The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 12 - Scouting Headquarters
THE HEADQUARTERS WAS an inn, which meant it wasn't a secure facility, was it? It might be hard to find Thorny inside the rambling building, but there were lots of windows and exits for getting out.
Alex wandered over to the inn, aimlessly, as if in shock. Nobody stopped him. The security man went in the front door, and Alex thought that door was probably watched.
The side door was locked, but there was a narrow gate which led to an enclosed stable yard behind. Alex drifted in. The stable yard was surrounded by a wall and looked like a good place to get trapped. However, there were barrels and boxes lined up against the walls. If they couldn't make it to the gate, they might be able to climb out and over, if Thorny wasn't too drunk.
The stables themselves probably had an exit too. Alex started to wander in that direction.
"You, come here!" called a thickly accented voice.
Alex turned slowly and pretended to have trouble focusing on the voice. It was a soldier with an apron on; a cook.
"Come," said the cook. "You need to be with others, or you get lost."
He herded Alex into the kitchen, but there he paused to pour something into a mug.
Alex took advantage of the moment to look around. The room had a lot of doors, and alcoves. Another good place to get trapped, but one of the alcoves had windows - that might be a place to duck into if he couldn't get out the door.
"Drink this," said the cook, handing him the mug. "It brace you up!"
The drink tasted like a cross between yogurt and turpentine but, as the cook predicted, it was bracing. Alex realized he was shivering from his damp clothes. The cook saw it too, and grabbed up an old jacket and threw it over Alex's shoulders. The jacket smelled of the stable, but it was warm. It was also a rusty brown... a uniform jacket of the ordinary soldiers.
The cook was already herding him out of the kitchen and through the building. Alex got a quick look at the layout as they moved to the front door. There were not that many people, which could be good for sneaking around, but also could be bad. He'd be really noticeable if someone saw him.
It would also be easy to get lost in the tangle of hallways. They reached the front hall quickly, after a series of short twists and turns. It was a narrow room, with stairs going up, and arched doors opening to rooms on either side.
Alex pretended to stumble so he could get a better look into one of the side rooms. A rustic tavern, empty except for a tweed jacket hanging on a post. The jacket was wet, and had leather patches. Thorny's jacket. Alex started to head in that direction, but the cook gently stopped him.
"Come, come. This way," he said, and he turned Alex toward the front door.
That was when Alex saw into the other room, which looked more like a parlor. There were the gray-uniformed security men, and in the middle of them sat a girl. She was bundled in peasant clothes, her head covered with a scarf. Her shoulders were hunched with tension, but she held her head high, with dignity.
She turned toward Alex, and he realized she was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen.
Alex decided right then he was going to have to rescue her too.
But then the cook pushed him out the door and led him firmly across the square to where the crowd of train wreck victims milled. A pair of slightly disheveled but well-dressed young gentlemen watched him. The taller one scowled at the cook, but the younger one smiled and said to Alex;
"Nice try, old boy. We didn't even get through the door!"
Stay Tuned for Episode Thirteen: "Alex Incites the One Percent"
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