The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 17 - Alex Finds a Sock
THE FLASH MOB had taken longer to organize than Alex hoped. These people were into hierarchy, and they debated over who should go first; the most important or least. Only then did they sort out the list of demands.
When they finally entered the building, Alex kept to the middle of the crowd. He figured that this would bring out every soldier in the place, and he could identify them. At first there were only four: the security men and their officer, and the lady with the bayonet on the stairs.
Lord Blinkersley, who was in the lead, tried to address the security men, but as the crowd filled the tiny entrance way, he was shoved right into them. They shoved back and started shouting, and in moments, everyone was shouting. The lady soldier on the stairs with the bayonet came dangerously close to taking off the end of a butler's nose. The butler, crouched like a lineman with two other servants, looked ready to take the stairs from her.
Diversion achieved, thought Alex with a sigh. But he couldn't worry about people getting hurt now. It was too late anyway, and he had to get Thorny. And the girl. He tried to see into the parlor, but there were too many people in the way. Instead, he pushed toward the tavern side. Across that room he saw two more soldiers; his friend the cook and an officer with a walrus mustache. Probably the captain Freddie had mentioned. The guy in charge.
Alex sidled in that direction. He saw the captain give the cook some keys, and the cook disappeared again. The captain then limped with a long rolling gait across the tavern. He pushed Alex aside and waded into the crowd, calling for calm.
"Please, no pushing or shooting!" he called. "You are all welcome here!"
Everyone looked at him. Alex took advantage of the moment to slip away from the crowd, across the tavern. As he got to the door at the other end, he heard a voice protesting in the hall ahead of him.
"Are you sure I can't have a drink?"
It was Thorny. Alex rushed into the hall, but he only caught a glimpse of the cook at the other end, pushing someone around a corner ahead of him.
Alex trotted after, trying not to make too much noise. At the corner he found another hall, which was empty, but it turned so they must have gone out of sight. He sprinted to the turn, and peeked around the corner, but it was just another short stretch of hall, and turned again.. Alex sprinted and turned and sprinted again, until he found himself in a cul-de-sac.
No more turns. No Thorny.
They must have gone through a door. He pulled one door open, and found a broom closet. The next was locked. Then he heard, somewhere back behind him, a door opened and closed. He slipped back carefully, not knowing if they would come this way. He found two more doors back near where he'd started.
One door looked heavy and was locked.
Alex knocked softly on it.
"Professor?" he called. He listened. Nothing. He knelt down and looked through the keyhole, but it was dark.
The other door led to a storeroom full of linens and clothes. Brown uniforms, beige shirts and underwear. Alex didn't have time to change, but the thought of clean, dry clothes was compelling. He grabbed up shorts and a shirt and stuffed them in the pockets of the jacket to change into later.
As he reached down for some dry socks, he saw a sock on the floor. It was damp, and it was green with a knitted pattern of big white block "S" shapes.
That was a Michigan State University sock.
They must have gone into the closet to get Thorny some dry clothes, and Alex had run right past them.
Who knew where they'd gone from here? The cook knew. And he had been friendly toward Alex. He might be induced to chat.
Alex went off to find the kitchen.
Stay Tuned for Episode Eighteen: "The Hospitality Committee"
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