One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 1: Departure
Chiasa looked through the window of the Shinkansen as it zipped through each passing town. She enjoyed watching the world change before her eyes; mountain tops ascending and descending, rivers winding and bending its way into big blue basins of water, the slight color differences between patches of farmland parted by thin roads that led to nearby towns. It was calming to her overactive mind. A sort of therapy or meditation in a sense. But as enticing as the ever-changing scenery was, it held no place in Chiasa’s memory. What she would witness soon after would hold itself profoundly within her thoughts. She only caught a glimpse of it for a second, but it had managed to brand itself solid into the back of her mind. Tiny people off in the distance sprinting away from the pandemonium; fires roaring as it fought endlessly to protect itself against those trying to diminish its almightiness. The smoke lifting from the flames raised above the tops of every building that surrounded it, as if holding itself within a high status of honor. Debris stampeding down the adjacent streets in hunt for its prey, as though it was in the midst of a game of cat and mouse. Chiasa could only think to herself that the horror for those families wouldn’t end there. For some, it may last a lifetime.
Standing outside of Shinagawa Station, the wind had begun to pick up in speed. Bringing with it a slight breeze that would graze the skin with a chill just cold enough to make one shiver in thought. Chiasa stood at the edge of the sidewalk clutching the opening of her jacket across her chest. She watched as each car passed by in hopes that the next one would be her best friend Yuhna whom had promised to give her a ride home that night. There had been many times before when Yuhna would call at the last-minute bearing bad news of how she wouldn’t be able to make it, but with transportation services already finished for the night, and the over packed luggage that lied beside her feet, Chiasa’s only other option would be to pay for an overpriced midnight taxi.
Just as Chiasa reached for her phone to give Yuhna a heads-up call; caught by the corner of her eye, Chiasa noticed the relieving sight of a dyno-blue Toyota Crown. She stuffed the phone back into her coat pocket and began reaching for the bag at her feet. Yuhna pulled up to the curb and wasted not even a second’s time to rush over and help Chiasa with her things.
“Ahh, gomen, gomen! Sorry, I fell asleep just as you texted me that you were at the next station over.”
“I figured something wasn’t right, so I was just about to call you.”
“Hai, hai,” Yuhna slapped her hands together and held it out in front of her in a plight for forgiveness. “I’ll make it up to you by buying you lunch tomorrow in between classes yeah?”
“Yuhna you don’t change, do you?”
Yuhna laughed at the statement in relief that Chiasa wasn’t too upset. “I guess you don’t change either, right?” She replied.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I can always count on you to forgive me.”
“Is that a good or a bad thing? I wonder…”
Yuhna and Chiasa both hopped into the car and headed off to Chiasa’s apartment in Fuchu. She lived in a rather quiet neighborhood where the sounds of alley cats fighting in the late night, and promoter vehicles creeping down the roads playing a scripture reading through their speakers were the only things in town to catch your attention. If you were lucky enough, you might witness somebody getting a ticket for riding their bike while using a cellphone. In a place where severity wasn’t a useful term, petty crimes were the only way to make an officer worth their payroll.
As the two of them headed down the road, Chiasa fixated herself on the scenery outside of the window while Yuhna went on about her not so interesting past two days of classes. She continued about how she would have “killed to spend some time back in Kyoto.” Chiasa, for a moment, was startled by the statement.
“You used to live in Kyoto?”
“Huh? Oh no, but I’ve traveled there. Ii tenki da ne! The air is so clear. I would love to revisit it again.”
“That’s easy to say when you’re only visiting, I’ve lived there since the day I was born, up until when I moved out for college. Somehow whenever I’m in that town, the air feels more suffocating than anything.”
“I guess that’s the case with everyone. You tend to appreciate the things that you don’t always have access to. Everything else you just take for granted; you may even learn to get sick of it.”
