Chapter 4

Chun’s suit was stained with blood. It was not noticeable because of the color, but it was obviously wet. He dodged under another set of structures and sped past some guards. He was running low on bullets. He did not want to risk it. He was aware of something else, he was lost. He did not know this side of town. Or anyone in it. He needed to proceed with much caution as he could. His only hope was Jiro and Cyndi had made it. He did not worry about Calvin, Joanne, or Jacky. He knew they could do it. He did not realize how wrong he was. Because it had to do with luck after all.

Dawn was approaching soon. He finally shook all the tails off him. He was still lost but safe for the moment. He studied his surroundings, taking in every single detail. The houses looked ancient but the path was not old. It looked newly constructed. Or was it built that way?

“Who’s there?” A girl’s voice asked from somewhere to his left.

He clipped the gun in his belt and buttoned the suit up to cover it. Too late. A scream escaped the girl’s mouth. He moved toward her and brought a finger to his mouth, wanting her to shut up.

“Who are you?” The girl asked.

Contrary to her fearful scream, she was observing him with a calm face. Or was that just an attempt to show some courage?

“I’m lost,” He answered truthfully. “I just want to find my way out of here.”

The girl pointed to his suit. “You’re covered with blood.”

Chun looked down at his own clothes. As if he needed to check. He knew more than anyone it was blood all along. Not his though.  Not all of it. “Uh…” He scanned the area once to make sure no one else was around. “Can we talk somewhere else?”

The girl did a quick scan of their surrounding also. Her eyes met his again. “Follow me.”

They passed through a wooden gate and into a backyard. The girl slid the door open and gestured for him to enter. She scanned the street once before snapping it shut. She secured the lock and turned to him again.

“I don’t care who you are,” She said. “But you can take care of the mess and leave before anyone discovers you’ve been here.”

“Aren’t you scared of me?”

She scoffed. “If you had that much blood on you, you can’t be that good of a shooter.”

He winced, not from pain but from her sharp tongue. He realized she had noticed the gun hanging by his belt also. Was she used to seeing people like him passing by her place? No, it wasn’t that. His alertness shot up again. He was underestimating her petite outer appearance. He reached out and grabbed her shoulder.

She attempted to shrug him off, wincing at his strength. “What are you doing?”

“Who are you?” He demanded, his voice stern.

“It’s brainless to figure out you’re from that Heavenly Eagle Gang,” She blurted out, her stubbornness apparent. Her face was still wrinkling up from the pain she was enduring.

“So you’re with them?” He meant the opposing side.

“Of course not!” She was too loud for a person who was suffering through his grip. “Look at the symbol on your gun!”

He directed his eyes to his gun. Okay, that was a giveaway. He needed to fire whoever thought of putting that symbol on their guns. Having special bullets were brilliant since they were able to distinguish friends from enemies by listening to the shots. But the symbol? Who wanted to boast their ego? He felt her hand moving so he applied some more force on her shoulder. “Trying to get away?”

“You’re crazy! Let go already!”

He realized she had been biting down on her teeth to keep from crying out in pain. Her eyes were near tears. Almost. She was blinking back the tears at the moment. He let go. Not because she said so. But he knew she was harmless. From the various objects around her house.

“I’m Angela,” She said, walking down the hall to the left. She went into a room to the right and returned with a towel for him. “Better clean yourself up. Bathroom’s further down the hall.”

“How do you know I won’t kill you afterward?” Chun asked, taking the towel from her.

She smiled. “You wouldn’t have let me go.”

*****

Jacky slithered in the thick darkness, making his way through the streets’ maze. His energy was draining. He knew stopping was not an option. He searched the area around him rapidly with his eyes. Then he switched directions again. How long before sunrise?

His hand was caked with blood. His. He had stopped awhile back to tie his wounds temporarily, just delaying the pain a little longer. He needed to shake the tails off before meeting up with the others.

An hour later, he was heading toward the correct course. He could not guarantee about not changing it again. Anything was possible. It had been that way since he turned fifteen. It was not going to change just because he had more wounds on him than the previous times.

Another half an hour of walking, he realized he needed to stop so badly. Blood was seeping through the piece of cloth he used to tighten the wound. His footsteps echoed on some sort of pavement a minute later. The world was spinning around him.

