A/N: Ahaha...haha... Please, forgive me? I don't have any more to say. Let's just say I got completely carried away with reality, all right? Or if you're still not satisfied, I wrote a lengthy explanation for it in my profile. Thanks for your attention.
Disclaimer: Plot is mine. Well, not exactly either. Nope, not at all. Just a few add-ons here and there. But I kind of messed with the dialogues a little.
The rain poured heavily outside, deserting the streets of any pedestrians. The sky was dark and gray, and lightning pierced the clouds occasionally, but luckily it never reached land. However, it still felt threatening and dangerous, as though it was ready to strike any minute. It was dreary and gloomy, just like the situation currently was.
A lone truck sped across the highway, its tires screeching as it swerved to a turn. The driver was frantic, his eyes almost maniacal. Beads of sweat stuck on his forehead, drenching his clothes as it travelled down. His surroundings were dark, and almost nothing were seen. However, in the dim glow of the streetlights, a silhouette of a wide screen TV lay concealed in a slovenly draped curtain behind him, serving as a poor disguise. The man kept glancing at his side-mirror, as if anticipating someone chasing after him.
Indeed, a few seconds later, someone else was gaining speed behind him. A white sedan was hot on his tail, its driver's expression presenting fierce determination and resolution. His brows were furrowed in concentration and he skillfully maneuvered past other cars who were in the way, his sight focused only at the truck a couple of meters in front of him.
He grunted. "Hang in there, Nanako! Daddy's coming to get you!"
A taxi came from the other direction and would have collided into Dojima if it weren't for his spontaneous veer around the taxi, the car horn shrieking in grating protest.
He recovered from his mild shock -as he was already quite used to near-crashing incidents from his previous chases- and saw his objective just in time to turn right, and throttled full speed ahead.
The truck driver was getting more and more edgy. There was nearly no hope for him to outrun the renowned detective; he was getting closer and closer. The sedan was creeping closer with every second.
Labored breaths accompanied his frenzied driving, and he incoherently decided the only thing that would throw the officer behind him off the course for good, even if it meant that he had to sacrifice his own life.
His hand rested on the hand brake.
Dojima narrowed his eyes in concentration. Just a little bit more and he would be able to catch up to the thieving swine.
Just a little bit more.
When he was no more than a foot behind the truck, it was where everything took a plunge for the worst.
The tires of the truck screeched to a stop, skidding across the asphalt. Unable to handle the sudden weight, the truck lurched over and flipped over.
In his absolute horror, Dojima pulled the handbrake so hard that he might as well wrench it off. But he knew he'd never make it. He was already going so fast, and the old sedan would never stop in time.
It all happened to fast, lightning-quick. He never knew what got to him before he promptly blacked out.
"Look!" Souji pointed towards a billowing dark smoke a few lanes ahead. "What could that-"
"What the-? Hey, is that smoke!" Kanji gasped involuntarily.
I ran up to them and found what they were looking at. It was... really smoke. Big, black, billowing smoke, almost ready to devour its surroundings. My heart felt like it was coming to a stop. "An accident...?" Lightning couldn't have caused that, there were no thunder claps at all when I scouted the area. It couldn't have been...?
I inhaled a sharp intake of breath. "No!"
Without another word, we all rushed to the direction of the smoke, driving our drenched and worn-out bodies to push forward even further.
I had a really bad feeling about this.
Up ahead, Adachi was crouching over a figure, extreme concern and panic taking over his features. He seemed to be shouting something, but it was lost in the heavy fleet of rain.
We ran up to him, and were shocked to find that the prone figure Adachi was crouching over was none other than Dojima-san himself.
"Uncle!" Souji shouted in desperation and dashed to the half-unconsious form of the detective, his hands frantically shaking the officer awake. "Uncle, wake up! Uncle!"
"S.. Souji..." The older man rasped. "Na.. Nanako... Where's... Nanako..?" Fingers sooted with dirt trembled and tried to feel his surroundings.
