All of this week, the Life In Fiction writers have brought you stories and poems about the happier end of life's limitless spectrum. Unfortunately, I'm going to be the first to break the trend, mainly due to the fact that it would take a demented mind like mine to find the following story happy.
Last week I introduced you all to Life In Fiction's first weekly series, entitled Ankoku no Ki. For those of you who didn't read the first chapter, it'd probably be good if you did (says the author who wants everyone to read his writing). In all seriousness, last week was but a taste of what's to come, and an introduction to the general mood of the piece and, casually, its main character Rachel Edington, a girl from Monroeville, Ohio attending The Ohio State University.
This week I bring you the beginning of the mental thriller that will beckon you each week to come back for more. So, without further ado, here is the Ankoku no Ki: Chapter 2.
Columbus, Ohio was a nice place to be in the hectic months of fall. Of course, this was not because of the weather—except for cases like Rachel, where more cold meant more fun. No, Columbus simply had a brisk air that made the soul livelier for no particular reason. Many often wondered if it were the reason why their football team, the Buckeyes, often did so well. None of that truly mattered though, at least not with the hint of hostility floating through the air.
“Man, I love this time of year!” Rachel thought aloud while inhaling a massive amount of the crisp, November air she loved so deeply. A loose, light-green cardigan partially covered a gray tee shirt with a large, green Kanji symbol—which translated to “tree” in English—printed over the middle of her breast line. The sleeves of the cardigan were soft against the cream-white skin of her arms. The knitted jacket partially allowed for her skin to feel the gentle touch of her long, auburn hair as it moved back in forth in a casual response to the morning breeze. Two black and white hair clips just above both of her ears restrained her hair from touching the soft skin of her face. Her warm smile complimented her captivatingly clear-blue eyes as they viewed the leafy terrain of The Ohio State University’s campus.
Ten minutes had passed since she left her dormitory. Then, the time had been 9:45 a.m. She knew that not hurrying meant that she could be late to her 10:00 a.m. class, World Philosophy.
“Hiyaa!” she yelled joyfully as she jumped into a small pile of raked leaves, forgetting about her deadline. Such an action was a compulsion for her. Every time she’d see a pile of leaves, she would let her childishness kick in and jump into it with glee. She was a sophomore in college, yet the end of the day would still show dirt on her pants from playing outside. On days similar to this, she’d combat the inevitable filth with her brown pants with floral patterns on the pockets that matched the earthy, cloth belt she wore frequently.
“HIYAA!!” She launched into another pile of leaves with a large smile on her face, but instead of continuing on her path as usual she stood where she landed. Her eyes connected with a large oak tree only a few feet in front of her. The cheerful smile she had once wore slowly faded as images of the previous night’s dream flashed before her eyes.
I’ve had that same dream five times now. Every time, it gets more vivid. Every time, I wake up wondering what it all means. She sighed deeply. What could it mean? Staring down at her hands, she wondered if vines would crawl out from below her skin. For a split second, she thought she might have felt something crawl across the inside of the palm of her hand, but the sight was gone as fast as it had come. Did I really just see that? No, impossible…
“Hey, Rach!” A young man’s voice broke through her concentration. She looked at the tall, young man in a dark-brown sweater and black denim jeans, to match his dark hair and tan skin, as he waved from the front of the building where her class was held. “You’re going to be late!” he yelled again. “Are you coming or what?”
“Oh, keep your pants on, Justin!” she yelled back in the casual British accent she had adopted from her parents. Softly, the wind pushed against her face as she jogged towards him.
“Aww,” he pouted, “I so wanted to take them off.”
“You’re so weird…” With another sigh, she shook her head and stopped in front of him.
“Isn’t that why you love me so much?” He grinned sarcastically. Rachel giggled in response.
“You wish buddy. Now, c’mon we’re both going to be late if we never go inside.” After winking at him, she walked through the door of the building into a long, dimly-lit hallway with Justin at her heels. Hopefully it was all just a dream… Justin passed by her and opened the door to the classroom.
“After you, m’lady,” he said with a faux British accent.
“Why thank you, kind sir,” she responded, letting her own get momentarily thicker. With a small curtsy and a smile, she stepped inside the classroom. Dr. Agasa—a short, lean Japanese man with an onary personality—had already begun lecturing his small classroom of students.
“Always remember class,” he said in the tone of a light Japanese accent, “nothing is ever ‘just a dream.’”
“What?!” Rachel blurted out thoughtlessly. What did he just say?? The entire classroom’s eyes, including the professor’s, shifted to Rachel and Justin standing in the doorway.
“Ah, Edington,” Dr. Agasa addressed Rachel. “It’s so nice of you to join us. And I see you’ve brought Feldin with you.” Justin waved sarcastically at the short man who addressed them with increasing malice.
“Sorry, Dr. Agasa. We were late—I-I mean,” she changed her mind immediately, “I was late. You see, I have to make this huge walk all the way across campus and Justin—”
“No excuse!” Agasa yelled in an even thicker Japanese accent. “It’s the middle of the semester and your schedule should already be planned accordingly. You have no excuse to be late!”
