AN: BE SURE TO READ THIS BEFORE YOU START! I had a really hard time deciding how to end this, but I feel that this is a great ending for this scary tale! I hope that you all enjoy and thanks for all the reviews they made me very happy!
I don't own anything!
By the time, Haruka made it to her destination, she was drenched in rain and sweat. Before her lay the only cemetery in Wintonville; everyone who had ever lived here had been buried at the Wintonville Cemetery. Running to get cover under a tent, Haruka pulled out the archives that she had stolen from the library in her house.
Looking at the map of the city, she saw that the Tenoh crypt was in the back in the old section of the cemetery. Stuffing the documents back inside her pack, she ran back out into the downpour. Running as fast as she can, she ran towards her family crypt.
It was an imposing structure made completely of white marble where an angel stood guarding the entrance of the aged crypt.
After struggling to open the slick crypt door, she went inside. The Tenohs had practically helped establish Wintonville, so there were many tombstones in the large crypt. Okuhara had died in 1720, so Haruka reasoned that she had to be buried somewhere in the middle.
Switching on her flashlight, she swallowed the bile in the back of her throat and walked into the deeper into the crypt.
". . . Hanza Tenoh, 1718. . .no. . . . Ritza Tenoh. . .1722. . .What the hell?!" Haruka doubled checked to make sure that her eyes were not mistaking her. But she saw with a sinking dread that Okuhara Tenoh was indeed not in the crypt.
How could this be? She should be here! Kicking at the dirt, Haruka sat on the ground, running her hands through her hair in frustration. She had hoped that being at Okuhara's grave would help her find some solution to her little poltergeist problem, but Okuhara wasn't even here and Miss Barnes planned to burn the mansion down at midnight with Michiru in it.
Haruka couldn't let that happen. She just couldn't.
"I just need one sign!" Haruka shouted furiously into the crypt's silent air, but she was only met with echoed words.
Resting her head up against a headstone, she let out a curse.
Suddenly, her flashlight began to flicker. Grabbing the flashlight, she cursed again at her foul luck, banging at the flashlight with the palm of her hand. The flashlight flickered one more time before finally dying. In a blanket of darkness, Haruka was forced to feel around. Up ahead, she could see the bright light of the entrance. Feeling for her flashlight, she picked it up and began to make her way to the entrance.
Trying not to feel panic, she breathed through her nose, ignoring the dead smell of her ancestors.
A wisp of white light flashed beside Haruka and she felt her heart race. Chancing a glance behind her, she felt as if something was following her.
Running faster towards the exit, she felt something brush up against her shoulders. Letting out a frightened shriek, she sighed in relief as she ran out of the crypt. Ignoring the rain, she ran towards the cemeteries' back entrance. She continued to run blindly through the cemetery, letting out a startled cry as she tripped over some overgrown tree roots. She could taste blood in her mouth as she hit something sharp. Cursing her foolhardiness, she stood up resting herself against an old oak tree, whose roots she had tripped over. Looking around, she saw that she had ran a little too far; she was somewhere behind the cemetery in the woods. Embarrassed, she looked down to see what she had hit her jaw on.
Submerged halfway into the ground was a tombstone, but the lone tombstone wasn't the cause of Haruka's new found lightheadness, it was the name.
On the tombstone, Haruka could clearly make out Okuhara Tenoh, 1696-1720. Doing the calculation, Haruka realized that she had died at the tender age of 24, but it calculations couldn't explain what she was doing out here, buried in a remote location behind the cemetery, instead of in the family crypt with all the other Tenohs. Whipping out the documents from her backpack, she flipped through the family tree. Okuhara wasn't on it! How had Haruka missed that?
She had been disowned, Haruka realized with a jolt. That was why she hadn't been buried in the family crypt and as Haruka turned her head an inch to the left her unspoken question of why was answered. Next to the dishonored woman's grave sat another grave that simply read Michiru Kaioh.
I never meant for any of this to happen. I was born into a life of privilege and as the eldest, I was always pushed to excel at everything, but I just wanted to live and feel the wind at my fingertips.
I met her under an oak tree in the forest. We would sit there for hours not saying anything. I loved her. I loved how calm she was. I loved how she always seemed to have the answers. Her hair. Her laugh. Her eyes. Everything about her left me confused and conflicted, but I knew it deep in my soul that I loved her, so I got her a job in our house as a maid, so that I could see her more.
We began an affair. I don't even remember how it began. I just knew that where I ended, Michiru began. We were two halves of one whole. Even now, I don't regret falling for Michiru. But we were soon caught, and by my father of all people. I was forced to renounce my love in front of the whole town. That was a death sentence in Wintonville, and I knew that, but I was young and I didn't care. I figured the feeling would pass. There were plenty of women in the town, who would have laid down for me and they wouldn't have pressured me to be myself. Michiru would leave and all would be well with my life. I digress that I was young. I couldn't fathom the town's cruelty.
They taunted her mercilessly and she was always being assaulted by some angry villager. Yet, she never left. She was waiting for me to finally accept who I was. But I wasn't ready for that. I didn't think I ever would be. I, like most of the villagers, was killed in a second bout of the plague. I never was able to fully apologize to her. In the end, I was a coward. I saw her once on the other side, and I realized that she was waiting for me. But I realized that I couldn't do it. I couldn't be her hero and I took comfort in that.
Haruka felt angry tears stream down her reddened face. Okuhara was a coward. She had left Michiru to die and she didn't even have the courage to tell her she was sorry for that. She wanted someone else to atone for her mistakes. She wanted Haruka to atone for her mistakes.
But Haruka couldn't do that! She refused to pay for her ancestors' mistake, but what could she do? She couldn't just let Miss Barnes burn Michiru alive for the second time. If anything, that would make her angrier and then Michiru would never pass on.
