Happy Wonderland


Halo Three: Keiichi:

Mikado flopped back on his bed. "It's strange, she didn't used to be like this." He reached for his ceiling.

"Yeah, she was on medication before. No, it wasn't better. Another one of our friends said talking to her was like talking to a machine." Tonight's research didn't get him anywhere. He expected as much. After all, this wasn't the first time he's done this. Mikado rolled over on his side.

"What do I think?" he asked on the phone. "I don't really know to tell you the truth."

-Earlier that Day-

Twenty-year-old Minami Keiichi walked into the club room for the journalism club in Rikkyo University after summer break. The members of the club looked up when the door swung closed.

"Hey!" the three guys and two girls greeted him.

"Yo," he said, waving. Keiichi looked around the room. Two of the guys were playing pool. The third and the girls sat at different computers near the windows. The sight alone made Keiichi feel like he was back at home. "How long has it been since we last got together like this?"

"Who knows?" a senior, Isao, said as he chalked his tip. "I'm just happy break's over."

"You are weird like that," Keiko, one of the girls, said at her computer.

"Hey!" Isao said. "The countryside is boring. After about three days, I was like okay, I had enough of this bullshit. I'm leaving."

"I didn't do anything over break either," Masako, the other girl, said. Isao raised an eyebrow.

"Except sleep?" he asked. She turned around, chuckling.


"You are such a lazy bum!"

"Me? You're worse than I am!"

Isao put his hands on his hips. "And what makes you say that?"

"You are practically sleeping in all of your classes!"


"Oh really? Then who was that snoring loudly in English history class this morning?"

"That wasn't me!"

"Who's lying now?"

"Shut up!" Keiichi looked around while Masako and Isao argued about the latter's tendency to doze off in class. It donned on him that someone was missing.

"Hey, where's Arisu?" he asked. "She's usually one of the first ones here. I expected to see her back today." The rest of the club members became quiet. Keiko bit her lower lip as she struggled to put this as painlessly as possible.

"Nobody's seen her since last night," she admitted at last. Keiichi raised an eyebrow.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"She didn't come home from her job last night," Masako said. "This morning, the baby-sitter got worried when she didn't call. She had to call the landlady to take care of Sora so she had to go to school."

"That's not like Arisu," Keiichi said. "She usually calls Kamichika-chan when she gets off from work. And you're sure she didn't call?"

"We haven't been able to reach Arisu since," Takumi, another member said. Keiichi thought about this. He remembered that she took a job at an underground club six months ago to follow a story about a string of young women disappearing all over Ikebukuro. Last night before going to work, Arisu told him that she was about to "blow the top off of things." Could the story she was chasing have caused her disappearance?

"Hey, what was the name of that club she was working at again?" Keiichi asked.

"Um… I think it was either called Paradise or Red Bunny," Masako said. "Hang on." She turned to her computer and did a quick search. "Ah, here it is. She working at the Red Bunny." Isao whistled.

"Whew, man!" he said. "You have no idea how hard it is to get into that place!"

"Don't you need a ticket or something?" Takumi asked.

"Yeah and even then some of them get turned away at the entrance," Isao said. "You have to have one of those rare tickets that lets you in." The girls leaned in intrigued.

"How can you tell if your ticket will get you in?" Masako asked.

"You can't," Isao said.

"What?!" the other members asked.

"Only the bouncer needs which will get you in, there is a little trick to bypass the system."

"How?" Takumi asked.

"You have to have a gold or silver mask," Isao whispered.

"You're kidding," Keiko said. The senior shook his head.

"Nope," he said.

"How do you know all of this?" Masako asked.

"I listen to the rumor and look around online," Isao said proudly.

"I see," Keiichi said after giving it all much thought. "How do I get a ticket?" The senior of the club gave him a strange look.

"You have to get a red and silver and cash it in some convenient store near Kinko Sekai Apartments," he said. "Why?"

"Thanks for telling me," Keiichi said. The junior turned and headed out the door.

"Keiichi?" Masako asked. "Where are you going?" He looked over his shoulder.

"What else?" he asked. "I'm going to find out what happened to our friend." The rest of the journalism club felt a sense of dread as the door swung closed.

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