Disclaimer: DO NOT try anything Mac does in this chapter at home.
MacGyver led Brody down the stairs, one step at a time, going slowly and shining the flashlight across each one, just in case any of the steps had become broken or fragile with age. So far, all of them seemed as sound as they day they were built. At last, they reached the final step and touched a flat brick floor. Large metal switches and pipes lined the walls.
"This looks like something out of an old Frankenstein
movie," Brody commented, shining his light across the walls. "Creepy."
MacGyver shrugged as he continued to explore the tunnel, unable to see any end in sight. "Yeah, but just think about how this place must have seemed in its heyday. It would've been new and modern. Cutting edge technology for their time."
"So, not Frankenstein.
Just 19th century Star Trek.
"These tunnels probably span the entire length of the building," MacGyver said. "There could be anything down here."
"Like a ghost?" Brody said, suddenly filled with fear.
"There's no such thing as ghosts."
"Then there must be another person down here. Right? To explain all the weird stuff that's been happening?"
"Probably," MacGyver admitted. "Just stay close until we know for sure."
"You think any of these old light switches still work?"
"I doubt it. And even if they did, I'd be afraid to try."
"Always a possibility. It's better safe than sorry. C'mon. I think I see a door up ahead."
MacGyver traced the beam of the flashlight around the right wall of the tunnel. Made of sturdy old wood, the door was set into the brick wall and opened with a brass knob, patinated with age. He swung the door open, shining the flashlight inside before stepping in. Small, somewhat sparse bookshelves and small cabinets were set up along the walls in various places around the room, while the center was occupied by a wooden desk and chair. The desk was still adorned with an inkwell, an old fountain pen, and a glass paperweight, and if not for the cobwebs, one might think that the room was still being used. As MacGyver stepped closer to the desk, he noticed something else. Covered in a thick but fine layer of dust, a leather-bound book rested in the center of the table.
"Are we the first people in here since Tesla?" Brody asked, sticking close to MacGyver.
"Could be. It's hard to say." Gently, he touched the edge of the book, flipping open the leather cover. What he saw took his breath away. "This is handwritten."
"Who wrote it?"
MacGyver moved closer, standing behind the desk. "Hard to be sure, but the name inscribed at the top is…Nikola Tesla."
"Whoa," Brody whispered, too excited to speak.
"Can you bring your light over here?" MacGyver felt equally exhilarated as he carefully turned the page. It took his brain a few moments to decipher the handwriting before him, but when he felt he had a good grasp of it, he began to read aloud.
November 14, 1941
I have said before that within each being there is a finer fiber that transcends the intellect which is called instinct, and this instinct possesses a mysterious power which no man's intellect could truly ever grasp. Perhaps it is through this force of natural instinct that, as an aging animal shutting itself away and curling into a den or seeking to wander the wilderness, I bear a strange foreboding, a sense of what I believe to be my oncoming demise. Thus it is that I make preparations for such an event, though I hope that it is not quite so near as I now believe. Regardless, everyone must and will die; thus, these preparations will serve me whether my hour should be near or in a more distant future.
Part of my preparation has been to ensure that my animal companions will be cared for in my absence; but naturally, the greater need, and my greatest duty, is to my fellow members of humanity. I have selected five of what I believe to be my greatest inventions and theories, the ones which will benefit not just the twentieth, but also the twenty-first century and beyond. They will fill the pages of this journal to help usher in the dawn of the future, the great wireless age, when all mankind will be United through the mere flip of a switch, as close as kin regardless of race, creed, or nation.
December 18, 1941
A great tragedy has befallen this great nation in the past weeks, and the world is officially encompassed in war. I fear now that, were I to perish suddenly, my papers and inventions would be seized in the name of protecting them from the enemy. Yet my inventions, though created with America in heart, were not designed for destruction, but for peace. I am not innocent enough to believe that my creations will be forever untainted by war or pain, yet the future will remain a place dimmed less so by suffering and global strife; rather, science, technology, and illumination will be the great pathways and defining moments of the twenty-first century instead of the groans of war. I see now that it will not be enough for me to merely bequeath these inventions to America's children and the world's progeny; I must place them securely for safekeeping until such a time as their revelation will be accepted.
March 31, 1942
Many months have passed as I have labored to collect and transcribe the most beneficial of all inventions, and as I have made arrangements in which to hide them. The current proprietors of my beloved, but failed, Wardenclyffe are kind enough to humor me for visits. They view me as an elderly man, perhaps showing signs of madness with age. It is possible, of course, that in some measure they may be correct; and yet, have I not said in the past that one must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane?
December 31, 1942
The work is completed at last, and I fear not a moment too soon. This journal, collected in which are the writings, thoughts, and designs which I have worked so hard to produce, is safe in the secret places of my dear Wardenclyffe. Success, you see, is borne of failure as much as it is borne of determination; to separate one from the other would be to take away a man's soul. To those in the later centuries of humanity who may find this and look upon it, know that the future is yours and mine; let knowledge and invention illuminate the way.
MacGyver exhaled slowly, looking up at Brody. The two of them were in a state of pure shock. MacGyver gently flipped through the rest of the journal---handwritten designs, plans, blueprints, notes…
"Oh my gosh," Brody said. "Did we just…?"
"Uncover the greatest historical and scientific find of the decade? Yes. We did!"
"And now you're gonna hand it over," a voice drawled behind them.
Brody jumped and flicked the flashlight to the doorway. A stranger was standing there, holding a smaller flashlight and a switchblade in his hands.
