Chapter 1: I
Please note - this is really old, at I began to write it months ago, and after a long hiatus on this work, am majorly editing and getting back to work on it. Especially in the earlier chapters, this work will not be one of the best things I've written, even after my editing. However, please bear with me, as this is a work I do want to finish, even if it does kinda have a shaky start. I have big ideas on where it can go, so I didn't want my ideas to go to waste - so, I'm going to continue writing this fic! I hope you're still able to enjoy it, even if it isn't one of my best works.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Committing a crime isn't scary. The scary part is to admit it.
Receiving a punishment isn't scary. The scary part is to know the pain of it.
Neither crime nor punishment will be gone from the world,
Because humans are unable to know their future.
POV// Mion Sonozaki
I turned around. Staring back up at me was my quirky friend, Rena Ryuugu. She's the only person who can get away with calling me this, of course. Anyone else tries to "Mii-chan" me, and I'll knock out their lights, disrespecting the heir to the Sonozaki house like that. I could also tell my grandmother, being heir to the family and all that entitlement crap.
Anywho, I turned to face my doe-eyed friend, as she looked up at me. (I'm taller than well, everyone)
"Mii-chan? Look at what I found! A Kenta doll! it's so cute, I wanna take it home with me!"
Rena was blushing now, and spinning in circles, her shiny eyes full of life.
"If only I could dig it up somehow.."
I looked down at Rena, hopelessly staring at the half-buried Kenta doll. I sighed. "Maybe when we walk back from school, you could look for a shovel, or some kind of tool to dig with"
She looked disappointed but nodded anyway.
But her mood was quickly up again as Satako pranced into the school, her older brother Satoshi lagging behind with a meek grin. "Hiya Rena!" Satako ran up to Rena and gave her a hug.
Rena smiled, happy to see her friend again.
I suppose I should mention why Satako was absent to begin with. Apparently, she had tried to run away from her home, and I've only heard rumors, but people have been saying her horrid aunt and uncle had been giving her a really hard time. Many times has Satako's household been suspected of abuse, assault, and violence. But Satako has always denied it. Not to mention the fact that Satoshi always seems to be growing more and more tired, as always defending Satako must be wearing him down, which is understandable. I do admire his courage, though.
But that's enough on the Houjos for now, I prefer not to think about it too much, especially since no one seems to know what to do.
Satako tugged on my skirt, forcing me to snap out of such a daze. "Hey, Mion? Ya listening?" Satako had an aggravated tone. I looked down at her, but it was too late. I took one step, and a barricade of pots and pans began to clash together, triggered by a rope. Satako boldy grinned, clearly satisfied with herself.
"It's my first day back and you're already falling for my pranks! Teehee! I have outsmarted you for once, Mion!"
Satoshi had seen this as well. Even he was giggling. ugh. I can't believe I fell for this. I must think of some kind of comeback... "Yeah, yeah, you got me Satako. But I wouldn't get too cocky if I were you, never know what may happen!"
I turned to Satoshi.
"Who do you think you are! You've yet to beat me at old maid, you tramp! Keep it up, and I won't go so easy on you in the next punishment game!" Now even Rika had joined the gang. She stood next to Satoko, and sinisterly grinned at me.
"Well, clap clap for you, Satoko! Clap, clap!"
I walked closer to Rika. "Just you wait.."
She gave me a innocent smile. "Nipaah~" I sighed. I love my friends, despite the fact that they can be downright dorks sometimes.
'I really am lucky, to be where I am today,' I thought to myself later that day, as I watched Rena skillfully pry the Kenta doll out of the trash, using a big hatchet-like cleaver.
"Mion, I almost got it!" I turned to look at Rena, yanking on the old, rusted doll. I heard a loud crash as she fell backward, clinging to the Kenta doll for dear life.
"Rena? You okay??"
She beamed at me, a look of achievement on her face as she clutched the doll.
"I got it! I dug it out! Isn't it cute, Mion? Gee, I can't wait to take him home with me!"
Admittedly, I sometimes find it really hard to understand Rena, but I don't really mind. She is a close friend to me, and I'd do anything for her.
That's what friends are for, isn't it? We're like a family, our club, and we look out for one another, taking pride in each other's achievements. I smiled to myself as I dropped her off, watching her drag the Kenta doll into her home.
"Goodnight, Rena! See you tomorrow!"
She turned around and smiled back, waving her free arm back at me. "See you tomorrow, Mion!"
I began to trudge back home. On the way back, I ran into Tomitake. "Oh, hey Mion!"
I smiled at him sheepishly. "Hey Tomitake, you kinda startled me there!"
He laughed in embarrassment. "I'm sorry, I guess as a photographer, it's normal that I would get that a lot!" I laughed with him.
"Haha, don't worry bout it, k?" I brushed off my skirt and sat down beside him. "You here for the festival?" I asked in anticipation.
He looked into the sky, at the setting sun.
"Yeah, basically, its that time of year again, isn't it?"
Hmm, Is he hinting at what I think he's hinting at?
"So, I'll see you there, then?"
His eyes grew distant, and he looked up at the sky.
"If I run into you, Miss Sonozaki, I'll be sure to stop by and say hello."
His tone had all of the sudden gone darker, not by much, but it was noticeably wearier.
Was he onto something? Something he wasn't comfortable telling me, with the position I hold? It certainly was suspicious.
I brushed this off and decided to politely excuse myself.
After all, Granny wouldn't be happy if I was home late.
When I arrived, not to be disrespectful, but well, speak of the devil.
My granny, Oryou Sonozaki, was sitting right there, along with my mother, Akane Sonozaki and old man Kimiyoshi, from a completely different house.
Wait for a second...why is Kimiyoshi here?
Why do they all look so serious? This must be important..
I sat down.
"Greetings, fellow members of the house. Is there something that's been lingering over you, that you'd like to discuss with me?"
My granny cleared her throat.
"It's about the upcoming Watanagashi festival, as a matter of fact. Mion, we'd appreciate your patience in this meeting, but thanks for asking first. You really will make a nice head of our village lately."
Why Is she being so soft? Granny must really be stressed about something, as she does tend to soften up like that in such situations...
I kept it cool and listened in on what she was saying.
"Well, do you know of a Mr. Satoshi Houjou?"
Hold on a second...what? What could she have with him? I cleared my throat.
"Yes, Grandmother. Why, did he do something?"
Her eyes widened.
"Where, where did you see him!?"
"Grandmother, what is this about?"
It was clear the poor woman was tiring herself out, almost to exhaustion from stressing.
Beads of sweat were running down her face. "Take a deep breath, slowly, try and calm yourself." She took a few haggy breaths and began to cough. Then, in a scratchier tone than before, she continued to talk, her coughs in between sounding like a broken violin.
"That bastard was reported not once, but two times right outside of the Furude shrine! Who does he think he is, disrespecting the divine Oyashiro-sama! Such actions-"
She went into a fit of coughing.
"Such actions are unacceptable! If Oyashiro's curse doesn't wipe him out, I will!!"
Yikes granny. You need to breathe, maybe take it easy for a while.
The sound of my ringing phone startled me.
I had already gotten changed into my nightgown, and I was reading peacefully in my bed, with a candle as my light.
But, I reluctantly picked up the ringing phone.
I asked it, in a groggy tone.
The first thing I heard when I picked up that phone, was the sound of someone crying, and breathing at an unhealthy fast pace.
It was loud, and very unsettling.
"Hello?! Who is this?!"
I was feeling a little nervous myself now.
"Mii-chan! You answered...thank goodness..."
I listened more closely to the stammering voice on the other line.
"Rena?! Are you alright, please, answer me!"
She hung up, and I worried I may have sounded too panicked myself.
Some friend I am, only worrying my friend more during an obvious panic attack
Was there a reason she couldn't tell me?
Because I'm the heir for head of the Sonozaki house...?
Was she afraid that I'd..
It didn't matter now.
I just hoped she was okay.
Then I realized
The Watanagashi festivals was less than a week away, two days from now, actually.
Unfortunately, I think Rena must've had something in her past that she doesn't talk about, or she is just very scared of the conspiracy of the curse.
But Rena believes, almost religiously in Oyashiro-sama.
It's a very sensitive topic, and we try not to bring it up around her.
I was worried about Rena, but it was also getting late, so I decided to get some sleep.
If it was still bothering her in the morning, then I'd be there to talk.
The morning came quickly, as I woke up to the sound of Rena's giggling.
"Come onnn mii-chan, wake up already! You wouldn't want me to punish Satoshi without you, would you? Would you?"
This got my attention real quick.
how dare she even think about punishing Satoshi without me..the nerve..
I was awake by then.
"Did I really oversleep again?!"
Rena gave me a knowing smile.
"Oh, miss Sonozaki-san, that is IMPROPER BEHAVIOR!"
I glared at her.
"Very cute, Rena."
She laughed at me, a hint of pride in her sweet little cackling.
That's another funny thing about Rena, even when she is laughing, she still has her bashful little blush on her cheeks.
I got up from bed, and began to strip out of my pajamas, changing into my day outfit.
Rena had taken a seat on my bed, and I eventually caught her watching me.
"Rena! Do you mind?"
She giggled bashfully.
"Tee-hee, but Mii-chan's Pajamas are so cute~!"
I sighed as I threw my school uniform on.
"You sound like a dirty old man, Rena."
"Maybe I do..but I couldn't help it!"
I sighed again as I began to comb through my silky, green hair.
Then I quickly tied it up into a messy ponytail and looked at the time.
Rena turned to me, confused by my sudden outburst.
"Mion, what's wrong?"
"Ahh..it's nothing..it's just..I don't have time to make a lunch, and we're late enough already so..."
Rena grinned at me, and without hesitation, pushed her bento onto my lap.
"Here you go! You can have mine, have mine!"
"Are you sure?! That was yours.."
"Just take it, take it, silly! Now hurry up, we're going to be late!"
She grabbed ahold of my skirt and began running, trying to "pull" me with her.
I almost fell to the ground trying to catch up to her.
"Rena!! Wait up, damn it!"
I began to sprint after that hyperactive, overly energetic girl, her auburn hair flapping in every direction from the wind.
She came to a sudden halt by the doors, almost kicking three feet of dust behind her.
I once again practically tripped, and believe me, I am not the clumsy type.
I put my hand on her shoulder in an attempt to stay balanced, and a very, very flustered Rena turned to look at me, out of breath from running.
"Breathe in, Rena, Then breathe out..."
Once we had completely deflated, I opened the doors, and Rena and I entered the building.
However, the cheery, happy-go lucky mode quickly disappeared, like a candle gone out, when we looked inside.
The first thing I saw was Satako, over in the corner.
Our teacher, Ms. Chie, was standing over her, holding the wallphone in one hand, and an inhaler in the other.
Satoshi was down there to, trying to calm Satako.
A crowd of children had gathered around her, and satoshi was trying to back away.
Rika was the only one who wasn't standing over Satako in curiousity.
Instead, she looked tired, as if she's seen this before.
However, I stepped forward, Followed by Rena, and being the natural born leader that my friends constantly tell me I am, I decided to take order. "Everyone! Unless your Satoshi Houjou, or Chie sensei, Step away from Satoko! Give the kid some goddamn space!" My sudden outburst startled them, and everyone stepped back.
That's when I began to approach Satoko. She was having what appeared to be a panic attack, as she was crying, and gripping a chair leg for dear life, all while uttering the phrase "I'm sorry" over and over again. That's when I realized that Rena wasn't behind me.
Where did Rena go?
My question was quickly answered when she walked back in with Mr. Irie, the village medical worker.
He began to talk softly to Satoko, too quiet for me to be able to make out, and he then walked away with her, followed by a tired looking satoshi, who insisted upon coming along.
That's when Rika approached Rena and I, a look of anguish and defeat on her face, which I didn't really get at the time.
Rena looked at Rika.
"Are you worried about Satako-chan?"
"I thought so. This happened because of that nasty Aunt of hers, because of her nasty aunt.."
"Yes. But there is nothing we can do about it."
I was taken aback by Rika's sudden shift in tone, and her sudden pessimistic attitude.
This can't be the Rika I've known, no we can't give up!
"Rika, why would you say such a thing! Of course, we can! We can even talk to Satoshi about it too, he'll tell us the truth, even if Satako won't!"
Rika looked up at me and sighed sadly.
"Mii--I wish we could, but they'd only think it was another false alarm."
I was stunned.
"False alarm?!? Why would they think that?!"
Rika smiled a bittersweet smile at me.
"You see Mion, Satako got in a fight with her aunt once, and she called authorities down there then. But her aunt denied Satako's claims, and deemed it as a misunderstanding. There is nothing that can be done now. Nothing."
That's when Rika's face began to darken, and a few bitter tears began to run down her cheeks.
"But Mion, Miss Sonozaki heir, you know the real reason, don't you?!"
Her voice sounded oddly mature for such a little girl, and she began to cry angerly, unable to hold back such bitter tears.
"Rika..what are you talking about?"
She looked at me with utter disbelief.
"What the hell do you mean you don't know! It's because your grandmother hates the Houjou family, just because their parents opposed the damn war!! Well guess what? Her parents are both dead, DEAD, and she still hates them! Ask Satoshi-kun, he gets this awful discrimination all the time!! Can't you see, Mion! The law enforcement could care LESS about what happens to poor Satako! And it's YOUR family's fault they won't do anything!! THEIR fault!!"
Rena grabbed ahold of Rika, turning her around so that she'd be facing her.
She said angrily.
"We all know the real reason Satako is having to put up with all this, but it isn't Mii-chan's fault!
Rika wiped off the tears and smiled sorrowfully at Rena.
"I know Rena...I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me.."
"We are all worried about Satako-chan, but if we can't even get along, it'll only make the situation worse! Don't you get that, don't you, don't you?"
"Mii..getting mad and turning on each other isn't gonna help anything..so we have to be there for one another and support each other instead! Nipah~!"
