Amidst the Chase

 

Note to readers: Okay, so after I got word from *uculer (thanks so much!!!) and after reading her suggestions, I decided to make a very teensy-tiny-teeny-little change to this. Yes I just added these things (...xxxXXXxxx...) to separate some parts of the story (because I copy-and-paste-d this story directly from one of my saved Word files and the bars that I used were excluded when I did, don't ask me why coz I have no idea) to make it easier to read and understand (I hope). Sorry, I still couldn't find the time to re-do the grammer thing... I'll try to do it as soon as I can! >_<

P.S.: I also changed the title because I just felt like it... XP

 

I ran as fast as I could. My legs were moving on fear. I was so scared that I could feel myself tremble all over. My heart was beating fast and my breathing had become irregular. I have run past some open doors, and all that I can see were those faces that terrify me. I want to find a way out of here. I want to get help. Will somebody hear me? I am screaming at the top of my lungs and yet no one has come to my aid. How long will this keep on happening?

…xxxXXXxxx…

            Today’s class was such a drag. But still, I have to attend them in order to graduate. It is not like I don’t like going to class. I just don’t like going there when I’m all sleepy, all thanks to last night’s nightmares. Well, it wasn’t just bothering me last night. It had been haunting me for weeks, which then result to my insomnia spree of sleepless nights.

            I have to see the counselor about this, or someone with a degree in psychology. Anyone, who could help me in this awful ‘movie’ that’s been going on in my head. At first, I thought it was just a consequence after watching a horror flick. It was just a normal movie, I think. For a horror movie, they made use of all the basic scream-starters. Like the popping-out-of-nowhere part, and the part where we know that the creature was about to jump the main character (and we know that the place is haunted and yet we were screaming for him to get out of there anyway!), but yet we stayed in the dark seats of the cinema and cover our eyes.

            Anything besides that was all those that we have already seen in the silver screen. But why was this one so terrifying that I could not fall asleep even though I have been studying for hours? Maybe it wasn’t the movie at all.

            I went to the library to get my mind off the whole event. I pulled out a couple of biology books from the racks and sat at my usual niche. Biology books are always fun to read, especially the international ones. The colourful pictures taken by professional photographers that are printed on the glossy pages could beat reading the boring black and white lecture notes.

            “Val!” a girl cried when she suddenly appeared from behind me. I nearly died of a heart attack. It was Natalya, a friend from my class. She is a very attractive person, with her wavy, chestnut-coloured waist-length hair and pair of shiny hazel eyes. Many boys have fallen head over heels in love with her. But to Natalya, her one and only man is none other than the infamous Zeph, the computer geek. No one knows his real name or his background, but rumor has it that his family is so rich that they have their own tropical island!

            “Valenti Jo. Mendoza!” she announced loudly, ignoring the librarian who was hushing us from behind her. She’s the reason why I have to keep my cell phone on “Silent” mode every time I enter the library. “D’ ya wanna have lunch? Zephy’s already waiting for me at the cafeteria.” I was surprised that Zeph would just let her call him anything she wants. And ‘Zephy’ isn’t exactly a name that could go with his personality. He is quite a silent person and very mysterious. The only reason that he made his way to everyone’s ears was because he had successfully hacked a virus system that has been bugging the students in campus. Unlike my friend here, people start talking about her ever since registration day.

            Come to think of it, Natalya and Zeph are like two different creatures from two different planets!

            “I would love to, but I have things to do today,” I said to her. Besides, wouldn’t she want to spend some time alone with her boyfriend?

            “Aw, c’mon! I’m dying to get some vanilla ice-blended latte here, which is what you need too. You’ve been dozing off in class again you know,” Natalya said. “What have you been doing last night?”

            I rubbed my eyes; I bet that they looked terrible with the dark bruise-like lines under them. The pair of black rimless Esprit glasses was slipping down the bridge of my nose. “I can’t sleep last night.”

