the much awaited chapter 4 has finally been posted!!!XD
Chapter 4: The Game
“Are you sure this is alright?” Rika whispered. To prove that she wasn’t a coward, Hitomi made up her mind to play the game. She called her friends because her computer broke when she tried to open it. The group decided to play in the computer room of Seijiku Gakuen to enjoy the LAN connection and to sympathize with Hitomi.
“Yes, as long as we won’t get caught, it’ll be fine.” Miki answered. She wore a black colored tank top and denim jeans.
“So, why is that Konno-chan is playing in her house instead?” Rika asked again.
“It’s because, if she got caught, her aspiration for being the top student will be shattered.” Maki explained before smiling evilly again. “And besides, we need to play together with Yocchan so she will not get scared.”
“I already told you, my PC broke down! It’s not because I’m afraid or something.” Hitomi retorted. For the first time, Hitomi was glad that her PC broke down for she will not play alone inside their house. Her parents called her earlier and said that they will not come home for this night. Hitomi fixed the beret hat she was wearing.
“Shhh! We’ll definitely get caught because of your loud mouth!” Maki looked around the somewhat dimmed corridor of their school. If there’s a hidden camera, she was confident that it will not detect her because she was wearing an all black dress.
“You started it!”
“Stop it… Let’s just go to the room as soon as possible.” Rika whispered then walked ahead of them. The three looked at each other in confusion.
“Oh yeah, where’s the computer room?”
“Hey, are you all set now?” Konno asked through the headset. She was inside her house, which is only a good 10-minute walk from their school.
“We’re still waiting for Miki-chan to set up her PC.” Rika said. Behind them, a shadow was lurking. Rika was not aware of the figure walking towards her back. She tried to suppress her scream when the figure touched her shoulders.
“Who are you? You’re not from this school?” Miki looked on her left side. She saw the notorious freshman who likes to gossip and talk big in their forum.
“Gaki-san! What are you doing here?” Miki asked. Risa and Miki had an argument earlier this day. In any event, it’s not a good idea to put together the freshman’s ‘chatterbox’ and the sophomore’s ‘frankness queen.’ And their argument started when Miki suddenly made a comment about Risa’s bangs when they were both in the restroom. Maki was somewhat nervous when her sister was taking too long to return from the line that’s why she decided to follow her in the restroom. She was glad she did because if she came a minute later, they might have taken each other’s throat. Maki stopped them just in time. She told Risa to behave a little as a respect for her dead her best friend. Risa obeyed and left but not before giving Miki an intense glare. Miki haven’t done what she needed to do earlier so Maki told her not to do something stupid again before going back to their line and wait for Hitomi to return.
“What are you doing here, too?” Risa replied. She looked at Rika’s computer. “Playing a game huh... What kind of game is that?”
“It’s a game that Konno-chan is trying to pilot test.” Risa looked at Hitomi. Her eyes were gleaming with excitement. “Fine, your eyes tell me that you want to try it also…”
“Yeah! Thanks.” Miki gave the CD to Risa after she finished installing it. Risa immediately opened a computer beside Miki. Hitomi handed her an extra controller which she brought. She was using the old controller which can be connected in a computer by the USB port. The one she gave was a gift from her father. It’s a highly advance controller which can be connected via ‘Bluetooth’.
“What happened? Why am I hearing Risa’s voice?” Konno asked. Risa grab Miki’s headphone. Miki gave her a death glare which the other decided to ignore.
“Hi Kon-Kon! I’m going to join too!”
“Yeah, I will not be surprised when the principal will send all of you to the guidance office from breaking into our school at night.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll keep her mouth tightly shut.” Maki answered.
“Who’s she?” Rika whispered to Hitomi as soon as she went back to her seat.
“She’s ‘Nut Cracker’s’ best friend, Niigaki Risa, also known as ‘Techno-Freak’ the Ragnarok addict. Although, we really wanted to call her blabber mouth or reaction queen… or something like that.”
“Hey! I’ve heard th…..” Miki covered Risa’s mouth.
