Chapter 6. Endless Beach
The sunlight from behind the window got her eyes blinded. Her consciousness had not awakened yet as she rose from the sofa, struggling to close the curtain.
The lamp turned off already. The portable air conditioner was rustling behind her.
Cathy just remembered that she fell asleep in the living room, and she still carried a little book in her hand. She was still in her pajama, and her hair looked really messed up.
A glimpse of flashback from her dream came into her mind suddenly. It was the same recurring visions about the princess named Kathleen, without the addition of that mysterious white hair girl anymore. Unfortunately, she still didn’t have any clue how to understand this thing that happened to her.
She got a terrible headache now, followed by a thirsty feeling.
“Hi…hi…” Elle greeted cheerfully. “I thought you may need water.”
“Oh, good morning,” she murmured, still holding her dizzy forehead.
She squinted surprisingly at her, who bothered preparing a glass of water as if that strange girl would know what happened. However, she took it immediately, and drank it in a single gulp.
“Your mother bought me this. What do you think?” She spun dancing like a butterfly in her new glittery turquoise silk dress, showing off her flawless white skin.
“It looks beautiful on you,” Cathy smiled as she felt the comfortable sensation to talk with her. It was kind of reminded her with the tranquility time she had with Josh’s grandmother.
Elle sat beside her. They were staring at the same wooden bookshelf in front of them.
Once Cathy regained her consciousness, she asked her, “I know the storage room is unlocked, but why did you take the books to my bedroom?”
Elle didn’t flinch at all against her sudden question. “I saw you sneaking out just to read those books before, which looked like the funny part, I supposed.”
“And so?” Cathy demanded her real answer.
“I’ve helped you out from that suffer,” she said as tempted to laugh. “So, do you read classic books?”
“I’ve read many fairy tales, involving a king, queen, princess, prince, and some stories of the children of the moon and children of the night,” Cathy sounded excited, but the next second, she shrugged sadly. “But all the stories are just too good to be true.”
“What about a folklore story?” Elle suggested.
At the time, Cathy stared bewilderingly to hear the voice that possibly sounded familiar with the girl in her recurring dreams.
“I’m sure you haven’t read a book that called—Emperor of Souls,” Elle said as she rose from the sofa, leaning backward over the bookshelf. “It’s a book that almost forgotten, but pretty popular among the Austrian folks in its time.”
“Where can I find it?” She was instantly interested to know more. “An old library might have it though.”
“Not really, you can’t even find it on the internet. The copies have just slowly disappeared from many libraries and bookstores,” Elle informed. “It was written in early 50’s.”
“Kind of old,” she murmured. “Who can lend me?”
“The author himself,” Elle suggested an option.
At first, she thought Elle was joking, but as she looked at her corroborated sharp eyes, an argument was unnecessary. Cathy inhaled slowly, letting any compromising idea struck on her mind while she put the glass on the table beside the sofa.
“If it’s among the Austrian folks, does he live in there?” She was curious. “What a coincidence! My mom is planning to visit the country.”
“Nothing is coincidental. Everything is connected in the web of this universe.”
Cathy flickered surprisingly that Elle showed wisdom like no other girl at her age would do.
They gazed at the same view of the sunny sky behind the window. Elle started humming in a halcyon way, like a songbird.
“Do you know what the occasion for today?” Elle asked before Cathy left the room.
She flickered. “It’s weekend.”
“It’s the beach time!” Elle shouted, and started humming again.
Cathy guffawed while observing her happiness that looked engaging. Nevertheless, she remembered the first thing in the morning as the clock ticked at six, it was the vacation.
“Oh, your mom will not come with us. She’s gone before you woke up,” Elle informed her.
Elle was leaning at the partition wall, and said, “She has a sudden business with her friend—out-of-town.”
“What friend?” She never knew that her mom would keep a secret even more, and it was uncompromising. “Why she didn’t tell me?”
“She seemed in a hurry that it must have been very important. You and I will go, while your dad is still asleep, right?” Elle said before she left, walking in a strange movement like a happy kid.
