Chapter 4:

10 Years Ago (Part 4)


The Deal with Sora

We survived the first week of Lectures and now finally the weekend has dawned upon us. This particular Saturday we decided to go to a coffee shop, Emi had found a coffee shop near the campus and it was so cute, it was one of those aesthetic-y coffee shops that you would only read about in books or see in movies, it was perfect!

Emi and I arrived first, and while I ordered myself a regular cappuccino, Emi went ahead and ordered what looked like a three-course meal. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but she did order a sandwich, coffee, cookie, and cake pop.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” she says, as always.

We grab our stuff, walk to the nearest table to sit down, and wait for the boys to come. Emi tucks into her food while I take a tiny sip of my coffee almost burning my mouth, I set my cup aside to let the beverage inside cool down and proceed to take out my textbook and pencil case to go over a few things.

“So, what’s going on between you and Kazuki?” Emi asks all of a sudden.

“Nothing,” I shrug.

“Oh. That’s a shame,” she says, dejectedly.

“Why is that a shame?” I ask with a chuckle.

“Because I think the both of you would be cute together,” she shrugged.

“What?” I asked.

She sighed and leaned forward as if she was going to tell me a great secret.

“Look, I know Kazuki. We’ve been friends forever and he’s like a brother to me, so I know what goes on in that ‘size of a walnut’ brain of his. And the only thing that’s swirling in there is Reiko… Reiko… Reiko…” she echoed my name.

I still was finding it hard to believe that a catch like Kazuki would ever find interest in a girl like me, we were both the opposites and I couldn’t imagine him going out with me let alone being seen with me.

“Hey,” Emi got my attention by snapping her fingers in my face.

“Emi, I love You. But if you snap your fingers at me one more time, I swear I will break them off and make you eat them.” I leaned forward staring into her eyes before leaning back and taking a sip of my coffee.

Emi looked taken aback for a few seconds before she burst out laughing.

“See I knew there was a reason why I liked you! Underneath this angel exterior is a demon waiting to jump out and fight.” She winked.

“For the love of God, Emi. Must you be so loud? Kazuki and I could hear you from the other side of the road” we heard and turned our heads to where the voice came from to see Daisuke and Kazuki in front of us.

“Boys!” Emi yelled with her arms spread out.

“Shh!” Daisuke shushed her.

Daisuke and Emi were also opposites now that I think about it, while she was outgoing and loud that’s how quiet and docile, he was. But they were a cute couple, they both completed each other and that’s what made them unique as both individuals and a pair. Maybe Kazuki and I will be the same.

“Hi, Reiko” Kazuki smiled sweetly.

“Hi,” I smiled back.

“Just jump him already.” I heard Emi mumble to me before I lightly elbowed her.

The boys grabbed their coffees too, Daisuke had a black coffee and sandwich whereas Kazuki got an iced coffee and bagel. The four of us sat in a comfortable silence doing our assignments occasionally talking when one of us needed an extra pen or piece of paper. An hour later we were finally done.

“Phew! I never knew how ruthless these Professors are! I mean just the first week and they’re already loading us with work!” Emi huffed while resting her head on Daisuke’s shoulder.

“Hey, can I ask you guys a question, if you don’t mind that is,” I ask.

“Sure,” Daisuke spoke up.

I suddenly felt very self-conscious as all eyes from around the table were on me.

“So, what exactly is the deal between you guys and Sora,” I asked.

Emi quickly sat straight whereas the boys exchanged a glance, that comfortable silence was now replaced with tension so thick you could cut with a knife. I opened my mouth to apologise and quickly change the subject but Emi beat me to it.

“Might as well tell her guys, she is a part of us now. Besides, it looks like Sora is targeting her now because of us anyways, judging by that fact, Reiko does have the right to know, and I know, we can trust her.” She explains.

I was getting even more confused as well as curious by the minute, again the boys exchanged a quiet glance, and a few seconds went by before Kazuki takes a deep breath, he turns, looks into my eyes, and smiled, he grabs my chair and pulls it closer so we’re all sort of huddled together, they all managed to drop their voices down so no one could hear them, as they took turns in telling the story.

“Sora used to be a part of us, we used to be close, or should I say our families were close, they were all friends so we grew up together in Tokyo. The four of us used to do everything together. Sora was interested in mythologies; Japanese, Indian, Greek, you name it! He used to ask us to perform some rituals with him but because most of them included a sacrifice we decided against it.” Kazuki starts.

“So that’s why you guys don’t like him? Because he believes in that stuff?” I ask, confused and a little surprised.

“No! Of course not. He can believe in anything he wants. But because of that, we ended up making a mistake.” Emi continues.

“What happened?” I ask.

The two looked at Daisuke who decided to tell the rest of the story, “Sora told us to partake in something that he wanted to do, he swore that no blood sacrifice would be required just unity. This he got from Greek Mythology; it was a ‘Dionysian bacchanal’ which held to honour the God Dionysius. I can tell by your face you’re confused, so were we, but this isn’t why we started to hate the guy.” He took a sip of his coffee and cleared his throat before continuing.

