Chapter 4 : A Town and A Girl with Bright Eyes
The train is slowing down. Neo’s face still close at the windows, he was seeing a lot of places he never knew before. Like this small train station that is getting closer. Neo checking up the name of the station at the note that he got from the person which was still a mystery for him. Seems like at that station Neo should get off.
The train stopped just for a while. Only three persons get off. Such a quiet station like a dead place. Neo look at his note again. He has to find a bus stop near there.
It was almost a half an hour. Neo’s been sitting down alone at a dilapidated bus stop. Just a few old cars passing him on. Until a bus showing up ahead the road. The number that attached at the window is the same as what was written in his note. Nobody get off the bus. When he gets in, there were just five pax already inside the bus. Neo take the back seat. At the front, some chairs are no longer exist. A bucktoothed collector come forward to Neo. Neo takes out some penny to pay.
“Terminal Bawah still far now?” Neo ask him.
“It’ll be coming in a minute. Just wait till the bus stop.” The Collector thought Neo is not from around here.
Neo is checking up his note again.
“Where are you heading?” The collector asking him while still standing around.
Neo gives his note to him, because he can’t explain it.
“Heading to Paranormal School?” He returns the Note back to Neo. “From Terminal Bawah take another bus to Tanah hitam. After that get a colt. At 5 the colt usually stop running.”
Neo has not got a chance to say thanks while the collector is walking away already. Anyway Neo feel a bit relieved, because however he still feel insecure to be here. At glance Neo is looking at the collector talking to another pax. Looks like they’ve been talking about him. Because the pax was looking up a bit to Neo as they grinning like joking. Then quietly Neo heard they were mention several time : Abnormal School.
The bus pull aside. Neo can smell a strong stench. Bunch of people entering the bus, carrying a lot of things. turns out the bus was stopping at a traditional market. Outside, Neo can see a muddy market, full of fish seller. The bus start running when it’s full. Less than 10 minutes, a small terminal is seen ahead. Neo gets off there and has to exchange the bus.
Stench is still on the air. The sea can be seen from up ahead the terminal. Also fisherman’s boat leaned on the sand. Neo is looking around for his bus between other busses lining up. He has to keep away from the broken asphalt at the terminal. When he finally find the bus, it’s just about to go. With a heavy backpack Neo runs after the bus.
Fisherman’s village is seen from inside the bus. Three persons standing including Neo who doesn’t stop looking out the window. Then warehouse and factory buildings start to appear on the view. Neo has to tight up his holding every time the bus run over the big holes on the street. It was just a few of vehicles that go through. Only sometimes the bus passed on by big trucks.
While the road is empty, suddenly the bus is stopping. Neo just realize that many people outside. They are all hooded like Ninja by sarong. Together they stop the bus. Some of them in hooded get in through the front door and screaming out roughly. They ask the pax to surrender all things they bring while holding up their knives. Neo think to get out the bus because he standing just so near to the backdoor. Unfortunately some of them are there too. Neo can see them without moving his head back. They’re bring along knives, machete and axe.
Neo standing still watching one of them who is now walking toward every pax and asking for their belonging. One by one the pax giving up their wallet, watches, jewelry, jackets and belts. What confuse him is all of the pax looks ungrudging. Even one of them just open up the bag freely. Their eyes are looking empty.
Until one hooded person get to the front of Neo. Between the fabric covering his face, his eyes looking fierce toward Neo. Loudly he ask for the wallet. Neo keep silent. He can’t let himself giving up what that person ask for. That person ask again louder. But Neo keep on silent. Neo feels he is not a lucky person who has a lot of money. Even the cash inside his wallet was a given from the person he doesn’t know. Neo feels he need to defense the wallet what ever it takes.
Neo keeps silent, even though that person closer up his face until just a few inch from Neo’s eyes while threatening with bawling voice. Finally that person move back a step. He looks aware of attitude that Neo showing him which he never expected to be. Neo is suppose to just do whatever they ask like any other pax have done. Two other of them behind look so confuse and look at each other. The other else looks hurry get off the bus carrying their booty. The person that is still in front Neo realize that the time is up. Quickly he grabs Neo’s backpack that was laid on the bus floor. At least he get the backpack instead of the wallet. Then he get of the bus and running follow his gang. Spontaneously Neo running after that person because all of his things is in that bag. He is keep on running after that person separated from his gang. These people in hooded have already split up and disappear into small alleys of the slums that is just ahead of Neo. The person with Neo’s back pack also has gone into one of the alley. Neo looses him. But before decide to going into that alley, Neo stop running. He let his view penetrate the slum houses ahead of him. Penetrating through all the wooden and zinc walls, sort the small alleys between rickety houses. In the middle of the settlement, Neo sees one big alley, seems those hooded gang is gather up there. Some has open up his ninja hood. The booties are settled in the middle of the alley. But many other are not the people that were hijack the bus. They are big, topless tattoos all over their bodies. They look more powerful than the others. Then Neo sees the person who taking his backpack is already there. His backpack is putted among other booties. This person open up the hood. His hair is frizzy, a star is tattooed on his cheek.
Neo discourage himself to take back his backpack. It’s a suicide going in there. And a sound of bus machine start to getting heard over the street. Neo turning back and going after the bus that start to leave.