I choked back a sob. Dojima-san didn't deserve this at all. He shouldn't have been involved in this affair! This was all Namatame's fault! If he hadn't kidnapped Nanako, this wouldn't even be happening! If the TV world didn't exist, Namatame wouldn't be getting any farcical ideas and cause them all this distress, and Nanako... oh poor, innocent Nanako!
Anger had settled within me. I assured myself Namatame would not die a painless death. At least, I would personally see to it that he'd be dealt with in the most brutal way possible. Calm yourself, Naoto! There's nothing to gain from losing your imperturbability! You'd only make things worse if you lose it now!' I started groping around blindly in my pockets for my cellphone. I had to make myself useful now. The inner voice inside me was right.
I spoke directly as the line connected, not bothering to hear the greeting. "Hello? We need an ambulance, immediately! There's been an accident. One adult male is badly injured!"
From the corner of my eye, I saw Adachi regaining his senses again once I had engaged for help. "That's right, I should call back-up, too! We gotta find Namatame!" And he instantly fished out his cellphone, dialing a number.
Talk about good timing, I thought angrily. He really should get over that clumsiness of his, or it'll cause some really serious issues.
"Nanako... Where's... Nanako?" Dojima's eyes were glazed over, as if he was in another world altogether. Almost unseeing.
...No, no! This can't be happening! I should stop thinking for the worst! "Yes, it's a couple of blocks away from the South District! Just follow the smoke, and you should be here in no time! I need it now, on the double! I will not allow any delay, do you understand?" Never had I abused my own authority over this, but it couldn't be helped. This time should be an exception.
"Uncle... Uncle, please don't speak. We'll bring her to you, I promise. In the meantime, please rest. She'll be here the next time you wake up, so please..." Souji tightened his grip on the older man, keeping it firm but not too painful.
Footsteps pounded behind us, and I had suspected at first it was the ambulance, but it was sorely lacking the wailing sirens. I turned around and met a breathless trio who looked as if they had run a marathon in the downpour.
Chie, being the most worried, gasped in alarm. "Oh my god! What in the world happened...?"
Dojima seemed to have heard her, because the next thing I knew, he was trying his best to prop his hands on the road and heave himself up, to Souji's dismay.
"Uncle!" He protested furtively, but was ignored.
"Was... on my way... to Namatame's house... when I saw... the bastard d-drive... past me...I...I gave chase... and he...just when I was getting the upper...hand... dammit...!" He panted heavily, only opening his mouth seeming like it was too much for him. "Where is... Nanako?... And Namatame...? Find them... please!" With the last word he uttered, his eyes scrunched shut, as if holding in the pain emitted.
Souji fretted, certainly in no way fit to decide what to do right now. I opted to study my surroundings while hoping to get a suddenly brilliant brainstorm when Yosuke butt in.
"But how? I don't see how we can..." He trailed off, and suddenly looked as if a lightbulb flashed in his mind. "Oh yeah, the truck! Maybe there are clues in there!"
I shook my head in self-shame and managed a sad smile. He was right. How could I haven't thought of it sooner? I was so bent on trying to do this on my own, and got swallowed in my own pride, and didn't even look at the clues right in front of me. If Grandpa saw me like this, there would be no end to his criticizing. I chuckled silently.
Adachi abruptly stood up and glared at Yosuke in alarm. "Wait, you can't! We need to preserve the scene!" He looked as if he was about to say more, but then decided against it.
I glanced up at the sky. It was still dark, and it didn't look like it would get any lighter soon. Soft rumbling could still be heard if you listened hard. I trained my eyes back to its usual professionalism and looked toward Adachi. "What if it rains again? All of the information we'd need would be lost regardless, don't you think?"
He looked stunned and only managed a hesitant nod, clearly stuck on what to contradict next.
"Then allow me." I put on my gloves and without another word headed towards the truck. It was time for me to seek out answers.
I climbed to the back of the truck and examined my surroundings thoroughly while being careful not to touch anything unless absolutely necessary. It was the main rule of investigation and I didn't need to be reminded about it. Cardboard boxes were everywhere, piled in several rows, suspiciously seeming to conceal something bigger and darker inside.
