I wasn’t even doing too great in New Mexico anyway. It was probably a sign that I died…
Apollo was still upset about Clay leaving, but Clay didn’t feel as bad as he had the first time. It was probably just because he knew that he could get in touch with Apollo if he needed to.
Clay tried Arizona. It seemed like a decent place that could keep him occupied. There were deserts…
And he could go on an alien sight-seeing tour…
That would be fun.
It was alright. Clay didn’t learn anything new, but he was occupied for a small amount of time.
He found a book on the history of space travel that was a lot better than the sci-fi book he found in New Mexico. That didn’t teach him anything he didn’t already know either.
But it took up time at least.
His warring thoughts seemed to subside after a while, but Clay found that he wasn’t thinking about much of anything. At least about anything of importance.
I should probably order some food.
But he just wanted to sleep, really. He only ordered food to put his stomach to rest.
After about an hour of laying in bed, hoping for sleep that never came, there was a knock on the door. “Room service!” It was the receptionist. Oh right, he had ordered food a while ago…
Clay forced himself to get up and answer the door. A tray was handed off to him. “Thanks.” He closed the door and looked down at the food. It was all stuff he liked, steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, he even ordered a piece of cake. But he didn’t feel any desire to eat anything.
Back to sleeping.
The next day, Clay managed to pull himself out of bed to call Apollo. This time, he received an answer,
Clay rubbed his eyes with one hand. Why was he so tired? “It’s me.”
“Oh hey! How are you doing?” Apollo seemed way happier than usual.
“I’m doing fine.”
“Are you sure? You sound upset.” It might just be Clay’s imagination…
He ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I’m alright. Uh… how are you doing?”
“I’m fine, I guess. How’s… where ever you are?”
“It’s fine. Nothing too exciting, but I should probably be grateful for that. I could use a break from running for my life.”
Apollo laughed quietly. “Everything’s been quiet here. I’ve still got my head between my shoulders. Guess that’s a good sign.”
Clay managed a short laugh. If it could even be classified as that. “Yeah, probably.” There was silence over both sides of the line.
Apollo coughed nervously. “…Well I have to get going. Talk to you soon?”
“Yeah.” Clay hung up and made his way back to his room.
“You’re not going to go out?” The receptionist seemed concerned. “You haven’t left in a while.”
“Why do you care? I’m paying regardless.”
The woman frowned, clearly annoyed at Clay’s response. “Well excuse me for being concerned. I’ll just mind my own business from now on.”
She rolled her eyes as Clay jammed the up button on the elevator despite only being on the second floor. Once he was in his room, he collapsed on the bed. Everything seemed to take so much out of him, and Clay couldn’t figure out why. As far as he knew he wasn’t sick, but he was sleeping as much as he would if he was sick. Maybe he was just adjusting. This was a completely different environment.
Whatever it was, Clay didn’t have the energy to think about it any longer. He just went back to sleep.
. . .
What day was it? Monday. He only had a day before the launch. Hopefully Fulbright wouldn’t kill Apollo or anyone else and will just try to track down Clay. Of course that was wishful thinking.
It was Wednesday when the receptionist knocked on his door. “Phone call.”
“Who’s it from?”
“A Mr. Apollo Justice. Says it’s really important.”
Clay opened the door and took the phone. Before the receptionist could say anything, he retreated back into his room and shut the door. “Hello?”
“Fulbright’s looking for you.”
“That was a given.”
“He killed Starbuck.”
“Of course he did…” Clay cursed himself for not thinking about that. Of course he’d kill Starbuck. He was the only one on the rocket.
“How are you so-”
“I’m extremely desensitized to the whole dying thing, okay?”
“Fulbright’s going to start looking for me soon.”
“Just lie like I told you to and delete your call history.”
Apollo inhaled a shaky breath. “I can’t lie.”
“It’s really not that hard.”
“Maybe not for you, but I’ve never been able to lie. I fidget and look as guilty as guilty can be!” Apollo’s voice was edged with panic. “He’s going to know that I’m lying the minute I open my mouth.”
Clay furrowed his brow. His mind was slowly starting to sharpen; his thoughts were picking up speed. “Then tell half-truths. ‘Have you seen Clay?’ ‘I haven’t seen him since Friday’. It’s not technically a lie.”
“Are you ever going to come back?”
Clay froze. That was a question he hadn’t thought about. “I-I hope so.”
“You don’t know?”
“Not at this moment.”
“You can’t just spend your whole life running away. You’ll run out of money eventually.”
I’ll probably die before I run out of money.
“I haven’t thought about this part of the plan much. I’ll figure things out when I get to them.”
“Just… please be-”
“I’ll be careful as careful can be.”
Apollo managed a small laugh.”Stop reading my thoughts.”
Clay must seem like the strangest person in the world. “Sorry. I’ll try to keep my mind-reading powers to myself.” He said the phrase without any hint of humor, but Apollo laughed anyway. Probably in an attempt to lighten the awkward mood.
“Well I have to go back to fearing for my life. Talk to you later?”
“Yeah… definitely.” The two exchanged their goodbyes and Clay opened the door to his room. The receptionist was still standing there. She looked pissed.
“You didn’t have to slam the door in my face.” A deep scowl was imprinted on her face.
“Sorry, I didn’t meant to,” Clay handed the phone back, and moved to close the door. The receptionist’s foot blocked the way.
“What were you talking about? I heard something about a plan?”
Clay felt completely drained. This was not a conversation he wanted to have. “I was talking to my friend.”
“Are you doing anything illegal? Because if you are, I’ll have to call the cops.”
“I’m not breaking the law. I’m just in a really bad part of my life, and I don’t know what to do about it.”
The receptionist’s face immediately softened. “Is there anything I can do? You have seen really lost recently…”
Clay shook his head. “No, I want to figure things out for myself.” He moved to close the door. “But thank you for asking.”
And he was alone.
What do I do now? Hopefully Apollo’s convincing enough to convince Fulbright that he doesn’t know where I am… But Apollo’s right. He isn’t a good liar.
Clay dealt with this internal turmoil the only way he seemed to know how. Sleep.
The next day, he received a phone call.
“You’re pretty popular,” the receptionist was smirking.
Clay took the phone and held it up to his ear. “Hello?”
“They’ve got Fulbright in police custody.” Apollo’s voice sounded urgent.
Clay’s eyebrows rose. “How the hell’d they manage that?”
“I told them what you said, but they need your testimony to make sure any of it sticks.”
“They need me?”
“Yeah, one of the detectives told me to get in contact with you and get you back up here.”
“I-I’ll be there as fast as I can.”
It was great. Clay checked out, and trotted over to his car. He was ready to kick some ass and take names. The traffic wasn’t bad, but that was probably because it was only ten in the morning.
That made it even more maddening when the pickup truck t-boned him.