The holidays over, the campus was packed with students again. They were all excited in sharing how they spent their Christmas with their friends and classmates. Fred wasn’t interested in their stories. His thoughts were on imposters, underground forests, labyrinths, Louis and…Electra. He would never again mistake her for Victoria. Electra belonged in a different world and Fred couldn’t stop thinking about her.
“What’s wrong with me?” he said, frustrated.
Three pairs of eyes were looking at Fred making him realize that he had spoken aloud.
“Yeah. What is wrong with you? You’ve been like that since we came back,” Paolo said.
“You’ve been moping all week,” Michael added. “Did something happen while we were gone?”
Amber colored eyes resurfaced from Fred’s memories. His friends were waiting for his response. He cleared his throat. “Nothing happened. I’m going to my room.”
“Fred,” Paolo called.
“Dorm is that way.” Paolo pointed east. Fred made an about face, nodded his thanks, and headed for the boy’s dorms. He was lost in thought again and almost knocked over several students in his path.
“Look at him. He’s doing it again.”
“At least, he’s making an effort in class unlike before and, thank God, ignoring Victoria,” James said.
“Should we follow him?”
“Leave him be. He looks like he needs to be alone.”
“What’s got him so distracted?”
“I think I know why.” Michael gave up further attempt he had of reading Beowulf. It was boring as hell, anyway, compared to their Fred’s recent behavior. “He has the bug.”
Michael rolled his eyes. “Actually, the right question is ‘who’ is distracting him.”
“Are you saying—? That’s impossible.” Paolo shook his head.
“He has the love bug.”
“It’s Fred we’re talking about. I haven’t seen him interested in girls – except Victoria, which is kind of twisted.”
“Which James pointed out that Fred has lost interest with, as well.” They had observed that Victoria wasn’t also giving much attention with regards to Fred for the past week. People would think something was going on between the two resulting to the change. But the idea of them hooking up was so absurd, they instantly dismissed the idea.
“Maybe, he prefers…guys?”
“What made you think that?”
“That’s because he’s been hanging around with a boy in fourth grade.”
“Geez, Paolo. He’s probably a friend,” James said in Fred’s defense.
“Or the bridge between him and a girl,” Michael said.
“This is ridiculous.” James crumpled the paper in his hand and threw it at them. “He’s our friend. Fred will tell us when he’s ready.”
The next Saturday, knowing Fred wouldn’t have guests; Louis invited him to visit Electra. They used the hall where Mr. Roucan had found them before.
“When we enter through this, you’ll be on your own,” Louis said. “So, remember. Think happy thoughts and where you want to go.” Fred would have thought his leg was being pulled but Louis wasn’t smiling. “It’ll help you find your way.” Louis stepped through the opening in the wall and vanished.
Okay… It was dark in there and no way is he going in alone; but, when Fred heard something drop on the floor, he ducked inside. He didn’t want to be discovered and be questioned, especially by a teacher. However, Fred regretted his actions instantly, seeing as he was inside a tunnel again. He wasn’t afraid of it as before but the fear of getting lost and dying in such a place… It didn’t bear thinking. Louis’s instructions echoed in his mind. It reminded him of Peter Pan – flying by thinking of happy thoughts. Well, it just might be true, he mused. He had encountered enough to feel like he was living in his own version of Twilight Zone. Following Louis’s advice, the path seemed to straighten itself out. At the end of the passage, the entrance to the forest awaited him.
The sound of the flute led him to the siblings. They were near the stream surrounded by animals. Electra saw him but continued playing the instrument, the music picking up pace and changed to a livelier tune. It was in the second song that a butterfly circled above Electra’s head and settled on her hair. The music abruptly stopped as she turned her full attention on the butterfly.
Electra stood as it flew away. “There are people inside the labyrinth. We’d better come for them,” she said.
Fred looked to Louis, who only shrugged and ran after his sister.
The search didn’t take long since the animals with keen sense of smell assisted in tracking down the intruders. Three bewildered individuals met Electra, Fred, and Louis.
The tigers had remained and positioned themselves behind their Lady.
“What are you doing here?” Fred said, recognizing his friends in the dim light.
“We followed you,” Paolo said, eyeing the predators fearfully. “Are – are those real?”
“They’re your friends?” Electra pulled back the hood she had worn since exiting the forest to look at Fred accusingly. Her face exposed, James, Michael and Paolo’s expression mirrored each other’s shock.
“You led them here. How much did you tell them about me?” she demanded.
“I didn’t…” Fred couldn’t continue when he saw the hurt and betrayal in her eyes.
“I trusted you.”
“Sis,” Louis called.
She climbed on to the tiger’s back and said to Fred, “I don’t ever want to see you again.” They watched the tigers leave until darkness enveloped Electra and her companions.
The group was quiet when they left for the surface. Louis blocked their path when they reached the exit. “You wouldn’t tell?” he asked them, worry and fear plain in his face.
“We won’t,” Michael spoke, patting the boy on the shoulder.
“Deal?” Louis stretched out a hand.
“Deal.” Michael shook his hand followed by James and Paolo.
Relieved, Louis approached Fred and said in a low voice, “I know Electra. She didn’t mean what she said. She was just upset. She’ll realize she overreacted. You’ll see.”
“I know.” Fred smiled, wistfully, wishing he could believe Louis.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Fred’s caught the bug! But Electra’s being difficult. Is there hope for them to be together? 😦
Tell me what you think.