There’s Something Strange Going On In Strangerville…And Andrea’s Determined To Solve It!
Autumn, Year 4
“So why are we here, again?” Aaron asked as he glanced uneasily around the room. Andrea had invited her fiancé and brother out to the pub in Strangerville to check out the atmosphere and Aaron was already feeling nervous. “It’s spooky in here.”
“I want to follow up on a few leads,” Andrea explained. “Ryan’s found evidence of something really weird in a lab in this town. He said there’s a strange atmosphere and I want to see what it’s all about.”
“And why are we here again?” Jared asked. Like Aaron, he wasn’t wild about the town either.
“To make it look less suspicious.”
Andrea got up and started casually mingling with the other people in the bar. Nobody was able to provide her with much information until she came across one of the military personnel. Assuming she was a colleague of Ryan’s, Andrea started casually chatting about the town and the rumours that circulated about it. For some reason, the woman was desperate for Andrea to stop asking questions and insisted there was nothing going on.
This made Andrea even more determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Making sure Jared and Aaron were involved in a discussion at the bar, she slipped out the door and hurried across the road. She wanted to get some photos of the peculiar plants in the neighbourhood before she went home and this was her opportunity.
Ryan was right; she’d never seen anything like them before. She doubted anything like this even existed outside this town. Hastily snapping a photo, she nipped back to the pub to collect the guys. She needed to do a lot of thinking.
The following morning, Andrea was ready to leave. Jared was already at work and would be visiting his parents straight after so he was going to be late. She opened the door to set off for Strangerville and ran straight into her mother coming up the path.
“Mum? What are you doing here?” Andrea’s eyes widened. “I thought you were working today?”
“I took a sick day.” Erica folded hers arms. “And where are you going?”
Andrea frowned. “Aaron told you, didn’t he?”
“He’s worried about you. What on Earth are you doing, investigating something like this? It’s nothing to do with us.”
“So you agree there’s something weird there?”
Erica scowled. “I didn’t say that. Anyway, Aaron told me that army woman said there’s nothing amiss. Sounds fair to me.”
“I don’t believe her. That’s why I’m investigating.” Andrea locked the door and pushed past her mother. “Look Mum, I’m sorry. This is something I feel I need to do.”
When she arrived in the deserted town, she made a beeline for the library. Ryan had told her there were lots of books on local history, so she thought it might be an idea to read up first before delving too deep into her investigation.
She felt a bit guilty; she didn’t normally talk to her mum like that but this was too important. She’d make it up to her family later.
She was fascinated to read some passages about a peculiar infection spreading through the town, reported over 50 years ago. There was even a description of the plants found around the world that matched exactly.
Curious, she ventured out into the desert to start looking for further clues. A loud rumble could be heard and she glanced up in time to see several jets flying over the crater in the distance. Why was the military so active around this area? She knew the base was in the town but why so active over what Ryan had described as a curious lab?
She finally decided to head over to the lab herself to see what she could find. She was concerned to see so many of the plants fully grown outside the lab and took a few cuttings to refer to later.
There was definitely something odd going on here.
The lab was eerily silent as she stepped through. There were papers strewn about the floor and desks; a peculiar code flashed up above the large doors. Andrea walked through the lab, making notes and taking pictures for reference. The sound of her shoes on the tile echoed throughout the empty building.
If she didn’t know better, she’d swear the lab had been abandoned.
She sifted through the papers and collected a few scraps that could be useful. Several inconclusive reports were lying around the rooms and she gathered them all up to make studies of them.
She found a computer which was humming quietly in the corner. She wondered how long it had been running for and why there was nobody around. She sat down and fiddled with the passwords. Jared had taught her how to get around some systems and she put that knowledge into practice as she attempted to hack into the systems. While she gained some interesting facts, none of it was enough to get her through the doors; nor did it explain anything about what the plants were in town.
Erwin didn’t provide her with much more information than she’d found in the lab and she wasn’t completely certain she could trust him completely, so she let it go. Instead, she caught the train to Oasis Springs to the science museum. Jared often worked in the robotics lab there and she knew there was a tiny science exhibit that was often used as a lab.
Jared led her through to the lab so she could borrow the microscope to get a closer look at the funny plants. Sadly, it didn’t help her much.
Slightly dejected, she and Jared set off for home.
“I’m proud of you, you know,” Jared said later, as they snuggled up on the sofa.
Andrea smiled. “Why? I didn’t really accomplish much today.”
“Maybe not but you’re trying. You did gather a lot of evidence today that proves there’s definitely something going on and the military are in on it. So maybe you can build up a dossier with this information and start adding to it.” Jared looked thoughtful. “If we work with Ryan, I bet we can solve this eventually.”
“We’ll be like the Scooby Doo team,” Andrea laughed and she kissed Jared. “Thanks, Jared. Your support means such a lot to me.”