Today was the first day of school, which is normally a day that everyone finds dreadful. Your alarm clock going off early in the morning, while the day is still dark and it is difficult to get up. Or you sleep through your alarm and you almost miss the bus to school.
Sometimes there are these people that have no trouble getting out of bed and who are always on time. Like Luca Reyes, a nineteen year old young man who has always enjoyed the first day of school. He would get to see his friends after a long time, and since he had an enormous hunger for knowledge, he loved to learn. He definitely enjoyed the time he spent at school, he was never bullied, he wasn’t really popular either but the two friends he had were enough for him.
And now he sat at the table eating cereal for breakfast, while his cat was begging him for more treats. Luca was still in his white pyjama bottoms, after he had woken up he had put on a black oversized t-shirt, as he always slept shirtless. His brown hair al over the place from just waking up, the curls constantly fell before his eyes. The new haircut he had gotten recently, an undercut with the top of his hair left half-long and curly, only looked nice if he styled it.
He ran a hand through his hair for the umpteenth time, preventing him from eating it. Then he felt his cat brush against his leg. Looking down, pleading cat eyes stared into his own bright blue ones. He reached out his hands to lift and hug her. ‘You greedy cat, you’ve already had enough.’ He snuggled his nose in the white and soft fur. Luca had taken Pearl with him when he left his home, and while living alone she really helped him not to feel lonely.
The feline was a very special cat, with white, almost silver, fur and piercing, green eyes. She was very talkative, meaning she always woke him up early morning with her meows, asking for food. A great alarm clock if you asked him, because she never failed to wake him up.
Suddenly his phone rang, he let Pearl escape and looked at the contact name. He picked up and said:
‘Rowan, good morning!
‘Is it a good morning tho?’ A low voice from the other side grumpily said.
Luca chuckled. ‘For you I guess not.’
‘Anyways, I called you to say that the first two literature classes are canceled.’
‘That’s strange. Ms Thayer is never absent.’
‘Yea I know, everyone in our class is just as confused as you are and the school hasn’t said anything about it yet.
I wonder what could have happened, Luca thought to himself.
‘Well, thanks for telling me. I’ll see you in about two hours then.’
‘Yup, no problem. See you, man.’
Rowan hung up. Luca sighed.
Ms Thayer was their literature teacher and his favorite. The 57 year old was a very kind and wise woman, her classes were always fun and Luca had learned the most from her. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t worried. Meow? Pearl looked at him with questioning eyes, it was like she knew what was on his mind. He sat down on the ground in front of her cross-legged and picked her up to hug her again. ‘I’m ok, Pearl. I just suddenly got a weird feeling as soon as Rowan told me. It felt like something was crawling up my back, but it was kinda stabbing me. It was painful. And I really want to know what happened.’ He sighed once more. He hoped this wasn’t just like what happened about nine years ago.
One day his primary school teacher didn’t show up to school and the class was told to go home, everyone had been happy and were just joking that his car had probably broken down. But that evening their parents had received an email saying there would be no school for their class for at least two weeks. After those weeks the school had arranged a substitute for the class. It was still unknown what exactly had happened, and Luca suspected even his primary school didn’t know anything. He wished his college would later this day inform that Ms Thayer was ill, and that she would be back sooner or later.
Luca was pulled out of his thoughts by Pearl trying to escape from his arms. He let her go and stood up to go to the bathroom. He brushed his teeth and changed his pyjamas to black jeans and a indigo colored blouse, all the while being absorbed by his thoughts. He went to the front door of his apartment to find his sneakers, he had decided to go for a walk, he needed some physical activity and fresh air.
Before opening the door he said goodbye to his cat. Once he stepped out onto the gallery connecting the apartments, he was met by a breeze. It softly blew through his hair and left a nice feeling on his face. It instantly calmed him down. As he walked along the gallery towards the stairs he looked to his left, outside, to see the sun shining brightly, it casted big shadows of the residential block and the trees standing around it, on the ground. Every now and then a wind as soft as velvet blew through the canopy of leaves, making them smoothly sway from left to right, as if they were dancing. The buzzing sound of bees, looking for flowers for their honey, was all around. In the air hung a fresh scent, the smell of the summer season that would soon turn to the autumn.
It was his favorite type of weather.
When he reached the stairs he saw his neighbor climbing up carrying two bags on each side of her.
‘Can I help you with that, Ms Perez?’
The elder lady noticed the boy. ‘It is quite alright young man, I might be old but I can still manage myself.’ She smiled. ‘And you have other things to do.’
’Are you sure? I actually don’t have any plans. So…’ Ms Perez shook her head, not letting him finish his sentence. ‘I am sure, thank you Luca. You should hurry now, you might be late.’
’Huh? But I’m just going for a wal…’ Ms Perez had already walked past him, leaving him at the top of the stairs, utterly confused.
What could Ms Perez have meant by that? Luca was once again absorbed in his thoughts, his disoriented mind filled with questions. He had walked down the stairs and was now walking along the street where he lived. And even though he had no specific destination in mind, it was like he was being led somewhere. As if an invisible thread was pulling him, to a place it wanted him to be.
