Arc 1 - Chapter 1
Wrote by Mark K.
Edited by Kunal S.
"Come! Nobody's here!" said a girl in a soft and graceful voice.
"I don't know. Restricted zones are one thing, but this is a construction zone…"
"Are you scared, Hayato?" came from a tall, athletic boy.
"No way! Just don't make any noise."
They were my friends, Hana and Shiro.
I knew Hana since we were kids. Our fathers were co-workers so we always played together at the company's parties. She's slightly taller than me, yet it's just enough so I can be the shortest person in our group and centre of the jokes. Hana had long, straight hair in the beautiful colour of blonde. Everything about her could have been described with the word 'cute'. Even the way she dressed suggested to the world that she is only a kid by her heart. I'll probably never understand why she hung out with us, drinking and smoking underage, and going into restricted areas almost every day.
Shiro was the new member of our group. His family moved a lot and he never really had long term friendships. It was the last year of high school when he moved to Saitama. His house was only a few block away from mine, so we became friends pretty quickly as we walked home together from the first day. He is the tallest of our group with dark black hair, similar to mine, but shorter. He never told us why he moved almost every year, but I guess it's due to his family. All we know is now he lives alone and doesn't talk to his parents anymore.
It became our tradition to sneak in to restricted areas around Saitama. Having no specific goals or dreams we lived for the moment and to our surprise, Shiro accepted when we invited him to these afternoon adventures.
Finally, I'm Hayato, the fool who has seen more than one should.
The day, that changed our lives forever was May 13th in 2011 when we just started our last year of high school at the age of 17.
"Don't worry Haya, today is Friday the 13th! It brings us luck!" said Hana as she, rather unsuccessfully, tried making circles out of smoke.
"At least drop that cigarette. You'll blow the whole place up!"
"This is my last one! You owe me a new pack!" and the three of us finally entered.
There really wasn't anything interesting, only the excitement of doing something illegal. The area had multiple cranes and various machines, but there was one thing that caught our eyes.
"Doesn't that manhole cover look off?" I told the others. Really, the cover wasn't set right and everybody had the same thought.
"Wait! Haya, do you really want to go down?"
"Why are you worrying Hana? We do that every week. This manhole isn't that different. Don't tell me you are scared in the dark?!"
"Of course not, stupid. And we can use our phones anyways. Let's go!"
Just how we had guessed, the manhole was open and it didn't require much effort to move away the cover. As we've moved down on the small ladder, the dimness slowly grew. My phone didn't produce too much light, but it was enough for us to see our surroundings. It took almost a minute to get to the bottom where nothing but darkness welcomed us.
"Make sure to stay together. The last thing I want is getting lost in a manhole." I warned Hana and Shiro.
"What happened to you Haya? You worry too much. Here." She handed me a bottle of shochu. I took a swig just to feel its warmth then passed the bottle to Shiro.
"Your turn." encouraged him, but it was unnecessary since he took the bottle before I could finish my sentence and drained it to the last drop.
"It makes your eye-sight better." said Shiro jokingly. We started walking, hunched, in an Indian file between the narrow walls. I was the one who led the others, so that made me the only person who had seen anything. Not like there was something spectacular in the manhole. Dirty walls and darkness everywhere. But suddenly I noticed a little room on the right. Its inner height was much more than the narrow corridor. We could finally stretch and stand straight without fear of hitting our heads on the ceiling.
"Do you see something Hayato?" Shiro asked me. I looked around, and although the phone's light wasn't enough to see further, in a few meters there was nothing.
"Report: nothing. Do you really want to go deeper in? I mean, why don't we just go back and explore the construction. This manhole is a huge disappointment."
"It's so hot outside. Let's chill a little bit here." and Shiro lit a cigarette.
"Hey! What are you doing?" I screamed at Shiro.
"Yes! What the hell? You had cigarettes and haven't even told me?" followed Hana.
"That's not what I've meant. This manhole doesn't have too much oxygen." I really wanted to bash Shiro a little bit more, but I've heard somebody's whisper.
