The Haunting: A Love Story
Prologue: Till’ Death...
ACT I -Black and White-
Chapter I: Funeral
Chapter II: Passing
Chapter III: Haunting
ACT II -Light Colors-
Chapter IV: A Drop of Green
Chapter V: Between You and Me
Chapter VI: What Lies Ahead
Chapter VII: Chained
Chapter VIII: Let me Love You
ACT III -Crimson Dusk-
Chapter IX: Dreamland
Chapter X: Sleep Walker
Chapter XI: Nightmare
Chapter XII: Shadows
Chapter XIII: Recollection
ACT IV -Clear Sky-
Chapter XI: Nightmare
The ticking of the clock echoes within this small prison of mine as the long arm of time slowly pulls itself to twelve. For a while now, the white ceiling of the roof has been staring back at me unflinchingly, challenging me to a stare and waiting for my inevitable defeat due to weariness. Instead, I turn my head from the pillow and sigh, observing the girl at my desk as she writes an entry in her private diary. The ray of the moon acts as her illumination as her pen scribbles away through the night, its end occasionally meet the tip of her pink lips each time she wonders how—or what—she should write next.
I couldn’t sleep.
It’s been almost an excruciating two and a half hour since I pulled myself into covers and down a few of my pills—a repetitive cycle I have grown accustomed to—and yet here I am, cursing at myself for my inability to bring myself to rest, lying on this bed with a bean-bag pillow on my head while watching the ghost of a girl stressing over her recent entry. Sometimes she twirls her pencil, another time she’ll rest them on her chin, and then probably bites them with frustration—it is akin to watching a junior school student cramming for her math exam.
Don’t tell her I said that.
But after a while, one way or another she’ll drop her pen on her material and let her thoughts flow like water. Shizune would write as if it’s her last, her thoughts transformed into words and are seemingly absorbed into the little notebook she keeps for herself as they are laid out like a foundation towards her next creation. I love her look when this happen; the motivation that shields her from anything foreign, the look in her eyes as she burns through the empty squares and fill them with characters, the speed and efficiency of her hand, the sharpness of her handwriting… everything. Yet none of this feeling of admiration explains anything to what I am feeling about her right now.
I fear Shizune.
Not because she’d stomp down on me, since that translates to how we always trade our banters; and I dare say I can be her equal—or even better—if I give it my all. I fear her because I can’t see
her purpose of appearing to me any longer. I can argue as hard as I want that she decides to return as a ghost because she loves me, but is that all? If so, is she planning on staying with me until my own life ticks away? Then, there’s the argument given by Miyazaki that she is not what she seems and that she—Shizune—is actually a vengeful spirit, given from what he and his group has gathered. Up until now, I can’t even decide for myself which side I should believe nor whether or not I should
After a while, Shizune rests her pen on the side and huffs with satisfaction and pride. She rereads her entry once more, possibly checking to see any errors—a perfectionist with a relatively high standard, as expected from her—before finally stashing them in one of my drawers on my desk. She stops to gaze at the moon for a moment with a dreamy yet philosophical look, taking off her glasses once to wipe the stains with her uniform before she turns into the room, displaying her full-presence under the moonlight. It’s as beautiful as I remembered. I quickly wave to catch her attention and she finally realizes that I have been awake for a while.
She smile almost mockingly and quickly raises both her hands to communicate.
[Enjoying the view, I see.]
[It is quite a beautiful night,] I hastily reply in sign language; admittedly, something far more attractive has stolen my attention. [Don’t you think so?]
[You don’t find anything else attractive?]
Shizune smiles teasingly, crossing her legs as if intentionally tempting me to peek under her skirt. Cheeky girl…
[Maybe I do.]
She giggles mutely, pressing her hand on her lips and sighs. Her eyes gazes upon me with an apologetic look, as if knowing what it is that has been keeping me awake—I wouldn’t be shocked either if she already has it figured it out; she’s quite sharp, though not vocal about it. [Is it because of what we discussed earlier?]
I reluctantly sigh, nodding in defeat as she scoots a little closer with the chair. I have to admit, Shizune is still as sharp as she’ll ever be.
When I returned from the hospital, Shizune was standing by the gloomy gate of Yamaku High, soaked by the rain despite carrying an umbrella—folded and tucked clutched on her hand. It was an odd sight indeed, but it was done so with a reason so as not to incite panic and unnecessary attention—after all, a floating umbrella in the middle of nowhere is bound to call in the attention of teachers and students. She was worried, and as someone who couldn’t stand still for a minute without fidgeting or get something done, she decided to wait for me—with or without an umbrella. To her, my return was a welcoming sight that she anticipated dearly; to me, it was horror in an entirely different level.
