To avoid any more sympathy from someone who shouldn’t have been wasting time looking after him, Tyler gives the excuse of exhaustion to head to bed. He and Zeke have a brief argument about where Tyler should sleep, wanting to be a good host Zeke insisted on the bed, opting to sleep on the couch but feeling that he’d already overused his welcome Tyler tried to decline his politeness. Tyler ends up in the bedroom, lying on the bed awake, unable to stop thinking about what he was going to do when Zeke was asleep.
At some stage he drifts off to sleep, only realizing when he opens his eyes and notices the light from under the door was off. He gets out of bed quietly and tip toes to the door, opening it and looking up the hallway, all the lights were off so Zeke must have been asleep. He takes a deep breath and creeps to the front door, unlocking it and opening it quietly. There was something beautiful about the breeze that kissed his face, the freshness of the air felt like it was pulling him out the door but at the same time Tyler felt frozen with uncertainty.
Zeke seemed like he lived in the middle of nowhere, he was at the end of a cul-de-sac that appeared to be surrounded by half-built houses, there were street lights lighting the road area, but back down the road to where it connected to the next street, which disappeared into darkness. Zeke takes a step outside the door, feeling the slight dampness of the dew on the grass under his bare feet, then he suddenly feels overwhelmed with adrenaline. He was outside, he was in the open and he had freedom all around him but no idea what to do next, a mix of thoughts and emotions hit him all at once, there was an urge to run but a reluctance to leave. Logic telling him he shouldn’t trust someone blindly, but fear telling him he was safer inside.
“You have no idea how close I was to shooting you right now.” Zeke’s voice startles Tyler who jumps and turns back to him, his hand on his heart. Zeke was standing in the hallway with a gun in his hand, but lowered beside his leg as he leant against the wall. “You don’t have to sneak out, and frankly please don’t. If you disappear in the middle of the night, I’ll assume you’ve been found and kidnapped and come looking for you, if you want to leave because you don’t want to be here then just tell me and let me take you somewhere safe. Don’t sneak out like this, it’s not safe.” Zeke beckons for him to come back inside.
“Says the one holding a gun, threatening to shoot me?” Tyler asks. Zeke shakes his head and pockets the gun.
“I wasn’t threatening you, I thought you were someone breaking in, so I was rightfully prepared to defend the house. Did you have a plan to leave or were you just going to run off into the darkness and hope for the best?” He asks. Tyler looks at Zeke, once again torn between believing the kindness in his voice, or the reasoning in his head.
“I don’t know.” Tyler shrugs, a sudden shiver against the night air that had felt so welcome before but now felt shrouded in danger. “I don’t feel right staying here. You don’t need to be dealing with me. If what you’ve said is true then you’ve already done enough just not letting me die.”
“That’s an opinion you’re entitled to but you have to at the very least think it through and have a plan, once you get outthereI can’t protect you and I don’t want to find your body on my next job.” As Zeke’s words sink in Tyler steps back inside and closes the door behind himself and the hope for freedom with it. If what Zeke had been telling him about this guy was true, then he’d have to trust his safety here, at least until the killer was found. Even if Zeke was lying though, the phrase ‘The enemy you know against the enemy you don’t’ seemed like a fitting reminder that he had at least more chance to fight back if he knew who he was fighting against. With a defeated sigh, Tyler walks back up the hallway to the bedroom, sitting on the bed and thinking about what Zeke had said about a plan. Whether he was staying or leaving he needed to have a plan, an escape plan if something went wrong. He couldn’t just be hopeful and trusting, even if Zeke was a genuine person, he’d need his own survival plan if anything happened.
“It’s ok, I’m not going to have a meltdown.” Tyler states annoyed by Zeke’s obvious concern as he looks up and notices that Zeke was standing in the doorway, watching him sadly.
“You aren’t an inconvenience, just so you know.” Zeke tells himgently,Tyler sighs and gives him askepticallook then pulls back the sheets on the bed and lies down and pulls the blankets over himself entirely. “Just at least tell me if you’re leaving.” Zeke asks.
“I’m not going anywhere.” Tyler calls out, he gets no reply but hears Zeke’s footsteps heading away down the hall and the night goes back to its uneventful silence. With his mind racing, trying to work out if there was any way he could leave and be safe, Tyler knew he wasn’t going to get back to sleep, but hestaycovered in the blankets until the heat of the morning sun and the smell of bacon forces him out of his cocoon.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Zeke gives Tyler a smile as he walks into the kitchen.
“Mm, next question.” Tyler slumps into a chair at the table.
“If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you Tyler?” Zeke asks as he brings over a plate of bacon and eggs and places it in front of Tyler.
“I’m almost 19.” Tyler replies, looking slightly confused by the unexpected subject change but assuming it was still about lastnight. “Soif I didleaveI’d be able to book a place for myself to stay and everything.” He explains.
“With what money and under what name? You’re actually going to be confirmed as dead when they do the official police reports. It’s for your own safety that you go under cover now.” Zeke tells him, Tyler raises his eyebrows at how serious the situation was, taking a few moments to comprehend what Zeke had just said.
“I’ll be reported as dead? My friends will think I’ve been murdered?” Tyler asks in shock.
“Like you saw on the news last night, I’m sorry. It’s not ideal for you, I know. But it is the safest option, unfortunately you can’t contact anyone or do anything that would make you easy to track down.”
“Well at least I don’t have to go back to school then.” Tyler shrugs, looking down at the food before him that he’d so far just been cutting into bite sized pieces and moving around on his plate distractedly. “They can mourn me and remember how shitty they were to me.” He mutters in a very cynical tone.
“That’s a bit morbid, I take it you didn’t like school very much?” Zeke asks with a frown.