"Who are you?" MacGyver demanded. "What do you want with the book?"
"I'm not an idiot," the man replied calmly, the beam of light revealing his crooked nose and gray eyes. "I know that if that crackpot Tesla took the trouble to put tunnels underneath his building, he put something valuable in them. Now hand it over."
MacGyver slowly closed and picked up the leather journal. "No."
The stranger took a step forward. "I don't think you understand what you're---"
"Run, Brody!" Mac said as he grabbed the paperweight and hurled it at the intruder as if he were flinging a hockey puck across the ice. The heavy glass struck the man squarely in the forehead, sending him reeling, and as Brody made his escape, he shoved the man for good measure, sending the stranger toppling to the brick floor. MacGyver leapt over him and charged after Brody, making for the entrance to the tunnel.
A silhouette appeared in the doorway, framed by the light streaming in.
"Trish!" Brody shouted as he ran, "Get John!"
"No need," Trish said calmly. "Not until you hand over whatever it is you found down there."
Brody skidded to a halt as MacGyver pulled a 180-degree turn, tugging Brody along with him. "Other way, Brody!"
They could hear Trish behind them starting to give chase.
"You think there's another way out of here?" Brody panted.
"I hope so, but we don't have a choice!"
After what seemed like a mile, they reached a pair of immense wooden double doors, with brass handles clearly designed to be pushed inward. They charged through and swung the flashlights around, looking for another exit or a place to hide.
Instead, what they found was a giant metal cage.
"Whoa!" Brody squeaked. "What's all this?!"
"No time to explain!" MacGyver said, his eyes mentally tracing the pathway along the wires on the wall---leading from the variety of switches to a small metal tower with a distinct ring across the top. "Get inside the cage, Brody!"
"Just trust me---and hope that Tesla's electrical devices still work!"
MacGyver had only a few seconds---he did a quick cursory check of the equipment. It seemed to be in working order...probably, it was deemed too large to be moved when Tesla's operation moved out, and with the tunnel sealed, it had been left intact and away free of any disturbances.
He heard footsteps running closer---Trish and the recovered stranger weren't far behind.
MacGyver darted into the cage with Brody and shut the metal door behind him.
"Is this really a good idea?"
"We're about to find out!"
Trish and the stranger dashed into the large room, their steps echoing, the wild movements of the flashlight beams creating bizarre shadows that stretched and twisted across the walls.
"You're out of escapes, Mr. MacGyver," Trish said. "Give us the book."
"Tell me why you want it."
"We're going to sell it, obviously," the stranger said, curling his lips. "From the minute I found out about those tunnels, I knew that something valuable would be left behind down here. And collectors will pay just about anything for a rare find like that."
MacGyver stared them down, backing up towards the rear wall of the cage. "Tesla didn't invent things for money. He created them to help people."
"Tesla was an idealist, MacGyver," Trish said. "Just like you. But you were right: people like him are hard to find."
She stepped forward and reached out to open the cage door.
That's when MacGyver grabbed the switch on the wall behind him and flipped.
The reaction was, if not instantaneous, impressive. With a distinctive crack and hum of electricity, the wires along the walls came to life, nourishing the metal tower in the center of the room…
A Tesla coil.
The machine thrummed and popped into life, the crackle of electrical power growing louder as the spark gap activated and the Tesla coil sent bolts of racing violet-white lightning across the room, brilliant and blinding in the darkness. The surges of electricity danced harmlessly across the metal mesh that Brody and MacGyver were encased in.
But Trish and the stranger…
When the two of them collapsed to the ground, MacGyver immediately turned the switch off, and as soon as it came, the man-made lightning dissolved away. The Tesla coil hummed into silence once again.
"Get to the nearest telephone and call an ambulance," MacGyver commanded.
As Brody took off, racing out the door, MacGyver checked on the unwitting people he'd just electrocuted. Their pulses seemed fine and they seemed to be doing well for people who had just been given a nasty shock, but they would likely remain unconscious for quite a while.
As he got to his feet, he looked back at the colossal Faraday cage that had saved him and Brody, and he smiled. "Thanks, Tesla."
As he began to turn away, he shuddered slightly… He had the distinct feeling that he was being watched.
"As it turns out, Trish had been collaborating with this man all along, and that's where she got the blueprints in the first place," MacGyver explained to Pete, sitting in one of the chairs in Pete's office. "He used to work for the photography company that owned Wardenclyffe, so he knew the building well enough to get around inconspicuously even without the tunnels. He was sure they were down there, so during the restoration, he and Trish kept looking for a way in, but they couldn't do it until I figured out the remote switch."
"And what happened to the journal?" Pete asked.
"John and I took it to a local university for authentication, and they verified it as Tesla's real writings. Several different research teams are going to come to study his projects, maybe even build a few prototypes. Tesla's final inventions will finally be shared with the world, just the way he wanted! Isn't it great?"
Pete shook his head. "I don't believe this."
MacGyver frowned. "What? What is it?"
"Every time I send you on some kind of vacation or hobby project, you always end up finding an adventure! Every single time!"
MacGyver grinned. "Does that mean you want to come with me next time?"
"I think I'd rather take my chances with the Tesla coil," Pete said dryly. "But don't you think it was an awfully lucky coincidence that you found that room, after all these years? And that the electricity still worked? Don't get me wrong, MacGyver, you've always made your own luck, but still…"
"You know, now that you mention it, I kept getting the feeling that I wasn't ever alone down there," MacGyver commented. "But that's impossible."
"Because there's no such thing as ghosts?"
"Right. No such thing as ghosts…"