The Simsville Inheritance
Copyright ©2006 Elizabeth G. Cox. All rights reserved.

Chapter 23 - Madder'n a Wet Hen

"Jack! Jack! Wake up, Jack." After Alice shook the guard's shoulder a few times he started shaking his head, trying the clear the cobwebs. Sitting up, he groaned to himself, "Stupid, stupid, stupid, how could I have been so stupid."

Alice answered for the both of them. "No point in debating about that, we were both taken in just like amateurs. We've got to get out of here." She was furious with herself but recriminations wouldn't help right now.

The two sat there a moment, then stretched out to feel the floor around them as far as they could reach. Jack found the water bottles and energy packets. "Goodies for supper, I guess." It was completely black in the enclosed room.

As they listened to each other speak, no echos came back to them. "This room's pretty small. Stay put and I'll see what we've got here," Jack volunteered, climbing to his feet. He took careful steps, sliding his feet forward in case they met obstacles of furniture or debris. The cement floor ended at a wall, and he kept up a running description to Alice as he inched his way to the right.

It only took a few minutes to determine that the room was about twelve by fourteen feet in dimensions, broken only by the locked door. No furniture or fixtures, nothing seemed to occupy the space except the two of them.

"Okay, the smell is a bit stale but the air's okay. I'd say our only way out is through that door. Unless you want to see what's overhead?" Alice was thinking that some sort of ventilation system must be feeding the room, maybe an option to make their exit.

"We ought to check, anyway." Against one wall, Alice balanced on Jack's broad shoulders and the two slowly moved around the perimeter of the room. She could easily reach the cottage-cheese ceiling with her fingertips. "Not a dropped ceiling, unfortunately. That would have been too easy," she commented.

"Got something. Feels like a grate for air flow. It's not even two feet square though, let's keep going. Maybe there's a bigger one." There wasn't. There was one other small grate on the opposite wall. Neither was large enough for Alice to squeeze through.

It wasn't too hard to examine the door, even without any source of light. Smooth wood construction, metal doorknob, and the round surface and narrow opening of a deadbolt faceplate. The door fit snugly into the door frame, the hinges recesssed into the wood.

"Whoever did this, I bet he thinks he's really sharp," Jack said as he thumped on the door in a few places. "Hollow. We can probably get through this baby after a while, if nothing else pans out."

"That baby-faced kid looked familiar, Jack. Did you recognize him?"

"Not to call his name, but we'll find him easy enough, I think. He didn't even tie us up or anything, just took my wallet and keys. Wonder what his idea is? Probably bank stuff, he could make a pile of mischief down at the bank."

"I'm sure that would be it, considering everything." Alice was doing a mental inventory of every way some technology-savvy nerd could wreak havoc at the bank, and shuddered to think of the ramifications for their quiet little town. They needed to get out of here sooner rather than later.

Jack had been working on the deadbolt while they talked, using small tools from inside the lining of his leather belt. Within a few minutes he had the door unlocked and open. Daylight filtered through tall warehouse windows, giving them a view of dirty cement floors and scattered debris from the old textile plant. The double industrial doors to the loading dock stood closed a couple of yards away, and the path through the dust where Jack had been dragged on the length of cardboard was plain to see.

"Wonder where this place is." Alice stood in the shadow on one side of a window and angled her head to look through the grimy glass. "I don't see any people or cars, Jack. Check the door."

The double door was also locked but easy to spring open with several shoves. The grounds were a mess, covered with vines, small trees and mounds of trash from the mill. Over the years the asphalt roadway had disintegrated into potholes and weeds. It should be easy to spot anyone coming. They talked a moment and planned a simple escape strategy.

Close and lock the inner door, close and lock the outer door, and leave no trace as they crossed the field with the most trees and undergrowth. Duck for cover if they saw him coming.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22Chapter 23