She's falling asleep. Her eyes were slowly drooping and her consciousness tumbling down to a world where everything is always set to change. A world where all of it is nothing but a dream. These dreams however is not like lucid dreams that one can control.
And in this world ... Something frightening always awaits the brown haired girl.
It's like a game. You need to run so that you can't get caught by death. If you escape, you have a chance to go in another place. However, if you get caught, you'll taste different types of dreadful demise.
Nonetheless, whatever you do you got nowhere to run. The only way to escape the reiteration is to wake yourself from this endless nightmares.
Just like now.
The parking area has nothing but a single car. It was like people had already forgotten that this place exists. Even light refused to generates any illumination in that forsaken place.
It was cold cold cold and dark. Almost as if the wind itself is a blade that cuts through her bare arms and legs.
Pain is the only thing she could feel from the hard grip of someone who's pulling her hair. It was as though her scalp would get scrape off her head. The man was yanking her with no concern whatever her body state was. He just pulled her towards a parked car with so much eagerness.
She kicked her leg and tried to resist but that only resulted to another pain when her bare feet hit the hard concrete floor. Another wound is added to her feet with numerous crisscrossing wounds but she didn't care, the only thing that's running through her mind is to break free from his grip.
A gasp followed by a yelp came out from her as heat shot through her veins as soon as the man hoisted and forced her battered body inside the car trunk. Tears trickled down as she felt the fear gradually putting down the last of her strength. She's already had enough. Her tired body cannot withstand this anymore.
'No more! Please stop!' Her own voice echoed inside her mind.
The man gape at her with wide blood shot eyes filled with spite. He didn't seem to be contented seeing her half dead body, thus he took out a knife and
Stab her ...
Stab her ...
Stab her ...
Stab her so many times, she lost count. Blood pooled out from her mouth and abdomen. Her heart clutches as she struggled to breath for air. After that, a smirk formed in his lips before closing the trunk.
She died, and once again she found herself standing in another unfamiliar place. This time a dark isolated alley with a chilly suffocating atmosphere.
The brown haired girl couldn't move, fearing that something might happen again if she does so. Yet a frown made its way on her face when she noticed a black feline sitting near a chunk of trash like a statue, wide yellow eyes were settled on something above and a crimson fluid dropping down every other seconds close to its paws.
Instantly, a chill ran down her spine, terror seize her along with panic. She looked up, in a beat her eyes widen and her hands covers her mouth whilst she did her best not to throw up. Because up there is a dishabille woman in tattered clothes with a deteriorated body bind by a barb wire. Blood oozing from her neck creeping down to the chest and deep cut wounds everywhere.
Overcome with fright she lost her balance and fell down in a swoon. Mixed emotions became stronger and all of it is negative, especially as her eyes landed on the woman's face.
It was beyond horrible!
Her mouth was sewn together so as her eyes using a thick thread, it made her face unrecognizable. And her hair was cut carelessly reason for her to see that she's missing an ear. Whoever did this, they're not human.
To flee, to run-that's what she has to do if she doesn't want to end up like that woman. She had enough pain from the stabbing, a little more and she might lose her sanity. The girl wants to wake up but even that simple wish is hard to obtain.
Her whole body tensed as her hearing sense picked up a weak rustling coming from behind. She can feel it behind her, but soon the sound was drowned by her pulse ringing loud in her ears like a drum beat, her body now becoming rapidly cold.
'I have to run!' She thought.
But whoever it is behind her is more alert, he instantly grab her wrist. A pain shot in her limbs when the person tackled her down and swiftly reach for the hammer behind his back.
Again, she felt another sensation of pain. The air she breathed felt like a thousand needles in her throat, fast beating of her heart choked her while she desperately tried to struggle.
No use. He's far bigger than her, far stronger than her.
The girl almost laughed at herself. What's the use of escape? She has already gone through this so many times. The only thing she can do is to wait for him to take her life. She stopped moving. Giving him all the chances to do whatever he wants to do with her. Just as he was about to smash her head, a voice of a young boy echoed in the whole place, shattering that dark and narrow place, erasing everything in that cold hell.
