Longest Nightmare

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Chapter 7


The person who called me that night gave me a place to start. A cemetery...They said it would give me closure. They obviously didn't know me well enough to know that they just gave me a starting point...


It was no easy feat to sneak out of the bedroom the way I had that morning; it would've been easier if that damn cat weren't everywhere. I had left a note for Charlene and told her I was working on some stuff for a story I was working on; I was always much more convincing on paper.

On the drive I kept feeling some nagging feeling at the back of my mind. I tried to push it out but it kept going on. It was was a dull feeling but very familiar, I looked at my rear-view mirror, but found nothing out of the ordinary. Without anything to focus on, I just tried to ignore it.

I pulled into the cemetery and began walking through the numerous headstones and the number of visitors for their dearly departed. It felt strange walking through the rows and rows of the dead. I wondered how many were there for the reasons I was. What I found oddest about it all however, was I was walking the route like I had known it forever. A part of me wanted to run out of there, not face whatever this “closure” I was supposed to get was. It didn't want to know what I had been sent to search for. My stomach dropped as my pace slowed. My mouth went dry and my legs became weak.

Here Lies

Brandon Antonio Marquez

Son, Brother and Friend.

'Brandon...' I couldn't make a noise. Save for the sound of me as a I fell to my knees in front of the stone slab that sat under a tree so far from the other headstones. Even in death Brandon wanted to be away from the pack and we had apparently honored his memory in that regard from where I stood. Shakes took over my body and my eyes became hot.

'It was my fault...' I felt the tears as they fell onto my hand. 'They warned me and I didn't...they warned me?' I looked back up to my brothers headstone and let that sink in. “They called me and warned me that I had been given a chance to play ball...but who were they?”

“Are you alright lad?” I turned and behind me stood a man in shabby clothing standing next to a cart with several grounds keeping tools.

“Huh?” I asked, “Y-yeah I'm fine...just a little confused about some things.”

“Oh is that all?” The man asked, I looked at him with a confused glance.

“Is that all?” I asked. The man simply nodded as he turned back to his cart and began to rummage through it,

“You see boy, the only reason we get confused about anything is that we don't know the whole story.”

“That sounds pretty simple.” I said to him as I stood up and dusted myself off.

“Here you are though.” He stated, “Do you know the whole story kid?”

“I guess not.” I replied,

“Then why not find that out?” He asked as he turned back to me and leaned on his car for a brief second.

“Hmm?”

“I mean,” He said as he turned back to rummage through his cart, “what's keeping you from finding out the whole story?”

I said nothing. I got up and left the cemetery that moment with one thing on my mind. Finding out why my brother was shot and why I was warned.

I entered the Review through the front door and felt a little different going through that way. “Mr. Marquez!” A voice called, “Chase!” I looked ahead and at the front desk were two security officers. An older black gentleman and a young girl; blonde with blue highlights. That was the one who called after me.

“Hey.” I said trying to act like I knew who this person was. “How y'all doing this fine morning.”

“Good.” She said excitedly, “I got some great news!” I looked at her waiting for her to tell me what was the great news. “I got accepted into the academy!” She said happily. I genuinely smiled at that news.

“Hey that's amazing. I'm sure you'll be an amazing cop.” The older man next to her grunted and tried to hide his smirk while the woman just stuck her tongue out at him.

“Why are you here so early today Mr. Marquez?” She asked as she turned her attention back to me.

“I came to follow up on some research and wanted to get into the archives.”

“Archives?”

“Ye-,” I stopped myself, “Never mind I'll just head to my desk.” I added as I waved to the two and walked over to the elevator and saw that there were no numbers, just a slot for a card.

I patted myself down to find my wallet and searched that to find my press badge. Made sense, I never liked wearing things around my neck anyway anyway. I pulled out my press badge and slid it into the card slot and a ding went off. “Chase Marquez. Floor thirteen. Is this correct?”

“Uh...yeah?” I said and another ding was heard and the car began moving upwards. “Man I miss the buttons.”

“Where the hell is my desk?!” I asked myself as I leaned against the back wall of the floor I ended up on. I just spent the past five minutes looking around the open desks for the damn thing and found nothing. 'Did I get the right floor?' I asked myself as I looked around. I didn't get it as I rested against the wall. 'Where could they have possibly put-Hmm?' I looked to the side of the room and along the side of the wall I rested on was a door with a placard on it. “No...”I said as I slowly walked over to the door. I stopped in front of it and right there on the placard was a name. “Chase Marquez...” I stood there my mouth slightly agape at the sight, “Well, that's new.” I thanked god no one else was around to see it at that time.

