Pete, Myka, and HG barely made it to the airport in time. They arrived at the gate just as boarding began. Pete leaned against a support beam trying to catch his breath. “Would’ve been nice if Artie had given us a little more warning. I thought I was going to die on the highway. Nice driving, Mykes. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
Myka rolled her eyes. “We made it, didn’t we?”
HG looked almost as frazzled as Pete but declined to say anything. Instead, she merely directed an amused smile in Myka’s direction.
The PA system crackled to life. “Now boarding rows 16 through 30 on flight 1481 to Salt Lake City.” Pete glanced at his ticket. “Ooh! That’s us! Come on, guys!”
Pete made a beeline for the gate, and Myka and HG followed him. After having their tickets scanned, they walked down the jetway and onto the plane. The plane, a small regional jet, had two seats on one side of the aisle and a solitary seat on the other. As they arrived at their row, Pete flung his bag into the overhead compartment and claimed the single seat for himself.
Myka followed Pete’s lead and put her bag next to his. She turned to HG and helped her with her bag. “Do you want the window seat? Flying’s still pretty new for you, isn’t it?” HG smiled at Myka. “It is, yes. Thank you.” HG and Myka sat down in their seats.
Myka placed the tote bag she’d been carrying in her lap and pulled out the case file. She placed the tote bag under the seat in front of her and opened the file and began to read. HG leaned over in order to read as well, and Myka moved the file so that it was in the middle between them.
“An abandoned amusement park that started running again last night without any electricity. Sounds like every teenager’s dream, don’t you think, Pete? Pete?” Myka looked over at Pete, who had headphones on and was grinning at something on the tablet in his lap. “Pete!” Myka poked him in the shoulder. He glanced up and removed his headphones. “What?”
“Shouldn’t you be reading up on the case before you start on whatever that is?” Myka waved her hand at the tablet. Pete responded defensively. “I’m going to. We have plenty of time before we get there. I just wanted to relax for a while first.”
Myka rolled her eyes and returned to the case file, directing her remaining comments solely to HG. “So the amusement park started up last night, and then in the morning it was dead again.” HG followed Myka’s train of thought. “That means the artifact’s power must be able to be turned off and on.”
Myka looked up at HG. “Where there any artifacts like that in Warehouse 12?” HG shook her head. “Not that I can remember at the moment. Maybe Artie and Claudia will discover something in their research.” She looked hopefully at Myka, and they both continued to read the file. “I guess it’s a good thing we’re arriving in the evening. It’ll be running when we get there,” Myka added as they read.
Soon it was time for takeoff, and Myka and HG busied themselves with novels borrowed from the B&B’s library while Pete continued to play with his tablet. The flight was uneventful, and the three agents had a short 20-minute layover before catching their next flight to Portland.
It was already dark when they arrived in Portland, and the agents secured a rental car and headed out into the Portland suburbs toward the amusement park. The rental car pulled up to the vine-covered gate of the abandoned park, and Pete, Myka, and HG all got out. They walked up to a person-sized hole cut in the fence and stared into the park.
It was deathly quiet except for the soft music of a carousel and the occasional clanking of a rollercoaster. The lights on the rides looked eerie in comparison to the dark overgrowth of plants that surrounded the park.
Pete turned to the other two. “I feel like we fell into some kind of creepy horror movie. Or an episode of Scooby Doo.” Myka laughed. “Then I guess we’re the meddling kids.” HG looked confused. Myka turned to her. “It’s a TV show. I’ll explain later.”
Pete pushed back the side of the hole in the fence and stepped through. “Time’s a-wasting, kids! Let’s go! Gotta find the villain and pull his mask off.”
“I assume that’s another reference to Scooby Doo?” HG commented as she stepped through the fence. “I’ll have to research television when we get back, I suppose.”
The three agents strolled into the park and stopped at the beginnings of a central midway that divided the park into two sections. “Maybe we should split up?” Myka suggested as she shrugged her shoulders. She turned to HG. “You come with me since you don’t have a Farnsworth. Pete, you take the left half. We’ll take the right.”
Pete saluted. “Yes, Ma’am.” Myka held up her Farnsworth and waved it in the air. “And if you see anything…” Pete finished her sentence. “You’ll be the first one to know.”
The agents split up and walked toward their respective halves of the park.
Myka and HG headed toward the first building to the right of the midway, which happened to be the Tunnel of Love. The two stopped in front of the entrance. “I rode one of these at the Chicago World’s Fair. Looks like some things haven’t changed. Shall we?” She looked expectantly at Myka.