“I hated the place and spent a lot of time being bullied so I stopped turning up, missed exams and didn’t hand in assignments on time. I skipped a lot of school last year so I had to repeat it this year, I figured at least the people that found it funny to bully me relentlessly, would have all graduated and I wouldn’t have to deal with them but it turns out, there are just awful people in every school year.” Tyler sighs, leaning back in his seat and running his hands over his face as he remembers the things he used to run from, things he used to be afraid of and the minimal damage from the people that use to be a threat, in comparison it felt so insignificant. “Guess I won’t be able to go to college or even get a job while I’m ‘dead’. Trigonometry isn’t going to help me find out where the guy that killed my parents is.” He remarks.
“What job did you want?” Of all the things Zeke could have commented on he seemed more interested in small talk. Probably wise, Tyler considers, to not get into any deeper conversations, step one of his minimally thought out plan was to get to know Zeke more.
“Honestly, anything that had minimal actual interaction with people. What about you, did you always want to be a secret agent? How do you even end up in that job anyway? I don’t know about your school but mine didn’t have any secret agent classes.” Tyler jokes, hoping Zeke would speak more openly about it if it seemed like just friendly conversation.
“You’re convinced I’m a secretagentaren’t you?” Zeke laugh to himself, giving Tyler nothing to work with.
“You have a gun, you talk about being trained, you don’t like the police and you won’t tell me anything about your job, you’re definitely a secret agent type person or something like that.” Tyler presses a little more bluntly.
“Something like that, don’t say a word to anyone ok, not a single person promise?” Zeke replies with a wink then gets up and takes his plate to the sink.
“Oh‘causeI have so many people to tell.” Tyler rolls his eyes, “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“Speaking of work, I’ll be heading out for a few hours today. I am guessing you’ll go through all my things while I’m out so I’m just going to say, please do not damage anything, it’s all important in one way or another to finding out how to stop what happened to you from happening to others. ”Zeke turns back to Tyler and smiles at him.
“What, you don’t have a lock on the door to your office? If things are that important you should probably have a lock.” Tyles tells him.
“I do have a lock on the door, but for the sake of full transparency I’m not going to deny you the opportunity to reassure yourself that I am who I say I am.” Zeke shrugs.
“Yeah, that’d probably mean something if I knew anything about you but you’re really not saying much.” Tyler scoffs.
“If you stay, keep the doors locked and stay away from the windows just to be sure. If you leave, there’s a security alarm system in my office, all you have to do is turn it on, I’ll leave you the code. That way when I get home, if the alarm is on I’ll know you left and I won’t worry about you. If it isn’t on and you’re not here, I’ll worry.” Zeke
“And come searching for me with all your secret agent skills?” Tyler asks.
“I’m more worried about my boss finding out you’re here, honestly. I’ve broken protocols having you here.” Zeke states with a careless shrug.
“Do you have any idea how creepy that makes you sound? Why did you bring me here if you’re not supposed to? I thought I was here because it was your job or something. Are you going to lose your job if he finds out you’vekept me?” Tyler
“I wouldn’t lose my job, they need me too much, but you’d be forcibly removed and put into the custody of police. My boss likes to do ‘the right thing’ by the book, whereas I like to actually try to do the right thing as far as what is safest for the person.” Zeke explains, he had a kind of attitude that suggested that he didn’t particularly care about the consequences he would personally face and Tyler didn’t quite know how to feel about that. “AnywayI hope you’ll be here when I get back, if for no other reason than because you’re probably still not really in the best condition to be on the run and homeless. Please eat something. I know that people deal with stress in different ways but I’ve noticed you’re avoiding food. Even if you aren’t feeling hungry, your body needs the nutrients.” Zeke suggests, nodding his head towards Tyler’s breakfast, cut into small pieces but he’d not actually eaten any of it.
“No, really?” Tyler asks sarcastically, not appreciating being called out like that. Zeke takes the hint and doesn’t further comment on it, simply leaving Tyler to it.
As soon as Zeke leaves, Tyler gets straight into going through Zeke’s office, trying to find anything to prove whether or not he could be trusted. Nothing he was reading made any sense to him and all seemed to simply be notes about places, weapons and attack patterns. Therewasno personal notes, nothing that stood out at least. Giving up on the office, Tyler starts snooping through the rest of the house, trying to find any hiding spot that could have something like Zeke’s mail, some kind of evidence of his employment but again, there was nothing he could find.
Frustrated at how private Zeke had kept everything, Tyler sits on the floor in the hallway and drops his face in his hands. This all felt like some weird dream, where the more he tried, the less he knew about this person. With a heavy sigh, he lifts his head and leans it against the wall, out of the corner of his eyes he catches a glimpse of something shiny from the ceiling. He looks up and realizes the hallway ceiling was lined with a mirrored surface. Tyler stands up and walks into the lounge room, the ceiling in there was normal but he could see the entire hallway through the mirror from the lounge room, no wonder Zeke knew he was listening into the phone call last night.
Right in the middle of that thought, the phone beside Tyler rings and he reacts as though he’d just been shot, then without even thinking, Tyler takes the phone from the wall and answers it.
“You are fucking dead.” The voice replies then the connection ends. Tyler puts the phone down shakily and stands there silently for a moment. He couldn’t believe he’d just mind blanked and answered the phone, but he couldn’t take it back, it was too late, he’d been found. His safety compromised, Tyler rushes to the office to set off the alarm system. Just as he punches in the security code Zeke had given him as the slow crunch of car tires rolls up the bitumen outside the house. Tyler panics, swiftly rushing up the hallway and into the kitchen to grab a knife then waiting. His fight or flight instincts were letting him down because he was so frozen with fear, his heart thumping in anticipation as he hears the click of the front door.