Chapter 2 has arrived, and so have our unfortunate protagonists-to Heavenly Host that is...
Note: I have this fanfic take place in 2006, 3 years after the English manga was released and 2 years before the events of the original PSP Corpse Party game -in case any of y'all were wondering.
Also the Nietzsche quote thing isn't exactly a theme, just a coincidence.
Chapter Two: Monster
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.
The muffled sounds of thunder and the creaking of distant floorboards were the only sounds to be heard in the room, as a young blonde was beginning to regain her consciousness slowly. Her violet eyes could hardly see a thing, only a blurry ceiling and an impregnable darkness. Her hands made their way to her face to rub her eyes, only to have her rub something wet and sticky into the delicate organs.
"Ah!" Mai yelped, bringing her hands away from her face. Whatever it was that she had rubbed into her eyes was stinging severely, and she blinked furiously, trying to alleviate the pain. She wiped her hands down on her tank top and then brought her cleaner hands back to her eyes and slowly rubbed away the ache. Her tears had made the pain caused by the unidentified substance significantly softer, but still, a throbbing echo remained.
Once she had blinked away all the tears and could see clearly (or as clearly as one could in a pitch black room), she pushed up from the floor in order to stand up. Unexpectedly, her hands slid forward, causing her to fall back onto the ground. What the hell am I laying in?
Her hands frantically searched for a dry spot on the ground to push off from and when she had found one, she pushed herself to her feet and began looking around the room from her new vantage point. She could see a lone lit candle flickering around 2 meters away from her, but she couldn't quite tell the dimensions of the room with the amount of visibility the candle allowed. With a sigh, she began to make her way over to the candle, maneuvering around what seemed to be desks and chairs. Was this a classroom?
Her heart almost dropped to the pit of her stomach when one of her heels sunk into the floorboards. It looked like the floor was broken here… What a dump, she thought as she struggled to pull her foot out of the hole in the floor. She grunted, tugging her ankle with all her might, but to no avail. Maybe if she took it off of her foot slowly, she would be able to pull it out of the hole more easily.
With a sigh, Mai put her nimble finger in the back strap of her sandal and delicately took her foot out of the hole. She slowly and carefully moved her shoe, twisting it and turning it to make it easier, however, she was met with an unforeseen force of resistance on the shoe's part and it slipped right out of her fingertips and through the hole. "No! Wait!" she cried out into the blackness, as though her shoe would hear her call and soar back up to her. Sure, she could simply go to the lower level and find it, but getting around an unfamiliar place with only one shoe was sure to be difficult. Unfortunately, when your only shoe was a single sandal with a three-inch heel, walking around with one shoe wasn't so easy, so with a fair bit of reluctance, she slipped out of her second shoe, hanging it by the strap on her wrist, and opted for walking around with no shoes at all.
The candle was sitting at the teacher's pedestal in the classroom, illuminating a chalkboard that looked like it had seen better days. "How did I get here?" she murmured as she slowly gripped the small candlestick. She carried her newfound light source over to a window. Maybe if she got a good look at her surroundings, she could figure out where exactly she was. She must have been in some sort of school, and judging by the dismal state the whole room was in, it was probably out of business.
Her examination of the window proved to be fruitless, as there was nothing to be seen outside; it was too dark. It did tell her something, though, and that was the fact that she was very far from civilization. Were she near a town, she would have at least seen a far off streetlamp in the distance, or other buildings, perhaps, that were not so abandoned.
There was a door to her right, but it seemed to be blocked off by a desk. She made her way over to it, setting the candle down on the pedestal on her way, and began to pull as hard as she could, but it wouldn't budge, creaking and moaning in protest at her actions. It was almost as though the desk was nailed to the ground in that spot intentionally.
She took the candle again and looked towards the end of the classroom. There had to be another way out of this room. After all, how had she gotten in here to begin with?
