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Ten Dreams of the New World

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1.

For days after Los Angeles Sayu has the same dream.

She is back in the tunnels. At first that's all there is to the dream. The tunnels, the concrete all around her. And it shrinks and closes in on her as if she is being swallowed down its throat. She wakes up clawing at walls that aren't there.

And one day she falls asleep on the sofa in the late afternoon and when she claws at the concrete it breaks open. Her nails splinter and bleed on it but she rips it away, and with the taste of dust in her mouth she crawls through the hole she's made and standing in the room beyond it is a shadow figure.

So you made it, the figure says, and she knows who it is even though he never let her see his face.

Please let me go home, she begs Mello. She's crying and she wonders if she'll need to dig her way out of the tunnel right back up to the surface and how long will that take and what if she suffocates? Mello looks at her with ice-chip eyes. You have to find out who Kira is if you want to go home, he says.

Sayu knows this must be a dream because she doesn't say that she can't do it, or point out that the police and L have been looking for years, or that she's just a crazy girl who helped ruin her dad's life so how can she possibly find Kira. She just nods like she always expected this to be her mission.

Go through the tunnels, Mello says. Gather the clues. Look for the person with no face. If Kira kills you, you'll have to come back here and start again.

I'm not scared, Sayu tells him, but they both know she's lying.

2.

There's a door behind Mello and she opens it and beyond it is a tiny corridor, dim and dark, and she has to crawl on her hands and knees through it. She opens the door at the other end and climbs out into the playroom her friend Harumi used to have. Wide windows, the sun streaming through, dolls and cuddly toys and books everywhere. There's a little boy sitting in the middle of the room. It's Harumi's brother, even though she knows Harumi was an only child.

Hello, she says. Is Harumi home today?

The little boy is all white but he does have a face. He sits hunched over, running a toy plane back and forth over the blue carpet.

I don't think she's Kira, Sayu quickly says, just in case. She wants to come and sit with him and play with the toys but she realises she's too big. She's as old as she really is, too old to come round and play with toys.

You're never too old to play with toys, the little boy says. Even Mello plays with toys, sometimes. It's just the toys are people. He's not holding the plane now, he's laying out little Lego figures. One of them Sayu thinks is herself. She watches. One is Dad. One is Mum. One is white like the little boy. One is black and she thinks it might be Mello. Please, she says, which one's Kira?

I can't just tell you, the boy says. That's cheating.

Can you give me a clue?

Well, the boy says, it isn't you. That's something.

He's wearing a mask. His face is a mask. Sayu knows she needs to pull it off and make sure that he has a face underneath. But she's too frightened to do it. If it turns out that he's Kira underneath, she won't be able to get away. She won't be able to get away. She is back in the basement room where they locked her up and she can't move and they're laughing and laughing and laughing and –

She is awake, half-fallen off the sofa, and Mum is hurrying over to her, but when she closes her eyes she can still see the playroom, and the mask.

3.

When she goes to bed that night she doesn't fall asleep for ages. She lies awake, hugging herself, trying to pretend there's no one waiting for her in the shadows. Eventually, though, she's not sleeping in her own bed. She's sleeping in the bedroom of the dolls' house in the playroom. The lights are off everywhere. She climbs out of bed and opens the bedroom door. There are a set of steps and she starts climbing. The steps go round and round and round, like office block-to-carpark stairs, university library stairs. The walls are glass but all around her the other office blocks are dark.

At last she gets to the top. The steps just end in a desk and a computer screen, black, blinking cursor. She sits down.

She types, Who is Kira?

Do you want a clue? says the boy who's sitting next to her suddenly. Actually it looks like Hideki Ryuga, that pop star she had a huge crush on when she was a kid, but she knows it isn't actually him. It's just someone wearing his face.

I'm a detective, he says. So that's what I do, I give clues.

So you're not a pop star at all?

Ryuga smiles, and reaches up and takes off his mask. You see, he says. I have no face, but I'm not Kira. Mello thinks he knows a lot more than he actually does.

