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Chapter 2 – The Night of the Tacos Festival (part 2)

After having regained his senses from the immensity of the discovery, Pearson crawled back out of the mausoleum. “Is it?” he asked surprisingly calmly, given what they had just found.

“I have to go tell dad about this!” shouted Lana excitedly. Her heart was beating so hard she could feel it in her back.

“Your family founded society?” scoffed Jeffrey, not believing the story entirely.

“What’s with the disrespect! Is the mausoleum of my unknown ancestor not good enough proof for you?”

“If your ancestors are anything like you, they probably couldn’t even build a shelf, let alone the whole continent’s societal structure,” he poked fun at her.

“Hey! I’ll eat your heart raw, you butthole!”

“Well, you guys can do whatever you want,” said Pearson. “I have to go tell a friend right now. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Is your friend a cop?” asked Jeffrey.

“No, don’t worry,” he laughed. “See you kids later.”

Pearson jogged through the woods and quickly faded away into darkness. Alver helped Lana back up, while Jeffrey picked up their equipment.

Jeffrey put his hand on Alver’s shoulder to get his attention. “Could you stay here until I come back? I’m just gonna bring Lana home so she doesn’t have to limp across town.”

“Why, though?” asked Alver, who did not want to stay alone.

“That guy is gonna come back with his friend. I don’t want them stealing our discovery. You’re better at talking than I am, so just converse and make sure they don’t do anything sketchy.”

“Because we’re not at all sketchy,” he sarcastically responded.

“We found it first, it’s our find.”

“Alright, fine, just hurry up, okay?”

“I’ll be back soon,” agreed Jeffrey as he turned around and picked up Lana to put her on his back.

“W-what are you doing?” she asked, flustered.

“Hold still, it’ll be easier if I carry you.”

She looked aside, embarrassed to have to be carried, but did not fight back when she realized how much easier for her it would be.

***

Leaning on the fountain at the plaza center, a man of sixty years sipped his beer while observing the younger folks do as he once did at their age. He wore summer clothes and old sandals that fit his outfit very little. His smooth gray hair covered enough of his head that his old age wasn’t apparent, and the smile hiding under his thick mustache gave him a friendly air.

Pearson approached him. “Drinking alone, Cooper?” he said mockingly.

“You’re the one who left me to go piss in the woods,” retorted the older man. “Seeing how long you were gone, you could have just waited in queue for the actual toilet, and it wouldn’t have been any longer.”

“Meh, I hate these portable toilets. They’re disgusting.”

“You have a weak stomach,” grinned Cooper.

“Whatever,” shrugged Pearson. “There’s plenty of single ladies out here, Cooper. What are you doing alone?”

“I don’t think they’d want an old skin like me,” he laughed.

“Come on, you still look good enough to get a few numbers.”

“Ha! I’m not like you, kid. I don’t have the stamina to woo every girl I see. Besides, you know my heart belongs to someone already.”

“’Every girl’, don’t exaggerate.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t been slapped yet. Unless you met a girl in the woods, and it didn’t go as planned for you?”

“Not exactly. I did meet people in the woods, though.”

“Do tell.”

“There were these three young people. They were digging a hole.”

“What for?”

“They found a buried mausoleum.”

“A mausoleum? In the woods of this random town?”

“It’s an old structure, at least a few centuries. It was built for a certain Jonathan Arky. Ever heard of him?”

“Arky… That’s the family that founded Saint-Tacos, this very town.” He pointed to the statue of a Matthew Arky at the center of the plaza. “That right there is Matthew Arky, founder of Saint-Tacos. As far as I know, he’s the oldest Arky in known history. Never heard of a Jonathan, though.”

“This Jonathan, however. There’s an interesting detail engraved on his tomb. Would you like to see?”

“You’ve got my interest, kid. Let’s go.”

Pearson led his older friend to the mausoleum that had been recently stumbled upon. On the way, he grabbed a lampion hanging on a string across houses for light. They arrived at the site, and were met with Alver, who sat against the wall of the structure, shining the flashlight in circles.

“Oh, hey kid, you still there?” asked Pearson.

“Looks like it,” answered Alver.

“Did your friends abandon you?”

“Not exactly.”

“They don’t want us stealing their fame,” laughed Cooper.

“Don’t look at me, I don’t care. I did promise I was gonna stand guard, though, so here I am.”

“Well, don’t worry, we just want to look,” reassured him Pearson.

“Knock yourself out.”

