain, almost blushing under his toilet roll mask. He was quite the fan of the doctor and his work, so it felt like talking to a celebrity when he was in the doctor’s presence. ‘But we’d like to ask you about our friend Nelson here. See, he was brought to us secreting water all over his body. We’ve discovered that all the blood in his body has been replaced by water, but with all the essential properties of blood.’

‘Interesting, very interesting,’ Doctor Ozone said as he returned to his desk and sat down.

‘We’ve managed to control the water so that he can produce it from his body at will, but we have no idea how he came to be like this,’ the captain continued. ‘The only thing he remembers is being experimented on in a laboratory. He recognised your face, so we thought maybe you might know something about him and his condition.’
The doctor paused for a moment, pondering over what he’d heard, before shaking his head. ‘I’m afraid I cannot help you. As interesting as this all sounds, I do not know this Mr Gush, nor any laboratory that would perform such… fascinating experiments.’
‘Oh, well I’m sorry we wasted your time, doctor,’ said Captain Clean as he made to stand up.
‘Wait a minute,’ said Suds as he suddenly realised something. ‘If you don’t know him, how do you know his last name is Gush? We only called him Nelson.’
‘Yes, that is what I said, Nelson,’ Doctor Ozone said, brushing away the remark.
‘No, you called him Mr Gush,’ Suds continued.
‘Sergeant Suds, please, don’t correct the doctor,’ said the captain. ‘The man clearly knows what he said.’

Suds huffed and stood up, slamming his hands down on the desk and leaning in. The doctor remained calm and collected.

‘He’s clearly hiding something,’ Suds said. ‘Why can’t you see it?’
‘He’s not hiding anything. He’s a scientist trying to help the city, Captain Clean argued. The doctor, meanwhile, sat smiling at the two grime fighters arguing, while Nelson sat awkwardly fiddling with his hands and not knowing what to do with himself.

Suds let out a laugh and picked up an unusual looking gun off the messy desk. ‘Really? By making weapons?’
‘That is a hair dryer,’ the doctor said in a flippant tone and a look that suggested he was lying but was confident they’d fall for it. Or at least one of them would.
Suds looked at it closer and spotted a little dial on the side. ‘So why does it have a stun and a kill setting?’
‘I have very tough hair,’ he said dryly with the slightest hint of a smirk.
‘Well then, you won’t mind if I dry your hair right now,’ Suds said as he pointed the device at the doctor, whose eyebrows raised slightly.

Suds could tell he was lying, but the explanation seemed to have won Captain Clean over. The captain stood up, snatched the gun out of Suds’ hands and put it back on the desk.

‘Look, there’s an easy way to settle this,’ he said, turning to Faucet. ‘Nelson, do you recognise this man?’
Faucet looked at Dr Ozone sheepishly, then back at Captain Clean, then over at Sergeant Suds, then back to the captain.

‘I uh… well, I don’t know,’ he stuttered. He did recognise the doctor, but he didn’t know where from. He also didn’t know who to side with, since the captain was essentially his boss, but Suds seemed very certain that the doctor was evil. ‘I mean I do recognise him, but I don’t know if… I suppose he could’ve… but, I can’t say.’
‘Very enlightening,’ Doctor Ozone said dryly. ‘Gentlemen, I am a well-known and respected figure in this city. The boy has clearly heard of me and perhaps knows my work in ecohydrology. It would be fitting, no?’
‘There you go, see, a perfectly logical explanation,’ the captain said to Suds. ‘I told you this was a waste of time. I think we’d better leave the good doctor to get back to his work. Thank you for your help doctor, we’ll see ourselves out.’

The captain wasted no time in leaving, marching out as boldly as he’d entered. Suds looked at the doctor, who just sat back relaxed and gave him a self-assured smile. Suds let out a defeated sigh, before unwillingly turning and following the captain out. Faucet, meanwhile, sat and waited in his chair, baffled by what was going on and looking around waiting for someone to tell him what to do.

‘I think you’re supposed to go with them,’ the doctor suggested.
‘Oh right, thanks,’ Faucet said, rising and quickly walking after his two colleagues.

Polly closed the door behind them, bending down and looking through the big hole in the door and watching their visitors slowly shrink as they walked down the corridor. She was about to move when suddenly a face appeared in front of her on the other side of the door. She jumped back a little started.

‘Hey, sorry,’ said Faucet. ‘Polly, was it? I just wondered if you fancied going for a drink later?’

Polly hummed and gave a little smile. She reached up and opened the door a little. As Faucet stepped forward to enter, she slammed the door back shut, hitting him square in the face.

‘I’ll take that as a no then,’ Faucet said, holding his nose and walking off down the corridor.

Polly chuckled to herself and walked off into another room to continue her own work. Once she had left the room, Doctor Ozone picked up his phone and dialled. He waited for a moment for the person on the other end to answer. When they did, they said nothing.

‘It’s me,’ he said in a very serious tone. ‘He survived.’

There was a brief dramatic pause as the room filled with tension and Doctor Ozone waited to hear what reaction his big revelation would bring.

‘Who survived?’ asked a voice on the other end. They sounded a little older than the doctor, but with a posh English accent.
‘Project Tap, the water guy,’ the doctor reminded him. ‘He somehow survived, and the Sanitary Squad have him.’
‘Does he remember anything?’
‘It seems not, they thought it was my doing.’
‘Good, let’s keep it that way.’

The line cut off and the doctor put his phone down on the desk. He sat back in his chair and interlocked his fingers, staring into the distance. He picked up the weapon on his desk and laughed lightly to himself.

‘Hairdryer. He’ll believe anything.’

As he played with the weapon, it accidentally went off in his hands, destroying a plant on the opposite side of the room. Polly poked her head around the door, looking at the plant-shaped scorch marks on the wall and then back at the doctor.

‘Everything okay?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ Doctor Ozone nodded, ‘I forgot to put the safety on.’


‘Give it to me, I’ll do it.’
‘No, I can do it.’
‘Just give -’
‘No, get off, I’m doing it.’

It was late and Happy Happy Burger had not long closed for the night. Wendell had gone home to another streaming marathon of Star Trek and a microwave meal for one. His girlfriend preferred home cooked foods, so she made her own dinner.

At the back of the fast-food restaurant, a pair of figures in masks were trying to pick the lock of the staff exit. The slightly taller one dressed all in black was a man called Gerry, known to the criminal underworld as The Blackhead. His partner was a younger woman dressed in scarlet called Nell, known as Pimple. They were quick, they were experienced, and they were married.

The two had met at a weapons expo a few years previously and had hit it off when Gerry was trying out a new crowbar and accidentally hit it off Nell’s head. Luckily, she was testing a new metal helmet and only suffered mild embarrassment after the loud clang echoed around the hall. The two villains had had mildly successful individual careers as robbers, but now enjoyed working together to commit bigger robberies and other nefarious deeds. Although “enjoyed” may not be right word, as they were currently in the middle of one of their regular squabbles, which was about to be interrupted by a click as the door unlocked.

‘Aha!’ cried Blackhead. ‘See, I told you I’d do it.’
‘Oh yeah, after 5 minutes of picking,’ argued his wife. ‘You’re hardly Harry Houdini.’
‘Oh, shut up,’ said Blackhead as he pushed open the door.

They crept into the room and over to the alarm system on the wall. They had 10 seconds before the quiet beeping stopped and loud wailing alerted the whole road to what they were up to.

‘What’s the 4-digit code?’ whispered Blackhead.
‘4, 6, 3, 5.’

He tapped the numbers on the pad, but the beeping didn’t stop. In fact, it got louder, and a little red light started flashing on the panel.

‘Oh, for Christ sake. Now what have you done?’ Pimple groaned.
‘Nothing, I put in what you said. 4, 6, 3, 9,’ her husband replied.
‘I said 5! F-I-V-E, not 9!’
‘You said 9!’
‘I did not!’
‘Well it sounded like 9!’
‘Well maybe if you listened properly, you’d get it right.’
‘And maybe if you didn’t wear a balaclava over your mouth, I could hear you properly.’

At which point their argument was interrupted by a loud wailing noise that was attempting to alert the whole road to what they were up to.