Rika tried to speak, her bitter tears replaced by a sudden wave of regret, and sadness.
That's when Rena spoke up.
"We just have to make sure we be nice to Satoko-chan, and give her a reason to not be afraid, to smile again, smile again.."
A worried look crossed her face.
"I'm going to be taking her to the cotton drifting festival, we can play games with her, take her to Rika-chan's dance..."
Rika looked stricken, clearly upset by this.
"Wait, Rena-san, isn't she going with Satoshi?"
"That's what I thought too..but he told me he had to take care of something that night, and that he was leaving Satako-chan to Rena.."
Rika was taken aback by this.
"Wait, Rena, what did he have to take care of?" She asked urgently.
"Did he tell you?"
"Now that I think about it, no..he didn't. I guess it just didn't occur to Rena to ask him..Uuu..I hope he's okay.."
Rena began to speak up again.
"Rika-chan, does it have anything to do with Oyashiro's curse?"
"I said, do you think it has anything to do with Oyashiro-sama's curse?"
Her tone was threatening now, and it was giving me an uneasy feeling.
"Of course not, Rena, why would you ask such a thing?"
She asked innocently.
"Don't play dumb with me, RIka-chan."
The sudden bitterness in her voice took me back, I must admit.
"I tried to talk to Satoshi-kun about it the other day, and he didn't even seem to hear Rena. It was like something was talking to him, like Oyashiro-sama himself."
"But he did tell Rena one thing, he said that he wanted to leave Hinamizawa."
Now even I was confused.
"What are you talking about Rena? Why would he ever want to leave us all behind? His friends, His club, His home, Satako-chan.."
"Haven't you noticed it too, Mii-chan?"
"Satoshi-kun! Don't you think he's worn out from helping Satoko so much, so much?"
"Well, I guess..."
"And how distant he's been lately?"
"Yeah, he hardly batted an eye the last time we punished him..."
"But why do you think it was Oyashiro-sama? This doesn't make any sense, Rena!"
"I tried to talk to him...he said...he said..he said..he said..."
"Well? What did he say?!?"I snapped, immediately feeling bad after.
After all, Rena herself had apparently had some experience with what she believes to be the "curse" of Oyashiro, so it is a sensitive topic for her...
"He said..He said...He said...That he had to leave Hinamizawa...He had to go far away he couldn't take it he couldn't take it he couldn't take it..!!"
Rena was beginning to panic herself, making me feel even worse for snapping at her.
"Take a deep breath, Rena-chan, try and breathe for me, okay?"
"Good job Rena, now try to keep it together, and continue."
"He..He..he told Rena that Oyashiro..it was following him..he heard the footsteps...he heard it sometimes..he sometimes..he sometimes heard her soft, whispering voice telling him telling him...it was saying..it was saying over and over...it was saying..."
"Come on Rena, try to breathe! What was "it" saying?"
"It said...I'm sorry"
"Huh? Why would Oyashiro apologize?"
Rena's expression darkened.
She began to softly laugh, as she looked up at me.
"Oh, Mion...The things you don't know.."
"Wait..what things? What things I don't..don't know?"
"Have you ever had someone apologize to you, over and over again, Hmm Mion?"
"Have you ever been followed, no matter where you went, or how fast you ran, no matter where you tried to hide, but it was always there, looming over you, watching you?"
Rika wasn't saying a word.
She was just sitting there, in the corner, observing this exchange.
"And tell me Mion, has it ever been watching you from your window, suddenly inviting itself inside, so it could watch you, watch you as you sleep at night, and it would whisper to you, sometimes it would touch you, it's cold..cold..clammy embrace...but you could never get away?"
"That's enough, Rena!"
"It's footsteps got louder and louder by the day..and suddenly..and suddenly...your world, everything around you began to change into madness and lies, lies lies lies lies...."
"I said, THAT'S ENOUGH, RENA!"
And even now, I deeply regret doing what I did next.
I stood up, walked over to Rena, and I slapped her.
I slapped her right across the face, hard.
A look of shock and..what even looked like heartbreak crossed her eyes as my hand made its impact with her face.
It was only a half of second, but this dreadful moment seemed to last forever as tears began to well up in Rena's eyes, as I realized what I had done.
Rika, who had been watching the entire thing, stepped out of the room, out of the building, and began to walk away.
"Wait, Rika-chan..where are you going?"
"The festival is tomorrow, Mion. I'm getting ready, and so should you."
Her tone was dark again, and it gave me an uneasy feeling.
Rena stood up, her lower lip quivering as she stepped away from me and began to walk away with Rika.
For whatever reason, I didn't follow them. I have no idea why, but I just stood there, stood there by myself as I watched them go.
As I watched my two best friends, Rena Ryuugu and Rika Furude, walk away, leaving me behind at the school, alone.
This story was basically a result of me wondering what would happen if Mion fell under the Hinamizawa syndrome, as she's a very likable character; while Hinamizawa syndrome brings out the worst in people. It's also an attempt to write the first person from an unreliable narrator (In a full story, not counting one-shots).
Chapter 2: II
The evening was cool and humid, with each blade of grass seemingly having its own row of dewdrops. The sun was hidden behind the thick stratus clouds, leaving only small slits of the bright sunlight to peak out, over the village. The festival was alive, with countless happy-sounding voices of nonsense chatter, laughter, and reflection.
Families, couples, friends, and neighbors united, and you'd be considering crazy for skipping such an anticipated event.
Of course, the cotton drifting festival was the only real "celebration", or "get together" for the villagers, so they all treasured it, unknowingly submitting to the dark, ancient customs of Hinamizawa.
I was with my little of group friends - well minus Satoshi and Rika - Rika was getting ready to do her annual dance; the Furude family is also one of the three great families, (some even go as far as to consider Rika to be the reincarnation of Oyashiro-sama himself) and getting changed into her ruby red and cotton white satin-made shrine maiden outfit.
However, the whereabouts of Satoshi-kun had still remained a mystery. He had left Satako in the care of Rena, as she swore to take good care of her for him. Rena was standing beside me, holding Satako's hand while pulling her along. Satako tugged on Rena's arm.
Her eyes were dull and lifeless looking, as they'd been the whole evening so far. I couldn't help but worry about her myself, as she had an incredibly rough home life from what I had heard. Unfortunately, there wasn't much that could have been done. I could not do anything, as I was in the Sonozaki family, who had fiercely opposed the Houjous, more specifically, her parents in the dam war. A petty thing to hold onto in my opinion, but there was not anything I could do about it anyway.
No matter what we tried to do for her, Satako couldn't enjoy herself. Rena smiled down at her. "Satako-chan? Is something wrong, is something wrong?"
"I'm really sorry, I know I've asked this a lot, but are you sure you don't know where Nii-Nii went? I'm really worried, please tell me he's okay...is he okay? Is Nii-Nii okay? Nii-Nii..." Rena gave her a warm smile.
"I'm sure Satoshi-kun just had to take care of something, don't worry Satako. I promise you, he'll be okay." Satako's lower lip quivered as she looked up at Rena with fear and sadness in her eyes.
After a while, the dandelion headed little girl timidly stuck out a tiny finger. "Pinky-promise?" Rena sighed and wrapped her finger around Satako's, linking them.
"Promise, promise. If I'm lying to you and something bad is happening to Satoshi, you can chop off my pinky finger with safety scissors!!"
Satako had to giggle at that. "Chopping off a finger..with safety scissors? Rena, you're silly." Satako's once dull, almost lifeless eyes now sparkled again, and it made me feel warm inside, too. Leave it to Rena-Chan to lighten up the mood. What would I ever do without her?
"Hey, it's almost time for Rika's dance! I don't know about you guys, but I want to be there to praise Rika-chan for all her hard work," I informed them.
A fiercely competitive look crossed Satako's cheeky little face.
"Oh ho ho~!" She cackled. What was she planning this time, I couldn't help but wonder. I was just happy to see her spirits up again. She stood up on her tip toes and pointed a tiny finger up at the air. "Last one there is a..a...a... A SAFETY SCISSORS USER! MUAA-HA-HA!" She dashed off like a bullet shot out of a gun. Satako's sudden burst of energy was contagious, it seemed.
"W-WAIT!! I PROMISED SATOSHI-KUN I WOULDN'T LOOSE YOU IN THE CROWD!!" Rena went sprinting after her in a flash of Scarlett. Now hold on a second, what in the hell do they think they're doing? Trying to beat me, Mion Sonozaki, in a race?! Not happening. I laughed. I dashed after them as well, quickly passing Rena with ease.
"Mii-chan!! Wait up, wait up!!"
I was getting close to passing Satako, but she did a right-turn on me. So, since two can play that game, I left turned after her, preparing to pass her.
But then, just as I was getting close - I could've reached out my hand a pulled off some of the hairs on her little head - she took a sharp left on me, too! I exhaled through my gritted teeth in frustration. That sneaky little brat was zigzagging on me!
But then, she took another left a minute too soon, and she slammed into a man wearing a thin jacket and capris, carrying around home-baked treats to sell. Not only was he taken out, sprawled across the cement, but his delicious inventory was also ruined, squashed flat by the sudden impact. Satako gasped in horror when she realized what she had just done.
He stood up and brushed himself off.
Then, he did a double take out of utter disgust when he saw Satako sprawled out on the ground, covered in dust and scratches. "Of all the people...," He grumbled with pure hate riddled in his voice, "it's one of those Houjou rats" He kicked her aside with his shoe, then stormed off, not even bothering to clean up the mess. This really did piss me off, how dare anyone treat my friend that way!
I stormed up to him, and walked in front of him, so he'd see me.
"Heeey, get outta mah way..."
I smirked smugly.
"Do you have any idea who I am?"
He froze, stopping to take a good, long look at me.
What a nuisance.
I gripped the back of my lemon-yellow T-shirt, and pulled it up, exposing my back.
The demon tattoo, (an official mark for me as heir) was exposed to him. I know I'm not really supposed to do this, but what the hell? I won't stand for Satako getting mistreated, by people she hardly even knows, for something that her parents supported. My family isn't around to see it, so I won't be in trouble, either. No matter what, it's too cruel. No...
It's ridiculous, honestly.
He gasped when he saw it.
I grinned a sinister grin.
"Excuse me sir, but I am Mion Sonozaki-sama, heir to be head of the Sonozaki family. Drop to your knees and show some respect, and I may just let you off with a warning."
His mouth was gaped open, and he looked like a confused child. But nevertheless, he dropped to his knees and begged me for mercy. I took the opportunity to my advantage and kicked him in the face. Then I rolled my eyes and trotted away. I was able to catch up to Rena and Satako up at the furude shrine, just in time. Rika stepped out on to the stage, and humbly bowed to the audience. Then, just like she did every year, she performed her dance, almost perfectly, as if she's been practicing all her life. After Rika's dance, Rena tugged on my arm.
It was time to float the cotton down the stream. This was really important to Rena, as she claims that for her it isn't only a sacrifice for oyashiro, but an apology for upsetting them.
"Ah, yes Rena. It's time for Watanagashi"
She gripped Satako's arm.
"Come on Satako-chan, it's time for us to pay our respects to Oyashiro-sama." Satako nodded, her eyes filled with worry. Rena began walking, Satako right beside her, keeping close watch over her just as she had promised Satoshi. I sat down, and reached into the basket. The thick cotton felt soft between my fingers. I pulled out a lump, rolling it into a sphere with my palm. Rena and Satako did the same, both clutching their ball of cotton in their hands.
We silently walked down to the active stream, it was full of life, as water flowed down, it stopped for nothing, just kept flowing, flowing by. I reached my hand in, the water stream parting at the place my finger had touched, making ripples expand and fade out. I gently released my ball of cotton, followed by Rena and Satako. It floated away from us, joining the large clusters of cotton left by previous villagers, as they floated alongside one another. A newer shadow suddenly loomed over me.
Startled, I turned around.
To my relief, it was only Tomitake again, and next to him stood to miss Takano-san. He laughed as he looked down on the three of us.
"Ahh, sorry Mion, did I scare you again?"
"Nah, just caught me off guard, that's all!" Rena looked up at the two, as if she had just then noticed they were there, despite the fact that Tomitake was already speaking to us.
Takano looked down at her, raising an eyebrow in questioning.
"Did you already make your offering?"
"Your offering to Oyashiro-sama. Tomitake has a ball of cotton in his hand, all set to send drifting, but you don't." Takano tried to speak, but Rena cut her off, her face beginning to darken.
"You have to make an offering to him, Miyo-san, you have to." Even Satako backed a few steps away from Rena, taken off guard by her sudden aggression. Takano forced the corners of her mouth into a insincere grin.
"Don't worry, Rena, I've taken care of that. After all..."
"What? What "after all"?
"You know just what I'm talking about, Rena-san."
"Tell me more, Takano."
"The curse of Oyashiro-sama. It would be just awful if I were suddenly spirited away by the demon~"
"He won't forgive you for disrespecting him. I hope you are being respectful of him, Takano."
"Why wouldn't I? Personally, I find the curse quite fascinating. It's more than a chain of deaths, because each death occurs at the same time, day and routine."
"That's right. I'd know, since I've spoken to--"
I have had enough.
First of all, Satoko looked as if she was about to be sick. Doesn't Rena understand that her mother and father were killed tonight, a year ago? Not to mention, Rena finds it therapeutic to talk about it at times, but on some occasions, she will begin to panic, and we can't have that.
Someone may see and become suspicious. That's when Satako tugged on my jeans. I looked down at her. She had gone a sickly pale, her eyes dull and foggy again.
Rena continued to talk to Takano, as if she either didn't notice or care.
"Rena! Stop it!"
I nudged her, but I don't think she heard me.
Perhaps she was too indulged in the conversation to notice me, or was ignoring me.
But no, Takano had her absorbed in this conversation to the point it was unhealthy, and I could hear Rena's normally soft, sweet voice go to a panicked, hypervenilating tone.
