“This looks like MY math’s textbook.” Mayu apparently thinks it’s the appropriate time for a joke.
“More like your brain…”
“What’d you say, you punk?!”
Ayase-san, I kindly request you get out of Mayu’s body.
“It’s empty?” Noriko cocks her head to the side, bringing the subject back on track.
I give her a mental thumbs up, before setting the mysterious book back on the table.
“Why is it empty? SHOULD it be empty?” Kazuya looks over to our one and only hope, while we’re all stunted to silence.
The girl in question though, furrows her brows in apparent confusion “I don’t think it should… the feeling I had earlier is gone too…”
“The feeling of danger?”
“And that of usefulness, I presume.”
Me and Ayase on the other hand just speculate away.
“That’s somehow… disappointing.” Even the scared Hotaru seems taken aback by this turn of events.
I sigh in exasperaton, and rest my body at the back of the chair. Only school can make me this frustrated first thing in the morning.
“So… what now?” Mayu, our supposed leader, turns to the rest of the group with a question.
Kazuya is the one to answer first “No clue.”
“Hmmm…” While Noriko just hums silently in thought, like a kettle of some kind.
Suddenly, Ayase raises a hand, to which Mayu points animatedly.
Then, naturally, my girlfriend… Okay this is weird… Turns to me. “Hideki, the floor is yours.”
Confused I point at myself. “Me?”
“You always have some kind of idea.”
“So… do you?” Ayase looks on expectantly.
“I do actually, yeah.”
“Seeee? Told ya so!” Ayase smirks proudly at herself, crossing her arms over her chest.
Okay, why does Mayu sound so surprised?
“That’s Hideki-kun for you…” Hotaru smiles somewhat hesitantly. Okay, I’ll take that as a compliment. Otherwise I would be too hurt to ever speak again.
Maybe I’ve lost my credibility due to the fiasco earlier?
“Ahem!” I clear my throat so I have everyone’s attention.
The inkling I currently have comes from the dream I had earlier tonight. I clearly remember holding a book, inside a familiar library. And of course that “familiar library”, is none other than the one here, right in this school.
After explaining my dream to everyone, I reach my proposal.
“So, if we go there, and take the book with us, we might be able to find something…?”
“That sounds… solid.” Mayu nods along, quite surprised.
And why is she surprised anyway?
“Nevertheless, that was certainly a peculiar dream…” Noriko adds, looking as skeptical as ever.
“Can we really trust such a disturbing dream though?” Kazuya points out.
“I agree, it sounds… dangerous.”
This time Hotaru has an ally in being defiant. Thankfully I’ve got Ayase on board with me too.
“Do we have any other leads to spare?”
“Then we don’t have much of a choice.”
Nice assist, Watson.
With the two of them being defeated, Ayase turns to give me a cheeky grin and a wink.
“Off to the library we go then! Right, Noriko?” Mayu gets up energetically, before our psychic nods.
“Yes. I believe it’s worth investigating.”
And just like that, the first group meeting of the day concludes.
33 Hours left…
After making the necessary preparations, and with the book and keys in tow we head out into the hallways. The yellow light of the sun, filters through the windows, and wraps the hallway we walk down on in a gentle, warm glow. With a destination in mind, and our always-dependable psychic guiding us, we make our way through the school, dead set on getting our answers.
As we traversed the hallways, Noriko pointed out how the malevolence of the school had grown through the night. Meaning the shifting of the rooms has become more frequent, and the forces at play significantly stronger.
Nevertheless, we’ve finally reached our destination, as per Noriko herself.
"You sure it's here, Noriko-san…?" Hotaru is hesitant, yet Noriko nods with confidence.
"Yes, I am quite sure."
I totally get Hotaru’s hesitance. Last time we entered through a set of double doors yet now it's just a single one. I don’t think I’ll ever come close to understanding how this school actually works.
"Just like yesterday..." Ayase mutters, as we all step inside the library,
“Let’s see that book, Mayu.”
