by Mama Dee
Disclaimer: Love 'em and leave 'em 'cause they don't belong to me. That honour belongs to the WB.
Summary: The kids take off for Mexico to continue their adventure.
Category: After Hours
Authors Note: This is the final installment of the trilogy.......please see Fantasies (part 1) and Realities ( part 2). I had to move the geological location of some sites for literary purposes.
|They congregated in Max's room to go over their options. First things first.........they needed food. Then, they'd start scouring
the phone book for the old warehouse........that's if it were still operational. Then, if that failed, they'd just have to start asking
around in the general area and hope they came up with some clues...........the general area being at least a 20 mile stretch of
They hit the streets and soon found a pizza joint and ordered some slices. They found some benches in a little park area and sat down to munch on their snack. The air was biting, but it was a welcome relief from sitting in the van for so long. When they finished eating, they decided to take a little walk to get the kinks out.
They strolled along the busy streets, peering into shop windows at the glitter and glam. The girls wanted to linger but the guys were typically uninterested, unless of course it involved some kind of electronic equipment. So the girls were pulled away reluctantly as they meandered along the not so busy streets. Even in New York, things slowed down just a little on a frosty Sunday evening.
They hoofed it back to the hotel, rubbing their hands and flapping their arms to spread some warmth into their chilled bones. Definitely not the place for desert dwellers, but it had begun to snow, which added a nice touch, as they stared at the flakes in fascination. They sat down with the two phone books at their disposal. They were still assuming that their search would be limited to New York City and would not include the New Jersey side of the river.
They looked under the H's and found nothing. Then, they looked under the W"s for warehouses, but still came up empty. Finally, they tried Fireworks and found some possibilities. There were three Fireworks company's located on the river, none of them the Hudson, but at least it was a place to start. If it weren't the right one, they may know where to locate it. If nothing else, one of them might recognize the area from their dream.
They tried phoning over there first, but of course, there was no answer at all three warehouses. Now, they had to decide whether or not to take the chance of driving around the dock area at night to locate something they weren't even sure existed. They were understandably hesitant but they also didn't want to waste any of their precious time.
They finally opted for just taking a look around. They'd stay in the van, and at the first sign of trouble, they'd hightail it out of there. At least they wouldn't be fighting a lot of traffic this time of night. They left their hotel and finally located the river road that ran along the shore. They drove slowly, taking their time as they tried to locate one of the names on their list.
After about half an hour, they stopped in front of a dilapidated building, but one that was clearly still in operation, by the looks of the lighting and the sign over the door stating the opening hours. It was called the Penn Fireworks, Co. They drove up to the front entrance and looked around from the inside of the van. None of them felt that the location looked even vaguely familiar. But they did take note of some of the exterior details and would definitely call back here in the morning. Max had carefully clocked the distance from their hotel and also wrote this down, to eliminate unnecessary searching time tomorrow.
They drove on down the road and in another ten minutes had located a second name on their list. But this was definitely not the one they were looking for. It was a fairly modern building, certainly not remotely resembling the one in their dreams. The name over the door was The Cosmic Fireworks Displays Co., probably a little more sophisticated than the one they were trying to locate. But they would also check with these people tomorrow, too.
Well, there was just one final name to check off. At least they felt they were saving time from tomorrow's calendar, and if it meant staying an extra day in New York, then they would do so, but they'd probably end up sleeping in the van on Monday night. They drove for another 40 minutes and finally, after a desperate attempt, spotted the elusive building.
It was located behind a large chain link fence with a barrier of tall trees hiding it from view. The only indication they had, was a small sign on the gate that guarded the interior. It gave the name as the W.B. Griffith Fireworks and Armaments Co. Ltd. They guessed that was why it was so heavily fenced. If it contained armaments as well, it was probably in need of tight security. What they couldn't figure out, was why a company that supposedly sold fireworks, would also be dealing in weaponry! Maybe the weapons business was in a slump or vice versa....who knew?
Getting in here may prove to be difficult, since they figured they'd probably need some kind of special clearance to do so, but it was worth a try. Max again noted the distance from their last location. It was getting late and they had covered most of the riverbank. The road was getting dark, since there were no more street lights. They felt it would be a waste of time to continue any further, so they turned back.
They reached their hotel around 10:30. It had been another long day and they were all exhausted. They were getting up at 7:00 to be on the road by 8:00, so they decided to go to bed right away. They showered quickly and fell into bed. Alex and Isabel had no worries about Max and Liz who were still exhausted from their all-nighter on Friday. They managed to kiss each other goodnight, and drifted off immediately. That gave Alex and Isabel a little cuddling time to themselves, which they took full advantage of.
At 7:00 the next morning, showers were running at full blast. They had to shower together, but nobody was complaining, except for Max and Liz who's ardour had finally been re-awakened. But the constant banging on the bathroom door from Isabel put a stop to their amorous intentions. They left the stall reluctantly and dried off quickly as Isabel and Alex swept into the bathroom.
