Prologue: Chihiro

Prologue: Chihiro

"You guys!" Chihiro whined as he parents started off into the tunnel. "It's creepy in there, don't go!" She clasped her hands tightly in front of her and fidgeted as they kept walking.

"Stay here if you don't want to come, Chihiro," her mother called exasperatedly. "We'll be back soon." "You're going to miss out…" her father called back enticingly.

"No!" Chihiro said defiantly. "You guys are crazy," she mumbled as she pulled open the back door of the car and climbed in. "I'm staying right here."

Five hours later, it was dark, she was hungry, her flowers were completely dead, and her parents still hadn't returned. Chihiro was frightened; where were they? "They should have been back by now," she whimpered to herself, curling into a little ball. But as even more time passed, no one came out of the passageway her mother and father had disappeared into. Chihiro dozed fitfully on and off until dawn, waiting for her parents.

She woke as sun filtered through the trees. Sitting up stiffly, Chihiro rubbed her face. It was still puffy from crying. She was still hungry, and she hadn't eaten since breakfast yesterday, and she had to pee. Badly. Gathering her courage, Chihiro unlocked the car door and hopped out onto the grass. She quickly found a bush, and upon taking care of business, felt marginally better. She looked around hopefully for a sign of her parents, particularly around the strange building they had walked off through. She saw nothing, except for the strange little statue of a two-faced man.

Chihiro didn't know what to do. She had no idea where she was, and she was alone. Her mother had told her to always stay where she was if she was lost; that way, people could find her more easily. But no one knew she was lost! Her father had told Chihiro to look for a police officer if she was separated from her parents, but Chihiro had no way to find one of those either.

She sniffed. She didn't want to cry again. Chihiro got back in the car and grabbed a mostly-full water bottle from the cup-holder up in front. Down on the passenger side floor, Chihiro saw bright and shiny paper sticking out from under the seat. Stretching to reach it, Chihiro tumbled into the front seat and grabbed it. "A granola bar!" she cheered quietly, and devoured it in short order.

From her spot in the car, Chihiro looked into the side-view mirrors and noticed the tire tracks torn into the grass behind the car. Turning around fully, Chihiro saw that the tracks extended as far as she could see. "Must have been Dad's crazy driving," she mumbled, mind racing. Her dad had driven like a maniac all throughout the "shortcut"- could she follow the tracks all the way back to a real road? She could find a police officer if she found a real road.

Chihiro made up her mind. Her parents hadn't come back yet; they must need help. She grabbed the water bottle again, and climbed out of the car one more time. Looking back at the red building, she said, "Hold on, guys. I'll get you help." With that, Chihiro began backtracking her way along her father's tire tracks.