This is a nightmare
That wouldn’t be the first or last time Sara Chidouin thought that. But this ‘nightmare’ seemed to like torturing Sara even more than the others.
The stars in the night sky twinkled through the classroom window, she was sitting in the backseat one away from the window, the one by the window belonging to… him. Gruesome imagery flashed in Sara’s mind but she took a deep breath, everything is fine, she had come to terms with his death already.
Knowing fully well this was probably just another nightmare, she got up taking her sweet time as she made it out of the school. She looked up and noticed the light from the guard’s window shining only to quickly flicker out.
“I just hope this dream ends soon...” The high school student muttered to herself.
As if the orange-haired girl had replayed this moment in her mind thousands of times, she turned towards the gate, seeing the figure standing there. She slowly walked over and waved, still slightly wary of seeing him.
Sara’s eyes widened in surprise when he came into view, this was… different.
Even in all her dreams, it had never been like this. The black-eyed red hallucination would always greet her no matter how hard her brain tried to picture him. But he was here, standing and all of the sudden talking about doner kebabs.
Sara smiled to herself, I may as well enjoy this while it lasts .
They walked, reaching the street before her home, lit by a single light post that she knew all too well. He looked over at her, “Hm? What’s up, wanna hold hands?” He said jokingly.
“No,” Sara quickly said, not knowing what her brain might do if she took up the offer, unlike last time.
“I’m kidding! Don’t actually get mad at me.” He chuckled, “Okay but real talk here... wouldn’t it help things if you got a boyfriend?”
Like I’d be able to date after being in a death game, I’d just fear for their death. Sara laughed mentally at her sarcasm. Sara looked up at him , and he stared back.
“...You can’t sleep right? ‘Cause of your stalker…”
“Yeah… that’s why you walked home with me right?” She said, already knowing full well that her ‘stalker’ was no harm at all.
“N-No! I just wanted to brag!” He looked away as if he was flustered.
“For what, man!? Well if you just feel like bein’ grateful, I won’t stop ya!”
Sara giggled to herself, as he continued to speak. A pause in their replayed conversation caused Sara to look back at the single streetlight, lighting up a figure.
She yelped in surprise, Kai! She stood still and stared at her ‘stalker.’
“Ah! There’s someone there, Sara, run!” He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards her house. That’s when she realized, she could feel him, she could FEEL him. How could she feel him in a dream!? How could she… she stopped thinking as they stopped in front of her house.
“Whew! That was close.”
“J-J…” Sara bit her lip, taking a deep breath, “Joe, you should go home.”
“Huh?” He stared at Sara as if she told him pigs could fly, “And leave you here with your stalker!? No way, man!”
“I… I can’t get you involved in this! I...um… if he kidnaps me someday, I can’t have you caught up in it.”
“Sara!” Joe cried, shocking Sara, “This is the first time I’m sayin’ this to ya, but you’re being ridiculous! You aren’t going to get kidnapped so long as I’m here.”
He paused, “How ‘bout I stay the night here? So you can get some shut-eye for the first time in a while?”
“You don’t ha-”
“I wasn’t askin’ Sara.” Joe smiled reassuringly, though it did absolutely nothing to reassure her. This was too… real, he’s here and...warm, he’s looking after me like the real Jou Tazuna, not one of the hallucinations or nightmares.
Before she could even say anything back, Joe grabbed her wrist, pulling her to the front door, opening it, “Hold on, why is it open…?” The brunet said warily.
Sara bit her lip, “W-We should be careful.” The orange-haired female slipped her wrist out of his grasp and held hands with him, almost crying at the feeling.
Walking into her house that horrid day was one of Sara’s least favourite memories, which was saying a lot since she had seen her friends and comrades die in a literal death game. The plant knocked over in the dark corridor set off several alarms in both Joe and Sara’s heads.
Joe squeezed the female’s hand as they walked around, opening the door to the pitch-black living room, “We should turn the lights on.” The brunet said, making Sara painfully remember what awaited them in the dark.
