As Far as the Eyes Can See
Leaning down to take off his shoes, Alvaro felt his entire body complain.
As he endured the pain, he muttered curses under his breath about that day's football practice. The terrace of his house was in its usual state of being; not too clean, but not too dirty either. It should be understandable that when two teenagers are left to their own devices in a house, they wouldn't have much motivation to clean.
Alvaro called out to his sister despite the door only being half-open, "Alika! Practice today was way too much, can you please cook me Indomie or something?!"
He shouted as loud as he possibly could, hoping that his twin sister could hear him, but even when he finished tidying his shoes and socks, there came no response.
It was a little odd, since Alika would normally yell back at him, saying something along the lines of 'go do it yourself' or 'why do I have to do it?!'. Well, she did always say that, but she'd always end up cooking for the two of them anyway. As he peeked through the half-opened door, Alvaro saw that the TV was on, though he was too far to make out what was playing on the screen.
Assuming that Alika was sitting in the living room, watching some weird competition show on Netflix and also ignoring him, Alvaro continued to talk, "Today was literally hell. I swear that the coach is trying to-"
When Alvaro managed to finally see the entirety of his living room, the words died in his throat.
To say that their living room was a mess would be an understatement.
This house came fully-furnished and the twins had never bothered to redecorate or add to it, so its contents were rather minimalistic. Two light grey sofas, a wooden coffee-table, and a large flat screen TV were pretty much all there was to it, but even with that minimal amount of furniture, everything looked displaced.
The sofas were way too far apart, one of them was even toppled over. The heavy wooden coffee table was also out of place, somehow ending up against the wall. The floor was also oddly dirty, like a bunch of people had walked in with their shoes and left dirt all around. The only thing that appeared to be in good condition was the TV, the reality show on it was even still running despite being muted.
Alvaro wasn't the type of person to be easily scared, but to come home to a sight like this, how could he not be?
"Alika?" he called out much more cautiously this time. "Alika? What happened here?"
Like before, he was met with silence.
An uneasiness began to sink in his heart. Somehow, it felt like he really was the only person in their house.
But to him, that didn't make any sense. Alika had no extracurricular activities that day and already told him earlier that she was going straight home. Aside from that, he couldn't think of a reason that would push Alika to create such a mess. His sister was never the type to convey her anger by throwing stuff or yelling, she'd usually just ignore him.
And since the entrance seemed to be in perfect condition, it was unlikely that someone had broken in. It didn't look like anything had been taken either.
Feeling unnerved by the silence, Alvaro tried again. "Alika? C'mon don't scare me like this!"
With every time he called out Alika's name, he stepped further into his home. He got closer and closer to the living room.
Alvaro realized that it was unlikely that he'd receive an answer, but he kept calling out for his sister. He only stopped once he got close enough to the sofa to see that there was a crimson stain on the seat. It wasn't a lot, the size of the stain barely bigger than a cup. Still, it was enough indication that something was very wrong about this situation.
His face became pale as he stammered, "Wait, shit, this is- blood?"
The urgency of the situation finally has now set in and Alvaro was practically frozen where he stood. His throat felt clogged, but he managed to utter a few words of disbelief, "No, no, no.. You're kidding me, right? Alika, where the hell are you?!"
No matter how badly Alvaro wished that this was a joke, some cruel prank Alika was playing on him, he had to accept that it simply wasn't. After running all around the house whilst calling out Alika's name, he had to come to terms with the fact that Alika really was gone. His heart was beating so fast that it threatened to leap out of his chest and he even felt tears prickling at the corner of his eyes, but he shook his head.
"This- this isn't the time to be emotional," Alvaro reminded himself. "I just- I have to call the police quickly. Fuck, what's the number? What's the number? God, am I so dumb that I don't even know that?!"
Never had Alvaro ever thought that he'd needed to know the number of the emergency service, but now he felt incredibly stupid to not be prepared for a situation like this. Thankfully, after a quick google search, Alvaro managed to find the number. He dialled in 112 into his phone and immediately reported the accident to the police. He tried to not sound too frantic, but how could he remain calm?
Even when his call with the police ended, Alvaro couldn't calm down. He kept walking back and forth in the living room, theorizing about what had happened. As soon as the police got here, he had to tell them everything he knew, every possible scenario, so that they'd find Alika before anything bad could happen to her. However, the more he thought about it, the less sense it made.
