PROLOGUE: DETERMINATION

My name is Makoto Yuki.

I want to tell you that first. Because that is the only constant by which my life has founded itself upon. The story I'm about to tell you is mine. Mine, in that I've witnessed every event you're about to read. Every single part of this story is a part of me. But it's...in a way, chaotic.

I know you won't believe any of this has really happened. I wouldn't, either. Therefore, I won't blame you if you were to think of me as some attention-seeker or someone with a few screws loose in his brain. You may think what you think. I won't hold it against you. But I beg you to read this.

Because – truth be told – this story really isn't too much about me. Yes, I'm the one telling it to you, but...this story really could have never come to fruition without the help of my friends. I know, that sounds clichéd, but it's very true. More true now than it has ever been before.

Without them, I could never have become the person I am today. I could never have grown from where I'd started if it weren't for them. If it weren't for the good times and the bad times, the terrifying times and the relaxing times, the laughably silly times and the...painful times.

Their story – our story – is a story that must be told.

There was much we had to suffer through. So many hurdles to overcome, so many obstacles to break through. We'd gotten so many scars from our journeys that you could pretty much just pick one of us and you'd find that the flesh of the person you had picked had different breeds of scar tissue all over his or her back.

We'd fought each other quite a few times. And a lot of those times, said fights would hurt both me and them. Disagreements are always present in every friendship. And you can't have a friendship without them. A fight between friends is unavoidable. It's the apologizing and actually learning from each other that's the actual game-changer. A friendship – no, every relationship – has to experience pain. To experience danger and compromise. To experience those things helps people grow. Helps change people and make them better – and it helps the relationship grow immensely...if and only if the parties involved in the relationship are willing to actually come to an understanding.

I sometimes find myself perplexed at how much I'd grown from where I was a year ago.

Let's start from the beginning; I was born in a lush place called Iwatodai. The city was beyond magnificent, from an aesthetics perspective. In the daytime, the buildings would shine as brightly as the sun, and people were as friendly as could be. At night, punks and delinquents all would gather 'round at a single spot, and yet the city would still retain its extravagance.

I had lived there for seven years, with my parents and my little sister. And then I had to leave. I was taken away. An event in my life occurred, and this event had shaken up my core so much I was glad to leave the city. Glad to leave my life behind and start anew.

Simply put, my parents and sister died. In a car accident of sorts.

Something terrible happened. We were all in the car – I, my family – we were on our way home. Safe and sound, where nothing terrible would have happened to us. Where we'd have slept the night away and I'd have to dream nothing but good days while waiting for the night to turn into day and I'd have to return to school. Driving down the Moonlight Bridge – a large and magnificent bridge that was packed in traffic that night – my father nuzzled my hair as I drifted off to sleep, ready to be woken up when the time would come.

And just at that moment, night decided to turn. But into something horrifying – something too nightmarish to be the day. A time period that would be the bane of my existence from this point onward.

When the clock struck midnight, everything went to Hell. No. Hell's a much worse place, I know...but it felt like Hell. It truly felt as if I had entered Hell itself. It was as if I'd died and was damned for a sin I didn't even know I'd committed.

But my seven-year-old self didn't die. He was woken up by the sudden change in atmosphere, but blacked out the moment the car stopped functioning all of a sudden and hit something. Something big.

When I woke, I was wounded. Heavily wounded. But that was barely the issue. My parents had already died. My sister had still been alive at the time – miraculously unharmed. And yet I couldn't help but notice the coffins everywhere.

Yes. Coffins. You read that right. Some were inside the cars, others were out. But they were there. On the streets. Standing, looming over my sister and I like they were animals and we were their prey. Their livestock.

The skies had turned a sickly emerald green, the kind you'd see on dying grass. The moon had transformed into a demented yellow, like the yellow on rotted teeth. The dark clouds had swept over the city and swirled around, dancing a perverted dance to a sick symphony of evil.

And then I smelled it.

Iron. So much iron.

My nose was stuffed with the smell.

Blood was all over. Where the water – where any form of liquid should've been. It didn't help that the Moonlight Bridge was over Iwatodai's normally clean and unpolluted river. The smell was pungent and terrifying and far too much for my little nose.

And then I'd see a blonde woman and a massive monster – the one that had tipped over the car my family had been in – doing battle in the streets.

I am not making that sentence up. You'd think at this point, I'm just some crazed mental asylum escapee who managed to get his hands on a computer and type – no. No. What I'm telling you is truth. What I'm telling you is the point in my life when normalcy decided to forsake me.

The woman and the creature fought like madmen and were far too fast for me to get any good details out of them. But the monster...felt...petrifying to see in all its horrid glory. It had a sort of aura around it – it's very hard to explain. Just seeing it – if any normal person were to see it, it wouldn't be hard for him or her to have nightmares from the sight for years at a time. If any normal person were to touch it, they'd probably have skin rashes or die from the sensation of touching it.

