Chapter One- Silence
"SHE WAS HERE! RIGHT HERE!"
Train's words echoes in Eves mind like screams in hollow stone. Pleading. Begging. Eve felt sick. Everyone had thought he was getting better. Or tried to believe, anyway. Tried to convince themselves that the almost sadistic treatment was making a difference.
Everything had changed. No one really smiled much anymore, and they spent most of their time in the hospital. Going to the same places didn't feel the same without Train there to bug them and talk non-stop about food. That was the third worst thing. The second worst thing was the operations. He had to have them three times every week. They would continue until his condition had stabilised. Eve would be able to hear his agonised cries of pain cut through the hallways like a blade that tore through her and plunged her into icy water.
The worst thing was more horrible and heart wrenching that anything she had ever experienced. It was that he had given up living. The moment he had accepted her as an illusion, he stopped talking, moving and eating. It was worse than when he thought she had died. Or when he thought she had died, Eve corrected herself quickly.
The room Eve stood in was empty, and draped in dust and cobwebs. There were footsteps in the grey snow that caped the floorboards that led to where Train had collapsed three days earlier, and more where Eve had watch him dragged out writhing and shouting two days later. Eves own footsteps led to where she was curled up against the wall, where she had remained for the past five hours. This was where he believed she had lived. It occurred to Eve that there wasn't quite enough dust for someone to have never lived here... She pushed the thought away, furious with herself. If she started thinking like that, it would give Train false hope, and false hope could break him entirely.
Eve stared at the trails in the dust, the evidence of the never ending suffering imprinted on the floor. Suddenly something was rising up through her. The rage made her want to scream. Scream at the world for hurting her older brother. Scream at her older brother for hurting himself with his own mind. And she wanted to scream, and scream, and scream at Saya Minatsuki for not being real.
Six months earlier
"So Sven, when are we getting food?"
Sven looked at him in disbelief, "Train, what the hell? You finished eating about ten minutes ago!"
"Geez, man, it was just a simple question..."
That was how the day began. Perfectly normal.
"If we want to get our bounty we don't have time to eat any longer than we already have. We are already behind schedule." Eve said without looking up from her book.
"Fine..." Said Train as they got into the car. After a few minutes of the autumn world rushing past Train asked "So who's our guy again?" Sven held up the poster. "He's got a pretty high bounty. He's killed about thirty people and robbed clean three banks."
"Nine million Yen! You can't be serious?" Train gasped as he looked at the poster. "Phew, that could buy so much time in all-you-can-eat restaurants!"
"Is food all you ever talk about." Said Eve.
"No!" Said Train, looking slightly hurt.
"That wasn't a question." She replied, and went back to reading her medical book. She was on a very interesting chapter about mental conditions, but found herself wondering if scientists gave things complicated names so only they could look smart, seeing as they were the only people who could possibly remember them.
Train looked out the window. The sky was clear and the golden sunlight brushed against the trees at the side of the road, casting long shadows. By the time they reached Kamita City, it was three 'o' clock. By the time they had caught their bounty, it was four-thirty. The criminal was getting into the police car, and Train lent against the wall drinking a bottle of milk. Eve was absorbed in her book again, and Sven was talking to one of the policemen. Another criminal had been swept off the street, and the trio had money that could pay off all their debts, and on top of that live without having to work again for... well, a long time.
An ambulance siren could be heard in the distance. Its wails came nearer and nearer, and it was soon rushing through the same street as them. Everyone looked up when it stopped on the other side of the road.
"Wait, who got hurt?" Train said, looking around, feeling dread rise in his throat as it occurred to him that maybe their bounty had murdered again before they had arrived. He was even more bewildered when about fifteen people wearing masks, helmets and armour, and carrying tranquilliser guns got out of the seemingly innocent ambulance. Onlookers, mistaking the tranquillisers for real guns, fled screaming. Train and Sven yelled
"Hey, what the hell are you doing" and
"What the heck's going on?" almost at the same time as the troops started to advance towards them. A policeman said to one of the men in masks "You mean they're here?" The masked man nodded, and it surprised everyone when he pointed at Train and said "That one."
