Chapter 1: Chapter 1
There would always be a burning sensation in her lungs and violent struggle to breathe as she stalked the halls of Heavenly Host dazed. The school was an overcrowded hub of vengeful spirits all mourning different but same variations of grief.
The loss of their life,
The loss of their existence,
Their friends and family.
Everything they’d ever known and dwelled in was gone. They were prisoners to a realm that wasn’t even conceivable to them. Some went mad killing newly trapped high school or middle school students adding to the infestation. Others stayed forever trapped in their last dying moments facing the same horror over, and over again. Re-living the trauma their body, mind, and soul went through for all eternity. However, there were a very few who escaped their pain and curse of Heavenly Host and tried their best to protect various students from the school’s horrors.
Seiko was a mixture of all of them. There was a clashing war in her soul of right and wrong. The struggle to fight to go through her last moments of life while defying the urge to succumb to the school’s curse and join the reins of spirits who murdered innocent souls. She wanted to invade her body in the spirit realm to relieve the pain she felt throughout her chest and lungs. The rope burns and scratch marks from her nails still burned furiously. Her flesh and blood were still stuck in her nails.
Her death was by no means the worse in Heavenly host she was very lucky to die the way she did. Her living body was not violently flung at the wall like Mayu’s…
She wasn’t skinned alive.
She wasn’t tortured,
but the pain was still very real.
Then she remembered the terror she felt as she stared into the face of her killer. It wasn’t the familiar face of a brutally mutilated child most students that died here saw. But instead, it was her own best friend and first love.
Stop it, Seiko.
She didn’t want to relieve the feelings she felt In her last moments because they were far worse than the physical pain of her death.
And she had forgiven Naomi long ago knowing she was not herself when it happened.
She still very much loved Naomi and always thought of her when the pain was bearable enough for her to feel human again.
Seiko stopped walking in the poorly dimmed halls as she stood in front of the infirmary. A trail of blood was cut off by its door. She could already smell the rot of flesh coming from behind the door. Hesitantly she opened it letting the smell hit her head-on. She let out a stifled gag as the smell made her breathing slightly worse than it already was. Even through death she still had most of her senses. Nothing surprised her anymore in Heavenly Host because she’d seen so much death happen here. Sometimes she wondered if all her humanity was lost because all she could think while staring at the dead body in front of her was how much it reeked.
The body belonged to a female judging by the sailor uniform. Her chest cavity was carved open revealing two symmetrical pairs of ribs and a heart with various other tissues and organs surrounding it.
Seiko didn’t feel sad for her she didn’t feel anything.
She didn’t care to look at the body’s school ID or even her face because there was no point. The corpse in front of her was destined to become like the rest of the souls in this school. But there was a slither of empathy left from Seiko to drag the body to a safer area in the room to prevent interference from other spirits in its decay.
She grabbed the corpse by its sailor shirt’s sleeves and pulled it from the middle of the room until she reached the infirmaries beds. Seiko dropped the sleeves briefly and the corpse’s arms landed on the floor with a low thud. She removed the stale sheets from the bed and gently covered the corpse in it. Blood was already soaking the sheets leaving big droplets of scarlet red in its wake. Seiko then carefully moved the corpse underneath the bed as best as she could. She briefly sat on one of the infirmaries bed then rolled over to lay down. Tears started to brim her eyes as her vision blurred.
What was wrong with her? Why was she crying?
Strangled sobs came from her throat as she heaved. It was painful to cry as a series of strangled almost inhuman sobs came from her throat. She wanted to scream but couldn’t as awkward gurgles escape her lips.
She didn’t want to be here anymore she wanted to go home!
She missed Naomi and her siblings she even missed having to go to school.
More choked sobs and gasps erupted from her lips.
She’d never see Naomi again or be able to confess her feelings towards her. She’d never know if she was okay or happy in her life without Seiko. She wanted Naomi to move on from her and this school because she knew she’d never be able too. Her soul was trapped in here along with other restless spirits.
There was so much pain and agony she couldn’t bear it anymore. A shrill filled the room as Seiko buried her head in her hands.
She was never getting out of here.
Seiko stayed in the infirmary until her sobs died down to small whimpers much to her better judgment. In the realm of Heavenly Host, she dwelled in it could be so quiet sometimes the silence would hurt her ears. The smell of rot stung her nose as well as the metallic smell of blood leaving a foul taste in her already decomposed mouth.
