The room was dark. The curtains had been shut in front of the window. No sunlight was coming in. Only a nightlight in the shape of a moon was glowing next to the hospital bed. There were even more machines in that room. I was sitting on the floor opposite of it and watched through the narrow window in the door. Choko was sitting next to me. She had told me that Toshiko’s daughter, Mio was in a coma as well. And that the chances of her waking up were very slim. It didn’t take long for Toshiko to join us. I was at a loss for words.
“Did you meet her?”
I lowered my head. My eyes were filled with tears again but this time they were for Toshiko and Mio.
“Don’t worry. She’ll wake up. She’ll be fine.”
Toshiko bent forward and looked me into my eyes. She was smiling but I knew she was pretending to be alright. Her eyes were reddened and glistening. It felt like it had been a long day. I was bewildered by the second stop we made. All three of us were standing in front of my apartment building.
“Go. Your mother is probably eagerly waiting for your return.”
Toshiko gave me a push.
“But I thought I’m not allowed to go home until I figure out how to control my attribute?”
“Eh, it’s fine. You were a quick learner and I know that you’ll be fine without me for a while. If you miss me too much, use the company’s mobile phone to call me. I have saved my, Choko’s and Sayuri’s number on it. On top of it, we are in a state of emergency at the moment, and I rather not get you involved in what we discussed in today’s company meeting.”
It felt weird going up the stairs to my apartment. It didn’t feel familiar at all. My mom immediately started crying after seeing me. Yuuma refused to let go of me as well. She had a lot of questions for me, but I told her that I’ll answer them later. I went into my room and decided to look at my phone. Even my room felt strange to me. I sat down on the floor and scrolled through my phone. I was still unsure of how to use it properly. There were too many apps that were alien to me. I tossed it on to my bed and decided to spend the rest of the evening with my family. My mom had called over Charlotte’s mother as well.
My routine had become as such that I would wake up at 5am in the morning. Toshiko used to wake me up to start my training. It had already been a week since I had come back home. I had started attending school again. It seemed like the school was told that I had an accident and was recovering from my injuries. Every day, I would visit Charlotte after school. Mamoru would usually join me. The school bell rang, and I went to the bathroom. Once in a while, I would get my usual symptoms whenever my attribute was trying to break free. And today was one of those days. It took me a while, but I managed to control it. I heard a group of girls entering the same bathroom as I was in. They were laughing and chatting with each other.
“Do you have it?”
“Of course, I do.”
“Then let’s get her.”
I peeked through the door and saw one of the girls holding a pair of big scissors. They walked out and for some reason I followed them for a while but then remembered that I had to visit Charlotte. I could see Mamoru standing in front of the school gate from the window. The image of the group of girls kept appearing in my mind and as I was switching my shoes to leave school, I remembered. I rushed back to where I saw them last, but they were already gone. The school was mostly empty, and people’s voices were echoing through the hallways. I stood on top of the stairs and listened closely.
“There you are.”
They had gone to the school’s basement. It got darker and darker, but their voices got louder and louder. A scream pierced through the air. I ran towards the direction it came from and pushed a door open. The single lightbulb that was lighting the room was flickering. Underneath was a girl crying and the group of girls was surrounding her. One of them was holding her by her hair and snipping away at it. I could see several strands of hair fall into her lap.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?”
I pushed my way through them and grabbed the scissors from the girl’s hand. The others were watching quietly.
“What? Do you want a haircut too?”
The other girls started giggling. I went down on my knees and wiped the girl’s tears away when I noticed something. Not only were they cutting her hair, but they had hurt her as well. Her face was all scratched up and was bleeding. I had seen her before. It was the girl with the bangs who was looking for her school bag the other day.
“Are you insane? Do you have any idea what you have done?”
I stood up again and faced the girl who seemed to be the leader of the group. She ignored me and walked over to her friends.
“Shut up. Who do you think you are? A hero?”
I wanted to punch her face so badly but held myself back.
“It’s fine. It doesn’t matter anymore.”
The girl’s tears were flowing like a river.
“No. It’s not fine. This is wrong.”
“I remember you. You told me where they took my school bag. Thank you for that but that was the extent you were willing to help me. Honestly, everyone in this school knew how they were bullying me, but no one ever said anything. So, it’s fine. You don’t need to defend me now. It’s too late anyway.”
I opened my mouth to say something, but a sudden, strong gust of wind pushed me back. The other girls started screaming. I was confused where it was coming from but soon enough realised that it was coming from the girl. Things were getting thrown around and some flew into our direction. The other girls kept screaming and ran away. I tried to get closer to the girl, but it was like a mini tornado had swallowed her up. I tripped over a box and fell to my knees but kept crawling towards her. I had to reach her. Her quiet sobbing was like a whisper that kept resonating in my ears. I had to apologise to her.
“It hurts. It hurts so bad. I’m getting crushed.”
Her voice was brittle. She was in pain. This situation reminded me of whenever I activated my attribute.
“You have to fight it. You have to be strong.”
I kept calling out to her but didn’t get any response back from her. Her silhouette was the only thing I could see. I held out my hand and screamed into the tornado.
“Xykoss. Devour those who stand in thy way.”
Nothing happened. No light. No shadow appeared. Why was my attribute not coming out? I started to panic and grabbed my earring. Before I could repeat it, the tornado stopped as sudden as it had started. The girl was looking upwards. Her body seemed stiff. I was happy to see her again, but it was too early to be relieved. The girl whispered something and in the next second her body was twisted in different directions. I knew the sound of bones breaking all too well, but I couldn’t have imagined this even in my worst nightmare. Her fair skin was torn apart and was coloured in red. Her mouth was open, and her tears didn’t stop. She was still alive. I was overwhelmed by the scene that had played out in front of me that I was uncapable of moving even a muscle. It felt like time had stopped. I could hear her shallow breathing. She was trying to say something but choked on her blood. I heard footsteps behind me. Whoever it was, they stopped right next to me.
“What a mess. Poor girl.”
Someone said. It was a woman’s voice. More and more people kept entering the room we were in. I heard some strange noises and looked up. It was a man who was standing next to me. He was loading two guns, each with a single bullet. The others were talking to each other. He walked over to the girl and placed one gun on her forehead. I snapped back into reality and crawled over to him to grab him by his leg.
“What do you think you are doing? She is still alive.”
My voice was weak.
“She won’t be in a couple of minutes.”
“What are you saying? Help her. Get her to a hospital.”
“She can’t be helped. All we can do is to end her suffering. She is asking for her life to be ended as well.”
My body was shaking. I was close enough now to hear her whispering. I pushed my forehead against his leg and closed my eyes. Two shots were fired in total. I heard a heavy thump followed by a last whisper from her.
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