Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 9)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Rachel stirred the maple syrup on her plate with her fork. Lauren shoveled a second helping of pancakes in her mouth, one-handed. Debriefing with Casey was hungry work and they hadn’t eaten since dinner last night. Each time Lauren opened her mouth for another bit the strange siren started up. A soft white latticework covered the outside corners of her eyes and her hair had a definite white tinge to it like someone had dusted it with snow. They were mostly alone in the cafeteria. Normally the big space sitting empty would bother Rachel, but this morning she was glad no one was around. She could just see all the other Agents and Support Crews staring at Lauren out of the corner of their eyes and whispering about her. Better to be alone.

“Any super powers yet?”

Lauren shook her head and shrugged.

Rachel sighed. “I want to do something. I’m sick of sitting around waiting to find out what’s going on.”

Lauren nodded in agreement. She took a last bite, filled the room with a siren, shut her mouth, and pulled out her tablet. Rachel watched over her shoulder shivering in the cold room. It would be only a few more minutes before it filled with the daytime crews coming in and the nighttime crews leaving. Lauren tugged her sleeve and pointed at her tablet.

“Good idea, Lauren. Let’s do our own investigation. Where is Peter?”

Lauren typed and Rachel shook her head. “We’re not asking Janice. She’ll never help us.”

Lauren bit her lower lip then smiled. She pulled up a schismatic of the Agency and pointed to the block of rooms where they debriefed the agents after missions.

“You think he’s still in one of them? No, you’re right, it’s a good place to start,” Rachel said before Lauren could shrug. “Let’s go.”

They found Peter behind door number 5 doodling on a napkin. A plate of donuts and an empty mug that looked like its contents had once been hot chocolate sat beside him.

“Hey!” he jumped up as they came in. “I asked to see you hours ago and they said I could—”

He stopped when he got a clear view of Lauren.

“Wow.”

“She doesn’t have any super powers yet,” Rachel said. “And she can’t talk.”

“Why can’t she talk?” Peter asked.

Lauren opened her mouth and filled the small room with the haunting siren sound.

“Oh. I see.”

“Look,” Rachel said. “We know you already talked with Casey, but can we ask you some questions?”

“Sure,” Peter said. He climbed back in his chair. Lauren picked up one of the donuts and shoved it in her mouth muffling the siren. “I told Casey—”

Lauren stopped him with a donut-squelched blast from her mouth.

“Don’t tell us,” Rachel said. “We want to ask our own questions.”

Peter nodded.

Lauren grabbed her tablet and opened a note taking app. She pointed to the first question.

“You know the tree house in your back yard?” Rachel said after reading from the tablet.

“Obviously.”

“Tell us about it. Any special qualities? How much time do you spend there?”

Peter furrowed his brows. “Agent Casey didn’t ask me any questions like that.”

“Of course not,” Rachel said. “He’s a grown-up. Sometimes they get busy and forget to look up.”

“I play in the House, that’s what we call it, every day, pretty much.”

“Do you play in it when you get home from school?”

“When I get done with school. I’m home-schooled.”

Lauren beamed.

“Us too,” Rachel said. “Why do you play up there?”

“Well,” Peter said guardedly. “It’s not like I’m playing house with my baby sister even though we call it the House.”

Lauren shook her head.

“We have a fort,” Rachel said. “We use it as base when we play capture the flag. Sometimes we spend the night in it. It’s also where we keep some of our Agency stuff cause our Mom doesn’t come up there very often.”

“Right!” Peter said. “The House has a mail box, or well, it’s a mail tube. My Dad built it. It connects to Roger’s tree house. We can send messages back and forth. I keep a lot of paper in the tree house. His house connects to Susie’s and hers connects to Ben. The lines go through the whole neighborhood until they get back to mine.”

“All the kids are connected?” Rachel asked after a nudge from Lauren.

“All but one.”

“Who?” Rachel said.

“Rick Bunker. He’s in house 1307.”

Lauren pulled up an aerial view of the neighborhood. She held it up to Peter and handed him her stylus.

“Can you draw the connections?” Rachel asked. “And show us Rick’s house.”

“Sure.” Peter picked his house out and drew a thick yellow line between the different homes of the kids. Last, he circled one house left outside the network before handing it back to Lauren. “We had to string a line over to Beth’s house and then to Nan’s before going back to Jake’s to bypass Rick’s house. His parents threw a fit when Ben’s Dad explained what the line was for. They made him cut it down and re-wire it. My Dad helped him.”

“Why were they so upset?” Rachel said.

“Something about an invasion of privacy.”

Lauren typed on her tablet and held it up to Peter. He read it and smiled. “Thanks, I think the Network’s pretty cool too.”

“What else do you do in the House?” Rachel said.

“Well, it’s cool cause it’s up so high. I can see a long ways off, if I look out the side. There aren’t any trees blocking the way.”

“Can you see into Rick’s yard?” Rachel asked just as Lauren started typing. Lauren gave her a high-five of agreement.

Peter shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Look, I try not to see into his yard, but it’s right there. Dad said not to pry. He said respect their wishes. But it was right there.”

“What was?”

“The Strangers.”

…To Be Continued…

Tree house with a view.