Chiasa caught herself juggling memories of her past as a young teenager. It was in the evening, around 6p.m. or so. Chiasa was scrawling her pen through her notebook, unsuccessful at making any headway with the difficult assignment her teacher had sent her home with. “Slow down there;” the depth in her father’s voice captured her attention immediately. She lowered her pen as she turned to look at him. Her father was a slim man, but rather short. He had a well-kept goatee with his hair slicked firmly back. The touch of grey that had begun to grow just above his ears gave him a very wise and respectable aura to his person. Chiasa was surprised to be at home with her father while the Sun was still up in the sky. He would often spend his hours at the office, showing up at home way after Chiasa had already fallen asleep. He pressed his hand against her shoulders as he walked over to the other side of the table, sitting directly opposite of her. “What is it that you’re writing in your notebook?” he placidly asked. “It’s an assignment for my literature class,” Chiasa said to him. “We have to answer the question, what is perception?” His matured male voice over powered hers as he said the question just as she did. Chiasa’s tongue twisted in her mouth, surprised from her father’s interjection. He stretched over and began tapping at the pile of papers sitting in front of Chiasa. She looked down at them and read off to herself the same question she was working on. The assignment sheet was in plain sight. “I already know what it is that your working on, what I want to know is what it is that you’re writing.” Chiasa had trouble piecing together what her father was aiming at. “I’m answering the question,” she answered, but as she looked to her father he was already shaking his head back and forth. It wasn’t the answer he was looking for. “What is it that your writing?” he irritatingly asked again. This time Chiasa paused before giving an answer. She gazed down at her notebook, deciphering the page. “Words,” she uttered. “I’m writing words.” He sucked in a strong gasp of air through his nose then parted his lips slightly as the air escaped from his mouth. Chiasa waited patiently for his reply. He was enticed by her answer; taken in the sense that he had anticipated her saying those exact same words. “That’s the problem,” he mentioned to her. You’re only writing words. Chiasa battered her eyelids. Her head unwillingly drooped slightly to the side as her expression fell null. Aware of her perplexed state of mind, her father walked her through his statement. “You’re writing word after word, but they carry no substance. You let them fall from your pen, but they’re thinner than the sheet of paper you’re writing on top of. One well-placed word can carry more weight than an entire book written without its heart. You have to mean it, or it’ll become transparent and eventually fade into thin air.” He tapped his hand down on the table again, this time aiming towards Chiasa’s notebook. “Start it again.”
Why was she remembering this all of a sudden? She had let so much of her past slip from her memory that it felt strange for her to be so swiftly overwhelmed by a sudden flashback. Maybe it was something Yuhna had said, Chiasa thought to herself. In a quiet tone, Chiasa replied to Yuhna’s statement, “perhaps…”
Carrying on as usual, Yuhna quickly jumped topics. Simply speaking whatever came to mind for the sake of conversation.
“By the way, did you hear about the building accident?”
“Yea... I actually saw it on my way back.”
“Oh really? How was it? Did it look bad?”
“I’m not sure, I was on a bullet train, so I didn’t get a good look.”
“Report says that over 20 people were already presumed dead. That must have been horrible don’t you think? Suddenly having the world removed from beneath your feet. The sky collapsing on top of you. There’s probably people still trapped in the wreckage.”
“Yea, I could only imagine. It’s gotta feel like a nightmare.”
Chiasa rubbed her hand against the nape of her neck, massaging out the weighted stress she’d been enduring all week. Light passing through the window illuminated the contour of her figure as she sat in the passenger’s seat with her legs crossed. The night lights of a big city like Tokyo were mesmerizing to say the least, but could often be exhausting on the contrary. It was a vast difference from the more rural neighborhood Chiasa was raised in back in Kyoto. She’d been living in Tokyo for over three years now, but ever since the first day she moved here, she’s been troubled by an odd feeling of nostalgia above all else.
Chiasa raised her head as she caught a glimpse of the Tokyo Tower lurking behind the cityscape. “Shouldn’t we be going in the opposite direction?” she asked; curiosity meddling in her tone. “There’s a delay, so we’re passing straight through the city.” Yuhna expressed. She took a quick glance over at Chiasa, then jokingly asked “What, you don’t like road trips?” Chiasa looked out at the towering structure, peering over all of Tokyo; her gaze shifting upwards as they drove closer towards it. Without answering, Chiasa pulled her feet out of her shoes as she leaned back in her seat relaxing herself for the rest of the ride home.
Over an hour later, they pulled up in front of Chiasa’s apartment building and bid their farewells. Yuhna offered to help carry her things in, but Chiasa reassured her that she’d be fine on her own. Yuhna then mentioned that she’d see her at school the next day, and promised to buy her lunch for showing up late, before driving off and leaving Chiasa to herself. After watching Yuhna’s car take off down the road, Chiasa gathered her belongings and headed inside.
