Morning. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed in the horizon. They were in for a big storm. Fred gazed at the sleeping figure in his room. Louis hadn’t wanted to be alone and pleaded to stay with them last night. He had fallen asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. It was just as well that the boy slept in Fred’s bed. The owner had spent the night watching over Louis, then the world outside his window. In another time, it would have been interesting. He hadn’t observed closely how a storm developed until now: the clouds chasing away the sunlight like a pack of wolves, intent on plunging the city in darkness.
The door creaked as it opened. James crossed the room to stand beside him. He glanced at Louis then to Fred.
“You look like hell,” James said, seeing Fred’s bloodshot eyes and the shadows underneath.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
Leaning on the window sill, he spoke quietly: “I got a call from my contact just now.”
Fred gestured for his friend to continue. A mixture of anticipation and worry rolled off him in waves. James felt it spike and winced. He edged a little to the side without rousing suspicion. All this drama was too much for someone who could feel other people’s emotions. James would have preferred not to get involved in another person’s business. But Fred isn’t just anybody. He was a friend. Better get it done quickly then, he thought.
James relayed the report about a girl who was involved in an accident the day Electra had left for the market.
“Has he seen her?”
“He’s still looking. Apparently, a Good Samaritan had rushed her to the hospital. It was a hit-and-run incident. It happened so fast, the witness didn’t get a good look on the driver and the plate number.”
“We’re on it. He’ll call back if—”
An ambulance siren caught their attention. It was too close to the academy for them to hear it so loudly. They turned from the window. The bed was empty, the door swinging on its hinges.
Fred strode out and saw Louis take the stairs. James caught up and they both followed the boy. A few people were up even if it was still early who stare after them, either with curiosity or irritation.
Outside, an ambulance had pulled over outside the Roucan home. Louis sprinted across the grounds with Fred and James at his heels. By the time they reached the mansion, a stretcher was being carried down the front steps. A white sheet was pulled over a body.
“What’s going on?” Louis asked.
The housekeeper embraced him and kept muttering apologies. She didn’t seem to want to let go when Louis tried to push her away. Fortunately, Fred’s arrival distracted the woman to loosen her hold. Louis took the opportunity to escape. His small frame gave him the advantage to slip among the paramedics and pull the cloth down. His breath escaped him. Victoria’s hair was strewn on the stretcher, the only stark contrast to the white sheet covering her. Her face was grey – lifeless. He watched the ambulance drive away.
“Louis,” Fred called. A drizzle had begun and the boy still stared at the direction the ambulance had taken.
James was pale in the dimness…and looked like he was about to cry. Fred frowned at his behavior. He had noticed James flinch earlier and thought to ask later if he was ill.
Louis hadn’t budged an inch and the rain was pouring steadily now. Fred took the umbrella from the housekeeper. He had meant to approach the boy when a car entered the gates. Its door opened and Mr. Roucan stepped out. The slam of the car door woke Louis from his stupor. He ran to his father and hit his chest with small fists.
“Where were you?” Louis yelled. “Where were you?”
Mr. Roucan caught the boy’s arms who struggled wildly. Whatever the father was saying was lost in the howling wind and sheeting rain. A lightning bolt crackled as it hit a lamp post several yards from them. The housekeeper was shouting for her employer to come inside. No one dared to leave the confines of the house in this freakish weather.
The father’s grip slackened when lightning struck the pavement a few feet from them.
Fred jogged towards them at the same time Louis twisted free. Out of his father’s reach, he shouted: I wish you died instead of her. I—” Louis eyes glazed over for a second, his face stricken with horror. His head swung from Fred to his father. He gave his friend one last glance and ran back to Mr. Roucan.
Fred, however, had seen the strange look in Louis’s face. It drove him to move faster. He sprinted towards them. He could faintly hear a shout behind him. Thunder boomed above them. He looked up and pushed father and son…
The beep of a machine disrupted the quiet he found himself in. He had expected to hear activity beyond the four walls of his bedroom or to feel James shaking him awake, pestering him to get up or he’ll be late for class. Fred kept waiting for one of these to happen.
It never did.
The beeping continued. He wanted to go back to sleep, but the noise bothered him. It was strangely familiar; yet, Fred couldn’t pinpoint where he had heard it before. His eyes flickered open. He was definitely not in his room. Too clean – clinical. The last word prodded him to scan his surroundings. Fred found the source of the sound and the tubes connecting him to the life support machine. An intravenous drip hung at his right. Its needle was taped securely onto the back of his hand. He knew now where he was. The answer that escaped him was ‘why.’ A movement in his left snapped his reverie. His mom was slumped on the chair resting her head on the bed. Her hand covered his.
Fred tried to move but his body felt slow and sluggish – not his own. The effort exhausted him. He settled on moving his hand and made small progress. To Fred’s frustration, it felt more like his finger twitched. The slight movement, however, woke his mom. Her eyes snapped open and landed on his. Slowly, she sat up, her gaze never straying from him. He squirmed at the intensity he saw in her eyes.
“Mom,” he said. His voice sounded weak and pathetic. He cleared his throat, wanting to say more. Fred didn’t get the chance though. His mother broke down and wrapped him in her arms.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Fred saved Mr. Roucan and Louis. Was it worth the risk?
What do you think had happened to Louis that made him turn back?
Would they ever find Electra?
Find out in the next chapters.
If you have a comment – positive or not – feel free to share it. I’m interested to know what you think about the story and, especially, this chapter. Thanks. 🙂