The first rays of sunshine were seeping in through the shades over the windows. "Damn, why can't we have some of Nick's nifty sun-shutters?" Leslie looked around the Natpack Hostel. "Hey, I remember there being more bags, more luggage, more everything all over this place."
Alora, who'd been sleeping on the floor a few inches from Leslie, sat up. "What did you say?" she asked groggily. "Jeez, what time is it, anyway?"
"Too early," replied Leslie, "but that's not the problem. Look."
Alora surveyed the room. "Who cleaned up the place?"
"You mean 'who cleaned out the place!'"
"We'd better wake everyone and find out what's missing," said Alora.
Leslie and Alora woke as many of the Pack as they could, as gently as they could. Betsy, Jill, and Lynne were up first. Sharon woke when she smelled the coffee in the kitchen, and Kelly soon followed Sharon's lead, nearly colliding with Valerie on her way to the kitchen. Linda Rose woke to JD's nudging.
"Has anyone seen my glasses?" asked Amy. "I thought I put them here." Amy reached for the table next to her and nearly knocked over the lamp before Lynne caught it. "Oops. Sorry about that," said Amy, then groaned, putting a hand to her head. "Ibuprofin," she said with a decisive slur. "Where's my purse?"
"Hey, did I leave my glasses in the bathroom?" Pod, on her hands and knees, searched for her glasses. "Pardon me, will the blue body closest to the bathroom check to see if my glasses are in there?"
Jennie, who happened to be the blue body, stumbled into the bathroom and began looking for any shape resembling glasses. "I don't see them," she called back. "Well, I don't see much of anything, actually."
"This is ridiculous," said Sharon angrily. "That weaselly little dead man! I'd like to chain him to his floor and open the blinds. I bet he's also the one responsible for Maureen. That blood-bloated wretch."
"OK, folks. We need to calm down," said Leslie. "Sharon, we don't know that Nick had anything to do with this."
"Of course he did!" Sharon nearly spilled the remainder of her coffee as she slammed the mug onto the dining room table. "Everything is his fault!"
"Regardless, we have a problem to solve," said Linda. "It looks like most of our bags are gone. More importantly, our glasses and contacts are missing. We need to replace them."
"I can't go. I have to get to work," Jennie said as she made her way out of the bathroom, only tripping slightly on the carpet.
"How can you possibly go to work?" asked Mei. "We only have the one car, well, limo."
"I'll catch a bus," replied Jennie. "I just need to find some spare change."
"I've got some money under my pillow," offered Leslie. "I counted it last night. There's about 67 dollars. Take 15. That's about half. You should have enough."
"Leslie, do you know what you just said? Fifteen is not half of sixty-seven."
"OK, you can take all of it," replied Leslie, exasperated.
"Now, back to the matter at hand," said Linda Rose. "We need to go get new glasses, and I can drive us. I might have some trouble with the signs, but I can drive."
"Actually, I think I should drive," said Leslie. "I still have my extended-wear contacts in, although I should have changed them this morning." Leslie rubbed her eyes. "I think... Shoot...I just rubbed one of my contacts out of my eye."
"I guess that means I'm driving," said Linda Rose.
"We should take orders," said Jill.
"Good idea. Does everyone have their prescriptions?" asked Betsy.
"I don't have mine," replied Valerie.
"Unfortunately, it will take longer for me to get my prescription filled. I've got weird extras in my lenses, and I'm practially blind." Amy paused, then added, "So is Jill."
"OK, who's making the trip?" asked Kelly.
All the sightless and near-sightless Natpackers, with a few exceptions, dressed in whatever decent clothing remained in the hostel (some of it dirty) and headed for the limo.
Tackling the stairs took longer than expected. Valerie managed to find the way down with no bruises or scrapes; however, Pod and Jill nearly fell on Betsy when they each missed the step three stairs from the bottom. Leslie, Mei, and Karen palmed the walls all the way down the stairs, scrapes were minimal.
"I'm glad Linda Rose can drive. What's-his-name passed out early this morning," commented Mei, as the Pack made its way to the limo. "We'll have to tell the rental company where he is."
"Well, it wasn't really his fault," corrected Jill as she opened the limo door. "Anyone who's going get in now."
After some fits and starts, Linda Rose pulled the limo out of the parking lot. "We're on our way. Every man, woman, and child should stay indoors."
"According to the phone book, we need the 2400 block on Younge," said Leslie. "It shouldn't be too hard to find."
"I can't believe the Mercs took all our luggage. Everything!" Kelly sat pouting, her arms crossed. "It's a good thing my clothes got kicked behind the bathroom door last night."
"Tell me about it," said Valerie. "All I have is this T-shirt. I had to borrow leggings."
As Linda Rose maneuvered the limo through Toronto, Leslie consulted the map in the glove compartment. "Linda, we should turn on Bloor Street."
"Leslie, I don't think that's right," offered Betsy.
"Sure it is. This is how we get to the 4200 block," replied Leslie.
"You said the 2400 block," added Karen.
"Leslie, why don't I take the map," offered Jill. "I don't understand the problem. You're usually a really good map reader."
"I guess I'm just tired," said Leslie solemnly. "Not to mention, I'm distracted by this one contact thing...and the fact that we have no luggage...that I have to wear the T-shirt I wore to bed last night with dirty jeans...that I..."
"Hey, guys, why don't we look for someplace we can stop," interrupted Linda. "Maybe we can get directions."
"Wait! That's a sidewalk!" Leslie screamed.
"Hold on! I can't get this tank to turn." Linda Rose worked frantically to get the limousine off the sidewalk, but she could not avoid the inevitable.
"Hasn't anyone thought to use the brakes!" cried Jill.
Jill, Pod, and Mei fell to floor in the backseat as the limo came to a screeching halt amidst the remains of the wood and glass of a garage door. Then there was that utterly still calm that only happens when there has been a great deal of sudden noise seconds before, followed closely by what seemed to be even more noise.
"Is everyone all right?" Karen surveyed the backseats shakily.
"Let me out," cried Mei.
"Someone's on my leg," cried Pod.
"OK, everybody OUT!" Betsy opened the door, and the sightless Natpackers crawled, spilled, and jumped out of the limo.
Confused people emerged from the door into the house. Their eyebrows arched at the broken glass and splintered wood littering the floor.
Suddenly several NatPackers recognized the shape and stance of at least one of the figures looking down at them, and everyone began to speak at once.
"Those are Mercs!"
"This is Merc headquarters!"
"Omigosh; we just destroyed the garage door...."
"But it's the Mercs' garage door!"
"Hah! We want our stuff!" cried Kelly, who'd managed to catch her foot in the door and fall to ground.
"And we want Maureen now!" added Jill as the entire group began to rush the door.