Disclaimer: I do not own Azumanga Daioh.

Osaka's Nightmare
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

No sane person would willingly have wandered into the house in the daytime, let alone in the middle of the night, but Kasuga 'Osaka' Ayumu was hardly a normal person; well the dust bunnies told her she was normal, but she couldn't entirely trust anything they said. But back to the house… it was old, dark and dingy… and for some reason Osaka really wanted to find out what was in there. Maybe there would be zompires or eggplant monsters… She wasn't worried about ghosts though; ghosts didn't exist. Even she knew that!

But the house, ancient as it was had always fascinated Osaka. That was how, one dark, misty night, she found herself at the bottom of the steps, staring up at the gaping black maw that was the door to the old house. She walked slowly up the steps, staring as the house grew larger and larger as she got nearer to it… Then something screamed and Osaka burst into as fast a run as she could… then tripped on the top step and fell head-first into the doors, which bust open then slammed shut behind her, leaving her alone in total darkness.

Osaka briefly considered the fact that the dustbunnies could be lurking here, plotting to kill her, but she pushed that thought out of her mind. The house was a bit too scary for her to be thinking of things like that at the moment. It was so dark she couldn't see an inch in front of her face… then torches flickered into life on the brackets and Osaka saw what sort of place she was in for the first time. The floor was covered with a thick coat of dust, cobwebs hung off the walls like macabre party decorations, the air was thick with the smell of death and dust… and there was laughter coming from inside one of the rooms.

Osaka wandered down the hallway, clouds of dust fluttering into her face with every step she took, past countless chipped wooden doors, until she finally came to the room that hid the source of the manic laughter. She paused momentarily then stepped into the room. A figure stirred in the shadows then something turned and stared directly at her.

The sight that met her was horrifying, even more terrifying than anything else she could have imagined. For in the she could make out a small, familiar figure – Chiyo. But something was wrong about her; something was missing… but what? Then she realised exactly why Chiyo looked so strange and alien.

Her pigtails were gone!

Unpigtailed-imitation-Chiyo grinned evilly, then started walking towards Osaka. "Wake up, miss-Osaka," she chanted, "wake up… wake up…"

"OI! OSAKA! CLASS STARTS IN LIKE A MINUTE! OSAKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Tomo's voice broke into her thoughts, completely confusing Osaka for a moment, then she looked up and saw Tomo and Chiyo standing by her desk.

Tomo looked at Chiyo, smirking, then laughed. "I told you that would work! Even Osaka can't sleep through my yelling!"

"You say that like it's a good thing," Kagura muttered, aiming a pen at the wildcat girl's head. Whether Tomo got hit or not, Osaka never knew. Her attention was fixed on something more important. Chiyo was smiling the same as ever, but something was strange about her, oh so strange.

"Ya pigtails ah gone!" Osaka gasped, falling off her chair in a dead faint.

Chiyo looked at her concernedly. Meanwhile, in another part of the classroom, Yomi sighed. Couldn't even one morning pass without the Numbnuts doing something stupid?