Seiko closed her eyes knowing full well she would not sleep but see pure black was better than having a constant reminder of where she was.
She found herself drifting off to her memories outside of this school. The times where she’d take her younger siblings to the park or mall to try various food samples from the crummy restaurants there. She giggled to herself when she remembered the one time she got food poisoning from one of the restaurant’s sushi.
She tried thinking of Naomi allowing her brain to paint a picture of her friend, but she found that after months or maybe even years of being in here she couldn’t recall all of Naomi’s features correctly. The only thing her brain could muster was the dead stare she’d seen in Naomi’s eyes as she begged for her life. Many of the happy memories she’d shared with Naomi were clouded by the last ones she had with her best friend in this school. The wails Naomi had cried when she found she was the reason for Seiko’s death. Her wishes of death while Seiko tried desperately to help Naomi fight off the darkening. All Seiko ever thought about was Naomi in this place. How this school corrupted her and possessed her into murder. The many countless feats Seiko had to save her friend’s life through leading Mochida to rescue her every time this school tried to win her soul.
Seiko had only love for Naomi in her heart that was laced with fear and agony. Despite everything she wished they never fought, and maybe if they’d made up sooner Seiko would’ve had the courage to confess her love to Naomi sooner. Now it was too late.
Seiko buried her head on the bed’s pillow as the mattresses springs shifted under her weight.
She wondered if Naomi and Mochida were together now.
As Seiko rested her head a series of footsteps boomed from the hall outside followed by a sharp scream. Seiko immediately shot up expecting to hear a child’s giggle in return but instead heard a man’s voice growl deeply. The footsteps grew louder as frantic sobs came from outside the door. Seiko saw the door’s frame be frantically jerked as the person outside tried desperately to come in. Seiko didn’t realize she’d subconsciously cornered herself onto the next bed as she clung to the blood-stained wall.
The door busted open as a female figure sprawled out onto the floor. She quickly scrambled up sobbing as she frantically crawled away from the door. Feverishly panting she looked around the room catching a glimpse of Seiko. Her eyes immediately widen with a newfound fear as another scream erupted from her throat. Seiko gasped being frozen in place as she watched a high school boy of heavy build enter the room with a rusted knife in hand. Judging by their school uniforms they attended the same high school and most likely ended up here together. His beige button-down was drenched with fresh blood immediately making Seiko think about the dead girl under the bed. A low crackle left his lips as Seiko squeezed her eyes shut immediately making her spirit form disappear. The girl quickly threw her attention back onto the boy moving backward until her hand slipped into one of the cracks of the floorboards causing the skin on her forearm to break. She had no time to acknowledge the wound as Seiko saw the boy roughly grab her by the arm. A scream filled the infirmary as the boy threw her against one of its beds.
“Please don’t do this! I’m begging you please stop!”
Seiko quickly climbed off the bed until she landed on the floor with a harsh thud causing the boy to quickly whip his head around. Seiko knew he couldn’t see her but the icy glare he gave the room sent a shiver up her spine. It was similar to the same glare Naomi had given her as she tied the noose around her neck…
“Stop squirming, bitch!”
Seiko stood up immediately as she looked on allowing the scene to play out. The girl tried everything to get the boy off of her. She grabbed fistfuls of his hair and pulled while kicking her feet feverishly. She sobbed and screamed at the top of her lungs until they were animalistic cries.
Seiko felt something similar to an adrenaline rush coursing through her being. She should do something.
“Somebody please help me! Please-“
Her wail was immediately cut off by a harsh slap from the boy as he started to cut away at her sailor uniform’s top.
Seiko had to do something.
A painful disgust filled her being as she watched the boy roughly kiss the girl putting the rusted knife to her neck.
She had to do something!
He pulled away and the girl screamed as he unzipped her skirt’s side zipper. Seiko watched as he brought her skirt down to her feet his thumbs immediately finding their way to the sides of her underwear locking them in place.
Seiko looked at the cabinets noticing a bloodied pair of scissors through the scratched glass. Reacting on auto-pilot she punched through the cabinet and watched as it shattered through her blow. It was something that would never succeed if she was alive in this school and the event left her temporarily shocked. Both the boy and girl gasped snapping Seiko out of her dumbfounded state. She hastily grabbed the scissors making her known to the pair.
Whatever had filled the boy’s body with vicious murder and rape left his eyes as he gazed upon Seiko’s form.
