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Comic Obscura

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On a normal day in Yagami City, Eri Sawachika, a young girl with blonde hair in pigtails, wearing her school uniform, a beige blazer and red skirt, was heading to a small shack, close to town.

She viewed from her black stretch limousine, as she said to her driver, “Keep the limo running, until I return.  I won’t be long.”

She stepped out and headed to the shack.  It was a bit rundown, with some of the wooden paneling scratched and worn out.  She knocked the door, as a boy called out, “Coming!  Coming!”

Eri whispered, as she was angered, “He’s been late.  The guy is such a busy loser.”

She waited, as the boy appeared in the door, opening it.  He had slick black hair, a goatee and shades, and is wearing a black jacket and jeans.  He said, “Oh, Rich Girl.”

Eri said, “Whiskers.  I came by to see how you’re doing.  We were supposed to go out, today.”

Harima said, “Oh, my apologies.  I had a call from my publicist, and he said I had to do a 200-page volume, before the end of this month.”

Eri replied, “Again?  You’re so busy that you are ignoring me!”

Harima said, “Sorry.  I’m almost done.  I have done 125 pages, and I wanted to take a break.  I suppose we should go out, together, so I can rest.”

Eri replied, as she stepped in, “No.  How about I step in and maybe we can view this comic of yours?  You’ve been rattled, since Tenma left.”

Harima smiled, as he showed her to his room, “Well, Tenma’s Sister was too busy, so I wanted someone to help.”

She said, “We should.  I figured you needed a new helper for comics.  You are good.  I mean, both Tenma and Yakumo like it.  But I’m not good to make a review on this.”

He said, as they went to the living room, “Well, okay.  But NO mess-ups.  I wonder if you’ll assist me on one part.”

Eri barked, as she protested, “Fifteen minutes!  But after that, we go out, together, on a date!  GOT IT?”

Harima nodded, as they sat together on the table.  He pulled out his unfinished comic and showed it to the young blonde girl.

Enter Yagami City, and with it, two senior students in Yagami High School.  Miss Eri Sawachika, a young rich heiress who wants love.  Her boyfriend is Mister Kenji Harima.  He is an author on doujinshi, a.k.a. fan comics.  Eri Sawachika dislikes anything he does, especially standing her up on important date nights.  But as she views the comic, her life will go from real world blood and gore, to real world ink and paint, for Eri Sawachika is about to be featured in the newest comic… of the “Tales of the Bizarre”.

Tales of the Bizarre in:
Comic Obscura

Eri viewed Harima’s comic, which was a background of Yagami City, during the aftermath of a monsoon, with buildings slightly destroyed and puddles of water everywhere.  She asked him what the comic was about.  It was a comic about the aftermath of a disastrous weather storm, and a boy, who looks like Harima, was wandering around the city, looking for survivors.  He explained that he’s missing a leading lady.  And since Tenma was now gone, he needed a new leading lady to fill in for her, except she doesn’t know about Tenma and Harima, at all.

“Strange,” she said, “This looks familiar.  I mean, reminds me of back in Yagami City, when I came back from my trip to England.”

He said, “It is.  This was before I met Tenma… uh, and all of you… when I enrolled in Yagami High.  It’s quite a memory, is it?”

“It is, Whiskers.”

She placed the comic down and said, as she finished reading the unfinished 125-page comic, “Well, this is a fine mess you made.  It’s a little edgy, but it’s got heart.  The comic just starts with people talking together, including this main character, who resembles you.”

She asked, “Tell me… Do you sometimes model after yourself?”

“No.  Not every time.  But I wear shades, all the time, in them…”

“Having the same character, in a comic, seemed… well… boring.”

He felt a jab, as Eri replied, “And another thing… How come I see a few of our friends in the comics?”

“Oh, I want to use their images, as a way of how I feel.”

“Where’s my image?”

“I didn’t add you.  I wanted to ask you if I wanted to give permission on your face, since you’re rich.”

“Yeah… That comic is… uh… I don’t think you would.”

As she blushed, feeling embarrassed, a faint image of Mikoto Suo was in the shadows, watching on, looking at Eri, smirking.  Eri asked Harima if this story had a plot, aside from the story.  He replied that there’s also a love scene at the end, and Eri quickly replied, “ADD ME!  I GIVE PERMISSION!”

He asked, “Why the sudden change of heart?”

Eri responded, as she stated, “Well, you needed a love interest?  Why not use me.”

She added, as she grabbed the comic, “While this comic is worthy enough, if the storyline is dull and abysmal, the current status could be worthy enough for my dog to use it.  You’d understand.  Besides, all that hard work, that money, and all that ink… It must’ve taken you months to finish this.”

Harima said, “It’s only for 3 weeks.  I was visibly tired.”

Eri smiled, as she said, “Well, we can forget our date.  How about I stay and join you, Whiskers?  You need a model, right?”

He asked, “You’d do that for me?”

