I could hear the distant voice of someone singing. Slowly, I opened my eyes and noticed the night sky before my eyes. After a few seconds, my nose quickly picked up the smell of smoke and I turned to my left.
"Take me back, to the night we met…" I widened my eyes when I noticed Felix was sitting next to me, a cigarette between his index and middles fingers. He put the cigarette between his lips and took a drag before exhaling the smoke.
I wanted to call out to him, but my voice was stuck in my throat. Felix looked down at me, his grey eyes staring into my soul… or at least I felt that way. It didn't feel bad; in fact, it was a feeling I grew to love.
He smirked. "Good morning, sleeping beauty" I wanted to say something rhetoric to him, but I just couldn't seem to find my voice. He threw the cigarette and stomped on it before lying back with me, a hand on the back of his head.
I tried moving my hand, but I couldn't as much as move an inch. Felix looked up at the night sky with his usual soft smile and then turned to look at me.
"You know, it's pretty boring out here" he started. "I feel like a third wheel whenever I'm with Claude and Levi"
I just stared at him and glanced at his neck. There was a scar. I wanted to ask him what had happened to him, but Felix seemed to have noticed my stare.
His fingers gently touched the scar on his neck and for a moment he looked sad, but quickly smiled at me. "Ah, so you noticed it! As expected of you, Salvador"
What's that supposed to mean? Was what I wanted to ask him, but it was like I was mute. He just shrugged it off and sat up; for the first time since I got there, I finally felt my body reacting and sat up along with him.
"I trust you, Salvador," he said as he gently ruffled my hair. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and I wanted to hold his arm and tell him to not go. I wanted him to stay a little longer and continue to talk to me like we used to. But I couldn't, my body wouldn't move.
When Felix pulled his hand back, he smiled at me one last time before standing up and walking away to the darkness in front of us. I stood up and turned around; I noticed Juan was tied up in a chair and I, confused, walked up to him.
"Juan?" My voice finally returning to me; Juan was looking at me, but his face showed fear. Why was he so afraid? I wasn't going to hurt him or anything.
"You finally wake up, huh?" I froze when I heard the deep voice. I knew that voice, I've heard it before. I felt my breath quickening and I a sudden urge to run and hide. I felt like everything around me was spinning and slowly, with fear rising up to my throat, I turned around. But, before I could see the person… I had already waked up.
My eyes shot open and I sat up gasping for air. I heard my phone buzzing and without even seeing who it was calling me, I answered. "Hello?"
"Where the fuck are you!?" I flinched and distance the phone from my ears. I looked at the ID caller and sighed when I noticed it was just Cameron calling me.
"What do you want?"
"What do you mean what do I want!? Didn't we agree to search for Juan on Saturday since he went missing two days ago and hasn't picked up any of my fucking calls!"
I quickly looked at the time on my phone and mentally cursed myself. "Shit, we were supposed to meet up at school"
"No shit Sherlock, you better get your ass right here or I'll personally go to your house and drag you out of your bed!" Cameron yelled before hanging up. I sighed and decided to not waste time and just change clothes. I didn't even comb my hair at all, not wanting Cameron to yell more at me.
"Look who decided to wake up"
"Connor, hey!" I looked at my cousin with a surprised expression. Connor was staring intently at me as he stopped doing his homework. I just smiled nervously at him and told him I was going to meet up with Cameron and Drake.
Connor narrowed his eyes at me. "I see… have fun," he said, emphasizing the last statement. I guess I wasn't forgiven yet, but I didn't want him to be in danger because of me.
I walked up to him and put an arm around his shoulders as I rested my head on top of his. "I'm sorry Connor, I promise you that when everything is over… I will tell you everything"
I heard Connor sigh and I leaned back as he turned around to face me. "It's okay, Salvador… I guess I shouldn't even be complaining about keeping secrets from me when I-" he stopped himself from finishing his sentence, which left me confused. So, was he hiding something from me?
