Chapter One: The Mirror House

It was…wrong. Yomi could tell that much. She had not even opened her eyes, and she could already tell that. She could not figure out exactly what about it was not right, but it was painfully obvious that something was. The room around her did not sound any different; the subtle swish of the cars passing by her house was just the same as it always was. Nor was it the sheets, freshly laundered though they were. The smell was the same, recently cleaned smell that had been there when she had gone to bed. And yet the sounds of the cars, the feel of the sheets, the smell of the air, all of it was different somehow. She could feel it. Her very body felt, somehow, wrong.

Yomi opened her eyes. The room around her was blurry, but it seemed normal. She probably was still partly sleepy. She rubbed her eyes, then blinked. Still blurry. What was with this? No matter how many times she rubbed her eyes, she could not get them to focus properly.

Finally, through her blurred vision, she saw a pair of glasses neatly folded on the bedside table. Had they been there before? They couldn't possibly be for her. She had never worn glasses; she had never needed to. Yomi tried them on. They fit perfectly, leaving her vision crystal clear. What the hell was going on here?

The room was laid out almost the same as hers; there was a desk where her desk would have been, shelves of dolls where she had shelves of dolls, curtains on the tall windows, and even a nightstand beside the bed. The differences were all in details; different patterning on the desk and different curtains. It was as if someone had tried to reconstruct her room, but could not find exact matches of any of the furniture.

She crawled slowly out of bed and stood, her white nightgown covering her down to her knees. That at least was the same. It gave her one point of stability, encouraging her to explore further. On the desk was a picturebook with a bird on the front cover. Next to it was a half-eaten box of multi-colored macaroons. Those things certainly had not been there when she went to bed. She looked around, desperately searching for something else that was where and what it was supposed to be. China dolls? Not hers. School bag and Textbooks? No. Uniform? Completely wrong. Phone? No strap—and much newer. Books? Not a single German book on the entire shelf. Was nothing what it was supposed to be except her? And then she caught sight of herself in the mirror.

She was wearing glasses of course, but it was more than that. She was shorter, younger. All of the lines in her face were softer and less defined. Even she was not what she was supposed to be. Her head spun, and she would have passed out if she had not steadied herself with the edge of the desk.

Yomi heard the creak of the door as someone opened it halfway. "Yomi, it's time for school," he mother said.

Yomi spun on the spot, sighing with relief to hear the familiar sound. "Sorry, I was just getting ready to—" She stopped. "Mom? Are you…alright?" Her mother looked haggard, tired as if she had not slept in days.

Mrs. Takanashi's eyebrows raised. "I'm…fine. Why?"

"It's…nothing." She must still be exhausted from worrying about me, Yomi thought. Instinctively, she walked over and hugged her mother comfortingly. "It's okay mom. I'm alright now. I won't do anything like that again."

"It's…all…right?" her mother said.

"You and father must have been so scared, but I'm back now and I'm fine. I'll never do something like that again."

"Do what, exactly?"

Yomi stiffened. Surely her mother could not have forgotten Yomi disappearing. She had called the police, and made such a scene after Yomi returned that there was no way she could not remember any of it.

Yomi drew away. "It's nothing. I'll get ready for school now."

Mrs. Takanashi began to leave, clearly confused. Then, just as she was ready to close the door, she stuck her head back in. "By the way, Kagari is coming over. She'll be here when you get back."

"Kagari?" Yomi asked. Who was Kagari?

"Kagari," Mrs. Takanashi replied, then shut the door.

Yomi walked unsteadily over to the far side of her room. She slumped down against the bed, biting on her thumb to keep herself from screaming. Why had this happened? Just yesterday she had spent a nice, normal afternoon with Mato. They had gone to see a film together after the end of Volleyball practice. The two of them had talked about how young all of the first-year students had seemed. Now nothing was certain. The entire world had become strange.

An image came unbidden into her mind; that of a girl dressed entirely in black and surrounded by chains. She had a pair of horns on her head, while her eyes glowed bright green. In her clawed, skeletal hands she carried a wickedly curved scythe. She was silently calling to Yomi, like she had once before.

Yomi took several deep breaths to calm herself. No. She would not let herself be pulled into that world for a second time. She refused to become Dead Master again. What she had to do was do the best she could, and act like nothing had happened.

Yomi dressed in the odd school uniform, and was on her way to school within five minutes.