Cutscene: That go Bump In the Night
A Gekkoukan dorm room lit only by the sickly green light filtering through a window shade. The ghosts of a video game system, a tv, a laptop haunt the space. Books are scattered on tables, on chairs, on every horizontal surface. Many of them are open. Most of them are not exactly light bedtime reading. Sigmund Frued jostles with Jung. "The Invisible World" sits tucked on a bedstand with 'The Uncanny'. An old world bestiary shares space with folkfolk retellings. A backpack bleeds school supplies into a pool of Kendo gear accented by a lonely apron.
A lump trembles in the middle of the bed, covered by blankets and sheets. One Tatako Kinoshita. Dead phones cover her ears. She clutches a pillow with the desperation of a drowning swimmer as she rocks back and forth.
Just a little longer.
Please let it be only a little longer.
Headphones begin to blare. A fan clicks to life and she lets out the breath she'd been holding. Light returns, casting a glare of reality back on the formerly darkened room. Tatako buries her face in the pillow, pressing the loud pulse of music to her ears.
A phone vibrates against her leg, quivering with tension as its silent chime is swallowed by the thrash of the music. The vibration startles her, and she falls over in a heap to flail at her pocket. The vibration rattles again before she fishes it out, not bothering to see who it is.
"Yukio-san? Are you--" "Tatako?"
The voice paralyzes her. It carries her up only to slam her back down into the terrible fog that she wanted to forget but couldn't. The growing strangeness after the Obon festival. The mass hysteria. Muderous shadows. Things that could not-- that her mind simply couldn't wrap itself around. Ever since the festival, her life had slid sideways.
She couldn't practice. Not with them always out there. Always hunting. She couldn't even think of trying to squeeze it in during the day. The danger was greatest then. Somebody might see. Ask questions. Stare. Judge.
"Mom." "Were you expecting a call?"
From a dead man? Probably not. Probably I'm just making it up. There is no such patient. There is no such record. You can't tell paramedics to go to an address you don't know. You don't even know if it's real. If any of this is real. Ignore it.. pretend it didn't sound like a man in desperate pain. It was just good acting. Yep. Just a really good show.
Ignore. Ignore. Let's play pretend. Let's all play pretend.. "Just a friend, mom."
"Calling so late? I'm sorry, did you have plans tonight?" No plans, mom. Maybe not ever again. Besides, you've got no stones to throw here. "What do you want, mom?"
Go away. I don't want you to talk. I don't want your pitying words and the long silence that means you think I'm going crazy. As always. Poking the bear only leads to an angered swipe.
"I was trying to get a hold of you. You know--" she cuts off, then continues in a quieter voice. "You know things didn't turn out well at the Festival, and I just wanted to hear how you were doing."
You mean you just wanted to pry into my life again. Make sure I'm living the life you want for me. Tatako lowered her head into the pillow, berating herself. She was only doing what was best for her. She was always ever doing what she thought was best. "I'm fine, mom. I'm just been very busy and I've had a hard time keeping up."
"Have you considered a cram school? Your grandfather knows several very--" "No mom. I don't want you to fix my problems. I don't want you to even KNOW my problems, because bullying me into the fix just seems to come with the territory. There isn't even a fix to be had. You can't help me." this is the part where her nerve starts to break, when at the worst time images of dark and slithering shapes chase down the corridors of her mind. "And I don't need it." she finishes in a whisper.
"I love you. Another festival is coming up." Tatako says it before the boar can again charge. "We'll talk then, okay? We'll try this again. I have to sleep now. Good night." she hangs up without waiting for her mother to respond. She stares at her phone for awhile, then puts it on the dresser on top of an opened book.
She flails her way out from underneath the blankets, eyes scanning for something but as soon as her thoughts skim across the surface, she knows. It's over there. She unburies it, finding the ordinary looking card with it's strange design underneath a clutter of things crowded around her bed like a nest.
Tatako huddles down in the blankets, pulling it over her shoulders and head to hang over her like a cloak. Her hand moves to her side. The headphone music shears off, dying away mid shrieking note.
The word flits across her mind. It cuts wherever it lands. An image, a fleeting memory dances across her sight. Dark buildings. Coffin filled streets. The ethereal image of an armored maiden, flowing hair and dress archaicly styled and adorned with swan feathers. The frozen features, glazed as a marionette dummy, and a hand lashing out to strike her across the face. Pain. The blow sent her flying. When she'd hit the ground, the phantom had gone.
She had to face it again, whatever it was. Whatever might come from it. There had been a moment before the blow. A moment when she'd felt, down through the skin, down to the soles of her feet and her bones, that everything would be alright. Everything would be alright.
Tatako threw the card away from her, pulling the blankets down and around her face again. She then buried her face in her pillow, trying to forget that she knew where the card had fallen.
She always knew where it was now.. and what it might mean.