Eri said, “Well, your comics are stupid… and you draw like a pervert skeez…”

An image of Kyosuke Imadori was in the shadows, all transparent-like, sneered, as he heard Eri’s remarks.  Eri didn’t notice him, since he was invisible.  Harima said, “Why would you say that?  I did my part.  I’m not some lazy Ecchi manga artist.  I’m not into that.  Besides, I work out and exercise, now and then.  In fact, Yagami City wasn’t the only place I drew.”

He showed the comic of his backgrounds of various areas he visited, such as the beach, the forest, the night city, a local onsen, a farm, a pier, the ocean, a temple, a shrine, and other various places he visited.

“I remember the beach, Harima…” she whispered, looking at the beach picture, “That time, when you grabbed me and shut my mouth, until Akira made the obvious, in which I believe you… You were with no trunks.”

“It was an accident.”

They were exact drawing of the places they visited, even the places Eri has been, but Harima hasn’t, and Harima has been, but Eri hasn’t.

She whispered again, as Kentaro Nara’s faint image was shown, behind Eri, “The forest… when you killed that huge wild mountain crab and fed us… yet it tasted funny.  But it was delicious…”

She then looked at the onsen, “And the onsen, during summer break, last year… You broke the wall, but pretended that it never happened, fixing the wall.”

Harima explained, “Imadori was trying to peek, but Four-Eyes stopped him, only for me to hold the wall… and it was an accident, as well.”

Eri continued looking, as she was scared, looking at the exact memories of her old days with Tenma and her friends.  All the while, a couple more of her afterimages of her friends watched on, looking at Eri, making ice cold glares at her.  Eri said, as she put the comic away, “Well, I am flattered that you want me to become a comic book character… but I’ll have my family’s funds on it, if and when the comic is indeed published.”

Harima said, “Thanks, Rich Girl.  In fact, did it not surprise you, at all?”

“It did.  I mean, everywhere I go, everything we did… It’s like something out of a life story.  Next thing you tell me that you act like an accidental pervert.”

He thought, as he was embarrassed, “She doesn’t know about me and Tenma.  And yet she called me a pervert.”

A young Tenma yelled at Harima, as she was crying, “THANKS FOR NOTHING, MR. PERVERT!”

Harima growled, as he put his comic away, and then held up a sketchbook.  He then said, as he looked at her face, “Perhaps I can use your facial features and your hair.  But I didn’t want to, because I know of it, in memory.”

Eri complained, “Then why did you ask me to pose?”

“The body movements are what I needed.  But… I need your hair down, in order for some parts.”

Eri removed her red ribbons and let her hair down.  She said, “Like this?”

A faint image of Mai Otsuka was blushing, as she noticed Eri’s hair.  Harima then drew Eri’s hairstyle and face onto the sheet of paper, with a small pencil, as he drew Eri’s eyes, mouth, nose, face, and hair.  It was drawn nearly perfect, as Eri asked, “Is it okay to remove my clothes for this one?”

He barked, “Hell, no!  I can’t let you do that!  This isn’t a boat!”

Eri sighed, “Good.  I don’t do nude scenes.”

Harima smiled, “Don’t worry.  There are NO sex scenes in my comics.”

Eri grumbled, as she stood up, “You better…”

She stated, “While I disapprove of this posing for a thug like you, it’s for the comics.  Besides, you living by yourself… drawing and barely eating, day after day, and then suddenly engaged to me, after graduation… You’ve hit rock bottom.  I know you are spending your days with her, but I really want you here, in my house.”

Harima said, as Eri posed for him, “Well, I like the atmosphere here…”

“Is it because of Masaru?”

“Sort of.”

“You’re not mad about the whole Fake Marriage thing we did, back then.  I was surprised, but I apologized for it.”

“You never meant it.  You once hated my guts, until I wanted to make you happy, after England.”

“Yeah, well…”

Eri posed, with her left arm on her hip, bending a bit forward, with her head turning left.  He said, as he drew on the paper, Eri’s pose, “You were in trouble, over an old boyfriend.”

She scoffed, as she giggled, “Sheesh.  Max wasn’t my boyfriend.  He was trouble.”

She then posed with her hands on her head, her hip swayed to the left, and with a smile on her face.  He scrawled on the paper, as he said, “Be that as it may, while I wanted Tenma to smile and be happy, I worry about you, too.  Remember in the rain, when you were all alone?”

“My father…”

“Huh?”

“We were going to have dinner.  But he was called away.  Then you showed up and said you’d prefer curry…”

“I did.  But Miss Anegasaki, the teacher that took me in, after I was lost in my world, made me meat and potatoes.  I still like curry.  It’s just… she never listened.”

“I see.  Then that strike to the face… I’m sorry.  But seriously, you should’ve said so, when that woman came to you.  Plus, at the time, she didn’t even work at the school.”

“Maybe we have a string of bad luck, Eri.”

Eri whispered, as she posed with her hands wrapped, “You never said my name, a lot, since the Rich Girl jazz.”

