I'd like to say a big thanks to the people on the Conspiracy 365 facebook page, and the new trailer is THE BEST!

Chapter 4 – Mum's date…

"I have a horrible feeling you'll regret this Cal," he said, shaking his head in disagreement. "But it's your choice. Ready Gabbi?" he asked, turning in my sister's direction.

"Come on Cal! I don't want to be late!" Gabbi said, practically pushing me out the door.

"Haha, you're not going to be late! If we leave now you'll be early," I told her. But she didn't stop, she just pushed harder.

"No! I'll be late to meet Suzie!" she said. Ezekiel laughed at her, and she folded her arms over her chest, clearly unimpressed.

"Ok, let's go," I said. Suddenly Ezekiel got a cheeky grin, and I had a feeling he was up to no good...

Just as Gabbi went out to Ezekiel's car, he bent down and picked me up, swinging me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

"Ahh! Ez, what are you doing?" I screamed. He just laughed and carried me outside, before throwing me into the backseat of the car.

"Remind you of the first time we ran into each other?" he said.

"What happened when you first met?" asked mum. I hadn't seen her come out.

"I kidnapped him and took him to see Murray Durham, believe it or not. Just for a chat, he wasn't in any danger. That's how he learnt about Samuel. Well, Ryan really," explained Ezekiel. Mum gasped and her hand shot up to her mouth. Hmm, maybe she didn't realize why Ezekiel was my bodyguard...

"You mean Murray 'Toecutter' Durham? You kidnapped my son?" she shrieked.

"Whoa, settle down Win. Like I said, justforachat. He was in no danger," said Ezekiel.

"Yeah mum, it was fine. I was a little freaked out, but they didn't hurt me. Wasn't the first time I'd been kidnapped, either," I said, backing him up.

"How could you not tell me that? I can't believe I've been leaving my son and daughter with someone like you! Cal, Gabbi, out of the car right now!" said mum, grabbing Gabbi's arm and pulling her out. She reached out towards me. Slowly I stepped out, but I refused her outstretched hand.

"Mum, without Ezekiel I'd be..." I stopped myself. How could I explain this to mum, without freaking her out any more than she already is?

"You'd be what?" she asked.

"I'd… I'd be dead, mum. If it wasn't for Ezekiel, I'd be dead." Ok, maybe not dead… but I would've been better off dead. Sligo would've made my life even more of a living hell than it already was.

Mum was silent. Slowly, she shook her head, and I wondered whether it was in denial or if she was trying to shake the answer into an easier section of her mind. Finally she spoke.

"Look, I'm going to be late for work, and you kids will be late for school if we don't get a move on. Ezekiel, you can take Cal and Gabbi to school, but then… you're fired," she said.

"What? No, mum please! You can't fire him, he's done nothing wrong!" I pleaded, but it was no use. Mum had made up her mind.

"No, Cal, there's nothing you can do. I enjoyed working for you and your family, but my actions in the past mean it can't continue," said Ezekiel. Just then, Ryan came out to see why we were still here.

"What's going on?" he asked.

"Mum just fired Ezekiel!" I told him, still not believing it myself. Ryan looked at mum, shocked to hear the news.

"You what? Why?" he demanded.

"Because apparently Ezekiel was involved with kidnapping Cal before we hired him. He was working for Murray Durham! I refuse to have someone with that sort of criminal record in charge of my son's safety!" said mum.

"But-" I started to protest, but mum cut me off.

"Enough! You're going to be late, and so am I. Oh, and my new boyfriend is coming over for dinner tonight, so I want you home by five o'clock, ok?" she said, indicating that this discussion was over.

"Yes mum," I said reluctantly. Gabbi and I got into Ezekiel's car, me in the front, Gabbi in the back. Ezekiel seemed like he wanted to say something more, but instead he just sighed and got in the driver's seat. As he started the car, mum and Ryan went back inside. Ryan didn't look very happy, but neither was I. Without Ezekiel, what would I do about Sligo? Ezekiel started the car and backed out of the driveway. Once we were on the street he spoke.

"I'm sorry Cal; I should've kept my mouth shut. She knows that Scottie and I worked together for years, so she's probably guessed that Scottie was involved in the kidnapping as well," said Ezekiel. He didn't look at me when he spoke.