‘Quick!’ screamed Pimple. ‘Make it stop!’
‘What’s the code again?!’ cries Blackhead.
‘I don’t know!’ she said in a panic. ‘Try bash, bash, bash.’

Blackhead whipped out the hammer on the other end of his lock picking device and bashed on the alarm. It made a few distressed bleeping noises before it fell silent and the couple breathed a sigh of relief. The couple returned to their van and opened up the doors, revealing a large hose connected to a pumping machine that was connected to a large metal container with various switches and leavers on.

‘Right, let’s get this grease and go,’ said Pimple, handing her husband the end of the hose. ‘Think you can handle that?’

Blackhead gave her an unimpressed look and headed into the main kitchen area of the restaurant, the hose unravelling as he went. He dropped it into one of the fryers and barked like a dog to signal his wife to turn it on. While the thick, brown liquid made its way down the pipe and into the container, Blackhead helped himself to some leftover fries and perched himself on top of the counter. After a few minutes, the grease was drained and they moved onto the next fryer. Soon, all three fryers were empty, and Pimple meowed to signal that the container in the van was full. Blackhead pulled the hose out of the fryer and returned to his wife.

‘Here, I got you this,’ he said, handing her a small plastic milkshake cup toy with little feet and an innocent smiley face, which he’d swiped from the counter.
‘Aww, so cute! Thanks sweetie,’ she said with a smile that almost matched the one on the toy.

They packed the hose away and closed the van doors, looking back at the restaurant they’d just looted.

‘Should we lock it back up?’ asked Blackhead, gesturing to the back door of the restaurant.
‘Yeah, we best had,’ said Pimple. ‘Don’t want anyone breaking in while their alarm’s not working.’


The next morning, HyJean was in her room working on an upgraded version of Faucet’s gauntlets that would enable him to project his water. As she hummed and tinkered, Faucet himself wandered in.

‘Hi Jean,’ Faucet said and then instantly realised how his greeting sounded. ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean… I meant hello Jean.’
‘Hey Nelson, don’t worry about it,’ she smiled. ‘The boys do that joke all the time.’
Faucet pulled up a chair and sat down, looking in awe at the wall that was covered – top to bottom, end to end – in sheets of paper with notes, sketches and diagrams scribbled all over them.
‘Couldn’t afford wallpaper huh?’ he said as he gazed at the wall of writing.
‘Those are just my notes,’ she explained. ‘Helps me think. So, how’s the training going?’
‘Yeah, good. It’s going well,’ he nodded. ‘If were ever attacked by an army of punch bags, I’ll definitely be ready.’
HyJean laughed as she tightened a screw on the gauntlets. ‘Well, these should be ready soon, so then the real fun will start.’
Faucet continued to study the wall of notes, while HyJean worked. For a few minutes there was silence, until HyJean suddenly remembered something that had happened a few days before. She put her tools down and turned around.
‘I’m sorry about the other day by the way,’ said HyJean. ‘Y’know, the… flirting. I was just messing about, I thought you were asleep.’
‘Ah don’t worry about it,’ Faucet replied.
‘It’s just now that I’m married with a young boy, so I don’t get to do much flirting anymore.’
‘It’s fine, honestly.’
HyJean gave a little relieved smile and continued her work.
‘So does your husband know what you do?’ asked Faucet.
‘Yeah, I told him. I know you shouldn’t, but it’s easier than coming up with excuses why I come home bruised and worn out all the time.’
‘That’s fair enough. What does your boy think of it?’
‘Oh he loves it. He’s not allowed to tell anyone about it. I told him if he keeps it secret until he’s 18 then he can join. But every night he asks me to tell him stories about fighting grime.’
‘Aww, that’s cute.’
‘So what about you? Any family or… anyone?’
‘No idea, I’ve got amnesia, remember?’
‘Oh, of course, sorry. It must be so awful for you, not knowing who you are or where you’re from. Your parents must be worried sick. I’m sure once we get your memories back, you’ll be able to find them again.’
‘Yeah, I hope so,’ Nelson said, looking down a little forlorn. He hadn’t really thought about his family or the rest of his life; he’d been too caught up in becoming a superhero. But now that he thought about it, he did wonder who was missing him and if he might ever see them again. He sighed, but then shook it off and looked back up. ‘So anyway, what’s the deal with this Doctor Ozone guy? Mick thinks he’s evil but Mr Cane thinks he’s good.’
‘It’s a bit of both,’ she explained. ‘He is evil, and he’s committed loads of crimes, but he’s also done lots of good for the city and donates a lot to charity. Cap’s completely oblivious to the bad side and we can never seem to get anything solid to take him down. So we just have to keep an eye on him, stop his plans and try to convince Cap he’s not a saint.’
‘Right, gotcha,’ Faucet nodded.
‘Now, I just need to calibrate the force indicator. But I need…’ she trailed off as she searched her desk for the something she was missing. ‘Ah, I know. MOP, I need you!’

It appeared as if HyJean was calling out to the air, and Faucet gave her a puzzled look, but she just gave a little smirk, as if something impressive was about to happen. A few seconds later, a little robot trundled into the room. It was a little smaller than a vacuum cleaner, with three appendages on its midsection that looked like arms. It was amateurly built, with lots of loose wires, mismatched buttons and a small screen on the front. Overall, it looked like a Henry hoover had mated with the robot from the film Short Circuit. It rolled across the room on its tracks and stopped in front of HyJean, who proudly smiled at Faucet.

‘Woah!’ exclaimed Faucet, shifting back a little in his seat. ‘What is that thing?’
‘This is our mechanical office pet – MOP for short. I built him myself,’ she replied proudly.
‘Ha, you guys are crazy,’ he said and gave a little wave to the robot. ‘Well, it’s nice to meet you MOP.’
‘Yeah, he can’t talk yet.’
‘Oh, okay. How about a high five?’
‘You can try,’ she said with a shrug.

Faucet held out his hand and the robot glided over to him, raised one of its arms and sprayed Faucet’s hand with antibacterial gel.

‘He’s still very much in the development stage,’ admitted HyJean with a light giggle. ‘MOP, can you bring me bring me the red hard drive for the computer please.’
The robot beeped and a little green light flashed on the screen. It drove back out into the main room of the base and over to the monitoring and research computer area to retrieve the hard drive.
‘Oh, you have COMPUTER too?’ Faucet said excitedly. ‘What does that stand for? No wait, let me guess. Is it… Complete Organisational Machine… Providing… Users… Technical Evidence and… Resources?’
‘Um, no. It’s actually just a normal computer. But I like that name though.’


A while later, Suds entered the base and found Captain Clean, HyJean and Faucet all sitting around the central table playing a game of scrabble. It was one of the things they liked to do in their downtime, though the others disliked playing with Captain Clean as he refused to put a word down unless it was sanitation related, insisting that the game should in some way be related to their work to justify playing it.

‘Hey guys, did you hear the news about Happy Happy Burger?’ Suds asked.
‘What, are they serving actual cow meat now?’ HyJean said.
‘No, they were robbed last night,’ Suds said as he sat down next to them, pointing to the captain’s letters. ‘You can do brush.’
‘Seriously?’ said the captain.
‘Yeah, you’ve got the B R S and H there look,’ Suds began, but the captain shrugged him off.
‘No, I mean about Happy Happy Burger being robbed?’ he clarified.
‘Oh! Yeah, they broke in and stole all the grease from the fryers.’
‘Well, we’ve all thought about doing that,’ said Faucet, as he put down the word “BUMS”
‘That’s weird,’ said HyJean, who left the game to go over to the computer and pull up some newspaper articles on the screen. ‘That’s the third fast food place this week that’s been robbed.’
‘Are there any patterns?’ asked Captain Clean as he joined her at the computers, skimming through the articles.
‘Well, the only thing they stole from each restaurant was a large quantity of grease,’ she explained. ‘But who could need all that grease?’
‘A John Travolta tribute act?’ suggested Faucet, who was taking the opportunity to steal some better letters for the game.
‘Or someone with a very weird fetish?’ added Suds.
‘Or maybe someone who wants to use the grease as a weapon,’ reasoned Captain Clean. ‘Mick, I think we should pay Happy Happy Burger a visit.’
‘Hey, can you bring me back a burger? I’m starving,’ said Faucet.
‘We’re not going to get food,’ said the captain sternly. ‘Jean are his gauntlets ready?’
HyJean nodded.
‘Great, you can help him try them out then,’ he said as he turned to leave, before adding, ‘And clean up any mess this time.’


