The grip of death seized your shoulders as you went stiff. You were frozen and couldn’t move. The air in your lungs wouldn’t budge as you couldn’t breathe. Your hands tightened against the fabric of your pants. You didn’t want to die. There were things you wanted to do and you couldn’t just go. But if you didn’t choose yourself, Kai would die. Kai would die. You would be a murderer. Still, you couldn’t die.
‘I… I want to live…!’ you thought, closing your eyes and squeezing tendrils of hair at your roots. You felt weak and wanted to throw up. You were so sick of yourself. ‘I don’t want to die.’
The desperation to live seared through your body as you said the words you never wished you would ever say.
“I… I choose... me,” you said hesitantly, your hands shaking as you felt like falling to your knees. You clamped a hand over your mouth. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Dread dripped through your chest as you wanted to scream. The guilt weighing down on you threatened to bury you under the earth. You should’ve just died. God, why couldn’t you stop being so stubborn? Your head pounded like a gavel declaring your guilt, you wanted to just take it all back the moment you said it. Kai let out a sigh and just nodded with a small smile on his face. An eerie and oppressive atmosphere settled over the room as Miley’s cackles were the only things echoing throughout.
“Heeheehee!” she laughed as she clutched her sides. “It’s too funny, heehee! You think you’re so self-righteous, but you throw others away! It’s so funny!”
‘That’s right. I’m a selfish hypocrite who falsely preaches encouragement and laughs at the dumbest things,’ you thought while running a hand through your hair as Itsuki’s hat fell off. Your eyes went wide as you felt fog starting to enter your mind. ‘Why… why did I do that? What’s the point in me even living? I should’ve…’
“Don’t say that about her!” Joe exclaimed, pointing at Miley. “Everyone has the right to be scared! This is a matter of life and death!”
Miley continued to laugh as you swallowed down your guilt that kept on coming back up to drown you. Then you felt a tug from Kai. You turned to look at him as he handed you his frying pan.
“Buy me some time,” he whispered as he pulled out a knife.
You knew exactly what he meant.
‘This is the only thing you can do for him. Don’t be selfish.’
You gulped, nodding. Taking the frying pan, you wrapped your hands around it and ran towards Miley.
‘Please, please…!’ you thought while jumping onto Reko’s table. The woman let out a squawk. Sara let out a cry. You leapt across the circle and onto Sou’s table. You launched yourself off and swung to whack Miley in the head.
‘This is the only thing I can do for him--!’
The metal of the pan collided with Miley’s head as she stumbled and fell on her bottom. You landed on the ground and scurried to the side. Miley put a gloved hand on her head as she glared at you.
“How dare you!” she growled as her face contorted into a menacing glower. “Such insolence to hit me for no good reason. Unless…”
“Unfortunately, I will not let you do as you wish,” Kai declared, stepping forward in a trail of crimson blood. “I will issue… my own death.”
She turned to see Kai, revealing his torn and bloody arms. He held them up for everyone to see. The cuts in his arms ran as deep as the seeds of guilt beginning to sew themselves into you. The color of the blood dripping on the floor sent chills up your spine. Kai’s face was beginning to get steadily pale, the same rate as all the blood he was using to water the floor. Another surge of nausea towards yourself and your own selfishness came forth as you tugged the roots of your hair.
‘It’s my fault.’
“Y….you!! …what selfishness…!” Miley exclaimed as she started to stand from the floor. “The knife from the kitchen?! As if I’ll allow suicide…”
‘It’s my fault he’s going to die.’
In the spur of the moment, Q-taro charged forward, pinning down Miley to the ground. “HRAAAAAAAAHH!!!”
“Graaahh!” Miley grunted as she fell to the floor in a squashed heap. “Dammit…! Get off! You idiot brute…!”
‘I should’ve… should’ve chosen him to live…’
Q-taro continued to restrain the woman and spat. “Like hell! I wouldn’t let ya go if you killed me!”
“Dammit…! I can’t… activate the device…” Miley wheezed as she tried to wriggle out of Q-taro’s hold.
‘He’s more useful than me, he could’ve gotten everyone out.’
You clutched your shaking wrist. ‘But in my selfishness, I…!’
Your head snapped up from your daze as you looked at Kai who was looking determinedly at everyone.
“Our lives are toyed with to our enemy’s whims, we are unable to save a single person…” Kai uttered as everyone in the room stared at him. “As we die off, this is… my feeble… resistance. But it is one large step... towards counter attack...!” He turned to look at you. “It was a step I was able to take… because you bought me time. It is surely… not futile…” He held up his torn and bleeding arms as the look of dreary happiness crossed his face. “I entrust them to you…! Our regrets…! Our hopes…! I.... am satisfied.”