"I'm leaving now or Cameron will yell at me for being super late," I said, knitting my eyebrows together. Connor nodded at me and told me to be careful. I hurried to get to school, regretting not waking up earlier and telling my mom to drop me off at school today.
"Fuck" I muttered under my breath as I try to find a taxi. It took me like 5 minutes to find one and tell the driver to drop me off at my high school. The whole way to the school I had a feeling Cameron was going to murder me, but this time he had all the right to do so.
I told the driver to drop me off near the Resaca in front of the school and paid him. I noticed Cameron was passing back and forth while Drake sat in front of the big B. I sighed internally and ran towards the entrance of the school, though I was almost run over by a car and the driver began to shout at me to be more careful.
Cameron shook his head and glared at the girl who was staring at us. "¿Qué tanto miras?1" he snarled. The girl walked faster and the man who almost ran me over drove away as he saw his daughter enter the school.
I tried to catch my breath and braced my hands on my knees. I felt a hand on my back and looked up, Drake smiled at me and handed me a half-empty bottle of water.
"Thanks" I panted as I grabbed the bottle and drank the rest of it. Drake took away the bottle and the cap away from my hands. I leaned back and looked at Cameron, who was staring at me with an eyebrow raised.
I folded my arms across my chest. "What?"
"Do you know whose bottle was that?"
I paused for a moment and the looked at him with a disgusted expression. "Don't tell me-"
"As if I would let you drink from my fucking bottle, asshole," Cameron said, returning the disgusted expression back at me. I looked at him confused for a moment, not really processing what his implications with asking me if I know whose bottle it was.
I noticed Drake walking back to where Cameron and I were; the bottle nowhere to be seen. I turned back at Cameron and punched him in his arm. He yelled in pain and pushed me.
"Guys, guys! What's wrong?" Drake said once he was next to me. Cameron glared at me and huffed; I just rolled my eyes and looked at Drake. He looked at Cameron and me, expecting an answer. I shook my head and look down at my feet.
I hear Drake sigh. "Well anyways, I think we should start going"
I looked up at him and tensed up when I noticed Drake was staring at me; I looked away, feeling the heat on my cheeks and ears. "Of course we should! When are we going to find Juan if we just stand here like idiots?"
We started to walk to Drake's car (which was parked at the front of the school) and I was about to open the door for the back when Cameron slapped a hand on my back and I turned my head to glare at him. He glared back at me.
"You go on the front"
"Why? Do you not want to sit next to Drake?"
"That's your spot anyways"
"No, it's not!"
"Guys!" Drake yells at us from the front seat. "We need to get going"
I sighed and opened the door to the passenger's seat and folded my arms over my chest as I look out the window. However, I felt a hand ran through my hair and I looked to my left. Drake tried his best to brush my hair so that it wasn't sticking everywhere and he was close to me. Close enough that I could smell his cologne.
"There we go! It looks better now" he said, leaning back in his seat. I just stare at him in disbelief and quickly turned away as soon as I started to feel my face hot.
Cameron cleared his throat. "We don't have all the time in the world, assholes"
"It's not like you know where he is exactly," He said as he started the car. He started to drive out of the school and for a moment, I got caught in my thoughts. What was that dream about? What happened to the lifeboat?
I watched with certain amusement how Cameron was calling Salvador (for the fifteenth time) with a big scowl on his face. "Your face is going to stay like that forever if you continue to scowl"
"Fuck off," he said. He jerked up when Salvador finally answered.
"Where the fuck are you!?" he yelled. I sighed and looked at my half-full bottle of water. I didn't feel like drinking more, so I just stared at my phone. I opened up the chat to where a draft to a message to Salvador. 'Are you coming? I'm waiting for you here'.
"That fucking asshole better come" I heard Cameron mumble. I erased the message and put the cellphone away. We waited for a couple of minutes more when I noticed Salvador running towards us, almost getting hit by a car.
