Conner huffed as he finally reached the row of bushes signaling the entrance to the basement. The young man pulled out his pistol, crouching down and scanning the area. He saw no presence of any animals and the other house neighbor seemed too far for anybody to see him. He then kept low and worked his way toward the house. The slightly dirty path scuffed his boots as he ran. He then reached the stairway leading downward to the outside entrance. Below in the small alcove was nothing out of the ordinary. There were two dark green lawn chairs and an old grill. Conner paused for a moment in front of the cooking device. It looked old, like 1950s old. He wondered if it still worked and why they wouldn’t just buy a modern one. The young specialist then approached the door. True to his team’s word, the door was unlocked.
Conner slowly entered the building. The basement was dimly lit by two overhead lights. A small veil of must hung in the air. Once he was inside, he turned around and locked the door. The young man holstered his weapon then took a look around. Ironically the control panel was incredibly easy to spot; it was out in plain view. It had a standard keyboard with several buttons toward switching camera views. Conner then leaned down to see there was a master control switch right above the keyboard. What made it even more interesting was the fact it was color coded. “Seriously?” he whispered.
“Conner, you read us?” Mike said over the radio.
“Yeah, copy that, Mike.” The young man leaned down to check the underside of the control panel, “Any signs of the suspects?”
“Negative. You’re still in the clear.”
Conner then pulled out his automatic screw driver. He proceeded to unlock the bottom panel below the device. After he removed it, then pulled out a copy relay switch. “Camera feeds look basic.” He commented, “Splicing in the override circuit panel now.”
“Copy that.” Mike confirmed.
Conner continued his work. For him, it was child’s play. A cut wire here, a splicing there and he was able to get the system working. Whenever he grew up, other kids were playing with Barbie dolls and Hotwheels. He was taking apart the family toaster, making it function better. He just had a natural ability to electronics. It was what made him a valued member of SCAT. Conner then placed the panel back and then leaned back up. Looking up at the cameras, he started to press the button that switched to multiple views. “Mike, you getting that?” he spoke into his radio.
“Yeah, confirmed.” His friend replied, “We’re seeing all the views of the cameras now. Man, this is some messed up stuff. Where are they recording this?”
Conner stood up and checked around the panel. He then looked for circuit wires from the TVs. He didn’t find any. “Weird.” He whispered.
“What’s wrong, Conner?” Mike asked.
“If they are recording this . . . . .I don’t see how.” He looked up and down, “I’m see no connection cables to recording devices. No VCRs, no DVDs, nothing.”
“That is odd. Why would they need the cameras if they weren’t recording this?” Mike said over the radio.
“Ignore that for now.” Simms then came over the channel, “Eaton, can you give us a further description of the room you are in?”
Conner turned around. He looked around the basement area. It was cramp and full of old paints and dirty bottles. “Uh . . . .over near the south wall is a strange large pipe.” He said into the radio, “Plus a stairway leaning up toward it. In fact . . . . .there are over three stairways in his place. Why . . . why would they need three stairways to the basement?”
“They are serial killers.” His commander replied, “There is no explanation for their behavior. What else do you see?”
“This large piping.” Conner looked up to the ceiling, “It seems to be structured throughout the house. They are leading . . . . .well, there are leading into a giant vat.”
“A vat?” his boss questioned.
“Yeah, it looks like one of those big winery stills.” The young man walked over to the large, silo-like container, “I think this is where they store their wine. These things are airtight and sealed with welding.”
“You mind telling me how you know that?” Simms asked.
“I watch a lot of Discovery Channel, sir.” Conner grinned.
“Of course you do.” The older man chuckled on the radio, “what else do you see?”
“Uh . . . just to the left of the still is a gray door.” He cautiously approached it, “Looks metal . . .gray colored paint.”
“Yes, that’s the door we couldn’t get access to in time. Since it’s a metal door, any sign of us trying to open it would have been obvious.”
