The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED 02/26/2015*

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griffon8
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by griffon8 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:47 pm

He might be thinking of all the business books which use Sun Tzu and expand on what he said, applying it to business.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

Completed: 100%, including bonus picture. Shizune>Emi>Lilly>Hanako>Rin

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nemz
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by nemz » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:02 pm

Megumeru wrote:Misha will...well, let's just say she'll have her chance. :wink:

what's Shizune without Misha, right?
In context that actually sounds ominous.
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

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Megumeru
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Megumeru » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:04 pm

nemz wrote:
Megumeru wrote:Misha will...well, let's just say she'll have her chance. :wink:

what's Shizune without Misha, right?
In context that actually sounds ominous.
Well, is it?

Hohoho~
Next one should be up this week if by Friday, then Saturday or Sunday depending how much I see it 'fit'. Sometimes a story is like a monster that has a life of its own--it wants that freedom, but when you give it that you also have to keep in mind that it has a set of 'rules' to follow outlined by the author, where as breaking that could set-off unwanted chain-reaction in future chapters and that could lead to hints of bad writings.

Maybe I think too much. I should get back on the chapter again, stay tune!
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Scissorlips
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Scissorlips » Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:59 am

Certainly not the direction I was expecting things to head in, but I'm definitely curious to see where things go from here.
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I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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Megumeru
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Chapter V: Between You and Me

Post by Megumeru » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:10 am

The Haunting: A Love Story

Chapters
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 V: Between You and Me

Traditionally, my weekends are spent lingering idly with a book handy or a stop to the convenience store for my weekly supply of light snacks and—if any—weekly tankoubons (paperback comics), though the latter is compensated with my reading habit so it’s often off from my list. With autumn drawing closer than ever, I was looking forward to spending my weekend with Shizune for a quiet—if it still applies to her—stroll down the park in town or simple window shopping; a date, if I am to simplify the details. Of course, these are originally planned before the accident, but has lingered in my mind ever since. But when she made her return, I was glad—ecstatic, even—that we could finally go along with the plan that I’ve dreamed for some time.

It didn’t happen that way.

As good as things came to be ever since her return, we could never fulfill that little dream—nor was there a chance, and thus my weekend became a crash-course class on the paranormal and the supernatural. Much like how laws work around modern society, there are rules that bind those of the supernatural with the world they are living in and this is no exception to Shizune. First off, Shizune returned not as a human-per se, but as a ghost that may be classified similarly to specters and wraiths who often appear in cheap-horror flicks. Like its counterparts, ghosts are bound by laws that restrict their movements to that of mortals—nothing is exactly ‘free’ in this world, I suppose. Where mortals are restricted within the boundaries of their countries, spirits and ghosts are bound to a specific location they held great attachment to when they were alive—in Shizune’s case, Yamaku High. Even when she try with all her might, run as fast as she can, or put all her mind into it, Shizune can never step outside the boundaries of Yamaku High, and that immediately foils any future dates in town for the two of us. But not all seems bad.

Secondly, ghosts do not require sleep or rest.

Or so I was told. During our first night—metaphorically speaking—I offered Shizune my bed while I use my desk as a make-shift pillow—teasingly she did suggest that we should share the space, but I fear my virtue might crumble in seconds if we are to do so, and thus I declined in kind. Nonetheless, she told me that there never was any lingering need to rest ever since she passed away—humorously, she joked how her body was already in a ‘permanent rest-state’ and thus eliminates the need for her soul to do so. As little understanding I have with that of the paranormal, her ‘reasoning’ is as legit as it sounds; after all, she has the experience of living as a ghost. As such, our little outings can only be done at night and within the boundaries of the campus. When she suggested this idea, I was highly against it—the thought of sneaking out in the middle of the night and wander the deserted campus pose a heavy risk not to her, but to my own records both academic and medical wise. A selfish reason, yes, but when you have an academic future to consider my own reasoning is legit as it is. But when we attempted it one late Saturday night, I was mesmerized by the sight she gave before me and saw that the prize outweighs the consequences.

The rooftop of Yamaku High at night exhibits a sight few could enjoy.

Shizune spreads her arm wide open before the expanse of the stars above and the glittering lights of the campus and the city below. With a wave, she motions me to move a little closer. [Do you see all this, Hisao?]

I nodded.

[Back when I was still a child, my father used to take me to the mountains or somewhere high where we can see the star.]

[Stargazing must have been your father’s hobby then?]

[No,] she replied. [It’s so he could ‘incite’ my urge to shout at the top of my lungs. My father used to believe that my inability to speak was because I refused to.]

She pouted with irritation towards the memories of her old man, [I would scream at his face if I could do so in the first place.]

[Stargazing is something I picked up and enjoyed,] she continued with a smile that slowly crept up her face brimming with both pride and joy. [I’ve been to better places, but as of now this will be my favorite spot in Yamaku High.]

Before her were stars and the glittering lights of the city below. My wrist watch definitely screamed that it was way pass curfew, but all that vanished when I took a glimpse at Shizune who admired the sight as a slight breeze caressed her hair; it suited her, and that little adventure of ours complemented her more than the little walk in town I planned. The solemnity when she watch the stars, desperately pointing at ones she recognize, then sign their names with excitement had lifted my heart to a flutter—the good kind—and brought a smile like kings bearing gifts. Sometimes it’s these simple things that offered more than what I bargained; definitely, we’d be doing this again in the future.

Thirdly, ghosts do bleed.

Although this is still an enigma to me, apparently they still bleed like mortals with the exception of a higher-than-normal regeneration. As much as I find it hard to swallow, it’s difficult to denounce it when you see it happening first-hand; it’s like that time when someone professes their love to you and you realize that you have a sudden urge to faint credited to your weak heart. You know it happened, but you just couldn’t believe it did; trust me, I know how it feels. Anyway, the first record of this occurred on a Sunday evening in the Student Council office after she suggest—convinced me more or less—to sort out the files and documents in order return the Student Council to a working order. Thus, we went on a date on Sunday in Yamaku High’s Student Council Office, laboring for the good of the school.

Well, that’s what I want to believe anyway—I wasn’t too keen on spending my day off in the Student Council Office.

We were sorting out some of the old pamphlets, papers, various documents, and reports that were to be filed when suddenly, ‘it’ happen.

“…!”

With a jolt, Shizune pulls her hand away from the paper, knocking a nearby pen holder and let an audible shriek that echoed as loud as a subtle whisper or the passing wind. Immediately I raise my head from my share of tasks from the cluttering pens that fell from the container, eyes locked to the girl who winces in pain; a single trail of crimson liquid oozes from her index finger. I jump from my seat without a second thought and ran in search for a first aid kit.

Then SNAP!

Within the second I raise myself from the table, the snap of a finger that echoes as loud as a bell chime stops me immediately and blur my focus on the first aid kit to the origin of the sound. With one hand raised and the wound on her finger tended in her mouth, Shizune trains her eyes on me with a stern and serious look that could tame lions and send kings to their knees. My feet were frozen on the spot and my eyes watches her free hand as it dances with tenacity and strength.

[It’s just a paper cut.]

[A paper cut is still pretty bad,] I reply quickly. [Let me get the first aid kit and a Band-Aid.]

[You are over reacting.]

[Blood will keep on oozing if you leave it be. Better safe than sorry.]

She sighs in irritation, shakes her head in annoyance—for what reason I am unsure of—then smile before she approach me and raise her wounded finger right in front of my eyes.

…and my eyes open with disbelief.

It’s like something that came out of science fiction or the work of a keen and creative author. The wound on her finger—the long gash that continuously oozes blood—slowly but almost immediately closes and mends itself right before my eyes before it finally disappears without a trace, leaving me speechless and amazed at the same time. As if she knew how ‘natural’ it is, Shizune calmly retreats her hand and proudly raises her head as if mocking my limited knowledge on the nature of the supernatural. It is almost too easy to read her expression that screams ‘you worry too much’ when a childlike grin slowly carves its way up her face. I feel like an idiot for worrying on something that doesn’t exist in the first place—her paper cut, I mean.

[I told you it’s just a paper cut.]

‘Just a paper cut’, alright. But it’s still pretty impressive how fast it healed; just the sight of it alone would probably send Highlanders to shame.

