10 NEW FARM
Van Houttei disappeared inside the barn while the sound of Paulton’s car engine faded out of earshot.
“How much money do you think is in that briefcase?” Teplan asked, his eyes still fixed on the scene.
“I don’t know, but it looked like a lot!” Terah replied, feverously scanning in case someone returned.
Teplan spotted something at the other end of the barn. “Hey, look at those round pools? See them? Over there,” he said, pointing.
“Oh yeah, weird! They’re filled with liquid. But let’s get out of here. I don’t like this place.”
“Okay,” Teplan conceded. “Let’s get back to that field with the giant sprinklers and just go south from there. We should end up at the path we took to get here, I think. Right?”
Terah shrugged her shoulders, “I hope so. It must be about mid-afternoon by now. We can still be home in just over half an hour or so.”
The sun was no longer right above their heads and the shadows cooled their bodies, making their cold, wet clothes even colder. They reached the mud field and made their way to the woods.
Like the forest by the riverbank, this one was eerily quiet and oddly dull in color. That ominous silence hung in the air. The leaves were wilted and looked weak on their frail branches. As they walked, Teplan could not get his mind off everything he had seen. Flashes of the polluted river, the gross muddy fields, and the strange pools swirled around his head. Do they know what their farm is doing?
11 UNHAPPY BIG BOSS
“Our perimeter’s been breached!” the man in the grey, pinstriped suit screamed into the walkie-talkie while staring at a computer screen. “This farm is supposed to be secure! And today, two kids managed to sneak past all the cameras without any of you brainless buffoons noticing!” Van Houttei bellowed as all twelve of his security team buried their faces in their computer screens.
Snorting like a bull and with eyes bulging out of his head, Van Houttei watched the video of two kids lying in the bushes with a camera. “Seriously? Look at that! You idiots! I pay you guys to protect this property and that kid is just recording and recording and recording!”
His words hung in the air like a banner.
“They must’ve come in from the river beyond the west spray field! Note — tighten security on the west side, immediately! Where are those kids now?”
The guard sitting in front of another computer screen cleared his throated, “Uh, sir, the end of the video shows them heading back west towards the river. Possibly have a boat. If not, I doubt they’d go north — it’s all forest. Maybe they’d go south towards the path access to the river.”
“Then if so, then go get them! Who knows where they’re going? That Green, Green Lima Bean farmer lives over that way, doesn’t she? If those kids have a video of Paulton and me, it’s the end of us! ALL OF US!”
“Get the road team on the line!” Van Houetti ordered as if he were ready to bite someone’s head off.
Parked around back of the farm, the road team of security guards in their large black trucks awaited instruction. On cue, two images appeared on a screen mounted on their dashboard: one of Teplan and one of Terah.
“You guys have tonight to get those kids or I bet they go public with this — then it’s over.”
“We got the file on screen here, Mr. Van Houetti,” the man behind the wheel said into his walkie-talkie. “We’ll find out who they are and where they live. We’ll have them within the hour, sir.”
“You better! You’re supposed to be a crack-security outfit! Should be like hunting buffalo in the closet for you guys!”