March 11, 2010


6. Lunch with Strangers

12:05 pm
Somewhere in Fox Chase, Philadelphia

A room enclosed in thick sheets of darkness. Regularly, this room blinds any being upon entering, but a pair of remarkable companions saw straight through the alluring veil. The two of them sat next to each other, studying the upcoming events. The male shade sat in the dreariest of dazes, having said not a single word for the past hour.

“What do you expect to happen, Wing?” The female shade began engaging herself in what seemed to be the most one-sided conversation of her life. Wing had taken another sip of his tea before reclaiming his former position. “Please.” Her voice fraught with the burdens of her own pry.

A serene spirit began to illuminate around Wing’s body. The room, in which they both dined in, could not contain the limitless glow that had suddenly erupted from the body of the male shade.

“I’m sorry old friend, but it is not for certain. Please understand. I only wish for the peace of this world.” His words kept a dead silence for the next few minutes. Wing, finally finishing the last of his tea, adjusted his specs back over his nose; he removed the glow about him which cast the room into darkness once more.

“The dexterity of your students may guide the free from danger, but I sense an immoral behavior behind their motives.” Wing’s female companion had finished her observation and quickly wrapped her lips around the edge of her teacup. Wing simply sneered at her remark.

“Have patience my dear. They are still young and rebellious. Soon, they will find what they desire.”

“Master Wing, you speak of desire and peace in a world filled with revolt and fury. I wish I could see what you see.” The silence in her voice made the room shift in color. What was once an ugly mask of obscurity had now altered into a slithering violet mist.

“I pray you, Lady Fortune, never seek my eyes. There is more to the future than 5 minutes of serenity.” The temperature abruptly rose from within the dark room. “It all begins with an unfortunate execution.”

Earlier That Day
Louis Crowley; Somewhere in Mayfair, Philadelphia

The mind of Louis Crowley was put to rest the same morning at 6:45 am. The world had changed in the last 4 hours and unknown to Lou are the events of his friends. Where have the consequences of Louis Crowley brought him, and how has he outlived himself from a vile death?

Where am I? What do I remember last? Lou’s dream-world would remain the same as always. I was running again, like I always do. But this time was different. Lou ran in his dreams, he’d hear the voices of guards. I’m here again, running. Why am I always running? Why do I never finish this dream? Am I running away from someone, or am I running for something else? Lou awoke.

“…What ...the hell?” He quietly asked the room, expecting no answer. He looked down at himself, still in shorts. He felt a slight aching from his head. Ouch. What the…?

Lou lifted his entire self and circled his head in all directions, then back at where he lay. “A couch, huh? Well, I guess it’s better than a grave.” He mused and began paying special attention to the fire place directly in front of him. Above it was a framed picture of a married couple, the groom of whom looked awfully familiar. Lou reached for the frame. “That can’t be…”

“Oh! Oh! Please don’t get up!” A timid voice came from behind Lou’s couch, and suddenly a trip and a cry was all that was heard. “Ahhhh… owie.” It was a shy-looking lady in her late teens/early twenties who had oddly tumbled over her own feet whilst carrying a damp cloth and some first aid.

Lou’s hand was frozen in air as he glanced down at the frivolous girl beneath him who was now covered in unused band aids and eye pads. She had long blond hair that tied into a ponytail, and her face was so gaunt and elfin that it left one word in Lou’s mind: “Bookworm.” Lou lowered his arm.

“Darn…” The ponytailed girl tried to lift herself off her own fall.

“Um. Are you alright?” Lou lent his hand towards the new and rather, ditzy girl.

“No, no. Please. I’m fine.” She began reassembling her shattered first aid pieces. “Ha ha ha, how strange is it for someone who just woke up from a concussion to ask something like that?” She giggled to herself.

“Yea… that is kinda weird.” Lou stared closer at the girl’s smile and recognized her from the picture above the fireplace. “Ah. Is that you?” He pointed at it, and his arm gave out. “Oww…”

“Ah! Please don’t get up so suddenly.” The girl leapt forward at her picture and gracefully hid it from sight. She turned and consoled Lou’s aching head and injures. “You must rest, Louis.”

“Nah, it’s only a headache.” Lou grabbed his head. Wait a minute…. Lou glared back up at the concerned girl who was nursing him back and forth. “How do you know my name?”

“...Ah!” The girl gasped at Lou’s eyes. She tried to avoid eye-contact and threw on a false grin. “I go to some of your games, you’re really talented.”

Lou didn’t buy it, but there was no harm in playing charades until he found his way out.

“That’s twice in one day. Am I that popular?” Lou gave a soft laugh and glared back at the half-reliable girl. “Well, you know my name. It’s too bad I haven’t gotten yours yet.”

“Oh! I am so sorry. My name is Laken Cr…” A short pause stared her off into space. She came back a second later. “…Courland. Laken Courland. But please, just call me Lake.” Lake’s eyes came back from their idle leave to find Lou’s eyes just darting at her. “…Umm… I hope you don’t mind, I found you lying unconscious in the middle of the sidewalk.”