With one last breath, the man fell to the floor with a smile. Blood splattered like paint across the floor as you looked at Kai in horror.
“Kai… Kai!” you exclaimed, as you tried to run over to him.
“Y/N L/N,” a voice growled as you turned around.
You turned to see Sue Miley standing behind you, her perfectly smiling face twisted into a furious snarl. One of her hands shot out and grabbed you by your hoodie. She yanked you forward as you stumbled towards the woman.
“Y/N!” Sara exclaimed as she stared at the scene in horror.
“Y/N… I swear, you will pay for this,” Miley threatened as she stared at you with two hard heterochromatic eyes. “Don’t forget.” She yanked you closer. “You basically killed Kai. His death was caused because of you. Your selfishness caused him to die. You’re a fool and a hypocrite.”
It was as if that cracking mirror appeared again and it finally shattered. The realization of your actions finally stabbed into you.
You killed him. In your desperation to survive, you killed him. Why couldn’t you just suck it up and die. You should’ve died instead of him. You’re selfish selfish selfish.
“Y/N…” Miley said as her eyes gleamed with menace. Another wicked smile spread across her face. “You should’ve just died.”
“Get away from her!” a voice shouted as footsteps came running near.
You turned your head to see Joe heading in your direction at high speed. Miley merely frowned and kicked Joe away from her out of some sort of instinct. He landed on the ground on his head and slid away from you.
“Joe!” Sara shouted as she went over to the boy.
“Joe!” you exclaimed as Miley opened her grasp.
You got up and ran over to Joe. Sara touched Joe’s head and her hand was smeared with blood.
‘It’s my fault.’
“No…” you gasped as you went over to Joe. “What do we do? He’s gonna… He might…!”
‘Why… what is happening?’
You imagined as if the roof was falling down and the whole room was shaking. What was happening? You were so confused and frustrated. Questions and accusations filled your mind like water as you held your head.
‘Why? Why?! ’
“Everyone evacuate,” Miley ordered as she pointed towards the door. “Joe will be returned to you as you ascend to the next floor. I will try my best to salvage the damage.”
“You…!” you exclaimed as you turned towards Miley.
Before you could do anything, something hit your neck and you went out cold.
“Welcome to the gift exchange!” Itsuki shouted as he spread his arms out. “The person who gets my gift will be so excited.”
“ I’m pretty excited,” Ryoko admitted as she held up a long narrow box.
Joe groaned with the tiny box he had. “I swear it’s good! Size doesn’t matter.”
“I actually did put a lot of effort into this,” Sara said, smiling proudly.
You fumbled with your box as you glanced over at the person you had gotten nervously. You had never given someone a gift before and it was making you nervous to say the least. The ribbon wasn’t bad, but you were worried whether or not your gift would meet the person’s taste. Well, you did try to find something to fit their tastes, but you weren’t sure. What if they got angry? What if they wouldn’t be your friend anymore. Would they--
“N/N!” Itsuki exclaimed, snapping you out of your thoughts. “Got anything to say about yours?”
You gave him a half grin and showed the small box you had put your gift in. “Kinda nervous.”
“Nothing to worry about!” Itsuki said, giving you a friendly grin. “No matter what happens I guarantee it’ll at least give us a memory about it.”
You let out a puff of laughter and smiled as your chest fluttered. “Yeah. Thanks.”
“No problem!” Itsuki exclaimed as he held out his gift. “Let’s exchange now! My gift goes to the lovely…”
“...How’s Y/N?” Reko asked, looking over at Nao and Mishima.
Sara had taken off your hoodie and made it into a makeshift pillow. She held Itsuki’s hat carefully in her hands.
“...she’ll be fine,” Sara said hoarsely as she sighed. “I’m worried about Joe, I… I can’t just leave him there.”
“Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do about it,” Mishima sighed as he frowned. “It’s… a shame. I’m sorry, I’m having trouble picking out the right words.”
“We’re all afraid,” Nao said, reassuring the older man. “It’s alright.”
“Mom, it’ll be alright meow!” Gin exclaimed as he held one of your hands.
“I’m worried,” Sara murmured as she put a hand on your forehead.
Nao fidgeted with her hands. “I don’t know what I can do… but I’ll at least stay by Sara’s side!”
“I agree,” her teacher said, nodding along. “We owe it to them.”
“Yeah…” the rockstar murmured as she clenched her fist. “This time we’ll give them strength. I… I owe it to Sara!”
Meanwhile, Q-taro sat hunched at the bar. He whispered his troubles to himself while fighting the urge to kick over his chair in a fit of confusion and rage.
In the pink room, Miley stood with a grin. A bandage was wrapped around her head.