Struggling with carrying her luggage down the hall, as Chiasa neared the door to her apartment, she tossed her bags ahead of her to relieve her body of the stress. Exhausted, she unlocked her door and kicked her bags through the entry, but they didn’t go too far. As she reached down to grab a hold of one of the bags, she noticed a something sitting a few inches in front of her.
She dragged her bags inside, closed the door behind her, and picked it up off the ground. It was a red paper crane. Nothing more, nothing less. She examined it carefully. Curious as to what it was meant for, and how it could have ended up in her apartment.
She held it with the tips of her fingers; spinning it around trying to make sense of it for a while, but figured it wasn’t worth the effort.
Eager to get some rest before she headed to class in the morning, Chiasa placed the letter on her nightstand and got herself ready to head to bed.
The Sun peaked itself at the top of the sky, showering its luminosity on all of Tokyo. It was exactly 12p.m. on a Friday afternoon, and Chiasa had just departed from her early morning class. Yuhna handed Chiasa a shiny new phone, freshly packaged with a new service and ready to go. Chiasa had been having complications with her past service provider and had been eager to make the switch for some time now. Yuhna landed a concierge position at the Kinetic Mobile Headquarters back in January, and was finally able to slip Chiasa a steal of a deal on a new contract. “I figured you’d want to use the phone right away so I set everything up already, you just have to log in to your account. Everything else is in the bag.” Chiasa fetched her aging cell from her purse and compared it with the newer, sleeker handset she had just been given. “I still have the same number, right?” she questioned while analyzing the two. “Yea, it’s been transferred, you still have to load your contacts once you’ve connected your account, it may happen automatically I think.” Yuhna explained. “Thanks, Yuhna,” she mentioned, slipping the two phones in to her bag. “Iie, zenzen. It’s no problem for me.” Yuhna assured with a warm smile. “If you’re all set, let’s get out of here before someone starts asking questions.”
With time to spare before the end of their break, the two girls stopped by a coffee shop that Yuhna frequented during her lunches in between class. They picked a seat at a window side table; Chiasa set herself down while Yuhna headed up to the counter to make the order. When Yuhna returned back to the table, Chiasa was yet again fixated on the outside world through the window beside her. Yuhna curiously asked her “What is it that you’re always searching for outside of these windows?” Chiasa smirked a bit, then replied “Nandemonai… it’s nothing in particular, I just like to look. It’s calming.” Yuhna leaned forward and peered through the window as well in search of her own fulfillment. Chiasa looked towards her and laughed, “You can’t just look, that’s not how it works. You’re only people watching.” Yuhna took a deep breath as she pulled away from the window, leaned back in to her chair and uttered “zenzen wakarahen. I don’t get it.” The two of them began to laugh at the delight of their eccentric friendship. They only met each other during the first semester of college, but they’ve already become this close of friends. Chiasa once told Yuhna in confinement that all of her past friendships while living in Kyoto would stop at the surface, but for some reason she felt a level of comfort within Yuhna. Ever since then, they have grown incredibly close to the point that they will refer to each other as sisters whenever they’re around strangers. But recently Chiasa was becoming skeptical at the fact that Yuhna barely spoke of herself or her family.
The waitress arrived to the table with their order, breaking their conversation for the moment. Yuhna had ordered her usual earl grey tea, while Chiasa had a medium café au lait. As the waitress placed their drinks neatly on the table, Chiasa was dazzled by a rose gold ring that she had over her index finger. She remained focused upon the waitress even as she made her way back towards the front counter. Chiasa was often captivated by sudden treasures that would divert her attention; a trait that Yuhna often pointed out as a bad habit. “Yuhna, where have we seen that ring before?” Chiasa queried. “What ring?” Yuhna disjointedly questioned. “The ring – on her finger.” Chiasa was almost taken away by her own thoughts. That simple piece of accessory had yanked her focus from the grips of her own control. Annoyed, Yuhna tried to lure Chiasa back into the conversion by asking about her visit to Kyoto. She paused for a moment before giving a casual reply. “It was the same as usual I suppose. Well, besides the fact that I was actually there for a school assignment and not just to visit my family.” After taking a sip of her coffee she continued, “Sometimes my mother can really make me feel like a guest in my own home.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“It’s as if I can’t let loose and just be myself in fear of my mother criticizing me all the time.”