“Sidewalk?” Lou released his locked glare towards Lake. “Uh. Oh, I guess that’s what happened, huh?” He rested his aching head back onto one of the many pillows. “But… that can’t be… I remember a shady couple, and an earthquake.”

“You hit your head kind of hard, Louis. It’s best not to think of it.”

“I guess you’re right. It was weird though. The big guy, he stopped a knife in midair without touching it.” Lake flinched. “I guess you can use a simple trick with strings and stuff though. Ha ha, what am I saying, right?”

“...People tend to doubt what they don’t understand.” Lake’s face turned and her smile had transformed into a heartbreaking frown.

“Pardon?” Lou wasn’t paying too much attention.

“Ah… nothing, don’t worry about it.” Once again, an automatic transformation changed her sweet and soft expression, lighting the enthusiastic girl crazily.

“Hmm. You still haven’t answered my question, you know?” Lou pointed again.

“Question? The picture, you mean?” Lou nodded. “Yes, that was me... and my husband. It’s been some time since then.” Lake let her head sag as she sat cross-legged next to Lou. “We were married. We were young and incredibly happy at the time.”

“I take it that ‘you were happy’ means you're something completely different now, huh? I’m sorry.” Lou turned away.

“No, no. Please don’t be. Seeing you just reminds me of him, and it brings back all the great memories we shared.”

“Seeing me? Why me?”

Lake tensed up. “It’s just that… you look a lot like him… your hair. Ha ha.”

“Whatever. I’m grateful you found me. I must’ve looked pretty stupid out there lying face first in the pavement.” Lou lifted himself off of the couch and on his feet In front of her, she in turn followed. “I need to make a call, if you’ll excuse me.” He reached into his pocket. “Jeez, there’s like 20 new messages here. What the hell’s Ash doing this early in the day?” He turned to her. “What time is it?”

“It’s about… a quarter to 11.”

“Whoa. I’ve been out for 4 hours? That’s ridiculous.” Lou dialed Ash’s number.

Lou, I can’t tell you why, but I have to get rid of your phone. They’ll be able to trace you. I also have to get rid of your spirit. I’ll take care of that in a second. You don’t seem to trust me right now, but I hope you don’t hate me for this later.

“Dammit, he’s not answering. Why call me then?” Lou paced his way back to Lake.

“Umm. You must be hungry.” Lake looked up at Lou and smiled. “I just made some lunch. Care to join me?”

“Well, I could eat. I really need to see what my friend wants, though. I’ll wait for him to call back.”

You have to understand Lou; I can only hide you in here for so long, before they trace me and find you. We’ll head out soon; I just want you to trust me.

The two of them sat and began gobbling down the burgers and fries.

“Louis, random question. Do you know what separates a candle-lit dinner from a regular dinner?” Lake turned away, blushing.

“Sorry? What was that?” Lou was busy sinking his teeth into the delicious burger in front of him to notice anything else.

“…Ah… No, I’m sorry. It’s a stupid question, never mind it. You should eat.” Lake took another bite from her burger.

Lou stared up at her again. I don’t think she’s part of the pair that attacked me earlier, but she’s definitely suspicious. A girl like her, does she even know what sport I play? My name isn’t that popular. Also, casually walking into an earthquake at 7 in the morning to pick up my unconscious body, the nicest guy in the world wouldn’t even do that. Other than that though, she’s pretty nice. The cutesy face is obviously an act though, I don’t know why but I can’t trust her until I’m absolutely sure.

“That was great, the fries were heaven.” Lou smiled and got up with his plate.

“Ah, I can get that for you. You’re a guest after all.”

“You know Lake, after all this I don’t think I’ve thanked you yet. It’s almost like you saved my life back there. So, thank you.”

“It’s no problem, it’s common courtesy to help those in need.” Lake looked up again at Lou, and once again met his razor sharp eyes. “Ah… If you don’t mind now, I’m heading out to meet my mother. If you want to tag along, it’s on the way to where I found you.”

“Of course, how else am I supposed to get back home?” Lou searched for his shoes.

If I don’t do this than Lou’s in trouble, but if I do do this than they’ll be able to find me. I’ll have to take that chance, he has no idea what this world, and what they, are capable of. Now, I just need the right moment.

“We good?” Lou called. “I’ll be waiting outside.” Lou reached for the door, opened it and walked out. As both feet met the outside of Lake’s Apartment, Lake called him back.


He turned, finding Lake’s face jammed up against his. Their lips connected and they shared the same breath. Wh... What’s she doing? This heat, it feels so sensual and… addictive. But I don’t even know her. Still though, she did save my life. Lake reached around Lou and he did the same, they lasted 5 seconds in a statue-like state, until he had to stop.

“I…umm… I don’t… I don’t understand why you suddenly kissed me like that.” Lou backed up and stared at the ground, his hands distancing the two of them.

“I’m…-I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to. I just… you’re so incredibly handsome and you look like my dead husband… I just wanted to see how it would feel.”

