Marked for Silence
"Teka, naguguluhan ako!," I exclaimed. "What's this organization you're part of?" Tanong ko.
Parang nung una, akala ko mga normal lang silang tao. Then suddenly malalaman kong parte sila ng isang organisasyon.
Rebel was the one who answered, "We can't tell you further details but the organization we're part of, it consists of different detectives and spies. As for me and my siblings, we are spies who goes undercover in every operation our boss sents us."
Nakakunot ang noong tumingin ako sa kanila. "Wait, so, you're not detectives?" Tanong ko.
The four siblings shook their heads. "Nope." They answered.
Tumingin ako kay Twilight. "But..."
Twilight winced. "Sorry. Sinabi ko lang sayo na detectives ang mga kuya ko since it's part of our undercover. We can't reveal ourselves to anyone."
Natahimik nalang ako. All of us were silent until Effie spoke,
"Ano naman yung letter na binigay sayo ni Mr. Albert?" She asked.
Slate crossed his arms. "It was during our undercover for him. We pretended to be on his side. Nang binigay niya ang letter sa amin, he was pertaining to us, being X while he's in prison."
"So you're good guys?" Matix asked.
They all nodded. "Yup."
I glanced at Chaos who's been quiet. Dahil katabi ko lang siya, I whispered, "ayos ka lang?"
Chaos looked at me and answered, "I don't believe them."
Kumunot ang noo ko. "What? Why?"
He whispered. "We all know what X is capable of. Maybe they planned this whole thing through. They want to be on our good side."
"That could be possible. Kaya hindi tayo titigil na mag-imbestiga." Saad ko.
Chaos just nodded and looked at the four siblings. "You may leave." He said.
Rebel snorted. "Give us our file back."
Matix obliged at binigay ang file sa magkakapatid. Midnight harshly took the file from Matix's hand.
He said in a threatening voice, "I still don't forgive you for making my sister cry."
Nagtatanong mga matang tumingin si Matix kay Twilight. "What—"
"Wala yon!," tinutulak ni Twilight ang mga kapatid palabas, "bye guys! See you in class!"
Nang tuluyan nang masara ang pinto, Chaos spoke. "We will never stop investigating the four of them until we have proof of their innocence." Aniya.
"We need to go back in our dorm. Malapit na ang curfew. Baka mapagalitan pa kami." Ani Effie.
Matix and Chaos nodded. "Sure. Stay safe."
Si Matix naman ang nasalita. "We'll stay here to check if they secretly installed some devices."
Tumango kami ni Effie at lumabas na ng storage room. Walking distance lang naman ang school sa dorm kaya walang problema. Makakarating agad kami doon bago magcurfew.
Habang naglalakad, hindi ko maiwasang pakiramdaman ang paligid. This brings back memories. Memories when I was kidnapped. Dark and gloomy..
Ilang lakad nalang papuntang dorm nang tumigil si Effie sa paglalakad. Mahigpit ang yakap niya sa akin na para bang doon kumukuha ng lakas. "Okay ka lang?" I asked worriedly.
Effie slightly nodded. "Para kasing may sumusunod sa atin. Kinakabahan lang ako." Saad nito.
To also think of it, Effie was also kidnapped. Kaya siguro hanggang ngayon, sariwa pa rin sa kaniya ang memoryang iyon.
Handa na kaming maglakad muli nang may marinig kaming kaluskos nula sa likod namin. When we looked back, no one was there. No one but the wind peircig through our skin.
"T-Tara na, Friday." Natatakot na sambit ni Effie.
Lakad-takbo ang ginagawa namin. Lalo na nang nararamdaman ko ang nga yabag ng paa sa likod namin.
Someone is following us!
Without looking back, hinila ko si Effie sa kamay at mabilis na tumakbo papuntang dormitory. Nang makarating, tumigil kami sa lobby at pawang hinihingal. My phone then, rang.
"Hello?" Tanong ko.
"Are you home?" It was Chaos.
I breathed heavily. "Yup. Kararating lang namin."
"Are you okay? May nangyari ba? Bakit parang hinihingal ka." Tanong nito.
"M-May sumusunod kasi sa amin ni Effie so we ran as fast as we could." Sagot ko habang paakyat na kami ni Effie sa room namin.
"What? Are you okay?"
I answered, "okay naman kami. Nakarating naman kami ng dorm nang ligtas."
Chaos was silent for a moment until he spoke again. "Okay. Matix and I were just about to leave. Stay safe." Anito at binaba na ang tawag.
"That was scary as hell." Komento ni Effie. "Parang ayoko matulog." Ngiwi nito.
"I-lock nalang natin ang mga bintana at pinto. Kung may mangyari man, we'll call for help." I reassured.
