The Nightmare World

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Chapter 9

Everyone:...

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.

Ray:bluebells. Huh?

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 .

Me:doesn't it?

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.

(Oh...)

(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?

I nod.

As Thoma disappears ,I stand behind the chair and watch Subaru typing.

(Wow,he's fast.)

(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.

(!)

Me:O-Oh!

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.

Me:is that-

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:what's up?

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:yeah.

(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 sighs.

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?

Me:nothing!

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:as if!

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.

Me:yeah,you're right.

(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.

Everyone :Roger!

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.

Me:what's that?

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.

Me:ah....

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 .

Me:y-yes!

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.

Me:yes,of course!

Subaru starts scanning the book.

I get back to my reading,determined to find some clues.

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