“Don’t touch anything, Nicky,” Howie warned.
Nick rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, “Yes, Mom.”
Nick shined his flashlight along the walls as he looked at each portrait; he stopped to look at a portrait of a man who looked oddly familiar. The man in the picture resembled a suave and intellectual-looking scientific man, who wore a dark brown suit and had dark brown hair and round-rimmed glasses that encircled his piercing green eyes. The right side of the man’s face in the portrait seemed to have been slashed, revealing only half of his face.
“Come on Nick, this way,” Howie called from the end of the hallway. He stood in the doorway between the guards in armor.
Nick followed Howie into a small study. The room had shelves full of books and a cozy armchair sat next to the fireplace that was in the back wall of the room. The room smelled of old tobacco and burnt wood.
“Son of a bitch!” Nick cried out.
Howie jumped a little and gave Nick a scowl. Nick had stubbed his foot against the leg of the desk that stood near the chair and the fireplace. He leaned his hand on the desk as he grabbed his throbbing foot with his other hand. He unknowingly pushed a button on the desk. The fireplace blazed to life startling him and Howie.
“Nick, you need to be more careful. That could have been some kind of booby trap!” Howie scolded.
“Well, it was so dark in here I couldn’t see a damned thing!” Nick shot back irritably. The fireplace brought enough light so Nick and Howie put their flashlights away.
Nick looked around at the tattered books. As he was scanning the book shelf, one particular book that was slightly thinner than the rest of the books, caught his attention and his curiosity got the better of him.
He reached over and pulled out the book The Kama Sutra: Secrets in the Art of Lovemaking from the East and started flipping through the books looking for any pictures.
Suddenly, the book case in front of him opened revealing a secret passage way. Nick stared at the staircase in bewilderment. Howie looked up from a map he was looking at on the desk.
“What did you do? I told you not to touch anything,” Howie grumbled.
“You would think they would use a less obvious book to open that,” Nick commented, holding up the book to show Howie.
Howie shook his head as he started down the stairs through the secret passageway. Nick still held the book as he continued to read—that is look at the pictures—as he followed Howie down the passageway with his flashlight in the other hand.
“Nick, put the book back,” Howie said, without looking up at Nick.
“What? It’s not like anyone’s gonna be looking for it. Besides…it could come in handy some day,” Nick smirked as he began reading while following Howie down the stairs.
They entered a room that had some sort of weapons and other devices hanging on the walls. Howie felt on the walls for a light switch of some sort and found a lever and decided to pull on it. A small light bulb lit up the room.
“This looks like an old laboratory,” Howie said.
Nick came across a particularly intriguing diagram depicting a complicated sexual position in his book that he didn’t notice Howie had stopped in front of him.
“Oh sorry D,” he apologized after bumping into Howie.
“Man, Nick, will you give me that book?” Howie grumbled, trying to take the book from Nick.
“No, it’s mine!” Nick cried out childishly as he held the book away from Howie's reach, “Go get your own!”
“Nick, I’m not in the mood!”
“Oh geez, I hope not! Cuz, I don’t see no females out here for that,” Nick retorted, still holding the book out of Howie’s reach.
Howie smacked Nick’s head with his flashlight. Nick grabbed his head and yelped in pain.
“Ow! That hurt!” Nick complained, rubbing his head.
“Good,” Howie remarked. He finally got the book from Nick. “Now let’s get moving. I want to find a room so we can sleep." He let out a tired sigh.
"I wonder if the other guys found anything cool, like this secret laboratory,” said Nick, following Howie back out into the small library.