Chapter 1 – Deacon's Proposal

Matt awoke with the sun in his eyes. Before checking the alarm clock that beamed over him, he knew he had overslept. The sun wasn't supposed to hit him from that angle.

Tossing and turning a few times before he decided to pry himself out of bed, Matt fumbled about his room for a new change of clothes. He turned on his CD player, as he knew he was the only one home.

The loud music reverberated off of the walls, causing his cat Max to dashed out from underneath his bed.

"They're not that bad!" he said as he watched Max round the corner of the hallway and vanish.

Matt smiled as he realized it was the fourth time he had missed philosophy this month.

"Professor's going to be pissed next time I show up." he said to himself.

Taking his cell phone out of its charger he noticed that Sandy had called him twice already.

They were together for almost a month and she was already trying to take care of him. He smiled as he thought of holding her. He met her through a friend at a sorority party one night. He caught her looking at him several times from across the crowded room. Finally after a few beers and words of encouragement from his friends, he made the move. He hadn't regretted it since.

"Ah babe you worry too much." he said.

After a quick bowl of cereal downstairs in the kitchen, he went back upstairs to the bathroom for a shower.

The water felt good as it massaged the top of his head. He was the member in his household that would take marathon showers. It was where he could think and be alone.

Though with all the time in the world, he couldn't figure out why he would always skip out on class. It was beginning to bother him; how easy it was for him to just "accidentally sleep him."

The only child of a well off family, he had a lot going for him. His parents were well off. He was very privileged growing up. High school was both a blast and a breeze and the University of Southern California accepted him. His parents paid the rent in his two-story home that he shared with his best friend.

"Guess I just don't know what I want." he said while turning off the shower. He didn't feel like listening to Jeff's complaints about the high water bills.

"I guess everything seemed so clear until now." Matt began as he was drying himself off. "Go to school, graduate." he said looking the mirror. "Get your Gen Ed's out of the way. Then what? They never told you what to do next" Matt ceased his one way conversation when he heard what sounded like footsteps near his door.

He heard another noise as he was putting on deodorant.

"Guess I'm not the only one playing hookie, hey Jeff?" he said out loud.

He didn't hear a response.

"Whatever man, just stay out of my room." he called out once again.

As he was adjusting his belt, he saw a figure disrupt the light from underneath the door. "What is that crazy kid up to?"

Matt gelled up his hair and hung up his towel. He was beginning to feel uneasy. Jeff rarely missed class, only if he was really sick. He was beginning to wonder if someone had broken into his house.

He opened the door slowly. He looked around for any sign of sudden movement.

"Alright, whoever is here, knock it off. Jeff, I mean it. I'm not in the mood."

Everything in his house seemed still as he walked towards his room.

"Max? You there buddy?"

He heard a relaxed meow come from his room. Perhaps it was just Max the entire time and Matt was overly paranoid. He blew out a sigh of relief and entered his room.

He stumbled back as he saw a blonde man in a leather trench coat sitting on his bed holding Max. Speechless, Matt felt cold as a wave of fear flushed through his body.

The man looked at him and smiled. "Aw, you didn't have to get all dolled up for us."

"Who the fuck are you?!"

The name's Deacon." Deacon extended his hand and waited a while before he decided Matt wouldn't shake it and took it back. "Actually Harris Deacon. But I hate my first name. Can you blame me?"

The man looked only a few years older than Matt, was probably in his late twenties and maintained a confident, almost arrogant smile that insulted Matt.

Deacon nodded behind Matt. Matt turned around and found similar dressed men standing behind him.

"The nice gentlemen behind you are" Deacon paused. "I'm sorry." he looked at Matt. "They're new. What are your names again?"

"Eric." said the man on Matt's right.

"Robert." said the man on Matt's left.

Deacon took a deep breath and extended his hand at Eric. "Eric" then his hand went to Robert. "And Robert. Sorry about that guys, I'm just bad with names." Deacon gently placed Max on the ground and got up.

