The strange undulating siren rose in volume. It rose and rose until it filled every space in the darkness. Peter grabbed Rachel’s backpack and digging for the flashlight on the side pocket. Rachel understood what he wanted. She found it and put it in his hands. He flicked it on holding it up like a torch.
Lauren continued to wail pointedly in the direction they had last seen the Woman and the Son. The black cat leapt on her backpack tail flicking back and forth.
Rachel pointed up at her parents unable to shout over Lauren’s noise. Peter pointed the light at them. They still slept.
The siren stopped. Lauren pressed white lips together.
Lights flicked on.
“Didn’t I give you a mask to wear?” Sam said wearily.
“Lauren, the noise hurts them,” Rachel said. “Ha! A side effect you didn’t expect, huh?”
“Sam, quiet them!” the Woman shouted.
Lauren wailed again.
The lights went out.
This time, this time Rachel heard groaning on the other side of the room. They really were hurting them with that noise. Peter tapped her on the shoulder and pointed at the cage. She nodded. Time to get out. Giving Lauren’s shoulder an encouraging squeeze, Rachel pulled out her tablet and examined the cage’s lock.
Peter tapped her shoulder, again. Rachel ignored him engrossed by the complicated lock she might have to pick. She’d never been good at picking locks. That was always Lauren.
Peter frantically tried to get her attention and finally Rachel, annoyed, looked up. The black cat arched on Lauren’s backpack, every hair standing straight up. She couldn’t hear it hissing but she knew it was. Lauren’s eyes were as big as dinner plates. Rachel turned around. A large green monster stood in the beam of Peter’s light.
“It’s the boogeyman. . .” Rachel said.
“Shoot it!” shouted Peter.
The monster grabbed two bars of their cage and ripped them free. It grabbed two more and wrenched them off tossing them into the darkness.
Rachel and Lauren stared down at their hands. They still had all their gear. They now had a way out of their cage. They smiled together. Lifting their Super Soakers, they opened fired.
Yellow and blue goo covered the boogeyman. It stuck to his green fur. It glued his little black eyes shut. It stuck his reaching stubby fingers together, and it wrapped around his hairy ankles. The boogeyman came crashing down. Peter rushed over and punched it in the nose for good measure. Rachel and Lauren high-fived.
“That’s one for us!” Rachel said.
Lauren led the way, the siren still going, out of the cage. The black cat clung to her back. They left behind the mask Sam had given her. Rachel took Lauren’s flashlight and clipped it to the front of her gun. They shown them both around the room. The Woman and the Son were gone. Lauren shut her mouth. The lights came on.
“I guess we need to get Mom and Dad down and contact the agency,” Rachel said lowering her gun.
Lauren shook her head and pointed across the room. An open door showed the way the Woman and the Son had gone.
“You want to go after them?”
The door flew open and two more boogeymen marched in the room. They growled and reached with their stubby fingers. Rachel and Lauren made short work of them with their guns. They had hunted boogeymen before. Leaping over the trapped monsters, they charged for the door. Peter followed at their heels.
A long hallway opened before them. Moisture dripped from the ceiling. Rachel checked her tablet.
“There’s a room a head with heat signatures but not theirs. I’m guessing more monsters.”
Lauren didn’t slow.
“If I’ve got my bearings right, we’re headed back to my house,” Peter said as he ran after her.
“We need to hurry,” Rachel said. “If they have an exit near there, they might hurt your family.”
Lauren, with her lips clamped shut, charged into the room and stopped.
Cages lined the rough dirt walls, floor to ceiling. Cold metal formed small spaces. Each of the tiny squares held a monster, a pitiful monster.
“This is horrible,” Rachel said.
Bandages, bruises, and scabs covered Bed Monsters, boogeymen, Grumbling Gremlins, Mr. Nobodies, Closet Monsters, Ticklers, Creepers, Sewer Trolls, Imitation Monsters and more.
“They’ve been experimenting on them . . .” Rachel said.
One of the cages opened with a spine tingling squeak. Out stepped a gray blob of undefined shape and size. It bubbled towards them, oozing and dribbling. With a snap and a pop it turned into Lauren.
Rachel shot it. Blue goo covered it pinning it to the floor.
Lauren glared at her.
“I knew it wasn’t you,” Rachel said.
All the cages opened. Monsters slithered, stalked, slimed, slinked, and bobbed from their cages.
They opened fire. Blue and yellow goo splashed across the monster mayhem. They kept coming. More and more monsters spilled from the cages. Monsters the Special Agents had never seen stepped right through the goo. Monsters made of mash-ups reached for them.
Lauren wailed in frustration glancing back at the tunnel.
“They’re getting away,” Rachel said what Lauren was thinking.
“Go!” Peter said reaching for Rachel’s gun.
Rachel and Lauren shared a quick glance. Lauren tossed her Super Soaker to Peter and darted up the tunnel. Rachel hesitated a second shooting a Bed Monster.
“You’ll make a great Special Agent, Peter,” she said handing him her gun with a swift kiss on the cheek. Blushing, she rushed after Lauren not looking back at the monsters soon to overwhelm him.