There were four walls, a mirrored floor and a dark ceiling. Don scanned the flashlight across each wall and corner, hoping for some clue about the children’s disappearance.
Ron’s not going to be happy with this. We better find those brats and that key before I make another report.
“Look over there,” Cynthia said, pointing to the floor in one of the corners. They moved over quickly and examined a small hole that might almost be large enough for a child. “They must have fallen down here somehow,” Cynthia concluded. “So we should look for them downstairs.”
Don nodded, anxious to take some action. He hated this room. It always seemed so cold and empty outside the Realm. His thoughts were suddenly filled with his Sauna, the warm steam rising from the wood and the tanning lights that made his skin glow.
Everyone said I was the handsomest of the Keykeep’s sons. Far better looking than Jon, with his face as pale as paste.
“Let’s go,” Cynthia said. “We don’t have much time.”
Don pulled out his key, one of the few precious keys to outside the Realm, and opened the door onto the dank hallway of third floor. He shivered as he entered the basement level, wrinkling his nose at the unfamiliar smells of mold and the mouse droppings worn into the carpet. He carefully shut the door behind him and they hurried down the hallway toward the elevator.
Suddenly Cynthia stopped and Don ran into her from behind.
“Wh-“ he began.
“Shhh!” she whispered, covering his mouth. “I think I hear something. Maybe it’s the Basement Dwellers.”
They flattened themselves against the wall, listening. Don could only hear the pipes humming. Cynthia clung to his shirt, but he detached her firmly. It seemed time to assert his authority again. She seemed to be getting out of hand.
“The Basement Dwellers are nothing more than myths told to scare children in the Great Hall Territory. Sure tribes live in the upper floors, but nobody could survive down here.”
It’s so cold.
“I don’t know…”
“Either you come with me or I go alone,” Don said, striding forward. Cynthia followed, almost feeling relief when she noticed a rat running along the hallway behind them. Her relief was far greater when she stepped inside the elevator and the doors closed.
“The button’s gone,” Don muttered, staring at the pliers lying on the floor of the elevator and the empty socket to Floor 2. He thrust his hands into his pockets in frustration and his fingers brushed something cold and round.
Of course, the button Cynthia grabbed by mistake.
The button marked “14” fit perfectly into the empty socket, snapping into place. Cynthia watched with admiration as he pressed the button and the elevator began to rumble. With a jerk it began to move and Don frantically began to push keys, willing the elevator to stop. Nothing responded and only the “14” shone brightly.
Instead of going down one floor as planned, the elevator was moving up.
May changed quickly, stuffing her black and red apparel into the back of her armoire and slipping on a skirt and blouse. Jon was so particular about the way she looked. It was silly really, but she preferred that he didn’t know what else she did. Checking her hair she hurried into their kitchen and pulled open the cupboards. She pulled out garlic and onions, chopping them quickly and dropping them in the pan with a little oil. Turning it on, May opened the fridge, pulling out the chicken she found, along with other vegetables.
This will be a good meal.
The onions had just begun to fill the kitchen with their savory aroma when Jon arrived. May turned, pushing her hair back behind her ear.
“I was beginning to worry about you,” May pouted.
“It smells delicious,” said Jon, wrapping his arm about her.
“It’ll be ready in a minute,” May said, slipping out of his embrace with a quick kiss. “Go relax.”
Frying onions. The oldest trick in the book.
A little later, May set two places at the table and served their food, making sure Jon was happy before she sat down. They ate together in silence, as the Realm continued to shift.