Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 15)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Up, up, up they rushed knowing they left Peter behind with more monsters to handle than even their best training could deal with. Faster, faster, faster, they ran knowing he had given them this opportunity.

The twin Special Agents burst from the tunnel into the bright sunshine of mid-morning. The wind whipped around them. Shielding their eyes with their hands, they saw The Woman, the Son, and the man in the bowler hat climbing onto a helicopter. They charged without a word.

Darting under the swift blades, Lauren bounded on the Woman wrapping her arms around the Woman’s neck. She opened her mouth and let the siren go off right in the Women’s ear. The Woman collapsed to the ground, but Lauren didn’t let go. She kept her mouth wide-open incapacitating her arch nemesis.

“Mom?” the Son said, glancing back.

Rachel slugged him right in the mouth.

“That’s for lying to us,” she said.

She kicked him in the shin, “And that’s for kidnapping our parents.”

The man in the boiler hat reached for the girls with hairy hands. Rachel and Lauren grabbed a handful of robot roaches from their pockets and flung them at the man. The brown bugs clicked and crawled into his sleeves and the neck of his shirt. He screamed clawing at his clothes.

The Woman blacked out. The Son held his hands to his face, his nose bleeding. They had not escaped.

Several children and Agent Carmichael, in black uniforms and guns, surrounded the helicopter. He tossed Rachel and Lauren zip ties to secure their prisoners. The helicopter shut down, it’s blades slowing to a full stop.

“Good work, Special Agents, you stopped the Woman, again” Carmichael congratulated them.

“Peter!” Rachel shouted.

Leading the way, Lauren and Rachel rushed back down the tunnel with several Special Agent teams behind them. Back in the experiment room, they found Peter. He held the doorway, one Super Soaker empty, and one on low. A nasty cut bled into his face and his jeans were shredded at the knee. Someone tossed them some fresh Super Soakers. Lauren and Rachel stopped at Peter’s side and opened fire. They pushed into the room capturing monsters left and right. The rest of the Agents spilled in around them making quick work of the last few Creepers and Boogiemen and Mash-ups.

“Did you get them?” Peter asked.

“Yes, yes we got them,” Rachel said

Lauren opened her mouth and wailed. Gasping, she dropped to the floor, all of her gone white with scales. Rachel rushed to her side. Lauren’s siren went silent.

Early morning sunlight stung Lauren. She blinked trying to clear away the sleep stuck in her eyes. The world came into focus. She lay in her bed, in her bedroom, and the light poured in her window.

“Look who’s awake,” Mom said. “Feeling better?”

Lauren nodded. She opened her mouth just a crack but no siren came out. Excited, she touched her face. No scales covered her skin.

“I am feeling better,” Lauren said. “Where’s Rachel?”

“She’s working on some school work. You’ve been sick for several days, so you’ll have lots to catch up on. I’ll send her down to say hi.”

Lauren groaned. “School work waits for no one.”

“Yes it does, it’s waiting for you to be well enough to do it. You have some videos you can watch this morning for Astronomy.”

“Mom, I just woke up.”

“Homeschoolers don’t get to skip education,” Mom said cheerfully. “I’ll bring you something to eat in a second.”

Mom left the room. Lauren hid under the blankets wondering what had happened. How had she been cured? Where was everyone? What happened to the Woman and the Son?

“Lauren?” Rachel hissed.

Lauren jumped out from under the covers.

“Rachel! I’m fixed!”

“Yeah, Victor found an antidote in the room with all the experimented monsters. They got Mom and Dad home and fixed their memories. Something new Jane’s working on. Look who I have.” Rachel held up a fat black cat with glistening fur.

“We get to keep him??”

“Yep, Mom said we could. I named him Loyal.”

Lauren nodded. “Good name.”

“Listen Lauren, I just got a message from Carmichael. There’s a report of trolls in a culvert out near town. Two kids have already gone missing. He wants to know if you’re up to it?”

“When do we go?”

“Tonight.”

“I’m ready.”

“One other thing,” Rachel said.

“Yeah?”

“Peter’s coming with us. Carmichael wants us to train him.”

Lauren grinned. “Sounds good.”

“Girls,” Mom called from the kitchen. “Schoolwork!”

They shared a glance and a groan. “Yes ma’am,” they said in unison.

The End

Don't mess with these two. They're Secret Agents!

Don’t mess with these two. They’re Special Agents!

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Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 14)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

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.

“Shoot it!”

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?”

Lauren nodded.

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.

“What?”

“Go!”

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.

Laure-Fauvel-Kids-fighting-Monsters-5

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 13)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Rachel wiped a tear from her eye. Lauren squeezed her hand with her scale-free one. Scales covered her face now and climbed down her arm. But at least her one hand was still skin. Were her eyes the same color? Or had they changed too?