‘Chief Inspector Dovedale, what are you doing here?’ asked Cap as he entered the Happy Happy Burger manager’s office.
‘I’m investigating a crime Mr Clean, it’s what I’m paid to do,’ came the cop’s sarcastic response.
‘It’s Captain Clean actually.’
‘Until you provide me with evidence of your being awarded that title, I will not be using it.’
‘I was in the army y’know,’ chipped in Suds.
‘Really?’ asked Dovedale. ‘Did you kill anyone?’
‘No, but I washed a few dead bodies.’
‘Right,’ said Dovedale with a slightly perturbed frown.

There was a young girl sat at the computer who looked like a female version of Wendell – in fact, it could almost have been him in a wig. She was frantically skimming through CCTV footage and suddenly piped up when she got to the footage of the break in. Captain Clean and Suds moved in for a closer look. The footage was dark, because it was night and the cameras were cheap. On the screen, two shadowy figures could just be made out picking the lock and entering the building.

‘Well that’s bloody useless,’ said the Chief Inspector, flapping his arms around. ‘Can’t see a bloody thing.’
‘Do you have any other angles?’ asked Cap. ‘Perhaps showing them arriving or inside the restaurant?’
‘No, sorry,’ said the girl. ‘The boss said one camera was more than enough and any more would be a waste of money.’
‘Of course he did,’ tutted Suds.
‘Can we get a copy of this footage?’ asked the captain. ‘HyJean might be able to-’
‘No,’ said Chief Inspector Dovedale firmly. ‘I’ve told you before, if you and your lot want to run around throwing soap at everything, that’s fine, but you’re not using official police resources.’
The captain paused for a moment and then let out a defeated sigh. ‘Fine.’

He asked the girl to go through the footage again, so he could try and work out what was going on. With a nod from the Chief Inspector, she obliged and reran the footage. It looked the same as it had the first time, dark and blurry, with very few details visible. The captain asked a few more questions, and then the Chief Inspector stood forward holding his little notepad and addressed the room.

‘Well, it seems to me that this crime was committed by two criminals who entered through the back door and disabled the alarm by smashing it,’ he said. ‘They stole all the grease and left without taking anything else. This would seem to suggest that they wanted the grease for something.’

‘Hey up, the little grey hairs are working,’ Captain Clean whispered to Suds. ‘Let’s get out of here.’

As the two heroes slipped out of the restaurant, Suds seemed confused by the captain’s lack of frustration at not being allowed more involvement in the investigation.

‘You didn’t seem that bothered when he said we couldn’t have a copy of the footage,’ said Suds.
‘No need,’ said the captain, holding up his phone with a self-assured grin. ‘I filmed it on my phone.’


‘Okay, we’re going to have to be quite quick changing these gauntlets,’ HyJean told Faucet.

The two grime fighters were in the shower room, trying out the new gauntlets that HyJean had recently finished developing. Faucet had his arm resting on a table and HyJean had placed the new gauntlet next to it, near enough for her to reach.

‘Try and concentrate on holding the water in,’ she said.
‘Will that work?’ Faucet asked.
‘No idea. I just want to try and stay dry here,’ she smiled. ‘Okay, on 3?’
‘Sure, go for it.’
‘1… 2… 3…’

HyJean pressed the lock release on Faucet’s existing gauntlet with one hand and grabbed the new gauntlet with the other. However, what she didn’t count on was the huge gush of water that had been building up in Faucet’s wrist and now came gushing out and soaking her face. She fumbled about, trying to deflect the water and put the new gauntlet on. Meanwhile, Faucet was panicking asking her repeatedly what he should do. Obviously, HyJean didn’t answer him because she didn’t fancy her lungs being drowned with water. Faucet quickly remembered HyJean’s advice and strained to try and hold in the water. After a few seconds, it started to take effect and the water simmered down to a light spray, calm enough for HyJean to affix the new gauntlet.

‘Sorry about that,’ said Faucet, with an embarrassed look as he just sat there in the same position with his arm resting on the table.
‘It’s fine,’ said HyJean, although it wasn’t fine at all. Her hair was soaking wet, her make-up was ruined and her eyes were stinging so much she could barely see.
‘Do you want to give it a minute before we do the other one?’ Faucet asked.
HyJean nodded and slumped down onto one of the chairs.
‘Try that one out,’ she said, rather breathlessly. ‘Make a fist and tense your arm very slightly. The power of the jet will depend on how much tension there is.’

Faucet held out his arm and tightened a little too much. The sudden jet of water that came spurting out from his wrist and down his hand forced him to stumble backwards, swinging his arm around and spraying everything in the room with a powerful jet of water – including HyJean’s face. She was pushed back in the chair, gargling as the water showered her face. Faucet quickly relaxed his hand and the water died down, eventually stopping.

‘Well… I think it works,’ said Faucet sheepishly.
‘You think?’ HyJean said as she wiped her face.


‘I’ve enhanced it as much as I could,’ said a now dry HyJean, her hair wrapped up in a towel. Captain Clean, Suds and Faucet gathered around the computer to look at the footage the captain had recorded, ‘but it’s still pretty poor quality.’

She played the footage and when the two criminals appeared on screen, the captain looked closer. He was sure that he recognised one of them.

‘That looks like the Scarlet Pimple,’ he said, referring to Pimple’s alias before she met her husband. ‘We got her locked up a few years ago. But I don’t know who the other person is.’
‘Maybe it’s her boyfriend, Spot’ joked Faucet, little realising how close he was.
‘If only we had the police files on her, we could find out more about her, track her down,’ the captain groaned.
‘We don’t need the police files,’ HyJean said, tapping away at her keyboard and pulling up a social media website on the screen. ‘As I suspected, she’s on Jargle. Nell Carbuncle, 45, lives in Filtham, married to Gerry Carbuncle. We can see what she’s posted and see what we can learn about her.’
The squad gathered around the screen as HyJean scrolled through the profile, skim reading the posts and photos she’d posted.
‘There’s nothing about grease on here. She painted her nails, had a meal at Greasy Pete’s steak house, saw a goose at the park… aha! There’s one from ten minutes ago saying she’s going shopping at Filtham shopping centre.’
‘Thank god for people’s obsession with social media, huh?’ Faucet said, a little surprised at how much information was available about a known criminal. ‘It’s like they want to be caught.’
‘Good work, Jean. Can you go to the shopping centre and follow her, see what you can find out. But just observing, no interfering,’ he warned.
‘Sure, I don’t mind. A lot nicer than the usual sewers and abandoned warehouses we usually end up in.’
HyJean switched off her computer and called the Driver, as she needed to get there sharpish to avoid missing Pimple.
‘So, afternoon off for us then?’ Faucet asked as he smiled and stretched, thinking what he could do with his free time.
‘Certainly not, we’ve got training to do,’ the captain replied.
‘Aww man, not memorising cleaning products again,’ Faucet groaned. ‘I’ve had it up to here with hypochlorites and peroxides.’
‘No, we’re going upstairs, come on,’ the captain said as he set off to the fire exit.
‘Upstairs? But we’re on the top floor,’ Faucet said as he followed, a little confused.
‘You’re forgetting the roof.’


HyJean made her way through yet another shop, looking for any sign of the red-haired criminal. She’d been through book shops, shoe shops, music shops and even braved a charity shop, but there was no sign of Nell. She stopped for a while to treat herself to an iced latte at a coffee kiosk and ponder where her target might be. Then finally it occurred to her.

‘Of course!’ she cried, and set off up the escalators and into Oh Naturale, a beauty and cosmetics shop. As she suspected, in the middle of a shop by the skincare shelves stood Nell Carbuncle. HyJean made her way over, standing on the opposite side of the shelving unit. Captain Clean had said not to make contact, but she couldn’t help herself. The opportunity was too perfect.

