Sunday, 9 July 2017

Altered: Burning Horizon, Chapter 2



Chapter 2

Fire

       I was running, panting, I can’t remember what I was running away from, but my instincts told me to keep running. Everything was being swallowed up by a force, a force so great, I’ve never felt so much fear before this. Everything was dark. I couldn’t run anymore. My legs can’t move. I was standing in an empty plane of darkness as a figure emerges from it. It looked human, almost animal, but not quite of either and had eyes that were blazing. It lunged towards me at full force, teeth and claws were visible from its deformed shape. Snap.

Gasps!

      Sweat poured out from my body that was shaking in fear, it wasn’t the first time I had such a dream, or a nightmare as how I’d prefer to put it. A distinctive feature between reality and dreams is that one is real and one is not. At that very moment, both of those were of no difference.
      It was already morning by the time I woke up. I took a look at the time, and it was a few minutes away before the first class. I rushed to the washroom to get myself ready. There was no time for a proper breakfast today and I propelled myself towards the door and grabbed my bag as I did so. I never believed in the existence of coincidence but I was never so wrong when I bumped right in to a woman as I was traveling at full speed to the campus.
    “Watch it!” she yelled as I was pushed backward by the collision. She was still standing unscathed by the impact. From the ground I was quite speechless as I looked at her clueless as to why she wasn’t pushed back but I was. The lady stared at me for a few seconds before she came closer to me by bending and positioning her mouth towards my ear.
      “Be careful and don’t rush” she whispered. Worse things have yet to come”. There was something so soothing about that tone, almost mesmerizing. She walked away, while I was still on the ground wondering about what she said. She was a middle aged woman who looked really mature and slender dressed fully in black. I couldn’t really see her face for she was wearing a hat that woman would usually wear to funeral. It completely veiled her features. Was she heading to a funeral? I got back up and remembered that I was late.
     I entered class half an hour later. Wyl was already there and so was Shiel. When I came through the entrance of the hall everyone’s faces were directed to me.
    “It’s only the second day of class and you’re late Mr. Astolis. See me after this and take your seat”, said the lecturer. I swear, this will be the first and last time I’ll ever get up late. I sat beside Wyl and he asked me about what happened.
   “It wasn’t anything big Wyl, I just bumped into a strange lady this morning. Also, I had the same dream” I said
   “Hmmm, I can’t do anything about that Kale, but you know, there’s a finding that says that when you dream, you’re saving or reliving the things you had done for the day or the days before”, Wyl implied it very scientifically.
   “The thing is, this has nothing to do with what I’ve done for an entire day or the days before, and it’s really random. Maybe I was too tired”
    “Or maybe, you should think more about Shiel. Look, she staring at you.”
True enough, as I turned my head, Shiel was looking at where I was and gave me a smile before getting back to writing notes. Okay, maybe on the inside I felt a small spark of happiness but then I directed my attention towards the lesson.
It was break time again. Whenever I walk across the corridor students would usually be talking about rumors and stuff. One in particular that I overheard was the disappearance of a few people around our neighborhood and it was on the news as well. They would usually be my source of any update around this town. Wyl was lining up to get us both something else other than bread to eat.
   “Kale, have you heard? T.A.M.E has bought over the ownership of this college. Isn’t that cool?”
   “I’m not very amused to be honest. With the amount of money their making, it’s only a matter of time before they start buying and owning facilities all around this area. But why a college of all places?”
   “I don’t know, they probably want well versed graduates from our college? This place is known for producing researchers that are capable enough to be a part of T.A.M.E. Or they might just dump their experiments here for all we know. I couldn’t tell whether Wyl was trying to scare me but the depiction of dead bodies lying here was unimaginable.
   “Hmmm, can’t say that it’s not possible, but then again, that wouldn’t be legal.”
    After our break, we headed to the lecturer’s room where Wyl waited for me as the lecturer advised me about classes and other formal stuff. I never knew things could turn out the way they were when this started. I had a brief flashback about when my dad told me to do well in my studies to be a person that was useful to the society. He was a person whom I had admired over the years, and hated. I never knew my mother as she died giving birth to me and my dad doesn’t usually talk about it when I ask. Even so, he tried his utmost best to raise me to be the person who I am.
     A few moments later, I headed towards the field where I needed some time alone. I’d usually hang around the spectator’s bench across the field. There would be times where Wyl would disappear to settle some unfinished business as he would then tell me, so I would savor times like these here. Climbing up the stairs, a sweet scent flowed through the air. If I were to put it in words, I’d say it smelled like strawberry. My footsteps alarmed a person who was sitting alone there. I guess I’m not the only person who’d come here. Not many people would actually be at the bench around this time. When I turned to see who it was, a familiar face greeted me.
    “Oh it’s you Kale!” a face beaming with smile was directed to me.
“Shiel, I didn’t expect to see you here”, I greeted her back with a subtle smile. I wasn’t very used to seeing other people here so this would be a first.