Sino kaya ang sumusunod sa amin? Is it X? Was he planning to hurt us but got away with it?
Oh well, ang importante, ligtas kami...
• • •
"Their lunch tastes good today." Komento ni Chaos habang masaganang kumakain.
He continued, "hindi ko lang maenjoy dahil sa apat na 'to," masama itong tumingin kina Twilight, Midnight, Slate at Rebel na nagbabangayan na naman.
We were eating our lunch nang sumabay sa amin si Twilight but since her brothers are over-protective, they joined us as well.
Twilight winced. "Sorry, Chaos. Itong mga kapatid ko kasi, hindi napakali hanggat di ako nakikita."
"It's nice to have protective brothers but too much protectiveness prevents you from having freedom." Chaos said.
Nagthumbs up si Twilight. "Tama si Chaos. My brothers are too protective that I can't go out all alone." She then glared at her brothers, "I'm not a child, you know."
Ngumiwi ang tatlong weirdos. "You are our only sister. We already lost one. We can't afford to lose another one again. That is why we are so protective of you." Midnight answered.
Natahimik nalang kami at pinagpatuloy ang pag kain hanggang sa may isang estudyanteng babae ang lumapit sa amin. "Um, this is the official detective group, right?" Tanong nito.
I nodded. "Kami nga. Bakit?" I asked.
Nakatayo ito sa harap namin at nilalaro ang daliri. "Um, aware ba kayo kay X?"
We all stilled. This girl, she knows about X too?
Twilight then, gasped. "Wait, I know you—"
The girl showed a tattoo on the back of her forearm. "I'm part of that secret organization. I work for the research and technology department." Agad nitong tinakpan ang tattoo gamit ang sweater na suot.
"My name is Maxine. Recently, I was given a task to research about this so called X. After series of investigations," tumingin ito sa amin, "I happen to know his identity."
Lahat kami ay nagulat. May isang taong nakakakilala kay X?
"W-Who is he?" Twilight asked anxiously.
Maxine shook her head and sobbed. "N-No..ayokong mamatay." She uttered.
"What? No, hindi ka mamamatay. Naririnig mo ba ako? You won't die." Effie reassured.
Umusog ako ng kaunti para paupuin siya sa tabi ko. Umupo naman siya at pinahid ang luha. "Nang malaman ko ang identity niya, he followed me and threatend me. Hindi niya ako tinitigilan. Araw-araw niya akong tinatakot na kapag sinabi ko ang pangalan niya, papatayin niya ako at ang pamilya ko."
Tumingin sa akin si Maxine. "I'm not scared of death, Friday. I'm scared of what this person is capable to do. The way he threatened me, he's a total psychopath!"
"Do you have clues that you can give about this X?" Midnight asked.
Tumango si Maxine at may kinuhang flash drive sa pocket. "This flash drive consists of X's identity. I hacked his laptop while investigating him and stole it. Ang problema, hindi ko it mabuksan."
Tumingin si Maxine kay Matix at Twilight. "I'm a hacker with admirable skills but this, this file is encrypted with a heavy password. One wrong answer, the file will be deleted. Kaya ipagkakatiwala ko sa inyo ang flash drive na iyan. I trust that you may find X's identity yourselves." Anito at dali-daling umalis.
Matix was holding thr flashdrive. Isinaksak niya iyon sa laptop niya. "Maxine was right. The file, it consists of seven videos but each video is encrypted with a password." Anito.
"So what do we do?" Chaos asked.
Twilight crossed her arms. "This might take months. Matix and I can reset the password if we rewrite its language strings."
Matix nodded. "Rewriting language strings is hard especially since you only get to have one chance. If you make a mistake, everything falls back to zero."
"Katulad ng ginawa mo nang icrack mo ang files ni Mr. Albert?" Tanong ko.
Matix nodded. "Yes, it's the same but this one, is time consuming dahil pitong videos ang icacrack namin."
"Give us two months. We'll finish it by then." Twilight uttered.
"What do we do?" Slate asked.
Chaos immediately answered. "You stay out of this." Masungit nitong sagot at umalis ng table.
"By the way, Friday, Effie, I heard something happened last night?" Tanong ni Twilight habang kumakain.
"What? What happened?" Midnight asked.
Napabuntong hininga nalang ako at kinuwento ang nangyari.
"We don't know who it is yet. But Effie and I believe it was X." Ani ko.
"Alam ba to ni Chaos?" Slate asked.
Tumango ako. "He knows."
"Maybe it really was X. He planned to hurt you two pero dahil mabilis kayong nakauwi, hindi natuloy ang plano niyang saktan kayo." Ani Twilight.
"Mabuti nga iyon. Walang napahamak." Saad naman ni Effie.
