Chapter 6

“What do you think?” Claudia asked, gliding back and forth in front of Cyndi.

“That one’s nice, but not the right theme,” Cyndi replied, smiling at Claudia’s choice of costumes.

Yes, they were at the boutiques looking for the right costumes. It was like several days later before they could get a trip in. And though they had socialized with the guys more and more these past days, the guys still refused to come to this shopping trip.

“So what do you think so far?” Cyndi began, placing a black dress in front of her and trying to eyeball her size instead of entering the fitting room like Claudia. She was standing in front of a mirror, of course.

“You mean the guys?” Claudia asked, stepping out with another equally amusing dress.

“Who else?”

“Well…”

“Don’t say cute because you know what I’m asking for.”

“They seem pretty harmless to me.”

“They’re suspicious though and you might be right about them being earthlings, at least two of them.”

Claudia looked away from the mirror and toward Cyndi. “What? I thought you said…”

“You know that half of the times we tried to ask the other two questions about their old town, Wallace would jump in and answer for them or they just answered vaguely.”

Claudia looked like she was considering things in her mind. “Well, maybe because…” Claudia’s sly expression was making its appearance. “It’s because they’re intimidated by you.”

Cyndi scoffed. “Yeah right. More like they don’t know the answers.”

“But they have long ears like us and…”

“The tan?”

“You remember what they said the other day.”

“Even Wallace knows it has been raining like mad these past days and told them about the rainy season here, why would someone hang around at some beach at this time of the year? Even if they were at the beach, they couldn’t even get a tan with the type of sunlight we get on our planet.”

“Wallace said they brought their own equipment, remember?”

“He was probably grasping at straws.”

“Okay, okay. They’re really earthlings and they just want to escape from their place and live here with us, but are afraid we aren’t accepting so they just try to be like us. Not impossible since we’ve seen some earthlings coming to stay before.”

It was Cyndi’s turn to reconsider things. “Maybe. But I’m not buying their stories yet.”

“Here goes your paranoia working at an overload again.”

Cyndi just smiled. She finally found a dress she liked so she went in to try it on while Claudia continued with her rant.

*****

Two more rainy days later, Cyndi and Claudia were going home together again. Claudia had moved back to her place already but was just visiting tonight. They were celebrating Cyndi’s success in finding a new job. On the way in, they bumped into Tony who was wearing his usual raincoat again–because it was raining. And Nic was making his way in and not out like Tony. Claudia ended up inviting him over for dinner, which Nic agreed. They were walking upstairs together instead of using the creepy elevator lift. It had become a habit since they’d gotten to know Tony and Nic better. It was because the guys weren’t that into the elevators either.

“You girls got it all for the festival?” Nic asked–a definite conversation starter.

Claudia shrugged. “It’s hard to say.”

“Oh?”

Claudia smiled, her cunning smile–not the sincere one. “If I find a more suitable one, then I’ll drop this current one.”

“Then it would be a waste.”

“She’s always so wasteful,” Cyndi jumped in, giving Claudia a look.

Claudia felt the stab but didn’t care to toss things at Cyndi’s direction. “Well, you know there are other festivals to come, so it’s not going to waste. I’m going to use it in the future if I don’t use it now.”

“Your excuse for building up your wardrobe.”

Nic stayed silent the rest of the way up as the girls battle it out. But it wasn’t like the girls let him off when they were in Cyndi’s apartment. They kept it casual with the questions–like they were getting to know him more. What could a bunch of friendly harmless questions do, right?

*****

The night was covered with a curtain of velvety darkness again. The moon was still being gulped up by the equally dark clouds. It soon parted ways and Cyndi was running along with the deserted town like many times before. This time, she had better bearing than that–though her high heels were still mad high. The difference this time was her left hand contained a black scrunchie. It was just hanging on her hand as a bracelet while she made her way across town, her shoes clicking at a deafening rate. Another difference was her kicking the shoes off after having rounded the corner that was supposed to be the last corner before the inevitable. The corner was no longer a dead end. Not really. There was a gigantic building behind that alleyway and the door was ajar. Her last hope luring ahead, she made a run for it, her feet bleeding with a line of blood leading her enemy there. But she didn’t have to worry about that because the door clanked shut behind her as soon as she entered. Panicked overtaken her, she turned in every direction in search of any source of light to accompany her. Yet that was soon taken care of because lights clicked on from overhead, blinding her vision. She shielded her eyes and soon saw the three guys still in their same attires like the past dreams on the other side of the room. They were coming straight for her. She had no idea how they could be there when they were definitely behind her when she had turned and fled. That didn’t matter. She turned around and grabbed for the door handle, and failed. Not only was it locked, but after several more yanks, it snapped off the door and she whirled around in time to see the three guys stopping just within a foot of her.

“Time’s up,” Wallace repeated his line from the previous dreams.

“Game’s over,” Nic followed.

The only difference was the place. And the spot where they were standing. They were no longer cornering her from all three exits but coming at her from one direction. The similarity was she couldn’t escape either.

And just like that, Cyndi woke up. The dream got cut off because she didn’t want to witness the inevitable. She was somehow able to wrestle out of the dream upon turning around on her bed. But the sweats were present this time as she threw the covers back and did a routine check of her apartment. No creepy characters present, and the doors were still locked. Was this the result of inviting Nic over for dinner? It couldn’t be, could it? Was having one of the weirdos here triggering her dreams again? Because she hadn’t had one since the day they showed up. At least for Tony and Nic’s case. It was like only the relevant part of her strange dream was meeting the guys. After taking Claudia’s suggestion and interacting with them some more, she realized she had been so foolish to get all paranoid. Yet now?

