If you turn right from the Town Hall and keep travelling for two miles, you'll find that the road keeps getting smaller and smaller. The three generous lanes of traffic in each direction shrink into a single strip of asphalt that's barely big enough for one car to pass through, let alone two. LED light posts every hundred feet or so become the occasional, weak lamppost that, if you were to stop and properly look, was illuminated with a small, propane tank, like the ones the fancy eateries in the nearby cities use for cheese and chocolate fondues.
To most, it was a wonder that anyone could find this road, but for one Dr. Alison Sherwood, it was a damn near miracle.
Dr. "Please, call me Alison," Sherwood was a woman with straight (but limp) blonde hair and dark brown eyes. She was in her late twenties, but if no one told you that, you'd easily believe that she was in her mid-thirties, at least. It was something in the eyes, you'd argue, claiming that there was room for the spirit of youth that remained empty.
This, in actuality was not true. Dr. Sherwo-er…sorry, Alison, was indeed a tired woman, but not a dispirited one. In fact, she only bought this house and connected office on the aforementioned street a few months ago, and it relatively inexpensive for what it was (the total mortgage, she was delighted to discover, was only three times the price of the flat she used to live in while in university). Furthermore, despite being one of three buildings of any kind within half a mile on this road, she had managed to attract many troubled people in need of mental help, many of whom just needed to talk.
And Alison was, frankly, very good at talking. In fact, the only thing she could do better was listening.
So yes, it was a miracle for Alison that so many people could find that desolate little road from the Town Hall.
But not all miracles were sent to help, as she soon learned.
Alison was vacuuming the waiting room of her office for the next day's stream of patients when she heard the doorbell. She looked up from her work, surprised, and then looked at the hanging clock. It read 12:19 AM.
"Who would…" she muttered to herself, before turning off the vacuum and going for the door, redoing her ponytail as she went. Through the peephole, she saw someone she hadn't seen in years. Barely thinking properly in her shock, she hastily opened the door.
"Dr. Spector!" she said, perhaps a little too loudly as she pulled on her green sweater, trying to look presentable as she welcomed in her guest. "Come in, come in!" Alison was aware of the fact that she was yelping more than talking, but she couldn't help it.
It wasn't everyday that your high school biology teacher-turned psychological researcher appeared at your front door at the dead of night.
"Yes, yes. Hello," he said softly. It was then Alison realized that she hadn't properly taken a look at him. They were about the same height now (as they had been ten years ago), but Dr. Spector was hunched over in what seemed like depression (though it may have been just the weight of his briefcase-it was rather large). His eyes were wide and droopy and, as she could see now that they were in brighter light, sad. Alison opened and closed her mouth a few times, before asking if he wanted anything to drink. Dr. Spector shook his head, and collapsed into one of the seats in the waiting room. Alison cautiously took the seat next to him.
"Is something wrong?" she finally asked, almost afraid of how he'd react. Dr. Spector sighed.
"It's about Madeline Ikiyama," he said after a moment of silence. Alison's eyes widened. "She's…she tried to kill herself three weeks ago. Cut herself. Fortunately, her mother found her before she…it was too late, but she's in a coma now. She lost a lot of blood, and we think there might be brain dama-"
"Stop," Alison said shortly, trying hard not to show any emotion. Dr. Spector looked at her, startled.
"I-I'm sorry," he said afterward. They sat in silence for a few moments.
"Why did you tell me that?" she asked eventually. It was Dr. Spector's turn to look startled.
"Well, you are her bes-"
"Cut the bullshit. You know just as well as I do that she stopped speaking to me years ago. Told me not to speak to her again during the graduation ceremony, if I remember correctly," Alison continued, almost mocking the memory.
"While I was getting my diploma, of all times. Maddy was no best friend of mine. How could she be after that?" Alison continued, bordering on a tirade. Then she stopped, remembering her situation, and fell silent. She looked at her old teacher, seeing him twiddling his thumbs, even more nervous than before. "There's something else," she said.
"What are you talking about?" Dr. Spector asked, almost nervously.
"You didn't just come here to tell me about Maddy. What else is there?" Alison asked. Dr. Spector hesitated, before giving in.
"We need your help with her situation. You se-"
"No way," Alison replied flatly. Dr. Spector scowled.
"I wasn't finished. Now will you please stop acting like a child and listen to me?" Alison opened and closed her mouth a few times to protest, before eventually leaning back in her chair, motioning for him to continue. Dr. Spector took a breath before explaining.
"Ms. Ikiyama was diagnosed with clinical depression about six years ago. Her family took her to see countless therapists, tried dozens of experimental procedures to bring her out of it," Dr. Spector paused for a moment, as if he could get any emotion out of Alison. The young woman's face was still blank and serious. "Eventually, her family found that, for some reason, the less time she spent with her family, and the people she knew before her graduation from college, the less mentally disturbed she felt. It seemed illogical to several of the doctors they'd seen, and it seemed illogical to me when I heard about it, but it seemed appropriate at the time. So she-"
"Get to the point," Alison interrupted.
