Sakura loved her morning radio talk show but recently all the podcasts have been irksome.
“We have an urgent update for our listeners. Regrettably, we are issuing an amber alert for two more young teens. These two teens were last seen at the railroad track located on Patterson Road, near County Road 343. If you have any information on these lost teens, please come forward to the local authorities or submit an anonymous tip online to our website.”
Lost in thought, she laid on her bed watching the beams of light dance across her ceiling as her morning alarm started going off.
“Dad! DAD!! Are you paying any attention to what I was saying?!” Twelve-year-old Sakura slams her fists on the kitchen table. Her father, Kizashi, had always been involved in her life. It didn’t matter how many late nights at work, or how tired he was he always had time for Sakura.
“EARTH TO DAD?! Is anyone home,” it was like talking to a wall, this was not the same guy who would braid her pink hair and give her piggyback rides. This man was different. Exasperated, Sakura goes to her room shoulders slumped to call it an early night.
The next morning, Sakura wakes up to the sound of her radio, “Urgent update from Konoha’s favorite radio station: a car, owned by local man Kizashi Haruno, was found abandoned at the railroad tracks one mile from his home located on Patterson Road, near county road 343. If anyone has any information on the missing Father, please come forward and contact the local authorities.”
Slamming her fist on her alarm, she gets up to start her day.
Her voice echoes through her empty house, “Positive vibes only, Sakura, Positive vibes” today was the day that everyone had been so excited for, graduation. Sakura never thought she would make it this far, but as of today she would be a registered nurse. With the looming news still resonating in her head she cleans the house, after all she was determined to throw a party to remember. This is the last party of their college career, and it was going to be the best one yet.
With the sun dipping on the horizon and the party about start, her best friend, Ino, and boyfriend, Sasuke are the first to arrive. Sasuke made his way to the kitchen to set down the alcohol and ice. He begins to pour himself a drink. The blonde best friend followed suit, slinging her arms around Sakura.
“Forehead! I hope you have some music picked out, if not this party is going to be a total snooze-fest” Sakura’s best friend was a tough-love kind of person, the two were always in competition with each other, whether it be for the best grades, looks, and even her boyfriend Sasuke. Sakura ended up winning the romantic battle for Sasuke and it was Ino’s competitiveness that pushed her into his arms. Before she knew it, the party guests all started showing up, one group after another. Her close friends Naruto in his suit and blindingly orange tie with Hinata attached at his hip, Shikamaru in his normal work uniform hands lazily placed in his pockets, Kiba and his dog that followed him everywhere, and Shino being the last to show. Sakura is just relieved she had bought enough drinks and snacks for everyone.
As she began to make her rounds, another knock came to the front door. Checking the peephole on the door, she gasps then opens the door.
“What are you doing here!?” The three siblings at the door were a group of foreign exchange students that Sakura befriended during their stay in Konoha. Without an explanation, the four exchanged their hugs and Kankuro, Temari, and Gaara waltzed right in getting lost in the sea of friends.
Drink in hand, Sakura plopped down on the couch. “What is this ‘Devils Train everyone keeps talking about? There are posters everywhere for the missing teens, and no one has really explained to us what is going on?” Temari slurring her words, arms wrapped around Shikamaru’s neck like a vice. The long-distance relationship had to be hard on the two of them, but they were never this affectionate.
“Troublesome woman, it’s our towns version of the Bermuda Triangle, people are lured into the Devil’s trap and they disappear with no trace of their ships, or in this case, their bodies...”
“There really isn’t anything interesting about it, probably just some prepubescent teen trying to stick it to their parents for grounding them…” Casting his eyes towards his drink, he takes a long swig hoping Temari got the hint. He smiled at Sakura, hoping to abandon the meaningless gossip.
“It’s some ludicrous rumor the local kids made up but if you have to know…” Sakura takes a deep breath; all the blood starting to rush to her face.
“They say people who walk the tracks at night, hear the Devil himself, and become empty shells of themselves, until they accept the deal for their soul. It’s a stupid folklore that is an excuse for dead-beats to leave their families” Sakura’s chest heaved from lack of air and downs her drink in one chug. This was a sore spot for her, Temari didn’t grow up in the same town as the Konoha kids and had no idea about her Father and the trauma this ‘silly folklore’ caused her.
“Excuse me, I’m going to get another drink,” Sakura plasters a polite smile leaving the two love birds to enjoy each other’s company.
This party was planned for close friends, and although it was a pleasant surprise to have the sibling-trio at her party, she was suddenly aware that the amount of people had tripled, and it seemed the whole university was inside her house.
Feeling a bit buzzed from the excessive amounts of margaritas and tequila shots Ino was shoving down her throat, she failed to realize the empty feeling in her heart as she noticed her missing boyfriend. Stumbling up the stairs her ear perked up, a weird sound registered in Sakura’s brain.
"Don’t stop, ohh—" Sakura recognized the woman’s voice, not wanting to interrupt the couple behind the door, she starts to walk away.
“Sasssuke—harder please.” the woman chanted. Sakura stopped in her tracks, anger pooling in her stomach. She stomps back to the door practically kicking the wood right off the hinges. Right before her eyes was Ino and Sasuke, limbs tangled and glistening from what they just been caught doing.
“Forehead, it’s not what it looks like! Let me explain please…” Ino’s voice trailing off into the ringing in Sakura’s ears.
Sakura and Sasuke, the power couple of Konoha, defying all odds since they were young kids. Ruined in one moment of debauchery, of betrayal. Her eyes filled with tears, after what felt like an eternity Sakura began to speak.
“How long…” her voice barely above a whisper.
“W-what?” Ino asked unable to make eye contact with her best friend.
“I said how long?” Something inside of Sakura snapped.
“Hn, Sakura, you can’t be that clueless.” Sasuke said his blank onyx eyes shifting between the two best friends.
All the memories flooding back to her brain how could she have been so naive to miss all the signs. Ino and Sasuke even took the same car to the party tonight, she was blinded by the façade of loyalty.
Sakura’s eyebrows furrowed, she lowered her head, was it the alcohol coursing through her veins or the knife in her back that was stealing the words out of her mouth? Quick on her heals she made her way out of the room, down her stairs and out the front door. Her feet began to stumble around aimlessly.
“This stupid town, and these stupid train tracks. Folklore was all this was, nothing more, the Devil, even the gods themselves weren’t real.”
Walking on the cold grey bar lining the tracks, Sakura couldn’t help but to gravitate towards this place. She always hoped her Father would return on this very spot, where he disappeared to didn’t matter if he came back home; Or at least that’s what Sakura told herself.
It was October in Konoha and while the days were smoldering the nights were brisk. Sakura had spent a long time fixing her pink locks for the party tonight, but the wind didn’t seem to care. Sakura couldn’t help the tears brought to her eyes remembering the nights events.
“You’re drunk, Sakura, just brush it off.” Inner was quite talkative this evening.
She had to brush it off; the ground started to rumble, a light from the distance making its way towards her. Making her way off the tracks she steps back towards the line of trees near the track. Leaning up against the tree for support to watch the train roll by.
“Sakura, Sakura,” a male voice started calling out to her, she looked up for the source of the voice. In between the cab cars she sees him, reaching out for her. His clothes covered in dirt, face twisted and bloody. Before she knew it, the train was gone, and so was the man she looked up to.
“Dad?” tripping over her feet to cross the tracks to where she saw the man, “Dad...?” her heartbeat could be heard for miles. Scanning the trees, scanning the ground for any trace of the man she swore was her father.