“Hey, Merry, what seems to be the matter,” A brown-haired young woman with a mushroom hat asked a blonde woman, who wore a Chinese battle dress, feeling concerned when her friend buried her head on the table.
“I’m worried about today, Renko,” she responded, looking at her with seemingly weary eyes. “I’m not sure what will happen once we’ve pierced through the dimensional gap that lies within the Boyu Shinkansen…”
The two were in the Boyu Shinkansen, a bullet train that ran between two unique stations located in Tokyo and Kyoto. This place was special to them due to the fact that it was their third major club meeting place, to which they viewed the ‘fake’ scenery around them a few years back. The two were on the way back to Tokyo, to which Maribel, the blonde-haired woman who was dressed in a Chinese battle dress and her signature French frilled hat. Between the two was a large slender bag, which they planned on using it in the train when the time came.
But this time, they were not viewing the scenery displayed on the screen. Their adventure was in this very train, which was one of the few places that the two can view another world. Maribel once insisted that she had seen a boundary in this train when they took it long ago near Mount Fuji, to which she believed that whatever they assembled in that black slender bag was the key to opening it.
“We’ll be fine, Merry,” she reassured her, crossing her arms. “It’ll be just like our other adventures, I’m sure.”
“I hope so… I just have this feeling that something horrible might happen…”
It had been thirty minutes since they departed from Kyoto, seemingly returning back home to Tokyo. Even though they had been on this train several times before, Renko was still amazed at the Kaleido-screen projections that were around her. Maribel, on the other hand, was nervously preparing herself to open the boundary that awaited them near the mountain.
The windows transitioned the scenery from a field to a beach, accompanied by the picturesque sky. Soon though, Mount Fuji was approaching, allowing Maribel to reveal what was in the bag. The two had completed at Kyoto what seemed to be a wooden ancient spear that could have been considered a relic to Japan, should they had turned it in to the government. It had a white comma-shaped jewel near the tip of the spear and the blade shaped like a cross. After finding out what it did and investigating through the distortion Maribel mentioned in this train, they agreed to turn it in to a collector so they could make a fortune out of it.
“The boundary’s close,” Maribel told Renko, standing up at the center, taking in a breath to calm herself. “I can feel it…”
Renko’s attention was brought to her friend, who motioned one of her hands to signal staying put. She complied, knowing that Maribel knew more about boundaries than her. The backdrop shown on the window she was facing changed from the sea into a bamboo forest, followed by the mountains shortly after. This was the moment that she was waiting for. This was the moment that would change the Sealing Club forever.
Maribel drew the spear behind her with both hands on it and closed her eyes. She began concentrating on where she imagined where the gap could be and opened her eyes, setting her visual at the point. She swung the spear at a slightly upward angle, with the weapon seemingly cutting through the window. She had just enough time to notice that the blade was about to hit a nearby table to the left, to which she turned the blade so the flat side did little damage to it. She sighed in relief, glad that she had pierced through the gap.
Renko looked around Maribel, seeing what seemed to be her cutting through the kaleidoscopic window. Strangely enough, however, the window presented no sign of damage when she swung the spear at it.
“What are you doing, Merry,” she shockingly asked her. “You know we can’t afford paying for it!”
With a downward wave of her right hand, Maribel opened up the gap that she had just created. Renko had seen many gaps opened up by her best friend, but this one apparently seemed different. There was a pathway that led to a set of stone staircases ascending up. Maribel lowered the spear to her left side and extended her right hand to Renko.
“Shall we go,” Maribel asked her. “It won’t remain open for long, so this probably is our only window of opportunity in breaching through.”
“Sure,” Renko responded, taking her hand after gathering what she brought with her.
Maribel took her hand, pulled her up, and they were side-by-side. The two were aware that breaching boundaries were highly forbidden due to the fact that whatever may be in there might harm them, but by this time, they were used to doing so. They stepped into the boundary, ready with whatever may come after. The gap on the window that Maribel cut through closed itself when the scenery changed from a bamboo forest back to a far version of Mount Fuji.
A bell sounded out at the clock tower of Tokyo International University, a college institution located at the Saitama Prefecture in the city of Kawagoe, Saitama; a neighboring prefecture by the Tokyo Metropolis of Japan.
This bell signaled the end of class for the majority of the students attending the institution. Many students emerged out of their classrooms within various halls of the institution, storming out of there as soon as the bell had sounded through the halls. Most of them flocked the halls as they conversed with both students and instructors of various classes, while others were trying to squeeze through the crowd to exit the campus building and grounds. Tokyo International University was one of the prominent schools to many foreigners, as it attracted many students outside of Japan to attend this university to seek either a permanent employment in Japan or just learn more about its culture before heading back to their respective country. On the other hand, many native students of Japan attended this school as well either as part of a work study program for foreigners to take notes and learn from them, or just have more knowledge of the world outside of Japan.