“Sure, why not? Might as well enjoy the rides while we’re here. And maybe there’s a hint in there as to what we’re dealing with.”
Myka followed HG into one of the swan boats as it came floating past and took a seat. Harp music began to play as they passed under the heart-shaped entrance.
It was rather dark in the tunnel, and it took a while for Myka and HG’s eyes to adjust. HG reached over and linked her arm with Myka’s. Myka looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Don’t want to lose you in the dark,” HG explained. Myka wasn’t sure there wasn’t an ulterior motive, but she accepted the explanation.
The boat hit a wave and rocked slightly. HG took the opportunity to scoot closer to Myka. Myka observed HG for a moment. “So who did you ride with in Chicago?”
“Oh, just a woman I met at the fair. Willa, if I recall correctly. She was lovely but rather young. Still in university.” Myka looked incredulously at HG. “Willa… Cather?”
HG let out a small laugh. “Yes, I believe that was her last name. How did you know?” Myka matched HG’s laugh with one of her own. “Oh, no reason. She just won a Pulitzer Prize and wrote one of my favorite novels.”
HG turned toward Myka. “Did she really? Well, that’s wonderful! I read some of her drafts while we were together and thought she showed a great deal of promise.”
Myka glanced curiously at HG. “Together? As in, together together?” she asked, which elicited a chuckle from her companion. “In a relationship, you mean?” Myka nodded. “We were, albeit a short one. We both had to return to our respective lives after the fair was over.” HG paused. “Does that surprise you?”
Myka searched for answer. “I don’t know. A little, I guess. I mean, being gay wasn’t exactly celebrated at the turn of the century.” HG nodded. “Of course. And what better opportunity to get away from prying eyes than the Tunnel of Love.” HG grinned at Myka and Myka laughed and shook her head.
HG continued. “But now I suppose there’s no need to hide anymore if two women want to be together, is there?” Myka sighed. “In some parts of the country, at least. Maybe not in South Dakota.”
At the mention of South Dakota, HG cocked her head and opened her mouth to say something but decided against it at the last second. Myka noticed HG’s actions but decided to let whatever was going to be said remain unsaid.
The two sat in silence for a moment as the ride continued. HG’s arm remained locked in Myka’s, and she took the opportunity to slowly stroke Myka’s hand as they looked at the scenery.
Meanwhile, on the left side of park, Pete was climbing into a midway game booth. He made his way to a table with a triangle of milk bottles stacked on top of it and casually knocked them all over.
“Ho oh! Looks like Pete wins the grand prize! I’ll just take this one if you don’t mind.” He reached over his head and grabbed a large stuffed elephant that was hanging on the side of the booth before climbing back over the booth counter. He placed the elephant on the counter. “I’ll just leave this here and pick it up on my way out.”
Pete left the midway and headed toward a large building proclaiming itself “Nightmare Manor”. The front of the building contained a passenger loading area with a track with continuously moving two-person cars running along it, entering the building at one end and exiting at the other.
Pete walked up to the loading area and looked at the cars. He quickly glanced around him to make sure no one else was around, shrugged his shoulders, and hopped into a car. The lap bar came down as soon as he sat down. “Whoa! That’s a little tight.” He squirmed in the seat trying to find a comfortable position.
The car burst through the entrance doors, and Pete was enveloped in darkness. He pulled his Tesla out of his pocket and held it at the ready.
A menacing voice boomed through the air. “Who has disturbed my home? No mortals are permitted here on penalty of death! Minions, attack!”
The car turned a sharp corner, and Pete was confronted with a mechanical zombie reaching for him. Pete laughed. “Ooo, what are you going to do, eat my brains?” The zombie was followed in quick succession by a vampire popping out of a coffin, Frankenstein working on his monster in a lab, and the Phantom of the Opera complete with organ and chandelier. “I think there’s some trademark infringement here,” Pete commented as he rode past.
Suddenly, the lights flickered off and the car creaked to a stop. Pete was left in complete darkness. “Um… hello? Myka? HG? Did you find the artifact?” The lap bar popped up and Pete decided to get out of the car. “I didn’t mean to insult the ride. It’s great. Really. You can start it back up now.” Pete really wished he’d remembered to bring a flashlight.
A noise behind him made Pete whip around quickly. “Hello?” Just then an arm reached around and shoved a cloth in Pete’s face. He gave a muffled scream and tried to struggle away, but was soon losing consciousness and falling toward the floor. The Tesla fell out of his hand and bounced under the track.