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Cheree's favourite scene
“Hurry, Rin-chan, we’re going to be late,” Haruka yells, diving from the train before the doors have even finished opening.
I try and shove my way through the pack of harried commuters crowding the doorway before I lose sight of Haruka. One little train delay, and suddenly everyone is in a rush. It was only like three minutes tops. Maybe ten. Now it looks like we won’t even be stopping for food, in case we’re late for Juku. This sucks.
I watch Haruka tear off up platform, ducking and weaving between pedestrians like she’s trying out for the Olympics. I lose sight of her and suddenly she’s at the far end of the platform. I have to run or else she’ll leave me at the station. I don’t know the way to Juku on my own. Not that I want to go there, but still.
I stop at the top of the stairs, huffing and heaving. I’ve never done so much running in my life. Peering down the steep flight of stairs, I catch a brief fading glimpse of Haruka disappearing down the far end of the hallway like a white rabbit down the rabbit hole. I’m never going to catch her now.
“No. Stop. Wait.” Sucking in a breath, I mutter weakly.
Well, I tried. Maybe if I find a nice place to sit down, she’ll come back for me. Like a McDonalds or something.
A hard shove lands on my back, and I feel the ground fall out from under my feet. My foot catches on the edge of the step, and a sharp jolt race up my leg as I suddenly become airborne. Everything slows and my panicking brain struggles to comprehend my newfound ability to fly. Countless stairs drift by before my eyes as I watch the concrete floor creep up to greet me. Screaming, I squeeze my eyes shut and await the inevitable thud against the hard surface below.
A firm hand grabs onto me, and I thud into something soft instead.
When I gather up enough courage to finally open my eyes I come face to face with the broad chest of the boy—young man—who caught me. His dark hair hangs casually over eyes brimming with concern.
“Are you okay?” he asks, carefully repositioning his grip on me. His black woollen jumper ripples against his lean, athletic body as he gently lowers me to the ground. The black jumper and faded jeans stretched across well-maintained muscles gives him a look I can only describe as roguish.
“I’m fi—” I start to say, but end up biting back a scream when I try to stand up.
“You are not.” He grasps my ankle.
I cringe as pain shoots up my leg when he moves the ankle back and forth.
“Here, lean on me until you can walk.” The guy pulls me into his arms and starts leading me away from the stairs.
I glance back and think I see a certain blond lurking at the top of the stairs, glancing everywhere and looking shifty, but when I look again he’s gone.
“Hiro~shi~, why’d you run off on me like that?” an incredibly whiny voice calls out as soon as we enter the station proper, and a girl with wavy copper-tone hair comes running over to meet us. The instant she sees me clinging to the guy, a look of pure murder enters her eyes. “Get your hands off of my boyfriend!”
Freaked by the sudden anger directed at me, I reflexively start trying to bury my face into the guy’s chest. This doesn’t seem to do anything to lessen the girl’s rage, for some reason.
“Ease off, Sakura. She fell down the stairs, and injured her ankle. I’m just helping her walk.” He gives her a crooked grin and the girl seems to calm down. “You’re lucky I’m fast on my feet or things could have ended up a lot worse.”
The girl, I belatedly recognise as Sakura, leader of the music club, the one who didn’t show up to club today, turns towards me, and I could swear a scowl tugs at her lips before it’s replaced by a warm smile. “Are you alright, Waters-san?”
“I’m fine.” I try to push myself to a standing position. Away from her boyfriend.
“Oh, so you two know each other then?” Hiroshi frowns at my wobbly distancing and grabs my shoulder to keep me upright.
“Yes, Waters-san joined the music club yesterday. She’s my newest kouhai,” Sakura adds in a sickly sweet voice, still unhappy about my proximity to Hiroshi beneath her friendly grin, but at least no longer looking for a knife to stab me with.
“Found her! She’s over there hugging that boy!” a sudden cheerful voice shouts loud enough to attract the attention of several passing commuters.
Sakura looks ready to snap, and I almost tumble back onto my ass trying to put as much distance between me and her as possible. Hiroshi just laughs and grabs my hand to keep me from falling as a distraught looking Haruka and a way too happy Miki come bounding over to us.
“Rin-chan, gomenne.” Haruka stops in front of me, taking in my awkward stance between Hiroshi and Sakura. “I-turned-around-and-you-weren’t-there. I-looked-everywhere. Where-did-you-go? Miki-chan’s-been-helping-me-look-for-you.”
I can only blink as her hyperspeed rundown washes over me while Miki bounces around beside her like a joyful dog expecting a treat. Sakura just stares at us like she’s planning a killing spree and is trying to work out who to start with.
“She had a bit of trouble on the stairs,” Hiroshi volunteers when it becomes clear no one’s going to talk.
“Stairs?” Haruka stares blankly like the entire concept is foreign.
“I fell down the stairs.”
“Oh my god, are you okay, Rin-chan?” My overly concerned cousin nearly barrels me over in her rush to comfort me.
“I’m fine,” I mutter. Really, I just want people to stop fussing over me.
