Chapter 61:

Living in the New World


The incident at Monou High School left confusion throughout the entire country. No one knew what happened or how it happened. In an instant every single law of nature had been permanently rewritten. Things that couldn’t possibly be explained by science existed as though it was natural.

Panic and terror were the first emotions. People were left lost no longer certain what came next. It left the day as an unofficial holiday. No one was willing to do anything in the current state of the country.

Connection to Hokkaido and the smaller islands had been completely lost. Nothing was known about the condition or if they were affected. It was determined that only Japan had been affected by the change. There were still many unclear or early reports from the prefectures, but it had already been confirmed that every single main island prefecture had been altered.

The only consistency was that they were all different, though some similarities did exist. Several prefectures were altered to have futuristic or science fiction appearances. Even the buildings, vehicles and roads no longer looked like anything from the current level of technology. Robots and cyborgs walked the streets.

In other areas, prefectures looked like they belonged to the feudal era and warring states period down to the homes themselves reflecting the period. Fantasy elements were found with even some people altered to fit with the new ‘themes’.

Chaos was the only word that could be used to describe it.

For Saki, she understood better than most, even if she still didn't know why it had happened. Even Ayumi couldn't give her an answer. They were forced to accept that it was the reality now. However, the cause, Yuki, had gone missing after they saw the news report on the TV. It hadn't been until the TV disappeared that they knew he was gone. Saki and Ayumi looked everywhere for him, but were forced to give up late into the night. The search for him resumed for Saki the next day, which found her in the downtown area.

It was the middle of the week, a school day, but school wasn’t in session. Most schools in town were canceled. It would be a while before they could attend due to the damage that their school had taken. Much of the city took the day off like the rest of the country. It left the normally crowded noon streets of the downtown eerily bare of life. A few people walked around, those in their own way finding a way to deal with the extraordinary situation. Most remained in their homes or alone afraid of the outside.

Saki could feel for those that were afraid. She walked downtown, but it was a strange sight for her. It was almost as though the apocalypse had occurred and nature was reclaiming the land. Everywhere in the town grass, flowers and trees were found and yet all of the buildings remained unchanged. It was the only place in the country that managed to remain mostly as it used to be.

However, nature grew over everything. They covered a lot of the buildings. Unnaturally tall trees sat in the middle of the street. The town officials tried to clear out the growth, but there was too much to do. Almost no one helped in the work as well. Even if they cleared out the grass and plants they were still going to have to lay down new roads and sidewalks everywhere. It meant for Saki that she had to walk everywhere.

Her search started to become wandering aimlessly with the hope that she would find Yuki somewhere. He had Momoko and his brothers worried, having never returned home. She promised Momoko that she would find him and drag him back, but she feared that with how things were that he might never recover.

The wandering had brought her to an unpleasantly familiar place, Konomoka General Hospital. “Takako…” Saki’s mind wandered for a moment recalling her last visit. She was hesitant, but found that her feet moved themselves towards the glass doors to enter the building.

Chapter 61 – Living in the New World

The interior of the hospital was still well lit. It was one of the strange things, electricity still worked uninterrupted along with any other utilities. Other parts of the country were not nearly so fortunate. Televisions in the lobby still played a local news broadcast. However, no one watched it, just left to run alone.

Saki took the elevator up to the twelfth floor. She didn't remember pushing the button just that it was moving for her now. It left her to her silent thoughts as low dings for the floors played out. ‘What am I doing here? Should I even be doing this? She probably isn’t even here anymore. The hospital looks empty, but what if they left her here in the confusion. Maybe she needs—‘ The doors slid open cutting off her thought. To her surprise three tall men in business suits stared down at her. ‘There’s someone here?!’

She stared up at them for several seconds, almost amazed to find another human being. However, the moment soon faded into uneasiness. They had a stern and serious look to their faces that seemed to speak more with their eyes than their mouths. The strangers exuded an unwelcome presence. ‘What’s with them?’ The awkward minute held until the elevator cut them off by attempting to close the door.

It was nearly allowed to close between them, giving Saki a sigh of relief, when an arm shot through the narrow gap forcing it open. Saki jumped startled by the sudden movement feeling cornered. Their staring would have continued if one of the men hadn’t moved aside providing an exit for Saki. She gladly accepted. She quickly bowed to them from the side before trying to leave it all behind. “That was weird and a little scary. What was that all about?”

When she felt that she was far enough away she turned around quickly towards the elevator. “They’re gone…creepy…” She turned back and walked to the counter, surprised to find the nurse from before seated reading a book.