"Of course none of that's really important. What's important is that you're Matt Winder, correct?"

Matt tried putting on a tough act as he looked up to the man in front of him. Deacon was taller than Matt by a few inches. "What's it to you?"

Deacon reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, black device. He chuckled as he noticed Matt wince. "Relax kid, it's just a planner." He punched in a few keys and held up the display screen next to Matt.

"Yup, you're definitely Matt Winder. Only child of Joe and Ashley Winder, you were born on February 16th, 1994. You are currently attending the University of Southern California" Deacon paused and made a fist. "Go Trojans. Are a sophomore and currently undeclared, though it seems you have an interest in philosophy, going to spend the rest of your life thinking about why you don't have a good job? Cause I can answer that right now."

Matt's eyes betrayed his shock. "How do you know all of this?"

"We've been searching a while for you. About a week or so. We need to talk."

It took a while for Matt to get used to the men in his home. He kept wishing for Jeff to come home early or at least notice a car in the driveway, assuming they drove. Though they did not seem to present physical harm, they broke in nonetheless and the fact that the one known as Deacon knew so much about him made him uneasy.

Deacon had Matt escorted downstairs into the dinning room. He pointed to the dinner table and turned to Matt.

"Will this work?"

"Sure." said Matt, bewildered.

Deacon pulled out and sat on a chair directly in front of Matt and smiled as both Eric and Robert sat next to him. He seemed to take pleasure in Matt's uncertainty and discomfort.

"So who are you and what do you want?"

Deacon nodded at Eric. "Straight to the point. I like this kid. He's nothing like the petty trash we deal with."

"Excuse me?" asked Matt

"When people have something to say, they usually never do. They make about five fake points of conversation for every point they are trying to mention. Its ridiculous and I am not getting into it any further else I'd be contradicting myself."

"Well do you normally barge into other people's homes?"

Deacon looked at Matt and shrugged his shoulders. "What? I knocked a few times before Eric let us in. I can't help it if you can't hear me." he said playfully, revealing a New York accent.

Deacon reached into his coat pocket and took out a small black leather case in his hand. "Back to the point, we work for Octocorp Incorporated, redundant I know but you gotta love em. Anyway I don't know if this is news to you, but so did your Uncle."

"Uncle Alfred." said Matt uncontrollably. He was starting to piece a few things together in his mind.

"That would be him. When was the last time you spoke with him?"

"If you already know all that garbage on me, you should know this."

"Fine, I didn't want to frighten you anymore than we already had kid, but if that's how you want to play, we know you've been in contact with him recently. We also know that he's kind of a recluse now."

Matt looked at Deacon. What did these men want? Why were people from Octocorp sitting at his table?

"He was always a recluse."

Deacon smiled and nodded. "Yeah he was, however he still came out to our parties every once and a while. Now he lives somewhere in the mountains. He won't write or return my calls. I'm really getting hurt here. I am beginning to wonder if it was something I did."

Matt smiled a little. Though he was still uncomfortable he found Deacon's humor somewhat relieving of the situation. It made him seem human.

Suddenly Deacon's face turned serious. "Look, I don't know how you're going to take this one so be prepared."

Matt stared back at the man. "He knows" he thought.

"We know he's sick, we know he's dying and we know that he has contacted you. In fact we know that you are supposed to help him with his will soon."

"How the hell do you know all of that?!" Matt yelled.

Deacon grimaced as he looked at Eric. "I knew we were going to strike a chord with that one."

"Who the hell do you guys think you are?! You can't just spy on people like that! I'm calling the fucking cops!"

Matt got up from his chair and instantly both Eric and Robert stood up.

"Whoa whoa whoa!" Deacon held up his hands and stood up. "Whoa wait a second kid. Before you go and get Eric and Robert all riled up, just hear me out."

Knowing he was trapped regardless if he got outside or to the phone, Matt nodded his head and slowly sat back down.

"Good."

"Tell me, how do you know all of this shit?"

