Sounds of screaming echoed through the atmosphere mixed in with some whimpering. The echoes actually remained much longer than the actual screaming. But the sobbing still hung in the air. It was then that Vic realized he was no longer in the library. He opened his eyes and spotted Janine hugging herself and sobbing in hysterics. He rushed over and hugged her to him, soothing her as he scanned their new surroundings. It was also then that he realized Kai was there as well. Kai’s face displayed shocked mixed in with worry. Kai stepped toward them at that time and looked at both Vic and Janine, unsure of his next words. Yet Vic somehow could guess it through Kai’s pale face that Kai had also been through some kind of torturous adventures like them. It was an unsaid thing that Janine had been through it without him asking her. Her current state was too obvious. Kai knelt down next to them at that moment, patting Janine on the back as well, pondering about matters. Though both men seemed to want to comfort and assure themselves more than just trying to protect Janine.

“It’s over,” Vic said, still keeping his voice low–as not to startle Janine any further.

It took a few more minutes before Janine’s sob reduced to a minimal. They sat in silence in a few more minutes before Janine finally regained herself. They were actually sitting on the floor at that spot, not daring to move or cause any more changes to the current habitat.

“I think it’s best that we don’t separate at all from now on,” Kai declared finally.

Janine nodded in agreement while Vic spoke up to seal the deal. And Vic had already let go of Janine the moment she stopped crying and was trying to regain herself.

“What should we do now?” Janine asked, her voice still containing fear but was on a stable wavelength. “How could we separate and then end up together again?”

“It’s easy to separate,” Vic said, his deduction tone in place. “But I think I call out both your names when I was trapped in the library.”

“I did that when I was falling down the waterfall,” Kai followed.

Janine looked from one to the other, wondering if their call had connected her to them once again. She had completely forgotten to call out for help. Was that how this realm worked? Upon thinking that thought, she shivered without realizing it.

“I think we should tell each other our adventure previously,” Vic suggested.

“Are you crazy?” Kai asked–though he’s curious too. But his eyes traveling to Janine upon saying that made it clear that he didn’t want to see Janine breaking down again.

Vic understood too well of Kai’s concern. “It’s the only way to understand more of the situation. And if our guesses are true of what had happened.”

Janine let out a sigh then. “He’s right. I can’t let this get the best of me, especially when you two are here now.”

“But before we begin, no stomping, thinking, or seeing things into being, okay?” Vic said at one go, referring to their newly acquired talents and how it could affect their current habitat if they as much as get too emotional.

Janine and Kai nodded in agreement. Then they took turns telling one another about their adventures. Kai volunteered to go first. Then Janine. It was not like Janine could face her fears head-on, but she just wanted to get it over with. Though it seemed less frightening while recounting the events. Perhaps because having them both there with her lessened the effect.

“Who’s Margaret?” Janine asked after Vic finished his recounts.

“My ex-girlfriend,” Vic answered, his wandering eyes hint obvious discomfort and distraction. “We broke up because I found out our different views about things. But she thought I had someone else, so…”

Janine nodded, showing her acknowledgment, not wanting to force Vic into further elaboration.

The atmosphere remained silent after that–with each of them lost in their own thoughts.

“Say,” Kai finally said after a few minutes later.

The other two turned their attention to him, waiting for him to continue.

“It’s just a hunch so don’t get all offended, okay?”

“Even if we want to be, we have no choice in this state,” Vic reminded Kai of their current situation.

Kai nodded. “True.” He cleared his throat briefly before starting over. “It sounds clichés to death but maybe we have to conquer our own demons before we get out of here.”

Vic and Janine exchanged a look between the two of them. It wasn’t like they didn’t believe Kai. Deep down, they somehow had that hunch already. Yet they just couldn’t believe it. Why did it have to be like some sci-fi movie? But the difference was not knowing if it would actually work.

“What you’re saying is…” Vic spoke up, his eyes darting around the room. “We have to somehow convince ourselves that we’re not afraid of those things anymore so we could all wake up?”

Kai nodded.

“But then…” Janine jumped in.

The guys turned to her.

“What if it’s like those types of movies that we end up crossing over–whatever that means, instead of actually waking up?”

It was then Vic and Kai’s turn to exchange looks among themselves. The atmosphere returned to its placid state again as they revisited the situation. Vic scratched his chin as he mulled things over while Kai paced the floor. Janine was actually sitting back on the sofa with her head facing the ceiling–or what could be called the ceiling, pondering about matters. They all tried to stay calm because it could trigger their abilities to push forth if they did not take caution.

