Chapter 14 - Part 2

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"Major," I said, motioning my head in the direction of the guy. Major Coleman seemed to understand what I mean and immediately placed himself between the guy and us. When the guy got close enough, Major Coleman put his hand on the guy's shoulder. "That's close enough," he said. The guy pulled out his cell phone and played a video. It was the same news we saw this afternoon, back at the hotel. 

He turned to me again. "That's you, isn't it?" He was considerate enough to lower his voice when he said that.

There's something about his voice that bothers me. I'm sure I heard his voice before. I started thinking maybe he was a twitch streamer or one of the YouTuber I subscribed to. But when the guy on the video started talking, it all made sense.

"You..." I said. "You took the video."

He nodded. I watched the video on his phone. There was no news logo, no news feed flashing down the bottom of the screen. That proved it.

"So what do you want out of this?" Major Coleman said.

"The truth," the guy said. "I want to know what exactly that thing is." He held his phone in front of Major Coleman's face when the Shade was being focused on. But of course, cameras cannot capture any images of the Shade so the shot tightened in on the sidewalk.

Major Coleman played dumb. "That's called a sidewalk."

"Yeah, that's not gonna work," the guy said. "I saw it myself, okay? If you don't want to tell me, fine. In fact, you don't have to say anything. Your face will tell me what I needed to know."

The guy slid his phone to his back pocket. "Was it the Shade?"

My neck tingled when he said that. I looked away because if he sees my reaction, my face is definitely screaming yes. First, the Shade ambushed us. Then, our lights do nothing. Then there's this guy. Could this night get any worse?

I looked at Cana. She wasn't hiding her surprise any better than me. This was the worst possible time for someone to make the connection, with the Shade just behind us.

But Major Coleman had the best poker face ever. "Suppose I tell you what you want to hear. What are you going to do with that information?"

"Nothing. I just want to know if I'm on its menu."

"Unfortunately, I cannot honor your request. However, I would kindly ask you to keep all this matter confidential," Major Coleman held out his hand. "I'll be taking your phone as well. You will get compensated, of course."

Surprisingly, the guy agreed. "Go ahead, take it. I've got plenty where that came from."

"I'll send someone to drop by," Major Coleman just smiled. "Thank you for your cooperation."

But the guy wouldn't let it go. "You know...we're in a very compact and private place."

"So?" Leo said. Clearly annoyed by the guy.

"What's stopping me from shouting what I know?"

Major Coleman just scoffed. "Good luck with that."

The moment the guy turned around, Major Coleman karate-chopped him on the back of his neck. His body fell to us. We caught him from falling, dragged his body to the corner and stood around him, hiding his limp body on the floor behind our legs. It happened so fast, so silent that nobody even glanced up from their phones.

"Dimasalang Station. Dimasalang Station."

"That was awesome," Demi whispered to Major Coleman.

"Can you do that?" Leo asked, looking straight at the crowd.

"Doesn't matter. I had to. We don't have the time to entertain people like him," Major Coleman said.

Our train was slowing down. The car doors slid opened and we went out with the wave of the crowd.

"Should we just leave him there?" I asked. "What if he talks?"

"He will," Major Coleman said. "But right now we've got bigger problems to worry about. Now run!"

We flew down the stairs and ran. Major Coleman's back was our finish line. We ran as if Death himself was chasing us, which was a really accurate description of our situation. We turned around a building. Ran through red lights. Lamppost after lamppost, we ran. We ran as far as our legs could take us. We ran even when my chest was burning.

After turning another corner, I saw several soldiers at the checkpoint at the distance. A couple of armored military vehicle creates a barrier before the checkpoint and metal gates. We've made it.

We reached the barricade of soldiers and vehicles, panting, legs incredibly sore. The vehicles parked had signal light mounted on top. I didn't expect to see familiar faces to spill out of two other, civilian cars. Cato. Harmony. Indigo. Darius. Confusion makes us ignore the exhaustion and I walked up to them. Their drivers also stepped out to meet us.

"What are they doing here?" Cana asked Major Coleman.

"They were attacked," Major Coleman explained. "I didn't have the time to explain back at the train."

I asked Cato. "You've got searchlights, right?"

"It didn't work," he said calmly, as he usually is.

"Same. The U.V. lights didn't do anything." Caprice added.

"So it's not the lights," I said out loud.

"You guys, too?" Darius asked.

"Wait," Cana said. "Then, how did you survive?"

"It disappeared right after." Driver 1 said.

"Why didn't it attack? You were completely vulnerable," Major Coleman asked.

"We don't know, sir," Driver 2 said.

"So what, it took the trouble to destroy the lights, knowing it wouldn't hurt it, and just left you alone?" Cana asked.

"I know how it sounds. But I'm telling you. That's what happened," Darius said.

My eyebrows knitted themselves tight. "It doesn't make sense."

"It does," Cato said.

All the attention turned to him. "It destroyed all the lights, leaving you defenseless, and yet, it disappeared. When you called ahead, they tell you the safe houses were all destroyed except for this one. You're vulnerable and left with only one place to go. What would you do?"

"It wants us to come here," I said. "All haunteds in one place."

"But why?" Cana asked. "Why even bother—"

"Contact!" A soldier called out. Our heads turn to where he was pointing. Under the empty waiting shed of a bus stop was the Shade. Fully formed.

Immediately, searchlights and the signal lights of the vehicles were turned on, creating a wall of violet light formed in front of us. We're safe. There's no way this thing can come near us. The Shade zoomed towards us. The Shade's body was completely immersed in violet light. And the Shade vanished, leaving no trace behind. We survived another night. At least, that's what was supposed to happen. But instead, the Shade kept on coming. 

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