The little ‘date’ we had on Sunday conclude my weekend and summarizes what it has been; a crash-course of the paranormal taught by Shizune herself. It was strange at first—out-worldly, even—seeing something you’re familiar with doing things you couldn’t have imagined, but as days went by and turn to weeks, I grew accustomed to the antics and the nature of her haunting. Even if she is chained to the grounds of Yamaku High, to spend the night alone wandering, or to eat and sleep without feeling hungry or tired, Shizune remains true to herself. Eventually, I stopped caring for the oddities and accepted everything naturally, like a routine that has been happening for a very long time. I wake up the next few days to the sound of my alarm (sometimes by Shizune and anything she might get her hands on), clean up, dress up, and head to class with her tagging along beside me. During class, she’d sit on the edge of her desk while glancing on the notes I wrote—sometimes she’ll even walk up to the teacher’s desk and read Mutou-sensei’s for ‘enrichment’. The Student Council itself has made significant improvement after our last outing, partly due to Shizune’s involvement behind-the-scenes as a ‘ghost secretary’ who handles and organizes most of our work, providing us—through me—abundant of experience and organization. During lunch, we would eat together in the Student Council office with Misha and Hanako; often times, my bento were dishes handmade by Shizune. How she managed to achieve this feat without frightening the staffs or the students in the home-economics lab is beyond my knowledge, but nonetheless her cooking always turns out great.

It’s almost as if everything has finally returned to normal—almost.

Then a few weeks passed…

-------------

The sound of my alarm echoes within my room as an early warning to what is to come. It’s Monday, and like many other healthy adolescent we believe it is in our right to be entitled to a few extra hours of rest after a week-long of labor—or at least what we believe to be, regardless of what others may think. With a head that throbs as loud as taiko drums on parade, I wrestle and struggle against the comfort of my blanket to reach for the blaring clock that will reward me with eternal silence—that, and a free ticket to dreamland. Feeling my way through the dark, I found the object I am looking for and smash the button of the infernal machine to snooze it and claim my reward—or so I thought it would.

If there is one thing I learn for the past few weeks, that if it’s not the alarm…

…then it’s the ghost that’s haunting me.

Without warning, a strange, plastic-like object slaps my hand with burning force and causes me to recoil in shock. In haste, I retreat my hand and myself further into the refuge of the blanket as I hear the curtains slide open and feel the warmth of the light penetrating through the window—it’s too much for a Monday morning! Yet without mercy or remorse, the onslaught continues as it further attempts to pull me away from slumber land. In a near-identical fashion to the curtains, my blanket flies from my grasp with the subtle force of a typhoon and exposes me to the warmth and blinding light of an early Monday morning—with a compliment of a few gentle tap on my shoulder followed with a slightly-agitating smack on the head.

“I-I’m up! Goddamn it I’m up!”

How do I feel at the moment? Irritated? Yes, I believe I am. Tired? Very much so considering how subtle her attempts are. Agitated? Yes, probably enough to send a bear back into hibernation until next spring. If it’s someone else, I’ll be more than happy to perform the ‘Hokuto’-signature move and say that one-liner as a follow up—not to mention how manly one may look after performing such. But considering who I’m up against, it’ll take tons of effort and the brain of an ace attorney or the action of the dumbest ice fairy to defeat her—even then there’s still about ninety-percent chance I’ll curl up and die before it could happen. Why?

[Good morning.]

Because if a simple ‘good morning’ that is conveniently paired with an innocent smile can erupt a certain frequency that causes butterflies to run amok in my stomach and my heart to flutter—the good kind of way—then I can’t imagine how much damage she’ll cause if she tries something a lot more daring (her little ‘stunt’ in class back then could have cost me another trip to the hospital due to ‘heart failure’). Fair? Nope, never is and never will be. Kenji is right about one thing: women are terrifying—yet fascinating—creatures…



…is that a fly-swatter she’s waving around?

As conspicuous as a lion in the middle of a herd of sheep, it is pretty self-explanatory what the purpose of the fly-swatter she has on her hand—aside from its original purpose, of course. With a slightly agitated mind and a thirst for vengeance, I raise my hand in an attempt to sign a witty remark regarding the true ‘purpose’ of her fly-swatter and her definition of it—if she has any. But then I notice a sweet, caramel-like smell nearby and the distinct scent of a recently cooked dish that I quickly retract my attempt and decide to ask her what it is. [Is that tamago-yaki I smell?]

[Is that the first thing you say in the morning?] She replies with a humorous yet slightly mocking stroke. Even if she can’t speak, it’s pretty easy to recognize her accent and tone when you spend above seventy five-percent of your daily activities with the ghost of your deaf-mute girlfriend with a penchant on sarcasm and satire. I’m not complaining, or at least I don’t sound like it.

[You’re supposed to reply with a ‘good morning’.]

[I’d love to,] I reply. [But I guess that fly-swatter lost me a number of brain cells that I forgot how to.]

She straightens her glasses and raises her head high and proud, as if telling me that her victory in this is assured. For a moment, I feel a slight chill down my spine. [Then I guess you don’t want breakfast?]

She rests the fly-swatter on my desk and pick up the tamago-yaki (it is a tamago-yaki; handmade by her, too) and a pair of chopsticks that are conveniently set nearby. She holds the small plate and the chopstick in one hand, freeing the other and signs—with a humorously jolly accent—about ‘why I should have it’. Pretty confident of her if you think about it, as if she knew I’ll curl up and submit anytime soon—though this does not mean I am admitting defeat.

[This tamago-yaki that you like so much,] she starts. [Was handmade by me for you.]

She continues, heavily emphasizing ‘me’ with each stroke. [Cooked for you.]

[And best part of it all,] she concludes with a swift snap. [You get to see me enjoy this right in your face.]

[I.TA.DA.KI.MASU]

…and as fast as she signs it she takes the chopstick and swallows one of them whole, not to forget to provide me with a variety of expression about how sweet, soft, and mouth-wateringly moist it is. Shizune is quite an excellent cook, and I have to admit that watching her swallow her own handmade tamago-yaki—my breakfast—does cause an increase build-up of drool followed with hints of irritation and regret on my part.

Strangely, the way she eats can slightly be arousing too…

-------------

As cruel as she can be sometimes, Shizune is also known—rarely—as a fair and just leader. As much as she loves to tease me with a handful of flirts and kinks she came up with, Shizune also knows when to stop; to cease and give space from her haunting. Even after she tease me with the tamago-yaki this morning, she’s kind enough to return my breakfast—or what was left of it—and still manage to pack me a bento for lunch. I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, she does have near-unlimited time considering how her body doesn’t need any rest or sleep nor does it feel tiredness and fatigue. But considering how she can still bleed, I wonder if it’s possible for her to die twice



Oh god, I should not think about such morbid premonition this early in the morning.

I open the classroom door and briefly observe its surrounding as the students return their gazes back to their routine. Even as the air grew colder with each passing day and the leafs fade in color, the class remains unchanged with one empty desk still waiting to be filled—a vacant table that once host Yamaku’s most notorious deaf-mute Student Council President. I take a short glimpse at her desk and roll my eyes to its owner who now stand and watch my moves curiously as I made my way to my own. I pull my seat and claim it, waiting for the inevitable start with a grunt and a sigh while Shizune—being the original owner of the now-vacant desk—callously sits on top of it and crosses her legs revealing the small patch of skin from her thigh-high sock almost teasingly. She might be invisible to most, but it’s quite perturbing to know how she can act so defenseless around me—she does realize the dangers of disturbing a healthy young male’s hormonal instinct, right?

“Hii-chan, good morning…!” And of course, like any other morning there’s always one particular individual who comes barging in with an entrance and a voice that easily outmatch any salesman—probably on-par with a speeding train.

Except today, Misha—as elegant as a rhinoceros with its tail on fire as it is—strikes in with an entirely different note that left me and Shizune almost speechless. “...you cut your hair?”

“Yup!” she replies energetically as she claims her seat. “I thought it’d be nice to see a change of pace. Does it suit me?”

“Well…”

The drills I remember are no more, replaced with an absence—emptiness—at the spot where they used to hang freely by her hair. The wind that blew from an open window would no longer cause her drill to dance, yet instead it gently caresses it and sways it to and fro without the majestic display it used to have. On her hair, a heart-shaped hair clip is pinned neatly to keep her brand new crown in check; not to mention, it further sensualize her feminine charm. As much as I am stunned with her new look, I can’t help but to notice how cute she can be with the new hairstyle; after all, Misha is still a young woman despite her tomboyish nature that pops up unannounced once in a while. Though I have to say, I prefer her old drills better than her new feminine-short look.

I don’t know if Shizune is thinking the same thing as I, but from a short glimpse I can tell that she’s not too happy with Misha’s new hairstyle.

“It suits you.”

Misha chuckles and a wide grin stretch over her like a thousand suns. “It does, doesn’t it?”

As much as I want to disagree, I have no right to judge her preference on the matter. It’s true that she—Misha—looks better with her drills swaying by her side, but that’s my preference. Part of it may even be influenced by the time I’ve spent with Misha and Shizune altogether and how accustomed I’ve come to her bizarre hairstyle. I do have to admit though, no matter how strange and bizarre—not to mention how *pink* it is—the ‘drill’ suits her more than her current cut. But alas, my chance to ask her why she decides to cut her hair escapes me when Mutou-sensei strolls into the class with the attendance book at hand followed with the echo of the school bell.

