Arc 1 - Chapter 3
Wrote by Mark K.
Edited by Bogi
A construction zone in Saitama, Japan.
What does that place mean to people? For some businessmen, it's probably a good investment in a developing part of Saitama. They believe that eventually, the building will earn more than they had to pay for it. It can be risky sometimes, but once they get lucky, those men step into the world of millionaires, maybe billionaires. For some engineers, it's nothing more than another job. They get paid, so they have to deliver the product in the highest possible quality. And once the building is done, it'll have hundreds of workers. In their lives, this particular building will be important. Maybe some workers will find love here. Maybe this building will find it's end soon, maybe it'll last decades...
So many things, a simple structure made out of various materials can be. But for me, Hayato Kobayashi, this building means something else...
"It's been two weeks. I think it's finally time to visit the site again..." I wrote to Ichika.
"Are you sure? Isn't it dangerous? And like more illegal now, that an accident took place there?"
"Look, I've been avoiding this topic since it happened. I haven't even watched any news. And what did the media say about it?"
"You don't have to be so tough. It's unnecessary to torture yourself by reading the topics over and over again. And..."
"... It was in the news as some students got drunk and died in an unknown accident."
"But! It wasn't because we drank..."
"Hayato... You heard whispers in that manhole."
"Not just me! They had to be real, everybody heard them. And it sounded like quotes from the Bible or something like that. I've never read religious books, so it's impossible that I imagined all of those."
"I'm not your mother, I won't stop you from going there. Just..."
"Even if it was only my imagination and it really was nothing else than some drunk students getting into a tragedy, I can't continue living without at least visiting the place once again."
"As much as I want to, I don't think I could find anything against it. Just be safe, alright?"
"I promise. I'll probably visit it tomorrow. There isn't anybody on weekends so I shouldn't be noticed."
"Do as you want, but don't get into any danger."
"Okay. It's getting late and I have to wake up early tomorrow if I want to go there."
"Oh, of course. Good night! Write me if you discovered something."
Just as I've said to Ichika, I went back to the construction next day. It was Saturday so I could sneak it without anybody noticing anything. It really was a different view, and not only because I was sober this time. Knowing how deadly the world can be, I had to be a lot more cautious. I waited before every one of my footsteps, looked around every other second and was in constant fear. Still, I kept going because I knew I wasn't crazy. I knew there were whispers and it wasn't only a drunk person's imagination.
When I turned left at the corner, I finally saw it. The manhole cover was at the same place we left, two weeks ago. It was expected, since the police probably kept the area under control and didn't allow the building company to continue the construction for a while. This time I made sure to bring an actual flashlight with me, so the phone light's limited rage wasn't a problem anymore. As I went down, nothing was strange. Sometimes I wished I could just forget the whole accident, but it'Ll never happen. I knew the way precisely and immediately went to the strange room where we heard the noises. With my flashlight, I was able to see a little bit more, but only discovered that the room was definitely bigger than we imagined. Entering, it's width was around 33 feet and could be even more than 300 feet long. I went deeper and deeper, and I still wasn't able to reach the end. Seeing this huge space, now it really wasn't that impossible for someone being here and saying weird quotes from the other side of the room. Once I arrived to the end, I had to admit that the room was totally empty, therefore I had no clue where to continue my research after the mysterious noise.
I knew it won't revive Hana and Shiro. Yet, it was something I had to do. After being a useless wreck for two weeks, this case gave me a purpose. I didn't even know what to expect. Even though the guy scared us, the accident wasn't his fault. We were drunk in a restricted area. But...
Ichika was the only one who I could talk to, yet I refused to call her 'friend'. I knew that Hana and Shiro were looking and judging me how I couldn't save them. It's my fate. I can't have any friends anymore.
"I guess this cult just clears up his ritual tools after leaving."
"Do you know anybody who have read the Bible? That guy clearly said things like the lord created the world and he rules us or something like that. And our sins are like the wind? Don't know, it was really strange."
"Hmm... I don't know. You better be careful around these cultists. I'll ask around anyways. And... Hayato. I know you don't even want to hear about it. But you should come to school again..."
Not even thinking about giving an answer to such a stupid question, without saying 'good bye' I went to sleep.
I saw her in front of me. Everything else was white, there wasn't anything else in the world, just her, standing in a blue kimono in front of me, but a few feet away. It had to be a dream. Even after looking around several times, Ichika was the only person in this blank space.
"Who are you searching for? I'm not good enough?" I heard Ichika's voice from the distant.
"What? No! It's re-"
"I've always been there for you. Don't you remember? But you chose Hana and those stupid afternoon adventures."
"What are you talking about? This Ichika is only a picture of my brain, nothing else. Nothing you say is true!"