I squinted and felt my way through the empty boxes. It didn't matter whether I touched the useless scraps or not anyway, seemingly because I had a rather big hunch of what to find behind all the camouflage.
My instincts have never been righter. There, nestled deep behind several overturned boxes and cloth, was a black, wide TV. The screen reflected the light that came pouring in from the streetlights, causing the others to confirm what they saw as well.
I heard Chie draw in her breath sharply. "Look! There really is a TV in there!"
Before I went back, something light-colored caught my eye. It was lying on the driver's seat. I curiously reached to it and picked it up, slowly turning it over in my hands. A diary?
I backtracked to the opening and jumped off from the truck, and made my way back to the others. "Yes, large enough for persons of any size to fit through. And that's not all." I produced the diary that I'd been clutching when I squeezed back out. "I recovered a diary from the driver's seat... Most likely kept by Namatame himself, seeing how stealing Nanako's or any other's diary would make entirely no sense."
Reading the other's curious expressions, I flipped open the book to the first page. I began to read what was written there. "I learned the existence of a new world. Thus, I must save people..."
Kanji features twisted in confusion. "Save? The hell's he mean by that?"
I turned over the next page and to my bewilderment, there was a long list of what seemed like home addresses. But not just any home address either, I deduced as I read several of the names jotted down. "This... It's a list of the victims' home addresses!"
Everyone else gasped in shock.
"Mayumi Yamano, Saki Konishi..." I ticked off the names silently in the book and turned over the page, even more surprised of the names on it. "Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Rise Kujikawa... even the victims who survived and never released to the public are written here. But..." I skimmed through the long list quickly to make sure. "I note that Mr. Morooka's address is absent from the list..."
"Wow... Then that settles it." Adachi looked as if everything was solving itself in ways he couldn't have imagined...or could he? I sneaked another glance at him to see if I was imagining that foreign look on his face, but it disappeared as quick as it came.
I shook the thought from my head and turned the next page. "The last date is... today's... 'I can't believe such a small child appeared on it. I must save this child, no matter what.'"
Chie interrupted. "Is that... Nanako-chan?"
It was a rhetorical question, so it didn't need to be answered. I continued my reading. "'I managed to take her to safety. The police have been active lately... This will probably be the last time I write in this diary. I've done everything I can...'" Beyond that there were nothing more than blank pages, and I shut the book quietly.
Yosuke spoke up. "It's clear now... He used the same trick on all the victims. He'd just ring the bell, like he was making a normal delivery, then throw the victim into the TV in his truck... Namatame is the killer!"
"We need to go save Nanako-chan! Here, let's use this TV and-"
I shook my head firmly. "Such recklessness would only get us killed. We don't even know where this one will lead."
Teddie nodded in approval. "Nao-chan's right! What if we end up somewhere dangerous?"
"But... But Nanako was thrown in there! What's the odds of us not arriving at the same place? It'll save the time we need before she gets consumed by- well, if something undesirable happened to her!" Chie refused to think of the consequences of reality. Concern had certainly taken its toll on her, enough to drive her crazy and thoughtless.
"... No. It's the same thing if we rescue her but don't know how to get back." A deep and quiet voice rose from his place beside the unconscious officer and faced the group. "There won't be any fog tomorrow, and we'll enter from the usual place. Are there any objections?" His voice was unnaturally strong and final, the true trait of a leader.
My chest suddenly swelled with pride and I gazed at him with admiration and relief, and a little bit of something else. The man in question nodded his head at every sign of approval and traces of his previous demeanour was gone. When he caught sight of me, my cheeks flushed and I looked at Dojima-san, who was being supported by Adachi. But I wasn't worried anymore. I knew he was going to be all right. Nanako-chan will be saved from this miserable fate.
Because our leader was back.
Once again, I beg you not to kill me. Now if you would just press the button below, I would happily consider myself forgiven. Thank you!