“You got a point,” Vic spoke up again–at last, looking at Janine. “It could go either way.”

Kai and Janine returned their attention on Vic–with Kai stopping his pacing already. In fact, Kai ended up sitting on the sofa next to Janine. Vic was actually sitting on one of those squared storage boxes that could actually be used for a chair as well.

“But any place is better than here, right?” Kai asked, his eyes moving from Janine to Vic and back, pondering what their decisions would be. “We have to make a decision fast or we’ll be stuck here…”

“Are we stuck in this realm or whatever it is because we can’t make a decision to stay or go?” Janine pondered aloud.

Vic shrugged. “Or perhaps we’re torn.”

The other two had on their puzzled look.

“What I’m saying is…our body’s breaking down because of that accident but our mind is struggling to stay so we’re forced into this realm so we could resolve the conflict?”

“We won’t know until we make up our minds,” Janine pointed out.

“It’s our fight or flight instincts kicking in,” Kai reasoned. “I mean we’re trying really hard to survive but our body just refuses to cooperate so we’re trapped here, wherever this is.”

“So what about our newly acquired abilities then?” Vic asked, pondering what Kai really thought about it–and not trying to be a smart aleck.

Kai shrugged, his face showing uncertainty. “It’s something to protect ourselves from this strange place?”

Vic sighed out, looking down at the ground–and tapping his right foot at the same time. Not that he didn’t believe Kai but it was not like they could know the answer unless they choose one or another. Just like what Janine said. He could hear Janine sighing out with much heaviness within her as well. It actually reflected both his and Kai’s mood. Regardless of what they decide, it might not work out as they planned. So far, only two things could be ruled out, which were: (1) their newly acquired talents and (2) their ability to conjure one another by just saying one another’s names.

“Don’t sleep,” Vic heard Kai yelling out in panic at that time.

Vic finally looked up at the two and saw Kai reaching his hand over to wake Janine up. Or would that count as waking up? It was just so confusing to actually determine the correct terms at the moment. But he knew Kai was having a hard time adapting as well since he just told Janine not to sleep, which was odd since they were unconscious at the moment. If not, how could they travel to this realm and meet one another? Yet he rolled himself forward anyway, helping Kai wake Janine up. (Yes, the squared box had wheels on it.) They seriously did not need any more obstacles at the moment. If she woke up, then good. But what if she ended up at some horrifying place like last time?

“I’m all right,” Janine said, finally sitting up straight again.

Vic rolled himself back to his previous spot as Kai withdrew his hand again.

“We just don’t want you to encounter those weird places again,” Vic explained for himself and Kai.

Janine nodded, understanding.

“What should we do now?” Kai asked, wanting to get some flow of conversation going again.

Vic hesitated, not sure of his decision either. He took a glimpse at Janine before turning his attention on Kai. “Whatever it is, the key is to clear our minds of negative thoughts?”

Kai shrugged again. “It’s just a guess. But I think we could agree on keeping our minds at a peaceful state. It’s like when we’re awake and we multitask so much that we can’t even pay attention to the most important thing. But in this case, it’s our minds.”

Vic nodded. “Makes sense.”

Kai was still staring at Vic, trying to detect some kind of reaction, a more solid reaction than that. “Then?”

“I’m in. Hey, we’re already stuck here, what else could happen?”

Kai nodded, agreeing with Vic’s principle. “True.”

Both guys turned to Janine at that time, waiting for her.

“No pressure,” Vic clarified. “I mean, it’s better that we stick together anyway. So whatever it is you thought of that could stop us from our crazy gamble, then go ahead.”

Janine shook her head. “I don’t think it helps. I mean no matter how much we think, we won’t know unless we do something, right? This is real life, not a movie. We won’t know the actuality unless we do something. Not like reading a script, knowing the answer already, and planning out a possible way to create the effect. Or like reading a book.”

“This is actually like reading a book,” Kai said. “I mean if you read a suspense one or a thriller, unless you turn to the last page first, you’re going to be stuck in whatever it is and won’t know the result until you get to the end.”

“We can’t turn to the last page and then back out on the rest of the contents,” Vic argued. Though his tone was less confident than his usual challenging one he often used on his friends in the past when he knew they were not making sense. It was definitely not the time to tick Kai off. Not when they were on the same boat–figuratively.

They both could hear Janine’s sigh again.

“This is hopeless,” Janine said, her voice following her expression’s decelerating in confidence.

“More like frustrating,” Kai jumped in.

They exchanged another look, still undecided.

© Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Posted: Monday, May28th, 2012

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