Apparently, I don't have the control over my schedule for work... They always put me on the closing shift... and I come home from work at 2 in the morning... and wakes up four hours before my sched... My travel time is two hours from our house...So yeah... I'll still try to update as much as possible.. ^_^
“Woah… that game’s really… SUGOI!!! ” Aika quickly covered her friend’s mouth. It’s already dark right now and they were on their way back to their own homes. Kusumi removed her friend’s hand from her mouth. “Fine… I’ll not shout anymore. So, I guess, we need to revert back to our own selves this night right?”
“Not THIS night… tomorrow night.” Aika corrected.
“Who cares? They won’t see it anymore. I will act as myself starting now!” Kusumi stuck out her tongue and ran towards their gate. “So, I’ll just see you tomorrow at school. I wonder what your sister will do when she found out that you already reverted to normal. She really stared at me earlier!”
“I’ll tell her the truth.” Aika replied casually.
“Owww, you’re spoiling the fun! Just tell me what will happen tomorrow, ok? Ja!”
“Ja!” Aika watched her friend get inside their house. Aika proceeded to walk home.
“It’s a really gruesome game. Much like ‘Resident Evil’. Wait… Where did I hear about Eri-Hime? Oh yes! That’s right! Nee-san and Hitomi-chan were talking about her last night. Wait… They must have played the game before! I’m going to ask them about it when I get home.”
Hitomi and Rika fell on the sofa with a loud thud. They were really exhausted from the walking and running ‘exercise’ they did this afternoon. When they put down the receiver, they decided to search for their missing friend with no basic idea of where to begin their search. They went in Risa’s favourite computer shop at first, then at the amusement park and lastly, at the restaurant where they always wait for Rika. They decided to take a rest for a while and eat some snacks in there. As they wait for their orders, Hitomi tried to call Risa’s house. They were relieved when Risa’s mother said that she already went home. After finishing their meal, they went to Risa’s house to see her and also, to warn her. HItomi and Rika slumped on the sofa as soon as they got to Rika’s house.
“Did you notice something different from Risa?”
“Nope, why?” Hitomi looked at her friend. Rika was looking silently at the ceiling; her sweat was dripping from her head down to her chin and a couple of hair strands were sticking on her face. Hitomi unconsciously wiped Rika’s sweat with her own hands and tucked away the hairs behind Rika’s ear. Rika gazed back at her friend. Hitomi quickly looked away when their eyes met for a couple of seconds. Rika smiled.
“When Maki and you were alone together, do you usually have this kind of moment?” Hitomi could feel her ears already burning from embarrassment. She faced the opposite way so that Rika will not see her blushing.
“What are you talking about?! Maki’s always scaring me whenever were alone together.” Hitomi swore that she saw Rika’s evil glint on her eyes on her peripheral vision. She can also see Rika inching her way closer to her. A couple of seconds more and Rika pinned her down on the couch. Hitomi swallowed a lump forming in her throat.
“So, Yocchan, what scares you the most?” Rika grinned. Hitomi’s breathing became erratic. The redness of her cheeks intensifies as Rika’s face slowly moved closer to hers. “A snake, a ghost, a monster… or a vampire who will draw out blood on your neck?” Hitomi could feel Rika’s hot breath on her neck. She felt a searing pain and then followed by a wet sensation. Rika must have bitten her.
“So, what is it Yocchan?”
“I’m scared of al those things that you mentioned…”
“Before ‘that’ happened of course.”
“I’m not scared anymore because I need to be strong in order to protect you.”
“What are you talking about? I’m asking whether you noticed something different from Risa… Are you already dreaming?” Hitomi sat up straight. She noticed that Rika was on the opposite side of the couch, almost an arms-length away from her. She touched her neck and noticed that it’s not aching anymore.
“Aren’t you asking me just now about the thing that scares me the most?” Rika blinked many times before bursting out in laughter.
“My gosh… We just sat in less than five minutes and you’re already dreaming! Are you already in dreamland or are you just day DREAMING? I know that you’re tired and all but… HAHAHA!!!” Rika couldn’t continue what she wanted to say. It’s hard to talk and laugh at the same time. Hitomi on the other hand didn’t focus on what her friend was saying.
“Am I just thinking it… or I’m dreaming it? Damn hormones!”
“Konban wa…” Aika said softly as she entered their house. She decided to return to her original self. Imitating her friend was fun… but it’s really hard for her part. She saw her sister and Hitomi sitting on the couch. Rika’s laughing marathon stopped when she saw her.
“Aika!” Rika looked at her intensely. Aika knew what her sister was thinking right now. She smiled.