The poor guy was out of breath, so I handed him my bottle of water. He nodded at me and forcefully took away the bottle from my hand. Guess he was really thirsty, huh? He finished the water and I just took away the bottle and cap from his small hands.
I blinked. Huh, I never noticed that.
"I'll be back," I said, but I think neither of them was paying attention to me. I just walked to the nearest trash bin to throw away the bottle and when I turn back, I see Cameron pushing Salvador.
I leave them unsupervised for a minute and they are already fighting! I thought as I walked up to them. "Guys, guys! What's wrong?" I stood next to Salvador and looked at him, expecting him to answer me. I hear Cameron snickered, but Salvador shook his head and looked down.
I sighed and look at my feet for a moment before looking back at Salvador. "Well anyways, I think we should start going"
Salvador finally looked up at me, but he quickly glanced away. "Of course we should! When are we going to find Juan if we just stand here like idiots?"
We all walk to my car that's parked in front of the school, close to the Resaca. I'm the first one to get in and put the keys in. I hear Cameron and Salvador start to fight again, but I didn't pay much attention to their fight. Instead, I just turned around with an annoyed look.
"Guys!" I yelled to catch their attention. "We need to get going" Salvador sighed and took the passenger's seat. However, his hair was bothering me a lot. Without thinking, I ran a hand through his hair… it felt soft. I tried my best to fix his hair so it, at least, looked better.
"There we go! It looks better now" I said with a bright smile. However, Salvador turned his head away and I knitted my eyebrows together. Was he angry at me? Cameron cleared his throat.
"We don't have all the time in the world, assholes"
"It's not like you know where he is exactly" I retorted back at him. I started the car and drove away from the school. I glanced at the rearview mirror to look at Cameron. "Do you have any idea where he might be?"
Cameron sighed and stared out the window. "He could be anywhere… but right now, I want to visit his house"
I nodded and followed Cameron's direction to where Juan's house is. We parked outside a one-floor house; the roof was a shade darker than the rest of the house. We all got out of the car; Cameron said to wait for him while he talked to Juan's sister.
I leaned against my car, next to Salvador. "Hey"
Salvador looked up at me with his usual vivid green eyes. For a moment, I forgot what I was going to say. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?"
Salvador widened his eyes and looked at me surprised for a moment, but his apathetic expression returned. "I… had a dream"
"What was it about?" I asked, looking at Cameron talking to a crying young woman. I guess she is Juan's sister… she must be really worried about him.
"About…" I looked back at Salvador. He was frowning as if he was being cautious of what to say.
"Juan," he said. I was about to say something, but I noticed Cameron walking back to us.
"Karolina said we could come inside"
I nodded at him and clasped a hand on Salvador's shoulder. "Alright, let's go"
The three of us entered Juan's house, I gave a small greet to Juan's sister and she just sniffed and returned my greeting. "I already told the police that he didn't tell me where he was going"
I felt bad for her; I wanted to say something to comfort her. But, Salvador spoke before me. "Did you notice something weird when you last saw him?"
Karolina shook her head and blew her nose with the handkerchief. "I see… may we see his room?"
"Maybe he left a note there"
"The police and I already looked there and we found nothing"
Salvador put a hand on Juan's sister arm. "It doesn't hurt to check one last time"
Karolina let us enter Juan's room, although Cameron was hesitant at first. We started to look around for a clue, but nothing came out. At least on my end; I saw Cameron hiding something in his pants pocket and Salvador staring down at something in the closet.
"See? Nothing, not even a note was left" Karolina sighed. Salvador took from the closet a small box wrapped nicely in a blue shiny paper.
Salvador looked at Karolina straight in the eyes. "Do you know something about this?"
Karolina widened her eyes. "No… that's…"
I walked up to Salvador's side and notice handwriting on the right side of the box. "Look, it says something here" I pointed it out. Salvador rotated the box and we both read at the same time.
"For Heart, Spades, Clubs and Diamond-From White Rabbit" Everyone in the room looked confused and Karolina sobbed. She said to let the police handle it, but I felt like the box had something to do with us.
