(Tuesday, October 24th)
Max watched Liz across the class they shared. The teacher was lecturing, but he'd lost track of what was being said a long time ago. He was too worried about Liz.
Yesterday when the Sheriff had told them about the second murder, Liz had been convinced it must be the one in her dream.
She'd told the Sheriff all about her dream, giving him as many details as she could remember. The Sheriff listened intently, but then he told her that the murder wasn't anything like her dream.
Valenti had briefly told them that once again the murder took place in an alley, but it was almost a mile away. The victim was a tourist, nineteen years old. She'd been separated from her friends at a bar, and by the time they missed her, it was too late.
She'd been raped and murdered. Strangled with a belt.
Max saw Liz's face fall as the Sheriff told them what happened. He knew she believed her dream was some kind of clue or warning, and he hated to see her disappointed.
He'd almost hoped she had seen something in her dream that could stop the pointless killing.
He knew she'd been upset for months, but Maria had said her heart was broken, and it made him hurt to know she was in pain.
It had seemed they were getting closer after her summer away, and then suddenly she'd tried to set him up with Tess. When that didn't work she'd given him that horrible speech in his room, and then he'd seen her in bed with Kyle.
He still couldn't believe that had happened. She'd told him several times that she'd slept with Kyle, but he didn't really believe her. Everything about it just seemed wrong.
Liz had said sleeping with Kyle was a mistake, but he didn't believe that either. He didn't think she'd make that kind of mistake, especially with her virginity. Liz wouldn't sleep with someone she didn't love.
But he'd seen them. Hadn't he?
Thinking back, he went over every detail he remembered.
He'd approached her window, thinking it was strange how dark it was, and he'd gotten the shock of his life when he'd seen them in bed together.
His horrified eyes had gone from their faces, to Kyle's naked chest, and Liz's bare shoulders and leg sticking out of the blankets. His first reaction was that they'd slept together, and he felt like he'd been kicked in the gut.
Even the guilty expression on Liz's face seemed to support his assumption. But now he was wondering if what he saw was true.
They'd obviously had taken off at least most of their clothes, but it didn't mean they had slept together. Maybe she'd meant to sleep with Kyle, and they hadn't done it before he caught them.
His hopes rose a little at the idea.
What had he really seen?
Her bed was still basically made, not rumpled as he would expect after and they had sex. The two of them were lying side-by-side, but not kissing or touching. They'd been talking to each other. Kyle had said something that made Liz laugh. They weren't out of breath or sweating.
And Liz had held the blankets pulled up around her shyly, as if she didn't want Kyle to see her body. It didn't seem like the behavior of someone who had just had sex.
He was almost positive they hadn't slept together, and a weight lifted from him.
Yes, he would have been sad that Liz had her first time with someone other than him, but he was even more concerned about her.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he'd worried that he'd been responsible for Liz's actions. He'd thought he'd pushed her to do it, and she'd felt she had to sleep with Kyle to put their relationship behind her. So she'd given away her virginity to someone she didn't love, and then regretted it. But now he knew it wasn't true. Liz hadn't slept with Kyle.
But since he had assumed they'd slept together, Liz used it to push him away.
He wasn't going to let her though. He would do anything to prove they belonged together. And the best thing he could do now, was support Liz.
She felt alone, and she was worried no one believed her. He'd been so happy that the last few days she'd accepted his help, and he wanted her to know that he'd always be there for her.
The bell rang, and she turned, looking toward him.
Max smiled reassuringly, and she smiled back.
Liz shifted nervously as they moved slowly forward. Every step took her reluctantly nearer the door.
"I don't know about this," she said to Maria again. "It just doesn't feel right."
Her friend rolled her eyes. "This is just what you need," she said. "A little fun."
"This isn't exactly my idea of fun," Liz said, looking around. A dilapidated house loomed before them, with strange lights and eerie noises coming from it. She didn't know how she'd let Maria talk her into coming.
"Come on," Maria said. "This is the best haunted house in Roswell."
"Yeah," Liz agreed. "You've been giving me the review all the way here, and the whole time we've been standing in line. I'm just not really in the mood for scary right now."
