Feeling the warmth, the softness of the sheets against her face, the way they moulded the rest of her body that rested on fine feathers, preventing the girl from productively starting her day. The sun that refused to leave her alone for more than necessary inside the new season that was coming to an end, made the task even worse. She sank under the pillows, blocking all lighting from the window.
Being a Saturday, the morning took a great effort to wake her up as it dawned with its shining light. The girl shouldn’t be complaining, she loved to spend her days productively, to feel that she doesn’t waste a single second but, lately, the opposite happened. That’s why she gave her best to stand up and go to school. She thanked that, since it was the weekend, school time would only be until midday.
Awkwardly, she stretched her arms and legs before touching the cold wooden floor. Her long pastel pink pyjamas were dragged as she made her way to the window. Her fluffy hair, messy because of the pillow, was almost like a lavender cloud.
She opened the delicate translucent curtains that covered the view towards the countryside view that characterized her rural city of Shirakawa.
It fascinated her to see this beautiful landscape every morning, forgetting the capital city she had left a few months ago, however difficult that had been.
When she opened her wardrobe, she ran into the following surprise: all her clothes were either dull coloured or sepia-toned. She knows these are her favourite shades but that doesn’t justify her bad sense of fashion, given they don’t combine with her lavender hair at all. That’s why she always followed the trends in magazines. Somehow, she had gained the image of being a popular girl just because she came from the city.
The girl sighed, closing the doors, leaning towards a polka-dotted wall where she had hung her basic school uniform: a light-blue sweater with an accompanying white blouse, a red ribbon, and a grey skirt she decorated with three stars on her hip.
Content with herself, she took her uniform of the black hanger and rushed outside her room.
Her older brother was still asleep, and she could hear his snoring coming from over the next room, enjoying every second of sleep. The lavender haired girl did her best to avoid waking him up, meditating that it would be better not prepare anything and eat the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. With the pyjamas sweeping the wooden floor, she reached the small kitchen and opened the refrigerator, which was with very little food inside. It had only been two days and it seems as if their parents had left both siblings for more than a month.
The girl’s father was a renowned painter, having exhibitions all over the country. Although, in that village, she felt free from the social media and press pressure since they barely recognized her surname and thought it was common. She just became popular due to her looks, grades and quick wits, plus she was the new sensation, coming from the city and all.
The girl thought that she should do the shopping one of these days, her brother doesn’t seem to have a sense of home responsibility compared to her. She took out a platter with some chicken that they made last night and warmed it up a little in the microwave. She sat down to chew the food slowly, savouring every piece she ate. Deep down inside, the girl thought that her talent in the kitchen was null but the one she has is enough to allow her to survive.
Her brother only knows how to cook anything related to eggs due to his experience with a close friend of his once they got lost in a forest years ago and all they had on their bags. She remembered that her brother couldn’t answer why they had eggs inside their bags in the first place.
It shall remain as a mystery.
Without noticing, she finished her breakfast quicker than she thought, washed what she used and went once more to her room to take off her clothes and enter the bathroom to take a relaxing shower.
The water that fell on her body was warm, inviting, delicious. She rubbed her hair with her favourite strawberry shampoo and then scrubbed everywhere with soap with the smell of cherry blossom. A mixture of smells blended with the steam from the shower smells that she enjoyed being her favourites. While the water was cleaning the foam, she began to look at her body. Her breasts were big enough to be considered a D cup, plump and perfectly shaped. She blushed with the thought, coughing a little. Her back pains weren’t critical but she was glad she no longer had to commute to school using the train.
Walking through the village made her feel safer from unknown gazes.
The lavender coloured haired girl closed the shower and continued to dry herself. It makes no sense to keep thinking about those things. Today is a new day and it’s time to do something productive in it. In a one, two, three, she was ready, with her hair drier on hand and putting on some perfume. After leaving the bathroom and letting the steam spread into the rest of the apartment, her brother was watching TV. He must have become tired of trying to go back to sleep, and the girl was sure it happened when she was showering. He didn’t take any notice of her presence, so she decided to say hello.
"Good morning, big brother," the girl said in a sweet voice as she walked towards her room.