Maybe I’ll ask her later at lunch.

-------------

[I don’t like it,] signs Shizune as we head for the roof with a bento box I am privileged to carry. [I don’t like it one bit.]

[No use venting it at me. I can’t change her hairstyle.]

[You can at least show some concern over my venting.]

I sigh in resentment, surrendering to Shizune’s stubbornness on her ‘right’. As my luck holds out, apparently Misha decides to skip out in pursue of her ‘goal’—or whatever she said she’s lacking—and head over to the teacher’s office for some counseling. I had gotten a little curious a little earlier and—after asking a few teachers here and there—apparently Misha is in a tight-spot concerning her performance in Yamaku High and her future particularly on the regular survey that ask each student where they would like to go after graduation. Misha, in particular, left her sheet empty and with her current progress involved it does raise some concern for the faculties. Not that I can blame her—I, myself filled the survey with a rather vague answer of wanting to pursue a life-time carrier on science and research, even now I’m still waiting for my name to come up in the list of names I am bound to call out each morning over the PA system.

It does surprise me though; I never expect Misha to have trouble over this considering how she told me once that she wanted to be a sign-language teacher. Did she change her mind or…?

Immediately my thoughts are interrupted by the sudden appearance of Shizune’s face before me and a stare as sharp as a spear that pierces through chrome armor. Her eyes are locked to me, hands on her waist, and her feet are planted on the ground as if intending on stopping me from advancing any further. Quickly I check my surroundings in an effort to lighten the pressure before engaging her in our usual silent conversation. With a snap that explodes as loud as the grand bells of a cathedral, my attention is quickly captured by the phantom Student Council President as she animatedly raise her hand and dances them with dexterity and finesse.

[There’s something wrong with Misha.]

Curiously, I tilt my eyebrow—partly from the oddity of her claim. [What makes you think that way?]

In a swift motion, Shizune straightens her figure and rests her arms behind her. She sighs hesitantly, closing her eyes as if pondering for the right word to use before nodding in full confidence to a decision she made deep in her mind. As swift as a katana, her hands sails and cuts through the air with force and vigor yet paired with a strangely calm and wise stroke that bears weight and wisdom, welcoming me to stay and listen to what she has to say. I find this captivating—mesmerizing, even—to see how forward and aggressive she can be yet calm and calculative at the same time. It is both her crown jewel and her spear; it imposes respect and enforces order, while at the same it awed crowds and teaches stones to feel. Despite being a deaf-mute, her gestures and her resilience that screams ‘I am here’ often defines her and maybe—no, definitely—is one of the reason why she easily rope my heart.

[I’ve spent most of my time in Yamaku with Misha,] she states first hand. [And as far as we go, I have never seen her shift this far before.]

[If you’re worried, why not tell her? I mean, maybe if…]

Quickly her slender finger wraps around my hand and forces me to stop. She shakes regretfully and looks at me—almost pleading, even— to not raise the subject. Quietly she retreats her hand back to her side then slowly takes a step back, allowing the figure behind me a chance to speak—or in this case, warn me of her presence. A pair of hands suddenly reach above my eyes and covers them tightly; it is an old prank, one that dates back long before I probably come to existence that is still nonetheless amusing in its own regards. With a voice that chimes like a thousand bells, she speaks her intention and by then everything is obvious.

“Guess who~!”

“I wonder who it could be,” I reply teasingly. “Misha, right…?”

I feel the pressure that covers my eyes—and the soft sensation of two foreign objects on my back—disappear, allowing me to turn and meet the assailant who is none other than Misha. It is pretty obvious in the first place; it’s hard not to recognize her bubbly voice and loud vocals that easily outclasses drill sergeants and fervent politicians. She frowns comically, crossing her hands and disses me with what she describe as ‘my lack of humor’ or something along that line…not that I mind. “You’re no fun, Hicchan.”

“It gets pretty predictable the second a certain voice busts your eardrums.”

Misha let out a laugh that echoes across the hallway, notifying every single form of organism in the area—be it man or micro—of her earthshaking voice. With a smile that stretches as far as her cheeks go, it is difficult to agree to Shizune’s earlier statement concerning Misha; sure, she does seem to be a lot more active recently, and the haircut does came as a surprise. Even so, the smile she shamelessly displays casts doubts on Shizune’s judgment; as much as she claims her to be, it is moot before Misha’s happy-go-lucky character. In the corner of my eye, Shizune watches our conversation solemnly with a barely-contained urge to participate; her hand lies before her, twitching to convey messages only I can see.

We spend our lunch time at the roof together, enjoying Shizune’s bento—which I grudgingly claim as mine—and discussing various things that are to come for the Student Council. Misha often sidetrack from the discussion to something more ‘lunch friendly’, but nonetheless her hyper-positive outlook on life disproves Shizune’s claim yet again and again.

“By the way Hisao,” Misha said after she gulps down a piece of ebi fry. “Mutou Sensei was looking for you earlier.”

“What for…?”

“It’s regarding the…things…in the Student Council office.”

Misha’s words seemingly freeze the air around us the moment she speaks about the items that are left in the Student Council office. It’s like a hard slap in the morning, a down-to-earth reality check of the world I am now living in. Again I am reminded about the accident that occurred almost three months ago, the tragedy that started it all and what it took away. But now, with Shizune standing here beside me—even as a ghost—I have unconsciously altered reality in the depths of my mind and treated the past like a dream, a nightmare that I have been awoken from. Misha’s words ring like a bell in my head, keeping my reality in check and—despite her very presence with us—tells me with a clear crisp voice that Shizune has passed away.

“What about the items…?” I reply following Misha’s question.

“Her family members would like to come over and pick them up in the future. They wish for you to be there when the time comes.”

“When is it?”

Misha sighs, “That, I am unsure of. They’ll tell us when they plan a visit.”

“I see.”

In the corner of my eye, Shizune fidgets and signs persistently to translate our conversation. Swiftly and secretly, I translate her words directly while keeping my focus on Misha’s eye and our conversation—of all things, Shizune doesn’t like being left out when she’s with us. I find this funny—ironic, even—that I used to be in her position; a person once left in the cold from muted discussions between Misha and Shizune. Now I’m reprising Misha’s role as her translator to anything she may never have the chance to understand as Shizune reluctantly took mine; as much as I find this tedious and difficult at times, I feel a slight sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that follows closely with my effort.

Right now, Shizune has only me to rely on. And for that, I will not disappoint her.

The school bell finally chimes, signifying the end of lunch period and act as the signal that summons all students back to their classes. As Misha stand from her position, I notice the way she looks at me; how sad and heartbroken it is with eyes that seem to be able to burst at any second. Quickly I stop myself from saying—or translating—anything further, expectant of Misha’s coming revelation that seem to inch closer than ever. Finally, like a wave that cracks the beach or the chill that come with the change of season, Misha speaks in a manner I never expect to have come from her.

“Hisao, there’s something I want to talk about…”

I swallow a ball of spit to clear my throat, not to forget to translate Misha’s last words. “What is it?”

Her eyes trails the contours of the roof’s floor to my shoes, then stops at the sight of my hands before she swallows her own spit. With my hands at the ready, I prepare myself for the worst. “It’s about…”

But then she stops. Her eyes widens in surprise and her mouth agape for a second as she stares right through me—I swear, it’s as if something possessed her for a second. Hell, I might have believed that she is possessed if she maintain her stature for another minute or two; but as if nothing happened, she waves her hand and sighs dismissively, returning both of us back to where we started.

“…nah, forget about it.”

“Wait, is there something…”

“It’s nothing to be worried about~!”

As quickly as it surfaced, Misha revert back to her old self and quickly paints a smile across her chubby face before making a quick dash to the stairs. For a second she turns around and playfully call out to me, “You’re going to be late for class if you stay here any longer, Hicchan!”

And then she disappears as she descends the flight of stairs, leaving me confused and conflicted to what has just transpired. I turn to Shizune for a second who now-crosses her arms and—almost proudly—states with a smirk on her face that reads ‘I told you so’ in big, bolded, underlined, and indented letters. She sighs heavily, that of which reflects both concern and fatigue before she leads me back to class. [Now do you believe me?]

As much as I wanted to defy Shizune, I can’t help but to agree with her judgment over Misha’s ordeal. As we walk together to the classroom, my thoughts are preoccupied with Misha’s last few words and her expression which it accompanied; if any, it made me wonder the things that might have occupied her mind. Is it the workload by the Student Council? Love life, perhaps? Or maybe it is something else that I may never figure—whatever it is, Misha isn’t too keen on sharing them and I doubt she’ll open up to the suggestion the second I pressure her at any moment. When the school bell echo throughout Yamaku High, Misha quickly vanish with the crowd of students, leaving me and Shizune questioning Misha’s motives or what has gotten into her. Shizune strongly believes—and persists—that Misha’s hiding something troubling that she obviously unwilling to share. This troubles Shizune greatly, but she isn’t one to give up on something so easily.

