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Thread: Storm Chasers

  1. #1
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    Default Storm Chasers

    PS: I posted this story at winglin and AF. I accidentally stumbled into this place, did the roaming and found that it has a fan fiction forum too which looks good to me since I am hoping to reach out to a wider group of audience. No offences, I only want to share what I love to do and in return, enjoy the works of others. =)

    Main cast
    Gallen Ho as Gallen Ho (38 years old)
    Jesscia Hester Hsuan as Jessica Wong (34 years old)
    Michael Miu as Michael Cheung (38 years old)
    Tavia Yeung as Tavia Cheung (24 years old)
    Raymond Lam as Raymond Chan (26 years old)
    Ron Ng as Ron Mah (26 years old)
    Chen Hao as Haohao (24 years old)
    Stephen Ma as Stephen Wan (28 years old)
    Kevin Cheng as Kevin Yu (30 years old)
    Kenix Kwok as Kenix An (34 years old)
    Bowie Lam as Bowie Tang (36 years old)
    Charmaine Sheh as Charmaine Law (26 years old)
    Damian Lau as Damian Law (55 years old)
    Benny Chan as Benny SeeToh (32 years old)

    Other cast
    Carlo Ng (32 years old)
    Derek Kwok (37 years old)
    Federick Cheng (22 years old)
    Yoyo Mung (30 years old)
    Anne Heung (30 years old)
    Linda Chung (22 years old)

    Setting
    2007, China. I like to create a little bit of impossibility, that is, having the Land of Dragon experienced the extreme of Mother Nature, so this story will involve the usage of tornadoes here. (Personally, I have always been fascinated by it.)
    Basically, the entire cast will take up the roles of meteorologists, and a little far-stretched, they will do lots of storm chasing too.
    A thing to note, I try to do some simple research but certain issues may not be reasonable here so do pardon me then. I am after all not in this line, to understand the weather language may be a tough level for me too.

    Disclaimer: None of these characters are related to actual people. Names of places used are fictionalized, any wrong usage or in any way caused discomfort or offences to anyone alike; please do notify me so that I can make the necessary changes. Just don’t sue me.
    Last edited by dingdonginheaven; 01-24-08 at 12:57 AM.

  2. #2
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    THE BEGINNING

    Guangzhou Meteorological Bureau

    People staring into screens of pictures and patterns only the expert understood. Soft conversations in the air, the words exchanged might sound alienated to one who wasn’t a part of the team.

    Behind a table separated by partitions, Jessica Wong strained her neck and looked at the closed door to her superior’s office.

    Kenix who was sitting next to her peered over to see her anxiety. “Don’t worry, she’ll be fine.”

    “I’m not worry.” Jessica said as she pretended to return to her work.

    “That was the 20th time in 40 minutes you cast your eyes at that direction.” Kenix teased.

    “Are you sure? I thought it was the 24th time.” Jessica answered.

    Kenix chuckled and using her legs, pushed the chair nosily over.“Come on, you know she can make it out in one piece.”

    Jessica cast a dreading look at Kenix. “What do you make Damian to be?”

    “A wolf in sheep skin?” Kenix asked mockingly.

    Jessica attempted to strike at Kenix but she managed to dodge the attack.

    “Frankly,” Kenix added. “To all newbies, Damian will make the best mentor.”

    Something in Kenix’s words struck a cord in her heart. Someone said that before, someone very close to her…

    “Shhh, here they come.” Kenix whispered as she wheeled back to her desk.

    Looking up, the door Jessica was staring at previously opened and out strolled a man in his mid-fifties, bespectacled with a weather beaten face of knowledge. Following beside was a young lady, long hair and was smiling sweetly.

    “Everyone, please give me your attention.” Damian announced. His voice was loud with strength that put everyone on guard.“This is our new colleague from today on, do make her feel as warm and welcome as possible.” Turning to the newbie, “Introduce yourself.”

    The young lady smiled again and without a hint of shyness spoke out in a loud and yet gently voice. “Hi everyone, I’m Tavia. Nice to meet you all. I’m new to the job so do help me along the way, thanks.”

    Echoes of ‘Hi’ could be heard in that office, flashes of smiles enhanced the family-like atmosphere and Tavia felt almost blended in immediately. Suddenly, someone yelled out a distance away and in seconds, a young lady appeared and pulled Tavia into her arms.

    “Tavia!!!”

    “Haohao!!!”

    The two bosom friends hugged and did a little jumping around in view of everyone’s eyes, to everyone’s amusement.

    “I missed you so much!” Haohao literally yelled.

    “Me too! Me too!” Tavia exclaimed.

    Damian cleared his throat at this moment and the two girls realized the commotion that they have had created. Quickly, they untangled themselves and stood like soldiers in repentant mode. The atmosphere seemed tense when all was silent.

    “I understand that you two are friends…” Damian started.

    “Since 8 years old.” Tavia replied.

    “…for a long time.” Damian looked at the girls and finally betrayed a hint of smile. “So I can totally share that kind of outburst emotions. This department emphasizes not only on teamwork but team relationship is also of equal importance. Maybe everyone should start with Tavia and Chen Hao here.”

    Smiling, Damian turned to Jesscia. “Jessica, you arrange someone to show Tavia around and her working desk.” Saying that, he turned to go but stopped short. “There will be a new senior consulting meteorologist from States reporting here later too so if you guys planned to have a welcome party, do it without his knowledge. I don’t want him to spot cake toppings on the floor.” Saying that, Damian stepped into his office and closed the door.

    Tavia and Chen Hao hugged again, giggling as they did so.

    “Finally, we can work together!” Chen Hao exclaimed.

    “Like you two have never been together, 16 years has been a long time.” Kenix said.

    Tavia and Chen Hao pulled apart and made a face at Kenix.

    “You and Ka-jie (sister) have been friends for 24 years, still sharing an apple at times right?” Tavia asked, knowing the answer though.

    “But then I must protest.” Chen Hao said, a little fuming then. “Why did you not inform me that you’re coming back yesterday and you’ve gotten a job here? I could have better prepared myself instead of screaming a while back ago.”

    Jesscia reached out and knocked Tavia on her head. “Practical joker. Haohao’s right. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was in shock at seeing you, I would have slammed the door in your face for pressing the bell at 3a.m. in the morning. And then you dropped the bomb that you’ve secure a job here…”

    Tavia nestled up Jessica’s arm. “Isn’t it great we can work together?”

    “Don’t start.” Jessica warned.

    Tavia pouted baby-like. “I’m sorry ok? But it won’t be a surprise anymore if I have to call and say ’surprise! I’m coming back and you know what? I’ve got to work with you!’”

    “But…” Jessica started.

    “Please? No buts, just tell me you’re happy.” Tavia begged.

    Kenix and Chen Hao looked on, knowing the verdict.

    “I am happy…” Jessica began.

    “Great!” Tavia yelled and pulled Jessica into a hug, then pulling Chen Hao’s hand, “Haohao will show me around so don’t worry about me Ka-jie, see you later!”

    With that, the two young girls went off chatting like birds leaving Kenix to do the head shaking.

    “Stop that, it’s gonna drop and I specialized in studying the weather, not fixing of loose heads.” Jessica said as they walked back to their tables.

    “16 years and you’ve never really won a battle of wits against her.” Kenix deliberately gave an audible sign.

    Jessica smiled. “She has too much to give and too little for me to pick on.”

    “…An exact replica of him.” Kenix said in a tone of sadness.

    Jessica did not answer. She sat at her desk and stared at the photo of a frame that has been on her table since god knows when. In the photo held the still memory of three people.

    **********

    “Why do I have to partner you on my first field trip?” Tavia asked, though knowing the answer.

    “I’m your direct superior, one of the seniors and you’re my sister.” Jessica replied, not looking up from the weather equipment in her hand.

    Tavia signed silently, wondering how many years to go before the being ‘baby-sit’ days were over. It was drizzling and both were in raincoats. Tavia looked at the vast field of corns that she was standing on, knowing that during sunset, it would be a golden land of hope.

    She studied the report in her hand. “So it is said that the humidity here in the corn field is higher than the city area.”

    “Experts in Canada and the States believed so. We are currently keeping up with the investigation to find the connection between corn and high dew points.” Jessica replied.

    “Supposing that corn and other crops released much water to the atmosphere thus raising humidity and probably in a way causing severe weather.” Tavia added.

    Jessica smiled. “You have been studying.”

    Tavia glanced quickly at Jessica. “I was on a scholarship, remember?”

    “Right, and look what a year did to you?”

    “What?” Tavia asked, curious then.

    Jessica deliberately stalled for a little while before finally looking up from the handheld equipment. “Nothing’s change.”

    “Arw… come on! I’ve grown much older, mature and…”

    Jessica took hold of Tavia’s right hand and looked at the watch the latter was wearing. The reading said ‘64’.

    “I’m fine.” Tavia said, knowing what Jessica was constantly worried about.

    Despite the year they weren’t together, Jessica has been calling her everyday to check on her condition. Being hypoglycemic since childhood has indeed brought quite some problems and panic moments for people around her.

    Jessica took a lollipop from her jacket. “Suck on it.”

    Tavia took it and started peeling the wrapper. “Don’t make it sound like you’re giving me the milk bottle.” Jessica chuckled.

    “Ka-jie… what have you been doing for a year?” Tavia asked, in between sucking of the lolli.

    “Working… more working and… checking on you.” Jessica answered; her mind on the work.

    “Huh? What about relationship?”

    “What about it?” Jessica asked monotonously.

    “Ka-jie… it’s been 4 years. You promised that you’ll consider getting into a new relationship after I left for the states.”

    “I did, none caught my eyes like working did.”

    Tavia watched Jessica closely. “Dai-lou won’t want you to go on like this.”

    Jessica stopped short in her work, enough to betray her feelings.

    “You told me to let go remember?” Tavia treaded carefully. “But you did not…”

    “Practice what I preached… I know.” Jessica lamented. She started packing the equipments. “We’ve done for the day, let’s pack up.”

    “Ka-jie, I don’t want you to go on…” Tavia started.

    Jessica turned to look at Tavia. “Look… I really don’t wanna talk about it. I love your brother dearly, even after 4 years of whatever that happened. I’ll go on loving him and I don’t know if I would love someone else again.”

    “But Dai-gor is gone. It’s not fair that you have to take care of me all this while and now that I have finished my studies and is independent, you ought to find yourself a…”

    “I am your sister-in-law and unless I say so, nothing changes that fact.” Jessica was adamant as always.

    With the lollipop stuck in her mouth, Tavia watched as Jessica packed their stuffs with a set jaw. She knew that unless she found someone to really take care of her for the rest of her life, Jessica would never ease carrying the burden, for she had been doing that for the last 4 years… since her big brother and that is Jessica’s husband died in an accident in the line of duty.

    **********

    Chen Hao sped through the light traffic with Tavia sitting beside, eye-wide with surprise.

    “I never know you love speeding.” She exclaimed.