Class the next day was hot.
The hot sun was beating down, and my long skirt was sticking to my thighs from sweat.
The windows were open in hope of catching a breeze, but all that came through was more of the scorching sunlight.
I tried to fan myself with my algebra notes, but it was no use.
Then, I almost thought I heard a small voice say something, but I couldn't make it out.
The voice belonged to Rika, Rika Furude.
"Oh, what's up, Rika-chan?"
Her voice was urgent.
"Did you see Satoshi at the Watanagashi festival last night?"
"N-no, he asked Rena to take care of her while he was out.."
"Where was he?"
"He never told Rena where he'd be, he only asked her to take care of Satako for him"
"Oh, okay then, I was just worried because Satoshi didn't show up! Nipaah~"
Wait wait wait
Hold on a second
Satako didn't show up either, so why did she only mentioning Satoshi?
Wasn't her and Satako dear friends?
I was about to ask Rika about this, but when I looked down to where she was standing, Rika was gone.
I stood up and decided to leave.
I walked home that day, all by myself.
It felt really lonely to pass by the dumpster, without her there, making some remark about a new find shes made, a treasure shed like to take home with her.
Instead, all I could hear were the screams of the cicadas, as they cried into the air, their cries echoing into the empty breeze, merely enhancing the sound, and making it louder.
I went to bed early that night.
The next morning, the first thing I saw was Rena, standing at the edge of my bed, frowning.
"R-rena? What are you doing here?"
"You overslept for way over an hour again, Mii-chan, I was worried about you. Plus..you left school early yesterday. Mii-chan, are you feeling okay? Are you, are you?"
she still came for me..even after I snapped at her last night...
We arrived at school, Rika was sitting in a corner, waiting for us.
I walked over to her, followed by Rena.
She looked up at me, with a dull, emotion free look in her eyes.
"Mion-san! Rena-san! I need to talk to the two of you"
Rena gently pulled my backpack off my back, and set it down besides hers.
That's when I noticed she had made two extra bentos; One for me, and one for RIka.
How thoughtful of her, I mused.
I don't think I've ever met anyone this generous, and I had to smile a little.
I really am lucky to have her as such a close friend.
Rika turned behind to make sure we were following behind her, then trotted outside the classroom and around the corner.
I followed her, with Rena close behind me.
Rika took a three hundred eighty degree turn, making sure it was empty back there, and no one else was listening.
We were alone, the only ones back there.
Once Rika felt certain, she cleared her throat, her tiny voice making a weak little squeak.
Then, she addressed the two of us accordingly.
"Rena. Mion. It's about Satoshi."
"Did something happen to him?"
Rika looked at me, with grievence in her eyes.
"Mion, on the night of the cotton drifting festival...Satako's mean aunt..she..she.."
Rena was deathly silent as Rika continued.
"She was found in the forest last night, brutally beaten to the death"
I nodded, trying to stay calm.
It would be a hell of an inconvience if the Sonozaki heir began to panic, now wouldnt it?
"And well, um..on that same night, Satoshi went missing, and no one has seen him since. The police have looked everywhere, and there hasn't been a trace of him"
Rena turned pale.
"Satoshi, he..he is gone."
After that, I didn't think life would ever be the same.
however, at one point, everyone just stopped talking about it.
If anyone ever asked about him, the answer would be the same each time.
That Satoshi had transferred out, out of hinamizawa.
Chapter 3: III
Ever since Satoshi left, I felt like things would never be the same. But it was scary how fast everyone seemed to completely forget about him. I do admit I was secretly hoping they wouldn't make a huge deal out of it. Is that a bad thing? Well, my club wouldn't be the same if everyone was always on edge, you know?
I still felt guilty for thinking it, though. Of course, I too missed Satoshi, why wouldn't I? Even if I wasn't as close to him as Rena or Satoko was, I would still miss him if he were to suddenly disappear.
Then, around the same time he went off the rails, the next year, that's when HE moved in. Keiichi Maebara. I remember walking in, alongside Rena, just like always, when she tugged on my sleeve.
"Mii-chan...who's that, who's that?"
She was pointing at the strange looking boy in the back, with a white button-down shirt, and shaggy brown hair hanging all around his face. He had a weird grin and was clearly spaced out. He was clearly flustered by whatever he was thinking about, and I swear I saw drool dribbling out of his mouth. I had no way of knowing what it was he was thinking about, but he looked really embarrassed when he noticed me staring.
"ACCK!! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was in a daze!!"
I smiled at him and shook his hand. "No no, it's cool. My name is Mion Sonozaki, and the timid looking girl behind me is Rena, Rena Ryuugu. Now you don't have to be so nervous, you already know two people here!"
"Dwaa-Haah...Nice to meet you, Mion! You two Reina! The name's Keiichi!"
Rena cleared her throat in annoyance. "My name isn't Reina, not anymore. My name is Rena," she informed him bluntly.
She corrected him in an unsettlingly morbid tone.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Rena!"
I tried to break the awkward silence. "Since you're clearly a social dysfunction, consider me your mentor, I'll show you the way around Hinamizawa, Keiichi-kun," I told him with a friendly smirk.
"Oh-okay! Daaah! Hold on a second..that's mean, Mion!'
"I'm all about honesty, even if it's brutal," I replied.
"Now who do you think you are, spouting off on the new kid! You have no clue what I'm made of!"
"Is that a threat?" I asked. I was started to really like this kid, I must say. What a goof. "Fight me, Keii-kun!" I exclaimed.
Rena suddenly began to pat Keiichi's shoulder. "Keiichi, you know what she means right? There's one way we like to settle things here, and if you are able to win against Mii-chan, we may even consider...," she began with a sly edge to her normally sweet voice.
"We may just consider letting Keiichi join our club, join our club." She grinned at him sinisterly.
Next thing we knew, we were all outside, each of us wielding our own water gun. Even Satoko and Rika had joined us, wielding cute little guns of their own. Each club game is a battle. We take our playtime very seriously, you see. Each gun was loaded to the max. We all took off running.
I wasn't going to be easy on this new kid. I wanted to make him fight for his place, and that's just what I did. I ducked behind a tree, waiting for him to approach. He was chasing Rena, who meet my eyes and grinned evilly. She came running towards the tree, followed by Keiichi. Then, she came to a sudden halt.
Keiichi aimed, but I was already ready. I shot at him, but to my surprise, he suddenly tripped and fell into a small hole in the ground. Satoko came from around the corner, then peered into the hole. "Looks like someone fell right into my trap"
I walked over to the hole and peered inside as well. Rika came to look inside too. Keiichi looked hopelessly at the top, then aimed his gun at Satoko. Satoko ducked behind an unsuspecting Rika at the last second. "Mii...Guess you got me! Nipaa~" Keiichi tried to climb out of the hole, so I took advantage of the distraction.
I aimed directly at his back and fired. "Daa-haah!!!" He quickly spun around and ducked, then taking a backwards leap out of the hole. "Nice try, Mion!"
"Keii-kun's a natural at this", Rena mused. I turned around and saw Rena standing right behind me. "Sorry, Mii-chan!"
I was hit right in the face with a splash of water.
Rena sure is a sneaky one, now with only her, Satoko, and Keiichi remaining, it'll be interesting how this one goes down. That's when I heard Satoko's voice. I took a sharp turn, and saw her, dripping with water. "I'll get you for this, Keiichi.," Rena smirked at Keiichi.
"Well well, it's only Rena and Keiichi-kun left, tee hee...."
Keiichi grinned. The two of them stood at opposite sides of the field. Our teacher, Ms. Chie came outside. "Satoko! Mion! Rika! Playtime is over-!" She walked over to me, the responsible, dependable one. "Mion-san?"
"Yes, Ms. Chie?"
"Where are Rena and Keiich..." A jet of water hit Ms. Chie as Rena dashed by.
"You missed, Keiichi-kun!"
Ms. Chie frowned. "Rena, could you get Keiichi and tell him to come in? I can't start the lesson until.." Keiichi came running over, exhausted and out of breath.
"Dawwwuuuhh...can we finish this game off later..?" I pretended to contemplate this.
"Hmmm..You know what this means, don't you Keii-kun?"
"This means you have been officially deemed.."
Rena continued my sentence.
I finished what she was saying.
"..As an official member of the club!"
Keiichi looked slightly concerned as everyone threw up their arms in celebration of the new club member. Satoko looked up at him with a wicked glint in her big, brown eyes and her cheeky smile forming a menacing curve. "Just so you know, we aren't your everyday club, we don't play our games with carelessness."
Rika's sweet smile turned into a smirk as she narrowed her wide, violet eyes.
"Mii, Satoko-chan is right, we take our games very seriously!! Playing it like it's the line that's dividing life and death!"
Keiichi turned to me with fear in his eyes. "For such a young girl, she is talking too cynically..", he hissed in my ear.
Rika was listening in, then she leaped up in the air, her legs quivering with energy, and landing in front of Keiichi, who flinched. She giggled. "Ayee Ayee...Just repeating what I've heard! Nipaah~"
Rena cleared her throat. "Rena is looking forward to having Keiichi-kun in the club, in the club too!" I smiled at Rena, whose hazel eyes widened in excitement. "Tee-hee..are you thinking what I'm thinking, Mion?"
"Rena can see it now...Keiichi-kun wearing a maid outfit, a maid outfit!"
"With little whiskers drawn on his face..." Keiichi looked terrified now. I hoped he wasn't having..second thoughts about joining the club.
Because a whisper in the back of my mind kept telling me that I hoped he'd accept my invitation.
The morning was here, the dewdrops covered the grass, going in between my exposed toes as I walked. The sun was peeking from the sky, slowly and steadily rising, ready to start a new day. Birds chirped, and cicadas were screaming into the empty sky, with but not a cloud in sight. I shivered as the cool breeze brushed itself against me.
I was standing in front of Keiichi's house, and beside me was as always, Rena Ryuugu. She lives close to me, so I always wake her up first (or, if I oversleep, then vise versa; she wakes me up) then we go to Keiichi's place. Keiichi was quick to wake up this morning, which was absolutely perfect, as I had something big for the club planned today.
The local toy store is hosting a big event, and I wanted the club to participate. I also happen to know the manager really well, so I got him in on it too. He claims to be putting up 5,000 yen for whoever wins the game, and this should be enough to motivate Keiichi-kun to treat the game like a life or death scenario.
He stepped out the door and stretched. "Daaahhh, here I am! Hereeees Keiichi!"
I grinned at him. "Good, because I've got a super-fun club activity for us all to play, and it's gonna be kick-ass! Just you wait Keiichi, just you wait to experience the true spirit of our club!", I exclaimed.
Rena's big hazel eyes widened even more in excitement, her lower lip was quivering. "Mii-chan, what are we playing what are we playing? Rena wants to know what Mii-chan is planning!" I shake my head.
"Sorry Rena, it's a surprise."
"Oh...oooh! Surprise?" Rena's eyes were practically glowing with excitement.
Now that's the kind of enthusiasm I like to see.
Keiichi raised an eyebrow at her. "Uhhh...cool! I can't wait..."
I sighed. What will it take to get that dumbass into the team spirit? "Come on Kei-kun, come on Rena, we can't do it without Rika and Satoko!" Rena agreed with me.
"Yeah, they'll meet us there, we shouldn't keep them waiting, keep them waiting.."
"Follow me, you two!"
I went running off towards the town, and Rena followed close behind me, followed by an out of breath Keiichi. "Mion! Rena..! Wait up, wait up..."
I saw the store and took a sharp turn. Rena turned immediately after me as if she'd known I'd do it, before I ever did.
The same can not be said for Keiichi. He... ran into a brick wall. "Owww....this hurts..."
I sighed in exasperation. "Toughen up, you weakling!" I skidded to a stop and made sure Keiichi was alright. He brushed himself off, then stood up. Eh, he'd be fine. I kept running, with Rena close behind me, trying to keep up. Keiichi pulled himself out of the dirt and sprinted after her, lagging far behind.
Heh, he's got a lot to learn.
I turned one more right and arrived at the toy store. Rena stood beside me as Keiichi struggled to catch his breath.
"You guys...", he stammered.
Rena turned to me. "Mion, have you seen Rika or Satoko?"
"They should be on their way..", I mused. And as if on cue, Rika and Satoko calmly walked over.They were chattering to each other about something when Satoko called out, "Aye, Rika-chan, we're here!"
Rika looked up. "Mii? Keiichi came too~"
Keiichi looked at Rika and half grinned.
"Daaah...more like dragged down here"
She smiled as she said her signature catchphrase. "Nipaah~"
Satoko grinned at Keiichi.
"Keiichi-kun, are you scared?"
"Hah..haaah...uh..why would I be scared?"
"Because, this club can get intense, and Keiichi may not be ready!"
"Bring it on, then!"
"Ohoohohoho...I wouldn't get too cocky if I were you.."
Rika looked at me. "Mion, what are we doing today? Is our club meeting going to be here?" Rena was also curious about this.
"Yeah Mii-chan, everyone is here, what is the surprise gonna be, what will it be?"
Keiichi looked up, noticing the crowd of children. "Why are their so many kids here? Is there an event going on or something?"
I grinned at him."Right, the grand prize is fifty thousand yen!"
"F-fifty thousand Yen??"
I flung my arms in the air and smiled. "Alright everyone, let's go!"
We walked into the store when Keiichi raised an eyebrow in questions. "So this is the site of the club meeting, is it?"
"Yeah, I'm good friends with the manager, he sometimes lets us hold tournaments to attract customers"
"We have a lot to do for today's club meeting", said Rena with a smile.
I innocently grinned at her, then suggestively glanced at Keiichi. "And the winner is free to do what they want with the losers!"
"Bring it on", mumbled Keiichi.
The crowd was gathered now around the card covered table. The man who was in charge started off the game.