"I'm trying to," Dr. Spector bit back, clearly on his last nerve. Alison shrunk back into her seat slightly. "As I was saying, for the two years following the beginning of the treatment, she seemed fine. She got her own two-room apartment, got a job in a department store, and never had to see anyone from her past again, on the condition that a camera was set up in the main room. But," he sighed, readjusting himself in his seat. Alison leaned forward a bit.
"About six months ago, she stopped going out. She seemed to have quit her job, and ordered in groceries once a week. Her family started getting worried, but they thought that maybe she broke up with a boyfriend or something. But then she started talking to herself, and…" Dr. Spector trailed off.
"And they just found her dead one morning?" Alison asked. He nodded.
"She spent an unusually long time in the bathroom, apparently," he clarified. Alison made a small noise of understanding.
"I get it. It's sad and everything, but why did you get me? There must have been friends of hers in college that you could've gone to-"
"I'm not just asking you to show her support as a friend of hers," Dr. Spector explained softly. "I need you to study her."
"What do you mean by 'study her'?" Alison asked, completely dumbfounded. Dr. Spector started rummaging around his briefcase.
"Now where did I…here!" He handed her a small packet labeled "Instructions."
"And this is…" Alison asked, confused.
"A code of conduct," Dr. Spector explained.
"But why is it labeled 'Instructions?'"
"For the nature of your assignment, they mean the same thing."
"Who said I would take it?"
"You wouldn't?" Dr. Spector asked, raising his eyebrows in what seemed to be a mix of surprise and doubt. Alison sighed.
"No, I would. Just…what is this?" she said, motioning to the packet again.
"The papers are a list of instructions of how to react to being hooked up to a special brain transmitter. I need you to study Ms. Ikiyama's subconscious."
Alison stared at him as if he was mad. Dr. Spector sighed again.
"We developed a machine that will put the user in a-"
"No, no, that's not what I'm asking. It's just…Maddy's subconscious? I don't even know what was going through her head when we were friends. What makes you think that I could be of any help now? Surly she had some acquaintance with some experience with human behavior?" she protested. Dr. Spector smiled sadly.
"You're the closest thing she ever had to a friend, to her family's understanding. You're all we've got."
Alison fell back into her chair, absorbing the information. The two sat in silence for a mind-numbingly long time.
"I'm not a psychologist," she eventually murmured. Dr. Spector looked up.
"Sorry?" he asked.
"I'm not a psychologist," she repeated. "I don't do research, or study the subconscious, or whatever it is you're asking me to do. I talk through people's problems, I don't study how all people's minds work for the purposes of making a perfect cure for every problem. But…" Alison trailed off. Dr. Spector smiled slightly.
"If you agree, you'll be sedated and put into REM. The machine the papers discuss forces your brainwa-"
"I'm not a biologist or engineer. Just tell me what it does," Alison interrupted. Dr. Spector scowled for a bit, before continuing.
"It'll put your subconscious into the world she created in her comatose state. You'll be studying the projections made by them, identifying any possibly brain damage, and seeing what the root of her psychological problem is."
"I'm guessing that you hadn't tested it before because-"
"It's highly controversial. Nobody wants people to see their dreams, but this is a special case." Dr. Spector shot back. Alison was tempted to argue that perhaps Maddy wanted to keep her own dreams private, before deciding to ask another question.
"It seems more like you need one of those carnival psychics or street-corner dream interpreters. Why not them?" Dr. Spector sighed and stood up. Alison followed with her eyes, confused. "Where are you going?"
"If you chose to do this, meet me at St. Joseph's Hospital this Thursday at 8 in the evening. Just…no one else can do this. If we knew of someone else, I would've told you," he said, reaching the door.
"W-wait! Who's 'we?'" Alison asked, but the door shut behind Dr. Spector before she could get a reply. She shakily sighed and faced forward in her seat.
"Shit," she said after a few moments, looking at the clock again.
So much for getting a good rest.
Hey, Yume Nikki Fandom! This is my first fanfic for you guys! It's also my first fanfic for a video game! And for anything that had to be translated for English-speakers to understand! Yay!
(I profusely apologize for the absolute horridness that is the cover to this story. I shame everybody who can actually use MS Paint. Shaaaaaaaammme!)
On a more serious note, yes, this is my interpretation of what actually happens in Yume Nikki. I've seen it a lot in other fanfics based on psychological-thriller/horror based mediums like Yume Nikki, but not one for this fandom, so I figured "hey, why not?"
And yes, Dr. Spector is the Exposition Fairy. Every seen he's in will have him explode with exposition. He is Mr. Exposition. I hate writing exposition, but it had to be done. But he's not too important to the story after the second chapter, so it's okay.
Anyway, if you have any critiques on the plot, characterization, writing style, etc. please let me know. Remember, I can't improve unless I know what I'm doing wrong.
Thanks for reading!