Halo Sixteen: Noriko:
Kitano hit record on his tape player.
“I one had a mental patient that set me on this path,” he said. “Her husband called her Hya-chan. Short for Hyacinth Girl. I can’t use her real name for this report. So, I will call her Hya-chan.” He shook his head.
“Anyway, she was a strange woman. I have told you the stories from before. Baby died and she had a nervous breakdown. Husband took her to Chou Mori. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Thinking about her hits a sore spot with me. I couldn’t understand why so clung to her faith so tightly. Even after her son died and she lost her mind. She still clung to her god. I tried to kill her god but failed.” Kitano rubbed his forehead.
“Still, I can’t deny that she plays a huge role in this game. Even now.”
It started with that little red diary. The little notebook was just shoved into the mail slot. Noriko looked up when it hit the floor. She walked over to the door and spotted the diary on the floor. A wave of déjà vu washed over her face.
“Huh?” she asked. The girl picked up the diary and looked at front and back. There was no text on the cover.
“Wha tis this?” Noriko asked. Suddenly, her phone rang. The girl walked over to her phone charging on the side table.
“Hello?” she asked.
“Hya-chan,” an old man’s voice said. Noriko froze for a second.
“Who is this?” she asked.
“You don’t remember me at all,” he said. “That’s okay. We will get to know each other all over again. I am just calling to see if you are alive and well.”
“What are you talking about?” Noriko asked. “Who are you? Why did you call me Hya-chan?”
“We will talk again soon,” the man said. He hung up before she had a chance to speak. Noriko stared at her phone. That voice sounded so familiar. Why did they call her ‘Hya-chan’? Her mind started to go back to another strange memory.
The walls looked so dull and white. She looked so out of it. Not even smell of bleach couldn’t reach her. She didn’t even know what day it was. Was it fall or winter? It didn’t matter to her. The door opened behind her.
“Good morning _-san,” a woman said. She didn’t reply. Rubber soles walked across the hard floor.
“How are you today?” the nurse asked. No answer.
“Time for your medicine,” she said. No answer. The nurse walked in front of her. She dragged a large metal tray with her. The nurse picked up a small cup of pills.
Back in reality, Noriko huddled on the floor, shaking.
Kitano looked up at the ceiling. “It should be time for her to come back to the game. Same with Makoto.” He smiled and shook his head to himself.
“Poor Michiko-san. She’s trying to hard to stop this game. She’s trying to pull Makoto back in. But doesn’t want to play anymore. Oh, don’t worry. I have a faster way of doing that.” The therapist smiled to himself.
Since that evening, her memories have getting worse. The diary and taunting phone calls didn’t help either.
First, the diary.
Noriko couldn’t stop reading that first night. Something about it wouldn’t let her ignore the book. Just touching it felt to so familiar to her. This was a gift to her. She couldn’t remember when or from who, though. But who sent this book to her? And why?
Noriko took the notebook back to her room. Once she settled onto her bed, she opened her notebook. Right off the bat, page one caught her attention. Noriko narrowed her eyes.
“Is this my handwriting?” she asked. She jumped off of the bed and grabbed her school notes. The girl opened her notebook and compared it to the diary. A dead ringer match. Noriko had to do a double take.
“So weird…” she said. She looked through her diary. The girl’s eyes widened.
“1981?” Noriko asked. She wasn’t born then. This didn’t look fake either. The girl couldn’t stop turning the pages. Noriko didn’t remember writing any of this. If Chiharu was here with her now, she would tell her to just ignore it. But she could do that. Noriko had already fallen down a rabbit hole that she couldn’t climb out of.
And that was just from looking at the pages.
Noriko didn’t start reading until about the third day. Each word on the pages seemed to speak to her. She could feel this woman’s joy, frustration, sorrow, confusion, and love. It almost felt like she had written these words herself. Most of the entries talked about her husband.
Mako-kun as she called him.
He seemed like a great guy too. A little bit troubled, but great.
The more Noriko read, the more she felt like she had written all of this herself. But that couldn’t be possible, could it? The earliest entry went back to summer of 1981. She wasn’t even alive back then. Could she have…?
Noriko shook her head. No, that was a dumb idea. Right?
Kitano sat back in his chair. “Of all three of them, Hya-chan never ceases to fascinate me. She’s much stronger than she thinks she is. This puts me into a dilemma. Initially, I wanted Makoto to win. But now, Hya-chan is catching up to him in this game. Who is going to win—husband or wife?”
There came a knock on his door. Kitano hit stop on his recorder.
“Come in,” he said. Aya poked her head inside the office.
“You wanted to see me?” she asked. Kitano slipped his tape recorder back into his coat pocket.