‘Well well, if it isn’t the Scarlet Pimple,’ she said.
Nell gasped and looked up, surprised at the familiar voice. ‘You? What are you doing here?’
‘I’m just buying some…’ she paused and picked up a random item from the shelf. ‘Condoms. What about you?’
‘I’m looking for the new AcneGo cream,’ Nell replied, almost loathing having to make small talk with the woman who’d helped put her away all those years ago. She knew HyJean was up to something, but hoped she didn’t know about the grease scheme.
‘I’d be careful if I were you, I’ve heard that cream can be quite… greasy,’ she said, raising one eyebrow.
Nell gulped, trying not to give anything away. She looked down at the shelf, trying to avert HyJean’s gaze.
‘You’re not going to steal it, are you?’ HyJean asked. ‘That would be very wrong.’
‘No. I don’t do that stuff anymore,’ Nell protested. ‘Look, I did my time and now I’m a changed woman. You can’t start harassing me while I’m out shopping.’
‘Alright, alright. If you say you’ve changed, I believe you. Can’t blame me for being cautious,’ HyJean said, putting the pack of condoms down and pretending to browse. ‘Especially with all this grease being stolen recently. I heard a couple of thieves stole it to bottle and sell as a fake health drink.’
‘No we’re not, we’re going to dump it in Filtham river!’ Nell said, and then instantly froze, realising what she’d said. The pair stared at each other, wide eyed for a few seconds, then Nell suddenly stuffed the cream she was holding in her pocket made a bolt for the door. HyJean was quick on her tail and followed, but the pocketed cream set off the security alarm, alerting the guard, who only saw a masked woman fleeing the shop and assumed that HyJean was the thief.

‘Hey, you! Stop!’ he shouted as he sprinted after her. Now there were two chases happening at the same time, although HyJean didn’t know she was also being pursued.

Nell had gotten a good head start and made her way down the escalator, pushing past the disgruntled shoppers. HyJean was far too polite for that sort of behaviour, so she asked them politely to move, but they assumed HyJean was with Nell and refused. HyJean stood and waited on the escalator, drumming her fingers frantically, but this gave Nell more time to get away. Finally, HyJean gave in and decided to try and jump down. Climbing over the railing, she dropped down onto the canopy of a sunglasses stall, which tore with her weight and made a big hole as she dropped through, knocking over several display stands and sending sunglasses flying everywhere.

‘Sorry! I’ll get that fixed!’ she called out as she scrambled to her feet and ran after Nell.

The Scarlet Pimple was not as sprightly as she once was, so HyJean was able to catch up to her fairly quickly. Running down the row of shops, Nell tried everything she could to slow HyJean down. She ran through crowds, knocked plants over, jumped over benches, and at one point grabbed a bowl of bagels off a healthy food stall and started hurling them back at HyJean. Finally, she reached the end of the shops, only to discover that she’d taken a wrong turning and ended up at a dead end. Thinking on her feet, she dived into the nearest shop, a bookshop called Good Readz – the spelling had been changed to try and attract a younger audience, but it had not been successful and had instead alienated a lot of older readers.
HyJean followed her into the shop and scanned each aisle looking for Nell. Whilst she was looking, the security guard who had finally caught up to them appeared at the door and stood panting as he caught his breath.
‘I’m getting too old for this,’ he sighed as he closed the door behind him.
As she walked down the aisle of cookery books, HyJean spotted a flash of familiar red hair in the next aisle. She ran around and raced after Nell, but the redhead reached the end of the aisle before her and pulled the bookshelf, causing it to topple and collapse onto HyJean. With a satisfied smirk, Nell made a run for the door, but seeing the security guard, she made a diversion and leapt at the window instead. The glass shattered with a loud smash and rained down upon her as she fell out onto the pavement on the other side of the shop.
‘Ow! Ow! Ow!’ she cried as blood started to trickle out from several cuts on her body. She pulled herself up and painfully hobbled across the car park to her car.
Meanwhile, in the bookshop, the security guard lifted the fallen bookshelf back up, with some help from the owner of the shop.
‘Urgh, thank you,’ HyJean groaned as one of the shoppers helped her to her feet. ‘Where did she go? I need to stop her.”
‘You’re not going anywhere,’ said the security guard as he grabbed her by the arm. ‘You’re coming with me, you thieving scumbag.’
‘I don’t know which of those words to be more offended by,’ HyJean scowled. ‘But either way, I’m not the thief, she was.’
‘Who was?’ asked the guard, a little confused.
‘The woman with the red hair who I just chased through the shopping centre!’ HyJean exclaimed.
‘I didn’t see any woman,’ he replied, brushing it off in disbelief. He turned to the shoppers and raised his hand to get their attention. ‘Did anyone in here see a dodgy-looking red headed woman?’
The whole room was filled with nods and positive replies, followed by accurate descriptions.
‘Okay, so maybe, just maybe, there might possibly have been another woman,’ he admitted. ‘But you’ve still got to come with me to answer some questions. I’ve got to be seen to be doing something or I’ll get fired.’


On the roof of the Filtham community centre, Captain Clean moved a few boxes of cleaning supplies out of the way to make an open space for them to work in. He then stood in front of Faucet with his hands on his hips.

‘Right then, let’s see what you can do,’ he said.

With that, Faucet started dancing like Michael Jackson, waving his arms around and thrusting his hips.

‘Stop, stop! What are you doing?’ the captain asked.
‘I’m dancing. You said you wanted to see what I can do,’ Faucet explained.
‘I mean with your powers,’ the captain groaned. ‘Show me what you can do with your water powers.’
‘Oh! I see,’ Faucet said, chuckling at his own stupidity. ‘Well, I think I’ve got the hang of turning it on and off now.’

He demonstrated by closing his left hand into a fist and tensing. As he did so, a squirt of water sprayed out and hit the captain in the face.

‘Very good,’ the captain grumbled as he wiped his face with his cape. ‘I think we need to work on your aim first though.’

He walked over to the edge of the roof where there was a low wall along the perimeter, dragging a recycling tub full of cans with him. He started lining up a row of cans on the wall

‘We’re lucky Will drinks so much, the recycling people love us,’ the captain said as he positioned the last can. ‘Okay, so we’re going to start by working on your aim. It’s all well and good having powers, but if you don’t know how to use them, then it’s pointless.’
‘Roger that. I’m ready Mr Cane,’ Faucet replied, holding up his arms an taking a fighting stance.
‘Now imagine these cans are criminals. See if you can hit the first can. Just a-‘ the captain started, but he was interrupted as Faucet shot a small burst of water which hit the can and knocked it off the roof. ‘Right, yes, that’s good. What I was going to say is just give it a quick tense up and thrust your arm forward as you release, so you only use a small shot of water, like a bullet.’
‘That’s what I did,’ Faucet replied.
‘Yes, I know. I’m just giving you tips on how to control your powers, I’m meant to be training you. Now why don’t you try-‘ again he was cut off as Faucet repeated his water bullet technique and shot the next can off the roof with perfect aim, smiling triumphantly. The captain let out a little huff and continued, ‘Yes, exactly. But with this next one, try to-‘
Once again, Faucet wasted no time and hit the next two cans off the wall. This pushed the captain to his limit, and he grabbed one of the remaining cans and threw it at Faucet. ‘Will you wait until I’ve bloody told you what to do!’ he cried.
‘Sorry Mr Cane, just a little excited is all,’ Faucet said sheepishly.
‘It’s alright,’ the captain replied as he set up a few more cans. ‘So, what I was going to say is try shooting from both arms at the same time, see how well you can aim in multiple directions.’
Faucet nodded and took his stance again, holding his arms up. He stared at the cans intently and waited.
‘What are you waiting for?’ the captain asked.
‘You to tell me when to go,’ Faucet replied.
‘You don’t have to wait for me to tell you, just don’t do it when I’m in the middle of-‘ before he could finish, Faucet fired and knocked two cans off at the same time. The captain sighed, ‘Talking. Okay, I think you’ve got the hang of aiming. Let’s try some longer streams.’
‘Alright, I’m up for that,’ Faucet said flexing his arms and readying himself.
‘See that graffiti on the wall over there?’ the captain asked, pointing to some writing on the wall that said “The Sanitary Squad Sucks”. ‘Aim for that and let’s see if we can clean it off. Just tighten your fists, tense your wrists and try to hold it. The more you tense, the more force it should produce.’

