The car travelled many miles already. Approximately 10 kilometers were covered, starting from the suburbs where Kid live in, up to the long highway stretch. The increasingly restless Kid was already grumbling.
He grumbled, “Is there no shortcut to your place, Mr. Melvin?”
“No,” replied Melvin while reading something from his fancy-looking tablet.
More kilometers were covered; traffic was the only hurdle for them. The chauffeur, Mizan, was doing a good job navigating through the sometimes lengthy train of cars without leaving a scratch on the charcoal black car. Melvin loved his Perdana so much, he would not like if it suffered even the tiniest of scratches.
After a while, the car peeled off from the traffic and into narrower roads, then into an increasingly narrow stretch of road. Mizan accelerated as usual; he drove like a professional. Along the road initially there were nothing but a thick forest, but soon a row of small houses started to appear. Kid was growing impatient.
“Are we there yet?” he asked in an inquisitive manner.
Melvin’s mouth was moving; he looked as if going to say no, but before he completed his sentence, Mizan said, “Young man, we are approximately 1 kilometer away from Mr. Melvin’s residence.”
“I thought I told you to call me Melvin,” the elderly man said.
Mizan gulped, and quickly replied, “Yes, Master Melvin.”
As the car approached a dark house, save only for the floodlights that lighted the surrounding area, the gate opened, and so did the door of a small garage that is also part of the house. The car was carefully parked and its engine stopped. Kid got out first, followed by the other two.
For Kid, it was not his first visit to the house. In fact, it was his third. The first time he approached the house was when he got ‘discovered’ by Melvin, who sought after potential candidates to become crime fighters.
One day, right after school, Kid was chosen and brought to Melvin’s lair, to join a few others for training. Some candidates that day were younger than the 11-year-old, while some were older, but Kid’s interest in becoming a crime fighter and his manner in handling complicated situations, like dodging bullets on the air, convinced Melvin to recruit him. Melvin’s daughter, the likeable Cindy, was not selected, something that ticked her off, but she eventually got over it. Speedy Michael, who possessed unique athletic ability, including high running speed, was also not selected, possibly because he was arrogant more than anything else. It seemed Melvin made the right choice.
Initially, Kid did not pass some of the tests the old man carried out. However, his determination and will to learn enabled him to be recalled.
The young Kid had no idea what he was up against on his first day as a crime fighter. He wore a ski mask and confronted a gang of thieves at a back alley, something he had never done before. That scared him. Fortunately, he was able to avoid danger, with Melvin’s instructions running through his small earphones whilst battling the thugs. His first success convinced himself, that he can one day become a great crime fighter, but there might be more to come.
So, for the third time in his life, Kid entered Melvin’s large, gloomy house. He followed him closely behind, being careful not to bump into his tutor at the same time. The chauffeur retreated elsewhere. Probably he needed a rest.
Anyway, Melvin opened a brown door, the same color as the majority of his house walls, revealing the training area. He walked straight into the end of the area, and used a card, for authentication, to open the second brown door. The permission to enter was granted, thus the door opened itself to reveal a purpose-built room.
“Whoa…” Kid exclaimed when he saw a row of high-tech computers, including a robot cat and dog, both kept in separate containers. “What is this place?”
“This,” Melvin said, “is my computer room.”
“You need a computer room?”
“It is not just a computer that I store in here, but also some of my…inventions, some of which I prefer to be sealed and in good shape.”
The main highlight of the room would be the large computer, with a large screen that could easily have been a window of a house. It was no ordinary computer, for it contained four processors and loads of memory. Thus, it could be considered a supercomputer. The other row of computers at the left corner of the room was the servers. Surely, Melvin was one tech-savvy elderly man.
“Who built this place?” Kid inquired.
“I did,” Melvin replied while hugging his body.
“Impossible! I am sure one man cannot do all this…”
“My chauffeur helped, all right. So did my daughter, and a few others. But the computer that you see, I assembled it. You cannot find it anywhere else.”
Kid turned his attention to the large computer screen. “So…can it play 3D games?”
“More than 3D games,” Melvin said. “However, for reasons of my own, no one can access this computer. It is forbidden in any way.”
Kid agreed, while Melvin approached the computer and turned it on using his card. There was no loading sound, not even an operating system logo, when it started. Instead, the computer directly showed files and directories, as well as an attractive user interface that looked futuristic.
“Foolish,” Melvin said. “How foolish.”
“While it is not clear to them, I was there all along, watching their movement. The same people, the same clothes.”
“What are you talking about?”
Melvin grabbed Kid’s collar and exclaimed, “The kidnappers! They are the same.”
A movie clip was opened, which showed footage from some sort of camera on a building in the dark alley. According to the footage, the date was 11/3/2020, and the time 8.00 pm, which was yesterday night. Kid adjusted his eyes and noticed two people, in dark coats and a hat, carrying a girl.
The footage continued, and showed one of the men disposing of the motorcycle. The other carried on, bringing the girl to a pothole, which then moved downwards in a strange manner.
“I did not know a pothole could do that,” Kid said.
Melvin slapped his face. “Looks like you really need tuition after all.”
Melvin also captured more footage, this time from the kidnapping three days before yesterday. In the footage, there was a car accident, but the victim would disappear, quietly snatched by two men in trench coats.
Kid wondered if his tutor had more footage, but he declined. Still, the little boy wondered how the elderly man was able to gather specific clips from the events, especially last night’s, whereas news reporters could not get a thing.
“I planted some cameras,” Melvin explained, “some of them static, some mobile. The static cameras placed on walls, while the mobile cameras were carried by a bird.”
“To be specific, a remote-controlled bird named Merpati,” Melvin said while pointing to a robot bird in a container.
Kid took a deep breath, trying to recollect his thoughts.
“Wow!” Kid screamed. “This is all so…incredible. I never thought…”
“That an old man like me can do a whole lot more than you?” Melvin asked.
“That was not what I…”
“I could not care less. Besides, I did what I have to, but the kidnappers are still on the loose.”
“So, they are beneath the city. Does that mean that I have to go beneath the city as well?”
“Leave it to me.”
Kid spent more time with his tutor to know more. He was not that prepared, but Melvin had to make sure his protégé did, or else the boy could hurt himself. Who knew what he would deal with in the underground? One thing for sure, the elderly Melvin seemed to have put the pieces together one way or another. The only thing left was to bring the kidnappers to justice.