"Yeah?" turned to Hana "What did you say?"
"I didn't say anything." replied Hana "Don't tell me you got drunk from that little shochu."
"Was it you Shiro?"
"Nope." and then he proceeded to make a little bit more successful smoke circles than Hana. "Talking about shochu, do you have anything else?"
"Just beer. But I've saved it for later. We really should go outside. It's getting too cold."
"I wwnn yo, sss befuu"
I heard the whisper again. This time more clearly, but still not clear enough to get the meaning of it. Only thing I could grasp was that it was a man's whisper.
"I know it's you Shiro! You can't scare me."
"Are you really drunk, Hayato? I said nothing!"
"The acts of the flesh are obvious"
This time, from the look of Hana and Shiro, I knew they heard it too.
"Who's there?" Hana asked. "Come out, we have beer! Let's drink together."
"Do you not know? Have you not heard?"
"About what? Are you a worker? Could you come a little closer? We can hardly hear you." Shiro tried to reveal the mysterious man's identity, but nobody came out of the darkness.
"The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."
"I guess we should leave! He sounds like a cultist..." suggested Hana.
"ALL OF US HAVE BECOME LIKE ONE WHO IS UNCLEAN, AND ALL OUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS ARE LIKE FILTHY RAGS; WE ALL SHRIVEL UP LIKE A LEAF, AND LIKE THE WIND OUR SINS SWEEP US AWAY."
The whisper became very loud in seconds. Suddenly, our courage went away and we started running.
"I don't know what's going on, but we better get out as soon as possible!" Hana screamed, leaving her bag behind and only focusing on getting to the surface.
I was the first out of the manhole, followed by Shiro. But then all we could hear was a fading scream. Hana didn't make it to the top, slipped and fell back down the manhole.
"Fuck, fuck, FUCK!" I screamed. "I have to go back for Hana."
"No! Hayato, you stay there!" and Shiro pushed me away from the entrance. "It's too dangerous, I'll go down!"
"Shiro, you are fucking drunk!" But he didn't listen and went back down to get her. "GET OUT FOR GOD'S SAKE!"
He picked up Hana whose head was covered in blood, after she fell on a stone.
"HAYATO, CALL THE FUCKING AMBULANCE!" Shiro yelled and rushed to the top, Hana in his arms.
I helped them out because he couldn't even stand still anymore.
"No, Hayato! I have to take her to the hospital!" Shiro grabbed Hana, who was unconscious for a while, but immediately fell, right to the bleeding girl.
"SHIRO! Stop there! You are drunk! You'll fucking kill her!"
"HAYATO, SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
At this point, I wasn't drunk anymore. I became sober by the shock that Shiro may kill Hana and I can't do anything about it. This was the first time I looked around and saw how dangerous that place really was. Without an overseer, everything looked like it could either fall down or blow up every second.
"Shiro! Be aware! Don't do anything stupid!"
"You're one to talk! Both you and I are drunk! But, unlike you, I want to save Hana!"
As he turned around, Shiro accidentally ran into a wooden pillar. He was too drunk to even notice the obstacle, that broke in half. The beam that held the platform collapsed onto Shiro and Hana. All I could see was a huge cloud made out of dust around them.
I rushed to the scene, and tried to search for them under the debris. It took me several seconds to find Hana's legs. I pulled her out cautiously, but her head was severely wounded and it was hard to see the face I've known for god knows how many years. I continued the search for Shiro, but the view I've seen was something one can't be ready for. A steel rod, fell from the platform, skewered through Shiro's body. His organs were on the ground, or so I thought, because I couldn't see through the thick layer of blood. His eyes were open and they looked at me. No words came out from his mouth, only blood. He tried to grab my hand as to say something, but halfway through Shiro coughed out a bigger chunk of blood and passed out.
At this instant, the world around me stopped and I couldn't even take a few steps before throwing up. These were my last conscious moments before I fainted.
site: mark k.story: mark k. and kunal s.