Whatever Tomorrow Brings, Part 2

By Tera

Co-written by The Evil Triumvirate

Prologue

Late Monday afternoon

4247 Maplewood Drive

Outside, the winter sky had darkened; a thick mass of black and purple winter storm clouds overshadowing the remaining orange and gray of daylight as the sun sank low to settle in for the night. As predicted, the beginnings of the snowstorm had made arrival and now a white crystalline blanket was beginning to form a cover over the cold ground below.

Inside the house on Maplewood Drive, emotions were beginning to turn as tumultuous as the weather. Lee had started pacing a path around the kitchen. Joe was becoming agitated. Even the Prime Minister was showing signs of being visibly upset.

Amanda was alternately glancing at her watch to keep track of the passing minutes and then switching her gaze to Lee as he moved about.

Only Dotty seemed to be calm, cool, and collected as she made a pot of hot tea.

Finally, after more than a few glaring looks from Amanda, Lee ceased his pacing and then looked at the clock.

“Okay, that’s it, Phillip’s officially grounded, and that car is staying parked until the middle of the summer.”

Joe practically grunted.

“Try until the middle of the next century.”

Dotty frowned as she began to pour tea into the cups. She had been listening to the others for the past ten or so minutes. Had they all forgotten that they were dealing with three boys on break from school plus one mall with a very appealing video arcade?

Of course, they were going to be running late. Besides, she knew her eldest grandson. If the roads had gotten a little slick, he would pick the safety of his passengers over making it home on time.

As she picked up the tray, she decided to speak her mind.

“They’re teenagers,” she gently reminded them as she approached the table.

“They were given their orders,” Lee retorted.

Dotty began settling the cups of tea in front of the worried adults.

“Home before dark, before the snow,” Lee reminded them.

“Lee, maybe he did have car trouble,” Amanda interrupted. “Maybe you and Joe should go look for them.”

Lee glanced at her across the table.

“What have we always preached to him?”

“I know, I know. If he had any kind of trouble, the first thing he’s to do is to call one of us.”

“Maybe Amanda’s right,” Joe said with a shrug. “Maybe he did have trouble and didn’t think about calling.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Lee began but Dotty interrupted him.

“Lee, if the roads are slick, he’s taking his time. They’re only a few minutes late.”

“Try twenty,” Lee corrected her.

“Well then, if he is having car trouble, you’re probably going to find him under the hood. You know how is, he’ll think he can fix it himself and he’s just lost track of the time.”

Lee respectfully turned his face away from his mother-in-law to unintelligibly mutter something slightly indecent under his breath.

She did have a valid point though. If something were wrong, Phillip would, without a doubt, try to fix it himself.

“Let me go grab a few things from the garage and then we’ll go find him. And for his sake, he better pray he’s under the hood and not hanging out inside the mall with a bunch of his friends.”

Amanda watched Lee storm out of the kitchen, then turned to face Joe.

“They really should have been here by now.”

Joe reached across the table to pat her hand comfortingly.

“I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“I am also sure there is no need to worry,” the Prime Minister added. “From what I have seen so far this weekend, your eldest son seems very responsible.”

Amanda gave him a small smile but before she could say anything further to him, the telephone rang.

Joe, being the closest, got up and answered it. “Hello.”

“Phillip?” Joe’s voice began rising as he quickly rattled off a bunch of questions. “Where are you? What are you doing? Did you forget that you were supposed to be home before dark?”

“What? What?” Joe shook his head. “Slow down son, I can’t understand you.”

“Where?”

“Okay, okay. Stay there. We’ll be there as quick as we can.”

Joe hung up the telephone and then looked at the worried group of adults looking at him.

“Well, what do you know? He did have car trouble.”

A visible look of relief washed over their faces.

“Oh no,” Amanda said. “I hope it’s nothing serious.”

The Prime Minister smiled.

“See, I told you,” he said as he nodded his head up and down. “No big fret.”

Dotty could not help but chuckle. The levity brought from the Prime Minister’s amusing speech was certainly a welcome respite after the last few minutes.

Just then, Lee came back into the kitchen, carrying one of his toolboxes with him.

“What’s so funny?”

“Phillip just called,” Joe answered. “The boys did have car trouble. They’re at a garage a couple of blocks from the mall. I told him we’d be there shortly.”

“Well, let’s get going,” Lee said.

The Prime Minister stood up.

“No, no. You should stay with your wife. After we get the boys, we can sway by the pizza place and pick up dinner.”

