“Did you hear?” Sam Mortimer asked as the elevator came to a wobbly stop and opened to a long cold tunnel.
“We just got here,” Lauren said. “What do you think?”
“Hi Janis,” Rachel said.
“Hi Janis,” Lauren and Sam both said. They walked towards the imposing women with the eye patch and a gray wispy bun. She nodded to all three of them from behind her desk.
“Sign in, young’ins,” she growled.
“I already did,” Sam said.
Janis nodded. Rachel and Lauren hurried up to the desk, stood on their tiptoes, and signed in on Janis ledger. She harrumphed at them taking the ledger back.
“Well, don’t stand around like wet cheese, get to the meeting. Agent Carmichael’s waiting for you.”
All three kids scurried off.
“I don’t like her,” Lauren said. “She’s not very nice.”
“She’s scary,” Rachel said.
“How do you think she got that eye patch?” Sam whispered.
“I heard she smokes a pipe when she’s on break,” Lauren said.
“I heard it was cigars,” Rachel added.
“Either way, she’s strange,” Lauren said, tugging at her hat.
“Yes, but how do you think she got the eye patch?” Sam said.
The three agents argued over the finer points of earning an eye patch while they hurried down the long tunnel leading to the warren of offices, shooting galleries, test rooms, and developmental stations. A thick carpet lined the hall Janis guarded with one wary eye. It muffled some of the echo produced by the reinforced steel walls and curved ceiling of the underground headquarters. Grommets marched in straight lines from floor up over their heads and down to the floor again keeping the steel paneling held securely in place.
“I still think she got poked,” Sam muttered as he pulled open the door to Carmichael’s office for the twins.
“Of course she got poked,” Rachel said with a sigh.
“She is missing her eye,” Lauren added.
“Agents!” Carmichael snapped.
They hurried into the room and seated themselves at Carmichael’s large desk situating their tool belts so they could sit more comfortably and not on various sharp or lumpy objects.
“Agents,” Carmichael said leaning across his desk. “We have a problem. There are monsters under the beds.”
“NO!” gasped Rachel.
“It can’t be,” Lauren said.
Sam hunched his shoulders and slipped down in his chair.
“It is and it can,” Carmichael said. “We have the three houses mapped out. You will go exterminate the monsters as a unit, girls. Sam, I want you there to back them up and see if you can catch one. We don’t know if this is an outbreak yet or . . .”
“Her,” whispered Rachel.
“Exactly,” Carmichael said. “So gear up. Jane’s got some new toys for you to try, and watch your backs.”
The three agents slipped out of their chairs, gave Carmichael a salute, and left the room.
Back in the hall, Sam dropped against the wall.
“I can’t believe . . . I never would have thought . . . do you think she’s back?”
“Maybe it’s just a few we didn’t catch last time,” Rachel said.
“We’ll take care of them this time,” Lauren said.
She grabbed Sam by the arm. Rachel grabbed him up by his other arm and the bustled him off down the hall to Jane. Twisting and turning down one hall or another, following the red and green line for new toys, they soon reached Jane’s door. Rachel hauled it open. A thick white cloud of smoke billowed out the door. Jane tumbled out after it coughing and wheezing.
“Goggles on,” she said. “That stuff will poke your eye out.”
With a gasp, all three agents slipped their goggles on.
To be Continued . . .