Faucet nodded and took up his stance, eyeing up the graffiti on the building opposite. He’d been practicing with small bursts of water, but wasn’t quite so confident at producing larger quantities – at least not intentionally. He took a deep breath and then tensed his arms up, firing a jet of water from each hand. It was plentiful, but with little force behind it, so the water didn’t reach the target and dropped down over the edge of the roof. He unclenched his fists and the water stopped.

‘That’s fine, it’s okay,’ the captain reassured him. ‘It’s only your first go and you’re nervous, it’s not surprising you’re having trouble getting it up.’
‘You sound like my first girlfriend,’ Faucet groaned.
‘This time aim a little higher. The trajectory is going to dip as it gets further away, so you need to take that into account.’

Faucet took his stance again and focussed on the target. He clenched his fists and tightened his muscles as hard as he could, firing out another jet of water from each wrist. This time, he pointed his arms higher and the two streams were much closer to the target. The force was greater, so he had to adjust his stance to make up for it. He tweaked the angle of his trajectory a little, spraying all around the target, but the pressure on his arms became too much he couldn’t hold it long enough to get a good aim. He relaxed and the streams died down the water dropping to the floor.

‘That was much better,’ Captain Clean said, genuinely impressed by his new recruit’s efforts.
‘I can do this,’ Faucet said, shaking his arms and psyching himself up.
‘I know you can, but don’t push yourself too much,’ the captain advised.
‘Nope, I’m gonna do it. Here goes.’

He took a strong stance, squinted a little as he aimed and then fired his jets of water. The blasts were just as powerful as before, and as he got used to the force, he was able to control it more. He inched his arms upwards until finally he hit the graffiti. He held it for a few seconds and then relaxed. When the water disappeared, the graffiti was gone.

‘Excellent!’ Captain Clean cried. ‘That was incredible, well done.’
‘Thanks boss,’ Faucet said, with a satisfied grin as he eyed up his work.
‘You seem to be a natural. Which is good really, because I doubt we’ve got time for a longer training session’ the captain said as he patted Faucet on the back like a schoolchild. ‘Right, one more exercise and then we’re done.’

Captain Clean left the ledge and moved back to the centre of the roof, gesturing for Faucet to join him. From his pocket, the captain took out a remote control. He pressed a button and a metal pole sprung up to their left with a metal disc on the top that had little face spray painted onto it. The surprise made Faucet jump on the spot and cower from the metal assailant. The captain pressed the other buttons and further metal targets with angry faces popped up around the roof in quick succession.

‘These are your targets. They represent criminals attacking you,’ he explained. ‘Now, criminals may be violent, but they’re also very polite. They’ll usually stand around in a circle waiting to attack you one at a time.’
‘What, why?’ asked a confused Faucet.
‘Nobody knows. It’s like an unwritten rule of criminal combat,’ the captain replied. ‘But anyway, what you’ve got to do is be aware of everything around you and be ready for an attack to come from any direction. So, I’ll set these up and when one pops up, you fire at it. Got it?’
‘I think so, yeah,’ Faucet nodded as he positioned himself and looked around, trying to memorise where all the targets were.

Captain Clean stepped back out of the way and watched Faucet closely. When his trainee was ready, the captain launched the first target. Faucet took a couple of seconds to find it, but when he did he fired and hit the target. The captain set off the next target a few yards away, which Faucet was quicker to hit. Another target went up behind Faucet, which caught him off guard, but he span around and hit it. The targets continued to pop up, appearing quicker and quicker as Faucet’s responses got better. Just as the captain was about to launch another target, the roof door opened and Carol the receptionist stepped out onto the roof. Faucet only saw movement and assumed it was another target, spinning around and splashing her in the face with water.

‘Captain Clean, we are- aaaaargh!’ she garbled as she stumbled back in surprise.

The captain saw what happened and rushed forward, ‘Carol!’
But again, Faucet mistook his movement for that of a target and quickly sprayed him with water before realising his mistake.
‘Oh crap, I’m so sorry! I thought you were a target,’ Faucet said as he saw the captain drying himself off with his cape. He then turned around and saw Carol and now he felt even more embarrassed. ‘I’m so sorry, ma’am. I thought you were a target.’

Carol shrugged Faucet off and marched over to the captain furiously. She grabbed his cape and wiped her face.

‘Captain Clean, we are trying to have our annual charity barbecue in the garden downstairs and you’ve drenched us all!’ she shouted. ‘What an on Earth are you playing at?’

The captain walked over to the edge of the roof and looked down at the garden. Faucet’s streams of water had dropped down onto the crowd of people, extinguishing the barbecue and soaking the guests. His eyes widened and he blushed under his mask. He turned around and gulped. He quickly pointed at Faucet, ‘He did it.’

‘What?!’ cried Faucet. ‘You told me to!’
‘I don’t care whose fault it was,’ Carol said, putting her hands on her hips to show some form of authority, even though she was one of the lowest ranking employees in the community centre. ‘You’re going to come down and help us all dry off, and then you’re going to order us all pizza to make up for the ruined barbecue.’
Captain Clean was about to protest, but he could see from Carol’s eyes that she was not in the mood for an argument.
‘Fine,’ he sighed as he walked past her and led the way back downstairs to face the angry crowd.


‘She chased you through the whole shopping centre?’ Blackhead asked as he added another plaster to his wife arm, which was now almost completely covered in plasters.
‘Yeah, we caused quite the scene, but I got away, and got the cream,’ she said with a slight wince as he touched one of her scars.
‘How did she even find you?’ he asked.
‘I… I may have posted that I was going shopping on Jargle,’ she admitted.
‘What?’ he cried. ‘How many times do I have to tell you to stop using that bloody app. We’re supposed to be criminals keeping a low profile. How are we ever going to do that if you keep posting every damn thing you do on social media? Honestly, we’ve only got one more day to go and you could’ve blown the whole thing.’
Pimple didn’t have a suitable answer, so she did the only thing that she could think of and started to cry. Her husband instantly fell for her sympathy attempt and put his arm around her.
‘Aww, it’s okay. I’m sorry, darling. I’m just a bit on edge because of this whole grease thing,’ he said, stroking her hair and holding her close. ‘Once it’s over, we can have a nice break away and relax.’
‘That’d be nice,’ she nodded as she wiped away her crocodile tears.
‘Right then. I’ll go finish washing up while you try out that new cream,’ he said, giving her a kiss on the to of her head and heading off to the kitchen.
Pimple got up and wandered into the bathroom, opening her new cream and staring at her reflection in the mirror. Just like her husband, Pimple’s face was covered in all manner of spots – blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, papules, pustules and nodules – making the mirror look like a dot-to-dot book. Despite washing regularly, eating healthily and always keeping clean, the two had been cursed with skin complaints. They’d been bullied as children and their hurt and anger led them to a life of crime to take revenge on the world that had been so unfair and cruel to them.

She shuddered at the sight of her spotty face and started smearing the cream all over.
‘I’m so excited for tomorrow,’ Blackhead called through from the kitchen. ‘The last batch of grease, and then we can dump it all.’
‘And then everyone will be spotty like us,’ said Pimple dramatically, grinning maniacally at her plastered face.

Their plan was to collect all the grease from the four main restaurants in the city, mix it with various chemicals to hide the smell and colour, then dump it into the city’s water supply. They presumed that infecting people’s water with grease would irritate people’s skin and cause them to break out in spots. Their lack of scientific knowledge meant they had no idea whether their plan would actually work or not, but even if it didn’t, they figured it would be a fun prank.

Blackhead sauntered into the bathroom and wrapped his arms around his wife. He placed her head on his shoulder and smiled at her in the mirror.

‘What’s say we prepare ourselves properly with… an early night,’ he said with a teasing smile.
‘Good idea,’ she replied as her face lit up with excitement. ‘I’ll go make the cocoa, you get the crossword book.’


