Naomi woke up to a splitting headache groaning from the sun's harsh rays. Nausea still clouded her senses as she felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. She had no recollection of last night, only remembering drinking to her full. Naomi slowly sat up, whimpering from her headache. She buried her hands into her face, slowly massaging her temples. It took her a moment to realize she wasn't in her room, and even longer to see Ayumi sprawled out on a pull-out futon on the floor. Her hair was down from its usual two pigtails. A thin line of drool fell from her cheek onto the pillow she was using, and Naomi let out a giggle. She saw Ayumi was wearing blue pajamas with a bunny rabbit character from a JRPG game Naomi had seen commercials for lately.
It was hard to believe how much of a nerd Ayumi was once you looked passed her stern and otherwise creepy demeanor she put on at school. More than once she'd tried to get Naomi to read shojo and shonen mangas. They were all the same in content but, Naomi would read some of the shonen magazines Ayumi would lend her after a long night of studying. To Naomi's surprise, she'd gotten into One Piece. While she persisted it was childish she found herself watching re-runs of the anime when her mother was at work. It made her feel like her age again.
Naomi felt herself smiling at the abundance of anime posters Ayumi had along with spiritual charms and books on the occult lying around. She was surprised Ayumi still even liked that stuff considering what they went through. Ever since the aftermath of Heavenly Host, Naomi swore to herself to never mess with the occult again. Even silly charms were out of the question. Despite the posters and various books, Ayumi's room was much like Naomi's. Except more blue-toned. It was cozy and reflected Ayumi's personality almost perfectly.
Getting up Naomi made her way to the girl's bathroom carefully stepping over Ayumi in the process. She softly closed the door behind her before turning on the faucet. She washed her face drying it off with a rag before turning back off the faucet.
She looked awful. She almost looked green in color as heavy eyebags darkened her face. Naomi's cheeks were flushed a bright red. Her headache still hurt like a bitch making her head feel like it was full of air. Naomi looked through Ayumi's medicine cabinet looking for a bottle of Advil. She found it next to a box of floss and a small bottle of mouth wash. Quickly twisting the cap open she poured three tablets into her hand before dry popping them.
The sensation reminded her of her anti-psychotic pills causing her to shiver. She had made a habit of hiding them under her tongue before spitting them out at school. Most of the pills had dissolved at that point, but it was her form of rebellion. She wasn't crazy or schizophrenic like her doctor had diagnosed her. And she wasn't bi-polar either her therapist was full of it.
Seiko was real.
Naomi felt for her phone in her skirt's pocket to see a picture of Seiko but all she groped at was cloth. She felt a small ache of dread that she'd lost her phone at the party. Her phone contained pictures of Seiko spanning out from eight grade. As well as text between the pair. She left the bathroom as her anxiety got worse. In her frenzy, she shook Ayumi awake making the girl underneath her groan.
"Shinozaki! I can't find my phone!" Naomi whispered yelled.
Ayumi pulled the covers over her face grunting.
" What?! "
"I can't find my phone!"
"It's on my nightstand!"
Naomi sat up grabbing her phone from the nightstand. She opened it seeing dozens of text messages from her mother asking when to pick her up.
Naomi rolled her eyes before settling at noon. She texted her mother then closed out the messages to look at her camera roll. This was an everyday occurrence for Naomi. She'd look through pictures of Seiko hoping one day the darkened mass on her face would vanish.
It never did.
Naomi closed her phone resting her chin on her knees.
For once she didn't cry she just felt very numb.
Seiko stared at the blood in disbelief.
This couldn't be happening.
She didn't kill him, it was them!
She'd never kill someone, she just wouldn't do that!
Her form reacted like she was hyperventilating despite her lungs being useless. Loud gurgling noises escaped her lips as her head became more light-headed than it already was.
She felt herself sink to her knees as she shook her head in denial.
She didn't do it.
She's not like them.
Through her peripherals, she could see the girl grab her skirt and slip it back on.
The room was eerily quiet despite Seiko's gurgles. The fluorescent lights audibly buzzed and flickered. The room was dark with Seiko's spirit being its only light source.
The girl slowly approached her then kneeled gently next to her. Tears streamed down Seiko's face she suddenly felt hot warmth touch her dead skin. The girl wiped away Seiko's tears with her thumb. The heat from her skin was comforting as Seiko stared at her in shock.
