By the time Anahita arrived at the inn, Miwa had regained a little of her strength back. She was snacking on what she had bought from the convenience store.
"If I don't come back out in… 8 to 10 minutes, you can go in… but… try not to. We need to escape as fast as possible. Your phone doesn't work here, right?" She shook her head. "I thought as much… that's ok. We'll do this!"
Anahita didn't trust her voice so she only nodded or shook her head in response to Miwa's further instructions. She's been anxious the entire time, but an overwhelming foreboding nearly incapacitated her. She was sure Miwa knew as well, but they had to continue, because they were already here and they couldn't just leave Dark Brown Hair behind. She took a deep breath and gave Miwa a hug. Miwa hugs back, leaves the car and enters the inn.
Because she had been there in her dreams, she went straight to the room, keeping her eyes peeled for [the woman] any threats.
"! Dark Brown Hair~"
He jumps, "Well… I do have dark brown hair… Who are you?"
"I know this is hard to believe, but I've had a premonition about you –and I and my friend distracted the woman so you could get to this room."
"… So… it was you… What am I looking for?"
She goes directly to the back of the room; knocks on a few things until she found something; shuffled other things; located a key and strolled to a different part of the room; dismantled something and used the key. [Details aren't important]
"These documents. Feral Eyes wanted these. We have to relocate it to somewhere safe. Okay. Let's go."
"Are you okay? You look like you're going to collapse. Let me help you…"
"There's another way out. I don't feel safe going out the main entrance."
He nods, and proceeds to follow her out. She walks further down the hallway towards a different staircase. Stops at the base and listens. Then she finds a side exit and stops again.
"Something's wrong. Let's go a different way…"
All he could do was nod and follow her. He was perplexed as to what was 'wrong' or how she even knew. Nothing looked any less… empty than it already did –but then again, he's not spiritual or psychic by any means so he'll have to trust her judgment. She indicated for him to creep. It would be slow going, but something was distressing her. He wanted to know what, but he figured he would have to wait until they escaped. For now, he prepared himself to help her in any way he could since her health continued to appear to diminish. The way she moved didn't coincide with reality –or with what he was seeing, at least. For instance, at one point they were walking down the middle of the hall but she walked around a spot as though a potted plant [or other big object] was there to walk around. Even though he felt a little silly, he too walked around that spot. And, whenever there was any sizeable amount of rubble in their way, she walked through it as though it wasn't there… yet… he couldn't –he would walk right into it every single time so he just walked around whenever he could. It wasn't that far to the entrance… but it seemed to take an extremely long time to get there only to detour to a different side entrance or exit. They were outside and he tried to say something, but she held a finger to her lips. Oh. The coast wasn't yet clear…? After eons, they reach around the front of the building and she indicates to break into a run for the car which he gladly does.
Out of craziness, perhaps, he picks her up and tosses her into the back seat and jumps in behind her, closing the door in one fluid movement.
"You need to get her to the hospital."
"But… I'm… just exhausted… Please, all I need is food and rest… I'll be fine, I promise. Then I can answer… some questions… I hope."
"My hotel is three hours away –I can give you the directions once we're on the highway."
"Ok. I never want to do this again… I thought I saw something descend into the inn –it looked… hell bent and nonphysical. I was so sure you weren't going to make it…"
Miwa giggles, "Hell bent… I was worried, too… but …I think he wants to torture us first. We are just so threatening to his existence." Anahita joins in the mirth.
"I fail to see the humor in this. I never wanted to be his enemy."
"How did you first encounter Feral Eyes, anyway?"
"… Feral Eyes, huh? … … !! Oh! I can remember now! Thank you! That's exactly what someone else referred to this unknown which sent me off the spiral path to begin with. I have excellent recall so as you can imagine, I was quite upset when I couldn’t remember my final client of that day. I recalled with great clarity and great detail all the events leading up to and after that client but not of the client himself. I was a bit fatigued, so when I dealt with him, I thought I was seeing things: his eyes glowed hazel during certain sections of his account which… even that was a bit strange and perhaps too… convenient… His last words were that he wouldn't see me anymore because he was moving. He didn’t wish to stay when shit went down; I may have ad-libbed that part, but the sentiment is the same. Then, as I walked to my car, even a stray cat had hazel eyes when that wasn't even its original colors.