“He was our friend,” Rachel said. “Our friend. Did you hear him laughing? He sounded so . . . ,” she searched for the word.

“Evil,” Peter offered.

“And happy,” said Rachel.

Lauren studied the inside of the tree house. She climbed to her feet and poked at windows, the door, and the floorboards. She checked her tablet again, and again it showed heat signatures below the tree house. What was going on? What did Sam want? He had them trapped, what did he plan to do? Realization, or the worst of the worst, jumped out at her.

Peter gasped. Lauren spun around. Did he suspect the same thing?

“Carmichael Agency,” he whispered.

“NO!” Rachel shouted.

Lauren pointed at her tablet, trying without words to argue with Peter even though she suspected the same thing.

“He planted something. He planned this from the beginning. It wouldn’t be hard, didn’t he help design all your equipment?”

“You don’t understand,” Rachel said. “The Agency is under our house. He can reach our parents. They’re still asleep. They won’t even know.”

Lauren sensed Rachel’s fear. She felt it herself. Her heart raced. She wanted to run, scream, fly home. Her parents lay helpless in their bed and the worst of the monsters was coming. How could she have been so blind? How could they not know Sam was the Woman’s son?

A rustling noise broke through the anxious thoughts. The scrawny cat jumped in the room.

“What?” Rachel said scrubbing at her tears. “We can’t get out, how can he get in?”

Peter stepped closer to the cat. He puffed up his hair and hissed showing his sharp teeth. Peter touched the window.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he whispered.

Lauren ran her fingers around the edge of the window behind her. Rachel dug in her pack and brought out a small bag of snacks. Tearing free a piece of beef jerky, she held it out to the cat. It meowed and inched closer. Lauren gave her a thumbs-up and scanned the window with her tablet. She pulled out her lock-picking tool and tried to pry up a corner. Nothing.

Rachel ran her hand down the back of the cat stroking it. The cat chomped on the jerky and purred. Rachel paused, something shifted in the scruff of the cat’s neck. Done with its snack, the cat bound onto the chair and up on to the top of the entertainment center. The chair tottered and leaned back against the wall. The doors of the entertainment center opened revealing a slide going down into the depths.

“That doesn’t exactly answer how the cat got in, but I’m good with it,” Peter said.

“I know,” Rachel said, “not that it really matters. There’s some kinda chip under his skin.”

Lauren scrunched up her nose.

“They put a chip in the cat?” Peter asked her question.

“The real question is,” Rachel said, “how’d they make it look like no one’s been here for so long?”

Lauren ran her fingers through the dust on the floor. The top layer wiped away revealing footprints in the next layer. She stared pointedly up at Rachel.

“Sam, I mean the Son, invented a dust can that lets you cover your tracks if you have to break into an old haunted house. The Extraction Team used it when they had to deal with a bad case of the boogeyman up north last winter. I can’t believe he betrayed us. He always looked after everyone and made such good inventions.”

Lauren pointed at the cat and then at the slide. Right now, they didn’t need to focus on Sam’s betrayal. They needed to find a way out. Their parents or Carmichael Agency might be in grave danger and only they knew it.

Rachel nodded, tempted the cat off the top of the entertainment center with another piece of jerky, scooped it up, and put him it her backpack. The cat hissed and settled down.

“Taking the cat with us, huh?”

“The chip might be for more than just letting him in and out of the tree house,” Rachel explained. She peered down the slide. “And I don’t really care where this goes, it’s better than just sitting here hoping to be rescued. I want to go make sure my parents are safe.”

Lauren nodded.

“I’m good with the slide.”

The three kids jumped onto the slide and shot down into the dark.

Down, down, down, around, around, and possibly upside down. The twins and Peter shot out into a large open space.

“Well, well, well, that didn’t take long. My Son was right: Put everything in place and you would literally fall right into our hands.” The voice rang out around them. Rachel and Lauren never expected to hear that voice again except in their nightmares. It was the voice of the Woman.

Lauren opened her mouth. The siren gave off a weak, muffled wail. Rachel screamed clutching Lauren. Peter, unaware of who the voice belonged to, of what it signified, felt out in the darkness.

A light flooded the room driving away the shadows. Bars sprang up around them. A terrifying sight came into focus as they squinted in the light.

Their parents were tied to a bar in the middle of the room. Their heads rested on their chests and they snored peacefully. Their mom’s hair stirred as she breathed.

Lauren went silent shutting her mouth. Rachel’s tears dried. The Woman stepped from the shadows with Sam at her shoulder. The twin agents stared out from behind the bars and glared at their arch nemesis.

