Recently I just experienced the worst fright of my life. I was terrified so I wrote this to remind myself that I'm not alone. The person who you think is completely invincible can be scared of things that you might think are pathetic.
"In and out, right? We're not going to stay longer than we have to, right? We go in, look around, and come back out, right?"
Eles stood in front of the large house, her legs shaking as well as her voice. Her fear was evident, but there was no turning back now. The orchestra had a mission and it needed to be completed. It was simple enough. They only had to investigate a house on the outskirts of a city. The citizens believed the house had a few guignols inside and if that were indeed the case, they wanted the horrific creatures to be exterminated.
However, to Eles, the house seemed more frightening than any guignol. It was a large two story house, which looked like it hadn't been cared for in years. There were weeds and overgrown grass taking over the front yard. The house itself looked like it could fall on their heads at any moment. Lucille had already walked up to the front porch and looked inside the windows, though it was impossible to see anything due to the fact the windows were layered with dust.
"No one has seriously come within a mile of this house in ages," Lucille whispered more to himself than the others.
"We should leave then! I mean if there are guignols in there they obviously aren't bothering anyone, so there's no reason to bother them!" Eles tried to argue. Lucille turned to look at her, a smirk already on his face.
"Are you scared, my dear? Don't worry. Nothing's going to hurt you," Lucille said as he made his way back over to his team.
"This house doesn't look safe…by any means. Regardless if there are guignols in here or not it would be safer for us to just leave."
"Wouldn't it always be safer for us to just leave?" Kohaku said. "Suck it up, Eles. Maybe if we actually walked inside instead of just staring at the door we could leave sooner."
"Smartest thing I've ever heard come out of you, Kohaku!" Lucille teased him and lightly patted his shoulder, ignoring the glare he received from the other man. "Let's go, Eles. I promise we'll be safe. If there are guignols in here then we'll take care of them like we normally do. And don't let the house intimidate you. We'll be in and out before you know it."
The three men began to walk to the door, leaving Eles to debate whether she wanted to follow them or not. She decided that if she had to be in danger she wouldn't do it alone. She ran after them as soon as she saw Lucille open the door. They walked inside and took in their surroundings.
"My, my…the house is bigger on the inside," Lucille said, once again more to himself than anyone around him.
Much to Eles' dismay she had to agree. The house was massive. On the first floor alone there were what seemed to be three living rooms divided by walls. The front entrance had a long hallway that went to who knew where. The stairs looked less than inviting as they seemed to only lead to darkness. Eles was more then ready to leave.
"We'll split up!" Lucille announced, clapping his hands together and turning to face to others. "This is a big house and we'll get done much quicker if we decide to do things separately."
"You want us to go alone?" Eles nearly yelled.
"Not alone…we'll split into teams of two. I wouldn't put you through the torture of having us all separate, Eles. I'm not that cruel."
In no time it was decided that Kohaku and Lucille would team up and Gwindel and Eles would team up. Lucille would have loved to have been paired up with Eles, but he knew he wouldn't have been able to calm her down if she happened to get scared. At least he wouldn't have been able to calm her down as effectively as Gwindel. If Eles were with Lucille she would worry about him should he have had to fight; if she was paired up with Gwindel there would be no problems at all.
"All righty, everyone! Kohaku and I will take the upstairs and you two take the downstairs. Shout if you need anything!" Lucille waved them off as he and Kohaku made their way up the stairs.
Quickly and silently they checked all of the rooms, all of the closets, and under all of the beds. They didn't come across any guignols. Soon the two men were at the last of the rooms. They walked inside and took a quick look around before checking thoroughly.
"There's nothing in here, Lucille. What a waste of time," Kohaku said. He didn't hide the disappointment in his voice. It had been a while since anything exciting happened and he was about to die from boredom.
"I suppose you're right. And I haven't heard anything from Eles or Gwindel either. I guess the people of the city were just paranoid. Oh, did you check that closet? Do a good look through, just in case."