"I didn't realize I didn't know anything until just one or two days ago during the middle of my vacation. I had this feeling that something was amiss. There was some unfinished business but I have no idea what actually triggered that. I remembered continually feeling anxious about something so I sat and thought about it and that's when I realized I couldn't remember the final client –it was as though my memory was stolen!
"Even worse, I couldn't sleep –I was so drained and I hadn't even done anything. I went for a mini adventure driving away from the hotel just to find some place to eat. I arrived at this town and filled up my car at the gas station in this town –which I find out does not even exist –and ate at the restaurant in this town. I used my credit card so if I am charged for it, not only was my memory stolen so was my money. …"
They all laughed that that was the focus of his ire. He looked deeply troubled –he hesitated as though he was uncertain whether to tell them… (Tell them? I'm not quite sure what happened myself... but if there's anyone I could tell, I do think it would be these two…) He takes a deep breath and continues to relay his story:
"I was in this town during the late afternoon or even time, feeling relatively well after having eaten. …How can I say this… this is unusual for me… I arrived at a gas station and talked to the woman who worked there. Her name, at least on her name tag –I never asked, and she never offered –was Zoiyah. We talked at length in which I promised her I would return the next day to tour more of the town. She was so knowledgeable about this place, and so excited to share some information with me that I couldn't not promise to see her –she looked like she was your ages –I'm not creepy, I swear ~ [they snickered at him, and he felt his face flush]. I paid using my card –I have the receipt. Then I went to a restaurant –an old couple owned it. I mentioned about the gas station –they confirmed it existed –but when I talked about Zoiyah they acted as though I fabricated her existence… I wondered if I had –but I was quite certain that I'm not that good at creating people to talk to that I'd never seen before in my life. To prove to myself that I wasn't losing my mind, I tried to drive by the gas station again. But… the gas station wasn't there –NOTHING physical left behind to show that it even existed. After that I tried driving back to the restaurant but it too had disappeared. What's worse, I had gotten 'lost' even though it was pretty much a straightforward drive from the gas station to the restaurant. I then parked at a parking lot in front of a store or shopping center –I couldn't quite tell for it was getting darker and also being abandoned and in disrepair has the effect of not being paid attention to."
"That was quite passive almost confusing..." Anahita's sarcasm welcomed itself into her tone.
"I realize that –sorry, it makes my explanations unnecessarily longer –I'm almost done, I promise!"
"Ha, ha ~ take your time. We only have a little over an hour to go."
He sheepishly grins –but Anahita couldn't see that. Miwa was [it appeared] sleeping the entire time he spoke, so he was certain that he would have to retell her his story the next day. He worried about her health –as she lay there, she looked more and more like a corpse. He resisted the urge to shake her awake to see if she was alive. Instead, he continues,
"I noticed the mansion inn looming nearby but I had no further business here, I wanted to get back to my suite so I did… so I thought. What I thought happened: I was in the hotel and facing another sleepless night. I didn't realize I had fallen asleep but I had looked at the bedside clock which read 3 AM. I was amusingly thinking how it was the witching hour and then being surprised at even having fallen asleep –but I drifted off again and when I 'woke' up I was in a dungeon. That dungeon, come to think of it, was probably in the Inn McMansion [Miwa remains expressionless while Anahita giggles –he worries some more]. At any rate, I was in a dungeon with cement for legs and strapped arms. A voice entertained me… rather, I perhaps amused the body less voice. It first came from the room but then after that came directly into my mind. It taunted me, tried to get me to doubt myself. But I escaped because even though it tried to convince me that dungeon was my mind, I somehow knew that it wasn't and I awoke not at the hotel but crashed at the 'Welcome to Town' sign. I was unharmed but had to return to the inn for 'answers'. And the rest, is where you guys come in…"
He completes his tale as they arrive at the hotel. He offers to pay for the gas which Anahita gladly accepts. He gives them his room while he would sleep on the pull out sofa. Miwa, he could tell, wasn't 'awake' but she was functioning so no one had to carry drag or help her to his room or anything… The last thing he remembered doing was collapsing on the sofa, not even pulling out the bed and falling into a deep dreamless slumber.
