“What in the –” Don was confused. He was standing in a very old-fashioned room. Bella was with him, they were back in their street clothes, and there was no sign of the doorway. An older man stood up and greeted them.
Bella stepped forward, “Geoffrey, what are you doing here? Don and I tried to escape from Oracle Labs and ended up here.”
“That’s odd. I should be safely tucked away and invisible to any technology other than our own.”
“What are you talking about?” Don was more confused.
“Who is this guy, and can he be trusted?” Geoffrey asked testily.
“Don Lothario.” Bella said the name as though it were a swear word.
“Well, I guess we have to trust him,” Geoffrey said, sighing heavily. He motioned for Don to sit next to him. Bella went over to the computer, and Geoffrey explained. “Our agency has been working with FutureSim Labs. You are aware of the ‘stalkers’?” Don nodded. “We are trying to find out who is behind the recent –“
“Geoffrey,” Bella called softly from behind the computer monitor. “Come look at this. I’ve found something you must have overlooked.”
For the next while, Bella and Geoffrey discussed Bella’s findings. Don could tell they didn’t trust him. He had no idea why. Except, perhaps, for that night at the Windenburg club, but Bella was as much to blame as Don — and, besides, he hadn’t been serious with Cassandra at the time.
“I’m giving you this book, Don,” Geoffrey held a large tome in his hand. “Keep it with you, and don’t let it fall into the wrong hands. I’m afraid that you have crossed my, um, well, you’ve crossed Nancy Landgraab. It seems that she isn’t the person I thought she was.””Geoffrey sighed again. “You know her family owns nearly all of Oasis Springs.”
Don nodded. “I thought it was pretty well known that she was part of Mobwives.”
Geoffrey turned pale. He cleared his throat before continuing. “Well, Bella has just discovered Nancy is working for The Oracle Group. They’ve hacked into FutureSim Labs — even planted one of their own spies there. They’ve been recruiting agents from S.I.M.S. for awhile now, but it seems they have spread further than we’d anticipated. Since Nancy has you in her sights, she’s determined to take you — and everyone and everything you care about — down. And make a profit doing so.”
Don’s head felt as though it were going to explode. Was he really the cause for all this trouble? What did the Stalkers have to do with this mess?
“I think I’ve found something, Geoffrey.” Bella had gone back to the computer. “This may be it! Look to see if you can find where that portal is. It has to be nearby. If you can find it, I think we can use these codes to get back to S.I.M.S.”
Don realized he could now hear the same humming sound he had noticed in the hospital room. The portal must be somewhere close, perhaps in the next room.
“Memorize these codes –” Bella began and stopped abruptly. “We need to get out of here. I think they’ve found your hideaway, Geoffrey!”
Don opened his eyes. Everything was dim. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep again. He had a horrible headache. Don tried to remember where he was and how he’d ended up there. All he could recall was that he was lying on top of a scratchy blanket on a very firm mattress. The air was thick and damp. He opened his eyes, and came eye to eyes with an enormous spider. Don rolled over the other way; he was cold, hungry, and needed to use the toilet. Although he didn’t want to admit it even to himself, Don was scared. The spider looked even hungrier and not at all friendly. Don checked at his surroundings: thick metal bars in front of him and a spider at his back. Maybe having his back to the spider wasn’t such a good idea.
He sat up and realized he was in a cell. The brick walls and floor seemed ancient. Spiders lurked in the corners. The spider was now in front of him. This was too strange. Then Don realized Bella was in the cell across from his. “Bella,” he whispered. “Bella, wake up.”
[The lot used can be found in the Gallery, #VampireTudorHome by UnusualPeach.]