"You are such a fool, Hayato! This is exactly why I'm right. I'm a representation of your brain. Everything I say is your thought. You can't deny it!"
"This is ridiculous. I'll just wait until I wake up."
"Don't you remember, Hayato? You already forgot it? Or I never meant that much to you?"
"What are you talking about? When did I abandon you? You... Why do I even say 'you'? It's just a thought. My mind is the one in control."
"Seems like your brain wants to listen to me then. If you would have hanged out with me, more than with Hana, the accident could have been avoided."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"Don't say mean things like that to yourself. Hana was the one who made you a delinquent. Smoking, underage drinking, killing your friends..."
"Stop it right now! It wasn't my fault! They wanted to go down just as much as I."
"You still didn't stop them. Not even whe-"
Suddenly I was in a classroom. I was still dreaming, I could tell, but the world looked a lot more realistic than the void. I noticed Ichika. This had to be my last year's class, because we aren't in the same one anymore. But then, for my biggest surprise, I noticed myself too.
I, no... The other me was talking to Ichika. I looked at the clock and it was break time. I stepped closer so I could hear the topic of their conversation.
"But Ichika, I've said it multiple times. This is absolutely safe. We are even more careful than usual. You don't have to worry that much."
"Don't tell me it's normal to sneak in to restricted areas. This probably isn't even legal."
"When did you become my mom?"
"I'm worried about your childish bullshit..."
"You are just jealous because I spend more time with Hana than you."
What... am I doing? Now that I saw the scene, forgotten and painful memories came back. Since then, a distance developed between me and Ichika. I spent most of my time with Hana, even though we weren't in the same class that year. I was isolated from everybody else.
What's that? A tear? It dropped down from my eyes. I rushed to Ichika, but I couldn't touch her. My hand went through the small body. Of course, it still was only a dream. None of these are real. But the memories are.
Time became faster around me. As a lonely bystander, like a tragic time traveller, who's fate is to observe his world die over and over again, all I could do was watching it. It still was a dream. I couldn't touch anything, I couldn't interact with them. I saw how I abandoned Ichika, when she only tried to save me from the eventually expected tragedy. Why do I only realize it now? Now, that everything I see has already happened. I saw myself with Hana doing our stupid tradition almost every week. Why I didn't stop? When Ichika even warned me...
"No... I don't want to see it again!" I tried to yell but nothing came out of my mouth. The dream suddenly got quiet and only one spot was lit in my sight. I saw them once again. There was the construction zone, there was Hana, there was Shiro. I saw how we went down to the manhole. I wanted to scream, I wanted to warn them, but it was useless.
Few minutes later they came out.
"NO! I DON'T WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!" But I couldn't move. Just watch. Watch it again.
And only then I could wake up, with my whole face covered in tears.
My phone was ringing. That was probably the reason I woke up. And no surprise it was Ichika. I didn't want to pick it up since I was crying like a baby, but after all I've seen, ignoring her again would have been way too cruel.
"Ichika?" my voice came a bit too shaky so I tried covering it by clearing my throat.
"Hayato! I found something!” I heard her excited voice which she was trying to keep low, probably because of the late hour it was. “Wait, are you crying?"
"No... Just... My nose is running. I think I have a small flu."
"Anyways, I found it! That Bible stuff!" I was almost awake so I looked at the clock.
"4 AM?! You searched for it until 4 AM?"
"Today is Sunday anyways. But I found it! Be excited with me, Hayato!"
"Calm down! So, what is it actually?"
"There are seven deadly sins according to the Bible!"
"And? How's that related to what the cultist said to us?"
"'Like the wind, our sins sweep us away.' That was it, right?"
"I don't exactly remember, but definitely something like that. But it's just one line. How's that even a clue?"
"In this line, the Bible talks abo-"
"What about meeting today?" I was still tired since my sleep wasn’t really relaxing, and I knew if she started talking now, we wouldn’t get much rest tonight.
"Y... you... you mean..."
"In person, yeah. I'm tired, even though I could sleep a little bit, unlike somebody else..."
"B... but you want to come out? A... and meet with me?"
"I can't stay inside forever, right?"
"Are you sure it's a great idea? I don't want you to collapse the minute you step outside. You have ti-"
"No. I can do it. What about... at your place around 3 PM? You'll be able to sleep until then."
"Y... You want to come to my house? Hayato? Did your flu get worse? Do you know what you’re talking about?"
"You can come here too, if you want..."
"Don't get me wrong, I'm not that much of a tsundere!"
"Meet me at the par-"
"In the park, yeah!"
"I haven't even told you which park it is..."
"That's what I get for helping you, Hayato? Don't be so mean to me..."
"Yono Park? Around the lake?"
"Fine! Bye!” And she hung up on me immediately.
site: mark k.story: mark k. and kunal s.