It was dark. Everything around her was impossibly dark, making it difficult to tell which was the right way to go. She had a flashlight with her, a small one in her pocket, but she knew they would find her if she had done so.
Biting her bottom lip, the woman grasped her notebook closer to her chest. She had been hiding for what felt like days, even though it had only been around three hours.
Her dark brown eyes looked to her notebook. Initially, she came here in the hopes of locating a close friend. But now, all of that seemed minuscule in comparison to what she had discovered here in this place. The truth of the matter, if she could get this out to the public, then the truth would be known.
That is if anyone were to believe.
Even now, a part of her still didn’t. After everything that she had seen and discovered, she still couldn’t believe it, even though the evidence was clearly in front of her.
Thinking about it, it all made sense, everything. Now it was just trying to let others know. If she could get out of here alive, that is.
“Ai…” she whispered to herself as she fought back the tears of sudden regret. Ai, I’m so sorry. In the end, I could never find you. Perhaps, one day. But that’s not today…
Her thoughts soon came apart within an instant, shattering like glass when she heard a sound. The sound of something squeaking, like hinges on an old door. Typically, it would only be seen as a faint annoyance, but hearing it echo around her made it all the more chilling for its place of origin.
Fear escalated in her mind as a feeling of knowing dread crawled over her like a spider creeping up her skin. Her teeth chattered as she brought a hand around her mouth.
She needed to be quiet. Fearing that if she let out even the smallest of sounds would make it easier for them to find her. No, not them, him. If he were to see her, then death was all that awaited.
The sound was still far off, thankfully, giving her the chance to further the distance between them. Clamping her lips into a thin line, she steeled herself before running off as quickly as her tired feet could carry her.
Her clothing was covered in dirt, as her long black hair matched with the darkness surrounding her, now matted with blood from a blow to the head by a man who seemed trustworthy. But soon, when she kept trying to find out what happened to her friend and soon found signs of something far worse, he showed his true colours. Yet thankfully, with his ego and desires, he did not bother to search her. It was why she could escape from a cell she was locked away in and managed to free herself by lockpicking. Something she learned on the job as a freelance journalist from a yakuza turned informant. It was something that if she were to get out of here alive, she would have to thank him for.
Her lungs now burned from running nonstop as she began to see a faint light in the distance. Upon reaching it, she realized it is an underground room. Almost the size of an apartment. With amenities for someone to live here for a relatively long time. There were a bed and several chests of drawers of clothing. Kimonos, she vaguely was aware of, as well as several other things.
But it mattered little at the moment. From what she could tell, none of this looked remotely familiar. It made her feel relieved, which meant she was not going around in circles—a good sign.
If only it could stay that way.
As she looked around her new surroundings, her ears always remained in listening to every sound she could hear. She was about to move on when she found herself stopping short when something crossed her eye.
An old photograph.
She wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t realized the significance of it. More evidence could be used in the long run. Taking it, she placed it within her notebook.
When she realized the truth, she had taken a precaution, leaving several of her notes hidden around in areas that others would find. So that if she were not able to escape, then at least those notes would be of use to others who may be trapped like she was now.
Yet it was this distraction that would be her downfall.
For the sound had returned.
It was closer than before. Right on top of her, even, he was more immediate. And soon right behind her. She saw a shadow, looming over her as the sound scratched at her eardrums.
There was no way out now, even if she tried to run.
Taking her notebook, she covertly placed it underneath a dresser that she had kneeled in front of. She could only hope that no one would find it, or at least that if someone did, then it would be an outsider. And then maybe, just maybe that person could get out alive.
She would not survive. Her soul was content with that reality, much better off knowing than allowing the fear which had enveloped her only moments before. If she were to die. Then it would be looking at the monster that was the cause of this.
With one final breath, she turned to face it. At the being who was no longer human, but that of a doll. Or perhaps calling this a demon was better. Either way, she would engrain this image in her mind’s eye, to remember what this creature looked like even in death.
She would not allow herself to forget.
And as the candles began to die out around her one by one, one last thing came to mind.
Ai, if I were to ever see you again. Then let it be in the next life. Even if I become nothing more than a doll…
Her last thoughts before all had once again become shrouded in darkness as the faint sound of that same squeaking could be heard, piercing one’s ears like nails on a chalkboard before all returned to a deafening silence.