"It's not your fault. And it wasn't really 'kidnapping', because you let me go again at the end, and it was only for a chat, as you said." He gave me a half-smile, but I could tell he still felt it was his fault.

"Thanks Cal, but it's too late anyway," he said. Just then I had a thought. It was risky, but hopefully Ezekiel wouldn't be too harsh on me. Like Toecutter, I can't live without confessing… even if he never suspected anything in the first place.

"Hey Ez? I need to tell you something… about our first 'meeting'," I said. I paused to see if he had anything to say.

"What about it?" he said.

"It wasn't really when you took me off the street…" He raised an eyebrow at me. "At the start of February, in that same year, you remember hearing the front door of your house slam? You yelled out who was there."

"Where are you going with this?" he asked, now curious.

"Winter and I snuck in," I blurted. "It was just after she got me out of Sligo's oil tank, and she wanted me to help her out with a favor. She said she had to go back to the house she used to live in and retrieve a locket her parents gave her, and I agreed to help. At that time, you were living in that house, after Sligo gave it to you, apparently to pay back a debt."

"Wait a minute… you broke into my house?" he yelled.

"You broke into Ezekiel's house?" cried Gabbi from the back seat.

"Yes… I'm sorry. Anyway, we snuck in, got the locket and were practically out when the door slammed. Winter grabbed my arm as you yelled out and we bolted. I'm really sorry, but I figured I should tell you. Given you got fired for admitting something you did; I thought I should admit something to you that has been making me a little nervous for a while." I stopped and waited for his reaction, but he was fairly calm. Upset… but calm.

"So you mean to tell me that a few years ago you and Winter broke into my house and stole a locket?" he asked.

"Not 'stole', it was her birthday present that her parents gave to her… the same day they died," I told him. "But that aside, yes, that's exactly what I did." He sighed and shook his head as he pulled into the drop-off zone. He slowed the car to a stop and held his hand out to me.

"Thanks for telling me the truth, Cal. I'm really going to miss working for you, Ryan and Gabbi. Hey, maybe I'll even drop in and help out when I can… not in front of your mum, of course," he said, smiling at me. I took his hand and shook it. Just as I was pulling away to follow Gabbi out of the car though, he pulled me back again.

"But mark my word, if you ever break into my house again… I will hunt you down," he warned. I nodded and he let me go.

"It was one time only, and to be honest, when she said that the house belonged to 'one of Toecutter's bodyguards' I did not want to stick around, let alone go inside!" I said. He gave a sort of half-chuckle, before nodding to say goodbye. I shut the door and he drove off. I just hoped it wouldn't be the last time I saw him.

But I also hoped it would be the last time I needed him. As I turned to find the others, a black four-wheel-drive screeched into the drop-off zone and Joshua jumped out.

Sligo barely noticed me as he checked his watch, nodded his goodbye to Josh, and sped away again. I turned again to walk off, when Josh called my name.

"What do you want, Joshua? Did you forget our discussion yesterday?" I snapped, before realizing I was probably being too hard on him. He looked a little offended, but he put it aside to continue.

"No, I was just… um… saying hi… I guess. Um, last night I over-heard dad talking to some of his work-mates…" I could tell he was stalling, considering whether to tell me what he knew or not.

"Spit it out," I said.

"He… he mentioned something about you. I didn't quite catch what he said, but he definitely said 'Callum' and something about 'that stupid Ormond kid'. Anyway… please don't be mad with me, but I asked him about what you said to me," said Joshua, pausing and waiting for me to start yelling at him.

"So what did he say?" I asked calmly.

"At first he seemed to think that I was just delivering messages, but when he realized I was actually questioning him whether it was true or not, he got really mad. He said he needs to have a 'friendly chat' with you… but I don't like the way he said it… Dude, you have to be careful! Hopefully you'll be in the clear for today; he says he has a surprise for me this afternoon, and hopefully it means he'll be busy," said Joshua. The concern in his voice sounded genuine, but then so did Sharkey when he was talking to me.

Then again, why did Joshua care what happened to me? Is this another trick to make me think someone else is on my side, or is Joshua being serious? I figured there was only one way to find out…

"Why do you care? What reason do you have to warn me?" I asked him. He hesitated, looking at the ground as if he were embarrassed by what he was going to say next. I swear, if he says he's gay… (A/N:XDlol)

"Because you're pretty much the only guy who has ever stood up for me. I asked thirteen other people where I was supposed to go yesterday, and every single one told me to get lost. You were the only one who bothered. That's why I tried to help you when David was being a jerk, but it didn't go so well, and you ended up standing up for me instead." He paused and took a deep breath.

