The security camera that had been focused on Numbuh four and Holly had fizzled to static and then gone out.
“Childcatchers, jeez, what next? This is not going well at all” Numbuh two fretted.
“How’re the prisoners?” Cadel asked.
“I put them outside and locked the door with an encryption lock. Why?” Numbuh two responded.
“No reason” Cadel said flatly.
Something skittered under a desk.
“What was that?” Cadel asked.
“Something to tear us limb from limb, no doubt” Numbuh two deadpanned.
“Scary thing is, you’re probably right” Cadel pulled out his 2x4 gun.
“Where are we?”
“Man, this is the Last Time Numbuh five ever let’s you navigate.”
“Your negative tone is really doing damage to my happiness.”
“Lincoln, we are in the Printworks. Your happiness shouldn’t be as high on your list as survival”
“Don’t make me shoot at you.”
“You’d miss, anyway.”
“I am so bored! Nigel, when do we get to blow something up?” Ingrid whined.
“Later, Ingrid, much later” Numbuh one responded.
Numbuh three hung behind both of them. The floor in the hallway was made of white and black checkerboard tiles. And not the linoleum that you saw back on Earth, either. It was actual tiles.
Numbuh three pulled to a stop to stare at one of the black tiles.
Nothing was reflected in it. As a matter of fact, the light seemed to disappear.
“Kuki? What’re you doing? Times a-wastin’!”
Numbuh three heard Ingrid call her, but she didn’t care.
She kneeled on her Hoverboard to get a closer look at the tile.
“Kuki? Dude. Cut it out. You’re freakin me out”
She reached out a sleeve-covered hand toward the Black Tile.
Ingrid flew down the hallway on her Hoverboard toward Kuki Sanban.
“Whot’s going on out here?” Numbuh one asked.
The tip of Kuki’s sleeve brushed the tile just as Ingrid pulled her up. “What?” Kuki asked, looking down at her hand.
The Black light-eating substance on the tile had spread to her sleeve, and was starting to spread up her arm like oil.
“GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF!” Kuki screamed.
“Gimme your hand!” Ingrid instructed, grabbing Numbuh three’s arm and taking a knife off the side of her Hoverboard.
Ingrid deftly cut the black part off Kuki’s sleeve off and dropped it to the floor, on top of another black tile.
The green fabric passed through the tile and disappeared.
“Why’d you do that? Huh? Use your brain next time!” Ingrid snapped.
Numbuh three stared down at the floor.
“Whot was that?” Numbuh one asked.
“Ladies and Gennlemen, meet Black Paint. It eats everything that it comes in contact with, so don’t touch it, like, ever. I told you guys about it, remember? And Kuki, for the love of all that’s good, don’t touch anything that looks either cool or dangerous” Ingrid explained, tightening her hair back into its spiky pigtails.
“Okay” Numbuh three sniffed.
“Hey, I’m sorry, okay? Just don’t do it again” Ingrid pulled Numbuh three to her feet.
“Wait. For the black paint to work, it had to be fresh, right?” Numbuh one asked.
“Right” Ingrid responded, raising an eyebrow.
“Do you think that they knew we were coming?” Numbuh one asked.
“Oh Jeez” Ingrid breathed.
“Yeah. I thought so” Numbuh one murmured.
“Guys guys guys we gotta hide someone’s coming!” Numbuh three screamed.