Chapter VI. Enigma
I got it. I knew how! He was poisoned by too much carbon dioxide from dry ice. That explains it. Why haven’t I thought of that earlier? More importantly, what does it have to do with them? Carbon dioxide? Death? I wonder. I am in a very confused state right now. Is it really normal for a teenager like me to experience all these? How can I handle it? Moreover, will I survive this treacherous chain of mishaps. And with all these things puzzling in my mind, I put myself to sleep. Oh namida, I know you couldn’t stop.
Later that morning, the sun’s rays are the first sight in my sleepy eyes. Am I late? No. I may just make it in time. I wonder what happened to Patty? I’m going to ask her as soon as I land my feet on that room.
Room 103. I get this usual feeling of the number of students within this area. But somehow, I feel different. Something feels hollow. The depth of this room is missing something. Oh no! Patty’s not here. Yet? But it’s about time. That’s strange. She usually comes to school about 20 minutes before our first class.
Argh. This is torture. The next thing you know it, I may be dead. Why do this to me? Where is she? She ain’t coming to school?
“Ivan, have you seen Patty? You go to school together right?”
“She told me she can’t attend class today. She had a migraine and she’s not feeling well. And oh, she wants to tell you that she’s sorry she left you without a word yesterday. She said something just came up. I wonder what that is?”
“Oh okay, thanks. I hope she gets well soon.”
Something came up? Is the headache of any truth, or is it just a wall to cover up that something that just came up? This is really frustrating. I want to explode right now! Not only my heart is being crushed by that invisible hand, but also my whole self! This is too much to handle. I can only absorb so much pain. I am human after all.
Ten minute break before music class. I wasted eight hours of my life. I did not learn anything from any of the lecturers. Just as Ms. Mia said yesterday, I may be physically present but my thoughts are without a doubt remote from this institution. How is Patty doing? Is it my fault? I’ve never called to anyone recently, especially to a girl. But this time, I’m gonna break that trend. I will apologize. This is all because of me. I shouldn’t have involved her in this mess. I can handle this myself… Myself… Me. Alone. Can I really?… Handle it myself?
Phone rings. Phone rings a second time. Beep sound. Somebody answered my call.
“Hello? Is it you Eric? I’m sorry yesterday I left without any notice. I promise I won’t do it again. Something just happened, like an emergency.”
Like an emergency? As in similar to? What other event is similar to emergency other than emergency itself? She’s saying strange stuff lately. There must be a compelling reason for her not to attend class today. I remember one time when she also had a headache,
“Patty, you should go home now or you might faint.”
“Oh this is nothing. Just a little sleep later and I’ll be okay.”
But I did not listen to her. I brought some medicine for her from the school clinic and luckily, she took it. That made her feel better, I can tell from her smile. If not for my persistence, she’d still be studying until she drops on the ground. And then this? You did not go to school because of a headache? That’s not much of a reason for you not to attend class.
“Oh don’t worry about that. I’m more worried about you. Ivan told me you had a terrible headache? Are you okay? I hope it’s not that bad.”
“Oh I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m just a little stressed maybe. That’s very nice of you.”
“Naturally. You are my friend. Get well soon okay? I’ll hang up now, it’s almost our music class. See you tomorrow Patty. I’m sorry for the incident yesterday.”
“Oh don’t mind that. Listen well to Ms. Mia, Eric”
“Sure, bye.” You are my friend Patty. Ever since I met you, I had this feeling that we would be close. But for a closeness to reach this level of attachment at such a short period of time is quite something. Is it because I’ve changed already? Or is it because of Patty’s personality? Whatever the reason is, I’m really grateful. At least, something is still positive in this damned life of mine.
The music class ended like a breeze. That must have been the fastest lecture she had finished since she was appointed as our new teacher. I used the extra time to think things over. I went to the nipa hut again – the perfect place to be alone. Patty, thanks for bringing me here once. I liked it here. I loved it here. It is only here I felt like being home away from home. It would have been better if you’re here.