“I still like you as a friend, but since we’re dating, I just can’t hold grudges.  I’d never hurt a girl, even you.”

Eri blushed, as she growled, “You really are stupid, you know that?”

She then asked, “Uh… By the way… Mikoto told me about that time I was in the bath… before you took me away… Was that really you in the bath, like she said?”

He said, “Yeah… But I was scared to say anything, since you’d go ballistic.”

“IN THE NUDE?  WHY WOULD I, TO A BOY LIKE YOU?”  She shouted, as she was crossed.

He stopped drawing, as Eri growled, “And that moment in the bath water… DISGUSTING!”

“Sorry.  I didn’t want you to see me, in the water.”

“Funny.  But hey, at least it was awkward enough, saving me from embarrassment.”

“So, you still hate me for those things?”

“No, I don’t.  I just don’t like what you do… especially this coincidental comic book crap!”

She grabbed the comic book and said, as a faint image of Megumi was shown, “THIS crap!  This doesn’t even deserve my approval!”

He shouted, “THAT’S IT!”

He said, in inspiration, “What you just said, just now, maybe… Maybe the girl would be one of the survivors… and have an on-again off-again love/hate relationship, until they fall in love, in the end, after the journey was a hard task.”

“Sounds like something in a video game.  But whatever.”

She threw the comic on the table, as the pages spilled out a bit.  He replaced them, as Eri said, “Well, you got my good side, and my features… Too bad you cannot pose me in the nude.  Just try me, you silly goat boat.”

“Goat boat?!”

“Yes, it’s a mix of a bearded man, on a luxury line, drawing his lover, in the nude.”

She taunted, “But tell me… You’d waste months of your life, before you graduate, all to make comics?  You’ll wither away in obscuration, without meeting with ANY friends, at all.”

He barked, “That’s not true!  What about Itoko?  Akira?  Hanai?  Yakumo?”

Eri said, “That’s not the point, Harima!  This comic of yours is silly, yet I am a part of this, really well.  But I refuse to see you fade away into a life of solitude and hiding, all to make someone, or anyone, happy.  Now, you need the exercise.  And we’ll go out, right now.”

She sat up, as she headed to the doorway, “Besides, I’ve wasted 20 minutes of this ridiculous memory of art class, minus the R-rated scenes.  Now, are we going, or not?”

Harima said, “I guess so…”

Eri smiled, as Mikoto’s afterimage smirks, “Good.”

A few of Eri’s friends’ afterimages follow the couple, as Eri said, “Seriously… Wasted a whole day, drawing and writing to a publicist, all for some money.”

Harima said, “It was never about the money.  It was about the future.  I chose this, as a way to cure my complete isolation of my past mistakes and bad moments.  I’ve changed, for the better, thanks to you, Tenma, Yakumo, and everyone else.”

Eri said, as she felt unhappy, “Jerk.”

She said, “I want to know, once and for all, Whiskers.  What is it with you and Tenma?  You can tell me.  I won’t tell Tenma, if you tell me.”

He said, “I can’t, really… but it was before I came to Yagami, only to see her.”

She held his hand and said, “You’re in love with her, are you?”

He stammered, “NO!  I’m NOT!  Besides, she’s got a boyfriend!  Well, not really, but Karasuma is--.”

“NO!  SAY NO MORE!  Besides, aside from your soon-to-be “living with your mother” phase, you cannot share a secret to your girlfriend.”

“No, you don’t understand.  You’d hate me, if I tell you about Tenma…”

He stated, “I saved her life, and she fainted.  That was all.  She was about to be attacked, but I rescued her, beating up the guy… but paid for it, out of sheer confidence.”

“The scar on your back…”

“Yes.”

Eri shook her head and barked, “And you mean to tell me that this happened before you were in high school?  You’re a sick man, Whiskers!”

She blushed, as she pouted, “But then again, it was nice of you to rescue her, all these years ago…”

He smiled and said, “Now don’t be upset over me, Rich Girl.  Just let us go to our date, and we’ll forget this.  I got you, do I?”

Eri moaned, as she huffed, “Date’s cancelled.  Forget it…  I’m sorry, but… I feel uneasy, after that noble thing.  And would that lead you to drawing comics?”

She barked, as she stormed off, “I don’t mind to have you finish your comic!  But by Saturday, I expect you to be ready for our date, together.  I just needed time to breathe…  Sorry…”

He asked, “Rich Girl, before you go, how about I show you something else that I was doing, before I did the dream of comics?”

Eri said, “Sure.  But I guess it’s fine, since--.  NO.  No, just show me.”

He said, “Right this way.”

He walked down the dark hallway, as Eri followed him, walking lightly, making creaking noises.  Through the dark hallway, the images of Eri and Harima’s friends were haunting behind Eri, as they continued to look at her.

XXXXX

In Harima’s room, he went to his bookshelf.

“Take a look at this.”  He said to her.