“Yeah, I just wanted to share some good news with you,” he said.
“Oh? What would that be?” Aya asked.
“My old patient is rejoining the game,” the therapist said. The other therapist had a shocked look on her face.
“Are you serious?” Aya asked.
“Yes,” Kitano said. She gave him a strange look.
“Wait… does she have her memories back?” she asked.
“Not yet,” he said. “She just got her diary back again.”
“Oh, did you send it to her?” Aya asked. Kitano smiled and shook his head.
“Nah, not this time,” he said. She gave him a strange look.
“No?” she asked. “If not you, then was it…?” Kitano shrugged.
“Who can say?” he asked. Aya had a secret smile to herself.
Then there were the phone calls. In the middle of the night, Noriko’s phone would ring.
“Hello?” she asked. There would be nothing on the other line. Each call would last for fifteen seconds before they would hang up. Noriko stared at her phone. What was going on? The calls didn’t just come at night.
One morning, her cell phone rang as she was getting ready for summer classes.
“Hello?” Noriko asked.
“Hello, dear Hya-chan,” a familiar Scottish accent said. Her stomach dropped.
“Chiba-sensei?” the girl asked. “What do you want?”
“How have you been?” Junko asked. “Have you found your husband yet?” A confused look came over Noriko’s face.
“What are you talking about?” she asked. “I am not married.”
“You were but you don’t remember, do you?” the nurse asked. Noriko started trembling.
“What are you talking about?” she asked again.
“Have you been reading your diary?” Junko asked. The girl froze.
“How do you know about my diary?” she asked. Noriko covered her mouth. Why did she say “my”? That diary didn’t belong to her.
“Oh good, you got it then?” the nurse asked. The color drained from the girl’s face.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Play the game and you shall see!” Junko said. She laughed as she hung up. Noriko’s phone hit the floor.
Once Aya left his office, Kitano took out his tape recorder and hit record.
“Now, where was I?” he asked. “Oh yes, husband and wife. I get the feeling that Hya-chan and Makoto will reunite really soon. He’s tried to keep her away from him and this misery. But that will fail again. Fate is kind of funny that way. The harder you fight against it; the more fate will push back.” The therapist smiled and shook his head.
“My only question is: how will this turn play out?” he asked. “This is Kitano-sensei and I am signing off.” He hit stop one more time for the day.
It all started when she was going to the store to buy dinner.
She felt like she had been abandoned. Her friends all seemed like they have been busy. Chiharu wasn’t picking up her phone. The boys were too busy doing what they were doing. Same thing went for Anri. Noriko didn’t seem to know what to do.
That was until she happened to look and notice a man in his thirties walking by with a woman with short white blonde hair. The woman talked the man’s ear off as she helped him walk along. Something about him drew Noriko closer.
I know that guy…
Noriko turned around and walked towards the couple on the other side of the street. Meanwhile, the man stopped in his tracks and turned his head.
“What’s the matter, Makoto?” Evie asked.
“She’s here,” he mumbled.
“Huh?” the girlfriend asked. She turned and saw a girl about eighteen years running towards them. She made her way of to the couple.
“Mako-kun!” Noriko said. Makoto went pale as he froze. The girl reached forward and touched his cheek.
“Oh, Mako-kun,” she said. “You look so pale. Have you been starving yourself for me again? This is no good. You have to eat. I can’t have you getting sick on me and the baby.” Evie looked between them.
“What the hell is this?” she asked. “What the hell are you talking about?! He doesn’t know who you are. Why are you bothering us?” Noriko froze before drawing back her hand.
“I… I don’t know!” she blurted out. The poor girl took off running as fast as she could. Evie tilted her head with a confused look on her face.
“Who the hell was that?” she asked. Makoto stood trembling as that old fear formed in his head, digging up old memories that he wished that he could forget. It wasn’t going to stop. In fact, it was only going to get worse.
Noriko disappeared down an alley. She held her hand to her chest. Why did she say all of that? It just came out on an impulse. Seeing that man’s face triggered something inside of her. Somehow, she had to tell him that before. The clashing of memories made her shiver. Noriko sank to her knees as she felt it all closing in around her. The foreign memories, that diary, all of those phone calls, her nightmares, and her blackouts.
Why does this keep happening to me?
“You’re starting to get your memories back, aren’t you?” someone asked. Noriko froze and slowly lifted her head. Inches away Michiko stood eyeing her. The girl blinked and rose to her feet.
“Michiko… -san?” she asked.
“Yes,” Michiko said. Noriko dropped her hand by her side.
“I think I am married to that man,” she said. Michiko had a serious look on her face now.
“There is so much that we have to talk about,” she said in a low voice.