    Chen Hao chuckled. “I don’t like to speed and I simply hate being late for Kevin’s lunch.”

    Tavia glanced down at the lunchbox Chen Hao insisted that she carried in case they toppled over.“You actually made them?” Tavia asked, unbelieving.

    Chen Hao nodded, a woman obviously in true love.

    Tavia looked happily at her childhood friend. Pretty, smart and amiable, Chen Hao has never lacked suitors of any kind but 3 years ago, she fell head over heels in love with Kevin Yu, a firefighter who just turned 30. The start of their relationship has been dramatic, just like on TV. There has been a fire at Chen Hao’s block of flat, she was trying to help save an elderly woman’s cat but was lost in the thickening smoke, finally succumbing into Kevin’s arms when he got to her eventually. Love at first sight, Kevin admitted.

    “Love is blind definitely. Look what it did to you? You refused to cook me instant noodles during our uni days and now, you’re cooking for Kevin?” Tavia said, trying as best to sound bias.

    Chen Hao blushed almost immediately. “Next time, I promise I’ll make you your favourite dishes.”

    “When you guys getting marry?” Tavia asked.

    “Depends on Kevin.” Chen Hao answered without thinking.

    Tavia laughed. “So someone is keen to get tie down.”

    “I’m driving! Don’t make me take a swap at you1” Chen Hap protested, her face reddening.

    “You two are obviously madly in love.”

    “If you haven’t been choosy.” Chen Hao said, glancing at her best pal.

    “I’m not. You know my priority.” Tavia said, her voice suddenly soften. “Dai-gor’s dream is to get a close contact with ‘Demorli’ (name of a tornado)… I want to live his dream.”

    The two girls kept quiet for a moment as the car moved on, somehow slower.

    “It’s not easy to catch ‘demorli’ in action. Based on its past appearance, it has been rather temperamental and destructive.” Chen Hao said.

    “… I know and all the more, I would want to catch him in action. For Dai-gor.” Tavia smiled.

    The car turned around the corner and the fire station could be seen. Standing outside was a lone figure and Tavia knew instantly who it was.The car stopped and Kevin walked up to the driver’s door, opened it, wrapped his strong arms around Chen Hao, pulled her out affectionately and gave her what Tavia thought was a bear’s hug, full of warmth and love.

    “Hey Kevin, err… nice to see you again.” Tavia said, half closing her eyes sensoring whatever that was before her.

    Kevin smiled handsomely. “Hi! Welcome back!”

    “Am I interrupting?”Kevin and Chen Hao pulled back.

    “Oh no you’re not,” The former said. “I’m glad to have you back. Really, at least Haohao will not bug me constantly about you not replying to her emails and things of sorts.”

    Chen Hao hit Kevin playfully. The latter took hold of her hand and placed it gently on his chest. Tavia could sense their mutual understanding of each other and unconditional love.

    “I made a great lunch for you.” Chen Hao told Kevin as she received it from Tavia’s outstretched hand.

    “You’ve always done that and you know I love eating what you’re feeding me.” Kevin said as he took it from her.

    Tavia nearly choked on their sweet exchange but deep down, she felt happy for her lovely friend.

    “I’m not working overtime today, are we watching the movie that you mentioned for so long?” Chen Hao asked.

    Kevin dug into his pockets and pulled out 2 tickets. “Bought the tickets. After that we can go for a walk at our favourite park, then supper…”

    Chen Hao wrapped her arms around Kevin and with noses touching, it was like a wordless exchange and only the two of them knew what was going on in their heads and hearts.

    **********

    At a café…

    Chen Hao stared at Tavia who seemed to be swallowing food instead of the proper chewing.

    “I didn’t take up 30 minutes with Kevin I suppose, why do you make it look like I’ve torture you for days without food?”

    “Don’t be cruel, it wasn’t 30 minutes, just 43 minutes to be exact, with the last 13 minutes merely staring into each other’s eyes and smiling like 2 fools in the open streets.” Tavia said between bites of food.

    Chen Hao smiled again, sweetly and dreamingly. “There is so much going on for us.”

    “Don’t mention it. That was a good demo previously, my kudos to you two.”

    “Stop teasing me. When it comes to you, be sure I’ll play show hand.” Chen Hao retorted and her angry face had Tavia laughing.

    “You never change. Your angry features have always been so hard to get mad at. I think that’s why Kevin fell so hopelessly in love in you.”

    “Stop talking about me. What about you? Any happenings in states?” Chen Hao, digging finally into her food.

    “Nope.” Tavia answered.

    “Not even once?” Chen Hao asked with surprise. Tavia nodded.

    “Unbelievable!” Chen Hao shouted, nearly attracting the other diners’ attention.

    “Shhh! It’s not a UFO issue! What’s the big deal not… getting… into one?” Tavia asked, obviously embarrassed by her friend’s sudden outburst.

    Chen Hao reflected an innocent look. “In terms of look, you’re not worse than me. In terms of brain, you’re not far behind me. In terms of sociability, you’re definitely not a step behind so, what seems to be the problem?”

    “Just not the right moment, what can be such a problem here?” Tavia nearly cried out at Chen Hao’s effort to fix an innocent look.

    “Just like Jessica-jie, always the same answer, ‘not the right moment’.” Chen Hao said, playing with the salad on her plate.

    Silence.

    “She really isn’t into any new relationship?” Tavia asked.Chen Hao shook her head.

    “I tired, Kenix-jie tried, Bowie-gor tried. She just managed to come up with excuses every each time.”

    Tavia lost her appetite.

    “You know…” Chen Hao started. “Jessica’s not going to just forget Michael-gor that easily. Maybe we should just let her be, let time do the healing.”

    Tavia reached for the soup; somehow it didn’t taste as good at the first try.

    **********

    The girls were on their way back to the meteorological station, chatting as before like two noisy birds when Chen Hao finally voiced her irritation at the driver in front.

    “What is he doing, crawling on a busy road and trying to block me from turning into the other lane.”

    Tavia watched. Indeed, the driver in front swerved at the direction every time Chen Hao was about to change lane. Despite her honking, the driver obviously took no heed to it.

    Before she could suggest another, the car swerved suddenly and she was slammed onto her side of the window, though not hard. Then the car went straight and finally cut into the front driver’s lane and apparently came to a sudden stop.Tavia turned to stare at Chen Hao with open-mouthed. The latter seemed satisfied with her driving skills though. And before she could utter a word of reproach, Chen Hao stepped out of the car. Tavia fumbled with her seatbelt, finally releasing it and got out of the car hurriedly to see Chen Hao knocking at the driver’s window. She raced to her side in time to see a man winding down the window.

    “Excuse sir, do you realize you’re putting other drivers’ lives in danger by your inconsiderate driving skills?” Chen Hao glared at the bemused man.

    “Miss, I believe you’re the one driving recklessly here cutting into my lane without the proper signal.” The man argued back though gentlemanly.

    Chen Hao was tongue-tight for a while. “Well… if it wasn’t for you who made it look like the road belongs to you… you’re practically crawling!”

    Tavia nudged at Chen Hao. “What are we looking at?” She whispered.

    The man signed. “Well Miss, I’m sorry I held up the traffic. I can only apologize sincerely as I don’t know my way around this place…”

    “You’re new in Guangzhou?” Tavia asked.

    The man nodded. “I’m looking for the way to the local meteorological station.”

    “Ohhhh…” The two girls echoed knowingly.

    “May I get a direction or two from you two?” The man asked humbly, the incident a while ago was quickly forgotten.

    “Why would you wanna go there?” Chen Hao asked.

    “I’m there to visit…” He started.

    “You have a visitation rights?” Tavia asked.

    The man nodded.Tavia and Chen Hao looked at each other, their mind twirling and connecting at the same frequency. 30 minutes later, the two childhood friends were on the road again but this time, they were laughing heartily at the joke they pulled on the man earlier on.

    **********

    It was finally off working time and the 4 women walked together. Just as they went past Damian’s office, the door opened and out came the man.

    “Oh, Jess, wait up.” Damian called out.The group stopped and turned around to see a second man strolled up beside Damian. At seeing him, both Tavia and Chen Hao’s smile faded and the staring in shock began.

    “This is Gallen Lo, the new senior consulting meteorologist from the states that I was talking about.” Damian added.

    Tavia and Chen Hao stole a glance at each other, more like mirroring a look of horror.Jessica reached out for his hand and returned a firm handshake.

    “Nice to meet you and welcome to our station.” Jessica said warmly.

    “Heard a lot about you from Damian, one of the seniors and is known for determination and at times… stubbornness.” Gallen said.Damian smiled as Jessica threw him a ‘reproaching’ look.

    It was at this moment Gallen recognized the two faces.

    “Damian is a practical joker despite his seniority, his singing of praise is a rare moment and when it does happen, it means something else is gonna happen.” Jessica said.

    “Not only Damian I believe, is a practical joker. Strangers can be too.” Gallen replied, his sight fixed on Tavia and Chen Hao as the two looked awkwardly away.

    “This is Kenix,” Damian began and Gallen took her hand. “And this is Chen Hao, one of the juniors and Tavia, just reporting in today.”

    Gallen shook both their hands respectively. “I believe I’ve seen you two somewhere.”

    “Really?” Damian asked with surprise. “But you just dropped in today, straight from the airport.”

    “Yes, maybe I’ve seen you along the way?” Gallen smiled amusingly at the girls reluctant faces. “Oh, by the way, you asked me why I was late right?” Gallen started.

    “And you pushed it away, saying it doesn’t really matter.” Damian answered.

    “But I would like to ask these two ladies, and in fact, a prank was pulled on me by two ladies who looked like… your ages.” Gallen said.

    At that, Tavia and Chen Hao seemed to look relieved. “Are local girls your ages so playful?” Gallen asked.

    Tavia and Chen Hao hesitated and besides them, Jessica and Kenix thought it was strange but chose to remain silent.

    “What happened?” Damian asked out of concern.

    “Oh, it’s really nothing. Just that I asked for directions, two ladies seemingly keen to help actually gave me the way opposite to the station hence the extra mileage and honestly speaking, one of them, her driving skills needs to be reviewed.” Gallen said.

    At this, Chen Hao was about to rebuke but Tavia managed to grab her hand and shot her a look that begged ‘no’.

    “Kids nowadays are incorrigible. Sometimes, parents are taking a break too long.” Damian lamented.

    “Not for Charmaine Boss,” Kenix said. “Heard that she’s coming back and have also secured a job here right? I think this place has become more family-oriented, after Jess and Tavia.”

    Damian smiled. “We’re going for dinner, my treat, do you all want to come along?”

    “No!” Tavia and Chen Hao chorused spontaneously earning the stares from the rest.

    “Erm… well, today’s my first day too and since I just came back from states like Gallen, I like to spend my first night with Jessca.” Tavia said.

    Damian looked at Chen Hao.