“We were on our summer break when Sora came up to us and told us that he wants all of us to perform a ritual together. At first, we were hesitant as I’m sure anyone would be when it comes to strange things like this, but Sora assured us that no matter what nothing bad will happen. Anyways the four of us left early in the morning, packed in Daisuke’s car and left for some nearby woods, Sora had a big bag filled with alcohol and other intoxicants. When we got there, we walked inside where it was a bit dark. Sora then explained that when consuming alcohol and other things, we need to clear our mind, what were the words he used?”

“Freed from typical social constraints so we could achieve a transcendent state of being and potentially have a direct encounter with God himself,” Emi told us while swirling the coffee cup in her hand.

“You’re joking right?” I asked.

“No, but I can assure you we had the same reaction.” Kazuki shrugged.

“Anyways, I’ll continue. So, we agreed because he made it sound so… amazing. So, we drank it and went into a state of complete unconsciousness but this was the weird part we were conscious like we could move we just weren’t aware of it, and then he made us do some dance that was also part of the ritual, we did it and I don’t know how these two felt but I felt light like it was strange but good strange. It was something I never felt before, but I wish to never experience that again. Because the events that followed were horrific!” he grimaced.

“What happened?” I asked.

“When we woke up, it was completely black out and we were all naked with nothing but a white sheet on top of each of us, our clothes were all burned and ripped apart, but what horrified us was the dead deer lying just a couple of feet away. The deer had its head ripped off; it was gruesome!” Emi added.

I felt sick to my stomach because of that dreadful image that popped up in my head, my stomach felt queasy and I wanted to throw up. Emi didn’t look too good herself, it looked as if she was either going to cry or pass out.

“Daisuke, take Emi out, and I’ll tell Reiko the rest of the story,” Kazuki told him.

Daisuke nodded and held Emi taking her home, Kazuki moved his chair closer so we were sitting even closer than before, and he dropped his gaze down as he held my hands for comfort, I gave his hands a slight squeeze and he looked up with a slight smile, before taking a deep breath and continuing.

“When we gained full consciousness, we realised that Sora was nowhere to be found, panicking we all looked around but we couldn’t find him anywhere. We scrambled up and made our way back. The three of us couldn’t sleep at all because every night the horrifying images of us ripping that deer apart kept coming back up, it was like a reoccurring nightmare that happened!”

“So, you’re all mad at him because of that?” I asked.

“Well, we should be but that’s not the main reason. The main reason is that Sora didn’t perform the ritual! It was just us three, it was like he used us to make sure that this entire thing was real. And trust me it was! When we went back the next day when we asked him, he confessed to everything! He didn’t even try to deny or pretend! What got us mad was that if instead of the deer it was a person, then the three of us could’ve gotten done with murder!” Kazuki looked away angrily.

“We couldn’t even tell anyone because we know they would never believe us, instead we were afraid they’d send us to some mental asylum instead because honestly, it does sound mental! Anyways, we stopped being friends with him so it was just us three, and the reason why we chose this University was that it would be far away from the incident and him, but fate brought us all together again, anyways that pretty much brings us up to date” he shrugged.

I needed a minute to process all the information, I needed a breather so I took a deep breath and squeezed his hand making him look at me, “Hey, no matter what I’ll always believe you.”

A smile broke out on his face before he nodded, ‘Thank you, Reiko.”

I nodded and we both went back to our coffees, mine was cold now and he was drinking Ice Coffee anyways so he had no issues.

“That must be ice cold now,” he nodded towards my coffee.

“No, it’s okay,” I waved off.

He leaned forward, ‘No it’s not.”

He got up and ordered me a fresh cappuccino, once my coffee was ready, he brought it back and threw away my first one.

“Here you go,” he smiled.

“Thank you. I’ll pay you back,” I smiled.

“No. You don’t need to,” he shook his head.

“Well, I owe you something for the coffee,” I chuckled.

“Okay fine. There is one way you can pay me back.” He smirked.

“How?” I raised an eyebrow.

He gestured with his hand to come closer, and when I did, he also leaned in.

“You can attend my lecture instead of me,” he whispered before sitting back.

I did the same and gave him a questioning look.

“What? They are SO boring!” he groaned.

A few seconds later we burst out laughing, that tension that was once in the air a while ago had completely vanished like it wasn’t there in the first place, and we were both sitting in a comfortable silence after laughing heartedly.

“Hey, umm Kazuki, can I ask you a question?” I asked, finally gaining some courage.

“Yeah, sure. What’s up?” he asked.

“Do you… do you maybe wanna… do you maybe wanna go on a date?” I asked quickly and closed my eyes.

“With who?” he asked.

I internally face palmed; I knew boys were oblivious but I didn’t know they were this… stupid!

Kazuki must’ve realised the look on my face because he laughed.

“I’m joking, Reiko. And yes, I would,” he smiled.

“Great!” I grinned.

“By the way, am I not the one who’s supposed to be asking?” he raised an eyebrow.

“Firstly, it’s the 21st Century girls can be the ones to initiate a date first and secondly you were taking your sweet, sweet time so I decided to do it” I shrugged with a saucy wink.

“Cheeky,” he shook his head with a slight smile.

“Let’s go, Emi and Daisuke might be wondering where we are,” I told him while getting up.

“Right. If I don’t get you home by a certain time, Emi will kill me.” He laughed.

We grabbed our things and made our way home where Emi and Daisuke were indeed waiting for us.