Chapter 2 "WHAT'S WITH THE HOUSE?"
A strong, irritating light pierced my skin from the window-is it morning? I must have fallen asleep last night. I glanced at my clock. Almost 5:00 pm… talk about oversleeping. It’s a Saturday anyway, nobody cares.
“Hilda?” I called out one of the servants Auntie assigned for me.
I tiptoed downstairs to see what’s going on, expecting her servants lined up, waiting for her orders.
Wrong. There’s no visible trace of human life anywhere.
It’s the first time that this house ever experienced serenity in the form of dead silence. I peeked through the curtain and saw her hideous, purple-colored limousine in the garage. Why is it still here? She never went anywhere without parading the ugly pile of metal around.
The sun seemed to show itself everywhere that it felt weird to see this place lighten up. I could imagine Auntie shrieking from the random rays of sunlight striking her like a distressed vampire; that should be fun to watch.
Gross. What is that smell?
The stench followed me to the kitchen. It was still there after I poured myself some coffee; it smells like a burnt skunk.
At the corner of my eye, something darted from the kitchen to the library.
What was that?!
“Come out where I can see you!” I called out.
A violent hiss replied.
I found myself run to my room and locked the door. God, why am I being such a wimp? For all I know, it might be sleeping gas…what if it’s a snake? I hate reptiles. Before I knew what a snake was, I was already scared of it.
Thud…..Thud…THUD. THUD! THUDD!! Someone was banging on my door.
Without a moment to spare, I pushed my bed against the door and sat on it, trying to oppose the force pounding its way through. My bed’s not that heavy, but with my 43 kg weight, it’ll probably hold. They can’t be playing a prank on me!
I imagined a snake the size of the one in Anaconda trying to knock the door down; not a good thing.
Moments passed. My brain’s still debating whether it’s a person or a monster… whatever it is, I’m ready to push this freaking block of wood and chase after whoever’s on the other side.
What if it’s another one of those hired mercenaries? He might’ve tied everybody up and locked them up inside one of the rooms! I could charge him with my taekwondo moves!
Wait. I only reached yellow belt and barely made it. That’s not enough to knock down a professional killer. On second thought, it might be Auntie plotting a scare tactic to pay me back for making a target practice out of her rare, 4-foot tall, Ming dynasty porcelain vase.
A flashback played on my mind. When I visited her a year ago, men in white uniforms broke inside. It was like having a world war inside the house you live in. There was a lot of shooting and crashing. Her guards were killed, all fifty of them. The rest of us stayed in the safe room for hours, until the police came.
To hell with this! There is no way I’m opening this door!
The banging stopped. I froze when I heard someTHING scream outside my door. It sounded so…weird… like a cross between a growl, a howl and a squeal all at the same time.
The doorknob turned back and forth like crazy.
“Get out! I’ve called the police! They’re on their way!”
“Let me in!” a voice called out.
“Who are you?!”
“Let me in!! NOW!! Hurry! ”
“No!” I tried my best to push my door but whoever was behind it was way stronger than me. After 10 seconds of struggle, it burst open.
First, I saw a bright light; I wasn’t able to remember what happened next.
"Come with me..." somebody whispered. He sounded gentle, but his voice was raspy and deep. I can’t see him.
“No.” I replied.
“Wake up!” another interrupted.
Is this another dream?
No. Someone’s tugging at my freaking arm!
“Let go!!” I squirmed around until I managed to get his hands off me.
“Hey! Take it easy!”
I finally realized that I’m back in my room.
“Owwwwwwww my head hurts…” it was ready to explode. My room spun around me and I swear I could see small lights blinking around.
The guy made me sit on my bed until the swirling stopped.
“Are you awake now? “
“What do you want?”
“I was looking for a place to hide.”
“What?” I could barely make out his words. I’m still dazed.
“I just killed the thing that almost broke your door.”
I glanced behind him. There’s my door, split to two.
“You broke my door!”
