She won’t let us escape?
The cogs in my brain start spinning, weary and weathered. Nonetheless, they don’t fail to catch onto something.
Doesn’t that mean it’s possible for ALL of us to escape?
So whatever Kazuya was told… was a lie!
“So he died for nothing, huh…?” I mutter, my face contorting in anger.
Misaki quickly catches on, “You mean, the foolish human that betrayed you?”
“I was merely testing how much your loyalty… your bonds could withstand. At the end he just proved my point.” Misaki smirks, her eyes fixated on me.
“You…” I mutter under my breath.
We need to escape. For Kazuya’s sake too.
We can’t fight her…
Maybe… Just maybe…
“Misaki.” I address her, and despite not looking amused, turns to look at me nonetheless “You can’t kill us all. If we all run for it, you’re bound to miss, if not all of us, then at least 2.”
“What are you implying? How do you know I can’t just snap my fingers and instantly kill you all?”
“You don’t have that kind of power; you couldn’t even possess Hotaru. Your own “creation”.”
“Ah, the rebel? Do not be fooled, I’ve already disposed of her…”
Noriko gasps silently “Hotaru…”
“Point still stands. She had enough time to help us, meaning we will have enough time to escape before you kill us all.”
“Heh, you’re rather smart for such a foolish human.” She smiles menacingly, and steps forward “So what are you proposing?”
I look over at the utterly confused Ayase, and Noriko’s tear-stricken face. With Mayu’s weight on my arms, I’m once again reminded how pressed for time we really are.
With a deep breath to strengthen my resolve once and for all, I voice plainly and calmly.
“Take me. Let the others go.”
“Eh?!” Ayase instantly shakes her head, and stomps forward. “Hideki?!”
“Ho…” There’s a new glint in Misaki’s eyes as she raises a hand and Ayase magically halts her furious advances towards me.
“What is this?! Let me go!”
“You’ll get your kill 100%... Just let those 3 go unharmed. I won’t run, nor resist you.”
“Hideki-kun, you can’t do this!”
“Hideki, you complete and utter idiot I will kill you before—“
With a snap of Misaki’s fingers, an invisible wall rises around me and her, the voices all around us dissipating, gone.
“What makes YOU special?”
“You once said… we were alike, right?”
With another calm answer, I edge closer to my death. Yet, despite that I am well aware of the nature of my decision. I’m only doing this to satisfy my selfishness. I couldn’t bear to lose Ayase nor Mayu. Not even Noriko. If somebody has to die…
My stomach churns at the thought, yet I don’t waver. I’m prepared to lay my life on the line.
"Heh… I accept your offer." She smiles coldly, and snaps the wall away from us. Ayase tries to punch me right away, yet I dodge just in time, and her fist flies a hair past my face.
“Are you out of your mind?!” As she lunges at me again, I walk past her attack and hand the still unconscious Mayu over to Noriko.
She looks up at me, her face full of uncertainty and confusion “Hideki-kun?”
“Take care of them both for me, Noriko. And yourself too.” I try to smile through the uncertainty and pat her head.
“Hideki-kun don’t…” Her lips tremble, clutching Mayu tightly.
As Ayase lunges at me again, I catch her in time and hold her steady in my embrace. She flails around, punches and kicks away, as Noriko gets to unlocking the door.
“Do you think you’re being a hero now?!” Ayase grits, a loose tear escaping her eye.
“No. I’m just plain selfish.”
“What about that date?! What about making it out of here?!”
Holding back the growing sadness her pained expression brings me, I squeeze her tighter and tighter.
“I’m sorry, Ayase…. I love you.”
She winces slightly, and I feel her body shaking against mine, like a leaf in the wind. A sinking ship.
“You won’t get away with this…”
“Thank you for everything…” I mutter, and release her. While Ayase opens her mouth to protest again, a voice interrupts her,
“Time’s up.” Misaki snaps her fingers again. This time Ayase freezes in place, like an electric current just ran through her.
I turn to her, eyes glaring. “What did you do?”
“Silence. I put her in a trance so she won’t fight any further.” Misaki turns back to me, eyes blazing “Don’t make me regret my decision…”
I release the anger and ultimately nod. I turn to Noriko who’s staring at us, her face contorting in pain, her eyes fighting the tears.
I never thought I’d meet people in this place, that would cry for me like that.
“Noriko… Goodbye.” I raise a hand, and she instantly casts her gaze low. Ayase walks over to her almost mechanically, and the door separating them from the real world opens to reveal a blinding light on the other side. A light so bright, it coats everything in white, as far as the eye can see.
That’s the world we know…
I’m oh-so tempted to run past Misaki and into the gate. So much so that my knees are almost aching to dash.
But I hold myself.
It was just not meant to be…
That’s what I tell myself, and clench my fist, repressing my desires.
“Hideki-kun….” Noriko turns to me, a final tear escaping her eye. Ayase blindly walks up to the gate, but halts. She turns back, as if unsure, her expression blank. With a last glance, she steps into the light…
Noriko follows suit. With Mayu in her arms, they walk up to the door, and after a long, painful glance, disappear into the gate.
I’m so sorry…
“Fuck…” I mutter, my chest hurting so bad it could burst.
“You belong to me now…” Misaki voices, her tone echoing inside my head.
The door slams shut, and I start walking downstairs, almost as if ordered by a force unknown.
I blindly walk down the hallway, my legs with a will of their own. I’ve somehow managed to hold in the urge to let my emotions take over, yet despite that, all I feel is pain and sorrow. A sorrow so great it’s almost enough to crush my bones.