Once again, as she trekked across the classroom, she held her candle low, watching out for any more gaps in the floor. Her feet didn't appreciate the rough surface of the damaged wood below her, but there was nothing she could do until she got her second shoe from the room below. Eventually, she made it back to the spot that in which she had started, only to finally identify the substance that she had rubbed all over her face earlier.
Fresh crimson, viscous and sticky… She was currently covered in it, but Mai knew for a fact that it wasn't her own blood because she was not injured in any way. Much to her dismay, she didn't need to look far to find the source of the blood, and it was all she could do to keep a firm grip on the candlestick in her hand.
There, on the ground in front of her, not even a meter away from where she had woken up, was a young girl, who looked no older than 15, with her whole torso hollowed out. She looked like someone had neatly cut out her chest and gut with a finely sharpened knife (perhaps a saw), the way one would cut the crust off of a piece of bread. It was obvious that the girl was dead -and what was worse was the fact that she appeared to have only just been killed. She didn't look like she had been dead for even a mere couple of hours. What if whoever did that was still here?
The older woman felt sick looking down at the dead girl below her, setting down her candle and clutching her stomach in pain. She hadn't eaten before going to Anzu's house, so there wasn't much in her stomach, but she still felt the need to empty it out all over the ground where she had been laying. She turned her head away, not wanting to see her vomit mix in with the blood on the ground.
Whoever did this… they must have still been there… That was the only thing Mai could think about at that moment, and her main fear was the idea that she may have been next. And if Mai was here, then what if the rest of her friends were here, too? What if one of them had already ended up like that unfortunate middle school girl? She didn't even want to think about it.
Thankfully, the classroom had a second door near the back, and since there didn't seem to be anything else in this room that she needed to make a note of, she took her candle and made her way out of the room. She silently thanked God that the door was unlocked as she shut it on her way out, leaving that classroom and the horribly mutilated girl behind.
A notable change in the scenery of the corridor, compared to the classroom, was the fact that it was much brighter than the classroom. Sure, it wasn't bright enough to see things clearly, but somehow, the windows did a better job of illuminating the hall than they did illuminating that classroom, and every time lightning struck, she could see more of the deserted and run down hallway.
The silence around her was unnerving, and she felt so lonely and confused. The rain was louder in the hall, echoing loudly against the broken wooden walls, and the stench of something foul was overpowering. Judging by what she had just seen in the room before, she could safely assume that the stench in question was probably death. She didn't want to breathe it in -it felt wrong, but she didn't have the luxury of choice when it came to the air she was able to inhale at the moment.
"Mai, is that you?"
Her head turned swiftly at the sound of her own name on the tongue of someone familiar. She wasn't completely alone.
"Yugi!" she cried out and rushed over to him, cautious not to step in any holes.
Yugi was with her. Her luck was unbelievable! She had found one of her friends so quickly and now she needed to find the other seven. She could imagine that Shizuka was scared out of her wits and hoped with all her heart that the young girl found someone familiar -perhaps even Joey.
"I'm so glad I found you!" she exclaimed, clinging to the boy's hoodie like her life depended on it. "I just woke up in that room over there" -she gestured to the door behind her- "covered in some girl's blood. There's a monster here, Yugi."
Yugi frowned, maintaining his silence for a few moments after Mai had stopped speaking before replying to her. "I… I woke up in there, too, but I didn't see you. Are you sure you were in there?"
"Y-Yes…" Mai told him, slightly taken aback by the way he was speaking. "You must have thought I was the dead girl. And it was pretty dark in there…"
"Yeah, that must be it," he said, smiling insincerely to reassure his friend, though it wasn't like anyone could smile sincerely in a place like this. "I'm just a bit on edge. I mean that earthquake at Anzu's house came out of nowhere… and now we're here."
"We need to find a way out of here," the blonde stated, releasing her grip on Yugi's jacket and looking around the hall. "I took this from that room we woke up in," she said, holding up the candle. "I don't know how long it'll keep burning, but hopefully it'll last until we find our friends and the exit."