Shizune went to lengths to wait for me, refusing to open her umbrella not because it was her own personal ‘challenge’, but it was also because she knew that doing so would cause uproar of unprecedented proportion. Yet I’m torn between swallowing it all for granted or grow a skeptic and question her entire motive. Shizune is no longer alive, and the ‘ghost’ whom I’ve spent time with may not be the same person I knew and dearly loved. I felt confused and ashamed; not because of her and her own little ‘challenge’, but at myself and how I couldn’t accept her actions as her own any longer. What am I supposed to do?
But nonetheless, I explained some of the situation—about Misha, her accident, and how she fared. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her how it was all an attempted suicide—I wouldn’t
. I couldn’t bear the thought of burdening her further than what she already has to carry. Nonetheless, she only responded with a nod and proceeded to follow me, as if accepting everything ‘as is’ without further thought. Yet I knew just by a glance that she demanded more—either she figured that I was hiding something, or possibly she had a hand in it entirely. Gods…I don’t know anymore.
[I know it worries you, Hisao, I am too,] she signs after adjusting her seat. She is now at the fringes of my bed, seated comfortably on her little wheeled throne. [But there’s nothing we can do about it except wait until she return to campus.]
I nod in response, bestowing a worried smile from her. [You should get some sleep too. You have a long day tomorrow.]
[You want to sing me a lullaby?] I respond jokingly. She raises an eyebrow and chuckle mutely in amusement before she pulls a light ‘hit’ on my forehead.
[You know I can’t,] she quickly replies, while a sarcastic smile slowly creeps up on her lips. I slowly fear the worst. [But I’ll do what I can.]
She positions herself and her seat at the edge of the bed, snuggling in just enough to leave a small space between her and the night table where my medicine and alarm clock are. Suddenly, she raises her hand and positions it above me as if ready to strike down—a mischievously playful grin gleefully decorates her feature that causes my mental alarm to echo uncontrollably. I flinch, chuckling at the direction where this is going and frankly, I don’t hate this at all.
In a surprising turn of events, I feel her thin, slender fingers slowly run down and caress my hair in a steady pattern.
It’s a strange, comforting feeling…one that I’ve missed for a long time. I personally can’t remember when the last time I experience this fleeting sensation was. Its years back, way before I was diagnosed with arrhythmia, and far before I learned that Santa Claus was my old man dressed in a red suit stuffed pillows. It’s comforting—almost motherly, in fact, and I couldn’t help myself but to indulge in the warmth as my body slowly starts to relax and my thoughts begins to disperse. I take a quick look at Shizune and smile, to which she quickly return with a ‘what’ or a ‘don’t expect this from me often’-look, paired with a perfectly rose-tinted cheek. I smile and nod to give her my thanks as I slowly fall into slumber under her loving caresses.
In that moment, I believe that there is no way that she’s a ‘vengeful spirit’.
Yeah…there is no possible way.
The warm ray of the sun…
The trees that dance with the wind left and right…
The crying cicadas in the midst of the summer heat…
The fragrance of flowers and grass…
All these are so… comforting, nostalgic and yet so… terrifying. I remember these vivid scenes; one that plays like a broken tape recorder in my head, keeping me awake for nights to no end. It’s a strange, familiar sensation… one that I feel like I’ve tread upon countless times as I journeyed through those dark waters—those days! How could I ever forget about them? Quickly I scan the horizon before me—capture the atmosphere—and get a sense of…
Yes, there’s no mistaking it…
This is ‘that time’.
It’s the day where Shizune had that accident; the event that started it all.
My body rotate in a 360 degrees motion, eyes firmly locked in the distance as I search for the signs that may confirm my suspicion. I may not visit the area as often as I’d like, but after seeing this ‘scene’ so many times, a strange sense of familiarity flares up like fireworks inside me. I know this place, this layout; this ground... feels like treading on my old neighborhood before I joined Yamaku. Up to the west is the inclined road that will lead up to the higher part of the area and towards Yamaku High itself, while the opposite end leads down to the intersection where a bus stop is located. Just by the south-east, a flower shop and a fruit shop, side by side. To the north, there’s a convenience store where she bought that ice candy—she’s particularly fond of that blue, soda flavored one. That leaves the south…
I quickly turn around, and sure enough Shizune stands in her summer dress, an ice candy stuck in her mouth, and the sunset still in her grasp; she’s moving on her own, as if communicating to someone who’s supposed to be there beside her at the time—I reckon that is where we had our last conversation. I feel a cold chill as that wind—death—blows across my face and throws her sunhat into the blue sky. To the south-east, the truck that is supposed to crash her is within sight and—oh no.