    “Oh, erm… I’m joining them. I have too much to catch up with Tavia.” Saying so, she clung to Tavia like a koala to gum tree.

    Kenix went chuckling beside. “Count me out too, I have to separate the koala from the tree.”

    Chen Hao shot her a naughty look.

    “All right then, see you all tomorrow then.” Damian said.

    As Gallen walked past the group of women, he smiled heartily at both Tavia and Chen Hao who managed only a smile that looked less than genuine.

    Kenix placed her hands around the younger ladies shoulder. “I wonder who the two kids were, playing traffic police today?”

    “Sounds like two girls we both knew.” Jessica added.

    “Don’t be crazy,” Chen Hao interrupted. “We’ll never do such a thing to a stranger in town, right Tavia?”

    “Huh? Oh… right.” Tavia replied.

    Jessica reached out to push Tavia’s head. “You will only look at the floor when you attempt to lie and you’re still doing it perfectly.”

    “It was only a joke.” Tavia tried.

    “Lucky he didn’t tell on you.” Kenix said.

    Jessica shook her head. “Kids! Parents… what have I done.”

    Kenix laughed, as she strolled beside Jessica walking towards the entrance. Following behind, Chen Hao shot Tavia a look.

    “You could have looked at the wall.” Chen Hao hissed quietly.

    Tavia could only shrugged her shoulder as Chen Hao pulled her along.

    **********

    6a.m.
    Tavia felt the shakes and she was determined to ignore it. She could still feel the strain and aches of her body since she hasn’t been resting well over the past 34 hours. Flying across the continent, came home, unpacked, first day at work, late night out… The shaking continued.

    “Orhhhh… please stop shaking already!” She grumbled out loud and reached for her bolster.

    It was snatched away before she could hug it and then she heard it.

    “Tavia! Get up!!”

    She flipped open her eyes slowly and saw Jessica hovering over her, tense features telling her something must have happened.

    “What?” Tavia tried to open her eye bigger. “What is it?”

    “Get up!” Jessica practically yelled at her face.

    Tavia got up reluctantly, rubbed her eyes and eyed Jessica strangely as the latter ran to the wardrobe and opened it. Then she heard it, a terrible commotion outside her window. Pulling the covers away and stepping out of bed, Tavia walked up to the window and reached for the curtains. It was raining heavily outside.

    ‘A bad thunderstorm’, the thought rang out in Tavia’s mind as she took in the beautiful sight of water pouring furiously from the angry sky above. Flashes of glaring lightning could be seen every now and then like it was about to tear everything above apart and was followed quickly with a thunderous roar. “When did it start?”

    “When you were sleeping like a pig.” Jessica answered as she came back with clothes and pushed them into Tavia’s arms.

    “Unannounced… like always and it is coming in fast.” Jessica said, her tone soft and yet filled with excitement.

    The last trace of sleep washed away instantly. Tavia stared back at Jessica trying to guess the meaning to her words. “What is coming in?”

    “A Tornado! Satellite pictures from the Nexrad Doppler Radar came in just 10 minutes ago, images of large scale rotation was spotted and Bowie gave a proximity of 97% that...”

    Jessica did not manage to finish. Tavia raced to the toilet and shut the door. Jessica turned to look at what was displayed outside the window. She could see small hailstones falling down then.

    “You have to test Tavia today, haven’t you?” Jessica whispered.

    **********

    Jessica was at the wheel, her knuckles white from gripping it tight so that the car would not spun out of control. She drove carefully and yet with considerable speed hoping to get to the station before the team started out without them.

    Tavia was sitting beside, never once taking her eyes from the window. It was pouring heavily outside as she could hardly see clearly through the windscreen. The continuous sound of ‘ping ping’ on the car roof indicated copious amounts of hail and Tavia could see big trees struggling to stay root to the ground as they swayed dangerously from side to side.

    “Ka-jie… this could be a supercell.” Tavia breathed out finally.

    Jessica glanced at her but only in seconds as she was trying to concentrate on the road that seemed to disappear in the storm. “How do you know?”

    Silence.

    “I just know... I can feel it.” Tavia said.

    The words rang in Jessica’s ears. ‘Just like him… she could feel just like him…’

    “Tavia, no matter what happen, I want you to stay as close to me as possible you hear that?” Jessica said.

    There was no answer from Tavia but Jessica knew she heard it.

    ‘Demorli… you’re not supposed to be here today. Get the hell out of my day!’ Jessica screamed in her head.

    TBC
    Last edited by dingdonginheaven; 01-24-08 at 01:06 AM.

  3. #3
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    THE CHASE

    When Jessica and Tavia reached the station, it was 6.45am. As always, Damian would host an emergency meeting before the team headed out to chase the storm, to collect information for future use.

    After the briefing, Damian put the satellite photo they were analying on the table. “Apparently, the storm started forming somewhat after 4am in the northeastern direction. It has intensified since then.”

    Just then, the TV that was tuned on showed a reporter standing pathetically in the heavy storm, fighting against the strong winds that seemed eager to rip his raincoat apart. He was practically screaming into the microphone he was holding with two hands.

    “The local station has issued an emergency tornado evacuation in Guangzhou just 30 minutes ago and due to the fact that everyone is still in bed, the authorities are very worried that many may not know of the impending storm…”

    “Damn it.” Damian cursed under his breath.

    “This is definitely a mesocyclone.” Ada said. She was after all a satellite meteorologist.

    At that, Jessica glanced at an attentive Tavia. ‘She’s right after all. Mesocyclone is often identified with supercell thunderstorms.’

    “This is one of the largest and most severe cases of storm and can last for hours.” Damian started. “We may know what it takes to form a tornado and when we have them, but we will never know why we have them. It is part of our job to do the chasing and I know I've say it for the countless time but I’m gonna say it again, do it with utmost care, nothing matters more than your own life.”

    “Ok, I’m going to spilt us up into two groups.” Gallen added. “Chen Hao, Ron and Ada are with me. Tavia, Bowie and Kenix, you three go with Jessica. We will stay in contact with the station at all times.”

    Saying that, the group spilt up and headed towards their vehicles that was custom ready for such situation.

    Ron, a climatologist, has gone home when Tavia came reporting in so it was his first meeting with her and he was struck by her gentle and yet charming features. He went up to her, clumsily adjusting his spectacles and tapped her on her shoulders. Tavia wheeled around and Ron could smell the fragrant of lavender from her direction.

    “Hi, I’m Ron. You didn’t see me earlier because…”

    “Ron! Come on!” Chen Hao hollered out to him. “You dun wanna be the only one chasing the car do you?!”

    “I’ll talk to you when we get back.” Tavia said hurriedly before rushing towards Chen Hao’s direction.

    Ron recovered his senses enough to track quickly after Tavia.

    “Haohao, you be careful all right?” Tavia said.

    “I will and you too.” Chen Hao said.

    And together, the two bosom friends went off and separate, each heading towards their respective vehicles.

    **********

    Tavia hopped onto the archangel, a modified version of a storm chasing vehicle. Kenix was the driver, Bowie was to study the storm and compared it with a notebook that is satellite linked to predict the behavior of the tornado while Jessica and Tavia would do the photographing and data collecting.

    The vehicle was designed for function, travel safety, hail protection and avoidance of normal storm generated debris but never running directly into the path of tornadoes as no vehicles could withstand the direct impact of such. Just as everyone was ready for the day’s challenge, Bowie yelled for Kenix to stop the car.

    “What?” Kenix practically shouted.

    “Damn! We are missing the walkie talkies here!” Bowie exclaimed, his vexation written on his face.

    “How is that possible?” Jessica asked, knowing that keeping the archangel in tip-top running condition as well as fully equipped was one of storm chasers’ responsibilities.

    “It must be the maintenance group’s oversight. They must have forgotten to replace the walkie talkie when they checked the vehicle.” Bowie buttoned his jacket as he replied.

    “What are you doing?” Tavia asked as she watched.

    “I’m going back to the station.” Bowie said.

    “What?” Kenix said. “How?”

    “I’ll run the way back.” Bowie answered calmly.

    “Maybe we should just…” Kenix began.

    “No.” Bowie interrupted. “Storm chasing is one of our important duties to understand it better so as to ensure that people can sleep safely knowing that a storm will not turn out to be deadly. Look,” Bowie said as he looked out of the window. “This storm is getting angrier, we cannot just turn back because of one technical error. You girls run ahead, I’ll get back, grab the walkie talkies and tracked you down with the GPS.”

    “We have been driving for 15 minutes…” Jessica started.

    “And I’ll join you girls in 45 minutes time, don’t worry. But if I don’t get the walkie talkies, you know the disciplinary actions. The two groups must not lose contact with each other and also with the station.”

    Saying so, Bowie opened the door and Tavia could feel the strong wind trying to blow it shut. Struggling against it, she watched as Bowie braced against the wind and made his way back to where they came from.

    “Is Bowie going to be ok?” Tavia asked out of concern as the car started again.

    “He will, but if he didn’t get to the walkie talkies, he won’t be ok.” Jessica replied, looking back at Tavia who was in the back seat.

    “That means we are alone now, having no means of contact with Gallen’s group.” Kenix said.

    The girls kept quiet. Only the storm made itself loudly heard.

    **********

    On the other hand, in the other archangel…

    Gallen was driving with Ada doing the storm tracking. Ron and Chen Hao were in the back seat doing the data collecting and photographing.

    In a low voice, Ron asked, “Heard that Tavia has been friends with you since childhood?”

    “Ya.” Chen Hao replied, she was busy checking that the camera was in proper working condition.

    “How come you have never mentioned that you have a friend studying overseas and is also in this line?” Ron asked.

    “Does it matter?” Chen Hao answered with a question. “Not like I have to register with the whole world to have Tavia as a childhood friend who happened to go into the same line as I am.”

    “That’s not what I meant.” Ron began.

    Chen Hao didn’t probe on. “Here, hold this for me.” She said as she handed Ron a film case.

    Ron took it. “Is she like you?”

    Chen Hao didn’t answer. Ron glanced at the front seat to note that his conversation has not been noticed as yet. Then he nudged at Chen Hao who finally looked up at him.

    “What?” Chen Hao asked. “What did you say?”

    “I mean…” Ron hesitated. “Is Tavia in anyway having a …relationship ?”

    The last word came out barely in a whisper and Chen Hao did not catch it.

    “What? What was that you’re saying?” She asked.

    Ron blushed almost immediately at her sudden outburst. “Shhhh…”

    “What’s going on behind?” Gallen asked.

    “Erm… nothing.” Ron answered, stammering in his haste.

    “We are chasing a storm here, any side talking please do it after this.” Gallen said, much as a order.

    Ron looked awkwardly down on his camera. “Sorry…”

    Beside him, Chen Hao looked casually away, Ron knew that she must be in her blur state again and wondered aloud why when it came to working, she was very efficiency. Then the thought of having Tavia as his colleague brightened him up and he smiled as he looked up, only to see Ada looking back at him with a knowingly smile. Embarrassed and awkward, he looked down again hoping that by pretending to clean the lenes, Ada would not sentence him to a trial of Q&A later.