“Please, don’t take it the wrong way, but I don’t even know you. I appreciate you for saving my life, but I don’t know you well enough to feel anything for you except my gratitude.” Lou’s eyes glanced at both ends of the hallway, finding no one.

“Please, forgive me. It was my mistake. I hope you still don’t mind if we walk back together.” Lake put her hands in her pockets and shot Lou her most innocent look.

Lou sighed and laughed it off. “Of course not, as long as we’re clear on this understanding.” They smiled and set off.

Lake’s hands stayed jammed inside her pockets, she finally found the off switch to Lou's phone. That may not have been the best way to do it, but at least Lou’s safe now, and once I get him out of here he’ll be home free.

“So, how long till we reach your mom’s?” He didn’t look at her. At his pace it seemed as though he was the one leading her.

“It’s only like a 5 minute walk. I hope that’s okay. How’re you feeling?”

“Never better.” He gave the lame thumbs up signal. “A walk never hurt anyone.” Although, at this point, Lou’s ‘walk’ looked more like a ‘march’, and his arms and legs were flying up and down in the most synchronized formation. Lake blushed.

Five minutes had taken its toll on Lou and he was sweating bullets just by standing next to the once timid, Laken Courland. They both stopped and stared at the enormous field in front of them.

“Wait a minute. I know where we are now. This is Hawthorne. But that’s…” Lou couldn’t say the words in front of her, knowing what it means to be standing outside a cemetery. “Lake, when you said you were visited your Mother, you meant…”

“I’m sorry, I should have mentioned…” Her head was so far-gone into her chest that she was practically staring at the floor.

“No, no. Don’t apologize for that. I’m sure it must be hard for you. I know how it feels, trust me.” Lou comforted the girl as best he could, his arms on her shoulders. “Both my parents…”

“It’s okay Louis. If you only count your troubles, than you’ll never notice the joys.” Lake’s head slowly lifted itself up revealing the ever-growing grin on her face. “Someone said that to me... when she first passed away.”

Lou was speechless. He stared at her for the longest while. He gave her no more glares or vulgar frowns, his eyes couldn’t keep off her smile. Of course, after a while, his mind came knocking on his head opening the door to his brain and: “Ah!! Well… We should go in…” He removed his hands and wiped the sweat off his head. “Your mom probably doesn’t expect many guests, ha ha.”

The cemetery at North Cedar Hill was the largest set of tombstones Lou had ever seen. He had no idea where to start and where to end. Funnily, he noticed that if he stood in the middle of the gigantic circle it looked it a basketball.

“This is her grave here, Louis.” Lake was at the end of the basketball shaped circle. He hopped his way over to her. Lou read the tombstone.

In Memory Of
Who Died
August 3rd, 2008
Age 34 years
Beloved Mother and Wife

Wait a minute. Thirty Four years old? That doesn’t make much sense. Lou stared back at Lake in front of the grave, hands up against her chest and mouthing away with both eyes shut. How can she be her daughter? Unless… she was adopted?

“This ...was last year. It must’ve been tragic for you, she was so young.” Lou crossed both arms and waited for Lake to finish.

“It really was. I’m just sorry I missed it.” She whispered.

“Really? You didn’t see her pass away? What happened?” Lou uncrossed his arms.

“I’m not exactly sure. But my dad says it was terrible. She was the only one at home when it happened. The house was burned to the ground.” Her eyes couldn’t keep off the skies.

“That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” An unfamiliar, Romanian voice was heard about 2 tombstones down from them. He carried a bow and arrow and had the curliest of blond hair ever seen on a boy.

Both of them turned to face him. “Who the hell are you?” Lou inched Lake closer to him.

“Weston Valor, you of all people...” Lake handed off Lou’s gesture and stood firm in front of the blond-haired archer.

“Don’t you speak to me, you traitor. I don’t know what interests you so much in him, but he will die. As will you.” Weston pulled further on his bowstring.

Wha…What’s going on this time? They know each other? This shy girl who lost her mother and her husband, she’s protecting me. Lou attempted to defend his protector only to have an arrow shot his way. After opening his eyes Lou found Lake’s arm in front of him with the arrowhead gripped between her fingers. What the hell was that? I missed everything just now.

“Lou, please stay behind me.” Lake whispered gently behind her shoulder, her eyes not budging off the enemy in front of her.

Another voice came twenty feet from behind Lou. “We’ve arrived Lieutenant Valor.” Five men: 3 of them gunman, two of them swordsman. All 5 looked incredibly silly wearing a 4 pocket polyester blue pants with a Rubberized Nylon Jacket, carrying their weapons over shoulders. The gunmen had Solid AK-47’s with an enormous metal stock covered by the logo of the word ‘R.E.A.P’. The swordsman had sheathed double-edged blades with the hilt of the sword being the size of their forearms, again logoed with the same word.

“Darn it, reapers.” Lake shoved Lou to the side of her and concentrated on both sides of the battlefield.

“Once again, Miss Courland, you find yourself in the most desperate of times. There’s no where left to run, so …it looks like ...I win.” Weston’s smile read ‘checkmate’ across the most bloodthirsty of teeth Lou had ever seen.

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