Chapter 2

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Zeke was awoken early the next morning by the ringing of his phone. He had fallen asleep on the couch again in his clothes and he reached over and grabbed the receiver. "Hello?" he mumbled blearily. 

"Zeke, thank God I found you."  

"Huh? Who is this?"  

"It's Sarah! Oh my God, I don't know what to do. I'm scared." 

"Calm down and tell me what's going on," Zeke said as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.  

"It's my uncle! He's missing! I heard him mumbling something about trouble brewing last night and then he disappeared! I can't find him anywhere!" 

"Relax," Zeke said while stifling a yawn. "He's probably just gone back to the Mad Scientist's Depot. Your uncle's a grown man. He can take care of himself." 

"I don't think so," Sarah replied with a distinct sense of urgency in her voice. "There are signs of a struggle at the lab. I think those men may have come back! You'd better come down here." 

Groggily Zeke recalled the events of the previous day when the three strange men in trench coats had unceremoniously burst into the lab. "Okay, I'll be there as quick as I can." He didn't bother to take a shower or change his clothes. He gargled a glass of water and then took off at a brisk jog out his front door. 

He arrived at the lab to find a wild-eyed Sarah apparently on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She immediately ran up to him and buried her face in his chest. "It's going to be all right," Zeke said while stroking her hair in an attempt to calm her down. "I'm here now." Somehow he didn't feel as if he was being all that convincing. It didn't help matters that holding her in his arms was causing him to become a bit excited. He hoped that she was too agitated to notice the quickly growing bulge in his pants. 

"I don't know what to do," Sarah said shakily. "I feel so helpless. He's the only family I have. He's never gone away without telling me before." 

"He'll turn up. Don't worry." Zeke looked around the lab. The main worktable was overturned and there were smashed beakers and flasks all over the floor. Dr. Octavius's lab was always kind of messy but this looked like a herd of buffaloes had trampled through. 

A loud screech alerted Zeke to the fact that Michelangelo had escaped from his cage again. He was leaping up and down and staring intently at the bookcase that concealed the secret room. 

"You don't think this could have something to do with that weird door, do you?" 

She pulled away and looked questioningly into his eyes while blinking back tears. "What door?" 

"You know, that glowing door we found yesterday behind the bookcase." 

She bit her lower lip. "Do you think we should have another look at it?" 

"Do you?" Zeke gulped, still intensely conscious of how beautiful Sarah was even when she was upset. 

"Well, it beats just standing around here doing nothing," she said. "How did you get the bookcase to open before?" 

"I don't know," Zeke admitted. "I just kind of leaned against it and it swung open." 

They started pushing against it but nothing happened. "I wasn't paying that close of attention, but I think a certain book triggered the mechanism or something," Zeke said. "Let's just start grabbing books one by one until one of them works." 

"Sounds good to me," Sarah conceded and began to push at the books. After about five minutes Zeke pushed on a book entitled "The Tourist's Guide to Quartzwater City (Fourth Edition)." Not only did the bookcase swing open but the book also came loose in Zeke's hand. He glanced at the cover. It showed an elephant standing on its hind legs and wearing brown shorts and a Hawaiian shirt not unlike the outfit Zeke wore. "Hmm... that's strange," he muttered to himself. 

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