            Natalya sighed. She is always concerned about me, like how a big sister should be concerned about a younger sibling. “Have you seen the doctor yet?”

            “No,” I said with a big sleepy yawn. “I was thinking about it, but I just feel so sleepy-“

            “Ladies!” cried the librarian from behind us. “Mind the other students please!”

            “Yes ma’am,” Natalya and I said in unison, in a dull tone.

            “Well, you’re sure that you don’t wanna have lunch with us?” Natalya asked me again.

            “Yeah. Sorry I couldn’t come with,” I apologized.

            “Nah, it’s okay. Just get some rest for today, alright?” she reminded me, before she waved goodbye.

            I was so sleepy that I could sleep like a log for hours. But I can’t sleep in my room. I don’t know why. It’s like the only place that I couldn’t fall asleep is in my own bedroom, when I can sleep almost anywhere else. I should find a nice secluded place somewhere in the library, and catch a few winks.

            I went to one of the sectioned bookshelves; I couldn’t see which one was it. I was so tired that my visions were a blur. There wasn’t a student there so I decided to sit in the corner and sleep. Just for five minutes, or ten. I won’t take long. I just need a few moments to rest my sore eyes…

…xxxXXXxxx…

            “Hi Zephy!” Natalya greeted her boyfriend with a cheerful smile. His bored expression instantly changed when he saw her. She put her beige Gucci bag on the table and sat on the seat across to him. Then they exchanged stories about their day at campus, and laughed at every humorous tale. Then Zeph looked around, as if he was searching for someone.

            “Come to think about it Talya, where’s your friend?” he asked her.

            “Oh, Val didn’t want to come. She was still sleepy when I found her in the library. I bet that she is fast asleep now,” she replied. “I hope that she is alright.”

            Just when her hazel eyes began to wander and a thoughtful expression came to her face, Zeph placed his hand over hers. “Me too Talya,” he said.

…xxxXXXxxx…

            I opened my eyes, but I couldn’t see anything. I felt my body ache all over. Then I remembered that I have been sleeping in the library and on the floor. I must be black and blue all over. Observing my surroundings, I noticed that there was still no one around me. Then again, it seemed darker than it was just now. Hang on a minute, when was ‘just now’? I glanced at my watch and hit the ‘Light’ button.

            “11.30 pm?!” my mind screamed. This is insane; how come there isn’t anyone who noticed me sleeping here? The librarian must have seen me sleeping here before she turned off the lights, right? Or did they skip this part of the library and simply lock up and leave? “I’m so going to complain about this!”

            I found my way to the main entrance. I used the light from my cell phone to help guide my way in the dark, even though it didn’t help me much. I still kept on bumping onto chairs and the other furniture.

Unfortunately, I was right. They have already locked up the two glass doors, from the outside! Great, now I have to spend one whole night in a library. I sighed to myself and headed to the librarian’s desk. All the light switches are there. Perhaps someone could see me if I turn them all on.

            Again, I had to walk like a blind man to find the desk. I searched for the switches and found them in between cabinets. This is totally not convenient, at all! I had to bend down to reach for them. I tried to hit all the switches, but not a single lamp lit up. Perhaps the breaker-

            BONK!

            “Ouch!” I cried. Stupid shelves! Like it’s not hard enough that I have to spend a dark cold night in a stuffy library. I rubbed the bump on my head. Even though it has been months after the surgery, it still hurts. I sighed again and walked away from the desk. Maybe I should find a back door. I’m sure I’ve seen a staff walk in and out of the library through a different door before. Now, if only I could remember where it was…

            The library seemed bigger when there isn’t anyone around. Less noisy definitely, but right now it is too quiet. This is highly disturbing for someone who is afraid of the dark. I went over to the window and tried to open it. But I guess they have locked the windows as well. Then something caught my eye. It was a figure, standing just outside the library. It looked like a girl, probably a Juliet waiting for her Romeo to go for a midnight stroll. And here I am locked up alone in a library, thinking that the college’s security might be too tight. Not!

