Monday, May 26, 2014
... or not
“Bugger me,” Dugger swore.
Ewan would have gladly, had he thought it would do any good. Or knew what it meant. It wasn’t going to change things.
Here in what should have been the center of Damien Hancock’s hive they had found absolutely squat. Zero. Zilch. Nada and loose change. No guards, no scientists, no mutant monsters. A fat lot of nothing greeted Ewan and Dugger behind every door they tried. In one huge chamber they did find a set of eight-foot clear plastic cylinders lining the walls, but these were empty too. The offshoot rooms they explored were filled with even less of the same. They stank of exotic chemicals and wolf adrenaline, all of it at least a week old.
“Shit,” Ewan said.
“Thought I just said that.”
“American subtitles. Where is everybody?”
“Y’got me, mate. Looks like the whole place has gone walkabout. Must’ve happened right after Dante’s spy lit out. Hey! Where you going?”
“Back to the flying saucer.” She wasn’t here. She wasn’t going to be here. The van and the wolves who had taken her weren’t coming here. They were headed to wherever Damien Hancock had moved his pet scientist. That was where Ewan needed to be, not this empty nest.
“Hang on a mo. My sniffer’s got something.”
Ewan reluctantly retraced his steps. Now he caught it also, a fresher smell than the fading traces they’d encountered so far. Human, somewhat nervous, and close by.
Gun out, Dugger led the way. “You want to kick the door in? I hear it’s the American way.”
He’d pretty much lost heart by now. “Nah.”
“Suit yourself.” Dugger swung the door wide.
Two white-coated science types sat at a table long enough for a dozen, in what had probably been the lab’s cafeteria up until a week ago. They were drinking coffee and listlessly playing cards. Both leaped to their feet when Dugger and Ewan stepped in.
“Uh, hi?” said the skinny one in the thick glasses. “Are you the new owners?”
“Depends,” Dugger said. “What happened to the old owners?”
“No clue,” the skinny one’s stockier buddy said. “Dr. Morloxian called a meeting one morning, told us he was going into business for himself, packed up his experiments and split. We tried to get hold of Mr. Hancock, but he never talks to us. I hate this absentee owner crap.”
“He could’ve left his harem,” Glasses muttered. “We worked hard. We deserve something for that.”
“Where’d Morloxian go?” Ewan demanded.
“Search me,” Glasses said. “He just up and left. Maybe he got a better offer from somebody.” He eyed Dugger’s gun nervously. “Are you the FBI? Are we prisoners?”
“From what I hear, there were close to two hundred people here,” Dugger said. “They take off too?”
“Some,” Stocky said. “A few went with Morloxian, but most of us didn’t. He’s brilliant and all, but really chintzy. Try squeezing a paycheck out of him. The rest of us hung around, hoping to hear from Hancock, but so far he’s been unreachable. I’m signing up for unemployment tomorrow.” He too eyed Dugger’s gun. “I mean, if it’s okay.”
“No worries, mate. I know somebody wants to talk to you bright young lads. Probably offer you jobs. Interested?”
“Hell yeah,” Stocky said. “This place sucks. It smells like wet dog all the time.”
“You said he had a harem,” Ewan said.
Dugger slanted a look at him. “That’s your takeaway?”
“Morloxian did,” Glasses said morosely. “We weren’t allowed to touch them. He kept them locked up. Had to. There was only one other woman here, and she ran off the second she got the chance. The mutants,” he explained to their blank expressions. “All the mutants were male.”
“No she-wolves?” Dugger mused. “No wonder they’re so bloody vicious. Bet if she scented a sheila—”
He broke off and stared at Ewan with a growing horror nowhere near the size of Ewan’s own. Dugger didn’t know about Maureen’s wolf-shifter genes. Morloxian couldn’t either. The sexually-frustrated mutant werewolves would pick up on it in seconds. Once they did—
“Right, then,” Dugger said. He motioned with his gun. “Say g’bye to the nice lab, mates. We’re moving out.”
Ewan bit down on his mounting panic. “Double time,” he agreed.