He found himself in a room full of light some time later. He blinked several times, attempting to sit up.

“Stay still,” A soft voice instructed.

He felt a hand pushing him down lightly. The room was not that bright like he had thought initially. It was just that he had been in the dark for so long that he was not used to any source of light yet. His vision was coming back. His world was not spinning anymore. He studied the girl in front of him. She was wearing a green sweater and black pants. Her hair was let down, flowing around her shoulders. Unlike Miss Cyndi’s bright green sweater, this girl had chosen a darker shade of green for hers. It was more soothing on the eyes, he thought. Or at least to him. He did not even know why he bothered to compare at such a time.

“You feeling better?” The girl asked, bringing the blanket up to his chin again.

“Where am I?” He finally found his voice. “What time is it?”

She smiled. “You’re safe. Don’t worry.” She got up and moved away from his bedside.

He observed the room some more. It was medium-sized. Japanese style. So he was actually lying on the floor, almost. He reached down to check his sides, realizing he had been changed into a brand new t-shirt. It was white. He was able to feel the bandage beneath the shirt.

“Here, drink this,” The girl said, returning with a bowl of something.

He forced himself up. She set the bowl down and helped him, tugging a pillow behind his back.

“I can do it,” He said, reaching for the bowl.

“A person losing so much blood?” She sounded doubtful, ignoring his request and feeding him anyway.

For some reason, he didn’t object. Several minutes later, he repeated his questions from earlier.

“I found you in front of my house,” She replied. “So if you could remember where you last stand, then you’re there. The sun’s rising soon.”

“Aren’t you scared I’m someone…”

“I don’t care about that.”

He searched the room with his eyes again. His energy was returning. His vision was not blurred like before.

“I put your gun inside the drawer,” She said–as if knowing what he was searching for. “Are you a cop?”

He had on his amused expression. An expression he rarely carried. In fact, it was non-existence. Even Joanne would not have the chance of seeing that side of him. “I look like one?”

“You probably got attacked by one of those gangs, huh? Did someone tip you off on their fight last night? You think going alone is wise?”

As much as he had enjoyed her naïveté, he did not want to continue this conversation. “You’re wrong. You can still change your mind and turn me in.”

She stopped stirring the soup and looked up at him. “You’re one of the gangs then?”

He nodded.

She let out a sigh, returning to her stirring task. “Then just call me unlucky.”

He flinched, surprised of her action. “You’re not scared of me so fear is not the reason why you’re not turning me in. Is this one of those towns where everyone couldn’t care less about…” He didn’t get to finish. He was stopped by her sudden stare.

“In the time we live in, who is to say we’ve chosen correctly which side we should be on?”

He understood what she was talking about. The world they lived in had gone out of control. Even he no longer knew his own purpose in this whole battle.

They heard some knocking at that time.

“Stay here,” She told him, placing the bowl down and getting up. “Whatever happens, don’t come out. I can handle it.”

He nodded. He felt strange that he was being protected by someone. Not because she was a girl. But because he was always being the guard–whether it was for his boss or Joanne.

He heard footsteps echoing on the wooden floor. She was making her way to the door. Or so he guessed. He heard the door being slid open. Then some voices.

“Have you seen anyone going through here?” A man’s voice questioned.

“No,” She replied, her voice full of confidence.

“I saw some blood outside your place.”

“I don’t know about that, but I have been inside all night.”

“You live alone?”

“With my husband.”

“Where is he?”

“Inside, sick.”

“All right.”

Then Jacky heard the door being closed. She was not coming back. He was about to get up and check, but then he heard the clicking of the lock. Her footsteps made its way back to him.

“Who?” He asked as soon as she stepped into the room and shut the door.

“I think it’s your enemy,” She replied.

“You’re married?” He did not know why he even asked. It was none of his business. It made sense. She was too beautiful not to be happily married.

She shook her head. “They saw my brother’s picture.”

He smiled, feeling relief for unknown reasons. “Thanks.”

“What for? I didn’t want them to search my house and mess up my place.”

He smiled, not knowing what to say.

Some strange sounds were heard outside once again. Jacky tensed up, recognizing the familiar voices.

“They’re coming back,” She said, walking toward the door.

He sprung up from his bed, dashing forward to stop her.

