Like a Bee
“Zoe. Zoe, wake up.”
She mumbled something incoherent and rolled onto her other side.
“Zoe.” The soft yet childish tone was familiar.
She opened her eyes groggily and glanced at whoever was calling her.
“Yeah, it’s me.” The guy chuckled and nodded his head.
Zoe rubbed her head and stretched. She got up feeling a little weird.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, not yet registering where she was.
“What do you mean? This is our house,” he responded happily.
She blinked twice before she realised what he said.
Zoe took a long look around the room. She had never seen it before in her life.
“It looks exactly like the one you drew in school, doesn’t it?”
That was a very long time ago and she couldn’t remember what she drew anymore.
“I guess so.” She got out of bed and walked towards the window.
Instead of a warm and familial bright neighbourhood view, the sight was engulfed in fire and blood. The sun was red and looked ready to implode. The people on the street were not even people; they were either ugly skeletons with a limb missing or mummies.
“What’s this place?”
Zoe took a few steps back and turned to Terry, gasping when she saw his face change into something else. She didn’t know how, but she knew him and could feel him in every little piece of her body.
“I know you,” she mumbled, taking a step back.
He bowed like a gentleman and kissed the back of her hand. His eyes were completely black, but he had a little point in the middle of what was supposed to be an orb. It was zooming in and out and it made him look like a bee. He didn’t look half bad but he did look like a bee. What was ever more dangerous was the dark mist around him; it looked like he was the source of it.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Commander.” The way that word was spoken sent chills down her spine. “I shall handle everything that happens to you, so don’t be scared anymore.” He still had a grasp on her hand. In one move, he pulled her close and looked straight into her eyes. “Don’t run out on me,” he whispered.
She was officially horrified. His eyes started to shine and she started to feel something slip into her through their linked hands.
“What are you doing to me?”
“I am your commander, Zoe. I am the origin of your power. I’m only doing you a favour right now.” She suddenly felt really warm. It was like the blood was boiling inside her body—literally. ”You won’t be touched by an entity, but you have to fight your battle alone.”
She frowned. He let her hand free and pushed her back.
Zoe opened her eyes wide and checked where she was and if it was real. When Sonia walked out of the bathroom with her hair wet, she realised she wasn’t dreaming anymore.
“Are you all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Zoe rubbed her head and got out of bed.
“I had a nightmare,” Zoe answered before she opened her luggage and took out her toothbrush and toothpaste.
The young commander entered the bathroom and scratched her stomach, still sleepy. She stopped when she felt something like a light cut and pulled her shirt up, looking into the mirror. Her eyes widened when she realised she had been cut last night.
“You’re fine my ass. He lied to me,” she grumbled.
Truthfully, Ezekiel had probably been more scared than she was. He only saw a thin line along her stomach but it didn’t look life threatening.
While she was brushing her teeth, she noticed something on her hand. She turned it very slowly and froze when she saw her palm.
“No.” She felt like crying. She was so sure that THAT was just a stupidity.
But there it was: a mark that she had seen before in books. The sign was the endless knot.
“An endless connection between the two commanders,” she mumbled, still not believing that was happening.
Chen noticed Zoe’s bandaged hand first while Ezekiel seemed lost in his world more than usual. Something was fishy with those two and he wanted to find out what exactly.
After the meeting in Yun and Lau’s room, Zoe seemed to be in a hurry to her room. Luckily, Chen caught up to her in the elevator.
“So, are things well between you and Ezekiel?” the coma boy asked curiously. She didn’t respond. “Did you two fight or something?” She still ignored him. He sighed and grabbed her shoulders. “Look, Zo—” He stopped with his mouth hanging open. “What the heck is going on with your eyes?”
She frowned and turned to look in the mirror on the back wall.
“My eyes.” She touched her cheek and stared at the familiar yellow circle in the middle of her orbs. She turned to Chen and grabbed his arms tightly. He took a step back and flinched at the surprisingly strong grasp. “Help me.” She sounded really weak.
Suddenly, the lights in the elevator started to flicker and the mirror shattered. Chen felt a sudden dizziness come over him and he fainted.
No matter how much she hated what happened in the elevator, she had to drag Chen to her room, feeling more like a kidnapper than a saviour. The schedule for that day was very simple: they had to go and wave at people while showing off how awesome and handsome they were, or that was how Hans interpreted it. She was sure Yun’s words were more humble.
She placed him on the bed, with a lot of effort, and sighed. She had to call the rest and inform them but only had Ezekiel’s phone number. She glanced at Chen and got an idea.
“Where the heck is Chen? We have to go out in a short while.”
The girls were all excited but the guys were a little stressed. Well, except Ezekiel.
“Zek, call Chen.”
“Oh, wait. He’s calling me,” Lau responded quickly and put it on speaker.
“Um,it’s Zoe.” Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he came out of his dreamy world in an instance. “Chen fainted in the elevator. I think it’s dehydration. He’s still out, so he won’t make it. I’m sorry.” Ezekiel narrowed his eyes at the phone when he heard that apology. She did something.
