The noise of the busy city was deafening. It is nearing night time, yet numerous amounts of people still walked throughout the streets, too many to count, each minding their own business as they move to destinations unknown. The roar of the engines of passing vehicles and the clank of the train tracks that pass overhead. It was so loud one can barely even hear themselves think.
However, I could hear none of it. I was solely focused on all the strange events that occurred within the short span of time. Lingering questions and frustration swelled in me as I frivolously try to make heads or tails of everything.
“Why do I have no memories of the literature club if it was such a big part of my school life? There was no way I would forget something like that, even if I had been just a ghost member. Because if that was so, I would’ve at least remembered joining.”
There was not a single memory. My mind was completely blank, as if somehow, my memories have been wiped clean.
I shook my head frantically. Maybe… maybe I’m focusing on the wrong thing? I tried to recall what those two strange guys said to me.
“They said; I have broken free? Free from what? What is that Artificial they keep mentioning? What does that mean? It’s English, isn’t it? They also said that; my life is in danger?”
A slight shiver went down my spine.
“What does that mean? Is something going to happen to me? Am I going to die? Ah…”
My legs started shaking and my heart began beating rapidly. I panicked as I looked around.
“It can’t be that, someone is out to get me? Could it have been because I found out something I’m not supposed to?!”
Fear and paranoia flooded my thoughts.
“Wait… wait… calm down. Deep breath… deep breath.” I got a hold of myself. “There’s no way such a thing could happen. This isn’t some kind of crazy horror story. No way.” I repeated to myself while trying to steady my breathing. Recomposing myself, I tried to think rationally again.
“Okay, let’s not think about any of this. Maybe… just maybe I should just get home and forget everything. Yes, maybe Asumi was right. I was just being delirious from the lack of sleep. That’s right.” I tried to convince myself. “Just go home… home…”
My mind went blank. And suddenly, a sharp jolt came across my head.
“Aahh!!” I grabbed my head as I winced in pain.
“Wha…? It… it can’t be!”
I had no recollection of where I lived. I broke out in cold sweat as I started to realize what just happened. Feverishly, I wracked my brain for any and all information that came to my mind.
“My name is Takatora Ryuuko, age 16…my hobbies are reading and writing and…” Every little trivial information about myself I could think of, I tried to remember. Prominent moments of my life were still clear to me, such as the time when I was in middle school. A boy was picking on me when he found out my dream of wanting to be a novelist until one day, I smashed him in the face with an encyclopedia after he poured water on my manuscript. I was suspended for two weeks and that was also when Asumi started taking Kendo. They were clear as can be but…
“I was born on November 9th in…Agh!!” I felt a sharp pain in my head the moment I try to remember my year of birth. Nothing.
“My… my parents are-Aah!” Another sharp pain. Nothing again. I could not recall anything of my parents, neither name nor face.
It can’t be…
“The place…” I trembled as I held and shook my head in pain. “The world I live in is…”
I screamed in agony as a splitting pain erupted in my head. The pain was unbearable, as if my brain was about to explode. I started to stumble from the pain as I bumped into someone and was promptly knocked off my feet. I landed on the ground with a hard thud and laid flat on my back. I struggled to breathe as I stared up at the sky, everything momentarily flashing red and black before going back to the normal evening colors.
“What is going on?” I weakly whimpered as I laid there, unable to move. The people moving by did not spare even a glance. I felt a surge of sudden extreme frustration and loneliness.
“What is happening to me?”
Desperately, I awaited an answer. Any answer.
“Have you finally opened your eyes?” Came a single voice in response. It was such a clear voice, cutting through all the noise around me, as if it called to me.
I immediately leapt to my feet and frantically searched around for the owner of the voice through the crowd of people. My eyes finally locked on to a strange silver haired figure unlike any other, slowly walking away. Slightly, the figure’s face turn to my direction and showed a grin that sent chills down my spine. There was no doubt about it, that was directed at me.
“Wait!” I shouted as I ran after that person. The distance was quite far between us, but the silvery hair stood out and almost even glowed, like a beacon. Beckoning me to follow.
I ran after the figure as fast as I could.
My stomach felt as if it has been turned inside out from all the running. I do not know how far or how long I’ve been running, chasing after that strange person. It seems that no matter how fast I ran I was unable to catch up. That person was always a safe distance away from me, always just out of my reach yet would still be in my sights.
“Was I being led somewhere?” I wonder as I wheezed and gasped for air, trying to catch my breath.
