"We've been driving for hours now, and we've visited almost every orphanage, and there's been no sign of him."
"Ellison, he has to be at, or have been at, at least one of them. There was a sighting. The subject was too shaken to remember specifics. Besides, we're eliminating a pattern. It seems The Thing only targeted one orphanage."
A sharp turn as the car hit a corner harder than expected.
"No confirmed casualties?"
"None yet, Ellison, but we can't be certain there aren't any."
Manifest pressed a finger behind his jaw on each side, and his face plate slid forward.
"Ah, come on, can you not do that in the car?"
"Shut up and concentrate on the road..."
Reaching into his suitcase, Manifest selected an appropriate face plate for the orphanage. Replacing it with the one he'd just removed, he slid the plate on in line with his jaw bone.
By the time they got to the orphanage, all the children were asleep.
"Yes, you're correct. We did have a visitor a few days ago, Mr..."
"Armitage. The name is Armitage, and this is my associate Mr. Ellison. We received a notice of a suspicious individual around this area."
Her voice twisted up a tone.
"Are you from the police?"
"Not exactly, no… we investigate dangerous persons."
"Oh, I see. No, this one wasn't dangerous. He was from the local Council."
"Oh yes, he was in a big furry monster costume, and he was here to help some of the children get over their fears."
"Ellison, have a check run on that when we get back to the office."
Ellison scribbled into a notepad.
"The children were all excited. It was something new. They love visitors. They don't get many. The younger ones wanted to touch the costume, but were told not to. We didn't want them getting into any trouble. One of the younger boys asked how the monster learned to speak English. The man made a joke about teaching his translator how to speak Monster, and then they all had a shouting competition as he tried to get them to learn some monster words. It took quite a long time to calm them down after he left, but they've been sleeping well since. No nightmares at all… He gave us an address for the children to write to if they have any questions…"
"May we see the address please?"
"Yes, I have it written down somewhere… I'll just go to my office and find it."
When the address came, Manifest turned away from the others.
"That's all. Come on, Ellison, we're finished here."
"What was that all about?"
"Ellison, it was Thing. He runs an agony aunt column for children. He's not dangerous at all. He was trying to be their friend for heaven's sake. He went home afterwards. This whole thing has been a catastrophic waste of time."