"I know that she always locks the door, so what happened? There's no signs of anyone breaking in either..." Alvaro muttered to himself whilst still pacing around the house.
They both made it a habit to lock the door and gates when they were home alone.
He couldn't think of a reason for anyone to kidnap Alika either as she wasn't the type to make many enemies.
So was it for their parents' money? But how would anyone know who their parents were anyway? They're practically never home.
The sound of a car stopping outside of his house pulled Alvaro out of his messy thoughts. He immediately rushed outside and found that two officers were standing in front of the gate.
"Good afternoon young man, we received your report."
Alvaro nodded as he quickly opened the gates for them, saying, "Officer, please quickly come in, I- I think my sister's been kidnapped."
He led them into the house and in between his panic, he tried to explain the situation as best as he could, "I really don't know what happened. I just got back home from extracurricular activities and I saw that the living room was a mess and my sister, she-"
The two officers entered into the house first, with Alvaro following shortly behind them, but the two officers stopped abruptly in the middle of Alvaro's explanation and one of them said, "Young man, is this a joke?"
"...A joke?" Alvaro asked as anger started to surge through his veins. "A joke?! Can't both of you see that-"
He had rushed past them to show them the state of the living room, but he too ended up stopping in his tracks.
The living room was pristine clean, a far cry from the state it was in the last time Alvaro saw it. All of the furniture was back in their place, the floor was no longer dirty, and like before, the TV was still on. It really looked like nothing had happened in it.
Alvaro began to stammer, "W- wait, what happened? Just now the floor was- the sofa too, no, I swear it wasn't like this a moment ago."
He then turned to the officers, eyes filled with panic and practically begged, "I swear to god that it was really messed up just minutes ago. Everything was out of place and the floor was dirty, it really wasn't like this. Please believe me, officers!"
"Well, if it really was messed up, who else but you would have cleaned it up, hm?" The taller of the two officers asked, sounding rightfully suspicious. "Are you sure that your sister isn't in there?"
"No! I- Believe me officer, just a few minutes ago, it was a mess and there was even blood on the sofa!" Alvaro said, repeating himself. More than anyone else, he was the most shocked. How could the mess disappear just like that?
"Calm down young man," the other, shorter officer with a bulky build said to him, "let's talk to your neighbours for a bit, shall we?"
It seemed like the officer could see that Alvaro wasn't lying, or maybe he was just really good at it. However, he gave Alvaro the benefit of the doubt and made the rational decision to look for other witnesses who could support his claim. Alvaro, still clearly shaken, nodded wordlessly and followed the two officers outside.
They then called out to one of Alvaro and Alika's neighbours. When the middle aged woman walked out of her house, the officer said, "Excuse me miss, sorry to bother you, but did you happen to see or hear anything happen in the neighbouring house? Someone entering perhaps?"
The middle aged woman, whose name Alvaro had long forgotten due to him and Alika calling her 'auntie', seemed shocked to find that the boy who lived next door and two police officers were standing in front of her gate. Alvaro knew that this lady had a nice little family; her husband was a humble and hard-working office worker and her daughter had already gone away to a good university, she really wasn't the type to be involved in any sorts of trouble.
When her shock subsided, she came back to herself and approached the people standing outside of her gate. She shook her head and answered, "Other than Alvaro, no, I didn't see anyone enter."
Alvaro gritted his teeth. At this point, he really did seem like a liar who was playing a trick on the police. Still, what was most prominent on his mind was one thing and one thing only; where was Alika? If the lady didn't see or hear anyone enter, then did Alika leave by herself? "Did you see my sister or anyone leave then?"
The lady blinked a couple of times and chuckled uneasily, "Your sister? I didn't know that you had a sister, Varo."
Those words struck Alvaro like a lightning bolt.
"Huh? What do you mean you didn't know?" Alvaro asked, but both he and his neighbour seemed equally confused. "Auntie, you- you have definitely met her. We borrow spices from you all the time."
His neighbour remained silent for a few moments, but not because she was thinking or anything, it was more like she was weirded out. Like she was worried. "...Are you okay Varo? Borrowing spices, you've always been the one to do that. If you have a sister, I've never seen her or heard of her until just now."
Alvaro's throat went dry and his head was spinning. He really really couldn't comprehend what was happening to him. First, there was the living room magically getting cleaned up. Now his next door neighbour couldn't even remember that he had a sister at all? It was as if the world really didn't want him to be right.