I checked my surrounding. It was a part of the city I’ve never seen or been to before. The sun has now completely set, the night sky and the moon hung over me, with it and the few flickering street lamps being my only limited lighting in a dark alleyway. There was not a single person around nor was there any sounds. As if the whole world has suddenly gone silent.
I immediately turn my head toward the sudden sound. Far down the alley, I can make out what seems to be a single dimly lit door. It was ominous, as if a sign. Slowly, I made my way towards it. It was unnatural. As I stood in front of the door, I felt every sense in my body warning against me being here.
“I shouldn’t be here, I can’t be here! Get out of here right now!” All my senses seem to scream as my entire body shook with fear and anticipation. Yet, despite my best judgement, I had a gut feeling that this is where I will get my answers. My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I slowly reach for the door handle.
“Stop! Don’t do it!” A voice suddenly called out to me. I panicked as I jumped around to see who said that. There was no one there! Frantically, I dart my head back and forth, my heart beating rapidly.
“Who’s there!?” I yelled out as I try to still myself. Paranoia and anxiety filled me when I couldn’t find anybody in sight.
“Over here!” The voice responded. It was coming from my pocket. I fumbled as I reached into it and pulled out my cellphone. It had turned on and on the screen was an unknown caller.
“W-who are you!?”
“H-hey! R-Ryuuko right? Hello, yes! Okay so please listen to me. Do not, I repeat, do not go through that door!” the caller pleaded to me. It was the voice of a male.
“Huh?!” How did he know where I was and what I was doing?! I once again scanned the area trying to see if someone was watching me, but there was no one there.
“H-how do you know my name? How are you calling-no, how did you get my number-, JUST WHO ARE YOU!?” I was terrified. Who was this person? How is he calling me?!
“My name is Mitsuhide Juntaro. I’m a member of the A.R.C. You know those two guys you met earlier?”
“The big scary looking one with terrible conversation skills and the other smug looking idiot with the headphones? Yeah, I’m with those guys.”
That research club? Could it be that they were following me? Are they actually after me and-
“S-s-so you weirdos are after me! Is it because I’ve learnt your secret about getting weapons? You’ve come to kill me?” My voice was shaking. I have to get out of here immediately.
“What? No, of course not! What kind of wild imagination is that? Listen, I’m just telling you; don’t go through that door!”
I turn to look back at the door. Why is he saying that? Does he know about what lies beyond it?
“A-and why shouldn’t I?”
“Eh? Umm… well… I can’t really tell you but it’s because it’s dangerous.”
“Yes, very! So do not go through it. Just step away and maybe…err…go back to the school?”
“Go back to the-, why would I do that? And how would it be more dangerous than staying here, right now? Knowing I’m being watched by that weird club of yours. I don’t believe you.”
“What?! No, no, no! Just listen to me! I’m not anyone suspicious. Please just-”
“Liar!!” I yelled as I immediately turned off my phone and grab the door handle. A blinding light washed over me as I swung the door open with all my might. Covering my eyes, I quickly stepped through the door without hesitation.
“Kenjirou, we have a situation here. That girl just went through a channel!”
“What the hell Mitsuhide-senpai! You were supposed to stop her!” Takuya madly interjected.
“I tried to stop her! But it was because of you two that she thought I was a suspicious person as well! What the heck did you two say to her that made her think we were a group of crazies?”
“Both of you, be quiet!”
The two immediately shuts up.
Kenjirou was sweating profoundly. He did not expect that girl to get caught up in this so soon. They were not fully prepared, but he has to get her before it’s too late.
“Mitsuhide, please, do you have the location of that channel?”
“Huh? S-sure but what do you plan to do?”
“I’m going to go after her.”
“What?!” Both of the boys cried out in shock.
“Prez, are you crazy? You can’t go after her! That’s suicide!” Takuya strongly protested.
“And what? Are we just going to let her die?!” He demanded angrily.
“No of course not but…”
Kenjirou quickly recomposed himself. He took a deep breath and tried to think.
“I will go after her myself. You stay here.”
“Don’t be an idiot! I’m coming with you!” Takuya firmly declared. “Those damn things aren’t going to be scared away from you just glaring at them. Besides,”
He pulled out a kitchen knife and skillfully spun it in his hand. “You know I’m better than you at this kind of stuff.”
Kenjirou let out a sigh. He doesn’t have time to fight him on this.
“Fine. Grab as much equipment as you can. We’ll have to hurry.”
“Kenjirou, I’m sending you the coordinates right now.”
On the surface, Kenjirou stood firm and composed, but inside he was trembling.
“Please, please let us make it in time.” He pleaded.
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