Kohaku lazily looked to the side wall to see a closed closet door. He personally would have preferred Lucille to look inside, but he didn't mention it and went to open the door. He noticed the door handle was rather flimsy, but ignored it and took a peek inside. There didn't appear to be anything unusual, but it was a walk-in closet so there could have been anything sneaking around further inside. Kohaku hesitantly stepped inside and began to walk towards the far wall. His breath hitched as he heard the slam of a door behind him. Darkness surrounded him and he suddenly didn't know which way was which.
"Lucille?" He called out, trying to keep his voice steady.
He heard a giggle from outside and then a knock on the door. "Are you stuck in there?"
"It's not funny, Lucille! Let me out!" Kohaku called, fumbling to grab the doorknob. At the same time Lucille had grabbed the knob. With the force of Kohaku desperately pulling it and Lucille barely turning it, the worst possible scenario for Kohaku occurred.
"It fell off," Lucille said as he held the knob in his hand.
"What the hell? Put it back on! Get me out of here, Lucille!" Kohaku attached his side of the knob back to the door, or at least he tried to. The house was so old it was a wonder he had gotten the door open in the first place. Neither of them were able get the knobs back in the door.
"No, no, no! Get me out of here! Get me out of here now!" Kohaku shouted, banging on the door with his fists.
Lucille stared at the door, wondering what the big deal was. How often did people do stupid things like get stuck in closets? It certainly wasn't anything to get frantic over. Lucille wondered if Kohaku was just as scared of the house as Eles was, but in that same instant it occurred to him that it wasn't the house Kohaku was afraid of.
"Get me out, now! Lucille, do something! I want out now!"
"Umm…I'll see what I can do. Hang on," Lucille said to him. He looked around the room, but saw nothing that would help his situation. He was about to suggest to Kohaku to just use his gun to shoot the door, but then he thought otherwise. Kohaku certainly didn't remember himself that he had guns and if he wasn't calm enough to remember that, then he was in no way calm enough to use one. Lucille secretly wished that it would remain that way. Kohaku didn't need to be using any weapons at all considering how hysterical he was getting.
"Lucille! Get me out of here, please!"
Now he was begging? The situation wasn't as funny as it had started out. "Calm down, Kohaku. Just take a deep breath and-"
"NO! Let me out! Let me out! I'm serious, Lucille! I want to get out! Get me out of here!"
Lucille covered his ears as Kohaku screamed at the top of his lungs. There was no way Eles and Gwindel missed that shout, not to mention Kohaku hadn't let up banging on the door yet. If he kept it up then perhaps the door would just fall over.
"Listen, I just got an idea. Gwindel can break this door down. I'll run and get him so he can get you out, okay?"
"No," Kohaku said and stopped banging on the door. Lucille had barely heard the word come through the door, but he was certain it had been said.
"No?" Lucille questioned.
"No, don't leave me alone. Don't go. Stay here. Just get me out, but please don't go."
Lucille just shook his head in confusion. Kohaku had never sounded like this before. Lucille could almost feel his terror, but there was nothing either of them could do. When did Kohaku suddenly get a horrible case of claustrophobia?
"Kohaku, there's nothing I can do for you here. The only way I can help you is to get Gwindel. Are you sure you can't stay here by yourself for just one minute?"
"No, please!" Kohaku cried, starting to smack the door again. "Don't go! Don't do it! Don't leave me, please! No! No! No!"
Lucille was at a complete loss. There was nothing he could do until Gwindel and Eles finished their search and came upstairs to find them. The gravity of the situation had finally hit him full force. Kohaku was genuinely frightened. He never imagined he would ever see it, but it was true. Kohaku was scared.
"Hey, Kohaku…." Lucille said gently, hoping to start the process of getting him to calm down. However, that process was immediately interrupted by someone else shouting his name.
"Lucille!" Eles cried from below them. "We need your help! We found a group of guignols and there's more coming! They're coming from outside too! We need you guys!"
