Chapter XXIII December
“You done yet?” Cooper asked.
“This is not easy,” Al said her hands working quickly behind her back. She was working a piece of wire sewn into her sleeve out. They had anticipated being bound in some fashion and she was relieved when her hands were bound together. It made the task of escaping much easier than if her hands would have been tied separately to a chair. It was a gamble, but they had figured – and hoped – their captors would choose hands together in handcuffs. Which, to the benefit of Al and Cooper, they did.
Cooper waited a moment. “We probably don’t have much time.”
“Well aware,” Al mumbled as she began picking the lock on her handcuff.
“Here,” Al said after freeing herself.
Cooper waited while she picked the lock on his handcuffs. “Lucky they didn’t check your sleeve when they searched you.”
She shrugged. “They usually don’t pay attention to such things,” she said.
“Well no, they wouldn’t,” Cooper said looking at her outfit. She was wearing a party dress. “That wouldn’t have been the first place I looked either.” His cheeks flushed. “I mean…”
“That’s the point,” she smiled. “Always lead them where you want to look and have them look at the wrong thing.” She unlocked his handcuffs and freed him. “I’m just glad they used handcuffs instead of tying us to the chair. That would have taken longer to get out.”
“Yeah,” Cooper said. “Lucky us.” He placed a chair on the desk and stood up on it to pop the air vent cover out of place. Al looked at the door waiting for the guard to come in. No one did.
“Great guard dog we have,” she mumbled.
“Suits me just fine,” Cooper said and pulled himself into the vent. He leaned out and extended his hand for her to pull her up. “Alright, follow me,” he said when they were both in the vent. “It looks like we are in the warehouse. I studied the blue prints to the three buildings we felt certain we’d be taken to. An interesting choice but slightly predictable. I mean, it’s kind of cliched. How many movies do bad guys take their prisoners to old warehouses? You’d think somebody as old as Jacob would have thought outside the box. But no, here we go, right into the belly of a creepy, abandoned warehouse.”
“Do you have to talk all the time?” Al asked. “Even now?”
“Makes the time go faster,” Cooper replied as they came to a juncture. He studied the options for a moment then turned left. “I mean, here we are in an air shaft. Heading to who knows where? Who knows what? This could very well be the last conversation either of us has.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. But I don’t have to answer, right?”
“Well, no, you don’t. But that’s kind of rude.”
They crawled for several more minutes until coming to an opening. He turned around and kicked the covering until it fell off. A ladder was nearby and he pointed up. They climbed the ladder to the roof. He walked over to the edge to get his bearings while she found a duffel bag stashed nearby.
“Here!” she said throwing a small kit at him. “I’ll be back in a sec.” She took the bag and ducked around the corner.
Cooper opened the kit and took out a phone and pushed a button. While the phone rang he attached an ear piece. Ant answered the phone. “We are at the warehouse,” Cooper said.
“Hmm,” Ant answered. “Interesting choice. But it was one of our top three picks. Now we just need to know why.” Ant and Malone were in the van in a mall’s parking lot blocks away. “I am pulling up all schematics we have on the warehouse now.”
Al walked back to Cooper this time dressed in black pants, a dark gray sweatshirt, and military boots. “Much more me. Good idea putting these duffel bags in our top location choices. If it were up to me, I would have only picked one place. His house. And we would be SOL, right now. So, good job.”
Cooper nodded. “Thanks,” That might have been her first compliment of him and as much as he would have liked to savor the moment, they were in a bit of a hurry. “Ant says hi.”
“And me,” Malone said. “I say hi, too.”
Al took an earpiece Cooper offered her and put it in her ear. “Hello,” she said.
“Alright, I’m looking at the sensors for this building and whatever is going on in there is taking a lot of electricity.” Ant said.
“That’s why it was one of our top picks,” Cooper said. “Any idea what he is cooking in there?”
“No,” Ant said. “Not a clue. My bet is he is manufacturing some kind of nasty weapon. Probably biological. That seems to be his forte.”
Cooper nodded. “Okay, we are going back in.”
Al nodded. “Here,” she said and handed him a firearm from the bag. She also took one out and strapped it to her waste. “And these will come in handy in that shaft,” she tossed him a light and kept one.
“Why an abandoned warehouse?” Cooper asked as he climbed back in the vent.
“Well, in my experience,” she said climbing in after him. “Warehouses are used to store things. And abandoned warehouses are used to store hidden things. Things that people don’t want to be found.”
Malone nodded. “Makes sense.”
“You think he is storing something?” Ant asked.
“Whether he is manufacturing or storing something or a bit of both,” Cooper said, “you know it’s not going to be pleasant.”
Ant nodded. “According to our scans, there is an enormous amount of electricity around the kitchen area. Start there. You remember how to get there?”
Cooper closed his eyes and pictured the blueprints in his mind. “Yeah, I remember.”
“Well, we are tracking you now so we’ll let you know if you head in the wrong direction,” Ant replied.
After another ten minutes of crawling Cooper stopped at another vent. “This is it,” he whispered. Before proceeding he listened carefully. “Doesn’t seem to be anyone in here. Should we try it?”
“We didn’t come all this way to stop here. Keep going,” Al replied.
He nodded and kicked the vent covering off. The cover fell to the floor loudly. “Well, that wasn’t subtle,” he said and climbed out. He dropped to the ground. “It’s not a big drop,” he said.
She followed him.
“I have a feeling we don’t have much time,” he said looking around the room. “Our entrance wasn’t exactly quiet.”
“We don’t need more time,” she said stopping in her tracks. “I think I found what he was storing.”
Cooper turned around and stopped when he saw what she was looking at. “Is that…”
They looked at a body in a nitrogen vapor tank.
“I believe that is Jacob’s grandson,” Al said.
“Did you just say his grandson?” Ant asked. “He died a few years ago.”
“Yeah,” Al said walking closer to the tank.
Cooper looked at the body then at her. “He’s preserving him. This is a cryonics chamber.”
“He’s planning on bringing him back in perfect form,” Ant said.
Al’s face creased with worry as she looked at Cooper. “Oh no.”
“That’s why he still wants the Samson Pill,” Cooper said slowly.
“He wants you,” she said. “We have got to get out of here.”
“Get out of there!” Ant said.
“Thank you for coming,” a voice behind them said. The lights turned on and the two could see they were surrounded by a team of people dressed in matching black suits holding guns aimed right at them.
Cooper and Al turned toward the voice and saw a significantly old man smiling. “So glad you found your way here,” Jacob said. “Makes my job easier.” He stepped toward Cooper. “Now, I believe you have something that belongs to me and I’ve been waiting a long time to get my hands on it. Or, I should say, my grandson has been waiting.”