“Wow, this whole building is bigger than I thought,” Ben commented as he and Charlie descended the stairs into the basement. “I wish we had brought Behr with us.”
“Oh, you know how he is now,” Charlie laughed. “More fond of a nap than a walk. Remember how he used to carry you around?”
“Of course,” Ben nodded. “He would not have liked the…the…whatever that moving closet was called.”
“The elevator,” Charlie said. “To be honest, I didn’t like it much either. That’s why I asked if we could take the stairs.”
“Do you think we’ll ever get to work in the office as officers?” Ben asked eagerly.
“Maybe when we get older,” Charlie shrugged. “There’s rumors that a new guy will be coming soon.”
“What did they say was down here anyway?” Ben asked, looking about. “It’s rather dark and dingy if you ask me.”
“Most of the nonfiction offices are down here,” Charlie explained. “Look, there’s the math room, and there’s the music room.”
“What is this one?” Ben asked, tapping a metal door on the other side of the hall.
“Don’t mess with that one!” Charlie warned. “That’s the cell for Writer’s Block!”
Ben jumped back as if he had been electrocuted. Charlie laughed.
“Don’t worry. He’s well locked up,” he assured Ben.
“Even so, I’d feel better if we went back upstairs,” Ben said. “I’ve heard he can erase characters! They say it happened to a girl named Emily who was supposed to be part of Operation Flame. He just took her out like that!”
Ben snapped his fingers for emphasis.
“Yeah, I don’t think upstairs would be a bad idea,” Charlie agreed. “We can ask if we can see the weapons room or something. I’ve heard the modern weapons are really amazing and can shoot a lot of times before you have to reload.”
“Excuse me,” a man in a janitor outfit said, stepping up to the boys. He was pushing a cleaning cart and mop bucket in front of him. “I’m supposed to clean the math room for when classes start next week. Is this it?”
“No!” Charlie and Ben both exclaimed together.
“Don’t open that!” Ben yelled.
“Writer’s Block is in there!” Charlie exclaimed.
“Oh, very well then. Which room is the math room?”
“Across the hall,” Charlie pointed. “But please don’t do anything until we’re out of here. I don’t want you to open the wrong door and have us disappear in a cloud of steam.”
“Very well, then,” the man chuckled. “Be off with you.”
The two boys took off for the stairs at the top of their speed and soon they had disappeared back to the first floor. The man watched them go, then pulled a set of keys out of his pocket and stepped to the door of Writer’s Block’s cell. After a few tries he found the right key and unlocked the door.
“Who are you? What do you want with me?” a voice demanded from within as the door swung open.
“I’m a friend,” the ‘janitor’ said.
“I have no friends,” Writer’s Block growled.
“Very well then, an admirer,” the man replied. “My name is Time Waster. I have great respect for your work, sir.”
“I’ve heard of you before,” Writer’s Block said hesitantly. “Aren’t you some millionaire or something?”
“Yes actually,” Time Waster said, fingering his gold watch chain. “I own almost all the media channels in the world, along with some other things. They are a great asset to my work.”
“So what do you want with me?” Writer’s Block asked suspiciously.
“Like I said, I am an admirer of your work, Writer’s Block,” Time Waster said slowly. “I like Independent Authors as little as you do, and I have decided that I don’t want the MHQOC spending so much time on writing. I can channel their time into other sources, particularly online stories and videos, but I can’t stop their creativity altogether like you can. I think together we could make a very efficient team, at least until classes start and my friend Other Priorities takes over and stops their work.”
“So you want me to help you take down a few of your enemies?” Writer’s Block sniffed. “I’m not your puppet.”
“You misunderstand me,” Time Waster smiled. “I have no enemies. I simply am not happy when someone sets up a Youtube block on their server so they can spend more time writing, or when they stop playing my very lucrative games for the same reason. And it’s not just writing that bothers me. The MHQOC has been trying to use their time for productive and edifying things, the very thought of which makes me shiver. We will be of mutual benefit to each others goals, don’t you think?”
“Nothing says I have to help you,” Writer’s Block spat.
“Nothing says I have to let you out of your cell,” Time Waster chuckled. “Nor do I have to tell you that the MHQOC has reached ninety-three thousand, two hundred fifty-seven words while you’ve been locked up down here.”
“Fine. I’m in,” Writer’s Block sighed. “What’s the plan?”
“Well, I’ve heard that there is something new of interest upstairs in that little ‘top secret’ room they’ve got. It’s not finished, but I should like to see what they’ve got up their sleeve so you can know how to counter it.”