One of the students who were part of this work-study program was a medium-haired woman that had one of her bangs tied with a white ribbon to her left. This woman was a rather short female in her middle 20’s, though her overall facial features seemed to have her appear as a young for a woman of her age. She had a white long-sleeved shirt that had a road-patterned red line at the bottom of the shirt, a black long skirt, white short socks, and black dress shoes. Around her body slung a bag that hung to her left side, which contained her books that involved her studies as a Doctorate’s Degree in Super Unified Physics, notebooks that she wrote mainly for her classes, and writing materials to take notes and participate in class activities. She also carried a journal on her right hand, though this was obviously not the best time to read it as she struggled through the crowd.
Making her way through the crowded halls of the institution, she arrived at a set of staircases and descended down to the first floor, exiting the building once she was on ground level, where she faced the sudden coldness from outside. The grounds of the university were flat, and were brick-patterned with a tannish wear on it. Sure, cars were allowed to park at designated places, but for the most part, walking to the university was the preferred way to reach classes, especially when the majority of the students preferred to live near the school in dorms. She came upon a fountain that was situated at the middle of the campus grounds, looking at her reflection in the water as the sun beamed down at the water. Several years ago at a university in Kyoto, a fountain similar to this one was part of an experiment a friend of hers and herself had done.
Letting out a sigh after looking at her reflection, she walked away from the fountain and began her trek back to the dorm area of the institution. Compared to her journal she carried on her right hand, the bag was beginning to heavily burden her as she carried many textbooks in it that weighed her down during her learning spree around the campus. Her classes interested her once in a while, but for the most part, they were stale and routine, which caused her grades to slip from time-to-time, despite catching up shortly after to where she was supposed to be at once she took notice of them. With the way her life was flowing at the moment, it was not as exciting as it was several years ago.
She walked towards the dorms, appearing now at the front door of the building, which was located a few blocks away from the main campus. The building expanded up to nine floors, eight of them being used as living quarters for the students to live in, while the 1st floor was mainly used as a recreational, staffing, and catering area for those living in the dorms. Stepping inside, she welcomed the warmth of the lobby area, knowing full well that she would bring a jacket next time when she faced late winter weather again. She walked up to the elevator door and pressed the button labeled as an arrow pointing upwards. Once the elevator door automatically opened for others to get in and out, she walked inside it, pressing a button that was labeled “7” once she turned around. The dorm building this woman lived in became a co-ed residential area for students some time ago, in which both male and female residents were mixed together in an effort to provide a bargain value for those who planned to live in the dorms during their school year. To this day, the policy still worked, so long as roommates did not undergo unruly activities together in their living spaces.
Arriving at her dormitory room, she unlocked and opened the door, walking in the room. Her half was kept rather well, though some areas remained packed with boxes that were still in need of unpacking. On the other half was her roommate’s area, which the place was surprisingly organized with two trophies and a set of figurines displayed at his desk. A stack of books and worksheets were by the table, which the stack had popped to where they were about the same height as the desk itself. She walked up to her own desk near her bed, placed her bag near her chair and began to take out both her notes and notebook from the sack, sitting down on the chair, pulling herself to the desk and began working on the homework that was assigned to her from String Theory class. Time marched on as she buried her thoughts in her homework. About two hours later; her roommate came in the room, backpack behind his back as he walked up to his own desk to place his textbooks and notes out on his desk.
He looked at her to notice that she was here all along, doing her homework. Knowing that she would be here for perhaps the next hour before he went to work, he continued on with his homework before afternoon lunch was served at the dorm cafeteria. Silence happened between the two, as they both did their respective homework, though the occasional mutter happened between the two when problems arise in their own assignments. Eventually, one of them gave out due to frustration and hunger as the clock ticked ever constantly, forcing the seeming loser of their imaginary contest to go to the cafeteria to fetch for food, while the other was constantly finishing up their homework in solitude and ease. Finally, the remaining person within the room was done with their assignment, putting away the textbook and respective notebook that contained notes for that class away and took out yet another textbook and notebook.
Instead of continuing the journey in completing her homework she had placed on her desk, she was worn out from doing her previous assignment. She took with her one of two keys to the room, her wallet, and journal that laid on her desk, as well as her black mushroom hat and jacket that hung near her bed, preparing for departure. She was heading out of the dorms, but before doing so, she wanted to grab some food from the cafeteria before heading out. Arriving at the cafeteria and grabbing her share of what was left from lunch; a juice packet, an anpan sandwich, and a bear-shaped cookie on her serving tray, she sat a random table, which were near a group of students from a neighboring table, and ate silently as she overheard their conversation.
