Stifling quiet hung through the halls. Only the tap of feet echoed around her. Hospitals were already uncomfortable places, but she didn’t feel like she belonged here. While other students enjoyed their after school activities, a heavier matter weighed on Saki. She was on the twelfth floor of the west wing of the Konomoka General Hospital, the psych ward.
This had been a matter that had been weighing on her and trying her emotions since the incident with the assassin. She hadn't known Takako as well as Hitomi had, but she felt a connection with her knowing what she had to have gone through. Hitomi visited her every day after she recovered from the trauma, but Takako hadn’t been so fortunate.
Saki wasn’t clear on all of the medical words that were tossed out. They made one thing clear, they were unable to do anything for her. It was all in her mind beyond the physical injuries that they were able to treat. She wasn’t sure if it was an improvement over how she had been where even getting near would send her into a panic attack.
The nurse in the psych ward looked up from her papers at the desk as Saki’s shadow cast nearby her making her presence announced. “Yes?”
“Uh…excuse me, I’m here to see Takako Yamazaki.”
“Yamazaki…oh she’s been restricted visitors to only specific individuals. What’s your name?”
The wait for Saki seemed to last forever. She knew that she was on the list, because Hitomi had told her that she was given permission by the family. Even wiped of the events, Ayumi said she could not fix the mental damage. Hitomi, at least, had recovered from the experience quickly.
All anyone knew was that Takako, Hitomi and Saki had been kidnapped. An unknown criminal caused the whole incident, but the police caught them. Saki didn’t know of how Ayumi made it all happen, but managed. This left everyone involved with mental trauma. Takako’s family pushed for privacy in the matter.
“Ah here you are! I’ll show you to her room.” The nurse stood up from her chair. She pulled down some keys from the wall before coming around the desk. The woman smiled pleasantly to Saki waiting for her to catch up to her. Ahead, large polished metal doors with wire reinforced glass and dull echoing of voices created an ominous aura. It permeated through the doors ready to grab at her if she made a step towards it.
Chapter 39 – Shattered Thoughts
Saki had a lot of images in her mind of the ward. Each only helped to make her feel like running away. The only thing that kept her going was the guilt. She wasn’t certain if she could do anything to help her, but it was something that she felt she had to do.
The doors opened for her with the nurse following at her side just a step in front of Saki. All of the other patients in the ward were in a varied state of insanity or solemn peace, but every single room was filled that she passed. Saki could not help but look to the nurse for an answer. “Um…is there normally this many…um…”
“Hmm? No, not really. This has only happened in the last two weeks. Normally, we only keep a few cases here that require specific medical treatments, but we are actually helping out the local institution. They’ve reached an unusually high number of cases that they weren't able to keep them all. So we are helping them.”
The nurse looked around through the windows of the rooms as they passed the doors. “I don’t know what’s going on, but there’s been a lot of mass cases of people hallucinating repeatedly. It’s gone largely unreported, but no one knows what’s going on or why it’s affecting so many people. If it keeps up we won’t be able to treat everyone.”
A thud against the door snapped Saki towards it. A face appeared in the window of a half mad middle aged man that had not shaved for a week. “The end is coming! Save yourself!” shouted the man half muted by the glass and metal. Regardless, it knocked her back into the wall behind her. “It’s coming! I’ve seen it! Hell’s on Earth now!”
The nurse rushed over to Saki immediately checking to see if she was hurt. “Miss, are you alright?” Saki was quite unable to speak to the woman as she pulled her away from the wall. “Are you hurt anywhere?” As Saki started to come back to her senses, she could hear the nurse speaking to her. She shook her head, not able to speak yet. “You want to go back?”
It was all a little more than she prepared to face. She couldn't be certain, but the unexplained increase probably had a source. ‘How many times has his power gone wild with us knowing... Yuki’s…he doesn’t know…’ Saki swallowed poorly, getting back to her balance. The woman looked a little unconvinced even with her smiling. “It’s alright. I just got surprised.”
The nurse remained concerned. However, she continued on as Saki insisted. They managed to make it to the room for Takako without further incident. Saki looked through the glass into the room. Takako sat balled up in the corner of the room wearing a hospital gown in a padded cell. Saki looked over to the nurse. “I thought she stopped having outbursts.”
“She did, but the rooms are all the same. Don’t be upset if she doesn’t acknowledge you. She’s been like that for the last few days.” The nurse unlocked the door, not opening it just yet. “Not even her parents.” The woman turned on a smile and happy voice as she entered the room looking over at Takako. “Good afternoon, Miss Yamazaki! You have a visitor!” She turned her head and nodded over to Saki signaling her to enter the room.
“Hey, Takako! It’s Saki from track.” Saki took a few cautious steps forward to Takako, but it was as she had been told. Takako remained still holding her head down against her knees with her legs pulled up and her arms wrapped around. “Takako?”
The nurse placed a hand on Saki’s shoulder to comfort her. “Well I have some rounds to make, but there’s a camera monitoring the room and an emergency button at the door. Just push the button if anything happens or when you’re done. I’ll check back on you in a few minutes.” The woman turned and left the room, locking the door behind her.