“Shut up or we’ll get caught. Finish installing the game.”
“Fine, I’ll shut up after I’ve known her name.” Risa pointed towards Rika. She knew almost everyone in their school. She remembered seeing her earlier during the wake. Who wouldn’t notice the student from Mizushima Gakuen walking beside Hitomi.
“I’m Ishikawa Rika, ‘Charmy’ is the on-line name.
“So you’re the newbie with an extreme amount of luck.” Risa eyed her from head to toe. Rika lowered her head to evade the intense stare that Risa was giving.
“Yeah, and your head is full of air right now. Hey guys, can you feel the air? It’s getting cold. We might get blown away by this blizzard.” Miki sarcastically said.
“Oh, so the groper with a record of 5 wins and 14 losses in counter strike decided to speak up against me?”
“At least, that’s my only weakness when it comes to games.”
“Miki, don’t let me go there.” Maki snapped. Hitomi massaged her temples. The two was starting a fight again. From games, it evolved into their clothes. Risa argued why Miki was wearing a tank top for she will freeze inside their computer room. Miki eyed her and told her that the green polo blouse and a white frilly skirt didn’t go well with each other with an additional comment that it’s Risa who will make the room colder with her boastful words. Risa would answer back if Maki didn’t go in between them.
“I can feel the tension in there.” Konno laughed. A couple of minutes more and Risa finished installing the new game. They started to play it.
“Ok, we’ve been pressing every button here but we can’t get pass this stupid quotation.” Risa said grumpily. “What’s with ‘The Song of Eri’? What are we supposed to do, Kon-Kon?”
“I don’t know, this is the first time that I’ve played it.”
“Wait, Sayu said something about reading it before you can enter the game.” Hitomi remembered the last call that Sayumi made before she was killed.
“Voice activated? Is it possible now?” Rika asked. This will be her first time to try and play a game like this.
“It won’t hurt if we try it right? Let’s try to read it aloud at the same time… One, two three…”
Maidens come, fair and bright
Thou hast taken every man’s eyes
Seize thy head, gaze at night
Darkness will fall, taking their lives
Fill my cup, come to me,
Room filled with scream, thy pain bellowed
Anger, despair, agony
Take them all, my beauty restored
Love’s folly, heart stricken
Watch silently, later do the task
Death lurking, life eaten
Eternal youth awaits my grasps
So long as thy bound on my husband tight
I will rise from hell, thy life I shall smite.
A dark figure walked pass behind them as they read the lines. The players were not aware of it as their eyes were fixed on the monitor. The figure vanished as quickly as it appeared.
“What a creepy song.” Hitomi said.
“Hahaha, she’s beginning to get scared!”
“I’m not! Shut up, Maki!”
“Gomen, gomen… And it’s not a song; it looks more like a sonnet.”
“Welcome! If you’re listening to this, it means you made a grave mistake, and you’ll pay it with your life.”
“A good introduction. I’ll give it a good rating.” Konno uttered. They started designing their chosen characters as the voice told the story behind the game.
“400 years ago, during the shogunate era, the shogun can assign daimyos to take care of his land. One of the beautiful palaces built in Kanto area was ruled by a daimyo placed by Tokugawa Ieyasu himself. But this story goes beyond that. Kamei Hironori has a lovely but mysterious wife whom the people call, Eri-Hime.”
“Eri… Hime?” Maki murmured. She was heard by Hitomi.
“Why? Have you heard about her? Or did you read it in one of your ‘black books’.”
“Miki, remember what grandma used to say to us when we were kids? When we always came home late? We must go home before the sun sets or Eri-Hime will get us for her ritual… or something like that.”
“Remember when grandma used to pick on her nose every night?” Miki answered back. “She says it’s her ritual.”
“Seriously, I know this one. I just can’t remember it clearly.”
“After two years in their union, a catastrophe happened to the young women in their village. One by one, they were being killed brutally by an unknown force. A snake bite on the young women’s left arm was the only clue that the murderer left. The objective of this game is to find out the mystery surrounding the life of Eri-Hime and her connection with the death of the young women. But in order to do that, you must, stay alive.”