I opened the door. There was no lock and I made a mental note to change that soon. I hesitated however as I looked around the room. The office itself seemed off to me, too showoff-y if that made sense. Diplomas, award on the back wall a shelf with books I had no memory of reading and pictures of me and several people. I just shook my head. This wasn't me but at the same time it was. How that was possible was anyone's guess.

It didn't take me long to get on the computer. I had grown trusting seeing as there was a password but it was so laughably simple. I was beginning to think my love of that cat was suspect.

I went straight to work, and there was plenty to work through. There was plenty of articles about the shooting even a national report about it. Reading through the reports it seems that there were two victims that day. A woman and Brandon. The problem was however that the stories fell into some strange categories. Put it simply they were either bare-bones or the press took some liberties. Some bloggers even tried to link the shootings to some big conspiracy to get the current commissioner at the time out of the position.

It didn't take long before I started trying to contact some of the reporters who wrote on the topic, was probably a bad idea seeing as it was the day after Christmas but I had to try. I hit pay dirt with one of the articles I had found.

Breath of Relief

By: Darrel Hamquint

Months ago the city of Stonehurst was rocked by the murders of a young law student named Marion Wemster; a law student at Stonehurst University, and that of Brandon Marquez the son of the Chief of Detectives. Police worked round the clock to find the perpetrator and today they had found someone they believe caused the murders.

Today the police arrested a young man named Tavon “Taye” Jones in relation to the shootings. He was apprehended while apparently hiding in his residence and found with what is alleged to be the murder weapon. Tavon had been taken into the Stonehurst police station under strict supervision awaiting arraignment.

There was more to the article but what kept me interested was how he wrote the story. It tried to keep to the whole objective as it used the words like alleged and the like but you could tell it was like he already thought the man was guilty. That struck a chord with me.

I decided to do a little research on the reporter who wrote the article, this Darrel Hamquint. The man was tenacious, he was the only one to follow the story to the end apparently. His first one was like the others in the fact that no one could seem to get the details quite right. Not like I could. But I gave myself a free pass seeing as I could not recall anything after the murders, all I had to go on were the stories where they finally caught the perp.

I had called him and was lucky enough that he had answered. “Hamquint.” He said as he answered.

“Yes Mr. Hamquint,” I began, “This is Chase Marquez with the Stonehurst Review. I was-.”

“Ah, yes the Review, how I have missed that place.” Snide, pompous voice, I always hated those types of people.

“Yes, sir I was calling to ask about possibly meeting you. How soon can you set something up?” He let out a light tutting at my question.

“I don't know I'm kind of busy at the moment.” He said, “And I usually have people who want to meet me call my agent. Is this pressing?”

“A bit sir, it's been three years since the Stonehurst Mall Shootings and we had caught word that Tavon Jones had been slated for something. We haven't gotten any official word just yet, but it was something our editor -in-chief would like covered and I thought, why not get the story from the man who broke the story all the way to the end?”

There was a faint chuckle, “Well I did do that didn't I?” The man was a self-gratifying douche alright. “Well...” There was a moment of silence. “Alright I may have something open around say ten?” I looked at my desktop's clock; 8:55. “Can you meet me at my building? I'm at Kane Square the Prosperous Meadows building.”

“I know the place I'll meet you soon sir.” I said, he said his goodbye and I hung up. It kind of worried me that the man who broke the story wouldn't know something going on with the man who no doubt made his career. It was definitely something I'd look into for later.

I got there around 9:40 or so. Kane Square was the richer part of Stonehurst. People had money there and didn't feel like saving it there. I walked up to the most expensive looking building I saw and sure enough that was the building that Hamquint told me. I looked at the panel next to the door and looked for the man's name. I pressed it with the expectation of hearing the man again but then something strange happened...I saw his face.

“Yes? Who is it?” He asked, I was stunned for a moment and then I let out.

“Uhm...Mr. Hamquint?” I said, “It's me Chase Marquez. I called you-.”

“Oh yes, Marquez. I'll buzz you in.” He said quickly his face disappearing as soon as it came on. I shook my head, I was really beginning to miss the old days at that point.

I had to walk up several flights due to a busted elevator and had felt sluggish. I was out of shape...needed to fix that. I had gotten to his door and knocked which he opened in nothing but a smoking jacket an what appeared to still be his PJ's. The man was mid-to-late forties and hair that was obviously fake. He looked like a newscaster for Fox. “Hello Mr. Hamquint.” I said as he looked me up and down. “It's a pleasure to-.”