            Then an idea came across my mind. If I could make her see me in here, she might be able to help me open the doors and let me out! Brilliant Valenti! Absolutely brilliant! Then I started knocking on the glass window. The first three knocks weren’t that loud I guess. So I tried again, I knocked harder. This time, it seemed that she could hear me. The girl was starting to look around. Yes my lovely Juliet! Look up here!

            I knocked again, and she looked up to the window. I think that she could see me, so I signaled her to the main door of the library. Luckily, little Miss Juliet is a fast learner. She immediately went to the glass doors. I sighed in relief and dashed for the entrance.

That girl was fast, she was already there when I just arrived. Thank you, thank you so much Juliet! I’m going to get her the biggest present. As a matter of fact, she could even invite Romeo over for dinner at a five star hotel for all I care. My treat! And I’m going to laugh all about this with Natalya as soon as I see her tomorrow morning.

            I smiled at the girl when I got there. She was just standing there. I was ready to give Juliet instructions on how to open the door (I happen to have worked in shops with this sort of locks, and some boys there have taught me how to pick them), but she wasn’t looking at me. I think she was staring at the floor.

Then, she suddenly screamed and ran amok at the door. She banged the glass doors with her fists and palms. I was frightened, and I fell onto the floor. For a moment, Juliet didn’t seem human. Instead, she appeared there – through my eyes – as a monster running a rampage on the glass doors.

            Pulling myself together, I scrambled to my feet and started running into the library. I made my way to the middle of the library. My body was shaking all over and beads of sweat were gliding down my face. That feeling of fear was a sort of déjà vu to me. I found a small fire extinguisher canister hanging on the wall next to the librarian’s desk. I picked it up and went behind the checkout counter. I bent down to hide from the, whatever that thing is. I tried to breathe normally but I was so scared that I froze when I heard the sound of broken glass.

            Footsteps moved closer, and soon I could see her feet from under the desk. I gathered all my courage that I have left to make a move. I stood up and tossed the canister to its face. I heard the object hit it and I quickly ran away. I pushed down all the chairs around me and even those mobile magazine racks, trying to slow it down.

            Then, out of nowhere it appeared before me. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even scream. It grabbed me by the throat; Juliet had a strong grip around my neck. For a moment, my visions became hazy again. I can’t see its bloody face, but I could feel myself being thrown away. I felt a hard object hit my head as the floor broke my fall. My head hurts so much and then everything seemed to become even darker than before…

…xxxXXXxxx…

            “Valerie. Valerie!” I heard. When I opened my eyes, I saw a geeky boy with thick round glasses kneeling next to me. “Are you alright Valerie?”

            “It’s… Valenti,” I corrected him as I got up. I rested my back on the wall. I felt as if the room was spinning around me. Am I still in the library? The boy next to me was one of my classmates as well. He wasn’t the first one to call my name wrongly. ‘Valenti’ isn’t actually a name to begin with, so I can’t really blame them.

            “What are you doing sleeping in the library?” I heard him ask.

            Suddenly, I remembered what happened the night before. I got up quickly to look around. Oddly, the place wasn’t the trashed up place that I was in last night. The chairs were neatly placed and there were no magazines lying on the floor.

            I noticed that I was still at the librarian’s desk, and there she was standing right next to the checkout counter. There were other people as well, and they were all staring at me. “What?” I asked.

            Then I felt a warm fluid gliding down my cheek. I placed my hand there to wipe it off, and then I saw my palm covered in thick scarlet liquid. The smell was all so familiar. All of the sudden, I felt my body dragged me down to the floor. So, is that why those people were staring? I must’ve left a pretty bloody stain on the wall.

            But all those incidents in the library, me getting tossed like a piece of stinking laundry and that girl at the door that went mental; they were all a dream, weren’t they?

            I heard people yelling and screaming before I closed my eyes. And I thought that I could just keep a low profile here. Now everyone’s going to find out about this, about me.