… … …
The following late morning, they all sit at the kitchen table and just look at each other. Then Dark Brown Hair [because he still hadn't actually introduced himself] and Anahita both look at Miwa. She summoned her most serious expression, but she couldn't help but laugh at their expectant faces. During the car ride while listening to his story, she was able to learn more as well as confirm her suspicions about Feral Eyes. But… she was still apprehensive about body –less voice since… well, she suspected it was the teenager… she needed to figure out the timing –there's a slim chance that it wasn't the teenager as long as he wasn't asleep and dreaming about the same thing at the same time… but if he couldn't remember, it doesn't help his case.
Well… at least Dark Brown Hair was able to recover his memory, but she was still unable to. She felt it was really significant… but how important could it be if something has changed then perhaps that's why it remains… stolen…
She shares what she believes he should know excluding their names. She refused to know his name, and she didn't share her own name. If he needed a name, he would have to be satisfied with nick names or descriptors. Whatever questions he had, she attempted to answer to the best of her abilities. They were all up to speed, more or less, so they just needed to figure out what to do next. Right after eating, of course. He told them to just order room service. He really didn't need to go anywhere –he had to call the car rental shop and see what could be done about the… incident…
"Can we drive to the site first? I want to see if I could divine what happened… if the car hasn't already been moved…"
"It might not have been…? It's not as though anyone needs to get in or out of that area… plus since I crashed right at the sign, no one else will run into it unless they too were under the Eyes' influence." He says wryly.
"Okay. After eating, we'll head there –we should be getting more provisions anyway. We'll be back." Miwa declares.
"We will?" Anahita asks surprised.
"We still need to discuss what to do with those documents and our practical roles in upsetting Feral Eyes…"
"You're right. I was just hoping to lay low for a long time…"
"The only encounter you've had with Feral Eyes was 'physical'. The rest of us had mental encounters as evidenced by exhaustion and stolen memories. You've been pretty fortunate... although I wondered what he needed your car for if he could just go from human to human…"
"Maybe it's not that simple to travel between humans as we think…"
"… You might be on to something, but explain further…" Miwa says excitedly.
"Well… this is a physical world… and it doesn't seem he has a physical body. [Turns to Anahita] You even described him as 'descending upon the inn'. [She nods her head and confirms that what she saw filled her core with such dread that it took all she had not to leave them at the inn]. So, because no humans, rather physical beings reside there, he probably needed your car at that time, Anahita, so as not to be detected, since he is quite capable of getting there on his own –but it probably takes a lot of effort to do that which is why he possibly prefers to go through humans. We've established that it's possible for him to travel between humans and make suggestions through exhaustion or weaknesses. And… but… why would he need that teenage boy?"
"He seemed to know a lot about the inn and quite possibly, he wanted some physical body to acquire that location for him and maintain it. Whenever the owners deviated from the original plan, the whole town was affected –but certainly the owners met with a fate worse than the townsfolk. …I don't think that the original proprietor is Feral Eyes but perhaps made some sort of pact with him… I've been wondering at the importance of that location myself." Miwa pondered. Then, "You claimed Zoiyah knew quite a few things as well…"
"But… she may have been a failed attempt. She's not in contact with other humans outside of her town. Maybe she really is trapped in this town… In a convergent time…?" He grimaced at its increasing complication.
"What if it made it easier for Feral Eyes to travel between more humans –if more of us knew each other? It would seem that he could for sure cause a division amongst our ranks." Anahita speculated.
"But it works both ways since he can't necessarily control anyone [everyone at once] who's not a willing participant of his ambitions. That wild card is an example… Well, actually, with a little help, he woke up. There wouldn't be a way for him to realize the truth since his desires were already aligned with Feral Eyes' so I trapped Feral Eyes in the boy's body… I hope it didn't do long term damage to his health, and I most likely endangered his parents –but like it or not, we're all involved anyway."
"How did you do that? That's so amazing what you can do!" Anahita gushes. Then mentally kicks herself for allowing her admiration to shut down her logical mind. She's not like this, really –using the current situation as an excuse is pitiful. She knew better than to ask since the less he [Dark Brown Hair] knew about Miwa, the better.