“It’s swing by the pizza place,” Amanda gently corrected him. “And I really appreciate that.”

“It is not a problem. I am most obliged for everything that you have done for us this weekend, so you and Lee stay here. We’ll be back with the…the pepperoni. Besides, we have an old saying…man stay with pregnant wife all the time and find much confusion. Or is that avoid much confusion?”

The Prime Minister shrugged his shoulders and smiled at them.

“Well, whichever way it goes, Lee shall stay here.”

After they had gone, Lee leaned over the back of Amanda’s chair and kissed the side of her neck.

“I guess we were sitting here worrying for nothing.”

“We still don’t know what’s wrong with Phillip’s car,” Amanda began.

“I’m sure it’s nothing that can’t be fixed,” Lee reassured her, his hands already beginning to massage her shoulders gently.

Amanda sighed under the comforting touch of her husband.

“I guess you’re right,” she replied even though she still felt that little inkling of nagging doubt that she’d had in the pit of her stomach for the last hour or so. She reached one hand up and trailed her fingers over Lee’s. Maybe she would feel better once the boys were home and they were all safely inside enjoying their pizza.

Act 1

Aimee Delozier had returned home from her dentist visit earlier in the day and then had promptly settled into bed. She had been up far too late the prior night and the early morning appointment had taken a toll on her.

Napping most of the afternoon had not been part of her plan but when she had woken up, she realized that nearly the entire day had slipped by and that she had not made any further progress on the disk for Lee.

She slid out of bed, strolled to the kitchen, and tossed a frozen pizza into the oven. It was only after indulging in a quick hot shower and slipping into a comfy pair of sweatpants and shirt, along with her favorite pair of fuzzy socks, that she felt ready to tackle the world again.

With piping hot pizza and a tall glass of Pepsi over ice, she sat down at her desk and turned on her computer. While she waited for it to boot up, she listened to the weather report on the local radio station. She highly doubted that she was going to work in the morning from what they were saying. The entire city would be virtually shut down if the weatherman had it pegged right, and from the list of tomorrow’s cancellations being announced, it seemed that he did.

Aimee plucked a piece of pepperoni from her slice of pizza and popped it into her mouth. This suited her just perfectly. No other interruptions meant that she could give this little challenge all of her attention and, with any luck, she would have an answer for Lee by the time that the weather cleared up for Wednesday morning.

*** SMK ***

Joe eased his sedan off the street and into the snow-covered parking lot of Johnson’s Auto Shop. The roads were already becoming a slick mess in places where the slushy snow was piling up and judging from the expression on his friend’s place, he certainly did not want to send the vehicle sliding any more than necessary.

He slid the transmission into park and then looked over at the Prime Minister.

“Looks kind of deserted, doesn’t it?”

The Prime Minister surveyed the shop. There did not seem to be much light coming through the front windows, giving the establishment an aura of abandonment.

“Perhaps they are in the back?”

Joe keyed off the vehicle’s ignition.

“Let’s go find out.”

The two men got out of the vehicle and made their way to the front door. Joe tried the knob, finding it to be unlocked.

Once inside, they found the front desk empty although a small electric heater was running and blowing out warm air.

They walked on by it and then through the slightly open door that led to the darkened repair area.

“Hello?” Joe called out.

The door behind them suddenly slammed shut.

Then an overhead light blinked on.

Joe blinked his eyes a few times to adjust to the sudden brightness and was shocked at what he saw.

Lying face down on the cold hard floor, in front of a vehicle with an open hood, was a person. He took it to be one of the employees, judging from the dark blue coveralls that the man was wearing.

To his left, the Prime Minister suddenly gulped rather loudly.

Joe quickly brought his gaze upward.

Standing in front of them were two men, each pointing a gun at them.

Of one thing, Joe was certain. These individuals were definitely not employees of Johnson’s Auto Shop.

***SMK***

Aimee was sipping her Pepsi and trying combinations to crack the code on Scarecrow’s mysterious disk. Things weren’t looking good. She knew there were several sections-some were lists, but of what she couldn’t discern-yet. Then there were sections that had text and that was probably the stuff that would give the best results at decryption.

She sat back and thought. “I can attack all this at once-or I can go section by section. There’s no guarantee every section uses the same code-but then this is one mother of a code-so maybe they used the same one for all of it trusting the code itself was a doozy and unbreakable.” She got up and paced for a few moments, waving her arms. “What do I do? Attack the whole thing or concentrate on one small part? Picard would attack the big problem. Geordi would take it piece by piece. What would Data do? This is more his territory?” She paced back and forth, back and forth. “Data would do whatever needed to be done. OK, that settles it! I’ll go for this section, get it decoded, and apply that solution to the rest of it. Thanks, Data-I owe you-where are your nannites when I need them?”

