Rustle Rustle Rustle
The sound was faint, but still managed to find its way into my subconscious. Sitting up, I looked around for the source. My room was empty. Not even the shadows were moving.
Rustle Rustle Rustle
There it was again. It had come from outside. My hands were shaking as I slowly moved towards the door. I wanted to just ignore the noise and go back to bed, but I couldn't shake the feeling that if I did that someone would get hurt.
But couldn't that someone end up being me?
Shaking my head get rid of the fear, I opened the door. No one was there.
Rustle Rustle Rustle
I followed the sound until I saw two figures near one of the street lights. One of them was near the ground, while the other was a few steps away. Moving slowly, I silently approached them. Had someone else fallen into Monokuma's trap? Suddenly, one of the figures looked my way.
The voice... it was Mayu's. Despite my mind telling me to run, I moved towards the director.
"It's me. Yui." I said. As I got closer I realized that the person near the ground was Sota, and he was... gardening?
"Hey Yui!" Mayu said. "Wow! You really scared me." She started laughing. Confused, I looked between the two of them. Sota hadn't noticed me yet.
"Is he... gardening?" I asked, pointing at the boy. Mayu nodded.
"I heard him moving around, so I followed him out here. It turns out he gardens in his sleep."
"Why don't we wake him up then?" I asked. I was very confused. Sleep gardening? Really? Mayu shook her head.
"Nope." She said bluntly. "You should never wake someone up if they're sleepwalking."
I looked at Sota. He had dug several holes and was dropping seeds into them. Somehow he managed to hit his mark with every hole even though he was asleep.
"Then should we wait until he wakes up?" I asked. Mayu shrugged.
"That's what I've been doing." She said. "But he's been at it for at least an hour now, and it's starting to get chilly." Now that she mentioned it, I realized that she was shivering. Perhaps I didn't feel it as much because I was wearing my hoodie.
"Go to bed Mayu." I said. "I'll stay with him until he wakes up."
Mayu seemed extremely relieved as she said goodbye, returning to her room. I sat on the ground near Sota, not wanting to make my legs sore. After all, I felt like I was going to be there for a while.
Less than 5 minutes had passed before Sota began to talk in his sleep.
"Mom, are you there?"
What? Was he talking to me?
"You heard about Santa right?" He asked. "I can't believe my own brother got accepted into Hopes Peak."
After quite a bit more confusion, I realized that he was dreaming about talking to his mom. Still not able to wake him up, I decided to just wait it out.
"Do you really think it will help?" He asked. "Even if it does, we'll be on our own until then."
One their own? What was he talking about? I almost felt like I shouldn't be eavesdropping, but I also knew that I couldn't leave him alone.
"We will figure it out one day mom." He said. "Santa and I. We'll figure it out."
After saying this, Sota got up and started walking back to the Hotel. I followed behind him until he got to his room. Once his door closed, I started walking back to my own room. I felt exhausted and started wondering if this was just a dream. Sleep gardening? Something like that couldn't be real.
"Gooood morning everyone! It is now 7am and night time is officially over! Get ready to greet another beautiful day!"
I still hated having to hear that every morning. Even more so when I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. Reluctantly, I got up and headed towards the dining hall. On the way, I noticed where Sota had been gardening the night before. The small dirt mounds where he had buried the seeds were still there.
So it hadn't been a dream.
Inside the dining hall, I sat down next to Koharu.
"Good morning Yui." She said cheerfully. "Glad you could sit with us!"
I didn't know if would be considered rude, but I decided to finally ask Koharu to explain herself.
"Hey, Koharu?" I asked.
"Why did you say "us" when no one else is sitting here?" Koharu seemed confused for a moment.
"Oh! Right! Sometimes I forget that I'm the only one who can see them." Koharu laughed for a bit. I, on the other hand, failed to get the joke.
"I'm talking about my friends." Koharu said. "I've known them since Kindergarten. When I was very little, I got in a car accident. I hit my head and was asleep for a long time. Once I woke up, everyone at school stayed away from me. I also found it difficult to understand when the teacher taught us numbers and letters." She paused for a moment, her eyes more glazed than usual as she remembered her childhood.
"The only class I did understand was art." She continued. "That's where I met my friends, and I wasn't lonely anymore!" Smiling, she began to pointing at the air around her.
"There's Erza, Ember, Spyrix and Gnome."
"Those are pretty... unique names." I said, thoroughly confused. Koharu laughed.
"Yeah, I guess they would be weird human names." She said. "But my friends aren't humans, they're my drawings! Erza is queen of the fairies, Ember is a phoenix, Spyrix is a tiny dragon, and Gnome is..."
"A gnome?" I asked. Koharu shook her head.
"No, he's a dwarf, but his mother was a gnome, so he kept the family name."