"Even a dog, after walking..", He began.
"Yes!"Exclaimed Rena, snatching the card from the table. "I got it, I got it!"
The kids looked at her in shock, and I heard some whispers going around as she snuggled the card close to her cheek. "It's so cuute~" She blushed and clutched onto the card. "I want to take it home with me..."
The man raised an eyebrow, then moved on to the next hint. "Ronald, as in Reagan!"
A little boy with ruffled hair and glasses timidly reached for the card, only to have their hand shoved to the side by Satoko. "I got it!" The kids' eyes went wide. "H-how.."
Keiichi shrugged. "Trap Satoko, always giving her all"
The man gave the next hint.
"To a child, a cute little child!"
A little girl with ribbons braided in her hair meekly reached for it. "I..uhh...I found.."I glared at her, saving some time to snatch up the card, exclaiming,"Got it, Yeah!"
The next hint was given. "Sweet rice balls rather than flowers, can be a diet's worst enemy." A little boy reached out for it, but Rika grabbed his hand. He turned bright red as she lifted it up.
"Nipaah~"She smiled an adorably sinister smile. "Yay, I got it!"
Satoko clapped her hands."Good, good Rika-Chan!", she praised.
Keiichi sighed sadly. "There's no way I'll ever be able to compete.."
Damn, Keiichi was really pissing me off.
The club spirit just wasn't there in him What the hell was he doing here if he wasn't going out of his way to win? We take our club very seriously, and such behavior is downright unacceptable. So, I decided to call him out on it.
He noticed me glaring."Huuh?"
"Keiichi-kun, I'm let down."
"What are you talking about, Mion!"
"You're the only one who isn't taking this seriously. Where's your club spirit, Kei-kun?"
"I'm..taking it seriously.."
"No, if you were..it'd be impossible to only have one card now"
Rena turned to me."Huh? Keiichi-kun's not doing well, is he?"
"How pathetic", remarked Satoko.
He got up from his seat. "Quick bathroom break, everyone! Daaa-hahh!"
What in the name of Oyashiro-sama is he doing? About five minutes later he returned to the table. The game continued as the next hint was given. "Bees only attack the crying faces-"
I reached for it, but the dorky looking kid next to me slapped down my hand, and pushed the card to Keiichi, who had a look of triumph on his face as he raised his card."I got it!", he shouted happily, smiling from ear to ear.
"Good medicine hurts your wallet", said the man, giving the next hint. Rika reached for it, but the little boy beside her blew the card over to Keiichi, who swiped it up quickly. The next three rounds, Keiichi got the card. What was happening?
Is this what happens when Keiichi-kun takes a game seriously?
The energy, the smile, the willpower, heck he even got some kids to help him... clever. I admired this side of Keiichi if only I could see it more often... heh.
I found this admirable. When he gives his all, Keiichi-kun is amazing...I didn't know what I was feeling at the time, but my daydreaming was quickly interrupted when the man called out, "All right! Times up!"
I looked at Keiichi's stack. It towered over everyone else's, almost tying with mine, but going over even it by about five cards. I grinned. "Wow Keiichi, I must say, I am a little impressed."
He simply shrugged his shoulders. "That's what happens when I get serious", he said simply.
"I suppose you really were a worthy opponent." The bell rang, with the game not yet finished. "Alright everyone, I Sonozaki Mion-San, postpone this game until next times!"
"Heeey..." groaned Keiichi.
The man running the game came out shaking his head.
"Yes, yes. The prize money can be carried over, but you can have this for now." He handed Keiichi a large brown paper bag.
He took the bag skeptically. Rena looked over his shoulder, "What's in it what's in it? I hope it's something cute!" Keiichi reached inside. He pulled out a porcelain doll, one with fair skin and carefully crafted features I laughed at him. "Hahahahhh, you got a prize that isn't suited for you," I teased.
Rena looked at it, her wide hazel eyes practically sparkling with excitement.
Keiichi rolled his eyes and nonchalantly gave it to Rena.
"Here, you keep it. It'd be worthless to me anyway, but you like these kinda things"
She smiled as she held it close to her.
"Thank you so much Keiichi...I'll take it home with Rena and treasure it!"
There was a small voice within me telling me how much I wished he'd given it to me..and how much I'd treasure a gift from Keiichi-kun...
I grinned at Keiichi. "Good idea, giving something worthless to you to Rena, how generous!"
He smiled at me meekly.
"Well yeah, and you didn't seem like the type either..Daaa...haah.."
I laughed shamefully. "Yeah, haha...Sometimes I wish I had been born a boy, really, sometimes being a girl blows! Haha..." I felt uncomfortable, and all I wanted was to leave. "Well, uh..I got to go to work now!! Cya later, Rena! Cya Kei-kun!"
I dashed off another direction.
It's almost like he doesn't even see me as a girl...I wish Keiichi saw me as more than rowdy ol' Mion..and..like...Rena?
A cute, pretty girl..no, that isn't it...it's almost like he favors her..is it because she's more feminine..that must be it..it's almost as if he doesn't see me as a girl, a possible partner..what am I thinking?
That's insane..I've hardly known him all that long but when he got all passionate about playing the game in there I guess..I've been picturing what it would be like to get closer to him, closer than just mediocre friendship...is this..is this what love feels like? Or is it merely a foolish daydream...?
Is this why I want that doll so bad..?
I never even play with dolls, I didn't even own any as a kid, I was always happy just..rolling around in the dirt, or playing my games.
How could I be so damn stupid? Of course, he gave it to Rena, Rena loves cute things. She even collects them! She'd be happier with the doll then I could ever be, so I'm just being selfish, aren't I?
I sighed, hitting the brakes on my bike, sending it to a sudden stop. I stared over the Trash dump that Rena loved to hang out at, and thought back to my fond times I'd spent with her. No, I wouldn't let a silly boy like Keiichi ruin that bond. I wouldn't let jealousy ruin our friendship.
I didn't know anything, not at the time. I didn't know that my own teen angst bullshit would knock me off the rails, and eventually drive me to massacre those I hold dearest to me.
Thank you for reading chapter three! If you've noticed, my chapters have been becoming neater, with much better grammer, since I've really taken the time to edit. I appreciate the support on this story, despite the fact that it is a little old. Thanks to all my readers out there!
Chapter 4: IV
I don't know what it was that drove me to this point. I still can't believe I did it, that I let jealousy consume me, completely. To think it would be the reason I killed off all of my best friends, ha. That's awful. I'm awful.
But, maybe Takano was right. It couldn't be helped.
It's Oyashiro-sama... the demon engraved into my flesh, by sheer mistake. It's only a matter of time before I'm caught by the police, especially Kurado Ooishi. He has always been suspicious of the Sonozaki family, not because of the demons engraved in our filthy blood, but probably due to the dam war. Little did he know he had more reasons than that to be wary.
Ever since that day, I was fated to be here. You see, my twin sister Shion who used to live in Hinamizawa with me, before she went off to boarding school, she wasn't always Shion. Me? I wasn't always Mion. You see, Shion and I used to play down here, in Hinamizawa, every day.
We frolicked and played, Shion is just as fond of games as I always was. We're twins, after all. The bond between two twins is a bond non-twins would likely have trouble understanding. But, there was something else we enjoyed doing back then, something besides just playing games. Shion and I used to take turns being one another if that made any sense.
Since we were identical twins, we would take turns dressing up as one another, and be living the other's life. The best part was, neither of us ever got caught. However, this did one day backfire, heavily.
Back when I was Shion, and Shion was Mion, (How it originally was,) I had wanted to be Mion for a day, and I gave my twin sister a turn to be Shion. I would often whine and complain that Mion got more privileges, while Shion was shunned by the family. All doors were open for Mion you see but closed for Shion. Slammed right in her face, more like it.
But, when I had my turn to be Mion, the twin whom I really wasn't, that's when Grandma Oryou and my Mother Akane had decided it was time for me - Mion - to get her official mark as the next Sonozaki head, the large demon tattoo across my back. I couldn't bring myself to protest, so I was officially marked, as Mion. I was doomed to be Mion for the rest of my life, the heir to the head of the Sonozaki family.
But my sister wasn't angry. She understood and promised to live in my place, as Shion, for her life. Because no matter what, she'd always be my twin. Later, she was sent away, the one who was supposed to be Mion was sent off to a boarding school far away. I don't know if she resents me now or not, but that's not her fault, it's mine. It's my fault she's shunned by the ones who used to pamper her.
Because the day that tattoo became a part of me, the doors were closed off for Mion. Yet, all the doors had suddenly opened wide, for Shion.
The day after the game we played at the toy store, I had ended up oversleeping, like really oversleeping. I woke up to the sun shining brightly on my face, and I began to wonder why Rena hadn't even bothered to wake me. I squinted my eyes shut as I stood up, and stretched. My pale green hair was in tangles, and I had gross crust in my eyes. I laughed when I looked at my reflection in the mirror. "Wow," I mused. "Is this why people call the Sonozaki head the green-eyed demon?"
I took a comb and began to battle my hair, trying my hardest to get rid of the knots. They were worse than usual, so I must have been rolling around in my sleep. After a lot of combing, I gave up and tried to hold them together in a tight rubber band. I could only hope they'd stay in place, though. Ah well. I rubbed the crust out of my eyes, and slipped on my uniform top, buttoning it up all the way. Then, I tied my ribbon in place and slung my bag over my shoulder. I'd walk to school without Rena and Keiichi today. I'll teach them a lesson when we play our club activities today, teehee...
As I walked to school, I heard each of my footsteps, since it was much quieter.
Crunch, crunch, crunch...
They crunched in the dry grass and dust below me. I came to a halt.
Crunch, crunch, crunch...crunch.
Wait. I stopped in my tracks. That's odd; I could've sworn I heard an extra one, an extra footstep after I stopped. Was I being followed? I turned around and looked behind me. Nothing.
I listened for more, but all I heard was the screeching of the cicadas. Okay...
I was a little creeped out, I had to admit. But I sucked it up and continued walking. But that's when the extra footsteps started again. It didn't sound like I was the only one walking. It sounded as if there was someone behind me, trying to match my own footsteps, almost like they didn't want me to hear them.
I came to halt again. Sure enough, I heard it. An extra footstep that delayed only a second after I stopped, but I knew it didn't belong to me.
Crunch, crunch, crunch... Crunch.
I was really spooked now, and I really wished I hadn't overslept so I could walk to school with Rena and Keiichi. But I was all alone out here, with these footsteps and an uneasy feeling. What was going on?
I couldn't be hallucinating, no, I'm not crazy. I also slept very well, so I wasn't tired. No, these footsteps were not my imagination, I thought. They were real, and they were following me.
I felt a warm breathing raise the hairs on my neck. I turned swiftly around - but no one was there. Now I was just scared. I ran to the schoolhouse as fast as I could, and the footsteps, the extra footsteps picked up the pace too. No matter how fast I ran, they wouldn't go away...
Finally, I made it to the school. I was out of breath from running, and I felt like I was going to vomit. Rena immediately ran over to my side.
"M-Mii-chan! You're deathly pale!" She exclaimed, her voice filled in worry.
I looked over at Keiichi, who was bickering with Satoko. I can't explain why, but a part of me wished it wasn't Rena helping me, but Keiichi. But he didn't seem to care, in fact; he didn't even notice I was here.
Rena waved her hand in front of my face. "Mii-chan! C-can you hear Rena, can you, can you?" She nagged worriedly.
Her face was blurry, but eventually, it came back into view. "Yeah," I stuttered weakly. "Uncle Mion is alright, aha..."
I stood up, giving up any hope of Keiichi worrying about me. What a strange thing to hope for, I couldn't help but think. Not like I could control it.
I stood up, brushing myself off. "Don't worry, Rena-chan! Uncle Mion was still waking up, that's all!" I exclaimed with a rash laugh. Rena smiled, convinced by this answer.
"Oh, okay! I'm happy that Mii-chan is feeling better, feeling better!" She said happily.
Keiichi finally turned around himself. "Oh," He remarked. "Hey, Mion. What's up? You're a little later than usual, and only Rena came to pick me up this morning... You feeling okay?"
"Yeah, Yeah!" I assured him. "Just fine!"
"Thank goodness," Satoko murmured. "He wouldn't give me a break! He just can't accept the fact that his stupid ass will never stop falling for my clever traps!"
Keiichi turned around, glaring at Satoko. "Oh yeah?" He retorted. "Hey, Mion!"
Eh? Keiichi was calling me? I turned around to face him. "Yeah, Keii-chan?"
He grinned a toothy grin. "You know how things are settled around, here, Mion. Say the word and let the games begin!"
I couldn't help but smile at this notion. Keiichi was getting really hyped about this, and his passion and energy stroke a flame in my heart. Damn it, why didn't he give me that goddamn doll? I nagged myself in the back of my head.
"Shut up," I muttered softly to myself.
Then, I smiled a big smile and turned to face Keiichi. "Alright then! Let's get outside! Today we're gonna play zombie tag!"
Once everyone was standing outside, Keiichi looked at everyone, then he made direct eye contact with Satoko, and grinned. "I nominate Satoko to be it!" He exclaimed in a wicked tone.
"Okay, Fine," Satoko retorted. "Whadda ya want me to do, count to one hundred or something?"
Keiichi smiled smugly. "Nah, Satoko, I want you to solve a math problem."
Satoko looked at him but nodded. "Go for it, Keiichi. Give me my problem then."
"Alright, Satoko. Your problem is 2/4th plus 1/8th plus 2/16th plus 4/32th plus 8/64ths!" He exclaimed.
Satoko's eyes went wide. "I-improper fr-fractions...," She stuttered nervously. "Oh-Okay! Everybody run, and I'll chase you when I have the right answer!"
We all went running off in different directions. Well, all except for Satoko, who was trying to figure out Keiichi's problem.
