20. Maturity

The dream-vision had ended. That was perhaps the longest and most intense vision I’ve had at the time, and I found it difficult to believe. I laid there in my bed, staring up at the stucco ceiling. It was now Wednesday; the morning had come. I was rudely awakened from a night of traversing the deep city skyline, hopping between moving maglevs, stocking and beating up thugs, hijacking planes, more skyline traversing, battling a walking nightmare that chased me across the city, and finally being thrown off a building. And amazingly, there was not one scratch on my body. That Knight Suit was something indeed. Either way, no man should be able to get out of bed after a night like that, let alone wake up. Perhaps I was blocking out all the aches and pains subconsciously. I guess I had Id to thank for that.

With all this in mind, things came into perspective. I missed Maggie and remembered I had left her behind. It felt like I deserted her. It wasn’t until then that I realized I had such affection for a dog. Perhaps I was lonelier than I thought.

At least I still had my friends, or lack there of. Come to think of it, I hadn’t had a girlfriend since 10th grade. I was only eighteen and all the meaningless sex with random girls already began to seem… childish; and I laid in my bed contemplating my romantic life. I figured that I’d better take another shot at Beverly. We’d talked and hung out a few times after the incident that the MCC. She pretty much just wanted someone to confine in after experiencing an event like that. And who better than someone who actually shared that experience with her.

I was about to pick up the phone to give her a ring when a knocking came at my door that ripped me out of my thoughts. I got out of bed to answer it, wearing nothing but my boxers. I opened the door to discover Monique sitting on the step. “Hey,” I said in a morning voice. “What’s up?”

“I’m okay… I guess,” she responded. “How about you?” She briefly eyed my body, but I gave that little thought.

“Well, a few nights ago I flipped over a car with my bare hands,” I said. “And just last night I killed a few people then hijacked an airplane filled with under age Thai prostitutes.”

Okay,” Monique slowly complied. “Anyways, I’m sorry to bother you so early in the morning. I thought you’d be up by now.”

“Yeah me too,” I concurred. “I guess I over slept. If you hadn’t came knockin’ I would have still been in bed.”

“Long night?” she asked.

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“Oh yeah. Flipping over cars and hijacking planes, right?”

I simply smiled at her. “So yeah, what’s happenin’?” I asked.

“Well, I think we should talk…”

“About…” I guided.

She drew in a deep breath, then said, “Well, I’ve been thinking- about that time at the Convention Centre. That science fair.”

“Yeah, what about it?” I asked as I sat down on the step next to her. “I thought we agreed we wouldn’t talk about it.”

“I can’t stop thinking about it though,” she said. “It’s been giving me nightmares.”

“So that’s perfectly normal,” I said.  “I mean, that was a traumatizing experience. We’re both lucky to have walked away from it.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t–” she broke off as a tear streamed down her cheek.

“Did you get hurt?” I asked.

She shook her head and said, “Nah, I didn’t.” She went silent for a moment then continued. “Did I tell you what happened to me that night?”

“No. Do you wanna tell me?”

“I don’t want to. I haven’t told anyone. I’m still trying to forget. But you don’t forget a thing like that.”

“What do mean?”

“It was terrifying…” Monique said. “…And it was amazing at the same time.” I stared at her for a moment, not quite following what she was saying. “Anthony, what I saw- what happened to me was unbelievable.” She was picking at her nails with her fingers.

“What did you see? What happened?” I asked.

“Well, after they came in and the lights went out,” she said, “those creeps just started slamming to the ground, as if they were being attacked. Then the whole place went silent for a while, as if they were all dead. But then out of nowhere this man grabs me and puts a gun to my head. I could still feel the barrel pressing against my skull.” She stopped speaking to allow the tears to catch up with her. “And then he like, started yelling at somebody, as if someone else was there. But I couldn’t see cuz the whole place was so dark. Whatever it was, they weren’t expecting it. As if they were freaked out or something. So he said I was his hostage. I managed to get away from him. And as I looked back I saw that he was about to shoot me. But then for no reason at all he just drops to the ground dead, as if something killed him. And then… and then…”

“What?” I pressed gently. “What happened next?” She closed her eyes, as if trying to recollect what happened. Her arms were wrapped around herself.

“It was like the darkness around me became physical, an actual person. Then it grabbed me. And we went up…”

“Up?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “Up. As if it jumped into the air. But it wouldn’t stop. We went so high, right through the roof.”

The roof?” I asked bewildered. “You went through the roof? How?” Now at the time I could scarcely remember what had happened after Id took over at the E-Ex, thus I was barely hanging on to what she was saying.

“I don’t know,” she insisted. “It was like the roof wasn’t there at all. We just went through it like it was nothing. And before I knew it I was on top of the building. It started running across the roof while it still had me. It made this huge leap across the intersection.”