Was she being serious? She seemed to be serious and Koharu didn't seem to be the kind of person who would lie about something like this. So, that meant that the secret behind Koharu's amazing fantasy themed drawings was the fact that she was simply drawing these trauma induced hallucinations? No. She didn't know that they were hallucinations. She thought they were real. Heartbroken by her story, I decided to play along.
"It's a shame I'm not able to see them." I said. Koharu nodded.
"Yeah. I found out later that only I'm able to see them. They say it's because I'm the one who drew them." She smiled. "But if you want to talk to them, I'd be more than happy to help! They all want to know more about you."
"Maybe some other time." I said, trying to hold back my tears. Koharu had been through so much and hadn't even realized it. Luckily, Mayu came over at just that moment.
"Good morning guys!" She said cheerfully. I was happy for the distraction. I didn't think my heart could have handled anymore of Koharu's story.
"Good morning Mayu." I said. "You're full of energy today." Koharu smiled.
"I'm glad you're happy despite our situation." The artist said. Mayu tilted her head to the side.
"What situation?" She asked. "Everything is completely fine!"
Koharu began whispering to the air beside her.
"You're right Ember." She said softly. "She must be in denial."
Koharu was right. It seemed like Mayu was in denial. I thought back to what the artist had said before, about everyone coping in different ways. Mayu must have been coping by bottling her feelings up.
"So what happened after I left last night?" Mayu asked. I shrugged.
"After a while, he got up and went back to his room."
I figured it would be better to not share what Sota had said. It seemed like something personal and I was pretty sure that I shouldn't have heard it in the first place. Mayu nodded, but I could tell that she had been expecting something more exciting. Once she left, Koharu and I finished eating and went our separate ways.
I opened the door to the repository, and the smell of paint, glue and other art supplies wafted towards me. I had decided to see if I could find anything else related to the pictures. To my surprise, Bessihiki and Saruwatari were already in the room. They seemed to be having a serious conversation.
"What's wrong you guys?" I asked. They turned towards me. Apparently they hadn't noticed me enter before.
"Hey Yui." Saruwatari said. "I was just telling Bessihiki that the repository looked really familiar."
"We were trying to see if it had something to do with our stolen memories." Bessihiki added. "When Monokuma appeared and said that this room was based off the repository in Hopes Peak Academy."
"Why would that be a problem?" I asked. It made sense to me. After all, apparently we were all Hopes Peak alumni.
"Because," Bessihiki said. "Why would a city completely unrelated to Hopes Peak Academy have a room based off the school? It doesn't make sense."
I nodded and tried to come up with some sort of explanation.
"Maybe Monokuma did it." I suggested. "After all, that's not the only strange thing in the city."
"She's right." Saruwatari said. "The walls are strange too. I've pretty sure that if a city like this existed in Japan, we would know about it."
He was right. Giant walled cities weren't exactly something you saw on a country drive. Bessihiki nodded, tapping his finger on his leg.
"Not to mention the complete lack of people." He added. "I don't like large groups of people anyways, but this is ridiculous." I nodded. What was with this city? Perhaps if we managed to solve Monocity's secrets, we could get closer to escaping it.
"I need to get going though." Saruwatari said. "I'll see you guys later."
And with that said, he left, leaving Bessihiki and I alone.
"So..." I said. "I've been meaning to ask you something." Bessihiki sighed.
"Then don't beat around the bush and just ask."
"Sorry." I said quickly. "I just thought that since you're a hacker, and there's an electronics store here, did you find anything that could help us get out of here?"
"No." Bessihiki replied bluntly. "And besides, my skill is pretty useless in this situation. Hackers aren't capable of helping people."
"What do you mean?" I asked. "Aren't you a hacker?"
"I am." Bessihiki said. "But I also have a deep hatred for anyone who spends their time hacking into computers and other electronics. I'd much rather be a programmer like my cousin, or an accountant like my dad."
This was news to me.
"Your dad was an accountant?" I asked. Bessihiki nodded.
"Yeah." He said. I could see the faintest trace of a smile on his lips. "It sounds lame, but he was the best there was. He even worked for the Togami corporation."
The Togami corporation? They were an extremely successful corporation run by the Togami family. If he had been working for them then...
"He sounds amazing!" I exclaimed. The faint smile broke through and Bessihiki's face seemed to brighten at the thought of his dad.
"Yeah, he was."
"Was?" I asked. The smile disappeared.
"Yeah. Was." Bessihiki repeated. "After a certain incident, he, well..." I could see that this was a difficult topic for him to talk about.
"You don't need to talk about it if you don't want to." I said. "Though, there's something I don't understand. If you wanted to be a programmer, or an accountant, then, why are you a hacker?"
Suddenly, Bessihiki became very defensive.
"I have my reasons." He snapped. "But I don't need to share them with you."
I stepped back, frightened by the sudden change of character.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to pry." I said. Bessihiki opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off as an electric buzz filled the room. It was the sound of the monitor turning on. Monokuma appeared on the screen.