"Kohaku? Kohaku, listen. I have to go."
"No, no, no! Stay here! Don't go! You have to get me out of here!"
"And I will, I promise!" Lucille told him. "But Gwindel and Eles need my help. They came across some guignols and they need me too. I won't be long, I swear to you. Just hang tight for one minute!"
"No, no! Please, no! Lucille, wait! Don't go! Don't leave me here!" Kohaku continued to bang on the door, but it was pointless. He could sense that Lucille was long gone. He was alone. He was all by himself in a dark, tiny room with no one there to let him out.
He looked desperately around the room, but all he saw was more darkness. "Don't leave. Come back," he whispered again, knowing it was too late. "Please someone…." He begged, falling to the floor and crawling to a corner to hide himself in.
"Please, someone, I need help. Get me out of here. Someone, help me. Someone, let me out," he barely whispered the words, knowing no one could hear him. He covered his eyes so he wouldn't have to look at the walls closing in. It was only a matter of time before the walls would close in entirely. The darkness would consume him, the walls would devour him and if anyone did ever get the door open it would be far too late. There would be nothing left for them to rescue.
"No! Get me out! Let me out! Let me out! Can anyone hear me? Please get me out!"
It was futile. He was alone and no one would come to save him.
"All right, Gwin, here's where he's at. Kohaku, can you hear me? Kohaku?"
Lucille and the others quickly finished off the guignols and made their way back upstairs to get Kohaku. Lucille explained to them what had happened, but they didn't believe that Kohaku would get so hysterical over getting stuck in a closet.
Lucille knocked on the door to closet and called Kohaku's name again, but there was no response.
"Gwin, open the door," he commanded, suddenly regretting more so than ever for leaving Kohaku on his own. Gwin kicked the door and it easily swung open, revealing the sight inside.
Lucille ran to Kohaku who was sitting in the farthest corner of the closet, his knees to his chest and his head leaning against the wall.
"Kohaku, can you hear me? Kohaku?" Lucille asked. Kohaku's breaths came in short, quick gasps. The violinist moved his eyes to look at Lucille and then moved them to look at Eles and Gwin who were still standing in the doorway.
"He's hyperventilating. We need to get him out of here," Gwin said as he made his way into the cramped closet. Lucille managed to get passed him back to the main room, while Gwindel gathered the frightened Kohaku in his arms. All three made a dash for outside and ran away from the house as quickly as possible.
They made it back to the car with Kohaku still hyperventilating. They looked at each other, not sure what they should do.
"We should take him to the hospital!" Lucille said. "They can fix him."
"I fear we'll not get back in time before he suffocates himself." Gwindel said.
"What else should we do? Should we just keep him in the car until he calms down?" Eles asked.
Gwindel shook his head and laid Kohaku on the ground behind the car. "When someone is hyperventilating, they are getting too much oxygen and not enough carbon dioxide. In other words they are inhaling too much. We need to get him to start breathing in and out the normal amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide. A bag should be able to help us with that. Do we have one?"
Lucille nodded quickly, though he was unsure as to whether they had a bag or not. He jumped in the back seat and rummaged through a few things, cursing himself for making Kohaku go in the closet. Eventually, Lucille was successful in finding a bag and brought it to Gwindel.
The larger man held the bag to cover Kohaku's mouth and nose. He took Kohaku's hand and placed it on his chest and began to breathe in and out very slowly.
"Do you feel how I'm breathing, Kohaku? This is how you should breathe. In and out. Slowly, now. In and out."
Kohaku kept his eyes on Gwindel. His chest hurt from the way he was breathing, but he couldn't stop. He couldn't get back to breathing normally.
"Come on, Kohaku. Breathe. You don't want to suffocate, do you? Breathe. In," Gwindel took a deep inhale. "And out," he slowly released his breath, letting Kohaku feel the way his chest slowly rose and fell.
'In and out.' Kohaku thought to himself. 'In and out. Just like Gwindel. In and out.'