Cathy was aware that her dad was still sleeping in his room, but her mind was more concerned with her mom who seemed really busied. She didn’t even pick up her cellphone, which left already with million missed calls. The least thing she wanted to do was to take a shower.
The nearest beach around Bisbee was located in Willow Beach. It took seven hours by car.
The two of them went with her Ford Edge silver car, which practically counted as SUV. They also had enough food supply for one-day trip, except to think that the girl who sat next to her wouldn’t touch the food after all.
Cathy had been driving uneasily since Elle was sitting like a statue beside her. Elle kept staring straightly on the road, which gave her the creeps sometimes. Until they finally arrived, Cathy parked her car near to the seashore.
Elle stepped outside the car, and ran immediately, throwing her sandals recklessly to go barefoot on the sand, while Cathy went afterward, and preferred to keep her sandals attached tightly on her feet since she thought it was a better idea.
The smell of the fresh water had made her imagining the ocean scent. Cathy wanted to learn something new, started from this second week of July. This would be a great Saturday.
The sun was exactly at the top of their head now. She thought that they must be a bit late to arrive at noon. She got sweaty, walking toward the big rock against the hills view, overshadowing the beach.
Cathy sat alone on the rock, taking a deep breath, and then she took out a book she borrowed from her mom’s bookshelf. It was the classic one, unpopular. Just at the time she was about to flip random pages, Cathy saw a strange view in front of her.
From afar, Elle was seen dancing like a butterfly set free in the air, looking happy. She stood still across the seashore, in between the sand and water. Slowly, she outstretched her arms like an angel.
Cathy narrowed her eyes at the view, witnessing what her so-called relative was doing there. Besides, no one was here but both of them.
Elle looked like as if she was praying. She stood under the bright sky, and the rustling winds came filling the silence. At that second, she turned around, staring back tenderly at Cathy in a mysterious way. A pure affection was defined when she gave her a slight smile.
Cathy astonished at the view, and she could not understand the real thing about her; Elle looked inscrutable in every way.
Elle approached her while Cathy was still feeling speechless.
“Feeling the beach?” Cathy shouted first.
“Do you find it strange of what I just did?” She asked with a tender voice.
Cathy flinched and she closed the book, post-haste. This would be the moment when she couldn’t say either good or bad. She sighed and stared up at her. “You’re doing fine.”
Her facial expression looked different now, it wasn’t fierce anymore, but amorous.
“Do you want to see what I see?” She asked promptly, thrusting her hand to her, but Cathy felt hesitant. “Perhaps, if you wanted to see the stupendous scenery, we’d have to go higher than on this surface.”
They walked together in the seashore, feeling the fresh smell of the air and water. Elle led her to walk across to the hills. Cathy didn’t understand why she would agree to go after her, and walked struggling throughout these rocks and stones. She felt exhausted, and fell on her knees.
“Look,” Elle beckoned her eyes at the hills view that surrounded the beach.
“Okay, can we just sit here for a while?” She was still suffering from a drain throat and exhaustion.
Elle stared down at her and gave her a chance to soothe for her mortal condition. After they stared gawkily to each other, she rephrased again, “Do you want to see what I see?”
Cathy couldn’t decode her mystery, but this could be one way to find out. Although the hesitation had gnawed her heart, there seemed no negativity with Elle’s odd behavior.
It took her a second to rise from the ground, and then she held back that warm hand. Suddenly, an electric sensation was pricking beneath her skin. Elle grasped her hand more tightly before she could pull off, as if she was like a little kid who almost jumped down into the water.
A glimpse of vision suddenly emerged. Cathy saw it vividly when they showed up from nowhere. There were hundreds of them, of black-hooded figures, standing across the hills like statues of gods and goddesses. They were outstretching their arms, just like what Elle did before.
At the time, without pulling off Cathy’s hand, Elle followed outstretching her arms, and stared up mercifully at the sky. It was as if the universe was in an eternal tranquility, and the feeling of yearning and sadness compounded into oneness.
“We’re connecting with God and the universe, we’re praying every day, every time,” Elle said, with eyes closed.