He nodded in agreement and added, "Yeah, I mean how big can this place be. It's just an elementary school."
"Right…" Mai agreed, looking behind her at the room that the two were about to abandon. She began to wonder… why hadn't Yugi acknowledged the body inside? Didn't it faze him? Or was it too horrific to talk about? Sure, she didn't quite like the idea of discussing a corpse either, but she needed to say something to someone. Maybe she would tell Joey when she found him…
"I think I saw a staircase this way," Yugi said, as he began moving to the right of their starting point. Mai briskly walked with him, partly since she was a light source now, and partly because she was too afraid to be so much as one step behind her friend.
Sure enough, there was a staircase exactly where Yugi had said. It seems he had looked around a bit while Mai was still unconscious, and if Yugi had wandered around alone for a couple of minutes unharmed, then maybe the threat of a monster lurking somewhere in the school wasn't as great as she had imagined.
The stairwell was more eerie than the hallway itself, making the duo feel like almost anything could be lurking around the corner -perhaps even the bloodthirsty menace that Mai's weary eyes were constantly seeking. What they found, however, was much stranger, causing the young woman to drop to her knees promptly, set her belongings down and hug her own shoulders. It was another corpse, laying against the aged wall, and this one came in the form of frail-looking bones, bleached with age. Judging by the build and the uniform, she guessed that these remains must have once belonged to a middle school girl.
"Yugi…" she called out, her voice shaking. "How long do you think has this person been dead?" The uniform the girl was wearing looked surprisingly out-dated, making Mai feel a bit uneasy.
She noticed her candle being held by someone else and instinctively turned her head towards Yugi to see him carrying it and crouching down beside the body. His hand reached out slowly to something small and rectangular pinned to the front of the girl's brown jacket, which Mai assumed must have been white at some point since the coloring was inconsistent.
"What are you doing?" she asked her friend, watching as he pulled out a dirty card from the rectangular casing.
"I'm taking her student ID card," he muttered, his eyes scanning the card briefly before placing it inside of his own wallet.
"Why?" she inquired, picking up the shoe she had dropped.
Yugi sighed and sat down against the wall. "I took the name tag of the dead girl in the classroom we were in, too. I'm going to find their parents as soon as I get out of this place. They deserve to know that their kids aren't ever coming back."
The older woman's eyes widened slowly, stinging a bit, but from tears and not from blood this time. However she couldn't find any words to say in reply, thoughts swimming in her mind rapidly, images of the two dead girls, and images of their parents finding out that their babies won't ever come back to them. It saddened her to think about it, but she knew that the parents of the young girl beside her must have dismissed her as dead long ago.
"It's strange, though…" he continued when he saw that Mai wasn't about to speak anytime soon. He brought his knees closer to his body and rested his forearm on one of them. "It's 2006, right?" Mai nodded but didn't say a word. "This girl's ID says that she's from the Blossoming Future Academy for Girls…"
"My mother went to that school," Yugi interjected firmly. "She told me that they closed it down in the late 80's…"
"B-But that's…" 26 years ago, which meant that the girl beside them had been dead for at least 30 years! "But surely… she must just be wearing her mother's uniform with her student name tag! And she happened to get kidnapped in it."
"Perhaps, but…" Setting the candle on the ground, he rose to his feet, walking towards the girl and crouching down right in front of her. Slowly, he moved his hand towards the bones and pushed against the girl's rib cage lightly and quickly. Though Mai hadn't expected anything to happen, she found that the bones reacted immediately to the boy's soft touch, crumbling like brittle stones and collapsing onto themselves until the girl was nothing but a pile of bones with a broken skull laying on top. "It looks like she's been dead for at least a few decades."