The driver dropped Captain Clean and Faucet back at the base, where they were greeted by HyJean.
‘Was she there?’ she asked.
‘Nope,’ said the captain, taking his gloves off and throwing them down on the table in a huff.
She looked at Faucet who filled him in on the warehouse break-in and the Wet Mafia.
‘Where’s Mick?’ the captain asked.
‘It’s his night off,’ HyJean said. ‘It’s their anniversary, so he’s taken Mary to Greasy Pete’s for a slap-up meal.’
‘Aww, that’s sweet,’ said Faucet. ‘How long have they been together?’
’13 years.’
‘Wow. What’s that? Is there like a gold or ruby thing for 13 years?’
‘Yeah, it’s lace.’
‘Oh, that’s a bit rubbish.’
‘On the contrary, Mary showed me some new lacy lingerie she bought for tonight, so Mick’s in for a treat.’
‘What did you say?’ asked Captain Clean.
‘I said she’s bought some new lingerie,’ said HyJean.
‘No, before that.’
‘About the 13 years?’
‘No, before that.’
‘I asked if she was there.’
‘No, the bit after that… look, where did you say they’ve gone for food?’
‘Greasy Pete’s steak house.’

The captain thought for a moment why the name sounded familiar, then a metaphorical lightbulb illuminated above his head. ‘Didn’t you say earlier that Pimple went there for lunch? On her Jungle app thing?’
‘Oh, yes! On her Jargle profile,’ HyJean nodded.
‘Well then, I think we know where our dermatologically challenged duo will be heading next.’
‘Of course!’ said HyJean, realising what the captain meant.
‘Where?’ asked Faucet, who was still waiting on the platform to join them on their train of thought.
‘Greasy Pete’s. They must’ve been there yesterday to coast the place out.’
‘It’d make sense, it’s the greasiest place in town. They’ve robbed the three fast food joints and now they’re going for the big one. And going by the news reports, they’ve been robbing a place every 2 days,’ said HyJean, ‘so all we have to do is go there tomorrow and wait for them.’
‘Wait a minute,’ said Faucet. ‘You mean we’re going to stake out a steak house?’
‘Exactly,’ said the captain.


‘It’s been really nice getting away from work for the night,’ said Mick.
‘I thought we agreed not to talk about work,’ said Mary.
‘I’m not. I was just saying it’s nice not to be at work.’
‘There, you’ve done it again!’
‘Fine, what do you want to talk about?’

Mary sat and thought for a moment. Their work consumed much of their lives and left them little free time for other hobbies or interests. She casually looked around the room as she thought, but her eyes suddenly stopped and her mouth dropped.

‘The Captain!’ she said in a surprised tone.
‘Now who’s talking about work,’ said Mick with a slight frown.
‘No, the Captain’s just walked in,’ she said, pointing across the room.

Mick span round and saw that Captain Clean was indeed walking into the restaurant, dressed in his full grime fighting attire.

‘Oh jeez,’ sighed Mick. ‘Can he not leave us alone for one night!’

As if on cue, Captain Clean caught sight of his two colleagues sat amongst the crowd of tables. He gave them a little wave and Mick gestured back to go away. The captain realised he was interrupting. and sheepishly mouthed an apology, trying to conceal himself behind his cape as he slowly crept over to the front desk – little realising that most of the restaurant was now staring at him.

‘Go sort him out will you,’ Mary said to her husband as she stabbed her knife into her steak.

Mick obliged and quickly walked over to his boss, pulling his cape down.

‘What are you doing here?’ he asked with an angry hiss.
‘I’m so sorry,’ said the captain. ‘We think Blackhead and Pimple are going to rob this place tomorrow, so I’m going to try and get the manager to set up these hidden cameras.’

The captain held up a bucket with a pile of small cameras inside.

‘This is my night off with Mary,’ Mick said. ‘Why are you doing this to me?’
‘I know, I’m sorry. I did try to be inconspicuous.’
‘How?’ he asked frustratedly. ‘How did you try?’
‘I’m wearing the dark blue cape.’

He held up his cape, which was indeed dark blue instead of his usual mustard yellow.

‘You know what would’ve been more inconspicuous?’ said Mick. ‘Not wearing a cape!’
‘But the cape completes the outfit,’ the captain argued.

Mick was just about to grab his fellow grime fighter and throttle him when he was interrupted by a waiter.

‘Excuse me sirs,’ said the waiter in what was clearly a posh voice he was putting on, ‘can I help you?’
‘Yes, I’m Captain Clean from the Sanitary Squad,’ said Captain Clean.
‘Really, I never would have guessed,’ the waiter replied in a deadpan tone.
‘I need to speak to the manager immediately. The restaurant is under threat.’
‘Very well, I will take you to the manager,’ said the waiter before turning to Mick. ‘Are you with the Captain, sir?’
‘Um, no… I just want a spoon,’ Mick lied.
‘Don’t we all,’ said the waiter, leading the captain away to find the manager.


The following night, Captain Clean, Suds, Faucet and Flush were sat in the of The Driver’s taxi – Flush in the front because he’d called shotgun, the others in the back, with the captain squished in the middle. The car was parked in the car park on the opposite side of the road to Greasy Pete’s Steakhouse. HyJean was back in the base, keeping an eye on the restaurant via the cameras Cap had installed.

As they waited, The Driver tapped his fingers on the steering wheel in time with the bhangra music playing on the radio. While his colleagues had requested different music several times, Flush was quite getting into it; performing his own little dance that he’d come up with and singing along with what he thought were the right lyrics but sounded more like noises of pain. They had been in the car for just under two hours and Captain Clean in particular was getting restless.

‘HyJean, is there…’ he tried to reach for his communications headset, but his arms were jammed between the two men either side of him. He turned to Suds on his right and said, ‘Can you?’

Suds reached across with his free arm and pressed the button on Cap’s headset.

‘Thanks a lot,’ he said.
‘What for?’ a confused HyJean on the other end asked.
‘No, nothing,’ said Cap. ‘Is there any action on the cameras?’
‘Hold on, let me check.’

HyJean put down her magazine and looked up at the monitor to see a van had appeared in the Steakhouse car park.

‘Damnit,’ she muttered. ‘Yes, they’ve just arrived.’
‘Okay, let’s go! Go! Go!’ shouted the captain, with a sound of relief in his voice.

The men piled out of the car, took a brief moment to stretch their legs and then dashed out of the car park and across the road. However, in all the excitement, they forgot to look both ways and Flush was the unlucky one to get hit by a car, which suddenly screeched to a halt as its driver saw the costumed men appeared from nowhere. Flush tumbled onto the car’s bonnet and slid onto the floor, his friends stopping to help him up.

‘I’m okay,’ Flush said wearily.
‘He’s okay!’ Suds called to the driver.
‘Do you want to go back to the car?’ the captain asked.
‘No, no,’ said Flush insistently. ‘You carry on, I’ll limp over in a minute.’

Meanwhile, on the other side of the road, Blackhead and Pimple – who had in fact been there for nearly 15 minutes – had hooked up their machine and were draining the Steakhouse’s kitchen of its grease.

‘You know love, I’ve really enjoyed doing this grease stealing operation with you,’ said Blackhead with a smile.
‘Me too,’ Pimple smiled back. ‘It’s been so nice to do something together for a change.’
‘And maybe if we have some grease left over, we could…’ his voice trailed off and he gave her a cheeky wink and a playful grin.
‘Ooh, you like a greasy woman do you?’ she asked, seductively wiping a bit of grease off the top of the fryer and seductively licking her finger. She immediately spat it out and wiped her tongue in disgust.

Suddenly, they heard a commotion outside and Pimple went to take a look. Seeing the members of the Sanitary Squad fumbling around in the middle of the street, she ran to the van, switched the machine off and rushed back into the Steakhouse to warn her husband.

‘Honey, I think it’s broken,’ Blackhead said as he fiddled with the fryer.
‘It’s not broken, I turned it off,’ she explained. ‘The cleaning freaks are outside, we need to go.’
‘Holy crap,’ said Blackhead as he detached the tube. ‘God, why didn’t we think about the possibility of this happening? We really should’ve made a plan for this eventuality.’
‘Just come on,’ called his wife.

They rushed back to the van and thankfully the traffic had slowed the squad down just long enough for Blackhead to drag the pipe into the back of the van and Pimple to jump in the driver’s seat and speed off with a loud screech. The acceleration caused Blackhead to stumble back against the van, tripping over the pipe. They were getting away, but in the rush, Blackhead didn’t have time to close the van doors. Outside he could see the squad chasing after them on foot. They were obviously much slower than the van, and quickly began to fade away. But Captain Clean persisted and spotted an opportunity as he saw a young man riding towards him on a skateboard. The captain quickly pushed him off and grabbed the skateboard, shouting a brief explanation at him.
‘Need to borrow this! Bad guys getting away!’