They started suiting up their characters. They tried to make each of their character’s look a lot like them. Hitomi made her character’s hair, blond, just like her hair style. Maki’s character looked like a real Goth-girl with black dress. After that, they selected a weapon. It featured some well-known and not so well-known ancient weapons in Japan. The scenery changed and a deserted village greeted them.
“It’s dark and eerie… Look ahead!!!” Risa shouted. A zombie girl was crawling slowly towards their direction.
“Guys, a little help here…” Miki said on her headset. She didn’t want to get close with the zombie with only a ‘Tanto’ in her hands. Hitomi moved forward and threw some ‘Shurikens’. It hit the zombie girl and it squirmed and wiggled before transforming into a small black snake with orange streaks on its face.
“When fear covers your whole body, drop a snake and it will help you to stay alive.”
“Hitomi, you’re afraid of snakes right? Is it ok for you to continue this game?” Maki and Miki tried to suppress their laughter out of Rika’s innocent but tactless remark. Hitomi didn’t answer and went towards the snake. Her character put it inside a small wooden box hanging from her side.
“Damn it Miki! Stay out of my way!”
“You’re the one who’s blocking my way!” The other players didn’t stop Miki and Risa’s non-stop bickering. They were playing for almost three hours now and they were getting used to the noise of the two. Midnight’s fast approaching and they were still in the school’s computer room. They managed to get past the zombies in the village and were now exploring the palace
“Konno! Where do you think you are going?” Maki said as she saw Konno’s character getting inside one of the rooms. The door suddenly shut before they were able to follow Konno.
“Gomen, I saw something that’s why I went here. I can’t open the door for you guys.” Konno said over her microphone. She roamed around the huge room and saw the one she was searching for in the first place. “There! I see it! It’s a hidden door!”
“Ok, search that area. We will search upstairs” Maki said as she led the group towards the stairs.
Konno opened the hidden door behind the curtain. She started walking down the stairs. A dungeon looking place welcomed her. She lit up a torch and a torture chamber was revealed. Two victims were seen in that site; one was hanging upside down and the other whose body was deformed on the bed.
“Woah! Oh my God!”
“What? What happened to you?” Rika asked in concern.
“I’m inside a torture chamber. There are two victims here.”
“Describe to us what you see.” Hitomi and the others stopped exploring for a while. They were in the grand hall for they see the thrones up ahead. One has a skeleton of what seemed like a daimyo in the early times, and the other was a body of a girl wearing pink clothes.
“One of the girls is hanging upside down, and the other is on the bed, with her arms and legs… she looks like a contortionist in her position.”
“Gross…” Risa replied. “We’re in the hall of the daimyo. There’s a girl in here wearing pink clothes. Her face is full of claw marks and I think the katana sliced her throat all the way to her heart.” Konno’s controller started vibrating as Risa was explaining what they saw.
“Oh no!… it’s vibrating!”
“Throw a snake!” Maki said. They can’t see what Konno sees in her monitor. But when a powerful zombie is near the player, the controller always vibrates.
“I can’t… I’m out snakes. Wait…a girl wearing pink clothes… That must be Sayu’s character! She loves… Shimatta!!!!”
“What happened?!” Hitomi asked.
“Asami-chan? Asami-chan?” Rika asked frantically.
“I’m dead.” Konno rested her back on her chair. She can clearly remember what happened moments ago; a hooded figure surprised her by appearing from the ceiling and swung a Kusari-Gama down her throat and lifted her character off the ground. She saw the figure took out a sceptre shaped like a snake and bit the left arm of her character before destroying its face with its long, sharp nails; while still hanging from the ceiling.
“A hooded figure came out of nowhere and struck my character with my very own weapon and left me hanging on the ceiling.” Konno suddenly realized something. She looked at her monitor closely. A noise from the back made her turn around. She didn’t see anything but she knew that she did hear something. She decided to just shrug it off and turned her attention back on the game. “Risa, you said that the girl in there have scratches on her face, right?”