“Close the door behind you please.” He said as he turned back and walked into his apartment. I followed and did as he asked and followed him to what looked lie his living room. “Drink?” He asked,

“No thank you, I drove here.” I said respectfully as I sat on his couch while he walked over to his bar. I looked around and saw a lot of art which he probably had no taste for, expensive furniture and a fully stocked bar; that last one I forgave, but what caught my eye was a book on his nightstand.

Shots of Retribution: The Stonehurst Mall Shooting

'Catchy title.' I thought as I picked the book up. “I see you've found my bestseller.” He said as he came back with two glasses. 'Man doesn't listen does he?' “Hell of a story back then let me tell you.” He said as he sat in the chair across from me. “Can't tell you how many favors I had to call in to get all that info on it.”

“Well, that's what I was kind of hoping for sir.” I said.

“Oh?”

“Well my editor wanted me to get as much info as I possibly could and while I thought we all know how the story began and ended why not get the middle of it and find out what it took for the city to find the killer.”

He rested back in his chair his eyes unfocused and to the side. “It was a different game back then kid. Let me tell you that.” His eyes showed nostalgia then. “Not like how you kids have it today. We had to scrap for our headlines.” That was suspect but I said nothing and just took out my phone to record. I at least knew about that feature on it. “This story was big and everyone had been calling in their favors. Not just me. People thought if they broke it they would get some big notoriety.”

“Seems to have worked for you sir.” I said looking around once more.

“Make no mistake kid,” His voice became serious, “I broke the story not because of the favors I've pulled, but because I put myself out there for the story.” I nodded in understanding.

“Anyway I had a friend in the department who was part of the task force they had assigned for the case. Good guy, owed me a few favors for somethings here and there, a give and take kind of deal.”

“So you had a source within the department. Very helpful.”

“Heh, he was until he called me the day they were moving in on the suspect.”

“Really? Why risk casualty of a civilian by bringing in a possibly armed and dangerous suspect?”

“I may have twisted his arm once or twice to get me there when it went down.”

“I see.”

“We met as he was going to the place they found the kid. He stops and there he says to me, he says, 'Quint, we've known each other for a while. And this is something you have complete right to say no to,' Saying that as he hands me a bullet proof vest. For all the damn good it would've done me that day.” 'That day?'

“Anyway he hands me the vest and says to me that after what happens will happen and that all debts he owed me would be paid off. His talkie went off, he spoke to the other guy on the other end and right after that he took off out of the car and ran to the back of this house we were parked in front of. How he wasn't seen is anyone's guess. But all that I knew then was that this young kid with a gun came running out. A cop was coming after him but the kid was running my direction. What would you have done kid?” I kept my mouth shut on what I would've done but that's another matter altogether.

“Perp came by, then went down. Courtesy of three years collegiate wrestling.” He smiled like an idiot remembering that moment. Even rubbed his rib, must've been remembering the sensation of the take down, I smiled and nodded acting like I believed him and right then I had to.

“Amazing sir.” I said with awe in my voice, he was so gone down the rabbit hole that he didn't even think I was being sarcastic.

“The amazing thing isn't even that.” Darrel said, “Should've seen what was in the guy's place.”

“Oh?” I asked, “Wait, I thought they just found him hiding with just the gun?”

“One of the benefits of being at the scene kid is this,” He said cockily smiling at me, “What is said is only a third of the story.”

“What's the other two-thirds?”

“What was hidden.” He said looking at me which I returned with a quizzical look. “Teflon and enough drugs to become the next Scar face.”

“But the story never said anything about drugs and weapons being there. Let alone cop-killers.” I stated, Hamquint just chuckled and held up three fingers.

“That's the last one kid: What can actually be said outside.” I raised my eyebrow at that. “Ya see kid, when this all went down they weren't expecting it either. Since we were there we made a deal. I could write the story the way that kept certain things out; I.E: The drugs and weapons and my source wouldn't get hanged for me being there.”

“Sounds like a good deal.” I said leaning forward. He just smiled and looked around his apartment.

“I like to think so.” He said, his smirk turning slightly predatory.

I got out of there as fast as I could and made my way back to the office, the guy unnerved me and I wanted to think over what he told me. I sat at my desk confused however, I had played the recording I made at Hamquint's and just sat there racking my brain. Who was the guy that gave Hamquint the story? How did they find the perp so quickly? How did a guy who was hiding out have a stash as big as Hamquint claimed? I decided to take another approach because there were too many holes in a lot of weird places.

