"He wants cherry cough syrup and a pizza.", Daphne says as she enters the living room. "Poor Shaggy, that cold really has him down!", Fred said while shaking his head. Velma had to chuckle to herself. Her opinion was that Shaggy was milking this cold for all that he could get! Still, her mothering instinct towards Shaggy kept her quiet.
The gang minus two piled into the Mystery Machine for the short trip to the local drug store which was only a few blocks away. Daphne called ahead for the Pizza, knowing that it was only one block further. They would have walked it rather then take the van if it were not for the fact that Pizzas get cold quite fast. It was a warm fall day and there were not going to be too many of them left before winter would set in.
"There it is again!", Freddy exclaimed. Velma and Daphne looked out the back window but failed to see what Fred had been talking about. "I swear, I've seen that same black car three times in the last day. I think it's following us around!" Velma shook her head. "If it is, it must have turned down that alley back there because I didn't see it." Daphne moved closer to Fred and whispered "I think you're getting paranoid my friend.." This time Velma chuckled out loud!
With cough syrup in hand, they arrived at the Frank's Pizza before the pie was ready and sat around a table waiting for the super sized super cheesed Mega-pie to finish cooking. "There!", Fred exclaimed, pointing out the window. Daphne and Velma quickly looked over. A large black car with dark tinted windows was driving past.
"OK.... It's a black car...", Velma grumbled. Fred still had his hand outstretched pointing out the window even though the car was gone. "Everywhere I've driven, I've seen that car in my rear view mirror!" Daphne reached out and slowly lowered Fred's arm for him. "Its just a big black car. Somebody important is probably in town and driving around a lot." Fred was unconvinced, but decided to drop the subject.
"Pizza for Norville", the clerk shouted out. "That's our cue!", Velma responded, and the three headed to the register to pay for the oversized collection of calories. The three piled back into the van for the short trip back home.
On the trip home, Freddy continually looked in his rear view mirror, but the strange car was nowhere to be found. "I know you don't want to hear it, but my instinct is telling me that something is wrong. After all these year in the mystery business, I know when I'm being followed!"
What a sad sight! Shaggy was laying on the bed with a hot water bottle on his head, looking like someone stricken down in the prime of their life with some dreaded disease. Scooby was next to him with a sad look, feeling the pain of his master. As the steamy odor of the pizza moved into the room, both seemed to regain some life! Shaggy moved to the side of the bed and pulled one of the slices from the box, downing it in less then three bites! Scooby followed in his master's footsteps. Velma smiled, "Ah, yes, the magic cure! ... Pizza!" Daphne reached into the bag and pulled out the cough syrup and handed it to Shaggy.
"Grape???", he gasped!
Velma looked over to Daphne. "He wanted cherry."
It was a nice day for a good walk, Velma thought to herself as she went out the front door. "No point in firing up the van and all of us driving ten blocks for a bottle of cherry cough syrup.", she said to herself. Velma walked down the driveway and out onto the sidewalk. She noticed that the trees had a good mix of red and yellow leaves, and for a second she caught herself thinking about the chlorophyll process and green leaves.
"Old habits die hard!", she laughed, and then she limited herself to just admiring the colors. A few blocks down the street there were a series of row homes. As she passed one, two squirrels ran out of the ally and up a tree. "Wonder what's got them so bugged?" As she turned her head, she thought she saw a black car pass on a cross street and disappear behind some of the houses.
"Uh oh! Now Fred's got me focusing on black cars too!" She glanced back down the alley and saw what had upset the squirrels. There was an orange cat sitting with a hungry look on his face. Velma glanced down to her feet. "Now you are getting paranoid! What did you expect, a gang of thugs!" She laughed at herself.