"I don't need to be courteous to likes of people like you!" He shouted once again. Voice filled with contempt.
The place shifted again.
'A park?' Looking around, the girl felt the new place a little comfortable compared to the two places she had been. The pale color of orange from the setting sun reflected all over the play ground.
She saw a young boy, probably ten years old, silently sitting on a swing. His petite body was covered with bruise so as his face. Tears are threatening to fall but the boy is trying to fight it.
Then something snapped, and she was pulled out from that place. That's it ... it's time to wake up.
Sheets rustle as Naru sat up on his bed. He ran a finger on his hair and gently massaged his temple, calming himself down. That was nothing but a nightmare. Nothing bad has happen to Mai. She's alright where ever she is. He needs to hang on that thought to keep himself from moving forward, otherwise he'll break down.
People come and go, that's how life is for Naru, but sometimes there's an exception. There are people that he never wants to lose, his new family, comrades and especially Mai. Losing her only means losing someone special for the second time.
He reached the small envelope on his bedside table and opened it. This is one of those times that he finds himself reading Mai's letter over and over again until he falls asleep. He felt comfortable reading the letter. It was as if the girl is sitting right next to him while saying everything written on that piece of paper.
He miss her tea ...
He miss her terribly ...
Madoka Mori arrived in Japan two days after he got a call from Lin. She was surprised when he said that Naru was asking for—well let's say 'her help' since Lin told her that Noll wants her in Japan as soon as possible. So, she assumed whatever was happening, it's serious.
On the night of her arrival, Oliver explained to her everything she needed to know about the case they were currently investigating and she was appalled to learn that there's someone out there abducting female mediums. Taniyama Mai was one of the twenty three victims. It was shocking, as she didn't know Mai was a medium. Suddenly Madoka found herself promising everyone to help and solve the case.
She glanced at Naru sitting silently on the couch with a notebook on his left hand. It's unusual for her to see him without any cup of tea when that was the only thing he drinks whenever he's reading or doing something. And base on his stern expression, she figured that their search wasn't having any progress these past few days.
"For how long now?" She asked, pertaining to Mai's disappearance.
"Twenty two days" He replied shortly.
'Another days of torture for you' She thought. Madoka saw how Naru live when he was in England. It was distressful to see him moving and working like a robot. The only time she saw him move like a real person again was before he goes back to Japan. He may not show it but Noll was excited.
"Are we going to carry out your plan?" She asked again.
"That's what we have decided. You'll pretend as a medium, Lin and I will be your companion while Takigawa-san, Matsuzaki-san and John are guarding us in shadows. Just in case our target is armed, I already asked Hirota-san for further security in every case we will be investigating. Our objection is to catch their attention and lure them out." He closed his notebook and sighed. "Dangerous as it may seem, this is the only fastest way to track down the people behind this."
She hid her smile. This case is surely paranormal since the victims were all medium but Naru was never the one to ask assistance from anyone from the police department. Especially that eighty nine percent of them don't believe in the paranormal. Well, Hirota Seigi and Nakai Saki was an exeption. They're part of a group that specializes in the series of mysterious phenomena and paranormal. So it was quite agreeable to have them in this case.
She wonders what would happen if they find Mai? 'Guess it's something to look forward to.'
The next passing months was never easy for all of them.
_ _ _March
While Naru, Lin and Madoka were working on each case along with the miko, monk and the priest nonstop; Yasuhara is still working with Hirota and Nakai in finding information. Masako was left in the office together with Kasai Chiaki and Takahashi Yuuko to handle their future clients. They agreed to accept every case on the first month be it small or big so that they could earn popularity to catch the suspect's attention. But Naru made sure he chose cases that are less dangerous to avoid harm on each of his team members.
_ _ _April
The second month was unavailing. Aside from unappealing cases-some are not paranormal-there weren't any useful information and the suspects are not making any move.
_ _ _May
The third month was tremendously dull and Naru was losing his patience. No information, boring cases, unhelpful migraine and he really hated it when people come to their office with insignificant side cases.
Lin gave Oliver a confused look when he drop his notebook on the table and leaned on the side of the window with crossed arm on his chest.