"Maybe this isn't the best idea," Alex spoke up. "We could go get ice cream or something instead."
Maria hit his arm. "It's freezing out and you want ice cream?" She shook her head. "This is exactly what Liz needs."
Turning to Liz she smiled. "We go to a haunted house every year. You know they're not really scary."
"It's just with everything happening," Liz started, only to be cut off.
"No," Maria said. "Nothing is happening. You're not involved in the murders. You're just having bad dreams. You need something to take your mind off it, that's all."
"I don't know," Alex said.
Maria hit him again, silencing him. "We're going to go inside and have a laugh or two, and you'll feel much better after."
Liz grimaced. No one believed her. Maybe she was making something out of nothing. Reluctantly she nodded. "Okay."
"Yes!" Maria exclaimed, jumping in place. "This will be great. You'll see."
As they stood in line, Maria talked non-stop, and Liz's mind wandered.
She'd gotten another box at the Crashdown after school. It was red with little bats and vampires on it. Inside was a third bouquet of Halloween suckers with another message.
Crazy way she thrills me
Just like a lightning from the sky
The lines were strange, but somehow they seemed familiar. She couldn't get them out of her head, but she couldn't remember where she'd heard them.
Maybe they were from a poem she'd read, or a book, or movie.
She'd meant to try looking them up online, but Maria and Alex had practically dragged her out of the house. She loved spending time with them usually, but tonight there was just so much on her mind, she didn't know how she could enjoy herself.
It wasn't long before they were at the front of the line, and then inside the house. People grouped together, girls grabbing their boyfriends' arms, friends linking elbows, as they slowly moved forward.
The first four or five rooms went by in a blur to Liz. There were flashing lights, screaming girls, and the roars of the employees posing as a variety of monsters. She just wasn't into the spirit of the evening, and was only participating to please Maria.
She also had a creepy feeling that she was being watched. Several times she looked around, but with all the people moving and shifting, she couldn't pinpoint who it was.
Eager to leave, she went forward ahead of the others, entering the next room.
But she stopped dead.
She was in some type of mad scientist lab. There were all kinds of scientific and medical equipment around the room, typical of the mad scientist lab, but the thing that drew her attention was a large table in the middle with a guy in scrubs strapped tightly to it. Instantly her mind went to Max when he'd been held in the White Room.
Pain and sorrow filled her. Max had never really told her what happened to him, but she'd seen flashes when they'd touched and kissed. She knew he been tortured in many different ways, and her heart almost broke whenever she thought of it.
Max was the most kind and gentle person she knew, and for him to be tortured just because he was different was… inhuman.
Tears filled her eyes and she looked away, rushing forward to get to the next door.
Suddenly a wall slid open behind her, and a freak with a chainsaw burst through.
He was dressed in ripped clothes and wearing a mask that appeared to be made of human skin stitched together. He wielded his weapon at the crowd coming in the door, driving them back, separating Liz from the rest of the people. For a second she thought he would turn to her too, but realized he didn't see her.
Across the room, Liz saw Maria and Alex get swept along with the crowd as they screamed and pushed to get away from the buzzing, smoking chainsaw. The freak laughed manically as he raised his weapon, jabbing it at the crowd, pushing them back into the previous room, separating her from her friends completely.
Normally she'd wait for them, but she couldn't stand to be in the room any longer. Instantly she decided she'd wait for them in the next room.
Slipping into the small, twisted hallway, she was surprised to find it almost completely dark. She could hardly see anything, even her hand in front of her face. Putting a hand to the wall, she felt her way slowly along. Somewhere ahead, there was a strange scraping noise, but she couldn't tell what it was. Just more scary effects, she thought.
The hall turned several times, until she was unsure what direction she was going, but finally it opened up into the next room.
The room was also dark. Dim lights filtered from small holes on the ceiling, making a sort of striping effect down the walls. The only real light was a strange horizontal beam of flickering green that was projected across the room from near the door. Liz thought it must be a laser. It spread out across the room in a triangle, getting larger, but somehow illuminated nothing.