“Do you think we can get in there?” Writer’s Block asked.
Time Waster pulled a skeleton key from his pocket and grinned, “There’s advantages to posing as a janator. Now lets be quick before Officer Tebo finds out what we’re up to.”
The two conspirators hurried to the elevator and rode it to the 6th floor. The doors opened and they carefully checked both directions before cautiously stepping into the hall.
“It’s office number 62,” Time Waster whispered.
“I know,” Writer’s Block rolled his eyes. “Fourth door on the left. I’ve made it my business to know these things.”
The two culprits crept to the door in question and Time Waster unlocked the door. There was a quiet beep as the door swung open and the two skipped inside.
Meanwhile, two floors below an alarm began buzzing in the security room. Officer Tebo awoke from his nap with a start and flipped on the security camera feed screen. He watched as the two villians moved towards the desk. In an instant he had assessed the situation and quickly picked up the radio.
“Commander, this is Tebo. Requesting back-up. Writer’s Block is in office 62 with an unknown accomplice. They’re trying to open the file cabinet.”
“10-4, Tebo. We’re on our way,” I replied into the radio from the Mission HQ room. “We’ve got to stop them before they manage to steal what’s in those files!”
Max, Nate, and Allen had overheard the conversation and were already scrambling into action. Max threw open a cabinet and pulled out a belt loaded with police gear. Nate snatched a Taser and Surefire flashlight from his desk drawer. Allen had pulled a tomahawk and knife from who-knows-where. I punched in the passcode to my desktop safe and pulled out my own handgun and Taser.
“Ready?” I asked.
My officers nodded.
We hurried together into the hall and towards the stair access. Elevators were to risky when they could be hacked or have the power to cut. We charged up the intervening flights of stairs to the door of the sixth floor hallway. Nate, who was in the lead, opened the door a crack and checked the hall.
“All clear, except for Tebo,” he replied. “But Commander, I don’t like it. This is way too much like the other time when…”
“Everything is under control,” I assured him. “Remember, I wrote that scene.”
“Well then, you lead the way since you’ve got everything down so nicely,” Nate suggested, stepping aside.
I took his place and opened the door. We hurried noiselessly down the hall to where Officer Tebo waited pensively, gun drawn.
“Tebo, what is your report?” I asked in a whisper.
“They’re still in there, rifling through the drawers,” Tebo whispered back. “They may or may not be armed.”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” I said, pushing open the door.
The two culprits started and turned around as we burst into the room.
“You’re under arrest!” I declared, pointing my Taser at Writer’s Block.
In an instant Time Waster had lunged at me and hit me hard between the eyes. I tumbled to the floor, but Max instantly drew his own Taser from his police belt and fired it into the escaping criminal, while Nate and Tebo simultaneously tased Writer’s Block. Both outlaws hit the ground at the same moment.
“Quick, get the bracelets on them,” I ordered as I staggered to my feet.
Max and Allen immediately worked together to handcuff Time Waster, while Nate and Tebo restrained Writer’s Block.
“What were you trying to do?” I demanded of the villains.
“None of your business,” Time Waster snapped.
“Well, it actually is my business, since you were breaking into my offices,” I replied. “Tebo, Nate, Max, search them and take them back to the cells.”
“Yes sir,” Max saluted. “Come on boys, let’s get moving to your new accommodations.”
“Not again,” Writer’s Block sighed as the trio pushed their prisoners towards the elevator.
“Hey, one of them dropped a file folder,” Allen noted, stooping to pick it up. “Hey! That’s a picture of Levi! And there’s one of me!”
“Hold it, young man!” I said, snatching the file from him. “This is top secret information.”
“What is it?” Allen questioned.
“Character profiles. There’s not very many and what there is aren’t finished, but it’s a start.”
“Will there be more?” Allen asked.
“Only if my brother draws more pictures,” I replied.
“Will anyone get to see them?” Allen probed.
“Only if they break into the Top Secret room like those two villains did,” I replied. “Now, let me put these back in the file cabinet and we need to get back downstairs. College started up and I have a meeting later.”
“I didn’t see one on the schedule,” Allen noted. “Who is it with?”
“A fellow named Other Priorities. I’ve got some business with him that will require most of my time in the near future.”
“So no more writing?” Allen sighed.
“Not likely for the present, although we might steal in some here an there,” I replied. “Which is too bad, since it looks like a brainstorm outside. Rain outside always makes for the best writing days.”