Chapter 02 – S
The sound of the footsteps behind me mimics every step that I took. My heart pounds faster and a drop of sweat traces its way down my cheek. All muscles in my body tense up, while I try my best to keep moving forward along the path next to the desolated railways, pretending to not notice the stalker.
Who is this person?
Is that person male or female?
What does he or she looks like?
…Right now, my mind is so frightened and flustered that I am no longer thinking straight. None of those questions even mattered at all. The only questions that matter are:
What does he or she wants from me?
And am I going to be safe?
Now, what should I do?
First of all, maybe I should try to calm down just a bit. Thinking so, I take a deep breath without turning around and just keep walking casually. With my mind slightly clearer, I try to become more optimistic.
Is it possible that this person is also passing by this area as well?
After all, it’s not like this road is my property or anything. It’s not wrong for someone to be walking around here…
…Oh Sophia. Who are you to lie to yourself?
You know so well that this place is completely desolated and, throughout your experience walking home this way, you’ve never encountered any human beings walking around here before, especially at this hour when the sun is about to set. Heck, maybe no one else even knows that there is a path wide enough to walk through here as a shortcut.
To confirm whether or not my suspicions are true, I increase my speed while keeping my ears keen for the sound of the footsteps behind me. But then my fears become true when those footsteps also speed up its rhythm. At this point, I guess there is no more doubt that this person is following me.
Okay, stay calm. I need to come up with a plan.
Let’s see. My house is about five blocks away from here. If I am able to get inside the house, I can lock all the doors and windows, then call the police for help.
All right! That sounds like a brilliant plan!
However, there is one tiny problem about this plan; I have to get back to my house first! The whole plan means nothing unless I already get inside my house and lock the doors.
In that case, I probably should focus on what I have to do right now. The footsteps behind me are getting louder and closer, as if reminding me that I don’t have much time left to think.
Suddenly, I heard a weird voice literally yelling inside my ears. Perhaps it was the sound of my sub consciousness trying to help me resolve this situation. It was kind of nice because it felt like having someone else help me make the decision. But honestly, for a sub consciousness, that was an awfully loud yell. In fact, it felt as if someone was sitting on my ear lobes and yelled into my ears.
Incidentally, the area in the middle of my chest is also starting to burn up exactly like that day with the eclipse.
This is just great. Seriously, can’t it wait?
Just when I was lost in my own silly thought, that same voice yelled into my ears again. Right now, I am almost confident that the yell is not my sub consciousness yelling at me any more. But whatever it is, taking its advice definitely sound like a great idea right now. The footsteps behind me are only getting louder and there is really not much time left to think of other plans.
Taking a deep breath, I stake everything on my reflex and plunge forward like crazy. But as expected, the footstep behind me also suddenly turns from a ‘walk’ to a ‘run’ as well. I briefly turn around and spot a man wearing black long sleeve shirt and long black pants. His thick dark hair extends down his cheeks, creating messy facial hair. He definitely does not look like a very kind stranger, and the fact that he has been stalking me for who knows how long is too creepy to even start pondering.
My mind has never been good at multi-tasking. But that does not really matter, because the only thing I have to think about right now is to move my two legs and get myself to my house as soon as possible.
But then a new obstacle crosses my path when another man dressed in a similar outfit as the stalker comes out from the corner of the block, barring the path towards my house.
“Miss Sophia Estella?” the man in front calls me by my name, making me stop running in surprise. Unlike the stalker, this man has dark hair that is properly combed and set with gel. In other words, he looks a lot friendlier even though he seems to be an acquaintance of the stalker.
“W…Who…who are you…?” I asked back, trying my best not to make any hiccups in my voice.
“We are the special agents from Nebula Corporation’s laboratory. Please stand down. We mean no harm.”
…Special agents? What do the special agents from the Nebula Corporations want from me?
While I was asking that question to myself, the man in front of me gives a nod to someone behind. Turning around, the stalker has now stopped running as well, standing about five meters away from me.
“W…What do you want from me?” I turn back to the man in front.
“We are an acquaintance of your mother, Professor Myria Estella. We would like to escort you to our laboratory as our honored guest.”
“Honored guest? What hono—-!?”
That same voice yelled again. At the same time, a sharp pain emerged right on the spot that was burning hot earlier.
I can’t help but cry in pain and quickly press both of my hands over that spot, trying to suppress the pain. My heart pounds even faster than before.
It’s so crazy.
I’ve never felt my heart pounding this fast in my entire life.
