The sunlight was warm.

It was a clear day, a beautiful day, which didn't seem fair to her. Today didn't feel any different. She didn't feel any different, but a sense of purpose pulsed through her. She finally had something to hold on to, that made her heart beat wildly in her chest with anticipation. She would go farther into the forest than ever before, farther than anyone. It was what she wanted.

The sky was green. A canopy of leaves and life draped itself like a blanket over the forest. The quiet was beautiful. She always loved the quiet. It never bothered her. It never asked anything from her. It was there to comfort her.

She had seen the signs when she entered the path. She had stared at them for a moment, at the words that tried to stop her, and then she moved on, into the trees. There was a sign strung up a few steps in, warning others not to enter the path it guarded because it lead into an unmanageable part of the forest. She lifted it up and walked underneath it.

There was no going back.

She traced the tape with her fingers. People left it to find their way back if they wanted to. If they weren't sure that what they were going to do was right. They had tape if they were hesitant.

She hadn't bothered to bring any. She knew it would be pointless.

She walked until the sun started to set. The trees began to come to life, stretching and bending in the growing shadows. It was almost time. She had planned this for months. Her whole life seemed like it was leading to this. She had known, she had always known that it would end like this. Why should she wait for ten or twenty or fifty years for it? It was her life, and she was going to do what she wanted with it. She had known, ever since she felt the weight in her bones, ever since the mud and soot had begun to fill her heart and her blood, that it would end like this.

She closed her eyes. Was there anyone that would miss her? Anyone that would care? It wasn't too late to find out...

She could flip a coin. But that was pathetic. Didn't she want this? Wasn't this the goal?

The fog pressed harder.

You want this.

She stopped and whipped around, scanning the silent trees.

Someone had talked. Someone had spoken in this quiet evening. Were they watching her? Were they waiting?

"Who's there?" She called out.

Nothing.

She looked up at the tree in front of her. It was large and crooked, with thick branches that cast shadows like veins onto the ground. It was perfect.

She set her backpack on the ground and unzipped it, her hands grasping at her salvation. Once it was all ready, she sat down and scribbled something onto her notepad.

We'll be waiting for you, you know. We can't wait to meet you.

She paused, setting the pen onto the pad. There was no questioning that someone had spoken, unless she was going crazy. But she had been doing that her whole life, hadn't she?

You're just like us.

Shadows began to form in the trees as the sun faded. They pushed and pulled and squirmed like butterflies struggling to escape their cocoon. Her eyes widened as they split completely from the trees ahead of her.

This wasn't happening. She was dreaming.

You're just like us.

She backed away, stumbling over a root that hadn't been there before.

You're just like us.

She wanted to see her mother and have her hug her and tell her everything would be alright.

The shadows grew closer, forming corporeal shapes, forming...bodies?

You're just like us.

The sunlight was warm.


The next day, nearly a hundred miles away, a phone rang.

"Shibya Psychic Research Center."