“Hey, hey have you heard,” one of the students began, talking within the crowd as they ate, “another incident happened in Japan.”
“Really,” another student questioned, looking at that student with intrigue, “do explain the story.”
The student who began the conversation grabbed his ElPad tablet and turned it on, flipping through one of the news articles of today’s time to point to the story he mentioned. “Apparently, another murder happened in Tokyo,” he explained, “and this time, it was at Higurashi Park.”
The crowd gathered around the student to see what the article stated about the murder, while she quickly caught a glimpse of the picture. She loved to eavesdrop in conversations, especially around lunch time. She became good at it, acting perfectly normal, as it broke the isolation she was facing. The club she formed up years ago was now disbanded recently due to being the only member in it. Though the club was publically disbanded, the search for someone she lost years ago remained a grand mystery to solve for her. She had tried to join other clubs made throughout the college institution, but most of them ended up making her feel rather empty or simply did not catch her interest.
After eating her share and discarding the remains of the food she ate, she went to a nearby hand sanitizing station and cleaned her hands. Once done, she went back to the table to grab her book and continue her journey out of the dorms and into the heart of Tokyo. According to the conversation she overheard, there were crime scenes of people being cannibalized in separate days during night time in Tokyo. Perhaps it was worth investigating into it, as it may lead her to a lost friend she’s searching for. After all, this did link up to one of their discussions the two had done before when the Sealing Club was still active.
The time was about 3:27 PM, according to the digital clock in the waiting area of the subway station. The woman had paid for a round-trip ticket between Saitama and Ueno by scanning her wallet that contained a pre-paid transit card, which it popped out a ticket dispenser upon purchase. She took it and walked into the station, entering the platform to wait for her train. Once it arrived and took in passengers, she sat down at an empty seat and took out her journal, reading it to compare one of the previous cases her club discussed to the information she had gathered back in the cafeteria of her dormitory. The description the group rumored about the dead bodies in the city of Tokyo somewhat matched what the Sealing Club had come to conclusion in the case, confirming the possibility that maybe her friend had some involvement with the incident. As the train finally arrived near the city of Ueno in the Tokyo Metropolis area of Taito-ku, she closed her book, stood up, and exited the train upon arrival to see that only about 30 minutes had passed since she departed from the station.
She made her way into the city and walked around the street, looking for the park her source mentioned. It did not take her long to locate it after procuring a map of the city within the subway lobby area. It has been a while since her last visited Tokyo City and despite the fact that she visited here multiple times on occasions every other month, the map sometimes changed some of the whereabouts of locations, which allowed the trips here to be a bit interesting at times when she made visits to the city. She strolled her way to the park while looking in the contents of her journal, reviewing the case once more as a review.
Higurashi Park was geometrically a beauty to behold to anyone who wished to take a break from life itself. That was, if one would call leveled hills and slopes as one, for it had several ground levels before it reached the roadside. In the seasons of spring and summer, one could hear the cicadas cry at night, which made all the more for tourists to hear them while they could during those seasons. The short brunette woman arrived at the park after some time in making her way there, closing her journal upon arrival, and looked at the sight of each leveled slope that she saw below her in search of the crime scene. Coming to a set of stairs, she began a slow descent down the stairs while attempting to pinpoint where the crime scene could have taken place at. Naturally, the police would be flocking at the crime scene, but the yellow tape was gone and law enforcement deemed it safe for citizens to resume with daily activities in the area earlier today after they cleaned up and completed several security checks around the area.
Despite the fact that the moon was not visible due to a new moon cycle and the stars were not visible in the sky because of light pollution, she was still able to recall the two in the sky to aid in the investigation of the recent murder that took place here. Reaching the scene of the crime, which apparently was already have been cleaned up and restored, she closed her eyes and concentrated. One of the stars told her that the murder took place sometime around 11:48 PM, while the moon depicted a person taking in the view of the park near the fencing area towards her right, being lost in gazing at the view. The scene played out as followed: A person was taking in the view of the park, when suddenly, a sound began to emulate somewhere behind the person. This alerted the visitor to the noise, in which he or she decided to investigate the source of it.
Since the body was not here and was most likely with the authorities for an autopsy, it was unclear to her whether the victim was male or female. Nevertheless, she followed where this person was walking towards, wanting to find out what the stars and moon were telling her about the incident. As the victim arrived at the location of the sound, the person found out that it was a small little girl, crying in the corner. Trying to give out a helping hand to her, the girl awkwardly looked at the person, gazing with a smile. This spooked the victim, causing him or her to jump back in terror as the little girl began to walk forward with one of her hands glowing with a pitch-black aura. The little girl flew forward, impaling the victim as he or she tried to stand back up and run away, which caused her to flinch as this little girl’s shadow passed through her.