"I felt so confused when you freaked out at seeing my dad. At first I thought it was because of the gun, but then you appeared to know each other already, and I wasn't sure what to think. When you told me what he's done to you before, I didn't want to believe it, but last night proved I know nothing about my dad," he said. He looked up at me expectantly, and I saw a look of defeat in his eyes.

"It's ok. Sorry about snapping at you just before; I was just upset about something this morning," I told him. I was just about to say that Ezekiel was fired, but I stopped myself. No matter how good of an actor he might be, I couldn't trust him not to go running back to Sligo and telling him I was defenseless.

"What happened this morning?" he asked me.

"Nothing," I said. Suddenly I had a thought. "Do you know what happened? There was another guy who helped me get out of Sligo's place that didn't make it out himself; as far as I know anyway. I was wondering if you know anything about any recent… discussions… between Harry, Viper and Sligo that might have anything to do with him?" I was careful with what I said, and hoped I didn't give too much away.

"Umm, not that I know of… Oh, but my dad seemed happy when one of his older work-mates returned the other day, if that helps…? He says he's been lying low to avoid 'certainpeople', in which I'm expecting meant the cops, if what you've told me is true," he said. Although it wasn't what I was after, it struck me as somewhat important.

"Who was it? Do you know?" I asked him.

"Some old friend of my dad's… Bruno, I think his name was…?" said Joshua. This was definitely important! I wracked my brain to work out how this was possible, when I realized that I missed a very important detail…

Bruno never went to Ireland with Sligo and Zombie-Two! The last I saw of him he was shoving Griff and I into the shipping container with Winter! Of course, Sligo must've left him here so he could look after his home for him!

"Cal? Are you ok? You're looking a little pale buddy," said Joshua. I shook my head clear; looking into Joshua's questioning eyes.

"Bruno's back?" I asked. Josh nodded slowly. "And Sligo has him looking for me?" I continued.

"Yeah, why? You know Bruno?" asked Joshua. Now it was my turn to nod slowly.

"Bruno and Zombrovski were tailing me for Sligo that whole year… until Zombie… uh… fell from the bell tower. Then Bruno and Zombrovski's twin brother were after me. A few times I've wondered whether it would've been better if I left him on the train lines…" I said. Then again, if I had left him there I would've felt extremely guilty, and I never would've met Repro either.

"Ah, now I get it! But I heard Sligo ask him if he'd seen you recently, then Bruno muttered something about 'if it weren't for those damned adders'… you have any idea what he meant?" asked Joshua. I thought back over the year, but it didn't take me long to work out he meant death adders.

"One time when he was chasing me…" I began. "He spooked me and I ran into Zombie, so I kicked backwards, connecting with Zombie's shin and he let go. But by then, Bruno had come right up to me, and he was blocking my only way out. So then… I punched him where it counts…" I said, laughing a little at the memory. "It got him off my back for a bit, but soon he was chasing me again through the halls of the building we were in. In a final attempt to loose him, I charged through a door, straight into a glass enclosure of death adders. I turned and bolted back out, straight into Bruno and Zombie again, but they ran as soon as they saw the adders coming at them." Joshua looked at me in disbelief.

"You ran into a glass enclosure of deathadders and weren't bitten?" he said.

"No… I was bitten, but I made it to a room full of anti-toxins and got the needle out just in time," I said, remembering my mad dash to find the right room before I ran out of time. Joshua shook his head.

"Ok, it makes a lot more sense now. He definitely would've wanted to catch you if you punched him between the legs, and he'd be even more annoyed if you got away due to a room full of poisonous snakes," said Joshua. I laughed again, and he smiled. Suddenly the bell rang, and I started heading for homeroom.

"Hey, Cal? Could I start hanging out with you guys again today? I don't like sitting on my own, and at lunch a couple of guys were calling me a loner," said Joshua as he followed me to class.