Somewhat regretfully, Sara let her best friend turn on the lights for her. The world moved painfully slow as the unconscious body of her mother appeared before them.
Sara rushed over to her mother’s side, letting go of Joe’s hand, nothing had changed yet Sara still found herself panicking, “Mom!? Mom!”
Joe froze on the spot; millions of thoughts flowing in and out of his brain, he ran and picked up the key on the floor, “I’ll go look for your dad!”
He ran out making his way upstairs to his best friend’s room, he fumbled with the key he had just picked up and unlocked the door in a blind panic, “Mr. Chidouin!? Mr. Chidouin! Your wife is collapsed and Sara-”
A sharp pain came from behind and the world went black.
* * *
He quickly found himself panicking, Where am I, woof!? Gin thought as his eyes darted around the room, unfortunately for him, it was a room he knew all too well. Gin found himself pacing around as he remembered the familiar day of opening the door for his mom only for it not being his mother walking through the door, he remembers distinctly being in a dark room with a set of cards and a board telling him to bring them with him.
He remembers walking down a dark corridor and falling for a long time, before waking up and meeting a couple of others in the central hall as all the grownups call it. At first, the small boy thought it was a nightmare of one of his most scary memories but everything seemed so real.
Even the feeling of Q-Taro’s hug when he cried was real, the cards that held what killed big bro Joe were real. Everything was the same as the first time he came, except for one thing.
It was big sis Sara who was carrying an unconscious big bro Joe into the room. It made Gin’s eyes widen, Does big sis Sara know too!? I’m saved, meow!
The small boy stared at big sis Sara as if urging her to come over as she set down Joe and panted, the high schooler caught Gin’s gaze, looking puzzled.
Eventually, the orange-haired female walked over, bending down to match the cat-hooded boy’s height.
“Big sis Sara!” He whisper-shouted, “You and big bro Joe are different from before! Do you remember?”
Sara’s eyes widened, “Y-You too, Gin?” She whispered back.
“Mhm, meow!” Gin fidgeted with mew-chan in his arms.
“What are you two whispering about?” A familiar beanie-wearing man said, budging a bit into their conversation, “I-I don’t mean to be nosy, of course!”
Sara and Gin shot apart immediately, “Can’t I talk to Big sis Sara in peace?” Gin said sassily, before immediately realizing his mistake.
“You two are siblings?” The teal-haired man asked, seeming unconvinced.
“No, he’s my cousin! We haven’t seen each other in a while so we were talking.” Sara countered. After all, if she went along with the sibling connection, Joe would know almost immediately.
“Ah, I see,” The self-proclaimed job-hopper put a hand beside his face and whispered, “You don’t have to lie to me, after all out of all of the people you and Gin should know I hate lies.” He said sarcastically.
Sara and Gin felt a wave of relief wash over both of them, Shin gave them a small wary smile before stepping away from them as not to be suspicious. Gin walked back to his spot next to Professor Mishima, and Sara headed back to the unconscious Joe.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Joe waking up looking confused, before involuntarily walking up to big sis Sara, “Sara! Where the hell are we!?” He whined.
Sara paused for a moment, “...”
“Who are you?”
Joe looked immediately taken aback, “What do you mean!? It’s me! Joe!” Gin felt himself laugh, big bro Joe did this to big sis Sara too back at the beginning.
“Y-You can’t be serious…!?”
“Could you be the Joe that calls holding hands after falling into a ditch progress?”
“Sara! Y-You’re an asshole for joking like that!” Big bro Joe whined.
“Geez, sorry.” Big sis Sara rolled her eyes, making the cat-hooded boy snicker to himself.
“Looks like you two are getting along swell, are you two friends?” Mr. Policeman asked.
Big sis Sara introduced herself and got everyone else to do the same after Mr. Policeman told her to, then Big sis Nao shouted at everyone for calling Old guy shady.
“Well, it’s time for us to introduce ourselves.” Loner said, glancing at me.