“Is he okay? Do you want us to come back?” Yun was the sweetest teacher she ever met.
“No. It’s fine. Tell Ezekiel not to worry. I have it under control.” Hans looked at his classmate curiously. That sounded like she was talking about something else than Chen. “I know how to take care of him. My aunt is a doctor so I know some things. Have fun!” She hung up.
“Hey Zek, how old is your girlfriend?” The human boy was cornered. Everyone was staring at him, even Yun.
“Almost twenty-six. Why?”
The girls started to chuckle and whisper to each other while the guys patted his back.
“You’ve done well, young man.”
That wasn’t the problem. Chen was the problem and Ezekiel was not there when he was needed.
“Okay. That’s been done. Now let’s wake you up.”
She went in the bathroom and poured water into a plastic cup. They were quite handy. She returned to Chen’s side and poured a little on his face, not splashing it on his face like in movies or prank videos because he was on her bed and she hated wet sheets.
“What happened?” he asked groggily once he started to wake up.
“Dehydration.” Her response was short and hard to believe. Chen narrowed his eyes at her and leaned back. “Well, maybe not. But I have a good explanation for what happened.”
“I came to you for help when I was in coma,” he responded quickly, taking her by surprise.
“Well, that’s better than what I had prepared. Much better.” She blinked in astonishment. Chen sighed and rubbed his temples.
“When you asked me for help I felt this sudden dizziness and heard a high pitched sound like the IV’s. Then I remembered. The demons and your abilities and the bee.”
She tilted her head to the side and sat on the bed.
“The bee? There wasn’t a bee.”
“I’m telling you exactly what I saw.” She could feel her blood pressure rising again. “I heard about you while I was a ghost. The commander. It’s you, right?” She didn’t approve nor disapprove. “They said you’re a demon in a human shell.”
“Ouch.” That really stung. “I didn’t sign up for it. My life hasn’t been perfect even if I come from a rich family.” Chen continued to stare at her with a poker face. “I didn’t want to get you involved. Mehrdir sent you to me.”
“The greed demon.” She nodded. At least he remembered. “How many demons are around you?”
“Right now, none. Usually, three.”
His eyes widened. She didn’t even tell him about the fairies yet, and those were definitely more than three.
“I think I need to take a walk.”
She sighed heavily feeling the same pressure on her shoulders as when he first came to her. But at least he remembered. She had to hold onto that optimistic thought.
“So, you see ghosts.” Chen started randomly.
Zoe had no choice but go out with him. They ended up in a coffee shop somewhere with a lot of people.
“How many are here?” Chen asked, looking around warily.
“Too many, but none connected to you. You’re not haunted,” she assured the human.
“Are they usually coming to you for help?” She choked on coffee.
“They did once but I never got involved into their problems and they learned to avoid me. Since Mehrdir and Andy appeared, they’ve been keeping a certain distance.”
Chen blinked quickly and leaned over the table.
“Andy Garley? Is that why you’ve been hanging around Jake?” It all seemed to make sense inside Chen's head. “Whoa. So Andy’s a ghost, huh? How is he?”
“Mad.” She took another sip from her coffee after responding. “At me. Because of Jake,” she added. Chen understood and laughed.
“Andy was a possessive guy. When Jake and Scarlet met in secret, Andy flipped. That was the day he fell and died.”
“I thought Andy had a crush on Jake. He never said anything about a Scarlet.”
“That’s weird. Scarlet was in K University too. She was in Contemporary Dance with Jake and Andy was always hanging around with them. He made demos and asked them to dance on them. Their dream was to get into a company.” Zoe pulled her chair closer to the table and leaned on her elbows. Chen continued his story. “I know because I know Stephen and he’s one of Jake’s best friends. Andy got mad when he found Jake and Scarlet talking about some audition. He thought they were going to leave him behind after they worked so much for their dream. He ran out of there without a second thought. Then he stopped in the middle of the stairs and some dumbass pushed him. He fell and well, you know the rest.”
“That sounds like last night’s drama,” Zoe mumbled under her hand, though Chen could hear it from the other side of the table.
He chuckled but it wasn’t anything light; what happened to Andrew was a tragedy.
“Well, Jake gave up on the audition but Scarlet went along with it. She’s a trainee now. Jake wanted to drop out of university as well but Stephen managed to change his mind. I think Jake feels guilty for Andy’s death.” He stopped and thought about something she said before. “If Andy had a crush on Jake, it must have been a big shock. He felt like he got thrown aside; like he wasn’t important and their friendship was just a charade. I mean—” She stared at him sceptically.
“I got it, Chen. You don’t have to explain it to me.”
He looked to the side smiling and noticed something or someone. His expression changed into a mirror of Ezekiel’s expression last night. She followed his sight and saw a man, watching them and writing something down.
“We have to go. Now.” She started while getting up.
“Are we being followed by dangerous people?”
She glanced at him with the same expression she did when she first met Ezekiel.
“You three are so much alike. You have a strong desire to get in trouble and I’m the best option.”
The younger guy shrugged. It wasn’t his fault that she was so entangled in dark things.