Yuhna laughed and mentioned that “all mothers act the same way. They’re just a ball of stress and confusion bundled up like a rubber band ball; and yet they expect you to sort it all out.”
“And am I supposed to?”
Yuhna shook her head, then replied “That would be like submitting defeat. Moms are learning with each step when it comes to their children, just as much as the child themselves are. For as long as you’re a parent, you’re forever learning how to be a parent.”
Chiasa took another sip of her coffee and leaned her head over to the side. “Hmmm, spoken like a true philosopher. I almost can’t even recognize you anymore.” Yuhna giggled and replied, “I must have been a parent in my past life.” They both begin to laugh as if their sense of humor is in total sync with one another. It was certainly an apprizing friendship.
Slowly Yuhna’s laughs began to turn into slight cries of pain. She placed her hand against her forehead and laid her head down on the table. Worried, Chiasa asked what’s wrong. Yuhna replied “Daijoubu, I’ll be alright, it’s just a little headache.” Chiasa warned her that she’s had that headache since the beginning of the week, and suggested that she see a doctor. Yuhna argued that going to the doctor was over dramatic, and she’ll just head home early for today and get some rest rather than going to her afternoon class. As usual, Chiasa left her to make her own decisions and reluctantly refrained from trying to convince her any further.
The two of them grabbed their things and headed outside. Yuhna turned to Chiasa and asked if she could take notes for her in return for her buying lunch, which angered Chiasa whom snapped back saying that Yuhna had owed her for showing up late last night. Yuhna somehow managed to ease Chiasa’s tension yet again, and they both said their goodbyes before walking off in opposite directions.
As Chiasa trotted down the busy streets of Japan’s metropolitan center, she began imputing her data into her new phone, navigating through pedestrians with her focus pasted on to her handset. “Hey,” someone called out to her, but it had flown completely past her attention. … “Hey,” the voice called again, this time a touch louder. Still, Chiasa had yet to catch wind of it. She kept on forward as if deaf to the outside world. “Hey!” Chiasa’s heart jumped at the lurid shriek. She looked around her surroundings only to find herself halfway through a crosswalk. She had walked straight out in to the middle of the road without realizing. A driver stuck behind her leaned out through the window as he furiously told her to get out the way. Chiasa was startled by her confusion. As she stepped forward, a speeding car punched past only inches apart from her, nearly running her over. She sprung backwards and lost her footing, causing her to tumble to the ground as her phone launched itself from her clasp. Frightened, Chiasa scuffled to calm her nerves. Eventually she came to her senses and picked herself up from off the floor, grabbing her phone along the way. She scurried across to the other side of the road, safely making it by in one piece. Chiasa couldn’t understand what had just happened; how she could have allowed herself to step so far out of focus. She peered back at the center of the road, detoxing her mind about the near-death experience. She felt a strange ambiance ruffle her skin. Nonetheless, Chiasa carried on back to campus as usual.
After leaving her afternoon lesson Chiasa dashed off to her evening seminar, only to get there earlier than the professor. Exhausted, she took her seat and leaned back into her chair as she tried to relax within the few minutes she had available to her. She cocked her head back into the palm of her hands. Falling deep within the depths of the stillness in the atmosphere. A stillness so soothing it reminded her of the warmth of a mother’s hand wrapped around her child.
Abruptly, she was yanked from her sanctuary. That one, inescapable, flick of dandruff caught in the wind, unnecessary thing of existence had come to haunt her right on time every week. Her name was Reiko Honshou
“Oi, Chiasa!” Her voice rang throughout the classroom.
How irritating, Chiasa thought to herself. She could recognize that tone of voice even if she had fallen deaf. It was such a disturbingly striking sound that it resonated with none other than a kitchen knife being jammed through the back of her skull. Chiasa was reluctant to respond at first. Weighing her options thoroughly; she figured it would be best to stay as still as possible, with hopes that she would blend in with the once ideal atmosphere that had all too soon been disrupted. Or maybe if she could concentrate hard enough, she’d simply vanish for the time being. Yup, that would be perfect, Chiasa thought to herself.
Unexpectedly, the feeling of a burning sting that wouldn’t subside until she had whole heartedly acknowledged the beast in front of her gnawed at her forehead. Without any other options left, Chiasa felt as though she was at ends meet. She slowly lifted one eyelid open. Bringing herself back into the painful reality of which she existed.