She sat back down at her desk-took a generous swig of Pepsi and got back to work.

***SMK***

Over an hour had come and gone and still they had not returned. No phone calls, no hungry boys, no pizza.

Amanda was now the one who had taken to pacing about, occasionally stopping to rub her back before resuming her path between the kitchen and the living room where Dotty and Lee were seated on the couch.

Lee was flipping through the television channels, trying to see if there was anything major happening on the roads that might be causing a delay but so far, he had found nothing.

“Surely the wait for the pizza can’t be taking this long,” Dotty said. “I mean, surely, there can’t be all that many people out and about in this weather.”

Lee turned and looked at Dotty. Earlier in the day, she had been the only calm adult in the house. Now, she seemed the most nervous. Wringing her hands, rotating the assortment of bracelets on her wrists and turning her head back and forth from the television to Amanda.

“I don’t understand,” Amanda said. “Surely they aren’t trying to get Phillip’s car fixed tonight, not with this weather. And why wouldn’t they call? Surely, Joe would call, wouldn’t he? And I’m sure the boys are starved, they’d have to be.”

Lee wasn’t sure what to say to her. Judging from the look on her face, Amanda was more than a little worried. He wanted to say the right thing but apparently, his mind did not want to cooperate.

So, he sat there. Turning his gaze back to the television and saying nothing.

While the latest round of cancellations and closings for the area was being recited, the telephone began ringing. They all jumped.

“Got it,” Lee declared as he practically sprinted to the telephone. Amanda followed him as fast as she was able in this late stage of her pregnancy, followed closely by Dotty.

“Hello.”

“Yes, this is the King household.”

“I’m his stepfather, Lee.”

“You what?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, that’s his license plate. But I don’t understand. He called here about an hour ago and said he was having car trouble. His father went to pick them up but now he hasn’t returned either.”

“Okay, well thanks. I’d appreciate it.”

Lee hung up the phone and then turned to look at Amanda and Dotty. He had a very confused expression on his face.

“That was the mall security office. They shut the mall down several hours ago because of the weather. Phillip’s car is still there. They were going to tow it so that they could plow once the snow stops but when they found the keys in the door lock, they did a trace on it.”

“What?”

“But didn’t Joe say that Phillip was calling from the garage?”

Lee nodded at the anxious women. Then he began dialing another telephone number.

“I think it’s time to get some answers.”

*** SMK ***

The pizza was long gone; nothing left of it save a few crumbs. One two-liter of Pepsi had been emptied and a second was nearly half-gone. In the background, the faint voices from an un-watched Star Trek episode went ignored.

However, it was neither the cold drink nor the image of the USS Enterprise boldly soaring across the television screen that held her attention.

What had grabbed her complete attention was the computer monitor that she had been looking at for an untold amount of time. On the screen before her, the garbled text that formed file names was changing. Odd characters were being replaced, one by one, with recognizable letters from the alphabet.

Aimee Delozier nearly jumped out of her seat as she squealed aloud, pumping her fist victoriously into the air.

“Eureka!”

Now this was more like it, she thought to herself. She had managed to crack the first nut and, with a little luck, she would completely own the entire tree before the night was out.

Act 2

One man opened up the door and the other one pushed them inside the room. Joe tumbled to the floor from the force of the shove and the Prime Minister tripped over him.

Both men landed in a heap on the floor.

“Dad!”

“Dad!”

“Dad!”

The three boys rushed forward from where they had been sitting, grateful for the sight of their fathers, even if they were both now in a tangled heap on the floor.

A snickering sound came from one of their captors.

“Enjoy your little reunion.”

Then the two unknown men left, banging the door shut behind them and leaving the kidnapped group alone in the strange room.

*** SMK ***

It was midnight by the time that Billy Melrose pulled into the driveway in Arlington. His dark eyes were bleary and bloodshot, both from the lateness of the hour and from the tense drive over from Georgetown.

If this had involved anyone else, he would never have made the drive in the first place. But, this was Lee and Amanda’s family. A family that he considered an extension of his own. Plus, the Prime Minister of Estoccia and his son were also involved in this. Whatever this was.

After turning off the ignition, Billy sat there for a moment. He needed to be composed when he went inside that door and right now, he felt anything but composed.