After a while of absentmindedly walking, Luca suddenly stopped, he had reached a house, the house he could recognize from a mile away. The place where he grew up, the home that he left to live on his own not too long ago. But it looked different. About a year ago, when he still lived here with his parents, it was lively, the enormous tree had stood proudly with its green leaves hanging over the roof of the house. The flowers in his mothers garden had been colourful and always left an amazing scent, this scent had always been mixed with the smell of freshly baked bread his father often made. Pearl would walk and run everywhere, asking for attention or food. Occasionally his fathers loud laugh could be heard, when someone made a good joke, echoing between the walls. But now it was quiet, too quiet. There was no scent of flowers, nor the scent of bread. There were no colours and no green leaves. It seemed…dead.
Luca got a uneasy feeling that went through his entire being. ‘Mom,’ he whispered, ‘Dad.’ He pushed the gate open and it made a creaking sound. That was strange, he could remember that last week his father had told him on the phone that he had just oiled it. Continuing to walk towards the front door, Luca took a good look around, it didn’t just seem dead, everything was dead. The flowers had withered and everywhere were brown and crumpled leaves. His uneasiness grew by the second, and he hurried towards the door. His hands went to the door handle but when he wanted to pull it down he stopped, he had heard voices, faint voices coming from inside. Luca’s initial thought was that they belonged to his parents, and a wave of relieve washed over him. But as the voices got closer and clearer, he realized they were unknown to him.
A woman’s voice could be heard saying: ‘It was him, grandfather, I know it. Their son is the one he’s been looking for.’ She sounded quite frustrated.
An other voice, belonging to the grandfather, said: ‘We can’t know that for sure. It could have been anything. And right now we should focus on letting the son know.’ Luca heard a sigh, ‘The poor boy doesn’t deserve this.’
Suddenly the handle went down, Luca’s hand still on it, and the door slowly opened. In front of him there were a pretty woman of around twenty years old and an older man of probably sixty five years old. Both with a very surprised expression, they obviously didn’t expect him to be there, and Luca had the same look on his face. He studied their faces and the clothes they were wearing. She had black wavy hair that went to her shoulders and her green-grayish eyes were piercing and confident. She wore high, black boots, blue jeans and a simple white T-shirt. The older man had grey and black hair with a long, grey beard that went all the way to his waist. He too, wore simple clothes, sturdy boots and black jeans with a white T-shirt. He was tall and muscular, and a little scary looking.
He decided to break the awkward silence: ‘Who are you? Why are you in my house? And what in the word happened here?’ He was getting a bit angry, that was to be expected. There were strangers in his house talking about him and he wasn’t only extremely worried about his parents, but also about Ms Thayer. What’s more, his neighbor had told him something very confusing, and all the mixed emotions made him unable to think straight.
’The front door was open.’ The woman told him with an emotionless voice. That made him even angrier, but before he could say anything the old man scolded her: ‘Be respectful!’ She scoffed, crossed her arms and looked away. The man turned to Luca.
’Are you Luca Dario Reyes, son of Violet Briar Reyes and Osvaldo Theo Reyes?’ The boy nodded slowly, looking suspiciously between the woman and the man, the female still not facing him. How did they know his parents names? And not to mention his own full name. No one knew about his middle name, not even his friends, it was something his parents never allowed him to share with others.
‘I’m sorry, my boy. But I have some bad news for you. You probably noticed the house’s state, and how strange it is that everything looks so dead, right?’ Luca didn’t answer, and when the old man wanted to continue, he hesitated. The woman sighed impatiently, she let her arms drop to her sides and said in her grandfather’s stead: ‘Your parents were killed.’
Luca stared at her, his eyes were blank and there was no emotion to be seen on his face. He couldn’t really process the information he had just been told. Thinking she was joking, although she didn’t really seem like the type of person to do that, he said with a voice shaking out of anger: ‘Are you kidding me right now?’ She stared back at him, the only thing he could see in her eyes was cockiness and maybe a little bit of pity, but he may have imagined the latter.
Then the questions that had been filling his head, were spoken out loud.
‘If they really were killed, then where are their bodies?’
The elder’s face was full of guilt and in a calming voice he said: ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to se…’
‘And who would kill them?!’ Luca wasn’t looking for any answers just yet, so he interrupted the attempt of calming him down.
The female was getting a little annoyed by the fact he still didn’t believe them: ‘Look kid, we don’t have time for this. We,’ she pointed at herself and her grandfather, ‘need to catch this murderer, because even we don’t know who the culprit was.’ She was speaking slowly, emphasizing every word. Whenever Luca opened his mouth to interrupt her with yet another question, she raised her voice a bit making it clear to him she didn’t want that. She continued: ‘And we can’t show you their bodies,’ She raised her hand to stop him from saying something, ‘Why? Because they look terrifying and you would get nightmares from it.’ She bluntly told him the truth.
Then it hit Luca, they really weren’t lying, his parents were gone. He hung his head as he tried to hold back his tears. He replayed the words Ms Perez had told him, in his mind, and he said with a quiet voice: ‘I guess I was too late.’