So that's not how I'm going to tell?

There are lots of hints, says the boy with no face, who she realises now must be the great detective L, because how else would he be able to fight Kira unless he had no face? You know more than you think you do. He presses the button to call the lift.

4.

The lift is covered in mirrors but Sayu can't see herself in them. She thinks she might be late for class, and she didn't bring any of her notes, either. She hasn't been to class for days. Why hasn't she gone? She's going to be so behind. And she's showing up not even knowing who Kira is, even if she does know more than she thinks.

The lift stops again and it's Matsuda, from Dad's work, who steps into it and he smiles at her like he's really pleased to see her. Sayu-chan! You're looking so much better!

Now, don't start telling me you think I'm pretty again, she teases back. You're way too old for me, remember? And besides, I'm looking for Kira.

Matsuda doesn't act awkward about the joke. He grins, leans against the wall of the lift like they're two friends going to class together. Maybe they are. Sayu thinks if she had Matsuda in her classes, perhaps she wouldn't have stopped going.

Don't worry, Matsuda says to her. I'm always missing classes and it's fine. No one's mad with me. I'll make sure you're okay. Also, I've been looking for Kira too. Did you get any clues?

Sayu knows she did, but she can't remember what they are.

Kira's truly evil, Matsuda says. Don't forget that, Sayu-chan, he'd kill us both if he could.

I don't think that's right, Sayu says, because she can say things like that to this version of Matsuda. Why hasn't he done it, if that's true?

Matsuda frowns and looks worried and Sayu wishes she hadn't said anything, so she takes him by the hand and squeezes it. Don't worry, she says. You're too nice to kill. And you're a good person. I reckon Kira knows that.

Matsuda laughs and he cuddles her and it kind of turns into one of those dreams, where you're kissing someone and you blush a little when you wake up. Sayu does wake up and finds herself smiling. It's nice not to dream about being buried.

5.

Of course after Dad dies she dreams about him. Over and over and over, mostly dreams where something bad's happened to him and she can't get there in time, or dreams where he came to save her from Mello and they shot him. She wakes up with her throat dry, and she and Mum both cry more often than not.

But eventually she's back in the lift with Matsuda. He doesn't look happy any more. Neither of them do. He looks tired and sad and she reaches out to hug him again and there's just mirror. She's on her own after all. Mello said she had to find Kira by herself.

The lift stops and the doors open and there's a long, long corridor with office doors and filing cabinets and at the end of it is –

Daddy she screams and runs after him. But she can't catch up and he doesn't stop and suddenly she is furious with him. Stop it! Stop walking away! This is all your fault! She is screaming and crying and shaking so much she can't even walk and of course he doesn't look at her, he will be furious she is losing her temper.

She stops running. She stands in the middle of the corridor and he stands at the end of it.

I hate you! she yells at him. I told you to quit and you wouldn't and then you made me join in too! If she had found Kira by now Dad would've been able to stop. She hasn't been doing anything to help for ages and she knows it and Dad knows it and that's why she's so angry, because she let him do all the work and he died and it was all her fault.

Raito's been helping, Dad says. Why can't you be more like your brother?

There's a framed picture on the wall and she wrenches it off and hurls it to the ground, smashing it. She knows she's acting like a child and Dad is only going to be angrier with her but she tries so hard not to be angry with him most of the time that now she is actually happy about finally losing her temper.

You're being ridiculous, Dad says. I'm going to go away again if you keep behaving so childishly.

If Raito were here he would say something to make her laugh or say not to worry, he would look after her, but Raito isn't here, there's only her and she can never be like him no matter how hard she tries. She kneels down on the ground and tries to put the broken glass back together but she can't make it line up. Her fingers start to bleed. She tries to keep going but there's blood everywhere, fingerprints all over the floor and on her jeans and on the picture and Daddy is going to be so cross with her. The picture, she realises, is one of the clues, it's a picture of Kira, but there's too much blood and glass to be able to see anything. She wakes up crying.

