Seventeen-year-old Joe Hardy pulled the van he co-owned with his year older brother Frank, to a stop in front of the Bayport library and got out. Going inside, he headed for one of the computers that had the library's catalog on file and sat down. He typed in the subject word he was looking for then clicked on the first one that popped up.
Looking at the call number he ended his search then went to the corresponding shelf in the library. He found the book and plucked it from the shelf. The he grabbed five other books that had been keeping this one company and headed to the check out.
"Hi, Joe," greeted sandy-haired Phil Cohen as Joe approached the check out.
Joe looked up from the book he had been looking at as he walked and saw his eighteen-year-old friend standing in line. "Hi," Joe replied, his blue eyes lighting up as he smiled. "What are you doing here?"
"Picking up something to read," Phil answered. "I'm broke and the tube has nothing but re-runs," he added with a laugh. "The real question is what are you doing here?"
Joe shrugged. "Just getting something to read," he replied, dropping the books to this side so Phil couldn't see them.
Too late! "Werewolves?" Phil inquired with a grin. "In a horror mood, huh?"
"Yeah," Joe agreed, his usually bright smile replaced by a worried plastic one. "You're up," he added, relieved it was Phil's turn at the checkout. Everyone knew Joe preferred comics and magazines to books and when he did read a book it was either required for a class or on the bestseller list. He wasn't in the mood for lying about his selection and there was no way he could tell the truth. Who would believe him?
"I'll see you later," Phil said as he finished up. Joe nodded and set his books on the desk as Phil walked away.
Joe gathered his books after being informed of their due date and hurried back out to the van. He glanced at his watch and groaned. Frank was supposed to be home in less than twenty minutes and he had wanted to get the books home and hidden before Frank saw them. If only his mom hadn't insisted he see Dr. Bates this afternoon he would have had plenty of time. But after being kidnapped by Dr. Aliem and found naked and trembling only days ago, his mother had insisted he have a full physical. So while Frank had gone to see his girlfriend, Joe had been taken to the family doctor.
Joe pulled the van into the driveway of the house that sat situated at the corner of High and Elm streets and put the van in park. Killing the motor he snatched the books up and hurried inside. Five more minutes before Callie drops him off, Joe thought as he hurried inside and up the stairs. For once, he hoped they were late.
He was reaching for the doorknob on his bedroom door when Frank stepped into the hall from his own room. "Hey," Frank greeted Joe, his brown eyes narrowing as he saw the furtive look Joe threw at his door. "Something wrong?"
"Oh, uh, no," replied Joe. "Dr. Bates said I was in perfect health."
"Yes. Mom told me when I got in," Frank said still looking at Joe curiously.
"You got back early," Joe commented as he opened his bedroom door.
"Yes," Frank agreed and took a step closer to Joe only to freeze as Joe's gaze went from the door to his eyes. Frank's heart beat a little faster as Joe's blue eyes bore into his. He swallowed, wondering why he felt fearful of his little brother. "What have you got there?" he asked, refusing to give in to his own over-active imagination.
"Books," Joe answered shortly, going into his room with Frank following. "Did you and Callie have a fight?"
The feeling of danger vanished as suddenly as it had arrived and Frank took a seat on Joe's bed. "No," he answered. "Callie could tell I was preoccupied and wasn't having any fun so she brought me home early."
"Preoccupied?" Joe asked with a lift of his eyebrow. Frank nodded. "Worried about me?" Joe asked, his voice softening. Again, Frank nodded. "Thanks," Joe said, grateful he had such a caring brother.
Frank's curiosity turned to concern. Usually, Joe told him there was no need to worry. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, sure," Joe said, busying himself with putting the books on his desk.
"Con called," Frank said. "No one will admit to anything concerning Craig Deyman and he still hasn't shown up."
"I found Craig's medallion," Joe said, still not looking at Frank. "It was in Mayhem's basement."
"Where is it?" asked Frank, standing up and moving closer to Joe. He snuck a peek at some of the titles of the books Joe had gotten but was trying to hide from him. Werewolves again! Only Joe is getting the books instead of Deyman.
"I had it when Aliem kidnapped me," Joe said. "I must have lost it in the cellar."
Frank opened his mouth to ask why Joe hadn't said something before but realized it had probably slipped his mind in the trauma of what Aliem and Anderson had put him through. If only Anderson would confess or Joe could remember what had happened during his abduction then Joe might get back to normal instead of being so reserved.
"Feel up to checking the cellar out?" asked Frank, his brown eyes watching for any sign that the trip might be too stressful.
"Sure," Joe replied, the only giveaway that he had any misgivings was the tightening of his lips as he gave Frank a strained smile. "Maybe going back there will help me to remember what happened."
Frank got behind the wheel of the van as Joe climbed into the passenger seat. After five minutes of silence Frank tried to draw Joe into conversation. "Think we should take the girls somewhere special tonight?"
"Without prior notice?" snorted Joe. "They would kill us."
"True," admitted Frank grinning. "How about Mr. Pizza though instead of Barney's Burgers?" he suggested. "Tony said they put in a new jukebox and cleared a space for dancing."
"Okay," agreed Joe looking out the window.
"Any preference on a movie?" asked Frank when several more minutes had passed in silence.
"Not really," answered Joe.
Frank bit his bottom lip. Joe had become withdrawn almost immediately after taking the case at Bayport University several days ago. Frank had hoped once the mystery was over Joe would return to his old self but instead he had become even more stoic. Aliem and Anderson had been arrested three days ago and Joe had refused to do much of anything since being released from the hospital except stay in his room or sit on the back porch at night and stare at the sky. Frank had the feeling that if he could have gotten in touch with Vanessa over the past couple of days he would have canceled their date.