“And now I’m going to do to you what you did to me,” Sam said.

“Sam, don’t!” Peter shouted.

Rachel and Lauren said nothing. They just glared and glared.

A wrench high over their heads lifted their parents up in the air. They spun slowly.

“And now to wake them up,” Sam said. The Woman smiled down at her Son.

Lauren ripped off her mask. The eerie siren flooded the room booming and echoing.

All the lights went out.

Black-Cat-8

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 12)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

The sun rose clothed in a dress of pinks, orange and blues, which she spun out across the sky. Rachel, Lauren, Sam, and Peter darted through the trees so no wayward early rises would see them. Joggers, trash men, and kids on their way to school provided a visual obstacle course. At least Peter had stopped whooping and hollering as he spun through the air, Lauren thought. She pressed her lips together keeping her own noise issues to a minimum.

“There’s my house,” Peter said.

The two-story Victorian home poked its gingerbread roof out through the trees and greeted the morning. Rachel tightened her grip on her Super Soaker. Last time they’d been this way Lauren got bit and now grew scales. Rachel wasn’t going to let that happen again. Granted, the sun was up. But last time she checked, bed monsters didn’t give anyone scale rashes, so she wasn’t going to count on the sun to keep the monsters at bay.

“Let’s get to your tree house so we can do some scouting,” Rachel directed.

“Follow me,” Peter said.

He dropped down below a large sycamore, dove through the thin branches of a pine, up, up, up around a pecan and cut his engines to land in his tree house. The other three followed.

“Show-off,” Sam grumbled picking himself up off the floor.

“I wasn’t showing off,” Peter whispered. “But, I’m guessing you don’t get much, what’s it called? Field time? It’s not like these jet packs are hard to handle.”

Ignoring the boys, Rachel and Lauren rushed to check their surroundings. Rachel hurried to the back and scanned the house for signs of awake life. All she found was two agents keeping watch on the family and putting together a story for how they slept for as long as they did.

Lauren scanned the backyard. Nothing. Both the family cat and dog slept on the porch, and even a squirrel, which lived in the pine, snored in his nest. Everything seemed quiet. Lauren caught Rachel’s eye and gave her a stiff nod.

“Area secure,” Rachel whispered crossing to Lauren’s side.

Together they approached the side of Peter’s tree house that looked over into the Buckner backyard.

The twin special agents gasped.

“Has it always looked like that?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” Peter said. “Rick is kinda strange.”

Rick’s tree house glared across the yards separated by a silvered privacy fence. Dark misshapen windows faced them. Barbed wire ran around the top of the tree house. Doll heads and Barbie heads were nailed around each window and door. Some melted army men clattered together as the wind blew through them—a macabre wind chime. A scrawny cat climbed up on the window sill clutching a mockingbird in its jaw. It stared at them over its kill.

Rachel shuddered. Lauren tightened her grip on her Super Soaker and Sam swallowed loudly.

“Did,” Sam said, stopped to swallow again, cleared his throat, and started over, “did you scan it yet?”

Lauren nodded to Rachel who pointed her tablet out at the tree. It lit up. Red and orange lights flashed across the surface.

“Not good,” Rachel said. “It looks like we’ve got a lot of underground activity.”

Lauren scribbled across her tablet writing with one finger while she kept her hold on her Super Soaker.

Let’s check it out, she wrote.

Sam turned white, Rachel nodded, and Peter grinned.

“Scanning for any infrared,” Rachel said. “And heat signatures in the tree house.”

They waited tensely, watching Rachel, watching the tree house.

“Nothing, let’s go.”

Lauren gunned her jet pack to life and rose in the air. The others followed. With a thumbs-up from all, they flew over the yards and right in the window of Rick’s tree house. The scrawny cat hissed and fled leaving his bird behind. Setting down on the floor of the tree house, something crunched under Lauren’s sneaker.

Rachel clicked on her flashlight and shone it around the room.

“Disgusting,” she said.

Small bones and parts of bugs littered the floor. Cobwebs—some occupied, some not—filled the corners and covered the one chair and ancient entertainment center pushed up against the wall. Tiny animal footprints smeared the dust on the floor.

Lauren’s brown eyes opened wide. She turned her Super Soaker on Peter.

“Whoa, watch where you point that thing,” he said holding up his hands.

“Lauren?” Rachel said.

Lauren waved her free hand around the room taking in all the signs. Dawning crossed Rachel’s face.

“You!” she hissed also raising her Super Soaker.

“What? What is going on?” Peter said.

“You led us here,” Rachel said. “No one’s been here in months and months.”

Sam snorted. He snorted again, his body convulsing.