"What else do they need?" Naru thought aloud.
Lin walked towards him and put his hand on his shoulder. "Everything will be alright Noll." He said. "You have done enough. All we need to do is to look for any information while waiting for them to strike."
"All we know was that Mai was being followed. But we didn't know how long they keep her under surveillance before they decided to get her." He said.
"We can't tell for certain." Lin said sighing.
"That's the point. How long are we going to keep this facade before they show their selves? It's been three months but we always wind up in a corner. Years may pass for all we know and we're still not able to find her."
Naru was tired of waiting. He is tired of watching everything moves slowly, he wanted a result even if it's just a small progress.
"I know how frustrated you are, but you don't have to push yourself too much. Taniyama-san wouldn't like that." Lin said and noticed how Oliver stiffened for a moment.
"I'm doing this for her." He said.
"Don't state the obvious. We're all doing this for her. Think about it Noll, once Taniyama-san knew that all of us are worrying for her, do you think she will stay put wherever she is right now?"
Naru looked outside the window. For a moment there he thought he saw Mai running towards the building carrying a plastic bag but it vanished briefly. "She knew we're worried and that idiot will do everything to get back."
"She would, but judging the circumstances, she couldn't. That's why we're doing all of these. Though, it's still a big question why they are not after Madoka yet." Lin said.
"I have thought of that." He sighed and looked at Lin. "It's either Madoka didn't reach their qualifications or..."
"They already found what they're looking for."
Naru Nodded. "It's possible." He took his notebook and opened it. "I noticed something in the case's report. Fujimura Ayu had gone missing three weeks after Amano Shizuka's disappearance. Fukuwara Ninako after four weeks, Takeba Minari disappeared two weeks and a half after Kinoshita. The victim's disappearances date is not distant to one another, but on the third year, only three missing people were reported to the police having the same cases. Mai was the last, gone missing four weeks after Miyafuji Saeko. It's been three months since we decided to do this and I'm sure they have heard about Madoka by now."
Lin frowned. "If Madoka didn't reach their standard then they will surely look for somebody else."
"Correct." Noll agreed. "Someone should have reported a missing person connected with this case three or five weeks after Mai's abduction." He sighed and closed his notebook.
"What if the families failed to report any kidnapping, because they already had forgotten about them?" Lin asked.
"All the reported missing mediums are professionals." Naru said. "Just to make sure, I ask Hirota-san to watch the other listed professional mediums here in Tokyo. None of them was reported missing, the reason why I've gone to a conclusion."
"That they are searching." Lin stated.
"And they already found it." He snap shut his notebook. "Gather everyone Lin. It's time to end this useless pretense."
"So are you saying that Mai was the one they're looking for?" Ayako asked, not believing what she heard from Naru.
"If that's the case, what are we going to do to make them come out?" Takigawa asked.
"According to Ibara Sachi, the culprit used a luxurious car often used by people from upper-class society, if that's the case, then our target is a rich person." Yasuhara said.
"What? Are they abducting mediums to perform a ritual to get rich?" Bou-san joked but later on realized what he has said. "Hey! Naru-bou!"
Naru thought about what Takigawa said. It's possible and if it happens to be that way, they need to gather a large amount of evidence to catch them. It would be a huge fight but Naru was far from scared, he is actually getting excited. Other than putting ghost where they should belong, he finds an ounce of pleasure bringing unrighteous people in their righteous place. Especially when they messed up with someone who's dear to him!
"Yasuhara-san, find any information about a wealthy person with suspicious earning records."
"Yes boss!" Yasu said. He's really enjoying this!
Naru turned to Takigawa. "Takigawa-san, is there any ritual that uses a large amount of spiritual strength coming from only one person?"
"There are a lot of rituals like that. In ancient times, some people use a person with a strong spiritual strength as a sacrifice for any mystical creatures or even demons that grant wishes."
"At least our search would narrow down to those rich bastards." Ayako commented.
"Is Mai-san going to be a sacrifice?" John asked, worried.
"That's not for certain but we have to accept every theory we have to make a plan."
If Mai is going to be a sacrifice then they were running out of time!