    **********

    The car that the 3 girls were on raced on, battling against the hail in the safety of the well-equipped car. Tavia watched as a visible condensation funnel appeared to descend from the base of the storm, like a rotating wall cloud just tens of kilometers to the left side of the car.

    “Look! It’s forming over there!” She yelled.

    Jessica and Kenix looked to the pointed direction and were horrified to see the formation of a tornado so near to them.

    “RFD (rear flank downdraft) is happening too fast!” Jessica yelled as she held on to the safety of the hand bars that were fitted in the car. She knew that when the RFD reached the ground, it would create a gust front that could cause damage a good distance from the tornado and usually, the funnel cloud becomes a tornado within minutes of the RFD reaching the ground.

    “We need to get the hell out of here fast!” Jessica yelled in anxiety.

    Kenix needed not to be told for she already gunned the engine of the vehicle forward, racing against time to get them out of the fury funnel.

    Tavia fumbled with her seatbelt to get it loosen so that she could take video of the happenings in a better position. She was very excited having to experience something of her dream so up close. As the car sped forward, Tavia watched the maturity of the tornado from the back screen. It was unbelievable, she noted. A tornado does take time to grow as it depends on a good source of warm, moist air to power it. It could be fast or slow and in this case, Tavia noticed and knew that the tornado could mature in just a few minutes.

    “We really need to get out of here!” Tavia added without turning around to face the other two, her eyes fixed on the growing tornado.

    Before anyone could react, the car began to spin out of control. Jessica realized to her horror that they were within at least a mile from the tornado, directly in its path of destruction. But she could only scream like Kenix as she braced with the spinning of the car, hoping that it didn’t get carry off.

    As soon as it started, it stopped. Kenix and Jessica could hear each other’s heavy panting in the car. They looked out of the window, the tornado was gone.

    Finally Kenix spoke. “This is fast. RFD sure is unpredictable, luckily it managed to cut off the tornado’s air supply and weaken it, I can’t imagine what will happen to us.”

    Both stared wide-eyed at their surroundings.

    “Ok, we need to…” Jessica turned to look behind and saw Tavia slumped on the back seat, knocked out. “Tavi!!!”

    Unbuckling her seatbelt hurriedly, Jessica alighted and climbed in to Tavia’s side. She combed her hair gently aside to notice a slight bump on her forehead with a trickle of blood. The video camera was on the car floor, undamaged. She reached for her pulse and was relieved to feel the beat beyond.

    “How is she?” Kenix asked with utmost concern. After all, she did watch Tavia grew up having been friends with Jessica since their younger days.

    “She did not have the seatbelt on when the car spun out of control. I think she must have hit against the window or something, it is swelling up but otherwise, I think she’s fine.”

    Jessica looked up and searched for the now she has a reason to fear storm.

    “We need to get back and fast.” Jessica said.

    With that, Kenix started the car again and turned it around.

    **********

    “I couldn’t get Jessica and the group!” Chen Hao said exasperatedly for the 3rd time since Gallen wanted her to make the contact.

    “Something is wrong. Maybe we should try and find them.” Ron suggested. He was unsure of it himself but deep down, he was worried about Tavia, a lady whom he just met without proper introductions.

    Gallen drove on, his mind twirling for a decision.

    “Gallen…” Ada started, she was worried about her other team-mates too.

    “Haohao,” Gallen suddenly spoke out. “Call the station, put them on alert that we have lost contact with the other team. Ask them to dispatch help and update that we are going on with the chase.”

    Chen Hao looked worryingly at Ron and Ada.

    “We are already outside and we set out together in the first place. Shouldn’t we just look for them ourselves instead of radioing for backup? They could be in trouble and if we don’t get to them fast…”

    “I agreed.” Chen Hao interjected. “Damian has always stressed on teamwork and safety, we ought to put the chase on a secondary need and look for Jessica-jie.”

    “I am the leader of this team and my words are final!” Gallen retorted.

    “But…” Chen Hao was obviously impressed not.

    “Look, it could be either their walkie talkies are out or the car’s tyre went out. They can handle their safety well but this is our job. Many people depend on our weather knowledge for a better chance of survival, we cannot let ourselves down!”

    “But if we don’t ensure the safety and survival of our comrades, how can we do that for the public?” Ron was angry that the new superior was actually a hard-hearted person.

    Before Gallen could respond, Ada spoke up. “We do have a duty here, but watching out for our colleagues is a natural reaction one should have.” She has to try a balance reasoning here or ended up having the group spilt in feelings.

    “Let’s do it reasonably,” She looked down at the notebook on her lap that showed a satellite picture of the storm. “The storm is not getting any better or worse than now but I can see that the tornado is not going to form in our area. We are getting only rain and more rain so why not we radioed back to the station for help and we ventured into the storm’s center. Knowing Jessica’s habit, they must have either knowingly or accidentally stumbled into the danger zone.”

    Just then, their walkie talkies cracked to life.

    “Team Belta, team Belta, this is Bowie, do you copy me?”

    Ada picked the walkie talkie up hurriedly. “Bowie, this is team Belta, where is team alpha’s position?”

    “Negative!” Bowie’s voice rang out. “Team Alpha set off without walkie talkies, I went back to get them, now alone in a search quest but am not getting a moving target.”

    “With this kind of weather, the ions in the atmosphere must be interfering with signal hence the inability to localize them.” Gallen explained.

    Ada fed the same information back to Bowie.

    “I am going to search them along the way, hopefully I can get to them before the storm does! Stay in contact! Bowie going out!”

    For a moment, no one spoke in the car.

    “Ok, we are going to continue the chase but at the same time, we’ll keep a lookout for Team Alpha, fair enough?” Gallen asked, but more like a wrapped up to their disagreement earlier.

    Ada looked back on Ron and Chen Hao and with a reassuring look, went back to her satellite analyzing.

    **********

    Jessica heard soft moans from an unconscious Tavia whose head was resting on her lap as the car raced on.

    “Tavia…” Jessica pressed on till the latter finally opened her eyes. “You ok?”

    Tavia tried to sit up and managed to with Jessica’s help. She remembered what happened. When the car swerved 360 degrees, she was thrown off her position, slamming her head against the window and everything went black.

    Touching her forehead, she could feel the slight bump there. “Great, that’s what I get for not being friends with the seatbelt.” She lamented.

    “Glad that you know.” Jessica said. “What were you thinking? It is dangerous not to buckle the seatbelt and you know that! Especially in this weather!”

    Tavia wasn’t really listening. She was looking out of the window, something caught her eyes.

    “Even if this car was modified to protect us from the storm outside, it doesn’t mean we are safe from the inside.” Jessica was reprimanding and Kenix saw through the rear window that it was totally out of love and concern for the younger lady.

    “Where is the tornado?” Tavia asked.

    “It disappeared as soon as it started.” Kenix answered.
    “Lucky hell it did. I don’t want to picture us flying through the air in a car.” Jessica said.

    “This is not the end.” Tavia said suddenly as she sat up and edged to the window, looking out at a distance.

    Jessica followed, sensing the seriousness of her sister-in-law. “What is it?”

    “The inflow is gonna concentrate into a new area closer to the center of the storm and if we are witness to one so close to us, you know what it means?” Tavia asked.

    Silence.

    Kenix breathed silently. “We are in the center of the storm.”

    “And we are in a lot of trouble.” Jessica added, searching now desperately for the hidden but ready to spring a surprise attack tornado.

    The car sped on as the 3 women searched with their hearts in their mouths.

    Suddenly, “Stop the car!” Tavia nearly screamed.

    “What?” Kenix exclaimed as she stepped on the brake screeching to a stop.

    “Get out of the car now!” Tavia ordered and she opened the door to step out.

    “Tavia!” Jessica yelled as she stepped out from the other door hurriedly. “What is it?!”

    “It is coming our way and we are not going to make it in this car.” Tavia said calmly as she stared at a distance.

    “I see nothing.” Kenix said as she fixed her gaze at the direction Tavia was concentrating.

    ‘That’s because you can’t see and feel what she was seeing and feeling.’ Jessica said in a monologue state. She saw a bridge ahead.

    “Come on! We have to get to the bridge!” Jessica yelled.

    Saying that, Kenix started running towards it. Jessica started after her only to sense that Tavia was not following. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Tavia stood root to the ground, still staring at the same direction.

    “Tavi!!” Jessica yelled and raced back while waving Kenix to carry on running.

    Jessica ran to Tavia’s side and pulled at her arm. “Tavi! What are you doing?! We need to seek shelter from under the bridge!”

    “Look.” Tavia said softly.

    Jessica watched in amazement as a tornado formed before her eyes. Somehow, something about it told her that it was not ‘demorli’.

    “Come on! Let’s go!!” Jessica yelled in the loud din and pulled Tavia along.

    Tavia did not once leave her eyes from the tornado that was quickly coming at their way. To her utter surprise, a second tornado separated from the mesocyclone.

    “It’s a tornado family!” Tavia yelled happily. She heard of them, studies them but only saw them the first time.

    Jessica watched as to her horror, realized that the new created member was tearing everything in its path and was heading towards them. With adrenaline pumping, she dragged Tavia to the bridge, went under it, climbed up the slope and with Kenix, huddled together and braced for the heads on battle with the approaching tornado.

    In minutes, the tornado was upon them above the bridge, the sound was deafening and Kenix was screaming to relieve the pain in her ears. Jessica, despite her strong grip in her position found herself slipping slowly away towards the opening where the mouth of fury was waiting for her. Just when she lost a footing, a hand wrapped around her waist from behind and she knew it was Tavia and she stopped slipping. The feeling was déjà vu, someone had done that before…

    TBC

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    7

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    THE MEMORY
    Tavia stepped out from the shelter of the bridge, following closely behind was Jessica and Kenix. They searched around them, a minute ago when the tornado was set to swallow them up, it was gone. The air around them seemed died down almost immediately. Though it was still pouring, its strength has subsided since.

    “It’s gone.” Tavia breathed out.

    “Not surprising, dissipating stage usually lasts no more than a few minutes, lucky we’re still standing.” Kenix said with much relief.

    Jessica glanced at Tavia, she knew the disappointment the younger lady felt, that it was not the tornado she was so looking forward to though at the same time excited having to experience something firsthand still.

    Jessica wrapped her arm around Tavia’s shoulder and the latter smiled, halfheartedly.

    Just then, “Oh my god…” Kenix exclaimed.

    The two women whirled around and finally saw what Kenix was looking open-mouthed at. Their car was carried away by the tornado and it landed a mile away from where they stopped it. From the distance, they could see that it was totally wrecked.

    “You guys think it will still run?” Kenix asked.

    “With what? The doors or the roof?” Jessica asked.

    At that, Tavia laughed. “What do we do now?”

    Jessica took out her cell-phone. Shaking her head, “I’m not getting a reception.”