Rena went running over to Keiichi, and she too smiled at him smugly. "Keiichi-kun! You're so mean!" She exclaimed with a giggle.
Keiichi turned to look at her. "Eh?"
"The answer to your question is one, right?"
"Wow, Rena! You figured it out already! You're so smart~!" He remarked, making Rena blush a little.
"Well, it wasn't that hard" She murmured nervously, clearly flustered. Then, she ran off.
Finally, I could hear Satoko shouting from a good distance away; "HEY! NO FAIR, KEIICHI-KUN! YOU TRICKED ME! I'LL GET YOU FOR THIS!" The angry pitter-patter of her sprinting on her little feet could be heard from over here. I figured she'd naturally go after Keiichi, making it way easier for the rest of us. I couldn't help but laugh at him, too. He must've thought he was so clever when he gave Satoko that question, but it ended up backfiring. Now, he's Satoko's main target. I sat down, giving my legs a rest.
That's when I got a brilliant plan, on just how I could win this game, a fool-proof plan that would impress Keiichi-kun for sure. He might even compliment me, just like he complimented Rena! I couldn't help but grin in excitement. My brilliant plan was to pretend that I've already been tagged, running around chasing the others.
You see, the basic rules of Zombie tag are as follows; it's just like normal tag but with a twist. Whenever someone is tagged, they become it, too. The last one left who isn't deemed it, wins.
So, if I pretend to already have been tagged it, then there's no way anyone would have a reason to tag me. That's almost the point to zombie tag. Once you're tagged, you become an ally of it. The same people who were once your enemies become your closest allies. Not to get all deep or anything about a game of tag, but I've always thought that was interesting.
That's when a group of children from my class came running over to me.
"Mion-san! M-Mion-san!" They exclaimed. I turned around.
"Huh? Something the matter?" I asked them. These kids, especially these younger ones, found me to be really intimidating, so I was a little surprised they were speaking to me like this. Not that it bothered me, because it really didn't.
"Umm...Uh...Keiichi Maebara, your f-friend told us to t-tell you that your mom is waiting for you at the sc-school gate...I think it was important a-and he told us to tell you r-right away!"
Oh, I see. Keiichi set these kids up! He wants to get me closer to Satoko so she'll chase me instead! What a dirty trick!
'Well,' I thought to myself, grinning smugly. 'Two can play that game, Maebara Keiichi.'
I snickered to myself before motioning the five little children over to me. "Actually," I began. "I have an important message for each of you if that's okay. It's really important."
"Oh-oKAY," They said shyly as I huddled them together in a circle. I pulled the first kid to the side. "You," I whispered urgently. "I want you to go tell Keiichi to meet a cop at the gate. His mother is sick. Can you go find Keiichi and tell him for me?"
The kid nodded and ran off. I pulled the next kid aside. "And you," I instructed. "I need you to go find Keiichi and deliver him this big news."
"B-big news?" The little girl, who looked to be about seven, with two little ponytails tied in place with red, satin ribbons stuttered.
I grinned. This girl was the youngest, so she'd be more gullible.
"You," I said. "I need you to go find Keiichi and tell him that a big jumbo jet has crashed into his house. Can you do that for me?" I gently asked, smiling sweetly.
"Y-yeah!" She exclaimed. "A Jumbo-jet!" She reminded herself as she ran off in search of an unsuspecting Keiichi.
I pulled the third kid aside, trying not to cackle. He was a little older looking, but still pretty gullible looking.
So, I told him to go tell Keiichi his house was on fire.
I hid behind a tree as I watched the kids look for Keiichi. This was going to be really funny. But wait...where was Keiichi? Damn it, he better not be hiding...
I had to find him...
Look, Mion, Look! Where could he be? If I were a dork, where would I be?
That's when I saw him, over by the shed! The children I had instructed to deliver his news went running in that direction.
"Have any of you seen Keiichi?" One of them asked, running over to the group. "His dad is waiting for him at the gate.
"Huh? Another kid questioned. "I've heard that Keiichi's mother has suddenly fallen ill, and he has to meet an ambulance at the gate!"
"Well," the other kid began dismissively, trying to shake off their confusion. "Let's look for him!"
"Keiichi! Keiichi!" The other one yelled, with no luck.
Suddenly, another kid ran over to them. "Hey, have you two seen Keiichi? His house is on fire!"
Before the other two children could say anything, a fourth one came running over, the girl with the ribbons and the pigtails. "Big news! Big news!" She called out to no one in particular. "A gigantic Jumbo-Jet has crashed into Keiichi's house, and he needs to meet his mother at the gate right away!"
"I thought his mother was sick at home," the first kid remarked in confusion.
I snickered. Keiichi was inside that shack right now, probably plotting his revenge on me. Too bad that I've 'already been tagged'! Aha! But the truth is, I haven't! I burst out chuckling, tears coming out of my eyes as I imagined his reaction after I revealed this all to him. It was going to be absolutely priceless, I just knew it.
That's when I heard the boy's rash voice exclaim; "R-Rena!"
"Keiichi, Keiichi... You've given yourself away!" I cackled.
Upon hearing my voice, Satoko came running over. "Eh? She asked. you've been tagged, too?"
"Yup!" I exclaimed.
Rika came running after Satoko, and Satoko turned around, a relieved look on her face. "Rika," She exclaimed in relief. There you are!"
Rika giggled. "Don't worry about me, Satoko," She instructed. "Our main focus should be catching Keiichi!"
"Rena!" Keiichi shrieked. "Don't just stand there! Come and help me!"
Rena began to wave her hands around manically, and Keiichi didn't understand it at first, but then he realized Rena was signaling; "I'm sorry". To put it simply, that sneaky bitch was leaving him there to rot.
"R-Rena!" He cried out in anguish. "How could you?! How could you leave me here to die! That's cruel, Rena-chan! That's so cruel! No, come back! No... No... No..."
But it was too late. No one was going to save him now. We all gathered around the building cackling to him, calling him out in the spookiest voices we could manage. Petrified, all Keiichi could do was duck back as we surrounded him, closing in on him in unison.
"Keiiiichiiiii~Come out to plaaa-aaay~!" we droned on, reaching in the door at once. We opened it, a different friend on each side of the door, ensuring there would be no escape for Keiichi.
It was too late. Keiichi was surrounded, and his fate had been engraved in stone. He was one of us now, whether he liked it or not. So, now that Keiichi was one of us and involuntarily on our side, we all went after Rena. Keiichi wanted to do the honors and tag her since she had ditched him earlier. Karma was coming for her, at least that's how he described it.
After some chasing, Keiichi finally had Rena cornered. She sat there, helpless and scared. She was determined to win this, and it showed in her eyes. Once she realized she had no escape, it looked for a minute as if Rena had accepted her fate.
But, then she used a real dirty trick. She gently used her hand to cover her... womanhood, and looked up at Keiichi, her eyes wide. "If Keiichi does it," She mumbled gently, "Then it's okay... I trust you, Keiichi-kun..."
Sure enough, her evil scheme had worked. Keiichi's face suddenly flushed red as he desperately tried to cover his raging erection.
"Pubescent-boy hardening magic?" I remarked, clapping my hands. I had to admit, I was quite impressed. "Looks like Rena's mastered the technique."
I turned to Keiichi, a wicked grin creeping across my face. "Keii-chan? I thought you said you wanted to tag Rena?" I teased, as his face flushed redder than I thought had been possible. He looked like he had a horrible sunburn.
He reached out one shaking arm, but couldn't bring himself to touch Rena. He used the other hand in a sad attempt to cover his obvious boner.
I couldn't help but laugh at him.
"Looks like Rena's found your weakness, no?" I asked him.
That's when Chie-sensei blew the whistle, meaning that it was time for us to go inside and begin our classes. Rena jumped up and did a victory dance, managing to sprint right past Keiichi. "I win, I win!" She sang in almost a teasing manner.
"And the winner is," I began, cueing for a drumroll. Satoko and rika got one going with their little fists. "The winner is, Ryuugu Rena and Sonozaki Mion!"
Keiichi stared at me.
"What?" I asked him innocently.
He narrowed his eyes. "I thought you were tagged, you even said so!"
I grinned smugly at him. "Keiichi, did you tag me?"
He shook his head no. I turned over to Satoko and Rika. "Satoko, did you tag me? What about you, Rika?"
Rika and Satoko both shook their heads. "Ohohoho~!" Satoko exclaimed. "That's such a dirty trick, Mion!"
I smiled at Keiichi as he glared at me. "You're just jealous cuz you lost," I said smugly.
He opened his mouth but closed it. I already knew what he was about to do. He was going to compliment me on my cleverness. "Go on, Keiichi," I urged. "Tell me."
He bowed his head. "I must say... I do respect your technique. You managed to fool all of us, a-and that' really... impressive."
I smiled. Even if it was a little thing, that compliment made my day.
Chapter 5: V
Earlier today, I had almost forgotten about the footsteps. I'm not sure how, but it was probably because I was with my friends. Now that I'm alone, they are only getting louder.
I had already dropped off Rena and Keiichi at the dumpster. I have to admit, I did make me a bit jealous, but what could I do?
The only problem was, I couldn’t help but resent Rena for it.
Rena had been the one to invite Keiichi down to her little secret hideout, the garbage dump by the Ryuugu residence. I realized I wasn't just a little jealous, I was really jealous, but it didn't matter. There was nothing I could do anyway, after all.
I understood her scam perfectly, though. Rena was the only one who ever went to that dumpster, to begin with, ever since the dismemberment murder back when the dam war was still going on. Someone was killed down there by a group, my grandmother had told me, and cut up into tiny pieces. Taking equal responsibility as friends do, they each hid a piece of the body in the dumpster. It's even rumored that the police haven't found the left arm yet. Bit of a spooky story, but it takes more to scare me.
My grandmother doesn't know for a fact it was a group murder, though. So, it could've been one person trying to mess with the police as well. As ridiculous as the thought sounds, it could be the case.
Not that it mattered, because it's highly unlikely they'll strike again. With how tiny the population of Hinamizawa is, it's very difficult to get away with murder.
I stepped, as the sounds grew louder. Something wasn't right. Once again, I froze.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
I began to panic. It was growing closer, it was getting closer-!
I wanted to turn around, but at the same time I didn’t. It took all my courage to do so...
I turned around, and behind me was Miyo Takano, the woman who worked at the Irie clinic, doing research on some theory. My grandmother doesn't like her too much, mostly because she is constantly researching Oyashiro's curse, yet doesn't pay her respects to Oyashiro-sama on the night of Watanagashi. She always attended the Watanagashi festivals, but she's never floated the cotton down the stream. It's a pretty simple tradition to follow, and for once I understand why my granny would be upset.
She approached me. "Hello, miss Sonozaki-san, do you have a minute?"
What? I was growing confused... what did Takano want from me?
She grinned a sly grin to me, then she began to speak. "I've noticed you seemingly have issues with Kurado Ooishi-kun, is that true?"
I cleared my throat. An uneasy feeling was creeping down my spine, yet I was unable to identify just what it was. I decided not to let my guard down around this woman, though. "Maybe I do," I hesitantly stammered. "So, what of it?"
Miyo chuckled. "Ah, dear... well, you see... I believe I can help you, you see. My research, it may be just what you need to clear the Sonozaki's name..."
I sighed. I was really suspicious now, though I don't know why. Maybe Takano truly was trying to help. So, I thought the least I could do was collect her phone number, at least listen to what she had to say. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. Then, I handed it to her.
"Miyo-san," I began. She looked at me with a grin.
"Ah, you want my number? Here you go~," She said as she wrote it down on the slip of paper.
I put the slip in my pocket and continued my walk home.
Something was wrong. I had a queasy feeling in my stomach and I couldn't identify why. I felt as if someone was watching me, staring me down nonstop. If I listened really closely, I could hear them breathing. Something wasn't right, I thought. Something was terribly wrong.
Not that worrying would do any good. This kind of anxiety isn't normal for me, and I don't know why it's been like this, looming over me like a black cloud. I heard from my mother, Akane, that Detective Ooishi had already come down to investigate. He thinks that the Sonozaki family is responsible for the murders that occur during the cotton drifting festival, as some insane attempt to keep the belief in Oyashiro-sama alive. Of course, that's a crazy theory. I've always suspected that the 'curse' was carried out by a human, but I never said anything.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of my phone ringing. I picked it up, trying to see who was calling me.
"Hello?" I asked.
The voice on the other end was a gentle, melodious, delicate voice. "M-Mii-chan?"
It was my friend, Rena.
"Oh, hey Rena," I said, relaxing a bit. "What's up?"
"I was wondering... wondering... have you been doing okay, Mii-chan?" she asked nervously, and I began to wonder what this was about.
I haven’t been talking to Rena as much as usual, but why does she care anyway?
"Yeah... I'm doing fine," I assured her. She was silent for a moment. "Rena, you there?" I asked. I heard her mumble something, very softly. I couldn't make out what it was, so I asked her to repeat it.
"Liar," She said, a little louder this time.
I laughed. "Liar? Why am I a liar?"
"Mii-chan, you're upset, aren't you... aren't you...," Rena pried. "You had your feelings hurt very badly, but you won't tell Rena about it. Why not? Why can't you tell Rena?" Her voice began to grow shaky. "You used to tell Rena everything! You used too... "
"Look Rena," I began. "I don't know what you're talking about, okay? You're the one who's beginning to worry me... "
"That's a lie!" She shouted into the phone, causing me to jump, startled.
I took a deep breath and decided to take the gentle approach to this. "Listen Rena, I'm very confused and I don't know what you're talking about," I urged. "Could you please explain to me what you mean?"
Then, it hit me. There were things I wasn't telling Rena, and it was a bit strange. I did tell her everything at a time, but ever since Keiichi gave her the doll, and I began hearing the footsteps, I haven't confided in her since. But wait, something was still off. How does she know I'm hiding it from her? How did she know? It's not like she can read minds or anything, no. Rena was just an ordinary girl. So how... how on earth did she know all this, and that I've been keeping things from her? A chill ran down my spine.