I grabbed my phone and dialed, after a few rings a woman's voice came through. “Silver Heights Penitentiary, Warden Stockholm's office.”

“Stockholm?” I asked,

“That is correct sir. Warden Stockholm's office how may I help you today?”

“What happened to Warden Greene?”

“The previous Warden had retired sir, is there something I can help you with sir?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said, “I'm Chase Marquez from the Stonehurst Review. I was hoping to speak to an inmate?”

“Uh-huh, please hold sir I will connect you.”

The transfer over to the Warden didn't take long and he answered with a weird gusto, “Warden Stockholm how may I help you today?”

“Hello Warden,” I said, “I'm Chase Marquez, how are you today?”

“Oh just another day in the paradise that is a penitentiary.” He said with light sarcasm, couldn't blame him for that, Silver Heights was a hell hole that gets federal funding. “How can I help you Mr. Marquez?”

“Well sir, I was hoping to talk to you about meeting an inmate for a story I'm working on.”

“Well I'm always happy to help our press.” He said, “What's the name of the inmate?”

“Tavon Jones?”

“I'm sorry?”

“Tavon Jones.” I repeated, “The perpetrator of the-.”

“I know who Tavon Jones Mr. Marquez, but why that particular one?”

“Well the third year anniversary of his crime had come up and seeing the amount of coverage that it had when it happened maybe talking to the people that were affected most by it it might-.”

“Right, right. Listen Mr. Marquez That's not going to happen.”

“Why not?”

“Because I know who you are Mr. Chase Marquez. I worked under your father back in the day, and I know how much pain it caused your family as well as time and effort it took to put the man behind bars.” I had hoped my last name would've been enough to get past that at the time. “Besides sir that inmate is under strict super vision and can't be seen by any member of the press.”

“Really?” I asked, “Why's that?”

“He's a killer sir, we just can't let anyone in to see someone who has a record of violence.” I quirked my eyebrow to this. It made sense but it didn't feel right. “Now if you'll excuse me Mr. Marquez I do have a full plate today as well as an entire prison of inmates to take care of. Have a good day.” There was a second of silence before dial tone came through the ear piece and I was left with frustration. 'They know who I am and they probably have an outstanding order to not let me anywhere near him...damnit.'

I spent a good part of the day trying to research any kind of way to get to see Jones or at least find a way to get info on anything else about the case. My phone rang, 'Charlene.'

“Hey baby.” I said leaning back in my desk.

“Hey love.” She replied, “Where have you been felt like we hadn't talked all day.”

“Probably because we hadn't.” I said with a light chuckle, “Sorry babe, just here at work trying to get some stuff together for a story.”

“Oh, everything alright?” She asked,

“Eh, a few roadblocks here and there but I'm sure I'll find my way around them.”

“Alright, when are you coming home?” I looked at my computer and saw it was already late afternoon.

'How time flies I guess.' I thought to myself, “Uhmm...here soon yeah. Did you want to do anything for dinner.”

“Uh...yeah.” She said that like I had asked her what two plus two was. “Get home soon so you can get ready okay?”

“Get ready?”

“Yeah,” She said, “It always takes you so long to get ready when we go out.”

'It does?' Constantly being told stuff about myself was getting old. I wondered how much about myself I didn't know anymore. I let out a chuckle and relented,

“Alright babe, I'll be home soon.” I told her,

“Alright baby, see you when you get home. I love you.”

“You too darlin'.” We both hung up and I knew there was nothing I could do now. Anyone I could've called wouldn't have answered seeing that it was still the day after Christmas, some were probably still out on vacation at that time. I left the office and made my way to my car then home.

I got home and walked through the door to a sight I had not been expecting. Charlie was in a dark red dress with spaghetti straps, with her hair done up but some left down to frame her face and something new; thin rimmed glasses. I stood there with my mouth opened and she just smiled with a light laugh, “Bout time you got home.” She said coming up to me and pecking me lightly before she tapped me and rushed me to the room. “Go get ready we need to hurry up if we're going to make it in time.”

She practically pushed me into the room and I went to go get ready. It took me not even five minutes to throw together a black blazer, off white button-up, slacks and a pair of dress shoes. I walked out and she looked at me with a bit of surprise. “What was that about me taking too long?” I asked with a cocky smirk.

“I only said that to light a fire under you so I wouldn't be here for an hour while you got ready.” She said walking over to me,

“Uh-huh sure.” I said my smirk still there. “Where to my dear?” She looked at me like I was crazy. I was beginning to get tired with that.

