They may have stayed a moment too long.
February 16, 2014
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
As Angus and Skeeter eased their way into the townhouse, they were greeted by total darkness. Angus checked the area around the door for security devices and alarms. “My gadget did not detect anything outside and there is nothing inside, as well.”
“He is probably afraid that if a burglary is reported here, the police might discover other things during their investigation—things he doesn’t want discovered,” Skeeter surmised.
“You are right, Skeeter, but there are some criminals that get a thrill out of almost getting caught, then wiggling free. I think we are good for now, though. I forgot to check outside for his London automobile.”
“I got a picture of it Angus, while you were working on the door. I think that was it. It is under an awning across the alley.”
“Good girl! We will come back later and go over it, if we get a chance. First things, first.”
Angus and Skeeter made a slow pass of the ground floor, flashlights scanning. It was clean, very tasteful, with blonde bookcases filled with books. African art and artifacts occupied any blank spaces on the walls. Blonde, contemporary furniture reminiscent of the designs of Le Corbusier was placed at dramatic angles. Upholstery was custom made, of exotic leathers and occasional animal hides.
The galley kitchen was sparkling clean. Quick inspection of the cabinets revealed high-quality cookware—cast iron coated with enamel, and cast aluminum. There was an expensive teak wine rack, fully stocked, and a cabinet packed with cans and jars of expensive gourmet food. There was a half-bath off of the kitchen. Skeeter made a pass of it for drugs—nothing!
They made their way up to the second floor where they found three bedrooms and a full bathroom.
“I think what we are looking for is gonna be on the third floor,” Angus concluded. “Let’s go on up there, then we can come back down.”
“Yeah. Something tells me the third floor is going to get creepy.” Skeeter glanced at Angus to check his facial expression.
At the top of the stairs was a small landing. The rooms of the third floor formed a “U” around the stairs and the landing. There were no other entrances. The only door was locked.
“This is going to be tricky. I think it is probably triple locked. I am suffocating inside these bags. Could you hold a flashlight steady on the locks while I work on them?” Angus pulled out his small bag of tools.
“How’s it going?” Skeeter asked.
“I think I’ve got it. How much time did that take?” Angus asked Skeeter when he was through cussing.
“About twenty minutes,” she replied.
“Damn! I must be losing my touch,” Angus griped. “Are you ready? This could kill us! I could be really dangerous in here.”
“I am as ready as I will ever be. Let’s go!” Skeeter hissed.
Angus pushed the door until it was free and opened.
“My heart is galloping!” Skeeter confessed.
“I’m surprised the windows up here aren’t covered.”
“Yeah, Angus, and there is a skylight. We had just better use our flashlights in protected areas.”
As moonlight and city lights poured into the U-shaped room they revealed what appeared to be a complex laboratory.
“My gosh. Look at all this crap! It looks like the labs in 1930’s Dr. Frankenstein movies.” Angus felt a chill.
“Think we’re safe?” Skeeter asked.
“I don’t know. I sure want to take off all this stuff—our homemade Hazmat suits—but I think we’d better wait,” Angus advised as they slowly went around the whole U. There were large covered terrariums occupied by bugs and spiders. They appeared to have automatic feeders atop them rigged to timers. There was a row of sophisticated microscopes, some with electrical cords. There was a complete lab bench with rows of bottled chemicals, Bunsen burners, beakers, Petri dishes, test tubes. There was a Periodic Table hanging above it. Someone, possibly Reginald Glastonbury, had added five new elements—elements Angus had never heard of.
He said, “Even with my extensive geology background, I have never heard of these, and I am usually up on that stuff.”
“I am getting hypnotized by looking at all of these things, Angus. I can’t quit. We need to find what we are looking for and leave.”
“Okay. You are right. Let’s snap a few pictures and get the hell out of here. We need to find the smoking gun.”
“I think I just did, Angus.” Skeeter called from a few steps away.
Skeeter had turned a short corner in the U and was pointing to another black work surface. On a shelf above it were rows of honey pots in various sizes and shapes. On the surface itself were many round stainless steel containers, sealed and labeled with numbers—some kind of a code. At the far end of the work surface was a box of wrapping supplies: paper, tape, labels, string. Beside it sat two boxes of latex gloves and goggles.
“While you are photographing all of this stuff—use both phones—I am going to root around in this box for more evidence. What I am looking for has to be here somewhere.” Angus dug and dug around in the box, his hands shaking with excitement. “I think I have it!” He exclaimed after he pulled something out of the bottom.
“Here!” He pointed to a sheet of paper as Skeeter came closer. There were names and addresses. “I recognize this one. Two people died at this address in San Francisco.”
“And this one!” Skeeter said, pointing. “That address in Denver is the same area where some brainless bodies were found. I know that area well.”
Angus was on the move. “Okay let’s spread out all of these sheets of paper on the floor and photograph each one.” When they were finished Angus replaced the papers in the box methodically, then, he asked,
“Can you think of anything else we need to photograph?”
“No. Let’s go. I am getting creeped-out.” Skeeter started for the door then turned back around. “Wait! Let’s check the lab refrigerator.” Angus shot a few pictures while Skeeter held the door. There was row after row of labeled Petri dishes with strange goop in them.
“Okay, go on,” Angus said as he slammed the refrigerator door. I’ll need you to hold a flashlight on the door lock in a second, so I can re-lock the door.”
“Okay. Will do.”
Angus and Skeeter had reached the second story landing when they heard something.
“What’s that, Angus?” Skeeter whispered.
“Shhhh! Someone is coming in the front door—downstairs.”
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.