“Don’t worry, I’m back to normal. We just fulfilled an agreement that’s why Kusumi and I switched personalities. It’s all over now.” The two nodded simultaneously as they learned the real reason on Aika’s behaviour. Aika went to her room to change her clothes. Rika on the other hand looked at Hitomi, again.
“By the way, you haven’t answered my question before about Risa.”
“I didn’t notice anything different… other than she’s being too silent than usual. Maybe she’s doing what your sister did… Maybe she switc…”
“WHAT HAPPENED WITH MY CABINET?!?” Hitomi was cut off by Aika’s sudden scream. Rika slapped her forehead softly with her right palm.
“I guess were caught.”
“Why did you rummage my cabinet?!”
“Because we need to find answers on your behaviour.”
“Can’t you respect your little sister’s privacy? I’ll tell this to mom and dad when they come back.” Hitomi grinned at her made-up dialogue between the big sis, and the little sis. That’s the possible outcome if Aika’s still imitating Kusumi but it’s not the scene that’s unfolding before her eyes.
“You just have to return the items properly.”
“Gomen, we didn’t know what to do when your stuffed toys fell on us.”
“Did the two of you got hurt?” Aika asked worriedly. Rika shook her head. “These are the toys that Kusumi won over a grab-a-toy machine. I’ll return it to her tomorrow.” Aika took out a large paper bag and put the toys properly inside. Rika and Hitomi helped her pack Kusumi’s things.
“It’s finished! Well then, I think I’ve been away from our home for too long now. I’ll go home now.” Hitomi declared.
The next morning, Hitomi tried to observe Risa in school. She noticed that Risa was acting a bit different. She’s always in a trance. Hitomi waved her hands in front of Risa’s face for the nth time this day.
“Hey! Did you catch what I’ve just said?”
“So… what did I say then?” Hitomi asked. She liked the bratty, noisy Risa than this silent and mysterious one.
“Hey, let’s go in your favourite hang-out place… The Karaoke Pub!!!” Rika yelled cheerily. Risa looked at them blankly.
“I’m sorry but I have to do something at home.” Rika and Hitomi remembered what happened last Saturday; the day that Risa didn’t go home and the start of her acting this strange. They decided to walk her home just to make sure that she’s not going anywhere. Risa just nodded and led the way to her home. They waved goodbye at her when they reached the Niigaki residence and walked away when they saw Risa close the door of their house.
“She’s strange… I wonder what happened to her this weekend.” Hitomi thought out loud. An idea came across Rika’s head.
“Hey! Why won’t you sleep again in our house and then, let’s discuss her behaviour!”
“We have a class tomorrow…” Hitomi corrected. They still have 4 days to stay in their school within this week.
“Ok… a dinner then?”
“You prepared this? It’s really tasty.” Hitomi gobbled on a piece of ref cake that Aika made.
“I learned that from our cooking class. I just used graham crackers, all-purpose cream, and then some slices of peach and mango.”
“Ishiguro-sensei?” Rika asked. They were both going on the same school. Rika is a sophomore high school student while Aika is a junior student in the middle school department so technically, her former mentors must be her sister’s teachers right now.
“Hai! But she would like to be called Aya-sensei instead of Ishiguro-sensei… she said it sounds cute.”
“That’s so her!” Rika took a bite again at their dessert. Hitomi took another slice from the Tupperware and put it on her plate. Aika looked at them seriously. There was something bugging her mind and she need some answers quickly.
“Nee-san… who is Eri-Hime?” Hitomi almost choked on her food while Rika spit out some water that she’s drinking due to the shock. The both looked at the equivalently surprised Aika.
“Wh… what do you mean by that?” Rika asked nervously.
“Well, I heard the two of you mentioned her last Saturday night. I was just curious so...” The two let out a sigh of relief. Next time, they will make sure that no one’s around when they will talk about these matters.
“Well, she’s the wife of a certain almost-non-existent daimyo in the 16th century. Why do you ask?” Hitomi asked after gulping some water.
“Does she really kill and drink virginal blood to maintain her beauty?”
“Y… yeah… She does. Is this your topic in your History class?’ Rika asked her sister worriedly. Topics like these must not be taught in school that’s why it’s not included in History books; that’s why Ieyasu didn’t want his historians to write about her. Knowing a little thing about Eri is a very dangerous thing.
“It’s like this. A cousin of Aibon gave her a gift and we played it. The title of the game is Maiden’s Curse and Eri’s involve in there.