There were also several machines that were slowly pumping thick fog into the room. It oozed down the walls, creeping across the floor, making everything seem like it was shifting.
Although she couldn't see anyone, or sense another person in the room, she was sure someone was in the dark. The feeling of being watched intensified, and her eyes darted around.
Obviously she couldn't wait in there. She couldn't see well enough to know if Maria and Alex came in the room.
Slowly Liz shuffled forward, careful not to trip on anything. It was difficult to see where the other side of the room was because the light spread out as it reached across the space, becoming dimmer.
She concentrated on the stripes of light she could barely make out across the room, through the fog, hoping they were the way out.
When she was about halfway across, she felt someone brush their fingers through her hair.
Instantly she turned, reaching out. "Maria," but the rest of the words died in her throat as she touched a hard, masculine chest. Instantly she withdrew her hand.
"Alex?" she said.
In the dim light all she could see was a tall, dark figure. He didn't answer, but she could tell it wasn't him from the vague shape of his outline. This guy was bigger and beefier than Alex.
"I'm sorry," Liz apologized. "I thought you were someone else. I got separated from my friends."
Still he didn't say anything, and she started to get a bad feeling. She felt really stupid for not following Maria and Alex and being caught alone. She wanted to go back and find them, but the guy was blocking her exit.
Then the sudden thought popped in her head. He could be the killer.
Backing toward the other side of the room, she said. "I'm just going to go in the next room and wait."
As she slowly backed away, she watched him in the dim light, and he didn't move at all. He just simply stood there.
With her every step she expected him to rush at her, and it felt like her heart would beat out of her chest.
Carefully she watched him as she backed away, and his shape grew dimmer in the low light until she couldn't see him at all. Somehow it made her more uneasy, and she was debating whether to turn and make a run for it, when she finally felt the wall behind her. She didn't want to turn around and look for the doorway, but luckily she felt it to the side.
Swallowing hard, she backed through it, into the dark hallway, feeling her way along the wall.
Thinking she had gotten away, she started to relax, until she heard the faint whistling. It was low, and seemed off-key just like she heard the night of the murder.
She didn't wait to see if the tune was the same. Horror filled her and she just turned and ran.
The hall turned several more times and with each turn it got lighter, and finally she stumbled into the next room. But she was totally shocked to see Maria and Alex already there.
They rushed to greet her. "Where did you go?" Alex asked.
"I was in that dark room," Liz said. "How did you get past me?"
"What dark room?" Maria asked.
Liz's eyebrows drew together. "What do you mean? The room that was almost completely dark."
Maria shook her head. "We didn't go through a room like that."
"It was the room before this one," Liz insisted. "You must have come through it."
Alex was looking at her with concern. "We didn't Liz. The room we came from had a whole Dracula theme going on, with a coffin in a castle."
"How is that possible?" Liz said, starting to panic. "I was in a room that was completely dark, and there was this guy in there, and he touched my hair. He wouldn't say anything, and I started to think he was the killer. And then he whistled, just like that night."
"Hey," Alex said, putting an arm around her. "Nothing happened. You're safe."
He hugged her briefly. "That guy was probably just an employee trying to creep you out. And it's possible that they can move the walls around to change the order of the rooms. This is just a big empty warehouse with temporary wooden walls. I'm sure that's all there is to it."
Shivering she pressed against him. "Yeah," she said weakly. It was obvious Alex didn't believe her, but she just felt something wasn't right.
Alex scowled over Liz's head at Maria. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," he said. "There's an exit over there, we'll just leave."
Alex stopped his car in front of the Crashdown and turned to Liz. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Liz nodded automatically. "Yeah, I just got a little freaked out."
He smiled sadly. "You have a right to get freaked out. What happened was awful."
Putting a hand on her hand, he asked, "Do you want me to walk you inside?"
"No," she said. "I'm fine."
He nodded. "Call me if you need anything, or just to talk."
Reaching across the car, she hugged him. "Thanks."
Exiting the car, Liz walked through the door and into the Crashdown dining room. It was late and the café was closing, but there were still a few customers, and in one of the booths, Liz saw Max.
Immediately she felt better.