After receiving Alver’s blessings, Pearson crawled inside, followed by Cooper.

“It’s humid in here,” coughed Cooper.

“It’s been buried for, who knows how long, what did you expect?”

Pearson brought the lampion closer to the tomb. Cooper took on an expression of intrigue and bewilderment as he read and re-read the words in his head.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” he finally uttered. “Founding father of the whole god damn continent.”

“I would dare guess the continent came before Saint-Tacos,” said Pearson. That would make Jonathan Arky an ancestor of Matthew Arky.”

“When did this information get lost?”

“I have no clue. One of the three teens who found this place is the mayor’s daughter. She’s an Arky. She seemed as surprised as the rest of us who saw this.”

“Where did she go?”

“She left with her friends to go tell her father.”

“We should pay him a visit.” He looked at his wristwatch. “The meeting will be over by the time we get there. I’m sure he won’t mind us asking him a question or two, especially if his girl has the same questions.”

“What certainty do you have he knows something?”

“I don’t, but he’s our best bet. You coming with us, kid?”

From outside the mausoleum, Alver responded, “I’d have no reason to stay here if you guys left.”

“Alright, then, let’s go.”

***

Meanwhile, at the Arkys’, Henry trembled in his seat, both in fear of the power sitting before him and with a childlike enthusiasm. Four of the five governors ruling Trivinartria’s countries were in his home, sitting around his dining room table, eating food that he had helped prepare. The whole ordeal was surreal to him.

The event was controlled and received exposure from the media; multiple news stations were stationed right outside the house, with a few camera people inside. The governors spoke about current issues in their respective countries and of the idea of forming an international council for the protection of the environment. Henry barely spoke, as he was merely the host, nothing more than a spectator with special privileges. Minus one detail, everything had been going smoothly. That detail, however, was the presence of the governor of the Boreal Country, who had yet to arrive.

They had been forced to start the meeting without her and were well on their way of finishing it that way when a knock at the door interrupted them. Everyone, even one of the camera operators, turned to face the door.

“E-excuse me,” blurted out Henry as he stumbled out of his chair to answer the door.

He opened it, and in came waltzing a tall and imposing woman. She walked to the empty seat around the dining table, where a now cold meal waited patiently to be eaten. She pulled the chair and sat down with her arms crossed, acting as if her late arrival was completely normal and reasonable.

The governor of the Central Country, who sat next to her, looked at the wall-mounted clock and then to his tardy contemporary. “You’re about an hour late.”

The woman threw her cold, pale blue eyes around the table and tossed her blonde, almost white hair behind her back. “Pardon my lateness,” she spoke in a beautifully feminine, yet intimidating voice.

Henry scrambled back to his seat. “Perhaps we should give miss Sastruga the floor, seeing as she just arrived?”

“I don’t see why not. Do you have anything to discuss?” asked the governor of the Western Country.

“I wouldn’t have bothered coming all this way if I didn’t,” she responded rudely. “There is only one matter I’m here to discuss. War. It’s been going on for too long in my country and it needs to stop. I’ve attempted to take the diplomatic approach on numerous occasions, but to no avail. The villages involved in the Triangular War want nothing to do with negotiations. They have unreasonable demands, and if they’re not met, they will keep fighting.”

“And what solutions do you suggest?” asked the governor of the Eastern Country.

“I need military backup. Without it,-”

“Without it, what? You expect us to give you more people to throw into combat? What for? So they can die to end a war that doesn’t involve them?”

“Absolutely,” responded the governor of the Boreal Country in such a blunt manner that the other governors were taken aback.

“Have you gone mad?”

“Have you ever been on a battlefield, sir?” she asked with cold eyes. “Men die covered in their own shit and blood. Sometimes, after the battle is over and we walk through the piles of corpses, we find some of them clutching a photo of their family in their hands. It makes you think. They’ll never get to see those people again. Their friends, their lovers, their parents, their children, they just lost someone dear because he or she died in a never-ending war. Have you ever seen a scene like this?”

The four other governors stayed silent, each with a different expression of disgust. Henry just sat in his chair, eyeing the confrontation.

“I see it too often,” she continued. “Unlike the peaceful land you inherited, my country has been ravaged by war since before I was born. I’ve seen how things play out, many, many times. It’s an endless cycle of death. The three sides involved in the war match each other at every turn, so the fighting isn’t about to end. I need more soldiers for the war to end. It’s simple mathematics.”