I have to hurry.
I spring into motion, planting my feet on the ground, and propel myself forward towards her before it’s too late. I feel a ‘crunch’ at the bottom of my feet at the first step—a cicada. Its wings are crippled, legs are scattered, and its juices paints the pavement as it twitches before it lies motionless. A slight sense of remorse engulfs me for a brief second, but I quickly shrug it off and resume my course. I’m sorry mr. cicada, I promise I’ll tend to you later. Once again I leap forward, pacing myself faster and faster as I try to close in the distance to her. I feel my heart beat faster and faster as the wind enters my lungs in force, pushing me forward like a machine; it’ll be such a disappointment if my heart fails me here. I feel the gap between us closes at each pace as I steel myself to reach for her, to change the original outcome and save her—prevent the tragedy that is about to come. I keep my eyes trained on Shizune as she follows the events religiously before her accident; the ice candy in her mouth is quickly consumed and in one quick motion, the stick is tossed into a nearby bin. She looks up towards the sky, following the trail of the sun hat and not minding what’s ahead of her as she draws closer towards her objective, like a game. The oncoming truck closes in and comes within range of the park; my time is running out. If I could just reach her I could—
“There’s nothing good that comes from interacting directly with the supernatural, Hisao.”
The voice that comes from behind me quickly causes me to freeze over. In the spot where I was supposed to be standing on that day, someone else has replaced me.
“I’m warning you, prez. You’re playing with ‘something’ that we—humans—can’t understand.”
I don’t need this…
“Shut up,” I growl, turning to face him momentarily. I don’t have time for this. “Don’t you see? She’s alive! And If I can prevent it all from happening—if I can save
her, I will!”
“She’s already gone, Hisao,” he sighs in disappointment and turns his back on me. I can feel the blood in my vein boils with anger.“ If you want to remain in denial, suit yourself. I’ll warn you though; there’s nothing good that comes from playing with the dead.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he adds before he chuckles sinisterly, dissipating into the crowd…creepy.
Shit, what am I doing? I can’t stop now!
I quickly refocus and reinforce my attention towards my goal as the clock draws closer and closer towards the ‘zero hour’. I sprint and push myself harder, disregarding the warnings that the nurse gave to me concerning my condition about overexertion. For all I care, personal consequences may come later; her life is at stake, and I’m not going to sit around and watch it all unfold before my eyes again. I have to reach her, I have to!
She’s close—I can reach for her!
I draw my arm, stretching it as far as I can to reach for her and—
And I caught her.
I caught her by her left hand, just at the last minute. By god, I don’t believe this but…
I, Hisao Nakai, have saved
I have changed the outcome of this cursed reality.
The truck zooms before us, passing through the road where she’s supposed to be as the sunhat flutters further and further. I clench my grip on her tightly, suggesting to her not to advance any further as she lightly struggles to move forward, still focused on the fluttering sunhat that slowly glides its way past the street. The sunhat is my last priority and the least of my worries. I have accomplished my objective. Still, I’m surprised she’s still determined to get away from me to chase that wretched hat that delivered her to the hands of death like a present.
“It’s over, Shizune, just let it go,” I said in relief, knowing full well she can’t hear me. I reach for her shoulder to call for her attention and snap her away from this weird obsession.
’MIIIIIIN MIIIIIINMIIIIIIN MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN’
’MIIIIIIN MIIIIIINMIIIIIIN MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN’
The cry of a cicada echoes close by—far too close than normal. I look down at my feet…
…and there it is.
It’s a cicada…but not just any cicada; the
The cicada I accidentally crushed before.
Its wings are crippled, legs are missing, and its body is nothing but a shell of its former glory as it drags itself all the way, its juices trails across the ground. It flaps its crippled wings as it tries to fly, crawling in pain as if begging to die while still screaming its most recognizable sound; ‘Miiiinmiiiiinmiiiiiiiin’. As odd as it is, I feel certain remorse and regret as the cicada continues to squirm before, suddenly, the thing flares its crippled wing and flies as its juices drips from its broken shell, all the while repeating its call over and over before it collides itself with another cicada.
And consumes it…
Just as it does, the sky suddenly turns blood red as shadows begins to creep up, enveloping everything in darkness. I pause, quickly noticing the sudden change of scenery; Shizune, too, seems to have stopped her resistance. Then, her hand twitches slightly and erratically, as if calling for my attention.