    “With this kind of storm, you think the satellite can still work properly?” Kenix asked.

    “So we’re going to walk back to the station.” Tavia said and started moving.

    “This is going to take us some hours and since this broken road has been seldom used, we are sure not going to be noticed till we reach the main road and that should be…” Kenix started.

    “Stop grumbling and start walking already.” Jessica said.

    45 minutes later,

    Jessica and Kenix were exchanging notes on the chase earlier, at times in an argumentative way. Behind them, Tavia seemed to walk with some difficulty.

    “If only we have the walkie talkies, the station could have given us better coordinates as to where the tornado might be forming.” Kenix grumbled.

    “Forget that already.” Jessica said, tired of trying to convince Kenix that the mistake though human error was correctable. “We’ll just have to remind them to be careful the next time.”

    “They better be. It’s either my life or their job.” Kenix retorted.

    “Guys…” Tavia called out weakly.

    The two ladies went on, obviously in a deep conversation to hear her.

    “I could have gotten a better look at the tornado family back then.” Kenix said.

    “Well, remember who ran the fastest then?” Jessica teased.

    Kenix glared at her. “Come on pal, I’ve never been this close to a tornado and I really have no intention to fly through the air and bury my head first on the ground.”

    Jessica chuckled. “Oh, you’re funny.”

    “Right, since Tavia came back, I have to catch up on this genre in case she…” Kenix turned back to look at Tavia only to see her squatting a distance away, her face buried in her folded arms.

    “Tavi?” Jessica called out, starting towards her and breaking into a run reaching her in just seconds. “You ok?”

    Tavia looked up and the pair realized she looked pale and was perspiring. Jessica held her hands and found them clammy. She looked at the glucowatch, the reading said ‘54’.

    ‘Damn!’ Jessica thought aloud. “Shit, I was rushing this morning with the whole tornado issue and I forgot to make you drink at least something.”

    “I’m fine,” Tavia began with a weak smile as she tried to keep from trembling. “Both of us were upbeat over it, I should have myself to blame for not taking care of myself.”

    “Don’t you have anything on you?” Kenix asked as she dug into her pockets.

    Seconds later, “Everything I have is in the car.” Jessica said. “My bag with the sweet stuffs and the glucagon injection. Based on the stage of wreckage, I doubt we find a single thing.”

    “I’m just a little hungry, we can walk faster and who knows, we could hitch a ride somewhere and we’ll get back to the station sooner than thought.” Tavia suggested, though the two could see that she was feeling uncomfortable.

    Jessica looked around them. The possibility of waiting for someone to pass by was near to zero, they were after all in a remote area where even the road is not properly laid. The villagers seldom ventured out and likewise, town people rarely put a step in, except them of course, since their station was located within proximity.

    Grabbing hold of Tavia tight, Jessica helped her up. “We’ll go into the village and get some sugar. Judging from the distance, we should be able to get there in less than two hours.”

    Flanked by two women on both sides, Tavia struggled on, determined not to give in to her condition.

    It was an hour later when Tavia collapsed onto her knees unable to walk further.

    “Headache.” Tavia said softly.

    Jessica cupped her face in her hands and noticed her pupils dilated. ‘She’s confused.’ Looking at the glucowatch, it said ‘42’. She looked up to see an anxious Kenix staring back, both knowing what a low reading means.

    “Tavia, stand up.” Jessica said as she tried to drag her sister-in-law along. “We have to keep moving. The village is there, look,” Jessica pointed ahead. “It’s over there.”

    Tavia looked up to see small shape of houses in the distance. They looked so close and yet the distance seemed to be pulling them apart. Suddenly, she felt it coming.

    Beside her, Jessica and Kenix realized it was happening for the alarm in the glucowatch sounded. The next thing they knew, Tavia collapsed onto the hard ground and she went into seizure.

    Watching Tavia in pain was something Kenix could never handle and she could only knelt by, hand in mouth to stiffen whatever screams that was in her throat.

    Tavia lay flat on her back on the ground, her body convulsed with pain written all over her face. Jessica knelt just beside and was hovering over her, careful not to put any restrain on her.

    “Stay with me Tavia, good girl, you can make it.” She encouraged.

    20 seconds later when the seizure stopped, Tavia drifted off into a semi-conscious state. Kenix took her jacket off, folded it and placed it under Tavia’s head.

    “Look, we cannot get Tavia to move now. I will get to the village, you stay here and take care of her.” Kenix said as she stood up.

    “But…” Jessica started.

    “Don’t argue with me now. I’ll be back very soon, trust me.” With that, Kenix raced off in the village’s direction.

    Jessica looked down on barely conscious Tavia, she knew that a seizure could bring a lot of pain to victims. It doesn’t look much on the outside only because no one knows what it feels like on the inside. Jessica combed Tavia’s hair aside.

    “You’ll be fine, you always are. Stay strong for me please… for your dai-gor.”

    **********

    Flashback 16 years ago…

    Jessica was 18 years old, a pretty fair lady on her first date. Far ahead she saw the man of her dreams standing tall and steady with a rose in his hand. She has been admiring him since a year back when university started. He was the dream date of many seniors and course-mates alike, somehow, she was picked for he showered her with extra attention and concern. She was flattered, enjoyed the jealousy surrounding her, was swept off her feet so to say and when he asked her out, she couldn’t find a reason to say no.

    As she came nearer, she spotted two pair of legs, one seemingly hidden from view standing behind the handsome man she couldn’t take her eyes off whenever he was in sight. As she came nearer, a small figure peered from behind the man’s arm. It was a little girl, she was short, only standing at a height to his elbow and she looked pretty hostile back.

    “Hi.” Michael began with a smile that Jessica was sure would melt every woman’s heart.

    “Hi.” Jessica responded shyly. Looking down, she saw the little girl staring at her.

    “Erm… who is this?” Jessica asked.

    “Oh…” Michael pulled the girl out from behind his back. The girl seemed reluctant and clung on to Michael’s shirt. “She’s my baby sister, Tavia and is only 8 years old.”

    “Oh…” Jessica didn’t know how to react, realizing she wasn’t on a date alone but along came the sister too. “Nice to meet you Tavia.”

    Tavia didn’t answer, the staring continued.

    “Tavi, don’t be rude.” Michael urged, kinda embarrassed at his sister’s attitude. “call Jessica-jie.”

    “But I dun wanna to!” Tavia grumbled aloud. “I dun wan you to go out with another person!”

    Michael looked up, his face reddened. “Sorry. My kid sister can be a pest at times.” The last part was whispered and Jessica smiled.

    “Another person?” Jessica asked, curious.

    “Oh… she meant someone else besides her.” Michael answered. “I never had a girlfriend in my life, not yet.”

    ‘You don’t have to tell me.’ Jessica thought aloud, somewhat amused.

    “Erm… do you mind… not having told you that my sister is coming along?” Michael asked with genuine concern.

    “No, of course not. I did hear about you having a younger sister, just no idea she’s so much younger.” Jessica replied.

    Tavia sulked, not happy that she was being targeted then but looked away.

    “She’ll be fine in no time.” Michael said as he hugged his sister. “So, shall we go to the movies? There is a new cartoon in town, it isn’t always we can get to have cartoons in movies, how about it?”
    “Sure, for a change will be great.” Jessica said.

    **********

    Present day…

    “And we never stop watching cartoon since then, till you decided to change, Michael and I celebrated that blessing day discretly.” Jessica chuckled.

    Tavia smiled weakly. She was resting against Jessica who wrapped her arms around her trembling body.
    “Dai-gor always called me a pest.”

    “A loveable pest. He couldn’t do much without you, you’re always his priority.” Jessica said. “And that’s what I fell in love with, his love for his family is so strong, I could never feel lost with a beacon so bright.”

    Tavia reached up for the necklace she has been wearing for the past four years. It held a pendant of a bronze ‘key’, it was the last item Michael gave to her days before his death and she has been treasuring it since.

    Hugging her tight, Jessica could feel Tavis’s body relaxing.

    “Don’t sleep!” Jessica urged loudly. Looking at the glucowatch, it said ‘36’. Any lower could mean coma and Jessica could only beg for Kenix to return hurriedly.

    “Tavi! Tavi!!” Jessica shook her gently, urging for a response.

    Tavia could hardly keep her eyes open, least focusing her thoughts.

    “Being alive… is writing a new chapter… to correct the past...” Tavia muttered incoherently.

    Jessica remembered that sentence. Michael said that all the time. Tavia in her confusion state was recalling the past in bits and pieces.

    **********

    Flashback…

    A young Tavia was lying on the ground with Michael hovering over her. She had a relapse and Jessica though knowing her condition had only experienced it the first time, so she was unprepared and frightened having to see the small body convulsed like being electrocuted.

    Michael has already administered the glucagon injection and was waiting for the effects.

    “You’re doing great…” Michael encouraged as Tavia’s shallow and yet rapid breathing improved steadily. “You have to stay alive Tavi, cause by doing that, you’ll have the chance to write a new chapter to life, a chance to correct the past mistakes… a chance for me to watch you grow up.”

    Jessica could hear the choke in Michael’s voice. That was what she knew what it meant when people said ‘love unconditionally’. Michael was a living proof that when it comes to loving, it was priceless and immensurable.

    ‘I’m looking for a woman who loves not only me, but is able to accommodate everything about my sister. She has to be the second important person in her life after me. In a way, the women I married have to be the one Tavia approves of. I rather marry someone whom my sister gets along with then to make a trip down spilt-lane.’

    That was why Michael didn’t get a steady girl till 22 years old. All the girls he dated for the first time was ‘rejected’ by Tavia. That was her status in Michael’s heart and Jessica respected that. Somehow, Tavia accepted her by the first date but was hostile to her for almost a year…

    **********

    Present day…

    “Can you tell me why you were so cold to me for nearly a year?” Jessica asked.

    “…I like you right from the start…” Tavia began with difficulty, trying hard to focus. “Just that I dun wan Dai-gor to know it so I pretend to be difficult.”

    “Why?” Jessica probed.

    “…I dun wan Dai-gor to jump into a relationship and forget all about me… I know he won’t… but I was so afraid then…” Tavia managed out.

    Jessica wrapped her arms around tighter. “Silly. I’ll never marry your brother if he was that heartless.”

    “I know… I’m just glad he did marry you… I really dun wan a wicked sister-in-law… and I have to work in the kitchen.” Tavia said.

    Jessica smiled. Looking up, she saw a figure coming towards them in a distance. Straining her eyes, she realized to her delight it was Kenix.

    “Kenix is back!” Jessica exclaimed happily. “She’s back Tavia, you have to stay with me…”

    Looking down, she noticed her eyes closed.

    “Tavi?” Jessica started shaking her. “Tavi!!” *

    *********

    It was still pouring outside, the threat was gone though.

