Course 1: Hotdogs

I wake one evening to the sound of construction work on the other side of the neighborhood.

Great. Just a list of things that I, Johann Strauss have to put up with at an ungodly 3 a.m. In the morning.

I bet the neighbors share the same sentiment.

I’m half-Belgian, but I have lived in the Philippines for the most of my life. I inherited more traits from my father, so I look Filipino, as if I am not of mixed descent. My parents had to go to Hong Kong to meet up with my brother who, was on his way to introduce his fiance. I said I did not need to go, since I have school and that all of them would eventually come back home anyway. Nonetheless, I’ve kept the house to myself for a few days, much to my comfort.

But there was not much to eat inside the fridge, so I had to go out to buy some.

It was a great idea for mom and dad to leave me 5 days’ worth of money. If I could just go to the nearest seven-eleven to grab a quick and painless dinner, things would work fine for me. So I did. It was 3 am in the morning in the suburbs, not much would happen right? I wore my sneakers and went off to get food. Of course 3 am in the Philippines is still pretty cold, even in the summer. It’s rainy season so I had to get an umbrella, just in case. The neighbourhood was pretty quiet at night; not a soul appears to be alive at this hour, with the exception of the construction workers from a few blocks away.

I locked the door, already outside, and started walking. Walking, walking, and walking some more. I greeted the guards as I asked passage out of my subdivision. I headed towards my destination, with caution of possible thieves or robbers. A hotdog and a medium sized Gatorade gulp was not exactly what you would call dinner, but it was food, and I am hungry. As I walked out of the convenience store, I feel a sudden pain behind my back. I was quickly losing consciousness, trying my hardest to see anyone who could have hit me. It was too late, the darkness of being unconscious has finally subdued me. Everything fades to black.

“Hey.”

“I said hey. Oi, wake up already. ” a feminine voice sounded out, trying to bring me back to the world of the living. “Urgh” I grunted, since it was the only thing I could say. I slowly opened my eyes to find myself surprised – I don’t appear to be anywhere in the Philippines. I also don’t seem to feel any injury, although I was attacked earlier. “Where am I? Wait, am I dead!?” was my most immediate response to my perception. It was a room painted all white with a red chair and couch. There was also a cabinet, filled with books of some sort; I could recognize some books written in German, some French, and some even in Chinese. The last I saw was a small ornate table with what appears to be a tea set.

“Are you seriously going full-on cliché with how you react? You’re still very much alive, silly” My eyes opened wide as the feminine voice sounded a bit closer and pinched me in the cheek. “Ow!” I interjected as I fully opened my eyes to see my would-be assailant. She was a girl, some few inches shorter than me, with long chestnut hair, partly fair complexion, and blue almond eyes. My eyes widened more as she pokes fun at my now sore cheek. “Who are you?”, I asked, while still dwelling in a mixed feeling of curiosity, amazement, and confusion. “The name’s Daphne” says the girl. “That’s all you need to know.”

“How did I end up here?”

“By chance.”

“By chance? You don’t sound so convincing. What exactly happened? Who are you, better yet, what are you? Is this some kind of fantasy story plot I’m suddenly thrust into?”

“Look buddy, I know this is all too much for you right now, but I’ll just let you in on the rundown slowly. First off you were about to get mugged.”

“And then?”

“We saved you from the muggers. You were unconscious, so we brought you here.” She said with a smile, while holding what appears to be a pair of pink gloves.

“Where are we?”

“My uncle’s van. Pretty roomy huh?” More like very roomy. It was as if I was inside a house. It was like an RV, with steroids.

“So what are you really?” I asked again.

“She’s a witch. and I am a wizard” says the voice of what appears to be a middle-aged man. “Uncle!” yelps Daphne, in a rebellious tone. “Uncle, you know how I feel about being called that. They expect us to either eat little children, or speak with a British accent. It’s crazy!” I see the middle-aged man calm the other down. They then turn to me again.

“And who might you be, young man?” asked the middle-aged man, who appears to be in his late thirties. “I-I’m Johann, Johann Strauss.”, I said, not certain if I did the right thing. “Well, Johann, I’m Montgomery, and this is my niece Daphne. She could be a handful at times, but she’s a good kid. Can I interest you in some coffee? It’s decaf.”

Of course, accepting would be sensible if not for the fact that the person offering it is capable of using some sort of magic. “I’ll pass, thank you. Where are we?” I asked. “We’re still in your country, underground. The traffic in here is horrifying.”

“We’re actually moving?” I said.

“We’re in a van, actually. It’s a volkwagen, like that one from the beach boys”

“Beach boys?”

“does Scooby Doo ring a bell to you?”

“Ah. I get it.”

“Hey, you.” Daphne exclaimed.

“I have a name you know. It’s Johann.”

“Whatever. Never call me a witch, okay? If you do, I’d treat you the same way I treat criminals, like those guys who almost mugged you.” I suddenly got curious. “What did you do?”

“Do you really want to know?” Daphne says with an alarming, nasty grin on her face.

“What should I call you guys then?” I asked.

“Sorcerers, Magic-Users, Whatever tickles your fancy. Just not a witch.” She said, while spinning a teaspoon in mid-air using this so-called ‘magic’.

“How about bunnywabbit?” I asked with a smile, as I try to match her attitude with a bit of my own.

“You pickin’ a fight?” she said in monotone, as if to horribly denote that I am no match…

“Well, Uhm, It’s really late, and Uhm… can I go home now?” I hurriedly asked Montgomery, who was currently drinking coffee off the tea set. “Oh, sure boy. Where is it?” I instructed him directions to my subdivision. We got near the house, and I greeted them goodbye. I went inside the house, and quickly locked the door. I went to my bed, and tried my hardest to sleep.

The next day felt awful. I woke up slumping in the sofa, feet covered with a blanket, with the TV still on. I was in the middle of fighting a boss in a video game. My stomach appealed in protest. It was a dream. It felt too real to be. But as it turns out, it was. I thought maybe some sunlight was all I need to solve this. I went outside and made sure the door was locked before heading out. I took a tricycle to get to the nearest mall. I bought some groceries, and decided on going back home. As I stopped towards my house I saw a seemingly familiar person.

“Hey, you forgot your umbrella. Uncle seems to have taken a liking to you. Plus, you still owe me for saving you last night. He asks if you could come with us for dinner.”

But that’s enough of me. I’ll let the narrator take over.

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