“Eheehee, everyone. Please rest up before proceeding to the next floor,” Miley giggled as one of her eyebrows twitched from pain. “Eh? Can you go home…? A funny joke! We’ve only just begun!” Her face turned dark. “Let’s enjoy this everyone… eheehee… ahahaha…”
Upstairs, Sou and Kanna were standing in a dark hallway, not saying anything. Sou then got off the wall and shoved his hands into his pockets.
“You said you wanted to know everything, didn’t you?” Sou asked, looking at Kanna.
The girl toyed with her hands. “Please don’t make Sara and Y/N sad… don’t you… don’t you feel anything from when Kai… I thought.... I thought Y/N was your friend.”
The girl stopped herself from talking. Sou grimaced and looked down at the floor. He glared bitterly.
In the secret room, Alice confronted Keiji.
“Hey,” he said, looking at the policeman. “You said you were a policeman, yes?”
“...What about it?” Keiji asked, staring back at the man.
Alice fiddled with one of his chains with one hand. “A policeman knows about murder cases, yes?”
“Yeah… If I’m in charge of ‘em,” Keiji replied as he raised an eyebrow.
The prison mate didn’t say anything and then spoke quietly. “...do you know the crime I committed?”
“...Why?” Keiji asked, his mouth beginning to set into a thin line.
Alice hesitated, opening his mouth, swallowing, then saying it. “I imagine it’s just a coincidence, but… I killed a person once.”
“What was the victim’s name?” the blonde asked, nodding along.
“It was… Sou Hiyori,” Alice answered, a serious look on his face.
And with that, the first Main Game was over.
“Hey, N/N,” Itsuki said as you continued to read.
Your eyes looked up from the book in your hands. “What?”
“Can we… skip school tomorrow?” Itsuki asked while twirling his pencil between his fingers.
“Nope,” you replied, scribbling down a note from your book. “College is expensive, you know.”
“I don’t even know what I want to do,” the boy groaned as he tilted over to look at your work. “You got your mind set on something?”
You set down your book with a frown. “Somewhat.”
“Well, at least you’re somewhere,” Itsuki sighed as he leaned back. “A clear goal in sight is good. Try to strive for your goals and not get carried away by the flow.”
“Since when did you get so poetic?” you asked, raising an eyebrow.
“At least let me be cool for once!” he exclaimed as you chuckled and silence filled the room once again.
There it was again. That uncomfortable silence that would always sit between the two of you. You picked up your book again and continued to take notes. You just needed to break the silence. Say something. Forget everything that had happened before.
“Say, you want to go to the beach with the others when summer comes around?” you asked while looking at him.
The white haired boy stood up and raised a brow. “Why did you suddenly ask?”
“Never been,” you admitted while your foot moved up and down. “How about it?”
“Why would I?” he asked, his eyes going wide. “Who would want to go anywhere with a murderer?”
You froze, not being able to move. “Huh?”
“Did you forget?” he asked while picking up a book. “Wow, you really are cruel. You killed Kai. You also killed Haruka. You know… you’re also the reason why Joe is hurt. He might even be dead, you know?”
“...no,” you denied, shaking your head. “It was… It wasn’t my fault…”
He closed the book and dropped it as it fell to the ground with a thud. The surrounding area turned pitch black as you fell, no chair present. Itsuki walked towards you, leaning forward, your noses almost brushing.
“Who was the one there when Haruka choked out on the drink?” he asked, his red eyes burning into yours. “Who was the one that chose to save themselves rather than someone who had more use to the group? Who was the reason why Joe tried to run and save them?” He stuck out a finger and jabbed it at your chest. “You.”
It hurt. Being accused like this from someone so close to you. Especially since… You shook your head.
“No… it was the game… I didn’t do anything,” you stammered, your words clunkily falling out of your mouth.
Itsuki smiled with his eyes shut. “Aw, scared? Why? You know I’m your best friend. Or is it…” You turned to look away as his eyes grew bigger and dug into your very being. “Are you feeling guilty?”
“Get away!” you screamed as your eyes shot open.
You sat up in an unfamiliar bed. There was a window of some sort to your right, along with a cabinet, two chairs, and a light. It looked like a hotel room you had seen online. Sitting up, you looked around.
‘It was… just a dream,’ you thought as you looked at the hat on the cabinet. ‘It’s… not real. My head...’
You clutched your pounding head as you got out of the bed. You remade it until it was neat again and began to look around in the room. After you checked that there was nothing in the cabinet, under the bed or chairs, you looked at the window. Your hair was a mess, clothes rumpled, and eyebags were beginning to form under your glassy eyes.
‘I look like shit,’ you thought while trying to smooth out the underparts of your eyes. ‘God--’
Suddenly, an image of Haruka appeared in the window as you let out a yelp, fell backwards and hit the ground. One of the lights suddenly flickered out as you looked at the bed. A puddle of blood was beginning to soak through the sheets and spread throughout.
