The Labyrinth

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Chapter 3

The Research

The body of the young man began to twitch. Beneath the helmet that covered half of his head showed a smile filled to the brim with of deep satisfaction, joy and conceit.

Two men in suits and white medical robes watched the screen on which depicted the world in which at that very moment the man with the helmet was fighting a monster, a hybrid between a Hydra and a huge elephant with six tusks. He soon decimated it with the help of his army.

A shout of joy resounded in the air and the man with a sharp movement took off the helmet from his head. He was practically shining with joy.

"Did you see that?" He exclaimed excitedly. "This time I did it better than anyone! The level was just a piece of cake!"

One of the two men, who were wearing glasses, closed his tired eyes, shaking his head in annoyance and disappointment. "No Nick. Once again the project has experienced a debacle! We haven't even progressed an inch in our survey! What we have seen now we have seen over a hundred times before, and always with the same result! You're an amazing gamer, but so far continue to walk in the dark! But if we find the parameter or the cause…"

"Maybe it has to do with the place." The other interrupted him. "The mind knows that it is in an extremely critical condition and maintains a safety valve…"

"We cannot walk in the dark!" The second one shouted back loudly, raising his voice in anxiety. "This research begun from the very first moment of the first case, and even at this moment we cannot be sure about anything! Not to mention the fact that the Earth is the sole planet of the Intergalactic Alliance, on which the rate of criminality is showing a rise in relation to the game! So who really is to blame?"

Footsteps sounded from behind.

A fourth man arrived on the site. He was tall, with classy characteristics, white hair – which appeared almost silver in the light – and an eye colour which resembled amber. He radiated a level of seriousness large enough that all three men who were in the room at that moment instantly fell silent before him, as if they were children who were just caught in their mischief and were waiting to be reprimanded.

"Well?" He asked. "Let me guess. We had no progress at all, did we?"

All three shook their heads simultaneously.

"Hmm..." The man pondered. He stroked his chin sceptically in thought. "I'm afraid that I believe that it is time to get ready to initiate the next stage of research. Tomorrow, for the first time, special investigative teams will be dispatched at some schools, which will be selected at random. I think we will have to work with material that we have refused to use so far…"

He threw an indifferent look on a machine that was behind the three men. "Let's hope that this time, our research will proceed…"

The limo skidded to a halt outside a large mansion. At the door waited a servant, umbrella in hand. It had started raining halfway through their return journey. He rushed immediately to the car once it parked.

Sia set him aside indifferently. She threw a look over her shoulder to make sure that Sebastian was keeping the umbrella over Maria. For a moment she felt possessed by an overpowering fatigue, but the strong but familiar scent of the perfume her eccentric grandmother always wore soon drifted to her nose, simultaneously boosting her spirit. Climbing the stairs, she almost flew to reach the last room on the second floor. She stood there for a moment in front of the closed door, inhaling the nostalgic scent.

Music played softly from behind the door. She could almost imagine her grandmother standing upright in front of the old gramophone, listening to music from past centuries, smoking cigarettes and playing with the expensive pearls around her neck.

"Anastasia," The gentle voice of her grandmother sounded.

The girl pushed open the door hesitantly. Before her eyes was an accurate picture of all that she had imagined seconds ago. The delicate figure of her grandmother was dominating in the middle of the room, dancing the Waltz alone with a cigarette in her right hand while with the other, she was accompanied by an invisible partner.

"You are tired…" The soothing voice of her grandmother reached the ears of the girl. "Maybe a little disappointed, aren't you? How was the first day? I guess that not much has changed…"

"Grandma…" Sia cried almost breathlessly. She threw himself into the arms of the woman. "Why do they hate us so much?"

"Because they'd give everything to be in our place. Remember that. But it's something else that's bothering you..." She answered, before stopping to look at Sia thoughtfully. She eventually spoke up, questioning her granddaughter. "Did Sebastian do something?"

Sia shook her head.

"Remember that you are not kids anymore." Her grandmother said after a few moments of silence. "He will eventually make decisions that will hurt you, although the hurt will not be intentional. It is normal for him to want to protect you in his own way and that you feel reluctant to accept that."

Sia made a step back. She was always scared by the insight of her grandmother to the point that when she was smaller, she had believed that she had the magic power to read the thoughts of the others. Growing up, however, she realised that her grandmother just good at reading people and well, nothing more.

"Go get some rest." The great woman smiled gently, cupping her cheek and guiding her to the door. "I am sure that this year will be full of surprises, both good and bad…"

The room sank to semi-darkness as Sia quenched the last candle. After dinner they had exchanged views and gossip with Maria, and Sebastian had left to his room as he couldn't handle 'the noise they produced'.

The rain had finally stopped and the only sound they could hear now was the breath of Maria.

"Maria…" Sia started, unable to remain silent anymore.

"I know what you are going to say." Maria replied.

"Is that so? Is it so easy to read me those days?"

"Well, I expected based on the probabilities that our conversation eventually would end up here after all the nonsense we talked today. But I'm pretty sure that you heard what you had to from your grandmother." Sia froze at what she was saying. "We are worried about you. I'm sure this moment Sebastian is awake as he's trying to guess what effect the visit of the police had on you."

"I do not understand…" Sia mumbled. "It's been so long."

"No. No matter how much time passes, some memories do not fade and some wounds cannot be closed. You are always trying to remain the strongest of the three of us. You keep everything inside of you while you forget that both Sebastian and I have lost no less from you! When will you understand that you can show us the side which you've never shown to anyone?"

'And if I don't know how to do that?' Sia asked silently in reply to her question. 'And if I never learn?'

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