The rays of their spotlights were the only visible sources of illumination in the old building. It was very dark as they stumbled in, eager to shield themselves from the pouring rain. Their sneakers were damper than a baby's day-old diaper, and they left muddy marks on the linoleum floors. The air smelled musty, dirt-like. A generous layer of dust covered the front desk, where years before, a soldier or clerk would have sat to work and greet the visitors.
"Oh my God! This is soooo cool!" Derek whispered, excitedly.
"Indiana Jones cool," Jim replied. "Can you imagine? Maybe they even held nazis here back in the days!
- Don't be stupid! There were no nazis here, like, ever. The war took place in Europe, remember? Not here in Adams, Arkansas..
- So? They could have brought a German officer here, to interrogate him or something..
- Pff. Sometimes, you're stupider than your brother. Come on! Let's check this place out!"
The two teens walked by the front desk and ventured down a corridor. Their precipitated breathing and the echoing sounds of their footsteps were soon the only noises they could hear. Left and right, doors opened onto deserted offices, some furnished with wooden desks littered with piles of paper, clips or pens, but most completely empty. Rusty metal drawers often occupied most of the wall space, with, on occasion, a dried-up flower pot or the desiccated yellow pages of a half-century-old calendar.
"I can't believe we're doing this!" Jim suddenly whispered, almost out of breath, a wide smile real-estating the entire lower part of his face.
- Hey, I wonder if there could be animals living here? I mean, like armadillos or whatnot? It'd be a nice home for them.
- Other than mice, I doubt it. The doors were shut tight, remember? My arms still feel sore from prying that padlock. Man, I don't think I'm going to enjoy gym class tomorrow..
- Who cares? We'll have the coolest story to tell, ever!"
Leaving the offices behind, the two teens moved down the corridor further, and very eventually forced to stop in front of a set of double doors. Derek grabbed the knob: the doors were locked.
"Damn. This sucks," said Jim. "I wonder what's behind those doors that they would lock them before padlocking the whole base off?
- Let's take a look. We can smash those windows and unlock the doors.
- Good idea."
Derek disappeared while Jim, arms raised over his head, shattered the glass pane of the old door using the butt of his flashlight. The sound felt deafening in the corridor. Jim cursed as the glass shards showered him, bits getting stuck in his hair while others settled down at his feet, kicking up some dust bunnies that danced briefly in the light's lonely ray.
Derek soon returned while his friend was trying to dust off the glass from his hair and shoulders.
"Where were you? It's done!
- Yeah, I heard. I ran back and got a chair from that last room."
After positioning the chair underneath the broken window, Derek stood on it, and reached down into the room with his left arm, scratching it a little in the process. Soon after, a small clicking sound was heard, and the door creaked open, stopping against the leg of the chair. Derek was already down, moving the chair out of the way.
"Come on! Maybe we'll find some secret documents or something!"
Inside, the boys were greeted with more of the same stale air, except that this time, it was even moldier. The rays of their flashlights revealed yet another office, this time a little bigger than the others. There were two chairs resting in front of a massive desk, and an unintelligible name plate on top of it among a few tattered pieces of paper. What quickly caught their attention, however, was a long wooden crate of some kind somebody had left at the feet of a shelving unit. There were a bunch of printed numbers and letters on the side of the box.
"Man! Look at this! What is it?!
- I don't know. Let's open it up."
The lid was not nailed shut, and it was quickly lifted and shoved aside by the eager hands of the two young teens, revealing the marine-green shape of a rocket-launcher.
"Oh my God! Derek, this a bazooka!! It's a bazooka!!
- It's a rocket-launcher, I think. It's not the same thing. Wow! I... I can't believe it!! Imagine the look on my father's face when I show him that! I wonder if it's heavy.
- Don't worry! I'm sure it's not loaded!"