“Thousands will die,” interjected the governor of the Western Country, clearly opposed to the idea.

“Thousands have already died, and thousands more will keep dying unless I have a powerful enough army to end the war.”

“We will not sacrifice lives to your barbaric cause!” almost shouted the governor of the Eastern Country.

“You fools know nothing about sacrifice.”

“I will not stand such impudence from a governor who rules through violence!”

“In her defense, she doesn’t have much of a choice,” said the governor of the Austral Country.

“You defend her?!”

“My country is also riddled by conflicts. It’s hard to govern a country that heeds war cries rather than the voice of reason. Sometimes, drastic measures are needed. Without them, change is impossible.”

“On a battlefield, neither side is the good side to stand on, and no one wants to stand on the wrong side,” said Henry, whose presence had almost been forgotten in the turmoil. “O-or, so I would think. I-I don’t actually know-”

The woman turned to him. “Well said, mayor. Which is why the war needs to end.”

“I understand your concern, I really do,” said the governor of the Austral Country to the woman, “but I have no soldiers to spare, I’m afraid. I have my own crisis to deal with.”

“Of course,” she said more respectfully.

“I’ll ask the Central Forces if any of them want to join your cause,” said the governor of the Central Country. “I can’t force them into combat for a different country. They are free men and women after all.”

The other two governors looked aside, trying to avoid eye contact with the others, visibly irritated.

“I suppose I’ll do with that,” said the governor of the Boreal Country. She got up and headed for the door, to the curiosity of the others.

“Where are you going?” asked Henry.

“There is nothing else to talk about that concerns me. Thank you for the meal,” she said despite not having touched it.

With her thanks sounding almost like a threat, she left the mayor’s home. The other governors gave each other looks of confusion and annoyance and resumed their meeting without her.

A little while later, Henry was in the kitchen helping cooks he had hired by plating dessert. He still could not believe the events that had unfolded, and that it was seen by millions of people of live television. He almost fell into a state of daydreaming until Lana, who just came in from the backdoor, snapped him back to reality.

“Dad,” she called out. “What are you doing? You’re just standing there like a goofball.”

“Yes, hi darling. Sorry, this whole meeting is just hard to comprehend.”

“Did something happen?”

“Yes, you could say that. I’ll tell you once it’s over if you want.”

“Sure, but I have a very important question that I’d like you to answer if you can.”

“I’m a bit busy at the moment but ask away.”

“Have you ever heard of a Jonathan Arky? He’d probably be one of our oldest ancestors, older than Matthew.”

Henry’s frantic movements came to a sudden halt. He resumed as if he had not heard his daughter. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of him, no.”

“You’re the worst liar of all time, you know that?”

“Darling, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Lana stared at him with the most serious eyes. She knew he was hiding something from her. Faced with his child’s piercing glare, Henry felt forced to give up his poorly performed act.

He put his hand on a cook’s shoulder. “Excuse me for a minute, please.” He then turned to Lana. “Come with me.”

They went down the stairs to the basement. In a room in a far-off corner of the basement, locked behind a sturdy door, was Henry’s office. In his office stood another door, this one clearly unused in a while. Boxes and papers were piled in front of it, collecting dust and blocking the way. Henry cleared the mess and opened the door, revealing a small room with a few bookshelves and file cabinets.

“I didn’t even know this room existed,” said Lana as she shuffled her way inside. “Now I know why your office is in such a stupid spot. There are things here you don’t want me to see.”

“I’m sorry, darling.”

“Whatever. Can you tell me anything about Jonathan?”

Henry grabbed a large book describing the family’s history. He flipped the pages until he reached a section dedicated to the family tree. Many pages were blank, allowing for future generations to write their own entry. “This is our lineage. It goes all the way down to you. When you have children of your own one day, you will add another entry and write down their names. In this family tree, Matthew Arky, the founder of the town, is not our oldest ancestor. Jonathan is.”

“Why did we learn in school that Matthew founded Saint-Tacos? Why are we being taught lies?”

“Jonathan was Matthew’s father.” He took a deep breath. “Have you ever wondered how our civilisation came to be on Trivinartria?”

That question took her by surprise. “H-how?” asked Lana, goosebumps shivering her skin.

“What I’m about to tell you is something very few people know. The governors don’t even know this. You, however, being the curious little girl you’ve always been, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hide it from you forever. Besides, as an Arky, you would have had to know eventually. You need to promise me you won’t tell a living soul about this. Not Alver, not Jeffrey, no one at all.”