He pulled out a small manga, with a black cover on it.  It had a faint image of Yagami High School on it, with the word “Obscura” on top and his name on the bottom.

“What’s this?”  She asked.

She looked at the cover and whispered, “Obscura?”

She said to him, “It means “Mysterious” in Portuguese.  It’s another word for Obscure.”

He explained that this comic he made was his downtime, during times of bad moments, including his past.  He drew it, in case he wanted to let it all out.  However, he kept it as a way of drawing, endlessly, without stopping.  And moreover, it was the one manuscript that he would never publish.

“Why not?  Why couldn’t you publish it?”  She asked him, feeling rather disturbed.

He said, as he was completely sweating bullets, “It’s nothing.  I don’t wanna talk about it.  It’s deep, but also very shocking.”

“May I look at it, please?  If it’s what you said, deep, shocking, and from my opinion, secretive… I guess it’s fair for me to read your comic.”

“Go right ahead.  You should see for yourself, Rich Girl.”

She opened the book and looked at the pictures, which were in black and white.  She then saw an image of her house, in whole, but empty.  She then turned the next page and saw a boy walking out of the courtyard.  In the next panel, he was riding home on a taxi, heading to Yagami High.  The panel on the bottom showed his face, which was similar to Harry MacKenzie, expect without his shades on.  He was wearing his school uniform, as in the next panel, on the next page, he was looking at the 4th wall, with a gleam in his eyes.  Eri skimmed through a few pages, as he saw Tsumugi Yuuki, a girl with long braided hair and glasses, walking down the hallway of the school.  The next panel showed her viewing the door to her homeroom.  The comic viewed her opening the door, and entered the classroom, which was destroyed, with windows broken, desks and chairs strewn about, and pencils all over the place.  In the bottom of the page, her eyes widened, as she was horrified from the destruction of the place.

“Is this some kind of joke?”  Eri barked, as she kept looking through the pages.

She peered through each page, seeing each friend and classmate she met, including her friends, Mikoto, Akira, and even Tenma.  In fact, in one page, it showed Tenma, in the girls’ bathroom, climbing out the window, and then falling to her death.  But in the bottom panel, Karasuma caught her in his arms.  In a full page, as Eri turned the page, Karasuma smiled to Tenma, as she was swooned in enjoyment.

“Amazing…  It’s like my friends are in misfortunes… but you spared Tenma, I bet.”  She said.

Harima said, “I’d never hurt her, after everything that transpired.  The boy with long spiky hair, on the other hand--.”

“Yoshidayama?”  She asked, “Yeah, I bet you ousted him in the comic.  The guy’s a skeez.”

Harima barked, “SHOW SOME RESPECT!  Also, Page 71; second panel.”

Eri viewed page 71 and looked at Yoshidayama, who was in the gymnasium, playing basketball with Suga and Nishimoto.  She was in disbelief, as she said, “Basketball… Mikoto and Tenma played basketball… and… and YOU were there!  There was a girls’ basketball team, led by Miss Anegasaki!”

She continued reading, until she read through Page 120, which was a blank page.  The page before was an image of the track in Yagami High.  She asked him why it’s blank.  He said that it’s not finished.  It’s endless.  He added pages to the comic, every single day.  But it takes time to make memories of his life in Yagami High School.

Eri huffed, “How old are you, anyway?”

Harima said, “Look, that’s none of your business… and it doesn’t matter.  I needed to draw… to escape…”

Eri closed the Obscura comic, as she barked, “I’ve seen enough.  Look, you think this is a joke, Whiskers?  This is not a dark comic.  This is just random acts of BS.  I mean, you draw because you have something for Tenma, right?  And there’s a possibility that you may end up on the streets, drawing endlessly… all for--.”

“NO!  That comic is missing something.  It’s the only comic that is unfinished, and it is a worthy book.  It needed something… maybe you in it.”

“But I’m not in this book, am I?”

“No.  Not yet.”

He looked at her, as she was shaken a bit.  She breathed deeply, as he showed her out the door.

“Saturday, right?”  He said.

She said, “Yes.  I think I’ve seen enough of your Comical Endeavors.  You, Kenji Harima, are losing it.  You need to get out, more often.  I don’t think you can handle this situation, rather than drawing THIS!”

She tossed the comic book on the floor, as she snapped, “Does comics mean anything to you, Whiskers?  That’s what you have been doing, every single day, since Tenma left!  And I know you have been, after our recent doings, together.  But this sideshow of a manga… it’s nothing but a distraction.  No, I say that it’s ridiculous, and I will not stand for it.  You suck, Whiskers!”

She stormed off, as Harima cried, “Reconsider!”

Eri stopped, as she went to the front door, “No… No, I will not reconsider.  Until you decide to stop drawing comics, for the rest of your life, I will not reconsider.  I will see you on Saturday, not just for a date… but for some negotiations on what to do with your life and your health.”