“Sam?” Rachel said, her voice small and afraid.

Clutching his ribs, Sam laughed. He laughed and laughed.

“Look at you, the mighty Special Agents,” he gasped between giggles. “You were so full of your own selves you didn’t see what was really happening.”

Lauren pressed the red button and fired her Super Soaker at Sam.

He dodged the monster catching net easily. Yellow goo stiffened on the wall behind him.

“Sorry Lauren, you’ll have to do better than that.”

“It was you all this time,” Rachel said.

Sam puffed up his chest. “Of course. Sam Mortimer,” he spat out his name. “I hate that name. My name isn’t Sam Mortimer.”

Lauren arched an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, you want to know what my name is?” Sam said. Lighting up his jet pack, he leapt out one of the tree house windows. Lauren and Rachel jumped to follow but everything went dark. They slammed up against something blocking the windows.

“You want to know who I am?” Sam yelled from the outside. “I am the Son.”

Rachel gasped and Lauren filled the room with the sound of a muffled, haunted siren.

“I am the Son and this is my revenge.”

Trapped!_title_card

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 11)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Lauren looked over the top of Rachel’s blonde head as they peered around the door frame into Jane’s laboratory. Everyone, like they thought, had gone to breakfast.

“Is it clear?” Peter hissed from behind them.

“Clear,” Rachel said.

Lauren pressed her lips together to keep quiet. The last thing they needed was to sound off an alarm, which is exactly what would happen if she opened her mouth.

The three kids crept inside keeping low as they wove through tables, around chairs, and headed for the supply cabinet in the back.

“Can you pick the lock?” Rachel asked.

With a sharp nod that sent her curls bouncing, Lauren pulled her lock-picking gadget from her bag. She selected a padlock from the tiny touch screen on the top. A small toothpick like blade flicked out and the gadget hummmed to life. Lauren stuck the blade in the lock, gave it a twist, and the lock popped open.

“Now it shouldn’t be too hard to find,” Rachel said scanning the different containers lining the shelves.

Lauren nudged her and pointed to a ghostly cylinder in the corner with her white, scale covered hand. A bright red label warned of possible color changing effects.

“What’s your favorite color, Peter?”

“Blue.”

“Well, don’t freak out if your hair turns blue.”

“Wait, what?”

Lauren hefted up the cylinder and popped off the end. Smoke drifted out and wrapped around her. Rachel covered her mouth and closed her eyes. After a full Mississippi-counted-out minute, Lauren closed it. Rachel opened her eyes.

The strange white scales covering her arm and part of her face were no longer white, but Lauren’s normal deep tan. Her hair had turned a bright, sunshine yellow. She raised a questioning eyebrow.

“You look a little bit like your old self,” Rachel said. “Minus the hair of course.”

“Rachel, you’re hair’s blue,” Peter said.

“Yep, this stuff changes your hair color. I don’t know why it worked on Lauren’s skin. Doesn’t matter as long as it did. That’ll keep us hidden for a while.”

“Is blue your favorite color too?”

Rachel felt her face warm. She nodded. “Yep.”

Lauren sighed through her nose.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

All three of them jumped.

Sam stepped out of Jane’s office.

“None of your business,” Rachel said tucking her now blue hair behind her ears.

“None of my business?” Sam said. “I’m your handler. Everything is my business.”

Lauren started to stick her tongue out at him but remembered it would only result in the sounding-off of the creepy siren. She signed again, through her nose again.

Sam glared at them and then started.

“You’re going back out in the field.”

“I said it’s none of your business!”

While they argued in loud voices guaranteed to bring every adult down on them, Lauren woke up her tablet and held up the picture of The Woman.

Sam stopped.

“Why do y’all have a picture of her?”

“Cause that’s who’s behind this. Peter ID her and we think we know where she is. There. Happy?”

“No. You just got pulled out of the field cause of that thing biting Lauren. You think you should just head back out there?”

“We want to go look.”

“Y’all are crazy!”

Peter backed away. “Maybe Sam’s right.”

“We’re just going to look so we can prove to Carmichael what’s going on,” Rachel said. “We promise we won’t do anything foolish.”

“Like breaking into Jane’s locker and breathing in that strange fog stuff.”

“We knew what it did.”

“Yeah, I bet.”

“Come on Sam, it’s The Woman.”

Sam shifted from one foot to the other and studied the floor.

“Fine,” he said. “But I’m going with you.”

Lauren shook her head and Rachel said, “No.”

“You bet I am. You think I’m going to let you back out in the field with a civilian and Lauren looking like that?”

Both girls sighed. A siren filled the room. Lauren clasped her hands over her mouth.

