Chapter 13: Once In A Lifetime
His disappearance left me scared and confused. It was so inhuman, so supernatural. As I oddly felt stranded sitting on the floor all by myself, I felt more misplaced than ever. For a moment, I questioned whether everything that just happened was actually real or not.
Refusing to believe that what just happened was only a dream, I quickly got to my feet and raced to the still open window. The light blue patterned curtains gently swayed with the returning breeze. I placed my palms against the frozen window sill as I frantically searched over the snow covered roofs for the man in white. I looked in every direction for any movement, but he was gone.
None of it made any sense. He just vanished right in front of me, like he was just an apparition or a ghost.
I didn't want him to go yet. I still had questions to ask about what happened and who those children were. If he saved me and helped stop the attack we put on the village, then he must hold the answers.
"Come back," I inaudibly exhaled. Of course there wasn't a response. I was possibly the only person awake in the entire village, if the man had already left the mountain, that is.
My eyes gazed up at the night sky. The stars shined and gave the darkness emphasis. It was weird, to be honest, because I never see a sky so illuminated naturally. Ninjago City was so bright with its artificial lights that all you could really see at night was the moon. Other than that, if you had a telescope, stars and planets were too dim to see with the naked eye.
"I didn't leave," his voice suddenly said.
I jumped and looked down, thankful that the window was designed like opening doors and not one that slid vertically to open, because I would've hit my head. The man's masked face was inches from mine, his eyes more detailed in the moonlight. Now I saw microscopic dark blue streaks that drew themselves away from the pupils.
"My apologies," he said. "Stealth has become a habit of mine. I must remember to make my presence known in a more casual manner."
"Oh, it's okay," I replied. Something weird caught my attention. I peered past his head and saw how he was holding on to the side of the house. His fingers barely gripped a strip of wooden trim. The bottoms of his feet were pressed flat against the wall. The sight had me come up with even more questions to ask.
"You admire the night sky?" he asked before I could start.
"What?" I looked back up to see the same scene as before. "Yeah, I guess so. I never see it like that."
"Because Ninjago City is always awake?"
I looked back at him, surprised. "How do you know I'm from Ninjago City?"
"Your accent. There are many visitors to the village for a tournament, and they all share the same accent. I understand all the visitors are native from Ninjago City, so I made the inference that that is the Ninjago City accent, for I've never been there myself."
I looked at him without saying anything. Something about him let me know he was quite a smart person. Now more questions were filling my brain full.
"Am I correct?" he calmly pressed.
"Y-Yes," I stammered. "I can't see the stars because of all the lights. They're really pretty tonight."
He looked above us to see for himself. "Can I show you something that includes the stars' involvement?"
"What do you mean?"
And then he did it again, an inhuman thing. I just felt his hands clasp my sides, but I never saw him because he disappeared! Now my feet touch solid ground that felt like ice crystals were embedding into my skin. The isolation of the house no longer surrounded me, letting the thin mountain air wrap around me and shake me until my teeth rattled against each other.
"W-What a-are y-y-you d-doing?" I shivered.
"I'm showing you something," he simply answered.
"B-B-But i-it's l-l-less t-than t-twenty d-d-degrees o-out h-here."
"Shall I fetch some of your belongings?"
"N-No! I-I'm n-not t-t-trekking i-in t-this k-kind o-of t-temperature."
He unblinkingly looked at me for a long moment before he quickly and quietly climbed the side of the house. I watched him grip the window sill and lunge inside the bedroom. I groaned.
I stood there, harshly shaking against the cold and rubbing my hands against my arms. If I was desperate enough, I would've crouched down and curled into a ball to keep warm. My teeth chattered and created a mysterious tune to express the extent of my tolerance to the freezing cold.
His ghostly figure soon emerged from the dark square of the open window. After he inaudibly fell to the ground, he turned towards me with what looked like a sack in his grasp. But that didn't make any sense. I didn't bring any sack with me for this road trip.
He settled it onto the ground in front of me, where it fell open to reveal clothes like a clam revealing its treasured pearl.
"I'll check for a shallow trail," he said. When I looked up, he was gone.
I sighed as I looked at the clothes. I didn't want to go, but I also didn't want to freeze to death.
Trusting that he got me the right clothes, I sorted through them. I found a pair of baggy jeans, a compression long-sleeved shirt, my heavy winter coat, my sneakers, wool socks, my emergency turtleneck, and wool mittens. When I rubbed the material of the so-called sack between my fingers, I discovered that it was the wool blanket from the bed. I guess he did know what he was doing. I just prayed he didn't open up my temporary underwear drawer while he was up there.
My shivering relaxed as I put all the clothes on. I raced to take my pajama shirt off and put on the compression shirt, but other than that, I was fine. I was very comfortable after getting it all on. While waiting for his return, I curiously watched my breath come out as steam.
Something lightly draped over my shoulders. I saw it before I felt it. Of course it was him.
"There's a trail that's been hidden by the fresh snow, but it's going in the right direction," he said, settling the wool blanket on me. "We should get there in exactly two-point-three hours if I carry you."
I turned around to look at him. "Why are you making me go? I don't want to be out in the freezing cold."
"What I have to show you is a once in a lifetime sight. You would be in a state of regret if you were to miss it."
"But I don't even know what it is."
"That's exactly my point. Have some trust in me, Mecca–" he slightly smiled under his mask "–You would want to see what I have to show you."
"Is that not your name?"
I could feel it in my gut that he'd been mysteriously around me longer than he claimed he was, like spying on me.
"Drop the 'e,' add an 'a,'" I said.
"Yeah, that's it. You?"