Brakert's Drug store was a throwback to an older time. You could not find a candy counter with loose bins of candy in any of the modern strip mall drug stores. She made her way down the isle and carefully picked out a bottle of cherry cough syrup. She wished old man Brakert a good day as she paid him and headed back out the door. The sun had just started to set and there was a cool breeze in the air. Velma wished that she had slipped on a jacket before she left, but the day had been so warm that the thought had escaped her. As she walked down the street, she wondered how long it would be before some super-store moved into the suburb of Coolsville and put all these small stores out of business. "That would be a sad day.", she thought to herself, and tried to shake the thought out of her head.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the orange cat had joined the two squirrels in the tree. She thought it was odd that they were not looking at each other, but all seemed to be focused on the alleyway.
She turned her gaze down the alley but it was too late! The two men in dark suits were already on her and as she struggled, she saw a large black car pull up! None of her tricks worked. It seemed these men were were well trained at what they were doing and in only a few seconds, she found herself being thrown into the back of the car! The door slammed and the car sped off, leaving behind a small paper bag on the sidewalk that contained a bottle of cherry cough syrup!
"It's been over an hour!", Freddy said with concern in his voice. Daphne picked up her phone and called the drug store.
"Uh hu... Yea, Velma... Was she there?... no... Forty five minutes ago?! Oh no... well, thank you... I am sure we will find her.. Thanks again!..." Daphne hung up but Fred could tell by her blank stair that his fears were being confirmed. "It's only a ten minute walk!", he exclaimed, "Lets drive down and retrace her steps!"
As the van rolled past the store, Daphne jumped out and began walking where Velma would have walked. Scooby jumped out to join her and the freshly recovered Shaggy slid over to the passenger seat. It wasn't long before Daphne came across the bag with the cough syrup in it. Scooby confirmed that Velma's tracks ended there. Fred stopped the van and got out along with Shaggy. The four stood around where they had found the bottle. Daphne carefully examined the sidewalk while Fred and Shaggy checked out the alley with Scooby. Daphne noticed some small scuff marks on the sidewalk and commented that it looked like there had been a bit of a struggle. Shaggy had come back out of the alley and was looking at the street.
"Like man, those are tire tracks! Like someone was really pealing out!"
Daphne looked up and found herself in agreement. "Fred, I hate to say it, but I think someone grabbed Velma and threw her in a car!"
Fred had found a clue of his own. A small brass cufflink that was much too clean to have been sitting in the alleyway for long. It had some markings on it but they were too small to make out. As he emerged from the alley, he held the cufflink up. "Since when do thugs and monsters wear cufflinks?"
Velma found herself pinned between the two large men in the back seat. One had tied a blindfold over her eyes and she could not for the life of her figure out where they were driving to. It had been over an hour and the car had made many turns. It seemed that it had turned more times then it had to and that this was being done to confuse her. The road conditions were too generic to clue her in on what road they may be on. The car was very well insulated and she could not make out any ambient sounds. She tried several times to start a conversation, but the men would not speak a word. The only sense that helped her was her sense of smell. She could make out the faint odor of dry cleaning agents, probably from the suits the men were wearing. There was a very slight smell of cigarette smoke in the car that may have been years old. She could also smell after shave. Velma tried letting go of logic and let her mind venture into the world of speculation. Her gut told her that these were professional men, maybe even government agents. This thought calmed her but left her with a very unsettling question:
"Why would my government kidnap me??"
The car screeched to a halt. The door opened and Velma could tell that she must be in a large building or garage. They escorted her across a long span of concrete and through what felt like a hallway door. Inside it was slightly warmer. They traveled a great distance down this hall, and then down some stairs. They went down another hall and then turned into a room. The two men sat her down in a chair and then left the room. After waiting a few minutes, Velma reached up and removed her blindfold. It wasn't too helpful as she did not have her glasses. She could make out that it was some form of conference room and that it was lit by florescent lights above her. She was at what seemed to be a large table. The door opened and in walked three figures. They sat at the table around her. "Why am I here? Why did you kidnap me?", she protested. The figure directly in front of her reached over the table and handed her something. Velma could feel it was her glasses, but when she put them on, she could not believe her eyes!
Fred winced through the magnifying glass and tried to read the inscription. "I can't make it out, but this cufflink looks like something formal, like a government official or military man would wear." Daphne shook her head in disbelief. "I'm starting to think you were right about that black car." Shaggy leaned over Daphne's shoulder. "Like shouldn't we call the police?"
