Chapter 23:

In ourselves we trust


“The alley right next to the hostel at 33rd March Street.”

It was the address she had given me, and also the place that was presently in my sight. Knowing that I had approached close enough, I parked my motor on the side of the road and peeked into the alleyway.

“Hey, you got the goods?”, a soft tone could be heard from a man inside.

To make a simple outline, he was a bit overweight, but with the height of over six feet, his physique looked to be decent. The only thing strange about him was a short top hat, otherwise his wears were as plain as a boy in summer.

“Yeah, right here buddy.”, spoke the girl that was the reason why I am here.

Coinciding with her answer, she unbuttoned her oversized coat and unveiled what looked like to be a box. Its bright and vivid azure shades contrast completely with the gloomy surroundings.

There was little to no illumination from the sunlight, and the only source of gleam helping me to observe them was from a neon sign in a wall corner. From my quick perception, I deduced that this was a dead-end alleyway.

As the box emerged from the shadows of her attire, the more brightened became the face of the man. As if he could no longer keep it in, the man dropped his shady act and burst into joy, though not the usual kind of joy.

“You… You actually have it. GIVE IT TO ME.”

“Woah, woah. Hold your horses there, buddy. You got the cash?”

Now realizing his unprofessionalism, the man backed down a step and did what the girl demanded. From his pocket, he took out a sum of money which I believed to be over a hundred dollars. The girl examined the cash, but a look of unsatisfied on her face suggested the amount to be insufficient. Lunging her hand out to the man, she raised four fingers, to which I assumed she meant four hundred dollars.

“C’mon, that much?”, the man exclaimed in dread.

“I’m the one who decides the price, sorry. If you don’t got the money then deals off.”

Having my interest piqued by the price, I observed the product with more scrutiny.

It was a blue and square box, its size nearing a headphone package. At the front was a see-through plastic case, and so I was able to distinguish what was inside.

A humanoid doll.

It seemed to represent a human female, probably post-adolescence considering its height. However, what stood out was its outfit. I assumed that it was a uniform for a servant at first, but some questionable modifications were made. Sleeves were removed, leaving its shoulders bare. The skirt was shortened above the knee and the socks were so long that you could honestly deem them to be pants.

Finally, with contrary blue hair, the figure did not look to resemble a human, but rather an exaggeration, some may say sexualized counterpart of us. Its name was ‘Rem’, as depicted on the top of the box.

Now aware that I had put my eyes on the product for an overlong time, I snapped back to the man and the girl’s conversation.

“You know, coming here alone and doing this shady business isn’t exactly a safe thing for a girl like you to do.”

As the man spoke with an intimidating voice, his hands curled in a way that would disturb even someone uninvolved such as myself. And as if it wasn’t enough, he approached the girl. But shockingly to him, his prey stood tall and unwavering.

“Who said I was alone?”, the girl riposted.

I guess it’s my turn.

It didn’t take me any time to deduce that she was referring to me, and so, with that, I finally unveiled my position.


Deliberately turning on flash mode, I took a picture of the man with the girl, simultaneously signaling them of my presence.

“Wait, who’s this guy?”

“Threatening a high school girl over an anime figurine? That’s going to make one hell of a laughable story.”, I said.

With incessant steps, I took no time to enclose the man, and my hand met with his collar.

“You should tell by now that there’s no way out of this. Belongings, off.”


“You heard me, either you pay for the doll or you become the internet’s punching bag for the next week. I think I know what’s best for you.”

The man struggled to collect his mind, though the straightforwardness of the matter proved to despair the man only after seconds of realization. Hesitantly, he reached for his pocket, however, that juicy green paper did not reach my view quite yet. And so, finding that he needs a little bit of stimulation, I fiddled with my phone.

“What’s a good headline, any thoughts, Kiri?”

My soft sarcasm threat worked, for on his hands were what I had demanded. I took it without hurry or doubt, and Kiri offered the man his side of the deal. Snatching the box away from her, the man let out a salty cry, though tears never came out, and he just ran far away from us.