I turn to her…
My curiosity meets the glare of a pair of blank, deathly eyes that seems to tore right through my lungs; the eyes of a corpse. It grins from ear to ear and wheezes a mute wheeze—like laughter, but not exactly it. Her eyes widen and start to shed tears of blood as I watch in horror before it melts, leaving nothing but a gaping hole…
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Immediately I turn around behind me to find Miyazaki, a devilish grin on his face as his eye patch snaps and flutters to the ground, revealing the same empty husk where his left eye is supposed to be. He laughs like a maniac, his eye widens with glee and a smile of a madman crawls to his lips before the crowd devours his presence whole. Fear and terror creeps up on me like spiders crawling on my legs when I turn to Shizune once again to be greeted with the empty husks of what her eyes are supposed to be staring back at me, observing my every move. I realize what’s going; I have to get as far from her as possible, and immediately I release my grip to escape, only to find that I haven’t been holding her hand all this time…
It has been hers
clenching on mine
I panic, trapped with a living nightmare that slowly is turning to face me in an erratic, twitchy motion. I hear the crack of her bones and the slouching sound of moist, sticky, flesh as she shifts to face me; her neck and head twitches erratically and violently before it ‘cracks’ to the side with her hand still in between her glasses and her face. Her skin grows pale with scabs and wounds forming and seeping with blood. The part of her face where her hand is slowly melts and tears away, revealing a deep wound that drips crimson redbefore the arm limps to her side and her glasses falls and shatters on the ground. Her blood-curling figure now faces before me in its entirety.It twitches erratically, its eyes are hollow and blood continually drips from them, her head is bent to her shoulder, skin full of wounds and bones that pierces out from her flesh, a face with a wound I can’t even describe, and a Cheshire grin that stretches from ear to ear. Her lips tremble and open, and a voice that is ‘raspy’ and ‘mute’ calls my name...
“Hiii… saa… ooo…….”
I try to scream, to call for help but to no avail as she pulls and lunges at me with her empty eyes fixed at its victim and her mouth wide open, as if to scream. A sharp pain encroaches on my throat as she pins me to the ground, her other arm flails itself in force over and over at me as she rips through it and chews through the vocal chords before digging her fingers deep. I can taste my own blood, forcefully ejaculated as she continuously digs through my esophagus; her corpse-like figure is now stained with blotches of red. I begin to choke and cough as she continuously twirls her finger inside me; her wry smile grows wider with joy at each twist that causes my blood to splatter her even further.
Then, her empty eyes shifts to mine as I slowly grow weak and cold. Her mouth opens as if to speak…
“Hiii… saaa… ooo……”
I grow weaker and my eyes become heavy. She inches closer…
Her face is within 10 centimeters from mine. I can feel her blood dripping on me before it trailsdown like water on my cheek…
“Can… you… tell… me....... what…. you…. think….?”
She flails backwards, limp like a doll without its marionette while maintaining her focus on me. Her mouth went agape before she let out an eerie, ‘mute’ scream…
I gasp for air, a sudden pain encroach on my chest as I struggle to breath. In reflex, my hand moves to my chest and clutches it tightly as I curl inward. Slowly, I start to feel the pain dissipate as I keep my best to remain calm and focused, taking small short breaths of air. Immediately I realize that I have returned to my room in Yamaku High’s boy’s dormitory, surrounded by its mundane walls of white. It is all just a dream; a nightmare. I reach for the medicines that are placed on the small table beside me and down a few prescriptions as necessary before I slowly rest my head back on the pillow; my alarm points that it’s five minutes to three. The chair beside me is empty and I sigh in relief.
Then, an almost audible ‘mute’ wheeze echoes beyond the door to my room. The door slowly creaks and opens slightly…
This isn’t a dream…
Beyond, a shadowy figure stands to observe me with a Cheshire grin that stretches from ear to ear and what seems to be a broken neck. It twitches slightly, and the door slowly creaks to a close.
…I am left alone, in fear.
“No, we do not
provide such service,” emphasize Miyazaki, crossing his arms and leaning on the door so as not to allow me into the clubroom. “We are the ‘Paranormal Research Club’, not the ‘Paranormal Exorcism
Never before have I welcomed the break of dawn as much as now. The moment the long arm of the clock strikes at 12, just before the chime of the morning trumpets echo across the room, I quickly shut the machine and dress as fast as I can. My eyes are heavy, weary, and tired—sleeping became a chore after the nightmare I ventured into, either intentionally or not. The same dream, the same nightmare
that I believed to have vanished with the flow of time returned with grandeur—this time, it wasn’t Shizune’s life that it sought for.
It was mine.
I died in that dream. Killed—murdered
—by the very hands of the person whom I loved. If the nightmare before it brought Shizune back, then what are the chances that the same… ‘thing’ that killed me would be out here too? What if that… ‘Thing’ is Shizune all along? If it is, then Miyazaki is right—hell, I hate to admit it but his claims may be legit. My life is on the line and the ‘Paranormal Research Club’ is my best chance of survival—at least, I hope so. Thus without further thought, I rushed through the morning routine—showers, brush, everything –and embrace the cold.
