Tobin was exhausted. He had just pulled a ten hour shift on the printing presses. They ran day and night now. His job was to collect the finished bundles and carry them to the loading dock, where someone, he didn’t know who, would take them who knew where. He was too tired to care. It had been six months since he and his mother, along with the rest of the town of Murpodompous, had come here seeking refuge. Some refuge, it seemed all they had done since they got here was work. He collapsed on the nearest bunk bed, ready to fall immediately to sleep, or he would have if he weren’t being kept awake by the conversation in the bunk above him.
“You can’t.” Amity whispered.
“Why can’t I?” Mae was lying on her back beside her friend.
Over the past six months the two had become inseparable, often found whispering in corners. Mae had been getting some limited instruction in how to use The Song from Hector, or rather Gordon. The novelty of having real, honest to god family around, instead of the fake, pretend family she had grown up with hadn’t worn off yet. She still couldn’t quite believe it. He was a good teacher, patient and kind. But, she sensed that they were already reaching the limits of what he could show her. He had admitted from the start that while he, like his brothers had inherited the gift, his skills and talent were limited. It was a rather cruel irony that the one person whose powers came close to her own, and who could have shown her how to use them, was also the person who wanted her dead.
“The Boss won’t like it.”
“Since when have YOU worried about what he said?” Mae sat up, looking down at Amity.
“Ok, then, I don’t like it. You could ruin everything.”
“Not if I’m careful.”
Amity gave her a look that told Mae exactly what she thought of that.
“I will! Besides I have to do something. She’s out there. Who knows where, and it’s all my fault. No one seems to care about finding her.”
“That’s not fair! Yow know that everyone is just as worried as you, but if we go blundering ahead, we could bring this whole thing on top of us. More than just your Ma could get killed.”
Mae sighed, “I know. You’re right, but I was such a bitch to her, and now…I just want to get her back. I hate to think what he’s doing to her. Just one little spell, just to check that she is still alive. How can that hurt?”
“Alright. I can see I’m not going to change your mind.” Amity sat up, swung her legs over the edge and jumped to the ground. “Come on! If your going to do it, let’s go.”
Mae smiled. “Coming.” She followed her friend jumping down with a thud. “ I think I know just the place to do it.”
The girls ran out of the dormitory.
Tobin lay on his back, thinking. He wondered what they were talking about. Ever since that strange man came to town, life had certainly become more interesting, even if a little confusing. What surprised him most, was that apparently, Mae the shy girl from the seamstress shop, was somehow important or something. He remembered her, a little, they had been in a few classes together at school. He had always thought she was pretty, but her mother was so protective, and let’s face it a little scary that he, and most of the other people his age mostly left her alone.
He had tried asking his mother about it. But, she had only really given him vague answers. He continued thinking about it until, finally, he drifted off to sleep.
Meanwhile, down in the loading dock a large E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T. was being unloaded. Hector was overseeing the delivery himself. Large metal crates were being stacked on a huge trolley, each stamped with DANGER in red letters on the side.
“Careful with those fellas.” Hector called out to the men moving the boxes around. “ You need to get all of those down to the basement. Come on I’ll show you.”
He lead the way toward a large, industrial lift. Once the doors opened the trolley was wheeled in. Hector turned to the console, he inserted a card, and typed in a code on the keypad. A panel opened with an additional button, saying BASEMENT. He pressed it. The doors closed and the lift began its journey.
When they reached the bottom, the doors opened and the trolleys were wheeled out. He lead them down a wide corridor. The floor of the corridor was covered in white linoleum, and the walls, were covered in white tiles from about half way up to the ceiling. Bright fluorescent lights shone above them making the area seem both incredibly bright, and slightly depressing all at once.
The passed a number of locked, reinforced doors until they reached the end of the corridor. There they found a great, big, solid, steel door. There was a metal plate in the wall beside it. Hector placed his hand on it and hummed. There was a click, and a clank and the massive, thick door swung open.
Hector indicate that the men with the trolley should wheel it in and stack the boxes on shelves that were inside. The men saw that the room was the size of an aircraft hanger, and filled with shelves, many already holding other similar boxes.
He watched silently, and the men fulfilled their instructions. He then followed the men back to the loading dock. He watched as they climbed into the E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T. and drove away. He was closing the roller door when a young girl, Prancine, came running over, clutching a piece of paper.
“Mr. I mean, sir, I mean..”
Hector held out his hand and took the paper. “For me? Thank you Prancine. You can run along now.”
“But, umm, they said you need to come now.”
“Yes. I gathered that. I’m on my way. Not to worry.” He smiled. Although it didn’t reach his eyes. It had been a long while since he had felt much like smiling, for real, in the past six months. The time spent with his niece was one of the few joys he had these days, and even that was overshadowed by worry. Worry for her. Worry for the mission. Worry for Bea. He tried to put on a brave face for everyone, especially Mae, but he knew his brother, and if she was still alive, he hated to think what he might be doing to her.
He looked at the piece of paper in his hand. COME TO THE CONTROL ROOM. URGENT MESSAGE.
He started making his way to the control room. One of their spies must have found out something important, they didn’t make contact otherwise. As he walked, his head filled with speculating about what the message might be, he passed Mae and Amity going the other way.
“Hi girls. Staying out of trouble?”
The girls ran past, giggling. Hector shook his head. He was glad that mae had a friend, but he did worry about what they got up to when no one was watching. He sighed, he didn’t have time to worry about that now. He reached the control room, when he entered a stranger stood before him.