Deacon smiled as he sat back down. "Three letters: O.E.S."

"What?"

"Octocorp's Espionage Service. With them we can find out just about anything on anyone. Legally."

"How the fuck is this legal?"

Deacon shrugged. "Octocorp has a nice deal with the government since we whore out the O.P.S. and O.E.S. to them. Because of that, we get the benefits from Anti-Terrorist bills. Anything can be claimed as terrorist activity. Its all politics."

"So you're saying that my uncle is a terrorist."

"He's not really a terrorist, just his area of work can be identified as terrorist activity, thus giving us full permission to investigate not only him, but any aspect of his life, including you. Though if you think about it, that would ironically make us terrorists by definition since he was working for us. But everyone knows Octocorp is no real threat."

Deacon let out a small chuckle. "People will believe anything you tell them. Anyway, do you know what your uncle did for us? Did he ever talk to you about his work?"

"I knew he worked for you guys. He said he worked in the Research department. Said he made armor and weapons for the government. But that's it. He never really went into full detail."

"That's good, cause if he did we'd have to kill him."

Matt looked up at Deacon.

"I'm kidding. Sorry. That was probably a bad one."

"It was, he's already dying, of stomach cancer in fact and you're right, I am supposed to help him with his will. What of it?"

"I'm sure you can probably gather that he's helped us with a lot of projects, primarily the O.S.S., our unique force. He worked with a lot of classified materials and as such most of the files on the project are in his computer. We need those back."

"Did you ever ask for them? Or did you pull this Gestapo bullshit?"

"Many times, but we're afraid he'd destroy everything. This is our final attempt to retrieve the information before we begin to make the situation ugly." Deacon sighed. It was apparent he was frustrated over the whole ordeal. "And the men upstairs, because this project is in its infancy stage, don't want an ugly situation. They want their sick baby to develop into a strapping young man. This is where you come in."

"Screw you."

"That's not the answer we're looking for."

"Fuck off."

"A little better, but not worth our acceptance."

"You want me to steal information from my uncle? Why the fuck would I do that?"

"Not quite steal." said Deacon, maintaining his calm tone. We don't want him to know that we went ahead and took everything from him. What we'd like for you to do is get into his computer, copy the specified files and then send them to us.

"What makes you think I'd be willing to do that?"

"You will."

Matt looked at Deacon with uncertainty in his eyes. "How do you know?"

"Because I know that everyone's got their price. Be it monetary, material, mental or even emotional." he said emphasizing the word "emotion." "I call 'em the four M's."

"Are you threatening me?"

Deacon shook his head. "We're at the part of the conversation where it's not yet necessary to make with the threats and get mean. We're at the part we I start throwing stuff in the air, and you say 'yay' or 'nay.' Tell me kid, what would you like in life? Be reasonable."

"You're going to give me something for this?"

"We'd like to keep it simple."

"Bullshit."

"If that's what you want I can get Eric to drive in the country and shovel some up…it'll be here tomorrow if you'd like, a nice steaming pile of bullshit on your driveway."

"Seriously."

Deacon shrugged. "I'm serious, anything you want."

"And all I have to do is copy this information, and send it to you. That's it?"

"That's it."

"You won't hurt or sue him."

"Unless you want us to."

"Can I think about it?"

"I suppose you can. You have a few days before you go."

There was a long pause as Matt looked at Deacon and into the table directly in front of him.

"You thought of anything you wanted yet? You're a student. Good grades? Would you like money for school? Money to quit school? Would you like food? What about a new TV, a new entertainment center or car, or a nice football? A red rider bb gun."

Matt said nothing.

"Come on help me out here."

"It feels wrong. You're asking me to betray him. I can't just outright do that. I don't care what you offer me."

Deacon leaned forward and cracked his knuckles. "If you want to get into morals, he's wronged us. You can't legally head a project and then when its near its completion, not only vanish, but take everything with you. Understand? He's stealing from us. He's holding out on vital information that we trusted him with."

