Chapter 4

“Hey, you know what?” Claudia’s voice dripped into Cyndi’s ears like many times before. Claudia turned to face Cyndi before continuing. “They could be earthlings.”

Cyndi gave Claudia a look–like Claudia was crazy. Yes, they were back at it again. Cyndi had caved into Claudia’s curiosity–mostly due to nerves. She had stayed at Claudia’s apartment since last week. Or more accurately, since the day she spotted that raincoat guy. It was not just too creepy, but it was distracting her to the point that she couldn’t focus on her work anymore. She had enough when she had to worry about that sunshine lunatic. Now the neutral face in a raincoat? Like it was a crime to wear a raincoat during the rainy season. But it just had to be the exact kind that she saw him wore in her dream.

About Claudia’s theory? It was possible that they could all be earthlings coming to this planet for exploration purposes. After all, their own kind did the same in the past. And there was an upcoming trip to explore further about those earthlings. In fact, their own scientists had brought back some interesting cultures to integrate into their own planet. Yet how in the world could Claudia explain the part about Cyndi’s dream loops about those guys? If they were indeed earthlings.

“Come on now,” Claudia continued, seeing Cyndi’s strange expression directed at her clearly. She did not blame Cyndi for feeling miserable. After all, Cyndi was on her last nerves regarding this strange occurrence.

“We’ve been looking at various records already. They would show up if they’re from around here.”

Yes, Cyndi had gone ahead with one of Claudia’s suggestion by looking into the records at their city hall. And that was one of the differences between their planet and those earthlings. They were allowed to look into the records of all citizens within the local area–unlike those complicated earthlings who had to keep everything so private that they had lost track of their own population already.

Cyndi must admit it was one of Claudia’s reasonable ideas so they’d been leafing through the books for a week now. They didn’t have any luck in locating those two weirdos. But she wasn’t caving in to the earthling theory quite yet.

“We don’t know for sure they’re earthlings,” Cyndi argued. “For all we know, they could be from around here and I just happen to run into them one time or another at the market and did not notice them until now. I’ll bet that’s why I dream about them in the first place.”

Claudia gave Cyndi a good glare as Cyndi shrugged it off and even offered Claudia a wry smile. “Sure. And if you’re so sure about that, why are you here?”

Cyndi’s smile faded then. She shrugged again. She must admit Claudia got her there. “I was just giving you a chance to scratch your curiosity.”

“Sure,” Claudia repeated her previous answer.

Cyndi wondered when Claudia had picked up on sarcasm. But she had gotten so used to Claudia’s sugary voice that she had forgotten Claudia wasn’t clueless as her image projected. Nor was Claudia so oblivious to the things around her, including being sarcastic about matters. But she didn’t want to let Claudia have the last words.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll just move back there this week.”

“Want me to come along?” Claudia asked, her expression serious. She knew Cyndi was bluffing big time. She knew Cyndi hadn’t been sleeping well since the first weirdo moved in next to her. Now there were two weirdos. It must be hard.

Cyndi shrugged again. It was her way of saying she didn’t have a problem at all at the moment. Though she might as well pasted a denial label on her face. “If you want.”

Claudia smiled then, knowing too well Cyndi was just playing the brave card. And it was decided just then that Claudia was moving in with Cyndi for a week. Claudia was more than happy to help Cyndi. But what Claudia was happier about was finally being able to meet those two weirdos herself. She only had recounts from Cyndi. The actual face-to-face meeting would be so different. And Cyndi had no idea of Claudia’s direct approach until it was too late. Like when they stopped in front of that raincoat guy on the way in.

“I heard you’re new here,” Claudia said after the initial introductions–and found out that the raincoat guy was named Tony.

“Yes,” Tony replied, keeping a polite tone. Though he looked like he was in a hurry.

“If you have to leave, just leave,” Cyndi jumped in upon sensing the urgency.

Tony shook his head. “No, I still have time.”

It was also then that Claudia turned to give Cyndi a sharp look for being impolite. She returned her eyes to Tony then. “She’s not in the best of moods right now. Work pressures.”

Tony nodded in understanding. “I get it. No problem.”

“So, are you free later?”

“Uh…” He stopped to look at his watch again. “I have an appointment with someone.”

