...someone grabbed both my arms from behind and dragged me none too gently across the pavement, backwards, and down the alleyway at the side of Hendry's. I swivelled my head and looked up, expecting to see a huge thug-like man. All I saw was brickwork, so I lowered my gaze and was dismayed, and somewhat impressed, to see a small woman dressed in purple overalls.
''Hide me, mate,'' she hissed, ''They're after me.''
''If you let go of my arms I might think about it.'' She had a vice-like grip and long purple fingernails which matched the overalls perfectly, and I could already feel bruises forming on my bare upper arms, and imagine the crescent shaped weals her talons would leave.
''Do I look stupid, mate?'' No, that's MY job. ''If I let go you'll run off. And you'll tell them.'' She did look rather stupid, in actual fact. The overalls just looked silly on a woman so small, especially as she'd had to roll the trouser cuffs up about six inches, by the look of it. The metallic pink trainers looked even more stupid. But her face didn't look stupid at all, unlike mine. She was rather pretty - stunning, really. I was becoming distracted. Perhaps I could turn this situation to my advantage. I smiled to myself, and took a deep breath.
''OK. If I promise, on my honour, not to run off, will you at least loosen your grip?'' I said. The grip tightened. ''Please?''
She relented, and I felt blood rushing to my fingers, which tingled, not unpleasantly.
''And it's not that easy having a conversation with someone standing behind you.'' I hesitated and added...''Babe..'' Now that sounded stupid. It wasn't a word I'd ever used when addressing a woman before, and it sounded just...wrong, even to me. However, to my amazement, it seemed to have the right effect, because she let go. I turned to face the petite fugitive, noticing for the first time that her eyes were the nicest shade of blue I'd ever seen. The effect was probably enhanced by the awful purple of the overalls. I'd have to be careful here. She might be very cute, but these weren't ideal circumstances in which to begin a relationship. Who knew why she was running? It was time to ask.
''Right. Who's after you, then?''
''I'll tell you when we're at your place.'' she said. ''It's not safe to talk here. They might be listening.''
Was this some strange chat-up line? Surely someone had put her up to this in an attempt to make me look even more stupid - if that were possible.
''MY place?'' I asked. ''Hang on, Do I look stupid or something?'' She studied my face. ''No.'' I said. ''Don't answer that.''
''Look, you've GOT to hide me.'' A note of panic had crept into her voice. ''They'll be here soon.'' She looked around with desperation in her eyes. She was rather sweet, really. I almost decided to give in and take her back with me. Then I reconsidered. All those years of my mum telling me not to go off with strangers had paid off, after all.
''Tell you what. Lets go to a cafe.'' I said. ''Or a pub. That should be safe, shouldn't it? Then you can tell me all about it.''
She looked up at me, reading my expression. Trying to see if she could trust me.
''All right then.'' she said. ''Pub sounds OK.'' My spirits lifted for the first time that day. I was going to get my beer after all, and I'd be drinking it in the company of a very nice looking lady... even if she was dressed a bit oddly.
We set off down the road. She trailed behind me, looking about her with every step, presumably for whoever was after her.
''What's your name, anyway?'' I asked.
She stopped. ''Don't ask me that.'' she said, glaring at me. ''It's not safe for me to tell you my name while I'm wearing my anti-galvornium boots.''
Oh dear. My heart sank to my own non-anti-galvornium trainers. Pretty she might be, but the girl was quite clearly barking!
I looked down at the pink trainers again. They still just looked exactly like pink metallic trainers to me.
''Errm. Anti-what boots?'' I said, aware that I was backing away from her as I said it. ''Where do you get something like that, then?'' I looked around surreptitiously, hoping that a couple of men in white coats were nearby. They weren't. Two nuns were on the crossing, on the other side of the road. Maybe they'd do.
''Anti-galvornium.'' She said with forced patience in her voice. ''You don't GET them, that's the point. They haven't been invented yet, stupid. I travelled into the future and nicked them.''
''Oh. Fine. Of course you did.'' I walked on, hoping she'd change her mind about the pub. All of a sudden she didn't look so attractive anymore.
The pub was on the next corner. I thought hard about what to do next. Maybe I should get her to sit at a table, then go to the bar to get the drinks, then walk round to the other side and out through the other door. Or even through the toilet window.
We reached the doorway of the pub, and were about to go in, when I saw two dark figures on either side of my diminutive companion. It was the nuns.