Miwa briefly displays a forgiving expression then slightly answers, "You're fortunate that I CAN do what I do… in fact, I'm not really that good –I should've trained with my mother, but…"
"Aren't there other um… mediums… spiritualists… that you can train with?" He interrupts.
"My mother was the best and most well known…"
" But, can't you speak with the dead?"
"Oh… I'm sorry. That was… s-sorry."
She laughs at his awkwardness. Brunch had arrived –they ate and Miwa and Anahita left to check on his car and get provisions. A part of him hoped that when they went to check it, it would not only still be there, but undamaged. He would hold off on calling the car rental agency for the time being. He washes up and lounges about. He didn't think that leaving the documents at a safe was… ideal. He was incredibly curious about the inn and what those documents could possibly mean. He didn't bring his laptop because he didn’t want to be tempted to check anything work related –oh how he wished he brought it anyway. His mind drifted back to that day. That warning followed by how quickly Feral Eyes appeared… as he had explained, he was tired that day –and… he had remembered feeling disquiet… not quite correct… but anyhow specifically asking what difference did it make moving since whatever evil is, it's not stationary. Ah, he had felt despair and dread when he skeptically asked that of the client. But… who was he, anyway? He would have to check those files when he returned to work.
Whatever plans he had of retiring early were now pretty much thrown into the furnace and dissipating like smoke. Regardless, he needed to figure out what to do with those documents… Why does he need these documents? Were they part of 'a pact' with him…? Or is he asking the wrong question? Most people are unaware of events that happen legally –so he needs to establish a physical location –we already agreed upon that –but most likely do it in a way that people are comfortable with [read: won't do anything about it other than grumble or ignore it]. Okay so fast forward to having a base, the next step, most likely, is to attract people or have them [us] so oblivious or willfully ignorant about what's going on; once Feral Eyes has enough minions (sacrifices?) he could summon a more powerful being…?
"But that's such a common theme among many myths. Isn't there a different story? If there was or is he couldn't think of one. Neither could he think of one that would fit this sequence of events…" But… didn't even he discover that what he thought, he could put into effect? Those old sayings aren't merely sayings after all. He wasn't usually this derisive or judgmental –he's only now discovering what kind of a person he is under pressure and fear. That too, would have to change since he was determined to be more conscious and responsible for his thoughts and decisions.
He almost wanted to go back to the inn to unearth more secrets, but considering he would have to deal with the seen [Zoiyah] and unseen [Body less voice and perhaps even Feral Eyes himself]–and he had no true way of dealing with the unseen –he wouldn’t chance it… His healthy fear prevented him from doing something regrettable. It was unfathomable that he'd have to be schooled in timing but there were many other lessons he'd had to learn, that before, he'd thought were nonsensical. Looking at the clock, he sees that only a few hours have passed –had he seriously been lost in thought all that time?
He shakes his head, sighs and begins to skim through the documents learning the name of the original owner and other usual unimportant details. The next document is an original blueprint of the inn. He wondered about the additions to the inn but it was still good to know about 'hidden' rooms he wouldn't have known about… The last document was his [whose?] will and testament. This, he read over more carefully and with great interest. He would have to allow them to read it themselves and discuss more about it since it would perhaps change any initial plan she might have had –especially since there were actually two different ones [wills, I mean].
Dark Brown Hair's rental car was indeed where he claimed it would be. How he survived that was, she was certain, not coincidental. It was crashed with such force she wondered if he was actually rammed from behind –but she was no forensics expert or detective –she had no knowledge of these kinds of things. Well, really –she was just unobservant –at any rate, she concluded he would have a hell of a time explaining it to the agency. They parked nearby and went to investigate for themselves.
Remarks, "There's 'fresh' skid marks –appears to be from his tires. … The gas tank is empty?"
"… But he filled it with gas before crashing… ah… but didn't he also say that he heard a dripping sound the entire time he was in the 'dungeon'?"
"…Yes… but I'm not sure that it should be like this? Hmmm and something else –the airbags didn’t deploy…"
"Um… why was the gas tank leaking, again?"
"Ah… good question. Most of the damage was the front… not the back… even though if he were rammed from behind… that still wouldn't really explain the leak…"
"Thinking is too much to ask for –and I'm famished! Let's get some snackages and head back!"