That gave them time for a quickie, though, as the other two were preoccupied with their own ablutions, and even though they longed for more than that, it took the edge off their passion. By the time Isabel and Alex emerged from the bathroom, Max and Liz were dressed and heading out the door to check on the progress of their other friends.
They didn't stop to eat at a diner, since they didn't have time, so they located a drive thru and ordered some food to go. They traveled down the same road they had taken last night. It looked so different in daylight, not nearly so threatening. They quickly located their first stop, and Michael and Max walked up to the door and went inside. They emerged a few minutes later shaking their heads in negation.
The owner had never heard of the Hudson Fireworks Co. and was of no help. They drove on to the Cosmic Fireworks and Displays Co., further down the road. This time, Isabel and Maria stepped inside. There was a pleasant lobby area and the receptionist was very friendly. She sat at a computer console and it gave the aura of being an efficiently run operation. She had never heard of the company in question, but she called the owner in, who was only too happy to speak with two lovely ladies on a Monday morning.
They described the building to him and he shook his head as he concentrated on their words.
"No, I'm afraid I've never heard of that company. There are only three of us on the river now, as far as I know. I guess you've already visited the Penn Co. They're pretty old as you can tell, but they still have a loyal clientele and they've been in production since 1925, I think. If the building is as old as you say it is, they would be the one's who would know of it's existence," he rightly surmised.
Isabel and Maria thanked him for his time and returned to their friends with another negative response. They did tell them what the owner had just revealed about the Penn Co., though, thinking it was strange that the previous owner hadn't even heard of the old warehouse. Of course, it wasn't the original proprietor, but still, they thought he would have heard someone mention it. Max told them that the guy wasn't particularly communicative, as he put it politely. They were given the impression that if they weren't there to buy anything, then he didn't really have time to chat with them.
"Well, that just leaves us with the W.B. Griffith place," Alex sighed. "Bet's are they won't be too talkative either, considering what they're producing there. I vote we send some girls in again. At least, they might have a chance in softening up whoever's on the desk.....that's if they let any of us in," he clarified.
"Okay, Tess and I'll go in this time," Liz offered. "If we don't get passed the front gate, then we'll just have to keep searching on our own. At least it's daylight now, so we should have better luck."
They drove the remaining distance, and the girls got out of the van and walked up to the gate. There was an intercom located in a box just to the left of the gate. They touched the red button and spoke into it. They had been correct. Without proper clearance, they were getting nowhere near this fortress. They asked their question anyway, and were told gruffly that they had never heard of the company in question. They trudged back to the van, shaking their heads and shrugging in defeat.
"Alright, then we'll just have to find it on our own," Max stated. He started up the van and they drove on. They were quickly nearing the outskirts of the city, and running out of places to search. They kept their eyes peeled to both sides of the road and were beginning to feel the first glimmer of defeat when Kyle yelled for Max to stop. He pulled over to the side of the road and Kyle hopped out and ran over to an old board that was lying half covered under a pile of old boxes.
He lifted it up and displayed it in triumph. "The Hudson Fireworks Co." was written in fading letters on the old piece of wood.
"How the hell did you see that?" Michael asked in amazement, as he stood next to Kyle peering at the old sign.
"Well, I remembered in my dream, that there was an old pile of crates at the entrance to the building. This pile kind of reminded me of them, so I thought I'd check it out. But it looks like the building is long gone," he said, as he looked around him in search of any vestiges of a warehouse.
By this time, the whole gang had existed the van, and stood around as they searched the horizon for any building remains. Max spotted the outline of a concrete foundation in the distance and they walked in that direction until they spotted some old railway tracks. They seemed to head right through the interior of the old foundation, so they followed them as they pointed in the direction of the river.
The tracks halted at the river's edge. They realized that they weren't railway tracks at all, but must have been used to off load supplies directly from the boats onto their own tracks which led right into the warehouse. They looked over the bank, searching for the tunnel they'd dreamed about. It didn't seem possible that one could exist and if it did, how did one gain access? The bank was steep at this point, so they walked along until it sloped down to the river.
They hopped down and followed it for another fifty feet, when they glimpsed an opening just barely visible to the naked eye. It was well concealed for a reason, they surmised, and they approached it carefully. They slowly moved the old branches from the opening and peered inside. It was too dark to see anything clearly.
Max extricated his flashlight from his pocket and shone it inside. The tunnel was man-made. The walls were constructed of concrete, roughened and pitted with age. Streaks of fungal growth spotted the surface and the walls were slimy from dampness. Definitely not a very inviting interior, but if they were going to find their counterparts, they had no choice but to go inside.
