Akemi stood there for a moment, staring at her empty hand. The hand that just now held the hand of the little girl. But now it was empty. There was not a single thing that would tell that there was once a little girl, and dog, at her side. In fact, it must have looked quite odd seeing a girl crossing an intersection with one hand slightly off as if she was holding something invisible. Then it turned all dark for Akemi.
Some time later, she could not really tell, Akemi came to her senses again, standing outside the door to her apartment. She felt a little dizzy as she grabbed the door handle and entered the apartment. She went to the sink, grabbed a glas, and took a large sip of water. She felt all dried out somehow. She leaned towards the bench as the memories started coming back to her. The little dog, the little girl. The accident. What did it all mean? What was the purpose of this bad dream? For it was a dream? She asked herself.
“No” The dark voice from the dream was back again.
“No, that was not, and this is not, a bad dream. This is reality. Or well, at least one of the realities.” No matter how hard she tried to ignore the voice it broke through all barriers she tried to put up.
“Come now. We have already discussed this. We are one now, you and me, and there is nothing that can ever change that, Prey.”
“But how did I get back home? It all turned black there at the intersection.”
“Yes, and it was not easy to steer you here. You are most difficult, or your mind is I should say. Quite the willpower there. Still, you did not put up much of a fight. Unlike that first time.” The voice somehow seemed a bit doubting but it quickly shaped up and turned back towards the more firm approach. “You need to rest.”
Akemi felt that she did not have the strength to argue any further. For all she know the dream was still ongoing, she just wanted to get to bed and sleep for a few centuries. She probably fell asleep even before landing on her bed.
The constant beeping from her cell phone woke her up a few hours later. It was already dark outside and in most of her apartment beside the corner being lit up by her phone. She fumbled a bit before she was able grab it and answer. It was Nikomie.
“Hey, are you there?” She asked.
“Hum, yeah. Just woke up.” Akemi replied and decided to look for the light switch. After a few tries she found it and was able to properly navigate her apartment.
“Why? You’ve been up to something?” Nikomie asked curiously. But Akemi could hear that she was anxious to tell her something. Besides, she did not want anyone know about what she had been doing earlier that day. It all felt so tangled.
“Nah, nothing. Just been reading a lot.” She tried to excuse herself.
“Ok. Well I got news!” Nikomie almost shouted out. “You see, I’ve got word that someone will try and have a look in our class room tonight!”
“Really? How, is it open again?”
“No, no. But one of the boys in 3C is going to make a try reaching the floor form the outside. Its kind of exciting!” Nikomie sounded very exalted. “He is going to take pictures and all, perhaps even post them online later tonight!”
“Thats, nice I suppose.” Akemi replied a bit distant.
“Is that all you have to say? That it’s nice? I mean, come on! Our classroom, the entire floor, has been sealed off by the police! And I do not believe for a moment that it is due to some crappy construction work. No, no. If that were the case we would still be sitting in the room, perhaps being forced to wear hardhats until summer so they can repair it then. No, this is something much more sinister in effect!” Nikomie proclaimed with a sudden firm voice.
“Whoa there top journalist. I just got up, I need coffee before this world starts to make sense to me.” Akemi replied, trying to ease the mood with a joke. It seemed successful.
“Sounds fair, but I am right. You know I am! I’ll see what more I can find out about this. Hopefully he is able to enter and take some pictures and I’ll try and get my hands on them as soon as possible.” She sounded like a journalist digging around again.
“Fine, let me know what you find, ok.” Akemi replied knowing that she was a bit of an enabler. On the other hand, one thing she had learned about Nikomie was that once she had set her mind on something there would be nothing that could stop her. That’s probably why she was one of the students with the best grades in school.
“Oh, one more thing before we hang up. You said that you found a dog?”
“Hum, yeah. Did I mention it to you?” She asked Nikomie.
“Yes, well sort of. You mumbled something about getting groceries to feed a dog earlier when we had a coffee.”
“Ah, I might have. Was sort of distracted then. The news that morning and all. But yeah, I found a little dog outside and took care of it. Even put up some posters. And it seemed to have worked as a little girl came by earlier picking it up.” She replied, feeling a bit divided as she was only telling Nikomie half the truth. But she knew that if she told the other half Nikomie would probably think that she was making it all up.
“yeah, I know. That’s why I am asking. I found one of your posters. Why did you put up a picture of a pillow with a few treats on?” Nikomie sounded a but concerned all of a sudden.
“What?” Akemi bursted out. She started looking around her apartment to see if she could find any print. She found one folded in her backpack. When she opened it up she nearly dropped her phone. “I.. It must have been something wrong with the ink or something. There was a dog on the picture I swear!”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. The poster I found was quite damp and smudged. Perhaps the ink had just been ruined because all I could see on the picture was the pillow and stuff. But, yeah, it wasn’t in a good shape you’re right about that. Never mind, you said the owner came and picked it up? All is good then!” Nikomie was back to her cheerful self again it seemed. “Talk later, I’ll bother you as soon as I hear anything new about those pictures!”
“Yeah, sounds good. Bye.” Akemi was still taken about finding out that there was no dog on the picture. She was certain that is was there when she put up all the posters. Why would it suddenly be gone from all the pictures now? She looked at her phone, even the picture there – which she had used to print the posters – had every detail on it, except for the dog itself.
She sat down on her bed with the cup of coffee she had prepared earlier while talking to Nikomie and took a sip. She was still tired and felt torn, but the sensation of caffeine seemed to have some effect on her at least. What was happening to her?
“You still have much to learn, Prey.” The dark voice suddenly said.
“What do you mean?” She asked, she still felt too tired to argue with whatever it was.
“Well, I suppose you are bound to start learning some way or another.” The dark voice said. “Can you recall my name, Prey?”
For a second there was a sharp flash bursting through Akemi’s mind, but it was too painful for her to be able to remember anything at all from when they first met. The pain made it impossible for her to recall anything at all from that night.
“No” Was the only answer she could muster.
“That’s good. You may refer to me as Kaen, Prey” She could almost hear how the voice was smiling in the most sinister way.
“And my name is Akemi, not ‘Prey’ as you insist on calling me all the damn time!” She bursted out loud. That would probably make the neighbours wonder what was happening in her apartment.
“Well, Prey, that may be your name. But I am still going to call you that which you are. Until you are able to manage on your own that is. And that road is long. Long and filled with obstacles far beyond your imagination.”