            Brilliant, just brilliant…

…xxxXXXxxx…

            “How long do you intend to keep this from Mom and Dad?” Zeph demanded to know. We were in a hospital ward, I was on the bed. He was standing right next to me and Natalya was probably waiting outside. He had been in here since I opened my eyes. So, I guess that he must have waited just to ask me that.

            “Mind your own business Dominique,” I told him. Well, yeah. Dominique is Zeph’s real name and he happens to be my own flesh and blood, my twin brother. Apparently, neither of us wanted to let anyone else know that our parents own one of the largest business companies on the continent. However I could not tolerate being treated like royalty all of the time like Zeph can. But even he wanted to keep his real identity a secret from the rest of the college students.

            “You know better to not call me that in public. Even you won’t let anyone know your real name. Mendoza is Uncle’s last name and Joanna is Grandmother’s first name,” he said. And Valenti is actually my middle name, and my first name is really Hayden. I’ve been using my uncle’s name because I’ve been living with his family. I just couldn’t stand being around the rich and famous so I’ve retreated to my uncle’s house. They are much livelier than my real parents.

            “Bug off won’t you?” I said furiously. I turned away from his face, feeling a teensy bit of guilt. He is my brother after all; I shouldn’t treat him too coldly.

            “Hayden, you’re not well. You need medical attention, and fast,” Dominique said. “Look, I respect your decision to be independent by yourself and all, but you are still Mom and Dad’s daughter. Neither of us would want to lose you.

            “Even Natalya is worried about you.”

            That’s right, Natalya knew everything about us. I was the one who blabbed everything to her, obviously. But she had been my best friend since I moved in with my uncle, so why should I keep my identity in the dark? Besides, Dominique is really in love with her, and he had never said that ‘L’ word before around other girls. So, I figure that he is totally serious about her.

            “I just don’t want to end up in another surgery theatre again,” I confessed. The truth is I’m terrified of going back in there. What if I didn’t make it out alive? How many people have actually survived cancer anyway? Let alone the one involving your central nervous system. The pain is still there in my head. I can’t do anything to make it go away. I’ve been going through surgeries on many different parts of my body for far too much and I can’t stand another one.

            Zeph went closer to me and wiped the tears from my eyes, they must have fallen unconsciously. I turned back to him. He is such a nice brother, even though he’s been quiet for most of the time. But I couldn’t recall one day when he wouldn’t be there when I was crying or in pain. He put his arms around my shoulders and held me tight. I sunk my face into his dark green t-shirt and started crying. Both my hands were clutched tight on his chest. Then I felt warm fluids dripping from his jaw to the back of my hand.

            I’m sorry Dominique. I didn’t mean to make you cry as well.

…xxxXXXxxx…

            Dominique walked out of the ward where his sister was resting in. Noticing him, Natalya immediately got up and went to him. She looked worried and curious, but she couldn’t find the right words to begin with.

            “She’s asleep right now,” he said. Natalya still looked troubled about it, but somehow it eased for a bit. It was hard for her to believe that her very close friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Well no wonder that she had been having those migraines, and the reason she was unable to sleep.

            Ever since Valenti, or rather her real name: Hayden, moved into her uncle’s residence, she had always been an introvert. She refused to leave the house and wouldn’t find the time of day to mingle with the community. One day, Hayden was left home alone with a fever. Her uncle and his family had to attend a very important event; a wedding. Even though she assured them that she would be alright, but they invited their next door neighbor to come over to keep an eye on her. It was then that Natalya first met Hayden.

            Naturally for her, Hayden stayed in her room without saying a word to Natalya. She even thought that Hayden was just plain rude, even for a sick person. So after an hour and a half of waiting, Natalya decided to go home. But suddenly, she heard Hayden scream. Then her bedroom door flung open and she dashed for the bathroom. Natalya’s instincts told her to go after her, and she did. Hayden didn’t even close the door properly, so her peered through the small gap and saw Hayden vomiting.