The anticipation killing her, Lana simply nodded.

“Before the creation of Saint-Tacos and before the creation of any town or city from our civilisation on Trivinartria for that matter-”

A loud thump from the floor above interrupted Henry. He stopped talking and listened, as more thumps followed. They sounded like heavy objects falling to the floor.

“I’ll be back in just a moment,” he said.

“D-dad, wait!” shouted Lana.

However, her father was already gone. She slowly limped her way toward the stairs, dragging her injured ankle behind her.

When Henry arrived back in the kitchen, the cooks he had hired all lay on the floor. He immediately kneeled next to one to check if he was okay. As he was about to check the unconscious man’s pulse, the voice of a young man spoke.

“They’ll be fine, but I suggest you meet my demands if you value your lives.”

Henry’s heart skipped several beats upon hearing those words. The man was hidden in a large, hooded overcoat and his face behind a white mask. Apart from his average height and slightly muscular build, nothing about the man stood out through his costume.

It was obvious he was trying to conceal his identity, but Henry still asked with a shaking voice, “Who are you?”

The man avoided the question and responded with one of his own. “Where is it?”

“W-what? Where is what?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, I don’t have the patience for this.”

Henry was a terrible liar, but despite what the mysterious young man believed, he was not hiding anything this time. The man’s questions were simply too cryptic.

“I really don’t know what you’re talking about. What is it you are looking for? If I tell you, will you leave us alone?”

“I want your treasure, Arky. I want the wind orb. I know you have it.”

“The wind orb? That’s my family treasure.”

“It’s much more than just that and I’m sure you know it.”

“I… I don’t have it, I never have,” said Henry, his head down.

The man let out an angry grunt and with more strength than Henry would have ever thought possible, grabbed him by the throat. “You lie! Tell me where it is, or I will snap your neck like a twig!”

“I’ve… never laid e-eyes… on it,” he strugglingly choked out.

The man burst out in anger and tossed Henry like a ragdoll, with incredible strength. The mayor flew out of the kitchen window with great force, easily shattering it, landing limp on the grass in his backyard.

Despite its manor-like size, the noise caused by the commotion was heard in the dining room, where everyone still present jumped simultaneously.

“What was that?” asked the governor of the Eastern Country, as startled as his peers.

“We should go check,” declared the governor of the Austral Country.

Despite their concern for the mayor, the other governors and the camera crew, overtaken by the fear of what might have happened, instead opted to exit the house by the front door and wait for the situation to clear.

“We’ll call the authorities,” said the governor of the Central Country. “You go on ahead, but don’t stay too long. It might be dangerous.”

The governor of the Austral Country nodded and tip toed toward the kitchen, while the rest of the group retreated outside to the relative safety of their bodyguards.

During that same time, Jeffrey waited for Lana in the backyard. He had decided to wait and bring her back with him to the woods instead of going back alone like he had told Alver. That decision gave him a front-row seat to watch Henry being flung out of his window.

“What the f-,” he began to say as the body of the mayor landed close to him, face down on the grass.

Jeffrey wasted no time in rushing to his help. He flipped him over and let out a short gasp. Henry’s entire body felt heavy and limp. A few shards of glass had torn his clothes and penetrated his skin slightly, but nothing suggested major damage to his body. And yet, he lay seemingly lifeless, his eyes open, but unblinking.

“Are you awake?” asked Jeffrey, who had no idea how to tend to a man in this condition. “Can you hear me?”

As he was trying to get an answer out of Henry, the mysterious man followed them outside. “What’s this?” he asked as he saw Jeffrey. “Are you from this man’s wretched bloodline?”

Jeffrey stood up in a spurt and daringly confronted the man. “Who the fuck are you? What did you do to him?”

“Hm? Is he dead? I barely did anything, how could he be so weak?”

The man descended from the backyard porch and approached Jeffrey, who in return took a defensive stance.

Meanwhile, Lana and the governor of the Austral Country met in the kitchen, both looking out of the broken window. Upon seeing the scene, they both felt their heart sink.

Lana, without thinking and overcome by emotion, ran as fast as her injury would allow, stumbling down the porch stairs in the process. “Dad!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.

She moved like a one-legged, drunken person, unable to see clearly. All she could see was her father laying on the ground, life drained from his eyes. When she passed by the man, he grabbed her by the ponytail, ignoring her screams.