Saki made the bold move to walk over to Takako. She sat down next to her against the wall. Nothing came to mind. If she brought up the kidnapping and torture she might relapse. She put her arm around Takako’s back leaning against her and resting her head on her shoulder. “…it’s alright, Takako…”
Nothing happened for Saki or Takako in the way of words, but Saki came out of the visit feeling heavier. She looked back at Takako one last time before the nurse escorted her back down the hall. Saki kept her mind focused and forward away from all of the other patients in the ward. Her mind still sifted through questions and thoughts. “Thank you.” Saki politely bowed to the woman before heading to the elevator.
‘…I wonder if there are others from the warehouse with the same problem…’ She stepped into the elevator alone barely hearing it ding away the floors. ‘…I know what she went through, but that doesn’t seem to help me… Why was I able to recover and Hitomi too? She didn’t even know Yuki…’ The elevator opened letting her walk into the main lobby. ‘…could it be because she didn’t know? Did he torture her even more trying to find something that wasn’t there? But Hitomi didn’t know anything either…’
Saki didn't even know that she had left the hospital. The sun hit her in the face, breaking her thoughts. A loud noise from across the street in a park pulled her focus. She tried to look into the park, but a brick wall surrounded the park. She started to ignore it like everyone else, but there was another loud noise. This time she was listening. It sounded like something metal and heavy crashed into cement. ‘What’s going on in the park? Could it be an assassin?! Is Yuki fighting? He’s supposed to be in the bookstore still…’
Those thoughts were enough to send Saki down the sidewalk. Both of the intersections were too far away. She looked for an opening in traffic. A gap came up in the cars making it her opportunity to sprint. Cars honked at her and slowed down in her reckless move. ‘...please be safe…’
A scene started developing outside of the park. She ran up on the sidewalk and weaved through the small crowd. ‘…this is a public place, why here?’ The noises continued to get louder. They began to be coupled with voices. It came from deeper into the park, but soon Saki could clearly hear a young girl’s voice shouting. They yelled out to another person that was assumed to be Yuki.
“Get back here!” Saki followed the voice. “Stop your running! Are you just a coward?”
She was starting to feel like she was correct that Yuki was the one that was involved. ‘I’ll be there soon, Yuki…’
“I’m really getting tired of your attitude! Fight me!”
The wake of Yuki and the girl became more present. Trash bin laid overturned. There was broken glass spread across the area. She found trampled flowers and broken branches. Saki no longer needed the voices. All the voices did was give her a sense of distance.
Her legs carried her through the bush breaking through with twigs and leaves snagged on her. “Yuki!” An extended leg intended for Yuki appeared in her sight. They forced her to bring up her arms to block and push away the attack protecting Yuki.
The attacker, as Saki discovered, was a young girl. If the uniform was to be judged, a local junior high school. ‘Why is a junior high schooler attacking Yuki?’ She didn’t look like an assassin, but there was the one pretending to be a child she learned about. Saki wasn’t going to take any chances with this girl. She pushed the leg off of her making the girl jump back to reassess her position. “Yuki…” Saki turned around to face him. However, her voice stopped when it wasn’t Yuki, but a stranger wearing her high school’s uniform. “You’re not…”
Saki jumped back taking a position away from the both of them. ‘What’s going on here? This isn’t an assassin… So why is a junior high schooler picking a fight with someone that is three times her size…’ The boy hardly looked like one, if appearances were to be judged. A little short, but broad and thick with muscle, the high school could’ve been an adult.
The girl on the hand was significantly shorter. She looked about what Saki expected from someone her age. A surprising strength appeared to lie with the tiny frame. It was just one kick she took, but the measure didn’t come from an amateur.
The situation didn’t make a lot of sense for Saki. A well built teen boy fled from a pintsized girl. Saki felt like some context was missing. ‘Is the girl stronger than she looks or is it the guy?’ Further questions were shut down with a new attack. The little girl went straight for the teen again.
However, Saki couldn’t let the fight continue. He wasn't making any sounds, but their intentions were clear enough. “Stop it! Stop fighting!” Saki hoped that it would get the girl’s attention, but it was only brief and in the middle of her next attempt.
“Don’t get in my way! He’s mine!”
Saki was also not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. She stepped in between the two taking the high kick pulled down and blocking it with her arms crossed. The girl jumped back interrupted again. It knocked Saki’s balance, but kept her footing. ‘The girl’s got strength and speed…’
“What’re you trying to do?” the girl shouted venomously.
Saki lowered her arms still feeling the sting from the kick. “Why are you picking a fight with someone that doesn’t want to fight with you?”
“ ‘Cause he’s strong!”
Saki blinked and took a moment to repeat it in her head. ‘Unbelievable, she’s picking a fight with a stranger based on looks.’ Little more cause was needed for Saki to step forward. “What?! You can’t be serious!”
The look changed in the girl’s eye like something in her mind had just switched tracks. She took an offensive stance staring down Saki. A serious glare declared her intent. “You look like someone that’s strong! Let’s see how strong you are!” The girl leapt into the air with her leg already in motion bearing forward on the surprised Saki.