Every club that exists in Yamaku High has to go through the permission of the Student Council and its board of executives to be approved. Of course, it is difficult to determine how legit a club is when there’s only two
known members of the Student Council; one of which passed away almost half a year ago, making it the lowest in Yamaku High’s history. After its ‘revival’, the new Student Council inherited the information card of the clubs that operates within the premise of the campus—one of which is the infamous ‘Paranormal Research Club’. With the information, it isn’t relatively difficult for me to catch them right in morning during their first activity, before the first chime of homeroom summons us to our respective lairs.
After taking a few corners in the main building, I finally reach the room where the ‘Paranormal Research Club’ is supposed to operate. Hastily I straighten my shirt and the blazer I occasionally wear, keeping my looks sharp as I ready myself to knock on the door before me.
This is stupid, isn’t it? Getting freaked out by a dream like this…
But do I have any choice in this matter? Do I even have the balls to take the risk and ignore this without endangering myself any further?
I don’t think so.
I raise my hand, prepared, and just before I strike…
“Ima nanjika oshiete,
yume to itte, dakishimete—”
I hear a song—a singing voice, to be exact.
“Tonari ni anata wa iru,
Tabun chigau, yume o mitte,”
Probably one of the worst singing voice I’ve heard since Kenji’s drunken ramble; he’s singing about nightmare too… what timing.
With a quick knock, I immediately open the door and find the tone-deaf individual who—in surprise—quickly shuts his notebook, shuts up, and looks at me with one of his eye in what can be described to be that of ‘embarrassment and disgust’.
“You do know you’re out of tune, don’t you?”
He chucks his note to the sofa, stuffing his hands in his pocket and hassles to the door. “Shut up. I sing when I want to.”
“Does anybody ever tell you about that?”
He pauses, “No one…in particular.”
“That’s a lie, Ryou-kun! I remember I told you that before!”
Akin to that of a wisp, a voice suddenly resounds from within the classroom that is feminine in nature—almost ‘royal’ considering the tone and formality it brought upon. I take a quick peek and notice a figure with a long, silky hair that is seated at the far end of the room with a book at hand. Her eyes are mostly covered with her bangs. She smiles silently, closing her book and waves at me from her position before Miyazaki clears his throat and leans on the door, crossing his arms.
“So,” he starts. “What are you here for this morning?”
“From your club’s collection of spiritual paraphernalia…”
I take a deep breath and sigh, “Do you have any that can ward off evil spirits or the likes?”
And that is how I end up in my current situation. As against it as he is, the girl from within—who apparently is
Yuuko, the president of the ‘Paranormal Research Club’—eventually convinces Miyazaki to invite me inside. Reluctantly, he gestures me towards the sofa and quickly provides me with tea and green tea-flavored biscuit before he himself takes his seat—notes in hand. Yuuko herself, however, remains in her position and resumes her reading.
“I take it you’re seeing that apparition from the photo I showed you before the festival?”
“And I’m guessing,” he prepares his pen and flips through the pages of his notes. “It’s Shizune Hakamichi, the late-Student Council president?”
What should I say? Well, there’s no denying it now, is there?
Once again, I nod in confirmation. Miyazaki sighs depressively and closes his notebook… I fear the worst.
“Why does someone else always get to enjoy living my dream of being chased by a cute ‘female ghost’?”
...WHAT KIND OF REACTION IS THAT??
“Are you not happy with me?” calls Yuuko who—obviously—has been tuning in. Her tone is quite high and… hostile for a minute there.
In his short-but-quick act of redemption, Miyazaki turns to her superior and immediately apologizes in haste, akin to a cheating lover and a yandere girlfriend.
…don’t ask where I got that idea.
“Not to stand between your quarrel, but if I may,” I interrupt, quickly returning the attention of Miyazaki back to mine and Yuuko to her book. “What is the difference between a ‘wandering spirit’ and a ‘vengeful spirit’?”
“Well, that’s elementary my dear president,” Miyazaki remarks with glee.
“You called?” Yuuko answers almost immediately. I give a little chuckle.
“Err—I mean the Student Council
Miyazaki, I know it is for your own convenience, but one day you need to find a new nickname to differentiate one of us.
