BLEACH: A New World

"Sometimes I truly wonder if people really pay attention to the tiny details. Things that we take for granted or overlook because, at the moment, they didn't seem particularilly important. People, places, smells, experiences...all these things, so easily forgotten. It happened to me, quite a lot actually, before everything went wrong."

Darkness, the air was still, the ground was hard and the space was quite tight. It felt like an isolation room, built all around, no exit to be known.

"I took a risk once, a long time ago, and it cost the lives of countless innocent people. I just kept going. I have blood on my hands that I can't wash away. I feel seperate from the person...the people...that are closest to me. Have I simply alienated them or is it me that's just different? I don't even remember anymore. I didn't pay enough attention back then. I really don't recall what things were like back then, when no one's life hinged on my actions and the biggest worry I had was whether I'd be back in time for class this time or not. After that, I just tried keeping it all on my shoulders, hoping that if anyone would get hurt, it would be me and no one else."

A small glimmering light suspended in the air, directly out front. It shimmered, pulsating like a slow strobe light.

"I couldn't accept that people would take risks for me, I didn't feel worthwhile enough. Maybe that's why I was so quick to doing things for them that others had no interest in...because if I failed and died, it wouldn't change anything. No one would be hurt, no one would mourne for me. We called each other, we said we meant enough to one another that we would put our lives on the line for each other...and I believed in that, but only so far as my own actions. I could never be sure the others were so serious."

Horrible pain, enough so that even the tips of hairs felt as if they were burning.

"Maybe I just had a complex where I thought I was the only one who was truly aware...that the others were merely images of my imagination and that my limited expectations of them were only natural. What could imaginary friends do, anyway? What would it matter to them if I suddenly disappeared from the dream? I could never know, it was impossible after all. I shunned so many for that reason, keeping to myself and pushing away everyone else. I could only exist at arm's length. I felt like I was just playing a game after a while, and that people's reactions were just a result of some game mechanic that I had limited control over."

Skin felt like dry paper being pulled too tightly, ready to rip and tear. Eyes pulsated painfully to the sound of the heartbeat, reverberatting in the ears.

"At all felt like that after mom died. I saw someone by the river and wanted to save him before he drowned. Maybe it was a girl. I don't remember. All I know now is the sound of my mom being killed right in front of me by something I couldn't see, something I could only sense with my soul. It felt empty, desperate, hungry...but most of all, it very Hollow. Something made the feeling go away, and the next thing I remember is waking up at home, feeling just as empty as the thing that killed my mother. I felt numb towards everyone and everything after that. Yeah...that's when it started. I wasn't willing to lose anyone again, so I made it so that there would never be anyone close to me again. However, I couldn't stand that void inside me, festering, eating away at me for months and years after. That feeling still lingers even now, but maybe something about it made me finally reach out to someone. I stretched out my hand as far as I could, desperately hoping someone would catch it and hold on. No one I started to run."

Screaming did no use to stop the agony. Millions of ants biting every inch of skin, pulling pieces away and biting again. Fire spread as that parched skin finally ripped apart, starting at the fingernails and growing inwards up the arms.

"I ran from every moving thing. It's all I could think about for a long time...avoiding everything that might try to get to me. I just didn't want to bother anymore. Why reach out to a world that won't reach back? All my prior assumptions were validated and I felt as though I didn't owe anyone anything. I would make my own way and just stay alone until the world finally released me to peaceful oblivion. I tried to hasten things to that end on more than one occasion, but every time I was about to, someone called out my name and my arms started shaking. Sometimes it was a woman, sometimes it was a man. I could never be sure who they were or what they wanted."

People were staring now, people that were dressed in white and black. Their eyes looked at everything, dissecting every part, criticizing and making presumptions about something they didn't know. One person's eyes were only in shock. They were critical eyes, but not the hateful kind. It was as though those eyes had been betrayed and the realization was starting to sink in.

"The man's voice sounded the closest, but I could never see his face. I remember him telling me that ending my own life was a weakness warriors must overcome, that it was dishonorable and pathetic. The woman simply cried out that I should stop being so selfish. I think once...she even told me that I was a disgrace in the name of the power she'd given me...but her words were faint and I don't remember the rest. I cursed them to leave me alone but they were persistant, like they were part of me. I spent fifteen years hearing their voices, unable to know who they were or why they were so persistant."

Death was all around, fire and destruction rained. People were screaming, others were dying. It all faded to black, that same blackness from the beginning. This time, there was no pain, just the seering blind light of the sun far above.

"Their voices changed over time, so I don't remember what they were like in the beginning...just that they were different. The last time I attempted ending this lingering boredom of my own pointless existence, I was under a fading light surrounded by empty buildings. I didn't really remember anything from the before the darkness, but I knew facts about the place I was in and the place I wanted to go to. I knew the only way to get there was through death...and so I thrust my sword through my chest. I expected pain and felt none. I wanted the void and recieved nothing. I looked to where the sword should've been and saw that somehow, I had indeed thrust it through myself, but it didn't hurt. I heard footsteps and removed the blade, again without pain, and in my frustration I ran. The footsteps followed, and someone's voice called after me, but I wanted solitude and didn't listen."

The staircase was annoying, it kept going upwards in a square spiral. It felt as though there was no end, but then, that blinding yellow light again.

"I ran as far across that roof as I could until I reached the edge and couldn't continue. That bastard had followed me all the way there, unrelenting, like it was fun to toy with me. I presented it my blade and it stopped approaching. Its words were pointless so I ignored them outright...but then something changed. My guard fell for a moment and I could hear its voice. In my head, I could see someone's hand come straight for me, desperate for a connection. I reached out for it and grabbed on. When I could see through my eyes again, I was holding someone in my arms. My whole body was shaking and images flooded my mind. I was overflowing with gratitude and was so intense, I could barely describe it now. I felt like that Hollowness inside me was gone, and I was finally whole again."

Desperation...that's all there was. For acceptance, longing, desire...a connection.

"The voices in my head from before were clear now. The man's voice was from within me, the character of my soul, the mind and will of my was Zangetsu. And the woman's voice...was Kuchiki Rukia...the person who rescued me from myself."

"Then let's go...back to Soul Society."

"I was full of apprehention. I wanted to go back with her, but at the same time, the idea filled me with dread. The memory of what happened when I'd last seen her was fresh in my mind again. I looked at my arms as they were wrapped around her and expected my skin to suddenly turn ghostly white. I let go of her, then pushed her away, shaking my head as though telling her to stay away, but she just looked at me with shock in her eyes. I couldn't form words to tell her what was going through my head. She didn't seem to know what to say either. I shook my head, expecting there to be no one before me when I looked again...I almost wished it was a bad dream that I would just wake up from. I couldn't handle seeing her sad face again when I looked back."

Screaming from fear.

"It was real...she was still there...I couldn't make it go away. I would finally have to confront the past and truly explain myself. I would have to face their unforgiving eyes and be judged for something they couldn't possibly understand. I couldn't run away anymore. The dream was over and the nightmare was about to begin."