Tree house with a view.

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Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 8)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Rob and Dee leaned over Lauren’s arm their noses almost touching the scales. Dee huffed a lock of hair out of her face. Rob hummed to himself. Rachel watched them, arms wrapped around her shoulders and feet kicking as she tried to sit in a chair and stay out of the way. They were almost out of time. Their parents would be up in just a few hours.

“So am I gonna turn into a white scaly monster who scares little kids?” Lauren asked.

Dee and Rob shared a glance.

Sam sucked the end of his pen and Carmichael leaned against the wall beside him.

“Dee?” Lauren said.

“I need to look at the monster, get some saliva samples.”

“Sam?” Carmichael said.

Sam jumped on it, rushing out the door with Dee on his tail.

“Thoughts?” Carmichael barked.

Rob scratched his beard. “I’m not sure.”

“Not sure. Rob. Monsters under a bed that don’t belong there. Agents, the best of agents, bitten. What’s going on?”

“I’m not sure.”

Carmichael groaned running his hands through his hair.

Lauren chuckled.

“What?” Rachel said.

“I’m causing problems,” Lauren said, her eyes sparkling with delight.

“You always cause problems,” Rachel said. Her voice cracked and she rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hand. She wouldn’t cry. Not now.

“Don’t worry Rach,” Lauren said. “I’ll be fine. Rob and Dee will know what to do. You’ll see. Hey. Maybe I’ll be a superhero.”

“You would.”

Carmichael’s phone went off. He glanced down at the text.

“Well, at least we’re getting somewhere.”

“What?” Rachel and Lauren asked in unison.

“The boy y’all brought back is Peter Noles. He doesn’t seem to know anything about the monsters under the bed.”

“Who questioned him?”

“Casey.”

“Should be reliable then,” Lauren said with a shudder remembering her interview with the large man. He could scare a kid into telling him anything.

“Peter wants to come see how you’re doing,” Carmichael said. “You mind?”

Lauren started to answer, but  a strange, haunting siren poured out her mouth. Carmichael shot off the wall and Rachel yelped in surprise. Lauren snapped her mouth shut and the siren stopped. Her brown eyes widened. She tried again. The siren filled the room waking a latent sense of danger and terror. It rose and fell in a series of undulating loops.

“That’s creepy,” Rachel said as Lauren closed her mouth.

“It sounds like an old air raid siren,” Carmichael said.

“Or like a tornadoes coming.”

Lauren started to open her mouth, changed her mind, and nodded instead.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Rob said shaking his head.

Dee and Sam burst in the door.

“It’s a mutant,” Sam said.

Everyone rounded on them.

“Someone crossed a bed monster with a sewer troll, and a hint of—”

“An imitation monster,” Rachel said.

Dee nodded.

“Well, that explains why we didn’t recognize it.”

Lauren stared down at her arm. A thousand questions tumbled through her mind but she couldn’t voice a single one of them.

“What does it mean?” Rachel said. Lauren nodded vigorously. “We have to be home,” Rachel checked her watch, “in an hour.”

“Sam, take care of their parents.”

Sam darted out of the room huffing and puffing. Rachel stepped to Lauren’s side taking her unbitten hand.

“Dee? Rob?”

“It’s quite a puzzle,” Rob said. “It used the bed monster to set the trap, the sewer troll to deliver the bite and give the monster more aggression, and imitation DNA to poison our Agent here.”

“There’s more,” Dee said. Worry clouded her face. Rachel shared a glance with Lauren. When adults worried it wasn’t a good sign. “We tested the saliva on all the monsters brought back. They weren’t just bred to have the strengths of each of their kind. They were bred to attack Rachel and Lauren. Their DNA has some very strange codes embedded in it. I even tested it. I put them each in a cell alone. When a picture came up of Peter Noles, his sisters, or even Sam, the cross-breeds did nothing. When either of you two came up,” she pointed to Lauren and Rachel, “the monsters went crazy.

Lauren tightened her grip on Rachel’s hand.

“They were designed to attack us?” Rachel said her mouth falling open.

“Looks that way,” Dee said.

“Who would do—” Rachel gasped. “It’s her.”

Lauren shook her head, waved her hand, and held up three fingers.

Everyone looked at her. She held up three fingers. Nothing. She sighed, pulled out her tablet and started typing with one finger as fast as she could.

Rachel read for her as she typed. “Lauren said there were three houses. Three houses with monsters under the bed that we were supposed to take out tonight. Did they have the same monsters?”

“We don’t know yet,” Carmichael said.  “I had to send team Beta and Charlie to check them out. We should find out pretty soon.”

“What about Lauren?” asked Rachel.

“Victor’s working on an antidote. He has the saliva and seemed confident he can fix this.”

“If he can’t?” Rachel said.

“Don’t worry. We’ll fix it,” Carmichael said.

Lauren typed.

“She said we want to help.”

“You want to help?” Carmichael said. “Then go debrief with Casey. He needs to know everything that happened. We’ll plant some memories in your parents mind making them think you’re with your grandparents. That’ll give us some time. Let’s get to work people.”

Agent Carmichael: Head of the Monster Hunters.

Agent Carmichael: Head of the Monster Hunters.