Max stood when he saw her and they moved at the same time to meet each other.
"What are you doing here?" she asked softly.
"Alex called," he said, "and told me you got upset at the haunted house. I thought I'd come over and we could talk, and you could tell me what happened."
Liz sighed. "I'd like that."
They went upstairs, and out through Liz's window to her balcony.
Liz sat down on the lounge chair, wrapping her arms around herself.
Max pulled the small charcoal barbeque closer to the chair and used the long-handled lighter hanging on the side to start it.
Liz scowled, watching him do it. "Why didn't you just use your powers to do it?" she asked softly.
"What?" Max asked, turning to her.
"The fire," she explained. "Why didn't you use your powers to light the fire?"
Max glanced at his hands and then the fire, and shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I'm just used to doing things the human way. I was always afraid if I used my powers too much that I'd forget and do it in front of a human."
Liz sat up straighter, leaning toward him. "Doesn't that bother you? What if aliens attack you again, and you aren't ready? What if you forget to use your powers at a crucial time? You've been suppressing your powers, and trying to fit in as a human all these years. What if you don't react when you need to and it gets you hurt or killed?"
Max looked at her closely. She was shivering slightly and he pulled the blanket off the back of the lounger and wrapped it around her. Putting an arm around her shoulders, he sat next to her and rubbed her arms, using just a bit of power to warm her up.
"We've killed all the Skins," he said reassuringly. "Only Nicholas is left, and by himself he can't do much to us."
"And maybe Lonnie and Rath," Liz suggested. "We don't know what happened to them."
Max shrugged. "Tess can't remember what happened exactly, but she thinks maybe she killed them, like the Skins. Burned them to cinders."
"You didn't find any trace of them." Liz said.
"No," Max agreed, "but we weren't really looking either. But even if they are still alive, they're smart. They know they can't trick us again, and there is noting they can gain from coming back."
He took Liz's shoulders, turning her gently so she was facing him, and held her eyes as he spoke. "We're all okay," he said softly. "We won't let anyone get hurt."
Tears formed in her eyes. She knew how wrong he was. In fourteen years their enemies were coming to Earth.
"You can't think that way," she said. "You don't know what will happen in the future."
Max nodded. He could see that she was really worried. "You're right," he said, cupping her cheek. "We don't know what will happen. All we can do it try to be ready, but we can't live in fear of the future."
Liz wiped at her eyes and tried to smile. He was right, of course, except she did know what the future held.
He smiled back. "So do you want to tell me what happened tonight?" he asked softly. "Tell me why you're so upset."
She took a deep breath. "I think the killer was at the haunted house tonight," she said.
"What?" he asked, sitting up straighter. "Why do you think that?"
"I don't have any proof," she said, "and I know Maria and Alex don't believe me, but Max I just have this feeling it was him."
Briefly she explained. "I felt like I was being watched the whole time I was there. I got separated from Alex and Maria and went into this weird room that was almost completely dark, and I'm not even sure if it was really a part of the haunted house. At first I thought I was alone, but someone touched my hair, and he wouldn't say anything."
She shivered remembering. "I got this really bad feeling. I just knew it was him. I got out as fast as I could and," she paused as her throat got tight, "and I heard him whistling, like the night the first girl was killed."
"It was the same song?" Max asked.
"I don't know," she admitted. "I didn't stay to hear it, but I think he's coming after me."
He shook his head. "Liz…"
She cut him off. "Max, listen to me. You know when I was getting those visions when we kissed. The dream felt like that. I was in the action, not just watching. I was the girl running away from the killer."
She paused. "What if I'm getting a vision about a murder, and, I don't know, I'm somehow connecting with the victim."
Max's brow creased. "But why would you be seeing it?"
Shaking her head, she shrugged. "I didn't see her face. Maybe I know her. Or maybe it's me in the vision. The only reason I can think of is maybe the dreams are a warning that he's coming after me."
"So you think it was the future?" Max asked.
"It's possible, isn't it?" she asked, almost pleading with him to believe her.
He could see how desperately she needed his support, and he took her hands. "At this point, I'd say anything was possible."
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