As I absentmindedly look back out the window, I notice that it's a bright day outside. Almost too bright. It couldn’t be dawn already… That must mean my time is up. For good.
I never got to talk to my mum in the end. I never told Mayu how much I appreciated her. I never hung out with Noriko, my first friend. I never got to play online games with Kazuya... I never got to go on dates with Ayase and I certainly won't live long enough to play that game that's gonna be released tomorrow...
I turn my head to the sound of loud, thunderous footsteps.
The monster that was once human too, is closing in on me, probably acting out of whack since Hotaru had her way with him earlier.
“Haaah…” I release a sigh, as heavy as my heart. “Damnit.”
At least the others are safe...
As I stare onwards, at the creature slowly making its way towards me, my eyes start playing weird tricks on me.
Behind the creature, and further into the hallway, I can barely make out 8 familiar figures, waving at me.
Mayu, my best friend.
Ayase, the girl I love.
Noriko, a pure and kind girl. My first friend, after so many years.
Hotaru, a timid, lonely girl, that laid her life on the line to help us.
Kurosawa-senpai, a guy I never knew much about, but wish I had. If only I could have saved him…
Yoko-senpai, a girl that shared an intimate bond with Mayu. She cared, but just didn’t know how to show it.
Tanaka. A kind middle-aged man. He laid his life on the line for me, knowing he wouldn’t see his family ever again. And now I’m doing the same.
And lastly, Kazuya, a caring, rational young man, who lost to the delusions of the school. If it weren’t for all this, we would probably turn out to be great friends.
As the janitor walks closer to me, I decide to surrender myself to my fate. There's no point in struggling, no point in running.
The monster before me, raises its thick arm and strikes me clean in the head. I'm sent flying quite a few feet back, crushing onto the wall.
My joints hurt and my head is spinning. I open my eyes and feel blood dripping down my head.
“Damn it all..." I mutter to myself, gritting my teeth in pain.
Then, one by one, the hallucinations around me start talking. Whispers, voices. Familiar. Alive.
"What are you doing?"
"Are you just giving up?"
"What about our promises?!"
“What about hope?!”
“What about our dates?!”
All those lines circle my mind, and give me the strength, and the resolve to stand up.
“You just won’t let me die, won’t you?”
I somehow find it in me to jest, as I wipe the blood off my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt, and stand at the ready.
“You’re right… Even if I die, I'm gonna die fighting!" I dust myself off, and smirk “Heh…” Having cooked up a plan, I turn on my heel and start running down the hallway.
"Come get me, you asshole!"
With my successful taunt, the monster rushes after me down the stairs.
“According to Mayu’s pattern, THAT classroom should be…” I tap my chin in thought, as I stop in front of a door on the first floor hallway. “Here!” I slide it open with urgency, and smirk upon seeing I was right. The classroom with the collapsed floor lies before me.
Turning to the sound of a crash, I see the janitor tumbling down the stairs, his eyes fixed on me.
“Come and get me…” I mutter, waiting for the monster to come at me, bracing my legs.
The monster runs and runs as fast as it can, and when it’s finally in close proximity, I turn around swiftly “Back at Osaka, I had the best long-jump out of them all, motherfucker!”
Then I leap, above the darkness and above the rubble, and land exactly across from the door where a piece of the floor is still intact. I turn around hoping to see the janitor falling to his demise, but to my surprise he somehow makes the jump as his big and nasty fingers grab hold of my foot.
"Oh you baAAAH-!" I exclaim, dragged down towards the void too.
“SHIT!” I somehow manage to hold onto the edge of the floor, as my body and the janitor hang above the endless void.
Wincing, my fingers slowly slip "You're goddamn… heavy!!" I shout while trying to shake him away from me, The monster clings to my shoe with all its might, despite that.
I smirk once more, something in my brain clicking.
As the janitor struggles I untie the shoe he's hanging from, causing it slip away from my foot with minimum effort, and into the void beneath. With a heavy and hoarse shriek, the monster meets the same fate.
“Phew…” I quickly climb back up the floor, my arms almost ready to detach and take heavy and shaky breathes in disbelief.
“Haha…” Soon the realization hits me, "I can't believe that worked!” I throw my hands up triumphantly, and turn to my side “Right Ma—“ I halt, before I mention her name.
For a moment I had forgotten all about it... I’m alone.
But she’s probably at the hospital now… So that’s for the best…
Having safely jumped back to the hallway, I’m once again stricken with grief. With trembling feet, I decide to check the door to the rooftop one last time.
Maybe… just maybe…
Don't get your hopes up, Hideki.
I think as I ascend the staircase heading to the door. The door that was our ultimate goal for who knows how long.
As I reach the top, my heart falls at the sight of a plain, closed door.
No ornate locks. No shining light. Despite that, I walk up to it and turn the knob once. Then twice.
I stop, my hand shaking.
Of course it wouldn't open.
For a moment, I stand there staring at it. The door that saved all of us.
All of us but me.
I exchanged their lives for mine… I was selfish… this is what I wanted…
This is what I wanted, so why? Why am I…
As I try to decipher the raging storm within me, a tear rolls down my face.
I told myself I wouldn't cry, damnit!
My knees suddenly give out, and I’m forced to kneel in front of the door, as more tears stream down my face. Uncontrollably, like a waterfall, they flow. In a matter of seconds.
I release everything within me, as I weep in front of the door. The door that probably will never open back up again.
I slam my fist against the frame, my voice shaky
"Don't leave me behind..."
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