It was a dream. A nightmare, that’s what I told myself.
But I couldn’t get rid of the bloodied old man’s image out of my mind. Every night I stayed awake wondering if he’s still alive. It took me days to recover from the shock of the whole incident. As I stayed with my family and played with my dog, Hazel, my perspective on life changed.
I realized how dangerous those people’s life could be. Even though they might have chosen that life, still I’m sure they suffer each day with all the killing and being alive. I compared that with my life.
I couldn’t be grateful for the life I have now.
I thought why not enjoy the life to the fullest when you have the chance, why should I shiver and be frightened of something that has past.
Yes, I’m more than worried about the stranger but we did our best to help him out and now time to move on. I can’t let that one incident changed me but indeed my prospect towards life had taken a new turn. Now, looking at Anna chatting with me happily, made me feel at ease. I haven’t talked to Jane and Ivy much ever since that day, I was worried if they are doing fine. Anna was being herself. Of course she’s the type that could snap out of low moments fast. I could also sense that she’s trying hard not to talk about that day.
“I wish you marry a guy that eats pizza every single day.” I said playfully. Anna rolled her eyes. “Not gonna happen.”
Anna is quite fussy when it comes to food. She don’t eat pizza simply because she hates cheese, sausages, mushroom and the list go on.
After walking around the mall a few times, we got bored. “I don’t think I’m buying more heels and dresses.” I looked down at the five different brand bags in my hands.
“Movie?” Anna suggested. “Nah, I don’t feel like watching one. Let’s go to the new dessert shop.” I started to march down the glossy peach hallway but Anna stopped me. “No! You just had pizza and now desserts? No! No! No!” She shook her head as she walked to the opposite direction. “Only one slice, Anna.” I pleaded but she kept on shaking her head.
“Fine.” I said loudly, feeling a little annoyed and caught up with her.
“Thank me later.” She nudged me with her evil smile on her face. I couldn’t help but smile at her. Anna knew about my insecurity all too well. I have always been worried about my weight since small. Me being short, gaining even a little weight will make me look, well unattractive and funny. Though I work out at the gym almost every day, I find it difficult to maintain my weight easily. My body is the type that will get bloated if I don’t take care of my diet. Whenever I fail to control my appetite, especially when there’s a dessert shop around, I will end up beating myself up in the gym and Anna hates that.
After walking around the mall a few more minutes, we decided to call it a day.
“You should have gotten that red dress.” I told Anna as we walked to the parking lot. She smiled dreamily as though she’s imagining herself in that summer dress but then she simply replied “I don’t need a dress.” I sighed.
She was in her usual jean and tee. Her black curly hair was left loose. “You might need it. Anna, you should totally get out of that jeans and t-shirt.” I said, probably for a millionth time.
“Why should I? It’s nice, comfy and I could wear this anywhere I go.” She said while twirling around at the parking spot. She smiled at my annoyed expression. I could only agree with her wearing the jean since it showed of her long legs, but I always wanted her to dress well. She had a great shape, tall and thin. She never has to worry about gaining weight with that body. She would look great in dresses and heels but her fashion sense sucked. “Anna, Anna when are you going to change, start acting like a lady?” I shook my head in desperation.
“When I’m ready.” She simply stated and walked to my car.
She was the opposite of me in character. We do not have much in common, we always have different point of view but it never conflicted. It is the same with Jane and Ivy too. We all have our own trait like how Anna’s fashion sense gives serious headache to us. Though we were different, all four of us, we clicked well in a group, we never been in a big fight. Arguments, yes but we will get through it. The one thing that we all had in common would be being honest to each other. We don’t lie, if we didn’t like something we would simply utter it without keeping it from each other or gossiping.
As I reached the car, I struggled to find the car keys in my handbag while holding on to too many shopping bags. I lost focus on my surrounding just for a minute and I felt something or someone standing behind me, I stifled a scream but before my voice rang out in the parking lot, a set of hands grab me tight and covered my mouth.
I saw a guy in a hoodie was struggling with Anna at the other side. He was wearing black mask, so I guess my captor would also looked the same. I tried to get away but his hands were too strong. I struggled real hard not wanting him to drag me away. Anna somehow broke off and ran to the opposite car. She stopped and looked at me in horror. Her hair was a mess, if the situation were not that serious, I would have laughed at her.