“What are you doing?” She asked, alarmed. Not because she was scared of him, but because she was concerned for his well-being.

“They’re going to search your house whether you like it or not,” He said, opening the top drawer while still having a grip on her hand. “Let’s get out of here.”

“But…”

“No time to talk. You have a backdoor?”

She nodded.

He scanned the room once more. He slipped on his shoes, gesturing for her to pack a few things. They still had some time.

Five minutes later, they headed for the backdoor. It was a close call, but he did not want to leave anything behind. He had tucked his old shirt into her bag. She was guiding him out as they were making their way down a stone path past the garden. He bolted the wooden door, delaying the others’ efforts some more if they ever found out. He was sure they would.

“Where are we going?” She finally spoke up when they were out of town.

“Back to where my people are,” He said.

She turned back to stare at the houses behind them for the last time–one of those being hers. He knew what she was thinking. He had left his house behind a long time ago. A time he no longer remembered clearly.

“I’m sorry,” He said, not knowing what other words that were more suitable.

She shook her head. “I chose to help you.”

Then he remembered something. Something crucial. “What would happen to your brother?”

“He already left the country years ago,” She assured him.

“He would return to visit you?”

She shook her head again. “No, he won’t.”

He did not want to ask anymore, seeing the pained look in her eyes. “What’s your name then?”

“Sophia.”

“I’m Jacky.”

“Nice to meet you then.”

“If only the circumstances were different.”

“Does it matter?”

He smiled. “I guess not.”

They walked a distance before changing direction. They just known each other for the first time yet they were getting along so well. Not that she would know, but he was feeling unusually comfortable around her. She had the same frame of mind as him. It was something he could live with. Suddenly, he had forgotten the danger course his life was leading toward. A hopeful glint had lit up in his heart.

*****

Chun and Angela made their way across the border in silence. They had been traveling quite a distance. They had not talked much yet Chun had preferred that way. Somehow, Angela was not a chatter box like Sharon. Angela was much brighter as well. They got along better than he had expected. She was more forgiving than he’d thought, especially after almost crushing her shoulder. He had been found out and had to bring her with him regardless. He had no problem with that. She’d helped him after all.

“Can you still manage?” Angela asked suddenly.

Chun turned to her. “Of course.”

“Okay then.”

She had been checking in on him once in a while. He did not mind. At least it wasn’t like Sharon’s constant whining. He did not know why he was even comparing. Possibly because it was not his favorite duty all these years? Or was it that Sharon was the only girl he could use in comparison? He’d known the other princesses all these years but not as much as Sharon. The most unreasonable among them all.

“What are you thinking of?” Angela asked, tugging on his sleeve.

“Uh…”

“A girl?”

He smiled, wondering why she even found time to joke. She reminded him of Joanne. Then he wondered if the others were all right. He glanced at his watch. “Sort of.”

She smiled, her interest cranking up several notches. “Oh?”

“I’m wondering if the others are all right.” He did not want to admit it, but he felt he could trust Angela.

“If they have skills like yours, they’ll be fine.”

He turned to her. “But you said…”

“I was kidding.”

Chun shook his head. “I can’t believe I’m joking around with some girl when I should be…”

“Life is too short to waste thinking about matters.”

Chun nodded in agreement. “True.”

“So where do I get to stay at when we’re there?”

Chun shrugged. “Up to the boss.”

“Will I ever get my freedom back?”

Chun never thought of that. He thought for a bit. “I’m sure we could figure out something, so it would ensure your safety.”

“I always wanted to move…” She took a brief pause to stare at the horizon. “But I never thought it would be this way.”

“I never thought I would be rescued by a girl either.”

She slapped his shoulder. “I can’t believe I’m actually following you.”

“You had no choice.”

“Or so you think.” She was hinting at her departure.

He knew. “Not until we’ve arrived at a safe place.”

“I’ve never seen a gang’s base before. Maybe it’s about time I check it out.” It was a hint that she was not leaving anytime soon.

“You’ll be disappointed.”

They made their way toward the destination chatting away more comfortably the rest of the time. And somehow, Chun had forgotten about his hatred for having to open his mouth. More like his detest of conversation. It was a waste of time to him and achieved nothing. He never found the purpose in it. Until now.

© Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Posted: Thursday, January 27th, 2011

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