Side eyes, "Oy, all you do is eat."
"Oy –brain power –there's nothing like it. I need fuel"
Mumbles, "You need exercise too –you got the sleeping and eating down pat."
Puts her face within inches of Anahita's, "You say something?"
She involuntarily jerks back, "No, of course not –pudgy."
"Hi pot, well met."
They both laugh –neither of them were pudgy and it was good to have a retorting partner again. They were going to be alright. ~Some boring event happened ~ Back at the suite, they knocked on the door and Dr. Muzro lets them in. The look on their faces tell all about the rental car. He sighs but what's done is done. He doesn’t even care about it or the cost –yes it will set him back a bit, but there are more important affairs to attend to. He shows the documents to Psychick [he decides to call her] and Psydekick [he didn’t really know if she had 'powers' or not… he conceded that most people do have psychic connections with each other –just some more in tune than others] and Psychick gives her pal a 'you should look into this' look. Psydekick nods, whips out her phone and begins her research. He felt his age more than ever –he never really got into using his mobile for anything other than calls. He had no time or desire to learn all that although now… it might help him pass away the time that he probably no longer has…
Psychick was silent for an eternity before finally speaking, "Oh, yeah I wasn't really trying to plan anything. I'm too hungry to think."
"… … … Oh.my… You can't think on an empty stomach. Did I get that right?"
"Oh, well to put it in such an old expressive manner…"
"What are you implying with that?"
"I didn't say anything insulting, but I seem to have discovered your shoe size…"
"Ah, well it looks as though you guys are taking me out to dinner."
Both at the same time, "What?"
Miwa quickly recovers, "Right, you are the only one with a working vehicle…"
"Why don't you eat at the hotel restaurant if you're so hungry??"
"[Whines] I'm a starving college student… I only bought snackages but that's for tonight."
"And really, I think I just have cabin fever. This was my vacation week…"
"Was? The world didn't end." Anahita grouses.
"But it nearly has –which is all the more reason to go out and have the 'Last Supper' of sorts."
"Oh.my.geez but we are NOT having this conversation?!" Anahita chortles.
"Shouldn't we be getting back for exams soon?"
"Eh, I have one more day to study then take my exams and one day after that to leave. You're done with your exams, no?"
"No. I have only one more the same day as you but I'm leaving as soon as I'm done."
"Wait, what? W-H-Y?"
"Why did you spell that out for me? Anyway, my family is coming to help me move shi—stuff back home and then we're going on a road trip!"
"Why am I just learning about this??? Ah, but… okay so see? Today is a 'last' day of sorts –we leave tomorrow to study at the dorms then go about our lives."
They both turned to look at him; Miwa asks, "But where does that leave you?"
"What? I don't need to study or anything…"
"Ha! We actually have specific plans after this, but, knowing what you know about Feral Eyes and some of his minions –what are you going to do? What are you prepared to do, rather?"
"… I am still puzzling over this as well. I will safely hide the documents… unless you wanted them…?"
"I think you are correct to assume responsibility for that. I don't have the means to store them anywhere 'safely'. But as well, you were the one in my premonition to guard these particular items…"
He nods then, "I too cannot think when my stomach is on empty."
"?! Empty! Your gas tank was completely empty when we checked." Anahita informs him.
"It was dripping… but… it couldn't be! When I arrived at the gas station my tank was a quarter full and I distinctly remembered her filling it up. …I can't remember what it was when I left town –I never actually looked… so it could be possible that it was still the same [or a little lower] when I crashed…"
"Did anything or anyone hit you from behind?"
"I was considering that myself and I couldn’t tell you if that happened or not since I truly thought I made it back here safely yet when I woke up I was crushed in front of that damned sign."
"Yeah… and none of the airbags deployed either…"
"… I wanted to leave the town as quickly as possible, so I was probably going at least twenty above the speed limit especially since I thought I wouldn’t be caught at that time of night."
"Huh, lucky bastard. Let's celebrate your life while eating –I think we've already established how ravenous I am."
"Gluttonous. You're never full."
"Shut it –okay ~ let's go!"
Anahita sighs and rolls her eyes; Dr. Muzro smirks and heads for the door with Miwa leading the way.