    Lying on the bed was Tavia looking very comfortable and sound asleep. On the bedside table was a used IV bag that Jessica was trained to administer to Tavia when such emergency arrive. On the couch nearby was Jessica, she was flipping through a photo album immersing in the joy of the past. There were so much happier days when Michael was around. Jessica knew that Tavia missed Michael a lot though she didn’t say it and vice versa. Both of them were afraid of hurting the other party if his name were to be mentioned.

    On the bed, Tavia stirred. Jessica got up from the couch and sat on the bedside. She waited till Tavia was fully aware of her presence.

    “Hey, sleepyhead.” Jessica said.

    Tavia smiled. “Sorry.”

    Jessica looked at the glucowatch, it read ‘65’.

    She remembered that when Kenix got back, they had to practically force some sugary liquid down Tavia’s throat, then taking turns to carry her out to the main street and luckily Bowie came by and got them home for the proper medication.

    “All turns out well.” Jessica said as she opened the mini fridge next to the bed to reveal bags of IVs, sweet stuffs and bottles of water. Taking one of the bottles, she handed it to Tavia who drank it hurriedly to quench her thirst.

    “Enough.” Jessica said as she took the bottle away from Tavia. “You dun wanna dilute your system do you?”

    Just then, Jessica’s cell-phone rang. It was Damian on the other line.

    After hanging up, “Damian wanted me to go back to the station tomorrow.” She said.

    “Why not? I’m fine already and I can get back tomorrow too.” Tavia said, lying back down.

    “No, I want you to take a rest for another day, Damian agreed on that too. I wouldn’t want to go back but the station has some new blood coming in.” Jessica said.

    “More new people?” Tavia asked, as Jessica pulled the covers up around up, urging her to get back to sleep.

    “Three to be precise, Charmaine, Damian’s daughter is coming back from Australia. And there is a guy named Raymond who is a forensic specialist changing his line of expertise… something I forgot. And one more lady… Linda I think, from states.”

    “Oh… I have a friend in states of the same faculty by the name of Linda too.” Tavia added.

    “You’ll know when you get back to work after a good rest.” Jessica said.

    TBC
    Last edited by dingdonginheaven; 01-24-08 at 01:10 AM.

  5. #5
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    THE MEET

    When Tavia went back to work eventually, she was delighted to find Linda Chung,a 22 years old fresh graduate from states greeting her like a long lost puppy, after all, she has played a part in guiding this blur junior during her year of sponsorship there. Linda has managed to secure a job as an atmospheric chemist and would likely to stay indoors all the time. Tavia thought it was better that way, since a lightning storm could actually submit her to a screaming contest.

    Charmaine on the other hand, was an experienced meteorology researcher. Educated in states, she decided only to come back after Damian did his fair share of persuading. He was the doting father after all and the station would never hire her if she lacked the expertise.

    The only other person Tavia failed to meet up was Raymond Chan, he was on field trips, gathering evidence on a case of a death of mishap.

    It was only another 3 days later that she finally met him, when she was asked by Damian to be his assistant. Her first impression of Raymond was of the extreme; unkempt hair, unshaved face, unprofessional, so she thought. But to be able to qualify as a forensic meteorologist means that he has met with the qualifications of a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, something not an easy feat at his young age. She heard that he has a good IQ and wondered aloud was his EQ a match, since he didn’t as much smile since their introductions.

    Tavia was then driving; she stole glances at the new guy who was looking out of the window now and then.

    “When will you stop staring at my face?” Raymond asked, still looking away.

    Tavia looked away instantly, embarrassed that he made her felt like an alien, one that first seen a man setting foot on earth.

    “I wasn’t…” She began.

    “It was in the window, much reflected like a mirror. Spare me the explanation.” Raymond retorted.

    ‘Geez,’ Tavia thought aloud. ‘Warm up! You’re not the only kind.’

    “I’m sorry, just that I’m not used to a man who feels so cold and one kind like you.” Tavia replied, an attempt at biting back.

    “What’s wrong with being myself?” Raymond asked, then looking at Tavia.

    Tavia gripped the wheel tight. “Exactly. What’s wrong with being myself and I’m just being myself.”

    Raymond was quiet, just staring at Tavia who felt uncomfortable being stared at.

    “What are you looking at?” Tavia asked finally.

    Raymond chuckled, more like sneering back and Tavia realized she has just made a fool of herself. Raymond was only feeling and asking what she was feeling just then and asking back then.

    “Fine,” Tavia gave up arguing. “But at least fill me in with what we’re supposed to do today. Damian said I should know of something to make your job easier and in any case, provide the proper aiding.”

    Raymond turned to look away, then he opened the file that he took out from his bag and flipped it open.

    “It is a case the victim’s family versus Wuzhong Factory. Apparently, the victim was killed in an automobile accident along the road where the factory was located nearby. The family of the deceased insisted that it was the smoke emitted from the factory that hindered the vision ability thus causing the fatal accident. Lawyers from Wuzhong wanted to convince the juries that it was the thick fog that caused the accident. I was asked to come here, as a trial for transfer to gather evidence on this case, and I need someone with the expertise to help me collect information on the weather from different locations surrounding the incident. I will then be able to establish what the pre-existing weather and ground conditions were and how that might have had an effect on what happened.”

    “Wow, sounds complicate and yet interesting!” Tavia said.
    Raymond looked at her, smiled and went on reading the notes in his file.

    ‘Why does his smile look like he’s condemning a child on an ABC issue?’ Tavia thought suspiciously.

    Shaking her head, ‘Dun think too much Tavi, I’m after all not an expert in his field and he does need my help cause he can’t do everything alone so shake it out!’

    The rest of the journey was driven in silence.

    **********

    The two stopped in many places, Raymond asked a lot of questions and Tavia has to help record statements of weather sightings that day as well as making judgement based on her own expertise.

    Finally, it was 2pm in the afternoon.

    “Hey…” Tavia called out. “Couldn’t we just take a break or something?”

    Raymond turned back and looked at Tavia. The latter seemed totally burnout from the much walking and standing.

    He sniggered at her, “So the meteorologists in Guangzhou are not fitness to standard.”

    Tavia disliked that sniggering and thought it was extremely rude. “It’s not that bad! I’m just hungry since I grabbed only a glass of juice for breakfast.”

    “Ya right, excuse. If you wanna take a break, could have been more honest.” Raymond said.

    ‘Shit!’ Tavia thought aloud. As Raymond looked away, she looked at the glucowatch she was always wearing. It read ‘59’. ‘Damn!’

    Digging into her bag, she pulled out a lollipop, was peeling it’s wrapper when Raymond snatched it away. Before she could protest, Raymond popped the lolli into his mouth. Tavia could only stare back in shock.

    “Why did you do that for?” Tavia asked, longing for the lolli in Raymond’s mouth.

    “Sweet stuff makes one hungrier.” Raymond retorted, somehow in glee having pulled such a stunt on his co-worker.

    “But I need the lolli.” Tavia said, seemingly grieving for a lost candy.

    Raymond stared unbelievingly at her. “Oh please! Don’t look and make it sound like I’ve taken your only hope in life.”

    “Almost.” Tavia said, her dismay written all over her face. “My lolli…”

    Raymond rolled the lolli in his mouth from side to side and was amused to see Tavia following the motion.

    “Get a grip of yourself can? You’re no longer a child and you don’t need a lollipop to get my attention.” Raymond said as he slapped at Tavia’s arm. “Come on, we still have one more place to go and I dun wanna any other reason or word from you.”

    “But…” Tavia started.

    “Remember, Damian wanted you to fully cooperate with me.” Raymond reminded her and he started walking up an uneven path.

    Tavia watched his back as he moved away. “Are you kidding me? Who needs that extra attention?” Saying so, she checked the glucowatch again. “I should be able to survive for another 4 hours…”

    Reluctantly, Tavia trudged behind Raymond, her impression of him somewhat hit rock bottom.

    **********

    In an hour’s time, all was done.

    “Fine, I have the necessary information now, all I have to do is to consolidate everything and present my findings to the juries.” Raymond said, smitten with his own ability. “Let’s get back to the station now.”

    Hearing no respond, he turned to look back. Tavia was standing root to the ground, her head down.

    Raymond, with the lolli stick still protruding from his mouth walked cautiously up to her, bent down enough to observe that she was kinda pale.

    “Hey… are you all right?” Raymond asked, then really concern.

    “...I’m going to faint.” Tavia replied softly, without looking up. “The ground’s spinning.”

    “Oh come on, I took a lollipop from you and you don’t have to faint on me in protest.” Raymond said.

    Tavia shook her head and her posture seemed unstable. “Check my right hand watch…”

    Raymond did notice that she was wearing 2 watches and thought that one was an accessory. He took Tavia’s hand in his and saw a ‘53’ illuminated from it.

    “What is this?” Raymond asked, curious.

    “A glucowatch, designed for hypoglycemic people like me.” Tavia answered.

    ‘Hypoglycemia!’ Raymond knew what the word means. “Why didn’t you tell me in the first place?”

    “So you will return me my lollipop that you already sucked on?” Tavia asked, her body swerved to one side and Raymond caught hold of her in time.

    “I could have driven us back! You could have said something!” Raymond shouted.

    “You said no other reason and word from me… You used Damian’s name, remember?” Tavia retorted softly. “And is this the way… you hold a woman?”

    Raymond realized that in a haste to prevent Tavia from falling as in fainting, he has grabbed a firm hold on her jacket collar. He immediately let go, only to have Tavia falling backwards. Raymond reached out again and grabbed her, turned around quickly to let her fall onto his back.

    “What now?” Raymond asked frantically over his shoulder where Tavia’s head was resting on.

    “How about getting back to the village... and ask for some sugar water?” Tavia suggested softly.

    “Great idea.” Saying that, Raymond picked up Tavia’s bag and with her on his back, lumbered hurriedly back to where they came from.

    **********

    Outside Guangzhou’s Meteorological Station.

    Bowie, Jessica, Kenix and a few just came back from their field trip. They were putting up a conversation when they saw Raymond ahead carrying Tavia on his back.

    Jessica’s worried senses kicked in almost instantly and she hurried over, followed with the rest of the group.

    “Tavia!” She yelled and at hearing that, Raymond stopped walked. On his back, Tavia looked up and managed a weak smile.

    “Put me down.” Tavia requested and Raymond gently eased her off his back and she settled onto Jessica’s hold.

    “What happened?” Jessica asked the question in everyone’s head.

    “Nothing,” Tavia began, embarrassed at the attention. “My blood sugar level went low, I felt faint but Raymond managed to get some sugary stuff from the village people.”

    “Didn’t you get lunch?” Kenix asked.

    Tavia looked at Raymond, knowing that he would soon be the target of all and she didn’t want it to happen.

    “Well… I wasn’t hungry and… I thought we should finish the job first…”

    “I was the one who shelved off lunch and I didn’t even ask her. I’m sorry. If I know she is hypoglycemic, I would have make us ate lunch.” Raymond owned up. Deep down, he was indeed sorry for his indifference to other’s stomach. He wasn’t hungry never meant that other’s was always like him.