“…Hey man. This does not look good,” the man behind me spoke to the man in front.
“Please, Miss Estella. We simply would like to escort you to the special seminars that your mother will be attending.”
It was obvious as hell that he lied! If mom is attending a seminar and wants me to attend it too, she would have called me personally. Plus, my mom’s line of work has never been related to the Nebula Corporation anyway, so why would they come to pick me up?
And let’s not get into the fact that he doesn’t even show any concern when I cried out in pain earlier.
But, whatever. Whoever you are, ‘Voice’, tell me what I should do!
You seem to really know your stuffs!
Are you kidding? With this pain burning my chest and my heart pounding like crazy, I’m amazed that I’m even standing right now.
Oh dear angels, what is going on with my body?!
And out of all occasion, why does it have to be now!?
“Miss Estella?” The man in front called to me once more, offering me his hand. “Please?”
“Sorry…but I…I’m gonna need to call my mom and confirm this,” I replied.
What the heck was I doing!?
I should have just save my energy and run instead of talking!
“Okay. Get her!”
From a soft and comforting voice, the man in front frowns and lunges forward.
So much for an escort!
Luckily, I still have enough strength to hop to the side, dodging his grab. After smacking him with my handbag, my hands let go of the bag to free myself of any burdening weight and my legs continue running forward whilst fighting against the pain on my chest.
“Come on…what’s going on with me!?” I mumbled to myself as I try my best to ignore the pain. However, the pain is extremely bothersome, and it is starting to take toll on my overall stamina. I just know that I won’t last any longer if I should continue to run like this.
But what can I do!?
Okay. First, you are really creeping me out, Voice. Next, you told me to run earlier, but now you are telling me to fight. Make up your mind, will you!? And finally, how the heck am I supposed to fight these men!?
While my mind was so busy on arguing with the ‘Voice’, a bright light has emerged from the middle of my chest, shining through my white blouse. A sudden intense pain then engulfs my whole body, sending me down to my knees.
My right hand places itself against the ground and my left hand clutches the middle of my chest tightly. I cried out loudly in pain as the whole ordeal takes it sweet time torturing me.
What have I ever done to deserve this?
A few seconds later, the light fades and the pain subsides. While I no longer feel the sharp pain anywhere, the remnants of such sensation still lingers in every tissue of my muscles, making me feel extremely restless.
“What…just happened?” I mumbled to myself as I got up, using the orange stick as a support.
Looking onto my right hand, I found that it is tightly gripping a strange object, which appears to be some kind of a staff with the mace head shaped exactly like the paw of a cat. The whole staff is painted orange and appears to be made of …
I…really have no idea what this thing is made of. My first guess is wood since the material that made up the handle feels fairly light yet compact, just like a branch of a tree. But at the same time, the weight from the cat paw mace is also too burdening to ignore, as if the portion was made from a dense composition of iron. With that thought in mind, this thing is starting to look more like a hammer or a club than a staff to me.
“Hey, man. This is really not good. We should call for back up,” the man who was originally stalking me spoke up to his partner.
“It’s okay. I already sent the emergency signal. The backups are coming this way,” the man who was blocking my way earlier replied.
Backups? There are more of these guys?
Who are they!?
What do they want from me!?
Just as both of them take a step forward, I immediately point the staff towards them and yelled, “Don’t make another step!”
What am I doing?
Now that the pain is gone, I really should just run away.
…Then again, they said something about backups. In that case, getting back home probably wouldn’t be a good idea right now. In fact, I might even drag Roro into trouble too.
“Should we just wait for the back up?” the stalker asked his partner.
“You’re gonna let a girl threaten you?”
“But dude! Haven’t you heard what they said about this girl!?”
About me? What about me!?
“Hey, what the heck are you guys talking about? What do you want from me?! And don’t give me the seminars crap again!”
“Look at her, man. She seems like a normal girl to me,” the partner spoke up, ignoring my threat.
“A normal girl that creates a staff out of no where? Yeah right, dude. That sounds totally legit.”
“Okay fine. I’ll take care of her! You sit back here and cower like a little girl then!”
The stalker’s partner then immediately lunges toward me. Despite his neater appearance and how he did his sweet talk earlier, this guy seems to be a lot more hot-blooded than he looks.
Anyway, I don’t really know what this thing on my hand is, but I do know that it’s heavy. And since I have it, I might as well use it to defend myself.
Hopping to the side, I grab the staff with both of my hands and smack it full strength on to that man’s back. Upon hit, he instantly falls down to the ground, knocked out cold.