Train, apart from being angry he had been pointed at called "that one", and bewildered about what was going on, was taken aback by the way the police force suddenly flinched way from him. It was like they thought he was some kind of animal... Well, he was the black cat after all... A reason for the sudden appearance of the men with tranquillisers occurred to him.
"I'm not going back to Chronos, so you might as well leave." He said coolly, not moving from where he stood. He didn't want to have to get his gun out just yet.
"We are not part of Chronos. We wish to help you. Please come quietly and we will have no reason to sedate you." One of them replied calmly but cautiously.
Train smirked. "You honestly expect me to believe that?" The troop raised their guns.
"Wait, stop!" Sven yelled, and he and Eve ran forward to try and defend Train.
"SVEN, EVE, STOP RUNNING!" Train shouted. If they got themselves knocked unconscious, it would make it all too easy for them to get hurt. The troop was now pointing their tranquillisers at Sven and Eve. Train's eyes narrowed
"Don't get my friends involved in this. What do you really want?"
"Come with us and they won't get hurt."
"Don't blackmail me!" Train felt anger surge through him like a wave, flowing through his blood.
"It is not us who will hurt them." The masked man replied.
"Then who-" Train began, but then the troop started to fire hundreds of tranquilizers that came charging at him like an army. He managed to dodge them for a while, but they came continuously and relentlessly, and he had no choice but to get out his gun and try and deflect them. At that moment all the police force had got out their guns and were pointing them at him too, fear etched on their faces. He furrowed his brow. It was as if they expected him to go on some mad rampage and start shooting them all... What the hell was going on?
Eve ran towards Train, intending to create a shield for him, but someone grabbed her from behind and forced her to her knees, her hands pulled behind her back. She could see Sven struggling against two police as they held him back.
"TRAIN!" They both yelled, as their friend tried to dodge the merciless attacks.
Wave, after wave, after wave of thousands of tranquillizers came at Train. He continued to dodge and deflect flawlessly for a minute, but as the amount increased it was getting more and more difficult. He tried to force his reactions to become faster, and was certain he had to be deflecting about one hundred of the needles every second. Deflect, dodge, deflect, dodge, deflect, deflect, deflect, move, deflect, dodge, dodge, deflect, dodge...Until eventually one hit. Train felt the effects almost immediately. The world swam and swayed before him, and he noticed vaguely he was now on his knees. Some people were shouting, but he couldn't respond.
"Train are you okay!"
"No one move!"
"Hey, Train, get up!"
Whoever was talking sounded muffled and distant. He couldn't quite comprehend what they were talking about. His balance was haywire as if he was drunk and he couldn't think straight. It was hard to concentrate on anything, as his thoughts twisted and turned out of his grasp and anything he tried to look at slid out of view no matter how hard he tried not to fall over. On top of that his head hurt, his limbs weren't responding properly, and everything was blurring in an out of focus. He found himself staring at the ground, and noticed that ten more of the tranquilising needles had hit. He didn't try to fight as someone was roughly forcing him towards the ambulance. He could hear himself trying to say something but it sounded like gibberish. Suddenly he was lying on the uncomfortable ambulance bed, Sven and Eve's faces blurring and focusing above him, looking worried and shouting something. His consciousness ebbed away and trickled out of reach and everything went black.
Sven and Eve sat in the chairs at the hospital, unmoving. They didn't speak for what felt like, and probably was, hours. Maybe the silence could cover up and hide what just happened. Maybe if they don't shatter it everything could just be changed, reversed, anything. If they don't speak maybe it will stop being real. But what Doctor Subditus has said rang through their minds, drowning out all other thoughts.
"You! They told me to come to you! What the hell is going on, and what are you doing with Train!" Sven yelled furiously at the man in the white coat with crimson, hollow eyes they had been directed to. Eve had manipulated her hair into fists and raised them, ready to attack. Doctor Subditus looked at them calmly.
"Please, calm down. We are only trying to help him."
"YEAH, WELL THAT'S BULLSHIT!" Sven said back at ten times the volume. "YOU CAN'T JUST GO ATTACKING PEOPLE OF THE STREET-"
"Our intention was not to attack Mr Heartnet-"
"HE DOESN'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH CHRONOS ANYMORE, SO LEAVE HIM ALONE!"
