That afternoon, they were spreading all the pictures Cyndi took on the coffee table and were studying it like they were on some major case. More like Claudia was doing it while Cyndi was drawing in her sketchbook. She had encountered the second dream again during work. Luckily, she was able to pull out of it. Yet she wondered why when that place she just visited had no house behind it at all–whether big or small. Sketching it out a bit might help her.

“This place looks familiar,” Claudia said after she laid out the pictures the way she wanted.

“It’s one of those side roads by the city hall’s ballroom area,” Cyndi replied, still focusing on her sketches.

“Want to go check it out again tomorrow? I meant we don’t have work or anything.”

Cyndi nodded, sketching the details in.

“Hey, this looks like the house by the windmill next to the sea.”

Cyndi turned to look at Claudia, wondering what Claudia was babbling about. She realized Claudia was staring at the drawing she was working on. “You saw it before?”

Claudia shrugged. “Not sure. But it sure looked like it the way you sketched it.”

Cyndi was still staring at Claudia with the expression that said Claudia didn’t make any sense.

“I’ll take you there tomorrow too,” Claudia said after some more staring between the two of them. “It’s the only way to clear all these out of the way. You might have been there before but didn’t pay attention to it.”

Cyndi had to agree. They made plans for the upcoming trip. Cyndi made sure to charge her camera and phone.

“Hey, you know what?” Claudia spoke up when Cyndi had left for the kitchen, preparing dinner. “You might be psychic.”

“Where did that come from now?” Cyndi asked, her mocking voice in place. She didn’t bother to stop working on the soup pot.

“Hey, come on now,” Claudia urged. “This show’s talking about all these people having psychic abilities and the interviews aren’t that hokey. It could be true that you have it.”

“Are you going to buy into those earthlings’ conspiracy? I mean you know how their Hollywood is, the story has to sell and the stuff like the unknown sell so they go ahead with it. By your logic, we would have green skin and have gigantic bug eyes like they portray us.”

“Of course I know facts are being twisted, but there are rare cases where people do have psychic abilities, right?”

“Then are you suggesting what I’m dreaming about is happening in the future? It’s ridiculous, especially the locations being merged into one place.”

“Maybe it’s one thing happening in two different places?”

Cyndi had to stop stirring the soup pot and stared at Claudia. “You’re kidding me, right? Getting chased down by some creepy lunatics isn’t enough? Now I have to be chased down twice?”

“I’m trying to help you here.”

“And why them? Those three, at best, could only look threatening at the upcoming festival.”

“Maybe it’s a part of the play you’re going to perform for fun during the festival! I mean maybe the next one could be some theme where they’re lazy and wear the same thing and you get to act out a sequel to the previous one.”

Cyndi did another eye roll. And went back to her soup pot. Leave it up to Claudia.

*****

That night, the second dream came to her again. This time, she forced herself to watch the coming details a little longer. The killing could be stopped so taking in some observation wasn’t a bad idea. It was strange that she was able to control it to the point that she didn’t wake up by the interference. Yet she didn’t mind at that point. Some more details could give her answers.

The dream finally reached its climax where the three guys stopped about a foot from her. This time, she didn’t stir in her sleep, allowing the dream to move forth a bit more. Just a bit more. The next part didn’t contain the guys moving in for the kill after the familiar words uttered out by Wallace and Nic. Instead, it focused on Cyndi. She took a brave step forward and looked down at a water puddle right by her feet. A water puddle that had somehow miraculously appeared when she looked down. However, the image that reflected back to her wasn’t herself, but some foreign face that she swore she’d never seen in all of her life. That was when she was startled awake by the unexpected outcome. Drenched with sweats again, she peeled her blankets off and ran for the living room. Switching the light on, she leafed through her sketchbook, finding a fresh page to start over. Some details would escape if she waited until morning.

*****

The next morning, Claudia came to pick Cyndi up. Claudia felt it was better that way since she didn’t want Cyndi to tune out on her again if Cyndi was the one driving. They bumped into Nic. He was on his way out for coffee–or so he claimed.

“Where are you girls going today?” Nic asked, looking at them like he was detecting some traces or signs or whatever.

“Just around and about,” Cyndi answered, wanting to be discreet–and even nudging Claudia from behind so Claudia wouldn’t expose their little adventure.

“I guess you’re done with your shopping trips for the upcoming festival then?”

“Pretty much,” Claudia jumped at a subject that she could safely talk about.

“Just a few more days. I have to admit I’m excited too. I meant new place and all, and seeing the difference.”

Cyndi nodded while Claudia chatted on and on with Nic as they descended the stairs. It was no surprise that they always bumped into Nic when coming in and going out since he was next door to Cyndi after all, but when they saw Wallace by the building’s entrance waiting with Tony, that had initiated some reactions from Cyndi. It wasn’t like it was their first time meeting the guys. But it was the first time seeing Wallace there with the guys. Or did he come many times before when the girls weren’t around?

“Hey, I see why you’re late,” Wallace joked when he saw them walking together.

“Funny,” Cyndi snarled, not letting him off though his smile was friendly.

