Jake did not like Canadian Tire, something that many people in Canada agreed with. The section with snow shovels had been picked over well and only a few were left.
He picked four shovels, one for each of them. They were metal with wooden handles. They looked too new, too unused. Jake tried not to think about what they would be used for.
At least he wasn’t doing what Hamish was: searching for a tarp and bungee cords to wrap up the body with.
Benjamin took one of the shovels from Jake's hands and looked it over. He took a second so that each of them was holding two and then marched off towards the cash register.
They waited until sundown, when the streets emptied and they could ride out into the woods north of the city. Hamish had borrowed his sister’s car.
They had concocted an elaborate lie but she hasn’t asked any questions after all.
Hamish drove, Jake in the passenger seat, with Benjamin and Jake II squeezed in the back. The night felt impossibly large and Jake did not like it.
Hamish parked them in a parking lot meant for a hiking trail and they pulled Will’s body out of the trunk and onto a sled they had also bought that day.
Everyone switched on their flashlights and they took turns pulling him up the path before diverging into the thick trees. The night felt large and scary.
The stars above were so far away and soon Will would be so deep in the Earth. Eventually, they came across a clearing and Jake stopped with the sled, breathing heavily.
“Did you empty his pockets?”
Hamish held up a plain brown wallet.
“Good. Let’s get to work.”
Benjamin broke the earth first. They dug and dug and dug, the hard ground resisting their strength.
It took all night but eventually as the air around them grew light with the rising sun, they had dug down deep enough to fit Will’s body.
When Benjamin had fit the body into the hole, the group stepped back to survey what they had done.
“I guess we cover him now,” Hamish said.
Benjamin held up a hand and everyone looked at him.
“I’m sorry,” he croaked to the tarp-covered body.
There was a pause before Jake II also whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Hamish and Jake chimed in, “I’m sorry,” before they set to work covering him with the soil.
A day had passed and each of them was still in their awkward mourning phase but then they realised it was time to uphold the lie. They would have to crack all of his passwords.
In high school Hamish had enjoyed breaking into the school’s system go muck about with his grades. It hadn’t been anything serious but he still had a knack for guessing passwords.
They were lucky in that Will’s phone didn’t have a password on it, so the first thing they had access to was his email. This made logging into his other accounts much easier.
Jake pulled a thin purple card from Will's wallet and held it up, inspecting the name on it. Hamish was seated at Will’s desk, typing away.
“Wait a minute,” Jake said.
Hamish stopped, hands poised over the keyboard prepared to begin typing again any second.
“Will isn’t his real name.”
Hamish swivelled the chair towards Jake and scoffed, “What do you mean?”
Hamish grasped the card and pulled it close to his face. Sure enough, the card said his full name: Daniel Lee Lamont Willson.
“Huh,” Hamish said, “We’ve been living with the guy for years and we didn’t even know his full name.”
They looked at each other and then looked away, trying not to think about what else Will could have hid from them and why.
Hamish turned back to his computer and kept typing, leaving Jake to process the news by himself.
Across the room Jake II had been running raids for the past day in a kind of strange way of honouring Will’s memory.
Benjamin had locked himself in his room and every time Jake passed the room the muffled crying abruptly stopped. It always started again once Benjamin thought Jake was out of ear shot.
To Jake it still didn’t truly feel real.
The next few days passed slowly. It was a few hours of working on the passwords, composing emails to banks, closing accounts.
Not enough that it would be suspicious but just enough that it would make the load easier on everyone in the house.
They would, of course, take breaks to play World of Warcraft every few hours before going back to the grind.
Benjamin had still not come out of his room and it fell to the other three to leave food for him, knocking and speaking soft words through the door.
On the fourth day, Benjamin ventured out of his room just as Jake was passing it in the upper hall.
“Hey Benny,” Jake said.
Benjamin smiled a thin, shy smile.
“We cracked the passwords.”
Benjamin nodded and disappeared back into his room, returning with some of the fast food wrappers he had built up over the past few days.
Jake took the wrappers from Benjamin and together they ventured down the hallway. Jake’s eyes slid past Will’s old room but Benjamin stopped to touch the door.
They played some video games together. A new console had arrived in the mail while Benjamin was holding his vigil and he was clearly itching to try it out.
The next day Jake woke at two pm. His first thought did not jump to Will, but instead to the new patch added in World of Warcraft.
That entire day no one said Will’s name, but the four remaining housemates raided together for the first time since Will’s death.
The next week continued in the same pattern, the same schedule that the house had before.
Feet creaking down stairs, fast food wrappers littered between keyboards and mice, hoodies emblazoned with defunct school teams pulled over heads, and always,
always the pale glow of monitors and the hum of computer cooling systems. The only difference was that now there was a room that no one went into and a desk that eyes slid over.