Javier could clearly see the alarm on Carrie’s face this time as she stared up at him. Those eyes, searching for answers from his own- but he could offer no comfort to her. The words were a complete mystery to him as well, appearing seemingly randomly on the mobile phone screen in a strange language.
“Maybe it really is just a virus,” Carrie began, returning her gaze to the screen in her hand. “It does say ‘sex’ after all. Maybe Clayton was looking at something nasty before he…”
She paused suddenly, her face still in the direction of the phone. Her mind, however, found itself returning to the funeral only hours prior and the strange and untimely death of Carrie’s older brother, Javier’s best friend, Clayton.
The whole situation had been so unnerving, she recalled. Clayton, fit and healthy, had simply passed away without warning in his bed one night. He had no previous ailments to speak of, and apart from a few cigarettes and occasional alcohol consumption, he was an otherwise healthy and normal 21 year old.
But as she and Javier took on the unsavory task of cleaning out his room, Carrie found herself reliving her life with Clayton. How he used to head lock her and make her cry, then buy her ice cream to bribe her into not telling their mother what he had done. Or the time Clayton and Javier toilet papered her third grade teachers home for putting her in time out for socking Henry Carpenter in the nose for putting bugs in her hair. She laughed out loud a moment, then sighed. Those days were gone. And so was Clayton.
“Carrie,” Javier said, looking at an open notebook on the desk beside her. “Wasn’t Clay taking some college courses online?”
Carrie shook from her trance, looking over to Javier. “Umm…yeah…so?”
“So,” Javier reached out a hand to her as he sat in a chair at the desk. “Let me see Clay’s phone.”
Carrie hands him the phone, a perplexed expression forming her youthful face. Javier glanced between the phone and scribbled words before him. He smiled and turned to Carrie.
“The words and the phone virus,” he continued. “They’re the same language. It’s in Latin.”
Carrie shrugged. “Okay? And?”
“And Clay has a Latin key here on his desk. And open notes-” Javier looked back at Carrie quizzically. “What were the odds we’d find this today, Carrie?”
“What do you mean?”
Javier pulls a blank piece of paper out of the notebook and begins to write the words from the phone as they appear on the screen. Carrie looks down over his shoulder.
“Sex…quinque…unum…nihil…sex…Wintoniensis Atrium…” Carrie shrugged again. “Okay, so it’s Latin. But what does it mean?”
Javier hands her the translated paper as he stood quickly, snatching on his jacket and fetching his car keys out of his pocket.
“66150 Winchester Court is the literal translation,” Javier said confidently as the small blue car pulled haphazardly into the parking area. “The funeral home where Clay’s body is at.”
Carrie looks on in disbelief. Javier exits the car and runs up the walkway toward the front doors. He bangs on them loudly with his fist.
“Hello!!! Is anybody home?!”
There is no response. He is about to shout again when he is forced forward into the doors from behind by a small body barreling into him. The front door gives way, and Javier falls helplessly onto the checkered floor of the funeral home entrance.
As Javier slowly got to his feet, he could see the limp frame of Carrie on the floor behind him. She must have been what hit him from behind, he reasoned as he scrambled to try and wake her.
“Carrie! Dìos mìo, Mami! What happened?!”
Javier looked out of the door and saw his car was on its side in the grass as if it were rolled there. In the distance, Javier thought he could just see a paper thin, human shaped giant slink away into the trees of the surrounding forest. Before he could give it another thought, Carrie began to stir.
“Carrie! What happened!?”
“She said his name, Javier…”
Carrie’s eyes began to focus and a figure swam slowly into view. A young man, dressed in the tuxedo he was meant to be cremated in. Javier stared up aghast. The man continued.
“…I’m sure you both have a ton of questions for me. I would too. But trust me, now is not the time.”
Clayton slowly approached his two onlookers, a look of utmost dread upon his face.
“Carrie said his name. It was on my phone’s screen just for a second-just long enough to bring him back! Now, none of The Hidden are safe anymore! We have to stop him!”
“Clay?” Javier managed. “What…?”
“Listen! Death isn’t what you think it is!” Clayton began. “Not always. I didn’t die. I was pulled back through time through my dreams.”
“Listen!” Clayton interrupted. “I’ll explain it all if we do actually survive this mess. Right now, we have to save The Hidden from that creature you just—”
Abruptly, the the entire ceiling is torn away as Javier covers Carrie from the falling debris! Clayton looks up through the gaping roof in horror.
“I think we may be too late…”