"Mehrdir sent me to you, didn’t he? It’s his fault.”
While they were walking out of the shopping centre, she noticed someone in the crowd. She rolled her eyes and pulled Chen after her.
“Yes, it is. It’s entirely his fault,” she mumbled angrily. Chen looked over his shoulder but couldn’t see the stalker.
Zoe stopped and leaned against Chen. She was having an inner battle between making Mehrdir pay and having someone kill her and make it all go away.
“I think we got lost.”
Truthfully, Chen said he knew Tokyo and could find some other place to relax. Unfortunately, Zoe found out too late, it was his first time in Tokyo.
“Oh, the arcades! I know the way back from here.” He frowned. “I guess,” he continued, a bit uncertain of his own words. She scoffed and prepared herself with a lot of patience.
They spent the whole day playing shooting games and DDR. Chen was amazed by Zoe’s stamina. She won repeatedly and it was all thanks to Rowan and his Spartan training; she was quite proud of herself.
They got back—through a miracle called ‘ask the ghosts’—around the same time the others did.
“How was it?” she asked, trying to sound normal.
They all started to talk at once. Chen and Zoe had to get back a little. Ezekiel grabbed her arm and dragged her a few feet away from the rest.
“Before you say anything else, he remembered!” she exclaimed, relying on that sole reason. Ezekiel didn’t look even half as smiley as Zoe. “Isn’t that good? If Chen remembered—”
“He will get in trouble, like the rest of us.” He said it in such an amazingly fake excitement that she almost felt offended for Chen. Ezekiel was weirder than she was sometimes. “Isn’t that just so fun?” His smile dropped in the next second. “I tell you. No. He’s my best friend and I don’t want demons to possess him like someone possessed me.”
“For someone who jumped happily into my life, despite the possession and other creepy things, you have a lot of guts to say that you want Chen to be safe.” She sounded mad and he hated it when she was in a bad mood because the entire commander thing was making her exaggerate.
“I guess it’s good that he remembered and we don’t have to explain anything to him.” He saved himself by quickly changing his point of view to fit hers.
She bit her tongue and stared at Ezekiel in a judging way.
“You-You’re place is definitely in my world. You evil puppy.” Ezekiel raised an eyebrow amusedly, watching her scowl.
“Is that supposed to be offensive?”
She glared playfully at him and hit him. Her power level was still average.
“This looks very suspicious.”
When Chen entered the lobby at midnight, Ezekiel and Zoe were standing on the ground, face to face. Chen sat between them and they formed a circle.
“This is really suspicious.”
“Shut up. We got it.” Chen narrowed his eyes and pushed Ezekiel lightly.
“We’re here to talk about the Holy Brotherhood.” Chen’s eyes widened. “It’s not a cult,” she tried to lie.
“Actually, that’s exactly what it is.” Zoe glared at Ezekiel, who did the exact opposite of what she wanted. He blinked innocently and forced Chen to sit back. “It’s a cult that hunts the commander,” Ezekiel continued.
“But that’s only because they think the inheritor is dead,” she added.
“Which he might be. We don’t know that. He can be anywhere in the world and not even known.”
Chen’s head was moving from side to side like in a tennis match.
“They want to kill you?!” Both Zoe and Ezekiel hit him. He whined loudly.
“It’s midnight. Don’t speak too loudly. And no. I mean, I don’t know. Do they want to kill me?” Ezekiel was taken aback.
“How should I know? Did you talk about this with Rowan?” She pouted. She didn’t ask enough and he was the only person who explained everything clearly.
“The rest of the trip is going to be eventful.” She scoffed. “There was a girl who tried to hurt you and she disguised herself as one of the most famous Japanese ghosts.” Chen raised an eyebrow and leaned towards Zoe.
“But the other one was clearly a human, right?” She nodded. Ezekiel heard Chen perfectly.
“What other one?” the puppy human questioned her. Zoe started to fidget.
“He was only watching and writing. He was suspicious but I don’t have any proof that he was a member of the Holy Brotherhood.” Ezekiel nodded. That made sense. He might have been an ordinary human. “But I did see Mehrdir.” Ezekiel looked to the side and bit his lip.
“And you knew. That guilty reaction says it all,” Chen pointed out. He was a really bad friend sometimes.
Unlike most best friends, he took joy in seeing people squirm. He didn’t help Ezekiel when the teacher caught him cheating and didn’t cover for him when he sneaked out of the house to meet a girl. Those were probably traits that led Mehrdir to him.
“It doesn’t matter as long as he won’t show his face to me. I can protect myself.” Ezekiel and Chen glanced at each other worriedly. She wasn’t exactly the intimidating type.
“Hey.” They jumped in surprise when they saw Yun coming down the hall. “Care to explain what you are doing in a circle in the middle of an empty lobby at midnight?”
“Nothing suspicious?” Zoe glanced at the two boys for help. They put up an innocent puppy mask.
“You guys are stupid.”
Stupid or not, they got out of trouble with those faces. It seemed that Yun had a soft spot for cute things and the students often used the puppy face to get out of trouble.