As she opened both of her eyes. She couldn’t help but take notice of the ignorant smile that was always stitched across Reiko’s face. She stood there with her right arm forward, hovering above Chiasa’s head. As if confessing to the fact that she had just slapped her with that very hand. The culprit, as guilty as ever, Chiasa thought to herself. She let out a sigh of forfeit. Yet again, appeasing to Reiko’s rambunctiousness. Reiko tilted her head, slightly in confusion; or as Chiasa would say, in complete stupidity. By now, Chiasa saw no other choice but to lean forward and properly acknowledge her.
“Oi Chiasa! It’s only past 3. Are you tired already?”
“I’m just taking a break that’s all.”
“Because you’re tired, right?”
“Reiko… Shut up.”
“What, don’t get mad at me, you’re the one flapped out all over your chair.”
“And you’re the one still talking!”
“Mnnn,” Reiko retorted; tongue stuck halfway out of her mouth, having failed to conjure up a craftier comeback. She tossed her belongings atop the desk and collapsed herself into the seat beside Chiasa’s. They sat for a few seconds in a solemn silence. Reiko scrolled through her phone indulged in news articles about the recent building collapse. Chiasa pulled herself upright, easing her body over on to her desk. She dragged her hands upwards over her face and shuffled her fingers through her hair.
“Today’s been moving really slow. I literally can’t last another conscious three hours,” Chiasa sobbed out loud.
As she turned her head to look at Reiko, she was met with none other than that same expression as always. Head tilted way to the side, with her face bearing a ‘what?’ expression. Such an innocent expression. Innocent and stupid. “What is it Reiko?” Chiasa demanded in a despised voice, “what is it that you want to tell me about? I see it plastered all over your face.” Reiko locked her phone screen and turned her body so that the two of them were now fully facing each other. Chiasa squinted her eyes, trying to anticipate what kind of ruse Reiko had up her sleeves.
“Do you know the Room?”
“What?” Chiasa was utterly confused by the question. Reiko giggled at the joy of, for once, having the in on something that Chiasa had yet to know anything about.
“The Room. Ever heard of it?”
“No, not that I can remember.”
Reiko fondled her fingers and gave an ill-behaved chuckle underneath her breath, as if she’d concocted a ploy of some sort. “Quit giggling already,” Chiasa demanded; fed up with the back and forth games Reiko loved to play.
“You’re interested, aren’t you?”
“Is that all that’s important to you?”
“Can’t you just say it for once?”
“Go figure, Reiko.”
Reiko jabbed her tongue out towards Chiasa again. It was her usual way of “not” submitting defeat in a losing argument. “Well, I’ll tell you anyways, only because I think you might actually wanna hear it.” Finally appearing to have put the games aside, Reiko began explaining to Chiasa what it was that she had been so eager to let out.
“So, there’s been this ‘talk’ sort of, about how our world and the digital world are connected to one another.”
“Yea, just like, you know, the internet and everything. In other words, we’re just like computers; and we connect to each other like a network.
“Therefore, what you’re saying is, we’re all just a real-life game simulator or something?”
“No, no. It’s not like that. We’re real, we exist, but we supposedly work just like a computer does, and we’re surrounded by a web. It’s not… touchable, but it’s there. And we can tap in to it, just like a computer connecting to the internet.”
“What did you do, Reiko, have lunch with a Gypsy during break? You sound like a maniac prophet. One of those doomsday preachers.”
“No way, I’m being serious this time. Just listen”
“Go for it, Reiko. I’m still listening?
“Good to know. Now at one point a scientist theorized that we are actually no different than computers, and that the same network that we browse on our PCs and phones, is in fact the same web thingamajig bridging us to one another.”
“By bridging us together, you mean…?”
“Our senses.” She held out her hands in a plead for Chiasa to run with her explanation; familiar with how Chiasa tends to check out of conversations she finds uninteresting. “For example, we’re at a coffee shop. I see a coffee cup; you see a coffee cup as well, right?”
“And the reason why?”
“Because it’s there.”
“True, but also, because we’re both receiving the same flow of information. We’re tapped in to the same network that’s telling us that; well, there’s a cup right here—and it’s filled with coffee—and it’s hot. Now, compare that to two computers accessing the same website. Do you follow?”
