Tin Man/Medical Investigation: Alchemy

Part Sixteen
Prompt: Puzzle

Frank found Neverdale picturesque with the main street running down to the lake as long as he ignored the ghost-town atmosphere. He stood on that cobblestoned street and waited while Eva struggled with the paperwork giving the details of this small town.

"Stupid gloves," Eva muttered as she tried to flip through the papers in her hands. "The boarding house is across the street from the bank. Two doors down from the general store." The notebook finally hit the cobblestones, and Eva growled. "How can you work in this?" She gestured at the too-large biohazard suit that had been tied around her petite frame.

"Practice," Frank chuckled. "And mine fits."

"You should have let me wake up magic girl and see if she could shrink this one, but no, we had to leave right that second." Frank tried to hide his chuckle with a cough, but she wasn't fooled. "Keep it up, Powell, and you'll find out why reporters from the New York Times flee my press conferences."

He pointed to a three story building with a wrap-around porch and a meager yard separating it from the neighboring buildings and street. "I think that's it." She managed to pick up the notebook, and they headed into the quiet house. The hallway was wide enough to be considered another room. A counter to display the check-in book had been built in front of a door leading into a small office. Frank didn't even need to turn a page in the book. "Ned Barterman, trader, room 201."

Eva clomped up the stairs. "Barterman, really?"

"Maybe it's a family business." 201 was the first room off the stairs, and Eva waited for him to enter first. "Something I've always been curious about. Why work for N.I.H.?"

"Me?" She smirked. "Free travel. What do you want me to do?"

He scanned the medium-sized room and pointed to a door across the room. "See if Ned left any personal items in the bathroom. I'd tell you to pick them upó"

"But you probably wouldn't get them in one piece to test."

Frank shook his head as he pulled a leather satchel out from under the bed. It was shaped like an old-fashioned doctor's bag only larger. Probably was Ned's suitcase, so he opened it to see if Ned had moved his clothes to the wardrobe next to the window. "Oh shit!"

"What is it?" Eva leaned out of the bathroom, but Frank continued staring into the bag. "Frank? What's wrong?"

He breathed deeply to make sure his hand didn't shake. He pulled the glass tube filled with a clear liquid out of the bag carefully to not jostle the black rubber stopper.

"What is in it? The disease?"

"This puzzle just got a hell of lot more complicated." With his free hand, he pulled his case closer. He had to secure all four of these test tubes.

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