*****

“The ending changed?”

That was Claudia’s first reaction when Cyndi told her the next day when they met up for lunch. Claudia had managed to sneak out during lunch to meet up with Cyndi. In fact, Claudia did it on her own without Cyndi asking since she had wanted to get out of the office anyway. The only reason why she couldn’t just go find another job like Cyndi as well was because she was still able to tolerate the boss.

“Yeah,” Cyndi answered after she swallowed her water.

“That’s strange,” Claudia continued, her analyzing mode in place, ready to dissect these new details.

Cyndi shrugged.

“We already quit it with the horror films for a while to make sure it wasn’t that. And you haven’t been encountering weird dreams anymore so we came to the conclusion it must be that, right?”

Cyndi nodded.

“But now it’s coming back and changing…so…”

Cyndi didn’t mind Claudia’s rambling this time. At worst, she could laugh off Claudia’s suggestions. Or wild theories.

“Or because of your paranoia toward the guys that’s triggering the dreams again?”

Cyndi wrinkled her face. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Tell me about it.”

“But what’s even stranger this time is I was able to wake up before it happened.”

Claudia was eating her salad. Or more like picking on her carrots. She turned to give her full attention upon hearing those words. “What?”

“All those times, I couldn’t even pull out of the dream, no matter how hard I tried to,” Cyndi reminded Claudia–and received a nod. “But this time, I could just turn around in bed and that was it. I was terrified to have that dream again, I’ll admit. But I could control it.”

“Well, that’s good, right? I mean so you don’t have to see the next part where they kill you.”

“But all these stupid dreams have got to stop.”

“I haven’t been talking about it so it’s not me influencing you. This is the first day since…”

“I know, I know. I’m just saying that I have to find a way to stop this dream. It’s not in our control but…I’m going to go crazy soon if it keeps going.”

Claudia hesitated before saying the next few words. “Maybe you should go see a shrink.”

Cyndi scoffed then. “Claudia! Here you go again with the Freud talk.”

“I’m not kidding, Cyndi. This is serious. Maybe a professional has something to say that we can’t figure out. Come on now, you’ve been losing weight since that dream. And just managed to gain a bit of weight since the dreams stop. But now? Who knows what happens?”

Cyndi could see the seriousness in Claudia’s eyes so she nodded. “I’ll consider it.”

They finished lunch in silence and parted ways afterward. They promised to meet back at the end of the day. Cyndi didn’t care to drive her car there when she met up with Claudia since it was so close to her new workplace. As she was walking along the sidewalk, she really considered the shrink idea. Claudia might be talking Freud again, but Claudia got a point. She might be stressing more than she could imagine. It was about time she sought help elsewhere. If it would help reduce her paranoia and return her life to normal. Or as normal as could be.

“Might as well get it out of the way,” She said out loud, wanting to seal the deal.

It was only a matter of seeking out a professional. All she needed now was some recommendations.

Just one more block and it was the building she worked in. At least one of the offices inside was her new workplace. But she stopped dead upon turning the corner that would lead into the side entrance. The side street that cut into another part of town looked eerily familiar. In fact, she had seen it before. Footsteps echoing in her head brought the memory back. Determined to seek out the answer, she rushed toward that direction. She glimpsed her watch real quick, glad she still had some time.

Fifteen minutes later and she found herself at the city hall. So the little side street was a shortcut to the city hall. It wasn’t exactly the city hall, just a part of it. It was actually the place where festivals were often held. She was standing at the side entrance at the moment. She scanned the perimeter and found another familiar alley. It was exactly like it was in her dreams. She took the path that would eventually lead into a dead-end like in the first dream–and somehow merged into a gigantic house in the second dream. She really wanted to find out which version was true. It didn’t matter if she was wrong on both counts and the morphing of locations didn’t make sense. If it was so, she could drop it and categorize it as silly dreams once more. Was it possible that she had hung out here when she was little and didn’t remember? She lived on this side of town until she was seven. She had left this town and only returned a year or so ago, but had resided on the other side of town. It made sense she had forgotten about these places and it had randomly entered her dreams again.

Fifteen more minutes and the long curvy road reached its end. There was no gigantic house anywhere nearby. Only a wall marking its end. Like her first dream, there were two side paths on either side that would lead to that dead-end wall as well. Taking out her digital camera, she snapped some pictures and did some more on her way back. When she reached the intersection where it led her back to the city hall, she pulled out her cell phone and called the receptionist of the new workplace, asking for directions back. She was already late.

“Hey, Sarah,” Cyndi said into the phone. “I’m lost.” She paused as the other person asked her about her wellness. “I’m fine. It’s my fault actually, I listened to someone’s suggestion about taking a shortcut back to work and I think I took the wrong turn.” Another pause. “I have somehow ended up at city hall so you could tell me which direction I should go now.”

She hung up five minutes later, having already gotten the correct directions from Sarah already. That was a low shot but she had to do it. The one thing that their planet was so cool about was not being so pushy about punctuality. Sure, it was important–and her previous boss had been quite strict on that. Yet it wasn’t worth anyone’s life or job–if they had a good reason for being late. Being lost was one of the reasons. And she sure qualified for it since she was new after all. Not that she didn’t feel bad about lying, but she had to scratch her itch when she stumbled upon that path. It wasn’t like she could let it go while she was working away for the rest of the day.

The shrink trip was so on hold.

© Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Posted: Thursday, June 7th, 2012

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