[I’m going to confront her.]

[You will?]

[Not directly, no,] she sighs lightly; it is one that is stemmed from worry and stress. [But I might do so. I’ll tell you how it goes tomorrow.]

The next day, Misha greets me with her usual happy-go-lucky character as if nothing happened the day before. Next to me, Shizune watches her solemnly as Misha takes her seat and grins playfully at my attention; not long after, I notice—though slightly—dark bags under her eyes that I never thought existed before. Shizune notice this, yet she refuse to tell me the reason ‘why’ it came to in the first place. When I ask her how yesterday went, she shakes her head dismissively and uncomfortably shifts from her initial position while asking me not to bring the subject again. When my persistency kicks in, I decide to ask her again to which she simply sighs and looks at me almost tragically before she replies.

[You don’t understand, Hisao.]

But what is it that I don’t understand? Is there something I have to know before hand for you to tell me what is going on? You tell me that Misha is troubled—and I believed you, trusted you. You tell me that you’ll confront her yesterday, yet here I wait your answer that never came. Why? As much as I am worried, right now a sense of disappointment and betrayal slightly lingers in me as I watch and wait for Shizune to sign something—a reason, at least—to what I don’t understand and why. I feel tired, alone, and betrayed, but as much as I want to demand her any further I decide to shrug it off and let it slide.

Shizune…

Between the two of us, we share a bond that only the two of us knew and understand—a secret that you wish to keep away from your family or your closest friend, and I respect that.

But between the two of us there is also a wall that keeps us apart—a different world that I may never understand that acts as a barrier that keeps us at a distance despite being so close…


A wall that may eventually separate you and me...


END CHAPTER V



Author's Note
I apologize for the very-very long hiatus, but it can't be helped. I'm currently in Japan at the moment on matters that involve 'classroom', 'study', and 'whatnot', so things are pretty busy at the moment. I posted this chapter as soon as I finished it with little signs of proof-reading so there may be numerous mistakes--rest assured, I'll edit it as soon as I have the time. Anyway, next chapter may come a little bit slower than usual but please bear with me!

R&R (Read&Review)
Last edited by Megumeru on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:06 am, edited 13 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

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"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:07 am

S. Third person singular need it.

I'm not quite sure about the chronology of this story.
The accident happened after they started dating, i.e. after tanabata, and since they were still in school I assumed it was after the summer holidays, but then Misha would have already cut her hair.
Also in this chapter you mentioned the accident being less than a month ago, when just a bit earlier you mentioned it having been weeks since Shizune reappeared, and the period before that seemed to be several weeks as well...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by nemz » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:16 am

As much as I want to just enjoy this chapter for what it is, there's too much inevitable doom hanging just out of reach to ever feel comfortable. Bittersweet is too light a word to capture it.
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Megumeru » Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:12 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:S. Third person singular need it.

I'm not quite sure about the chronology of this story.
The accident happened after they started dating, i.e. after tanabata, and since they were still in school I assumed it was after the summer holidays, but then Misha would have already cut her hair.
Also in this chapter you mentioned the accident being less than a month ago, when just a bit earlier you mentioned it having been weeks since Shizune reappeared, and the period before that seemed to be several weeks as well...
You're spot on the timeline, there's nothing you should be confused about.

In chronological order, the accident happened after Tanabata--this festival occurred on July 7th--and sometime encroaching on the Summer Holidays. After that, there's a four week time-skip that follows with the break of the Student Council and later--in the latest chapter--a few more weeks of time-skip. If I didn't miscount the 'weeks', current timeline should be encroaching on mid-late autumn.

Now on the topic of Misha cutting her hair...well, I'll just leave it to your interpretation for now. I shouldn't spoil too much, right? :wink:
nemz wrote:As much as I want to just enjoy this chapter for what it is, there's too much inevitable doom hanging just out of reach to ever feel comfortable. Bittersweet is too light a word to capture it.
Enjoy it while it last... :twisted:
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:49 pm

Again I am reminded about the accident that occurred almost a month ago,
This implies that it's been less than a month since the accident, right?
And when did the summer holidays happen? SOmetime during mourning or during the weeks since Shizune came back?
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Megumeru » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:54 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Again I am reminded about the accident that occurred almost a month ago,
This implies that it's been less than a month since the accident, right?
And when did the summer holidays happen? SOmetime during mourning or during the weeks since Shizune came back?
During the mourning.

Which I quote 'it's ironic that we were invited by her to celebrate life. But instead, we were there to mourn her death'
and I think you point out a mistake on my part...my bad. I'm rereading it again, so I'll get correcting on the errors
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"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Scissorlips » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:59 am

Glad to see this story lives again, no pun intended. The creepy thing is that I was just wondering what had happened to it the day you came back, although I haven't had time to get caught up until now.
I'm enjoying this as a whole so far but I have to say that my favorite parts were probably before Shizune made her return. Since then, the way you've broken down and deconstructed how her ghostly status works, it almost takes all the mystique out of it, does that make sense? Thoroughly explaining her limitations as a ghost, and making it so that she's really not all that different except she can't be seen, it kind of makes the paranormal more mundane. Add that to the fact that, barring a few small differences, most of the scenes with Shizune in this chapter, like the stargazing or the breakfast scene, could have taken place in just about any Shizune story out there--especially one where she's not dead.
Megumeru wrote:[No,] she replied. [It’s so he could ‘incite’ my urge to shout at the top of my lungs. My father used to believe that my inability to speak was because I refused to.]
Oh, so she isn't mute by choice (which is the generally accepted theory) in this story, that's interesting.
Megumeru wrote:With a jolt, Shizune pulls her hand away from the paper, knocking a nearby pen holder and let an audible shriek that echoed as loud as a subtle whisper or the passing wind.
Oh, so she... is mute by choice, or... I'm a little confused.

One other thing I've noticed is the amount of references to Japanese culture and food that you've thrown in. I hope I'm not offending, but it's clear that you're very familiar with the culture and perhaps English isn't your first language, from some of the small errors that can be found. Anyway, I'm bringing this up because you actually have more callouts to Japanese things than in the original game. Stuff like this can make the story seem more authentic as being taken from a Japanese visual novel, but that's not the case, KS is just made in the same style with the same basic setting. A lot of the smaller references, like the specific foods you refer to, probably go over a lot of your readers' heads. It's okay to have references and shoutouts in your story, as long as, if the reader doesn't get them, they don't have to stop and scratch their head because they don't know what the character is saying or how to picture what's happening. It's simply a matter of knowing your audience and matching the format of the original game. Your story is almost too authentically Japanese at times, which sounds weird but it's what I believe to be true.

I like the dynamic of Hisao now being the one who translates the world for Shizune, and I'm interested to see where things with Misha go. While I think the story would have benefited from Shizune's ghost status being handled differently, I'm still enjoying this piece and looking forward to more.
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:42 am

"Mute by choice" is a very strange way of putting it.
since the ability to speak and the ability to hear are not physically related, it is extremely unlikely that a person is both deaf and physically mute at the same time.
It still would not call those who are unable to speak because of their inability to hear "mute by choice" even if they are able to vocalize sounds.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Megumeru » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:25 pm

I've been pretty busy with a number of things lately, so next chapter will be a little slow ^^; apologies on my side.
If it goes well, I should be able to finish it by say...this Friday or Sunday.
Scissorlips wrote:
Megumeru wrote:With a jolt, Shizune pulls her hand away from the paper, knocking a nearby pen holder and let an audible shriek that echoed as loud as a subtle whisper or the passing wind.
Oh, so she... is mute by choice, or... I'm a little confused.
If I am to believe, she is basically mute not by choice.

But that doesn't mean mute people can't let out a shriek or a voice. They can, but whether or not they know it is beyond their capability.

there's a lot of points you pointed out that I really-really want to answer, but I'll refrain and keep my cards close :wink:
(and yes English is not my first language :D )
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

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"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
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Chapter VI: What Lies Ahead

Post by Megumeru » Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:05 pm

The Haunting: A Love Story

Chapters
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 VI: What Lies Ahead

There once was a girl who lived for the sake of her friend here, in Yamaku High. Wherever she goes, the girl would follow her closely and act as an extension to her friend’s quirks, antics, and beliefs. In time, they became an inseparable duo that roam the grounds of Yamaku High and was recognized by many as the fearsome taskmaster and the apprentice, or to some as the manipulator and the collaborator. Together, they established a small—yet effective—form of government from the remnants of the Student Council and stroke a reputation no less than ruthless, but efficient in its own regards. As time went by, they recruited another member—a transfer student no less—to assist them and fill the empty seat of their small ‘empire’. From there, the trio was born and the girl—still ever loyal to her friend—smiled and welcomed the new member with laughter and praise, eager to face the next challenge with confidence and spirit. To her, as long as her friend stands by her side, she would never falter and believed that nothing could stop them.

