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In the shadowy forest of Summerland Townsville, Apollo was running fast like greased lightning. He wasn't an Olympian, but if he were, he would've broken Usain Bolt's record in the World Championships. It wasn't an exaggeration. The level of willpower he had, drove his legs and feet as if Barry Allen had miraculously possessed him after seeing an old hag with long silver hair. The horror he felt upon seeing such repulsive face was even quadrupled after hearing her eerie screeching sound. What in the name of all that is good and holy came out of that woman's wrinkled mouth? The sound…no…the NOISE that creature produced could've cracked the ground open to hell! It was the most unfathomable thing! If Apollo had foreseen this experience, he would've chosen to faint or play dead instead of incessantly running madly to God knows where.
He settled in a treehouse with high hopes of a protection spell surrounding it. He wasn't a sorcerer, he knew that. But he wished he were, just so he could do some hocus pocus and protect himself from whatever that creature was. Heck, he was too scared to even remember how he climbed to a treehouse - a treehouse that had turned into his hiding place.
There was a tiny hole. He wouldn't dare peep into that tiny hole just one inch apart from his clammy face. But then the moon was a traitor by deciding to focus its brightness into that very little space. Apollo sat awkwardly with both arms squeezing his knees, making sure he didn't move a muscle, but knew he had to move away from that freaking hole. Imagining the old hag's glaring eyes suddenly popping from it, he cautiously did a backward crabwalk and stopped when mist started to get through the tiny hole.
"Apollo." His eyeballs almost exploded. It sounded like the angel of death coming to get him.
Like any Catholic man at the brink of death, he closed his eyes to silently pray with all sincerity. Dear God, I am scared out of my wits. I might pee my pants and that's really embarrassing but I think I really will. I don't know how or why you made such terrifying creature, not to mention her deafening scream. But please, don't let her get me. I'm only 21. No girlfriend. No car. I still live with my mom. I mean, dear God, you can't be so serious to let me die like this. My mom's going to be crushed and it'll affect her writing and it'll delay her novels. A lot of sexually oppressed women are counting on her. Please. Save me.
God must've heard him and understood the impact it could bring to many women. Apollo opened his eyes and realized he was back in the real world. Thank goodness, it was just a bad dream. He thought.
He was lying on his back, his head tilted on the left side where his mobile phone was resting right beside his pillow. He sluggishly checked the time on his phone. It showed 4am, an hour earlier than the alarm he set for his daily routine. He squirmed a little then got up and washed his face like any decent and handsome guy would do.
There were three steps left before he could reach downstairs, but his heart leapt upon seeing a woman's face well-lit by the laptop's brightness. His foot slightly slipped on the next step then quickly recovered. "You scared the daylights out of me, mom!" He said, almost shrieking with a husky just-got-out-of-bed voice. He breathed heavily with his right hand holding his chest as if to safeguard it from a heart attack.
Mrs. Rodriguez also looked surprised to see Apollo awake an hour earlier than usual. She closed her laptop and walked to the kitchen behind her. "Sorry, baby. Why are you so edgy?" She opened the fridge and pulled out a pitcher of water.
"Try seeing a woman with hair like a Komondor," said Apollo who was striding towards the door while his mom poured herself a glass of water.
"Why on earth are you describing me as a Hungarian sheepdog?" Mrs. Rodriguez commented and swigged her water.
"Please comb your hair, mom. Please. For the love of God. PLEASE COMB YOUR HAIR." He turned the door handle and stepped out of the house.
Mrs. Rodriguez held some strands of her hair and gave them a pitiful look.
Apollo's daily routine provided tranquility. He jogged until his one-hour playlist was finished. It had various songs and artists of late 90's alternative and rock music. That hour of peace of mind was not only for workout, he was fascinated by the good view of the sun, rising slowly to irradiate the sanitary streets of Summerland.
Every house was almost identical with gabled rooftop varying in shades of blue: azure, cerulean, sapphire, and indigo. The windows had no variation; always a set of double-hung type that slid up and down, and the borders were white with blue. The doors were of fiberglass with two wide doorsteps. The exteriors were all white masonry. Only the presence or absence of a garage separated one quiet household from another.
Apollo and his mom were lucky to have a decent life in a lovely neighborhood; even though Mr. Rodriguez left them in complete debt. When Apollo finished Arts and Design, her mom finally steered clear of the abusive interest of loan sharks. Her writing career also started paying off. Every time Apollo thought about his life, the realization of not having anything to worry about felt so serene. He never had to worry about anything, but he wasn't sure if that was good or bad. It had to be good, but then he felt that somehow, he wanted some excitement in his life.
Drenched in sweat and panting, Apollo was about three houses before reaching home, but his breathless state didn't stop him from singing to New Radical's You Get What You Give. "Health insurance rip off flying FDA big bankers buying fake computer crashes dining cloning while they're multiplying fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson, Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson. You're all fakes run to your mansions. Come around. We'll kick your ass in!" He got so caught in the moment that he stumbled into a small box. Fortunately, he quickly got his equilibrium back. The house in front of his place had been vacant for maybe three months and now, someone was moving in.
Apollo sauntered around what seemed to be a box or cube truck, so the cargo area was blocking him from the view of the house. He nonchalantly peeped through the truck's open door-window, but there was no one in sight. Just as he was about to walk back to his place, he heard the front door open. A tall guy with medium build stepped out. He must've been the household mover because he was wearing a uniform. He stood by the doorstep, blocking the person that he was talking to. Apollo couldn't quite hear much because he was on earphone but when he took them off, he heard the loveliest voice saying, "No problem. They're all just old books that I won't use anymore but they're in good condition. Your daughter can have them. It's that box right there." She pointed at the box responsible for Apollo's clumsiness earlier.
The tall guy took a glimpse of the box and responded, "Thank you."
When the guy finally stepped out of the doorstep, Apollo saw the girl behind the lovely voice. His eyes widened to the point where his eyebrows could almost reach the boundary between his hair and his forehead. For some reason his jaw got locked because his mouth had been half open for a few seconds until he snapped out of it before anyone could see him. He plugged his earphones back to his blushing ears, walked straight to his house and turned the doorknob, wishing the new neighbor wouldn't see him because he wasn't ready to be seen. He looked like shit. He thought, next time that beautiful face saw him, he should be fresh and handsome.
He was about to run upstairs to peek through his room's window, but his mom greeted him from the dining room next to the kitchen. "Baby, we have a new neighbor. Did you see her?" It turned out that Mrs. Rodriguez already had her share of peeking. Apollo suddenly felt embarrassed. Did his mom see him looking like a creepy stalker outside?
"I'm not a baby mom and nope, I didn't notice."
Mrs. Rodriguez threw him an inquisitive look. "That's the first time you've complained about me calling you a baby."
Apollo took a deep breath, then his face transformed into a pleading Tom Holland. "Help me seem like a man, mom. Even if I'm too adorable to be let go as a baby." It was his attempt to be cute which always worked because his mom adored him and he did look a lot like Tom Holland, only more handsome, manly and certainly not a teenager.
Mrs. Rodriguez chuckled. She then signaled for him to join him for breakfast. He wanted so desperately to go upstairs and peek at the new neighbor, but the smell of breakfast put him in a trance. Bacon, sausage and egg. His entire body got summoned by the spell-binding aroma of the three best sources of protein. Apollo instantly joined his lovely mom as she smiled ever so sweetly while she set her laptop aside to welcome him.