“Oh, Sis. ‘Morning, you slept well?" He turned his gaze away from the morning news programme.
“Yeah, I think so at least,” she replied. “I didn’t stay up too long last night.”
“I'm glad, unlike you, it's hard for me to sleep, it’s like having a nightmare while being awake… you know, light sleep and all that. Also, make sure to turn off the lights of the library after you use it. They woke me up around 3 AM,” with that said, he turned his face towards the TV once more. “Did you have breakfast?”
“Ah, my bad! I’ll take care of it next time… And answering your question, no, I ate yesterday's leftovers. If you want something there are eggs. The fridge is empty so you have to do the shopping tomorrow or at the beginning of the week. I have things to do after school so I’ll most likely miss today’s sale at the convenience store from Takayama.”
The girl managed to enter her room while drying her hair with a small towel.
“Nothing at all?! Seriously?... it takes 50 minutes to get there…just for food...” Resigned, he sank on the sofa. “And to make it worse, there’s nothing on the TV, just news from Gifu… I miss city life sometimes.”
“You know we also have small stores here, right? Although they don’t carry your favourite noodles.”
“They aren’t just noodles. They are Sentai noodles. The packages come with these little action figures as a gift and…”
“Yes, yes,” she waved her hand, pretending a smile and closed her door. “Jeez, I wonder who’s the eldest one in this household…”
The girl turned on the hairdryer, ending their conversation. The warm air rocked her long hair as if she were in some fields full of flowers, letting herself be carried by magical spring wind. The towel had worked, making the drying process much faster.
Putting on her uniform and tying her school ribbon, she felt ready for a new day of school, until she noticed a small rabbit-shaped hairpin she always uses.
Clasping it in her hands, she tied her hair in a long wavy sided ponytail on her left, while she twirled a strand of hair in the shape of a loop, using the hairpin to hold it.
Looking into the mirror, she felt complete.
“All set now!”
She leaves her room for the last time and stumbles when she opens the door to the outside world, to say her last words of the morning.
“Big brother, I'm leaving!”
Slowly and lazily, he lifts his head off the sofa, with some bread inside his mouth. The girl wondered where he could’ve got it and got a hunch it was most certainly moulded. Still, what he was doing, was a tick she told him a thousand times to put aside, having the bad habit of talking with his mouth full of food.
“Where did you tell me you were going? To school?” the bread danced on his lips.
“Where else would I be going? I’m not planning to skip classes as you do.”
“I’m a university student, duh. Today’s my free day!”
“Well, if you’re so free then go and buy some food at Takayama!” sighing, she saw the hour on the TV's newscaster: 7:30 AM. “I'm late!”
Without giving any further explanation, she closed the door and ventured her way to school.
“Be care…” but the door shut before he could tell her something. “...ful…”
Her brother just sighed.
“Welp, guess it’ll be another video games marathon today,” he stretched to reach the remote control, only to hear the news announcer giving some information with a shocking voice, “Huh?”
The picture she had on screen, in the far left corner, showed the arcade district of Yanagase.
The boy could recognize it anywhere, given he had spent most of his childhood loitering around that place.
“This marks the fifteenth body found in these last two months. Incidents all over Japan have been happening, and the government still doesn’t consider it a homicide case, given how the victim's ages vary, plus the locations throughout the country. The victim was a high school girl, hence why we cannot give any more details. The police are still investigating the causes of death since the autopsy reveals no…”
“Glad we live in the countryside now…” he changed the signal, ready to delve into his fictional world. Plugging in his favourite console, he sits down with the controller on hand. “Still… I wish she would stop wandering around at night and come straight home.”
With that, another room’s door opens, revealing a dog. It went lazily towards the sofa and ends up yawning. The black german shepherd went back to sleep as soon as his faces went towards the cushion.
“You’re as lazy as always, Kuro. You just missed Yuiko.”
“Please, tell me you have done your literature homework!”
“We had homework!? It has to be a joke! I completely forgot…”
“Does anyone have the English vocabulary sheet? I can trade it for some yakisoba bread!”
“I have the statistics and chemistry answers from last week!”
Colourful voices. Different tonalities. Different people.
Yuiko knew from which mouth each one came, and that was amusing to her.
