As they pulled out onto the dimly-lit, forest road back to the city, Cameron kept quiet and let Rowan stew in her thoughts. The silence sat until they reached the part of the road lit with streetlamps, signaling their return to civilization. Even with the warmth of the orange lights flashing by, Eureka was still mostly dead past eight-thirty, little more than a graveyard as they drove through it.
“So. Figured it out yet?” He probed finally, smirking when his question left a crease in Rowan’s forehead.
“It doesn’t make sense. A cadaver is the most logical explanation, but why would they need to get rid of us? It’s not like we haven’t seen them moving bodies in and out of the facility for research before.”
“Yeah, it’s a pretty regular thing.” Cameron hummed. “A famous body?”
Rowan sighed, shaking her head. “Famous or not, once the person is dead, usually a body is just a body.”
“I guess you’re right. Security guards are mostly there to keep a person alive.” His grin widened when his reasoning made Rowan roll her eyes.
“That’s the other thing, too. What the hell were the guns for? A dead body doesn’t need protecting and a live one… doesn’t really have much reason to be at ECBS.” She hoped that bouncing her thoughts off Cameron would lead her to a new conclusion but unfortunately it was the same old circles.
Analysis wasn’t exactly his specialty.
He let the silence between them stretch again for a second before adding, “What if the gunmen weren’t there to protect the body but instead, to protect others from it.”
It took Rowan a second to wrap her tired brain around his words, and when they still didn’t make sense, she gave him a confused look.
“I’m just saying what if the gunmen were there because whatever was on that gurney, dead or alive, it was dangerous.”
With Cameron’s specific choice of words, Rowan finally clued into what he was implying, letting her head drop down to the dashboard. “Not this again…”
“Listen, it would explain a lot.” He was only half joking now, and Rowan was too tired to argue.
“Ok. Humor me.”
He beamed with her cooperation, however reluctant it was.
“What if the body was an alien—” Interrupted with a heavy groan from Rowan, Cameron raised his voice to talk over her. “You can’t keep denying the facts, Row. Secret late night transportation. Scary government guys in suits. Research lab conveniently out in the middle of nowhere. Tell me that’s not a recipe for an alien.”
Rowan teased, “An alien conspiracy, maybe.” Which happened to be Cameron’s favorite out of the long list of conspiracy theories he subscribed to. For how much of a jock he looked on the outside, Cameron had always been even more of a nerd than her with some things.
Unexplained phenomenon being one of them.
He ignored the fact that she was obviously not taking him seriously. “They are probably bringing the body down to the underground labs to do super secret government research on it. Dissect it like they did with the body they found in Area 51.”
Rowan couldn’t help but laugh this time. “Cameron, the secret labs are just a story they tell the newbies to scare them. You’re not saying you believe that?”
“Have you ever been there, Rowan?” He asked, exaggerating his seriousness.
“Of course not, because it doesn’t exi—”
“I have no proof it exists but you also have no proof that it doesn’t.” He grinned an I-rest-my-case grin.
Rowan wanted to point out that the burden of proof laid on the one making the claim, but she was far too exhausted to properly debate. “Ok. So if there’s a secret lab under the ECBS accessible by only elevator, as the stories say, then how would anyone get out of the lab if there was an accident?”
“Maybe if there’s an accident, they wouldn’t want anyone getting out. Maybe it’s a security feature, to make sure that whatever they take down there never gets out.” Cameron put on his spooky voice, getting another laugh out of Rowan.
“Is it an alien, or a monster now?”
He shrugged, trying his hardest to suppress his own laughter. “Either one. It could be anything. Who knows?”
“We certainly don’t,” Rowan responded, their giggles deflating into a disgruntled sigh. Because as wild and ridiculous as his theory was, at least it was some sort of answer. When she tried to stick to logic and facts, it didn’t get her anywhere other than frustrated.
Rowan gnawed on her lip, unsettled despite Cameron’s attempt at lightening the mood. Because all his joking did this time was make her curiosity for the truth that much more unbearable. What if it was something else? Something she hadn’t thought of. Something so unlikely, so unbelievable that her logic wouldn’t allow it to be a possibility. What if it was something more sinister, like her gut told her?
“Whatever it was… Corpse or famous celebrity, or a damn alien, I have to know.” Rowan paused to give Cameron a serious look. “I’m going to confront Phelps tomorrow about it and make him tell me what’s going on.”
Cameron practically beamed with her resolve. “I mean, we’ve already seen too much anyway, right? You can play the teacher’s pet card. I bet he’ll make you head of the super secret government project.”
A grin cracked through Rowan’s attempt at seriousness. “And if it’s an alien, I’m going to study the shit out of it.”
“I’m so jealous, why do you get to dissect the alien?” Cameron whined, leading Rowan into a fit of laughter.
“Scientist privileges,” she responded with a sly grin.