Taken aback, Mai immediately asked, "And how would you know about stuff like that?" She was still reeling from what her friend had just done to the girl's body, and didn't even trying to dilute the hostility in her tone
He raised an eyebrow at his friend as if to say "Shouldn't it be obvious?" However, it seemed like Mai wasn't thinking clearly at the moment. "My grandpa's an archaeologist. He knows all about decomposition and things like that. He used to tell me stories about his adventures all the time and I guess I picked up a thing or two." He sighed deeply getting to his feet again. "I didn't think that I'd ever have to use that knowledge though…"
The blonde's voice wouldn't come though and the stairwell was silent again for a few moments before Yugi spoke again. "Come on, Mai. We need to find Anzu, Jounouchi and the others."
The candle, still on the ground where Yugi left it was flickering, giving the small space of the stairwell an ominous feel, and the corpse in the corner wasn't exactly helping. Reaching out for the candlestick, Mai stood up and looked down at the lower level.
"Hey, Mai," the boy asked before they began to descend the stairs. "Why aren't you wearing your shoes?"
She became aware of the shoe strap that was digging into her wrist. "Ah, I accidentally dropped the other one in one of those holes in the floor. I was planning on looking for it once I got down to the bottom level."
He nodded slowly then said, "But even if you find them, it'll be pretty hard walking around in heels. Maybe you should…" He paused for a moment, contemplating his next words carefully, almost unsure if he even wanted to say them. "You could take some shoes off of one of the dead girls if they have the same size as you"
The woman was silent in shock for what felt like minutes, the duo frozen at the top of the stairs looking down. "A-Are you serious?"
Since he had already gone and said something taboo, he continued without hesitation. "They won't need them anymore. I'm sure they'd be happy to help someone else make it out of here alive." He tried to smile reassuringly at her, letting her know that it was okay, but in reality, he was the one who needed the reassuring smile, because the look that Mai was giving him was anything but friendly. She looked like she was questioning his sanity at the mere notion of looting the dead -even if it was for necessity.
"I think I'll pass," she affirmed, sending a stern glare in his direction. "Besides, we're not gonna be here that long."
Trying not to let the glare bother him, he tried again to convince her. "There's a monster in here, Mai. Do you really wanna run around barefoot in a place like this?"
"I said I'm fine, Yugi. Let's just get away from this body…" She straightened her back, tightened her grip on the candle, and began to march down the stairs without looking back to see if her companion was following her -not that she needed to look behind her to know that Yugi was following, because who would want to be alone in a place like this.
The stairs led them to a short corridor, leading them up to a three-way fork. Should they choose to go straight, it would lead them to a blank wall and what they assumed to be another staircase, and should they turn left, they would be met with an even longer hallway which seemed to be littered in dead bodies. To their right, was a large impassible gap in the floor, and at the end of that hall was a large door.
"Do you think that's the entrance?" she asked Yugi with a slight hint of dread in her voice. If they couldn't get across that hole, then how would they leave?
"I hope not," he replied, his voice sounding weak, his head tilted slightly to the right, staring longingly at what was obviously the entrance. They were, after all, on the first floor, and logic said that any door that was much larger than the rest probably lead to the outside. He snapped the resolve back into his voice painfully and added, "If it is, then we'll definitely find another way out, because if there's a way in, there must be a way out."
Mai nodded and proceeded. Naturally, she went for the more inviting (and more available) direction -straight ahead. As she made to go forward, an unnatural force pushed her back against Yugi, causing him to stagger slightly, narrowly avoiding the great fall to his right, and gripping his friend's shoulders to steady the both of them. Before the woman could open her mouth to speak, a dull blue light illuminated the corridor and Mai's candle was blown out.
Standing and facing the duo was what appeared to be a young girl -or at least what was left of a young girl. She was wearing a high school uniform and was staring off into space as though she was looking right through Mai and Yugi, but that wasn't the most notable thing about her. In addition to her blank expression, she was missing an arm and glowing an unusual blue -she almost looked… transparent. Judging by the uneven stump at her shoulder, her amputation must not have been very pleasant.