Conner glanced back at the door he came in from. It was a simple wooden door with an ancient door knob. Easily broken in. He wondered why they were more concerned about protecting the innards of the basement but not preventing the basement from being breeched in the first place. The young specialist leaned down to examine the door knob. “It’s a modern knob.” He commented, “Standard key lock. Can’t tell what sort of bolt it is. I can probably pick it but that’ll take time.”
“See if you can look around the door.” Simms asked.
“Copy that. Switching to fiber optics.”
Conner then unzipped a side pouch on his vest and pulled out a small video monitor. He quickly pulled out a fiber optic cable then attached it to the bottom. He slowly then slid the cable underneath the door’s bottom. He stared at the black and white screen but didn’t make out much. He saw several sliding racks not to mention several bottles. He couldn’t get a good look but there were some strange big devices attached to the ceiling. “Anything?” Simms said over his radio.
“Hard to say, sir.” The specialist sighed, “It seems to be the rest of the winery. There is a ton of strange looking devices up above, with several tubes leading into a processing vent that has tubes to a conveyer belts of wine bottles.”
“So we found the rest of the winery.” The commander commented.
“There is still something strange to that, sir.”
“Well . . . .if they are making wine, where are they putting in the grapes?” Conner looked around at the ceiling, “These . . . large tubes are all going into the still but that kinda suggests they are dumping the grapes within the house. How does that make any sense?”
“Guess what, Eaton . . . .that’s your job to find out. Now make sure you know how to operate the traps before they get home.”
Conner quickly pulled the fiber optic cable back out and shoved it back into his vest. He then strode over toward the computer system. He gently checked the camera feeds. He stared off into what seemed to be the living room. After checking the menu on the screen, it said ACTIVATE underneath the file labeled CURRENT CAMERA VIEW. The young man then pressed the activate button. He jumped a bit at the sight of the stairs giving way to form a slide into an opening trap door. “Yeesh!” he gulped.
“Eaton, what’s the problem?” Simms asked over the radio.
“No problem, sir.” Conner watched the screen as the stairs reformed to look like actual stairs, “I just figured out how to use the traps. Seems . . . . .quite easy in fact.”
“That’s why we brought you.” The leader sighed, “Now that you got that under control, I want to make sure something is perfectly clear. Kelli Medd’s life is in your hands. I want you to make sure nothing happens to her or the girls.”
“Copy that, sir. I’ll do my job.”
“Yeah, one . . . . does Kelli know I’m in here?”
“She knows an operative is in the control room. She doesn’t know who you are. So make sure you introduce yourself after the mission is over.”
“Well . . . it would be the polite thing to do.” Conner chuckled.
“All right, get use to the surroundings and tuck in for a long night.” Simms sighed, “You’ll hear from us again in forty five minutes. Simms out.”
Conner spent the next twenty minutes studying every aspect of the strange basement. Most of the items tucked away in metal racks was everything typical of a basement. Dust collected on old tools, wooden debris and a slight abundance of mason jars. The young man still couldn’t get over the three sets of stairs. The operative checked his watch. He had twenty five more minutes before the suspects arrived in their home. He decided to get more Intel before they arrived.
Conner jolted up from his chair and walked toward the first stairway. Curiously, it had no railings. He gently climbed up till he was above the door. Using his fiber optic cable again, he slowly peered out beyond the bottom of the door. Whatever this door was, it led directly into the foyer. He twisted the fiber optic up again and saw the door had no typical handle. Just two African looking head-masks. Conner smirked as he knew what type of door didn’t have a handle. “False door.” He whispered, “Got it.”
Conner jumped down the strange steps and then strode up to the next set. After shoving the fiber optic below the bottom of the door, he saw he was looking now into the living room. It was like any typical living room; couch, loveseat, coffee table, even the fireplace had photos of the Martins on it. Near the left side of the fireplace as a stereo set. To the right was a desk, adorned with papers and books. Conner twisted the fiber optic cable back upward to see what sort of door he was dealing with. Again, it wasn’t a door. This time it was a book case. “Another false door,” he whispered to himself, “What are these people up to?”