Elle took a deep breath before she opened her eyes to stare at her. They gazed silently as the winds swirled strongly, blowing their hair.
The black-hooded figures still stood at their same spot. The view was so vivid that making Cathy astounded and bewildered. They were something that she had never known ever existed in her entire life. It was the part of the universe mystery.
She pulled off her hand harshly from Elle, and so the figures were gone from her vision concurrently. Everything turned normal again in this place filled with random pebbles.
“What have I just seen?” Cathy shook her head confusedly, muttering the craziness. “Did you do magic or fatal hallucination? Well, I mean—”
Cathy was trembling to confront her sharp eyes. It was frightening.
“How questionable—” Elle bulged out, as she didn’t accept with the way this little human reacted, having such conclusion. “You human need to learn some things,” but the next second, her expression changed cheerful again “—and then, it will be fun.”
Elle ran and danced cheerfully throughout the rocky hill, walking down the seashore again.
On the other side, Cathy still stood frozenly at the same spot. She tried to regain her senses, finding the stability of her wellbeing. She could almost get a heart attack from seeing what just happened, but she was already speechless to ask about that strange phenomenon.
During six hour of the car trip, the radio couldn’t help to calm her mind while driving home. The girl she suspected as a total strange girl was sitting next to her like a statue again.
They finally arrived home at nine p.m., without waking up anyone in house from their sleep. Thereafter, Cathy wanted to take a painkiller for herself, so she could get a comfortable sleep.
On Sunday, she spent a wonderful morning, drinking tea in Martha’s personal lounge room. Her mom was there too, sitting oppositely from the landlord. It seemed that her mom didn’t want her to listen to their conversation this time.
After her mom encouraged her to see Josh, she still stood hiding behind the wall corridor near the staircase. She was listening, but their voice sounded vague when they talked about something important.
“You know she’s destined,” Martha said.
“No, I won’t accept that, she’s my daughter!” Haile’s voice was shudder.
“She’s chosen to live that way, you can’t determine what’s right and wrong by giving her a cage against the world.”
“I won’t sacrifice my daughter for that family, even—”
She almost jumped out astonishingly when Josh was tapping her back. Martha and her mom were still talking in private when she went upstairs to his bedroom.
“C’mon, she’s alright. Your mom just went out-of-town with a healthy looking face rather than yours,” he knocked up the words at her pale face. “So, what happened yesterday?”
“Inscrutable to tell,” she said and sighed as he went to sit beside her on the bed. She started recalling the memory at the beach. “I’ve made Elle peeved.”
“You just barely knew her a week ago, and you already made her peeved?” He wondered. “Is that why she ran from your home this morning?”
“Elle needs a little time, that’s what my mom said. I don’t get it, why she won’t answer my question about that weird girl.”
“What’s the truth about yesterday?” He asked again.
“I’ve kind of—noticed her personality; she could be an eagle, and the next second became naïve. It scares me,” she said, staring back at him who was beginning to understand the circumstance. “When we went to the beach, she offered me to hold her hand, and as I did, you’d have no idea what I saw. A strange vision of black-hooded men, you couldn’t even count on how many were there, they stood in the hills and stared up at the sky. She said that they prayed and connected to God, or whatever that meant.”
Josh gawked at her as if it was a fantastic story, although it was real for her. “You’re serious?”
“Do I look like I’m making up the story?” She annoyed. “And then, I said something stupid that got her peeved, and today she’s gone.”
He would be giggling to hear the contradiction, instead he asked, “What kind of stupid words?”
“I don’t really remember. It was stupid enough than a kid say,” she shrugged her shoulders, “but I know what I saw was true. They were stood there, and acted oddly. I wasn’t sure why would she do that too.”
“Maybe she has a remote viewing ability, and then she transferred the vision to you yesterday, to see the hidden world,” he was giggling for real and couldn’t help to think of it as a fictional story. “Wouldn’t it sound like out-of-human-brain?”
Cathy ignored him when he started guffawing annoyingly.