"Ahem. Attention. Attention. Please make your way to the gym for a very important announcement. Attendance is mandatory, so don't even think about skipping out."
The monitor flickered off and I realized that Bessihiki had left while I wasn't looking. Curious as to what this announcement was, I headed to the gym.
Apparently, I was once again the last one to arrive.
"Geez." Akio whined. "Why are girls so slow? All the guys were here ASAP." Next to him, I saw Hamano's lips curl into a smirk.
"I seem to remember you only getting here a moment before her" He said slyly. Akio turned towards him, his face flushed with colour.
"Then you must be remembering it wrong." He said angrily. Hamano wasn't intimidated.
"No. It left quite an impression." he replied. "After all, you walked in with your tail between your legs, and your face was still red from the slap." Somehow, Akio's face managed to become even more red.
"She caught me by surprise okay!" He shouted. Hamano just laughed, finding his embarrassment hilarious.
"Not hard to do considering how slow you are."
"What do you mean slow!?"
"You're slow. As in, not fast, or it could also mean unintelligent. Either definition works."
Now Akio seemed absolutely furious. He cracked his knuckles and I could see his veins popping out.
"How about we go right now?" He asked. "I'll beat you so fast you won't even have time to flinch!" Hamano seemed more interested in something that was stuck on his glove. He replied without even looking at the carpenter.
"No thanks." he said. "I'm worried that if I come in contact with you, some of your stupidity might rub off on me."
This was the last straw. Akio pulled back his arm to prepare the hit. I noticed that Hamano had tensed up, preparing for the punch. Had he actually thought that Akio wouldn't do it?
Akio pushed his fist forward towards Hamano, but then suddenly stopped mid-punch. Somehow, Isoya had managed to get to the fight and had grabbed Akio's arm. I hadn't even noticed him come over. It seemed like Hamano and Isoya hadn't either.
"Calm down before someone gets hurt." Isoya said sternly.
"Good idea." Hamano said, his attitude returning now that the danger was gone. "After all, we wouldn't want Akio to embarrass himself, would we?"
Akio pulled his arm away, facing away from Isoya.
"Brave words for someone who came real close to getting a black eye." He snapped. Both boys walked away, and I moved closer to talk to Isoya.
"Thanks for stepping in." I said. Isoya shrugged.
"It wasn't a problem." He replied. "The less violence there is, the better."
Our conversation was cut short as Monokuma appeared on the stage.
"Hello citizens of Monocity!" He exclaimed. "It is I! Your wonderful mayor, Monokuma!"
We all glared at him, not wanting to go along with his little game.
"Wow." He said, with much less energy. "Tough crowd, huh?"
Nori crossed her arms.
"You said you had an announcement right?" She asked. "So just say it let us leave." Monokuma seemed to pout. I never thought that I'd see a bear pout.
"You're no fun." He whined. "But I guess if you want me to just rush through things then..."
He took a deep breath.
He was out of breath for a moment, but then was back to his usual cheery self.
"Let me guess, you just spent a few minutes trying to read what that said right?" He asked. Ren fixed his glasses and glared at the self proclaimed mayor.
"Please stop talking nonsense and explain yourself." He said. "Or did you actually expect us to understand that gibberish."
"Gibberish!?" Monokuma exclaimed. "I was just going quickly like you guys asked. I can give you the slow version if you want though."
"Yes please." Sota said. I could tell he was as confused as the rest of us, if not more so.
"Fine." Monokuma said. "You kids need to learn to make up your minds. I said that I called you all here today to tell you that I'm very bored with how things are going. No one is killing anyone, so I'm gonna give you some motivation!"
"Motivation?" I asked.
"Yep!" The bear replied. "Something to get your video game rotted brains working. Are you ready? Cause here it is!" He paused for effect. "Once the blackened has graduated, I will grant them one wish!" He smiled, seeming very proud of himself. "Oh, right. You can't with that everyone can graduate." He added. "And if you immediately thought of that, then you're just a big fat cheater."
"What a stupid motive!" Asami shouted. "You don't have that kind of power."
"Au contraire." Monokuma said. "I have more power than you think! You want to be Prime Minister? I can do that. Want a million dollars? I can do that too! I could even give you a girlfriend or boyfriend if you're that desperate. So, if you want me to grant your wish, then get busy killing!"
After he finished speaking, he left, leaving us all more than confused. Did he really expect any of us to kill for something as unrealistic as that? I looked around at the others, seeing the fear they were feeling reflected in their faces. The sound of the monitor turning on broke the trance we were in.
"Ahem, this is a message from your Mayor. It is now 10pm and night time has officially begun. Please return to your hotel rooms as some areas will now be closed. Thank you. Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite."
The screen flickered off again, and we all left the gym. No one was going to take Monokuma seriously... right?
I tried to reassure myself as I headed back to my room, but I couldn't shake the feeling of doubt. The feeling that something bad was going to happen.