Eddie shut the door to his car. It was the dead of night, and the storage facility that he recognized from GreenLight’s photos, which were taken just across the way. The place was open twenty-four hours a day, but there appeared to be very few people around this time of night. The only other cars he saw Eddie assumed belonged to the employees. Swallowing the hesitation that he was feeling, Eddie walked through the main gate and up to the office door. There was no handle or knob on the outside. His gaze caught sight of a black card reader bolted into the wall. On the top of the card reader was a purple letter P in a script-like font.
Hello. What’s this? His inner voice said.
Eddie ran his finger down the card reader. “Magnetic strip card-reader.” Eddie whispered to himself. “Keyless entry for heightened security.” He scratched his chin, intrigued. “A little too high class for a storage place just outside Amusement Mile.” He backed away and looked up.
No security cameras out here.
“No cameras to see anyone coming and going.” Eddie said, trying to ignore the voice in his head. “Should maybe stick around. See what…or who pops up.” Eddie turned around and walked back to his car. Just as he opened the door, he saw the front office door open. He quickly jumped into his seat and pulled out his phone. He snapped as many pictures as he could as the unknown person made their way to his car. “Now, who is this?”
We’ll need to find out, won’t we? Eddie pressed his palm to his forehead, getting annoyed with his internal voice. He stayed silent as he watched the mystery person drive off in their car. Eddie waited a minute or two before turning over his own engine and driving home. He had his lead, now he was going to follow it, wherever it led.
Eddie stared at his computer screen barely blinking as he fiddled with the photos he took on his phone. He clicked on various aspects of filters and enhancements to find out who it was, hearing the groaning in the background and the sound of a metal can hitting the garbage pail. Eddie sighed, trying to focus.
“Ed! Eddie!” a slurred voice shouted from down the hall.
“Yeah, dad?” Eddie shouted from his room, knowing what was going to happen next.
“Can you get me another beer?”
“You’re closer to the kitchen, dad.” Eddie shouted. “Plus, I’m busy!”
“I don’t care. Stop plagiarizing your next paper and get me a damn beer!” his father shouted. “NOW!”
Eddie sighed once more. Not happy about it, he got up from his chair and stuck his head out the door, seeing the balding head of his father sticking out from atop the recliner in which he was resting. He bit his lower lip as he walked to the fridge and grabbed a can of beer. “Here you go, Dad.”
Without a word, his father grabbed the beer and snapped it open. He gulped down a few swigs and sighed. “What are you ripping off now?”
“Don’t lie to me, boy!”
“I’m not ripping off anything. I’m not even doing schoolwork.” Eddie answered. “Just some personal work.”
“You sure, boy?”
“Yes sir.” Eddie answered.
“All right, cause I don’t wanna be bailing your ass out of jail for all the cheating you’re doing.” His father said.
“I’m not cheating.” Eddie said under his breath as he walked away.
“Dumbass boy like mine with those grades…hell yeah you’re cheating.” His father answered.
Eddie shook his head and let the insults slide off him. He was used to it—his father was always that way. He resumed his work, and lessened the saturation on the photo and improved the brightness. His eyes widened when he finally could see who it was.
Professor Lawson? The tech securities professor?
“So there’s my way in.” Eddie said with a smile. “Maybe I can get him to give up his key card to Pandora’s Box. Get him alone, use the photo as leverage.” He typed on the keyboard and opened up an internet browser window, going straight to Gotham University’s website. “Huh, he’s got his next lecture tomorrow from eleven to noon.”
Oh, this is going to be fun.
Eddie began rubbing his head again, sighing with frustration, but he shook it off when an idea started to form in his mind. He smiled. “Nygma is going to pay Professor Lawson a visit.”
══ The Next Day ══
Professor Lawson waved good-bye to the last of his students as they left his class. He went for his bag and grabbed his laptop, startled at the sound of the door to the classroom closing. He checked the lecture hall, seeing there was no one else inside.
“Huh. Odd.” Professor Lawson said to himself. It got even odder when the lights dimmed down. “What?” he whispered. He heard a double-click noise and saw the light shining from the overhead projector. Professor Lawson turned around to see a photo of himself, walking out of the storage facility.
“Good afternoon, professor.” Eddie said through a speaker in a filtered voice. “Quite photogenic, aren’t you professor?”
“How did you get that?” Lawson asked to empty space around him.