The brown-haired boy grunted, “Yeah yeah! I can read the room, meow!”
Big sis Sara talked to both Gin and Shin and they played along, Loner still introducing himself as Sou. Eventually, we all introduced ourselves... Except for bucket girl who was still sitting in the corner sobbing, I feel really bad for her, woof, If I lost my mommy like that I would cry too, meow.
Big sis Sara looked over at Bucket girl warily, guilt written on her forehead, it seemed the loner noticed this too and walked over to her.
“Hey, it’s alright,” He put a hand on her shoulder, making bucket girl look up at him with the smallest bit of hope in her eyes.
“What’s your name?” Shin asked quietly.
“I’ll say...I’m Kanna Kizuchi…”
“Mhm,” The loner hummed. “Do you want to say more…?” He said softly, as if not to startle her.
“I’m...um...in middle school…”
“It’s okay, take your time.”
“I was eating ice cream… with my big sister… we were walking and talking… and then some scary people came out of a black car… that was parked on the road,” She hiccuped.
Gin, big sis Sara, and Loner glanced at each other, all nodding at the knowledge that not asking her would be better.
“Thank you, Kanna.” He patted her on the back, stepping away from her.
“What about yer sister? Ya make it soun’ like ya both got kidnapped…” Muscle gorilla butted in Muscle gorilla! Bad! Bad! Bad!
“She… she’s... gone…!”
Before the violent screams came, Shin wrapped his arms around Kanna, “It’s okay… You don’t have to say more…”
Kanna’s body wracked with sobs as she clutched onto the loner’s clothes, “Waaah...aahhhhh…” Eventually, Bucket girl stopped shivering, and her breathing evened out.
“Hey Sou, how’s she lookin’?” Big sis Reko asked, walking over to bucket girl.
“It looks like she fell asleep, she probably needs to regain energy…” He smiled warily.
“Yeah… but what the actual fuck!? She DIED!?” Big sis Reko snapped.
“Haha… they really aren’t messing around.” Big bro Joe stared at the passed-out bucket girl as he let out a shocked laugh.
“I-I don’t like this… not one bit,” Big sis Nao cried.
“Hey everyone calm down, your friendly policeman’s here,” Keiji hushed.
“Y-Yeah! Keiji you’re the reliable one here! What should we do?” Joe exclaimed.
“I think it’ll be a good idea to explore.”
“Yeah, ‘zat seems like a good idea,” Mr. Q-taro agreed.
“But before all o’ ‘zat,” the baseball player pulled out a golden box, making me, Loner and big sis Sara cringe at the sight.
“That’s a big box, I bet you could fit a whole watermelon in there,” Nao commented.
“Was this from the first trial I wonder…?” Kai asked.
“Yep, though bringin’ this box was the point o’ my firs’ trial.”
“Huh!? You mean people had different first trials?!”
“I do not think that is the most of our worries right now, mwahahaha…”
Everything went smoothly, or as smoothly as ‘opening a box and finding a severed head that turned out just to be Sue Miley’s doll head which is probably worse’ could be. Everyone agreed to split up and search the building.
I immediately turned to big sis Sara but her eyes were somewhere else, “Joe! Wanna pair?”
“Ah sorry, man, I’m pairing with Keiji.”
“Right…” Sara stared at Big bro Joe’s back, the obvious guilt painted all over her face as she wished to talk to a living Joe. Her hand lingered in the air as if to grab his shoulder and envelope him in a hug, but instead, it just dropped to her side.
She frowned, quickly rubbing her eyes and sighing. Gin ran up to her and hugged her, “I’ll go with you big sis Sara! Old guy doesn’t need me anyhow!” The high schooler smiled sadly.
“And I’ll be stickin’ with you again Miss Sara,” Shin smiled lightly, patting both of their shoulders “Now I think there’s a place where we can… talk.”
They nodded, all heading in the direction of the cafeteria, sneaking past anyone and making it into the secret room.
Gin let out a deep sigh and sat on the ground, Sara sat on the desk beside him and Shin leaned on the bookcase.
