TWICE IS COINCIDENCE
I had to move house, there was no way I could stay living in the village near the orphanage. I didn't know where I was going to go, but I knew had to get away.
Mara had heard about my plan and decided to accompany me into the city. She had an Aunt who lived there and arranged for us stay with her until I found somewhere to live. I felt like a refugee.
So the Friday night after the orphanage burnt down, Mara and I gathered our things and threw them into the back of Mara's car before driving off into the darkness.
"I can't thank you enough for doing this for me," I said, drearily as I lent my arm against the window frame.
I hadn't slept for days since the fire. Every time I tried, the voices came back into my head. The children, screaming and crying for my help and I couldn't help them.
"I had to sweetie," Mara responded, softly. "I mean, have you seen yourself? You've been coped up in my house for days; bags under your eyes the size of two large grapes and don't get me started on your clothing options. I get that black is slimming, but you don't need it honey."
"Colours are happy darling," I stated, half-heartily. "And right now, I have nothing to be happy about."
We drove in silence for a while, Mara tapping impatiently on the steering wheel as if she wanted to say something but didn't know the right time and I was just starting listlessly out of the window, sighing occasionally.
"It wasn't your fault Milla."
This was the second time she had even spoken about the fire to me since it happened, and even then she didn't know what to say.
"I know you think it is because you weren't there, but it's not," Mara continued, ignoring my lack of response. "If you had been there you would have died too-"
"You don't know that!" I snapped back, quickly.
Mara didn't bring up the fire for the rest of the night. In fact, we barely spoke at all. I wasn't mad at Mara, I knew she was right. If I had been there I probably would have died, but better that than to live with what I was living through right now.
I watched as the trees rolled past the car, lit by only the occasional streetlamp and the light from the full moon. The trees came faster and faster and soon they were just wisps of smoke in the air, dancing through the moonlight like fairies in a garden. They spun and spun through the darkness, frolicking and prancing until suddenly the sky turned a bright orange, and flames grew up all around them. They screamed and cried for the heat was intolerable and the fairies roasted under the fiery dark inferno…
Milla. Milla. Where are you Milla? Milla! Why did you let us die? MILLA!
I opened my eyes. The fairies were gone, and so were the trees.
It was morning and the car had stopped.
My eyes adjusted and I looked over to Mara who was still sitting in the driver's seat looking at me, her face flooded with concern.
"Mara, what happened?" I asked, sitting up straight and rubbing my sore head. I must have fallen asleep with my head against the window.
"So this is why you couldn't sleep," she said, quietly.
Mara had pulled off the road at a diner about 80 miles out of the city after I had apparently started freaking out in my sleep. That didn't surprise me.
She helped me into the diner and we ordered some breakfast, sitting down in one of the booths by the window.
"This is why you're depressed isn't it?" Mara supposed, as she poured some maple syrup over her pancakes before handing the bottle over to me. "It's not just when you're awake; it's in your dreams too."
I poured the syrup over my food and picked up my fork, taking a few bites.
"I don't know," I responded, gloomily. "Every time I try and sleep, they come back. They haunt me."
I could tell Mara didn't really know what to say anymore, so she left it and just concentrated on eating.
"What was I doing?" I asked, as we both finished the last bites of our food. "Was I saying something?"
Mara shrugged her shoulders.
"You slept silently enough for a while," she informed me, dabbing the sides of her mouth with a napkin. "About half an hour later, you just started freaking out. Yelling about how, "you didn't know" and that "you were sorry" and that "you wished you had died too." That's when I pulled over here. You settled down a bit after that but you were still muttering, and then you woke up."
I placed my head in my hands, and massaged my temples.
"What is wrong me?"
"Nothing sweetie," Mara said, grasping my hands and I looked up at her. "You're going through what anyone would go through. Those children were your life, but you have to stop this. Maybe you should see someone?"
"I'm not crazy," I retorted, snatching my hands out of hers.
"I'm not saying you are," Mara defended, quickly. "I'm just worried about you, that's all."
"Well stop it!" I cried. "I'm fine; I can deal with this on my own."
I stood up and stormed out of the diner, walking over to the car and opening the door, sitting down in the front seat before I realized I didn't have the car keys. I wasn't very good at the whole, "getting angry at people" thing.
A few moments later Mara emerged having paid the bill and opened the drivers' car door, leaning in to talk to me.
"Great get away," she stated, sarcastically. "No really darling, you should be a spy."
I looked up at her, trying to remain angry but that was much too difficult.
"Ah! A smile!" Mara cried, happily. "Haven't seen that in a while! Now come on, out of there. You failed your test anyway, three times if I recall correctly."
"Shut up," I responded, playfully before sliding over to the passenger side as my best friend sat down and closed the door behind her.
"Okay, city here we come," Mara said, turning on the car and we roared out of the diner parking lot.
We arrived in the city a few hours later, but sadly it wasn't as glamorous as I had hoped. It was just tall grey buildings and everyone looked sad. A few hours ago, I would have blended right in.
We pulled outside a tall plain building with small little stairs and oddly shaped windows in rows going up. We took our bags out of the car and made our way up the stairs where Mara knocked on the door.
After waiting around outside for a while, we were finally let into the house by an old, frail looking woman who immediately retreated to the first bedroom on the left and slammed the door shut.
"I'm presuming that was your Aunt Clarice?" I stated, slightly boggled.
"Yep," Mara responded, placing the bags down on the ground of the dusty front hallway. "Just how I remember her."
After peering our heads into every one of the twelve doors along the main hallway, we found another bedroom that had two beds in it side by side where we put all of our things down. It seemed that every room in the dungy apartment had a thick layer of dust that had settled down upon everything currently in it, not to mention the torn tapestries and broken furniture that were well in need of repair.