She knew how scary she looked with her rotting flesh that was purple in hue and blood tattered clothes. Her neck was visibly engraved with rope burns and was semi-broken. She let blood freely leak from the corners of her mouth. Seiko clutched the scissors handle then raised the tool over her head. The boy immediately shrieked as he fell next to the girl on the bed.
Seiko could blindly hear a chorus of small children giggling as something almost overcame her. She threw down the scissors embedding the blades into his skin. A scream erupted from both the girl and boy as blood oozed around the blade.
All acknowledgment of Seiko’s surroundings were gone as she twisted out the blade. Its steel was drenched with blood and Seiko watched passively as the boy freely bled out onto the bed.
The giggling grew louder as Seiko passively felt small hands wrap themselves around her grip on the scissor’s handle. The boy and girl screamed louder as the small hands led Seiko to raise the tool above her head again.
A euphoric rush absorbed her being as fear contorted the boy’s face.
“Do it, Big sis!”
Seiko saw all three ghost children surrounding her as they chanted her name edging her on to kill the boy.
No, I can’t do this!
The small hands squeezed tighter as the chanting grew louder flooding out the boy’s pleas.
Seiko whimpered as she violently shook her head. She felt all three of the ghost children's hands grip tighter. Seiko heard herself scream as all four of their forces fell onto the boy.
Then the cries abruptly stopped.
Silence fell onto the room.
Seiko felt a warm gush of liquid ooze around her hands and arms. There were no more small hands guiding her bigger ones as she slowly backed away from the scene.
The scissors handles stood erect from the boy’s neck as blood freely oozed from the wound. The room felt still as Seiko tried to desperately find the children in the room but they were nowhere to be seen. She numbly looked at her hands that were drenched in blood.
She had killed the boy.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Three of the survivors of Heavenly Host go partying.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Loud party music boomed throughout the two-story house as the trio made their way through the front door. Ever since they’d left Heavenly Host a strong bond had formed between the three of them; especially between Naomi and Ayumi. The girls practically did everything together once they left the hellish school. Every time the three of them went out Yoshiki had always felt like he was third-wheeling between them. But despite that Yoshiki was happy to see both of them so lively and excited for the house party.
Through shared trauma, they’d bonded, and for once in Yoshiki’s life, he had a family to call his own. The three of them had a common understanding of one another allowing them to form an unbreakable pack. He didn’t feel like a low-life delinquent anymore at least not around them.
Yoshiki watches as the two girls talked excitedly to one another making their way to the party host’s bar in the dining area. The host in question was a student from classroom 3-a and his parents were loaded. They owned stocks in different winery companies and came from a long line of self-made millionaires. Yoshiki loathed him personally but his house parties had the best alcohol; which is exactly why Naomi begged both of them to come with her.
A small crowd of kids had already formed around the bar as Naomi and Ayumi pushed their way through the crowd. Yoshiki waited patiently for them to return, and when they did was shocked to see Naomi stuffing different liquor bottles under her shirt. Ayumi and Naomi quietly giggled to themselves before Naomi put a finger to her lips.
“Naomi what the hell are you doing?!” Yoshiki harshly whispered as the two girls led him to the house’s backyard.
Naomi handed him a bottle of hard liquor as they shoved past bodies of sweaty teens.
“Like anybody is going to notice they’re gone!” Naomi yelled over the party music.
“You think we’re going to drink all of this?!” Ayumi asked with a big grin already feeling drunk on the excitement alone.
Naomi plastered a sly smile on her face before shrugging her shoulders. Ayumi playfully shoved her as the two laughed.
Ayumi slid the backyard’s door open as the trio made their way outside. The air outside was warm and the mood peaceful compared to the lively party happening inside. The smell of sweat and alcohol no longer lingered in the air. The party music was muffled from outside as cicadas loudly chirped. The sky was a mellow blue as a purple horizon line painted it. The three of them stood there gazing up at the sky. A comfortable silence fell upon them as their minds lingered. They’d always done this at parties. They never really went dancing or talk to their drunken peers. They always went to escape whatever horrors had plagued them that day. They’d grab a few drinks or bring their own as they found a quiet spot to sit and relax in. When they first started to hang out the night would usually end in tears. It was mostly Naomi who ended up crying after one or two drinks as she drunkenly talked about Seiko. How Seiko would’ve enjoyed this or how much guilt still weighed on her from Seiko’s untimely passing.
