Shanna slumped through the mostly abandoned lab. This should have been the solution. Instead there was no one. Papers sat neatly stacked on desks, equipment was put away properly but not a soul was seen or heard.
“No offense Mrs. Finch but this place doesn’t exactly look like it was abandoned.” Her nose wrinkled at the young man’s voice. The dislike Shanna carried for him was fading, he had proven to be smart and capable, but she couldn’t let him know that. “Everything’s where it belongs right? Don’t ya think if they were rushing to get out during … ya know … it, things would be a little more messy?”
“Well Miguel, I don’t know. They are, or were, scientists.”
“I don’t know, my supplier was into science, chemistry and stuff ya know. He was messy as hell.” Shanna dropped her head into a hand.
“Language.” She hissed for the millionth time. If one could hear a person roll their eyes then Miguel’s would have flown from one spot to another and landed with a resounding thump.
“Look, I know you’re pissy about Kate and I’m sorry she didn’t tell you but it’s not really your business, she’s almost eighteen.” Every word from his lips stirred the dislike from nearly non-existent to full blown contempt. Shanna whipped around to face the man-child she had dragged along for the past three days.
“You have no idea how thin the ice you are treading on is. When we find my husband and he figures this out you will go to jail.” She fired every word into his smug face but Miguel seemed completely unaffected.
“If I go to jail so do you Mrs. Finch.”
Kate slipped into the room unnoticed by her mother or Miguel. Shanna stood inches from Miguel with pure malice written all over her face.
“So hey, sorry to interrupt, it looks like this going just swimmingly but I found a door that’s open.” Kate jerked her thumb towards the hallway. “I don’t know where it goes but there’s cold air coming from it so maybe something?” Shanna moved stiffly towards Kate.
“Sounds promising honey, let’s go have a look.” Her voice faded as she disappeared into the hallway.
“Yeah, what the fuck was that?” Kate was barely able to cover to the burst of laughter that bubbled up. “Oh, I’m sorry, laughing is so inappropriate but she looked so pissed, what did you do?” Miguel didn’t hide his loud laugh.
“In the words of your dear mother, language.”
The door was constructed from heavy steel and iron. At one point it may have been controlled by a code but the box had long since been destroyed. Miguel was able to pull it open enough for Kate slip through the narrow opening.
“Ok honey, are you ok?” Shanna peered through the slot. “Can you see anything?”
“Yeah mom, I’m ok. Um, there are some stairs that go down. It’s really dark though, we’ll need flashlights or something.”
“Oh, I saw some old school torches.” Miguel nodded enthusiastically. “Damn, it’ll be like we’re in the middle ages.”
“Language.” Shanna replied flatly.
“Mom!” Shanna jumped to attention.
“What honey? Are you ok?” Kate appeared in the small opening.
“I’m fine, but I really don’t think language is the biggest worry you should have right now.”
“She’s got a point Mrs. Finch.” Shanna’s gazed moved between her angelic daughter and the man-child.
“Let’s just get the door opened and then you can get the torches Miguel.”
Miguel stared into the tunnel of stairs. The cool air that wafted towards them beckoned Miguel forward.
“Anything is better than another moment of this desert heat.” Kate’s soft voice echoed off the stone walls.
“Just follow me.”
“If you started walking we would.” Shanna’s irritated voiced came from the back of the line. Kate’s small hand pushed on his lower back.
“Just go before she gets even more unhinged.” she whispered.
The stairs spiraled downwards in an uneven, uncomfortable pattern.
“I’m sure Miguel could have done a better job at these.” The young man at the front of the line froze suddenly.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean Mrs. Finch?” Shanna shrank back at the echoing sound of his voice. “Look, I’ve been as nice as I can be. I’ve been respectful and you’ve been nothing but a bitch!” Miguel shouted over Kate at her mother. “I’m sorry you’re pissy that your drug dealer is banging your daughter but I fucking love her so that should count for something!”
As the last echo faded into the darkness it was replaced by something much less angry.
“Do you guys hear that?” Kate’s quiet voice interrupted the angry staring contest between her mother and boyfriend.
“Is that …. mariachi?” Miguel moved further down the stairs. “That’s definitely mariachi.” He looked back towards Shanna. “Your husband have a thing for my music?”
“Both of you stop it.” Kate hissed. “Miguel, keep walking, there’s gotta be someone down here.”
“Maybe the Earth is Mexican.” Miguel shot one last look towards Shanna as his girlfriend gave him a gentle push forward.
The music droned on, becoming louder and clearer with every step. Suddenly the stairs dead ended into a small room with another smaller, lighter metal door. A bright light emerged from underneath it.
“Let me go first.” Shanna pushed past Miguel and Kate to grab the long handle and pull the door open.
The room was bathed in bright electric light. Tables lined the walls and people, in varying stages of lab dress, stood around a stereo that pumped out mariachi music. The three visitors stood dumbfounded taking in the large underground room. It was Shanna that found her voice again first.
“What the fuck is going on here?!” One by one wide eyed scientists turned towards them.
“Shanna?” Her husband appeared from the center of the crowd and bounded towards them. “You made it!” His eyes landed on Kate next. “And Katie, baby, I’m so happy to see you!” Finally he turned towards Miguel. “Um … I suppose you’re welcome also.”
Rough first drafts are fun.