The Nightmare

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Chapter 24 - Star

Copyright © DenGlemtePrinsesse, 2020

Please be home. Please be home. Please be home. With fingers crossed, I finally opened my eyes.

As if on cue, tears rolled down my cheeks the moment I was brought face to face with our home. I exhaled, smiling to myself as I scanned the white exterior of our home that I usually don't paid attention.

I inhaled deeply, letting the cold breeze of the serene night crawled inside me. The melody of the crickets, filling my ears. And while there was no cystal wall or magical plant in our lawn, my heart rejoices knowing that my life is far from danger. That Earth is safe. That me, standing here alone is okay. Something not a majestic moon or a diamond sun could ever replace. This is home. The plain, regular, unthreatening land of my race. This is where I belong.

And looking at our front yard, Aunt's small flowers, her hanging orchids, our tamed grasses, our pebbled pathway, it felt like everything that happened tonight never happened at all. Like everything was just a bad dream. Really, who would've thought that a magical world like that exist? A world where everything is mystical, paramount and yet very dangerous. If it wasn't for Ali's necklace, I could convince myself that I was nothing but delusional tonight.

My hand ran to my chest. My fingers, brushing through the tiny orange gem in the middle of a flat stone hanging on my neck, a constant reminder to me of the world, one could only see in their imagination.

I didn't let another second past as I ran towards the door, determined to hug the first person — or furniture I would see once I got in. But I stop right by the door for I didn't anticipate what greeted me.

"Pie?" It took me a solid minute to believe that my older sister is here with me now. For one, I didn't know they will be back soon. Second, I had a hard time realizing it's her. Pie loves changing hairstyles and barely repeat clothes, so it won't really be that easy to tell. And right now, she had her long hair dyed in the lighest hue of brown and had it atificially waved, she also had bangs that made it harder for me to recognize her.

My feet were quicker than my thoughts. I ran to her and hugged her even though I knew too well it makes her uncomfortable. If there's a silver lining from all the unfortunate events I experienced in the past hours, it would be the fact that I would no longer take anything for granted, even the most trivial things. I should always be thankful for everything, for the second chance, for this life and the people in it.

"When did you arrived? I could've help picked you up." I pulled myself away, smiling. Wiping a tear of relief. She composed herself and stood elegantly as she always does.

"Sunday night." Oh. Then, father was probably too preoccupied last Sunday, when we had lunch together, that he forgot to mention that to me.

Pie handed me a fancy silver invitation. It was heavy and when I opened it, I instantly learned why. Inside, not a single word was written, just a little silver LCD, and there's a video of her, personally inviting me to the party.

"Outstanding!" I'd never seen an invitation like this before. I didn't even known this exist. But still it didn't surprise me. My sister is into fabulous things, everything she owns is extra. So it really didn't surprise me that she comes up with ideas such as this.

"Tell David to come or I'll kill him." I nodded in response, excited. That'll be the first party we'll all be together.

"Last Sunday I was in the mall—"

"Don't bother. Not expecting anything from you." I stared at her in shock. It's a once in a year celebration so I wanted to be a part of the memory she'll remember. And I'm also dropping the element of surprise because she never like that.

"But the chocolate design is really—"

"I'm trying my best to stay here longer. You have to meet me halfway." I scratched my head and nodded, understanding what she meant.

"Does mom and father know that you're here?"

"Mom told me to bring you those." She angled her head towards the coffee table. There lies five paper bags of goods. I looked at Pie, beaming as soon as I saw the embossed image of Puerto Princesa Underground River all over the bags. I figured, father's present for her was our dream destination, and I couldn't help but be happy for her. My sister has been mumbling about it before they went to US, but she couldn't go because father's schedule is always hectic, and he's too protective of her to let her go alone in the Philippines.

I ran to the paper bag quicker than my stomach's reaction to the food. It felt like it has been an eternity since the last time I ate. I knelt to the floor and took the box of Ube hopia from the bag that has my name on it. I had torn the wrapper in a split of a nanosecond, an automatic reaction from the longing of food.

"Did you go to a comic con or something?" She asked. For a moment I was confused, but then I saw my reflection through the television screen behind her. I stop putting another hopia in my mouth, wiping my lips.

My hair was in the highest state of untidiness. It looks solid rock, sticking together. My fingers tried to fix it but they couldn't even penetrate the outer layers.

Traces of mud were very evident on my jaw and forehead, while my uniform looks like an old world map that has its drawing faded through time. My shoes and white socks — damped with both mud and river water — now brown and squishy.

Slowly I stood up, putting Ali's robe off me as I began feeling its weight on my shoulders. I folded it to the smallest possible form and placed it on the floor together with my bag, not wanting to stain the couch.

