The cursor on Ray's screen transforms into an hourglass icon as we wait for the search results.
Thoma :there! there!
Thoma points at the computer screen,and Ray clicks on the first link.
Me:do you think its still open?
The page refreshes and shows up the headline of an article.
Ray:well,there's your answer.
The title reads-"orphanage closed until further notice"
I lean over Ray's chair and peer at the monitor.
Me: after some successful adoption, bluebells orphanage will halt operations due to reasons withheld by the founder...........the date is from is from thirteen years ago.
Subaru :that sounds fishy .
I turn my head to look at Subaru.
Me: its around the same time we lost our memories.
Then I return my gaze to the screen,scrolling the mouse down the page.
Me:they seemed to have a good reputation,and if they have helped a lot of families ,I am sure they have a number of patrons too.
Thoma:eh,maybe the founder just wanted to cut the cost. Running an orphanage is expensive. Probably even more than managing a company.
Ray: that could be there, but it's still suspicious.
Ray sits and chair swivels gently.
Ray:that's about it ,there's not much info here.
Subaru :let's try other links.
Ray gets up from the chair and digs his phone out.
Ray:I will leave research to you. I need to make a call.
Subaru nods and takes his place on the chair just as Thoma makes his way out of the door.
Me: Thoma, where are you going?
Thoma:I need to go home for a bit. Maybe my folks know something about this.
(Thoma and I found out about our adoption just yesterday. )
Maybe my recovered memories were so horrible that my parents have been keeping them a secret.
Even though we are not related by blood ,they truly love me and that's all matters.
(Will Thoma be able to accept the truth?)
I shoot him a worried look.
Me:are you gonna be alright.
Thoma:no need to worry, Jessica. I can handle it.
He smiles,all teeth , and gives me a thumbs up.
Thoma:call me if something comes up,alright?
As Thoma disappears ,I stand behind the chair and watch Subaru typing.
(Is Subaru some kind of computer expert?)
Subaru:there are some pictures here that are very similar to the house in the nightmare world.
Me:whoa!you're right, the pictures are clearly very old, but some features are certainly distinguishable.
I try to take a closer look,peering over Subaru's shoulder. But at the same time,he turns his head and I feel his nose brush across my cheeks.
In surprise, I step back ,almost loosing my balance.
Subaru :are you okay?
Me:y-yeah, totally fine.
Subaru:Jessica, look at this.
Subaru motions me closer.
At the end of the page, there's a picture of all the people from the orphanage. In the centre, there are six children.
(This is basically personal information....)
Subaru :do you think so too?
I squint my eyes. The photograph is obviously scanned from old material,making it hard to make out the details.
Me:we can't be sure,but it's possible.
Ray comes in ,immediately going straight to the desk.
Subaru :this picture.....
Me:it looks like a photo of us.
Ray:are you sure?
Me:,from what I remember from my vision, yeah.
Ray:what else did you find?
Subaru :nothing much,to be honest. There's so little info about it. The founder is listed as anonymous , and there doesn't seem to be an address.
Subaru looks up at Ray ,as he swivels his chair.
Subaru :shouldn't orphanage have some sort of promotion to attract donors?fund raisers?charity work,volunteer opportunities?
Me:Subaru has a point. Most orphanages I know would put themselves out there to get help and donations. Even if it's shut down now,it's strange that there's so little information about it.
Ray:you're right, once info is put out on the Internet. It's not easy to erase it,unless.....
We all look at each other.
(Unless they're trying to hide something. )
Subaru :something's definitely up.
Ray walks over to the bed and sit down, cradling his face in both hands .
Ray:I couldn't get any thing from my mom,either.
Me:is that why you went out for a call.
(Ray and his mom must be close if he felt like he could ask about such a sensitive topic.)
Me:maybe I should try to ask my parents too.
Subaru turns his chair so that he's facing both me and Ray.
(My parents don't know that I am aware of being adopted.)
Ray:you don't need to.
Ray puts his hand on his sides and throws his head back,as if to stretch.
Ray:my mom said she didn't directly adopt me from the orphanage.
Me:what do you mean?
Ray:there was a middle man in the process. She didn't know anything about the orphanage because someone else handled it for her.
Subaru:we have hit a dead end!
Me:we still have to try. Lives are at stake. We can't give up now.