Fate, however, had other things in mind.

In a day, fate had decided to and shattered her world like a steel hammer against glass. In a week, it took away what was precious far from her presence and—within the timespan of a month—spat and trampled on them before it was lost in the ripples of time. Like a cruel joke, fate decided to take her claim the life of her friend and drove her to the brink of depression, sorrow, and angst. When the chaos subsided, the girl felt alone—neglected—as she stood before the casket that contained the empty shell of her partner, dressed in a simple white kimono and prepared for the journey to the afterlife, far away from her reach. By her casket, she confessed her unrequited love in a language only known to them before bursting into tears that lasted for weeks.

I knew all this because it is something too conspicuous to ignore and too tragic to forget.

A month after Shizune passed away, the girl recovered from her depression; currently, she is working as the vice-president of the Student Council. For once, I thought things would return to normal—the day I saw that grin on her face after a long time felt like an alarm, a message from the world around me the need for me to move on. And so, with her bright pink-hair that swayed with the current of the wind, I believed that she—Shiina “Misha” Mikado—had returned to her usual self.

Or so I thought.

A few weeks after Shizune’s unprecedented “return”—if it is right to call it such—I began to notice minor changes to her behavior. It’s small, barely noticeable at first that ranged from frowns and empty contemplation during daytime or class periods, but it soon grew into something a lot more conspicuous. Aside from her new haircut, Misha was often absent from our Student Council meetings or was ‘busy’ every time I tried talking to her—to make matters worse, Shizune refuses to tell me what is going on and kept her knowledge to herself. Eventually, I decided to shrug it all off as ‘normal’ considering the encroaching end of our High school year here, in Yamaku High; it wasn’t until I caught one of Shizune’s expression when she was around Misha that I began to wonder whether everything has returned to normal.

“…-chan…”

But it has…has it…?

“Hicchan…!”

“W-wha—”

My senses snap back in attention and my ears ring uncomfortably after a voice pass through and jerk me out of my daydream. Before me, Misha looks at me with eyes burning with dissatisfaction while Hanako fidgets impatiently, glancing nervously at me as if expecting something. Indeed, there is a discussion going between us right now—this is the Student Council meeting after all. Quickly I glance to my ‘assistant’ and secretly ask her—through sign language—what has been going on; she replies quickly and directly, but not to forget to leave a look of pity directly at me that spells ‘silly Hisao, even I know what you guys are discussing and I can’t even hear!’.

Well, naturally. I’ve been signing almost everything subconsciously these days it’s almost as if I’ve taken Misha’s throne as Shizune’s ‘legit’ translator.

“Well…?” Misha remarks as she raise an eyebrow at my bewilderment. “Your reply…?”

[What were we talking about earlier?]

Shizune sighs, [Before you spaced out, the three of you were discussing about the upcoming bonfire festival.]

[And then what?]

[I don’t know,] Shizune shrugs and sighs nonchalantly, raising her glasses in the process. [You stopped translating when you spaced out.]

“So what do you have to say, Hicchan…?”

I chuckle lightly as I return to Misha’s scope in a manner befitting a child caught sleeping in class. She keeps her eyes locked to mine; still waiting for an answer she knew would never came but demanded it nonetheless. In the corner of my eye, Hanako’s stops her fidgeting as she, too, focuses her attention on me. A quick glance to my left, and there’s Shizune shrugging comically before taking a few steps around Misha to stand just beside Hanako before she signs—with the best smug look on her face she can muster, much to my irritation. [You might want to say something, Hisao.]

I know, I know. It’s not that I don’t want to reply, it’s because I can’t—and I’m supposed to know all these things in the first place! I’m the Student Council’s President for crying out loud, and here I’m sitting like a fool with a face that resembles ‘Peko-chan’ (a sweets mascot)! Serves me right for dozing off I guess…

“Can we…go over what we’ve been talking about one more time, Misha?”

The girl in question sighs and slumps back to her seat with eyes that shoots the ceiling before signing with tiredness and a hint of irritation; but even so, Misha complies with my request to explain what I’ve missed.

It is the near-end of autumn, and it is by tradition for us to celebrate the end of a season with a festival to commemorate our effort and labor. While we celebrate summer with beautiful volleys of fireworks and an array of cultural stands scattered all across the fair ground, the fall festival often takes a different route with bonfires and dances—a cultural festival, so to speak. The bonfire festival is endearing, a favorite of couples as they find it a lot more romantic than the summer festivals; the dance is especially coveted by couples as it allows them to be a little more intimate with their partner without restrictions. Similarly, the teachers and faculties loves the cultural festival—some even participate in the bonfire dance, or so I heard.

I’m not even sure if I manage to grasp everything correctly, to be honest; most of the things I heard and learned are from Hanako, Misha, and Shizune filling in the blanks from their past experience.

Nonetheless, the cultural festival will last for an entire day with booths and stands manned by Yamaku students while the bonfire dances itself will be held at one of our dirt-laden playing fields. It’s a good thing Yamaku High is so well funded and expanse—I couldn’t imagine setting a bonfire in the grass-laden playing field for a number of obvious reasons. It is for this reason that this meeting is held; with students clamoring here and there and our suggestion box (something I implemented after my inauguration) filled to the brim with requests concerning resources and materials, it is up to the Student Council to sort the mess and ensure the entire cultural festival proceed as smoothly as it can possibly get.

“That is why,” Misha continues. “We are spending our lunch here. Your thoughts, Hisao…?”

“What are the more problematic requests?”

Misha flips open her notebook and traces through the list she compiled from the suggestion box—at least, the more problematic ones that need approval first before the others. Finding what she was looking for, she taps her finger twice on the page before turning to me to state her findings. “The Paranormal Research club is planning to setup a haunted house and requested to use one of the classrooms.”

“Which one…?”

“It’s class 3-3’s—that’s our homeroom, Hiichan! They also ask for a few volunteers from us to fill in some roles.”

“Us…? You mean the Student Council?”

“Yes.”

Well, this is definitely heading towards an interesting direction. “I don’t mind volunteering and all, but what about their budget?”

“Uhhmm…” Misha quickly peaks at Hanako’s who—concerning our persisting issue of manpower—also fills the role of both Treasurer and secretary. Unlike Misha’s, I’ve taken a peak at Hanako’s notes and I dare say I am damn-impressed at how neat and organized it is that even a kid can use it use it as a field-manual or a preliminary guide on ‘how to be a good student council executive’. Her notes are complete and clean, and despite the fact that the tasks of the ‘secretary’ are split between Misha and Hanako, it is almost plausible to say the latter claim most of the credit. As bashfully as she is, Hanako silently slide her notebook to Misha’s view and points at the object she was looking for.

“They say they’re using the club-budget they’ve saved, so everything else but the location is a no-problem! I have to say, I’m interested in this as well Hicchan...!”

“What about Hanako?”

Hanako flinches for a second then struggles to word a reply, but nonetheless follows through. “I-I’m okay with it…”

Just like what she did previously, Misha leans forward from her table towards me with an enthusiastic grin reminisce to a child on Christmas morning. “So what do you say, Hicchan?”

Throughout the entire discussion, my hands have been dancing under the table to ensure that every single words are translated as-is and at the best of my own ability for the deaf-mute ‘ghost secretary’. Shizune—still watching me closely as she usually does—raise her eyebrow in amusement then narrows her eyes behind her pair of spectacles with utmost curiosity and interest at each stroke, digesting our previous discussion tentatively with barely contained excitement. My hands are exhausted, yes, but all that effort pays off considerably considering how I manage to keep Shizune—disconnected and isolated from the world of the living—in the know. One can tell through her expression the poorly-concealed child-like enthusiasm that struggles to liberate itself from her containment the moment Shizune learned of the Student Council’s possible participation in the Paranormal Research club’s ‘haunted house’ booth.

[I say why not?] Shizune reply as she stands behind Misha. She does this every so often so I won’t have to turn and—as she put it—‘draw suspicion’. [You’re only a high school student once, live life to the fullest!]



For some reason, I find that odd coming from her. But even so, it still isn’t enough to top the sudden sense of hilarity upon realizing—after approving the request of the Paranormal Research club—that their haunted house will be genuinely ‘haunted’ by the very ghost that is determined to see this through.

Who would’ve thought?

-------------

I once knew a blind girl in Yamaku High, way back before my inauguration and Shizune’s return. She was tall and was crowned with golden hair, tied neatly in a ponytail that swayed at the breeze of the wind and shine under the ray of the sun—it was difficult not to judge concerning her true origin. Though brief, the time we spent together were amongst one of the most memorable days of my career as a high school student here, in Yamaku High; the laughter we shared, the tears we shed, the fights we had, and the burden we shouldered were just some of the few highlights from the chain of memories of that person. It all first began after the ‘funeral’, during the time when I was still stumbling in the dark—lost after ‘she’ left me unprecedentedly. Like a flare, she came and slowly extinguishes the darkness, driven them before she extends her hand to me with hope to save me from the depths that I created. That time I believed that I had found a new light—I was saved.