The government was trying to make the school more official, so the use of uniforms was recently imposed last year. She heard rumours that everyone could use any uniform they wished before, and she wondered how everyone dressed at the time.
She subtly averted her gaze from the window, her pastel orange eyes finding the group of teenagers between thirteen and fourteen years old, who were still discussing the homework they forgot to do, exchanging notes from each other, or simply planning what they would do at the end of classes.
She approached them, a happy feeling eating her away. Those were her friends. Her precious friends.
Her eyes went towards a girl who was surrounded by two male figures, who were, from what Yuiko had learned over the months, her classmate’s childhood friends.
Yuiko stopped on her tracks, still amazed by how similar she and the girl were. She also had purple hair, but it was shorter and darker. Her eyes were orange as well but were more opaque. They even shared other traits too, and that made her smile even more. Coincidences like these weren’t common, so she leapt into the girl to hug her. Both male students moved aside and left them be, while the purple-haired pigtailed girl suffered under Yuiko’s breasts.
“Yui! I missed you!”
“Yuiko, I can’t breathe!”
“You’re suffocating her, Tsukiame!” one of the boys spoke to save his friend, who face colour was turning blue.
The tan-skinned boy crossed his arms and hid his face on his small beanie hat. The fringe wasn’t enough to cover his dead eye look, many assuming he was a delinquent due to his appearance. Even in winter, he refused to wear the dark blue blazer and instead used a black long-sleeved shirt that caused him to be constantly called to the principal’s office since it broke the school regulations.
“She was only gone for a week, Tsukiko. Medical rehab and all. But, gosh, you did miss her, huh?”
The hyperactivity of the other boy who had lighter skin than the latter was able to break the suffocating hug. With blonde hair, he sketched a smile on his face. Yuiko always found it amusing how he changed her name as soon as they met her when she transferred schools. Having two “Yui”’s as friends gave him a headache, so he unanimously decided to give her the nickname of Tsukiko, combining her surname and her name.
The silent girl who always fulfilled her duties, Yui Samidare, just blinked upon her release.
“How are you feeling? Better?” Yuiko was truly concerned.
“Yeah, I just… sprained my ankle, that’s all” she answered with a smile, doing her best to assure her friend.
“Still, taking you to a hospital to Gifu…” the red-eyed blonde crossed his arms, thinking out loud.
“It happened at Gifu during the weekend.” Yui corrected him.
“Something about having an accident during a tennis match,” sighed the tanned skinned boy, in a matter of seconds struck his hand on Yui’s head.
“You have rehab today, right?” asked Yuiko.
“Yeah… But it’ll end soon!” Full of energy, Yui punched the air. “What happened while I was gone? Any news?”
“Well, Mr Kamioka got a new haircut,” said the blonde.
“You mean a new wig,” coughed the other boy.
“And these two will get detention if they badmouth their homeroom teacher!” a male figure stood between the circle of friends, arms crossed with an expression full of anger. Yuiko could see how the wig was shiny new and even badly put. Part of his bald head could be seen but she pretended ignorance. “Hinaga, Hazakura… go back to your seats, now!”
The rest of the students did the same, while the two boys went their respective ways.
Yuiko was already in her seat, wondering if Yui was doing okay. She had texted her over the weekend, worried about her absence but had no response at all, so seeing her back at school as if nothing had happened overwhelmed her.
That’s why she decided to focus on the homeroom that was about to start until it happened.
The teacher was about to open his mouth, asking to raise and bow, when a sudden wind blew through the classroom, making his brand new black wig go flying through the opened window.
The door was open, revealing a very anxious-looking boy from the next class. Sweating, he held his yellow scarf and ignored everything and everyone, running towards Yui’s desk and taking her hands.
“Thank God you’re back, I was deeply worried!”
“Why can’t Ms Tanaka keep you still, Mochizuki!? I had almost forgotten how you barge every homeroom." Mr Kamioka was pissed off, given how his new wig was now drowning in a pool of mud outside. “Now, go back to your class.”
“Nobu, you’re embarrassing me,” Yui whispered, while she looked away trying to avoid the boy’s gaze and did her best to find Hinaga’s eyes.
