Danica was sitting in a high back lounge chair in Hayden’s hotel room, facing him, legs crossed, nursing her cooler.
It was the early evening hours and they were both waiting for the ride to their flight, long after departing Maximum Pharmaceuticals.
Her room was adjacent to his with connecting doors. She could have gone home for the night, but elected instead to be closer to the airport rather than drive all the way in from Burlington for the morning flight to Heathrow.
“I admit, from what I’ve heard, the Thorne’s can be a bit… unique.” She defended.
“Unique? They’re flying us to London to buy a century old diary, scratch that, a few pages from a century old diary, written by a guy they think was the survivor of a ship tragedy in hopes it leads them to a mystical island which no one can find and hides the Fountain of Youth.”
The way Hayden put it, she had to admit, it did sound insane. She took a quick sip. “They’re paying you aren’t they?”
“That’s not the point.”
“Then why did you accept?”
“I never said I wasn’t greedy.”
Danica rolled her eyes again. She figured if she spent too much more time with him, her eyeballs would be able to press weights. “So you’re doing it for the mission, not the money?”
Hayden paused and then smirked. “All right fine. It’s the money. But you’re more of a scientist than I am. You can’t tell me this is how you planned to spend your career. I might study legends and folklore as it relates to the past, but I certainly don’t take it as gospel.”
Danica did agree as her world took a rather odd twist recently. Last week she was hunting for plants and tree sprigs in the middle of nowhere. This week she was looking for a legend no one really believed existed.
Danica reconsidered that last thought. Two people did and both were her very wealthy employers. “I figure the sooner we get them what they want, the sooner we can return to our lives and do what we did before.”
“Before we were almost blown up in the middle of rural South America?”
Danica glared in his direction. “I highly doubt a chamber being destroyed half a kilometer away from your camp qualifies as ’almost blown up!’”
Hayden crossed his arms. “It still shook my tent. Woke me up with a headache.”
“I think the beer did that.” Danica got up and opened Hayden’s fridge for another drink.
She froze. “Did you empty the entire mini-bar?” She asked incredulously.
“It’s in my carry on.” Hayden replied. “What’s the issue? It’s comp.”
“Comp?” Danica turned to face him, her eyes wide with shock. “My company is not a casino. You can’t just empty the mini-bar?”
Hayden looked at her with a guilty grin. “Then I guess you’ll want me to put back the towels and the bathrobes huh?”
She slammed the fridge shut. “You’re incorrigible.” She left the room and returned with a cooler from her own fridge a minute later.
Hayden waited a few minutes for her to cool off. Once she looked more relaxed, and after a few pulls on her drink, he resumed. “It’s not how I pictured I would be consulting? That’s all.”
“What did you think they were going to have you do?”
“Translating maybe. Help recreate the chamber in a 3-D virtual environment for examination?” He chugged half his beer in one gulp. “Not flying to London England to trick some old antique collector out of eight pages torn from a book a hundred years ago written by some insane guy.” He pursed his lips. “I don’t know. I assumed it would be more… archeology stuff.”
“We’re not exactly being asked to trick him. We’re paying him what he wants.” Danica still felt empty in saying it.
“On the presumption it is being taken to an institution of post-secondary learning.” Hayden challenged. “And using my credentials I might add.”
Both of them stopped for a few seconds to take a drink of their respective beverages.
Danica was curious, as he had brought up the subject, and they had several hours to kill before their flight, so she asked. “Why archeology?”
Hayden replied. “Why not?”
“That’s not an answer.”
Hayden took a second to consider telling her. “My father.”
“He taught me history was the key to everything. It was his major in university. He went on to be an executive at a bank, but if you ever sat with him around a campfire with a beer, he never once talked about interest rates, mortgage holdings or foreclosures. He talked about history.”
Danica listened with rapt interest.
“As a kid, he would sit me in bed and tell me the stories of all the legends of old, from Hercules to Thor or Zeus to Poseidon.” Hayden grinned. “He loved Greek mythology most of all. And oddly enough, American Civil war. History was his passion and his love for it was so all encompassing, it also became mine.”
Danica smiled. She liked that. It made Hayden seem more human. “But you went with South American tribal history?”
“I had to set myself apart from my father in some ways. He was great and all, but I wanted to be my own man. Plus I found South American culture to be very addictive. That and the way all these different tribes lived their lives, independent of one another, teaching many things and yet were still able to communicate with other tribes with ease and in such unique and wonderful ways. I had to follow where their steps took them as I fell in love with it.”
Danica smiled. After a few seconds, she asked the question. “What if, in fact, their steps lead to the Fountain of Youth?”
Hayden finished his beer. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”
Danica stood indicating her intention to return to her room. “We’re getting up pretty early tomorrow.”
Hayden grabbed his pillow and shoved it under his back. “You can go to sleep. I’m still wired. I might watch some television.” With a smooth gesture, he had the remote in hand and the plasma screen flickered to life.
Danica turned to leave. As she walked, she shouted over her shoulder. “Don’t order any ’comp’ movies that I have to explain to management upon our return.” She grabbed her door handle. “And you know which ones I’m talking about.”
Two seconds later, Hayden turned off the television. “I guess there’s nothing on then.”
‘A child and a pig.’ Danica was closing the door behind her.
Hayden shouted as he shoved his face into his pillows. “If they tell me my next mission is looking for the Ark of the Covenant, then I’m really going to gripe.” He paused. “And ask for another twenty five grand.”
Danica thought to herself sealing the door. ‘Don’t suggest it. Chances are, if they thought you could find it, they’d be asking.’