"Hello? I-Is anyone here? I think I'm lost...Hello?"

Mayumi wrung her hands nervously, trying her best to be calm. That man, Tohru...what had he done? What was this place? She tried her best to calm herself but the task of keeping her mind level now seemed monumental, her eyes darting from side to side, unable to see much of anything in the thick fog.

It must've been hours since she'd gotten here, but she was without a way to know; her cellphone stopped functioning properly after she fell. Still, she couldn't help checking it now and again to see if she could get a signal, but no such luck.

She jumped when another growl pierced through the silence, the sound seeming to come from everywhere at once. This place was so empty, so sinister...No, she chided herself, she would not give into fear. Mayumi was strong, and she couldn't let Taro down. With all that had been occurring recently she needed her strength, for the both of them. And yet...

Her thought process came to an abrupt halt when she took in her surroundings, so familiar...

"Hello? Yamada-san? Higuchi-san? Kaoru-chan? Can anyone hear me?" Mayumi cried as she raced through her foggy apartment complex, searching desperately for anyone. She ran as fast as she could and took the stairs two steps at a time, hung a sharp right, and suddenly she froze. Her heart ceased to beat for a moment as she stared at the red and black vortex in her doorway.

Taking a deep breath Mayumi gathered the tiny shards of courage she had left, strengthening her resolve. "I need to find out what's going on...maybe the phone in my apartment is working. I need to stay strong and figure this out...for Taro." Steeling herself once again Mayumi stepped through the vortex, her bravery dissolving at the sight that greeted her. "A-another me...?"

Her copy stared down at her with watery golden eyes, figure trembling as she stood atop her desk chair, a makeshift noose secured around her neck. "What are you doing here? Go away! I won't let you stop me! I just want it to go away..." The other let out a choked sob, her hands gripping the scarf as if it were a lifeline.

It was then that Mayumi took notice of the little differences in her environment: paint spattered all over the walls and dozens of posters with the faces cut out, the face being...Misuzu Hiiragi? Mayumi would recognize that photo anywhere, it was all over the news. "Wh-What's going going on here? Who are you?"

"I'm a worthless screw-up named Mayumi Yamano, that's who I am!" the shadow wailed back, mentality almost visibly breaking. "I'm a useless has-been, a failure! I've lost everything, and it's all my fault!"

Mayumi's eyes widened, frightened by the truth in her dark image's words. "What are you talking about? That's not true!"

The other seemed to consider this for a moment, tears continuing to stream down her face all the while. "Of course...Hiiragi's to blame too! That bitch hurt Taro, even through all of his suffering! She deserves to die..." her eyes seemed to glow at this point, partnered with the growling from before, more voices joining in to darken the atmosphere further. "But I could never kill her. I'm too much of a coward! Failure, failure..."

"Th-That's not true, I don't think any of that! S-Stop lying!"

"Don't yell at me! I can't handle such cruel words! I'm so weak and helpless, and I can't even help myself or the one I love! Taro needs me and I can't do anything! Such a joke..." Bringing a hand to her face Mayumi realized that it wasn't just her clone crying; dark tears slipping down her face carrying traces of her eyeliner and mascara with them.

"I told you, I-I don't th-think any of that..." Mayumi could barely hold her own in the presence of her shadow. Her head hurt, her stomach churned, and she could feel herself falling apart. "Wh-Why? Why are you telling me all of this?"

"Because I'm scared!" the other almost screamed, the aura about her darkening and now verging on complete black. "I've never been strong, and now...now Hiiragi's abandoning Taro, he's losing his job and I can't be there for him! It would all be solved if we all died! I WANT TO DIE!"

Nearly choking on her emotion and apprehension Mayumi yelled, "That's not true, shut up! None of that's...You're nothing like me!"

All time stopped, crashing back as her copy shrieked in agony, almost drowned out by the screeching and growling, deafening in its pitch.


And everything, all that was Mayumi Yamano, was gone.