“Should that really matter, professor?” Eddie asked. “What does matter is that I have it. And it would be quite the scandal if it were to get out.”
“What do you want?”
“Oh, nothing. Nothing at all, professor.” Eddie answered as he switched to a second photo. “Only how it is you get inside.”
Professor Lawson shuddered, his mind racing. “It’s a special access card, and a small entry fee to the guy who runs the storage place.” Lawson answered.
“Now, why should the storage manager need an entry fee?” Eddie asked.
“Because that way he gives them a break on renting out the units on the lower level. Pandora’s Box rents out the entire level. Please!” He took out his wallet and dropped it on his desk. “You can have the card, just please delete those photos!”
“Now, why would I do that? I am E. Nygma after all.” Eddie chuckled over the speaker.
“Please!” Lawson said. “The entry fee is only a hundred bucks. The guy who runs the night shift is named Johnny K. He takes the cash and puts it on the books as units paid.”
“And how do you know that?” Eddie asked.
“Johnny K. is a talker. He doesn’t know how to shut up. He told me.” Lawson said. “The better he knows you, the more he talks.”
“All right, then. I suppose I’m satisfied with that.” Eddie answered. Professor Lawson could hear the soft clacking of keys on a keyboard over the speaker and he turned, seeing the photos gone and the light shutting off. “You can leave the card on the table and enjoy the rest of your day, Prof. Lawson.”
Lawson practically ran out of the lecture hall and after a couple of minutes Eddie came into the classroom and just walked at a casual pace to the table and picked up a piece of plastic that looked like a credit card with a black stripe on a purple piece of plastic.
That was fun. The voice in his head thought.
“All too easy.” Eddie whispered to himself as he looked at the card. “The card will get us in…”
Now we just need the entry fee.
Eddie groaned as he rubbed his head. With a sigh, Eddie managed to focus on the task at hand. “Dad won’t miss a few hundred from his beer stash. He’ll be too drunk to notice.” He shoved the card in his pocket and walked out of the room.
══ That Night ══
Eddie sat in his car, eyeing the front office entrance. The clock on his dashboard said it was almost midnight, and Amusement Mile was the facility’s moonlight. For some odd reason, Eddie was actually nervous. He never got nervous, but he managed to swallow his fear and step out of the car. He opened an envelope and ran his thumb across the top of the twenty-dollar bills he had inside.
“I can do this.” Eddie whispered as he walked through the open gate. “I can do this.” He said once more before running the card’s magnetic stripe through the card-reader. A green light replaced the red one and Eddie heard a muffled buzzing noise through the door.
Eddie pushed the door open and entered the front office. The only light in the office came from a single desk a few feet away from Eddie, shining down on a cold metal surface and the tattooed arms of a young man surfing the internet. The guy looked to Eddie.
“You know what time it is?” the man asked.
“Almost midnight.” Eddie answered as he approached him. “It was my understanding the place is open twenty-four hours.”
He nodded. “It is.” He looked at Eddie with a piercing gaze. “But…something tells me you’re not here to open a unit.”
Eddie placed his envelope on the table. “An astute observation.”
The man put out his hand. “Johnny K. I’m the night manager here.”
“Edison Nash.” Eddie lied as he shook his hand. He did not want to use his Nygma alias here, since it was likely one of the girls would recognize the name. “Was looking to make an appointment.”
“I don’t handle the appointments. Pandora girls downstairs handle all that. I just take their rent and stay silent.” Johnny answered with a smile. “Your first time?”
Eddie nodded. “I’ve heard good things about this place.”
“Hot, every single one of them.” Johnny answered with a smile. “You’ll have a good time.”
Eddie smiled. “Well, how about that? So where do I go from here?” Eddie asked, trying not get caught in conversation. Prof. Lawson said he was a talker, and he had work to do.
“Oh, uh…” Johnny looked behind him. “Their units are below ground. You go down the hall there and take the service elevator down to sublevel three. They rented out the whole floor.”
Eddie nodded, making a mental note. “Thank you very much.”
“Anytime.” Johnny answered, watching Eddie walk away.
Eddie did not look back at Johnny, but focused on the hallway in front of him. The service elevator was right on the other side. It was big to accommodate larger objects people wanted to store in their units. He pressed the down button and waited. It was only a few seconds before the doors opened to a large open elevator car. Eddie stepped inside and pushed the ‘3’ button with his thumb. The doors to the elevator closed. There was no going back now.