Clay bolted from a pillow. He looked around frantically, but relaxed once he realized that he was in his room. “He…hello?” His voice sounded hoarse.
The door opened and Apollo’s concerned face came into view. “Hey,” he said. “You alright?”
Clay nodded slowly. “Ye-yeah… yeah, I’m fine.”
Apollo cocked his head to the side. “You sure? You sound pretty disgruntled.”
Clay shrugged. “Oh I guess I just had a bad dream.”
Apollo furrowed his brow. “Is the launch freaking you out?”
Clay froze. “The… launch?”
“Yeah… the launch… it’s in a couple of days.” Apollo spoke slowly. Clay was too confused to be annoyed.
“Oh yeah… I forgot about that. Guess I’m still half-asleep.” He forced a grin on his face and stood up. “I should probably get to the space station…”
Apollo nodded slowly. No doubt his internal lie-detector was acting up. “I’ll call you later okay?”
Clay nodded. “Alright.”
He opened the door to his car and drove to a park where he was sure that Apollo wouldn’t find him and started dialing a number into his phone. He jammed his thumbs into his eyes in an attempt to make himself start crying.
“This is Yuri Cosmos speaking. How may I help you?”
“H-Hi, Mr. Cosmos.” Clay’s voice caught in his throat, and he mentally patted himself on the back.
“Terran, you sound upset.”
“Yeah… my-my grandmother just passed away and her funerals the same day as the launch. I’m sorry, but I have to go.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Director Cosmos replied. “But if you’re not at the launch, then the plan-”
“I know Mr. Cosmos and I’m sorry. I wish I could be there but-”
“No no, it’s okay. I’ll figure something out. You need to go to the funeral.”
“Thank you and I’m sorry once again.” Clay hung up and shook his head.
What the hell am I doing?
. . .
Clay decided to wait a while before he drove back to his apartment, but Apollo wasn’t there when he opened the door.
Oh right, he’s working today.
He dialed Apollo’s number.
“Hey,” Apollo sounded concerned. “Everything okay?”
“No,” Clay said, sounding as upset as he could manage. “The launch was canceled!”
“Oh my god! What happened?”
“There was a bomb threat, and you know how well bombs and people go together.”
“Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not going to space.”
“That’s terrible.” Clay could hear the frown in Apollo’s voice.
God, this lying thing isn’t fun at all.
“Are you home?” Apollo asked.
“Yeah, I forgot that you were working today.”
“Well Trucy’s giving me the evil eye, so I’ll swing by on my lunch break.”
“Sounds great. Bye.”
Clay wasn’t quite sure what to do while he was alone in the apartment. He was at the space station most of the time so he didn’t have much to entertain himself with. There were books. Clay liked books. Most of them were Apollo’s, but he had a good taste in literature so none of them could be too terrible…
I never realized how much manga he owns.
After reading the entirety of the Death Note series, Clay decided that he’d watch Netflix and try to escape the reality he was bound to.
When noon finally rolled around, Apollo came back home to find Clay lying on the couch, covered in a blanket, and half-asleep.
“Hey, you doin’ alright?” Apollo asked.
“I’m feeling pretty crappy.” Clay sat up and yawned. Apollo took a seat next to him.
“So do you think they’ll reschedule the launch?” He asked.
“I dunno. I sure hope they do.”
Apollo seemed to be staring at Clay.
No! He’s on to me!
“You don’t seem to be very upset about the launch being canceled.”
“What are you talking about?” Clay asked, trying to sound shocked.
“It’s just whenever you talk about the launch, your nose twitches.”
“Now you’re using your magical powers against me?!”
“Clay, you and I both know you’re hiding something. You might as well tell me now ’cause you know I’ll figure it out anyway.”
Clay sighed. “Alright fine. So I had this… I want to call it a dream, but it was much too vivid and… and realistic to just be a dream. In it I was stabbed… and I… I died. I was in my space suit and it was obvious that I was at the space station. I don’t know if I’m clairvoyant or if that was just a really weird dream, but I had to get out of the launch if I wanted to live.” Clay looked over at Apollo who was just sort of blankly staring at Clay.
“So was the launch actually canceled?”
“I might have possibly told Director Cosmos that my grandma died-”
“Oh my god Clay!”
“I’m sorry! I feel bad and everything, but I needed an excuse,”
Apollo crossed his arms. It was obvious that he was pissed. “So there wasn’t a bomb threat.”
“There was, it’s just that the government wanted the launch carried out so Director Cosmos decided to fake the launch instead.”
“So… how long have you known about it?”
“A few weeks?”
“And you’re just now getting this ‘vision’ of yours?”
“Well when you put it that way, it sounds pretty stupid.”
“That’s because it is pretty stupid.”
Clay sighed, his irritation growing. “Look, have you ever dreamed you were killed?”
Apollo crossed his arms, “no.”
“I’ve had some pretty weird dreams in my life time, but I’ve never dreamed that I died, either. It’s too abnormal to just be my subconscious screwing with me!”
“But it’s still a dream.”
“Would you rather me ignore it and possibly die?!”
Apollo froze. “N-no! What the hell! How did you come to that conclusion?”
Clay flinched. “S-sorry. That was a bit harsh wasn’t it?”
