Most People Think My Cousin Committed Suicide, Only I Know The Grisly Truth

“I can’t take you all the way, but I’ll be able to point them out to you,” Bill explained and slapped the sides of his chair.

Bill led me out a backdoor and into an overgrown backyard of pale grass decorated with the net-less frame of a soccer goal and a net-less and backboard-less basketball hoop.

Bill pointed out to a tight little trail at the back of the yard which snaked out into the thick, dark woods. I could see the outline of a couple little buildings tucked between the trees out there.

“Two buildings out there are the labs. Don’t think anyone is out there yet,” Bill said and dug into a fanny pack until he produced a ring of keys. “I’d walk you out there myself, but for obvious reasons that’s a no go, so just unlock it yourself, bring the keys back when you’re done.”

Bill handed me the keys.

The walk to the computer labs reminded me of something out of a dream. Two brick buildings with metal slanted roofs, the little domiciles looked wholly out of place in the old growth Tennessee woods, especially knowing they rested behind a church which looked on the verge of collapse. Honestly, the labs looked like the newest buildings in the entire sleepy, little hometown other than the Walgreen’s.

I wasn’t sure if I just felt a cold wind or had spooked myself when I walked up to the front door of one of the labs and unlocked it. I opened up the door and turned around, locked eyes with Bill for a moment before he wheeled himself back into the church.

A flick of a light switch illuminated a tight little room lined with cheap desks topped with 90s-era desktop computers. I approached the nearest desktop, took a seat in an office chair I hoped wasn’t full of spiders and fired the thing up. Laughed to myself when I saw the ancient Windows 98 loading screen flash in front of me.

I wasted no time once the computer loaded. For all I knew, Crumpled Twenty Dollar Bill was back in the church calling up headquarters and asking if I was legit.

Thankfully an awful client who spied on the instant messaging of their employees had educated me on my best shot of finding out anything of worth I might be able to track down about Chase on the computers. If you used AOL to chat, which since Chase was in the late-90s, I’m sure he was, all the administrator of the computer or network had to do was check a box which automatically saved all chats in a log file. If Crave Church had, and no one had deleted them, the computers Chase chatted on would have his chat logs saved on them.

Success came quicker than I thought. The admin had been storing chat messages in a conveniently year-labeled folder going all the way back to 1998. I jammed in my jump drive and collected the 1998 and 1999 folders. The three other computers in the room would prove equally fruitful.

I couldn’t have gotten out of there fast enough once I loaded up my jump drives. It was now a race to get back to my dad’s house to start combing through the old logs to see if I could find anything fruitful. I walked around the side of the church, hoping to avoid Bill.

I was just about to the sidewalk when I heard Bill’s voice sound out from the front of the church.

“Hey buddy.”

I turned and saw Bill on the perch of the front doorway.

“You leave the keys out back there?”

Damn’t. The keys.

“Oh yeah,” I answered and ran up the stairs until I reunited with Bill. Handed him the keys.

“Thanks.”

I started back down the walkway to the street, but Bill’s voice stopped me.

“I thought we used WestTenn for our IT.”

I turned around again. Saw Bill scowling at me.

“Uh, yeah, you do, but they don’t handle software. They contracted us out.”

I scurried away as soon as I finished, got in my rental car and drove away.

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