I remember before how Miyazaki first described the differences between them when we had the discussion at the park. Before the entire ordeal with Misha, he described how Shizune may be a ‘wandering spirit’—the infamous ‘Dusk Maiden of class 3-3’. His little theory is proven when we had the haunted house and so far, between the Paranormal Research Club and the Student Council, only he and I knew the truth about Shizune—and Miyazaki himself is just grazing some of it. Up until now, I am still uncertain where exactly Shizune stands between the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’. The recent event that occurred with Misha, Miyazaki’s investigation, as well as the dream—all of the event that occurred just recently may have ties with Shizune and may determine which category she falls into: a wandering spirit or a vengeful spirit.
And by the gods, I hope it isn’t the vengeful spirit. I hate being right all the time…
As he flips his notes, I brace myself for whatever it is to come—and what I may have to face in the future, whether I like it or not.
“Let’s start with wandering spirits, shall we?”
Wandering spirits, as the Paranormal Research Society described, are basically ‘intelligent’haunter that haunts a specific place either due to its strong connection or a curse that forces the apparition to roam the particular area. One of the strongest points of roaming spirits is how they are often anchored to a particular area—again, either by curse or strong connection to it. This location itself doesn’t limit to size or a building. For example, the roaming spirit of ‘Hachikuji’—an elementary school girl rumored to have died in a traffic accident—would roam the streets eternally until she locates the address of her mother’s home, the destination she was supposed to go to when she was alive. They are mostly harmless, as—in regards to ‘Hachikuji’—they would only approach a living soul to help them fulfill their final wish and help them rest eternally.
Vengeful spirits, however, aren’t restricted to those set of ‘rules’.
Vengeful spirits or ‘Malicious spirits’ are the remnants of a human who—due to unfortunate circumstances that allotted them towards a huge amount of hatred or dissatisfaction towards their life—has desired to remain in the world as a permanent haunter. They can come from anything—even simple urban legends or wandering spirits are applicable in this category as long as they have the desire to remain. It is unclear what exactly qualifies as a vengeful sprit, but one thing is certain: they are there to take the life of another living person, either due to vengeance or to find company. What bothers the most is how they are not restricted
to a single location and are known to have roam far and wide; in short, they choose
their haunting location and will remain for a set-time before they move on to a different hot spot. By that time, a lot of things may have happened—accidents, abnormalities, murders, unexplained disappearances, all of those. ‘Kuchisake-Onna’, for example, appears in numerous locations and cities all across Japan, as well as the ‘Teke-Teke’—both of these vengeful spirits has the sole purpose of taking the life of the living.
“And that,” Miyazaki concludes. “Is the difference between a ‘wandering’ and a ‘vengeful’. Of course there are more classifications to other types of hauntings such as poltergeists, doppelgangers, and what-not, but I best stop here so as not to take more of your time.”
He adds, “And besides, you’re not interested in anything else about the paranormal if it doesn’t pertain to your case.”
Miyazaki chuckles in delight as he concludes his analysis, confident about his extensive knowledge base. I’d love to wipe that smug look off of his, but now is not the time…there’s one more thing I need to make sure before I proceed any further.
“Another thing I’m wondering, if I may…” I start, clearing my throat so as to grab his attention. “May I see what’s… under that eye patch?”
With a puzzled look that seems to quiz even the simplest question, Miyazaki looks at me as if I’m some sort of alien life form from another planet. He shrugs in bewilderment and nonchalantly takes off his eye patch and reveals…
And it reveals another eye, though unlike the one on his right, the eye seems…
“Artificial, I know,” Miyazaki interrupts before he lowers his eye patch back to its original position. “I had my left eye removed because of a disease, but I don’t like to keep it ‘empty’, you see?”
He chuckles, a slight discomfort permeates from it. “So instead, I ask the doctor to stuff an artificial eye in there. It’s not functioning, but with this at least I feel complete. Now, why are you asking me about this again?”
I quickly dismiss Miyazaki and apologize for my rudeness, to which he shrugs it with a ‘whatever’. But with this, it reassures me the Miyazaki in my dream is not
the same as the one I am having a conversation with.
But then, where does Shizune stand?
The line where Shizune truly belong to is now becoming more and more apparent. I have to make sure... for the good of us.
It’s for the best.
“Then, where would the ‘Dusk Maiden’ stand?”
I start to explain the dream I had last night, what possibility or connection it has, and whether or not it is related. The vice-president scratches his chin, quickly revises his notes, and then sighs almost regrettably…
“I’m afraid with the recent events that occurred—either it’s coincidental or not—then I have to proclaim that she…”
I brace myself. I don’t want to know… I can’t face this…
“She is a vengeful spirit—a ‘dream manipulator’-type, if I am to give it a name.”
Gods… I hate being right all the time.