You must not go through here.
"Who are you?" Mai asked, trying her hardest not to gawk at the girl's right arm, or lack thereof for that matter.
You must not go through here.
Mai's heart was thudding against her chest so hard that she could feel her skin tingling and her ribs hurting. Something in her already knew what she was encountering, but the dominant part of her being wanted to deny the truth completely.
"What do you mean?" the older woman tried again, trying to sound strong, but just like before, her attempt yielded no results.
You must not go through here.
It was as though those were the only words this wraith knew, and repeating them on a loop was the only way for her to exist, so she continued to do so. Her voice sounded human enough, but had just enough of a supernatural tone to send shivers down the pair's spines. It didn't seem like she was going anywhere anytime soon.
"Why?" Yugi asked. "Why can't we go through?"
Remarkably, it was Yugi's question that reached the girl's ears. She finally made eye contact with the people in front of her, making Mai feel like the alternative was much more comfortable after all. The speed at which the girl turned her head to look at the spiky-haired teen in front of her gave the older blonde whiplash. The emotionless eyes were fixed completely on Yugi's confused face, and for a moment, a tiny blink of emotion could be seen in them -dread.
It's already too late for you.
With that, the girl departed in a manner that could only be described as receding -or perhaps even ceasing to exist, leaving the two companions to stare at each other in wonder and contemplate just how real that young amputee was.
"Did that… just happen?" Yugi asked, his eyes fixed on the spot where the girl once stood, his mind still circulating her last words and trying to discern them. For some reason, he sensed that these words were meant only for him.
Yet Mai's mind was still trying to fathom the existence of a ghost, even after it had appeared before her. She had seen it, but she couldn't understand how something like that could be possible. "I saw it too…" she offered, releasing her arms from Yugi's grasp as he was too stunned to realize that he was still holding her.
Stepping away from his friend, he voiced his concerns out loud. "What does she mean by 'It's already too late'?"
The woman cocked her head to the side slightly and racked her mind for any coherent explanation for the ghost's words. "What if she means that the monster is that way?"
Yugi swallowed the lump that grew in his throat at the mention of a monster, because there was only one explanation for the girl's words if she was talking about the one who was murdering the lost students in this school. "That means… the monster is already here."
"N-No!" Mai protested quickly, as if her protest alone could save her from the monster lurking nearby, as if her protest alone could send all of these strange occurrences back to the world of fiction where they belonged. "But where could a monster like that hide? How could it be here right now if it was just in the stairwell. Wouldn't we have seen it pass us by?"
Yugi sighed and began to speak. "Well, we just saw a ghost, Mai. So it's very likely that it-"
"How do you know it was a ghost?" she countered, cutting off his thought. "Maybe it was dark and we couldn't see well because the candle wasn't lit."
"And how exactly did the candle turn off -"
"The wind!" she all but yelled.
"Where would that wind even come from if all the windows that lead to the outside don't even open!" Yugi argued, his voice becoming louder steadily along with Mai's.
"How do you know that!" she cried in exasperation.
"Because I tried them! None of them open, Mai! None of them! Not the ones in the classroom, or the ones in the hallway!" at this point, he was shouting. His right arm was violently extended, his hand pointing towards the inaccessible entrance-way. "And I can bet you that if I try to open that front door, it won't open." Now that he had finally said it, the corridor was quiet again. For a moment, one could say that even the rain and thunder had been put on mute, but it was only a matter of time before one earsplitting clap of thunder startled the pair out of their glaring competition.
There was a long sigh from Mai before she shut her eyes and dropped her belongings -the single shoe and the candlestick. They both dropped with a thud and a clang, startling her companion for a moment. "I guess I won't be needing these anymore."