“We should get you a scarf or something like a mask,” Sam said. “Are we agreed?”

“Yes. But only because we need to hurry and I’m not going to argue with you anymore.”

Sam nodded. Relocking Jane’s cabinet, Sam led the way to the supply room. They took the long side tunnel with the exposed wires and pipes. Few Agents or crew members used it. A pile of boxes blocked the door into the supply room, from the inside. Peter and Sam pushed with all their might, grunting and groaning, to get the door open. Once inside, they gathered weapons, jet packs, nets, any odds and ends, and gadgets and gizmos they might need including roving cameras, flash bombs, and robot roaches.

“Here,” Sam held up a black mask once attached to a motorcycle helmet.

Lauren buckled it around her face. She opened her mouth. The siren hissed out in a muffled low whine. She smiled and gave Sam a thumbs-up.

“That doesn’t mean just go around with your mouth open, but it should keep any accidents from happening.” Sam said with a huff.

Lauren shook her head at him.

“I’m going. I didn’t promise not to grumble,” Sam said.

Geared up, they made their way further down the long, side tunnel until it emptied out into a creek. Getting their bearings with their tablets, Rachel, Lauren, Peter, and Sam cranked on their Jet Packs and flew off into the night to see if they could find proof The Woman was free and creating new monsters. Lauren just hoped they found a cure for the white scales along the way.

 

They did warn Peter that his hair would turn blue.

They did warn Peter that his hair would turn blue.

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 10)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

“What strangers?”

“About a week ago, a man and a woman, dressed in coats, stopped outside the Bunker’s house. But it was odd. They waited on the sidewalk across the street for the longest time, then they finally went and knocked on the door. I didn’t see anything after that for a long time.”

“You’d never seen them before?”

“Nope. You couldn’t forget them. The man wore a funny hat like you’d see in a movie and he had a coat on. It was 90 degrees that day.”

“Which day?”

“Last Monday.”

“What happened after that?”

Lauren nudged Rachel and raised a white eyebrow. Rachel frowned. More and more of Lauren turned white with each passing minute, and the scales had grown up her arm and were spreading across her neck. She swallowed and forced herself to focus. Lauren nudged her again and wrote one word on her tablet: Woman?

“What did the woman look like?”

“I looked at them through my telescope,” Peter said. His ears turned a little red as he admitted to spying. “They were strangers, after all.”

“What did you see?”

“Like I said, he had a strange hat on, but she also wore a coat, like it was super cold that day instead of blisteringly hot. She had a long dress on, gloves, and a hat, too. Her hat had this like black netting on the front. The strange part was her hair.”

Rachel and Lauren both stiffened. “Her hair?”

“Yeah, they were standing in the shade of Mrs. Dickens’ oak but the woman’s hair glinted like she stood in the sun.”

“What color was it?”

“Silver, but she didn’t look old.”

Lauren’s fingers flew across the tablet. She searched through an old file until she found the picture she wanted.

“Did she look like this?” Rachel said as Lauren held the tablet up.

“Whoa. Yep. That’s her. Who is she?”

Rachel dropped her head into her hands. Lauren opened her mouth and the strange siren filled the small room. She clamped it shut.

What happened next? She wrote on her tablet across the picture of the woman.

“You’re never going to believe this . . .” he paused and glanced from Rachel to Lauren. Lauren brushed a white curl out of her face. “Well, you might believe this. They stayed inside for most of the afternoon. I was just about to go down for dinner when they slipped out. I could barely see them in the shadows. Up in the House it was still pretty light, but down there, behind Rick’s house it was really dark already. As I watched them, they hurried across the yard and up into his tree house.”

Both girls stared at him waiting.

“They went in the tree house and didn’t come out. They waited until cover of darkness and never came back out. I sent a message to Ben, he spent the night in his House, and he said he saw a strange light flickering in Rick’s tree house all night long. It kept him up.”

“This was last Monday?” Rachel asked.

“Yep.”

“Did you tell Casey this?”

“No,” Peter said.

“Why not?”

“He never asked. He only asked me about my parents and my sister and what happened tonight. Until you started asking me about my House I kinda forgot about it. Ben and I hadn’t seen anything since that first night. We figured the strangers left while we were doing school work or during the night.”

Lauren tapped the glass screen of her tablet over and over and over. Rachel knew she was thinking because that’s what Rachel was doing. She knew Lauren was thinking about the women. She knew Lauren was thinking about lights on in a tree house all night and mutated monsters under the bed of the boy next door. She knew because she was thinking about it too.

“What do you want to do?”

Lauren scratched across her tablet and held it up.

“They’re never going to let you out like this,” Rachel said in response to Lauren’s idea to investigate the tree house.