However, making out its form was a struggle in and of itself. Not only was it moving extremely quickly despite its large stature, I could only make out a gaseous body and a white, glowing headpiece of sorts. I couldn't examine it any further. My brain couldn't process any more of it.

And yet...even in its incompleteness, it had given me nightmares for years. So many. To the point where I am now able to tell the difference between what's a dream – even a lucid, hyper-realistic one – to what's reality.

At this point, I couldn't even celebrate good dreams now, because I know whenever it's just a dream – whenever it's just one little thing that should bring reprieve, but doesn't.

...To continue from earlier, the beast I saw charged forward at me and my sister, and then there was a cut to black.

At that point, my memories of that night would blank out on me. I didn't know what happened after the creature charged. Next thing I knew, I was in a hospital bed with several things stuck in my arm, bandages all over certain parts of my body which hurt really badly, and little to no feeling in my legs and my left shoulder.

I remember crying. I remember it hurting to cry because my eyes would hurt whenever tears would touch them. And I remember asking the doctor what happened to my family only to get a sad look and a look at his back as he silently left the room.

I remember visiting my parents' and sister's graves and not being able to stomach my own presence. I remember it being rather sunny that day and I remember the heat beating against my neck. I remember one of my uncles standing by me as I wept and broke down during the funeral.

There were other things that happened, I know. But I'd forgotten them. The doctors had told me before the funeral that the damage my brain had received from the accident was bound to give me memory loss of a sort. A very unique case of amnesia, as one absent-minded doctor muttered out to me.

My mind had forgotten a great many things due to that accident. And it would continue to forget – there had been lapses in my memory for years before I managed to control it.

It didn't really help the situation much. My uncle, Aizen, and my aunt, Seiko, were...not very good caretakers. As were the other relatives I'd been sent to...they all barely seemed to care about me. I know every insult because of them. I know pain in places boys my age at the time shouldn't even know pain could have a place in.

And it certainly didn't help that every time the clock would strike midnight, dread and horror would overwhelm me. Sky would go green. Moon would turn yellow. Water would turn into blood. Coffins would sprout everywhere – where people had originally been.

Labored breathing would ring out from the coffins and I'd curl up into a ball and wait until everything would turn back to normal.

This damned time period had me by the throat. Like I was a rat in Daedalus' labyrinth. Trapped, wishing for freedom, but never finding it.

I'd known it would end up horribly for me, but I would actually even try to ask people about this mysterious time period in school or at home. To my not-surprise, they'd often respond by giving me looks, treating me like I were some kind of crazed freak, calling me insane from time to time.

I hate that word, "insane." It hurts to be called crazy, unstable, mad, or anything like that. It really does.

Questions popped up in my head. Many questions.

Why did people turn into coffins? Why did the sky turn green every midnight? Why was blood everywhere? Just who - or what - were those two combatants clashing on the Moonlight Bridge? And...why'd my family have to die?

My father and mother had done no wrong. From what I remembered, they were good people. Great people, in fact. They didn't deserve death. Especially not like that.

My sister...didn't deserve to die like that, either. Nobody did.

I once searched high and low. Reading book after book and article after article for any phenomenon wherein the sky would turn green and people would turn into coffins, I had known I might not have gotten any sort of results...and lo and behold, I was correct.

I also tried several other approaches to this dilemma of mine. I tried recording my progress with a video camera, and, much to my shock, the camera wouldn't work. I tried jutting down notes about my findings during this time period, and the next day, I'd always find them gone. I figured that Uncle had probably swiped them away, thinking them to be useless.

I eventually tried hiding my notes, but I'd end up forgetting where I'd hid them. When I'd remember their hiding spots, I'd find them gone. Again, probably because of Uncle.

To say it was strange and cornering would be an understatement.

Nothing made sense. Everything seemed to be against me. Answers were evading me. There was no other way for me to understand what was going on and what was actually happening to the world.

I was stuck. And I only found one answer – I had to return to Iwatodai. I had to go back if I were going to get anywhere – if I were going to find anything.

A lot of my memories were missing. My relatives were no help. The nightmare was still ongoing...and it was threatening other people. It must have been. Other families were in danger of being ruined by this time period.

Iwatodai was the closest thing I had to a clue.

And so...I was scared. I was frightened. Nervous. To return to Iwatodai meant returning to the origin point of the horrors I'd seen. Who was to say I'd not encounter more horrors? Who was to say that I would be able to live with myself after finding everything out? That it wouldn't end up just some phyrric victory? Or that I'd even get victory of any sort? Failure was always a factor. It was completely possible I'd fail this mission.

But...like I said, it was the closest thing I had. All I had. It was a chance. And I was not about to let it slip by.

My name is Makoto Yuki.

And I was taking my first step to a discovery.

Little did I know that this discovery was only the beginning of something that has both scarred me and enlightened me.


AUTHOR'S NOTES:


Special thanks to illuminios, for helping me open my eyes.

Hope you all enjoy the changes I've made to the first chapter. There're gonna be a lot more in the others.