As per my beckoning, our cheery leader pulls out the item in question.
And for some reason, hands it to me.
I realize questioning that action would be too time-consuming, and as to not burden our author with insignificant lines, I just sigh instead.
Somehow though, this mysterious book feels significantly heavier than before. For some reason, I have a peculiar feeling. As if I shouldn’t be touching it at all.
“What’s the matter?” Ayase looks over to me, noticing my expression.
“Nothing it’s just….”
"The aura of the book is... a lot stronger than earlier..." Noriko chimes in, as she eyes the item at hand warily. “Hideki –kun?”
“Open it with caution.”
That warning felt real. What exactly IS this book? With a nervous gulp, I grab the cover and flip it open.
Kazuya is the first to comment. “Open it? But it was emp—“
Kazuya was right. It was empty. But clearly, that’s not the case anymore.
The first pages are filled with peculiar, scribbled characters nobody can read, nor comprehend.
Further beyond that, there are small sections of kanji, handwritten ones. They seem fragile and frail, as if they’re gonna erase themselves in case we look away, or be blasted away by a single breeze.
At the top of the first readable page lay the words:
I turn to the others, and gulp, as I begin reading what lies on the page…
I heard the key turn, and then laughter. I think it’s another one of their pranks… they’ll probably let me out soon. I heard the janitor shouting at them too, they’ll be in big trouble. When will this ever stop?
Hours have passed, yet I’m still here. There’s only silence in the school grounds. Someone from the orphanage is bound to notice I’m missing sooner or later. I’m growing hungry. The sun has just set. For how long will I stay here?
The next morning has come. No sign of anyone coming inside the school yet. Did no one notice I was missing? The windows are barred, I can’t break out. I’m really hungry, so I made for the cafeteria. Turns out there was some leftover food. It was cold, and stale, but it didn’t bother me. I think I can hold out 'till someone arrives. There isn’t a problem on water either, since the tap is running just fine.
Still no one here. Did they all leave for summer break? What about the orphanage?
Today I decided to preserve the supplies. There’s not much left after all. What is going on? How long am I gonna be here for? Did they forget about me? What about those that locked me up? Do they have any clue what they’ve done?
My meals are too small, but they’re better than nothing. All I have an abundance of, is water. I pray someone comes to my rescue. Can’t believe it’s been a week since I’ve been here.
Today I went through the last of the food, yet I’m still hungry. I roamed around the school corridors, and they’re all empty. What did I expect? I’m all alone here. It feels so weird. So eerie. I feel helpless. Just waiting.
Today there was a power outage. Everything went dark. I’m so scared. I can’t see a thing. I just shut myself inside a bathroom stall and prayed. There was no sign of anyone coming inside the school yet again. My stomach is so hollow, I can’t even think anymore. The darkness feels so thick, and heavy. Despite being midsummer, the nights have started to grow unusually cold.
Today I woke up in the middle of the night. I thought I heard a voice. Whispers. I followed them, despite trembling like a leaf. If there was at least a slim chance of it being someone who could help, I wanted to take it. But it was not. I must have been hallucinating.
Today I pried the door to the biology class open. I thought I could find something of use in there. There was nothing. The room felt cold. Colder than it should. The weird model on the corner was looking at me the whole time. I could feel it. It was like it could sense my rapidly beating heart. I was scared.
Tonight I was woken up by the same voices. Loud whispers. I followed them again, and they led me to the basement. Maybe someone was in there? The big metallic door was hard to push. Or maybe I was just getting weaker. Inside the room filled with peculiar machinery that had stopped functioning, there was no one. As I turned… something jumped me. It was a big spider. It bit my arm. I ran out and back to the bathroom. It hurt. It hurt, but at least it took my mind off my hunger.
I went to the basement again. I was too scared last night. There was a rumor about a biology teacher conducting weird experiments down there. Maybe it was true. Maybe he was here. Maybe he could help me. But there was no one. Just the same creepy insects crawling on the walls. The same disgusting smell. I just hope that rumor was true. Anything would be better than staying here.