Kohaku closed his eyes as he tried to focus on his breathing. He didn't know why he had a bag over his face, but he figured someone must have thought it was a good idea. He didn't know if it was the bag, his focus, or Gwindel, but he felt himself start to slow his breathing.
The others watched on as Gwindel tried to get Kohaku to relax. His techniques seemed to be working. Kohaku's breathing went from short breaths to long inhales that sounded like gasps and long exhales that sounded like low moans. Eventually, when Gwindel thought it was safe, he removed the bag from Kohaku's face. Lucille and Eles were relieved to hear Kohaku's breathing back to normal or at least close to it. He sounded as if he had just overexerted himself, but that was a much better sound than hearing him try to gasp for air.
"Are you okay?" Lucille asked.
"I'm fine." Kohaku said, continuing to get his breathing under control.
"Do you enough carbon dioxide in you now?" Eles asked.
Kohaku stopped for a moment and just stared at Eles, wondering what on earth she was talking about. He was too tired to even bother with it so he just nodded his head and did his best to sit up. The others quickly rushed to his side to help him, but he held up a hand and shook his head. He stood by himself and finally took one long inhale and let it out slowly.
"I'm better. We should get moving," he said. He walked slowly the car and climbed into the back seat, indicating he was ready to go. He obviously was hoping to forget the entire situation even occurred, though that wouldn't be so easy for his comrades. The others all rustled into the front seat of the car, leaving Kohaku on his own in the back.
"I'm fine, guys. You don't all have to crowd up there just to give me space," Kohaku said in a low voice.
Lucille just smiled at him. He could tell the violinist was embarrassed, even ashamed at what just happened. He hated to show weakness in front of them and they all definitely figured out what it was that could bring Kohaku to his knees.
"We just thought a little air would be nice for you right now. Trust me, you won't get that back seat to yourself all the time."
Kohaku smirked and decided he might as well take advantage of their kindness. Normally he would have demanded someone sit in the back seat with him; he didn't want them to show him any sympathy. He propped his feet on the seat and rested his back on the car wall, letting his head fall to his chest.
"Kohaku?" He heard Eles whisper his name.
"I didn't know you were claustrophobic. That must have been pretty scary for you. You could have told us, you know."
Kohaku didn't say anything. He would have argued with her about how they all had their secrets, but it would have been pointless. He kept his eyes closed and his head down, hoping Eles would get the picture and leave him alone.
"Did something happen to make you scared of cramped places?" Eles asked.
'Nosy little thing….' Kohaku thought. But he figured an answer would satisfy them all and they could forget the whole thing instead of bother him about it over and over again.
"I fell in a well when I was little. I was playing by myself, I peeked in the well, and I lost my balance. I was stuck in there from dawn til dusk. I cried and screamed, but no one heard me. Eventually my mom found me and she and some other people got me out. Ever since then I've been terrified of enclosed spaces."
"You've been okay riding in the car though," Eles pointed out.
"There are windows in here. That closet was small and cramped and I couldn't see any way out. I thought I was going to die when I was stuck in that well and I feel the same way when I'm stuck in enclosed spaces."
"Oh," Eles said. She left it at that, knowing Kohaku didn't want to talk about it anymore. After a few moments she turned around to face him again to make sure he had fallen asleep. He was exhausted so she was right in assuming he would fall asleep right away. She turned back to look at Lucille and tapped his shoulder.
"Don't make fun of him about this, okay? People can't control what they fear so don't tease him."
"Why would I do that?" Lucille asked, putting his hand on her head. "Do you think so little of me, Eles? I wouldn't tease him about this. He genuinely frightened me. I thought he was going to run out of air."
Eles didn't say anything as she carefully climbed from the front seat to the back seat and sat on the ground. Lucille stared at her for a moment before smiling and turning back to the windshield.
"He'll be happy to see you back there," Lucille said. "I guess everyone is afraid of something, even if it seems impossible for it to be true."