"We'll take it for you," I said, showing her a charming smile. "I'm sure it's difficult for you to step out of the house… let's not lose hope that he can come back home and he would be scared if the house is empty"
Karolina laughed sadly. "I guess you're right"
She walked us to the door and waved goodbye before closing the door. We all walked back to the car in silence. "So, what now?"
Cameron held the box tightly. "We need to find Juan"
"Do you think the box might have a clue to where Juan is?"
Cameron shook his head. "No, I have a feeling we should open the box when the four of us are together"
"Any clues where Juan might be?" I asked as I started up the car.
Cameron was lost in thought for a moment. "Let's go downtown," he said. "Juan used to work there for a while… perhaps his old boss might know something"
I nodded and started to drive away from Juan's house to downtown. Like always, it was busy with people going to the shops and there was no place where to park. Cameron made us parked in front of a small restaurant called 'Armadas'.
"I'll be back," He said, setting the box away. I sighed and glanced at Salvador. He was very quiet and seemed to be in deep thought.
"So," Salvador blinked and looked at me. "What did you dream about Juan?"
We parked outside a one-floor house; I didn't pay that much attention to it. I was too busy thinking about why was Juan tied to a chair and what exactly does that mean? He's been missing one day and I don't know how long it takes before the police considered the person dead or something. I'm no expert on such things, but…
"Hey" I looked over at Drake. I didn't notice he had leaned against the car next to me. He stared at me for a moment, I felt uncomfortable under his stare.
"Yes?" I finally said.
"Are you okay?" his question caught me off guard. Shit, did he notice? I mean, Cameron hadn't said anything about my behavior yet. He still acted like an asshole to me, but then again, it was Cameron we were speaking about.
"I… had a dream," I said, hesitant of speaking about it.
"What was it about?" he asked. I looked at the ground; my dream… my dream was about…
"About…" I frowned. Should I tell him I had dreamt about Felix? No, they shouldn't know about it. Nor they should know about that either.
"Juan," I said. I felt relieved when I saw Cameron walking towards us; I didn't want to talk about the dream any further. He said Juan's sister had let us come inside and we all entered the house.
Karolina's eyes were puffy red from crying so much. "I already told the police that he didn't tell me where he was going," she said. I hummed in thought. Juan wouldn't do that. Heck, Juan wouldn't even leave just like that. He was a happy person that made everyone laugh, including the teachers!
Someone so positive like him wouldn't disappear just like that, which is exactly what my mom had said when she read about him in the newspaper. He was most likely kidnapped… unless he really was going through something and was hiding it from everyone.
"Did you notice something weird when you last saw him?"
Karolina shook her head and blew her nose. "I see… may we see his room?"
"Maybe he left a note there"
"The police and I already looked there and nothing," she said. I put a hand on her arm and squeezed it in a comforting manner.
"It doesn't hurt to check one last time," I said. In the end, she let us go into Juan's room. The three of us checked the room to see if some clue was left behind to where Juan could possibly be. I opened the closet and noticed a small box wrapped up nicely in a shiny blue paper.
"See? Nothing, not even a note was left" Juan's sister sighed in desperation. I took out the box and turned around to face her.
I looked at her straight in the eyes. "Do you know something about this?"
Karolina's eyes widened. "No… that's…" so the box is for us then, huh?
"Look, it says something here," Drake said, pointing to the right side of the box. I rotated the box to see what Drake was pointing and without realizing it, we spoke at the same time.
"For Heart, Spades, Clubs and Diamond-From White Rabbit" For a moment, we all looked confused. However, it suddenly dawned on me what this was. White rabbit… I inhaled sharply and felt relieved nobody has noticed my reaction. Karolina wanted to take the box to the police, but luckily for us, Drake lied to her by saying we would take it ourselves to the police.
"Let's not lose hope that he can come back home and he would be scared if the house is empty"
Karolina let out an empty laugh. "I guess you're right"
She walked us to the door and said her goodbyes. "So, what now?" Drake said once we were all in the car. I looked back at Cameron and he was holding on tight to the box.