“Takahashi-san, maybe you should take Waters-san to a hospital? She might need to get looked at.” Sakura is casual and friendly, but her eyes still glare at Hiroshi’s hand on my arm.
“I’m fine,” I assure them, my much-used catchphrase. Even if I did manage to break a leg, I’d probably still tell them I’m fine. I’d really like for my mother not to hear of this. “I just jarred it, that’s all. I’ll be right in no time.”
“Come on, we’ll skip Juku tonight, let’s get you home.” Haruka grabs me around the waist and Hiroshi finally let’s go, much to Sakura’s relief.
“I’ll help,” Miki pipes up as she grabs my arm, then in her usual energetic way begins bouncing on the spot. Each tug on my arm sends another jolt of pain across my wounded ankle. Oh, yay! Looks like I’ve got two babysitters, one of which is doing more harm than good, to make sure I get home safely. Super.
As I hobble away, well aware of everyone gawking at the scene I’ve caused, I can’t help but notice Sakura throwing herself into Hiroshi’s arms the moment we step away from them. I turn my gaze away from the lovely scene and that’s when my eyes catch on a certain blond kid standing near a café on the other side of the station. He’s there watching me, usual manga held open in one hand and clutching something small in the other. He mouths something at me and I can’t help trembling as his warning comes floating back.
‘Be careful on the stairs’.
Adam’s favourite scene
Darkness surrounds me. I don’t know where I am. Not Haruka’s room, that’s for sure. It’s much smaller, I can feel the walls closed in around me, just out of reach. The wooden floor beneath me sends chills up my spine as a feeling of familiarity crashes into me. It feels as though I’ve been in this room before, but I have no idea when. I squeeze my fingers tightly around the small box I didn’t even realise I was holding. Matches. I desperately want to light one, but it’s not time yet. What?
Laughter sounds from outside my tiny universe, little girls laughing, as if they’re enjoying my panic. The familiarity of their voices washes over me, making me want to find a way out of this darkness as if I’m going to greet some long-lost friends.
A shiver rushes down my spine when the girls sop their giggling and start repeating a single phrase in singsong whispers, seemingly from everywhere at once, “Watashi ni hikari o misete, samonakuba yami no naka ni nokose.” Their whispers become repetitive chanting, growing louder and louder until they’re booming in my ear. I try to make sense of what they’re saying, but I can’t get past the feeling that I’ve heard this all before. Concentrating on the words, I translate: Give me the light or keep me in darkness.
All of a sudden the voices cut off, plunging my tiny room into silence once more, allowing me to hear the one last whispered warning from the girls. “Teokure ni naru mae ni hi o moyase.”
Light a match before it’s too late.
I yank a match from the box and start striking it. Sparks fly but no flame appears.
Icy hands grasp my shoulders and the match tumbles unlit from my trembling hands. I scramble for another match as I feel the icy claws dig into my flesh, turning me to face it. Pop! A faint golden light springs to life in my hands as I come face to face with ... nothing. An empty closet with creaky wooden boards. I giggle with relief.
A puff of air—as if someone is blowing out a candle—and my match goes out. Out of the darkness a pair of glowing red eyes erupt. I can’t see what creature’s attached to those eyes, and I’m sure I don’t want to know. I can only stare as it approaches. I can only stare as it—
“Rin!” Misa’s voice screams as tiny hands give my shoulders a furious shake, jerking me awake.
Sweat cascades down my back and my breathing comes out in short, ragged gasps. Pushing myself into a sitting position, the tangled sheets around me suck at me trying to drag me down to the floor. I look around the dark room, disoriented. I’m not in some dark forgotten closet. Everything’s the same as when I went to sleep. Haruka is still asleep in the bed beside me, not disturbed in the slightest. Everything’s normal. Everything’s fine.
“You were having a nightmare, Rin.” Misa’s nervous gaze never leaves my face.
“It felt so real,” I mumble as I lie back down and stare up at the ceiling. “Almost like it was really happening.”
“No. It was just a nightmare,” Misa says in a quick breath as she places her small hand against my forehead.
“Yeah.” I force my eyes closed, afraid that I’ll see those glowing red eyes again as soon as I do. My heart jackhammers as I briefly panic that I’ll have to spend my first day of life in Japan wandering around on zero sleep, but slowly I feel myself drifting off to sleep again. This time, thankfully, without dreams.
Cheree Smith lives in the coastal city of Newcastle in Australia where she is studying graphics design and photography. When she is not hard at study, she is busy writing paranormal, horror and dark stories for young adults. She enjoys listening to and learning about legends and myths, watching scary movies and dreaming up new worlds where monsters can come alive. When she is not in her writing cave she can be found listening to music, even dabbling in the occasional writing of music or reading.
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Adam Smith has always loved the Japanese culture, which began with his love of anime and manga. This helped him accomplish his goal of moving to Japan to become an ALT (assistant language teacher) in Iwate, Japan. When he’s not reading, writing or speaking Japanese, he is working on paranormal, horror and dark stories for young adults with his sister, Cheree.