“What? I just told you that I-never mind. Come, take a look.” He grabbed my hand and tried to lead me to the door.
“Hell, no!” I swatted his arm away and turned to my bed. Sun shone through my curtains.
“It’s morning already? Where’s everybody?”
“My aunt and her servants-are they here already?”
“As far as I know, it’s just the both of us in here. Look, I’m sorry I had to barge in here.”
I glared at him and studied him from head to foot. He’s not in a white uniform. Instead, he wore a stone-colored shirt and cargo pants. I can’t make out his eye color; I’d classify it as “undefined”. Even his long hair that reached to his chest was several hues darker than red and tan mixed together. Burgundy? No. Sienna? No. Redwood? No.
He seems to have noticed and raised an eyebrow at me.
“If you want to check if I have any kind of weapon, it’s fine.” He stretched out his arms to his sides.
I blinked then took a deep breath. “Keep yourself to…yourself. Don’t do anything suspicious or I’ll kick you out.”
My eyes widened.
“What is that?!” I shrieked, pointing to the animal behind him. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s some sort of reptile with thick, black skin. Needle-sharp teeth lined its blue mouth. I don't know what animal it is, but it made my hair stand on end.
“It’s already dead.”
“I am not staying with a dead…lizard in here. I’m going to look for my…housemates.”
“I’ll go with you.”
Our elbows brushed against each other. How could I let him walk beside me? What if he’s just waiting for me to lose my guard then dismember me? I shook my head and passed by the dead body lying on the pink carpet.
I gasped when I felt something brush against my foot.
It was the reptile, staring at me and grunting at the same time. Its short, pointed infected claws were shaking, reaching out to my leg. After a long hiss, it closed its blood shot eyes and dropped its head on the floor.
My scream echoed throughout the house; it took me seconds before I realized that I was already running outside.
I stopped, wishing I never did.
Our neighbors lay lifeless on the ground. I shifted my gaze from one person to another, missing a limb or two; some had their heads ripped off. Torn body parts lay everywhere…on the trees, grass, road - like a butcher's haven.
Blood was splattered around the place.
My chest grew tighter and tighter every passing second, that I almost forgot to breathe. Coldness swept upon my face as I felt the color drain out of me.
Cyne’s skull would have cracked open if I didn’t catch her fall. She has no idea that this is an illusion. The real world will present itself once she wakes up from this nightmare. If she gives up, she’ll definitely lose her soul.
In the real world, she’s isolated in a deep sleep and won’t wake up under any circumstance-unless she escapes this. Something serious is going on; I wasn’t sent here for some girl. What is Asiel planning this time?
There’s an altar a distance from here. If I bring her there, she’ll be safe from whatever Asiel’s planning. I just hope nobody comes looking for her.
After a short while of flying past trees and a fake nightmare world, we reached the altar. The benches felt cold; I can’t let her lie on the floor, so I just sat down with her in my arms.
I have always wondered what humans looked like from up close.
While Cyne was unconscious, I studied her face. There’s nothing special about her, just a strong display of pleasant features. My hand touched her cheek…smooth and supple. Warmth radiated from a pink pair of lips.
Her eyes opened. A sapphire color illuminated their depth.
“Cyne, I’m…-“, I paused when tears started falling down her cheeks.
My hands wanted to touch her eyes, to feel what it’s like having water come out of it but when I held my fingers up, her cry worsened.
I don’t know what to do… rub her back? Talk her through it? Scold her for crying too early? Hold her until she calms down?
I just rubbed her back. She might misinterpret it if I hug her.
“Shhh… It’s okay, you’re not alone.”
She nodded, wiped off the beads from her eyelashes and looked around. “Why are we here?”
“This is the only place where we could be safe in.”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure.”
She walked lifelessly for a moment then turned to me.
“Was your family killed too?”
“They don’t live here.”
“What’s going on?”
I shrugged. It’s just that you’re trapped in an illusion, I thought.