“Another one, huh?” he said as he lifted Lana by the hair. “Maybe you’ll be more cooperative. Where is the wind orb? Tell me and I might let you live.”

Lana began to cry, maybe from the pain, maybe from seeing her father, or maybe from a combination of the two, but as if she had not heard him, she just kept screaming the word “dad” over again.

The man was about to snap when Jeffrey shouted, “Stop it! I’ll tell you where it is if you let her go.”

This garnered the man’s attention. “So, you know?”

“I do.”

“Only a select few know of the existence of this item.”

“The man you killed was my father. He told me about the wind orb.”

“You don’t seem very hurt for someone whose father just died.”

“I’ll save the emotions for later. Now, let my sister go and I’ll tell you everything I know.”

The man let out a quick sick laugh and dropped Lana. She continued moving forward, eventually reaching her father and kneeling next to him, tears drowning her eyes.

“Hey, dad, wake up,” she said in an almost pleading manner. “Please, just get up…”

“Now, tell me everything you know,” said the man to Jeffrey.

“I don’t know anything,” he responded bluntly.

“But you said-,”

“I lied.”

“You rat! You tricked me!” he fumed.

“Rather easily, too.”

“Fine then! I’ll just kill you both and find the orb on my own!”

Jeffrey turned to Lana, who was still weeping and trying to get Henry to move. “Your father’s dead, Lana,” he said without hesitation.

“Y-you don’t know that!” retorted Lana in a sob. “Don’t say things like that!”

“Listen, I understand you’re in denial, but I need you to get outta here now.”

“I won’t leave my dad!”

“He’s dead, Lana! And unless you wanna die too, you need to leave now!”

Lana heard her friend loud and clear, but still could not bring herself to leave her father’s side. Before she had time to say anything, the man charged toward Jeffrey with insane speed. With even quicker reflexes, Jeffrey blocked the man’s path, grabbed his arm and his chest, and threw him to the ground.

The man sprung back up. “You’re quick.”

Jeffrey shook his arm, feeling a subtle pain throughout said arm, like that of hundreds of tiny needles prickling his skin. “What the hell was that?”

The man laughed quietly behind his mask, planning his next attack.

Meanwhile, Alver, Pearson and Cooper, upon arriving in front of the Arkys’ house, were met with a large mob of people blocking their path.

“What’s going on here?” asked Cooper to a bystander.

“Someone infiltrated the summit,” replied the person. “The police are on their way. It shouldn’t be long before they’re here.”

Alver pushed his way through the crowd, his body language and voice more ecstatic than his usual calmness. “Is everyone out? Are they safe? Did something happen?”

“Three of the governors came out and one stayed behind to see what was going on. I haven’t seen the mayor, though.”

“Have you seen anyone else? A girl with blonde hair and a tall guy, both my age?”

“Sorry, no.”

Pearson put his hand on Alver’s shoulder. “Calm down, I’ll go look.”

“Don’t do anything stupid,” warned him Cooper.

Pearson took out a badge from his shirt pocket and flaunted it for everyone to see. “B class bounty hunter coming through!” he shouted.

In Trivinartria, the International Bounty Hunter Association separates bounty hunters in five categories, from D class to S class. Each class is allowed to partake in certain jobs posted by different levels of government. Each class is also granted special privileges outside of their jobs. For instance, B class bounty hunters are given the authority of police officers in case of emergency.

Pearson used his temporary authority as a bounty hunter to gain access to the Arky residence. He ran inside the house and heard distant voices. He followed them all the way to the backyard, where Jeffrey and the man continued their battle. However, Jeffrey appeared out of breath and unable to move properly but showed no sign of physical injury.

Pearson had to act quickly. He jumped off the porch and sprinted toward the unknown man. Upon hearing the quickly approaching footsteps, the man switched his attention to the more imminent threat dashing toward him.

“Have you come to watch me kill these cockroaches?” asked the man wickedly.

Pearson stopped a short distance from the man. “Let them go. Police are almost here. You’ll be surrounded, so just give up.”

“Give up? I’ve come here on a mission, and I don’t intend to be captured until I’ve seen it through.”

“What mission?”

“You’re stalling for time. Are you afraid, perhaps? It doesn’t matter, your life will soon be over, just like that pathetic excuse for a man,” he said, referring to Henry, whom Lana still wept over.

“You killed him?” asked Pearson in shock.

“It was his own weakness that killed him.”

