The Nightmare World

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Chapter 10

But even after reading as many books as I can, I am still out of leads.

In need of some air, I find my way to where Thoma is.

Thoma :Haaaaahhhhh!

I hear him yawning as I make my way to his desk.

(What's with that look?!)

Thoma continues to peer at the screen,unaware of my presence.

His eyes are downcast and he bites his lips, seemingly worried.

Me:hey.

I greet him,leaning on the desk.

Thoma :oh,Jessica.

He instantly perks up,all traces of sleepiness gone from his face.

Me:how's the search going on?

Thoma :not much luck!

Thoma stretches, his arms over his head.

Suddenly, we hear a bell ring through the area.

Librarian:shhh!

Thoma :oops.

He immediately puts his hands down, covering his mouth as he yawns one more time.

(Haha,that's cute.)

Thoma:how about you?did you find something?

I sigh, and Thoma props his elbow on the table,cupping his chin.

Thoma :this is so much harder than I thought. But I read about something interesting. I will tell you guys about it later when we are all together.

Me:oh,sounds mysterious.

Thoma :you have no idea.

I smile, not knowing what else to say,and Thoma goes back typing on the keyboard.

(I wonder what he was thinking about earlier?)

He's usually a jokester ,but after spending some time with him these past days, I have realised that Thoma's a lot more complex.

(Does Thoma get a sense of déjà vu about the past?)

(Could he be hiding something behind his lighthearted behaviour.?)

The more I think about it ,the more I want to know about him.

Me:I will go back to my books.

Thoma:sure,lets meet up later.

Before long,we gather back in the lobby to discuss our foundings.

I set down the photo copied page of the book I got.

Me:it says here that the construction of bluebells orphanage began almost twenty years ago. The picture is of an unfinished building with an address in the caption.

Ray:we finally have an address, good job.

Thoma :oh that's just outside the city.

Subaru :so now we know the orphanage didn't really last long. Its seven years,give or take.

Thoma :I think I know why!

Thoma gestures for us to lean closer. He looks over his shoulder to see if anyone is nearby.

Thoma :okay, listen I got the information from geddit . It's one of the website blocked by the city,but I managed to dig into it somehow.

Ray :so,what did you find?

Thoma:there's a whole thread of conspiracy theories about bluebells. The person who started the orphanage claims that the orphanage was actually front for conducting human experiments.

(!)

I hold my breadth

Thoma:that's sick,right?

Thoma's whisper squeks at a higher tone as if he can't believe it either.

Thoma :and this is creepy, but some people claimed that they can hear eerie moaning within the ground.

Thoma sits back and exhales. We all look at each other.

Me:human experiments.

Subaru :it sounds like something out of a movie.

(First game, now movies........I have started to notice that he really does not take his life or death stuff too seriously. )

Subaru :it sounds unrealistic , but it could be possible if you assume we all lost our memories around the same time.

Thoma :you actually think that?

Subaru folds his arms.

Subaru :at this point,anything's possible.

Ray inhales sharply.

Ray: If it's true, then we might've been part of those experiments.

Me: That's...

I cross my arms, hugging myself.

Ray: In our case, it would seem our minds have been manipulated.There are a lot of studies about transferring, deleting, or creating fake memories. The safest method is theoretically hypnosis, but there are also cases with rather gruesome techniques and most of those were unsuccessful.Some people ended up dying.

(That's terrible!)

I gasp, covering my mouth with both my hands in shock.

Thoma: That's inhumane. Who would even do this?

Insite to get further into this. Ray suggests we go visit the orphanage, and we nod in agreement.

We take Thoma's car for a drive to the neighboring town.

Thoma: The sun's already setting.We should stay somewhere safe for the night.

Me: Yeah, we can't afford to be out when the clock strikes ten. Look, there's a motel ahead.

I look down the road.

There are only two rooms available.

Ray: We'll have to share.

Thoma: Aaaalright, so I'll stay with Jessica

Me: Oh!

Thoma pulls me closer to him,smiling.

I suddenly feel embarrassed when I get a whiff of his cologne.

Ray: No way in hell and I am letting her stay with you. You're the last person I trust in a situation like this!

Thoma: Oh yeah? Well, I don't trust you either!

(Oh boy, here they go again.)

Subaru casually pulls me by the hand.

Subaru: Let's go, Jessica.

Me: Huh? You mean...?

Before I can answer, Subaru starts leading me away.

His uncharacteristic assertiveness has my heart pounding.We've only gone a few steps before Ray grasps my shoulder, stopping us.

Ray: Where do you think you're sneaking off with Jessica?

Ray is smiling, but I can tell he's angry.Ray takes out a coin.

Ray: Let's settle this. Take your pick, Subaru.

Subaru: I'll take whatever.

Ray: I'll go for heads, then.

Thoma pipes up from behind Ray.

Thoma: Hey, what about me?

Ignoring him, Ray flicks the coin with his thumb and catches it quickly.

Subaru: ....

Me: It's tails.

Thoma suddenly bursts out laughing.

Thoma: Too bad, huh?

Ray: Shut up. Let's go.

Ray tosses Subaru the key and disappears down the hall.Subaru walks ahead, but he stops to look at me from over his shoulder.

Subaru: Let's go, Jessica.

Me: R-Right!

(I'm sharing a room with Subaru?!)

For some reason, I can hear my heart starting to pound in my ears. Subaru immediately goes to the shower, and I find myself alone, sitting on the bed, It's a simple room with no TV. I hear the sound of the room clock ticking away.

It's the sound of the nightmare world getting closer and closer by the second.

While waiting for Subaru, I pull my knees toward my chest and close my eyes, trying to keep myself from trembling.

Tick-tock, tick-tock...

(Hurry up and get back here,Subaru...)

Startled, I jump up at the sound of the bathroom door opening.Subaru comes out of the bathroom and the scent of soap fills the room.

He doesn't say anything,

Me: ...

Subaru: ...

We stay silent as Subaru dries his hair with a towel. I can feel a few droplets hitting my skin like little raindrops.

(I wonder what he's thinking...)

I try to get a look at his expression, but I find him glancing my way at the same time.

Our eyes meet, and I feel my breath catch in my throat.

(Ah...)

His blue eyes gaze at me.It's shame I can't see his red eye.But his eyes are still so alluring.

Subaru: It's almost time, isn't it?

(Oh...)

I glance at the clock, and sure enough, it's almost ten.

Me: I think I've gotten used to it.

Much to my displeasure.That doesn't take the fear away.I hug my knees tighter.Subaru hesitantly reaches out his hand toward me.

Subaru: Don't worry. I'm here with you.

Subaru runs his cool hands over my hair.

Subaru: ...

(That's so comforting.)

Subaru: Should I sing you a song?

Me: Wh-What?

Subaru: Sorry, that was a bad joke.He looks away nervously, and I can't help but laugh.

(He's doing his best to make me feel better.)

Me: Thanks, Subaru.

Subaru: Jessica...

He calls my name in a gentle way like never before.

Me: ...

I find myself getting lost in Subaru's eyes.If he keeps looking at me like this.

I...

I gently lower my head, biting my Iips.

But the sounds of the bells soon takes over, and as my vision blurs,

I see Subaru falling asleep.

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