“Reiko… I have to say it, every now and then you spark my attention, but seriously… what on earth are you telling me right now?”
“Forget about the point for a second, Chiasa. Just, do you follow?”
“Yea, I understand, if that’s what you want.”
“Okay, good, because it gets better. So, attempting to prove this theory, a scientist created a code on a computer that would supposedly tap into our senses. Bridging the gap between us and computers; and if it worked, proving that we are actually tied to the same network. This code was known as ‘the Room’, and eventually became known as the ‘One Room Curse’.”
Begging to carve away at her stern grounding, Reiko told her story as if it was some sort of mysterious urban myth passed down from generations past. To her own surprise, Chiasa actually found herself a bit interested in the conversation. “So, what’s next?” She keenly questioned.
“Well, apparently after activating the code, it ran rampant and leaked on to the internet affecting other people’s computers. You would receive it as a pop-up asking you, Do you know--. Regardless if you cancelled the pop-up before it finished its question, it would still create other webpages of the same pop-up, constantly trying to finish out its statement. At one point, someone received the pop-up on their computer, but because he was on a desktop pc he thought he could best it by plugging his computer out.” Reiko paused in between sentences; disappointingly shaking her head side to side. Chiasa listened in feverishly. “It carried on regardless. Finishing its question. “Do you know the Room?”
“Then what happened?”
“Who knows, he went missing a week after. His mother went to wake him up after she’d realized he was about to be late for work, but he wasn’t in his room. He hasn’t showed up since.”
Chiasa pulled back, a bit let down by the outcome of Reiko’s story. This is exactly why I never let you work me up, she thought back to herself. However, it turned out that Reiko had only just begun her mysterious tale. She continued onwards, grasping Chiasa’s attention yet again.
“When authorities first came across the One Room Curse, it was found in the bookmarked history of a young girl after having committed a murder of a classmate at school. She was only in the sixth grade. It was interesting to them because the term the Room was already being spoken about throughout Japan. The murder was gruesome and bloody; she slit the throat and wrists of her classmate for apparently no reason during lunch time, then just returned to class covered in blood. Rumor has it that when the teacher whom discovered the body went in to the classroom, the walls were all covered in blood.”
“From a child’s body?”
Reiko nodded in response. “Every corner of it. After questioning the student, all she would ask was, “Do you know the Room?”
“So why is it called the One Room Curse?
“When forensics got on scene, they noticed something odd.”
“Yea, apparently as soon as they would carry any evidence from the room where the girl was killed, none of it would exist anymore.”
“That’s impossible, it doesn’t even make much sense.”
“Well, at first they almost didn’t even notice it was happening. It was a rookie worker who tried to turn around and re-swab a blood sample after realizing that the blood on the previous sample had disappeared. He thought he had forgotten and rushed back to the scene. Thinking it had been a simple mistake, until the blood vanished again. He had no choice but to contact his coworkers and ask them to check their DNA samples. They all reported the same thing, the samples were empty.”
“That’s kind of strange. What was happening to it?”
“It gets worse, when they returned to the scene, they couldn’t locate the room anymore.
“It came across more as though they had all forgotten where it was. The homeroom teacher tried to help escort them to the room by following and counting the room numbers. But that’s when everything got even more strange.”
“How so? They still couldn’t find it?”
“Think about it Chiasa, where do Elementary School kids eat their lunch.”
“In their classroom, of course.”
“Exactly, now where did the killing happen.”
“I assumed it happened in the classroom. Unless I’m missing something. Actually, no, she went back to her classroom after she killed her, right? So, it happened somewhere else?”
“No, you were right the first time. It happened in the classroom. In their classroom. The same one the entire class had supposedly been eating lunch in.”
“So, what are you heading at.”
“The girl killed her classmate in her classroom, then walked back to her classroom covered in blood. But how? They both shared the same homeroom.”
“There are plenty of rooms in the school though, she could have done it in either one of them.”
“But what I’m trying to tell you is that she didn’t. After the homeroom teacher led them to the room number he had reported, he realized that something wasn’t right. It was his exact classroom. Room 6-2. I mean, he didn’t even recognize the rooms were the same when he first made the report, as if he couldn’t make the connection that his room number, and the number of the room that the murder happened in were the same. It wasn’t until he saw it with his own eyes. When they peered in to the room, as you could expect, there was nothing wrong with it, it was exactly as he had left it. No blood, no investigation, no nothing. They double checked the report, but there was no mistaking it, 6-2 was the room. But the teacher remembered clearly exiting his classroom and walking to the room where the student was murdered; but according to the details, they were apparently the same room.”