“ᴡʜᴇɴ ᴡɪʟʟ ʏᴏᴜ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴛᴏᴡᴀʀᴅꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʀᴜᴛʜ?”
Blood began to flood the ground as you frantically stood up as it lapped your shoes. You saw your dirty hands and began to wipe them on your pants. The other lantern began to ooze blood as it leaked through the cover of it.
“ᴀᴛᴏɴᴇ ꜰᴏʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜱɪɴꜱ ᴀɴᴅ ᴅɪᴇ, ʏ/ɴ.”
Crimson blood trickled down the ceiling like water as you staggered back into a chair. Bumping into it, you turned around to see a corpse slumping forward. Kai’s lifeless form sat on the chair, wrists bleeding out as his blood trailed to the floor. Joe sat across from him, blood trailing down his forehead. You were unable to tell whether or not he was unconscious or dead. Glaring at the image in the mirror, you yelled.
“You aren’t Haruka,” you told her while pointing. “You’re just a nightmare I’m having!”
She let out a chuckle. “ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ꜱᴏ ᴅᴇꜱᴘᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴛᴏ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʀᴜᴛʜ?”
“Shut up,” you growled as your eyes darted across the room.
You turned heel and began to run. You began to make it to the door.
“ɪ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅɴ’ᴛ ɢᴏ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴀʏ ɪꜰ ɪ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ!” Haruka exclaimed in a sing-song tone.
You ran into something. Sharp sensations exploded across your body as you let out a groan. You stumbled back as you could feel pain seep through your skin. Your forehead burned with pain as something trickled down your face. You held your hand which had blood splattered onto it.
“Ah…” you mumbled while staring at the blood on your hands. “What the…”
Looking up, you saw Haruka, instead her figure distorted into some sort of red creature. Her trademark smirk was disturbingly wide, her eyes now black holes, and black cracks spreading throughout her entire body. You tried to stand up, but she shoved you forward as you fell to the ground with a grunt. She got on top of you and stared into your eyes with her soulless ones.
“ɪᴛ’ꜱ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜰᴀᴜʟᴛ ɪ’ᴍ ᴅᴇᴀᴅ,” she whispered as her hands wrapped themselves around your throat. “ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴍᴇ. ʏᴏᴜ ᴀᴄᴛᴜᴀʟʟʏ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴍᴇ. ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ꜱɪᴄᴋ. ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴡᴏʀꜱᴇ ᴛʜᴀɴ ᴍᴇ.”
Her hands squeezed as you let out a gasp. Your legs kicked as she continued to squeeze the very life out of you.
“S-Stop…!” you wheezed as she just tilted her head.
“ᴡʜʏ?” she asked, choking you even harder. “ɪᴛ’ꜱ ɴᴏᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ɪ’ᴍ ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴀɴʏᴡʜᴇʀᴇ.”
“Agh…” you groaned as you began to lean back.
“ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ꜱᴛᴀʏ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜱɪᴅᴇ...” she crooned as her nails dug into your flesh. “ᴛʜɪꜱ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ’ᴠᴇ ɴᴇᴠᴇʀ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴᴇᴅ ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴇʀᴇɴ’ᴛ ʜᴇʀᴇ…”
Your eyes shot open as you saw you were still on the ground. Sara looked at you, concerned. She pulled you up.
‘Thank God,’ you thought, staring blankly at her.
“Are you okay?” she asked, holding your hand.
“I… I’m fine,” you told her while shaking your head. “It’s nothing.”
She glanced behind you. “What happened here?”
You turned around to see a giant crack in the window. Touching your forehead, you could feel a cut.
‘Did I seriously run into the window?’ you thought while sighing.
“Let me get patched up first,” you told her while sitting down.
Sara began to walk. “Let me go get Keiji.”
After the two had come back, Keiji cleaned your wounds and you were set.
“Where… are we?” you asked, glancing at the unfamiliar room.
“It’s the third floor,” Sara said, handing you Itsuki’s hat and your headphones.
Keiji huffed in amusement. “It’s like telling you to ‘get some rest’ or something like that.”
“I see…” you murmured while slipping on Itsuki’s hat. “Well, thanks for getting me up here. I must’ve been heavy.”
“Nah, don’t mention it,” Keiji said, as he put a hand on your shoulder to settle you down. “Go rest some more. You need it.”
“I… I can’t sleep right now,” you mumbled while rubbing your head.
“Just try,” Sara pleaded as she made you tilt back.
Your head rested on the pillow as you took Itsuki’s hat off and placed it close to your chest. Sara put your headphones on the dresser.
“...I’ll try,” you told her as you closed your eyes to sleep.
Before you knew it, you drifted off again.