Zach was a head taller than Matthias. He thought it was why Mrs Dune approached him first, but he later realised he thought wrong.
“I had a horrible lunch. How are you going to make up for it?” Mrs Dune asked as she stalked over to the two of them.
They had just entered the restaurant and Zach least expected to be picked on immediately. Then again, it was Mrs Dune.
“A free meal, perhaps?” Matthias suggested, as he nodded at Zach.
“I don’t need a free meal. Aren’t you already paying for this one?” Mrs Dune snapped. “Matthias, right?”
She guessed right. Zach did not recall introducing himself to her, but she seemed to know who is who.
“Never mind,” Mrs Dune interrupted him. Turning back to Zach, she added, “You’re off the hook. You can go now.”
Zach narrowed his eyes in confusion. Did he hear her right? Had he completed his task? That was easy. Matthias gave him a bewildered look and shrugged. It felt too strange and Zach slowly retreated. He thought she was going to call him back, but when he exited the restaurant without being rudely hollered, he could not believe he was done.
That weekend, he had the easy card. Deciding to spend his free time doing something he enjoyed, he headed to the clubhouse gym. On his way there, he found himself still in disbelief as he replayed the scene at the restaurant. Being handed a free pass was not something he was used to, and Mrs Dune was oddly kind enough to give him one. A few feet short of the gym, his disbelief dispersed.
“Oh, hello there, Mister I’m-leaving-you-behind,” Guinevere greeted.
“Sorry, I thought you went back,” Zach replied.
“You just said-”
“You didn’t call me, so I guess you didn’t bother waiting for me.”
Zach wanted to say he didn’t have her number, but he settled with, “Sorry, I was busy.”
“Of course you were,” Guinevere replied, “don’t worry, you’re forgiven.”
“You’re welcome. So, you done with your task already?”
He was glad she decided to change the topic. The conversation felt like she was cornering him for a beating. Guinevere’s presence itself always put Zach on edge. There was just something about her that made him feel uneasy.
“Yea, I’m done. Just hitting the gym.”
“How lucky. Who did you get? I might know that person.”
“Wow. How did you get away?”
“She let me go. Matthias had her too, so he’s dealing with her now.”
“She might like you, Zach. You be careful now. Mrs Dune never lets go of her grudges so easily.”
“You know her well?” Zach was curious.
“You can say that. She hates me. She thinks I’m not worthy enough to be in this place. Did she make a complaint about me?”
“Maybe not yet. Mrs Dune does that all the time. Her husband has shares in Skypeak, so she thinks she can kick out whomever she dislike.”
Zach responded with a chuckle. Mrs Dune had a reputation that preceded her and it was to no surprise that she acted that way. There were only two kinds of people in the clubhouse, those who out rightly hated her and those who pretended to like her. Zach was not sure where he stood now.
“Thank God I didn’t get the Dune. God knows, I would rather fail this task than deal with that monster.” Guinevere heaved a sigh. “Well, I better get going.”
“Ok, see you around,” Zach simply said.
That was the last he saw of Guinevere that day. In fact, it was the last time he saw any of the other four. When it was finally time to feed himself, Zach cleaned up and left the gym for the bus stop. It was a kilometre away from Skypeak, at the edge of a little town.
As Zach enjoyed the quiet walk along the deserted gravel road, he had no idea the peace would be short lived. A few minutes in, he found himself startled by a car blaring its horn. Stopping in his tracks, Zach turned around to see a red convertible pulling up beside him.
“Need a ride?” Mrs Dune asked.
“No, thanks. I’m fine.”
“Don’t be shy.”
Guinevere’s words left an impression and he quickly shook his head. “I’m fine, thank you,” Zach repeated.
“Ok, then. Just so you know, I’m betting on you. You look like you’ll win.”
“Thanks.” Zach did not know what else to say. He just wanted her to leave.
“Oh, I know you will, Zachary,” she added. Her expression did not show confidence but sympathy. Was she making fun of him or was she being serious? And why did she call him Zachary?
Clearly, Mrs Dune knew who he was. The way she spoke to him gave him a strange vibe and her earlier actions began to feel a little off. Was Guinevere right? Guinevere’s words contradicted themselves too. She said Mrs Dune disliked those of lower class. Zach was at the bottom of the food chain, and her liking him sounded absurd.
When Mrs Dune finally drove off, he needed someone to help him make sense of it all. It was either Jodie, because he trusted her and she always had valuable insight, or Guinevere, because even though she made him uncomfortable, she knew Mrs Dune better. Zach had to choose.