It was dark and spooky beneath the tarp, with a deadened feel in the air. Lila crept over to the closest window and stood on tiptoes to peer inside the vehicle. Shining the red light from her flashlight through the glass, she had a feeling that at any moment she was about to see a horde of shambling zombies lunging toward her from inside the RV. Lila shivered.
“Creepy much,” she whispered.
Lila felt Ian slide in beside her to peer through the window.
“Wow.” He whistled almost silently.
The interior of the RV looked almost exactly like the control room of the Bilibino nuclear power plant that they had just toured, except everything was compacted into about a third of the space. The room was slightly illuminated by the flickering lights on the instrument panel. From what she could see of the space, there didn’t appear to be anyone currently in the vehicle.
Joe was acutely aware of how the canvas covering would move around them as they repositioned themselves. He pushed his hands against Ian’s and Lila’s shoulders, warning them to stay tightly pressed against the vehicle’s surface. “Slide,” he breathed into their ears.
One at a time, with Lila in the lead, they edged their way around the vehicle until they reached its door. Trying to find a joint or handhold, Lila ran her fingers carefully across the icy metal surface. She gave up in frustration after a couple of minutes and moved to the other side of the door to aim the flashlight at the door’s surface.
Ian moved in front of the door and identified what appeared to be a locking mechanism. He withdrew a fancy looking 3-in-1 tool from his pocket, from which he removed a finger-length piece of metal. He inserted the metal tip into the lock and pulled a clamp connected by a wire from the other side of the tool, which he fastened to the edge of the lock.
Pushing a button on the main body of the device, there was a brief surge of current and a spark emitted from the lock, after which Lila heard a smooth click. The door popped open so quickly it nearly brained Ian, and it was only Joe’s quick reflexes pulling him out of the way that kept him from being hurt.
They looked at each other apprehensively, and then Lila reached her foot up onto the first step and started climbing into the RV, taking hold of the railing alongside the short staircase to maintain her balance. She cautiously climbed the steps, keeping her flashlight trained on the area directly in front of her feet. As Lila reached the main level, she could see a closed and presumably locked door in front of her. She leaned down to wave Ian and Joe forward, waiting for them to reach the area next to her before continuing to the door.
Ian knelt down to study the door’s dead bolt before going through the same unlocking procedure with his device. He stretched out his hand, gently pulling downward on the European style handle. At that same moment they heard what sounded like a toilet flushing.
Lila blanched, her eyes huge. Scarcely daring to breathe, Ian released the door handle in slow increments and backed toward the bus entrance. Joe stopped Ian’s and Lila’s backward movement by the simple expedient of placing a hand on each of their backs. He gestured for them to stay in position, and they stood there for a few minutes until there was no further noise. At that point, Joe edged forward to once again open the door in front of them.