Tara and Willow, now fully clothed-
"Not fair," Xander muttered before he was struck heavily about the head again.
-finished packing their weapons, and smiled at each other before they opened the door back into the now-drained aqua ring. Just outside the door, the shark that had been menacing them flopped and gasped. Giggling, Willow poked it with a stick a few times before following Tara to the door next to the control room. Behind it they found a supply room - well stocked with ammunition, weapons and a new key - the handcuff key. Er...not the key to any pair of handcuffs, but rather a key with a chain that was engraved with the symbol of a pair of handcuffs - clear? Good.
"Excellent!" Willow exclaimed. "That should open almost every door we haven't been through yet!"
"Good - we're one step closer to getting the hell out of here. So - what are you doing tonight?"
Willow laughed loudly. "How's dinner sound?"
"Sounds great. Any preference?"
"Anything that doesn't involve red meat."
"It's a date!" they shared a grin and headed across the now-dry aquarium to the ladder. Willow climbed first, with Tara only a few rungs behind her. They emerged into the library, where all the books had vanished from the shelves. In fact, the shelves themselves had vanished, leaving a big empty room that had been a library at one point. They were startled when a bright red digital counter appeared above their heads, counting up from zero.
"Oy," Willow sighed, clapping a hand to her forehead. "Wrong game again! Do either of us look like an Umbrella special forces agent? No."
The counter vanished, and the library shelves reappeared. "Better," Willow said brightly. "And so help me, I hear one word of Spanish, story's over. Understand?" There was no response. With a smile at Tara, Willow led the way out of the library and down the hall to the first door bearing the handcuff emblem. With a click that echoed in the quiet hall, she unlocked it to reveal...a tastefully decorated drawing room, complete with a bar and a grand piano.
A short, wiry black man in the uniform of a subway conductor jumped out from behind the bar. "You've gotta help me! I'm freaking out! We've gotta get out of here! You've gotta help me! I'm freaking out! We've gotta get out of here! You've-" he fell silent when Willow rapped him on the head with the butt end of her pistol.
"Sorry," she said to Tara. "I just hate that guy."
"How did he even get here? There's no subway train out here."
"Wait for Outbreak 3," Willow muttered darkly. "It'll turn out that you can get to the Mansion from Raccoon University."
"Hey - do you see the light coming from behind that bookcase?"
"Oh yeah - you're pretty observant. And just plain pretty."
Tara flushed. "Give me a hand?" They leaned against the bookcase and gave it a solid shove, toppling it over and revealing a small alcove.
"Who designed this place?"
Tara pulled a flashlight from her pocket and shone it into the dimly lit alcove, revealing a small black box at the far end. Forcing it opened, Willow discovered...sheet music.
"Ooh, it's Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata! I can play this - here, I'll show you."
"You can play piano?"
"I dated a pianist. It didn't work out."
"Ah. Never been much for the timbre myself. Not to rain on your parade or anything, but do we really have time for you to play the piano? Shouldn't we be working on finding a way out?"
"It'll just take a sec - promise." Willow pulled out the piano stool and took a seat, propping the music on the attached stand. Her fingers danced across the ivory ("wait a minute - ivory? That's gross."). Her fingers danced across the faux-ivory keys, the sound of the piano clear and resonant in the room. As she finished, a loud click could be heard from inside the alcove they'd just found.
"You have got to be kidding me," Willow frowned. "Who would set up a door like that? What if they needed to get in there in a hurry? More importantly, what happens if I do this?" She launched into a rousing performance of ‘Great Balls of Fire,' and at the halfway mark the bar exploded.
"Huh. Ooh, what about this?" She began to play ‘When the Saints go marching in,' and had made it as far as ‘go marching in,' when a hidden panel behind the bar slid back to reveal a 70 inch plasma television playing a football game. "Hmm...and maybe-"
"We've got the joke, Will - time to let it go."
"Aww," Willow pouted. She touched the C sharp key, and the piano burst into flames. "Now that doesn't make a lick of sense."
With a scornful look at the piano, Willow followed Tara into the alcove and found a section of the floor had dropped down to reveal a ladder leading into the darkness below.
"What do you think?" Willow asked, kneeling beside the exposed ladder and looking up at Tara's
"I think we should probably go down there."
Willow sighed. "Another creepy tunnel. Perfect."
"I don't know - dark, enclosed space? I can think of lots of ways that'd be entertaining."
It was Willow's turn to flush. She took Tara's flashlight and clambered down the ladder. She took a quick look around and was relieved to find she was alone. "Come down!" she called. Tara climbed slowly down the ladder, and Willow watched intently.
I could watch that all day long.
"Thanks - you're not so bad yourself."
Stupid broken inner monologue.
"What's that?" Tara pointed to a thick black book near Willow's feet. She grabbed it and Willow pointed her flashlight at the pages so she could read.
"The Diary of George Trevor. Property of George Trevor. If you're not George Trevor, then please return this to George Trevor...oh, for crying out loud. This goes on for three pages!" Tara flipped rapidly, looking for anything relevant. "Here we go...November 1: Umbrella contracted me to design this house. I gave them a set of blueprints, but I was strung out on crack when I drew them. I'm not even sure if the house will be structurally sound. January 3: Ozwell Spencer has invited me out to the new mansion for a tour. So far, nobody's noticed that the house's layout makes no sense. Spencer described it as ‘quaint.' For some reason, he was really adamant about me bringing Lisa Trevor with me. Is he just being polite, or is he a pedophile? I'll find out, I guess. January 7: Well, that's just great. Spencer kidnapped my daughter and threw me down this dark pit. It's fortunate that I had my journal with me so I could write about it instead of looking for a way out.
