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Panic Room

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Cheap Trick Part 1 

 

An endless tunnel of pitch darkness. Can’t see anything, can’t hear any sounds, not even footsteps. There’s nowhere to look, nowhere to go to, just walking, running, and falling aimlessly. Where is the exit? Where was the starting point of this tunnel? It seems to stretch longer than the twin tunnel. The silence is deafening, it can drive anyone crazy. Time doesn’t seem to exist inside this tunnel, nothing seems to exist. Only him. Only a lonely soul named Josuke Higashikata. He can’t feel any part of his body: not his hands, not his legs, but he can sense himself moving, falling on his feet, and getting back up again. He doesn’t feel any form of pain, which is surprising and not; maybe he’s numb? He can’t tell, he really is unable to tell.

How long has it been since he had started walking? When he came to, he can already feel himself moving. Is this death? Did he die somewhere? If so, how and when? Did his mother and his grandfather hear of the news? Did anyone attend to his funeral? Josuke has so many questions, he doubts a yes and no answer would be able to sate his curiosity and his bothered mind. He doesn’t seem to stop walking, however, the more he walks, the more he wonders if he’s walking towards the light or if there is something approaching him. Closer and closer and closer it comes; slow at first, but gradually picking up speed. Before he knew it, a loud horn cuts through the mad silence and he feels the impact of being hit by a truck.

The sensation is bizarre, he didn’t even get to feel the pain before his mind went blank. It wasn’t too fast, the speed of that truck, but somehow Josuke didn’t have reflexes quick enough to evade that accident. There it goes again, the endless loop, except there’s light above him and he keeps falling into an abyss of eternal darkness. This time, he can feel the gravity weighing him down, he can feel the wind past his body, ruining his hair. This time, he can feel the dread, wondering of when he will fall to the cold, hard ground. He’s ultimately scared, falling off an endless gravity pull. His heart is pounding hard against his ribcage, as if aware of his imminent death, his eyes are watering, salty teardrops rising upwards to the air. The more he waits, the more he gets anxious, almost impatient to meet his death. How hard will he hit the ground? Hard enough to crush him to pulp? The light from above him grows more and more distant the farther gravity pulls him and the farther he is, the colder he feels. The temperature is dropping alarmingly quick, he can feel frostbite in his system.

“You know too much.”

All of a sudden, he hears that voice ring in his head. It’s an awfully familiar voice, but he can’t put a finger as to who owns such a voice. Before he could do so much as to turn his head and look for the owner, he hits the ground. And then he wakes up.


 

Josuke Higashikata’s body is overcome with immense pain that it woke him up. He opens his eyes begrudgingly, a groan past his slightly chapped lips. His throat feels incredulously dry, as if he hasn’t drank in two weeks or more. Where is he, anyway? Sitting up, he realizes he’s in a classroom. Did he fall asleep in class? Oh, but it seems like he has slept for too long; he’s the only one left in the room. Yawning dryly, he fails to know the actual time for his wristwatch is nowhere to be seen, and the windows are barricaded with thick steel plates; removing it would take a long time. He inhales, deeming the task to be fruitless and deciding to roam around the room until he can find something that makes sense. Questions rise further when he notices a folded paper sitting atop the teacher’s table quietly and with curiosity fueling his mind, he walks to the table and takes it, unfolding it, and reading its contents.

Greetings, Josuke Higashikata!

You must be confused and conflicted, but not to worry, there are others in this place who can help you leave safely.

There is an assembly at exactly 8 in the morning in the gymnasium.

Do not be late, otherwise there will be a corresponding punishment.

I look forward to meeting you there.

-Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick? What kind of name is that? Josuke would question the embossed name of the one who sent the letter, but upon seeing the wall clock above him (that he had not noticed beforehand), he dashes out of the classroom, realizing there is not a single direction of where the gymnasium is. In the end, he spends a good five minutes of wandering around just to find the venue of the assembly. Without a moment’s hesitation, he pushes the double doors, and walks inside.

“...”

Like what is said in the letter, there are people in the enormous space with him now, making him feel less anxious about his current predicament. He just realizes that he didn’t know his name until he read it on a paper. Josuke Higashikata… Is that his name?