Chapter 04 – V
The sky looks dark and gloomy, as if pitying the girl walking alone in the middle of nowhere. No matter where you look, there are only grassy plains and mountains lining along the road. Each car passes by, ignoring me like I do not exist. Despite that fact, I just keep on moving towards my destination.
The Cancerian Laboratory is located several kilometers to the east of Andoria City. The path to the laboratory is not exactly easy to travel without a personal vehicle since it is located up on the hills outside of Cancer City. Moreover, there is no bus or any public vehicle that can take you all the way there. To get there, I have to head to Cancer City then take a public bus to the stop nearest to the foot of the hill. After that, it is a three-hours long hike up the hill towards the laboratory.
The whole trip should not take more than half a day, if riding a bus to Cancer City was an available option. I decided to avoid using any form of public transportation within Andoria, since my face is all over the news. With the security cameras installed on all of Nebula Corporation’s public transportation system, there is an extremely high risk of getting caught by them.
As a result, I started walking from the small inn I rested last night before the sun even rises. It has been a tiring trip, but luckily there are travelers’ break points along the road every now and then for me to stop and take it easy. However, each time I took a rest, I have to warn myself that my journey is not yet over. It is easy for me to lose my motivation whenever I feel comfortable. So as a result, I only took those break points to fill up my supplies.
Right now, it is about three o’clock in the afternoon. Lucky for me, the sky has been gloomy since the morning, so the afternoon trek was not hot and sweaty at all. Cool breeze from the plains was constantly blowing, making the trek a rather refreshing one.
However, the dark grayish clouds gradually become darker and the sound of thunder echoes the area. Raindrops gently fall down, creating even more obstacle for my journey. It was not exactly a storm, but I don’t want to get sick while traveling alone. I put on the gray sweater that was tied around my waist, set up my umbrella, and keep moving forward. It is kind of frustrating to see the mud dirtying my beloved white leather boots, but there is nothing I can do about it. The umbrella is also pretty small and frail, so it is not doing a very good job in keeping my whole body dry. But it at least lowers the chance of me catching a cold.
Getting soaked by the rain always makes me want to take a refreshing shower and lie down on a comfy bed beneath a warm blanket.
How I miss my bedroom.
And mom too…
Since the rain shows no sign of stopping any time soon, I thought it would be better to just take a break under the wooden pavilion nearby. These wooden pavilions were contributed by the government and distributed along the roads, so people who travel by foot can have a resting place. However, with more infrastructures being created by the Nebula Corporation every day, traveling by foot becomes obsolete and these pavilions are left as is. Since no one is taking care of them any more, they simply sit quietly there beside the road, watching all the cars pass by every day, waiting for the day to crumble down.
As I settled down under the pavilion, I remove my white leather boots and gently massage my poor feet, tired from walking for several hours straight. My eyes cast out of the pavilion as the rain kept hitting on the roof while I ponder what everyone else is doing right now.
The first person that comes to my mind is Alis. She is probably traumatized and crying right now. Who would not be, after seeing the corpse of your best friend’s mother like that? She is funny, cheerful, and bold, but extremely sensitive deep down inside. I know because we have been friends since forever. I was really happy when I knew that we were going to the same university. Of course, both of us could not believe it at first, since it was Andoria University we were talking about. I still remember how we jumped around gleefully, screaming like mad girls on crack about how we were successfully admitted like it happened yesterday.
But look at what is going on now.
I cannot even tell my best friend that I am fine.
Actually, I am still in the state of coping with my mother’s death, so I am not exactly ‘fine’. But at least I just want to tell her that I am alive.
Speaking of which, how would she react if she knew that I am going after the murderer who killed my mother?
Would she try to stop me?
Would she believe me when I said I fired a weird destructive energy light by swinging the lance that just appeared onto my hand out of nowhere?
Who would buy into all that?
In fact, thinking about that even makes me want to laugh at myself. I guess disappearing like this is all for the best.
Did mom see through all of this?
Was it why she told me to not trust or tell this to anyone?
Did she know beforehand that all of this would happen to her and me?
…This is exactly what I do not like about taking a rest for too long. When I stop, my head thinks. And when it thinks, my heart aches at how I do not have a single clue of what is going on and why this is happening to me. As soon as the rain begins to stop, I quickly put back on my boots and continue my way. As long as I keep moving, I would not have to think and my heart would not have to ache.