            It didn’t take long for her to realize that Hayden was seriously ill. From then on, she took care of her and never left her side. Hayden too had become more and more open to talking with her and soon they became inseparable. They start to discuss about things that they wouldn’t tell others and they trusted each other in keeping them.

            Then once, Hayden hadn’t returned home for about a week. Natalya asked her uncle about her and he said that she had gone to the hospital for an emergency check-up. Hearing this, she got worried. So one night, she went to the hospital to visit Hayden. Natalya was expecting a normal ward with an IV stand next to her. But then when she got there, it was more than that. Hayden was placed in an Intensive Care Unit ward. There were tubes inserted into her nostrils, fluids injected continuously into her veins and a heart rate monitor beeping at a regular tempo. The bouquet of flowers in hands fell to the floor when the doctor said: “She may be too late, there’s not much time left.”

            Natalya met Hayden’s parents in the waiting room. Her mother was crying in her father’s arms most of the time. Perhaps they were putting the blame on themselves and felt helpless for not being able to do anything for their only daughter. Then she met Dominique; a fine young man who was also concerned about his twin sister. He looked absolutely different than the man that she met at college. Dominique had not donned his awfully clumsy-looking glasses and odd clothes, and maybe that was the face that he was hiding from the people around him.

            Then everything became so clear why she had been acting so peculiarly. It was immature of Hayden to do something so rash; but who would be strong enough to accept the fact that he or she is going to die, and soon?

            So then Hayden explained her final wish; she wanted to be alone with a different name. Hayden wanted to be Valenti, which then her parents consented. Natalya was shocked that they let her go on without them. So later she went to question her parents.

            “How could you let her be by herself? She needs your attention!” Natalya voiced out. It was terribly hard for her to understand. She believed that her family should show what is really important to her and that she will always have love around her. But the couple could only look at her solemnly and heavily said, “This could be her only chance to have a taste of life. We just want her to live, while she still can.”

…xxxXXXxxx…

            “Talya?” Dominique asked suddenly. She startled and then she realized that they were still at the hallway. “Are you alright?”

            “Yes,” she said lowly. “I’m fine. Why?”

            “You spaced out for a bit just now,” he said.

            “I know, I… I just needed some fresh air,” Natalya said.

            “I’ll go with you.”

            She didn’t answer but they began to walk together; side by side. There was a small park near the hospital where people would rest and talk with their relatives and friends. There was a secluded stone gazebo at the far end with a beautiful water fountain built at the centre. Then the two decided to sit there. From afar, we could see them talking. The issue that they were discussing about seemed serious and heavy. And before long, Natalya burst into tears. Dominique held her tightly, as he was trying to hide his own. They are losing an important family member and friend.

            But what hurt them the most was that they couldn’t do anything else about it but to just watch her slowly slip away. They could only pray that she would be safe. But perhaps if a miracle seemed utterly impossible, they hoped that they would at least be with Hayden until the end.

…xxxXXXxxx…

I awaken in the middle of the night. I looked around and the ward was empty. I was the only one there. Maybe Dominique had already left. He had stayed by my side until I fell asleep. Then, by a sudden urge I climbed out of my bed and went to the door. Odd, I thought. The tubes and wires attached to me were gone. The doorknob was cold, I felt as I wriggled it open. I walked out into the dark corridors of the hospital. The night was chilly, but still I kept on walking.

            I stopped in my steps when I reached the lobby. I didn’t even remember how I could get there. I didn’t recall taking the elevator or went down the stairs to the ground floor. But then I saw her again. It was little Miss Juliet; the one whom I saw during the library incident. She looked the same as she was when I last saw her. Her face and her hands were still covered in blood. Come to think of it, I have met her before this. And that was even before last night’s incident. Who is she? What does she want with me? I still couldn’t see her face.

            “Who are you?” I asked. It was as if my lips moved by their own. But the girl remained quiet. Could she speak? Did she hear my question? Is she making a fool of me? Is this some sort of a sick prank?