“Well, we are in quite the predicament,” Shin said darkly, clutching his beanie.
“Yeah, woof, it still feels like I’m in one big dream.”
“Yeah… but what do we do?” Sara’s eyes seemed glassy, “There’s no way we can just sit back and do nothing, right…?”
“Of course not, meow! We’ve gotta save everyone, woof!”
“It’ll be easy to save Professor Mishima, but we’ll have to worry about the role cards, who brings them into play anyway?” Shin questioned.
“About that, meow…” Gin grimly brought the deck into his gloved hands from the pocket in his cape, “That was my first trial woof, but I need to…” Gin looked at his feet, “Give it to muscle gorilla after the test vote. If I don’t I’ll be killed according to Syrup lady.”
“What are we going to do about it…?” Sara tapped her chin, “We have to get rid of the sacrifice somehow.” Even though the high schooler sounded like she was merely elaborating, there was an unmistakable fury and sadness when she spoke of the card.
Suddenly, Sara’s eyes lit up, “I have an idea.” Swiftly, she walked out of the secret room, only to promptly return with something in hand.
Shin’s eyes looked at what she had, “Are you kidding me?”
And what she had was a weapon of destruction, the infamous Zippo lighter.
“Big sis Sara is planning to burn it, meow?”
“Okay, it seems like a good idea but… what did we need it for originally?”
“I think it was for the puzzle in the red room to get Alice.”
“And how many uses does it have?”
“And we can’t leave Alice rotting in a locker for the rest of his life.”
“Looks like that’s a bust, woof,” Gin pouted.
“What way can we get through the main game unscathed…?”
Shin played with his scarf as he thought, “I think we’ll have to come up with a plan later, for now, we all need to head out.”
“Huh? Why, woof?”
“Us going missing will arouse suspicion, and we can’t go having any of us being killed in the main game.” Shin sighed, “But hey, we can talk later, let’s just get you through… Russian Roulette was it?”
“Ugh, Russian Roulette…” Sara and Gin groaned in unison.
“Right, Shin you… weren’t there, but on the fifth (5th) floor, we had to go through another Russian Roulette...”
“I almost died, meow… but big sis Sara saved me woof!”
Shin looked slightly guilty, “Miss Sara’s so reliable,” He said with obvious sarcasm.
“Haha. You’re soooo reliable, too.” Sara rolled her eyes.
“No way, woof! Loner would probably be the least reliable person here, meow!” Gin pouted.
“Ouch, you wound me!” Shin put his hand on his forehead dramatically, “Anyway, let’s go, shall we?”
They both nodded, heading out.
Gin decided to branch off, heading to the bar to make sure everything stayed as close to the original time they were here as possible. Sara grabbed the dart from the cafeteria and she and Shin headed to the pink room.
Sara bent down to pick up the dummy bullets.
“You know… I want to kick this thing.”
“Huh?” Sara’s eyes travelled from the small (and quite cute) pink bunny and looked at Shin. He was staring at Sue Miley’s so-called torso. She chuckled, “If you want to, I’m not stopping you. Nobody’s coming into this room for a while anyway.”
And so, he kicked it.
“OW!” He yelped.
“A-Are you okay, Shin?”
“Y-Yeah,” He bit his lip clutching onto his shoe.
“Wait… did you kick it… and hurt yourself-!?” Sara stared in disbelief.
“W-Wha!? N-No way!” Shin hissed, but despite his denial, Sara burst out laughing.
“You have the toughness of an uncooked spaghetti noodle! Wahaha!”
“N-No wonder you couldn’t even open up the cabinet in the bar!”
“I hate you!”
Shin pouted angrily, watching as Sara wiped a tear from her eye, “Just tell me when you need help physically, I could go ask Kanna or Gin to help you.”
Shin punched her shoulder, “If I get the gun in Russian Roulette I’m going to shoot you.”
“Nooooo, you can’t do that!” Sara whined.
