Chapter 14:

second stop: cold wave


The white light that consumed everything becomes solid, smothering me underneath it. I push off what feels like a heavy blanket, unable to breathe, until I’m free. As I gasp for air, I brush off the white powder sticking to my face.Bookmark here

“Snow?” I shriek, holding my uncovered arms and tucking my skirt between my folded legs. My toes are going numb in my open flats, but I stand to my feet despite that. A field of snow is all I see around me. It’s covered the ground and is coming down in heavy flurries.Bookmark here

I have to get out of here and find somewhere warm. The biting cold is already overtaking my body. I stretch my legs onward and trudge across the thick snow, heading in no particular direction. Eventually, the thick flurries make way for a road. I still can’t see anything beyond the road covered mostly in snow.Bookmark here

My body shudders as sharp winds assault me. At a loss, I sit on the road and curl into a ball, frantically weighing my options. If I stay here, I’ll freeze to death. If I venture any further on foot, I’ll likely collapse before I find shelter.Bookmark here

But dying can't be an option, right? I’ve lived through too much to die a meaningless death. That would make my existence meaningless, wouldn’t it? If I was only born to die, why have I struggled for so long? Why did I have to take something precious from someone else just so that I could live? Now both our lives are ruined. I should probably die anyway. But, still, I don’t want to.Bookmark here

Tears stream down my numbed cheeks, offering them a fleeting warmth. Suddenly, a ringing sound reaches my ears. I’ve lost feeling in my hands, but I manage to withdraw my phone. The display is blurry thanks to the tears in my eyes, but the name unmistakably reads JC. I tap the screen with stiff fingers and bring the phone to my ear. “Mirei, are you okay?” he cries.Bookmark here

“I... it’s so… cold…” I stammer through chattered teeth and frozen lips.Bookmark here

“Yes, the weather seems to have changed drastically with the shift,” he says in a serious tone. “Do you know where you are?”Bookmark here

“I don't....”Bookmark here

“Do you recognize anything around you?” he demands with even more desperation.Bookmark here

“There’s… nothing.”Bookmark here

“Damn… I don’t know how I'll find you, but I will, okay?” His panicked words barely reach me, my mind going whiter by the second.Bookmark here

“Ma…ry...?” I mumble, the phone gradually slipping through my fingers.Bookmark here

“Mary already left,” he answers. “Listen, I think that when she defeated the fake which had split away with her heart, it really did return to her. And once you revealed you have the other half of her heart, I think its desire to regain its other half manifested. Right now, Mary is...”Bookmark here

His voice cuts out as the phone falls from my frozen hand. Despite my heart feeling excruciatingly tight, my consciousness fades to white. As I start to lose my bearings on the snow-covered world, the sound of a car engine resounds nearby. I hear my name shouted, but before I can identify the owner of the voice, I’m overcome by pure white.Bookmark here

I awake to the striking sound of piano chords. My eyes flicker open, revealing a room’s pink walls lined with exquisite art depicting cherry blossoms. I peer out the window to find matching cherry blossom trees dotting the snowy courtyard below. My bed fits the room perfectly, its rich pink sheets and blankets covering me up to my neck.Bookmark here

Without a doubt, it’s my room. The piano is coming from my PC on the desk by my bed. Its familiar tune draws me in as I carefully remove the blankets and sit up on the side of the bed. My pink pajamas, too, match the room— it’s a bit much if I’m honest.Bookmark here

After rubbing my eyes, I gaze at the computer screen. The program is playing a playlist of piano pieces by someone named Shiburei, an oddly familiar name. Just as I’m becoming lost in the soft chords, my door opens. In the doorway stands a middle-aged man whose appearance strikes a chord in my heart. His thin beard and trim hair, and his broad build accentuated by his suit, are all familiar.Bookmark here

Upon seeing me, he drops to his knees. “Mirei…my precious girl…” his rigid voice quivers as tears swell in his eyes. “You’re safe now, okay?”Bookmark here

“F-father…?” I croak, my throat stifling a gasp. “What’s happening? How are you here?”Bookmark here

“I’m not sure what’s happened, but I’m going to help defeat Aku and that girl, and win this,” he replies over sobs, standing and taking my hand. “You don’t have to worry about anything… After all, you are the daughter of the head of the Shibutani Group.”Bookmark here

My head aches at the sound of that name. Shiburei’s nostalgic piano pours into my head, along with memories. This room indeed belongs to me, as well as the artist on the computer. Shiburei and Mirei Shibutani are one in the same— the pianist daughter of the great family and influential organization.Bookmark here

“That’s right, of course I should win,” I mutter, averting my gaze. “Because I’m the daughter of a man who would use his power to kidnap an innocent girl and take her heart, just to fulfill his sick daughter’s selfish wish.”Bookmark here

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