“WHAT!?!?! Maiden’s Curse?!?” The two looked at each other fearfully. They destroyed her a month ago. Maybe this was what Maki and Miki wanted to tell them. Hitomi breathe in deeply.
“From whom did your friend’s cousin acquire it?” Rika asked anxiously.
“Aibon said that her cousin bought it in a game store. Kusumi read it in a magazine last Wednesday. It’s one of the most anticipated newly released games in Japan this week.”
“Did… you… play it?” Hitomi questioned.
“Yeah… Aibon only has one computer. The three of us took turns in playing our main character. Luckily, we’re still alive.” Aika took a bite of her cake. Rika tried to dissect what her sister had just said.
“Wait, you mean to tell me that… the three of you played Maiden’s Curse… using one character?” Aika nodded. The two were dumbfounded. They weren’t expecting a situation like this. If their character was killed… the three of them will be killed at the same time? Is that it? Rika feared for her sister’s safety.
“Please, don’t play that game again! Tell your friends that it’s dangerous!”
“Why it’s dangerous? It’s really a….” Aika hasn’t finished her sentence when they heard some static sounds coming from the television. The three went to the living room as fast as they can and saw the previously off T.V was now turned on. It’s a little bit fuzzy at first but then, a figure in a chair can be seen in the middle. Hitomi got the remote and tried to change the channel but it didn’t work. All channels were showing the scary scene.
“Nee-san… I’m scared. What’s happening?” Aika hugged her sister tightly. The scene became clear and they were astounded by the figure sitting on the chair. It was Risa.
“Risa!!!” Hitomi shouted. Risa on the other hand looked at them, as if she really heard Hitomi’s shout. Her head moved back suddenly, her tears were rolling down her cheeks.
“Tasukete…” The three heard clearly what Risa weakly said through the maximum volume of the speaker. Rika and Aika noticed that some of her hairs were ‘floating’ which looks like an invisible hand was holding it back. Risa raised her right hand in the air and put it behind her head. The three saw how that arm was twisted and bent like a small twig. Aika can’t look at it any further so she just hid behind her sister. She covered her ears for she can still hear the sounds of bones breaking and snapping.
“Stop it! Who are you?!” Hitomi screamed. She can see the person behind Risa who’s the one ‘dismantling’ her friend. It was the figure wearing a monk’s garment. “Rika, call Risa’s parents.” Rika nodded and grabbed the phone. She dialled Risa’s number and a couple of seconds more, it rang. They can also hear the ringing from the T.V. Risa’s mother answered.
“Konbanwa! It’s me Rika. Is Risa in her room? Please take look at her, she’s in danger!”
“Danger? She’s sleeping soundly upstairs. But if you say so, I’ll check her for you.”
“Thanks!” Rika pushed the end button. She was disturbed by what she heard. Risa was sleeping soundly in her room, the opposite of what they are seeing right now. She wanted to tell Hitomi that what they are seeing might be the future of what’s going to happen but, the look on Hitomi’s face says otherwise.
Hitomi saw and heard what the two probably didn’t know. The one who answered Rika was the figure. It imitated Mrs. Niigaki’s voice. The figure laughed at her when Rika turned off the phone.
“So, what are you going to do, Hitomi?” Hitomi felt her hairs stood up as she heard the ghastly, cold voice ever. The figure removed her hood and looked at Hitomi with fiery eyes. She then broke Risa’s neck and removed it with her bare hands. Blood gushed out rapidly from her neck like an angry geyser and spilled Risa’s precious blood everywhere. The two were stunned. Aika took a peek and quickly hid behind her sister again when she saw the decapitated body.
“I hope this serves as a warning to you… I WILL ALSO GET YOUR SOULS!!!” The T.V. monitor became fuzzy again; the scene vanishing from their eyes. Hitomi clicked the power button and the T.V. turned off.
“What’s that? I talked to Mrs. Ni…”
“She’s not the one you talked too. It was the damn figure in our dreams!”
“Please don’t curse, there’s a kid here.” Aika said in a third person point of view. She was having fun earlier, cooking and eating the cake she made but then, things turned different when she saw her sister’s friend being killed on T.V. Hitomi quickly went to Aika and held her shoulders tightly.
“Did the three of you manage to see the scene earlier in the game? Was there by any chance a decapitated character sitting on a chair?” Hitomi saw fear in Aika’s eyes. Aika tried to remember the game that they played yesterday.
“All I can remember is that we’ve seen a girl in pink clothes sitting on the chamber hall with a katana struck on her chest.”
“That’s Sayumi’s character!” Hitomi was shocked that the former players were still on the game. It was Rika’s turn to ask her sister.