The taller officer's patience seemed to be running thin. "So? Can you explain yourself, boy?"
He sighed and then added, "If you're willing to be honest with us, we'll let it go this time."
Clearly, after seeing the living room and hearing his neighbour's words, the officer had already concluded that Alvaro was definitely lying. What else could it be?
"Wait, no, I do have a sister! I really do! I-" Alvaro insisted, but he didn't know what to say to make these officers believe him.
The shorter, kinder officer sighed too. "So far, you've made no sense at all, boy, are you mentally sound, hm? Maybe you should come with us after all."
"Before now, he's always been a friendly, normal boy officer. This is really the first time he's been like this," the lady chimed in, genuinely worried about Alvaro.
Alvaro was well-aware that he was looking more and more like a crazy person in the eyes of the people around him, but he couldn't care less. As it stands, Alika was still missing and god knows what could be happening to her right now. That's why he kept thinking and thinking on how to prove that Alika really does exist and that something bad had probably happened to her.
"I- I can prove it to you," he said when an idea came to mind, "I'll take my family's official documents and you'll see! I have a twin sister and you'll see it right there!"
An official document would be indisputable proof for her existence right? At least if the officers could see, even if they still don't believe him fully, they'd look more into it, right? Alvaro wasn't some genius and he wasn't a detective either. Without the help of these officials, what could he do if anything bad has happened to his sister? Heck, how could he even know anything? He had to make them believe, no matter what.
These were the thoughts he had in his head as he ran into his house and into the room that was supposedly reserved for their parents, but had never been used. There was a cabinet in the corner of the room where all, if not most of their legal and official documents were kept; their birth certificate, their family card, and so on. Alvaro quickly slammed that cabinet open and went through the documents, but the more he looked, the more pale he became.
No matter which document he picked, there was no mention of Alika at all.
Her birth certificate wasn't there either.
It- it really was as if Alika had never existed.
Alvaro was distraught and fell to his knees. His whole body was shaking and he once again felt tears at the corner of his eyes. His mind was a complete mess and he wanted to scream in frustration. But he didn't scream. He couldn't. He just had this unexplainably heavy feeling in his heart, as if something was telling him to just give up.
From the living room, he heard one of the officers call out to him, "Boy? Are you going to show us that document after all?"
The sinking feeling in his heart made him want to just run away from them. After all, he felt humiliated and embarrassed too. With the situation playing out like this, he really was like a liar. Like a stupid teenager trying to play a prank on the cops. His limbs felt heavy when he stood back up and forced himself to walk out of the room and face the officers.
His gaze was stuck on the floor when he muttered, "I can't find it."
"Have you had your fill of fun then? We don't have so much time that we can waste it doing things like this," the taller officer was already half-yelling at him, but Alvaro didn't wince or anything. He was too distraught.
The shorter officer was once again being more considerate. He could see that other than shame, Alvaro really looked devastated. "I can't figure out if you're playing with us or if there's something wrong with your head, young man. So which is it? If it's the latter, maybe we can help you."
"He wouldn't admit it if there was something wrong with him, would he?" the taller commented, clearly agitated. "Heck, he probably wouldn't realize it himself."
Alvaro managed to at least shake his head and utter a few more words, "No, I'm- I'm fine. I'll figure it out myself, so thank you for your time officers. Sorry that... sorry that this appears to be nothing."
Both the officers really felt like there was something wrong with him because he looked neither guilty or pleased, like someone who had just pranked the cops would be. And yet, at the same time, clearly everything he had been saying was not true. Nothing had happened to this boy and his imaginary sister, yet he still looked really shaken. Their best guess was that something was seriously wrong with the boy's head and maybe this was not the first time this had happened.
"...Should we call your parents, boy? You really-"
"No," Alvaro quickly interrupted, "they're probably too busy to pick up anyway. I'm really sorry officers. I really thought that something had happened but maybe I was just mistaken. This- this won't happen again, I assure you."
The two officers exchanged looks and they really couldn't find it in them to reprimand the young man any further.
"Alright, you go take care of yourself, young man."
"...Make sure this doesn't happen again."
Alvaro nodded in response, but his thoughts clearly weren't there anymore. Seeing such a pained look on his face, the two officers decided that whatever the young man's problem was, it wasn't something that they could solve.