Sylvia looked at Henry, and cocked her head to the side. It was obvious to her that he was deep in thought. She didn’t understand why he suddenly felt like he had to sit down.
“Are you ok? Would you like a drink?” she asked.
“I am fine, thank-you, and yes please.” Henry said, still looking at the back of Bobby’s card and the business card that Sylvia had just handed him. He knew he didn’t want to try and explain to her what he was thinking. It would have struck him as impossible, were it not for his closet, which he had grown to accept. He couldn’t imagine being able to explain it to Sylvia.
The distinctive sound of ice cubes landing in fine crystal went unnoticed by Henry. Sylvia poured Henry a scotch rocks; she hadn’t asked what he wanted, because the look on his face was one of complete concentration. She had seen it on her father’s face many times, and knew that it was best not to break his train of thought. With the grace of a cat she set the drink on a coaster in front of Henry.
Henry was staring at the bookshelves behind the desk, but it looked like he was seeing past them, off to the horizon. Off to the ends of the earth for all she knew. A minute passed and slowly Henry reached out, slowly picked up the scotch, and took a sip. He didn’t change his stare, but said, “Thanks, this is excellent.”
Sylvia whispered, “You’re welcome.” She had returned to the desk and was watching him, completely intrigued by his motionlessness. It was as if she stared into his eyes hard enough, she might see what he was thinking.
The deafening silence was shattered when Henry asked, “May I see your father’s lab?”
“Sure.” Sylvia said, startled at the suddenness of his question. She stood up, grabbed her drink, and headed into the hall. Henry followed, taking sips of his drink as he walked. They crossed the entryway; headed down a hall that was the mirror image of the one they had just left. Henry was no longer paying attention to the art. Before they got to the end, Sylvia opened the last door on the left, and Henry followed her through.
The room was long and rectangular; they passed through it, to a door at the far end. This door led to a spiral staircase, which headed down. Though Henry was still deep in thought, he did notice that they seemed to be going down more than just one story. It felt like two or three. They had passed a small door and continued on until they arrived at a heavy wooden door. Sylvia lifted the latch and pushed the door open. The hallway was entirely made of stone and felt like a dungeon, though it was lit with modern lighting. Henry felt he should be carrying a torch.
Sylvia paused at the door at the end of the hall. “I haven’t been down here since the explosion. If you don’t mind, I will stay outside.” She leaned down and pulled a flashlight out of a little wooden box sitting by the door. She handed it to Henry.
“I understand.” He said, clicking on the light. He opened the door and walked into the lab. There was a burnt smell, but it wasn’t the same as his office, it was more of a sulfur smell. The room was a large and circular in shape, with a very high domed ceiling. It looked like there had been three workstations around a center area where there must have been something massive. All that remained now was a crater. The edges of the room had piles of equipment, glass and wood, which had been blasted out from the center. There were large bits of the ceiling on the floor. The basic structure still seemed sound, but the lab and its contents had been turned to a pile of rubble.
Henry walked all the way around the room. He didn’t see anything helpful, so he turned off the flashlight and put it back in the box by the door. He had something he wanted to ask, but he wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. He already knew that Sylvia wasn’t tuned into her father’s work, but he had a theory, a crazy theory, so he decided to ease into the question.
“Was your father alone when the accident happened?”
Sylvia said, “Yes, he always worked alone.”
“Were you home when it happened?” Henry asked, lowering his voice slightly.
“I was shopping at Macy’s, when Winston called and told me what had happened.”
“Winston?” Henry asked.
“He manages the house, you met him earlier.” She said, giving a heavy sigh, as she remembered getting the call.
“Winston found the body, I mean, er, your father?” Henry asked, stumbling a bit with his words. That was the question he wanted to ask, but had hoped to be able to do it more delicately.
“We never found a body. Everything was destroyed in the explosion. He was the first one down here, if that is what you mean.” She said.
“And you don’t have any idea what he was working on?” Henry asked, though he knew the answer.
“No idea at all.”
Henry had his answer. He was developing a theory, but was a long way from figuring out where he was going to find the next clue. He needed to get the journal to the district attorney and to find the key that would unravel its contents. He was sure that there was something in this house that would point him in the right direction. He hoped he would be able to spot it. He decided to head back to Mr. Alexander’s office and take a closer look at the books. Every clue had been very subtle, he was sure that trend would continue. He would need to talk to Winston.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com