“Wait, have you seen other girls? Have you reached the shrine in the back of the palace?”
“Hmmm, we haven’t reached that far. But we saw the shrine. There’s a torture chamber where two girls were hanging from the ceiling and a girl who looks like a contortionist with her position, was sitting on a bed. That’s all. So you DID play Maiden’s Curse before!”
“Yes, and we regret playing it.” Hitomi replied. Since Aika was already involved, they must tell her everything that they know.
Hitomi and Rika explained what happened a month before; the real reason why they’ve became best friends, the reason why Aika must warn her friends of the impeding danger ahead. Hitomi also mentioned about what they’ve seen in the T.V.
“That old hag said that it’s just a warning to us. And she will get our souls too.”
“Hag?! Who’s the hag?” Rika asked. She just got back from the kitchen to get some water for her sister.
“The figure in our dreams, she removed her hood and I clearly saw her face. I can’t bear to look at her fiery eyes. She’s scary…”
“Was she really scary? Like that Eri with decaying flesh, black eyes, swollen face… what else…” Rika murmured. Aika looked at her with a confused look.
“Eri? But Eri’s a beautiful girl! There’s a hidden pain behind her eyes. And should I say, that’s not the kind of sadness that one feels when a husband cheats on his wife.” Aika stated in a matter-of-fact tone.
“And where did you see her?”
“In the picture; above the throne chamber where I’ve seen that girl with a katana in her chest.” Aika answered her sister’s question.
“But it wasn’t there before…” The two simultaneously said. Hitomi glanced at the wall clock. It’s almost 7 in the evening. If ‘that’ didn’t happen, she might probably be on her way back to their house. She can’t leave these two alone now that the woman said that she’s after them too.
“I’ll sleep here today. I’ll just call mom.” The phone rang suddenly even before Hitomi touched it. She looked worriedly at the two. Aika hid behind her sister again, afraid of the thought that the figure was the one who’s calling them. Hitomi took a deep breath before taking the receiver to her ears.
“Konban wa! Rika-chan? Is Aika there?” The voice sounded cheery. Hitomi relaxed a little bit and looked over at Aika.
“I’m not Rika, I’m Hitomi her friend. May I know who this is?”
“Hitomi?... OHHH!!! The one she always beats!!! Hi there! I’m Kago Ai, Aika’s classmate!” Rika watched as Hitomi changed from her relaxed mood to a pissed mood.
“Aika… Ai.” Hitomi said, trying not to sound too angry and pointed to the phone. Hitomi was known as the cool girl but only few people can piss her. The number 1 on the list is Maki, followed by Rika and now… her little sister Aika. She will just have to wait until Aika finished her phone call before breaking her bones… again. Aika took the phone from Hitomi while the other walked towards her best friend.
“What did she say? You looked like you could tear up Aibon if you could only see her.”
“So Aibon is her nickname then? That bratty kid… She’s acting like Ris…” Hitomi’s temper lowered as she remembered how her friend was killed brutally. Rika noticed the sudden change of temper.
“You’re having a mood swing?” Rika was about to laugh when she heard the sudden outburst of her sister. They both run towards Aika and tried to listen intently on the conversation.
“What?!? You were killed in the shrine? Who killed you?”
“The hooded figure…”
“How did you get killed?”
“Ahhmm, I don’t quite remember. It happened too fast.”
“Ask her the full details!” Rika whispered to her sister. Aika nodded. She started bombarding her friend with a series of random question about the place, the killer, the garment, anything that might give them clues.
“You sure sound like a detective. Oh well, I’m going to call Kusumi now. I just wanted to tell you the news that our character was already dead. I’ll try to play…”
“NO!!! Whatever you do, don’t play that game anymore, alright? And make sure to sleep with your parents.” Aika said. Hitomi and her sister already told her what happened to their friends and she noticed that they were alone when the ‘killer’ attacked them. The thought of having other people around them might prolong their life… or something like that.
“You sounded bossy there. Are you sure that Kusumi and you reverted back to normal?”
“Yes… And I mean it… you see… there’s this article I’ve read about that game.” Aika glanced at the two and winked. “It’s said that gamers who played that game usually have nightmares after playing it. There’s an experiment that they’ve done in which those players were put to sleep beside their parents. And the nightmare result was negative. So I just want you to try if that experiment is true or not…”
“Alright, I get you… Don’t worry, I’ll TRY your experiment. So I’ll call Kusumi now, Ja!”
“Ja!” Aika clicked the end button and sighed. She looked at the two and understood by their looks that they wanted to know the details.