As Miyazaki rambles on about how he comes to his conclusion, I have shut myself from the world around me. It can’t be… I don’t want
it to be this way… but why? Why does she—who has always been isolated from life around her—have to end up like this, as a vengeful spirit? Is it because she’s lonely? Because she’s always in constant disconnect from the things that go around her? Is it because of that very reason did she roam around Yamaku, looking for her ‘friends’ to kill and accompany her…?
What have I gotten myself into…?
Now I have to pay for this, do I…?
Snap! With a loud bang on the table, his loud intimidating voice, and his eye just 30 centimeters away from me, I’m back to reality with a fuzzy mind as Miyazaki relaxes and leans back on the sofa. He scratches his hair and sighs painfully.
“Look, I’m sorry we don’t have something like an amulet, a proton pack, or something along the line to help you. But if you’re really worried about all this…”
He pauses and takes a sip from a glass of water. “Do you know that the blind have a greater affinity towards the paranormal?”
Miyazaki rests his notebook on the table, leaning back on the sofa before continuing. “You see, because the blind can’t see, they have a greater sense of what’s around them—be it hearing, sensation of touch, smell, etcetera. The unexplainable or the paranormal is one of them.”
“What I’m suggesting is,” he continues. “Your secretary, Lilly, may have better ‘concept’—so to say—of what the ‘dusk maiden’ really is. But then again…”
He huffs, followed with a pregnant pause as he finds the right words to convey. “Anything considering the supernatural is best taken with a grain of salt. There’s still so much we don’t know—not even the so-called ‘professionals’ have a clear idea what they are.”
“But hey,” with a confident smile and a relaxed seating posture, Miyazaki concludes our conversation as Yuuko makes her way and sits beside him. “That’s still a mystery waiting to be uncovered.”
After the conversation, I quickly excuse myself as the chime of the homeroom bell is about to announce the start of a new day. I take a quick, polite bow and is about to close the door of the club room when—to my surprise—Yuuko herself stops me. I glance at Miyazaki who just raise his hands and shakes his head with a surrendering smile, saying ‘yare-yare’ in between his breath. Yuuko herself seems to be persistent in telling this herself, so apparently he obliges. With her bangs covering her eyes, the ‘ghost president’ of the ‘Paranormal Research Club’ is as mysterious as the club itself. She gives a heartwarming smile before revealing me a story—an urban legend—of another school.
“Before you leave, did you know there’s a ghost story circulating in another school concerning a relationship between a ghost and a human boy?”
I shake my head, skeptical of what good it is that will bring to me. With a smile, Yuuko starts explaining how it goes.
“Apparently in another school, a boy fell in love with a female ghost that haunts his campus. To his luck, the ghost returned his feelings and both of them promised each other that they will be together forever.”
She continues, “In the end, the boy—along with the ghost—disappears from the school together and has never been heard from since.”
“Doesn’t that mean that the boy is… spirited away by the ghost?” I reply.
She shrugs, “Maybe so, but when you think about it…”
Yuuko gives a reassuring smile.
“It does have a ‘happy ending’ ring to it, don’t you think?”
The chime of homeroom echoes across the campus, signaling the start of the period as students rush in towards their respective classes. I hurry myself into class 3-3, taking a short bow and do the usual greetings to the students—part of me is expecting to find the loud outburst of my pink-haired comrade and her usual bubbly attitude to be the center of class attention, as usual.
But not today, however…
The air ensnares the class is that of a deafening silence, broken only by the quiet and faint whisper of the members of class 3-3. Quietly I shift my way to the seat and put down my book bag beside my desk, turning to Hanako at the other end of the room to ask what is permeating only to find her shaking her head in denial, telling me to just…accept it, as is. It’s an uncomfortable silence, one that I can’t sit through for even a minute as the whispers around me grows louder and louder.
“Did you hear about the vice-president?”
“You mean Mikado?”
“Apparently, she was caught in an accident near where Hakamichi passed away!”
Ah, they’re talking about Misha. Rumors do spread fast here…
“I heard it wasn’t an accident; it was the ghost of Hakamichi trying to spirit her away!”
“Really? Uwaaah…that’s creepy…”
“I don’t think so…could it be attempted suicide?”
Rumors…but even so, it’s shocking how fast it reaches here and poke its head as if it has a life of its own. Throughout the morning and up to lunch period, the one thing that circulates within the class is the talk concerning Misha’s condition, the accident that led up to it, and how it may or may not be the fault of Shizune’s vengeful spirit. I, for one, have nothing to say in the matter and remain silent throughout, as the conversation between peers—from whispers to notes—drags on and on. It is to my surprise that Shizune herself isn’t in the vicinity of the classroom, wandering around somewhere, probably preoccupied with whatever it is she has in her mind. It’s strangely…reassuring.
