“Are they asleep?” Lauren asked.
She peeked her head out her bedroom door and craned her neck trying to see into the dark living room. Neither the Christmas tree’s lights nor the TV glowed. Everything seemed dark, quiet, and still. But she never could tell with parents. They appeared suddenly when she least expected it and usually when she least wanted it. With parents, it was always better to double-check.
“We better check,” Rachel said from across the hall, reading her mind.
Rachel ducked back in her room. Coyotes yipped and barked outside beyond the confines of their little fenced in yard. Lauren shivered. Rachel’s blonde head reappeared in her doorway. She tiptoed out into the hall, waving at Lauren to follow her. In bare feet, their toes silent on the cold tile but decidedly not in their pjs, they made their way across the living room and to their parent’s bedroom door. Rachel handed the remote to Lauren and tugged the long antenna of the Sleep Detector free. Lauren flipped the red switch on the remote up. A tiny green light lit her face and touched her dark brown curls. Rachel pointed the antenna at herself.
“Testing, testing,” she whispered.
A red light blinked on the remote.
“Glad to know you’re not asleep,” Lauren laughed.
Rachel hushed her, bent down, and poked the antenna under the door. They waited, counting silently, breathing softly. A blue light blinked three times.
“They’re asleep,” Lauren reported.
“Let’s go,” Rachel said.
She pressed the antenna back into the Sleep Detector. Lauren handed her the remote as they padded back to their rooms. First, they stopped in Lauren’s room decorated in pops of bright, cheerful yellow, which warmed in the small circle of light from her desk lamp. Lauren rushed to her closet and felt along the inside wall. There! A tiny nail-head caught under her long fingers. She pushed it. The back of the closet flipped from right to left hiding her drawers of tee shirts and shorts. It replaced them with a small wall of gears and strange gadgets.
“Did the message say what we needed?” she asked Rachel.
“No, so just standard issue I guess.”
They both strapped matching wristwatches on their left hands and buckled on tan utility belts. In her big pocket, Lauren stuck a yellow tablet. Rachel packed her turquoise one. Lauren pulled on a bright green hat with a pom-pom and earflaps. It stiffened as it wrapped around her head. Rachel slipped a pair of pearl earrings in her ears and fastened the backs on. Wires sprang from the pearls to wrap her ears.
“Can you read me?” Rachel said.
“Loud and clear,” Lauren said. “But I’m also standing right beside you.”
Rachel tapped the wire cage on her right ear. It buzzed to life.
“Say again,” she said.
“I’m standing right beside you.”
“Okay, now it’s working.”
Odds and ends filled the other pockets: bits of string, glue, a pair of tiny binoculars, several different colored marbles, matching flashlights, and of course, duct tape.
Last, Lauren lifted a small gun off the wall that didn’t hold her tee shirts and shorts. She pulled back the slide, checked the load, and satisfied, stuck it in the holster at her side and tied it down. Rachel shadowed her movements exactly.
“Ready?” Rachel asked.
Lauren found the nail-head on the opposite wall and pressed it. The rack of gadgets flipped back around to a shelf of tee shirts and shorts.
Still tiptoeing, in bare feet, the girls hurried across the hall to Rachel’s room shutting off the lamp on Lauren’s desk as they left. They didn’t turn any lights on in Rachel’s room. They didn’t need lights now. From the side of Lauren’s cap a small screen appeared over her eye. She could see the room like the sun shown in on a hot summer day. A wire shot out of Rachel’s earring and held the same small screen over her eye. They hurried over to Rachel’s closet without bumping into anything or tripping over the carpet.
Rachel opened the closet door, stood out of the way to let Lauren in, and closed the door behind them. They stood in the pitch-black closet, easily seeing the clothes and stuffed animals lining the shelves. Rachel tugged on a simple silver wire hanger stuck between a Sunday dress and her winter coat. Lauren took her hand and they moved closer.
The soft sound of gears and steam invaded the dark closet, which they could see clear as daytime. The twins smiled at each other. Beneath them, the floor lowered. Down. Down. Down they went. Rachel’s closet disappeared above their heads.
To be Continued…
(Rachel and Lauren are my two nieces on my husband’s side of the family. I will probably alternate the Texas Cousins stories and the Special Agent stories. The Special Agent stories are going to be geared towards 10 – 12 year olds. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.)