Chapter 16: Bars of a Different Kind

“Leave me alone,” Bella murmured. “Just let me sleep.”

“I can’t,” Don said. “We need to figure a way out of here.”

“There is no way out.” Bella lay on her bed, eyes closed. “I’ve searched while you were snoring away. And don’t say you don’t snore. You do.”

Don waited for her to sit up or do something, but Bella just lay on top of the bed.

After a while, Don decided he should read the volume Geoffrey gave him. It was fascinating. Terrifying, but fascinating. What he had called the “Stalkers” were a group of not living but not dead creatures who had once been sims. They emerged at night and fed upon the plasma of unsuspecting sims. Don wished he had a scarf, suddenly his neck felt too exposed.

These creatures of the night could materialize, change into bat forms, and perform all kinds of supernatural deeds. Well, thought Don, to the untrained mind, they appeared supernatural. Don began to understand the scientific principles used by these “Stalkers.”

“Don,” Bella called out to him. He realized he must have spent hours reading the book. His stomach growled fiercely in reply. “I think I’ve found a way out of here.” Don put the book away. “While you were reading,” Bella continued, “I was continuing my search for a way out. Have you noticed how the spiders seem to move around, to shift in location?”

Don had noticed; it had creeped him out although he didn’t want to share that with Bella.

“They aren’t ordinary spiders,” Bella said. Don wondered where in the world “ordinary” spiders lived — he was pretty sure he’d never seen one in Oasis Springs before, just at the Labs — but then, at FSL — “The webs seem to dissolve the metal bars. Look to your left. There’s a small hole where I nudged the web.” Don looked, and sure enough, there was a hole. He decided he didn’t want to get too close to a spider that had steel-dissolving powers. Bella showed him how to coax two spiders to his cell bars. Now all they had to do was wait.

While the spiders did their job, Bella told Don what she knew. She and her fellow agents had been trying to track down the “double agents,” and where the leak at the agency originated. Geoffrey had been apparently blissfully unaware of Nancy’s involvement, but Don was shocked to discover Geoffrey’s relation to the mobster: Nancy was his wife. Bella continued on, a sense of urgency in her voice. There had been a mole inside FutureSim Labs as well. Bella thought it was the director. Don disagreed: he’d seen him in a stasis chamber.

“Someone knew you were developing a serum,” Bella said. “They were aware of Cassandra’s project as well.”

“The security at FSL is tight!” Don protested.

“Then how was someone was able to steal modified Sim Rays from the lab? Those must have been stolen months ago. I was under the influence that night we met.” Bella blushed at the memory. “Mind control. I never in my right mind would have — well, that’s in the past. I’ve experienced worse; it goes with the job.” Don felt his face grow hot.

“Looks like we can get out of here now.” Don was eager to change the subject.

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