“But, Dr. Agasa!—” A sudden pain shot down her right arm, a sensation mirroring the one she had felt in her dream before the vines crawled through her skin. She attempted to ignore it. Dr. Agasa had never been anyone’s favorite teacher. Such a fact was clear by the way he treated his students.
“I said, ‘No Excuse!’” he yelled even louder. Another pain shot down her left arm, this time it lingered a bit longer. She gripped her arm, unable to ignore the pain.
What is this?
“—NO EXCUSE!!” he interrupted, continuing his rant. A bolt of sensation shot violently across her breasts. She fell to her knees, her eyes fixated on the tiled floor below. “I WILL ACCEPT NO LAZINESS IN MY CLASSROOM!!!!!”
“Please…stop…” she murmured breathlessly.
“Rach, are you okay?” Justin asked soothingly. She could feel something moving beneath her skin.
“Get up Edington! I will accept no sleeping in my classroom!” Mr. Agasa’s voice began to fade, along with the world around her. Nothing existed any longer. Her existence was even brought into question, until the wriggling beneath her skin grew in intensity. Faster and faster, the objects pushed upwards on her skin in a rhythmic beat.
They want to get out… They want freedom… They pushed harder and the pain she felt intensified. Such pain was unbearable. Gritting her teeth, she stifled a scream. They pushed harder. No, I can’t scream. They want me to scream. I shouldn’t scream— The writhing objects pushed harder until one of them finally broke through the skin on the bottom of her right wrist. She loosened a horrific shriek from the depths of her diaphragm. All at once, the classroom, Justin, and Dr. Agasa all came back at once, replacing the void she had been trapped in. her shriek shook the concrete walls of the classroom as everyone stared at her in horror. A sleek, thorny vine jutted out from the flesh on the bottom of her wrist, causing reflective drops of crimson to fall onto the tiled floor she kneeled upon. Suddenly, she stopped screaming and her head drooped once more.
“Are you okay?” Justin asked once more. With a comforting hand, he touched her shoulder. Immediately, as he came into contact with her body, her head raised and she opened her eyes to the sight of Dr. Agasa. Both of her innocent eyes had faded into pitch dark pits that made secret the location of her pupils. Slowly, she raised herself off of the ground, her right hand bleeding profusely as it gripped the long, dangerous vine her wrist had produced. Justin removed his hand and jumped back slightly. “Rachel?” he asked shakily. Slowly, she walked forward.
“Y’know, Dr. Agasa,” a thick cockney accent filled her no longer sweet voice, “it’s quite ironic that you don’t allow excuses in your classroom.” She smiled devilishly at the cowering Asian man that was diligently backing away from her.
“W-Why’s that?” His back hit the wall of the classroom. There was no where he could go and fear kept him from making a stand. She stopped directly in front of him, her face only centimeters from his, her sultry lips only millimeters from his ear.
“Because,” she whispered, “what will you have when I ask you why I shouldn’t kill you?” She smiled even wider before turning around and walking away as slowly as she had come. “What it comes down to, Dr. Agasa, is the fact that I don’t allow nimrods like you to keep their sorry-ass lives.” In one, fluid motion, Rachel jumped into the air, tipped her body at a 60 degree angle and spun 360 degrees in a counterclockwise motion. Only one rotation was needed to send her bloody vine ripping through the air and for it to make a diagonal slash clean through the doctor’s body. Crimson blood sprayed upwards and every other direction, leaving behind the gruesome trail of Rachel’s weapon. Her smile became more crooked as she landed and the spray showed in large drops upon her face. She tasted the death in Dr. Agasa’s blood.
Suddenly, the vine retreated into Rachel’s wrist, reopening its past entranceway. Once more, she loosened a horrific shriek that shook the walls. The pain forced her back to her knees in a crooked form. Her eyes bled black as they reverted to normal and her innocent blue eyes showed a sadder side of things.
Justin stared at the girl in front of him who was drenched in blood that she equally could and couldn’t claim ownership to. His eyes dashed back and forth between the mutilated body of Dr. Agasa and the, now sobbing, Rachel. The entirety of the on-lookers couldn’t help but do the same.
“Justin…” she whimpered sadly, her crystalline tears clearing the mixture of fluids that had sought refuge upon her face. Justin ran to console her.
“Rach, I don’t know what the hell just happened…” he confessed, “but we need to get out of here. Do you understand me?” She nodded like a child who is too distressed to say a singular word. “C’mon, we’ll go somewhere safer.” He helped her to stand and together they walked hurriedly out the door of the classroom with the shocked eyes of their classmates at their backs.
Nothing is ever just a dream…
How did you like it? Leave all comments either on here, on Facebook, or my e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Remember, each week brings something new ;)
Well, that's all for this weeks post. Be sure to check Life In Fiction tomorrow for Free-Post Sunday in which Quinton will have something new to entertain your eyes, and I plan on posting my end of the week poem (which is actually pretty happy compared to the majority of my other works). Until next week, readers, oyasumi nasai.
Provehito in altum