Harima glared at her, as Eri opened the front door.  He then whispered, “Goodbye.  Sawachika… I bid you goodbye…”

Eri smiled, as she said, “Goodbye, then.”

She left, as Harima returned to his room.

Hours later, Eri was walking down the street, as she was heading for her limousine.  When she got there, it was gone.

“Nakamura drove away?”  She thought, “But I swore I parked here.  This is Whiskers’ fault.”

She turned around and saw that Harima’s shack was gone.  She saw a view of Yagami forest, as she was scared.  She stepped back, as she barked, “What the hell?  This wasn’t where I parked.  I don’t remember this place… I do, except…”

She panted heavily, as she was walking backwards.  Each footstep she made, her heart beat rapidly, after seeing the sudden change of scenario.  She turned around and saw a small lamppost in the middle of the street.  She then saw a figure, atop the post.  He had a crew-cut and was in a white shirt and black pants.  She looked up and asked, “Who are you?”

Ryuheita Suga smiled and asked, “Hello there, Sawachika-san.”

Eri whispered, “Wait… I know you…  Suga-san.”

She asked him, “What are you doing up there?”

He replied, “I needed to repair the lamppost, since all the lamps around Yagami City are fizzling out.  These lamps are unique in Japan.  You don’t need electricity.”

“I see.  Well, I guess sometimes you go green, huh?”

Eri said, as she saw the lamppost, “Oil lamps?  Is that gas?”

“Indubitably.”

“But… Those weren’t even around, anymore.  This isn’t England.”

“I know.  You know, too, since we were in the UK.”

“What?”

“Watch yourself, Sawachika-san.”

He laughed, as she ran off, while Suga opened the lamp.  Eri continued running down the streets of Yagami, as she was completely stunned and scared.  She ran all the way to her house, as she asked, “My house?”

She smiled, “Thank god.  I made it.  Now I can relax and take a bath… and go home.  This whole day’s an illusion.”

She stepped forward, walking to the entrance, as she looked around.  She said that there’s nothing going on, yet.  She arrived at the front door.  She opened the door and stepped inside.  When she arrived inside, she was back to where Suga was.

“Back so soon, Sawachika-san?”  He cackled.

Eri gasped, “How did I get here?”

She panicked, as she ran off, again.  Suga lit the lamppost, as Eri ran away, disappearing into the streets of Yagami.

XXXXX

She arrived at Yagami High, as she was walking to the front gate, exhausted and tired from running.  She looked up at the building, as she saw a lone girl, viewing from the third floor.  It was Megumi Sagano, with her long brown hair, wearing her tattered school uniform.  Eri looked up, as Megumi scrawled slowly on the window “Get out…”.

Eri gasped, but yelled, “EXCUSE ME?!  Get out?”

Megumi scrawled on the window, as she whispered, “Get out… He’s coming…”

She finished drawing on the window, as Eri covered her mouth, completely scared.  It said “Get out… while you still can… He’s going to get you…

Eri shivered, “Who?”

She hollered to Megumi, “WHOOOOO???”

Megumi disappeared, as Mai Otsuka, in her long hair in a braid, with her tattered school uniform on.  She hissed, “Miss Sawachika, you’re late.”

Eri turned around, seeing Mai’s face, with was lightly scarred and pale.  She shivered, as she cringed, “Are you okay?”

Mai said, “I’m fine.  This is a school night, after all.”

“I remember you, Mai Otsuka.  You were with Haruki Hanai, as the assistant class rep.”

“I’m full-time class rep, now.  Hanai is of no concern to me.  …is of noooooo… con… cerrrrrnnnn…”

She held up Hanai’s glasses, as she laughed.  Eri yelped, as she ran to the front of the school building.  Mai laughed evilly, as Eri went inside.  She shut the door, as she was sweating from her head.  Her fingers were shaken, as she looked up on the ceiling.  She said, “Whiskers…  What’s going on?  Is this your doing?  That’s it.  He’s the one that planted the seeds.  Rotten vindictive jerk.”

There was no voice.  She was alone, in the hallways of her high school.  She said, as she was walking down the hallway, “This is bad.  I don’t even want to be here… in this school.”

The sky turned dusky, as she was walking down the sterile and clean hallway.  Lights were flickering, as Eri was trembling in fear.  She whispered to herself, “I wanna go home… I don’t belong here… I wanna go home… I don’t belong here…”

She arrived at 3-C, her homeroom, as she looked up.  The sign was still standing, as she opened the door.  She stepped inside, and she was at the hallway, again, starting from the entrance she came in.  She trembled, as she looked around, “What?”

She walked down the dark hallway again, as laughter was made, from different students, except it was faint and ghostly.  The lights went out, as Eri gasped.  She looked at 3-A, and looked inside, through the window.  It showed Karen Ichijou, in her uniform, cleaning up the room, which was destroyed, full of chairs and desks, which were strewn about.  She whispered, “Ichijou?”

Karen said, as she was using a push broom, “What a mess.  Who would destroy this classroom?”

