Eric Watson: Something to Fear

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Eric's car crashed to a stop outside the Pandora Café. The squeak of the tyres and the slamming of the doors drew the attention of those inside the café – and Eric was surprised to see there were quite a number.

"What's going on?" Tiffany asked, opening the door before Eric even reached it. She could tell by his flustered expression that something was wrong. Once he realised she would ask questions, he tried to seem more normal.

"Oh, uhm, I'll tell you in a second. Where is Carmen?"

Tiffany closed the door behind him and followed him to the counter. There were about seven people sitting inside, their hands wrapped tightly around their steaming hot coffee cups. Some of them sat together, conversing about the power outage and wondering what will be done to fix it.

"Nothing works in my house, not that it worked anyway..." One of them complained.

Another smacked her lips at the delicious taste of a hot drink. "Well, what I heard is that the Mayor has no idea what's going on, but has told several people in the Town Square that he expects the power to return by the end of the day."

A man at a nearby table chimed in: "How will we even know if it's the end of the day or not? It looks like we are stuck in some kind of dark limbo! If my watch didn't work, I wouldn't know if it was noon or midnight!"

Eric stopped listening to their conversations long enough to see Carmen prepare some food in the kitchen. He walked to the window and rang the bell for her attention.

Carmen looked up. "Eric, did you get the book?"

He waited until Tiffany caught up before replying. "No. It was there when I got home, but a neighbour was killed, and I tried to help her but I was too late. When I got back home, the book was gone."

"What?!" Tiffany and Carmen exclaimed in unison.

"I'm sorry guys, I was hoping I'd find a way to find Justin with it. Instead..." Eric was about to tell them about Claudia, but once he met Tiffany's eyes, he stopped. "Instead, I came across something about the monster."

"Which monster?" Carmen asked. "There's like a dozen or so."

"The monster," Eric emphasised.

"Oh, the Beyoncé of monsters, the one that calls the shots," Tiffany said. "What about it."

"There's a cave, near the border of town. It has people dreaming inside and I it's the only lead I have to do with anything, really. I'm hoping that if I go there, I'll find something out about the whereabouts of Justin. I know that's a long shot, considering the two are unrelated at the minute, but it's all I have."

Tiffany shrugged. "I'll come with you."

Eric began to feel flustered again. "Actually, I was hoping Carmen could accompany me."

"Not wanting my company, then?" Tiffany asked offended.

Carmen also seemed surprised. "You want me to go with you? Why? Tiffany is better at handling things like that way better than me."

"Yeah, but..." Eric pressed his brain to think of something, fast. "Tiffany is better at handling the café."

"Bullshit!" Tiffany almost laughed. "I've just conned every customer in here for extra money for the coffees, you know, since we're the only café open in town. I've put the extra change in the staff tips."

"Excuse me!" A middle-aged customer at a table behind her shouted.

Tiffany turned to her. "Oh hush up and drink your expensive yet delicious freshly ground coffee. You should have paid extra because I made it." She turned back to Eric. "Doesn't cost anything for manners, though."

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