The City of Mysts, Chapter 4

Life

The tunnel was already chilly when Fred had entered it the first time. The place, however, was becoming colder. Fred turned to his right and saw a wall of debris blocking his path for the fifth time. It completely sealed off the passage. He gaped at the destruction before him. What kind of pets does she have to create five impressive cave-ins? he wondered.

“Argh!” he shouted, his voice bouncing off the walls. He kicked the wall, irritated and afraid with the situation he was in and furious with himself for wallowing in self-pity.

Pressing the power button of his mobile phone, the screen flickered to life displaying a blinking empty battery cell and went dead. Fred pressed the button again. It didn’t respond. He dropped to his knees, breaking in a cold sweat, as realization hit him. He was utterly lost and alone – cut off from civilization – in the city’s famous underground network of tunnels. If he stayed, he would surely die from hypothermia or from his fear… No, no, no. He shook his head furiously. Don’t think about it! Get up. Get up! Fred got to his feet, leaning his hand on the wall for support. He focused on breathing in and out until he felt calmer and concentrated on placing one foot in front of the other.

Time dragged on. Or, has it stopped? He wasn’t sure anymore. His only consolation was the globes of light along the walls which made the way visible for him. It was as old as the tunnels, ever shrouded in mystery and one of the highlights of the country’s folklore. The light, however, didn’t provide warmth. He was hungry, tired, and very cold. He could feel the chill seep through his jacket and into his bones. Unable to take another step, Fred sat on the earth and laid his back on the wall, shivering. Five minutes. He promised five minutes of rest and that’s it. But… he was so tired. His eyes drooped heavily. Fred had hoped someone would have noticed his absence and come look for him. He reckoned he had been walking for hours. Still, no one had come. Fred could no longer fight the drowsiness. As his eyes closed, he regretted every heart break he had caused his mom.

“Fred,” a voice pierced the void. “Fred, come back… Come back to me.” Fred felt something brush his mouth. It was soft and warm. The warmth made its way to his heart and spread outwards.

Heavy-lidded, he forced his eyes to open. Worried amber eyes peered at him. Then, darkness welcomed him back in its embrace.

He woke to on a strange bed covered in a thick blanket. Sunlight streamed down from the window warming his exposed arm and face. A steaming mug of ginger tea and a bowl of soup sat on the bedside table. A note beside it told him to stay put. He touched his lips, the events of the night before returning to him. Strange as it sounds, a girl had kissed him to literally save his life.

Coming back to the present, he waited for the girl. But when he heard voices, curiosity got the better of him. Pressing an ear to the floor, he recognized the speakers to be Electra and Mr. Roucan.

“The boy saw you,” Mr. Roucan said.

“He thought I was a hologram,” Electra said.

“Where is he?”

“Why are you asking me? I’ve been stuck here during the storm. He might have lost his way in the bowels of that monstrous academy. Or, he might have taken shelter some place to wait it out.”

“I know you’re hiding him. No one suddenly disappears the way he has.” Mr. Roucan’s voice rose.

“There is no one here but the three of us,” Electra said coldly.

“Father, sis is right. Maybe Fred got lost or- or stranded somewhere,” Louis intervened. “The storm last night was very strong.”

The room fell silent. Eventually, the front door creaked open. Fred scrambled to the window, careful to keep himself hidden. Mr. Roucan was walking in the direction of the opening out of the underground forest.

In the ground floor, Louis hugged his sister tightly. “I’m glad you’re alright, sis.”

“I’m happy you are, too.” Electra kissed the top of her brother’s head fondly. She was still shaken with the events of last night and their Father’s sudden visit had only upset her more.

“Where is he?”

“Upstairs.” She released him from her arms. “He got lost in the labyrinth and had to be rescued.” Electra remembered how she’d found Fred unconscious. He had gone very pale and his lips were already turning blue when she reached him.

“Where did you find him?”

She dragged herself from the memory to an earlier one. A corner of her mouth curled. “The same place where I found you.”

Yikes!” Louis grimaced. “It’s freezing down there. I thought I was a goner.”

“So was he.”

Louis noticed his sister’s mood had changed. He could stand her anger and moodiness. What he couldn’t cope with was this one where she’d go all quiet. She was trapped in this place alongside the memories of the past. “May I come up?” he asked.

Electra nodded.

Their footsteps alerted their patient. Fred hurried to the bed and threw the covers over him. The door opened. Louis, seeing him awake, ran to the bed and put his arms around Fred’s neck, choking the latter.

“Sorry.” Louis rubbed his back. “I’m glad you’re alive.”

“Thanks.”

“You should thank her. She rescued you.” Louis gestured to his sister. Fred’s gaze met hers. The eyes that stared back at him were amber. He quickly dropped his head as he felt blood rush to his face.

“Thank you.”

Electra moved towards the bed until she was standing beside him. Fred looked up. In one moment, she was smiling; the next, her hand landed on his cheek with a resounding slap.

Louis gasped.

“Idiot!” she raged. “You shouldn’t have left. Haven’t you realized how dangerous the labyrinth is when I brought you here? You would be dead by now if…” Electra’s eyes filled. Quickly, she turned from them to hide the tears threatening to spill. Hovering by the doorway, she added: “Eat your breakfast. Louis will take you back.”

The door closed behind her.

“I’m sorry she hit you. She was very worried when you disappeared.” Louis sat at the edge of the bed and placed the tray of food between him and Fred.

“Nice way of showing that,” Fred said drily. His cheek was stinging. If he had any doubts that he was dreaming the whole time, he was now sure everything that had happened to him since yesterday was real.

“She’s not used to dealing with people. You better eat up or she’ll get mad again.”

When they arrived in front of the dorm, Louis said: “If you ever want to visit the forest again, just think of happy thoughts.” He started for the mansion, leaving Fred shaking his head. It just gets weirder and weirder.

Fred went up to his room and found a visitor waiting for him.

“There you are. You’ve caused quite a panic when you couldn’t be found. Where were you, Fred?” Mr. Roucan sat on his bed, watching him like a hawk.

“I was exploring the city and got stuck in the public library when it rained,” Fred said, playing with the tennis ball on his desk. Technically, it was half-true. Louis had pointed out that the area where Electra found Fred was right underneath the library. “Quite the storm last night.”

“Yes. Quite.” The silence lengthened. Eventually, Mr. Roucan said: “I hope you found something interesting to distract you. You are still celebrating Christmas with us, aren’t you?”

After seeing how dysfunctional the Roucans were compared to his, anyone in their right mind would back out. Victoria was royal pain in the neck who always got her way; Electra was unpredictable like the storm last night (it was the first in the history of this city to have one in the middle of December); Louis was too young to be carrying the memories of his mother’s death. But the boy needed a friend and Fred owed Electra his life. He looked at the secretive father, who genuinely loved the son and, possibly – hopefully, the daughter too.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 

Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.

Wattpad app code: 58389354

 

———–

A/N: Someone needs saving….

SAVE ME
Song From Muses’ New album The 2nd Law

Lyrics
Save me from my superstitions
Now I’m free from this old condition
Wait just a while
And I’ll greet you with a smile

Hold me cos I’m sure I hated
Promises they are overrated
Wait just a while
While I’m drowning in denial

Turn me into someone like you
Find a place that we can go to
Run away and take me with you
Don’t let go I need your rescue

Watch me cos I’m on a mission
Hold me back so I’m forced to listen
Don’t let me go
Cos I’m nothing without you

Turn me into someone like you
Find a place that we can go to
Run away and take me with you
Don’t let go I need your rescue

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