"Uh, ok. But you have to sit at the end of the table, next to me but not too close to the others. None of them trust you," I told him. He nodded, grateful that he wasn't being shut out from everyone. But I could see something else inside him… something wasn't quite right…

I tried to shake the thoughts from my mind, and focused on finding Winter, Boges and Griff again. It wasn't long before I found myself walking right up to them outside of homeroom.

"Cal, how'd it go yesterday? And what's HE doing here?" asked Boges, giving Joshua a filthy look.

"It went fine. And if you can put aside your inability to work with anyone who's associated with Sligo in any way, I have news," I told him. Instantly Winter and Griff were paying close attention, but Boges wouldn't stop glaring at Josh.

"So, what news do you have?" asked Winter.

"Bruno's back," I said. I was met with various levels of shock; most from Winter, and least from Griff. But I don't blame Griff, for he doesn't really know who Bruno is.

"So how important is this information?" he asked.

"Remember the shipping container? The two guys were Zombie-Two and Bruno. Zombie-Two is dead, same with the original Zombie, but Bruno is apparently still around," I told him. Almost instantly his shock rose higher.

"But how could he still be alive?" asked Boges. Winter's eyes almost fell out of her sockets when she realized the important detail we had all missed.

"Oh no! Bruno never went to Ireland!" she said.

"Exactly! Sligo must've told him to take care of things here in Australia, while he and Zombie-Two went to 'discover' the Ormond Singularity. So when Sumo charged at Sligo and Zombie-Two, knocking them into the bog, Bruno was safe and sound back here," I clarified. Joshua appeared to have no clue what we were talking about again, but this time I couldn't be bothered to explain, and I knew the others wouldn't either.

"Ok class, come on inside so we can begin," said Mr. Leo. We forwarded in and took our seats, Joshua making sure he was sitting as far away from the others as possible.

"Yo Josh, get up and get lost," said Boges rudely. Joshua looked hurt, and began standing up, but I grabbed his arm and sat him back down.

"Drop it Boges. I know how you feel, but this is just like when I tried to trust Winter and you didn't want to hear it. Joshua and Sligo are two different people; chances are Josh would try and stop Sligo from getting me," I snapped. "You can't judge people based on their family." Boges shook his head and turned to look at the board, where Mr. Leo was writing down the notices for the day.

"Thanks Cal, but I can leave if that's what you'd prefer?" said Joshua. I shook my head.

"No, don't worry about it. Besides, Boges, he can deliver information from the inside… could come in handy now that Winter can't sneak around there," I said.

"What sort of info does he have?" asked Boges, turning back to me.

"Well, if it weren't for Josh, we wouldn't know about Bruno. Plus… it's not like any of us know what happened to Kelvin…" I said. Suddenly I felt Joshua stiffen beside me. I turned to look at him, and he looked a little pale.

"You mean Kelvin… with the purple teardrop tattoo…?" he asked. I raised an eyebrow at him, and I could see the others were interested as well.

"Yeah… what do you know about him?" asked Winter.

"That was the guy who helped you… but never got out… wasn't it?" he asked me.

"Yes! Now, what do you know?" I said.

"I've seen him… he was seriously bruised. I thought he had been in a fight or something, like he was gambling and owed someone money. Dad was talking to Bruno, Viper and Harry, and I saw this man leaning against the wall, like he'd rather be anywhere but there. Then dad said 'Kelvin' and he snapped to attention. He staggered over to him and dad started talking to him quietly. His face went pale but he nodded anyway. But then I saw Bruno start heading towards the door I was peaking through and I had to leave," explained Josh.

I couldn't believe it! Kelvin never made it out! But at least he wasn't-

"Did he look like he'd been shot?" I asked.

"Uh… not that I noticed… why?" said Joshua. I thought for a moment, and realized that if he had been shot it would be just a scar like mine by now. But of course he'd be bruised if someone was still beating him up… yet that would mean he's being forced to work for Sligo…

"Never mind, it would just be a scar like mine by now. But guys, we have to be careful if we see Kelvin again… I think Sligo's using him to trick us into walking into a trap. And Joshua, if Sligo says he wants a 'chat' with me… could you find some way to change the subject?" I said. Joshua nodded and I felt a tiny bit better.

Suddenly I realized that everyone else in the class was starting to stand up and walk out, and that we missed the entire homeroom session. I stood up and picked up my books, and the others followed suite. Just as I was walking out the door, I felt someone grab my arm. I turned to see who it was, and was met with David's smug face. But his 'too-cool-for-school' look disappeared when he saw my bruises.

