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I woke up screaming at the top of my lungs.

My shrieks echoed all around me.

I was screaming, but I didn’t know why.

Felt… so strange. Groggy, like I just woke up from a nightmare or something.

I was covered in sweat. ‘Must have been one hell of a dream. Whatever it was.’

When things started coming back into focus, I realized, I had no idea where I was.

The room was pitch black. The darkness had a certain weight and density to it. Felt like being in some sort of thick soup.

I was seated on a hard stone floor, back against a wall. I tried getting up but found that I was heavily restrained. Wrapped, cacoon like, in so many layers of chains I couldn’t see my body beneath. The iron bindings weighed heavily on my chest making it hard to breathe.

As much tried to wriggle free or even get an inch of room, the chains held firm.

“H-Hey! Is anyone out there?!” I cried

I couldn’t feel my limbs.

“What’s going on here?! Someone? Anyone!” I yelled some more. It was all I could do.

I thought that maybe If I could sway back and forth, then I would fall to my side and free my legs somehow.

I attempted to shift my weight from one side to the other and found even that was no use. Chains were not only keeping me to the floor, but to the wall as well. In fact, chains seemed to appear from every direction to keep me in place.

“Help! Someone answer me please!” Panic and adrenaline pumped through me

“I don’t belong here!” the only answer were my own echos sounding down a corridor I couldn’t even see.

I wiggled and writhed some more, but all it did was rattle my restraints.

“I think… that’s when it happened” A dry, raspy voice muttered.

I looked toward the source and saw a man with crossed arms dressed in black leather with a long red scarf leaning on a wall. He somehow stood out against the rest of the darkness.

There was no one here a minute ago. Where did he come from?’ I thought

“Who are you?” my voice trembled

He shifted suddenly. As if he didn’t know someone was in the room with him “Huh? You finally up princess?” said the raspy voice

“S-Show yourself!” I demanded

The dark clad man took a step away from the wall. Allowing me to see him in better detail. I discovered his head had no skin or eyes! It was just a bleached skull.

My eyes widened in horror.

We just stared at each other. At least I think he was looking at me.

Maintaining eye contact, he brought a cigarette to his mouth with a gloved hand and took a long drag.

Smoke rose from his crooked teeth and hallow eye sockets.

He exhaled what was left of the smoke towards me. Causing me to cough.

“Well, kid. Looks like you fucked us.”

I shook my head again in disbelief and closed my eyes tight “I have to be dreaming. This is just a nightmare” I muttered to myself “I just need to wake up…”

“A little too late for that” the skull chuckled “You’re wide awake.”

“Shut it!” I spat “You’re not real, and neither is this horrible place!”

He dropped the cigarette and stomped it out. “Believe what you want, kid, but this is more real than anything you’ve experienced before.”

I wriggled in my bindings more. Throwing my weight around trying to get something to give.

“You can keep that up all day girly but you ain’t moving.”

“Then help me!”

He shook his head “That ain’t how it works.”

“Damn you! Are you just going to stand there then?”

He took a knee and lowered himself to my level “You got to get yourself out.”

“You just said I couldn’t. You’re not making sense!”

“Don’t go blaming me, sweetheart! You decided to wake up, now you need to deal with the consequences. It’s not like I asked to be in this mess!” His voice raised in intensity “You wanted to wake up and know! You wanted the power!”

“What? What could I have done to get here?!”

He pointed a finger at me “You read the note they left for that dumb-fuck teacher didn’t you?”

I blinked in recollection “Y-yeah? The one at the school? What about it?”

“Then you got involved, didn’t you? You just had to know more. Got yourself involved in something way bigger than yourself for the sake of, what was it, helping people?”

“I-”

“So you did just that, right? You woke up and got us involved in this shit.”

“P-Please, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He grabbed my chains and pulled my face close to his “Damn it Niijima!” he shouted and shook me “You need to remember! Remember why! Or we are all dead for good!”

Tears welled in my eyes “I’m trying! I- I don’t understand!”

My vision started to get hazy again, and I felt light-headed. Before I knew it, all had returned to black.

***

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