Simone appeared at the top of the stairs with a large, book bound in blue leather resting in her arms. She stopped midway, eying the henchman who still maintained his frantic staring contest with the floor. “Nancy, what are you doing?”
“He’s looking out for mice,” called out the zombie.
“Oh, right.” Simone rolled her eyes, making her way down. “Continue on, brave sentinel.” She held the book out to Seth. “So here it is. Again I had no idea my brother actually murdered someone before taking the thing.” She waited until he started turning its pages before continuing. “And you knew the person it belonged to?”
“Know him,” corrected Seth, flipping through drawings and descriptions of other worldly creations. “Remember I said he turned into a zombie? He’s aware of his situation like I am. He’d be more interested in talking your ear off about the inventions in here than eating it.”
“Good to know.” Simone smiled. “Actually, zombie or not, I’d rather like to meet him. I’ve rarely come across anyone else interested in being an inventor. To be honest, everyone in my family except for Lucas discouraged it.”
“Lucas,” repeated Seth, flipping another page. “Is that your brother?”
She nodded. “Unfortunately. He’s not a bad person, not really. Just prone to very bad decisions.” She frowned at the book. “Though I guess your friend Albert would be the first to argue Lucas went beyond that this time.”
“Probably.” Seth glanced over at Nancy, now finally leaving the safety of the staircase to stand just a few feet away. “I take it Lucas made the additional bad decision to try selling his puzzle fragment to the Keepers?”
The henchman shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of. I don’t think they even knew about him.”
“Nancy, you answered a question without belching out some melodramatic drivel like ‘I tell no one’!” Seth cheered. “Good job!” The zombie looked back down at the book. “Not that your answer helps a great deal but at least we know something.” He tapped his finger at the description of a toaster, complete with scribblings of the bread cooking machine he’d witnessed firsthand. “Hey, I’ve seen this, Albert created one.”
“Really?” Simone peeked over the top of the book. “I just started working on that, it was going to be my next project.” She pointed at the description of an equally strange contraption on the next page. “I’ve got the basic construction finished for this thing called a camera here. But from what I understand, it requires some kind of thin material that reacts with light. Haven’t figured out how to make that portion of it work yet.”
“This camera device captures a moment in time and paints it so you can look at it again whenever you want?” Seth shook his head at the description. “Impossible, it must be.”
A loud clearing of a certain henchman’s throat claimed their attention from the book and its strange mysteries.
“Problem, Nancy?” asked Seth.
“Problem? Yes, there’s a problem!” The man jabbed a finger at the book. “Who cares about stupid boxes that can paint or bake bread? We’re wasting time, you’re wasting time we don’t have! Need I remind you,” he pressed up shoulder to shoulder with Seth but continued speaking in his normal voice, “you only have one day left to do what’s expected of you before several lives fall, quite literally from the sky.”
“From the sky?” Simone stiffed a laugh. “Did I miss the punchline or are you two on a mission to save a flock of birds?”
Nancy jerked his head to her before revolving it slowly back to Seth. “I – I thought I whispered that last part to you.”
The zombie kept the book as a barrier between them while taking a step backward to reclaim personal space. “Nope. You didn’t. Remind me to never tell you any secrets.”