Habang ako naman ay tinignan si Chaos na naglalakad papuntang classroom. Eversince this morning, he'd been distant. Hindi ko alam kung galit ba siya sa akin or what. He seldom talk to me at kung magkasama naman kami, iniiwasan niya ako.
Maayos naman kami kagabi. I reluctantly stood up. "Saan ka pupunta?" Effie asked.
I smiled. "Sa classroom lang ako."
Matapos ko ilagay sa disposable area ang pinagkainan ko, I went to our classroom to find Chaos. Pero wala siya roon kaya pumunta ako sa storage room namin.
I was right. He was there, sitting on his chair while thinking deeply. Sa sobrang lalim ng iniisip nito ay hindi niya namalayan na pumasok ako. I breathed heavily. "Chaos.." I called.
Mukha namang natauhan ito at tumingin sa akin. "You need something?" He coldly asked.
Kumunot ang noo ko. "My ginawa ba ako? Bakit galit ka?" Deretsahang tanong ko.
"Nothing." Maikli nitong sagot.
"Give me a proper answer, Chaos. May nagawa ba ako? Bakit parang ilang ka sa akin?" Inis kong sabi.
Chaos crossed his arms and stayed quiet. So I continued speaking, "is this about what happened last night?" Sambit ko.
Chaos stilled and went quiet. "So it is about last night." Sabi ko.
"Bakit ka galit sa akin?" Pamimilit kong tanong.
Chaos was mumbling something but I couldn't hear the words. "Ano?" I asked.
Chaos sighed and stood up. "I was mad. Not at you but at myself."
"Bakit?" Naguguluhang tanong ko.
Chaos stood near me. "Eversince you teamed up with me, your life messed up. First, the beast kidnapped you and gave you trauma. Second, was last night. X almost hurt you and I was mad at myself because I wasn't there to protect you from the first time till the second time!" He shouted and I flinched.
"Teka, bakit ba kasi atat kang protektahan ako? Chaos, kaya kong protektahan ang sarili ko." Masungit kong sabi.
"I want to protect you because I don't want to lose you." Maikli nitong sagot.
My heart pounded. Saan ba makakarating ang conversation na 'to? "W-Why don't you want to lose me?" I continued asking.
"Do you really want to know the answer?" Chaos asked.
I fell silent.
Nang hindi ako umimik, Chaos continued talking. "I don't want to lose you because you're too important..."
Again, I didn't say anything. So Chaos continued. "...and you're important because I like you."
My heart then pounded so loudly that all I could hear was the sound of my beating heart.
"Chaos..." I called.
Hindi tumingin si Chaos sa akin at nakatitig lang sa sahig. Namumula ang tainga nito at ang pisngi.
Both of us were silent and unmoving until we heard muffled voices outside.
"Aray! Huwag ka ngang manulak!"
"What did Friday replied?"
"Open the door—no, wait. Let's give them privacy. They're might be kissing by now."
"Hey, don't fucking push me!"
I breathed heavily and opened the door. Pagkabukas ko ay natumba ang anim na taong kanina pa nakikinig sa amin ni Chaos.
They all smiled and pointed towards Matix. "His idea." They all said in unison.
Pumasok silang lahat at sinara ang pinto. Agad naman nilang inaasar si Chaos na walang imik at patuloy paring namumula.
"So, team Friday and Chaos?" Pang-aasar ni Twilight.
I shook my head. "No. Wala akong gusto kay Chaos. He's only my friend." Tanggi ko.
Totoo naman. Kahit saang anggulo, kaibigan ang tingin ko kay Chaos.
"Hay nako, diyan nagsisimula ang lahat." Ani Effie.
Ngumiwi nalang ako at pinanood ang mga lalake na tinutukso si Chaos na tahimik lang at walang imik. Sa tuwing nagtatama ang mga mata namin, mabilis naming inaalis ang tingin sa isa't isa.
Everything became awkward between Chaos and I.
The whole storage room was again filled with noise and laughters until a knock on the door silenced all of us.
Chaos opened it and a letter was found. "A letter from X." Chaos said.
"Read it." Utos ni Rebel.
Chaos read the letter aloud. "She was talking too much. I had to silenced her."
I stilled. Is X talking about...
As if on cue, isang malakas na sigaw ang narinig namin. Agad kaming tumakbo patungong second floor kung saan nanggaling ang ingay.
Mga estudyanteng nagkukumpulan ang nakita namin. Nakilagsiksikan kami hanggang sa makita namin ang dahilan kung bakit nagkakagulo ang mga estudyante.
"Oh my god.." Effie gasped.
Napangiwi ako nang makita ang nasa harapan ko.
It was Maxine...dead with a knife on her chest and her mouth was sewed in a letter X.
And now the only hope we have of findin X's identity is in the flash drive she gave us...
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