6.

The dreams about Dad carry on for a while, and the dreams about being shut up underground come back, and then she doesn't sleep at all for about a week and they have to go back to the psychiatrist and get her a stronger prescription. She doesn't see Raito during all this. She spends a lot more time on the sofa watching TV. She sees Hitoshi Demegawa die in the middle of his speech – Mum doesn't know she's seen that – and she sees all the stations pitching to be the new spokesperson for Kira and then all at once it's Kiyomi Takada and her smooth, calm face is everywhere.

Sayu dozes off in front of the TV and finds herself walking down the corridor. Dad's not there this time, but she knew he wouldn't be, she came back too late. She walks to the end of the corridor and instead of a door there's a bank of TV screens, each one showing Takada, who smiles at her.

Hello, Sayu, all the Takadas say to her.

I don't want to talk, Sayu says, because she knows Takada will either tell her off about breaking the picture or will say she deserves to die for being lazy and not going back to college.

Don't you know who Kira is yet? Takada says. You've had days and days to work it out. I know who he is.

Sayu realises she's in her pyjamas, the ratty old ones with pandas on them that she had when she was about twelve. She folds her arms and scowls. It's not my fault. I didn't know I was supposed to be on TV.

You should always expect someone to look at you, Takada says. Like your brother does.

Sayu doesn't want to hear about Raito. Well, where is he, then? If he's so perfect?

He's very busy, Takada says. You're not busy. What are you doing all the time? Watching TV. That's why you never see him. He doesn't want to see you.

Sayu doesn't want to wake up crying this time. She's going to be brave. She glares at Takada and she says, Watching TV has told me who Kira is. I just don't know it yet.

And she is holding a pair of scissors, big sharp dressmaking scissors, and she has stabbed Takada through the screen. The screens all shatter and the TVs burst into flame and Sayu knows she's done a terrible thing but she doesn't care.

7.

A hand pulls the scissors from her grip.

Sayu-chan! Misa squeals. It's been ages!

All the lights have gone out except for the lantern Misa is holding in her other hand. Sayu wishes she'd remembered to bring a lantern.

You're safer in the dark, Misa says. Then they can't see your face. She's skipping off down the path, and Sayu has to follow because she's frightened otherwise.

Misa, wait, she calls. Misa, do you know who Kira is?

Misa giggles. Sayu-chan, do you think I'm pretty? The path slopes downwards. There are steps. Slippery stone steps. Sayu thinks she's going to fall if they don't slow down. Misa, she says again. You know, don't you?

You haven't answered my question, Misa sings. Get it right and I'll give you a clue.

I know how your question goes, Sayu says. If I say you're not pretty, you'll kill me with the scissors. And if I say you are, then you'll cut my face to make me look like you. I remember hearing that story in high school... She stops. But in the story, the woman wore a mask...

How do you know I'm not? Misa says, looking round and sticking out her tongue. Maybe everyone does!

You look too real to be wearing a mask, Sayu says, but she honestly isn't sure if that's true. Misa has always looked like a doll.

My mask is a very good mask! So is Kira's! Come on, Sayu-chan, keep up! We've got to keep going!

It's very dark and Sayu doesn't think she wants to keep up. She turns away and that was a mistake. She has her back to Misa and now Misa says, from behind her, You know the right answer. You know you think I'm pretty. And you don't smile enough any more. You need to smile. Sayu knows that if she turns round she will see Misa's real face, the face of the woman from that urban legend, the face with a smile cut from ear to ear. She wants to run but she's too terrified to move. She feels Misa whisper in her ear, Raito always smiles, and –

8.

She wakes up underground.

Kira killed you, a grumpy voice says from the darkness. You'll have to start again.

Sayu doesn't think she knows how to start again. She can't remember which room she went into first or who she spoke to. She doesn't know how to get out. The concrete is closing in on her. She doesn't know how to get out –

That's not a very fun game, another voice says, this one harsh and rasping. I think you should cheat.