It was hard to deal with Naomi like that, but Ayumi somehow knew what to say to make her feel better. They would swap funny stories about Seiko some even Naomi didn’t know about. All three of them would laugh at Seiko’s antics around the school. When feeling comfortable enough Yoshiki would even talk about Mayu and her kindness to him throughout the years. The three of them could listen to different stories about their dead friends until the night ended.
But, recently Naomi hadn’t said a word about Seiko. Instead at the parties, she tried to indulge herself in drinking. Every other party she seemed to drink more and more. Yoshiki knew what she was trying to do, and who the hell was he to stop her? She just wanted to forget her dead best friend for one night. She wanted the guilt to invade her body and be replaced with alcohol.
“C’mon guys this alcohol isn’t going to drink itself!” Naomi sang as she plopped down on the grass.
Ayumi followed in tow as she watched Naomi place the bottles of alcohol in front of them. Yoshiki sat across from them as he took out the bottle of hard liquor. He held it up admiring it like it was a fine piece of treasure.
“Who shall be the first to drink from this fine sample of hard liquor?”
“I think Shinozaki should!” Naomi said.
Ayumi’s mouth hanged ajar while profusely shaking her head.
“Do you even know what hard liquor does to you?! You can get alcohol poisoning from it!” Ayumi began, “My sister drank a few shots of Fireball and was totally out of it! I had to take care of her for the whole weekend.”
Yoshiki rolled his eyes playfully.
“Only drink a little bit then, Diva,” Yoshiki said as he handed over the bottle to her.
She snatched the bottle then inspected it carefully. She held it away from her like it contained a foul poison before slowly twisting its cap open.
“You know it’s not going to bite you,” Yoshiki teased.
“You’re taking forever, Shinozaki,” Naomi whined as she impatiently bounced her leg.
“Just give me a minute!”
Ayumi carefully sipped from the bottle squeezing her eyes shut. Naomi and Yoshiki both rolled their eyes before Naomi sat up and tipped the bottle upwards. The hard liquor spilled all over Ayumi’s yellow blouse as she choked on the substance.
Ayumi hit Naomi on the shoulder as she and Yoshiki laughed.
“This blouse isn’t even mine, it’s my sisters! And this liquor reeks!”
Naomi snatched the bottle from Ayumi taking a huge swig. She momentarily cringed then smiled. “You’ll live Shinozaki.”
Ayumi wiped the liquor off her chin with her forearm as she watched in almost horror as Naomi gulped the liquor down.
“Yeah go Naomi!!” Yoshiki howled before clapping his hands.
“Naomi! That’s too much!” Ayumi said.
“Maybe too much for you!” Naomi shot back with a toothy grin.
Yoshiki and Ayumi sat in silence as they watched Naomi drink away both feeling pity for the girl.
The stereo’s bass pounded loudly outside the bathroom door as Naomi violently puked into the toilet. She vaguely felt Ayumi rubbing her back as she retched up a thin line of vomit.
“I’m okay!” Naomi managed as she bit back the vomit rising in her throat. She desperately tried clinging on to the toilet seat for leverage as the world spun.
“No, you’re not okay! Why did you let her drink so much?!” Ayumi cried as she turned her attention to Yoshiki.
He started to wave his hands in protest but before he could argue Naomi’s sobs cut him off. Her face had turned a beet color as her whole body shook with each cry.
“It was my fault Shinozaki…I j-just wanted to get blackout drunk so I wouldn’t think about S-Seiko-“her words were violently cut off by a loud retch. Ayumi and Yoshiki cringed as throw up loudly hit the toilet water.
She blindly grabbed for toilet paper to wipe off the vomit from her cheeks but Ayumi was already on it. More tears started to brim her eyes as she felt Ayumi hold her tight.
“Here let me do it,” Ayumi said as she started to wipe Naomi’s face off with the toilet paper.
“The liquor it all just came at once! I was f-feeling fine then-“
“I told you hard liquor is not something to mess around with,” Ayumi said.
Naomi’s sobs echoed throughout the bathroom as she rested her head on Ayumi’s shoulder. She vaguely heard the faucet turn on while Ayumi and Yoshiki murmured to each other.
“Yoshiki, get a rag for her-“
“Yeah, yeah of course.”
Yoshiki looked through the bathroom’s cabinets searching through them until he found a white rag and bottle of Tylenol.
“What’s that for?” Naomi asked through slurred speech.
