I didn't sleep. The sound of the explosion ringing in my ears, and my heart beating faster and faster made sure of that. In the morning I headed to the cafeteria. It was even emptier now. How many more of us were we going to lose?
I kept telling myself that over and over again, desperately hoping that it would be true.
The dining hall was silent. There wasn't even the sound of cutlery being used. No one was eating, but... how could anyone still have an appetite anyways after seeing... that. The silence was broken by the sound of a chair being moved. We all turned to the source of the sound. Ren had pushed back his chair to stand, and was now facing us. He looked like he hadn't slept well either.
"Well. I understand that everyone is still in mourning." He said. "But I think our time would be best spent investigating the next area." Mayu nodded.
"Y-yeah..." She stammered. "Sitting here moping isn't going to help us.
She stood up and headed out the door. The others, realizing that Ren and Mayu were right, followed behind her. Soon it was only Nori, Isoya, Missa and I left. Nori shrugged.
"I guess I might as well go." She said nonchalantly. "But just because I have nothing better to do."
I moved out of her way and with a toss of her hair, she walked out the door. Once she was gone, I headed over to Missa and Isoya.
"Are you feeling sick again?" I asked. She nodded slowly.
"A bit." She replied. "But I think I'm going to help investigate this time. I haven't helped you guys at all! And I think it's about time I start trying." With that said, her and Isoya left the room. I followed behind them, making sure not to invade their personal space.
"So who's missing this time?"
It was Mayu who had asked the question. She looked around the train car, counting the people there. I had to admit that I was feeling pretty nervous being on the train. The crash had been cleaned up, along with Hamano's body, but it was still unnerving.
"Actually, everyone's here." Saruwatari answered. "I guess it just seems like less because... well..."
His sentence trailed off. Nobody wanted to talk about what had happened. Mayu shrugged.
"Yeah, I guess so." She said, a hint of sadness in her voice. "But if everyone's here, lets split up into groups of 3 and look around."
The train came to a stop and the doors opened up. We all stepped outside to see what the new area was like.
Unlike the other two areas, this one was open and green. It seemed like it was a giant park. There were some buildings near the train track, but I couldn't see what was inside due to the lack of windows. The air was fresh and there was a faint smell of chlorine. As we took this all in, Mayu took out her E-Handbook and started assigning areas for us to investigate. I was partnered with Isoya and Missa, and we were sent to the gazebo.
It was a beautiful, if somewhat small, gazebo. The pillars and roof were painted white, and the floor was dark and wooden. The railing had beautiful flower carvings on it.
"So..." I said, trying to break the silence that had been with us since we had left the train station. "Are we going to investigate the inside too?"
There wasn't really a need to. It was only about a meter and a half wide. I didn't even know if it would count as a gazebo, being so small. Missa shook her head.
"I'm... not the biggest fan of small places" She said.
Oh yeah. She had mentioned that before right?
"Is there a specific reason?" I asked. "Or do you just not like them?" Missa lowered her head, turning her gaze towards the ground.
"Well. When I was little, I got kidnapped." She said.
"What!?" I exclaimed. This was news to me. I had no idea she had gone through something like that. She nodded.
"It happened when I was walking home from my piano lessons." She explained. "Some men grabbed me and held me captive at an old house. They kept me locked up in a closet."
So that's where the claustrophobia came from. That would be enough to traumatize anyone.
"I was young, but not naive." She continued. I could see her hands shaking. "I spent the whole time worrying that they would try to do... indecent things." She clenched her fist to stop the shaking. "They wanted my parents to pay a ransom, and after two days of talking to the police and trying to figure out what to do, my parents paid."
I felt my own hands shaking now. Two days locked in a closet, worried the whole time about... I closed my eyes. No one should have to go through something like that. Missa relaxed, and the shaking stopped. Instead, she rubbed her arm nervously.
"Afterwards, I became extremely paranoid and claustrophobic." She said. "People tried to talk to me, but I couldn't get myself to trust them." Tears were forming in her eyes. "I didn't want to be alone, but... I felt safer that way."
