The finest burgers in Crescent Park were made by an out-of-towner, Marta Roell. Marta arrived came to town without much fanfare driving a wood paneled station wagon full of boxes marked “room”. The boxes were stacked outside the restaurant for weeks and became a topic of some discussion within the close knit community. She kept to herself and quietly readied her restaurant at the top of Paoloa Hill hidden behind two oak trees that most insurance companies deemed “dangerous” to the building that once housed a national pizza chain.
She never imagined removing the trees though, higher insurance premiums or no. She finally had her restaurant. It was hidden behind two trees atop a secluded hill in a small town that thought her ‘odd’, but she finally had her restaurant.
Every night and day she dedicated the very core of her being to the success of her burger joint. She knew every inch of the chipped tile in the dining room, every bit of the prep counter and every pipe of the plumbing.
Customers were infrequent at first, aside from a collection of business casual clad folks who all ordered fried-eggs on their sandwiches Tuesday afternoons. Slowly, but surely, more diners made the little bell on the door in the front of the shop ring like birds in a fight. That was when she started hearing rumors about the hill her restaurant was built upon.
“There’s a secret army base right under our feet!” One student told her. “It is all nuclear waste in the hill. These burgers are radioactive,” a local lawyer informed her. She laughed off the tales and wisely incorporated the idea into her marketing.
When she became the ‘spooky government burger lady’ business boomed. The store thrived for years by incorporating the rumor into even the menu item names like “Area A-1 Steak Burger” and “The Cover-Up” a burger smothered in green chile.
Over time, even she began to believe in the rumors. It was at that point she decided to lay off the conspiracy theory theme. She did not want to be viewed as even crazier than she already was. It was a slow transition, but the customers remained.
One late Wednesday evening, particularly slow for being the middle of the week, she found herself cleaning up a sink and noticed a tube nestled between the hot and cold water pipes.
“What could that be?” She asked, trying to reach it.
As she took hold of the tube, a filling in one of her molars began to buzz. She was not sure if it hurt or was just irritating, but she let loose the tube and pondered when a plumber would have installed it. Of course, she had never hired a plumber before so the idea was laughable. She touched it again and once more her tooth rattled.
“Goodness,” she said.
She made way for the basement where all the buildings pipes, wires, chords, cables, and tubes found a home before heading to the rest of the world. There she found the mysterious tube once more, and it continued downward. She stomped the floor around the tube and heard her foot step echo through a hollow chasm she did not know existed.
“Curious,” she said, terrified. She felt around the floor and found a pull tab she could not resist. The tab brought a panel upward and a ladder appeared.
“I should most certainly not follow that,” she said as she stepped onto the ladder and started downward.
She climbed for half an hour before hitting the ground. A cement tunnel with poor lighting surrounded her and as she turned around to place her back to the ladder she saw a door. Nothing special, a brown wood frame holding a smoky glass middle, but it was a door in a cement tunnel half an hour underneath a burger restaurant so it was the most interesting door she had ever seen.
She could not tell if anyone else was in the tunnel, but the door called to her. As she drew closer her tooth began to buzz again. She heard static electricity crackle behind the door, she could almost taste it.
The door was easy to push open, not even letting out a creak or squeak as it opened to reveal a tremendously elaborate laboratory. As she entered a flash of light filled the room, she heard a dog bark and then suddenly appear on top of a table to the right of a group of people she had seen time and time again. The group turned to the door, staring at the newest member of the underground science party.
Marta smiled awkwardly, uncomfortably, and laughed. “So, uh, free burgers next Tuesday for all of you! Fried eggs included.” She closed the door and followed the ladder back upstairs. The conspiracy theme of the restaurant was gone by sunrise.