“For your big ass headache tomorrow,” Yoshiki said with a grin. Naomi made a soft noise of disproval as Yoshiki ran the rag through lukewarm water. He quickly rung it out before folding it into a little square handing it over to Ayumi.
She tenderly patted at Naomi’s forehead brushing the bangs out of her face. Naomi was fading in and out of consciousness as tears rolled down her pink cheeks. A soft vibration came from her skirt’s pocket as her phone glowed through its cloth.
“I-it’s probably my mom..” Naomi groaned as she blindly grabbed for her phone.
“No, no don’t answer it! Your mom will kill you if she founds out you got this drunk!” Ayumi said as she grabbed Naomi’s hand holding her tight.
Naomi groaned softly as she struggled to regain consciousness. A fine line of drool fell from her face as she grabbed Ayumi’s blouse.
“S-Shinozaki how are we going to get Seiko back…” Naomi said her voice trailing off.
Ayumi looked at Yoshiki uneasily.
“I don’t know,” She finally blurted.
“We g-gotta get her back before we leave..”
Naomi’s phone chimed again. Her head shot up as she tried to grab it again.
“It’s my m-mom!”
“No! Don’t touch it let me talk to her!” Ayumi said as she grabbed the phone from Naomi’s skirt.
“Fuck, do you think she’s going to hear the music?” Yoshiki said.
“I hope not,” Ayumi said as she picked up the phone.
“Naomi, where are you?! I’ve been texting you for the past thirty minutes!”
Ayumi winced, “Actually this is Ayumi Shinozaki…Naomi’s friend. I’m so sorry Mrs.Nakashima we didn’t call sooner. We came back from the party early and decided to crash at my place. Naomi eventually fell asleep is it okay for her to spend the night?”
Mrs.Nakashima stayed silent for a moment before sighing, “I guess so she’d probably prefer to stay with you anyways. If…She starts acting up give me a call though, okay? Or call her doctor I can send you his number?”
“Oh no, that’s okay Mrs.Nakashima I’m sure we’ll be fine,” Ayumi said as she looked up at Yoshiki.
“Are you sure? Sometimes her condition comes out of nowhere.”
Ayumi felt a flint of rage enter her pit but fought it off knowing full well Naomi’s mom meant no harm.
“I’m sure Mrs.Nakashima.”
“Okay well, you girls have a goodnight and tell Naomi to call me in the morning, okay?”
“Yes ma’am, have a goodnight. Buh-bye.” Ayumi hanged up before slipping the phone back into Naomi’s skirt pocket.
“We should start getting out of here,” Yoshiki said.
“Yeah, can you help me carry her?”
“Of course.” Yoshiki leaned down as he carefully picked up Naomi who had passed out during the phone call. He carefully laid her on his shoulder as he opened the bathroom door grunting as he did so. The party had grown bigger as they stayed outside, and shoving past the crowd of teens seemed almost impossible. Ayumi trailed behind Yoshiki making sure Naomi was okay or didn’t suddenly wake up from the noise.
Once they made it out Yoshiki dug through his jean’s back pocket before fishing out his car keys. He unlocked the backseat's door and carefully laid Naomi inside making sure to not bump her head in the process.
“I’m going to sit back there with Naomi to make sure she doesn’t roll over or anything, is that okay?”
“Yeah, I was going to ask you to sit in the back with her anyways.”
Once they’d buckled in Ayumi rested Naomi’s head on her lap as Yoshiki started the car’s engine. They drove in mostly silence with the car’s radio producing the only sound. Ayumi looked out the window resting her head against the glass. Yoshiki glanced at her through the car’s front mirror frowning.
“This is all my fault,” Ayumi finally said.
“No it isn’t nobody blames you for what happened,” Yoshiki said glancing at the mirror again.
He heard Ayumi sniff as she brushed away fresh tears. “If I didn’t bring up the stupid charm Seiko and Mayu would be alive and Ms. Yui would still be teaching…Morshigne wouldn’t have lost it. Naomi wouldn’t even be drunk in this car! She and Seiko would be having sleepovers or going to parties with each other! Not with us!”
“You can’t keep on putting all the blame on yourself. Naomi doesn’t blame you for what happened. Neither does me or Satoshi. You didn’t know this would happen nobody could’ve known! The only person who blames you for what happened is yourself, and you can’t keep on doing that. You have to let yourself move on from this and heal. We all do.”
Ayumi looked down as a momentary silence entered the car.