But then like all good things in life, our relationship ended when she was forced to return home; back to Scotland, a country where half of her blood and soul would forever remain as her distinct feature.

Before she left, we made a promise…



A memory that would haunt me until the promised day arrives. I couldn’t remember—hell, if I were to be honest I had forgotten about it almost entirely! When Shizune returned, everything that happened before felt like a dream—worst, a nightmare—that finally curtained itself and woke me from my endless slumber. The thought of it—of everything that had happened between Lilly and I—vanished into thin air once I bury myself in the embrace and affection of my lost love. But it wasn’t until that fateful day on that crisp fall afternoon did everything came together like a rapid and pulled me into the reality I was in. We were working on the booths and the stalls for the festival, pounding our hammers and nails—we, the Student Council when it happened.

‘It’ happened by a single phone call.

“Yes, Nakai speaking…”

“…Hisao?”

Immediately I recognize the voice—that soft, gentle, and mature tone that brought an air of nobility and maturity, the sweet nectar that dances in your ears and made your heart flutter. My hand went limp in an instant, dropping the hammer as I rush both of them to the cell phone now grasped firmly in my palm. In the corner of my eye, Shizune watches me curiously—amused, nonetheless—to how frantic I’ve become the second I answer the phone. Quickly turning away, I focus my attention to the voice across the phone, now humming a familiar tune and melody—her voice—that causes my heart to race and my spirit skip-a-beat.

“Am I mistaken? Is this Hisao Nakai I’m speaking to?”

“N-no, no…!” I reply stammering; maybe I ought to try speaking in English for a change...just for kicks. “Not Nakai. This here is Nakai not…some guy.”

A giggle echoes from the other end of the phone and I feel a flush building up on my cheeks. Damn it, I knew I should’ve paid more attention in English language class. “You’re such a kidder, Hisao.”

I chuckle in return. “It’s been awhile, Lilly.”

“It sure has,” she reply. “How are you doing?”

Without hesitation, I rush outside with glee to answer the call—if I am to describe, it is like the look of a child on Christmas morning or knowing that he is off to a field trip. I talk without hesitation, answering each one of her question without hesitation and barring nothing to hide. Sometimes she chuckles softly, possibly enjoying our time together that has now become such a rarity—three months long and barred by distance that is generously paired with a different time zone. By the time we ran out of topic, we had talk for more than an hour—an entire afterschool permit’s worth, I assume—but still we are anxious and curious, both parties wanting to fill that lost time and catch up.

Is this ‘longing’, I wonder? Why am I so interested in her wellbeing?

And then it came like storm.

“Hisao, do you still remember the promise?”



Yes, of course I still remember. I give my quiet reply—a statement of my memory—and hear a sigh of relief in return. The palm of my hand sweat as I wait for her reply under the star-laden sky of Yamaku High, anxiously straddling from left to right and leaning on trees or lamp posts. For a moment, the voice from the other end of the phone died and was silent for a minute; even then, it felt like an eternity until finally it return with that sweet, reassuring melody. “I’m glad to know, Hisao. You seem to be faring better.”

“It’s been such a long time,” I reply. “But even so, it is pretty difficult.”

“I see…”

There is a brief pause, and then her voice picks up once again.

“Hisao,I will be returning to Yamaku High in a few days. Will you…be able to give me the answer then?”

I feel a sudden pressure building up on my shoulder—it is there before, but this time it exhibits a much stronger force than before. The ‘answer’…she said. But up to this point, I have never even thought about it; hell, ever since Shizune’s return everything seemed to slip out of my mind. But here I ask myself as quickly as possible, as brief as I could. What is Lilly to me? Have I ever thought about it? This racing heart of mine enveloped in a turbulence of emotions that question the position of which I am standing. I turn for a second and there in the corner of my eye, sitting quietly on the bench with eyes that drills deep into mine was Shizune. Patiently she waited for me to finish the call, reminding me that I still have a job to do regarding the Paranormal Investigation Club’s booth and stalls while nagging me with wisdom such as ‘not to bring a phone to school’ or ‘taking one’s responsibility. I smile and raise my finger, telling her to hold on for a minute until I finish my conversation, yet now I wonder…

…what is Shizune to me?

Before she passed away, Shizune is my girlfriend, my partner, protégé, and/or my muse… but does it still hold the same afterwards? Is she still the same person I knew before the accident?



What the hell am I thinking?

“Yes Lilly, I’ll be able to give you my answer then.”

What the hell am I saying?

“Then I’ll see you in a few days, Hisao. It’s been a pleasure, even for just awhile.”

“It has been my pleasure as well, Lilly. See you soon.”

The beeping echo of the phone marks the end of our conversation and a start of a new one. Immediately, Shizune walks up to me with an expression of both curiosity and irritation—jealousy, perhaps? Pocketing my phone, I hastily ready myself for what’s to come. [You do know that phones are prohibited in school, right?]

[School’s been over since two hours ago. Afterschool doesn’t count.]

[It still counts.]

I chuckle as I she draws closer, each step growing in intimidation. For the past hour, Shizune has been waiting patiently—or not, depending on perspective—nearby with arms crossed and eyes narrowed like a predator against its prey. Standing before me, she pierces her eyes against mine and quickly works her hands to dance in one of the most audacious manner possible; probably best one yet. [You know very well that you are the President of the Student Council, did you not?]

[Isn’t that a given?] I chuckle lightly. Still, Shizune maintains her appearance.

[This is not a joke, Hisao,] she continues, eyes crossed and body at attention. The intensity of each of her stroke grew along with the tension I failed to observe earlier and immediately, I began to understand the direction on ‘where’ this conversation is going. [You’re supposed to be an example, not the one breaking it!]

She stops and focuses her attention to the phone still within the palm of my hand. My own anger boils towards her overly self-righteous attitude that tends to sprang up once in a while—a character that often pushed her away from those whom she dedicate her life to serve, and I couldn’t blame her for it. Indeed, the Student Council exists to serve the students—like a government of some sort—that voices and present the opinion of the masses to the attention and ears of the faculty and staff. At the same time, it serves as the medium between the teacher and the students and thus is also responsible in upholding the rules and regulations that is established in Yamaku High.

Shizune’s irritation towards me—as annoying as it is—has its roots and justification, and this is something I couldn’t deny.

[Who was it from?]

[No one in particular,] I reply while keeping my resistance and guard. [It’s just an old friend.]

[I see.]

Shizune frowns for a second—an expression that is rare yet easily noticeable. I understand how disappointed she is in me, but I believe I have my own rights on how I should uphold the rules and regulations here. She waves her hand soon after—a sign that says ‘it is overlooked’—and walks off into the direction of the girl’s dormitory. I stand there for a moment, cursing silently to everything that has befallen unto me—this argument isn’t something I wanted to have in the first place. As I watch her walk away in the distance, I wonder how much we’ve changed since the incident that had befallen unto her or the differences we have that I slowly come to realize.

Then I wonder why I can’t muster my honesty and tell her ‘it’s just Lilly’ rather than hiding the fact the entire time.



What the hell am I doing?

-------------

“Hey there, Prez…!”

“Oh hey uh…”

“Miyazaki; it’s Miyazaki Ryouichi!”

It is two days before the festival and three after Lilly’s call when Miyazaki—one of the members of the Paranormal Research Club—greet me one late afternoon for reasons that I can’t quite figure. He smiles at me, waves, then calmly and callously walk right beside me before eventually revealing his original intention. As odd as it is—and to my own account, how intimidating he can be with his stiffness and that eye-patch on his left eye of his—I welcome the strange chain of events before me. It’s quite nice to be walking with someone else who is ‘present’ and isn’t ‘invisible’; not to mention, the chatters and laughter that has been missing in my slice of conversation for the past few weeks. In one of those rare times, Shizune isn’t around to haunt me today for reasons she left ‘open’ to my interpretation—not that I’m complaining, mind you.

It did, however, left me wondering.

For an entire day, Shizune has been consciously avoiding me for reasons unknown to me. She was even absent in class, away from her desk and the regular ‘haunting’ that by now am familiarized and had come to accept—to be honest, it felt odd. When the day came to a close, Shizune was nowhere in sight and I—grudgingly—decide to return to the dormitory with hopes of seeing her again. Who would’ve thought I’d meet a fellow student?

“So anyway, we just need you to fill the ticketing post,” Miyazaki remarks as he slings his book bag over his shoulder. Honestly, I couldn’t get used to his carefree happy-go-lucky attitude when he possesses such an intimidating face—not to mention the eye-patch. “Not too hard for you, isn’t it?”

