Yet, Hanah was the first one to be affected by strange emissions from her IPod. Was it possible that, someone was trying to neutralize ePo's influence on her?
Nothing happened for a while, then, at the end of the week, the family decided to go to Muir Woods National Monument to look at and show Reina, their guest from Japan, the redwood sequoias.
They drove for about an hour, when the car began to shake uncontrollably. Even when Taka, the dad, slowed down, the shaking was still there. They pulled off the freeway. It was a desolate stretch, with nothing there except gray sand and rocks. Taka looked at the tires: they looked terrible: huge bubbles appeared on them, threatening to burst any moment and send the family careening across the busy road.
They had to wait for a towing truck. Hanah, Sonny and Reina went exploring into the woods next to the freeway.
Joon loved the smell of the pines. Even though they were right next to civilization with it's crowds and polluted, toxic air, inside the trees the fresh air immediately invigorated him. He searched for Hanah, then saw her shoulder behind the redwood sapling. She sat there quietly, staring into her IPod. The same blissful expression began to steal onto her face. Joon wanted to shake her and break the spell, but a temptation to feel once again those wonderful things like he felt in the house, was too strong.
Joon came to, looking at Taka standing over him: "What's the matter with you and Hanah? Are those tears on your cheeks? Didn't you hear me call? It's a good thing that Reina found you! Could you go and keep an eye on the tow truck driver? I just want to take a short walk with the girls while the car is being worked on."
The tow truck driver was working on changing the tires. All Joon could see of him was his bent back, but his senses in that lonely place were tingling with the anticipation of danger, so he looked at the driver closer.
One thing for sure: the driver was very tense. He kept dropping his tools and bumped his head on the car when he heard Joon emerge from the trees. He didn't turn to look at him, though, and Joon thought that it was very strange. He felt like he was being watched, but the driver's back was toward him. Then he saw an eye on the part of the man's face where there usually are only sideburns!
It was a monster, but what kind? Joon walked to the other side of the car, trying to see the thing better. As he stood, peering over the car's top at the driver's cap, he suddenly felt a steel grip on his ankles and was somehow pulled off his feet under the car!
With his superhuman strength Joon pushed the car away and was able to come up on his feet in front of his assailant. He just glimpsed dirty, distorted features and four eyes under matted hair on the monster's face, when the creature attacked. He was impossibly strong and quick, and Joon, still under the influence of the IPOD's spell, had trouble defending himself.
Desperate to get the upper hand, Joon fought with all his might. The monster grabbed him and they went down together, rolling on the ground. Joon knew that, if he fails, Sonny's family will die. He grasped at everything that he could find on the ground near them and beat at the attacker with that, but the attacker's head was made of metal, it seemed, because even hit by a stone, he hardly flinched.
Joon's hand closed on something. It was Reina's water bottle. he smashed it on the creature's head. The lid fell off and the liquid poured over the thing's eyes. The monster roared, rolled off Joon and began to writhe on the ground, scratching at his face. Whatever was in the bottle, already burned through his scull and into his brain. Soon he lay quiet, but Joon saw that he was still alive.
Taka and the girls walked out of the forest at that moment.
- "I can't believe, he is asleep on the job! Probably came here drunk. It would never have happened in Japan!"
Taka talked, but Joon hardly heard him. He looked at Reina, then pointed at her water bottle.
- "What did you have in it?"
To Be Continued