Clay was true to his promise. He slowed down, and decided to think about things before he sprung into action.
I know how Fulbright was tracking me. I just need to get Apollo and myself out of here.
Apollo was punched, and strapped into Clay’s car.
Should I head to that inn?
He decided that he might as well.
Apollo woke up, and was extremely pissed at Clay, who explained everything to him. Of course, Apollo was still mad that he got punched, but was understanding of the circumstances surrounding the assault.
They checked in and unpacked.
A few days went by before all hell broke loose.
“Hello?” Apollo answered his phone. “I am he.” After a few moments of silence his eyes widened. “Oh my god…” He put the phone down. Tears had begun to run down his face.
Apollo was shaking.
Everything seemed to slow down as Clay processed what had just been said. “What?”
Apollo collapsed to the ground. “Holy shit… Holy shit…” He looked up. “We have to go home.”
Clay pressed his lips into a thin line. “We-we can’t do that.”
“We’ll both get killed if we do.”
“Then I’ll go myself.”
Clay furrowed his brow. “Apollo, you and I both know you can’t get back by yourself.”
“Then take me back home!” Apollo was yelling now.
“We’re going to get killed if I take us back. Do you really want that?”
“You’d do the same thing if Geo was dead!”
Clay rubbed his temples. This was getting to be extremely annoying. “Not if I knew I was going to be killed!”
“If wanting to stay alive makes me insane, then consider me asylum bound because I’m not leaving!”
Apollo didn’t say anything after that. After about fifteen minutes later, he stood up. “My cab’s here.”
Clay furrowed his brow. “What?”
“I said my cab’s here. It didn’t take much time to find someone who’ll actually take me home.” Apollo didn’t grab anything as he walked out the door. “I’ll come back when I’m done just to prove to you that I’m not dead.”
Clay watched Apollo walk out of the room. He thought about killing himself again, but decided to wait until Apollo turned up dead before he made any decisions.
He received a response late at night.
What’s Apollo doing texting me at two in the morning?
There was a video attached. It started with the sound of muffled grunts.
“Hello Terran. I see you didn’t listen to my previous warning. That’s too bad.” Fulbright was using some kind of voice modifier. “But that’s fine. I’ll give you another chance.” The camera moved to Apollo and Geo who were struggling against their bonds. “Aw, look at them, so full of life. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to them.”
Clay couldn’t pull his eyes away from his phone. This could not be happening.
“Respond to this message within an hour and I’ll think about sparing their lives. If not…” Fulbright picked up Apollo by his bangs. “Mr. Justice goes first.”
The video ended.
What do you want from me?
The response was almost instant.
Meet me at this address.
The address was listed. Clay looked it up; it was some kind of warehouse.
Of course it is. Fulbright seems to have some strange attraction to warehouses.
Without even thinking, Clay grabbed his keys and headed for the door. It didn’t occur to him that he could just kill himself and start over until he was almost back in L.A. But by then, he was in too deep to just stat over.
I could use this to figure out what exactly Fulbright’s going to do to Dad and Apollo. Maybe then I could keep Apollo at the inn…
Clay arrived at the address. His stomach was tied into knots despite him having a vague idea how this altercation would go down. He couldn’t stand the idea of getting any more of his family killed. Especially since he was partially responsible for Rah’bel’s death.
Instead of nervously hovering around the entrance like he did the last time Fulbright tried something like this, Clay burst through the door. “Fulbright get out here!” He yelled into an empty room. “C’mon you bastard. Show your face already!”
He stepped farther into the warehouse.
He’s probably hiding in the shadows waiting to kill me.
Clay was partially right. When he turned around, he was struck on the back of the head.
. . .
Something nudged Clay. “Mmmmph!” A kick landed straight on his ribs.
Clay opened his mouth to retort, but there was something soft in his mouth. A gag. He tried to turn over.
The other man widened his eyes almost as if he was saying, “well, let’s get outta here!” He started trying to roll over, but with his arms and legs bound, he only flipped over to his back.
Clay tried to do the same, but he ran into Geo. He nudged his father, who didn’t respond.
Before Clay could try to wake his father, Apollo let out a muffled shout. His eyes were trained on the flames quietly licking the gap under the door. Both men’s actions turned frantic.
I should’ve just killed myself.
Clay shimmied over to Apollo. Their hands were bound at the wrists, making their fingers usable. Clay turned around and motioned for Apollo to bring his hands towards him. Clay started trying to undo the the knot. His fingers fumbled around, trying to get a hold of a loose strand.
The fire had started to spread into the room. Apollo pulled away and started inching towards the fire.
What the hell is he doing?
Apollo placed his wrist just above the fire. The rope had started to burn away. Apollo let out a small yelp of pain when the fire burned his wrist, but other than that, he was alright.
“Alright, let’s get out of here.” Apollo had pulled off his gag, and was working on the rope binding his ankles.
“Mmph!” Clay shouted.
“Oh right.” Apollo pulled the gag out of the other man’s mouth.
“Untie my hands so I can work on my feet. Apollo complied and a minute later, Clay’s hands were free. “How are we gonna get out of here? I don’t see any other way to leave.”
Apollo eyes widened as he looked around the room. “Do you have any cell service?”
Clay’s hands went to his pockets. “Phone’s gone.”
Apollo pinched the bridge of his nose, most likely to hold back his tears. “Looks like we’re fucked.”
“There isn’t anything we can do, Clay!” Apollo sniffled. “Why didn’t I just stay at the inn? We wouldn’t be here right now if I had.” Apollo wrapped his arms around his legs and leaned against the wall. He was silent for a few minutes. “Why couldn’t we die quickly? Why’d it have to be fire?”
Because Fulbright’s mad at me.
Clay sat down next to Apollo. “I don’t know…”
The fire was making its way towards the 3 men. “Do you think there’s an afterlife?” There were tears in Apollo’s eyes.
“Neither do I.” Apollo laughed bitterly. “I didn’t think I’d have to answer that question for a while.”
The fire was so close Clay could feel the radiating heat.
“I was expecting to live another 60 years…” Apollo mumbled
The fire was close to touching Geo. Clay pulled his father away, and propped him against the wall. “What does burning to death feel like?” Clay asked.
Apollo gave Clay a strange look. “How can you be so nonchalant? We’re going to die!”
Clay was watching the flames dance to its own rhythm. “Well I might as well accept it.”
Apollo let out a bitter laugh. “I-I-” He broke down into a sobbing heap. “I don’t want to die!”
Clay didn’t know what to do. The flames were coming closer, and both him and Apollo were in tears.
“What do we do?” Apollo stood up, looking for a way out. “Are there any air vents?”
Clay grabbed Apollo’s arm and pulled him back down. “There’s no way out, Apollo.”
The other man collapsed to the ground. Clay tried to wrap an arm around his shoulders, but was batted away. “Don’t touch me.”
Clay curled himself into a ball.
Eventually, the flames engulfed the whole room. Apollo and Clay were reduced to screaming masses as they were slowly burned to ash. Geo never woke up. Either he was already dead or he had some kind of concussion. Despite being surrounded by heat, Clay’s insides were cold.
Why don’t I care that I’m dying?
This would all be over in a few minutes, but Clay was left with a heart that was heavier than the one he had woken up with a few days ago.