"So, what is the deal with your Aunt? Why didn't she say hello?" I asked Mara, as I lay back against my bed later that night.
Mara was looking into the dust covered mirror as she tried to put a large hoop earring in. She was planning on going out to this new club that had just opened, I wasn't too fond of the idea but something told me Mara would make me come with her.
"She went a bit weird a few years back," Mara replied, making a weird scrunched up face as she concentrated on the earring. "I was maybe, six or seven. She was the only family I had left and one day she just came home and didn't speak. She was just dead silent. I tried to talk, but nothing. She just stared vacantly at the wall. She used to be this amazing fashion designer, but after that night the business collapsed without her guidance. No-one ever found out why. After that, I was shipped from orphanage to orphanage, until I found you. Now, are you coming with me or what?"
I sighed and pulled my legs up to my chin.
"I don't know darling, I haven't been out since-"
"No, no don't go there," Mara said, tearing away from the mirror and sitting down on the bed with me, placing her hands on my knees. "You need to think about something else. You were the queen of the dance floor back in the day and you can be again. Now, I've laid out my best dress for you to wear over on the door handle, get changed and let's go party baby!"
I laughed at her cheerfulness, and perhaps that was why I decided to go along with her crazy idea.
"I wondered why that dress was there!" I cried, laughing.
After changing and re-doing my hair and make-up, the two of us headed outside in the brightest clothing we could find and piled into Mara's car, driving off towards the center of the city.
"So, what is this place?" I asked, as we stood out in the cold, bitter night air lining up to get into the club.
"It's called, 'Gehirn' obviously some kind of statement," Mara explained. "Tonight is the grand opening and I figured, why not?"
After lining up for half an hour, we managed to get inside and whilst Mara headed immediately for the dance floor I sat myself down at a booth in the corner, not really in the mood for dancing just yet. After all, dancing is what made me miss the fire.
Throughout the duration of the evening, I was hit on twice and possibly was asked for my hand in marriage a few times by a group of odd looking college boys, but really I just wanted to go home… wherever that was.
"Come on, dance baby!" Mara called, dancing her way in front of the booth and scowling down at me.
"Maybe later," I responded, gingerly.
"Soon there won't be a later," Mara observed. "It'll be morning soon. Well, if you change your mind…"
As Mara danced away, I had suddenly thought of something I hadn't thought of in months- well actually, someone. Someone who had said those words to me a month ago now and I had forgotten all about it. He had given me a card, which I had held in my hands the whole way down to Mara's house before throwing it into the bottom of one of my handbags.
I looked down to the bag I had slung over my shoulder a few hours prior, not thinking about it at all. I rummaged through it, using the small amount of light I had from the tacky looking lamp behind me before finding the object I desired. The small door shaped card. There were words printed on the back, but I couldn't quite make out what they read.
I looked up and spied the bathrooms over on the other side of the room. I stood up and edged my way around the dance floor, avoiding as much eye contact as possible before reaching the ladies room and walking inside.
Luckily, the room was empty and I took out the card, looking at the words on the back which were printed in deep black ink, 'Sasha Nein- Lab Number: 08392.'
Sasha. That was his name, the man I'd met at the orphanage. He said he could get rid of the dreams, get rid of the nightmares. But how could I contact him? There was no address? No phone number? Not even a postcode.
There was a loud crash and suddenly the lights began to flicker. The music outside had stopped and there were people screaming. I put the card back into my bag and made my way outside.
When I stepped back into the main room, everyone was huddled around the outsides of the room; many people were bolting for the door and pushing to get away from the battle currently taking place in the center of the room.
"The people from the orphanage," I breathed, shocked.
I watched as the two rose into the air, fingers propped up to the sides of his head.
"Surrender Dr. Ledopto! We know what you're planning!" yelled the man I knew as "Sasha Nein."
"Yeah, you're going down," threated the stubby other girl.
At that moment I looked over to the man they were referring to, a rather large looking guy with pale blue skin and a long thin head and neck, but extremely muscular body. His hair was greying and a clear look of confusion printed over his face.
"You've got this wrong! I'm not the one you're after!" he retorted, hastily.
"Liar!" the woman yelled, pressing down on the side of her face and a bright green line shot out from out of her head towards the man.
He jumped out of the way just in time, before pulling out a little door much like the card Sasha had given me and placing it on his head, opening the door as a whole group of little men with big stamps rolled out of his head, running along the ground after the people trying to get out of the club.
I continued to watch as Sasha flew off after the people, trying to protect them whilst the other woman disappeared from my view as did the strange man they were fighting.
People screamed and hurried to the emergency exit and I was soon caught up in the crowd, almost at my way to the door with no signs of Mara anywhere.
Over the crowd, I could hear an extra loud cry that could only have come from a child. I looked up and there was boy of about fifteen, hanging from the top floor of the club. Obviously he had obtained some form of fake ID. I cried out for someone to help him, but everyone else was screaming so no-one even paid attention to me.
I pushed backwards through the crowd, trying to get close to him to maybe catch him or something, but I wasn't fast enough and he lost grip on the upstairs rail, hurtling towards the ground.
"No!" I yelled, reaching my hands out and closing my eyes, hoping and praying something or someone would save him.
Having not heard the sound of him hitting the ground, I opened my eyes and saw the boy floating in midair a few meters from me just a mere few centimeters from hitting the ground. Most of the people had left the club by now, with only a few stragglers left so no-one else had noticed.
I lowered my hands and the boy landed on the ground, without as much as scratch.
"What the hell are you?" he asked me, frightened before bolting over to the door.
I looked down at my hands. Had I just done that?
I looked up again and noticed Sasha Nein, the man from the orphanage standing across from me, looking amazed.
"Nice to see you again Miss Vodello," he said, calmly. "I see your powers are beginning to develop quite well now."