He jumped onto the skateboard and kicked off. Though he wasn’t at all experienced on the primitive mode of transport, he soon got the hang of it and started to catch up to the van.

‘What’s going on back there?’ Pimple called out, looking round through the meshed window at her husband and the equipment sliding around the back of the van.
‘Captain Clean is chasing us on a skateboard!’ he shouted back.
‘Well there’s something you don’t see every day!’

Despite the van’s speed, the captain soon caught up to them. Throwing caution to the wind, he leapt off the board and landed in the back of the van, clutching onto the floor as his legs dangled out the back. He tried to pull himself in, but the floor was wet with grease that made it difficult to get any kind of grip.

Thinking on his feet, Blackhead grabbed the pipe and flipped a few switches on the machine, turning it on and switching it from suck to blow. The grease shot down the pipe and burst out of the end. Blackhead aimed it at the captain, who bravely resisted the onslaught of grease.

‘What are you doing?’ Pimple shouted through. ‘We need that for the plan!’
‘If we don’t stop him, there won’t be a plan!’ Blackhead reminded her.
There was a slight pause and then she replied, ‘Good point!’

Blackhead kept the pipe aimed at Captain Clean, who was reliving one of his nightmares as the thick, slimy sludge rained down on his face. He held on for as long as he could, but in the end, it was too much. The grease covered his hands and made him lose his grip. The greasy current sent him flying back out of the van and throwing him down onto the road. Blackhead turned off the machine and closed the doors, and as the captain lay in a puddle of grease, he looked up and saw the van speeding off into the night.

‘Damnit,’ he said as sat up and looked around. He pulled out a wet wipe and started the arduous process of cleaning himself.


‘You were so sexy back there,’ Pimple said as she walked around the van that was now safely parked in their garage. The sudden rush of adrenaline had her pumped up. She pushed her husband against the side of the van and gave him a passionate kiss on the lips. ‘I wish we could go to bed right now.’
‘So do I, love, but we’ve got to dump this grease. Now that they’re onto us, we can’t wait,’ he said, patting his wife’s arm.
She sighed and nodded, ‘You’re right. Let’s get these barrels on the van.’

They headed over to the other side of the garage, where stood three barrels filled with grease. One by one, they shuffled them across the garage floor and lifted them up into the van.

‘We really should’ve got one of those vans with the lift at the back,’ Blackhead groaned as he heaved the final barrel up.
‘Yeah, but we’re on a budget,’ Pimple replied as she lifted the other end and dragged it into the van.
‘We wouldn’t be if we stopped buying all those bloody creams,’ he muttered to himself.
‘What was that?’ she asked with a raised eyebrow.
‘Nothing, nothing,’ he said, holding out his hand to help his wife down.
‘Because if you were moaning about the skincare creams…” she started.
‘No, I wasn’t, I was just…’ he said, but his wife was quick to interrupt.
‘For years I suffered bullying at school,’ Pimple said, putting her hands on her hips.
‘Here we go,’ Blackhead sighed.
‘People calling me all sorts of names. Spotty, dotty, dalmatian girl, polka-dot face, the walking Liechtenstein painting… and all through life I’ve been held back by my looks. Boys refusing to go out with me, employers refusing to employ me, masseuses refusing to massage me. It’s been hell. So, if I can find a cream that clears my skin up, even if I have to pay a million pounds, I’m going to do it. Until then, the world can bloody suffer with me with greasy skin. Now let’s go and dump this grease.’
‘Yes dear,’ Blackhead nodded.

The two closed the van doors and climbed in the front of the van. Blackhead started the engine and chuckled to himself.

‘Walking Liechtenstein painting. Haven’t heard that one before,’ he said. ‘That’s a good one.’
‘Just shut up and drive,’ his wife barked.

And so, the two criminals set off in their van, which was weighed down a little by the copious amounts of grease sloshing around in the back. The river was only few miles away, so it was a relatively short drive. As they got closer and closer, their excitement rose, and they shot each other the occasional giddy grin. Pimple was glad to be finally getting some revenge, but she was even more glad that she was doing it with her husband.


‘What happened?’ asked the familiar voice of Suds as the Driver’s taxi slowed down to drive alongside now less greasy Captain Clean.
‘They got away,’ the Captain huffed as he walked defeatedly along the pavement back towards the restaurant. ‘Fired a load of grease at me and I couldn’t hold on.’
‘You should’ve come and got me,’ said the Driver. ‘I would’ve caught up to ‘em.’
The idea of following the van in the Driver’s taxi hadn’t occurred to the captain. Nor had it occurred to the other members of the squad. Caught up in the action, they’d forgotten that their friend was sat waiting across the road listening to music on the radio. Once Cap had disappeared dangling from the back of the van, the other members of the squad had returned to the taxi to drive around looking for him.

‘Come on, let’s go back to the base, we’ll never find them now,’ Suds suggested.
‘And besides, you could do with a shower,’ Flush added. ‘You smell awful.’

The captain sniffed and realised that although he’d wiped the grease off, the smell still lingered on him. But the sniffing caused him to stop in his tracks as a metaphorical lightbulb lit up above his head. He continued to sniff frantically, turning his head around as he did so and leaning forward purposefully.

‘What’s wrong with him?’ asked Faucet as the taxi stopped next to the sniffing captain. ‘Has he gone mad?’
‘No, that happened a long time ago,’ Flush replied.
‘I think he’s trying to sniff them out,’ said Suds. ‘Trying to follow the smell of the grease.”
‘What? Can he really do that?’ asked Facuet.
‘You’d be surprised,’ Suds replied with a slight grin as he watched the captain march confidently over to the taxi. ‘He’s got a well-trained nose, like a sniffer dog, but for unhygienic smells. Legend says he can smell a mouldy sandwich from over a mile away.’
‘What legend?’ asked Faucet curiously.
‘Well… me. I said it once,’ Suds admitted.
Captain Clean climbed onto the bonnet of the car, on all fours as if he were replacing the hood ornament. He took a big sniff and then pointed ahead, clinging onto the front of the car.
‘That way!’ he shouted, and the taxi once again set off at a slower speed into the night, following the captain’s nose to find the two criminals.



The noises came from the other side of the garage door as a circle of the metal door began to fizz and melt away, revealing Sergeant Suds on the other side aiming his powerful soap gun. He switched it back from the acid setting to the default soap stun setting while Captain Clean strode forward and peered through the hole.

‘We’ve got you now!’ he said, triumphantly.
Flush poked his head through the hole next to him and eyed up the dark, empty garage. ‘Uh Cap, I don’t think their home.’
‘That’s what they want us to think,’ the captain replied, stepping back away from the garage. ‘Suds, another hole please.’
‘I think he’s right, Cap. Their van isn’t there,’ Suds pointed out.
‘Another hole, please Suds,’ the captain repeated.

Suds rolled his eyes. He knew better than to argue with Captain Clean. Even when the captain was clearly wrong, he never gave in. Suds changed the setting on his gun and shot another two holes, making a gap big enough for a stubborn human being to fit through. The captain waited for the acid to die down and then stepped through into the garage. He looked around and saw no signs of life, but he wasn’t about to give in just yet.

‘They must be inside,’ he said as he grabbed a paint can and threw it at the window on a nearby door. He reached through and opened the door, granting himself entrance. He disappeared into the house and was gone for a good minute or so. When he finally reappeared, he walked straight out of the garage and over to the taxi.

‘They weren’t in there,’ he grumbled as he passed Sergeant Suds.

The squad piled back into the taxi and Suds instructed The Driver to take them to the river, where he wished they’d gone straight to in the first place.


As the taxi rapidly approached the river, one of the back doors flung open and Captain Clean leapt out, tumbling down onto the grass and rolling himself up in his cape. The car screeched to a halt a few metres away and the others got out.