"Are you sure?" Yugi asked, his eyes following the candlestick as it rolled across the floor and down into the wide hole between them and the entrance. He waited for the second clang that meant it had hit the floor, but it never came. His eyes twitched in irritation at the thought of their light source being lost. They could have simply found a match and relit it, but it seemed Mai had decided to be entirely too theatrical about disposing of her things.
With a nod and a pained smile, she replied, "Yeah…besides, I looked through those windows across from the staircase back when we first got to this floor. The space under the classroom we started out in is not on this floor for sure… And I don't think my shoe is worth a trip to the basement of this creepy place."
"I… see," the boy replied quietly.
"I'm not taking anyone else's shoes either, though. I don't think I could…"
"So should we go forward or -"
The building shuddered all at once. Mai's face was pale, panic and fear clouding over her eyes, her arms searching blindly for something to cling to. It was like the school was fighting something and shaking furiously, flinging Mai against one wall and Yugi against another. Cautiously yet desperately, she reached along the floor for Yugi's hand, crying out to him in a voice she couldn't even recognize as her own, barely audible and as cracked and broken as the floor. "Y-u-g-i! G-r-a-b... m-y... h-a-n-d! H-u-r-r-y!"
She could see Yugi's frightened lavender irises contracting, making the darkness of his pupils the only color visible. His hand was shaking, moving towards hers slowly, as though he were hesitant to take it. Why wasn't he taking her hand?
"P-l-e-a-s-e!" she screamed over the sound of the shifting floorboards. All around them, the floor was breaking and mending itself, turning the area where they were currently struggling into a completely different space. Gradually, even the floor between the two of them was ceasing to exist, and she wondered why, in this place of all places, and in this time of all times, Yugi was hesitating.
Soon the earthquake began to ease and the floor between Mai and Yugi had disintegrated completely, leaving Mai on one side of the intersection, where the ghost had manifested and where the lengthy corpse-filled hallway was, while Yugi was on the side with the entrance-way and the staircase they had originally come from. Both of them were panting heavily and clinging to the walls and the floor, relieved to have survived.
While Mai was happy to have made it, she was also disappointed that Yugi failed to grab her hand when she had told him to. Still on the ground, she made to scold the boy, but she could still see the same expression on his face as before, unchanged, like in his mind, the quake hadn't really ended.
Yugi, on the other hand, had his mind elsewhere. He couldn't even spare a glance at the older woman, nor could he say a single word to her. All he could see was something small, a girl, standing behind his companion, emitting a pale blue light, just like the ghost from before, only somehow more malevolent. She was wearing a red dress, and her hair, like tendrils of darkness, was strewn wildly across her face. She had been standing behind Mai throughout the duration of the earthquake with a small smirk on her lips, wagging her sickly finger at the teen, her vacant eyes almost daring him to make a move.
"Yugi?" the blonde asked, a spark of worry lit her eyes.
He couldn't respond to her, though, as a loud, repetitive incremental crescendo of pounding resonated through the hall just behind Mai. Her head whipped back to seek the source of the noise. The child was gone, but something else had taken her place, a man bounding towards her with heavy steps, an enormous sledgehammer slung over his shoulder. She could feel her eyes popping out of her head as he approached. She glanced back at Yugi pleadingly, reaching out towards him over the large gap, but she knew he wouldn't be able to help her now.
"Yugi, help me!"
Yugi shut his eyes tightly and the pounding stopped, but he knew that it wasn't over yet. He inched his body further away, towards the wall, covering his ears. However, nothing could block out the sickening CRACK that followed, nor did it stop him from hearing the sound of something large being dragged away through the hallway.
By the time Yugi opened his eyes, he was alone.
So... Yoshikazu showed up pretty early on... I wasn't planning on this happening at first... but it just did, y'know.
I literally know nothing about Japan, Japanese uniforms, schools or anything and I'm basically just winging it, so I apologize if any inaccuracies pop up.
I would very much enjoy your feedback if you would be so kind as to give it :)