Wallace wasn’t intimidated by Cyndi’s response. He just shrugged and smiled. After a few more words among the five of them, they separated and went in different directions.

“He just asked us about the festival several days ago and now he’s asking again,” Cyndi remarked as she buckled up. “Suspicious much?”

“People can’t ask about the same thing again?” Claudia returned, backing out–and making sure she wasn’t going to hit Wallace who just signaled to her, letting her back out first. “Come on, it’s an update. I did say I might change my mind, so he’s just asking if the deal’s sealed now.”

“I didn’t get to ask about the…”

“Forget about it. We can do it when we come back.”

The only reason why Cyndi even let Claudia off temporarily was because she knew Claudia was right. They decided to start out early today because they didn’t want to miss a detail. Their source of light was already limited when it was supposed to be daylight, who knew what else they would miss if they wasted more time and darkness might fall by then?

Claudia drove to city hall’s ballroom and received instructions from Cyndi the rest of the way. They abandoned the car when the roads were getting too narrow for cars to get through. Yet they didn’t mind the walk. It would allow more flexibility for inspections of the area. They spent two hours around the area. It wasn’t just looking at the path Cyndi had covered days before when she first discovered the familiar path. But also the two side paths that two of the guys had taken when they cornered Cyndi in her dreams. They didn’t find anything unusual about it except it made sense that the shortcuts would eventually meet with the main street that led back to the city hall’s ballroom.

Having taken some pictures each, they finally made the trip to the seaside to check out the so-called house by the windmill Claudia had talked about the previous day. As Claudia slowed down to park, Cyndi was also glad Claudia was driving. She got out of the car and walked down the marble path that turned into a wooden bridge with two metallic rails on the sides to protect people from falling over. The closer she came to it, the more she realized of its freakiness. She had tuned out Claudia completely–who was running after her and calling out her name. She only stopped to stare at the house when the wooden steps ended and the marble path continued to the house’s entrance.

“Can we go in?” Cyndi asked, turning to Claudia.

“You really want to?” Claudia asked back, showing uncertainty.

Cyndi nodded with much determination on her face.

“All right then.”

And Cyndi wasn’t asking for Claudia’s permission but was asking if they were allowed to tour the inner areas as well as the outside views.

Like before, Cyndi took the lead and stepped forward. Opening the door, she felt a sense of uneasiness creeping up. Possibly because she’d been dreaming of it more than the other dream’s ending of recent. She forced herself to take a deep breath before reaching for the light switch to her right–and to which Claudia didn’t tell her of its existence. She just knew. It wasn’t because she saw it in her dreams either. The light came on automatically overhead after a few seconds of confusion and darkness engulfing her so she didn’t need to search for it–or knew of its existence in her dream. It was much more blurry as well.

“How did you know the light switch was there without looking?” Claudia asked after letting out a gasp full of surprise upon seeing the light flashing on from above.

“I don’t know,” Cyndi confessed. “Just a hunch.”

“That’s creepy.”

Cyndi didn’t say anything more. She took another step forward and studied the architectural elements of the place. It was exactly like how it was in her second dream. Of course, there was no puddle of water for her to look down at her own reflection like last night’s later segment of the dream. But the rest was eerily familiar.

“Is this really the house?” Claudia asked–though it was obvious from Cyndi’s expression.

Cyndi nodded, only half paying attention to Claudia at the moment. “There was supposed to be a water puddle here so I could look down at my reflection though. But it wasn’t me.”

Claudia wrinkled her face. “What? What are you talking about?”

“I saw someone’s face in the reflection. I was so shocked that I woke up.”

“You didn’t tell me about that.”

“I just saw it last night because I didn’t force myself to wake up yet. I thought it was the killing so I tried to wake up before it happened. But it didn’t. I looked down at my own reflection but saw someone else’s face.”

“Who? Anyone we know?”

Cyndi shook her head. “I don’t know her, but you might.”

“Then what does that person look like?”

“A girl with long hair and bangs in front.”

“You could remember so much from just glance? Or whatever it was in your dream.”

“I did a rough sketch of her image when I woke up.”

“Oh.”

After that, Cyndi returned to her silent state, observing the view in front of her. She took it further by walking around the perimeter to check out its other hidden space in the back area. The little tour took another fifteen minutes before Cyndi exhausted her curiosity and left the place. Claudia was behind her, turning off the lights and closing the door behind them. And just when Cyndi took a routine scan of the area overlooking the other side of the path, she spotted a familiar silhouette walking on the other side. Shocked by the presence, she took chase and ran past the wooden bridge. She ignored Claudia’s urgent call from behind and the footsteps of Claudia catching up to her. It wasn’t until she slowed down so she wouldn’t crush the sudden stream of people increasing their presence around the area that she realized the other person whom she was looking for had disappeared within that crowd. Another scan of the crowd with her radar eyes confirmed that the other person was really gone. She had no choice but to separate from the crowd and stand aside to wait for Claudia to catch up.

“What’s going on here?” Claudia demanded–very much out of breath by now.

“I just saw her,” Cyndi answered, still darting her eyes back and forth in hopes of seeing that familiar silhouette again.

