The Keepers

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Chapter 27

Alex hadn’t slept that long in years. He felt more refreshed than he could ever remember, and apparently Stephen had too. When he knocked on Alex’s door to pick him up for another session in the garage, he noticed that his longtime friend looked like he was shot out of a cannon.

“Hurry up, Alex. It’s been ten hours already. Anthony may already have the code cracked by now. I can’t even get him to answer the phone. He’s either still working on it, or he figured it out and is working on our next move.”

Alex hoped it was the latter, but as soon as they pulled into the driveway of Anthony’s house, they knew something wasn’t right. His car was gone, and the garage door was open. Anthony never left the door open even when he was at home. This wasn’t good.

Anthony told them about a hidden key to the house, so they made a quick pass through inside, looking for any sign of their partner. There were clothes thrown all around the bedroom, and a few lights were left on. In other words, it looked like someone had done some quick packing and left the premises as fast as possible.

Those suspicions were verified when they went to the garage to find it almost completely empty. The table and chairs were still there, but all the boxes and papers that were scattered throughout were all gone. Stephen and Alex were so stunned they didn’t know what to say. They were each wandering around inside the garage, looking for anything that might tell them where their friend was, when Stephen’s phone rang.

Anthony didn’t even wait for Stephen to say hello before he began speaking.

“Stephen, thank god. I was worried they had gotten to you.”

Stephen looked at Alex in confusion, not knowing what to make of that. Alex motioned for him to keep talking.

“Anthony. Where are you? We’re at your house. Everything is gone. Is someone after you?”

“Us. Someone is after us. We’re getting too close, Stephen. I was getting nowhere with the coded message, so I took it to a friend. On the way back I was followed by two men in an SUV. I tried to lose them, but they kept following. I finally lost them on the interstate, but everywhere I look, I’m seeing somebody else. They’re everywhere. I don’t know what we were thinking. We should have known they would never let us get to them.”

“So what now? You’re just leaving? I thought we were in this together?”

“I’m sorry guys. I really am. But I have to get out of here. I would tell you two to do the same, but I know it wouldn’t do any good. Good luck to both of you. And guys, remember, if you need help finding recruits, you need to look in Mexico.”

With that final confusing thought, the line went dead. Stephen looked at his phone, then realized that Anthony had hung up.

“What did he say Stephen?”

“He’s gone. He didn’t say where, just that he was being followed and that he had to get away from here. Then he said something about looking for recruits in Mexico.”

“So he wants us to recruit others now? And why Mexico?”

Suddenly Stephen jumped up out of the chair he was sitting in and headed back toward the house. Alex took off after him, grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around.

“What? Where are you going?”

“Recruits! Mexico! He’s not talking about us recruiting anyone. He and his friend deciphered the code.”

“Don’t tell me we have to go to Mexico?”

They were now in the kitchen of their friend’s house. Stephen reached up on top of the refrigerator and pulled down an old bread box that he had noticed the first time Anthony brought them inside the house. He asked Anthony about it at the time and apparently it was a souvenir that he had brought back from a vacation that he had taken years ago. Painted on the outside was a beautiful scenic view of a shoreline, with the word ‘Mexico’ written on the bottom.

And on the inside was a single sheet of paper.

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