After some more trek, I finally reach a small traveler’s lodge that I have pinned down on my map. This will be where I take a rest tonight. Before I left Andoria, I have already planned ahead on the route I am going to take as well as where I will be lodging. My traveling finance is still healthy, so as long as I keep the expenses low, I should not have to worry about it for a while. After all, I am a soon-to-be accountant. It would be a shame to my institution if I cannot manage my expenses, considering how I just took my Cost Management course last semester too.
Anyway, the traveler’s lodge is called “Cancerian Lodging”. This lodge lies just outside of the Cancer City, but the cost per night is cheaper than any of the motels in the city itself. Moreover, with my current situation, I guess it is better for me to stay away from the main cities as much as possible. The laboratory is only about five-hours hike from here and my impatience was insisting me to keep moving. But with the day ending soon, it would not be wise for me to walk in the dark. I might be able to handle a few thugs, but I definitely do not want to do that again. After a night rest, I will leave for the laboratory early in the morning like today.
Putting on my white-knitted beanie once more, I walk up to the counter and check in for a room. It looks good so far since the staff does not seem to recognize my face at all.
I drag myself up the stairs into my room and lock it. This traveler’s lodge is good enough for a simple night rest. It has one standard-sized bed, a heater, and an internal bathroom. This is good enough for me, and it would be even better if there were instant laundry services. But I guess I am just asking for too much. I place my light-cream dress, gray sweater, and the detached sleeves onto the heater before taking a nice warm bath. They are perfectly dried up by the time I finished bathing. I must admit I am impressed. Never thought it would be this fast. I dress up again without the sleeves and the sweater and lie down on the bed. Today’s trek is just tiring. My body is completely worn out and tired. The fatigue quickly drifts me off to sleep.
As my consciousness drifted off to the dream world, a familiar vision slowly emerges before me. I see a scene of a laboratory from behind a glass capsule. My whole body is drowned in a cold unknown liquid. The mysterious man in white coat walks toward the glass capsule that contains me.
It’s that nightmare again.
He makes his awful smirk at me before walking away without a word like how he normally does. However, this time around, I noticed something different from the ‘version’ of the nightmare I normally have. After that man with an awful smirk left, I vaguely notice three more people walking by the glass panel in front of me. Like before, the glass was blurry, so I cannot make out their face. All I could tell was that two of them are male, younger than that scientist earlier, and the other one is a female. Even though it was blurry, I could just tell that she looks very pretty. But for some reason, the woman looks extremely familiar, as if I have seen or known her from some where before.
Just who is she?
And who are the other men?
More questions emerge, and not a single one of them has been answered like before.
All of the sudden, the coldness on my skin turns to numbness as every tissue of my body begins shaking violently. It’s that electric shock again! My mouth opens up, trying to ask for help like before. But the water pressure from the liquid surrounding me pushed its way into my mouth as I try to scream. All visions start to darken and I cannot feel or see anything any more.
From the darkness, I heard a nostalgic voice, echoing from somewhere. The voice is deep and profound, so I assume it was a male’s voice. But what surprises me even more is how all of those agonizing pain are now gone as if it never happened.
Am I still dreaming?
My lips were not moving, but I heard my voice replying back to that voice.
“Please, fear no more. For I will always be with you.”
“Who are you?” I asked the voice again.
“Your most humbled servant. In the time of trouble, call out my name and I shall come to your aid.”
“Wait. What are you talking about!? And what’s your name!?”
There is no more reply.
My eyelids gently open up, looking at the ceiling. My body is lying exactly on the same position before I drifted off to sleep. My head rolls to the side as my hand picks up my cell phone. It is about two more hours before the sun rises.
I sigh and close my eyes. This is not the first time I wake up before the sun rises because of this nightmare. But seriously, on top of having to cope with my mother’s death, I have to deal with this stupid nightmare again?
What have I done to deserve all this?
However, what piqued my interest even more is how this nightmare was different from the other ones I had previously. There are three more people I have never seen appearing inside that laboratory. I was no longer tortured until I panicked and wake up. The pain suddenly disappeared after halfway through and then there is this voice telling me he is my most humbled servant.
What could all of this mean?
Normally, I would have cried like the other nights. But not today. I stand with my two feet and look out of the window. The Cancerian Laboratory is no longer beyond my reach. Maybe at least half of all those questions I had would be answered today.