They both left that room with smiles on their faces.
When they made their way over to the bar, they found something peculiar. Q-taro had found the limbs before them, finding the one in the cabinet and it seemed he found the bill in the cigar and found the arm inside of the vending machine. He was lucky he wasn’t underaged, otherwise, Professor Mishima would be all over him.
Deciding there was nothing there, the duo made their way over to the blue room. Sara had made some uncomfortable memories there: holding a gun for the first time and fearing that she was going to take someone’s life, of course now she already felt like a damned murderer. Even after healing from the hallucinations, it was hard to forget them.
She may be better, but a small part of her still blamed herself.
Shin must’ve noticed Sara’s unease, placing a hand on her shoulder and giving it a small squeeze, “Everything will be fine, Samurai woman.” He chuckled.
Sara smiled back at him, appreciating the gesture. As if on schedule the orange-haired high schooler turned her head and noticed the blonde detective running up to them,
“Hey Sara, look at this,” He placed his hand on hers and dropped 3 metal bullets, sending several alarms up in Sara’s brain even though she knew it was coming.
“Ah-!” She yelped in surprise, “Why are you giving me these?”
“I just found ‘em, wahaha, so wary are we?” Keiji flashed a smile at her, making her feel absolutely nothing, but Shin, on the other hand...
Goddammit, why do you have to be so fucking hot!? Shin pulled his scarf up to hide his red hot cheeks. To be fair, seeing him smile so genuinely was a rare sight, after Mishima, Joe and Kai… expired, Keiji’s grin seemed to be there merely out of habit, not out of actual joy.
To the other participants, it just seemed like he was a creepy, shady, old police officer who had a weird crush on Sara. It was a common mistake made when people only looked on the cover, like how everyone perceives Professor Mishima as a mad scientist before they even know him.
But to Shin, ‘most everyone was an open book.
Keiji was a somewhat hard one to read, like a book with tiny text, Shin had tried to understand without his reading glasses. It was hard, but not impossible.
The job-hopper was very good at reading people, whether it was natural or built up from his impulse to avoid all of his co-workers was up for debate, but that was beside the point. Whenever he found someone worth analyzing, it took up a lot of space in his mind. Shin had only started trying to read the man during the first main game.
Keiji wasn’t some creepy old man, he was suffering too. He was just better at hiding it, just like him. From what he could tell, he had lost someone dear to him, and now is haunted by them. Whether it was a parental figure, a child, or anything else was still debating in his mind. (but if it were a woman, Shin would rather be dead, which was a lot to say after he had already died in a very gruesome way).
The teal-haired male found himself staring at Keiji, biting his lip and looking away. He needed to act like Sou soon, he couldn’t find it in himself to betray the blonde. Of course, it tore him apart from the inside to act like a man who had done nothing but harm him in their time together… but Sou was cunning, Sou was smart, he was manipulative, and Sou… he’d survive.
Of course, right now at the beginning, he was allowed to be whoever he pleased, and he’d rather be Shin, the real him. The sarcastic, timid, and optimistic boy that he was ever since he was a child, but alas he still had to try and survive.
“Thanks, Keiji… I guess.” Sara said, pulling Shin back to reality. “Why are you giving me bullets anyway?”
“Hm… ‘cause you’re cute.”
Shin and Sara both deadpanned, they both knew it wasn’t flirting, but just him dodging the question. In all honesty, it was hard to tell which one was worse.
Sara and Shin simultaneously leaned towards each other ‘whispering’ to each other, though saying it loudly enough for the detective in front of them to hear.
“Creepy.” The duo ‘whispered’ in unison.
Keiji blinked, before putting a hand in his hair, “I-I’ll be going then.” He spoke quickly before heading back to his spot with Joe.
Sara and Shin looked at each other, their lips both holding back a million tons of laughter. They quickly high-fived and sped walked to where they needed to be.
They both climbed up the ladder, checking all of the seats and stopping on the one that held the gun. Unfortunately for Sara, it seemed that the older male had gotten his hands on the gun first, he spun the gun around on his finger and looked at Sara.