Lauren scribbled and then glared at Rachel while she read.

“You don’t care? There’s scales growing on your face. Your eyes are white and your hair’s white. You don’t care? I care.”

“Any superpowers yet?” Peter asked.

Rachel and Lauren gave him a united scathing glance.

“Sorry,” he said holding up his hands. “Please continue to argue.”

Lauren held out a fist and set it on the flat palm of her hand.

“You want to use paper, rock, scissors to decide if we should go explore Peter’s tree house? Shouldn’t we be taking this information to Carmichael? You know he’ll be furious if we leave with you like this.”

Lauren gestured impatiently with her fist.

“Fine,” Rachel said with a sigh.

She held her palm out flat and put her fist on top of it. The raised their fists and brought them down onto their palms as if they were passing judgment on a court case. Once. Twice. Three times. Their fingers flew open. Rachel held up two fingers in the universal sign for scissors. Lauren held up a fist. Their fates were decided. Rock always smashed scissors.

“I guess we’re going to the tree house. Care to come along Peter?” Rachel said. Taking a boy from the neighborhood would save them some time. He would know the best and most secret ways to get to Rick’s tree house. It also gave Rachel some help if Lauren suddenly went batty.

“First I want to know who this woman is,” Peter said. He picked up a doughnut and leaned back in his chair.

Lauren tapped the screen five times.

“Gotcha,” Rachel said. “Here’s the five-minute version. The woman is our arch-nemesis.”

“People don’t have real arch-nemesis-es,” Peter said.

A white, wide grin spread across Lauren’s face. Her crazy curls bounced as she nodded.

“We do. Two years ago, we became agents because we foiled her plans. She put monsters not just under our beds, but in our closets and out in the woods behind our house. Carmichael sent agents of course, but they couldn’t catch them. We found them one night and helped hide them until they could be picked up. After that, we started our own investigation and found the woman’s base. She’s supposed to be in jail right now. I guess she escaped. When they were dragging her away, she said she’d come back and get us someday. See, she was raising a special breed of monster to enslave children all over the city. We stopped her. It looks like she’s back to her old tricks again.”

“Wow,” Peter said, impressed. “Since I helped y’all do I get to be an agent, too?”

“You’ll have to ask Carmichael. For now, we’re signing you in to help us, but it’s only temporary.”

“I’m in,” Peter said jumping to his feet. “Besides, I don’t like Rick very much. He kicked my sister’s dog once.”

“Sounds like a great kid,” Rachel said. Lauren nodded in agreement.

“So, how are we going to get back to my house?”

“We need some guns, kits, and a couple jet packs.”

“How are we going to get those?”

“Very carefully,” Rachel said.

Lauren’s long fingers flashed across her tablet. She held up a map with directions written across it. It took Rachel a minute to decipher her handwriting.

“Good idea, Lauren.”

“What?”

“Everyone should be about to go to breakfast. The only people out and about will be a few errand runners and probably Rob, Dee, and Sam. I can deal with Sam. We’ll need to sneak around Rob and Dee.”

Lauren nodded and scribbled another note.

“You know, Lauren. That might just work.”

LET’S ROLL! Lauren wrote.

“Agreed!”

The girls hurried out the door with Peter at their heels, one more doughnut in hand.

The Woman.

The Woman.

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.

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.

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters Under the Bed (Part 7)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Blue goo spouted from Rachel’s gun. It splattered the monster freezing it half way to the boy, mouth-hand extended. The boy jerked his feet under him and turned back to Lauren unusually calm. Most children didn’t give a many mouthed monster just a cursory glance…most children weren’t still awake when they came calling.

Ripping her tablet out of her pocket, Rachel punted the sealed monster out the window and marked it. She bent over Lauren.

“Not good, not good,” Lauren said through gritted teeth.

“Get me some light,” Rachel hissed at the boy.

He dashed to a desk lamp and flipped it on spilling light over Lauren’s trembling body. Rachel jerked her night vision goggles off. She wanted to see Lauren’s wound in real colors not the night vision glow-in –the-dark green. Soft-as-spring white scales crawled up Lauren’s arm from the wound and down her wrist to her fingers. They grew up out of the skin one at a time and popped into place under the previous scale.

“Rachel,” Lauren whispered.

“Yes, Lauren, yes,” Rachel said bending over her sister. Tears blurred her vision. Was this it? Was Lauren’s name going on the wall in the Hall of Heroes?

“Get the silencer before we wake up the house. It hurts and I might need to say something bad.”

Rachel hiccupped. She smiled. A bite wasn’t going to take her brave sister that fast. She pulled out the Silencer and gave the room a quick shot of it. A red beam flashed over the room and muffled all outside noise.