His heavy trudges echoed throughout the alleyway for the next five seconds, until everything had gone silent again, only for the girl beside me to break the tranquility.

“Well, so much for wanting to be the good guy, Stan.”, she spoke.

“Just purging evil, he was about to do something bad, right?”

Content with my witty comeback, I glanced at her for a reaction, and her cheeks were now puffed-out. And involuntarily, my face distorted similar to hers.


As my lungs worked hard to not burst, I gave it no mind and still guffawed along with Kiri.

After moments of finally calming down, civilized words could once again enter the conversation. With me initiating.

“How did you know I was watching?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Our minds had already connected. I knew that you would come to save the day whenever I’m in danger.”, putting a slight halt in her speech, she jerked her head to the side. “That, and the sound of your motor stopping before the alleyway, take it how you want.”

I chuckled as my feet begin to enter motion, and so did Kiri’s. The reason was obvious enough, why would we want to stay in a dark alleyway any longer without a purpose?”

“Well, I was worried how awkward our meet-up was going to be, but I guess there was never a need for that.”

“We’re friends for god’s sake, Stan. Why would it ever be awkward?”

Well, our last meeting certainly was not natural. But I guess I should lay it in the past.

Getting on my motorcycle, I gave Kiri a helmet, but the engines didn’t go off immediately.

“So, we’re going to John’s flat? I already had lunch, you?”, I inquired.

“I have eaten. But John is apparently on a class field trip right now so no point in going back to meet him.”

Baffled, I asked.

“A field trip, huh. He scored that girl Abigail, yet?”

“I don’t know actually, he’s being very secretive. But who cares anyway, you scored me didn’t you? And now we can spend the whole afternoon alone with each other.”


Yeah, I guess I like the sound of that, no annoying brat to disturb our peace.

“That’s nice to hear. So, where are we going? Not going to threaten some weirdo again, right?”

“Nah, we’ve got four hundred bucks right here, maybe somewhere normal to have fun for once. An amusement park, perhaps?”

“All right, lead the way.”

So, we were on the road. And we didn’t drive for long until a gigantic wheel had showed up before us.

There were numerous attractions targeted toward couples or just romance in general, but both Kiri and I knew that we didn’t show interest in those bland places. And so, we skipped straight to something more exhilarating, the haunted house.

Well, exhilarating is an over-statement since it was pretty crappy. Headless statues, creepy sewing grandmas, demon shoguns, ghost girls and all is accompanied by an eerie intentionally, but realistically goofy music that surrounds the dimly lit hall. This of course led us to burst out laughing our entire experience, but then again, that didn’t leave much respect toward the actors.

A petite woman with a Sadako costume even looked like she was crying of shame, which left me assaulted with guilt and had to pretend to be scared. Yet, my act made Kiri guffaw even louder, and I could sense tears coming down from Sadako now. Despondent of my worthlessness, and also Kiri’s psychopathic behavior, I pulled Kiri out of the attraction with haste, leaving the poor, bawling girl alone.

Before us now was the roller coaster, with overlong twisting and twirling white tracks and trains drifting so fast they leave ear-banging echoes after their tracks, my feet remained completely still.

“C’mon, don’t tell me you’re actually scared of this thing.”, obnoxiously, Kiri asked.

“No, I am not. I was just observing this masterful engineering piece.”

“Is that so? Well, why don’t you check the practically of it as well then?”

As she spoke, Kiri grabbed my hand and pulled me along. Now aware that it was either death or shame, I chose death in the end and trudged behind her.

Even with safety enclosures strapped to me tightly, my heart was still out of control. I looked around for means to escape, but it was too late.

All I could see was a mass of shivering people, all aboard and on the same line as me, and for some reason, I calmed down a bit. Until,

“You know, I watched a horror movie the other day that’s about roller coasters too. Did you know that if even one screw is loose then it would be enough for us to go off track and fall to our death? All of us I mean.”