She didn't know what to do anymore and she feared for the worst. Looking at her watch, she saw that it was 5 o'clock. It was time for her to meet up with Miss Barnes. Maybe, by then, she would have thought of something.
". . . So, Okuhara has long since passed. This is unfortunate news. I will not lie, Haruka, this does not look good for us. If we had been able to find Okuhara's spirit, then maybe we could have convinced her to help Michiru. Your hunch to visit the grave was a smart one, but it won't do us any good. Okuhara has shown us that we are on our own."
The storm outside had slowed somewhat, but it still cast a somber mood on the two occupants.
"Michiru is still very weak, but every day, she grows stronger. Her being able to make it up to the school proves that. We must act tonight, so what is our plan?"
"I don't know. But I want to save her. She has been wronged, so can I at least go talk to her. If I can't appease her, then I will allow you to do what you need to."
Placing her hand on Haruka's shoulder, Miss Barnes gave her a reassuring squeeze. "I know that this is going to be hard, but after this is over, you will be allowed to return to the way things were."
"I don't think I want that anymore."
Michiru paced impatiently through the mansion.
Damn, this body! It was weak and Michiru could not walk far through the town without feeling fatigued, but this body would not deter her. Every day, she gained more control of her newfound body and when, she finally had full control, she would finally find Okuhara.
She would not move on without her. Okuhara would pay.
Alerted to a sound outside, she saw with shock that the object of her thoughts was standing outside, but she saw with disdain that that damned seer was with her, but no matter, this was her chance and she wouldn't lose it. Moving in this body was like moving through molasses, but with effort, Michiru made her way to the door.
"How interesting that you would show up like this, Okuhara?" Michiru forced out. "What do you want?"
"We would like to talk to you. We just want to talk."
"No! I don't want the seer in here! Only you!"
Turning to Haruka, Miss Barnes whispered, "She is weak right now! Maybe, you can appease her. I will wait out here. Good luck, Haruka."
Nodding her head, Haruka ran up the steps to meet Michiru. Sighing, Isabelle opened the palm her hand, revealing a matchbox and a single match. She didn't have the heart to tell Haruka that Michiru was passed being appeased.
She was an evil spirit now and Miss Barnes would do what she had to do to save Wintonville. She had already doused that mansion, insuring that there would be no escape; she just hoped that Haruka could at least make it outside.
"I am so sorry, Haruka."
Tiredly, Michiru sat down on a recliner, and motioned for Haruka to do the same. "What do I owe this pleasure, Okuhara?"
"First off, I am not Okuhara. I am Haruka, her descendant. I came here, hoping to appease you. I know you are mad, but I want to apologize for Okuhara. Please, pass on peacefully."
"I can't do that." Michiru said with a calm voice.
"For almost 300 years, I have waited for her, for you and you didn't come. Why, Okuhara, why? It's okay. I know why. You are a coward. But I have come to get you! We will be together forever!"
With each word Michiru spoke, she became more like a demon. Her eyes lit a translucent white and her hair floated above her manically. She no longer looked serene and angel-like, she looked like a monster. The mansion seemed to resonate with her anger; around her furniture was lifted from the floor, vases flew through the air.
With a scream and a white flash, Haruka realized with fright that she had been hit. Blood streamed from her head onto the carpet. With terror, she realized that her wound had been reopened. Ducking, she avoided another flying object. Above her, Michiru still raged. She seemed oblivious to the chaos around her.
Outside, Miss Barnes witnessed with horror as Haruka fell victim to Michiru's wrath. She could wait no longer. Michiru was gone. Running up to the mansion, she quickly threw the lighted match and watch with amazement as the mansion went up into the flames for the second time.
Haruka screamed as she found herself again in raging flames. She cursed as she realized that Miss Barnes had gone ahead with her plan. In the flames, she couldn't find Michiru anywhere, and the furniture of the house laid shrewn across the mansion, either burnt or burning.
But where was Michiru? Had she succumbed to the flames already?
Limping through the flames, she cried desperately for Michiru. But the ghost didn't make a sound. Turning, she saw a clear exit way from the flames to the outside. Looking around, she realized that she could have taken it. She could have let Michiru die and escape, but instead she ran awkwardly up the stairs in the kitchen until she came face to face with a little red door.
As the flames closed in around her, she opened the door.
Haruka felt no fear as she stepped into the room. The door closed behind her with a grave slam.
I was 46 years old when the Stubbes' mansion caught on fire for the second time. It burned for eight days and seven nights. It was a world phenomenon. People came from all over the world to see the mansion that had burned down twice. For the world, it brought excitement; for the Wintonville, it brought devestation and confusion.
Haruka Tenoh never made it out of that fire. I blame myself for that wholeheartedly. I have screed for her spirit many a time and have always came up with nothing.
Did she die angry? What had happened that fateful night?
I live for 56 years after that. I saw people come and go. I watched with horror as the town approved to rebuild the mansion. I accepted to be coordinator again though. What else could I do?
At the age of 103, I think to myself, "What am I waiting for?" It is ironic how a seer has become a ghost of her former self, but had yet to die and move on?
What am I waiting for?
I am a shell. Is this my punishment? Did I do something wrong that fateful night?
Taking another tour through the mansion with another group of amazed tourist, I spot what I am looking for. In the back, mixed in with a group of school kids, I see a shock of sandy blonde hair and next to her is her companion, a girl with a shock of aqua hair. Around an old picture, they stand, looking happy and alive.
It can't be, I think to myself. Until the handsome blonde one turns to me and gives me a look so meaningful, it resonates through my soul.
That is what I was waiting for. An answer. Haruka Tenoh did make it out of that fire that night. Smiling, I turn my wheelchair forward, continuing on with the tour, leaving the two to live a new life.
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