I know it’s heavy, but I don’t think my strength is that strong to actually knock someone unconscious.
The stalker yelled and lunged at me as well. He seems to be wary than his partner, but I guess seeing his friend injured probably made him snapped.
“Aaah! Get away!”
Out of fear, I close my eyes and swing the staff towards him. But before the staff reaches its full momentum, the staff recoils and throws itself up into the air.
Opening my eyes again, I am struck by horror upon seeing that stalker’s whole body now covered in flames.
“Waaaahhhh!!!!!!” that man cried and quickly dropped down to the ground, rolling and writhing repeatedly in pain.
What just happened?
How was he engulfed in flames?
Did I do this?
That moment, I saw smoke floating from somewhere right next to me. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the smoke is in fact coming from the very tip of that staff.
Was it because I swung this staff?
No way. It can’t be. How could merely swinging this thing set someone ablaze?!
No ordinary person would—-!
“There she is! She has manifested her powers! Be careful!!!”
I startled upon hearing somebody yelling from behind me.
Three men dressed in a similar outfit as the two previous men step down from a black saloon car that just drove into this area from the corner of the block and head straight for me. Since they are blocking the path towards my house, I decide to turn around to the other direction. However, three more similar saloon cars quickly park behind me and more of those men step down from the cars.
By the way, what’s this ‘power’ they are talking about?
Were they referring to how that man was set ablaze?
Not giving me any time to think, all of them quickly gangs up on me and before long, I am already surrounded. One of the men reaches out for me from behind, but I bend to the side, dodging his grapple, and swing the staff like a baseball bat onto his back. Surprisingly, the man’s body was launched forward against the other men, hitting them like a bowling ball that strikes the pins.
That strength was unreal.
All I did was swing the staff.
How was that man sent flying like a ball!?
“Why you little, come here!!!”
All of the sudden, I felt someone jumping onto my back, tightly wrapping his arms around my waist.
“Ah! Let go of me!!!”
I struggle to shake free a couple of times before knocking my head backwards against his nose when he is not prepared, forcing him to loosen his grip. Just as I lift up my staff trying to hit him, the staff recoils and jerks into the air again. This time, both of my eyes are wide opened so I saw everything clearly. A ball of flames was shot straight out of the tip of the staff, and the staff recoiled like a cannon from a pirate’s ship. The ball tackles that man and sends him flying backwards to the ground where he rolls and writhes in pain.
I saw it.
It was clear as water.
This staff was shooting fireballs out of its tip!
“Oh my god,” my mouth opened up wide in shock and confusion.
Why is this thing in my hand!?
Is this why these men are after me!?
And I…I’ve already set two men on fire…!
What am I supposed to do now?!
“Now! Get her!”
One of the men yelled from behind me. I quickly turn around, hoping to swing the staff at the face of anyone who tries to approach me. However, the staff whooshed, hitting nothing but thin air because the person lunging at me kept himself low. He tackles his shoulder straight into my stomach and knocks me down against the ground. Before I could grab the staff and smack him, he quickly grips my right wrist and pins it against the ground.
“Aaaah!!! Stop!!! What are you doing!?”
“Give her the drug!” the man who tackled me yelled.
Drug!? What drug!?
More men quickly come in and help each other pin my left arm down. With the strength of three…no…four men binding my arms, I have no hope in shaking it free. Suddenly, I feel something stinging painfully on my left wrist. Inspecting it carefully, I found that they have stuck some kind of a syringe into my wrist.
They inject the drug all the way to the tip, and after that, all of them quickly back away, carefully observing my reactions. I immediately pull out the syringe once I am free and pick up my staff, pointing it towards the man who gave me the shot.
“Wha … What did … what did you give me!?” I asked him loudly.
The man simply remains quiet and glares at me nervously.
The staff suddenly recoils, as if reacting to my frustration, and shoots another ball of flame at that man, setting him ablaze like the other two.
“Come on! It’s not kicking in yet!?” One man spoke up all of the sudden.
“Don’t worry. She won’t be standing for much longer. That’s the strongest one we have!” another man replied.
That moment, my eyelids suddenly become heavier and my knees start to lose their strength.
What was it that they gave me?
What are…what are they trying to do to me? From the looks of it, this gang is definitely not just an ordinary thug or rapist if they possess this kind of drug.
While my mind asks myself the same questions over and over again, my body slowly loses all of its strength and drops me to the ground. My eyes start to close and my consciousness begins to fade when those men approaches me one more time.
What’s…going to happen to me?