            “Why have you been appearing in my mind?” I asked, this time my voice was louder.

            Suddenly, her big crimson eyes looked deep into my blue ones. It was as if my heart fell out off its place when I saw them. Then, she charged towards me. But I didn’t even have the impulse to run away. Instead, I stood my ground.

            Suddenly, the creature stopped. I felt like I was protected by a barrier, or even a weapon of some sort. The crimson eyes then faded into a pale azure as it straightens up. Our height was about the same and the scarlet liquid on her face gradually faded away.  When all the blood on her face vanished, I gulped.

            That girl, or creature, looked just like me. Juliet has the spitting image of me. Or, is it really me at all? All this time, I have been scared of my own self. I walked closer to Juliet, or whoever that person is. Then I saw tears falling from her eyes. Was she really afraid? Could it be that she’s been scaring me so that I could come to my senses?

            True, I haven’t been treating the people around me fairly enough. I haven’t talked with Natalya like how I used to back then for a while now. I treated my brother like some sort of stranger plus I haven’t called Mom and Dad for months. What have I become? They have been there for me all this while and I’m acting like a spoilt brat.

            I went closer to Juliet and hugged her. She isn’t as fearsome as I thought she was. I heard her making hiccups as she wept.

            “It’s alright,” I told her. “Everything will be alright. Our friends and family will help us out of this mess.

            “I’m going to call up Natalya and tell her I’m sorry. Then I want to thank Dominique for being such a great brother. And after that I’m going back home to Mom and Dad to beg for their forgiveness. I just wanted to show them that I could be strong. But I guess that I couldn’t be as strong as when I am with them.”

            I pulled myself away from the embrace. We looked into each other’s eyes, which then she faded away like vapor. I felt dizzy as I stared at the misty smoke, but I managed to smile to her before she disappeared completely. Before I closed my eyes and gave in to the darkness, I heard a small voice said to me.

            “Thank you…”

…xxxXXXxxx…

            I spent the next few days with my parents, my real ones, that is. They forgave me easily, and they said that they missed me so much. I admitted that I do too. Dominique and Natalya’s relationship are stronger than ever. I just wish that I could just live long enough to watch them get hitched! But I guess that chances are nil.

            The doctor told me that I have only about a couple of weeks to go. But that doesn’t matter. All I know that I’m happy to have lived with my loved ones and that I know that they will always love me no matter what. I’m happy to have become me, and I wouldn’t want to exchange all that I have with anything else.

            Perhaps the biggest mistake in my life was because I ever regretted the things in my life to happen. But, why? Why should I feel regretful of the things that I’ve gone through? Those things that I’ve gone through – both good and bad – happened for a reason. It made me feel thankful for the things and people that God had bestowed upon me. The love that I have; from my family and friends, would be the best gift that I could ever get. I know that I couldn’t ever in my life return the favour. I wouldn’t be there when those whom I cherish would be in trouble in the future. But I can only hope. Hope that even when our bonds die away with me, but our memories together will live on forever.

            I have very limited time to do those things that I wanted to do when I was a child. I can’t travel the world like in the books that I’ve read; I barely have time to cover Europe. I can’t go save people’s lives like I’ve always dreamt of; I need at least 2 years more to complete my degree.

But I don’t care what people say anymore. I want to be right here right now. If I say that I want to go see the world, I’d do it right this instant. And I’ll do it with everyone else. I’ll meet new people, I’ll pass on this lesson to them in hope that they too will learn to appreciate those they are close to.

            Who knows, maybe this life may touch others before it ends. For now, there is still room to fill.

-FIN

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  • 1) i love the name valerie. but i'll come back later. got to sleep (jgn ingat org tak bace tau )
  • 2) ah good reminder here that we would always need other people in our lives
    just to share something, if the story comes with separators like ... or +++, it will be easier to read
    not that i'm saying this is not a good story though
    more to come, right?
  • 3) separator in long stories such as this always work wonder to hold the reader attention.

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