The nurse looked up from her book with a smile. “Oh you’re back! Come to visit Miss Yamazaki, again?”

Saki gave a small nod feeling uneasy about her presence as though she didn't belong. “Yes, is she still here?”

“She is,” the woman said standing up, going for the keys at the wall. “She’s quite the popular one today.” She walked around the counter joining Saki and leading her through the hall.

“Those men were here to see her?”

“No, Dr. Shiotani came to her. He’s still with her.”

“Then who were those men?”

“They were with him, but he sent them down. I guess it comes with being part of the Aburakoji Foundation.”

The name didn't seem to be familiar to Saki. She gave a look over to the nurse. “What’s the Aburakoji Foundation?”

“It provides funding to this hospital as well as administration. I hear they support many hospitals across the country.”

“And Dr. Shiotani is part of that group?”

“Yeah, he’s a top doctor in neuroscience and he was told about Miss Yamazaki’s condition. So he came to visit her for an early examination to know if he could do anything for her.”

They reached the door to Takako’s room. The walk had been fairly quiet with none of the patients acting out as they did the last time that Saki visited. It was something that was mostly ignored by her with her focus being on Takako. ‘It’s mental damage though, can anything be done? It’s not like her brain is broken or something…’ She did want Takako to get better, but she wasn't certain medicine would be able to do it. All of it seemed just to be a little barbaric to her. Though, she just had the images in her mind from movies and shows to go by. “If he’s still here I shouldn’t bother him.”

“I don’t think he’ll mind,” said the nurse sorting through the keys, “It’ll be good for her to see a familiar face.”

Saki took a step back feeling the urge to leave growing in her. “Well I’m not that good of a friend to her. We barely know each other. She probably doesn’t want to see me.”

“You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, Miss. We should cherish all of the friends we have in this world, regardless of how well you know them.”

Across the city with a residential neighborhood, like so many throughout the city, beautiful forest trees and vines covered everything. A heavy hand draped veils of greenery over every modern structure with the whimsical touch of a child emptying their toy chest. Nothing had a rhyme or reason, trees penetrated homes and strange flowers laid over sidewalks.

“…sister…” whispered Fumiko to herself. She had been staring at the picture on her table next to her bed for the last couple of hours. Since school was canceled she felt lost with no direction during the time that she normally was sitting in class listening to a lesson.

There was more weighing on her mind than having no direction. Distant empty memories and the fantastical battle of titanic figures forced her to address reality. The impossible, the fictional converted into reality. It brought terrifying prospects, but she accepted it.

Wild animals only found in artbooks and covers roamed the city. Panic spread to each corner. Even the house didn’t feel like it would be safe. Their future charted a new course. It actually excited her, the thought of something new. Also, it worried her more how easy it was for her to accept the new reality.

Her parents had more difficulty adjusting. They couldn't use the car and no buses were running either. The train was stuck because the tracks had trees or other plant life growing through it. The entire transportation system was destroyed. They were suddenly forced to walk or pull out their old dusty bikes. It had left them going in circles at the dinner table while she remained in her room.

Fumiko sighed before she finally lifted herself up from her bed. Her dark brown hair cascaded down around her shoulders and face hanging free. “I’ve got to do something…but what…” She looked over at her bookshelf that was unruly organized with countless books. “The library’s closed today and I’ve already finished all of the books…” The early morning and last night had been spent reading through her stack of books. She had nothing to do so it made it easy for her to burn through them all quickly. Unfortunately, her motivation to re-read one of them wasn’t in her.

She leaned over to the bedside table and grabbed her hair brush. While she tried to think of something to do she slowly cleaned up her hair. “…nothing’s coming to me… It’s been a while since I’ve been this lost…” Her mind had still been partially on her sister causing her to briefly flashback through memories. “…Kimiko…”

Fumiko stood up from her bed, still brushing her hair. She strolled towards the window. The view of her neighborhood was no different than anywhere else in the town. Trees grew in the street side by side with tall grass and plants. There was a strange looking tree attached to their neighbor’s house that melded with the corner and bent over the roof to expand out to cover the entire lot as though it was providing an umbrella for the family. “Was this all in Yuki’s mind?”

At the last moment before she turned away, she saw a young girl no more than twelve running through the tall grass almost buried by the height. There was a panicked look in her body that made Fumiko return to the window. A moment later there was a dark shadow that leapt out after the girl barely missing her. “She’s being attacked! I need to help her!”