“I just wish I could do more for her.”
Yoshiki looked at Naomi then smiled. “You already have, Ayumi. You’re not Seiko but you’re someone who makes her happy. She counts on you and…So do I.” Yoshiki felt his face slightly burn up at his last words as Ayumi acknowledged them in silence.
“I…I count on you guys too. I don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for you and Naomi. And I guess that’s why I feel so guilty is because I wish we were all here. After all, I know both of you would be happier if everyone was alive.”
“We can’t change what happened,” Yoshiki said.
Ayumi nodded before looking down at Naomi who was still knocked out.
“I’d always felt a small resentment towards her all because of a boy.”
Yoshiki stayed silent not knowing what to say.
“But I love Naomi more than I’ll ever love Satoshi she’s like a sister to me now. A sister I have to protect every day.”
Ayumi then giggled the sound blunt and unexpected.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing really, I, just basically told Naomi she could have Satoshi one day at the mall. Her face was priceless like I’d just offered her a million bucks.” Ayumi said wanting to lighten up the conversation.
Yoshiki did a dramatic gasp and if Ayumi could she would’ve punched him on the shoulder.
“It wasn’t a big deal I just didn’t want her to think there was a rivalry between us or I was still swooning over Satoshi.”
“Well, who does Ms. Class rep have her love-struck eyes on now?” Yoshiki teased as a strange relief came over him at those words.
“None of your business now eyes on the road or its detention.”
Yoshiki smiled. “So are her and Satoshi together then? I haven’t talked to him much lately.”
Ayumi shrugged. “I’m not sure I think they’re just talking.”
“Ohhh, so that’s what they’re calling it.”
“Shut up, Yoshiki!”
“I heard from a little birdie Naomi knows a thing or two if you know what I mean.” He said raising his brows up and down.
“You men are so disgusting,” Ayumi spat as she shook her head.
“C’mon you wanna laugh it’s not like she can hear us.”
Ayumi let out a stifled giggle then burst out laughing with Yoshiki. Naomi started to stir causing Ayumi to put a hand to her mouth.
“Maybe you can ask her for a tip or two when she’s sober,” Yoshiki said biting back a laugh.
Ayumi’s face turned a dark red at the crass remark. “Just drive already!” She sharply hissed.
A smile was plastered over her face as she re-directed her attention back to the window. Ayumi knew Naomi and Satoshi had slept together before. But Naomi never openly talked about it or even acknowledged their relationship. And every time she did she’d quickly grow uncomfortable. When they’d gone to the mall a week or two ago Naomi finally confessed to why it was so uncomfortable for her.
“I had thought about Seiko the whole time.”
Even Ayumi was cut off guard by the comment bluntly asking Naomi if she was lesbian or bisexual. Naomi rapidly shook her head before turning a deep crimson color.
“I mean I don’t know…I enjoyed having sex with him but then suddenly Seiko just popped into my head and it felt a lot better.”
Ayumi had gawked at her not knowing what to say. “Did you orgasm?”
Ayumi didn’t even think it was humanly possible to turn the shade of red Naomi did at the question as she started to stutter.
“Of course I did! Why would you ask that?!”
“Did you orgasm while thinking about her or Satoshi?”
“I don’t know? Both! Either way, it was so very wrong I mean Seiko’s dead, and I just felt so disgusted with myself for thinking about her like that.” She had said aggressively flipping through clothes on one of the store’s racks.
Ayumi had been dumbfounded not knowing what to say, but finding that out made her feel guiltier about Seiko’s death.
“Are you in love with her?” Ayumi remembered herself asking as Naomi threw a top in the shopping cart.
Naomi’s eyes had widened at the question then she briefly looked down at her feet. Her mouth opened then closed before she buried her face in her hands. Ayumi expected her to burst out in tears but she didn’t.
“I’m starting to think I am. Everything reminds me of her, and I always thought if I’d get with Satoshi I’d be head over heels in love with him but I’m not. Sometimes I get bored talking to him or annoyed. And sometimes I wish he was more like Seiko but he isn’t. Everyone at school at least once thought me and Seiko were more than friends because of her antics but it was like her touching or comments was something just exclusive to our relationship. I had liked the attention of it and I think I always knew Seiko felt more for me and I fed off of it sometimes while also convincing myself it was just Seiko being Seiko.” Naomi said avoiding eye-contact with Ayumi.