Eri hesitated, as she tried to get in.  She said, “No.  What if I get transported back to the hallway?”

Her heart was beating, her fingers were shaken, her lips curled a bit, her eyes were producing tears, and her feet were shaken.  She calmed down and reached for the door.

She opened the door, and she was suddenly at the parking lot.

“I don’t remember this place.”  She thought.

She then sighed in relief, as she saw her limousine parked in a small part of the parking lot.  She ran off to the limo and said, “Finally!  What kept him?”

She reached for the front door and called, “Nakamura!  You had some nerve, ditching me for twenty minutes!”

She opened the door and cried, “HEY!”

To her surprise, as she looked in the front seat, her driver, Nakamura, was gone.  It was an empty seat, with the seat belt attached.

“Wha-?  Where are you?”  She stammered, “Naka-, Na-, uh… Where are you?”

“Back again, Sawachika-san?”  Suga asked.

Eri was back to where she started.  She turned around, seeing Suga, laughing at her.  She shrieked, as she ran away, with Suga laughing.  As she ran off, she was transported back to where she started, again.

“This isn’t right.  I was running in the opposite direction.  I shouldn’t have come back here.”

“Back again, Sawachika-san?”  Suga asked.

She turned around, and saw him laughing at her, again.  She started running off, again, in a loop, from where she started running.  In the fifth interval, she ran off, disappearing into the streets of Yagami, immediately returning to the school building.

Minutes later, she was back at the front gate of the building.  She said, “Okay… This is nuts.  I’m back to where I was.  I don’t get it!  This is rather a disgusting predicament.  One minute I’m in one place, and POOF!  I’m in another.”

She looked up at the building, and saw a different message on the window, where Sagano was.  She shivered, as she saw the message.

You can run, but you cannot run, anymore.  You cannot leave.

“MAKE ME!”  She shrieked, as she headed to the front gate, leaving Yagami High.  But the minute she stepped through the front gate, she was instantly in Class 2-C.  She saw that the desks were aligned perfectly and the room was clean and tidy.  She whispered, as she looked at the desks, “This is… This is familiar…”

She looked out the window, and saw that she was two stories up.  She cringed, “Class 2-C…  I’m a Senior!  I’m not in Class 2-C, anymore!  I am a Senior!  How did I get here?”

She looked through the desks and saw a small message on her old desk, “Idiot.”

She gasped, as she stumbled down onto the floor.  She held her chest, as she was frightened.  She stood up, dusting herself off, as Mikoto, a girl with blue hair and an ample bust, wearing her uniform, tattered from her blazer and skirt, approached Eri, touching her shoulders. She gasped, as she turned around, seeing Mikoto’s face, which was like Mai and Megumi’s only a bit scarred and covered in soot.

“Mikoto…” she whimpered, “Not you, too…  How did you get here?”

Mikoto said, as she held her tight, “So, how was it?”

“How was what?”

“Harima.”

“You mean Whiskers?  Well, I don’t know how to say it, but… Do you think he’s responsible?”

“For what?  Is it because you were scared to get married?”

“How… did you… know?”

This Mikoto knew of Eri’s moments with Harima, during that time, from when she met him in Mikoto’s house, not knowing who he was, to the marriage ceremony, leading to her, dropkicking Harima in the chest (thanks to Tenma).  She whispered, “How did she know about it, after those months ago?”

She stepped back, as Mikoto grabbed her wrist.  She said, “Come with me.”

Eri shrieked, “AAGH!  Mikoto?  What are you--?  LET ME GO!  HEY!”

Mikoto dragged her, by the arm, as Eri was pleading to her.  She pulled out and shouted, “You… This is insane…  You’re… You’re NOT Mikoto!”

Mikoto smiled, as her eyes went blank, as she stepped closer, “Don’t be silly, Eri.  I am Mikoto.  Tell me more.”

Eri dropped to her butt, and then crawled off, scurrying away from a zombified Mikoto.  She went to the stairway and ran down the stairs.  She kept running down the stairs, all the way to the second floor… many, many times.  She arrived at the second floor, seeing Mikoto, waving to her.  Eri ran as fast as she could, but was in an endless loop.  She screamed, as she was tired, “STOP IT!  STOP IT, NOW!!!”

Laughter was made, as Eri dropped to the stairs.  She sat down and was fuming, completely enraged by this horrid nightmare she is having.  She then said, as she realized, “That’s it!  It’s all a dream… I must be back at Whiskers’ house, falling asleep.  But how do I wake up?”

She then looked at the window, in the stairway, and opened it.  She climbed out of the window, as she called, “CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, MIKOTO!”

She jumped out of the window…

THUD!
And landed face-first into the garden, near the school.  It was a two-story drop, but for Eri, in this world, it was a few inches, when she jumped.  She got up and moaned, holding her waist, wincing in pain.