Climb. Sit. The open window. Ahh. What a lovely sight. The burning sun in a bright tangerine sky sinking in the horizon. Come to think of it, that’s all what the sun ever does. Rise and then fall. Since it was born billions of years ago, its only purpose has always been to give out energy and light and that’s it – the job’s done. It even has its own time to rest. Oh sun, if you could only feel this wretched heart of mine, then you wouldn’t shine those powerful rays on my life anymore.
These are the times I feel like being lonely. This is just normal. This scenario sets up the perfect mood of desolation and sorrow. I believe that the default emotion of every human being is loneliness. While there is nothing to be happy about, then one is definitely sad. But for me, I’m more than downhearted at the moment. This is the very definition of calamity, of disaster, of tragedy.
Tap. Tap. Tap. What’s that? Footsteps? Somebody’s approaching? But that’s impossible. Somebody else is visiting this collapsing shack aside from us?
So I stood up and checked outside. The moment I reached the door, someone immediately went in. We almost bumped to each other.
What? The melody of fate. Na.. Namie? What are you doing here? Do you also regularly visit here?
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought nobody’s in here. Sincerest apologies. I’m gonna go now.”
“Wait! It’s okay. I’m about to go home anyway. You can stay here.”
“Oh please don’t mind it. You came in first anyway. Besides, I think somebody’s looking for me now. Well then, so long.”
Another improbable scene in Eric’s wonderful, twisted life. The melody of fate continues to turn. This is unbelievable. I can’t believe such a thing really happened. I stood there, face to face with the girl in my dreams. Take note that she is the girl in my dreams and not the girl of my dreams. I believe there is a huge difference between the two.
Oh wait, that’s the best chance I had to ask her my questions. Damn, I missed the chance again. But she may be not that far yet. I can still chase her.
Run. Run. What? She disappeared in the crowd again. I should have seen this coming. I guess I’ll just include these events in my train of thoughts. Let me just go back to that old place and think things over one more time.
“Hey you, over there. It’s almost six. Go home now”, uttered the pesky guard. What an annoying voice.
Dinner. TV. Pray. I hope everything goes well tomorrow. I will not ask Patty so many questions at this point. She might get sick again. That’s right. That’s probably the best thing to do.
Pray more. Oh God, save me.
Pray one last time. Sleep. Twilight rain.
Morning. I did not dream of anything last night. They say dreams last from about five to 20 minutes. It’s a good thing I haven’t got even a single second last night. That way, I can’t think of anything out of the box yet again. Oh right, Patty. I hope she goes to school today. If not, I’m gonna be forced to visit her at her house. I don’t know. Is it because… I missed her?
Room 103. There! Patty’s in her chair again. At last. Whew. God, thank you.
“Uhm, Patty. Are you feeling well now? You sure you’re not forcing yourself?”
“Oh hey, Eric. Yeah, I feel a lot better now. Thanks to you.”
“Eh? Me? But it is I who must’ve caused your illness. I’m glad you feel a lot better now. And by the way, I figured the answer to your question the other day. The man was killed by Carbon dioxide poisoning, right? Before the two even entered the room, the trap was already set with a lot of dry ice probably underneath the table. The very low temperature is unnoticed because of the air-conditioner. The student also went for the back row, which has the highest altitude inside the room so she won’t inhale the carbon dioxide from the dry ice. Carbon dioxide is a lot heavier than Hydrogen, Nitrogen, or even Oxygen so it would settle at the bottom, and thus, intoxicating the teacher. Right?”
“You’re brilliant Eric. The window was left open to evaporize the excess dry ice and for the remaining gas to escape as soon as the murderer exits the room. Carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless, so it would not be noticed even if it’s present in large amounts.”
“It took me a long time to answer that. Another thing. What was that question for? Does it have something to do with me? Or with Namie?”
“I told you Eric, Carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless, so it’s not noticeable. You may not notice it at first but with continuous exposure to it, one might die because of intoxication.”
“I don’t like the sound of that Patty. You’re scaring me. You mean that Namie is that some sort of thing? That the teacher’s fate in that story will be my fate as well if this continuous?”
“No Eric. No…”
This is the first time I saw Patty shed a tear. And then she started crying. What have I done? I feel terrible. I thought I’m here to cheer her up.
“Eric. It is I who may suffer that fate…”
What? You? How could that be?