"We need to find Juan"
"Any clues where Juan might be?" Drake asked as he started up the car. Cameron stared at the box in thought before saying.
"Let's go downtown," he paused. "Juan used to work there for a while… perhaps his old boss might know something"
Something is something, I guess. Drake drove away to downtown and just like every goddamn weekend, it was full of people there. A little bit of traffic, but we managed to find the restaurant where Juan worked at. We were even lucky to find a spot free in front.
"I'll be back," he said. I was about to get lost in thought, but Drake snapped me back.
"So," I looked over at him, pretty sure he was going to keep asking me about the dream. "What did you dream about Juan?" I sighed internally. Should I really tell him about seeing Juan tied up to a chair? Well, we were looking for him after all.
I was about to tell him about it, but my eyes drifted to the building next to the small restaurant. It was abandoned; it has been like that since I was a kid, but there was something weird about it. It felt… familiar.
I trust you, Salvador…
"Felix?" I said without thinking. I felt like I was in trance and without explaining anything to Drake, I got out of the car and walked to the building. I put my hand on the wooden door and put my ear on the door.
"Salvador?" Drake called out to me, but I ignored him. I concentrate on listening to any sound on the other side of the door. It was faint, but I could hear it. I could hear someone breathing; it was very close to the door. I felt my heart tightening in fear and I carefully leaned away.
"Drake… I need you to get Cameron" I said, my tone shaky.
"Drake, now!" I yelled. I hear him enter the restaurant and I walked to the corner. I looked around and froze when I noticed someone with a bunny mask peeking from an alley and then disappearing.
"What's going on?" I heard Cameron said, but I didn't pay attention to them. I felt my legs move on their own accord and I found myself running to where I saw the person. I turn around and saw someone closing a door on the back of the building.
"Salvador, if we are going to find the killer you need to communicate with us" I hear Drake say once he and Cameron catch up with me. I looked at them and Cameron was looking at me annoyed. Then, I looked at Drake who was looking at me with a worried expression.
"I know where Juan is"
"What!? Where is he!?" Cameron demanded as he walked up to me and grabbed me by my shoulders. I pointed to the metal doors of the abandoned building. He let go of me and quickly ran to the doors.
"Wait, Cameron don't-" he ignored me and kicked the doors open. He ran inside and Drake and I quickly followed him behind. It was dark inside, but with the light coming through the open doors we could see a little.
"Juan!" Cameron yelled. I heard a muffled sound and quickly looked around, trying to see through the darkness and careful not to trip over.
"Over here" I heard Drake called, I was about to follow his voice when I felt a strong hand grabbed me by the arm and quickly covered my mouth with his other hand. I tried to wriggle away from his grasp.
"Tick tock, the clock is ticking Salvador… do you think they won't notice your little secret?" I heard the voice say, but something felt off. It wasn't his voice. Yet, this person was wearing the same mask.
I felt tears roll down my eyes and the person pushed me away. I felt my heart was beating fast, but I didn't waste any more time and run to where Drake was. I noticed Drake was using the flashlight on his phone to help Cameron untie Juan.
"Salvador! I'm glad you-hey, are you okay?" Drake looked at me with worried eyes; I gulped down and nodded at him. Wiping away my tears, I took off the cloth Juan's mouth. He gasped for air and thanked me.
Once he was free, Cameron helped him stand up. "We need to go now"
For once, I agreed with Cameron. We all walked out of the building and get on Drake's car. We let Juan breath for a while and let me process what had happened. Juan… was tied up. Like in my dream…
"Do you want us to take you home?"
"The box… what's it doing here?"
Neither of us wanted to speak. "Do you know about this box?"
"It arrived at my house and before I could open it… someone had snuck into the house and hit me"
"Do you remember anything about your attacker?"
Juan nodded. "He was wearing a bunny mask"
1 What are you looking at?