“Okay… So, I’m not dreaming.”  She stated, “But something is going on…  And no one’s around to tell me…”

She ran out of the garden, as she saw a few students walking to her, around the courtyard.  She cried, “HELP ME!  Anybody with a normal face and a normal look, please HELP ME!”

She ran off, as the students chased after her, all with disfigured faces and ruined school uniforms.  She escaped through the front gate, only to run off into the streets of Yagami City, covered in a thick fog.  She was running off, as laughter was echoing.

“Eri… Start running… Eri…” a girl’s voice was made.

A boy’s voice was calling to her, “I loved you, Sawachika-san… I hated you…”

Eri continued running, as she was running in a slow movement, slowing down, through the fog, with laughter and jeers beckoning to her, even from those she knew, very well.

“RUN!  RUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!”  Imadori’s voice called.

Mai’s voice cried, “NO RUNNING!”

Tougou’s voice boomed, “YES!  THAT IS THE SPIRIT, SAWACHIKA!  Keep moving on, and DON’T! STOP!”

Fuyuki’s voice called out, “Hold that stance, Eri-Chan!”

Akira’s voice said, “Just tell yourself, Eri… It’s only an illusion.”

Eri shrieked, as she was running, “SHUT UP ALREADY!!!”

She blubbered, as she ran all the way back to Yagami High School, completely exhausted.  She dropped to the front gate, as she saw the lamppost, where Suga was.  This time, Suga was gone.  She moaned, as she was trembling, “Oh, no. No, no, no.”

She got up and ran away.  She then stumbled down, and was quickly into another area of the school – the track.  She looked around, as she spotted a man in a sweater and gym pants.  She called to him and cried, “WAIT!”

He ignored her, as she kept walking.  A girl with a white shirt and red shorts appeared from the track, as she was holding a javelin in her hand.  She, too, was badly scarred and with her gym clothes ripped.  Her hair was black and messy, and her legs were covered in bandages.

“Sawachika-senpai~!”  She called to her, “Help me perform for the Sports Festival~!”

Eri cringed, as she did not approach her, “Go away!  You’re not real…  You don’t exist!  YOU’RE DEAD!  HOW CAN YOU BE ALIVE?”

She doesn’t know this student, except she was from the first year classes.  Another girl appeared from behind the girl, as she had long blonde hair, and wearing her tattered gym clothes.  It was Sarah Adiemus.

“Eri-Senpai~!  You think you think you can help out with this student?  She’s trying to become a popular Olympics athlete, when she grows up.”  She called to Eri.

Her long blonde hair swayed in the breeze, as Eri couldn’t move.  She sobbed, as she was hyperventilating, “No…  I can’t…  You’re not real.  You’re not Yakumo’s friend!  You don’t exist!  What kind of magic is this?  I don’t even belong here!”

Sarah pouted, “Aw, she doesn’t know…”

The girl said, “It’s okay.  You were somewhat unhelpful, but you’re a nice girl.”

Eri shivered, as she walked off, as Sarah cried, “Sawachika-senpai?”

She bumped into a boy in blonde hair and shades, in tattered gym clothes.  He smirked, as he let out a smile, “Hey, Sawachika.  Why are you leaving?  The Sports Fest is next week.  Remember, last year?”

“Harry Mackenzie.  I remember you!”  Eri sobbed.

Harry said, as he bowed, “At your service, m’lady.  Oh, last year, you and the Bald Samurai beaten 2-D in the Sports Fest.”

“Yeah, I did.  But you know he and I won the event.”

“Yes.  And it’s a small price to pay for losing.  And pretty hefty price, too!  Or, at least my memory of it.”

Sarah called to Eri, “Sawachika-Senpai!  Help me practice~!”

Harry giggled, holding onto Eri’s chin, “So, how about it, Sawachika?  Want to see if you’re fast enough?”

Eri stepped back and cried, “GO AWAY!  AAAAGH!  GO AWAY!!!

She left the track, running away, and went in the building.  After that, she was back to where the whole thing started, and she was back at the lamppost, near the forest.  She screamed, “GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!”

She ran off, traveling to god knows where, since wherever Eri goes, she is transported magically into another area, with a zombie version of her friends, without the use of black magic.  As she continued to run, the echoes of the laughter of each student she knows continued to grow.  Every step she sprinted, another fellow classmate laughs evilly in her head.

XXXXX

Twenty minutes later, a worn-out Eri was walking down the streets of Yagami, as she looked through a huge plate-glass window.  She saw a reflection of herself, which looked like the others, with a tattered uniform and dead skin.  The reflection said to her, “The one who says to the other that he’s an idiot… is the idiot… herself.”

She cackled evilly, as Eri cringed, “No…  No… You’re not real…  You hear me?  You don’t exist!  You’re a comic!  Someone…”

She then grabbed a trashcan and threw it at the plate-glass window.

SMASH!
The window was destroyed, as Eri cried, “I HATE THIS PLACE!!!”