“If it doesn’t involve a certain near-sighted individual who rambles about imaginary conspiracy and the likes, then yeah, it isn’t that hard.”

“Who’s that? Otacon…?”

“Probably is a close relative of him.”

As we walk through the halls of Yamaku High and exit the installation, we come across the decorations, mockups, and props that are to be established in our class—Class 3-3—for the festival. There are all sorts of interesting gimmicks and paraphernalia that support the ‘theme’ of the Paranormal Research Club’s haunted house; a desolate manor in the middle of a bamboo forest. I stop my movement for a moment to marvel the effort we pulled through to gather and create all the necessary materials for it to happen; sure, it isn’t much and probably wouldn’t scare anyone with a right mind, but it sure is passable as an attraction for something created by high school students.

Speaking of which, why did they decide to use class 3-3? There are other classes or halls that are much more suitable for their little project, but why our class?

Don’t tell me…

“Is it wrong of me to ask why your club specifically picks class 3-3, Miyazaki?”



If a painting speaks a thousand words, then Miyazaki’s expression reminisce that of Munch’s ‘Scream’; a reaction that seemed so far-fetched that I, too, am surprised. “Nothing in particular, prez…”

“There is a particular reason ‘why’, is there?”

“Well…you can say that.”

The more I try to push for it, the further he tries to dodge them. His attempts to hide them are crude, and not to mention his expression is a dead give-away to whatever secrets he’s keeping me from. Nonetheless, I have in my possession an ‘ace’ that will surely open his jaws.

“You know I can easily move you to an auxiliary class, right?”

“W-well…we’d like to use class 3-3…”

I raise my tone a little higher. “Why?”

“It’s easily accessible…?”

“The auxiliary class is in the first floor,” Miyazaki immediately grimaces at my reply. I grin victoriously. “Give it up Miyazaki, there is a particular reason, is there?”

Miyazaki sighs in defeat and soon after gestures me to follow him to the clubroom of the Paranormal Research Club. The clubroom measures about the size of the nurse office but includes a number of items not commonly distributed by the school; Miyazaki mentioned later on that these ‘things’, ranging from the sofa, computer, and even the little mini-shrine that was located in the south-east corner of the room were acquired through their own means and resourcefulness. It is difficult not to stop and admire how much the club members of the Paranormal Research Club dedicate themselves to the well-being of the club in noticing all these different—sometimes spooky—paraphernalia that is scattered all over the clubroom.

But this isn’t what he took me here for.

After offering me a seat in the sofa, Miyazaki heads over to one of the bookshelf—the only thing distributed by the school—and shuffle through the files that are neatly arranged before taking what he has come for. Sitting across from me (there are two sofas, one of which is given to them by the principal), Miyazaki laid out all the documents and photographs attached to the file on the coffee table for me to look into. With a gesture, he offers the photographs first before the documents; most of which are taken by the club members or written by one.

“Please take a look at these.”

I pick up one of the photo and quickly notice the familiar figures in the frame. “This is me…and the Student Council!”

“Correct,” he replies. “This is taken after your inauguration as the Student Council President.”

“But your club isn’t in charge of the camera.”

“The Photography club handed the photo us. From the photo, check your right shoulder.”

My hand begins to sweat as I nod and scan through the photo. There are the smiles and vile faces of the members who joined for their own benefit, Lilly and Hanako my left, Misha on my right and…



Wait a minute…

“Did you see it?”

I raise my head in disbelief. “There’s some kind of shadow between Misha and I. Misprint?”

“Misprint…?” Miyazaki chuckles, “If that is a misprint, then how can you explain these?”

Like a dealer, Miyazaki lays out the photographs relating to the ‘shadow’. My hand trembles as I take and examine each and every one of them. The photos are all based in Yamaku High and features the girl’s and boy’s dormitory, the hallways, home economics room, Student Council Office, and class 3-3—all of which contains the same figure-shaped shadow that seems to persist in each of the photograph. This is especially clear in the photo of Class 3-3, where the shadow seems to be sitting on…



Shizune’s table…

“You remember about the accident a few months back, right? The one that involve one particular Yamaku High student…?”

I nod.

“We know you’re acquainted with her, so I feel it isn’t right to keep this fact away from you.”

“What do you want?”

Miyazaki sighs and leans on the sofa. “We did say that we’ll use class 3-3 as our club’s ‘haunted house’; well, that’s true, but we are also planning to use the room as a medium for our research on ‘ghosts’—particularly these black apparition here, seen in the picture. We believe it’s the late-Student Council President.”

“So you’re saying this ‘shadow’,” I said gesturing to the photos. “Is Shizune Hakamichi?”

He nods.

“DON’T FUCK WITH ME!” Immediately my blood boils and I burst from my seat. “THIS CAN’T BE HER! IT CAN’T BE BECAUSE I…”

I…



I freeze over. Of course, besides me there is no one else that can see or feel her, and telling him that I’m able to see her could further encourage him and his crew of spiritualist and occult maniac to grub their hands further into her privacy. Even so, Miyazaki doesn’t flinch one bit from my outburst and maintains his calm and collected nature while secreting a tense aura that threatens the peace of this clubroom. With a sigh, he continues. “You seemed to know something about this ‘shadow’, Prez.”

I flinch a little; mostly I am caught off-guard by his straight-forward response and sharp observation. “Not particularly.”

“It’s just…” I continue, “I don’t think Shizune would return as something as ‘dark’ or ‘vivid’ as this.”

I let out a sigh of relief, feeling accomplished for dodging the question and keeping the secret safe. Satisfied with my reply, Miyazaki nods and continues the conversation. “Fair enough, sorry if I had offended you.”

Then there is a brief silence between us. The more I stay in the Paranormal Research Club’s clubroom, the more mysterious and strange the place come to be; the walls seems to press on closer and closer, the rickety sound from the ceiling feels like collapsing, and the variety of paraphernalia displayed strikes a sudden chill down my skin. They call themselves the ‘Paranormal Research Club’ not for nothing—they are the ‘Paranormal Research Club’, and they take this subject seriously it almost seemed like a cult or a religious sect. Moments later, he begins to stand from the sofa and walk towards the cabinet file located on the corner of the room just by the chief’s desk—a triangular paperweight with a ‘CHIEF’ stenciled on it explains who the desk is meant for.

He smiles, pulls out a document, then returns to the sofa before flipping through the files that were neatly organized.

“Did you know,” he starts. “That Yamaku holds its own ‘seven mysteries’ like any other schools?”

I shook my head.

“’The Song of the Sparrow’ in the music room, ‘The Ghost Shower’ in the boys’ dormitory, ‘The Death Files’ in the Student Council Office, ‘The Orange Box’ in the Cafeteria, ‘Hanako of the Toilet’ in the girl’s second floor toilet, ‘The Man-eating Toolshed in the track and field…”

He takes a deep breath and finishes, “And of course, the ‘Dusk Maiden’ in Class 3-3. Did you know any of these exists?”

Once again, I shook my head. Even if I wanted to, my short time here wouldn’t support me enough to find out about these alone.

“You’d be surprise to know that these ‘mysteries’ are fairly new, with some—such as ‘The Song of the Sparrow’ and ‘The Man-eating Toolshed’—being passed down from year to year.”

He takes a deep breath and continues, “We’ve taken a look and debunked three of these. ‘The Song of the Sparrow’ was rumored to cause permanent deafness and blindness to those unlucky enough to see the ‘youkai’ that sing in the supposedly-empty music room at night. Turns out it was the work of last year’s graduate that goes by the name of ‘Misty A. Lorelei’, a transfer student with partial blindness. She practiced to sing in the music room at night, but is often too shy to reveal herself and so she spread the ‘ghost rumor’ as a security measure—she even did a pretty clever PA work to keep nosy students off her back.”

“How did you figure that out?”

“We caught her setting up the PA system and confronted her about it; it’s pretty impressive how she kept the façade for four years straight.”

Miyazaki clears his throat, “Next, there’s ‘The Orange Box’. Supposedly, this box ‘growls’ and ‘swallows’ anything that walk into the cafeteria past eight. Turns out it was a student by the name of ‘Kenji Setou’ trying to steal food.”

Ah, figures. Why I am not surprised?

“When our chief lifted the box, he saw her and came rushing out crying ‘FEMINIST’ until he disappears. I’m surprised no one has the balls to do that before, case closed.”

“Is your chief a girl, in particular?”

“Yes.”

Figure as much.

“’The Man-Eating Toolshed is a…interesting case, to say the least. Rumor has it that a female student found a blood stain on the floor one evening before it ‘growls’. Turns out it was…something else.”

“What is it?”

Miyazaki blushes slightly before clearing his throat. “We investigate the case and caught the track team captain doing…’it’.”