"Jeeze, I didn't think I got you that hard!" he said.

"You didn't," I muttered.

"No? Then who did?" asked David.

"Why do you care? Wasn't you, so is it important enough for you to need to know?" I asked him. He stopped and thought for a moment.

"Shit, it was that cop guy, wasn't it? That other kid's dad?" he guessed. "Haha, you try and help and get beaten up, while I attack him and get told to scram. Doesn't seem fair… does it Psycho?" I shrugged my shoulders and turned to walk away, but just as I'm taking a step, David shoved me forward and I hit the ground hard.

"See you at lunch, Psycho!" said David, running off to our next class. I got to my feet and dusted myself off.

"Hey Cal, are you ok?" called Winter, coming over to help.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I don't get what his problem is," I said. Together we walked to Christian Studies to meet up with the others.

The rest of our classes went by in a flash, and I didn't even see David at lunch. All was going well so far…

Eventually the final bell rang, and the stream of students rushed out of sixth-period math. Once we were out of the classroom, I turned to Winter and Boges.

"Hey, I gotta drop by Ryan's place on the way home, you guys coming?" I asked. They both nodded and we walked together down to Gabbi's classroom.

"Why do we have to go to Ryan? Isn't he spending the day with Sally?" asked Gabbi when we got to her.

"Yeah, but I have to drop his homework in to him. It'll only take a second, then we can walk Boges and Winter home," I told her. She shrugged her shoulders before grabbing Winter's hand. As we walked off together, they started humming some of Gabbi's favourite songs again.

It was about three forty-five when we finally made it to Ryan's flat, and I jogged up to his door. But there was no one home. I slid the work under his door and went back down to the others.

"Must be out. Ready?" I said. We started off again, heading towards Boges' place. At a quarter past four, we were walking up Boges' driveway. He turned to me as I was about to walk off.

"Look, I'm sorry about this morning with Joshua, but I think you should be a lot more careful. Remember Sharkey? It could all just be another trick," he said.

"Yeah, I know. But don't worry about me, I'll be fine," I said.

"I don't believe you. Cal, is there something you haven't told me…?" asked Boges.

"Mum fired Ezekiel," I said. Boges' eyes almost fell from their sockets, and Winter stopped humming mid-tune, much to Gabbi's disappointment.

"She what?" said Winter.

"She found out he had been working for Toecutter, and that he was involved in kidnapping me once. So she fired him and ignored me when I said he did nothing wrong," I explained. Boges' shook his head in disapproval, before checking his watch.

"Dude, now you have to be twice as careful, but I gotta get inside and do my homework. See you tomorrow?" he said.

"Sure. Come on Gabs, we'll take Winter home, and then we'll go ourselves," I said. We walked down the driveway again, this time in the direction of Winter's place.

We approached the large hotel in silence, heading straight to the main lobby.

"Hey Winter, would you like me to walk you up to your room?" I offered. She shook her head.

"It's ok, your mum's probably wondering where you are. Didn't she say to be home by five?" said Winter.

"What's the time now?" I asked.

"Quarter to," she said. Uh oh! I gave her a quick hug goodbye before grabbing Gabbi's hand and pulling her outside.

"Come on Gabs, we have to run!" I said. Together we pelted down the path, and I heard a crash of thunder overhead. Great, just what we needed. Rain. I slowed down and got on one knee.

"Here, I'll give you a piggy-back," I said to Gabbi. She climbed on and I set off for our house, just as the clouds above us gave way. In just a few short minutes, I was drenched from head to foot.

Finally we rounded the corner into our street, and I let Gabbi slide off me. Madly, we dashed to the safety of our house, pushing the door open and barging through. There, we collapsed in a fit of exhaustion, laughing at each other's soaking wet faces.

"Look at you two! They'll be here in less than a half hour! Quickly, go upstairs and get cleaned up," said mum, when she saw us sitting in muddy puddles on the floor. She went to the closet and got a mop as Gabbi and I went upstairs to get ready for dinner. I had a quick shower and got changed into dry clothes. I was just about to walk downstairs when I heard a knock at the door.

I heard mum open the door, and I jogged halfway down. But then what I saw made me stop dead in my tracks.