Sven looked turned to Eve in shock. She had never shouted like that before, and she sounded like a different person talking without her monotone voice. Doctor Subditus took advantage of the stunned silence.
"We are not the organisation your friend previously worked for. The force that came for your friend today is part of this hospital. They needed to do so because-"
"Look, I don't know what twisted world you're living in, but do you honestly think we're going to buy this?" Sven was shuddering with anger, "There's not anything wrong with him!"
"Please, just allow me to explain!" Doctor Subditus raised his voice. Sven looked like he might argue back but fell silent, but fuming. He needed to know what the hell these people thought they were doing, even if it meant listening to them. Subditus began to speak:
"We had to section Mr Heartnet because he may otherwise be a danger to himself and those around him. I'm sorry, but he is suffering from a condition called schizophrenia that we believe was triggered by the trauma of his parents murders."
What followed was louder than a thousand explosions in a metal room. The cliché was right. Silence is deafening.
"Schizophrenia: a mental condition with symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and mood swings. Those suffering from schizophrenia often withdraw from people." Eve blurted out, quoting word for word from the medical book she had been reading.
"I'm sorry-" Subditus started
"But Train hasn't had any symptoms like that!" Sven retaliated "What are you playing at-"
"I regret to inform you that he has. We had to gather a great amount of evidence before the government allowed us to section him. Please, just let me explain:
"As an undifferentiated Schizophrenic, Heartnet has suffered from the 'negative' and 'positive' symptoms of schizophrenia. The negative symptom he suffered from greatly, when he was a number, was withdrawal from people."
"How do you even know about Chronos anyway?"
"I told you, we had to do a great deal of research on Train. It's impossible not to come across who he used to work for. During that time he would only venture outside to carry out his work or to buy things he needed to live. He did not associate himself with anyone in the outside world. These particular negative symptoms began to be replaced with so called 'positive' symptoms a few years ago. The positive symptoms Heartnet began to experience were hallucinations and delusions that we believe caused him a great deal of pain."
"Wait, delusions? But we haven't ever seen him talking to someone who wasn't there or anything like that!"
"They became inactive after a few months, but he still believes them as true. His schizophrenia caused him to create an imaginary being, which we believe was a projection of his subconscious desire to be free. He named this person Saya Minatsuki."
If the last silence was deafening, it was nothing compared to this.
"But- that's not- how? BUT HOW'S THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?" Sven yelled. "She can't be imaginary! She's the reason he changed so much!"
"Tell me," said Doctor Subditus, "Have you ever seen a photo of her? Or a keepsake that Train kept because it belonged to her?"
Sven fell silent. Eve looked paler than ivory, and was gripping the seat she was sitting on so tightly there was blood trickling down her knuckles.
"Mood swings are a negative symptom that still remains." Finished Doctor Subditus.
Train does have a tendency to go from happy go lucky to deadly serious in the blink of an eye...But that was only when Creed was mentioned... Sven found himself thinking, and doubt started to linger in the back of his mind. But wait! Creed-
"What about Creed Diskenth! He knew about Saya! He's the one who killed-" Sven began triumphantly.
"Creed Diskenth is subject to mental illness also! Put two nutters in the same room and they'll soon start to have the same delusions!" The doctor snapped suddenly, looking irritated, "The same goes for Preta Ghoul!" His new side vanished as quickly as it had come, and he adopted a calm exterior once more.
"There are no records of anyone named Saya Minatsuki, and her body was never found. You can look all you want, but I would bet my own life that you will not find any trace of her. I'm sorry, so very sorry, but Heartnet will have to stay in this hospital until we can be sure his condition won't mean he is dangerous. We believe it was the reason he became an assassin in the first place."
Eve couldn't take it anymore. "Sven." She whispered, cracking through the audible silence. "Sven, what do we do?"
There was a pause before he replied "We will look all we want until we find a trace of her. Then we'll decide what to believe."
Eve nodded. Sven turned to face her, and saw tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Eve! Are you...?" Are you OK? He stopped himself from was such a pointless question. Eve nodded vigorously. She hadn't even noticed that she was crying until she raised her hand to her cheek.