“Do you think you’d be with her if she was still alive.”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you want to be with her?”
“More than anything right now.”
Ayumi felt Naomi stir again snapping her out of thought. Naomi softly murmured something intangible before going back to sleep. Ayumi leaned back on the car seat sighing lowly.
Yoshiki had pulled up on her house’s driveway taking the keys out of the car’s ignition once he parked. The two of them worked together trying to get Naomi out from the backseat. Her body was limp and lifeless frightening Ayumi a little bit. Yoshiki did most of the grunt work carrying Naomi through the house as Ayumi led the way to her bedroom. He had no time to marvel at the beautiful home for his number one priority was getting Naomi safely in bed.
Ayumi quickly opened her bedroom door, “You can put her on my bed.”
Yoshiki let out a low groan gently placing Naomi on the bed. Ayumi carefully untied and slipped off Naomi’s sneakers letting them drop to the floor.
Yoshiki popped his back before roughly sighing, “Damn Naomi is heavy.”
He watched Ayumi gently pull the covers from underneath Naomi before tucking her in. Ayumi briskly brushed Naomi’s bangs away from her face. Ayumi sat next to the sleeping girl then looked up at Yoshiki.
“Thank you so much for helping me carry her in.”
“Helped you? I practically did all the grunt work.”
“Shut up, you know what I mean,” Ayumi said.
“I know, I wasn’t going to let you carry her anyways. You would’ve hardly made it to the door with her.”
Ayumi made a show of rolling her eyes but smiled. She checked her phone’s time and was surprised to see it was thirty minutes past midnight.
“It’s getting late you should head out soon before you get too tired and can barely drive,” Ayumi said.
“Aww, look at Ayumi looking out for me.”
“Shush before I kick you out.”
Yoshiki smiled making his way out the door.
Ayumi quickly got up wrapping her arms around Yoshiki’s neck before kissing him on the cheek. Both their faces were equally flushed as Ayumi pulled away from him.
“Don’t make a big deal out of it,” She sheepishly said.
Yoshiki made his way out of the bedroom grinning from ear to ear. A warm fuzzy feeling erupted in his chest as he left Ayumi’s house.
Ayumi stood in her room completely flustered but repressed her feelings for later. Naomi was her top priority right now.
I hope you liked this chapter! It was fun to write. Leave kudos and comments! Thanks so much!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Naomi recovers from her drunken night, and Seiko helps a girl.
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.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Seiko’s presence was a lot different than the spirits Yui had encountered before they met. Before her each spirit she’d come across held a grudge on the living, or was too far gone to be trusted.
And while yes, the school had taken its toll on Seiko she seemed sane enough to trust. Even if she was unusually meek in demeanor. She almost seemed like an abused puppy in the way she’d flinch and avoid Yui’s eye contact. Even a slight hurry in Yui’s footstep would make Seiko visibly alarmed. It seemed like Seiko was more scared of Yui than Yui was of her which was baffling.
However, if Seiko was like this in life it’d be no wonder she died here, but Yui didn’t believe that was true. It took someone of great personality or will to not go insane here even after death. In reality Seiko was probably a very strong girl in life, but she was dead now with this anxiety ridden ghost being all that was left of her.
It made Yui want to get the hell out of here more.
Through their journey in Heavenly Host Seiko had found a dingy sweater slightly covered in blood for Yui to wear since her top was slashed open. Reluctantly, she accepted the clothing piece thanking Seiko before slipping it on. It was itchy and almost unbearable but Yui toughed it out.
They'd also found a small red doll Seiko had informed her belonged to a spirit here. Upon their discovery Seiko had had a eureka moment. She said she could possess the doll and use it as a voice box.
An odd crooked smile played at Seiko's lips at her genius and Yui could only smile in agreement. She'd clipped the doll to her student ID making her look slightly silly.
And the child-like, broken voice box of the toy further submitted the idea of Seiko being weak in Yui's eyes.
She was someone Yui could easily befriend and manipulate to get out of here. Giving Seiko a false reality of them being close would help better her chance of survival. She practically had a ghost bodyguard at her disposal!
Part of Yui did feel bad for using Seiko like this but she was just a blimp in Yui's future. Someone she'd tried to repress along with the horrors of the school once she got out of here.
Though right now this was her reality and Seiko was her new toy.
"Its.Too.Calm." The doll's voice croaked.
"What's wrong?" Yui asked. She reached out for one of Seiko's colder hands. She suppressed the urge to wince.
