Mei Misaki watched as panic swirled around her. Everyone was talking at once. Soon, their panic will turn into sadness, Mei thought. Right before her eyes she watched as her home, and her mothers studio burned. The fire department had arrived just as she was walking home from school. As she stared at the house with both of her eyes she knew that all of the efforts to squelch the flames were in vain. She could see the color of death surrounding the house. Her mother was dead. Her pulse quickened. Her mother was dead she realized. Did this mean, the calamity wasn't over?
"I'm so sorry, Mei," Kouichi said. This was the second family member Mei had lost. He couldn't imagine what she was feeling.
Mei remained silent. She stared off into the open, looking more emotionally distant that usual.
"Do you think this means..." Kouichi's voice trailed off. Mei knew what he was thinking. She was thinking it too. Had her mother died as a result of the calamity? Or was it purely a coincidence? Had they killed the wrong person? Was the calamity not truly over?
"If you don't have any place to go, you can always live with me," Kouichi said softly.
"Thanks," Mei said, then she wondered out loud, "Do you think you are the next to die?"
"No! Why would you say something like that?" Kouichi answered nervously.
"Because," Mei said calmly, "It seems that anyone I'm close to ends up dying, first my sister and now my mom. Your the closest person to me now. It would only be logical to wonder."
Kouichi said nothing. Was he the next to die?
Kouichi stared at his bedroom ceiling. Do you think you are the next to die? He couldn't get Mei's words out of his head. Am I the next to die? Looking at it logically, it was likely that he would be. Two Mei's close family members had died of random accidents and in the beginning she was thought to be the cause of the calamity. Kouichi shook his head. He refused to believe that his friend was the cause of two deaths. You are the closest person to me now. The more Kouichi thought about it the more he realized it was true. The only other family Mei had was her biological mom, an she might be a little reluctant to take in a girl who looks like an exact replica of her dead daughter. He was the only friend Mei had. Most of the class was still terrified of her. If he was the next to die, who would Mei turn to after he was dead?
Mei knocked softly on Kouichi's door. Today she moves in with his family. She has one backpack full of her things. Most of her belongings were destroyed in the fire. She sets up a sleeping mat on the floor of Kouichi's bedroom. The evening moves on in a blur. Kouichi's parents are caring and seem to genuinely care about her well being. I sincerely hope Kouichi is not the next to die. Mei thinks.
It is 1:00 in the morning when the sound of soft slow carnival music awakens Kouichi.
"Mei, do you hear that?" Kouichi whispers.
Mei nods, "I've been awake for two hours now listening to it."
The music plays eerily around them.
"Where is it coming from?" Kouichi asks.
"I don't kno-"
Mei is interrupted by the sound of something collapsing into the middle of the floor. The color of death bubbled around where the sound originated. A ghostly figure of a girl appeared in the center of the room.
"Mei, that girl look exactly like you!" Kouichi gasped.
"I know it's my sister."
"Hello, Mei." Misaki said in a slow ghostly voice.
Mei stared in disbelief. She had never believed in ghosts, and now here was the ghost of her dead twin sister staring at her.
Misaki laughed softly.
"I know I have a lot of explaining to do but I don't have much time to do it."
Misaki continued, "Each of the people who died as a result of the calamity will visit you. Each of them has something to tell you, about life, death or both. Some of these messages are warnings, some of them are not."
"What is your message?" Kouichi asked.
"My message," Misaki said, "Is good luck and stay close. You two have a special relationship with death. For the rest of your life you will be close to it."
And with that Misaki vanished, leaving nothing but the sound of fading carnival music.
"Did that just happen?" Kouichi asked.
Mei nodded. Her sisters ghost had appeared to them and more ghosts were coming their way.
Mei and Kouichi sit in silence. "Why," Kouichi begins, "Why was there carnival music?"
Kouichi looks at Mei. She seems to be on a different planet. She stares at the wall, her face emotionless but her eyes filled with sadness.
"We went to a carnival just before she died." Mei says quietly. "She collapsed just as she was walking home."
It made sense. The large thud in the middle of the room was the sound of Mei's sister collapsing. The two hours of carnival music were what happened before her death.
"Do you think, I'll ever be able to see Misaki again?" Mei wonders quietly.