She stared at the two shadows as one of them feasted upon the other. She glared at the lying shadow to try to make what features the victim had. This victim she stared at, although had a feminine body, appeared to have short hair and wore regular street cloths; a person she was not looking for at all. The cold wind had picked up by the time she grasped reality once more, which the sudden gust caused her to fall down to the ground. Not only did she fell on her bottom, her hat flew off her head, now beginning to dance in the wind.
She noticed her hat flying off above her as she gazed up, immediately standing up and jumped at it after recovering from her trance. However, the hat was too far for her to reach by the time she stood, despite her determination not lose it at all costs. At that altitude, the wind carried it at a great distance to the point that she could no longer give chase to it, but finding a lost object in a park would be like finding a needle in the haystack. She stopped pursuing it after losing sight of it in the darkened sky, feeling even more hopeless in her search efforts for Maribel and her own hat flying away in the distance.
She checked her smartphone to see the time, looking at a picture of her and person she knew. She glimpsed at the young woman with blonde hair, purple eyes, and had a purple dress, white shoes, and a white French frilled hat. Doing her best to not look at her for a long time, her eyes turned to the corner of her phone to see that the clock displayed 5:30 PM; giving her enough time to head back to the train before curfew was in order at the dorms.
“She isn’t here,” she concluded to herself, cleaning her long skirt of the dirt that was collected from her fall by patting it and shaking her head, “time to go back, I guess...”
Disappointed at the fact that the woman on the picture was not here at all and that her hat flew off somewhere in the park, she was left with no choice but to go back to the subway station at Ueno to head back home. Once she arrived at the subway, she scanned her wallet at the subway entrance to register for the one-way trip back to Kawagoe and waited patiently for the train’s arrival. Her head began to throb as she sat down on a nearby bench in an effort to gather her thoughts once more.
Her scheduled train had arrived after an hour, to which she walked inside it after the doors released crowds of people from within into the subway lobby area. Once more, the train was filled with passengers, but not by a large margin like before, allowing her to find a seat with relative ease. She took out her journal and turned to a random entry as tears beginning to flow from her as she read the contents. Thoughts of doubt and remorse began to overcome her mind as she continued to find her friend, Maribel Hearn, for so long. Though every clue she had discovered and debunked or confirmed had lead her one step closer to finding her over the years, she felt as if those clues made her step further away from progressing with the investigation, as they lead to more cryptic clues such as what happened in today’s findings.
Ever since she was born, Renko had discovered that she had the ability to call on the stars and moon, allowing her to pinpoint the exact location of landmarks around Earth, and even expanded to finding and identifying the meaning of interesting objects, though this took a lot of effort within her to aptly perform. This ability originally made Renko a living GPS and later an identifier of worldly objects. She had tried to locate her missing friend using this power, but the stars and moons could not pinpoint her exact location at all, nor did any object or clue she obtained since her friend went missing two years ago precisely told any clear connections to their past adventures. This had made her search efforts more complex, pushing her to the verge of closing club activities for good.
The clock constantly ticked on in at the now empty dorm room at the 7th floor. It was 7:57 PM and the woman who was currently one of two residents to this dorm room had arrived back in the room and sighed at the sight of her room. She came to her desk, placed her journal near her homework, and sat at the chair that was provided with the desk, pondering about the investigation instead of working on her assignments. Tears continued to flow through her eyelids as if she was cursed with bad luck and misfortune today in her search efforts. She began wiping them off with one of her index fingers. At first, she thought that life was an empty shell, only to find out later that something was amiss. When she found out that her best friend had not been attending their usual Sealing Club meetings, she began a thorough investigation in locating her.
“Oh heavens,” she began chanting to herself. “Why must you forsake me in my search for Merry?”
Renko continued to lament the loss of Maribel for some time, placing her head down on the sprawled-out assignments lying in front of her. After a while, her tears began drying out on her face as she lifted her head to see the paperwork still intact, waiting for it to be finished. Despite not being in the mood of dealing with homework assignments, she still had to continue working on it, regardless of her sorrow. She opened up her textbooks and reburied her thoughts in the assignments once more to both repress the memories of Maribel Hearn and focus on what she could do for herself at the moment. After all, her scholarships depended on her grades and she would not want free money to disappear from her grasp by a now seemingly hopeless cause in finding her friend or a lost hat that had flown away from her head somewhere in Tokyo, Japan…