Velma lifted her glasses and rubbed her eyes in disbelief. Opening her eyes again did not change what was in front of her....
A Four-Star General!
"Ms Dinkley", his voice boomed, "Your country is in need of your help."
Velma was awestruck, angry and excited all at the same time.
"Why me? What could I possibly contribute? and what was with the kidnapping and secret ride?"
He cleared his throat and continued. "I assure you that if there had been any other way, we would not have chosen this one. This matter is of the utmost importance and is a true matter of national security with many lives at risk. We could not let the public know of your involvement as it would tip our hand to our enemies."
Velma's mind was swimming with questions and she tried to put them into some form of sequence.
"Would you mind tipping your hand to me? What is this about? Why would my involvement mean anything to anyone?"
The general looked stone faced. He leaned down and looked straight into her eyes. "We have a mystery for you to solve."
Velma was not sure if he was mocking her, or was telling the truth. Imagine, the whole government coming to those meddling kids to have a mystery solved! This made no sense! The government had massive resources, what use could she possibly be? Yet, here was a Four Star General, wasting his time talking to her! OK, why not play along.....
"Tell me what happened from the start and do not leave any details out. Tell me everything up to the point where you grabbed me off the street!"
"About three months ago, a truck loaded with high tech laboratory equipment was hijacked in a desert region near Las Vegas. We have reason to believe it was a cell of a terrorist organization. Two weeks ago, the equipment was found set up in a warehouse in the region. There was no damage, but the location coincided with the epicenter of a small earthquake that occurred earlier in the month. The terrorists had been tipped off and had left the area moments before our forces arrived. Most of the equipment was still set up, although no one has been able to figure out what they had been working on. One of the stolen items was an atomic clock. It was not involved in the experiment and in fact was not even removed from it's sealed case. It was however, .01 hundredths of a second off time."
Velma gulped. "I think you need to contact my Uncle Henry", she said, "He's the one with that kind of experience!"
The General continued, "We did make contact. He was so upset he began babbling uncontrollably. He finally had to be medicated and is in a hospital for observation. He has not been able to communicate with us in his current state, although he did say your name several times. We got the impression that you may have been involved in some of his studies. Every scientist we have talked to about this matter gets very upset and starts ranting and raving about doomsday scenarios. I need to know in plain English what is going on and what we are facing. I need to know what they were building in that warehouse."
Velma felt her own mind overloading with facts. Yet, something interesting had happened here: She was now the one in control and that comforted her. Slowly, she organized her thoughts.
"OK", Velma said, "You know how Einstein came up with E=MC squared? Well what that means is that energy and matter are related, in fact they are the same thing. You can convert matter to energy and the result is that a tiny bit of matter turns into a whole lot of energy."
The general nodded his head, "Yes, the atomic bomb. Please continue."
Velma took a breath, "Well, speed, mass, time, and gravity also share this type of bond. Move something real fast and it gets real heavy. Approach the speed of light and it gets infinitely heavy. Mass also produces gravity. Time is warped by mass and gravity. A minute is not a minute when you travel fast enough, or are exposed to an incredible mass, like a black hole......"
The general leaped to his feet! "Are you saying that a terrorist organization may have invented a black hole that could destroy the whole earth???"
Velma took a few seconds to rephrase things. "Not likely. If that had thrown the clock off, we would all be gone already. What they may have figured out is how to cause a fluctuation in gravity. This would produce a time disturbance, and a seismic shock wave like you described."
The general sat back down. "That is good to know. They couldn't do much harm with an earthquake that is as small as what happened out there."
Velma realized that she had now defused the situation too much. "General, if you were to take a device that could switch off gravity for a moment, and put it under a city, the effect would be that it would level every structure in that city, without that nasty radiation side effect nuclear weapons have!"
The general's eyes opened wide. "We need you to figure out what they built and how to stop it!"
"Fine", Velma said, "but I don't work alone!"
