The Keepers

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Chapter 35

“So, how did it go?”, Stephen asked anxiously. Alex had just arrived and Stephen met him at the door, barely containing his excitement. It was late when Alex made it home from the bar last night, and the only message he sent to Stephen before crashing for the night was, ‘We’ve made contact’.

“It went according to plan I guess. Actually it was even easier than I thought. He actually made contact with me.”

This news obviously shocked Stephen, who replied, “How in the world did that happen?”

“My idea about sitting at the bar where most people ordered drinks turned out to be a winner. I was just sitting there, and someone on my right made some innocuous comment about the service, I turn around to respond, and there he was. We made small talk for a few seconds as he waited for the bartender. Then I thought he was about to leave so I panicked and told him that he looked familiar.”

“Uh oh. You didn’t freak him out did you?”

“No I didn’t. At least I don’t think I did. We started talking and he said that he was on the student council and that’s probably where I’ve seen him before. I introduced myself, and he said that he recognized my name from that TV interview I did last year when my book came out. That broke the ice, and we talked for a few minutes while he was waiting on the slowest bartender I’ve ever seen. When he finally got his drinks and was getting ready to pay, I told the bartender to put his and his friends’ drinks on my tab. Needless to say, I’ll be pretty popular next week with him and his buddies.”

Stephen was impressed. “Nice touch. That will make next week a little easier then. What do you think? Do you feel comfortable enough to make the pitch next week?”

“Comfortable or not, I think we need to make our move. If they are watching us, then our little meeting last night spooked them I bet. I was going to volunteer to stake out his place tonight. See if he gets any visitors.”

“Probably a good idea. I’ll go home and take a nap then come relieve you later on tonight. This is going to be a long week, waiting on next Thursday. So much can happen between now and then.”

Alex was thinking the same thing. As much as they felt like they were at the finish line, they also knew that recruiting Sebastian to their side was only the beginning. If they were successful, things would get even more dangerous for all three of them. It was one thing for a couple of old men on the outside to be meddling around and asking questions. It was quite a different story if ‘The Keepers’ had one of their own working from the inside. The fact that they were putting Sebastian in such a dangerous situation weighed heavily on both men. As they thought about how clueless Sebastian was to what was about to be thrown into his lap, they also realized their own uncertainty about what the coming weeks and months would bring. For all their sakes, Alex and Stephen hoped they knew what they were doing.

Both men knew they would only get one chance. They had to admit, as they played out the conversation in their heads, they were starting to have doubts. As crazy as all this sounded to them, they couldn’t imagine being in Sebastian’s shoes and hearing it all for the first time. In a bar setting no less. They would have to spend the next week not only keeping an eye out for ‘The Keepers’, but also rehearsing the sales pitch that Alex would be making. If their plan worked, then the real mission would begin. If it didn’t work, they might have to join Anthony, wherever that might be.

It was with those thoughts in mind that Alex began his shift outside Sebastian’s apartment. He and Stephen had agreed that they should swap vehicles and parking spots throughout the week to throw off anyone who may be watching. They also agreed that their watches should overlap a couple of hours so that they could spend that time going over Thursday’s meeting. So far, just a few hours into the first watch, nothing really happened. Sebastian arrived home around the usual time after class and seemed to be in for the day. There was a moment of excitement for Alex when a strange man approached the front door, but that just turned out to be a neighbor apparently. He and Sebastian exchanged pleasantries and each man returned to their homes.

Boredom was setting in and that was just fine with Alex. He hoped things remained boring for the rest of the week. They would have enough excitement one way or the other come Thursday. A knock on the passenger window startled Alex, but not much. It was time for Stephen to relieve him, so he unlocked the door and let his friend in.

“Anything to report?”, asked Stephen.

“Nothing at all. Not that I’m complaining. If we can stay unnoticed for three more days, then we’ll have our chance. Thursday can’t get here soon enough.”

“Exactly.” Stephen had his eyes focused on the front door, but clearly had something else on his mind.

“What are you thinking?”, his friend asked.

“A thought occurred to me when I was trying to sleep last night. Ever since we started investigating this group, we have been so gung-ho on trying to expose and destroy these guys. I guess I never really took the time to ask ‘Why?’. They’re really not doing anything horrible. If anything, they have done a lot of good in the world. The technology and knowledge that they’ve passed down for generations has no doubt saved and improved lives. If we bring them to the light of day, we are essentially destroying them. I guess we’ve never really sat down and discussed the aftermath. What happens if we’re successful and we expose ‘The Keepers’?”

Alex was stunned at this statement. But at the same time he had to pause and think about his own reasons. The scientist in him, and he had to believe the journalist in Stephen, desperately wanted to break this story wide open. They both worked in fields that rewarded breakthroughs and the discovery of new ideas. He was sure that at some point he had considered what would happen afterwards, but it wasn’t until his friend brought it up just now, that he considered for a second that exposing ‘The Keepers’ would be anything but good.

“That’s true. They have done a lot of good in the world. But don’t you think the world deserves to know the truth about its’ history? I know the groups’ intentions probably started out from a good place, but they could also be responsible for some of the atrocities of the world as well. Besides, there’s just something that doesn’t sit right with me about one group of people dictating the planet’s future. You have to agree with that.”

“I agree. At the end of the day, I do believe that we are doing the right thing. I guess I just wanted to make sure we are both prepared for the outcome of what we have been working so hard to achieve.”

“Whether the result is negative or positive isn’t the point. Modern human beings deserve the right to control their own destiny. Who’s to say that civilization wouldn’t have been able to create the same technology without ‘The Keepers’ help anyway? The human mind is capable of anything. I just want to give that freedom back to our people.”

“I hope you’re right. But you have to admit, it would be kind of cool to know what else they’re holding onto right? There’s no telling what they have in store for us next.”

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