“We're going to Fei's aren't we?”

“Fei's?” I asked. “Oh, yeah of course we're going to Fei's.”

'Where the hell is Fei's?'

I had to let Charlie drive the car again. I didn't want to let everything go and used the excuse that I had been driving all day and wanted to just sit back. She didn't argue; no matter how bad she wanted to. We drove for a bit driving away from the main part of the city and to a more out of the way place. A Chinese restaurant that I had never seen before. We got out and entered the place. It looked like a traditional Chinese restaurant. No buffets or anything like that.

We walked to the front and there we were met with a young girl with her hair done in a pony tail and a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon. “Oh my god, hey guys!” She said rushing from behind the front towards us and hugging Charlie. Her voice had to have put her in her mid-to-late teens, I could never guess the ages of Asian women for some reason. She stepped back from hugging Charlene and looked at the both of us.

“Hey Meril.” Charlene said,

“My goodness, you two look amazing. Usual table?” She asked looking at the both of us. I nodded absently and allowed the girl to take us to a table near a window and sat down the menus for us to look at.

Charlene and I sat, made our orders and talked. It was good I had learned more about her through it and what I did, I really liked. “Who'd have thought that it's been two years since you got down on your knee here?”

“God, two years?” I asked, “Time flies huh?” She nodded and I tried to prepare myself for one of her questions. Our food came with Meril and another person behind her. An older woman, short with gray and black hair mixed. I looked at her questionably because I felt I had known this woman from somewhere.

“Hey guys,” Meril said with a smile on her face, “here's your food and as soon as she heard you guys were back Mrs. Man insisted on seeing you guys again.”

'Man?'

“Man-Sumu?!” I exclaimed getting up from the chair and bowing quickly after. Charlene looked at me like I was crazy, pretty sure Meril did as well at the time. But Man-Sumu laughed lightly as I straightened myself up and met her gaze.

“There's the young man I knew from so long ago.” She said kindly as she walked up to me and put her hands on my arms which she quickly tutted, “So soft,” She said, “Chun would be very disappointed in you if he were here now.”

“Chun?” Charlene asked, Man-Sumu and I turned. She kept her kind disposition while I quirked my eyebrow.

“Chun-Sifu.” I said, “He was my master back when I trained.” I looked back to Man-Sumu and she simply nodded.

“Oh.” Charlene said, “Would you like to join us?” She asked, Man-Sumu smiled softly and shook her head,

“No, no thank you.” She replied before turning back to me, “You however,”

“Yes Sumu?”

“Lawrence will be back soon,” She told me with a smile, “you should come around the school when he does.”

“Of course, no question about it just call me when he arrives.” She nodded, gave her goodbyes and I sat back at the table with Charlene looking at me with a light smile. “What?”

“Nothing,” She said with a shake of her head, “I didn't know you used to do karate.”

“Not Karate but I did train in martial arts for a while. I really never told you?” She shook her head again. “Strange, but we can't let that take our focus off dinner can we?” I asked with a smile reaching my hand halfway across the table. She reached her hand to mine and gave a light squeeze,

“I don't see a reason for it to.” She replied with a smile and we went back to our food.

The dinner went on with no problems, I had left the table briefly for the bathroom and came back so I enjoy enjoy the rest of the time with her. We had left for home after a bit and had walked to the car, she had a drink and I offered to be DD for the night. There were no arguments and she had walked beside me resting her head on my shoulder until we got to the car and I opened the door for her. I had walked to the driver's side and had the keys out when I felt something pressed to my back.

“Keys. Wallet. Now.” A voice said, someone was trying to change their voice behind me.

'Someone has been watching too many Eastwood movies apparently.'

“I'll give you the wallet and you can go.” I said calmly trying to give the guy enough control.

“Keys.” He growled,

“I can't do that.” I replied, tensing up,

“You don't really have a -UGHH!?” The elbow that was thrown to his face threw him off. I then turned and saw that he was pushing a knife in my back and disarmed him after a few bones in his hand were broken. I turned and looked at him. He locked eyes with me and I saw something I hadn't seen in a bit. He threw a punch at me which was sloppy, the pain must have kept him from doing anything about the situation, which only made it easier for me. I Struck his shoulder, knocked him back a little bit. It was to open him up for when I darted in and struck him with a right straight which put him on the ground but not out. He got up quicker than he should've and hit me with a left. It was weaker but I imagined his other hand was the dominant one so it didn't really surprise me. I struck him again, that time kicking him on the side of his leg. It went dead and I worked the other one forcing him to the ground.

