Angela was back two hours later. She was really going to the market–and was not just using that excuse to lure Wallace far out so Calvin could leave safely. That was also when she began her interrogation. It wasn’t like she was going to let him off so easily. After all, she did go out of her way to help him–more than once.

“So, what have you got to say for yourself?” Angela demanded as she was washing some veggies in the kitchen.

Calvin had followed her and was in the process of unloading the rest of the grocery and sorting them out. He was still looking for an answer.

“The answer isn’t in those bags,” Angela said a minute later.

Calvin was still silent. It was like the grocery sorting task was ever so complicated that he needed all his undivided attention in order to tend to them.

“Look, the least you could do is to tell me what happened,” Angela said after another minute, having stopped her current task already. She was now staring at Calvin, not budging like before.

Calvin could detect the seriousness of the situation in Angela’s eyes. He glimpsed at the door before directing his attention back on Angela. He knew Will and Sandrine were at work at that moment so they wouldn’t be home for another hour. Yet he still needed to be sure.

“Did you lock it?” Calvin asked.

Angela nodded.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Calvin finally said after another moment of hesitation.

Angela had her arms crossed by now. “Try me.”

Calvin licked his lips once before starting again. “I’m part of the UPC.”

Angela was no longer displaying traces of annoyance on her face. She had uncrossed her hands and took a glimpse at the door–just like how Calvin had done it seconds before. “And they want to investigate Wallace?”

“More than that,” Calvin said.

“Then what else?”

“Remember how I kept asking about the local deaths when I first came?”

“Cyndi and Joyce?”

Calvin nodded. “I was sent here to bring Wallace back to Earth for the trial.”

“What? But he’s not an earthling.”

“He aided in a conspiracy that almost caused a war. After one of the conferences, the universal officers agreed to let us handle it.”

“You’re still being clear as mud. Start at the beginning.”

“Wallace sold parts of various destructive weapons to Nic and Tony. What we know for sure was they were caught by Cyndi and then later Joyce. They killed the two girls to conceal their dealings. Our global organization had already tracked down Nic and Tony’s suspicious activities in time–and had arrested them both. From the information we were able to find, it led to Wallace. Because of the severity of the matter, I was the only one sent here to track Wallace down. I didn’t mean to drag you in when I asked of a possible way to resurrect the traditional festivals again. But I thought I could use that to trap Wallace. I should have been more careful earlier, but it was bugging me too much about his behaviors that I needed to take a risk and check while he was out.”

The more Angela listened, the more overwhelmed she was. At that moment, she had her back against the sink for support. “How could someone like Wallace be so…cruel?”

“That’s why he’s able to deceive everyone around him.”

“He really killed those two girls?”

Calvin nodded. “If there was indeed someone else involved, I would use all my capabilities to investigate. But as of now, I have to arrest Wallace before he strikes again.”

“How are we going to do that?” Angela asked, her eyes no longer wandering around the room in confusion. She was now staring straight at Calvin for an answer. Her expression was still anxious yet not fuzzy.

“We’re not doing anything,” Calvin said, his voice firm and seemed to gain the confidence he once had. “I’m going to trap him. You just have to stay with Will and Sandrine that night.”

Angela scoffed then. “You expect me to stay out of it after what you told me?”

“Because you helped me earlier,” Calvin reminded her. “And because I didn’t want you to misunderstand my motives so I had to reveal my mission. It will be better for you to not get yourself involved. Wallace’s a very dangerous being.”

“So now I’m the damsel in distress?”

“Cyndi and Joyce weren’t weaklings, from what I heard,” Calvin said. “They fought for their lives. But they didn’t make it in the end.”

“I can keep Will and Sandrine out of it, but I’m in this till the end,” Angela argued, ignoring Calvin’s words completely.

“Angela…”

“That’s final.”

After saying that, Angela turned to resume her task at the sink. Calvin wasn’t able to persuade her otherwise. Because that was when Will and Sandrine arrived home. They were both puzzled by Calvin’s presence. Yet they didn’t ask much. They just chipped in with preparing dinner.

*****

“Cheers!” Angela’s voice broke the atmosphere for the umpteenth time that evening.

“I swear if I didn’t know better, I thought you’re trying to get me drunk,” Wallace joked.

“Oh, you’re such a kidder,” Angela said, hitting Wallace’s shoulder–and not caring that Debra had been eyeing them since the moment she and Wallace arrived.

Yes, they were holding that celebration at Angela and the other two’s apartment. Just when Angela was heading downstairs to fetch Wallace, she spotted Wallace being tagged by Debra as soon as he stepped into the lobby. So she had no choice but to invite Debra as well.

“If she wants to get you drunk, we wouldn’t be here,” Will chimed in, his smile deviously cunning.

Angela sent Will a murderous look then. “Just because today we’re celebrating so I’ll let you off on that one.”

Will shrugged, not caring if she was letting him off or not. He turned to Calvin then. “You got your wish, why aren’t you happy?”

Calvin snapped out of his trance then and turned to Will. He was so focused on Angela and Wallace that he wasn’t paying attention to the others. Now that Will had tapped him on the shoulder, he didn’t know what to say either.

“I didn’t even realize you guys managed to get it done so fast,” Calvin said, his expression reflecting his tone.

“Are you underestimating our abilities or are you still clutching on the idea of us being less evolved than you?” Wallace challenged.

Wallace was still smiling so Calvin knew Wallace was kidding.

“I didn’t mean that,” Calvin said, trying to justify himself. “I’m just amazed by the closeness of everyone in this town. Your community spirit is admirable.”

Wallace had a proud smile on then. “You bet.”

“You’re looking for ways to praise yourself once again,” Angela sabotaged–though she was still smiling.

