“This is some serious bullshit, bro,” Freddie grunted.
“I agree,” Jess added. “Where did you get that disc?”
“It’s part of my job.”
“Yeah, well,” said Freddie, “if what’s on the disc is so secret and important, and we had it, how the hell did you fool them into thinking they got the real thing?”
“The DVD has this chip, or something,” Martin explained. “You saw them scan the disc for it. I just made it seem like that dummy disc had the same thing on it. I also added it to this,” he pulled out another golden disc out of his back pocket. I started to wonder if there were more. “Crosswords. The ones I thought I’d left with you. That way, even if they find us, we can stall them once again with a fake DVD.”
Freddie seemed completely baffled by the response. “How did you do that? Cause I can tell you, bro, that’s not how fucking data encryption works.”
“Well, it does in my line of work.”
“Just what the fuck do you do for a living, Martin?”
“Oh, you know,” Martin smirked. “I just type in those numbers.”
“Just drop it, Freddie,” Mia entered the conversation just when Freddie rolled his hand into a fist. “He never told me, he sure as hell won’t tell you. Still, we’re all in a pretty sticky situation now. They will find out the DVD is just filled with movies and come back. Martin says they’ll know where to look for you, so we only have one option now.”
“We need to run,” I didn’t notice when Brandi came up to us, but there she was, standing right between Jess and Freddie, her cloud of blonde hair shining briliiantly in the sunlight. Ian was just behind her, slightly taller than the others. He was looking much better, even if his hair was still slightly tangled.
“Yes, thank you, Brandi,” said Martin.
“L-like, now?” I asked. My voice was trembling. “Where to?”
“I was instructed to take the disc to a certain small town in New Mexico if a situation like this arose,” Martin’s voice, by contrast, was completely composed, almost monotone. I could never wrap my head around the way he could shift moods so quickly.
“New Mexico?” Ian joined the conversation, fixing up his wide-framed glasses that had gone askew during the stickup. A wide grin appeared on his face, his blue eyes bright with enthusiasm. “That means we’re going on a roadtrip!”
“If that’s what you want to call it, be my guest,” Martin smirked at him. Goddamnit, Martin, nobody’s your guest! This is my house! “We just have to leave now. Go back home and pack as fast as you can. We’re also going to need a bigger car, if we all want to fit in one vehicle. I was thinking–”
“Yeah, sure, we can use our van! Right Freddie?” Ian said.
“We’re just gonna need to fill her up and we’re good to go,” Freddie replied
“No,” I said. I tried to sound as confident as possible. It worked. My voice was low in pitch, stable and strong, almost monotone, just like Martin’s a few seconds ago. Everyone’s eyes turned toward me. “I’m not going anywhere. And I have no idea why you’re all so cool with this.”
“Leo, we really don’t have time for this,” Martin insisted.
“How do you expect me to just believe you like that? Why us? Why can’t you just take your stupid disc to your stupid New Mexico yourself? I mean, we all have jobs, we can’t just go like that!”
“Actually, Leo,” Ian started. “It’s summer, remember? You and I have a break in the summer. That’s kinda what you get for working at a school.”
“And I’m kinda in the middle of changing jobs now anyway, so,” Brandi added.
“And I’m sure Freddie and I can arrange a couple days off with our bosses,” this time it was Jess. I gave her a look that was meant to express betrayal, I was sure she would back me up. She didn’t seem to notice, though. “Right, Freddie?”
“Sure. If that’s what can save us from getting shot down by those two, I’m down with the idea. I think they’ll understand,” Freddie grinned at me. “C’mon, Leo. Martin’s our friend. I mean, I wanna punch his fucking guts out for letting all of this happen, but what’s done is done. I can tell he’s speaking the truth. Hell, even if he’s lying, I don’t wanna take any chances on any of us dying just like that. And you gotta admit, a roadtrip sounds like a shit-ton of fun.”
“As fun as an escape from dudes out to kill us over a fake DVD may be,” I groaned. “Fine. I guess I have no choice now.”
“Martin!” a voice came from the kitchen. It was the black guy that accompanied Martin and Mia. “It’s like you said – they’ve set up explosives all over the foundations. The sooner we ditch this place, the better.”
“But I need to pack!” I exclaimed.
“Don’t you worry about that, bud,” said the handlebar moustache guy. He’d just emerged from the staircase carrying three of my suitcases. “I got ya packed. No need to thank me.”
“What,” I said dryly.
“Right, let’s arrange a meeting spot,” Martin announced. “We all know the wood at the edge of town? That’s where we’ll meet up. You guys get your van and pick up the girls once they’re ready. Mia, Leo and I will be waiting for you there.”
“Right! Come on, Freddie,” Ian was brimming with energy.
“Alright,” Freddie said as he and Ian made their way to the door. “You guys coming along?”
Before leaving together with Brandi, Ian and Freddie, Jess gave me a reassuring tap on the shoulder. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Any of it. Was that another purely platonic touch, or did the sensual encounter the two of us had in my head actually happen? Everything was happening so fast. One minute we’re having a party and then we’re going to New Mexico with some stupid DVD, hoping the MIB won’t kill us along the way. I just… I looked at Martin. He was discussing something with his entourage, his face stern, stoic. Just that look on his face made me lose all composure. I’d had enough of that attitude, and yet I had no choice. Fuck Martin. Like, seriously, what the fuck.