It was three days later. Alyson relaxed in a jasmine-scented bubble bath, humming along to the music playing from her iPhone. The heat of the water soothed her aching joints. Absently, she lay her fingers across the scar on her stomach. She'd told no one about the scars, but a few found it curious that she'd become jumpy for "no reason" overnight. Sighing, Aly buried her thoughts and focused on cleansing her body.
Completely relaxed, she visualized a bright, white cleansing light just above her head, a healing energy. Then, she watched it move down through all seven main chakras, changing colors from red to purple as it went. At the base of her feet, just below it, the orb of light turned white again. Her body felt lighter, and she lingered in the moment before allowing the orb to travel back above her head. The thought of performing reiki on herself flashed briefly across her mind, but she stamped it out as quickly as it came, grounding herself and opening her eyes. She reached for the topper with her toes and gave it a tug, emptying the bathwater down the drain.
A waitress made her way over to Aly's table, ready to take her order. She wrote down her request for a vanilla chai latte and a steak-and-cheese melt, and hurried away to make sure it was made. Aly had eyes on the door, waiting for the tell-tale ringing of the next potential customer.
She bit her lip, anxiety settling in. After her bath, she had called up her closest friend, wanting to tell someone about the experience that left her with very real scars. She twiddled with the napkin on the table until the waitress came back with her latte, taking small sips to calm her nerves.
"Your food'll be right out, miss," the waitress said before bustling away again to take another customer's order.
A flat-screen TV mounted to the corner wall was on, so Aly turned her attention to the weather channel. Cloudy with heavy winds and a slight chance of rain, it informed her. She frowned and took another sip as the bell dinged another prospective customer's entrance. Aly took another sip.
I hope she's almost here...she knows how impatient I am..., Aly thought grimly, her leg starting to shake beneath the table. A young woman slid into the booth seat across from her, steepling her mocha-colored fingers and resting her smirking head on them.
"Been waitin' long?"
Aly smiled at the woman as the waiter came back with her food, and offered to take the other woman's order. "I was starting to worry, Sabah. What was it this time, window-shopping on the way?"
The woman named Sabah laughed, her loose dark brown ringlets cascading down her back. Her smile reached her emerald green eyes as she spoke. "To be honest, I was hoping to find those Free-Runner people! Like how they use them in movies? Ab-so-tute-ly fascinating!"
Aly laughed. "Entertained by the simplest things..." Sabah grinned at her best friend.
"That's why you love me! Now, what's going on with my bestie? I could tell something's been eatin' at you from the tone of your text."
Aly took a bite of her meal as the waiter brought over Sabah's order, purposefully avoiding the question for a little while longer. She knew she was waiting for her to finish chewing; Aly squirmed a little under her best friend's gaze without even looking at her.
"Well..." Aly began, telling her all that happened in the dream, ending with her discoveries of the scars. "What do you think this means, Sabah? I know you don't really know much about these supernatural things, but it's really got me on edge! This..." She gingerly touched the areas. "This isn't normal..."
Sabah frowned, taking a bit of her bacon cheeseburger. "Well, it sounds to me like they are tracking your physical location by tracking you in your dreams. Are you anywhere near here when you dream?" Aly shook her head no. "That's good. I reckon it means they still haven't found you. My question is: do you know them? Why they are hunting you?"
Aly shook her head again and stared out the window a few booths away. "No. At least, not that I can remember. You know how selective my memory is."
Sabah giggled lightly, her nerves starting on her. "Is there anything you can do to, you know, protect yourself? They seem like pretty bad men, and I'm pretty sure they aren't human. Could you...could you show me the scars?" Aly knew she was more curious than a cat. She looked around before lifting up her shirt to show Sabah the scars; she heard her sharp gasp. "That's ab-so-tute-ly horrid! Does it hurt?"
"Sabah!" Aly hissed, batting her friend's hand away and pushing down her shirt, looking around the little restaurant. "It doesn't hurt as much anymore. I did some chakra cleansing earlier, but I'm not sure I should do reiki on this..."
Sabah got a dreamy look in her eyes. "Ooh, I love those chakra cleansings you do. Leaves me feeling ab-so-tute-ly wonderful afterwards. You ever thought about teaching that around here? It would help these people so much, what with our city."
Aly went to take a sip of her latte but it was empty, so she waved the waitress over and asked for another. The place they lived in, Semnatia City, there were many wayward people, always bustling about from their homes and to their jobs. Sure, they gave back to the community and helped out, but they always relied on others for help, to take away their aches and pains. Some turned to ales and spirits, some turned to drugs, some even became recluses. And everyday, Alyson would see this and feel the need to lend a hand. Even to the spirits lingering about. She sighed again.
"Maybe. I'll think about it. But since you suggested it, I suggest you start looking for places to lease--I'm not doing it out of my home-studio."
Sabah face brightened again. "Yay! Oh, I'm so happy now! I have so many ideas..." She rambled on, but Alyson wasn't listening. Her thoughts were on the questions she'd been asked. Do you know them? Why are they hunting you? Is there anything you can do to protect yourself? She shuddered to think that they could be tracking her through her dreams. She mentally agreed with Sabah's early statement about them not being human. That much had been obvious from their eyes. She shivered again. What are they...?
Fingers snapped in her face. "Alyson!" Sabah laughed, shaking her dark ringlets again. "You should check the time. Don't you have somewhere to be going to soon?"
Confused, Aly checked her watch on the underside of her left wrist. 3:45 p.m. Her eyes went wide. "Holy shit, Sookhyun!!! I have fifteen minutes to get there!!!" She slammed some cash down on the table and hopped out the booth. "I'll see you later, Sab!" she yelled, running out the door.