Chapter 11 - Part 2

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"Room service!" said the voice behind the door.

Darius got up. "I'll get it," he walked over and opened it. "Food's here," he announced.

Two waiters came in, pushing their room service trolleys inside. The trolley was literally three stacks of rectangular tables on wheels. Plates of food arranged like works of art laden on each level. I spotted a plate of a pancake tower with strawberry slices in between and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and I already know who ordered it. And sure enough, Cana reached for the plate. I took a plate of a tall burger with alternating layers of patty and melted cheese because Major Coleman's paying for this so why not. After the waiters leave, we started stacking up papers and shoved them into boxes and put the table back. But the table just wasn't big enough to accommodate all of us so some ate holding their plates.

I sat next to Cana, sharing the table. "Pancakes for lunch?"

"But the picture looked so good," she said as if dreaming.

The burger was so big that I had to spread my mouth beyond its normal range that my jaws were starting to hurt. I could have gone for the knife and fork but I'm not Caprice.

For a moment, we were normal teenagers once again. Eating, talking and laughing.

Caprice kept twirling her seafood pasta. "Should we keep looking?"

"What do you think, Vergil?" Leo said.

The burger was already halfway inside my mouth when he asked so I had to stop and look around. Everyone's eyes are on me. In an awkward situation like this, a normal person would have pulled the burger out of his mouth and put it down on the plate. Maybe even wipe his lips. So I did the proper thing to do and chomped down. The savory juice of the patty had already trickled down my tongue so I had no choice. My face felt greasy but I don't care. I kept on munching a mouthful of buns, tomato, and meat.

I drank my coke and washed down the burger. "Definitely," I said. "We still got a lot to go through."

"You think they tried to like, sprinkle holy water on the Shade or something?" Harmony asked.

"Oh, I read something about that. Where did I put it?" Demi said, more excited rummaging through the pile of folders on his side than finishing his steak. "Got it."

He opened the folder and flipped through the pages. "They did," he said. "It looks like they had help from every religion they know. Let's see, there were Catholic priests, Jewish rabbi, Buddhist monks, even shamans, and urban ghost hunters."

"You mean like those T.V. shows?" Harmony asked. "You know they're fake, right?"

Leo stood up to look over Demi's report. "They must be very desperate."

Demi nodded. "They've tried everything."

"I don't think we're going to find anything that can help us here," Cato said. "Maybe we should consider this one entirely different from the Shades before."

This guy barely joins in on any conversation. So when he says something, he always gets everyone's attention.

"We're looking at this wrong," Cato continued. "Think about it. We've seen things that never happened over the past years and yet we're looking for clues from those years. That's like using quadratic equations to write a poem. It's completely different."

"That makes this all useless, then," Leo said.

"Not necessarily," I said. "I mean, some of the rules still hold, right? Like the U.V. lights and stuff?"

"True," Cato nodded."And that's good. I'm just saying, we have to start treating this Shade different from the rest."

"So we go back," I suggested. "Way back."

Demi sorted through his stack of folders and hold one up. "Here."

"No, I mean, to the very beginning, before the Shade existed," I said.

"The cult?" Cato asked.

I nodded. "The serial kidnappings, specifically."

The door flung open. Major Coleman's back. From the looks of his face, he definitely wasn't happy about something. "We have some serious problem," he said.

He picked up the remote and turned the TV on, flipping through channels till he stopped at one. A news channel. Channel 11. The same channel my parents and I were watching at home before I've got into this mess. He back up and went to the side so we can see the news. This was supposed to be a new occurrence but the news, this particular one they are showing right now, is all too familiar. I'm sure of it because it just happened last night. It was us.

It was a downward shot through the window on what looks like a bedroom. There was some height to it so it must be recorded from the second floor. It was taken from a distance and the camera wasn't good so it was blurry. But there's no denying that it was us. It zoomed in and showed Scarlet crawling out of our totaled truck, then Darius. Everyone else was already standing outside. Then the night guard showed up on the platform and walked down to us, then turned and left us there. We turned around and started running up the stairs. Even with the distance, our screams were captured. The shot whipped through something we were running from, something down the road.

"What is that?" The voice behind the camera said. It was a guy's voice.

Now the video was shaking. "What is that thing?" he whispered as if afraid the thing might hear him and turn on him instead. Panic was creeping in the guy's voice. The shot was following something, but there was nothing on the video. From the road, the shot went up to the sidewalk, then towards the truck and up the stairs before the shot zoomed in on the door of the church.

"It's right there. I don't understand. It's not showing b-but I swear it's there. It's tall. Its body is entirely black. It's standing right in front of the door. Wait. What's it doing? Oh my go- Its arm changes. Are you kidding me?!? It's arm freaking change. It stabbed the door. It's screaming! It's in pain. I don't know if you can hear it but it's very angry." The video showed the door. A hole looked like it magically appears on it.

Of course, it wasn't magic, it's just the cameras not being able to capture the Shade. I don't know what happened next because the shot cut away back to the news anchors, one was discussing how frightening it was while the other was considering the possibility of it being a hoax. Major Coleman turned the T.V off.

"So much for keeping it a secret," Cato said.

"It's not so bad," I said. "I mean, it didn't show anything."

"Aren't you guys good at covering up stuff?" Leo asked.

"We're doing what we can," Major Coleman said. "But you have to remember that even the slightest indication of this being linked back to the Shade, and in extension, to you, the public will turn on you. It happened before and so it is not a stretch to say that it will happen again. I, for one, would very much like not to witness that," he sighed, scratching his head. "And then there are those parasites to deal with."

"Parasites, sir?" Demi asked.

"The media. If they managed to make the connection, they'll be swarming Biringan like moths to a lamp. Not that they could close without being shot but I prefer to keep things quiet. Remember, rumors and superstition were all it took for the city to lose its mind." he sighed again. "Anyway, how are you guys doing?"

"Actually, about that," I said. "Major Coleman, we might need everything you have on the cult."

Major Coleman blinked. "The cult?"

I told him what we've discussed.

"Well," Major Coleman said. "Have you been to the museum?" 

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