‘Cap, what on Earth are you doing? We were just about to stop,’ Suds asked as he helped the captain up and unravelled his cape.
‘I thought it’d look more dramatic,’ the captain replied, dusting himself off.
‘There they are!’ Flush called as he spotted Blackhead and Pimple a short distance away.
‘Quick! We’ve got to get to them before they contaminate the river,’ said the captain as he sprinted off towards the criminal couple. ‘Faucet, you stay here. This may be dangerous.’
‘Dangerous?’ Faucet grumbled. ‘They’re hauling grease, they’re hardly the mafia.’

By the time the squad members got to Blackhead and Pimple, they were still unloading the third barrel of grease off the van.

‘I wouldn’t worry Cap,’ said Flush. ‘Looks like we got here with time to spare. That almost never happens.’

Blackhead and Pimple gasped as they saw the captain and his men.

‘Damnit, I told you we should’ve dumped each barrel of grease as we got them off,’ Pimple groaned.
‘Shh!’ her husband said, ushering her aside. ‘They might not know what we’re doing here.’
‘What? Of course they do,’ Pimple cried. ‘And even if they didn’t, what would we say? Oh, hello Captain Clean, we’re just taking our pet barrels out for a walk.’
‘We do know what you’re up to, and we’re here to stop you,’ Captain Clean said, stepping forward to confront them.
‘Oh yeah, well… well… take this,’ she ran behind one of the barrels and tried to tip it over onto Captain Clean, but it was too heavy for her to lift on her own. ‘Don’t just stand there, Gerry, come and help me.’
Blackhead stood frozen to the spot, not sure what to do now that he was surrounded by a bunch of men in silly costumes. Suds took the initiative and stepped in, trying to restrain the woman who started splashing him with grease and running around the barrels. While the squad were distracted with his hysterical wife, he seized the moment and darted off, running down the riverbank. Captain Clean turned to chase him, but as he set off, he slipped on a large puddle of grease.
‘I’ll get hi-iiiiiiieeee!’ he cried as his legs swung up and he fell flat on his back.
‘Facuet, stop him!’ Suds called over to Faucet, who was still waiting by the taxi in the direction that Blackhead was running.
‘How?’ Faucet called back. It was his first time out in the field and he didn’t know what to do.
‘Use your water powers!’ Suds shouted.
‘Oh yeah!’ Faucet said, realising he could finally try out his new powers in an actual mission.
‘Stop!’ he shouted, lifting his hand up and using his new gauntlet to spray Blackhead in the face. The strong jet of lukewarm water sent Blackhead flying back and down onto the ground. Faucet gasped and quickly relaxed his hand to stop the water.
‘Maybe use a lower setting next time,’ Captain Clean said as he and the other grime fighters joined Faucet, with Pimple in tow.
‘Yeah, sorry dude. I’m still getting used to these things!’
As Blackhead slowly got to his feet, Pimple let out a cry of shock. Although the water had not harmed her partner in crime and life, it was now dripping down his face, taking with it many of the spots and pimples that had once prominently adorned his features, leaving his face, for the most part, clean and smooth.

‘Gerry!’ she cried, running over to her husband. ‘Your spots are falling off!’
Blackhead’s eyes nearly popped out at his wife’s words. His face looked worried, and he quickly tried to come up with an excuse.
‘Uh… oh wow,’ he stuttered, ‘That’s incredible. It must be uh… it must be something in his water!’

Faucet looked down at his arm with a curious expression, wondering if his water really did have some sort of magic healing power. Pimple swiped some of the water off Blackhead’s face and splattered it on her own, rubbing it into her spots vigorously.

‘Is it working?’ she asked excitedly.
‘Um… no,’ Blackhead replied, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly.
‘Quick, spray me,’ she said to Faucet.

Faucet looked unsure what to do and slowly raised his hand, looking around to Captain Clean as if asking for permission. The captain just shrugged and nodded.

‘No, stop! It’s not going to work,’ Blackhead warned Faucet.
‘What do you mean?’ Pimple asked. ‘How do you know?’
Blackhead sighed. ‘The water didn’t clear my spots.’
‘What? Then what happened? Why has your skin cleared up?’
‘You know that new cream you bought a couple of weeks ago, the one that didn’t work? Well, I tried it and it worked on my skin. It cleared up some of my spots, but I didn’t know how to tell you.’
‘So you lied to me for weeks?’
‘I was going to tell you once we’d done this grease thing. See if there was something we could do for your spots.’
‘You liar!’ she said, hitting her dirty – although comparatively clean – stinking liar of a husband on the arm.
‘Darling, please, just listen…’ he begged.
‘No you listen! I’ve had enough of you! How could you do this to me? All this time I thought we were the same, but now you go and do this!’
‘But I didn’t mean to, I…’
‘Ahem,’ coughed a voice from behind them.

They turned around and saw Captain Clean holding a pair of handcuffs.

‘Sorry to interrupt,’ said the captain, ‘but you two are-‘
‘You can wait a minute,’ snapped Pimple, raising a finger to him.

The captain, assessing the situation, stood stunned and let her finish her argument. She continued to shout at her husband about how he never respected her, how he always had less spots than her and how he always took the toffee sweets when they had a tin of Quality Street. Blackhead tried to defend himself, but quickly gave up and just stood silent, letting her yell at him and completely embarrass him in front of the local heroes. Eventually Pimple seemed to run out of things to berate her husband for and finished her tirade. Suds gave the captain a little nudge and he stepped forward once again.

‘Right, if you’re finished,’ he said with a disapproving look at Pimple, ‘you two are coming with us.’

The captain took hold of Pimple, while Suds grabbed Blackhead. They led them over to their van and sat them down on the floor while Flush made himself useful and called the police. As they waited, the captain decided to learn a bit more about the villainous couple.

‘So the Scarlet Pimple has returned?’
‘I’m just Pimple now,’ said Pimple.
‘And who’s this guy you’re with?’
‘I’m The Blackhead,’ said Blackhead.
‘The Blackhead? Never heard of you,’ said Cap.
‘Really? I was involved in some pretty big robberies a couple of years back.’
‘Nope,’ confirmed Suds, scrolling through his phone. ‘We definitely haven’t got a Blackhead in our database.’
‘It’s not Blackhead, it’s The Blackhead.’
‘Oh, sorry. Well, The Blackhead, I still don’t think-’
‘No, it’s not The Blackhead when you’re talking to me. Then it’s just Blackhead.’
‘Huh?’ said a confused Suds, his fellow heroes sharing his confused look.
‘It’s simple, when you’re referring to me, it’s The Blackhead, and when you’re talking to me directly it’s Blackhead,’ the villain explained.
‘Man, why do you guys have to have such complicated names?’ asked the Flush. ‘Can’t we just call you Blacky?’
‘I think that sounds a bit racist, Flush,’ Suds pointed out.
‘What about The Head?’ Faucet suggested.
‘Nah, that makes him sound like he works in a school,’ said Flush. ‘Plus it doesn’t solve the “The” issue.’
‘Look, my name is The Blackhead!’ shouted the annoyed villain.
‘Alright, alright. Calm down,’ said Captain Clean.

There was an awkward silence for a while, but fortunately the police soon arrived. The two criminals were stuffed into the back of a police car while the crime scene investigators took photos of the van and barrels of grease as evidence.

‘I guess I ought to congratulate you Captain,’ said Chief Inspector Dovedale.
‘All in a day’s work Inspector,’ smiled the captain as he casually leaned on one of the barrels. However, as he did, it tipped over and the captain fell to the floor while the grease from the barrel started to spill out and run down towards the river.

‘Noooo!’ the captain cried as he quickly crawled along the floor, getting ahead of the flow and trying desperately to stop it with his cape.

Chief Inspector Dovedale just shook his head and called a couple of his men over to pick the barrel back up.


A short while later, Gerry Carbuncle was being led down the corridors of Rotenhell Prison by a bald, muscly guard who looked so mean that a rumour was spreading around the prison that he lost his hair when he ripped it out and ate it a fit of rage.

‘So what’s it like here?’ Gerry asked the guard. ‘Is the food any good?’

The guard just grunted and gave him a shove to carry on walking.

‘I’ll take that as a no.’

The guard stopped him outside a cell and opened the door.

‘In you go,’ he said.

Gerry entered his new home and was horrified to see a familiar face sitting on one of the two beds that furnished the dark, damp room.

‘Oh no,’ he sighed. ‘Hello dear.’