Kouichi stared at her sadly. Fate was playing a cruel joke on Mei, bringing her sister back, only to take her away again. It seemed sadness followed Mei like a loyal dog, maybe it was starting to penetrate her shell of indifference.
Part 6~ Ponder
Mei sat in Kouichi's back yard and thought, I saw her, even if it was just for a few minutes, she was there. Seeing her sister again had made Mei realize how much she missed her. When her sister had died, Mei expected to feel sadness, she did to an extent. But it was a private sadness. A sadness that only she knew about. A sadness no one else could see. When she lost her twin sister she had not only lost her closest friend, but her other half. Twins are connected in ways not even science can understand. Without Misaki, Mei wasn't whole. Mei felt a tear roll down her cheek. She was crying. The tear almost made her laugh. Mei could not remember the last time she cried. Her mother had taught her to keep her emotions to herself from a very young age. My mother, my adoptive mother that is, Mei thought, is dead too. Did she miss her mother? She didn't know. She did know that she missed her sister. She put her hands up to her face and cried for the first time in what must have been years. Once she quieted herself, she took a deep breath and returned to her state of icy emotional calm. She would not allow herself to look vulnerable in public. No one must know that she had cried. Unbeknownst to her, someone had seen the whole episode. Kouichi was in the tree directly above where Mei was sitting, and had seen the whole thing.
Part 7~ Visitor
Mei and Kouichi sat across from each other on the floor. A notepad sat between them. So far it read 人1：美咲藤岡 メッセージ：幸運と密接ご利用いただけます。あなたは死と特別な関係を持っています。(Person one: Misaki Fujioka Message: Good luck and stay close. You have a special relationship with death.) Writing everything down in an organized way made it seem like they had more control over the situation. It gave a false sense of security. They sat in silence. Each trying to look less terrified than they actually were.
Crack! A huge clap of thunder burst. Mei and Kouichi both jumped. Rain began pouring down the window.
"The rain is so sudden." Mei murmured. Kouichi nodded slowly. The rain seemed familiar.
The rain continued for another hour. Mei and Kouichi remained silent. Just as they were dozing off, there was a loud click.
"Thats strange, it sounded like the window came unlocke-" before Kouichi could finish his sentence the window flung open. Rain soaked everything. Kouichi and Mei crept closer to the window. They could not find anything outside that could have opened the window. While their backs were turned they heard a sickening crack. In the middle of the room was Yukari Sakuragi with her umbrella skewered through her throat. Blood pored out of her just as it had the day she died, but instead of lying their dead, she pulled herself up into a sitting position.
"Hello Kouichi, hello Mei," she said softly. As she spoke the umbrella in her throat moved and squirted blood at them. It was truly horrifying.
Part 8~ Message
"I was the second death of the calamity," Yukari continued, "when I was alive, I tried to be the best. I got good grades, I was class officer, I was quiet and soft spoken, and rarely offended anyone."
Mei and Kouichi listened carefully and tried not to pay attention to the bloody umbrella protruding from her throat. Yukari cleared her throat causing the umbrella to spasm and blood to fling against the walls, "The one thing I regret is not speaking out enough. I was so worried about being liked that I hardly ever shared my opinion."
"Is that your message to us?" Mei asked.
"Not quite," Yukari answered, "my message to you is this: Have no regrets because death is final."
And with that final word, the umbrella in Yukari's throat opened, swallowing up Yukari's body. When the umbrella closed, Yukari was gone.
Part 9~ Aftermath
Kouichi's eyes were wide with horror. This was the second time he had watched Yukari die. Mei faced Kouichi, "Are you ok?" she asked.
Kouichi nodded slowly, still processing the events that had just occurred.
Mei got up and closed the window. "Lets hope your parents don't notice that your room is soaked."
Kouichi nodded again, unable to see how Mei could still have rational thought after what had just happened.
Part 10~ Ponder
Kouichi sat on the roof of his house. He still couldn't get Yukari out of his head. He had watched her die twice. Mei somehow kept a level head. She could still function normally, but he couldn't. How was Mei handeling this so well? He wondered. Mei still went about her daily life as though nothing happened. Was she even thinking about what happened? Mei is stronger than me. Kouichi thought. She was having to witness the same horrifying things he was and yet she could keep up a wall of emotional indifference. Mei is the strongest person I'v ever met, Kouichi thought. He wanted her to know this, but he knew he's never tell her.
Part 11~ Visitor