I had enough of waiting. I could feel myself growing skinnier by the day. Weaker. I tried to set some things on fire. Maybe someone would notice the smoke, I thought. I burnt my foot in the process, and the fire quickly died down. It was like I was denied any sort of call for help. Something was toying with me. Laughing at me. I’m feeling like I’m fighting a losing battle.
I can’t do anything to sate my hunger anymore. Water won’t cut it. Even the rats in the basement seem appetizing. I have been completely abandoned. There’s no escape.
The nights feel cold. So cold. I can’t sleep any more. My stomach is hollow.
I can’t keep drinking water. It feels like I’m drowning. I feel like giving up right here and now. Or maybe I have done that long ago?
I think I’m going crazy. Today I stepped on a nail. This can’t be a coincidence. All this suffering. All this misfortune. I can’t even walk properly anymore. but there’s no reason for that anyway. All I can do is wait. I’m gonna die here.
Tonight I heard screams. Wails. It sounded human. But it was not. The darkness is creeping up on me. Waiting to take me. I feel the shadows hugging me every night, whispering to me. I just want this to end. I don’t know what is real and what is not anymore.
Today I couldn’t get up. So I didn’t. I just laid there, waiting.
My strength has depleted completely. Nobody is going to rescue me. Nobody is going to save me. I’m going to die soon. The shadows have become one with me now. They’re not so scary anymore. Feeling all alone is way scarier. I just hope there’s something here with me.
Tonight, I heard the same whispers. I was happy. So happy. They came to take me away. They hadn’t forgotten about me. Only the shadows remembered my existence. Their embrace felt so cold, but so inviting. I want to die.
I just slept today. Slept and slept. Faded in and out of consciousness. My body feels so heavy, like it’s not even mine. So I slept. And soon, eternally.
“What… the hell is all of this?” Kazuya muttered, as we all read through those horrifying entries.
The hairs on my arm were standing up, and my stomach was churning. This was written by Misaki…
“I’m think I’m gonna be sick…” Mayu declared, holding her stomach.
“Guys, there’s one more entry…” I said and flipped the page, as new letters burnt brightly, taking shape underneath the entry of the last day.
In a distorted, almost unreadable font, it read:Đ₳Ɏ 66ł ₩₳₴ ₣ł₦₳ⱠⱠɎ ₣ⱤɆɆ. ₣ⱤɆɆ. ł ₩₳₴ ₣ⱤɆɆ. ₥Ɏ ₦₳₥Ɇ ł₴ ₥ł₴₳₭ł ₳₦Đ ł’₥ ₣ⱤɆɆ.
That was the last entry of the diary.
“I say we leave this book alone, forever.” Ayase shudders, and takes a step back.
“Agreed.” Mayu nods to herself.
I can’t blame them for saying that. If I’m being honest. I felt the same. But why would we need a book like that? What’s so dangerous about it?
Hotaru and Noriko were left completely speechless, as the group stared at each other in silent shock.
As I was holding the book in my hands, I noticed some new letters had started appearing on the page we were just reading from. I couldn’t make out what they were, with how fast they were moving. On closer inspection, they were completely unreadable. Like the frantic scribbles of a madman.
“Hideki!” Noriko exclaimed, as numbers starting appearing on the page.
“What is going on?!” I shouted back. For some reason, the book in my hands has started feeling heavier. And significantly at that. As if the pull from gravity itself was stronger.
“She’s trying to escape!”
She is what?!
Before I was able to shut the book, the letters disappeared altogether, as a strong gust of wind blew throughout the library. We all covered our heads as books flew off the shelves and chairs crushed against the walls in a frenzy of motions. The wind was intentional, and felt like it was gathering around one source.
The ground started shaking violently, as something materialized before our eyes.
The wind was gathering, taking shape around one focal point.
Soon, it had completely formed into one figure.
It was hers.
Hiramatsu Misaki was standing right across from us.
The book had set her free.
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