“Whoa,” I said. “That thing must have a wicked jump shot if it could do that.”

“I’m not crazy,” she said under her breath.

“I didn’t mean to- Listen, I’m not calling you crazy,” I said. “It’s just that- well- It’s crazy that I actually do believe you.” She stared at me for moment. I could see my face in her large brown eyes, almost as if I was trapped behind them, locked away in a pair of glass spheres. She turned away and made a subtle laugh to herself as she wiped away her tears. “So, what was it that grabbed you,” I inquired. “Did you see it.”

“Oh I saw it all right,” she said.

“It didn’t… hurt you did it?” I asked, slightly concerned about what that Id character did.

“Nah,” she replied. “It spoke to me.” I remained silent with an inquiring look on my face. “But you know what the real funny thing is?”

“No, what?”

“The whole time while I was near it, there was something strange about it. There was this feeling that I was getting from it. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it felt… it felt like… you.” There was an awkward silence as she stared at me. There was an immense feeling of vulnerability. And I was at a sudden loss for words, as if I had forgotten how to speak. She continued to look at me as I gradually remembered how to phonate words.

“W-how do you mean?” I fumbled on each syllable. “I don’t get it.”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “There was just this vibe that I was gettin’ from it. It reminded me of you.”

“Maybe it was me,” I humoured, trying to lighten the situation. She made a simple giggle in response. I could sense that she was not telling me everything and that there was much more that she wanted to say. Nevertheless, I was comfortable knowing that Id did not hurt her. If he did, I didn’t know what I’d do.

Monique then asked, “What were the first things that went through your head when those assholes came in?”

That question put me on the spot. I tried to think of an honest answer that she’d understand, but at first nothing came through. Then finally I thought of the perfect thing. “My brother,” I said, “and my Mom. I thought I was gonna finally see ‘em again.”

“And leave your dad all alone?” she asked.

“Nah,” I replied. “I never thought of him.”

“Really? That’s strange.  Well, I thought about my dad, even though I’ve never seen him.”

“You’ve never seen him?” I asked. “Not even once?”

She shook her head.

“But do you know what he looks like, or know his name?” I asked.

“Yeah. I know all that,” said Monique. “I even have a picture of him in my room. My mom left it for me when I was little, before she died.” Monique’s mother died of cancer, just like my mother. Except Monique was only three when she lost her. I was thirteen when I lost mine. Thus she spent most of her life being raised by her aunt Rosie, Al’s mom.

“Do you know what happened to your dad,” I asked.

“Not really,” she said. “All I know is that he was in the marines and went off to fight some war in some messed up place. And he didn’t come back.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. My aunt told me.”

“So, while I was thinking I might get to see my mom again, you were thinking you might get to see your dad… for the first time.”

“I guess I did,” Monique said. “But for all I know he could still be alive.” We stared at each other blankly for God knows how long. But for an instant I felt an invisible connection between us, one that could not be defined. Everything that she had told me was becoming fully apparent. A green aura started to burn softly around her and I could scantly feel its warmth on my face. Her mind and her soul were now open to mine, as it was that day in the hospital. I still saw myself trapped in her eyes, but this time I figured that the only way out was to delve deeper within those dark orbs and past her soul. And so I ventured, and from there I saw many things. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t realize that our lips had become interlocked and intertwined. As we kissed I saw a flood of images from her past, from her childhood all the way up until this passionate embrace. With my eyes closed the images became sharper, clearer. I feared that my own mind would be open to her in the process. It all seemed to be in real time, as if I was living each of her years at a time. But soon our lips separated and my eyes opened, only to find that just a few seconds had passed. She then gently pushed me away and turned her head to one side. The palms of her hands felt warm on my naked chest. I was left hypnotized as the images faded away into nothing, then I returned to my senses.

“I could have sworn my whole life just flashed before my eyes,” Monique expressed. And it did. I saw everything. I tried to hold on to the fleeting images. I saw birthday parties, field trips, heated arguments, dates and past relationships, and of course myself. Also, every emotion that she had ever felt had registered in me, almost making me cry. Finally the memories had vanished, and all I could recall was my own life. “Are you okay?” she asked me.

“Yeah,” I whispered.

“How can you not have a girl when you can kiss like that?”

I merely shrugged my shoulders.

“And for someone who just woke up,” she continued, “your breath doesn’t even stink. I better keep my eye on you. But anyways, I gotta go. Thanks for chattin’ with me. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.” She ended with a peck on my cheek and headed up the stairs. I was left on the step still immobilized by what just happened.

That surreal experience had me thinking, If I could get all that from a simple kiss, imagine what I could get from… I ceased the thought before I went too far. Monique was my friend, nothing more.

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