“We should put a tourniquet on that?”

“A what?”

“I saw it on YouTube,” the boy said brushing his black hair out of his face.

“What does it do?”

Her phone rang.

“It’s Sam,” Lauren groaned.

The boy jumped up and rushed to his closet. Throwing open the door he grabbed an old leather belt that looked like it probably came with a pair of uncomfortable Sunday slacks. Rachel watched him while she answered the phone.

“What’s going on? Why aren’t you back with Tom?”

“Lauren got bit by one of the bed monsters . . . and the boy in the room was awake.”

“What? Did he see you?” Sam said so loudly both the boy and Lauren heard him.

“No, we’re hiding in the closet,” Lauren said.

The boy smiled.

“Of course he saw us,” Rachel said. “He’s putting a turn-something on Lauren’s arm.”

“A tourniquet? Why??”

“She’s growing scales.”

“Scales?”

“That’s what I said. I’ll send you a picture. We’re gonna need an extraction.”

Sam switched from incredulous to doing his job. “On it. Get that tourniquet on, and bring the boy with you. We’re gonna need to debrief him. I’ll get Rob and Dee.”

“Reading you loud and clear. Thanks Sam. Over and out.”

Rachel hung up the phone. The boy gently lifted Lauren’s arm and slid the belt under it above the wound. Lauren took in a sharp breath. Rachel gripped her other hand. The boy tightened the belt as tight as he could and tied it by tucking it through itself in the back. The popping scales s l o w e d and stopped.

“Get over there by the window. Our extraction team should be here in a second,” Rachel said to the boy.

“What about her?”

“I’ll get her.”

“You’ll need help.”

Rachel glared at him.

“Let him help,” Lauren said. “You get the team in.”

Rachel searched her face and nodded. She hurried to the window, whipped back the curtain, and phoned the extraction team.

The boy grabbed Lauren’s good arm. He hooked it around his shoulder and pulled her to her feet. The room swayed, but the boy kept a tight grip on Lauren and she didn’t fall.

“What was in that bite?” Lauren muttered.

“Something not good, I imagine,” the boy said. He maneuvered her through the minefield of GI Joes, army men, and a few Legos. Three lights shined in the window blinding them for a moment. The boy blocked the glare with a raised arm.

“Someone order an extraction team?” A cocky voice asked.

“Someone named the Best Team of the Year, perhaps?” said a snarky voice.

“Someone who thought they would never need us?” said a third very-pleased-with-themselves voice.

“I hate the extraction team,” Lauren whispered trying to see through the wild curls in her eyes.

Rachel brushed them out of her face.

“Thanks.”

“Come on, we’re not getting any younger,” the snarky voice said.

“Take Lauren first, she’s wounded,” Rachel said. She helped the boy edge Lauren closer.

The lights dipped down letting them see their rescuers. Three teens with large black jet packs grinned at them. Wild hair, wild jewelry, and wild clothes plus their age set the extraction team apart. Most agents their age had been retired or put to work behind a desk. Not these three. The extraction team had been a staple of the Agency for ten years. Rumor was that Carmichael had promised them they could keep their job until they slipped up.

Rave, with his shaved head, took Lauren in his arms and zipped off into the night towards where Tom kept the car running. Remington grinned. He pulled his long hair back in a pony-tail held out his hand to the black-haired boy.

“I’m not being carried.”

“Can you fly?”

The boy looked down at the ground. “Better yet,” he said. “I’m not going.”

Rachel pointed her Super Soaker at him. “Either go or be taken. I don’t care. I want to make sure my sister’s okay and you’re holding me up.”

The boy stared at the gun and gulped. He climbed out the windowsill and let Remington carry him off.

“Good work,” Remy said reaching for Rachel.

Rachel flicked her jet pack on and shot out the window. The clean-up crew swarmed over the house making sure the monsters were picked up and the family stayed sound asleep until they were ready for them to wake up. Rachel hooked herself to Remy’s pack and let the older girl guided her back to Tom. Worry for Lauren crowded her mind. Would she be okay? Would she have to deal with lasting effects? What had bit her? What about that boy? What would they do with him?

Her phone rang. It was Sam.

“What?”

“Tom had to leave. Lauren’s worse. He had to bring her back now. Remy will get you home ASAP.”

Rachel looked down between her dangling feet. Sam was right. Tom was gone.

“Hurry, Remy.”

“Cut off your pack,” she said.

Rachel followed her direction. Remy pulled her close and thumbed her nitro tanks. They shot off in to the night headed straight for the Agency.

Please be okay, Lauren, Rachel prayed. Be okay.