“Just a bit?”
Clay let out an awkward laugh. “By ‘this’ much.” He held him thumb and index finger an inch apart from each other.
Apollo arched an eyebrow. “Oh really?” He said. “‘I had a bad dream so I told my boss that my grandmother died.’ ‘just because you had a bad dream?’ ‘Well do you want me to die?!’ That’s more than overreacting ‘a little’.”
Clay crossed his arms. “I get it. I get it. You think I’m a dumbass.”
“I don’t think you’re a dumbass, I just think you’re being really impulsive.” He sighed. “Look, how about you just call Director Cosmos and smooth things over?”
“You mean by telling him that I lied about my grandma dying? I can’t do that!”
“I’m sure he’ll appreciate your honesty…”
“After he gives me a verbal lashing for lying in the first place! Look, Director Cosmos knows for a fact that the person who sent the threat isn’t bluffing. If the launch is carried out, a bomb is going to explode. It’s better if the launch is canceled.”
“Alright, fine. I’m not going to argue with you. It’s just going to give me an ulcer.”
Clay rolled his eyes, “whatever.”
They sat in silence until Apollo had to leave to go back to work.
Clay figured that after Apollo had some time to cool down they’d smooth things over and go back to making jokes about whatever stupid thing happened in the news.
“Hey!” Clay said when Apollo returned from the Anything Agency. “I found this hilarious story on CNN! It was about this-”
“I don’t wanna talk about it.” Apollo grabbed an apple and retreated into his room.
“A-are you sure?” Clay started following his friend, but stopped once the door was slammed in his face.
Clay grit his teeth, “fine. If you want to be an asshole two can play that game!” He picked up all the Death Note manga. “All your Death Note manga? It’s mine now.”
“I don’t care.” Apollo called from the other side of the door.
Before stalking off to his room, Clay called, “you’re really good at this game.”
Clay woke up the next day with a phone call from Director Cosmos.
“Terran, I just wanted to let you know that I managed to cancel the launch.” He said.
“…Do you know if it’s going to be rescheduled?” There was silence on the other end for a few moments.
“We’re unsure of whether or not we’ll be able to afford another launch. The government isn’t too happy with my decision and probably aren’t going to be very forthcoming with any funding.”
Clay pressed his lips into a line, trying to fight the growing disappointment in his stomach. “Right, thanks Director.” Clay hung up.
It was Saturday and the day was filled with awkward exchanges and the occasional nod.
There was a part of Clay that wanted to apologize for being such an ass, but a larger part was still bathing in self-righteous anger and self-pity.
If Apollo was really sorry, he’d have apologized already.
If only Clay could realize the irony of such a statement.
Apollo grabbed another apple and spent the rest of the day in his room. Clay couldn’t tell if he was grieving the loss of his Death Note manga, but he took solace in the fact that Apollo was probably hiding behind the closed door to hide the tears he was sobbing into his pillow.
That’ll show him for being passive aggressive.
Sunday seemed to start the same, but Apollo and Clay were making progress in the whole so-mad-they-gave-each-other-the-silent-treatment fight. They were finally in the same room and saying more than the occasional question with a short answer.
It was around six o’clock when a knock sounded on the front door.
“I’ll get it.” Apollo said.
Clay was in the kitchen, preparing dinner and was only able to hear Apollo’s side of the conversation.
“Detective Fulbright?… No I’m not busy… Y-yeah, come in.”
A tall blonde man strode into the apartment. He and Clay’s gazes met briefly and the detective offered a large grin that was nervously returned by Clay. Apollo had told him stories of Detective Fulbright. He worked with Prosecutor Blackquill and was obsessed with ‘justice’ that wasn’t of the Apollo variety.
That joke had been shot down before it even had the chance to be uttered.
But despite bearing the description of ‘harmless,’ Clay couldn’t help but get a bad feeling when he looked at the detective. Clay sighed and turned his attention back to slicing tomatoes and chalked it up to paranoia.
Apollo and Fulbright were chatting in the living room. Clay only caught snippets of the conversation, and from that gleamed that they were talking about Blackquill. It didn’t seem all that interesting, so Clay started humming along to a song stuck in his head.
“Where’s your bathroom?” Fulbright asked, pulling Clay back into reality.
“Oh, uh, down the hall, second door on the left.”
Fulbright walked by and Clay poked his head into the living room where he found Apollo slumped over, blood seeping through his t-shirt.
What the hell?!
Clay ran over and hauled Apollo over his shoulder. Before he could bolt out the door, a voice said, “oh no. What happened to Mr. Justice?” The tone was a sort of mock surprise that made Clay’s skin crawl.
He took off running, but something hit his leg, making it give way. A numbness spread through Clay’s body and his vision was spotted with black.
“You figured it out didn’t you, Terran?” Fulbright asked, his voice devoid of any humor.
“Figure… what?” Clay’s speech was beginning to slur.
“You figured out who I am.”
“N-no… I… I don’t know.”
“Don’t lie. That’s why you got the launch canceled.”
“No… My grandma… died.”
“No she didn’t. I checked.”
Clay tried to inch away, but a foot was planted on his back, pinning him to the ground. “A fighter to the end I see.”
Before Clay could say any more, there was the sound of a gunshot.