Then, the bell that marks the end of the day echoes, and as usual I march myself into the Student Council office.
The office is—as one might describe—a ghost town, with only Lilly and Hanako present. Already they are seated on their respective seats and have their notes out, chatting quietly about life, food, and other random shenanigans. Quietly, I made my way and sit at the end of the table where the President is supposed to be. With Misha still hospitalized, only three executive members of the Student Council shows up.
Three people…only three people show up today.
It’s depressing how this Student Council is shifting itself into the one that was under Shizune; difference is, I was one of the last ‘original’ member of the trio. I can somehow understand Shizune’s feeling when the members of her Student Council left one by one, leaving only Misha and herself to tackle the entire problem; the stress of juggling their own personal lives—or what’s left of it—combined with academic and the matters of the council, I can see how this isn’t an easy task to handle. But time won’t stop for us, the show must go on! And thus without further delay, I open my notes and start the regular Student Council meeting.
The meeting itself lasted only for thirty minutes, covering what we can and what we should do with Misha out of the equation for a while. The matters of the Student Council—either externally or internally—were already previously organized by Shizune herself, making my job three times easier and thus allowing us to quickly distribute our work evenly. With the meeting adjourned, Hanako politely excuses herself from the room as she has matters to attend to—apparently, she made a few friends in the newspaper club and is interested in their current project. Thus, it leaves Lilly and I alone in the Student Council office. What a strange twist of fate…or luck.
A pregnant silence followed with a rhythmic tapping of a cane.
“Hisao…can we speak?”
Just like the day before, Lilly approach me with the same intention she has previously—at least, I assume it is. Miyazaki did suggest me to consul my assistant—Lilly—concerning Shizune and what she is exactly, hoping to provide me with a ‘closure’ on my conflicting stance on the matter. I hope he’s right…
I lay down my notes and tune all my attention to Lilly. “Is this about…Shizune?”
“Yes…” she replies, nodding slightly. “I-I’m afraid for your safety, Hisao.”
She stammers a little, her palm is sweating from nervousness as she starts to speak. “I know I may not be in the position to speak about this, but…”
She stops, shifting her figure left to right in uncertainty. “Oh, this is odd…I can’t believe I’m actually about to say this…”
“Go on….” I urge her, keeping myself in full-attention to what she’s about to say. “I believe you.”
Lilly returns a reassuring smile and sighs. “Thank you.”
“If I may,” she continues. “Is it…strange to you if I say that, until this day, I keep on sensing Shizune’s presence?”
She sighs worryingly, her blank eyes almost always constantly shifting through her surrounding as if to locate any other presence in the room. “What is most worrying is how it seems to always be around you or, in certain cases, here, in the Student Council office.”
“Hisao,” she continues, almost begging. “Please…if you do know something about this…do tell me. Is this…true?”
“Yes,” I reply. “For some time now, I have been spending my time with Shizune—or, well, her wandering spirit at least.”
Immediately Lilly gasps, horrified at my statements. “Hisao, you don’t know what you’re dealing with!”
“It is, but…” she continues. I can sense fear and panic engulfing her. “She isn’t what you think she is anymore…”
At this point, cold sweat starts to run down my forehead as I allow her to continue further.
“Can you sense it…? The…‘thing’…you have been interacting with?”
She nods, taking a few steps closer to me. “I can sense her but…it’s not the Shizune I know...”
“This…‘Shizune’ is…just the thought of it…”
The door creaks slowly, yet I have no time to turn and check.
“It’s sending chills down my spine! It is enveloped with a chilling, haunting, deathly sensation…vile… ”
Lilly stumbles backward in fear and falls on the floor. The echo of her cane as it drops on the wooden floor echoes across the room. I pause to listen.
We are not alone…
“I-it’s here…its close!”
“Hisao…!” she pleads, crawling away from me desperately. “Get me out of here…!”
I feel a sudden chill running on my spine, as if death slowly creeps on my shoulder as Lilly continues to drag herself desperately towards the wall with tears running on her eyes. Immediately I can sense the very thing she has been describing—the chilling, haunting, and deathly sensation that creeps up in the middle of night, waiting for the right moment to spirit you away. My entire body freezes in fear, cold sweat runs on my palm. The very ‘thing’ is standing right behind me…
Don’t turn, Hisao don’t turn around!
But…slowly…just a little bit…I have to make sure…
…I turn around…
What stands before me is something right out of my nightmare…
-END CHAPTER XI-
I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I'm writing it
This story is in progress, but we're soon coming close to the end of ACT III. If you're wondering what song it is Miyazaki's singing, it's NightMaRe by SNoW
, check it out if you feel like it!