“Well, somebody had to have still been at the scene. I mean how fast does the police do their investigations?”
“Well it was obvious that the girl had been murdered by her classmate, so the investigation was already over, but there had been a cleaning crew already on scene given that it was a school.” The forensics workers got the number to the cleaning crew and tried calling them, but it never went through.”
“So, everything just disappeared? There’s got to be some sort of logical explanation. What happened to the girl’s body? Did it disappear after being removed from the room too?”
“No, the body made it out in one piece, and so did the cleaners. They found them walking through the hallways making their way out of the building. They stopped them and questioned them of course, but all they said was that they had been cleaning the room and left as soon as they finished. When one of the cleaners turned back towards the classroom after hearing what everyone had to say, sure enough the room had become invisible to him also. As if it was never there. Ever since then, the story has been known as the One Room. The one room that never was. . .”
“So, what happened to the programmer that created the virus?”
“Get this, they eventually traced the Room website back to him. When police showed up at his house to question why he made the site, they found him hunched over his computer, dead. On the computer screen was a red page and a repeating audio of the words “Do you know the Room?” Since then, people have been reporting that once you receive ‘the Room pop-up’, you either die of a seizure, or go insane like the school girl did. Or even worse, end up missing.”
“I don’t get it, how could a computer virus cause something like that to happen?”
“Because we’re connected, Chiasa. It’s no different than a computer catching a virus over the internet and acting sporadically because of it. The scientist created the code to infect our minds with a digital virus, proving that not only do we operate like a computer, but we operate on the same network like one does too.”
“Reiko… That sounds stupid. Do you believe that story to be true? Besides I’ve never heard of the Room, or a school girl massacring her classmate.”
“Well they covered it up.”
“Because if it gets out that it’s true, and that you can infect a person’s mid with a computer virus; there’s no guessing what it would lead to. Criminals would exploit it; governments would use it in cyberwarfare. It could be catastrophic.”
“Whatever, I’m not buying any of it. Besides, it’s just some story you heard, Reiko.”
“It’s called Rinne.”
“The book, it’s titled Rinne, you should check it out.
Reiko was so engaged in her own conversation that her eyeballs’, fueled by overexcitement, had popped completely out of her head… Or so Chiasa imagined it. Chiasa gave herself a slight smack on the cheeks as a bit of a last resort. Just in case she was actually caught in a bad nightmare. She wiped her eyes with the lower palms of her hands and without her wanting to, an unworldly “bleh” sound escaped from her mouth.
“It’s not true, Reiko.”
“Well, why not?”
“Because it sounds ridiculous”
“It could still be true. You saying that just proves how naïve you are, Chiasa.”
Chiasa held her head up straight and fixated her sight on Reiko. The two girls stared at each other as if caught in a standoff. Either side unwavering.
“I just came back from a long commute last night; I didn’t get any sleep until after 2am. You’re waaaaay too much for me right now, Reiko. Please stop”
Reiko scoffed at Chiasa’s repudiate mindset. “You’re like a brick wall.” Chiasa paid her no mind at all, only confirming Reiko’s insult even further. “You lack freedom of thought.” She chanted towards her. “Oh, will you shut up already Reiko.” Chiasa indignantly retorted. “You don’t have to get pissed off because I don’t believe your stupid fairytale.” Having dug deep underneath her skin, Reiko fixated her mouth to reply, but unsurprisingly couldn’t garner the right words to say.
Right at that very moment, the professor teared in to the room. Grabbing everybody’s attention as he smacked a stack of papers on top of his desk.
“Gomen. I had to turn around and head back to my office because I forgot to carry your pop quizzes with me.”
“Heh! Nani, nani nani nani nani.” Reiko anxiously grabbed a hold of Chiasa’s sleeve and tugged at it in a nervous reaction.
“Yes, yes. Clear your tables and let’s get this started. We have a long class today.”
Already mentally exhausted, Reiko slapped her face against her desk and began sobbing like a young child. Seemingly defeated as well, Chiasa hung her head low and melted away in to her seat.