Extraction Team: The Oldest Special Agents

Extraction Team: The Oldest Special Agents

 

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Beds (Part 6)

 

SpecialAgents

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

(Part 4)

(Part 5)

Gunning their extra quiet, matching purple jet packs to life, Rachel and Lauren shot up to the second story. Rachel pulled out her tablet and checked the house. Five red dots flashed in a ghostly image of the house.

“We have two kids’ rooms in the back,” she said.

“Parents?” Lauren asked hanging in the air.

“Both asleep.”

“Let’s silence and pause the rooms then check for monsters.”

“The girls are younger, let’s check there first.”

Lauren nodded and the girls darted around to the back of the house.

“Night vision,” they said together as they pulled down their goggles turning the world snot green.

The curtains over one window were camouflaged and heavy while the other window, in stark contrast, was covered in something floaty and ruffled.

“Girls,” Rachel said with a smile.

Moving in closer, their legs dangling in the air, Rachel and Lauren hovered next to the window. They couldn’t see through the curtain, so Lauren fished around in a pocket on her belt. She held up a flat silver key, slim as a lock of hair. Sliding it under the window, she turned it and heard a satisfying snitch.

“One down,” she said as she darted over to the camouflaged window and unlocked it.

Rachel slipped her tablet back in its pocket and held up three fingers.

They shoved the windows open, fired their pause/silence toys, darted—one up and one down—to opposite windows, and fired the toys again. Both rooms were prepped. They regrouped in front of the girls’ windows where the wind played with the frilly curtains.

Whaaaaaa!

A glowing fur ball, all teeth and long claws, shot out the window. It smacked right into Rachel as she raised her Super Soaker. The force of the tackle spun her off over a tree, the monster clinging and drooling on her shoulder.

Lauren flew off after them raising her gun to her shoulder. She would have to aim very carefully to avoid hitting her sister. Rachel spun around and around off-balance due to the monster clawing at her. She kept her lips sealed trying not to scream but her big eyes were even bigger.

Now!

A trail of yellow goo slammed into the monster hardening instantly. It dropped to the ground and Rachel regained control of her jet pack. Lauren waved her back to the house, yanked her tablet out of her pocket, and marked the monster on her map for the clean-up crew. Done, she darted back after Rachel.

They flew right through the window into the strangely still and silent room of the little girls.

“Bunk beds,” they groaned together.

Something giggled from under the bottom bed.

“Laugh it up,” Lauren said.

They dropped to their knees and fired. Yellow and blue goo froze the monster. The girls dragged it out from under the bed and examined it. Golden eyes peered angrily up at them blinking. A small mouth dribbled drool down a scaled belly. Suddenly, the belly split open in a wide, red mouth lined with lots of teeth. The hands and feet also spouted dangerous mouths.

Rachel snapped a picture of it, slipped on her ear buds, and called Sam.

“Did you get it?”

“Yep. Is this the first one?”

“Second,” Rachel said. “The first one leapt out the window at me.”

“What!?” Sam said. “But it’s a bed monster. They don’t leave the bed.”

“Does this look like a bed monster to you?”

“No, I’ll have it questioned as soon as the clean-up crew get’s it back here.”

Rachel hung up and tucked her gear away.

“What’s going on?” Lauren asked.

They’d been expecting the typical one-mouth, one-eyed bed monsters that enjoyed the dark little space. Sure, other monsters hid under beds, but bed monsters always had one eye and one mouth. This monster had lots of eyes and lots of mouths.

“This looks more like a vehicle monster,” Rachel said.

“Ouch!” Lauren said, jerking back. The monster had wormed one of its hands through the goo and bit her.

“We better have that looked at,” Rachel said.

“We better check the other room first.” Lauren stood up. She held the monster by the hardened goo at arm’s length and carried it out the window. After she dropped it to the ground and marked it, they flanked the window. The girls waited a minute to see if anything came flying out. Nothing.

With a nod, they flew in.

A boy with black curly hair stared at them.

“Oh no,” Rachel said.

Lauren gasped.

Rachel turned to her, surprised. It was frustrating that the boy was awake, but not gasp-worthy.

“Lauren?” she said.

Her sister dropped to the floor littered with GI Joe’s and Army men. She clutched her bitten hand and tears streamed down her face. Her brown hair, bright yellow only a little bit ago, turned green in the strange light of Rachel’s night vision goggles. Lauren rolled on the floor groaning. Suddenly, the room began to move again and the boy jumped out of his bed. He ran over to Lauren convulsing on the floor.

“Get away from her!” Rachel said raising her Super Soaker.

“But she’s hurt,” he said.

A ball of fur and mouths charged out from under his bed.

Rachel fired.

AAAAC13VmyoAAAAAARZjug