"Why are you crying?"
Seiko tried to form a coherent sentence but all that came out was a choking noise.
"Are you crying because you killed him?"
Seiko nodded her head.
"But you saved my life."
Seiko shook her head knowing full well how this school worked. You couldn't escape your fate in this school. If you were meant to die then this school would find any way to kill you. Each time you cheated death here your fate got worse. Seiko only delayed the inevitable for this girl.
"Of course you did he was going to kill and rape me. You're the first spirit here to help me."
Seiko looked at the rotted floorboards her tears slowing down in quantity.
Seiko saw the girl hesitate but she soon grabbed one of Seiko's hands and held it tight causing some of the blood to get on her hand.
Her hand was so hot compared to her cold one. Seiko had the sudden urge to embrace the girl for her warmth but decided against it. She felt the girl's eyes drift to her neck then briskly look away.
"You can't speak at all?"
Seiko shook her head.
The girl looked thoughtfully around the room then had an a-ha moment when she saw the notebook on the desk. She suddenly got up and tried to lift the diary from the desk. She grunted as she pulled and tugged at the book.
"What the hell?! It's like its glued to the surface."
Seiko got up and gently nudge the girl to move a little. She grabbed the diary and it lifted with ease.
"How did you-"
Seiko grabbed the pen from the desk and turned to a clean page in the notebook. She scrawled across it then handed it over to the girl.
'Since I'm apart of this world I can move around or break things you can't.'
"Oh...So does that mean you can break the windows?"
Seiko grabbed the book from the girl and wrote repeating the process from before.
'I can but there are only trees outside. You will get trapped in the forest and die.'
The girl let out an angry huff before running a hand through her hair.
"Is there no way to get out of here?"
Seiko shook her head.
The girl suddenly looked sick as she sat down on the desk's chair. Seiko placed a tentative hand on her back as tears brimmed the girl's eyes.
"I'm going to die in here aren't I?"
Seiko looked down at her feet then took the book from the girl. She watched as Seiko quickly wrote in it her brows knitting together. She handed it back to the girl.
'There is only one way to get out of here and that's if the spirits that run this school allow you through their appeasement. You will have to appease the new Sachiko then perform the chant you did to get here. But this will be hard for you to do. Only my friends were able to escape this school and they were the first to ever do so. The majority of the people here die through fate. If you are fated to die here you will.'
Seiko watched as the girl read the paragraph she wrote. She let out a shaky sigh then looked at Seiko. It was the first time Seiko noticed the girl's features. She had brown shaggy hair with hazel eyes and a soft, stubborn face giving her an almost childish look. She reminded Seiko of Naomi and she desperately wanted to avoid her gaze.
"I know we just met and you have no reason to want to help me but...I can't die here. I don't want to die! I have a track scholarship at home I'll be going to a university soon. I have a mom that needs me and my siblings too. If I die in here everything I worked for was for nothing and my family will miss me. My mother is a very sensitive person and I-"
Seiko took the notebook once more and wrote:
'I'll help you the best I can.'
The girl had tears in her eyes as she threw her arms around Seiko's neck. Seiko cringed as the cloth from her sailor suit chafed her cut.
"Thank you so much! Thank you, thank you!"
Seiko patted the girl's back before she pulled away.
"My name's Yui by the way." She said before wiping tears from her eyes.
Seiko took off her ID from her skirt and handed it to the girl.
Yui read it aloud," Seiko...Shinohara. You have the same name as my best friend!"
Seiko raised her brows.
"We got separated when we got here. I've been looking everywhere for her."
Seiko frowned. Usually, spirits could feel the living in their spaces. Seiko could not detect anyone else other than Yui.
"What's wrong? Do you think she's...?"
'There are different spaces in this school. While you and she can be trapped in this school both of you can be existing in different planes of it. '
"So like in different dimensions?"
'Usually, us spirits are able to feel the living around us. To appease the new Sachiko we'll have to bounce around planes. I'll let you know when I feel something.'
"Thank you so much, Seiko." Yui hugged her again. Seiko smiled at her then shook her head.
'It's okay, I would've wanted someone to rescue me too.'
Yui smiled at her note in the diary. "You're too kind for this place."
A warm, giddy feeling enveloped Seiko at those words. And through their whole discourse, Seiko realized she hadn't felt the burning sensation in her lungs. It almost felt like she was alive again.