Pearson rolled his eyes. “God, do you hear yourself? You sound like a cliché tv villain.”

The man unpredictably stopped talking and rushed Pearson. He reached out his hand to grab Pearson’s arm but was stopped by a leg sweep which made him collapse to the ground. Pearson suddenly felt a shock going through his arm, similar to static electricity.

Jeffrey, who was still trying to shield Lana, shouted, “Don’t let him touch you!”

Pearson did not fully understand why, but he knew what Jeffrey’s warning meant. The mysterious man could somehow deliver electric shock on contact with his skin. Whether he had a concealed weapon or some superhuman ability remained unknown, but at the moment, the distinction was meaningless. Pearson readied himself for another round, hoping the police would not take much longer to arrive.

The man leaped forward with little grace or technique, almost like a wild dog. His fast and erratic movements made it hard for his opponent to read him. Pearson wanted to avoid him as much as possible, to run away until he knew what exactly he was dealing with. Unfortunately, that currently was not an option, not with Jeffrey and Lana being possible victims of the man’s growing fury.

With the man now right in front of him, Pearson stopped his advance by slamming his foot on his assailant’s knee. He then took a step back and continued skillfully avoiding him, all while dragging him away from the teenagers and Henry’s body.

“Stop involving yourself in others’ business!” barked the masked man, tired of trying to catch Pearson.

“It’s a bit late for that.”

“You idiot! This is far larger than you could possibly imagine!”

“I’m sure the police will love to hear all about it.”

The man, filled with ever-growing impatience and anger, ran even faster than before, and managed to grab onto Pearson’s shirt. Before he could get his hand on him however, Pearson slipped out of his shirt and removed his tie, which was very loosely tied around his neck. In a swift movement, almost like he had practiced for this exact situation before, he tied the man’s wrists together with the tie and forced him on the ground. He then prevented him from moving by applying weight on his body.

The man wriggled like a fish out of water, desperately trying to break free from his captor’s hold. Almost immediately after, the police finally came to the scene.

“You can’t stop me!” screamed the man as if he were trying to harvest power from within himself.

Suddenly, Pearson felt a sharp, repeated sting coursing through his body, despite the attacker being restrained. He instinctively let go of the man, who got up and made a dash for his escape. Pearson wanted to chase after him, but his pain was too great for him to even get up.

The police shot toward the mysterious man in a last attempt to stop him, and although it seemed like a few bullets hit him, he still managed to escape, disappearing behind nearby trees.

After a momentary agony, Pearson got up and walked toward Lana and Jeffrey. He moved them away from Henry despite Lana’s cries, leaving the task of analyzing the body to the police.

In front of the house, Alver waited anxiously next to Cooper, who wore an expression so serious it aged him ten years. As his heart was about to explode, Pearson and Jeffrey came back, Jeffrey carrying Lana on his back.

Alver pushed through the crowd to meet his friends. “What happened?” he asked nervously.

“Her father’s dead,” replied Jeffrey.

Alver’s eyes widened, and his heart dropped to his stomach. Jeffrey gently put Lana down on a nearby stone for her to sit. Alver kneeled next to her and put his hands on her shoulders.

Her eyes were red, her throat sore, her heart broken. Her head was hunched forward, staring at the ground. She seemed disconnected from the world, unable to respond to any stimulation. Still, Alver leaned forward and hugged her. She felt his body press against hers, and the warmth it created made her cry again. She buried her face in her friend’s chest and continued crying.

Later that night, police interrogated Lana, Jeffrey and Pearson, as they were the only witnesses of anything. Everyone who was outside and nearby for the Tacos Festival had gathered around the house, each wanting to get a peak at what was going on.

“Wanna sleep at my place tonight?” Alver asked his friend.

With the look of a defeated, beaten girl, Lana nodded almost imperceptibly.

“Do you want the police to drive us there, or can you walk?”

She mirrored her nod to answer the second question. Alver asked the authorities if they could leave. After they asked a few more questions, they granted them permission to leave.

The walk across town was long. Lana walked at an incredibly slow pace, but Alver stayed by her side all the way. She weakly grabbed his hand for the whole walk. Once at his place, Alver opened the door and Lana dragged herself inside. She lay on his bed and grabbed Muchatcho as emotional support. That night, Alver slept on the couch. Lana needed some privacy, but at the same time, she wanted company from her best friend. So, he stayed with her, silent.


Submitted: February 11, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Thomas Vlasblom. All rights reserved.

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