“The girls in here have scratches in the face too… And the figure scratched my face after killing me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Miki asked, looking at her sister worriedly. Maki looked back at her sister and smiled nervously. Miki remembered perfectly what their grandmother always told them when they were kids and she didn’t like it at all, that’s why she decided to reply a joke to her sister’s question earlier. Remembering those creepy things will only destroy her tough image in school. Only her sister knew that she was one big coward hiding behind the façade that she made many years ago.
“Check the left arm of the girl in there.” Konno commanded. Rika went forward to the majestic throne. She cleverly manipulated her character so that it will give her the best view of the girl’s left arm.
“I can see a snake bite.”
“That’s really weird… Why would that woman put a snake bite with her fake ‘snake’?”
“Fake snakes? What fake snakes? But we use snakes to help us survive right? I don’t get it.” Rika said. “What a really weird game.” She looked closely at the snake bite again and noticed that the length between the punctures was somewhat farther from each other. The snakes they used were a small one so technically, it’s not the type of snake used by the hooded woman.
“Yeah, weird. Why don’t we call this a night? We still have classes tomorrow morning, right?” Hitomi removed her headset from her ears. She massaged her eyes for a while before turning to Rika. “Thanks for playing with us. I’m really sorry that you can’t meet those three in person.”
“It’s alright; call me again if you set the date when you want to continue it.”
“Hey, if there’s a rumor that will spread tomorrow about this computer room, I’ll really blame you.” Miki warned Risa. Risa stood up and answered Miki.
“Hey, I’m not that kind of person! I’m also involved in this so why the heck do I want myself to get caught?!” Maki separated the two before the tension between them rises.
“Hai, hai… we’re going home, Ja!”
Konno sat on her chair, silently staring in front of her computer. A question was still bugging her mind. There’s something in the game that doesn’t make sense. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. She thought why snakes were used to help them survive, when in fact; the figure always took out a snake to bite the motionless corpses. It’s time for her to use the database of her long-term memory. She knew something will help her solve this mystery, somewhere deep in her childhood days with Sayumi.
And then she remembered it. She logged out of the game and wrote an e-mail. She didn’t know why she did it but she posed for a picture to be sent together with the letter. She read it twice before she scrolled on her contact list. As she pressed ‘enter’, the lights in her room started to flicker. She felt the room’s temperature suddenly went down.
Konno turned off her computer. When the monitor died down, she bent down to unplug the cord from the outlet. When she straightened up, she saw a figure at her back from the reflection of her monitor. She quickly turned around but saw nothing.
“Too much game… I’m in the real world now. I already shut the fantasy.”
Konno’s parents were not around at that time. Her mom was on a business trip while her dad was on a night shift at a construction site. She turned the lights off and went to her bed to rest. Her room’s flooring was made out of wood. She felt like someone was walking inside her room. To add in her uneasiness, a creaking sound was heard from her door. She opened her eyes and saw that her door was opened.
“Funny. I remember locking it before.”
She stood up to close her door and locked it. She turned around to go back to sleep. She was about to lay down on her bed when she heard another creak sound. She looked nervously at the door and saw that it’s opened again. Konno held her blanket up to her face. She was shaking badly for even if the light was dim, she saw a figure in the space between the door and the doorpost. The door was opening slowly and slowly. She ran as fast as she could towards the door to close and locked it again. She clicked on the switch to open the lights but it didn’t work.
Konno felt cold; someone touched her back. She slowly turned around to see the face of the hooded woman. She didn’t know whether it’s a human or not. It looks more like a monster for its eyes were full black; her iris and all. The woman’s face was swollen and it looks like its texture is rough. The ‘monster’ opened its mouth and screamed at Konno’s face. Its high pitched voice was hurting Konno’s ears and at the same time, she saw its pointed teeth with its canines look like a fang from a cobra. It clawed her face before the figure struck her throat with a ‘Kusari-Gama’ and jumped up towards the ceiling. Konno immediately lost consciousness.