"Mion? Are you listening?" she suddenly asked, making me snap out of my daze immediately.
"Ah! S-so sorry, Rena-san! Uncle Mion was in a daze!" I exclaimed with a chuckle.
"If you say so," She mumbled. "But, anyway... you wanted that doll, didn't you, Mii-chan? You wanted it, didn't you?" She asked me, her voice getting darker all of a sudden.
"Huh? How did you kno-" I slapped my hand over my mouth. Dammit! I just admitted it! Jeez, I need to watch what I say.
"Isn't it obvious?" She retorted, her voice tinged with worry.
"Obvious? How is it obvious?"
She paused for a moment. "B-because," She stammered. "I'm not stupid, Mii-chan. I saw your face when he gave it to me! I'm not as dense as Keiichi-kun, you know. You tried to cover it up immediately, but I saw it. I saw it! You were hurt, Mii-chan! You were really hurt! Why can't you tell me!" She exclaimed, growing more and more upset.
"Rena, I-," I began.
"I don't want that stupid boy to destroy our bond, Mii-chan!" She shouted, interrupting me. "You're an important friend to me, and if you're mad at me, then... then..."
"Wait," I tried. "I'm not - "
"Liar!" She screamed into the phone. "THAT'S A LIE!"
"RENA!" I was yelling too by now. "STOP TALKING FOR A SECOND AND LISTEN!"
"I don't want you to be... " she began.
"Huh?" I asked.
"You've been hearing footsteps too, haven't you Mii-chan?" She suddenly asked me.
"W-What? Rena, you're scaring me a little..."
"Why? What did you do to upset him? Why is Oyashiro-sama mad at you, Mii-chan?"
I slammed the phone down. It was impulsive, I know, and I probably should have listened to Rena. But I suddenly realized something.
When Rena has described Oyashiro's curse to me in the past, all the things that are happening now were... The exact same things that were happening to me.
I didn't know whether to call Rena back or dismiss what she was saying. But I couldn't call Rena back... I couldn't....
That's when an idea suddenly occurred to me. Maybe I should see a doctor, I thought. I'd go to the Irie clinic, and talk there. After all, the first step to getting help is realizing you need it in the first place!
My walk down to the clinic wasn't fun. The footsteps were still there, and I could clearly feel the presence now. I should've asked someone to go with me... but it was too late. I persevered, and I made it. Though it may seem like a mediocre task to a common person, it was terrifying for me, but I pushed through. I refused to give in to whatever this was.
I knocked on the door, but there was no answer. I knocked again. "Hello! It's me, Mion!"
The door opened, revealing Takano. "Sorry," She told me. "I thought you were... someone else."
I ignored this comment and stepped inside. I had changed into my casual clothes, a pale yellow T-shirt, and my acid-washed jeans. It was comfy, and comfy clothes made me happy. Must I say any more?
Takano, on the other hand, looked completely different in her nurse uniform. I found it hard to believe I had run into her earlier, with how clean and crisp she looked to be now.
Takano always seemed to know more than she was letting on. She’s always given me weird vibes, but actually being suspicious of her was definetly irrational. I took a deep breath.
I guess Takano would work, however, I wanted to know if Irie was in at all. I don't hate Takano or anything, but my family isn't too fond of her. They wouldn't be very happy to hear I openly took her treatment.
"Excuse me, Miss Takano-san," I asked her smoothly, "Is Doctor Irie in?"
My brilliant sarcasm at play there, addressing Irie as Doctor and Takano as -san. That's how you throw shade, kids. Take notes if you'd like.
In all seriousness however, Takano was only here to conduct research for something, and my grandmother had referred to it as sketchy. I don't usually agree with everything my grandmother says, but I at least try to respect her.
She grinned at me all too knowingly, as if she knew something I didn't that she would tell me if I said the right things. Weird.
"Nurse Takano would work too, you know," She replied, with a snakelike slyness in her voice.
How did she... catch on? I was beginning to feel really uncomfortable, and I just wanted to see Irie. I didn't want to spend another second speaking to this woman.
"Nurse Takano," I demanded. "I want to see Doctor Irie. Is he in, and could you please go get him for me? Thanks."
She laughed a little. "Ahahaha~ Sorry, Mion-san, but he isn't in today~," She slurred, making my skin crawl. "However... If you'd like to talk to me, that'd be okay as well, I'm merely a nurse but I'm sure I could help you out?" Her lips creeped together, like little caterpillars, into a faint smile.
I frowned. "I think I'll come back later, then," I told her.
She cocked her head to the side. "Oh, Mion! I insist! Tell me what's bothering you, and I'll be sure to tell Irie! I just may be able to help you!"
I gritted my teeth. She wasn't giving up that easily. I decided to push my feelings aside. Takano-san would just have to do. I took a deep breath, and let it out.
"Alright, Takano. Could we please go somewhere more private, though?" I asked.
She nodded. "Yes, of course!"
She seemed oddly eager, and it made me really uneasy. I hesitantly followed her back farther into the clinic. She sat down holding a clipboard and a pen, and I shut the door. Just to be safe, I also locked it.
Then, I proceeded to tell her about what I’ve been experiencing. The hallucinations, footsteps, fog in my head, all of it. I may not trust her, but I need the help.
So, I sucked it up and told her everything.
"You've been hearing footsteps, huh?" She asked me, her eyes distant. "The breathing, too. You said you felt breathing?"
Takano had dialed her goofiness down, and she wore a very serious expression across her usually condescending face. She held a clipboard, and seemed to be checking off boxes, as the movements of her pen were far too short for her to have been taking notes.
"I see," She remarked. She reached into a file cabinet and opened a drawer, pulling out a file. It was labeled; 'Mion Sonozaki.' The file that wasn't supposed to be mine, the one that seemed to have come with my demon tattoo.
She looked over it quickly, then stopped. She looked me dead in the eyes and asked, "Mion-san? Was it Doctor Irie who gave you your flu-shot?"
I tried to remember. "Uh... let me think," I said, trying to remember. She waved her hand at me dismissively. "Oh," I told her. "Yes. Doctor Irie gave me my Flu shot earlier this month, June the 13th, I believe," I told her, confident in my answer. Thank goodness for my excellent memory.
She pounded her fists on the table. "DAMMIT IRIE, HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID?" She screeched, thrusting the file to the floor in anger.
"Takano...san... are you okay... ?" I asked carefully, slowly backing away. Takano was scaring me now, and I no longer cared about this appointment. "If you'd like, I-I could come back later..."
"Those weren't the goddamn flu shots," She muttered under her breath. "Those were meant for Tomitake... the flu shots didn't even come in until the 15th... you moron, look what you've done now...."
"Wait, what did you say?" I asked. "What do you mean those weren't flu shots..."
'And that they were meant for tomitake?' I thought, but I decided to pretend I didn't hear that, at least for now.
She glared up at me. "GET OUT!" She demanded, thrusting her hand towards the door. "GET OUT! GET OUT!"
Jeez. I ran out of their as fast as I could, and in the distance, I could hear a soft, child-like voice whispering; "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."
But there was no one to be found. I tried to speak to it, but it didn't stop. It just kept apologizing to me, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over AND OVER AND OVER AN-
I shrieked, much, much louder than I meant to. My voice echoed across Hinamizawa, harmonizing with the shrill songs of the cicadas, as they too, seemed to raise their voices. Startled, crows flew out of the nearby tree.
"Miss Sonozaki-san?" a gruff voice from behind me asked, and I suddenly felt a large hand on my shoulder. "Are you alright?"
Chapter 6: VI
It was Ooishi, the last person I wanted to talk to.
I turned around. “As a member of the Sonozaki family, I reserve the right to refuse police questioning,” I snapped.
He stepped back, startled, maybe? I wasn’t sure.
“Aha... if you say so, Mion-San.”
I don’t like Ooishi. He believes the conspiracies about my family being behind the curse and doesn’t hesitate to get in your face about it. He makes me... rather uncomfortable, to put it lightly.
That was the night when I first began to really lose sleep. I've never had insomnia before, so this experience was entirely new to me.
But just because it was new, didn't mean it was a good thing. I was terrified. The invisible eyes staring over me were present, and I couldn't help but remember Rena's words; "Why? Why would Oyashiro-sama curse you? Why is oyashiro-Sama mad... at Mii-chan..."
If by some shock I was cursed, I had formulated a theory on why a simple theory really.
Because I didn't belong here.
It must be some sort of punishment, punishment for my sin, of taking over the Sonozaki head, in place of my sister. In place of the true Mion.
'I want to go back...' I thought, blinking back salty tears. 'I just want to be Shion again... this is all my fault, isn't it... Maybe the real demon that grandma is always referring to truly does reside in our bloodlines... and mine is just waking up."
Once I had convinced myself of that, it was already too late. I had already gone far beyond saving, all the way back then.
The next morning was Sunday, and I had organized a game for the club to play. As much as I didn't want anything to do with any of them at the moment, likely for their own good, I had a duty as the club leader.
So I persevered.
I knocked on Rena's door, but I was greeted by her father instead. "Ah, Mion! You're Rena's friend, aren't you?"
"Yeah," I told him, bowing my head respectfully. "I don't believe we've officially met! I'm Mion Sonozaki, it's a pleasure to meet you~"
I reached out and shook his hand, and he's smiled.
"I've finally met the Sonozaki Mion Rena's always talking about!" He remarked with a chuckle. "I'm Daikichi Ryuugu."
I smiled at him. "So, where's Rena?"
"Oh," he responded. "I believe she fell asleep in that old dumpster again..."
"Alright," I answered wearily. Sometimes I worried about Rena, sleeping out there all by herself...
But that was a lie. I knew Rena went there whenever she was upset, but I wasn't worried about her. I was worried about myself, and what Rena had said earlier. However, after talking to Mr. Ryuugu, I had no choice but to go find Rena, and walk to school with her. At least I wouldn't be alone with the footsteps.
"Listen class," Chie sensei explained. "You have to take cooking seriously, or you'll get hurt. This is part of a class, so don't fool around!"
We were having a cooking class today. We're making curry rice, and serving it to the people of the forest service, who are offering us to use the school building.
Each student is making their own individual bowl of curry, and we are all going to be graded.
"Curry rice is a very popular food," Chie explains,"But the root goes way back to ancient India."
"It's now arranged to fit Japanese taste too, but don't forget the history behind it! If you do not take this seriously, I will be very upset!" She exclaims.
I began to wonder why she was so passionate when all it is is curry rice.
"I heard that Chie-sensei has a great passion with curry Rice," Satoko remarks.
"You don't say," I remark sarcastically.
"I think she'll be really harsh when she grades it..." Satoko worries.
"I don't care about my grades on my cooking skills," I remark. "As long as I don't fail the class."
Rena stares at me. "You shouldn't say that... she really is tough when it comes to curry rice..." Rena stutters, and Keiichi nodded.
I couldn't believe it. Were those two ganging up on me? It shouldn't have been something I got upset over, but for some reason it was. I was really upset. First Keiichi-kun gives her a doll, now he's brainlessly siding with everything Rena said. It really pissed me off, to tell the truth.
"Today is the event to show appreciation to the people of the forest service. We are all going to grade your food."
"Yes," A guest who must have just now entered the room replied. "Your teacher and I, and five staff members from the forest service are going to grade you! Good luck~! Aha hahahaha!"
Satoko gasped in dismay. "We're hopeless."
Rika smiled at her. "I'm sure you'll do great, Satoko!"
Satoko tried to smile a little. Yeah, I guess Rika has taught me some cooking... Thanks, Rika..."
Satoko didn't just need the skill for this class, however. She lived with her uncle and is forced to cook for him.
"You got it!" I said, pumping a hyped fist up into the air. At least I was trying to fake enthusiasm, and it was working. "It's not just going to be a fun curry party, but I'm going to take this seriously!"
"I'm good at making curry!" Rena exclaimed, much to my annoyance. Even worse, Keiichi had agreed.
"I'm sure you are, Rena."
He gave her that doll because she liked cute things... but he's been practically ignoring me. No, not ignoring me, but just... Obsessing over Rena? Not that I cared. He could go ahead and do so. If that's what'll make Keiichi happy, then so be it. I shouldn't be letting it get to me like it is, how utterly foolish.
"We are going to cook curry as a group," Satoko bragged. "Rika-chan is with me!"
"That's not fair! Rika-chan is a great cook!" Keiichi exclaimed helplessly.
"You better believe it!" Boasted Satoko. "Her curry is so good, people go crazy over it!"
Chie-sensei came over to our table. "Mion-san? You have a visitor," she informed me. "They are waiting for you outside the school gate."
"Oh, alright," I remarked as I got out of my seat and went back to the gate. 'I wonder who this is...'
By the gate, Takano-san was waiting for me. I stared at her, an unexplainable lump in my throat. I had thought her breakdown over some more, and it all made sense. They must've drugged me. They must have put some sketchy drug in my system to make me hear footsteps, and/or experience hallucinations. I decided not to trust either one of them, despite the fact that I want to be able to trust Irie. As heir, I should be on good terms with the villagers, but this is an exception I'm going to have to make. I decided not to tell Takano anything, or answer any of her questions. The only one who even has the right to do so, I decided, was me.
"Hello, Takano," I greeted her politely. It's best to try and stay on her good side - for now. I need answers, after all. Something strange was injected in my body, and she was babbling alarming things earlier and I have every right to be aggressive about this.
She smiled at me, but there was something off. Her smile was friendly enough, but she gave off a suspicious vibe, and I didn't know why. She titled her head a little when she noticed me staring.
"Mion-san? You... thinking about something?" She asked, a definite edge to her voice, one that was crystal clear now.
"It's nothin-" I began.