She felt determined with her observation about Elle, and she wanted to find more of the puzzles that had been haunting her dreams and flashbacks, although it never really occurred again since Elle arrived at her house. Therefore, she assumed that everything might be related with that girl.
“There’s something not click in her human nature,” she muttered.
Josh rose from the bed to turn off his computer on the desk, where he paused from playing the soccer game, and he said, “She seems really nice, you just need to know her better, be a little social.”
“What if she isn’t my relative?” She showed her hesitation.
“Okay, you might be anti-social to everyone in school, but this girl—she is part of your family,” Josh squinted at her, and then he added quickly “—well, the part she’s being your relative, that’s the confession according to your mom, huh?”
“Don’t you realize how it felt when she made us shiver, the first time we met her?” Cathy remembered. “Terrified.”
“Excellent,” he shouted. “I’d suspect her for having an odd behavior because of her psychic ability, which your mom wouldn’t agree with this statement.”
“These odd things between that girl and my mom, I want to deal with them.”
Haile suddenly knocked at the door. They stared anxiously at her, wondering if she had listened to their conversation.
“Hi, guys,” she smiled, standing at the doorsill. “Martha wants us to have lunch together, come on.”
They spent two hours at the neighbor’s house, but Haile had to return home as soon as possible since Manson kept giving her a phone miss call, as well as an excuse to leave the house since she didn’t want to confront Martha with her personal issue for now. She thought that the matter had turned complicated, and anyone wasn’t supposed to involve though.
Cathy didn’t want to return home yet, even her mom had to force her. Thus, she had a curfew until evening. However, Haile hoped that Martha could keep the secret away from her daughter.
At three p.m., Josh busied playing his computer game again, while Cathy went downstairs, accompanying Martha in the lounge room. They sat oppositely, with two cups of coffee served on the table.
“My dear, you look tired,” Martha was observing her sleepy eyes. “You should listen to your mom, go home.”
“My mom told you something that she hides from me, right?” She focused to ask.
Martha was quiet for a moment, as she stared down at the cup of coffee, and then a pair of those gray eyes gazed conscientiously at Cathy, who kept demanding to know the answer.
“I’m going to tell you once, so listen carefully,” Martha didn’t sound like the idea of what she would tell her.
Cathy flinched against this sudden anxious moment between them, and the silence filled the air with tension.
“She came alone to Sierra Vista, visiting her old friend, and she had begged him to create sacred weapons,” Martha gulped on her own nerve as she told her “—your mom is protecting you from a danger.”
“The Aloise, your aunt, and all of them could have just easily stayed safe for a while, but you and Haile are the highest priority for them,” Martha spoke distinctly. “They have been chasing your family since a very long time ago.”
“Who are they, please tell me?” Her heart started beating faster. “What danger? What’s with sacred weapons?”
“Cathy,” she sounded worried. “I already knew about that white hair girl. She’s the only one you can trust in this journey.”
“Why are they chasing us?” She asked again.
“Because your blood is too important and valuable,” Martha had her eyes glossed as she suppressed her tears from falling.
“Why don’t you tell me—what are they?” Cathy sounded strangled on her own words.
“Can I make it sounds easier for you?” She argued. “Do you remember about your haunting dreams?”
She reminded Cathy of those sleepless nights again.
“She was literally there, warning you. She was trying to make you ready for what will be happening—of the malevolent danger.”
“I don’t understand,” she stressed out. “You mean, my relative was there—Sylvia Elle.”
Martha sighed and shook her head softly, she seemed hesitated to speak further, but the words needed to come out. “Don’t let your guard down, even after you arrive in Austria later.”
“Do whoever-they-are want to kill my family? What about my dad?” She demanded again. “At least, tell me in what circumstance?”
“Your mom have locked your memories, so you can’t remember anything that had happened back then—”
“What do you mean?” Cathy won’t wait for any of ambiguous reason. She just wanted the truth, and now she knew that everything was blocked from her mind that she couldn’t retrieve anything, except for those odd dreams and flashbacks, and she didn’t know how her mom had done it to her.
Martha held her warm hands tenderly, and they stared at each other in this infinite moment. “You’ll find out soon, my dear.”