34 ANOTHER NEW PLAN
“Alright guys, here we are,” Ian’s voice said through the headrests. “I think you two should stay in the house while we check the barn. I don’t want any problems at the barn with both of you there. So, Marney will let you in. Go find a good hiding spot and stay there until we come back. If you need, you know where the door in the floor is.”
Marney hopped out of the truck and took a good look around to make sure her place was in order. Ian popped the back lid. Terah grabbed her knapsack and jumped down after Teplan.
“Stay safe you two. Do you still have the phone I gave you?” Ian asked.
Teplan replied affirmatively.
“Call us if you need to,” Ian said, motioning them to the front door with Marney. “We’ll be back to get you soon, anyway!”
“Don’t worry, you’ll be safe here,” Marney said as she opened her front door and ushered them inside. “Just don’t turn on any lights,” she added before she hopped back in the truck with Ian and headed down the dirt track toward the barn.
In the dark, Teplan and Terah went to the kitchen window and watched Ian and Marney drive off.
“Think they’ll find anything?” Teplan asked.
“I hope not. If they find something, then that means those creeps have been here, too,” Terah said looking around the open concept main floor of Marney’s house. “Now, where do you want to hide?”
“I say we sit right here in the kitchen,” Teplan responded as they slunk down the cupboards to the floor and rested. “At least we can hear or see if someone is coming up the driveway.”
They sat in silence for a brief moment until a noise chirped from outside. “What was that?” Terah exclaimed.
“Do you mean the crickets?” Teplan chuckled.
Terah gave him a look.
“So, these guys chasing us must work for the farm-owner-guy, not the Paulton guy,” Teplan said, getting right back to the problem.
“I guess so, yeah… Although that whole thing at Paulton’s office just now was crazy though, right?”
“That was totally crazy! We need to figure out a way to get these guys to stop chasing us.”
“Too bad we can’t prove their farm is polluting, and get them shut down — that would stop them!” Terah said half-jokingly.
“Ha-ha!” Teplan exclaimed. “We do have some proof. We have the sample from the river, right? That would at least show what has happened to the river.”
Just then, the opposite set of cupboards across from the kitchen suddenly illuminated and Teplan and Terah jumped up to see a set of headlights racing up the driveway toward the house. And it wasn’t Ian and Marney. They dropped back down to the ground even faster than they had just popped up.
“It’s them for sure! Now what? We need to get out of here!” Terah said, throwing her hands up.
“Downstairs! Quick!” Teplan exclaimed. He’d already moved the rug and was opening the door in the floor. The roar of the engine grew louder quickly and the lights darted around the kitchen ceiling. Terah grabbed her backpack and scurried down the steps in front of Teplan. The truck screeched to a halt on the gravel driveway out front and Teplan repositioned the rug and closed the trap door.
“Oh my gosh!” Terah mumbled as the two of them sat frozen in the hallway under Marney’s kitchen.
“You know? That’s exactly what we need to do, Terah! We need to expose what these guys are doing! We need to tell people! We need to tell the media! It’s the only way to stop them,” he whispered loudly.
They both remained in their squat positions in the underground hallway under the kitchen and listened for any sounds from above.
“What if we had soil samples from the pig farm?” Teplan continued. “We could show a connection to the soil at the river! We could prove that the soil in those storage pools is the same soil as at the river and they’d have to be shut down. That would get them off our backs!” He watched Terah for a reaction. She just stared at the opposite wall. Her eyes then traversed through a small series of minor movements before closing for a long moment.
“I think it’s crazy,” Terah finally said. “Let’s just leave it up to the professionals. When we get home, we can tell the police.”
“Tell them what? Tell them that we’re being chased and all we have is polluted river water as proof?”
“I still think it’s crazy.”
“It may sound a bit crazy but it’s the only way to stop these guys! Don’t you think getting evidence will surely convince the police that we need help?”
“Yes! No! I don’t know!”
“What if they do something to us before the police can even help us? We need to do something — this is our only chance!” Teplan implored. “Hey, listen,” he continued, “I’m not a big fan of going back to the pig farm either, but if we do and if we get those samples, that should be the end of them,” Teplan reassured. “Otherwise, they won’t stop until they catch us!”
“What have you gotten us into, Teplan? All day we’ve been following your harebrained ideas and look where we’re at! This is all on you, but fine, we’ll go. We’d better not get caught or I will be so pissed at you that I’ll… I don’t even know what I’d do but I’d be so mad!” Terah yelled, but in a whisper.
With that, Teplan gave a meek smile and nodded.
The hallway light-sensors promptly provided light as they made their way down the long hallway that led away from the familiar ladder to Marney’s kitchen. Each light that went on in front them and each light that turned off behind them reminded Terah of just how far away she was from the safety of her home.
The end of the hallway revealed a narrow doorframe cut into the metal outer frame. Teplan felt the cold, hard slide-latch on the metal doorframe back and slid it into the open position. He turned the handle and cracked the door open and then didn’t move. Leaves rustled in the night’s cool breeze. Teplan slowly moved outside and motioned with his hand for Terah to follow.
The world was definitely quite different from when they woke up that morning.