I stared at her, for a moment thinking she will run away but she stayed. She was trying to think of something, the other guy advanced, Anna stepped back and started to yell for help. Her voice rang out through the whole parking lot. The other guy stopped, he looked at my captor. Anna started to point at us, screaming for help. She was acting hysterical which was out of her character, then my captor grunted in pain. I quickly stepped on his foot and ran out of his grasp. I didn’t look back until I stopped beside Anna. I turned and saw a security guard trying to fight the two guys. Obviously, they are overpowering him. “Damn it.” Anna cursed and got hold of my hand as she started ran to the store again. I struggled to keep up with her pace. We saw another security guard at the entrance and asked for his help. He barked some orders in his walkie-talkie and then another guard appeared. Both of them went into the lot while we stayed at the entrance. Another guard ran after them awhile later. We stood there in shock. I wanted to go and take a look but Anna stopped me. “Stay, we don’t know if it’s safe.” In five minutes time, one of the guards returned, he was gasping for air as he came to us. He smiled apologetically, “We lost the guys. Others are looking for them. I think it’s safe for you to get to your car now.”
“Who are those guys?” Anna asked, she was still breathing hard. “We don’t know but this incident had occurred before. Mostly young girls would be the victim. They steal their belongings and the car. We had launched a police report the last time but the action yet to be taken. We will visit the station again.” He apologized.
“Can you escort us?” I asked him. He agreed immediately, “Of course, we are truly sorry for such a misfortunate event and thank you for alerting us immediately.” We nodded and walked to my car. I kept on glancing behind my back and both my sides, imagining the two guys to jump out of nowhere again. The two others guard were standing few feet away from us, one talking on the phone while the other looking around the parking lot. Before driving away, I scrolled down the car window and questioned, “You said this have happened before why aren’t there more guards patrolling the parking lot?” The guy in uniform looked around the place as though just now remembering something. “There were two men stationed here but I don’t …” He trailed off, not knowing how to finish his sentence. I wanted to snap at him, did your men disappeared? Instead I drove away.
“Are you alright?” Anna asked. She was playing with her curly hair. “I guess.” I said, feeling calmer than I thought I would be. I have always been careful wherever I go, this is the first time I have ever been in this sort of a situation.
“I don’t understand.” Anna started but paused as though she’s thinking hard about something.
“What?” I asked.
“Those guys, I don’t think they wanted to rob us. I mean, neither took our bags or tried to get into the car.”
Anna was right. Both the masked men were trying to grab a hold of us and nothing else.
“Are you suggesting, they tried to kidnap us?” I panicked momentarily and almost hit a car that over took us all of a sudden. “What the!” I glared at the car.
“No! Oh god, Naomi! I was just going paranoid. Forget what I said.” Anna watched me worriedly. Maybe I’m not as calm as I thought I was.
“Breathe, Naomi.” Anna muttered.
We didn’t talk much after that. She was lost in her own thought while I was in mine. I remembered the horror on her face when Anna stood probably ten feet away from and watched me struggling with the masked man.
“You know, you should run. Don’t ever wait if anything like this happened again.” I blurted out.
She stayed quiet.
“Anna, you know what I meant right?” I asked her.
“I know, Naomi. I also know when to run away leaving my best friend and when to stop and try to help.” She said.
There was a note of stubbornness in her tone. I didn’t say anything to that. She watched me driving quietly for awhile, “We got lucky today.” She said. “We were in great luck lately.” I murmured.
I told my parents about the earlier incident. My dad scolded me for being careless while my mum went paranoid and forbid me not to stay out after twilight. I didn’t protest. I was too tired so I went to my room and sank into my bed thinking what happen to my life and when did it get this dangerous.
It was only five minutes of me trying to giving in to the tiredness and sleep while battling the scary thoughts forming due to the masked men, my phone rang, it was from Jane.
“Hey, babe. You have no idea what have just happened today.” I was about to launch into the horrifying experience I had today but Jane was in no mood to listen.
“Ivy got into an accident!”
“What?” I sat up straight, completely forgotten whatever happened today. “When? How? Is she okay?”
“This morning. I’m on my way to see her in the hospital.”
Ivy was admitted in the private hospital not too far away from my place. I ran out to get my car while informing Anna. She was waiting impatiently outside her house when I fetched her. Since it was late at night, the road was freakish dark and empty. We reached in about ten minute time and we managed to catch Ivy walking out the hospital with four legged walking stick. Her mum was on her right while Jane on the left.