Claudia seemed to finally get it so she nodded and stepped out of his path–at last. “I guess we’ll see you around.”

Tony nodded again–as if that was all he knew how to do. And finally removed his presence out of Cyndi’s view.

“What was that all about?” Cyndi demanded as soon as Tony was out of earshot already.

Claudia shrugged and had on her innocent look. “Come on now. What do you expect? We just snoop around until they call the security or city patrols on us?”

“There has got to be a better way than exposing ourselves to them,” Cyndi said before strolling off toward the grand staircase in the main hall and heading upstairs–without caring to look back at Claudia.

And that was Cyndi’s second mistake since returning to her apartment building. Because within those labyrinths that would eventually lead to her wing of the humongous building she finally ran into the sunshine weirdo. But the weirdo didn’t look so sunshine today. Yet she didn’t care to ask either since she just stepped past him without a nod, a smile, or any sense of acknowledgment his way. He was also distracted from what she could glimpse of his features within those few seconds. And Cyndi didn’t have any problems with his lack of activeness in trying to be friendly with his new neighbor. She rather it be that way. But conspiracy itself was out to get Cyndi that day because she heard some sounds behind her that suggested some sort of collision had happened. She turned around abruptly and saw Claudia on the ground with that sunshine guy. They were trying to pull free of each other after that collision–for whatever the world it was, she had no idea. She just rushed over to help Claudia up as Claudia tried to catch her breath–and the other guy rubbing his neck.

“Sorry about that!” Claudia blurted out as soon as she regained herself.

Her words had delayed the sunshine guy a bit further because he had to turn back to them and addressed their existence. Cyndi sent Claudia another look for adding another item to her already miserable day.

“It’s all right,” The guy said–and even enhanced his sunshine look by sending Claudia a smile. “I wasn’t looking where I was going either.”

“I’m Claudia,” Claudia initiated, sticking out her hand.

“Nic,” The sunshine guy returned, shaking Claudia’s hand with much naturalness to his movement.

Even though Claudia didn’t realize it, but Cyndi seemed puzzled because she took that moment to study his features. And directing her eyes carefully to his ears. Yes, the most distinguishing feature that would prove or disprove if he was one of them or not. The discovery of the pointy ears soon dismissed Claudia’s theory of him being an earthling. Yet it still puzzled Cyndi about his behaviors. Not that they were a bunch of impolite beings, but the handshake gestures were only recently adopted by their people. Not to mention how it seemed weird to their customs. And it was pointless. They had different ways to show their manners. The pointy ears? It had gotten their scientists into trouble numerous times on Earth because they were mistaken for creatures of the dark. Yes, they were partially responsible for causing those wild stories about elves–and vampires. Pointy ears? Check. Unnaturally pale skins? Check. Sudden disappearances? Check. Inability to stay in the sun for an extended amount of time? Check. It sure didn’t look good for their cases. And the reason for not being able to stay in the sun longer than those earthlings? It had to do with their own planet’s environment. They were closed enough to the sun to receive some source of light hence differentiating days and nights. But not enough so it would shine so vibrantly during daytime like the earthlings. Their weathers were mostly foggy, misty, or overcast. And it got even more gloomy during the rainy seasons.

“Hey,” Claudia finally called out to Cyndi, poking at her sides.

Cyndi snapped out of it in time to see Nic smiling at her. She resisted the urge to scowl. But it seemed like the other party got her message without being told so since he soon made up an excuse about some previous commitments thus needing to leave.

“You didn’t have to be so rude,” Claudia chided Cyndi as the two girls continued to climb the next set of stairs leading to Cyndi’s wing.

“You don’t have to be so direct in your search either,” Cyndi retorted, pushing all the blame on Claudia for forcing her to exert her rudeness to the fullest extent.

“How are we going to find out more about them then?” Claudia returned, not missing a beat either. “Stalking?”

Cyndi rolled her eyes, feeling exasperated. She was silently regretting all of these already. And of course, it was her fault to cave into her nerves, thinking Claudia could be supportive at that moment. Who knew Claudia was crazier than she thought? Again, Cyndi had completely forgotten about Claudia’s supposedly sweet exterior versus her daring, bordering on insanity personality.

© Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Posted: Sunday, June 3rd, 2012