"Tell me you're not stupid enough to be a victim of bullying." I immediately shook my head, not wanting her and mom to worry. While my sister isn't fond of showing she cares about me, I know she does. She's someone I look up to regarding everything. She's my star. And as much as I don't want to lie to her, I don't think I'm allowed to share the secret world of my friends. So I tried to tiptoe over the truth.

"Maybe I can show you around the house?" And then the house at once filled with a defeaning silence. Pie paused, staring at me like I just utter a lame joke.

"You got me there. I'm almost convinced." She nodded, flipping her hair off her shoulders. I looked down to my feet, fidgeting. I thought my suggestion was brilliant. I'm just trying to offer something we both can do.

Pie stared at me, forcing herself to understand.

"Oh my gosh. You're being serious?" I bit my lip, embarrassed now by my idea. Was it really bad?

"Fine." Pie exhaled, dropping her shoulders. And while it's evident she doesn't like doing it, still she considered.

Enthusiastically, I ran upstairs, gesturing her to follow. My room was just across the stairs. I held my door open for her, but she stop in front of it. I watched her eyes through her bangs, scanned my room. It didn't take more than a minute when she sighed, crossing her arms over her chest, looking at me.

"I don't wanna live in this country if I'll be staying in a house like this. Your room is as big as my walk-in closet?"

"Well... you see that door. That's another bedroom, so technically I owned two." She rolled her eyes and head straight to the door I pointed. After scanning, Pie looked back at me. Her eyes, bored.

"My bathroom is bigger." She retorted, shaking her head in disbelief. I chuckled. My older sister hasn't realized yet that she's living a beyond luxurious lifestyle. This house is already above normal.

Pie walked pass me, heading downstairs.

"You're leaving already?"

"If it's not obvious yet, yes." I followed her. I don't want her to go. Mainly because it's been a month now since I last saw her, and secondly, after all the circumstances I went through, I don't want to be alone.

She stop by the main door abruptly, I almost bump onto her back. I searched to whom Pie was waving at, and my heart ached in joy. Aunt Joyce just arrived. She's happily chatting with our lady neighbor in front of our gate. Both have one plastic bag hanging on each arm. I'm home.

"That's Pyrene, Pria's sister." I read Aunt Joyce's lips.

"Thank you, Aunt Joyce! I'm going now." Pie called, waving at her.

I inhaled deeply, swallowing the lump in my throat. My feet automatically moved towards the gate, but immediately stop, wondering why Aunt didn't seem surprised to see me. For the record, I wasn't expecting her to jump up and down when she see me, but the scolding and questioning were kind of given for I spent a day in the magical world. Has I not? We're I gone for too long?

Confused, I stared to Aunt Joyce, wondering what date is today. But I was distracted by a strange guy standing behind them. It's a cold atmosphere we have tonight and yet he didn't bother to wear a top. Not a shirt nor a coat, none at all, just bare chest. He stood there, looking intently at our neighbor. Weird.

He stretched out his hand to her, and moves suspiciously. He looks like he's going to snatch her purse, and both women have no idea.

"Don't!" I called to him, three heads snapped to my direction, but he was the most surprised.

"Don't do it." I started marching to their direction.

His eyes went wider the moment he confirmed it was him I was talking to. He took back his hand and step back, bumping Aunt Joyce in the process. She immediately collapse to the ground. Her head could've hit the pavement if it wasn't for our neighbor's reflex.

I ran faster, calling her name but she's not responding. What did he do to Aunt?

Kneeling next to her, I tried shaking her but Aunt was blackout, completely. I glanced up to the guy in front of us, expecting I would see guilt and remorse for what he had done but found none. In his face, he's still surprise that I caught him in the act. Won't he atleast going to say he's sorry?

He continued stepping back, one at a time. His eyes never leaving my face. I can't believe he's planning to escape. I stared back at him, questioning. He hurt Aunt Joyce and he was planning to do bad deed to our neighbor. These people are kind, they don't deserve to be mistreated. Was he not going to help us at all and just ran?

Suddenly something behind him moved. Or did the Earth shake? I saw the dark sky behind him moved.

"Go inside, leave a note or something for Uncle and lock the door!" Pie yelled, already at my side. She's nervous, but obviously know what has to be done. Her driver took Aunt Joyce from my arms. I nodded to her, running towards the house but immediately stop upon hearing an unearthly sound of the wind.

Not again.

Inhaled deeply, half heartedly turning around to see if I heard right. When I glanced to the direction it was coming from, I'm a little relieved that there's no whirlpool in sight, I don't want to go back to that magical land, no matter how beautiful it is, the lives it caters is dangerous.

I was about to turned around again when something from a distance moved and caught in my peripheral vision. When I realized where the sound actually came from, all my sanity left.

It's the guy...

He's escaping...

Flying away.

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