Chapter 4--Alex Verin

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We walked to the parking garage, and Dad’s driver pulled around and picked us up in a black limo. He opened the door for us, and Dad got in the seat that faced mine and Mom’s. After what I’d seen Dad do to the Ambassador, I didn’t even want to make eye contact. So I shut my eyes and leaned against the tinted window like I was still feeling sick. I was about to fall asleep when Dad’s phone rang.

“Hello? Yeah, I’m just here in the car with Stephanie and Alex. We managed to block the vote, but it was close. He knows it, too—rubbed it in my face in front of his friends. Well, if you have the solution I’m open to—no, I won’t be back in the office until tomorrow morning. We’ll be home in about fifteen minutes. Stop by if you want, and we can talk in my office there. All right…bye.”

I still didn’t open my eyes until we got home, and the driver seemed to be watching his new shoes around me when he opened the doors for us. As he left, we walked up a brick pathway to our house’s front entrance.

“You should go lay down, Alex,” Mom said as Dad opened the door. “I’ll see if I can find something to settle your stomach.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled then started up the stairs a little slower than normal.

When I got to my room, I grabbed my DMR off my desk and checked my messages, which were mostly spam and video game newsletters I never felt like reading anymore. Toward the bottom of the list, a message from ‘The Bogeyman’ with no subject line caught my attention. Before I could open it, I heard Mom coming up the stairs and tucked the DMR under my blankets. She sat a box of saltine crackers and can of clear soda on my end table then reached over to feel my head with the back of her hand.

“You’re a little warm,” she said and shook her head at me. “You shouldn’t eat anything out of those vending machines again. Who knows how long that stuff sits in there? If you don’t feel better by tomorrow, I’ll call the doctor’s office.”

“Thanks,” I replied and forced a smile.

She smiled back and started out the door, hesitating as she got to the doorway.

“Alex, when you feel better your dad still wants to sit down and talk to you about the Hannarians. He feels like you’re ready to know everything now since Andrew may have approached you today as a way of getting to him. He just wants to make sure they don’t confuse you.”

“All right,” I said, not wanting to mention that it was me who approached Andrew and not the other way around.

She closed the door. As soon as she left, I took my DMR back out again and opened the message:


To: Alexander Verin

From: The Bogeyman

Subject: (no subject)

Date: November 9, 2300 2:35 P.M.

Hi Alex, 

Andrew told me what happened today in the break room, and if you want to know our side of things I’m willing to tell you what I can. It’s just at your age I don’t want to put you in any danger, and I don’t believe your parents do either.

Contrary to what you may think, I respect your father. I just think Adam has been led to believe a lot of things that aren’t true, and that’s why he behaves the way he does. Part of that is even my fault. I’ve allowed lies about us to go uncorrected to protect either myself or people I care about. 

If you have specific questions or anything you’re curious about, just send me a message. I have a long trip ahead of me, and I could use something to do to pass the time.

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