They stare at each other for a long second, both of them having oddly serious looks.
“...What are you going to do with that, Sou?”
“Ah, hm…” Sara taps her chin as if she’s thinking, “Hey, would you give me that?”
“No.” Shin hums delightfully.
“And why not, Sou?” She challenged.
“Hm… ‘Cause I gotta shoot all the baddies, like you.”
Shin raises the gun, pointing it at the high-schooler and playfully drops a ‘pew’ sound effect.
“Argh! You got me!” Sara dramatically ‘died’ without falling to the floor, making Shin chuckle a tad.
He spun the gun around and blew at the tip, handing it to Sara, “Don’t get too friendly with me...pardner.”
She took the gun, tipping it against her forehead like she was a cowgirl, “Alrighty mate.” Shin rolled his eyes and elbowed Sara.
“I’m being serious though, don’t get too friendly, I’m not going to be Shin for much longer.”
“Yeah, yeah, gotta tease you before you turn into some majority-vote loving sociopath.”
“I want to shoot you.”
“You already did.”
“For real this time.”
“Kanna would never forgive you.”
“I swear to god.”
“You are threatening to shoot me.” Sara grinned, sending Shin an ‘I told you so’ attitude.
Shin could feel his eyes twitch as he watched the orange-haired high school girl climb down the ladder. The man with the beanie climbed down soon after and glanced at the exit of the blue room, fidgeting with the end of his scarf nervously.
Sara seemed to go and talk with Keiji about the dummy bullets, Shin was unsure why she was doing that, but it was making him more and more restless. To even more of his discomfort, she began to talk to everyone.
Sara began to walk towards the exit, looking at Shin as if for a cue. But the self-proclaimed job-hopper knew it was too late, the slight vibrations at their feet went unnoticed by everyone but Shin, he sucked in a sharp gasp and made a split-second decision.
He shoved Sara.
“Ow!” She yelped, stumbling into the game room, and not a second later the bars shot up and locked Shin in and locked Sara out .
“Sh- Sou!” Sara exclaimed, turning back and gripping the bars.
“Miss Sara, I’m so sorry! It was instinct!” He winced, realizing his mistakes.
“Sara!” A panicked shout came from behind the teal-haired male, making both of them turn. A very scared Joe came rushing up to the bars, grabbing Sara’s hands through the bars, “Are you okay?”
Sara’s face flushed, before quickly nodding, “Thanks to, Sou. I need to- um- go find some way to get you guys out.”
“Hey Sara, I think we should um... Ehem,” Shin cleared his throat, using his eyes to signal.
“Oh! Yeah, good thinking Sou! You’ll need this to… defend yourselves just in case.” She took the gun out of her pocket, handing it to Joe.
The brunet looked heavily uncomfortable with the gun, but when he looked around he then decided to pocket it. Shin felt like scoffing, but he knew very well that Joe doubting the people around him was a good plan.
Sara eyed them all warily, landing eye contact with the male in the same situation as her, he nodded, sending her a boost of confidence.
“Don’t go having too much fun without me.” The high school girl laughed bitterly, patting Joe’s shoulder before leaving.
Joe let out a deep sigh, looking a bit more depressed than Shin was used to. Was being apart from Sara that bad for him? After all, the job hopper had only seen Sara without the other before Joe’s… passing. Seeing Joe without Sara was a rare sight, they always seemed to come as a pair. Or maybe he hung around Sara too much...
“Well, this sure is bad,” Keiji mumbled.
“Dammit! It’s a trap! We gotta stay alert!” Q-taro cursed, balling up his hand into a fist.
“Hey now~ Don’t go all defensive like that!” A voice said, collectively making all of their hearts drop.
“Who was ‘zat!?”
“Haha! Don’t go sweating the details.” The painting grinned, “I’m the master of this room, call me Meister.”
“Now then~ I guess it’s time to tell you the rules of this next game .”
_ _ _