As she screamed in a huge booming yell, the lamppost was destroyed, and she was back at the front entrance of the school building.  She ran off to the front gate, but Mikoto blocked the entrance.  She ran off to the school entrance, but Imadori and Megumi appeared, blocking the door.  And then, as she was surrounded, all of her friends, with the exception of Tenma and Harima, dead-like and with ripped uniforms, walked towards Eri, who was freaking out.

“WHISKERS!  WHERE ARE YOU?  HELP ME!”  She hollered, “SOMEONE HELP ME!  This isn’t my place!  I don’t belong here!  THIS IS YOUR DOING, HARIMA!  This isn’t a story with romance and slice of life!  This is a story with ghouls, ghosts, and zombies!  Bloodsuckers and creeps!  I DON’T BELONG HERE!  IF I DO, PLEASE SAVE ME!  HARIMA!  HARIMA?  SAVE ME, YOU IDIOT!”

She was surrounded, as she called to him, “Harima!  This is where you do your noble task of saving me, in this comic!  You wouldn’t leave your fiancé behind, right?  HARIMA!  Harima?”

She continued to cry out her pleas, as the students went closer, grabbing onto Eri, as she tried to break free.

“HARIMA!  HARIMAAAAAA!!!

In Harima’s room, he was reading the comic “Obscura”, as she read in the page of Eri, being surrounded by many of the students she have known.  He heard Eri’s echoes, as she called to him.

“Whiskers, help me!  Don’t leave me here!  Just save me!  This is what you wanted, right?  You came to me, and the romantic scene happens!  Whiskers, save me!  SAVE ME!!!”

Harima whispered, “No, Rich Girl…  No romance in the end…  No one can save you…”

Eri cried out, from the comic, “NEVER MIND THE DATE, HARIMA!  DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!  SAVE ME!  I’LL BE NICE TO YOU, FROM NOW ON!  JUST TELL ME!”

He closed the comic, as he ignored her pleas of help.  Of course, Eri didn’t listen to Harima’s evil words, since she was trapped in the comic book he created.

“No, Eri Sawachika, this is your own kind.  This is where you belong, among those that ignored me and made me what I am.  Years of suffering, ridicule, and pain, all because you made me this way… I loved Tenma, and she is gone… and you had the nerve to make me marry you.  You know I never loved you, Eri…  For this, I will make you my greatest comic book character… like all the others.”

Eri continued to cry out, from in the book, “HARIMA!  AAGH!  HELP ME!  I’LL CHANGE!  I’M SORRY!  I’LL CHANGE!  JUST SAVE ME!  HARIMA!!!”

Harima whispered, “Oh, no, Eri… Too late for reprieve.”

He placed Obscura in his backpack, as he was packing his things.  Eri’s screams continued to call to him, as Harima went to the table, putting his pens and paper away.  He ignored her, as she was screaming for her life.

“Eri, this is where it ends.  I created Obscura, as a way of trapping the souls of those that ridicule me and tormented me…  Yakumo, Itoko, and even Tenma were exceptions.  Mostly Itoko, since I can’t dare do this to her.  But I told her, the minute you left that I’m coming home… to her apartment.  I don’t mind the extra roommates, but at least I’m free of you.  There, the comic I made, it will make everyone suffer… damned and doomed in an eternity of many encounters, enduring in the scenarios of endless plots… and condemned them in their own personal hell.”

He packed up, as Eri’s screams were fading away.  He then held up the portrait he drew of Eri’s face, and then held it with two hands.

Riiip…
He tore the picture in half and threw it on the floor.

“And you, Rich Girl, shall do so… for all eternity…  Welcome to Hell.”

He turned around and left his shack, returning to where he once belonged.

“That comic… will never see the light of day.  It’s finished now.”

XXXXX

At Itoko’s apartment, the following week, she said to him, as she was amazed, “So… This is what you did, rather than your love for Tenma, huh?”

She was a woman with long black hair and in a white shirt and black pants.  Harima said to her, “Itoko, er, Miss Itoko, I had to change the scenery and genre.”

Itoko smiled and said, “That’s good, since you let it out.  But what do you think Tenma will say, once she visits soon, about your new manuscript?”

He grabbed Obscura and said, holding it up, “She’ll never read it.”

He tossed it in trash, as he went to his room, unpacking his stuff.

Itoko said, “That’s too bad.  By the way, I’m sorry that you and Sawachika’s engagement ended, so soon.”

Harima said, “I have ways.  Unfortunately, she did it to herself…”

“Yeah, I know.  How are those internal injuries, Kenji?”

Exit a comic book… a comic book that will NEVER be found in a local comic book store or a grocery store for $4.99.  A comic book that was created by a Senior Student who wanted closure to his tormented high school life, all for his longtime crush.  With the souls of many he have obtained, including Miss Eri Sawachika, trapped inside the walls of paper, ink, and paint, he is freed from his tortured life.
The first issue of “Obscura”, created and published by Kenji Harima, can be exclusively found… in the “Tales of the Bizarre”.