18 April 2014
If you want to read the rest of the series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, and Part 14.
"So where are we?" said Cinnamon. Geoffrey had led them north through the bunker's second entrance tunnel, through a series of progressively older-looking underground passages, to a small room with red brick walls and a cobblestone floor. The room was illuminated by a single incandescent bulb stuck in a rusty wire work lamp, showing the room was empty, but featured a newer-looking steel door opposite the rot-softened older one they'd just passed through.
Cinnamon noticed the orange electrical cord attached to the lamp ran into a hole drilled into one of the brick walls. The whole thing looked like it was meant to be temporary and then had been forgotten about.
The ceiling shuddered and rumbled as something large and heavy passed overhead. Cinnamon sprang back into the corridor, reaching for one of her guns. Pepper just clenched her fists and looked at Geoffrey.
"That was probably a dump truck," said Geoffrey. "Up until the mid-sixties, this was a debriefing room, and sometimes an isolation cell. We're underneath Simcoe Street, very near to where it intersects with King."
"What corner?" said Cinnamon.
"None of them," said Geoffrey. "We're on the south side, but we're underneath the actual street."
"And this is part of headquarters? It looks ancient."
"For around here it is. Rumour has it the Upper Canada Rebellion was partly planned in this very room." Geoffrey shrugged. "We — by 'we' I mean the company — used to have a safe in here for documents, a table, a chair for the person asking the questions. This room got sealed up after the end of the Korean War — change in questioning policy. Couldn't use scary rooms anymore. Go figure."
"So they cleared out the furniture and..." said Cinnamon. "Just sealed it up?"
Geoffrey shook his head. "Someone must have screwed up with the paperwork. It got sealed up all right, but the furniture and the safe wasn't removed. When constructions workers building the Roy Thomson Hall accidentally found it in the late 70s, there were still two cups on the table."
"Was there anything in the safe?" said Pepper.
Geoffrey grinned without humour. "Not that anyone's been willing to admit to me." He pointed at the steel door. "We go through that, which leads to a tunnel that eventually goes under Wellington Street — the construction workers found a portion of that too, but they thought they sealed it up. Come on."
The walk was about fifteen minutes, although Cinnamon thought that between clambering over old rubble and jumping over small water pipe leaks, they couldn't have gone more than a couple of blocks. If she hadn't completely lost her bearings, they should have looped back south and to the west a little. That would put them underneath the underground shopping mall at Metro Hall — right at headquarters.
The tunnel turned to the right, and then ended abruptly at another steel door. To Cinnamon's surprise, Geoffrey simply grasped the door handle and turned it.
She checked Pepper's reaction, but Pepper had been silent and stone-faced since they'd left the underwater bunker. Cinnamon couldn't blame her. It was no fun being bait — you had to pretend to be more helpless than you really were.
The door was unlocked. Geoffrey quickly checked whatever was inside and closed the door again. "This is it," he said. "We go through this, we step into the admin office's stationery room. Anyone need sticky notes or highlighters while we're in here?"
"Ballpoint pens?" said Pepper.
"Sorry, Ellie, no weapons. They'd spot that."
"Just a well-sharpened pencil..." Pepper stopped talking when she saw the look on Geoffrey's face.
"Now as far as weapons go," said Geoffrey, turning to Cinnamon, "are you ready?"
Cinnamon shrugged. "Sure. It's a pain having all these guns holstered, but I'm okay. I'm just glad I do a lot of weight training. These things are heavy. And it's going to take me forever to get scanned and signed in by security."
"Don't worry about that. All right, here we go." Geoffrey turned the door knob again and pushed something behind it. Cinnamon heard the sound of metal scraping on cement for several seconds, and then Geoffrey's arm reappeared through the doorway, waving at them to follow him.
Cinnamon slipped through the doorway after Pepper. They now stood in a narrow room lit by fluorescent tubing, with metal utility shelves lining the entirety of every wall except the one opposite them. It had a frosted glass door in it that Cinnamon recognised as being the same design as all the rest of the interior doors in headquarters.
Pepper helped Geoffrey push the shelving unit back to in front of the door they'd just come through. Geoffrey checked the door behind it was closed completely.
"Ah! Here they are," he said, and grabbed a fistful of whiteboard markers from a small tub on the shelf they'd just moved. He strode up to the frosted glass door and opened it. "After you, ladies."
Pepper and Cinnamon walked into a bustling office area. A woman wearing a slightly better Chanel-style suit than the rest of the women in the area looked up from her laptop. "Field division out of stationery, Geoffrey?"
"The field division never has any stationery, Martha, you know that," said Geoffrey. "I need to do a debrief and task analysis with these two, and I had nothing at all to write with." He beamed a smile at Martha.
Cinnamon fought to hide her surprise as she noticed Martha blushing. "Oh you," she said. "You're just lucky we don't have to sign that stuff out."
Geoffrey thanked Martha with exaggerated gallantry, then led Cinnamon and Pepper to the elevator bays. A man in a maintenance engineer's uniform got on the elevator with them, but exited only one floor down.
"So in case anyone's wondering," said Geoffrey, "we really are going to my office for a few minutes. At least long enough to make it look like a real meeting."
"Mostly I'm just wondering exactly how badly our security sucks," said Cinnamon.
To be continued...