The tanned boy looked irritated and shoved his head to the other side, ignoring the situation, which made Yui feel awful.
Yuiko finally decided to take a closer look and be amazed by the beautiful frame she saw.
For some reason, her heart hurt and she held her chest.
She knew she adored Yui.
That’s why she didn’t know why Nobu Mochizuki generated her so much discomfort and anxiety.
Nevertheless, the scene she was seeing was captivating and mesmerizing.
He had hair as silky as a fragile textile, amber light eyes that turned into a deep affection whenever Yui was in front of him that was captivating and charming, complementing his pale skin. The dark blue blazer he wore was double his size, his fingers barely coming out from the sleeves. Although the thing that most shun from his colourful personality was the rebellious bead hair he had, that seemed to have a life of its moving like a wagging dog’s tail.
A delicate knock on the door made everyone lose their attention towards the awkward students, He was standing there, looking towards Yui and Nobu and, when Yuiko's eyes met his, he smiled.
“I came to look for Mochizuki…”
“Ah yes, just in time Koharuno,” sighed Mr Kamioka. “I need to have a serious talk with Ms Tanaka regarding how she handles her students. Seriously, making one come to look for the other…”
The student who went by the surname of Koharuno made his way towards Yui’s desk, touching Nobu on his shoulder and waking him up from his daydream.
“Mochizuki, we have to go back to class. You can always talk with Miss Samidare during recess,” he said calmly. “By the bye, I’m glad to see you’re back. We all missed you.”
“Thanks…” Yui didn’t know what else to say. Yuiko knew she never liked being the centre of attention.
“Oh… Koharu,” Nobu separated from Yui and looked away, unable to meet the other boy’s gaze. “Yeah, you’re right. I kinda lost it.”
“Kinda? I thought you were about to kidnap Yui,” said Hazakura holding a laugh.
“Can we just get this over with?” muttered Hinaga.
After some protests of Nobu, the ash grey-haired student was able to take him back to his classroom, and homeroom could finally start.
«Yes. This is my ordinary, everyday life. A life where I’m just another simple girl, with good, caring friends. And now that Yui is back, I feel happier than ever. I feel even more pumped to solve the mystery no one has managed to solve yet. Just by having her presence alone, I feel I can go against the world. Strange, isn’t it? That’s why I’m going to give it my all, just like Yui does!»
Lunchtime was always chaotic, given all students joined their desks to eat.
In Yuiko's case, her circle of friends went beyond that single space she shared with Yui. Nobu and the other boy always joined them to eat.
This time, they were sitting in the small courtyard, which was surrounded by construction implements. They were planning to expand the school so more students could apply since many from the village went to other nearby cities and towns to study.
“Hey, Koharun~!” Hazakura shouted enthusiastically after seeing the ash grey-haired boy alongside Nobu. Then, he looked at his friend who was still on the other side of a fence. “How long will you stay in jail, Shinji?”
"Unlike you, Manabu, I have lunch in my hand and I don’t intend to ruin it. I need to find a way across” he said seriously, pondering what action to take.
The tanned-skin boy was, indeed, trapped outside the school and was looking for a way to enter. Why was he there is he had just been attending classes as normal? Well, that had a perfectly good reason.
“Hinaga is a bit special,” whispered Yuiko to Yui.
“Why?” You blinked with her lunch in hand.
“Well, he leaves classes early just so he can hop on a bus, go all the way to Takayama just to take lunch to his sister whenever she forgets it at home. It’s admirable, to be honest.”
“Yeah… Shinji is a good person,” Yui’s cheeks turned rose for a split second. “His big sis tends to forget it due to all her work."
“She was... a singer, right?” Yuiko did her best to remember.
“More than just a singer, an idol!” You’s eyes shined brightly when mentioning the word. “She isn’t insanely famous yet but I have all her merchandise! I’m sure she’ll make it big!”
“Having you as a supporter, I doubt it, haha,” said Manabu with mischief.
“Oh, shut it...”
“There is a broken space on the left, a little further on,” mentioned Koharuno naturally, pointing out the direction to pursue. He sat down on the grass, opening his packed lunch.
“Great, I’ll be there right away,” Shinji replied, following the given instructions.
