Last I remember, Dad tucked me in for the night, and I started crying. Then he just let me cry myself to sleep. It bothered me all night, and I almost couldn't sleep at all.
"Lucas, I need you to be a strong boy right now. Things are rough. You and I both know that," he'd told me.
I clutched the edges of the sheets. Even with my head to the pillow and warm and safe in my bed, I felt no comfort, no security. "B-But…Claus…Mom…"
He rubbed my head gently. As tough as he was, he had a soft heart when it came to his family. "I know. I know this'll be tough adjusting to. Is it because neither one is here to say good night to you?"
I felt the tears coming. I hated the fact that I cried so much, but sometimes I just couldn't help it. "Y-Yeah…Where's…where's Claus, Dad?"
I think that one nearly got to him too. He pulled his hat down over his eyes. "W-Well…Claus…Claus went out for a little while. He'll be back soon, and we'll-"
"He's not coming back, is he?" I shouted that without really even thinking. My tears could've made a river by now.
I think any other time Dad would've yelled at me, but he just tried to shake it off. "It's okay, Lucas. We'll sort this out in the morning. I'll…I'll be in the living room if you need me, Lucas."
He closed the door behind him, and I cried myself to sleep.
Then I woke up. At least I think I woke up. I was lying face-down on cold ground, and when I got up, it was almost dark all around me. No one was there.
Wait, what was that?
That name…it rings a bell, but…
"Ryuka, turn around!"
Who's Ryuka? Why's that name so familiar?
"Ryuka, it's Kurausu! Turn around!"
It's coming back to me a little…Oh yeah, now I remember. I haven't heard that name in years, but…Claus and I used to call each other those names.
Wait, that's Claus's voice!
I turned around, tears of joys puddling in my eyes. Sure enough, Claus was there.
I spread my arms wide. "C-Claus! You're…you're back!"
Claus tilted his head. "Ryuka, what are you talking about?"
Alright, now I was completely lost. "Claus? It's me, Lucas! You're…back from going after the drago, aren't you?"
Claus gave me a menacing smirk, and laughed in a cold voice that sent chills down my spine. "Heh, Ryuka, still as naïve as ever."
This was a little more than starting to scare me a little, honestly. "Claus, what's going on? Why are you acting so…so…creepy?"
Claus just turned his back to me. "I'm not Claus anymore, Ryuka."
As I began to respond, I stopped as I finally began to notice what Claus was wearing. It almost looked like some sort of uniform…heavy, thick orange pants, a black jacket with a large zipper and artificial fur around the neck. White gloves covering his hands. Hiking boots that seemed too large for someone Claus's size.
And to top it off, the large gray helmet that rested in his arms. He locked eyes with my scared and nervous ones, slowly and tantalizingly dropping it onto his head.
I shook my head, as if trying to shake the image from my mind. "C-Claus…What are you…You can't be Claus…What are you?"
Claus gave his spine-chilling laugh once more, removing one glove to show a machine attached to his arm. The machine crept onto his hand and enveloped it in a cylinder shape, almost like…a weapon.
I took a few steps backwards, my foot hitting a wooden stick on the ground. Claus just smirked at me, drawing a golden, sparking, glowing sword. With one swift movement of his wrist, lightning shot from the sword, striking inches from me.
I screamed and covered my face. "Claus! Claus, what's going on? What happened to you? You can't be Claus, you just can't!"
Claus chuckled, amused at my fear. Bat-like wings rose from his back, and he lifted himself into the air. "Ryuka, you idiot! Fight me, damn it!"
I pushed myself to stand up, grabbed the stick, and ran for my life. Claus's demonic laughter echoed in my eardrums, the sound of lightning striking the ground all around me. But no matter where I ran, it was all just an open, dark space.
I stopped in my tracks and turned back to gaze into my brother's eyes fearfully. "Claus, wake up! Claus! Please! You know me! I'm Lucas! I'm Ryuka!"
The word "Ryuka" seemed to echo all around me and Claus, and Claus stopped as well, hovering in place. Ryuka…Ryuka. Ryuka. Ryuka Ryuka Ryuka.
However, it was only a matter of time before the tiniest feeling of warmth lingering in the air between my brother and I disappeared. The sound began to distort into a demonic chant, and Claus laughed as I cringed in fear at hearing the name pierce my mind.
Claus's laughter died down and he shook his head. "I'm not Claus anymore, Lucas. I'm not even Kurausu at this point. From now on, I'm the Masked Man. Only the Masked Man. And you will fight me!"
I turned and continued to run as fast as I could. The darkness twisted into a sickening shade of red that swirled around and made me nauseous. Ryuka Ryuka Ryuka Ryuka Ryuka…
I continued to run, and yet…it felt as though my legs were going numb.
I tripped, smashing his face against the cold ground, blood spurting from my nose. I shouted as I heard it crack, knowing it had cleanly broken.
The sound of beating wings slowed, and I felt my heart race as Claus-no, the Masked Man-knelt down beside me.
The Masked Man lowered his voice to a whisper, glaring into my eyes harshly and deeply, his own glowing a deep, terrifying red, like a machine possessed by a demon.
"Ryuka. I found her. Look."
My breath and heartbeat sped up as he slowly turned his head, his eyes coming to rest on a limp, lifeless figure in a sea of red, some limbs hanging on by threads, bits of bone and broken glass scattered all over. The figure was missing both of its eyes, empty hollow holes where they should've been.
I couldn't think anymore when I saw the sunflower in one hand.
Tears gushed like a river, and I squirmed, desperately trying to get up. "Mom! MOM! Claus, help her! Help her! Mommy, get up! Get up!"
The Masked Man's foot crashed down onto my hand, and I screamed as he grinded my hand under his foot.
"Shut up, Ryuka! She's dead now, died a horrible painful death! And…now I'm the humble slave of Master Porky."
I felt tear after tear work itself down my bright red face. "Claus…please…"
With his other foot, Masked Man kicked me swiftly in his stomach. "Shut up!"
I coughed a few times, vomiting blood onto the floor. "Claus, stop! Stop this, Claus…"
The Masked Man shook his head. "You're a little pest, dammit! Shut the hell up!"
With those last words, the Masked Man placed his sword against my's head. It began to spark, and I shut his eyes and screamed as an intense bolt of lightning tore through me.
"CLAUS! CLAUS! WAKE UP!"
I felt a slap across my face. "Lucas! What's going on?"
Opening my eyes, my face wet with tears, I looked around fearfully, gazing into my father's worried eyes.
"Sorry, Lucas…you were screaming in your sleep. You kept screaming "Claus, Claus" over and over again."
I threw aside my covers and leapt into my father's arms, breaking down and beginning to cry. "Daddy…C-Claus…he…"
Dad looked down sadly at me, hugging me tightly and rubbing my back gently. "Damn…I knew this would happen…I'll find him, Lucas, I'll find him."
If I knew about my PSI at the time, maybe I would've taken my dream more seriously.
Maybe I would've seen the disasters ahead coming.
And maybe I could've saved Claus from my nightmare.