Max led the way, and the others followed, with Michael in the rear. Their flashlight beams penetrated the darkness as they crept along the narrow passage, breathing in the dank air. They had gone about 30 feet when Max halted abruptly. He put his finger to his lips as he indicated a sound up ahead. They listened carefully and they could just barely make out the voice of a radio announcer.
They could just see a light ahead and they turned off their flashlights and followed the source. They looked into a large room that appeared to be furnished with old castoffs. There was a lot of equipment lying on the floor and along the walls. It looked like it might have been stashed there for a purpose, perhaps to fence later. They couldn't see anybody in the room, though, as they scanned it for signs of life. They stepped inside gingerly, being careful to make no sound. They heard a gasp coming from the far corner and swung around to see who had made the noise.
A figure was cowering behind a sofa. They could just see the top of a head ducking down out of view. Max approached it quietly and called out to the person.
"Don't be afraid. We won't hurt you," he said in his usual soft tones. He leaned slowly over the back of the couch and saw the face of a young girl peering back at him. They both gasped in shock and drew back as their minds tried to decipher what they had just seen. Slowly, the girl stood up and emerged from behind her hiding place. She came up to Max, and held out her hand to touch his cheek.
"Zan?" she asked hopefully, in a small timid voice, breaking with emotion.
"No. I'm Max," he smiled at her.
She broke into sobs and collapsed on the floor. Isabel rushed up to her and helped her sit down on a chair. She put her arms around Isabel and cried hard until she was exhausted. Isabel looked back at Max who just shrugged his shoulders in bewilderment. They had all noticed her identical resemblance to Tess, who was also taking it hard. She had slumped onto an old pile of blankets while Kyle held her by the shoulders.
She looked like Tess, but her dress and demeanor were nothing like the girl they knew so well. Once she had calmed down a little, Isabel asked her what her name was.
"Ava," she heaved out between sobs.
"Do you live here alone, Ava?" Isabel asked, as she looked around the cavernous room.
"I do now," she admitted with a shaky breath. "But my friends lived with me until last week."
"Where are they now?" Isabel asked.
"They're dead!" she cried out, as she hid her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking violently as she sobbed anew.
"Omigod," Isabel whispered, as she hung her head in shock.
A pall had descended over the room. No one knew what to say and they stood around, stupefied. Ava eventually gained some control and Isabel was able to question her further.
"Can you tell us what happened, Ava?" she asked her gently.
"It happened when I was gone," she admitted. "All's I know is they was dead when I got back. Someone came in here and just blasted 'em to pieces. They was fried to pieces," she sobbed.
"Where are they now, Ava?"
"I buried 'em out in the tunnel." She pointed to another opening that led out of the room. "I didn't know what else to do," she shrugged helplessly, "'cause I couldn't call the cops."
Max stared at the young girl as he felt her pain. He couldn't imagine losing three of his friends and then having to live all by himself in fear.
"Do you have any idea who could have done this, Ava?" he asked.
She shook her head as she dabbed at her eyes and nose with a tissue Isabel had handed her. She looked around at the others, as if their appearances were registering for the first time.
"You guys must be from the second set of pods," she stated. "We was told we looked alike, but I never really believed 'em."
"Who are *they*, Ava?" Isabel asked.
The leaders," Ava said matter of factly. "The ones who brought us here. See," she pointed to the wall behind them. "That's where we came from."
They looked behind them at the upper wall to see four pods prominently displayed, exactly like the ones they had developed in.
"Did they say where they came from?" Michael asked, as he approached her cautiously.
"Only that they was from our home planet, Antar."
"How many were there?" Max asked anxiously.
"There was two who came to see us, but we only saw 'em a few times. Seems like nobody cared what happened to us," she shrugged.
Isabel's eyes watered as she thought of their wonderful parents and how much they were loved and nurtured and how poor Ava and her companions were treated so callously.
"Well, we care," she whispered, as she hugged her tightly. "You're coming with us. We can't let you stay here on your own, anymore," she stated firmly, as she turned to her friends expecting a chorus of rebuttals. But no one opened their mouths to refute her, and she helped Ava stand up and put her arm protectively around her shoulder, leading her out of the horrible cavern that had been her home for so long.
Ava regarded Liz with interest as she sat next to Max, gazing at him with such apparent love, as he drove back to the city. Then she looked at Tess who seemed equally smitten with Kyle.
She turned to Isabel. "Are them two together?" she whispered, as she pointed to Max and Liz.
"Yes," Isabel nodded in reply. "Why?"
"It's just funny, you know, 'cause I was always wit Zan who was a dead ringer for Max dere. We was told we was supposed to be together. I really loved 'im," she said, as her eyes misted over. "I guess Max found someone to love too, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess he did," Isabel smiled down at her. "Don't worry, Ava, you’ll find somebody else to love, too," she stated. "You just have to give yourself some time to get over Zan."
Ava looked at her sadly. "That'll never happen," she admitted.
|Part 27 | Index | Part 29
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