     I’d usually come here to enjoy the breeze, it keeps my mind of certain matters. A cool gust of wind rushed through as I thought to myself about it. Seeing Shiel somehow eased my mind, at the same time, I was a bit nervous. I don’t talk or socialize much with anyone unless I need to, with Wyl being the exception of course. Now a beautiful girl is sitting and facing me and I was lost for words. If Wyl were here, he’d usually do the talking. I sat one bench above where she was sitting. Her hair was emitting that scent I smelled earlier which was admittedly mesmerizing. A short moment of silence lasted for a minute, but I swear it felt like an hour. Then, she opened her mouth and started talking to me.
     “So how have you been coping with things over here so far?”
     “It has been alright I guess, nothing interesting has happened so far so I guess I’ll have to amuse myself with this normal life of mine. So…what brings you here? This place isn’t exactly a place where a girl would want to go alone, I mean nobody really comes here around this time, and if there was, it would be dangerous.”
     “Well you’re here now, right? So I guess I’m not alone anymore”, her voice had a sense of assurance as she turned around and gazed at me.  
     It suddenly felt like I was some main character in a story, at long last the hero finally meets his fated lover alone and start talking to each other. Sadly it isn’t a typical love story. She stood up and started packing some wrappers she left on the bench, she was having a snack here I suppose.
     “Well, I’ll be heading home now.”
     “Oh, alright then, I’ll see you around.” I smiled and waved as she left quietly
I wanted to say something else but my mouth was shut tight, regretfully. I really need to work on my socializing skills.
      I fixed my sight towards the sky as I sat quietly. It was a nice atmosphere, a temporary get away from the boring life I had. As I lowered my gaze, I noticed a person standing on the opposite side of the field. Her feminine figure looked very familiar, as though I’ve met her somewhere before. She was standing under the shelter of the storage room and our eyes met. I felt a strange stinging feeling, and that was when I realized that she was the person I bumped into when I was rushing to the campus. With much curiosity, I thought to myself “Why would she be here?” She was still in the same attire when I collided with her. There was the urge to approach her, I was still wondering about the words she told me that have kept on ringing in my head. However, as I stood up, she started to run in a different direction.
“Stop!” I yelled across the field. I gave a short chase, but she had already disappeared before I could stop her.
       Feeling a little disappointed, I walked towards the shelter where she had stood. A small piece of paper was placed on the floor. What was written on it disturbed my thoughts even more. There, it was written in blood red, “BEWARE, THEY ARE COMING”. Is this some kind of prank? I’m not sure if this lady had anything to do with the college, but meeting the same random lady twice, I couldn’t help but to think that it couldn’t be some coincidence, or maybe I’m just thinking too much. What really bothers me is the note she left, it really seemed like it was written with real blood for some reason. “What could she have meant?” Then her voice played again in my head, “be careful and don’t rush, worse things have yet to come”.
       The evening closed in, I was at the doorstep of my home before I knew it. Seems like Craig forgot to turn the lights on. It was a Wednesday and he’d usually be here to prepare some dinner for me. Strange, something was not right. The entire house was dead silent. I rushed to the kitchen, and switched the lights on. Nothing, there was nobody here. Maybe he was running late today? Suddenly, I heard some noises upstairs from my room. I picked up a baseball bat lying around the front door entrance and slowly moved up the stairs. Positioning myself at the doorway of my room, I jerked and rushed into it. Somehow I felt a little relieved that it was an open window that was making that noise. Then I heard Craig’s voice from down stairs, asking me if I was back home. “I’ll be down in a minute Craig”. He replied saying that he’ll get dinner done in five. I wanted to rest for a moment, but my stomach was growling in hunger.
       While I was making my way down to the kitchen, I noticed a few scratches on the side of the wall. It was a little bit obvious under the light, or else it wouldn’t be seen. It was probably caused by my bag or something. I ignored the fact that bags don’t exactly make those kind of scratches on walls. I sat at the dinner table and Craig had already finish cooking.
      “So, how was school today?” He asked while smiling.
      “Nothing much, the usual boring stuff” I replied without the slightest enthusiasm. Of course I couldn’t tell him that I got called to the office for being late and meeting the same women I bumped into in the morning and had a creepy message left by her, and also Shiel.
      “Your cooking never fails to make my day though” I told Craig with a gleaming face. It was mashed potatoes with cheese sauce and peppered beef with some stir fried vegetables and onion rings as sides. He let out a short laugh of happiness and then began to explain the ways on how to prepare it so that I could make it one day.
       “So Kale, found anybody special there yet?” Craig asked with a big smile on his face. That was so sudden I almost spat out the juice that I had in my mouth.
       “Well…no…nobody worth mentioning about”, I dropped it immediately. I’d rather not be bombarded with a ton of questions.
       “Ah, that’s rather unfortunate; you know when I was your age…”
Craig spoke for almost an hour on his days with women. He’s very prone to such things when he starts with it, especially if he doses himself with alcohol.
      “You could stay in the spare bedroom again if you’d like Craig” I told him as I left upstairs and he was washing the dishes. “Alright, will do”, he called out.
      I lay flat on the bed, and got up to get a bath. My eyes directed to my bathroom door and it was open. I gulped as I started to realize that there was a faint trail of red at the corner of doorway. I slowly pushed and entered into it. I froze. There on the mirror, written with blood red paint, “WE ARE COMING”.  

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