In the bus, Neo observe the pax reaction after realizing their goods are being robbed. Meanwhile outside there are black soil overlaid the empty ground. Only sometimes hutted house seen on the ground. Neo realize something and check up his note. He has to get off at a place called Tanah Hitam.
“If you can see traffic roundabout and a statue in the middle, there you get off ,” The collector telling him.
Then the roundabout is seen at the window. There also stand a statue in the middle of it. Neo was asking about the people in hooded to the collector. But the collector seems unwilling to discuss it. He just shaking his head saying it just a bad day.
Neo is standing by the roundabout. It’s an intersection of 3 roads. He is watching his bus disappear. Neo feels lucky he still has his wallet. Beside him there is a sign road. A sign mention KOTA appoint to the direction where the bus was disappearing. Other sign wrote TERMINAL BAWAH direct to the road that Neo had been there. The last sign wrote UJUNG JURANG. According to the note, Neo should follow the last sign. He has to be hurry because his watches show it’s almost 5.
Neo is looking at the statue for a moment. It’s man’s form but sculptured abstractly 3 meters high. The hands and the head looking up the sky. Neo feels it’s like a modern art statue, just like the one at an art book.
Neo crosses the road. He can see an old Colt waiting for the pax. The driver assistance exclaimed as the colt need two more pax to fill up the vacant seats. At the windows car there written TANAH HITAM – UJUNG JURANG. Neo look up his note and walking toward the driver assistance. Neo told him that he need to be at Hutan Ular. for a moment the assistance is staring at Neo and ask Neo to get in to take the middle seat.
The assistance driver continue exclaimed. One pax coming up, a young mother carrying groceries and her daughter, a teenage girl. But the chair is only one left beside Neo. The assistance offers one of them to sit down by the door. This is the last car today to Ujung Jurang, he told her. The young mother hesitate for a while but eventually she has no choice.
“Ceri, would you go sit down there?” Softly she ask her daughter next to her.
Her daughter nods.
“Let me sit there,” spontaneously Neo offers his seat. He feels inappropriate for that little girl to sit down by the door.
“Thank You,” the mother looks so happy.
Then Neo moving down to the door. But his position is blocking the space. The mother suppose to put her groceries there.
“Let me hold it, Mam,” Neo grab a big plastic bag from that mother.
“Very grateful, they are so heavy,” The mother feels sorry for Neo.
“It’s ok, they aren’t that heavy,” Neo said to her.
That mother smiles at him. Meanwhile Neo is looking at the big plastic bag on his lap. Colt start to move unsteadily. The driver assistance hanging up standing at the door next to Neo. Neo still staring at the plastic bag. The bag is full of leaves and vegetables. He curious. He try to observe the inside bag, but there are just leaves and vegetables that Neo can see.
The car move faster while passing gardens and rice fields. Neo’s eyes still straight to the plastic bag. But then he turns his view towards the mother next to him. Neo just realize how pale her skin is. As if there’s no blood inside her body. As well as her daughter. And the hair is long braided but the color is red. Then Neo starts to inspect the girl’s face. Her eyes is rounded, the lashes is curly, the nose is tiny but sharp at the edge, the mouth is Rosy. Her mother called her Ceri just now.
“She is my daughter you looking at,” suddenly the woman softly said to Neo.
Neo aware. He feels being caught for quietly observing them with his ability. It would mean the mother knows what he just doing. May be she is not just a common people.
“Isn’t she pretty?” The mother gets closer to Neo’s ear and whispering.
Neo tries to smile. He curses himself for using his aptitude carelessly. After what happened Neo just stare at window. Meanwhile the road is keep on going up. The machine become roaring, enforcing climb up with heavy load. The driver keep on running the car with gear one. Outside the window, Neo distracted by a scene that amaze him. He sees an old woman carrying pile of woods behind her back which has 2 times of her height, even tough she walks just as if she carries nothing. Yet she walks climbing road with barefoot, without showing tired on his face. After that, there is an old man wearing no shirt, running down the dip road, shouldered a lot uncut bamboo bars.
“You are going to Paranormal Academy aren’t you?” The mother voice surprise him.
“Yes I am,” Neo nods. He wonders how come she knows.
“When you come in Hutan Ular, you follow the way down.” She closes her head to Neo. Her voice is soft, as she wouldn’t anybody to hear.
“If the road is going left later, don’t follow left, you’ll just go straight toward foot path ahead of you, then you’ll go through it until you find a hanging bridge.” She quiet for a second, make sure nobody hearing her. “Go through the bridge and you’ll find another foot path, the school is just ahead, if you see snakes on the trees, ignore it.”
Neo tries to remember all the things that mother has told him. As the road climb still, the air is getting colder. Trees are line up at the side of the road. Until the driver assistance informs that Hutan Ular is coming now. Neo get off the car directly after thanking to the mother who has been so kind to him.
A cross the street Neo sees a dip road. Neo walk to that street. His face straight up to the road. But actually his view is going to the colt that start to leave behind him. He sees the girl who is looking at him. Neo realize that girl is watching over him, as she doesn’t know that he is observe over her oval face. Her mother was right, her daughter is so pretty. The pale skin and the red hair make her looks she is not a local residents. And her eyes that keep on looking up Neo, even though sensed cheerful aura, but they looks clear and bright. And Neo wonders if he ever meet her again.