Sayu is about to say she doesn't like cheating, but she knows that's not true. She often tried to cheat at board games with Raito because otherwise she had no hope of winning.

I don't know how to cheat, she says instead.

It's easy. Just give me an apple, and I'll take you to Kira.

But Kira will kill me.

He won't kill you. That's a clue for you. The dark thing laughs. Come on, you'll miss the train.

It's a subway train, but emptier than she's ever seen it. She runs and gets on board just as the doors close on her foot. The lights in the carriage flash on and off, on and off, in time with the sound of the wheels. She wonders why she doesn't remember them introducing trains with flickering lights. She thinks she sees a white, sharklike face looking back at her. Or maybe it's a mask. She should probably wear a mask, if she's going to meet Kira. But there isn't one. She's back in her pyjamas again.

9.

The train stops and the doors open and it's the steps and the cafe and the station she's always got off at to go home. She steps out and sun is streaming down the stairs and maybe she can just go home. Maybe she doesn't need to find Kira after all.

But she promised the thing in the tunnel an apple.

The cafe is closed and she thinks someone is in there, looking at her, so she runs up the stairs to the surface. She'll go home and look in the kitchen cupboard. They always have apples at home. She's holding her school satchel, she can put the apple in there.

The car pulls up alongside her.

That was how it happened, before. They jumped out and put something over her face and when she woke up they'd shut her in the trunk of the car. That's not a dream. That was real. So she can't run away, because it was real. It's going to happen again, because it was real. She can't even scream.

Let me give you a lift home, someone says from behind the darkened window.

No, thank you, she says, like that will help. (She should wake up. She can't wake up. She has to find Kira. She's cheated once. If she wakes up now she might never get back here.)

I'm not who you think I am. And if it was, it wouldn't be so bad, would it? It happened once. You'd just have to start again.

I'm tired of starting again. She is walking again. The scissors are in her satchel but she doesn't think she could get them out in time and she doesn't really want to stab anyone with them anyway. They probably know she cheated.

Don't you already know who Kira is? the voice says.

Not yet. I'm trying to find out but I keep forgetting the clues.

And suddenly she realises. He is keeping the window up because he has no face.

10.

He has no face and this is because he is Kira. She needs to look at him and find out who she is but she can't move, her heart feels like it's bursting out of her chest, the street is empty and no one saw what happened to her. She needs to look otherwise she'll fail. She needs to look but she can't look.

Close your eyes. I can see you. I can see your face.

She nearly listens. She nearly closes her eyes and then it will all happen, she will wake up in the dark and have to start again. She can't close her eyes.

She has to look.

She turns and stares at the window, but it's tinted, and all she can see is her own reflection.

No. It's not hers. It's Raito's.

It's only him in the car. Suddenly her legs are shaking with relief. It's only him. She thought this was a nightmare but it isn't at all. It's only him.

Get in, he says to her. I'll take you home. He opens the door and she climbs in and inside the car is their kitchen. Raito is sitting at the table, eating an apple.

There, he says. I told you. Everything's all right. The sun's out, it's going to be a beautiful day. She goes to the cupboard, starts looking for potato chips, but they're all gone. She looks and looks but the cupboard is only full of strange things, nails and pens and piles of sand.

Can you help me work out the clues? she says, scrabbling through all these strange things.

You should do it yourself.

But I don't know how. You're really smart. You should do it for me.

She's found a mirror in the cupboard, a mother-of-pearl-trimmed mirror that belonged to her grandma, she used to play with it when she went to visit. She is holding it up to look at her face in it. She can't see her own face. She sees the kitchen, or a kitchen, in it, and she sees Raito, sitting at the table.

Do you know who Kira is? she says.

Raito looks at her in the reflection.

Does Kira's face look like this? he says.

He slides a hand across his own face and it disappears.

***
Sayu wakes up feeling like she's been flung onto the sofa. The TV is talking and for a few moments she can't work out what's being said. The dream, she thinks, was a bad one, but she can't really remember it.