“Oh god! Are you okay?” I rushed to her side. Ivy had bandages wrapped around her forehead and her left leg. She smiled weakly. “I didn’t know you guys are coming.” Her voice was hoarse. “How on earth you got in an accident and why are you walking around instead of getting treatment?” Anna asked furiously.
“I’m fine, Anna. I just got discharged.” Ivy informed us.
“She’s not fine. She fractured her leg.” Her mum told us. Mrs. Hale looked tired and pale, even worse than Ivy. She has the same feature as Ivy, the same mahogany hair and olive brown eyes.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Hit and run.” Jane answered.
“Did you report?” I questioned. “We did, this morning. She was unconscious for almost five hours after the accident. The doctor said she was lucky to not gone into comatose stage. Whoever did this just left her in the middle of the road. Thank god someone called the ambulance.” Mrs. Hale sounded both angry and relief.
“Did you manage to take down the number plate?” Anna asked. Ivy shook her head. “No. The only thing I remember was that the car came fast and hit mine. I swear he came straight at me, as though he wanted to hit me. I must have gone unconscious after that.” Ivy stated in frustration.
“Thank god, you are okay! Damn I wish the cops will hunt down whoever did this to you.” Jane glared at the walking stick.
“The accident could have killed you. Fortunately, you walk out of it with minor injuries.” I said in relief.
“How long until your leg heal?” Anna asked.
“If she rest well, a week is enough to remove the cast.” Her mum told us while smiling fondly at her daughter.
Ivy was obviously growing tired standing and talking with us. We helped her into the car. We watched Mrs. Hale drove Ivy home. “I cannot believe we almost got robbed and Ivy got into a horrible accident.” I was beyond shocked at this moment.
“And yet we survived it.” Anna murmured with a frown on her face.
“You guys got robbed?” Jane almost shouted.
“Almost.” Anna corrected her.
“This week is…” I sighed.
“Hell!” Anna added.
The next day, my mum came into my room early in the morning. I was still in my bed. I stifled a yawn and got up to stared at my mum who came to stand beside me with a huge grin on her face.
“We received it this morning.” She gave me a letter addressed to me. The letter was from Angels’ Town Institute. “It’s the reply for your college application.” My mum stated, still beaming. “But I don’t recall sending any letters to this college.” I said as I open the envelope. It was an admission letter and another letter attached to it.
“I have gotten a scholarship.” I said to my mum. I rubbed my eyes just to make sure I’m reading it right.
It was unexpected because I didn’t apply for any scholarship either. According to the letter, all cost of study and living would be taken care of by the institute. The student will be provided with pocket money as well. The offer was very generous that my mum agreed to send me there immediately. I was confused. I read the letter thoroughly as I noticed that a date was given for the open day of the institute. Apparently they had an office at each district and the nearest one from my place was twenty minutes away. The date given was today. “Go and check it out, Naomi. Inquire them for all the necessary details and if it’s all good, sign up today itself.” My mum was way too excited about me going to college.
I drove to the stated address. It was a newly developed residential area with less people around. The roads were newly carpeted. I had no trouble driving to the place. I parked in front of a newly built shop houses.
I walked along the corridor looking for a signboard. It was odd to hold an open day event for a college in place like this. There were quite a number of doors with many colourful papers stuck on it. I walked past a few and stopped on the third door. I saw the plain black and white notice on the door. The notice affirmed the place.
The door was not locked. I entered in and went up a flight of stairs. There was another door. I knocked and a lady in suit opened it. She welcomed me in.
I smiled politely and followed her. The office was small but well designed. There was a young girl in suit as well sitting at the reception table, she probably seventeen just like me. A few small round tables and chairs placed at the front. I walked past the girl as she gaped at me. I smiled at her but she didn’t return it. There were two rooms and the lady led me to the left room. She opened the door and ushered me in. I froze the moment I saw the people in there. I didn’t try to run or scream because the faces were familiar. It’s Ivy, Jane and Anna sitting in the middle of the room. At the corner there was a young lady in formal clothing too. It took me seconds to recognize the pretty face, Miss Gabriella. The girls looked at me, their face were expressionless. The lady behind me tapped my shoulder and asked me to enter. Her voice was fierce. She looked nothing like the smiling lady I saw a minute ago. I swallowed hard and walked in.