Disclaimer: I don't own Persona 2 or Pink Floyd's "Wearing the Inside Out"
A/N: Since this is just the prologue and it's so short, I saved the longer A/N for the first chapter. But this was an experimental story from a long time ago. I tried to revise it as best I could, but I'm sure it's probably chock full of errors. Please, give it a shot and tell me what you think.
Wearing the Inside Out
The Shrine is Burning
From Morning To Night
I Stayed Out Of Sight
Didn't Recognize I'd Become
No More Than Alive
I'd Barely Survive
In A Word…
Won't Hear A Sound
From My Mouth
I've Spent Too Long
On The Inside Out…
I thought my lungs would burst from all of the running. A bead of sweat trailed down my neck, and I didn't even try to hold in my gasping breaths. Clenching my fists, I tore down the street and skid around the corner. My eyes darted back and forth across the street, and I caught the plume of smoke coming from the northern end, near the base of Mt. Iwato.
"Tatsuya!" I screamed, my voice raspy and dry.
My body wouldn't move any further. I could feel my knees locking together and, with a rheumatic step, I toppled over.
Back then I didn't curse at all, out of respect for my family.
But I didn't care about that anymore.
"Tatsuya!" I staggered to my feet and took off running again, despite the harsh protests coming from my body.
I rounded the gates behind Seven Sisters and felt the heat graze my body. Magnificent colors of orange, yellow, and red swirled in the sky, and then were drowned out by the black smoke coming from the burning shrine.
Araya…It was on fire…
My astonishment would have to wait. I didn't even have the time to take in my surroundings and understand what was going on. Whirling around on my heel, horror overwhelmed me at the sight of my seven year old brother, bloody and wounded. He sluggishly moved toward me, arms hugging his body. Leaping forward, I caught him before he could fall to the ground. I could smell the blood all over him.
"Tatsuya!" Fretfully, I shook him. "Tatsuya! Are you all right?"
He murmured something I couldn't quite understand, his face buried in my chest. Something wet ran between my fingers and I lifted my hand from his back.
Blood. Blood everywhere.
"Maya…" my ears perked up at the sound of a name. I pulled my eyes from my bloodied hand and let them fall to the top of my brother's head. "Maya's dead."
"Maya?" I echoed, blinking. "Who's Maya?"
"In the shrine!" he sobbed, clutching my shirt.
Hesitantly, I turned my head in the direction of the burning shrine. It was illuminated in flames, the sound of crackling wood reverberating in my ears. My glasses fogged and my eyes were stinging from the smoke. It wouldn't be long until the fire department arrived.
But the one he spoke of…
Tatsuya was only a child. Perhaps he was mistaken. If someone else was in the shrine, then I had to help them. Looking back to my brother, I slid my hands from his bloodied back to his shoulders. He wouldn't look at me.
"Stay right here, Tatsuya," I commanded. "I'll be right back."
His head jerked up, eyes swollen and his cheeks tearstained. I knew he was going to protest. I left him before he could.
Jogging toward where the door would have been, I began to yell out to whoever could still be inside. I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted longer, waiting for any kind of response. Standing still, I peered through the flames more carefully, anticipating any kind of movement from within. My heart was beating fiercely.
I could hear my brother crying behind me.
"Hello!" I tried again. "Is anyone still in there!"
Maybe the person really was dead.
Or maybe they had escaped.
What if my brother had made "Maya" up? He was young. Invisible friends weren't out of his age range yet.
No…my brother's not like that. He doesn't make stuff up.
I took a step closer to the burning shrine, feeling the unbearable heat getting worse. I was blinking tears back from the smoke, and rubbing at my face profusely. Aside from my brother's whimpering and the roaring of the flames, there was no sound to be heard.
What about the perpetrator? He's got to be here! How else could my brother be injured and the shrine burning? Something's not right…
The very thought of my brother's wound sent me spinning around and making sure that he was still all right. He was hunched over on the ground, hugging himself tightly. I breathed a sigh of relief, even though he was still coated in blood.
There was the sound of a moving board behind me.
Whirling back to the burning shrine, I held my breath.
Within the flames I could see a thin figure moving. A face emerged and a head full of dark hair.
"Maya?" I dared to whisper. "Or a ghost?"
My muscles stiffened, but I wanted to reach out and pull whoever it was in the flames out into safety.
I saw those eyes.
They were big and sad. Something about those eyes.
"Get out of the fire!" I cried, darting to where the flames began and my net of safety ended. "Come on! Take my hand!"
But the figure did not stir or acknowledge my presence. Instead, those eyes trailed past me, where Tatsuya wept. Then the face disappeared within the flames, and the front door collapsed.
"Wait!" I jumped back away from the burning wreckage. "Maya!"
At the violent screech that was the Captain's voice, I was flung from my swivel chair in an absolute startle and tumbled to the ground, documents raining down on me and books crashing from their stacks next to my desk. The heavy pounding on the door paused momentarily at the sound of the disturbance, and then resumed, the rapid rhythm of knocking intensifying.
"Sergeant Suou! What are you doing? Open the door, now!"
I rubbed my eyes, hoping to stop the spinning in my head, and pushed myself back off the floor with my hands, using my desk as support.
"Coming," I said, groggily, twirling sloppily in a full circle as I tripped over my own feet, and crashed against the glass that lined my door. I could barely make out my name in black, bold letters on the outside. Shaking my head one final time, I found the doorknob, turned it, and pulled open.
I almost grimaced when I saw an incensed Captain Shimazu standing there, his arms crossed and his foot tapping with worn patience. Judging from the look on his face, I could tell he was none too pleased with having to wait. I ran a hand through my hair, trying to think of something to say.
He spoke before I could, "Do you know how long I've been knocking on that door! What'd you do, fall asleep in your chair?" He laughed because he knew that an action such as that was very unlike me. He stopped when he saw my expression and realized that it was true. His eyebrows furrowed and he sobered up quickly, "But nonetheless, it's no time to doze off, Suou. There's been an accident at Seven Sisters and I want you and Ikeda from the Main Branch to check it out. I sent him out to the car already; he's waiting for you."
I wasn't given enough reaction time to comment before Shimazu turned heel and headed back down the hall as quickly as he had come. I shook my head and glanced back in my room, now littered with important documents and thick law books.
My mouth twitched at its ends.
When had I had the chance to sleep? And that dream, what did it mean? It seemed so real. But…Araya never burned down…
I shook my head and grabbed my dark gray coat. It was a ludicrous thought. That girl in the fire…
Perhaps Tatsuya knew her.
"That's silly," I pushed the thought from my mind. "Dreams like that happen all the time. And besides…he probably won't be home for me to ask—he never is."
I threw on my coat and stuck my revolver in its holster located at my side, hanging loosely. I shut the door behind me, and walked brusquely in the opposite direction that Captain Shimazu had.
Ikeda was waiting for me in the black Honda out back, honking the horn to signify that he was tired of waiting for me.
Uh…yeah…so, how is it so far? I'm not really comfortable with this kind of writing style, so please forgive me. See you at chapter one.