    “Even if you’re a man of steel, you could have treated a lady better.” Ron retorted with displeasure.

    “Hungry is one issue, you could have suck on the lollipop I made you carry all the time.” Jessica said.

    Tavia looked at the lolli stick protruding from Raymond’s mouth.

    ‘Is he an idiot?’ Tavia thought aloud. ‘Why would someone suck on a lolli stick for hours?’

    Everyone saw what Tavia was looking at and they started staring at Raymond, disapproval in their eyes.

    Bowie reached out for the lolli stick in Raymond’s mouth and pulled it out. Raymond smiled awkwardly at that.

    “You actually took a lollipop from a maiden in crisis?” Bowie asked.

    “Tavia would never give the lollipop away. Jessica has always instills strict instructions on it since 10 years ago.” Chen Hao said accusingly.

    “Sorry, I thought sweet stuffs made one hungrier so I… you know…” Raymond said sheepishly.

    “Of course we know now, a grown up guy like you bully a lady of her lollipop… I mean, her antidote for her sickly moments.” Bowie retorted intentionally.

    Tavia kept quiet, she knew that the maturity of the group though concern about her condition meant no harm to Raymond. They merely wanted to embarrass him for his act.

    “Sorry, I really didn’t mean it.” Raymond apologized, his face reddening over his childish act.

    “Next time, buy your own lolli.” Chen Hao said. “Come on Tavi, let’s get you back to the station. Great thing we store food in the pantry and you can get to nurse your hunger without anyone fighting over it with you.”

    Jessica merely smiled and together with Chen Hao and Kenix, led Tavia back towards the station. Before she turned away, Tavia gave Raymond a sympathetic glance and that was enough to make Raymond felt terrible for being nasty on her earlier.

    Before he could react, Bowie stuck the lolli stick back into his mouth. “Let it be a constant reminder that taking another person belonging could actually mean putting her life at stake.” Then he walked off.

    “Right, you should frame it up.” Ron added before running up to join Bowie and the rest.

    Raymond took the stick from his mouth, as he stared at the backs of everyone, he broke into a smile. He knew he had come to the right place, at least it would be a place where he could find something he lost, and that is belonging.

    **********

    Next day…

    Raymond came out from the station and saw Tavia waiting in the car. He climbed in and noted that she looked good, at least in health wise she was in a good state.

    “Hey.” Raymond greeted.

    “Morning.” Tavia answered as she started the car.

    As the car moved out, Raymond stole a glance at her. “Mmm… sorry about yesterday.”

    Tavia smiled. “I was responsible too. You dunno anything about my condition, I should be the one telling you right front and honestly. Sorry that the guys were hard on you but believe me, they were only concern about me.”

    Raymond smiled. “I can see that… and I admired that.”

    “Admired what?” Tavia asked.

    “The relationship that you guys shared. Very warm, very family-like.” Raymond said.

    Tavia nodded her head in agreement. “I am new here too, barely a month into the job. The seniors treated me superbly well, maybe partly because most of them were once colleagues and friends to my older brother.”

    “Oh, your brother works here too. I haven’t seen him, what’s his name?” Raymond asked.

    Tavia’s smiled faded. “He died in an accident 4 years ago.”

    For a moment, Raymond thought he looked like a fool again and was glad that no one was around to hear him tearing a painful wound open. He looked at Tavia, she did look hurt and he felt sorry almost immediately.

    “Sorry… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t ask too much and I…” Raymond began.

    “Don’t be silly, you know nothing and even if you dun hear from me, you’ll hear it from someone else.” Tavia said, trying to sound jovial.

    ‘And I rather hear it from someone else,’ Raymond thought aloud. ‘then to feel your pain having to say it personally.”

    The car came to a stop at the lights.

    “Anyway, I have something for you.” Tavia said as she reached for her bag behind. She shoved it into Raymond’s way. “Open it.”

    Raymond, unsure at the going of the conversation, opened the bag carefully. The first thing he saw was a bag of candies with a few lollipops, chocolates and many more. He laughed, took his bag, opened it and showed it to Tavia. There was a little bag and stuff inside were some candies and sweet things.

    At seeing that, both of them started laughing.

    “I bet we’re gonna look and feel sweet by the end of today’s work.” Raymond said.

    Beside him, Tavia laughed sweetly and she drove on.

    TBC

  6. #6
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    THE LIFE

    Jessica knocked on Gallen’s door and opened to his response. He was leaning back on his chair and closing a file that was on the table. He smiled and gestured Jessica to the seat opposite to him.

    Jessica handed him a file and sat down. “Here’s the report on last week’s weather and the forecast for the next week.”
    Gallen took the report and read it carefully as Jessica went on.

    “I did the comparing of the weather patterns at this time of the year against those at this time over the previous year, other than a slightly increase in the amount of rainfall, everything else is pretty much normal.”

    “Statistical forecasting can never be 100% reliable, though it does make our job easier,” Gallen said as he closed the report.

    “Well, I got you the report and its way past my release time, so I guess I’ll make a move first,” Jessica said as she stood up.

    “I heard a lot about you,” Gallen started.

    Jessica stopped short, unsure where Gallen was heading in the conversation.

    “I knew Michael… we were once working partners on a project in Alaska.”

    “…I remembered, that was 5 years ago… he didn’t mention you though when he came back.” Jessica said.

    Gallen smiled. “We were just acquaintance then, but the time was long enough for me to really admire him for his spirit and attitude in work, for him to share with me about the woman he loved in his life.”

    Jessica sat down unknowingly and smiled. “He was always so strong when it comes to work.”

    Gallen nodded. “He taught me quite a few things that you don’t get it behind lecture doors. He was a giver and I believed he gave a lot in his life.”

    Jessica chuckled. “You have no idea, Tavia is a living proof of his giving and she’s more than just a replica of him.”

    “Tavia?” Gallen reacted with surprise.

    “She’s Michael’s baby sister…you didn’t know that?” Jessica asked.

    “No I don’t apparently.” Gallen seemed to be pondering. “I read his file and went through some of the staffs’ profile, personal details are not recorded and I didn’t link the surnames together. Besides, who knows when coincidence strikes on the door?”

    Jessica knitted her brows. “Why are you going through our profile?”

    “Oh…” Gallen was startled though he tried not to show it. “It’s just to better understand the people I’m working with, their field of expertise and experience.”

    Jessica seemed to accept it and Gallen heaved a sign of relief secretly.

    “Anyway, I understand that Tavia is a hypoglycemic, if it is inconvenient for her on field trips, I can…” Gallen started.

    “No!” Jessica exclaimed. “I’m sorry… but just don’t worry about this issue. Michael has taught Tavia from young how to look out for herself and besides, it is her dream to be a meteorologist, to chase storms and…”

    “Be like her brother.” Gallen ended for her.

    Jessica smiled. “When I look at her, I see the shadow of Michael, they are just so alike in character. I don’t want to stop her in whatever she engages in, having a problem in health does not sentence one to death.”

    “What about you?” Gallen asked.

    Jessica looked up, surprised that the conversation was focused on her then.

    “You’re still young… don’t you plan to go on?” Gallen continued.

    Jessica maintained her silence for a while, and then she smiled and stood up. “I love this job, because only in this job I can sense his presence, only in this job I can live his dream. Nothing else matter so long I have him with me.”

    Saying that, Jessica turned to go.

    After she closed the door, Gallen opened the file that was on the table, the photo of a smiling Michael stared back at him. In the status column were a few sentences highlighting the cause of his death. Attached below was a piece of paper, ‘To be investigated for 2003 Noyon, Omnogovi’s incident’.

    “How could it have been him?” Gallen could only ask forlornly.

    **********

    Stephen Wan stepped out of the airport and took a few deep breath of his motherland’s air. When he was satisfied with it, he heard someone called out his name from afar. Searching for the source, he saw two familiar sights and smiled happily.

    Kevin went up to Stephen and gave him a big welcome hug. “You’re back finally!”

    As the two men pulled apart, Stephen saw Chen Hao standing behind, looking equally pleased to see him and she stepped forward and hugged him warmly, like Kevin did.

    Despite the urge to hold her longer, Stephen knew he couldn’t as she belongs to someone else, especially that someone was his best buddy for years.

    He pulled her back and exclaimed heartily, “I hope you guys are not married yet.”

    “How can we miss you from our wedding?” Kevin slapped on his shoulder.

    Stephen smiled. Deep inside, he felt guilty for harboring the thought that they stayed unmarried as long as possible but on the other hand, he felt better not to feel pangs of jealousy whenever the woman he loved held the hands of his best friend. It has been an agonizing struggle for him since they announced their relationship 3 years ago.

    “Shall we go home?” Kevin asked. “ Haohao prepared a sumptuous meal to celebrate your return and promotion.”

    “Right,” Haohao added. “Congratulate to our newly appointed senior station officer!” Saying that, Chen Hao pecked a kiss on his cheeks and that was enough to stun Stephen for a while.

    He managed a laugh and brushed it off like a normal issue. “Hey, what was that for? Kevin might get jealous you know?”

    Chen Hao clung onto Kevin’s arm dearly. “No he won’t. You are his best friend and mine too, we trust each other and he knows perfectly clear where my heart lies.”

    “You don’t have to say out loud how much you love me.” Kevin teased her.

    “You know I did.” Chen Hao argued back lovingly.

    Stephen could only watched with pain and pretended that he felt happy for them. He did feel happy for Kevin, just that any other human would break under relationship issues, lest him. Somehow, Chen Hao’s smile and laughter always makes him feel better.

    “I thought you guys made good food for me?” He asked.

    “Of course,” Chen Hao said. “Come on, let’s go!” She held onto Stephen’s arm and dragged him along towards the car.

    “Hey, my luggage!” Stephen protested.

    “Don’t worry, Kevin will get them.” Chen Hao said heartily.

    “Got it! You guys run ahead!” Kevin said as he picked up Stephen’s bags.

    As he walked behind them, Kevin could see Stephen’s eyes shining brightly when Chen Hao’s attention was on him and was chatting like a bird. He did notice his sad looks whenever Chen Hao was showering her love for him instead. It was an observation Kevin made since they started their relationship. Confrontations had been made but Stephen denied it all the time. Kevin knew that he would give Chen Hao up for brotherhood, and he also knew that Stephen would never want him to do that.

    **********

    Night. It is nature’s darkest moment, yet silence has never harmonized with it. Not entire.

    Tavia woke up. It wasn’t a dream that woke her up. Something else did. She wasn’t quite sure what did and she tossed in bed hoping to either get back to sleep, or find out what exactly was nudging at her causing that uncertainty.

    Finally giving up, Tavia checked her glucowatch making sure that her blood sugar level was of the right level, then got up and went to the kitchen for a drink.

    She past by Jessica’s room and stopped short. She listened. Her heart sank almost immediately. It was happening again, after all she thought it stopped as she hoped so, apparently it didn’t.