"Say, Mion." She interrupted. "You been hanging out with your friends, lately? Keiichi's his name, right? The new boy, is he?"
I raised my eyebrow. Had she seriously came here to talk to me about this? What? "Um, yeah...," I stammered. "What of it?"
Her face was blank. "Have you told him?"
"Told him? About what?"
She seemed to have been expecting something different, so she waved her hand dismissively. "Nevermind, that's not what I came here to talk to you about."
I slowly nodded my head skeptically. "I see. Listen, I myself had a few questions as well. You had mentioned somethin -"
She looked at me, staring at the sky. I noticed her fingers twitching a little, and she was probably nervous. I knew she was hiding something, I just didn't know what. "Yeah. We never met at the clinic. Do you understand?" she interrupted me, her eyes distant as the swirls of wind blew coils of her hair gently in the air.
I said nothing, and she smiled. "Aha. Glad we're in agreement then, Mion."
I was out of it, and Rena was the first one to notice. "Mii-chan, is everything okay? Everyone else is done with their curry, and you're just staring out the window...out the window..."
I waved my hands in the air dismissively. "No, it's nothing," I told her. "Don't worry about it."
"Oh, Okay! I was just worried about you, that's all~" She exclaimed as she turned back around. She let out a loud sigh of dismay when she saw Keiichi. "Auu... Keiichi-kun... I leave you by yourself for two seconds and you burnt it, burnt it! Now we have to start all over again!" She exclaimed, pouting at him.
I sighed. keiichi looked really happy, hanging out with Rena. They were also really cute together, I had to admit...
It was rather selfish of me to act like this. If they really do develop feelings for each other, let them. As long as Keiichi is happy, I am. That's the kind of thing I wanted to feel right now, but it wasn't.
I was afraid. Afraid of my feelings.
Because, I was jealous. I didn't care about Keiichi or Rena's feelings. I just wanted Keiichi to like me. It was awful, and I felt awful. But I just... couldn't stop myself.
The next morning, I didn’t go to school. I didn’t feel very well, so I decided to stay home.
I didn’t understand what I was feeling, and the thoughts going through my head were a mess. It was... inconvenient.
I was hearing strange noises, and it felt like I was being watched. Yet, I just couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t accept that I might truly be going crazy. That couldn’t be it. Everything around me was darkening, and it didn’t make sense at all... not even a little.
That’s when I realized what this must mean. This must be my punishment, my divine punishment for being where I shouldn’t. This life belonged to Mion, not me. The Mion who was born as Mion. I didn’t deserve any of the luxuries I got, instead I’ve taken them for granted.
This was a crazy way to think, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
I really wished I could talk to someone about this, but I couldn’t even trust the ones at Irie’s clinic. It was awful. Something wasn’t right, and I didn’t know what Takano was talking about that day but it couldn’t have been anything good. I swear to god, I must really be losing my mind. I’ve heard talk about demons running through the Sonozaki blood, but I’ve never thought it was actually true until now.
Maybe that’s why this is happening to me. I’ve awakened the demon, and it’s taking over me.
I can’t stop it...
I slapped myself across the face, making this thought disappear like a flame of a candle that has been blown out.
Even if it’s true - and a demon is trying to take over me, I won’t let them. I refuse to loose to something like that. No, I’ll treat this like a game from the club. I won’t let my dumb teenage angst turn me into a demon! Mion Sonozaki is so much stronger than that!
Chapter 7: VII
This is where our poor. unfortunate Mion begins to really slip beneath the boundaries of sanity, and the 'first blood is shed.'
Things begin to really go downhill here. Please also take some note of the fact that Mion is falling more and more ill (If you haven't figured it out already, Tomitake injected the wrong thing in her. It wasn't a flu shot, it was an unhealthy overdose of hinamizawa syndrome.) She is the narrator of this story, but that doesn't mean everything she says will be true. That's one of my favorite things about this story, I suppose, is it's unreliable narration as things darken. You only get to see what poor Mion sees, not what's really going on. A deep, psychological insight on the overall mental state of poor Mion. Where even you, the reader, cannot trust or rely on what you're reading.
That, reader, is the beauty of unreliable narration.
Today, was the day I did what I thought would be a good choice, one that wouldn't lead to the death of one of my best friends. Please note the use of the word thought. I had - like a fool - believed that the demon awakening inside me could be stopped. Like it could be tamed with some good old advice from my friends. How utterly stupid of me to not realize that what the demon truly yearned for was blood. It wanted betrayal and suffering.
This meeting, I suppose, wasn't what awoke the demon, though. It was already too late back when Keiichi gave that doll to Rena. It's been urging me for days now, but this is where I listen. This is where I lose Mion Sonozaki, and let the demon take over.
It was thrilling, and no one in Hinamizawa was safe. It was too late now, and things will never be the same again.
It all started with me sitting in my room, staring at my ceiling. Gruesome thoughts danced about my head, and I couldn't stop them. Back then, I was still trying. I was still trying to fight back against these urges and bloodstained thoughts. So, I decided to talk to Rena about it, and see if she had any advice.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I was jealous of her, but I didn't want to be.
Plus, I've always confided in Rena. A part of me was saying it was a bad idea, and that I shouldn't, but I ignored it. Instead, I had told myself it was a good idea, and I shouldn't ignore it. Ignoring my gut, I picked up my phone and began to twist it around, dialing her number. The phone rang for about thirty seconds before I heard a man's voice.
"Hello? Ryuugu residence?"
Tch. It was Rena's father; meaning she's probably at the dumpster again. I wonder if she's fawning over the doll Keiichi gave to her. Is she? Or did she just throw it into her collection of 'adowable' things without a second thought? Did she even appreciate it?
"Hello?" The man's voice asked again. "I-is anyone there? I'm sorry, but all I'm hearing is heavy breathing... if you're there, please say something," He spoke, a tone of uneasiness in his voice.
I cleared my throat, snapping out of my daze. "Y-yeah! It's me, Mion! Rena's friend! I was uh... I was just wondering if she could come over, that's all?"
There was a brief moment of silence.
"Uh... She is already on her way to your house... didn't she tell you? That she was planning to come over, I mean."
Huh? I was a little confused, but I brushed it off. This was certainly getting a little… freaky, to say the least. Why was Rena coming to me, without any warning? What… does she want from me? Does she know anything? Have I upset her?
I hung up the phone, slamming it down and slowly backing away. I felt terrified, but it was nothing new. These strange feelings boiling up inside me have been there for so long, and only now have I even addressed them. For so long now, I’ve been trying to avoid the eerie yet realistic dreams I’ve been having; that are alarmingly satisfying. The dreams… about murder.
In these dreams, it all felt so real. The heavy breathing, the exhilarating feeling that’s overwhelming but feels so good. If I had less decency then this almost says it felt arousing. How dirty of me to think these things, I mused as I heard Rena knocking - no, pounding on the door. This must be a Sonozaki thing. If I was truly Mion, I’d understand too. But, I’m not supposed to be Mion, I was thrown here by the cruel hand of fate; forced into being Mion.
I could almost say I missed being Shion; almost. I really didn’t; though. I just felt free, free to fly, free to unleash this demon that’s slept in my soul for so long, the one that was supposed to belong to Mion, yet Mion doesn’t have the tattoo.
By now, I heard her voice yelling for me to open the door. I slowly walked over, letting it open a crack. She stepped inside, a worried expression painted across her face. "Mii-chan...," She stammered. "You've...You've changed. Why?"
Huh? Changed? I guess for a while I've known about the demon, and it's definitely awake by now. But I haven't... given into it yet, and I haven't allowed it to take over just yet, so I wasn't sure what Rena meant. For the record, I thought I was doing a good job at hiding. Hiding the demon, I mean. Still, I didn't expect Rena to be this direct.
It scared me, and I didn't like this feeling of being cornered one bit. A darker voice in the back of my head was urging me to... take the initiative. I had no idea what that meant, or what my subconscious was trying to tell me. The more she inched closer to me, the more I couldn't shake the feeling that something was... off with Rena. Really off.
The demon was urging me to... do awful things. This was so sudden, but I couldn't... I couldn't stop it.
Rena got closer, and her voice was much darker. "Mii-chan, you're different. Are you really the Mii-chan I knew?" She asked. Her voice began to rise, and the anger and hatred showed in her eyes. "Answer me!" She shrieked. "WHO ARE YOU?!?"
I tried to slowly back away, but she only stepped closer, with clear, obvious aggression in her step.
"I am... I am Mion!" I yelled out, trying to satisfy her... trying to get away.
She grabbed me by the arms, and shoved me down in my bed, screaming "That's a lie!!" Tears began pouring from her eyes as she tried wiping them away, mumbling something I couldn't hear. Then she sat down on the bed and stared at me, and she looked... hurt?
"Why..." She sobbed. "Why... Why do you lie, Mii-chan? You're not acting like the Mion I know!! You changed... just like Satoshi! Just like... Just like Satoshi! Why can't you... Why can't you let me help you!"
"Rena... I...," I said, trying to speak to her, but all of the sudden, her face... changed. Her eyes looked almost demon-like as she stared at me with hate in her eyes.
"Give her back," She demanded.
"Rena? I'm Mion... Remember? What are you tal-"
"Give her BACK!!" She screamed, pushing me down to the ground, and I could feel hands gripping my throat. But they weren't Rena's. They were snake-like, no, almost demon like. Slimy, scaly... I couldn't describe the sensation. A disgusting flavor filled my mouth, and I felt as if I was about to puke. Horrid thoughts were racing through my head, and I couldn't stop them. But it was almost like I didn't... want to.
Rena smiled at me, a weird smile that looked like it didn't belong to her. What was... what was happening?!? Rena?
"Mion... do you hate me?" She asked in a calm voice. I stared at her.
"No, of course not..."
"Yes," She said. "You do, don't you? You won't tell me anything ever since, ever since... Keiichi gave me that doll. You wanted it, didn't you? Didn't you?" She asked, and I felt my skin crawl.
This wasn't any of her business, so I lied to her. "No, Rena. I didn't want that stupid doll anyway!" I tried. "You know I'm not into cute things like that!!"
Rena slapped me across the face, causing me to feel both shock and anger. "LIAR!" She screeched, in a voice that didn't belong to her.
I tried to run, but she grabbed ahold of me, her grip feeling scaly and almost demon-like. I pushed her too the ground, my fingernails digging into her arms. She screamed out in pain, her scream echoing in the back of my head like a bad rumor. By now, I doubt you could even call me human.
"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, my throat feeling sore and scratchy. It almost felt as if there was something crawling through my veins, my blood itself filthy. I was filthy.
Rena, like a fool, stood her ground until the very end.
A huge shot of realisation hit me and my breath was growing out of control, I could even feel drool coming out of my mouth and wet beads of sweat dripping from my face to the bed, I couldn't live like this, I had to do something about it, even if it meant silencing her for good. This wasn't my fault, I wanted to believe. It's not my fault she's so stubborn.
Yet, it wasn't her fault I was heartbroken. Was it?
Of course, it wasn't! Right!?
Sometimes though, maybe the only way to get rid of a broken heart, is to get rid of the cause. Was the cause Rena? Keiichi? That stupid fucking doll? I didn't know. I was so foolish thinking these awful things but I couldn't help myself. Maybe the only way to silence the voices was to silence Rena.
Someone was watching me too, and I could feel their gaze raising the hairs on the back of my neck. Was it Oyashiro-sama, like Rena had suggested?
It was... me.
I was scared from the very beginning. I knew that as long as I loved someone, they could hurt me. I still let it happen, and now it had completely taken over everything.
I believe that there are three people in one body. The 'you' who present yourself to the public, and the 'you' who stays hidden deep down inside, all alone. And the Third is the one watching you. He/She's the person who is looking at you as if looking at someone else's life. I was watching myself then, and I was unable to control her.
I grabbed Rena by the throat, and suffocated her, shoving her to the ground and strangling her life away. It was exhilarating, but it didn't feel real.
I remember the details of it all too well... I remember squeezing her throat with all I had, clawing at it with my fingernails and being satisfied, maybe even aroused at the sight of the deep crimson blood trickling out, creating tiny pools on the floor. I remember her coughing, and struggling as long as she still had life. I remember not being able to control a thing I was doing, but just... watching. Watching in amazement at how I had become a different person. Rena was right all along, I thought. Mion was gone. There was only the demon.
After I was done, there was no life; nor evidence of life left in her. She was definetly dead, and I had definetly killed her. I had never been so sure of anything before in my life, but I knew I had killed her. I killed her. Rena Ryuugu was dead, at the hands of me, Mion Sonozaki.
I was sure of it.
It finally occurred to me, however, that I had a body on my hands. A body I had to hide, without letting anyone see. I had gotten overly carried away, and my floor was soaked in my friend's blood. It was all over the place, and it was a mess. Luckily, my grandma's taught me how to clean up blood before. I'm not sure why she gave me such a suspicious lesson, but she had told me it was to get rid of things Oishi and his men could use against us. Little did she know, I actually needed such a thing now.
First, I dug under my mattress until I found the skeleton key I used for the drawer that I needed to be opened. Then, I slowly turned it inside the lock, until it made a satisfying click and the drawer swung open. I reached inside, pulling out my bottle of hydrogen peroxide. If blood is cleaned merely with water, it can still be seen by police under a black light, I've been taught. However, if it's scrubbed down nicely with some hydrogen peroxide, then not even a black light can detect it. Nothing can.
I soaked a wash towel down in the peroxide, and I began to scrub at it until not a trace of the blood was left. I stripped down out of my school uniform, knowing I would need to get rid of it, too. I had plenty of others, so this wouldn't be a huge issue. I threw it into a bag and dug through my closet until I found an old black hoodie and a pair of black pajama pants. They were older, and barely fit me now, so no one would notice if they went missing after this. I slipped on some gloves, then, fully dressed, slipped the body into a large garbage bag. Did I consider taking it down to the dumpster, maybe dismissing it as a suicide? Then again, the dumpster is probably the first place people will look if they realize Rena is missing. I decided to take her somewhere else, somewhere more... foolproof.