Ray :wait!Where's the loudmouth?
(I assume he means Thoma. )
Ray looks worried for a moment, but when our eyes meet ,he immediately tries to hide it.
Me :he went home to ask his parents.
Ray clicks his tongue,somewhat annoyed.
Ray:seriously, that guy just can't stay put.
I can't help but smile at his reaction.
Ray:Why are you laughing?
But keep on smiling, eyeing him knowingly.
Ray:whatever's going through that head of yours,you're wrong.
Me:what! I didn't say anything.
(Even if he doesn't say it, I am sure he's worried about Thoma. The fact seems to have hit him the hardest.)
Ray:anyway, how about we hit the library. If the Internet is no help,there's always good old fashioned print. We might find out something there.
Me:right!I will leave Thoma a message to meet us there.
We find Thoma waiting for us outside the library.
Me:did,you wait long?
Thoma :nah,I just got here,actually.
Ray:so how'd it go?
Thoma :say whaaaaat ?!
Thoma locks Ray's head in his arms.
Thoma:what's this?were you worried about little old me?
Ray tries to get Thoma off of him.
In fact,he just holds Ray close,as if hugging him.
Subaru:......What's the deal with these boneheads?
Subaru scowls at them.
It's kind of endearing to watch.
Thoma:I didn't get anything out of my folks,but.....I have to thank them for telling me the truth.
Finally, Thoma releases Ray from his hold and look at each of us.
Thoma:you know,my folks cried when I asked them. They said they were afraid I had run away looking for my real parents if I knew the truth. My parents are really sweet people, so it was a bit of shock at first.
(Ah I understand, I thought the same thing.)
Thoma:but I am feeling relieved now . Atleast this clears up some questions I had. Besides, it doesn't matter if we're related by blood or not. No matter what anyone says we're still family.
Thoma looks to me for agreement.
(I am glad he's doing okay.)
I give Thoma a nudge.
Ray:we are just beginning to find the answers,come on!
Ray leads us up the stairs as he looks at his watch.
Ray :we don't have much time ,so we should cover as much ground as possible.
(It won't be long until nightfall.)
I clench my fist,resting the fear.
Ray:I will go at the medical journals for the things related to memory and mind manipulation.
Thoma: okay, I think I will have more luck accessing old archives from the web.
Subaru and I look at each other.
Subaru:Jessica and I will go through some books and newspapers.
Ray:good. Write or copy anything you find useful.
Me:ugh......There's so much.
I look around the aisle Subaru and I walk through.
Subaru :we don't need to look at everything. We only need to look for books published locally.
Me:you're right, narrowing down to relevant stuff makes it easier.
Subaru takes out a piece of paper,glances at it ,then looks around the area.
Subaru :I asked the clerk about the publication within the city and nearby locales,this select is.......oh right over there.
(Wow, Subaru was already two steps forward. )
Me:you're amazing, Subaru.
Subaru looks away from me.
He's blushing a little.
(I guess he is not used of being complimented.)
Subaru :I will have to look at the vertical files,if you don't mind.
Me:got it ,I will check the books over here .
(Although he's younger than me, he is really mature.)
Subaru and I go our separate ways,and I find myself surrounded by tall shelves.
(Okay ,lets start,I have gotta pull my weight.)
I walk across the aisle,glancing at the titles until I find one that sparks my interest.
(Through the years,a photograph collection. )
It strikes me as a printed album of the city,so I decide to reach for it.
I stand on my tiptoes,but my fingers just brush across the top shelf.
I stand on my tiptoes once again,reaching as high as I can,but before I can grab the book,a hand appears out of nowhere.
From behind, a hand reaches out and grabbed the book I was reaching for. I turn around slowly and find Subaru standing there. My face grows hot as his blue eyes stare down at me.
Subaru :is this what you needed?
He finally steps back.
He doesn't seem one bit concerned about how close we were to each other .
I say,lowering my head.
(It's so awkward being the only one nervous. )
Without warning, I feel a weight settling down on my head.
(Did he just put the book on my head?!)
I immediately take the book off.
Subaru :you look like you needed help.
Me:y-yeah, thank you. What about you?
He takes out a book from my behind.
Subaru :this seems to be a written history of some nearby towns . I thought it would be useful.
Subaru starts scanning the book.
I get back to my reading,determined to find some clues.