    Tavia put her hand on the door knot and opened it slowly. She stepped into the room and went up to the sleeping figure on the bed. She could make out Jessica who was huddled in a fetus-like position, and she was sobbing in her sleep.

    Tavia’s heart went out to her sister-in-law, knowing that she must have been dreaming of Michael again, and only living through his death again could bring such pain back to Jessica and hence the crying part.

    Tavia climbed up onto bed, snuggled under the covers and close to Jessica. Wrapping an arm around her, she hoped to provide enough comfort to Jessica so that the latter could at least sleep better when her dream settled down.

    As she listened to Jessica’s tiny sobs, she wondered why she had never dreamt of her big brother in a painful scenario. When she did dream, it was always filled with joy and laughter of the past unlike Jessica’s. Was it because when the accident happened, Jessica was one of the three who witnessed it, beside a villager and Kenix?

    She could only remember waking up to concern and familiar faces, being told that she was in coma for a week and that her big brother had been buried 2 days before. Following then was a period of crying and denial, accepting and finally going on with life. She has never asked what Jessica went through for she didn’t want to revitalize the pain in others. After all, Jessica has been the one who helped her through that moment.

    As Jessica’s sobs subsided, Tavia felt warm tears welling up in her eyes. She closed her eyes and let it flowed…

    **********

    Bowie looked at his watch as he pushed the door opened to the 24 hours pub. It was 2a.m. He was sleeping soundly when he received Kenix’s call. He knew even before she spoke what was needed from him by her again. All he did was to assure her that he would be there and 20 minutes later, he kept his promise.

    He spotted Kenix at her usual seat, slumped over the counter with the bartender who was wiping the glasses, shrugging his shoulders helplessly at his direction. No words exchanged, it was the norms.

    Bowie went up to Kenix and shook her lightly on the shoulder. “Kenix. Wake up Kenix, I’m taking you home.”

    Kenix muttered incoherently under her alcohol breath state, made a fruitless attempt to push away Bowie’s hand and striking out at whatever she thought was trying to assault her.

    Bowie signed silently at a drunkard Kenix. It has been like this since 4 years ago. He knew why she resorted to this kind of self-destruction, probably no one else knew about it except for him of course. If it wasn’t for the time she could not make payment and had sought him for help, the secret of her drinking spree would have definitely been left in the dark then. After that, Kenix has sworn him to secrecy, Bowie could never told anyone including her best friend Jessica, for his heart prohibited him from doing so. No one would want to betray the person he or she loves, that is human nature.

    Bowie knew he held a torch for Kenix since 6 years ago but knowing where her heart lies, he backed out even before starting to be frank to her.

    “Hey, make her a tea will you?” Bowie told the bartender. “I’ll get her a warm towel.” Saying so, he headed to the toilet. No one would believe a pub sells tea too, but only this place and to this particular customer.

    Bowie was friends with the owner of the pub. When he found out that Kenix has the tendency to get drunk on occasional nights, he made it a point to supply the pub with ginseng tea to freshen her up lest she got terribly drunk. It has been a habitual act since then.

    Kenix felt heavy in her head. She knew that Bowie has gone to the toilet and that the bartender was not around her. She just couldn’t control herself. Whenever the pain surfaced, she chose to run away from it and the only way to numb her sense would be drink it out cold.

    “Why no one ever believes me that he is really a wolf in sheep skin?” Kenix lamented out in between laughter and sobs.

    “A great mentor?” She sneered. “It was the wrong belief he had of him… and looked what happened!” Kenix reached for the glass, realized it was empty and in a fit of anger, threw it towards the shelf of wine bottles and it broke on impact.

    Kenix laughed. “I am nothing but a person of masks… I pretend to be one kind in front and I am another behind… I hate myself…” She slumped onto the table again as the bartender came out with a cup of tea, rather than a look of shock at the broken pieces on the floor, he proceeded to clean it up, like he has done so many times before.

    Bowie came back from the toilet and realized what happened. “Bill, put everything on my tab.”

    Bill, the bartender nodded understandingly. Bowie gently pressed the warm towel down on Kenix’s forehead.

    “Drink the ginseng tea, it will sober you up a little.” Bowie said.

    Whether Kenix heard it or not, she turned away, apparently fallen in sleep.

    Bowie could only heave a sign of pity. ‘Why did you have to fall in love with Michael? Why couldn’t you just let it go after his death? Like Jessica, why do you have to mourn for him even after four years? And then you have to feel guilty for secretly loving your best friend’s husband… whatever happened to the Kenix I knew before all these started?’

    Bowie could only empathize secretly. Love has always been blind and there is never a logical explanation why it happened the way it happened. Fate. That is what almost every human accept to escape responsibility when everything goes wrong.

    Bowe signed aloud. “Bill, fix me a volka.” It was going to be a long night.

    **********

    Courthouse –

    Raymond came out of the chamber and saw Tavia ahead. He was surprised that she was there for he thought she was only joking when she said she would turn up for the hearing. She didn’t but he didn’t expect her to be outside, waiting. He was about to go up to her when someone tapped him on his shoulder. Raymond turned around only to be punched on his face and he fell down instantly.

    Before he could comprehend what happened, the same person set upon him and threw a couple of punches in his way before he was pulled away. The next thing Raymond knew, Tavia’s face was so close to him that he could feel her warm breath on his face. She looked worried and frightened, at the same time checking his injuries on his face that was beginning to feel stinging from the punch.

    “The factory must have bribed you for fabricating the truth!” The man who assault Raymond yelled aloud despite the restrains from two court security guards.

    Raymond recognized him as the brother of the deceased. The court hearing earlier has passed a verdict of an accident by ‘Act of God’.

    Apparently, the investigation he made along with Tavia’s assistance proved that at the time of accident, the weather was indeed so bad that visibility could have hindered anyone’s judging ability. Instead of reducing speed, the brake marks at the accident site also proved that the victim has had been driving beyond the speed limit. In view of all the evidence, the court ruled in the factory’s favor and attributed the accident to self-negligence and hence all claims made against the factory was thrown out.

    Before Raymond could stand up for his own defence, Tavia did.

    “Mr. Sng. All investigation work has been done with the proper proceedings, with the rightful authorization from respective departments. If you’re not happy with the verdict, you can jolly well appeal but you have no right to say that Raymond took bribe from anyone and that is an insult to his field of expertise and do you mind, you can be charged with slandering here!”
    By this time, curiosity has infected everyone and a crowd has gathered to watch the happenings.

    “Go right damn ahead! Don’t you try to scare me here you *****!” Mr. Sng shouted angrily, his face reddened and he would have managed to confront Tavia had it not for the court guards who were holding him back.

    Before Tavia could utter a word, Raymond got up and pulled her behind his back.

    “Look Mr. Sng, you’re apparently not in your right frame of mind here. Whatever displeasure you have, take it out against me but do not ever insult my friend here and call her names! I will have no tolerance for that!” Raymond shouted back.

    “So what!” Mr. Sng challenged. “All I did was to insult people, and what you did was to cover up the truth letting the factory get away with taking my brother’s life! You are no difference from an accomplice in crime!”

    Before Raymond could retort back, Tavia came up in front of him and pushed him back, looking more settled than before.

    “Mr. Sng! You really have to calm down. We are still in the boundaries of the courthouse and under the watchful eyes of the law. I’ll suggest you take the case up to the higher courts and in your abilities, hired experts from elsewhere for a second opinion. No one will stop you from doing that. If the reasoning is similar to Raymond’s, I believe you owe him an apology. But if the findings are different ultimately, justice will be served accordingly.”

    By then, everyone noted that the aggressor seemed to have absorbed what Tavia’s said as his struggles seemed to subside.

    Behind him, the other family members of the deceased seemed less agitated too and further behind, more policemen appeared, intending to disperse the crowd and probably arrested the troublemaker.

    Raymond added. “Mr. Sng, though I am an expert in this field but I wasn’t the only one gathering the evidence, everything was done with professional help and yes, I did the report based on facts and findings, but throughout the entire process, I have never once come into contact with anyone from both sides. Believe it or not but my friend’s suggestion is rather, a sound one. Get someone else to dig into the case and do file a complaint against me if you think immoral act has been committed on my side. I welcome all sorts of investigation to clear my name.”

    “Mr. Chan,” One of the policemen from inside the court recognized Raymond. “What’s going on here?”

    The whispering amidst the crowd died down and everyone turned their attention on Raymond, probably staking on if he would press charges against the man who just punched his dignity in public.

    Raymond looked around him and was disgusted at the ugly side of human. When he was gathering evidence, the people were more than willing to push him away claiming refusal to get involve. But when it came to free show, they were more than willing to play a part as the audience.

    Beside him, Tavia seemed to understand his feelings for she reflected that disgusted look in her eyes. Looking at Mr Sng’s family though, they were more terrified that another of their family members might get into trouble with the law.

    Taking a deep breath, Raymond smiled. “It was just a misunderstanding. I believe Mr. Sng has already feel bad about what he had done.”

    And truly, the latter seemed to feel relief knowing that Raymond was prepared to let the issue rest.

    The policeman seemed reluctant to let the matter rest and after what seemed like an eternity, Raymond managed to convince them otherwise. The crowd obviously knowing that the storm has passed begun to dissipate, much to Raymond and Tavia’s annoyance.

    Before Mr. Sng and his family left, an apology was made though by the man’s wife on his behalf, for starting the din.

    Somehow, the appearance of the law-enforcers has calmed him down to much like a lamb fuming for being disallowed to cross the bridge by the troll.

    As Raymond and Tavia walked to the latter’s car, she glanced to see the swelling to his face.

    “That was a nasty blow you took back there.” She said, feeling his pain.

    “Ya… and that was a brave front you put up for me back then.” Raymond said, full of admiration.

    “It was so uncalled for, I mean, you were doing your job and… the family just couldn’t accept the truth.” Tavia replied.

    “It has been hard.” Raymond said.

    The pair walked in silence.

    Tavia fumbled in her pockets for the car keys. “You wanna go somewhere to ice that sore?”

    Raymond touched his face, and he grimaced in pain. “He could have slapped me instead of using his knuckles.”

    Tavia laughed. “Let’s go to this restaurant I frequent, know the manager there, could use a private space and we can get that wound clean up before it disfigure you.”

    Now it was Raymond who was laughing. “Ain’t that serious. Just a few punches and I have been packaged to survive beyond that.”

    “Get in the car.” Tavia said as she opened the door.

    “How about I buy you dinner instead?” Raymond asked as he climbed into the seat.

    “Whatever for?” Tavia asked as she started the car up.

    Raymond pondered for a while. “Standing up for me? Appearing in court though missing out the hearing?” Then he looked at Tavia seriously. “For being a friend indeed?”

    For a moment, Tavia thought he was joking but a look at him and the thought vanished. Despite that, she didn’t ask but merely drove off.

    TBC
    Last edited by dingdonginheaven; 01-24-08 at 01:13 AM.

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