“What?”

By this time, Claudia had joined in with Cyndi to look for the other person–though she had no idea what that mysterious girl looked like.

They waited until the crowd dispersed before continuing on their way again. Claudia drove slowly down the streets as Cyndi proceeded with her casual scan of the perimeter.

“Let’s go to lunch,” Claudia said as she sped up again after turning at the street leading back to their area of town.

Cyndi nodded, not feeling like talking anymore. But before they went to lunch, she made Claudia stopped at the photo center to get these new set of films developed so they could look those over during lunch.

*****

Two days before the festival, Cyndi walked along the path that led to the ballroom, wanting to get a little heads up on the arrangements thus far. She had parked somewhere on the other side. It was only convenient because she didn’t want to risk it with a ticket. Not now when she was still trying to grasp at analyzing that stupid dream that kept appearing for no reason. Yes, it was getting to her, even when she just wanted to block it out. And whether it was her fault to analyze it to death or not, she didn’t care. She hadn’t been onto it for a while after the guys arrived too and it still reappeared. So did that matter?

Claudia was going to meet her there later. So walking around to get some fresh air after a day of work wouldn’t hurt. Wanting to focus on the festival only, she did a mental shake to get rid of bad moods. Taking in a little more details from the ballroom’s entrance, she was tempted to take out her camera and snap some pictures. But she didn’t. It wasn’t like it was illegal to take pictures, but it was only allowed during the actual event. Unable to cut habit, she turned to the side street that she and Claudia had explored the other day, and regretted it seconds later because she saw Wallace rushing down the street at that very moment. Looking both left and right real quick to check for Tony or Nic, she followed Wallace down that path–at a safe distance and out of the way. She soon got her answer as to Tony and Nic’s whereabouts because Wallace turned into one of the two side streets when he reached the dead end. Cyndi edged even closer and was able to hear their conversation. At least part of their conversation. The reason why she knew the two people who were meeting up with Wallace were Tony and Nic was because she recognized their voices. It was hard not to when they’d been haunting her dreams since when.

“You two have been acting like two idiots,” Wallace chided Tony and Nic. “I can’t cover for you all the time or it would throw suspicions on me too.”

“Hey, like we want to mess up,” Nic snapped right back. “Those two girls are just too nosy.”

“It’s normal that they ask when you two can’t even answer such simple questions.”

“We’ll try to stay away from them,” Tony reassured Wallace. “At least I’ve been staying away from them as much as possible. It’s harder for him when he’s next door to that girl Cyndi. If he moves, it would look even more suspicious, you know.”

“Fine,” Wallace’s voice resumed its intolerance tone. “But I honestly hope you two could hold up for two more days. After that, I don’t care what you do.”

“Calm down. We won’t mess up. Come on now, those two girls are probably just nosy. You don’t see our other neighbors asking questions.”

“Good that no else is asking any questions.”

Cyndi knew it was a cue to back off after seconds of silence. She was also glad that she wasn’t wearing high heels that day. Making sure not to step on any other objects that would give herself away, she managed to squeeze behind some boxes stashed along the way before Wallace came back out from that deserted side street. She waited for Tony and Nic to leave–and actually disappear without coming back for whatever it was they might forget–before leaving herself.

“They’re hiding something,” Cyndi told Claudia after she recounted the events to Claudia that night at her apartment.

“But what?” Claudia asked. “I mean I don’t doubt you. But you didn’t hear anything else? Like something that would give us a clue about their plans.”

Cyndi shook her head. “That was it. I tried to back off before they catch me so if they had said something else after Wallace’s warning, I’m not sure.”

Claudia had on the expression that she was doing some serious thinking. “Hmmm…”

“Whatever it is, it’s going to happen the night of the festival, I’m sure of it.”

Claudia turned to Cyndi at that time. “Should we call city patrol?”

Cyndi wasn’t sure either. “Maybe we should wait to see what they’re up to until we call?”

Claudia shook her head in disagreement. “We can’t run around to find evidence on our own. If they’re doing something illegal, we can’t risk it. We have to alert city patrol as soon as possible.”

“City patrol won’t look into it if we don’t have anything to convince them.”

Claudia had on the defeated look upon that realization. “You’re right. But at least we could call it a tip, right?”

Cyndi nodded. “We could only tell them to watch out for suspicious activities taking place that night.”

Claudia got up from her seat. “I’ll go call.”

Cyndi nodded again. “Those three are definitely taking advantage of the festival night.”

And Cyndi wasn’t bluffing because everyone in town was going to gather at the city hall’s ballroom. They had a choice to come or not. But it had always been that way with festival nights, the majority would be gathered around that area to join in on the excitement, the rest of the town would be deserted.

“Or are they just trying to set some pranks up for the festival and we misunderstood them?” Claudia reasoned as she was waiting to be connected. “It’s not like it hasn’t happened before with some people thinking they could away with pulling some smart move during the festivals.”

Cyndi wasn’t sure either. Her paranoia was working fulltime recently. Anything was possible really.

© Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Posted: Saturday, June 9th, 2012

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