I went over to him and picked him up by his collar, “Big mistake buddy.” I said, he started to thrash,

“This isn't what I was told would happen!” He yelled,

“What?” I wanted to ask more but people were no doubt about to come out and see what's going on. I struck his neck, knocking him out, a door opened and I heard Charlene call me. “Chase?” She asked, I looked back and stood up when she came closer and the same look the thief had came from her now.

“Chase? Charlene?” That voice came from behind me, I turned and saw Meril coming up with Man-Sumu. The look had infected Meril but Man-Sumu just looked at me calmly then turned to Meril,

“Call the police an tell them they're going to need an ambulance as well.”

The police came after a bit, Man-Sumu and Meril sat with Charlene while I gave the report to the rookie that wanted a statement. “Certainly did a number on him didn't ya?” He asked rubbing his pen against his head.

“He had a weapon and was trying to rob me. I think I was within my rights was I not?”

“Well that's kind of a-?” A hand clapped down on the shoulder of the officer,

“I'll take it from here kid.” The officer looked behind him and I smirked.

The officer gave no complaint and walked off once Houston told him to go. “So tell me,” I said, “Were you in the neighborhood or did you just miss me?”

“Neither,” He replied, “I was on a call for a D&D and heard the incident over the box on the way over. Thought I'd run damage control.”

“He's not that bad,” I stated crossing my arms, my smirk still intact, “”Just a broken nose, some fractured hand bones and will have some weak legs for a while.”

Houston and I talked, I gave my statement and he gave his assurance he'd take care of it. Seeing as I was defending myself he wouldn't have to work hard. “Thanks Houston.” I said as he began to walk away I had a sudden thought, “Wait.” I called after him. “I need a favor man,”

“No Chase, I'm not letting you drive the car.” I chuckled,

“Like you could stop me.” I replied, “Do you have anyone in Silver Heights that still owe you any favors?”

“Pends on the favor you're asking.” He said crossing his arms.

“I need to talk to an inmate.”

“You know the visiting hours Chase, why me?”

“Tried to go that route. The Warden cut out any possibility, they have my name on file.” I explained, Then I could tell that Houston didn't like where it was going.

“Who's the inmate?” he asked,

“Tavon Jones.” I said. He tensed up but didn't show any movement to punch me in the face. That was Houston when he was surprised or upset he tensed but showed no other emotion he was a good cop that way.

“You know that's-.” I raised my hand up to stop him.

“I know Houston.” I said, “But I need to do this.” We both looked at each other, we weren't going to step down from our points on this.

“I'll call you when I can set something up okay?” He said as he looked away from me, “I need to go.” He wanted to say more but he was already holding back too much as it was, good for him he left, had he let go he would've said something that would've made things worse.

I walked over to Charlene and the others, she looked like she had calmed down a bit; I was thankful for that at least. Meril stayed next to her and Man-Sumu directed her gaze towards me. “Okay, got everything settled now.” I said, “They said we can go and hopefully we won't have to deal with this for a while.”

“Thank god.” Charlene said wiping at her face. Meril stepped away and I helped Charlene into the car. After I closed it, I began to walk to the driver's side when Man-Sumu grabbed me by my arm.

“Sumu?” I asked as I looked into her eyes. Her gaze was hard but I didn't turn away from it.

“You are different.” She said letting me go.

“I know...” I told her, “Had been for a bit...feels like I'm living in a...”

“Go to the Kwoon Chase.”

“What?” I asked, “Why?”

“Hernandez-Sifu will be able to help you.”

“What are you t-.” She held up a hand to interrupt me,

“You're being chased by mèngyán.” She said bluntly,

“Mèngyán?” I had never heard that word before, “Sumu wh-?”

“Just go, don't ask questions.” She said sternly before turning away from me. She walked away without anything else and I turned back to my car so Charlene and I could go home.

The car ride over was deathly quiet this time. Same with the elevator ride up as well. We both walked in and she began to walk to the bedroom. “Charlene,” I said going after her, “You okay?” She stopped when I touched her shoulder. She went rigid though, I found it odd.

“I-I'm fine Chase.” She said weakly. “I'm just a little shaken up still.” She told me.

“Alright, you need anything? I can grab you a drink, some water?” She shook her head.

“I just want to get some sleep Chase.” She said, “Just some sleep.”

“Alright...” I said as I let her go and she took off closing the door behind her.

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