"Is that true?"

"I can show you the memos and legalities if you would like."

"If you have all of that crap on file, why won't you take it to the courts?

"I already told you, the manner in which you uncle left us gives us plenty of reason to believe that he will destroy the information the second we attempt something."

"What if he's destroyed it already?"

Deacon shook his head. "He won't do that."

"How do you know?"

"We have a psychic watch him twenty four hours a day. Actually we monitor his computer. Through satellite and all of that wireless nonsense we can have a peak into his computer system. Everything we want is there, waiting. He's like a guy with a fuse, daring the authorities to come near."

"I don't know."

"If you want to take my analogy further, we're the cops with numerous pistols, shotguns and snipers aimed at him, watching, waiting for him to make a move. Now, he can try to take us in a mad rush and" Deacon continued laughing. "He will be destroyed faster than a snowball in the desert. He can also light the fuse and meet the same fate, or a negotiator, you, can prevent him from both by going in there and taking the fuse from him."

"That doesn't sound right."

"This world isn't right kid, but that's how it is. You can save him from something terrible or you can hear in the news about the social recluse, the crazy old hermit in the mountains that was arrested for conspiring against the U.S."

Matt slammed his fist on the table causing Eric to jump. "Stop that! Uncle Alfred was" he corrected himself. "Ss a good man!"

Deacon's expression looked taken aback. "You're right, I went too far with that one. He is a good man. Regardless, we all make mistakes, we do things we shouldn't and things we never wish we had done, but he made a commitment to us that is legally and morally binding. We will get it back. Its all just a matter of how and what his nephew decides."

A phone call broke the silence. "That's me." said Deacon.

Deacon got up from his chair. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. "Shit." he looked at Matt. "Sorry I gotta take this."

"Deacon speaking. Yes. Actually we're there right now. We're doing that right now. Yes he's right here. No, he's behaving nicely. Yes. No he hasn't decided yet. He's going to think about it. Yes I know. Right. I understand sir. Okay I will do that. Have a nice" he was cut off. He looked at his phone then at Eric. "Rude bastard cut me off."

He began dialing a number. "Excuse me one more moment."

"Its Deacon. Yeah we're done here. Good." Deacon quickly hung up the phone. "Ha! I cut them off too, it kind of feels empowering."

Deacon put away his phone. He then reached into another pocket and pulled out a key with an alarm remote attached and slid them towards Matt.

His partners got up as well. "Its parked in the driveway. Take it as an incentive gift, that and for being such a good host and having us over. And not screaming. I hate it when people scream. I know I am not that hideous, but it still hurts the ego."

The party of three began making their way towards the door with Matt following behind them confused.

"You know" said Deacon turning around. "I've been told I could pass for Jay Mohr, back when he was younger of course."

"Wait, how do I know you're not going to kill me?"

Deacon shrugged. "You'll just have to find out. Besides, ask yourself this: why would we blow up a perfectly good car when we could have killed you in the shower? Or when you got out? That's just wasteful spending."

"You're just going to give it to me."

"Its yours, already in your name too. God and people think we're such bad guys."

Deacon reached into his shoulder pocket and pulled out a pair of sunglasses. "Alright men, we must protect ourselves from the terrible sun. Shades on."

He put on his glasses and opened the door. Eric and Robert walked out before him. He got into the doorway and looked at Matt. "Seriously, Matt, think about it. You'll be doing a good thing for your uncle. We'll call you on Wednesday. If you don't answer" he paused. "We'll try again. Oh" he added as he stepped outside. "We kind of messed with your phone when we got here, it should work in a few minutes so don't panic. See ya."

The trio walked outside and down the sidewalk. Matt closed the door. He heard Deacon talking as a car pulled up next to his house. He figured it was their ride.

He slowly walked over to the table half expecting to be shot through a window. Max appeared out of nowhere and meowed as it jumped onto the chair where Deacon sat.

Max stared at the key then at Max.

"What the fuck, am I supposed to do with that?"