Her emphasis did not help, and the passengers only shrieked in more fear.

“Oh shit, look what I found on the ground.”, she said, with something in her hand, something that could have stopped my heart right there.

It was a loose screw…

Before anyone could express their last cry for help, the train had already started. Before my soul left my body, the last things to accompany me were screams of terror and a terrific and psychopathic laugh from the girl beside me.

We continued to stray from any romance-inducing activities the whole afternoon and still had a shit ton of weird fun. However, is that to say that we were just platonic friends hanging out? Well, not really. But something tells me that doing heinous childish stuff is somewhat romantic, or at least that’s just the thing with me and Kiri.

Yeah, this is our thing.

As the tawny shade began to dominate the sky, an awareness of time hit us and we knew that the end was nigh. Though, with no bitterness or disappointment in sight, Kiri and I strolled on the road with ease.

“Today was fun, right?”, Kiri asked.

“Well yeah, obviously.”

Following my reply, a silent atmosphere encompassed us. Without another word, we continued to walk, though an awkward feeling was gnawing at me. Without a reason, I glanced at Kiri. Contrary to her doll-like face, her visage expressed numerous emotions that I could not pinpoint the exact word for each one of them. And I was concerned.

“Is, uh, everything okay?”, I asked.

As if broken out of her bubble, she quickly glanced at me and shook her head.

“Oh, uh nothing. Just remembering something.”

With her eyes now forward again, she continued.

“Our old days were always like this, and that thought just gave me a melancholic feeling, you know? Going around doing dumb stuff with you has always been fun, Stan, it has never changed.”


It never has.

Ever since we met, we had always trusted each other with our thoughts and concerns, that’s why we do heinous shit with each other to amuse ourselves in the first place, it was because we didn’t care what the other person would think.

Even in hard times like the bullying in our middle school, she still trusted me to persevere through, and I still have faith in her words even though the whole world was against me. And even after our break up, I still trusted myself to find Kiri, and she wasn’t even surprised when I did find her too. Not to mention John and Abigail’s fiasco, it was because Kiri and I had faith in each other that we had planned out and did everything to fix our traumas and problems.

It was no shock that I prided myself on this mutual trust that we have. And so, with a pleased expression, I opened my mouth.

“Yeah, it never really changed between us. But then if we enjoy hanging around so much, why don’t-”

Before I could muster the remaining parts of my sentence, I also was hit with a sudden melancholic feeling. Kiri was not going back to her home, and I could not persuade her otherwise. She has a job and a lifestyle here, and it’d be too much for her to let go of all of that.

With a tiring exhale, I took a glance at Kiri, and quickly back to my parked motor that was now in my sight.


Having exhausted our fumes, there was no reason to go anywhere else but someplace to rest. And so, I drove me and Kiri back to John’s flat.

As soon as Kiri opened the door with her keys, she rushed straight to the bathroom and turned back to face me.

“I’m gonna go shower first. Take a peek if it interests you.”, she said with a sarcastic tone.

“Sure, as long as you don’t scream like an anime girl.”

She only gave a slight chuckle before putting her phone on the table and finally vanished from my view. Having no reason to stare at a bathroom, I laid my senses on the nostalgic flat.

Two armchairs sat behind a mini circular table, with an aged rectangular TV to accompany the room. The only source of light was from the window just beside the TV, resulting in the dim illumination that surrounded the flat. It still had that homely feeling that accompanied me in that fateful week.

Strolling across the table, I sat down at one of the chairs and breathed in the dry air. Despite the chilly weather outside, the warmth in this flat did not subside. And I laid back to enjoy this plain atmosphere


Until a ringing noise on the table broke me out of my trance, a noise from Kiri’s phone. Obviously, I had no business or reason to check, and yet my eyes inadvertently peeked.

But little did I know, that this small action would shift the course of destiny entirely differently.

For on her screen was a flight confirmation. And the destination was somewhere far away.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon