Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, splish.
Lily sighed as her foot fell into a little puddle. Now both her shoes were soaked; she really should have been paying more attention to where she was walking. It was raining, only a little more than a drizzle. With the imposing grey clouds blanketing the sky, it was almost underwhelming. But she could still see, so it was good enough. Not that there was much to see. It was just more of Wade, a street with some nondescript buildings, workplaces or something. The car wasn't there anymore, obviously.
Lily didn't know what kind of clues she was expecting to possibly find, but they weren't there. Of course they weren't. What would that even look like? But... It was so close. She couldn't help but go to see it, just in case. She would feel the need to, if it didn't. The rain hadn't stopped her, the fact her walk was supposed to stay in her residential neighborhood hadn't stopped her, so why would the action's clear pointlessness?
She knew it had to be related. Whoever else it was who had gone missing, it must have been the same way as her mother. It was too big of a coincidence. It was a kidnapping ring, or... She thought about that strange sense in the back of her head, careful not to actually focus on it and draw it out. Maybe powers were involved. Maybe it was all a big magic accident. Maybe there was nothing left but the car. She shook her head, as if it could banish the nasty thought. The car had been gone, too.
Lily looked over her shoulder. There was nobody else on the sidewalk. She was starting to slightly regret being alone, but that was silly. And it wasn't like she had another option, would she drag her grandparents out to a random spot? They would probably remember the news story, and get upset she was trying to do something about things. She couldn't just sit around and wait for her mother to magically come back, even if she didn't have any other option. She sighed, and kept walking down the sidewalk. The smart thing to do would have been turn around, but that felt like giving up, and that was one thig she couldn't stomach yet.
An umbrella probably would have been a good idea. But she had never really minded getting rained on, even in a real downpour, despite all the nagging that she'd catch a cold. Stewing in drenched clothing afterwards, that could be miserable, but if she was just going home and could change? It was fine. She didn't get why people cared so much. She was braced for a scolding when she got back, of course, but couldn't imagine it would be a big deal. She and her grandparents were fumbling towards a better balance between their sensibilities, anyways.
She was coming up to an alley when she heard someone's voice. A guy, yelling in that way that was trying not to be loud and failing. Normally she would have ignored it, taken it as a cue to turn around since she wasn't really going anywhere anymore, but... Something about the words she was overhearing made her sidle over closer. He was in the alleyway, but she wasn't going to peek and check. She could stand out of sight and still hear him, at least while he was being loud.
"I don't care about your schedule! I need you to help me right fucking now!
What do you mean?
Shut up, you dense motherfucker. Just let me in!
If you hang up I'm just going to have to holler at the door, man."
Lily felt more than a little ashamed. She was just listening in on some angry guy's phone call as he was stuck out in the rain. She really should have afforded some basic politeness and walked away, but... Well, it was kind of funny, in a mean way. And she wanted to hear him get let in, as he hopefully would in the end. Not just leave and have him forever stuck outside in her memory.
"I'm right outside the door. Obviously! Just let me in and I'll shut up.
What difference does one day make?
No, you can't flip that on me! People are going to come after me, man! If they aren't already!"
Lily felt a chill. What had he just said? She questioned if she had heard it right, but it hadn't been one of the muffled parts. He thought people were after him? Was he okay? Was that paranoia, exaggerration, or was she hearing something she shouldn't? She looked around, and still didn't see anybody on the same street as her. She knew the smart thing to do was leave and forget about it, but...
"Yes, and not just them! Do you get it? I can't just be out here. Definitely not right here.
What do you mean you can't?
Then call whoever is there!
What are you talking about? I heard her like five minutes ago!
Oh, shit. So it's like that? Well, fuck. But I get it.
Sorry, I thought you were just trying to screw me. But now where do I go?"
Lily's mind started racing. What had he just said? Like what? She had to fight the urge to get closer to hear him better, now that the shouting seemed done. If anything, she needed to leave right away. Either it was unrelated and all a big coincidence, or... Whatever building was back there had someone locked in it, maybe even... She suddenly felt sick. That couldn't be it. It would—
Lily was jarred out of her thoughts by her phone ringing. It almost made her jump, it was sudden and felt way too loud. It made her want to run, just in case... But no, that would just draw attention. She started walking back the way she came, fumbling to shut her phone up in her pocket. Her heart was hammering in her chest, and she was worried just to glance behind her. But nothing gave chase, nobody was following her. There weren't any shouts, just her phone ringing again.
Everything was fine, except for how her tentacles had sprouted out of her back, squirming and spilling out from her jacket. She somehow hadn't noticed when they appeared, and wasn't sure how long they had been there. It only took a little concentration to make them go away. Hopefully they hadn't just wrecked her jacket, but she couldn't really stop and check. She was going straight home. After a little more time to recover, she took out her phone, which was ringing again.
"Lily! Why didn't you answer?"
"Sorry, grandma. It's raining, I didn't want to drench my phone."
"Well, where are you? Why didn't you come home when it started raining?"
"I'm fine, grandma. I'm just on my way back."
"How long will you be?"
"I don't know. Ten, fifteen minutes? Look, I'm fine."
"Why are you walking that far away to begin with? Lily, we—"
"I said I'm fine! Why are you so worried? I'm safe. One bad thing happens and—"
Begrudgingly, Lily shut up. She wanted to groan. Why was she lashing out again? She knew it wasn't fair, it was frankly hypocritical, but the way her grandmother cared just made her angry. And coming off of something worth that concern made receiving it more frustrating. Maybe she was just too wound up.
"It's not just about that, Lily. There are other things you need to worry about. Don't you know how... Just come home, alright?"
"What? What were you going to say?"
"Nevermind that. We can talk when you're home. And dry."
It was a bit less than fifteen minutes later when Lily finally got back to her grandparents' home. Being soaked through was starting to grate, and she was glad to get inside and out of her shoes. Her grandmother tutted, but her grandfather just laughed at her. After getting dried off, and taking a towel to deal with the little puddle on the tile by the door, she went to her grandmother. She had calmed down again, thankfully.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to worry you."
"It's alright. I'm sorry for fretting."
"What were you going to say earlier?"
"Hm? Oh. I don't remember, sorry. It was nothing."
She was lying, Lily was sure. But it didn't really matter, and she didn't bother. If she was going to fret over a mystery and something she hadn't been meant to hear...