He reached over and scooped his hat up from the passenger seat. Composed he wasn’t but neither was he an idiot. In these freezing temperatures and howling winds, he didn’t need to add to his headache.

*** SMK ***

When the door flung open, Joe could tell from the look on the one’s man face that it was not going to be a pretty scenario. One of the evilest scowls that he had ever seen was etched upon the man’s face.

Mr. Evil glanced to his accomplice standing at his side and then nodded his head.

In a split second, the skinnier man strode straight for Jamie. With more force than was necessary, he grabbed the boy’s arm and hauled him up and off the old bench.

Jamie couldn’t help but to shriek from the pain.

“Leave him alone,” Joe shouted.

“All in good time,” the elder man said. “But only if you tell me what we want to know.”

Joe blinked in confusion. He didn’t have a clue what the man was talking about.

“Don’t pretend that you don’t know.”

Joe shrugged his shoulders.

“I’m afraid that I really don’t have any idea what this is all about.”

“Tsk…tsk.”

The man looked at the Prime Minister and then back at Joe.

“Does the name Argus mean anything to you?”

Joe gave a sideways glance towards the Prime Minister. Then he looked back at the elder man.

“And what if it does?”

“Don’t go getting all half-witted on me, Mr. King. In case you’ve forgotten, both of your sons are here.”

He paused to take a look over at the bench where Phillip sat before continuing.

“Press me too hard and I could just as easily have both your current wife and your ex-wife here as well.” He paused to chuckle in a sickening fashion. “In multiple pieces. Now, please. Let’s make this simple. Just give me the information that I need.”

“Okay, okay,” Joe replied. “So I know who they are. I still don’t understand what’s going on.”

The man pulled off his gloves, slowly. First one, then the other. He folded them both in half and tucked them neatly into his coat pockets. Then he walked the few short steps to stand directly in front of Joe.

“Let’s just say that you have some property of theirs that needs to be returned.”

Joe shook his head in confusion.

“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”

“The disk.”

“Disk? What disk?”

“Mr. King, I suggest that you think about your answers.”

“I am and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“All right, if you insist. I’ll give you a little hint. There was a box of materials left behind at the EAO. In your office. A box that contained some very useful information to us. I happen to know that you found the disk.”

A more complete understanding suddenly dawned on Joe. The man was referring to the disk that he had given Lee to look at.

“Yeah, there was a disk but there wasn’t anything on it.”

“Where is it?”

“I threw it away,” Joe said. “It wasn’t any good to anyone.”

The old man sighed, then turned to look at the skinnier man who was holding Jamie.

“Renny.”

In the blink of an eye, Renny pulled a very long and glistening blade out of his jacket. He waved it in front of Jamie’s frightened face, coming dangerously close several times.

“Now…the disk, Mr. King. Where is the disk?”

*** SMK***

“The mechanic’s dead! There’s nobody else there! Billy, where in the hell are our boys?”

Lee’s voice thundered throughout the walls of the house on Maplewood Drive.

Billy sighed. He had known that this wasn’t going to be easy. Even so, he had hoped that Lee would have maintained some calm.

“We’ve got a team dusting for prints,” Billy offered.

“Bet you my next paycheck they don’t find anything,” Lee mumbled angrily.

“I don’t understand,” Amanda interrupted from where she sat on the couch. “None of this makes any sense.”

Billy looked sympathetically at her. She looked exhausted and given the hour and the scenario, he wondered just how well she really was holding up.

“At the moment it doesn’t,” he responded to her. “We’ll get to the bottom of it.”

“Billy, they’ve got the boys. Hell, they’ve got the Prime Minister and his son,” Lee roared. “I don’t know about you but I sure as heck don’t think Smyth is going to appreciate this.”

“Lee, were you working on anything recently, anything that could have a tie-in to this?”

“You’ve seen my workload the past few weeks. It’s mostly BS,” Lee reminded him.

“You’re certain?”

“What I’m certain of is that our boys are missing. We’re wasting time playing twenty questions here.”

“All the angles need to be worked,” Billy reminded him calmly. He then turned to Amanda.

“And you’re positive that there hasn’t been anything suspicious, no strange phone calls, or unidentified individuals around the boys?”

Amanda shook her head.

“I’m sure I would have noticed,” she quipped. “I’m not a rookie.”

“Wait a minute,” Lee suddenly said.

“What?”

“This is a long-shot, way out in left field. Let me make a quick phone call.”

Lee practically bolted from the couch and raced to the phone.

Continued

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Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only.