"Missa..." I said. "I'm sorry for bringing that up." I hadn't meant to make her cry. I felt horrible but, probably not even close to how horrible she must have been feeling. Isoya placed his hand on her shoulder. She almost immediately seemed calmer. He had managed to comfort her without even saying a word.
"Sorry." Missa said. "I guess I've made everyone sad now." I shook my head. Now that Isoya had moved closer though, I noticed that he had a book in his hand.
"What's that?" I asked. Missa and Isoya looked at me, seeming confused. I pointed at the book. At least I had managed to change the subject. Isoya took his hand off Missa's shoulder and held up the book.
"This?" He asked. "It's Miss Missa's music book."
"He's holding onto it for me until I find a place for it." Missa explained before taking out her E-handbook. "It's time for us to meet the others." She said. The three of us headed to the train station. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Missa though, knowing what she had gone though. I was happy that she had Isoya to keep her safe now.
Back in the dining hall, the groups had all gathered. Koharu, Ren and Mayu had found a pool with change rooms. Apparently Monokuma told them that if a boy or girl tried to go into the opposite gender's change room, then they'd get shot my a machine gun there. Kind of a harsh punishment. Asami, Nori and Michiyo found some basketball courts, which made Asami very happy. Akio, Sota and Saruwatari investigated the large lake in the area. The water was incredibly cold though, so swimming in it was out of the question.
"I guess that means that there's still no way out." Mayu said once everyone had shared. I hated to admit it, but she was right. It seemed like we weren't going to get out any time soon.
"Oh! By the way!" Mayu said as everyone was starting to leave. "Ren found this in the boy's change room."
She handed me a photograph. It was just like the others. This one had a girl on it. She had short, light brown hair, similar to Bessihiki's, and was wearing a green dress. She even had a cute green bow tied around her white collar. But what was it doing in the boy's change room?
"How many is that now?" Ren asked.
"Um... I think this is the 5th." I replied. I put it in my pocket. We still had absolutely nothing to go off of. Not even the rooms that we found the photos in were connected in any way. This was just a mystery that we'd have to wait to solve. Perhaps it would end up being related to the mystery of the city itself, and the lack of people.
Now that Mayu had given me the photo, we decided to go our separate ways. I hadn't noticed it before, but it was getting really hot out. That was obvious once I had left the dining hall. A wall of warm, humid air had slapped me in the face when I opened the door. Had it been like this earlier? Perhaps a nice swim in the pool would help cool me down. Looking forward to splashing around in the water, I started heading towards the gym.
The voice belonged to Koharu. Her, Isoya and Missa were all standing in the shade of the hotel. They looked about as hot as I felt. I walked over.
"Hey guys." I said while waving. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to cool down." Missa said. "This heat came out of nowhere."
"Well, I'm heading to the pool." I said. "You guys can join me if you want." I noticed Ren heading towards the hotel. "You too Ren!" He shook his head.
"Sorry, but I have to decline." He said. "I'm just going to relax in my room for a while."
The rest of us headed towards the pool together. Koharu, Missa and I changed in the girl's change room. It was pretty simple looking. There was some exercise equipment, a shagged carpet and a poster of a popular boy band that I didn't know. There was also a closet, some lockers and a laundry hamper for wet clothing and towels. That was about it. We took some of the bathing suits neatly folded in the closet and made our way to the pool area. Much to our surprise, Sota and Mayu were already there.
"Hey guys!" Sota said waving. "Come on in! The water's great!" I waved back before moving to the edge of the pool. I dipped my foot in the water. It felt cool and refreshing; just what I needed to beat the heat. Once Isoya finished changing, the six of us spent time splashing, swimming and having fun. It felt nice to relax after everything that had happened. My mind wandered to what Isoya had said to me the night after the first trial, about living each day to the fullest. I think this was as good as we were going to get in our current situation, but it was better than nothing. In fact, I think we had all grown a little closer through it.
After a while, we all headed off to bed. I slept really well. Something that hadn't happened in a very long time.