"Ms. Dinkley, we can not let a whole bunch of people in on what is happening here. The security risks are too great!"
"Mr. General, who's name I don't know, Mysteries Inc. works as a team. The chemistry is stronger than any one member's abilities! Are you willing to risk failure by not bringing them in?"
Daphne glanced over to Freddy as the phone rang. "What should I say? Do you think they want a ransom?" Freddy walked over to the phone and bit his lip. "I'll answer it." He picked up the phone-
"Gather your equipment and bags and drive your van to Sammy's Carpet Warehouse in Fifth Street. The warehouse door will be open. Drive the van into the warehouse."
With a click, the line went dead. Fred looked over to Daphne. He slowly explained what instructions he had been given. The four packed their bags and loaded their equipment into the Mystery Machine. As Fred backed the van out of the driveway, Daphne turned to him. "What do you think this is about?"
Fred turned onto the road. All were quiet. Finally, Fred spoke. "I don't know... I just don't know."
As the van pulled up to the warehouse, Fred could see in the headlights that the main door was open to the extent that the van could drive in. As he drove inside, he could see military police waving for him to drive up on a ramp. As he drove up the ramp, he could see that he was actually driving the Mystery Machine into a much larger truck. He turned off the engine and watched as the MPs closed the door on the back of the trailer. In the dark, he could feel the large truck lurch forward.
"Well, I guess there's nothing we can do but sit back and see where we end up."
For an hour, the four of them sat quietly in the van as the large truck lumbered down road after road. Finally, they could feel that the truck had reached the end of it's journey and was in the process of backing up. The large door slid open and Fred could see that they were on the tarmac of a large airport. One of the MP's waved for him to back out. He slowly backed the van down the ramp. To all their surprise, there was another ramp for them to drive up. This time, into the belly of a C130 cargo transport aircraft! Fred's jaw dropped as he watched the MPs direct him to drive the van up into the plane!
Airmen swarmed over the van, strapping it down to the floor grates in the cargo bay of the plane. Just as quickly, they left and Fred could hear the whirr of the motors closing the large doors. He could also hear the plane's main engines wind up to speed and feel the plane moving forward. He turned to Daphne, and without speaking, all four fastened their seat belts.
As the plane rumbled down the runway, Daphne looked at Fred, then Shaggy, and then Scooby. "What have we got ourselves into?"
Daphne could feel the pressure change in her ears and swallowed. The plane felt like it leveled off and that they had reached some form of cruising altitude. Just then, there was a knock at the back door of the Mystery Machine!
Shaggy and Scooby looked at each other and Shaggy reached out a shaking arm and opened the door...
"Hi Guys!", Velma said, while eating a banana.
"Velma!", Shaggy yelled!
Fred and Daphne climbed over the seats to join Scooby and Shaggy in the back. All were thrilled to see her but dying under the weight of all the questions they wanted to ask! Velma held out a bunch of bananas. "Anybody want one? Our pilot had them and they're quite tasty! Sure beats chewing gum!"
Fred was the first to ask, "Velma, what on earth is going on??? What happened to you?"
Before she could answer, Daphne added, "Where are they taking us? Why is this all like a James Bond movie?"
"Slow down everyone", Velma said, "They wanted me to solve this mystery, but I told them 'no way' unless we all came as a team!"
Velma spent the next hour explaining about the stolen lab equipment, what had happened in the desert, and how this may very well be the most important case they ever worked on! It was hard for Fred to figure out where they should start, but Shaggy was the one with the best answer.
"Like, why don't you try talking to your uncle, maybe he'd make sense to you."
Velma nodded. "I had thought about that as well. He is in a hospital at the base we are landing at. I really have no idea how someone would develop such a machine, but he has spent many years working on time/space continuum theories. Some of these concepts are so far out there that they are enough to drive you insane, but I have a slight feel for the work he was doing. Maybe I can serve as an interpreter."
Shaggy looked over to Velma, "So, like, where are we landing?"
Velma laughed. "It's officially an abandon area now...... It used to be known as 'Area 51.'"