Conner shifted the fiber optics back in his vest. As he turned, he studied the stairs. Like the first said, they had no railings. He gently rubbed the stair he was sitting on. It was soft metal, possibly aluminum. The young operative looked upward by instinct and saw a massive metal tube mounted on the ceiling, leading right into the vat. Conner rubbed his cheek. These people were making wine? Is it possible that that the reason he saw no grapes in the basement was because the grapes were INSIDE the house above? The young operative was plagued with confusion and doubt about this case, not to mention the fact it hadn’t even begun yet.
The young man strode over to the massive vat. He leaned down his head and gently tapped it. It wasn’t hollow by any stretch. He heard something heavy within from the tapping echoes. Conner shifted back around and tried to find a peephole; a maintenance drain, anything. Like he remembered off the Discovery Channel, the vat was air tight. Conner then stood up, wondering what he was going to be doing for the next twenty five minutes.
Then specks of dust fell on his hair.
He quickly brushed it off and then looked above. Minor bits of creaks and pops sounded off above him. It sounded like someone walking in the upstairs section of the house. Conner was under the impression that wouldn’t be possible. The young operative quickly backed into a corner. As he started to fumble for the Chameleon Stick, he activated his radio. “Mike, you copy, over?” he asked.
“Go, Conner, what’s up?” he replied.
“Mike, you said the Martins aren’t in the house for another twenty five minutes, right?”
“Then why is in the house now besides me?”
There was a short pause on the radio. “Are you sure someone else is there with you?” Mike then asked.
“Yes, there is someone walking above me.” Conner then activated his Chameleon Stick, “There is a bunch of creaking above me in the rafters.”
The young operative saw his reflection in the massive metal vat. Within seconds he was surrounded by a green holographic grid. By the thumb of another heartbeat, he vanished. Conner stared at the reflection with amazement. The Chameleon Stick adapted to his surroundings in the corner and copied it over him. Even in the reflection of metal, he seemed invisible. “Whoa.” He whispered with a mischievous grin.
“Conner,” Mike came back on the radio, “We just did a thermal reading of the house. There is no one else in there but you.”
The young man blinked. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“I know how to use a thermal-graph, Mr. Eaton.” Swanson came over the radio.
“Yes, ma’am.” He looked up the ceiling. The moaning and creaking had stopped. “I guess . . . . it was just the house settling in.”
“It’s just pre-mission jitters.” Mike told his younger friend, “Just settle in and you’ll do fine.”
“Yeah,” Conner clicked off the Chameleon Stick and in the metalized reflection, he became visible again, “On a side note, I just did a successful test of the Chameleon Stick.”
“Good to know it works. Just calm down and get ready.”
“Copy that.” Conner sighed.
The young man stared up at the ceiling. If the house was settling in, he wondered why it would make so much noise? The operative had a flash of horror movies where the houses were alive. He then flicked his head from side to side. He was about to bring down a deranged family of serial killers.
The last thing he needed was to throw horror stories in the mix.
Conner thankfully found an old rubber ball buried in dust in a distance corner of the basement. He took the time to bounce it off the floor, ricochet onto the wall and bounce back to him. Waiting was always the worst part of the missions. However, this was what the young man sighed up for. It was a life of excitement, even though most of their missions were top secret. Conner bounced the ball off the distance wall a few more times but then lost it when his radio went off. “Conner, do you read?” Simms said over the radio.
“Yes, sir.” The young operative stood up.
“It’s time, son,” the southerner whispered, “The Martins have been spotted. They’ll be pulling into the parking lot in under three minutes.”
“Copy that, sir. I’ll be ready for them.”
“Good luck, Eaton. Keep those girls alive. Go silent on your radio now.”
“Thank you, sir. Shutting off radio now.”
Conner flipped the switch off his radio; killing it’s power. He sighed as he looked at the monitor screens. He was officially on his own. He would have Kelli to watch his back but the majority of the time, he’ll be watching hers. On the monitor focusing on the drive way, a massive gray Sedan came up it’s incline. Behind them the sun had finally started to set. Conner cracked his knuckles as he got ready to keep an eye on them and get his mission completed.
“Game on.” He smiled.