Seiko slightly tensed at her touch then relaxed before shaking her head.
"No ghosts are here...No malevolent spirits."
"Is that a bad thing?"
"No, just unusual."
Yui sighed then stopped in her tracks. "Do you want to stop?"
"We can keep going unless you're tired."
"I am tired and it feels like we've been walking in circles anyways."
Yui decided this would be the perfect opportunity to get to know Seiko better.
They stood close proximity to a classroom. Yui eagerly pointed it out, "Maybe we can rest in there?"
"Okay. Let me check it out first. Stay behind me."
Seiko pulled the door open with ease. Yui stayed close behind her clinging on to her tattered sailor outfit.
The room only contained the usual flipped over chairs with some desks scattered about. It was one of the cleaner rooms she'd seen in Heavenly Host.
"Alright, come on."
Yui nodded and followed Seiko who had closed the door behind them.
Yui dramatically sighed with ease as she grabbed a wooden chair and plopped down on it.
"Mannn all that walking really puts strain on my poor legs!"
Seiko didn't say anything, she just stood there looking tense.
"Do you think I'm ugly or something?" Yui blurted.
Seiko widened her eyes then feverishly shook her head.
"No. You're very pretty. I'm just worried."
"You said it yourself, there's no other spirits but you who are interested in little ol' me. So how 'bout you grab a seat and come relax. You look on the verge of hysteria!"
Seiko did feel on the verge of hysteria so she gave in.
She pulled a seat next to Yui avoiding eye contact once again.
"Hey, if we're gonna be partners in crime in here you gotta stop acting all scared around me. I literally can't hurt you."
Seiko looked down not responding.
Yui grabbed Seiko's chin lifting it up.
"Why do you not look at me?"
"I want to know you, Seiko. I want to help you not be so lonely even if it's for a moment."
Guilt flooded Yui at her lie but she tried to ignore it as much as possible.
Seiko looked on the verge of tears from her words then nodded.
"You look just like my best friend."
"And it hurts me a little. To see you."
Yui didn't know what to say.
"Do you miss her?"
Seiko nodded as tears started to brim her eyes.
"More than anything."
"It's okay…She got to get out of here so I'm happy for that."
Yui leaned closer to Seiko, "how close were you two?"
"Very...I…" She hesitated for a moment then continued, "I was in love with her."
Yui was taken aback for a moment but hid it.
"So are you...lesbian?"
Seiko nodded and Yui can tell she was slowly opening up to her.
Yui smiled, "I like girls too...well boys and girls!"
"Yup! I've had boyfriends and girlfriends. Have you ever dated a girl before?"
Seiko shook her head.
"What?! But you're so pretty!"
"I only had eyes for Naomi."
Seiko blushed then the doll laughed shyly.
"That's her name...Naomi."
"Man, this Naomi girl must really be something! Like super hot! And you said I look like her?"
"Yeah a lot…" Seiko blushed.
"So you think I'm hot?"
"I think you're pretty hot even if you're dead."
Seiko's face flamed as she opened and closed her mouth.
"Since you never had a girlfriend, you never kissed someone either, huh?"
Seiko shook her head.
Yui decided to take a risk.
"Do you want to change that?"
"You can kiss me."
Things could either get really awkward or deepen their relationship. Yui hoped for the latter.
"I don't think you'd want to kiss me."
"But I do, c'mon! You've got nothing to lose!"
Seiko notably gulped then nodded.
Yui scooted closer to Seiko then grabbed her cheek. Its surface was ice cold but the look in Seiko's eyes was very much warm. She looked alive in that moment. It was an oddly intimate moment that was rare in a place like this. Yui gently stroked Seiko's cheek then closed her eyes leaning in.
Yui's warm breath ghosted Seiko's lips making her shudder. Everything felt so warm making her almost go into a sensory overload. Feelings and sensations she hadn't experienced in what felt like years exploded in that very moment. Once their lips made contact everything seemed to stop.
Seiko forgot about the burning in her neck and lungs.
The corpses that decorated the halls no longer existed.
The tragedies, Naomi, the agony she felt, they all left for a few seconds.
Then they pulled apart leaving Seiko awestruck and wanting more.
Yui smiled and opened her mouth to say something but, Seiko's lips stopped her as they collided with hers once more.
Yui was surprised but kissed back pulling Seiko into an embrace.
An odd mixture of heat and death's coldness brewing between them.