Clay was back in his room. Honestly, all of this was getting a bit redundant. He wished he could just hurry up and figure out how to not die.
Wait… does dying of old age count?
…Nah, that would be too much torture.
Apollo opened the door. “Oh hey, you’re awake.”
“Yes I am.” He stood up and pretended to check his phone. “Oh I have a missed call.” Clay put his phone to his ear and pretended to listen. “Oh you’ve gotta be kidding me!”
“What? What’s happening?”
“The launch was canceled!”
“I wish I was. Ugh, this sucks!”
“Are you still gonna go in?”
“What’s the point?”
Apollo frowned. “Well… okay then. I’ll be at the Agency if you need me.” He picked up his briefcase and was out the door.
Then it was just Clay.
First I’ll call Dad, then Director Cosmos.
“Daaad!” Clay whined.
“What’s wrong?” Geo asked, his voice laced with concern.
“The launch was canceled!”
“Oh Clay, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is Apollo there?”
“He left for work.”
“I can come over if you want.”
“No, you have to work, don’t you?”
“It’ll be no skin off my teeth.”
“No, you need the money, I’ll talk to Apollo while he’s on his lunch break.”
“Are you sure?”
Clay said he was sure. “Well okay then, I love you.”
“Love you too, bye.”
It went just as it always did.
Clay sat down on the couch and began to mull over his options.
It seems like Aura is going to hold up the station if I talk to her so I need to avoid going in. And it seems like having Ema come to the complex results in someone getting hurt.
Fulbright’s gonna follow me to the end of the earth once he learns he learns of the launch getting canceled. If I stay here, both Apollo and I die. If I call Ema, either I die in the hospital or she gets hurt. If I stay at the Agency I’m killed.
It seems like there’s only one thing to do.
Clay found a pen and a sheet of paper. He began writing.
Once you get home you probably wondered ‘where’s my devilishly handsome roommate?’ The answer is simple. I’m gonna leave for a while. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but it shouldn’t be long. A few weeks tops.
I know you’re cursing me for being the biggest dumb ass in the world, but I swear it’s for a good reason. But sadly, I can’t explain it.
I’ll write soon,
P.S. Don’t trust Fulbright. He’s really dangerous.
Clay put the note on the dining room table where he was sure Apollo was going to read it. He turned towards the door, but felt the note was incomplete.
P.P.S. It wasn’t anything you did, I promise.
Satisfied with his note, Clay threw some items in a bag, and left for his car.
. . .
First, Clay emptied his bank account. Using his debit card would just leave a paper trail.
After withdrawing all his money, Clay started searching for a hotel. There was a little motel on the other side of the state. It seemed clean enough and the building looked nice so he checked in with a fake name.
“And how long do you plan to stay?”
“I… don’t really know. Probably a week or two.”
“Okay, I hope you enjoy your stay.”
The room was okay. The beds weren’t very comfortable, the the place had a refrigerator and a stove so it met his needs.
Looks like I don’t have to eat out every day. Nice.
Clay figured he might as well do some shopping while we wasn’t hungry and asked for directions to the local grocery store.
While browsing the shelves of the store, his phone rang. It was Apollo.
“Where are you?”
“Hello to you too.”
“Where. Are. You.”
“I’m staying at a hotel.”
“I’m not really sure.”
“Clay I swear to god, if you don’t tell me where you are I’m going to send the police out to find you.”
“You can’t do that. You have a note from me saying I’m leaving and I’m going to be coming back. They’re not going to go looking for me.”
“I’m going to call regardless unless you tell me where you are so I can get you.”
“Okay, then I’m on the other side of the state.”
“It’s a really long and complicated story.”
“Well I have plenty of time to listen.”
“You probably won’t believe me.”
“Clay, just tell me the goddamn story!”
“Okay, okay, fine!” Clay explained the situation he was in up to this point.
“And that’s why you told me not to trust Fulbright…”
“Yeah, he’s… pretty ruthless.”
“Y’know, I’m kinda surprised that you’re taking this so well. Usually you think I’m insane and have Athena test my mental stability.”
“Well, you ran away, so something’s making you feel threatened.”
“I guess,” a woman pushed past Clay. He was taking up the whole isle. “Look, I gotta go. Talk to you later.”
“What are you doing?”
“Ah, I see.” The two exchanged their goodbyes and Clay hung up.
. . .
Everything was fine for a few days. Clay stayed in his room, and made food when he got hungry, but on the third day, Clay awoke to his phone ringing.
Rah’bel was calling.
“Hello?” All he could hear was sobbing. “Rah’bel, what’s wrong?”
“Apollo, he-he’s-” Her voice broke into sobs.
“What about Apollo!?” There was a sinking feeling in Clay’s stomach.
“Clay,” a new voice said.
“Apollo… Apollo passed away.” Rah’bel was still wailing in the background.
“I’m sorry…” Tears slid down Clay’s cheeks as violent sobs wracked his body.
“We don’t know.”
“I’m heading down right now.” Before his dad could say anything else, Clay hung up and grabbed his suitcase.
“I’d like to check out now,” he said. The receptionist looked surprise.
“But you’ve only-”
“Something came up.”
“O-okay,” Clay paid the woman and sped off.
He drove as fast as he could, blaring his horn at anyone who held up traffic.
It took a few hours to get back to Rah’bel’s house. When he knocked on the door, Geo answered. He looked tired, the lines in his face seemed deeper and his eyes were ringed with dark circles.
Rah’bel was sitting in the living room. She was much worse off. She was still in her work outfit, her mascara streaked down her puffy face. It didn’t seem like she had ever stopped crying.
Clay walked up the them and Rah’bel looked up.
“Clay…” She wrapped him in a tight hug, almost suffocating him. “He’s gone.” Geo joined the hug and they all stood there, silent.
There was a knock on the door.
“I-I’ll get it…” Geo muttered.
Rah’bel let go of Clay and walked to the kitchen. She pulled a few paper towels from the roll and wiped her face off.
“Rah’bel,” Clay started. “What happened?”
Rah’bel opened her mouth, but before she could respond, a shot rang out. Both Rah’bel and Clay called out to Geo and ran to the front door.
Fulbright was standing at the door, the lighter-gun still in his hand. Geo was on the ground, there was a small hole in the middle of his forehead.
“What the hell!?” Rah’bel screamed.
She fell to the ground.
There wasn’t anywhere for Clay to run. He just stood there and stared at the corpses of his friends.
“Why are you-”