If only I knew what Anderson had done to Joe! Frank thought for the thousandth time. Frank glanced at Joe. Joe swore he didn't remember what had happened in the cellar but looking at Joe's sullen silhouette made him wonder if Joe was being completely honest. But why would Joe refuse to discuss the matter?
When they arrived at the house where Joe had been kept prisoner they found it surrounded by a yellow police banner declaring it a crime scene. "How long are they going to leave this stuff up?" Joe asked as he and Frank ducked underneath it.
"No more than a week, I'd say," guessed Frank. "After all, they have Aliem and Anderson in custody."
"They just can't find Craig," whispered Joe as he moved toward the front of the house. Frowning, Frank followed.
"If you like, I can search the cellar while you scout around up here," offered Frank once they were inside.
"No," Joe refused the offer as he turned around and gave Frank a reassuring smile. "I'm fine, really," he insisted on seeing Frank's skeptical look.
Frank nodded his acquiescence. Maybe returning to the cellar would help to put Joe's current demons to rest. "Looks like a dog went crazy in here," Frank commented, seeing the dirt scattered all over the floor of the cellar.
"Or something," agreed Joe, his blue eyes roaming the area. Had he dug the entire floor up during his captivity?
"I doubt we'll find the medallion," said Frank interrupting Joe's thoughts. "I daresay the police got it in the dirt they dug up."
"They dug this place up?" Joe asked in surprise, looking over at Frank.
"Yeah, well, they at least took the top layer of soil," Frank replied taking in the look of relief that washed over Joe. "You were held prisoner down here and part of the floor had already been dug up," he explained. "Forensics would need the top few inches at least to sort through for evidence."
The two looked around for a few minutes and finding nothing, departed. "You know, we should go pick up our things at Dr. Mayhem's," said Frank once they were back on the road. "Besides, if you found Craig's medallion in his basement then we need to find out what it was doing there."
Joe knew returning to Mayhem's was a waste of time but if he told Frank that then he would have to explain about sneaking out and going over there his first night home from the hospital.
Frank drove to Mayhem's and parked the van behind a police car. Frank and Joe got out and walked up to the front porch. "What's going on?" asked Frank of Con.
Con gave the two boys a scowl. "The University reported Mayhem missing," he informed the brothers. "He hasn't shown up for any classes and hasn't called in. We thought he might have gotten sick or had an accident but it looks like he left on his own," he continued. "Most of his stuff is gone."
Frank glanced at Joe who didn't seem in the least bit surprised to hear about Mayhem. "What did he leave behind?" asked Frank.
"Some papers pertaining to his class, dishes, and furniture. Nothing really personal. Although," Con continued looking hard at Frank. "We did find a suitcase with some items in one of the rooms that could have been yours."
"Probably is," admitted Frank. "We were staying with him while we worked on out last case."
"Any idea why he would just take off?" asked Con.
"Joe?" Frank asked, shooting his brother a look to let him know now would be the ideal time to tell the police about finding the medallion. Taking a deep breath, Joe explained how he had found the medallion in Mayhem's basement and taken it with him only to have lost it when he had been abducted by Aliem.
"Well, if it was in the cellar it will turn up at the station," Con said. "As for the basement, it as almost empty. Whatever he had down there must have been pretty important to him. Any ideas?" he asked, looking at Joe questioningly.
"Research for a new book?" suggested Joe with a shrug, unwilling to tell him about the files he had discovered.
Con nodded but shot Frank a curious glance. Like Frank, Con could tell Joe knew more than he was telling but decided not to push.
"I can't let you guys in," Con told them. "Forensics isn't finished."
"That's okay," Joe said, relieved. "We can come back some other time," he added as he turned and headed back to the van.
"Frank," Con began, his expression serious.
"I'll talk to him," Frank promised knowing what Con wanted. "I'll be in touch," he added and returned to the van where Joe was already waiting in the passenger seat.
Frank climbed behind the wheel but didn't start the motor. "Talk to me," he instructed Joe.
"There's nothing to talk about," Joe insisted, turning away from Frank and looking out the window at Mayhem's house.
"Don't give me that," snapped Frank. "You know something that you're not telling. I thought we were partners."
"We are!" Joe exclaimed turning to look at him in surprise.
"Then tell me what's going on," begged Frank. "You're holding something back."
"I think Mayhem is responsible for Craig's disappearance," Joe revealed.
"I admit, it doesn't make sense for Craig's medallion to have been in Mayhem's basement," said Frank. "Especially since Craig would have had no reason to be around Dr. Mayhem. But that doesn't make him guilty. Even if Mayhem did have something to do with Craig's disappearance, why were you keeping it from me?"
"When I searched Mayhem's basement I found three files," Joe informed him. "One on a guy named Jonathan. One on Craig and one...." he broke off, not wanting to reveal everything.
"And one on who?" Frank pushed. Joe had come this far, he wasn't going to let him quit now.
"One on me," Joe finished softly.
"On you?" demanded Frank, his eyes going wide in shock. "Why?"
"Because..." Again, Joe quit speaking. He knew how it was going to sound.
"Because?" Frank prodded.
"I don't know," Joe tried to lie.
"But you have an idea," Frank guessed. "Give."
"Because Jonathan, Craig and I are all werewolves," Joe declared in a rush.