“’It’…?”

“Anal.”

Ah…

“Supposedly the blood came from…‘there’, and the rumor is meant to keep onlookers away. Smells like lemon too when we caught him and his boyfriend…why the hell do you make me remember that?”

He takes a sip from a glass of water that is present on the desk in an attempt to clear his mind and continue. If I could have a book right now, I’d love to flush that out of my mind as well.

“These are the things that were passed down to us by the alumni and things that we’ve debunked,” he proceeds to slap his hand to the document before him then to the photo. “But the rest of these—‘The Ghost Shower’, ‘The Death Files’, ‘Hanako of the Toilet’, and ‘The Dusk Maiden’—all of these are recent and began spurring up after the accident.”

He leans forward, his hands pressed against the photos before me. “And it all relates to the ‘shadow’.”

He soon begins to explain the detail of the ‘seven mysteries’. ‘The Ghost Shower’ is reported by a male student after he heard the shower turn on and off by itself pass midnight and saw what he claimed to be a ‘black entity’ operating the installation, ‘The Death Files’ is by a night security who saw the same ‘apparition’ shifting through name files almost feverishly through the small window of the Student Council Office’s door. ‘Hanako of the Toilet’ is a classic, and is reported by a female student who saw a dark shadow inside a cubicle in a supposedly-empty school. Last but not least is ‘The Dusk Maiden’ that is recorded by the chief of the ‘Paranormal Research Club’, Yuuko Hanekawa, who saw a ‘black apparition’ sitting on top of the desk of the now-deceased ‘Shizune Hakamichi’ one late afternoon.

As much as I want to deny these claims, all of the evidence regrettably points to Shizune. But that isn’t all Miyazaki has to say.

“Though still a theory, did you know that there is a possibility that each and every one of us sees an ‘apparition’ differently?”

“What do you mean by that?”

Miyazaki takes another sip from the glass of water. “The human mind is mysterious. It makes us think what we want us to think, it makes us hear what we want to hear, and most of all…”

“It makes us see what we want to see.”

As ‘logical’ as it sounds, I’m beginning to suspect the Paranormal Research Club to be as much as a wild cuckoo lander to that of Kenji…though at some point, I do feel there’s something ‘right’ in his claims. Still, I am now balancing on the border between the ‘normal’ and the ‘paranormal’, the ‘sanity’ and the ‘insanity’ that which will shape what I think about all the circumstances that I’ve been through between me and Shizune. I’m curious, though cautious at the same time—afraid, probably, of learning too much information that cannot be classified as ‘fact’ or ‘fiction’. But even then I dare to venture deeper and gestures Miyazaki to support his claims.

“Ghosts and spirits are considered as remnants of living creatures that persist in this world and—in most cases—are invisible to the naked eye.”

He takes another sip from his glass of water. “But in certain cases, we are able to see them. Why?”

I pause and think of the question. The night when Shizune ‘return’, she claimed to have been around way before I realize her presence—but why? Why was I unable to see her back then? I turn to Miyazaki and shrugs.

“It’s because we see what we want to see, which brings the question…”

He shifts his seating position, “What if any ‘spiritual remnant’ we see is a projection of what we thought it is to be?”

Miyazaki begins to explain the base-theory of the Paranormal Research Club on ‘ghosts’, ‘specters’, and ‘spirits’. He explains in almost great detail their origin and how they are virtually disconnected from the ‘physical’ world. ‘Not everyone ends up as a ghost after death,’ he says basing it on the research compiled in the folder, and ‘only those with strong lingering attachment in this realm chose to become one.’ He then begins to explain how we—as part of the living—are able to see those of the dead through our strong desire and memory of them who were once alive. Thus, every person alive would be able to see the same ‘spiritual entity’ in an entirely different light altogether; for example, an individual might see one of such as a beautiful, lonely young lady, while others would see it as a vile, blood-stained, and malicious spirit looking for someone to ‘spirit away’ as its eternal company. Whether the ‘ghost’ alone has malicious intentions or not, how it is projected before us—according to Miyazaki—lies entirely in the hands and minds of its audience. The ‘haunted house’ project—Miyazaki iterates—is nothing more than a ‘test bed’ to capture the manifestation of the ‘Dusk Maiden’ and record what others may see if it did happen.

“And that is why we picked Class 3-3.”

I keep my back planted to the sofa, baffled and bewildered by his explanation and the entire ordeal of the ‘Paranormal Research Club’s’ project. If Shizune was still alive, she’d be mighty impress to how cunning these students can be in disguising their own project with another. A sudden urge to stop them immediately builds up within me—a drive, so to speak, to protect Shizune from their curiosity. Yet somehow, I feel the urge to be driven by something else, something more…sinister. Is the ‘dark shadow’ in the picture really is Shizune? Is it how she appears to the eyes of others? That can’t be true, right…?

…because…

…wait…



…what if Shizune really isn’t the person I used to know?

-------------

We part ways after, with Miyazaki thanking me for my generosity on lending the permit to use class 3-3 as a base for their ‘project’. As much as I hate the entire ordeal, the discussion has spurred me into thinking more of my circumstances and the ‘haunting’ that I have been experiencing rather than stopping the Paranormal Research Club from using class 3-3 and Shizune as a 'test bed'. Shizune did return and that’s a given, however is it really the girl I used to know? Is she really the person I used to love and not—what Miyazaki hinted as—a vengeful spirit? If it is true that only those who have strong resentment return to this world as a ‘ghost’, then what kept her here? Why did she return as a ghost in the first place…?

*TAP*

I feel a sudden chill behind me—a feeling that has yet manifested itself the moment a hand landed on my shoulder. My discussion with Miyazaki has left me wondering, paranoid, and most importantly afraid of the person I love. I recognize this feeling—the light, yet confident tap that only she could muster. It is another feat that differentiates her from the rest, just like how she snaps her finger to capture the attention of a crowd; her tap on the shoulder is no different. I glance at the hand that touched me and…

…!

My heart race, my feet grows weak, and I stumble forward with arms reaching for the nearest dirt to drag myself away from the encroaching horror. The moment I hit the hard soil I turn and sees Shizune staring down at me, looking puzzled and confused to my response. She is dressed in a white Kimono—peculiar, unlike her regular school uniform—and wears a triangular white corpse-hat common in most artwork about ghosts. I feel my heart stopping for a second and believed that death has crept upon me for that short moment before everything seems to return to normal both for my heart and my exasperation. I raise my hand and try to communicate as best as I can.

[You should not scare me like that!]

She frowns and folds her hand before replying with zest. [Scare you? I’m the one who’s caught off-guard with that reaction of yours!]

[You think people like being sneaked up like that?]

[You never reacted that way before, so why do you do so now?] She sighs, looking apologetic. [I’m sorry.]

[It’s okay.]

I push myself from the ground and stand back on my two feet. From the looks of it, Shizune really doesn’t have the intention to surprise me—if any, I was the one who’s surprised on my own. We walk together for a moment, her eyes checking on me from head to toe with the occasional tug for her to express her concern over me and my heart condition. I ask her what she has been up to since morning which she reply nonchalantly about ‘preparing her outfit’ for her part in the festival—the ghost of class 3-3.

[Even if other people couldn’t see me,] she signs depressively. [I wish to take part in the event and manage to scare at least one or two.]

I never ask her how she procured the white kimono and the corpse-hat she now tots. As we head to the dorm, the question slowly escapes my mind and is replaced with the event earlier that scared the wits out of me. Secretly I lean from the corner of my eye and observe her from head to toe without missing a single detail; from the silkiness of her short black hair, her creamy, smooth, white skin that runs down from her nape down to her slender finger, and the folds and contours of her kimono that presses beautifully to her attractive figure from the bust down to her waist. I sigh in relief, slapping my forehead and chuckle idiotically as if I had just been awoken from a nightmare that never exists before.

Of course, it could just be my imagination…


…that dark, blood-stained and rotting hand of a corpse that reached for my shoulder just a few minutes ago.


END CHAPTER VI



Author's Note
Procrastination is one strong, powerful poison. Nothing much to say in this chapter except the fact that we'll be ending ACT II soon and head towards ACT III. If you have any questions or confusion, feel free to speak it out-loud or shoot me a PM--whatever strikes your fancy.

R&R
P.S. I'm not dead *yet*. Just...spirited away
Last edited by Megumeru on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:07 am, edited 13 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Kyvos
Posts: 70
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:00 am
Location: Canada

Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Kyvos » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:29 pm

I was kinda hoping Hisao had just gone crazy because he wasn't able to give up Shizune, but it looks like that's not happening. Oh well, it's still been a good read so far.
Also, a club that investigates paranormal activity and is lead by a girl who keeps a black triangular paperweight that says "Chief" on her table? A reference, perhaps?
Lilly > Emi > Hanako > Shizune > Rin
100% get!

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