Wallace returned her smile with one of his own, not minding that she was exposing him.

“Eat already,” Debra chided, obviously annoyed. “You all kept on talking. The food’s going to turn cold soon.”

“We’re eating,” Sandrine said, her smiling sparkling bright like always.

In fact, all of them had been eating and talking and drinking all the while. Yet Debra was just looking for an excuse to interrupt Angela and Wallace’s cheerful moods toward one another.

“So, what would the theme be for this time’s traditional festival?” Sandrine asked, turning to Angela then. “Did you ask the officers there when you turn the petition in earlier?”

Angela pouted. “I don’t know. They said they would announce it in the next few days.”

“So after all that’s said and done, you don’t get to pick the theme? That’s a shame.”

“It’s already a victory that the petition was successful.”

“Don’t despair,” Wallace comforted them. “Whichever theme it is, I’m sure we’ll find a way to enjoy it. Come on, we’ve already gone this far. Are we going to back down now just because the theme is wrong for us?”

Angela’s bright smile returned. “That’s right.”

“Besides,” Wallace continued. “The officers in charge of choosing a theme haven’t disappointed us in the past. Only the tragedies that happened spoiled it.”

It was then Sandrine’s turn to be worried. “Do you think something like that will happen again?”

“Come on, don’t be ridiculous,” Will said. “That Claudia girl got arrested already, right? She’s put away in confinement now. She can’t hurt anyone anymore.”

Sandrine had on a sheepish smile. “That’s right. How could I forget?”

They continued to eat and chat about various topics after that. Yet Angela didn’t forget to exchange a look with Calvin seconds after Will mentioned Claudia. Calvin’s composure had regained already so he just sent her a smile, indicating that there wasn’t anything wrong at all. Not even a trace of his earlier troubled mood was present.

*****

Several days later, Calvin took Angela to see Claudia. Claudia was still locked up. But she wasn’t in one of those highly secured cells like the last time Nic came to visit her. She was actually in a special, private cell way in the back. That section was usually for witness protection, but it was kept hidden behind the other cells hence masking its real purpose.

On the way there, Calvin had already explained to Angela that he had managed to contact the local authorities when he first arrived and presented the proper papers hence having their full cooperation if it was needed. He also asked to see Claudia and had convinced the officials to place her in special protection for the time being. Considering how she was a key character in the two local murders.

“Hi, Claudia,” Angela greeted when they entered.

What happened next didn’t allow Angela time to react. Calvin had to pull her out of the way. Two of the officers had to restrain Claudia and tied her hands to the bedpost.

“What’s going on?” Angela asked, looking at Calvin.

Calvin finally let go of Angela after he was sure it was safe again. “She’d gone insane.”

Angela turned to look at an anxious Claudia being tied up. The other two officers had already left. Calvin told them not to drug Claudia.

“Claudia, calm down,” Calvin soothed, walking closer to the bed. “It’s me, Calvin. We met last time, remember? I told them to release you.”

Claudia stopped fidgeting at that time and darted her eyes toward Calvin. Her face seemed calmer after several more seconds of observation.

“This is my friend, Angela,” Calvin continued in that same soothing voice. “She heard about you and wanted to visit. It’s okay. Don’t be afraid.”

“Hi, Claudia,” Angela said, using a much softer voice so as not to frighten Claudia.

Claudia tensed up a little so Angela stopped in her tracks, not wanting to rush things.

“Claudia, I’m going to untie the bonds for you, okay?” Calvin said. “Don’t fidget.”

Upon hearing that, Claudia relaxed and allowed Calvin to do just that. She soon sat straight up in the bed and studied both Calvin and Angela. Angela inched closer and closer to Claudia one step at a time. Eventually, she was able to talk to Claudia. Even if it wasn’t too coherent, it was progress within such a short span of time.

*****

Calvin and Angela stayed with Claudia for about an hour before leaving. They promised to be back for future visits.

“I was still in doubt of your story until now,” Angela confessed when they were out of the building, heading back toward the main area of town.

“I don’t blame you,” Calvin said, looking toward the overcast sky above. “Some stranger telling you that a fellow citizen of your town is a killer. How crazy is that, right?”

“Poor Claudia,” Angela said, her voice full of sorrow. “If only we could help her.”

“Once I have Wallace in custody and have the evidence in hand, they would release her. Then she could seek proper help.”

Angela was thinking. It wasn’t long before she turned to Calvin. “Say, do they still have Cyndi or Joyce’s stuff around? I meant they investigated and must have kept some items for records, right?”

Calvin nodded.

“If they do, then we could use those items to try and get to Claudia.”

Calvin thought about it for a bit and nodded. “I’ll talk to them later.”

They reached the market at that time, so they ended up getting some groceries and changed the subject. It wasn’t until they reached the middle of the market that they found a crowd gathering. It was where the bulletin board was.

“Resurrection? What kind of theme is that?” Someone yelled out.

Upon hearing the word “theme”, Angela exchanged a look with Calvin before edging closer toward the center to check it out. Indeed, it was what she suspected. The announcement for the traditional festival was out. The theme, just as someone had blurted out seconds before, was resurrection.

“So it’s decided,” Angela said, returning to Calvin’s side. “What are we going to do?”

“We’ll think of something, right?” Calvin reminded her of what she said several days ago.

Angela smiled. “Wait until I tell Will and Sandrine.”

Calvin didn’t say anything. He watched as Angela walked along different stalls and mumbling different ideas for the upcoming event. At the same time, he wondered how he was going to talk Angela out of this sticky situation. He already felt bad enough for being careless and involving her thus far.

© Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Posted: Sunday, May 24th, 2015

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