“Jack?” Amy called, poking her head into one of the multitude of small, messy rooms the lab boasted. “I need you to sign something! Jack!”
There was no reply, and similarly no sign of her employer. She sighed. Typical him, to spend the whole day in one place exactly until she needed him. She straightened a pile of papers on one of the old file cabinets out of habit, not even glancing at what they said, then picked up her clipboard again and resumed her search.
“Jack?” She called again. “Security system says you're in the building somewhere!”
“Toasterhead is missing again?” Crash leaned against one of the doorways, watching her from behind. “Surprise surprise.”
“He's gotta be around somewhere. He never leaves unless he need supplies, and last I checked we...”
“Maybe something happened.” The hired hand peeled himself off the doorway, following her down the hall. “Some kind of teleporter incident or something. What's that?” He gestured to the clipboard in her hand. “Important?”
“Just an order contract. I've reviewed it, but it needs his signature before I can fax it.”
“Sheesh.” Crash ran a hand through his spiked hair. “He goes missing at the worst times.”
“No kidding,” she agreed. “Well, tell me if you see him.”
“Will do.” Crash glanced down another hallway. “Here, I'll check that way. I'll call you if I find him.”
“Would you do that?” She smiled. “Thank you, Crash.”
“No trouble.” He grinned. “Catch you in a bit, then!” With that, he broke off, headed down the other hallway. She watched him go for a few seconds before turning her attention back to the task at hand.
After ten more empty rooms, though, she was about ready to give up. “Jack, if you want a new order of sheet aluminum, you need to sign this!” she called, exasperated. “I've already read it and cleared it with accounting, you just have to sign!”
Still no response. She sighed, putting her free hand up against the wall. He wasn't anywhere, as far as she could tell. It was entirely possible that the security system was wrong...
And quite suddenly, the wall she was leaning on opened.
She nearly fell, catching herself only just in time. Amy stared into the little room, which was much darker than the rest, trying to make out whatever was inside. Several thick stack of something like light wood lined the walls. It took her a moment to realize that they were stretched canvasses. Some of them even had been painted—and whoever had done it was quite good. She moved closer, curious.
A canvas on the top of the other stacks caught her eye. It was a smaller painting, almost the size of her clipboard, but very beautifully done. The scene portrayed a little blue house, very simple in it's design, caught in the light of a late fall afternoon. She examined it for a moment longer. No signature. Maybe it wasn't finished.
She set it down and moved on. Three or four easels stood around the room, in varying states of dilapidation. Amy ran her fingertips along the side of one, frowning at the dust that had accumulated. She needed to clean in here.
Only one of the easels seemed to have been used recently. Unsurprisingly, it was the one that rested by the room's sole window. There was a canvas sitting on it, and she could smell the fresh oil paint on it. She took a few steps towards it, but halted at the sudden feeling of a hand on her shoulder.
“You're not supposed to be in here, you know.” Crash's voice was low. “He doesn't like people to know... this.”
“Jack painted these?” She glanced back at the canvasses stacked against the walls. “He's really good!”
“He'll never admit it.” Crash whispered. “He's good, I'll grant you that, but he's still Jack. He doesn't want anyone to know.”
“But they're beautiful—he should really...”
“Amy,” Crash cut her off. “Listen to me. You can't tell him you've been in here. Don't mention secret rooms, paintings—anything. You know him, he's paranoid. If he finds out you know... if he even thinks you might possibly ever even suspect, he will freak out. Trust me on that one.”
She bit her lip and nodded. “Right.”
“Good.” Crash looked relieved. “Come on, let's get out of here before he shows up.”