“Woah, Koharu, that looks delicious!” Yui found herself saying her thought out loud, while Nobu sat beside her, not taking his gaze away from her, thing that bothered Yuiko for some reason. “Did you make it all by yourself?"
“My cousin helped me,” he smiled. “Do you want some?”
“I do,” without waiting for an answer, Manabu put his hand towards some breaded chicken balls, tasting it with pleasure. Koharu had kept his chopsticks open, unable to process the speed. “I envy you for having someone to help you make food, especially a cutie like your cousin. Almost everyone buys bread.”
And so, Manabu Hazakura took out some curry bread from his pocket.
“Amazing. It’s in one piece…” Yuiko said her thoughts out loud, given Manabu had been sitting on top of it.
Once Shinji arrived from the other side of the fence, Yuiko's day went as it always did. Recess, classes and then being free around midday.
She held her breath once the bell rang since she wanted to ask Yui to hang out.
Unfortunately, Nobu appeared by her side, unable to leave them alone.
He acts almost like a noble dog, following her around like that.
Stuttering with her words, Yui gave a step back.
“D-Do you need something, Yuiko?”
She seemed to be on the alert.
“I was wondering if you wanted to do anything after your rehab today. I can go with you and after that, we could hang out around the city for a bit!”
“I’m sorry, I already have plans after rehab...” Yui bowed and apologized. “Plus, the rehab is in Gifu itself so travelling back and forth from the capital city takes a long time, we wouldn't be able to hang out for too long..."
“You're right... I thought the rehab could be done in any hospital at Takayama."
Yuiko closed her eyes, deep in thought.
"It is a little annoying but, when all this is done, let's go to that new coffee shop you saw in the latest issue of the town's brochure!"
Even if Yuiko felt hurt, she had something to look forward to.
«That’s why I have to give it my all!»
And she left the school, ignoring Nobu Mochizuki’s suspicious gaze.
The lavender, fluffy-haired girl was running through the night. Escaping away from someone. From something. Kuro was alongside her, Yuiko holding her notebook firmly with both hands, not wanting to separate from it.
She had finally found it, or at least she thought so.
The origin of everything.
Maybe she could stop it.
She always thought that, after she was done with school, she would study journalism.
Yuiko loved investigating and writing.
Learning new things and writing about them but, this time, it seemed that the mystery she indulged herself every night in the library of her house had taken her to discover a darker truth.
The Observer laughed atop of a building, delighted.
“It took some time, but I finally found you. I finally found the HeartBit Crusher. Ah, ah, ah. It took quite a long time…” they extended both arms, rejoicing. “Now, let’s end this.”
Kuro barked loudly, trying to warn her about something.
Yuiko didn’t care.
She ran and ran.
“Come on, Magical Girl of Dreams. I wonder why you aren’t transforming tonight. You’ll be easy to dispose of, after all. And then, why did you cause me so much trouble all this time? It was easy to find you in your human form. I would’ve done this long ago… I do detest how the mechanisms of the heart and mind work.”
An alley, out of thousands from the village, catches Yuiko’s.
The strong smell of urine that reigned did not dissipate her mind.
Rats, boxes, accumulated garbage. The darkness reigning, the rain had started, making the liquids scattered on the asphalt give her shivers.
Succumbing to her despair, she wrote something in her journal.
Kuro was growling.
The thing she had seen was after her.
That thing wasn’t human at all. That thing consumed a whole human being and transformed it into a beast.
Once the anomaly came towards her, Yuiko's barrette falling into the floor, and Kuro jumping to protect her, she knew she had reached her end.
She had entered an unknown world that ultimately lead her into her demise.
“I guess this poor HeartBit soul will have an empty dream tonight.”
The Observer retreated, satisfied, while a pool of scarlet liquid flowed through the mud, the white rabbit hairpin being dyed by it.
The following day, Yui was in denial.
The white flower on that desk should be a mistake.
The name of her friend making it on the local news must have been a mistake.
Her homeroom teacher delivering the news a much bigger lie.
Yui clasped her hands towards her ears, clinging to the last bit of her sanity.
«Yuiko Tsukiame was found dead last night.»