January 14: I'm hungry. My leg is looking tasty. Maybe I'll start with a finger. January 17: I taste like chicken."
"Wow," said Willow. "He resorted to self-cannibalism awfully quickly."
"Well, he was a crack addict. Maybe he was diabetic or something too, and had to eat to keep his blood sugar up. Oh, here we go: January 42: I think I see a way out at the other end of this tunnel. Unfortunately, I've eaten both of my legs and my left arm. I could pull myself down there with my right arm, I suppose, but I'm very hungry. February 97: Writing with my mouth. I really wish I'd thought this through more carefully. If you find this diary, please take down this evil corporation, and find my daughter. I love her so much. I bet she'd taste like pork."
There was a sudden roar from the far end of the tunnel. A shambling mockery of a young woman, her legs bound and wielding an axe, clambered down the tunnel toward them.
"Lisa?" Willow asked carefully. "Lisa Trevor?"
The young woman dropped her axe and pushed the hair back from her face. Despite twenty-five years in Umbrella custody, she looked pretty good under the shabby clothes and hunched posture.
"You're...talking to me."
"Yes," Tara said, confusion in her voice. "Why wouldn't we?"
"Nobody does! I've killed a dozen people in this place, and not one of them ever talked to me. They just screamed and ran away. That's all I wanted - even when I was ripping the faces off them and wearing them on my head, all I really wanted was for someone to talk to me."
"Oh," Willow replied. "Uh...so, how's things?"
"Eh," Lisa replied, coming down the tunnel and taking a seat near them. "I've been here for twenty-five years, you know?"
"Yeah, the narrator mentioned that."
"Right. Anyway, they've tested every virus they can find on me. They even found a new one in me, but we won't talk about that. It'll have to wait for the sequel."
"Well, you look, um, really good, considering."
"Thanks! I try, you know...it's not like there's any hair care products down here. And I can't even take this dress off - these stupid chains get in the way. I tried breaking them with this axe, but they're really strong."
"Ooh!" Willow exclaimed, pulling out the lockpick Faith gave her. "I bet I can help with that." Sure enough, she had the chains off in minutes. Lisa rubbed her ankles vigorously before pulling Willow into a hug. "Oh, thank you!" she exclaimed. "Do you guys wanna come back to my cabin? I'll make you a latte!"
"More of a mocha girl," Willow said.
"I don't think I have any chocolate..."
"Oh, that's okay - a latte would be great." Lisa beamed and took off skipping down the tunnel. They followed her to an underground room that looked like a little girl's room. "This stuff is from a long time ago," Lisa explained. "Come on this way." She led them up a ladder and through a trapdoor into a rustic cabin. It was cozy and well-decorated, and a fire burned brightly in the fireplace.
"Um...don't take this the wrong way, Lisa, but if they kidnapped you and used you for viral experiments, why would they give you this cabin?"
"Well, they sort of ran out of useful things to do with me a while ago, and they just dumped me out in the woods. I promptly ran back inside and killed a bunch of people. From then on, they kind of avoided me. I asked for the cabin one day, and they fell over themselves giving me the key. Of course, it may have helped that I was wearing their supervisor's face like a hat." She pealed laughter, and then looked at Willow and Tara's faces and stopped.
"Sorry. I guess you had to be there."
"I'm sure," Tara assured her, patting her hand. "So...we're trying to escape that mansion and expose this corporation. Do you know anything that can help us?"
"Well, you can't get out from here. The cabin's door just leads out to a blue screen. I've tried to get past it, but it's like a void - there's no world out there. It's freaky. But if you really want out, I think this might help." She reached into her dress and pulled out a key. "This is a special key - it only opens one door in the house. From there you can get across into the lab. The lab's got an elevator that leads to the roof, and there's even a helicopter pad up there."
"How do you know all that?"
"I scribbled it on Dad's plans after he passed out. I thought it'd be funny, but Umbrella took it seriously and actually built the thing." She dropped the key into Tara's hand. "Are you guys in a hurry?"
"Well, a little bit."
"Okay - just give me two minutes." Willow and Tara sat at the kitchen table, exchanging worried looks at the sounds coming from the kitchen. Finally Lisa emerged with two Starbucks cups in cardboard sleeves. She handed them over. "There you go. Two lattes to go."
"That's so sweet!" Tara exclaimed, giving Lisa a hug. "You didn't have to do that!"
"It's my pleasure - it's nice to have company again. Take care, you two, and come back and see me sometime, okay?"
"Will do," Willow promised her. "Ready to go, Tara?"
"I'm ready. Goodbye, Lisa..." she looked back. The woman's eyes had glazed over, and she was stroking her axe.
"Brains..." she whispered to herself.
"I think we should go now," Tara said, and they jumped into the trapdoor and slid down the ladder, all without spilling a drop.
"Mmm..." Willow moaned as she sipped her latte. "She may be insane and homicidal, but she makes good coffee."
"Ooh, I'll say. It tastes like-" Tara's sentence was cut off as she was hit solidly in the back of the head with a rock. She crumpled to the ground. Faith stepped out from the shadows with a pistol in hand. "Stay back, Willow."
"Faith? What the hell are you doing?"
"What I have to do. Umbrella has...well, they have someone important to me."
"Are you saying they kidnapped Polly Cuddles?"
"Yes," Faith sobbed. "I have to bring you to the lab."
"I was going there anyway!"
"Really? Damn it. Ah, well. Let's get going."
"What about Tara?"
"She's staying here. I'm going to seal her in."
"I have no idea. I don't get explanations - I'm just a flunky. Now move," she gestured with her gun, and Willow began to walk, with a fearful look back at Tara's limp form.