To give you more context, I'll give you some... background on the customs of my family.
From what I have read in the old scrolls, it was all about showy blood splatter. It had the best visual impact while committing the most little impact on them since Watanagashi used to be a festival to discipline people.
My ancestors created victims in much of the showy torture. Making sacrifices to oyashiro-sama, that was there excuse. So, there was an underground torture chamber, that still existed today. Inside this chamber, there are many deep tunnels that eventually lead to the mountains, and they would be a perfect place to drop the bodies down. You see, the paths are in the middle of the tunnels if that makes sense. These holes require climbing down a latter that goes straight down, and halfway down is a path. Keep going down, all you get is a seemingly bottomless well, even deeper from erosion.
So, that's where I'd drop Rena's body.
When I got there, I was quick and efficient about it, dropping Rena's body (And my bloody uniform, as well as stripping out of these black clothes and changing into yet another uniform, yes I'm pretty strategic) down the tunnel. I never heard it hit the bottom, but it may still be falling.
Finally, when I got back, I took a shower and sprayed myself down in clean smelling perfume. All the evidence of the kill was gone, and I was safe.
I felt a surge of joy and relief as I got out of the shower, I had killed her!
She was gone, forever!
I burst out laughing, laughing uncontrollably, with the image of her begging for mercy, then her burning corpse in the dump stained into my head, the joy was overwhelming.
It was then that I knew..
Now washed off, and changed into a pair of clean pajamas, I suddenly felt exhausted as I fell into my bed, I could hardly move my arms, my legs..it was as if each breath took effort, but despite this I still, I felt absolutely amazing.
My life, me, I, Mion Sonozaki...
I closed my eyes and fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.
Would never be human again.
Chapter 8: VIII
I didn't tell you about the wound in my heart
And only kneeled down at the approaching pain
But as the seasons wait for no one
Let's walk over the pain, onto tomorrow - Mion Sonozaki, Dear you - feel
(AKA the song this entire chapter is literally inspired by - but more on that in a minute)
I opened the door to the classroom - and waiting for me was my circle of friends. Satoko, Keiichi, Rena, Rika...
Rena? What was she doing here? I killed her, didn’t I? I know I killed her... this was getting too weird. She was sitting beside Keiichi too, and he was helping her with her homework. What? Rena’s very smart, so she shouldn’t need this kind of help. She’s tricking him, I figured. She must have been tricking him.
She’s not Rena, though. Is she? Was she Rena? I didn’t know, and nothing was making even a sliver of sense. I killed her, I know I did.
Will I have to kill her again? If I had too, I would. I can do it again. She will die again, and this time she will stay dead!
Rika tapped on my shoulder. I turned around.
“Mion did a bad thing, didn’t she?” She asked me, her voice was different. Everyone else was staring at me, and I felt so trapped. I felt my blood pressure rising, and then I knew that something horrible was about to happen.
I thought back to the injection Takano was talking about, and I gasped. She did something to me, didn’t she? Didn’t she! I was visibly sweating now, and suddenly, Rena and Keiichi were in my face.
“Mion - mioon... mioon.. Ion.. ion... on.. on.. ooon... ?” Their voices echoed. I had been fighting something, I realized. I had been fighting back this demon for so long now, and my throat was itchier than ever...
I had become a demon, hadn’t I? I had been taken over, ruined, and if they didn’t get away from me, they were going to fall too. Everything was a blur, happening so fast I couldn’t tell what was what and who was who. The differences between reality and fiction. I felt a hand grab ahold of my shoulder, my bare shoulder underneath the uniform.
“I’m not Mion!” I scream. “I’m not Shion, either! I don’t know who I am! I’m scared, and I don’t belong here! Get away from me, or it’ll happen, something awful! I don’t want to hurt you guys!”
Rena grabbed ahold of Keiichi’s arm, probably for comfort, though it was not helping my situation in the least.
“Get away from him, get away!”
Keiichi stepped closer to me, and I could see his face getting closer and closer. He was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t sure what. Rena was trying to say something too, but her eyes suddenly changed. She too looked like a demon. She wasn’t Rena... that girl from yesterday, the one I killed, I didn't kill her. None of it happened, and it was all my delusion. This is... this is insane!
I remembered killing her, and how good it felt to do so. Yet it was all a lie...?
Keiichi’s eyes became slits too as he stepped back away from me. “Sorry, Mion, but I wouldn’t give a doll like that to a demon...”
I reached out and shoved my fingers into his eyes. Blood came spurting out, splashing all over my face and staining it red. Keiichi screamed out in agony, but I couldn’t stop. It was too fun and it felt too good! I began to twist my fingers around in there as Rena cried out in agony.
I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. Red thoughts circled my head, and the presence of the demon was crystal clear. I couldn't keep going like this, or I'd end up killing my friends... for real! I... I had to do something, perhaps there was some kind of cure? As much as the idea disgusted me, I knew I was going to have to speak to Takano. This was my only choice.
I want to live... that's right! I want to live, but not like this...
So, I knew I would have to speak with Takano Miyo. I didn't sleep for the rest of the night, instead, I got ready. I got dressed in my uniform, brushed my hair and drank some tea. Bright and early in the morning, (About two hours before school would usually start,) I set off to find Takano. To go to Irie's clinic. It was a relatively peaceful walk, at least that's how a stable person would see it.
The silence made their secrets echo even louder.
Not a car in sight, just the chilly empty air, and the screeching of cicadas was all that really seemed to be there.
Despite it being early, the cicadas were still singing their song. I, however, heard and saw things a person normally wouldn't, because I was cursed with whatever was injected into my bloodstream.
After what seemed like forever, I finally reached the Irie clinic. It was time for me to take care of business, and confront Takano once and for all.
I grabbed ahold of the doorknob and rattled it - locked. Not giving up this easily, I began to knock, more like pounding on the door. After a while, Irie answered. What a relief! Maybe he would help me sort this out once and for all! Plus, I don't even have to deal with Takano's bullshit! I couldn't believe my luck.
(Time skip cause I'm lazy asf)
"What do you mean, it can't be cured?" I asked, my eyes widened in complete despair. Irie told me that I had a terminal disease that could not be cured with medicine, called Hinamizawa syndrome. There was no efficient cure that was proven to be safe, yet.
He couldn't tell me much by law, but because of his mistake, he did tell me I deserved to know a little. So, he told me what he could. Stuff that Takano probably wouldn't tell me, so I was thankful I had ended up with Irie.
In other words, I would only worsen.
(This would be a good time to turn on the song for added feels lmao)
I had gathered all my friends out in the schoolyard. This would be the last time I saw them, I realized. This was not only for my own good but for theirs. I wanted their last memory of me to be a happy one, not one where my head has been fully taken over by that awful demon. My own last memory of them will be a happy one too, not a hateful one in the eyes of the demon.
I hoped they would not be too sad, though. This is what had to happen, or something awful may happen to them, too. I couldn't bear to have my life end that way. As a young girl, I always thought I'd live to be old and grey, wrinkled. But perhaps it wasn't meant to be.
This was the only way, I assured myself before speaking to my friends one last time. This was the only way to die without regret.
"Guys, I need to tell you all something important," I stuttered, choking back tears. "I don't have too long to tell you all this, as it's only a matter of time before the demon takes over uncle Mion forever... But I have some important things to say to my beloved club members first," I finished, after catching my breath.
"Mii-chan?" Rena asked, worriedly. "What do you mean, taken over by the demon forever?"
Satoko put her hands on her hips and stomped her feet. "Come on Mion, do you really think you are gonna leave us that easily? What's wrong with you! Who... who is going to be the club leader?"
I smiled gently at her. "I know you guys don't understand this, and I'm not expecting any of you too. Mion has been taken over by evil, and she won't be alive much longer. So, there are a couple things I have to clear up first, so you guys can go on without me."
Keiichi wasn't having it. "Mion, I'm not going to allow that! I won't"
I held up my hand. "Stop."
He looked at my expression and realized how serious I was. "Oh.. okay..."
I walked over to Keiichi. I reached into the pocket of my uniform skirt and pulled out a key. "Kei-chan, hold out your hand," I instructed.
I rolled my eyes. "Just do it, you dumbass."
He obeyed. I gave him the key and said, "Maebara Keiichi. This key you hold in your hand unlocks the closet in which I keep all of my games, the ones I've been collecting all these years. By handing the key over to you, I officially deem you the new club leader. Do a good job, kay? Mion will be watching over to make sure you do..."
Keiichi stared at me, completely dumbfounded. "For me? Really?" To my surprise, a single tear managed to escape Keiichi's eye and roll down his cheek.
Next, I turned to Rika. "Rika-chan."
"I want you to tell Oba-san, (My grandma) That I want her to call my twin sister, Shion, and grant her my spot as heir. (Where she belonged, and I never did.)" I told Rika. "Could you do that for me, please?"
She nodded. Then, she suddenly got a look of hesitation on her face. "Mion, I'll do this for you, but you know this won't work, right?"
I raised an eyebrow, a little confused. "What do you mean, it won't work? Asking grandma about Shion?"
She shook her head. "No, what you're planning to do. People will still die," She said, in a morbid tone that I've never heard Rika use before.
I didn't understand what she meant by that, but I think I had a pretty good idea of what it meant. "Don't worry, Rika-chan. This way, fewer people have to die. Take good care of Satoko while I'm gone, okay?"
My throat was getting itchier. It wasn't much longer. "Goodbye, Rika, I'll miss your clever schemes and positive attitudes that kept everyone going," I told her. "Satoko, goodbye. I'm sorry I won't be here when Nii-Nii returns, but be sure to say hi for him for me, okay?"
Satoko could barely utter a word, as she had begun crying already. She nodded.
Rena turned to look at me. She had been able to hold it back for a while, but in an instant, she too was crying just like Satoko. "Mii-chan..." She hugged me, and I hugged her back.
"Keep Keiichi out of trouble for me, okay?"
"Of course..." She uttered, her lower lip quivering as she sobbed uncontrollably.
"And Keiichi," I remarked, starting to cry a little myself.
"M-Mion... I have something for you..." He muttered, turning red.
He reached into his bag and pulled out... the doll from earlier? "Keiichi," I argued, "Didn't you give it to Rena?"
He nodded. "I did, but I changed my mind. I decided Mion wouldn't mind such a thing either, so I decided to give it to you, instead." He was really embarrassed now. "Okay, it was Rena's idea... she said I should give it to you..."
I chuckled. Rena rolled her eyes.
"You know, you didn't have to tell me that last part, you dummy," I laughed. "I'm going to miss you, Keiichi.
I stared down at the bottom of the pits below me. I was in the underground torture chamber, preparing to end it. This way, I won't die with any regrets. I turned on my lighter and set my shirt ablaze. Then, I leaped into the endless-seeming pit, screaming in agony.
The wretched screams echoed through Hinamizawa as I burned away, the demon being banished back to hell where it belonged. This way, no one else would have to die, and my friends could live happily in Hinamizawa, with Keiichi as their new leader.
This was how it had to be, after all.
"To protect this warm place
I'll try to change anything
Because we live to make tomorrow
We pursue happiness every day" - Mion Sonozaki, Dear You - feel
Chapter 9: Epilogue
“Satoko, I want you to hide,” Rika told the little girl as she tucked Satokos away in her attic. “It’s me they’re after, not you.” She turned around again, to ensure no one was watching. “So you still have a chance to survive.
“Wait... no! Rika, no! Please... please don’t leave me here... all alone... don’t go! Rika!” Satoko protested, but Rika wasn’t listening. She shut the door to the attic and went outside, facing death. It was right there in front of her, reaching out with open arms.
Rika stepped right into it. Everything that followed was an uncanny blur.
”Rika... it didn’t work out this time, I’m sorry... I’m sorry...,” the apologetic voice whined. “You tried so hard but...”
Rika rolled her eyes, and looked at her surroundings. She was back inside the sea of kakera, so she must have died. Though, she didn’t remember how she died, exactly. She never remembered.
Yet, she did remember that something went horribly wrong, and it was Mion who fell victim to thee curse. This was the very first time that’s happened, and she wondered if it would also be the last. It probably wouldn’t, though. In this endless sea of laminations, anything is possible, and history repeats itself.
She’s seen many strange timelines. She’s seen Shion loose her cool the most, or it would be Rena or Keiichi. Sometimes it would be Satoko, but her scenario was different.
Satoko didn’t have a body count. Neither did Mion. Mion’s death must have been to avoid that, Rika guessed. That didn’t make it right, though. Mion was the fun, eccentric club president. She would never kill anyone.
Then again, neither would any of them.
Rena was a sweet, caring girl who would never hurt a soul. She had her own share of pain, but she used to confide in her friends. She liked helping other people with their problems, too.
Keiichi was a fun, quirky boy who always kept everyone in good spirits. Though he was the victim of most of the jokes, he didn’t mind. He also stayed positive no matter what.
Shion was a free spirit, but she cared fircely for the people important to her. Mion, on the other hand...
Why? Why did everyone always change? What was it that kept happening? Why did their fun, peaceful days always have to end in tragedy?
What was it about Hinamizawa that infected her friends? How did the virus get there?
Who... was behind it?
”What I don’t understand, is how Mion ended up with it,” Rika remarked rather bitterly. “She never left hinamizawa, she never did anything that would’ve...”
Hanyuu sighed, looking up at the endless surface of the sea of laminations. “I wish I knew, Rika. But I don’t... I really don’t. Sorry.”
Rika brushed her bangs out of her face and frowned. “It’s time to move on, then,” she said in a dull voice as she wrapped her hands around one of the fragments. She closed her eyes, expecting to wake up in the next world.
”Goodbye, everyone. I’ll see you in the next Hinamizawa.”