The sounds of splashing and pattering filled her senses. She opened her eyes, but she couldn't see anything in the crumbling darkness. The void that surrounded her twisted and crumpled in her vision, making her eyes hurt. As she stepped back, she could feel something wet and warm move together with her legs, reaching halfway below her knees. The familiar feeling clicked in her mind as she reached a final conclusion.

Her legs were submerged in an unknown liquid.

She strained her eyes but she still couldn't see anything, even her own hands. Wait, hands? Something was definitely off with her right one. She tried touching it with her left in a blind search, but she couldn't catch it. She couldn't even feel anything on her right, as if it didn't exist.

It didn't... exist?

She could feel that something was wrong. No, EVERYTHING WAS COMPLETELY WRONG. She twisted around to search for some source of light for she couldn't bear the darkness that pierced her eyes. As she walked blindly on the flooded ground, she felt something tug her leg in a firm grip. She stared down at the foreign feeling that touched her as slowly as she could. Finally, she could see something amidst the unnatural abyss.

A girl with chestnut colored hair clung onto her left leg like her life depended on it. Her gaze was still and cold, lacking any sort of warmth and emotion. She wore black goggles over her head, cracked and broken beyond repair. Its green lenses illuminated dimly atop her head as they flickered in an unpredictable rhythm. Half of her body was submerged in the unknown liquid, but it seemed like she didn't care. Red ink was splattered all over her, including her face. She tried to open her mouth as a cold and emotionless voice was produced from her throat.

"Onee-sama..."

As the girl's voice reached her ears, memories suddenly flooded in her mind, including the memory of the girl in front of her. She flinched as she took a step back, her left hand clutching her head in a futile attempt of stopping the surging pain in her brain. Her eyes were tightly closed, and her chest felt constricted and empty at the same time.

The ringing in her ears had finally stopped so she opened her eyes. It was still so dark, yet she could see everything that moved within the pool of red paint. Girls of the same faces floated from the liquid and jerkily stood one by one in front of her.

A soft chuckle came out of her throat as she finally remembered what was happening before her.

"Oh, right. I'm dreaming again."

As if on cue, the girls suddenly fell like dominoes after her declaration. Something invisible would hit them that would cause them to fall back down on the red paint. Some of them would lose their limbs or any part of their body before they would crash down. As they splashed on the ground, she started counting aloud with a neutral expression.

"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7..."

This routine has been repeating ever since she went back to her body. She would stand in the middle of ten thousand broken girls and watch as they die in an orderly fashion. Even though it was really tiring to count them all, she would never stop until she finally wakes up from this dream. It was her only way to keep her mind and sanity intact.

"3954, 3955, 3956, 3957, 3958..."

Time didn't exist in this dimension. No matter how large the number she was muttering, it would feel like only a minute has passed. Her words would sound distorted to her ears as the numbers melded together in an abstract combination. Her disinterested eyes would stare blankly at her front and the girls' images would reflect on them like a mirror. Red ink spilled from their wounds as it filled the area, and the red liquid's level would increase significantly at the same time. As she reached the 5,000 mark, the liquid has already reached her waist. She couldn't identify what color her shirt was before the start of the countdown, but now it's entirely dyed with red. Her legs felt numb as the crimson wetness seeped into her skin. Well, she didn't care anyway.

"7088, 7089, 7090, 7091, 7092, 7093, 7094..."

The red paint has already reached her chest as the strong waves crashed into her ribs. It was getting really hard to breathe, but she still counted nonetheless. The liquid was ironically warm and cold. The cozy warm feeling lulled her to close her eyes yet a sharp chill drilled into her bones like knives with jagged edges. She stood still, her words getting slower and her heart beating faster.

"9043... 9044... 9045... 9046... 9047... 9048..."

The tide went higher and higher until she reached the 9,000 mark, where she was completely submerged in red paint. She couldn't count with her mouth anymore, so she continued to count them in her mind. While holding her breath, her eyes scanned the environment around her. She could see those broken girls slowly approaching her until they were swarming around the breathless dreamer. They clung unto her body and pulled her down as if to drown her, yet she didn't struggle against their grasps. Her mind was entirely occupied with numbers and fleeting thoughts that she almost forgot that her lungs were about to burst.

"10001... 10002... 10003... 10...004... 100..."

How long was she dreaming? This was the highest number she had ever dreamed in her whole life. Her previous dreams didn't even reach the 5,000 mark and the liquid only reached her knees. She must be sleeping for a very long time. Or was she really sleeping? She couldn't help but smile from the thought. Her body felt heavy as the weight of ten thousand girls pulled her down. Her knees gave away and crashed loudly against the cold and moist floor.

"10029... 10030... 10031... Finally..."

Her vision blurred from the red liquid that went into her eyes, then she released the breath she was holding the entire time. The liquid bubbled from the sudden gust of air but it soon vanished as it lost its source. The red paint entered her nostrils and invaded her lungs as she clutched her chest painfully from the stabbing sensation inside her.

"Ah, I'm so tired..."

She lay face flat on the floor, her soul completely giving up from the intense exhaustion that was streaming down her entire body. The weight of her sins crushed her down and her bones felt like it would break from the intense pressure.

As her body started to break bit by bit, her heart has already broken down. Red tears formed at the corner of her eyes and mixed together with the liquid of the same hue.

"Just give me a break..."

She managed to voice out despite the lack of oxygen in her lungs. Her voice cracked as hics and sobs were produced from her throat. Her hazel eyes slowly closed from exhaustion and her hand lay flatly beside her, trying to claw on the moist ground with the last ounce of her strength.

"I just wanted to rest... away from this guilt-driven world."

Her left hand managed to grip firmly on the muddy ground then she clenched her teeth. She tried to push herself up from the floor with only a single hand to support her. Her body screamed in protest as she opposed the weight on her back, but she still persevered despite the pain.

"That's why..."

She opened her hazel eyes and gazed in front of her. She pushed herself off her limits as she successfully kneeled up from her previous position. A low growl vibrated from her throat as she fought with all her remaining strength.

"I can't give up just yet..."

Her surroundings slowly distorted into a mosaic of crimson crystal shards and fell down into a strangely white abyss like pieces of broken glass. Amidst the falling sensation, a voice resounded faintly in her ears and called out for her name.

"Mikoto."

It was of unknown origin. She didn't know if it came from someone around her, or if it came directly from her own mouth. She didn't really know. Her mind was a complete mess and she couldn't identify where the voice came from. A soothing feeling suddenly overwhelmed her as she slowly closed her eyes, a faint smile slowly forming on her face.

"In waking up again."

And she didn't know if that was a good thing or not.


Misaka Mikoto opened her eyes, but closed them again as the blinding light of a cool morning assaulted her pupils. She squinted and placed a hand over her face to block the sunlight, then sat up straight to observe her surroundings.

She was in a fairly wide room with pristine white walls. The whole room smelled of antiseptics as she took a deep breath. To her left, there was an open window where the sunlight probably came from. The curtains decorating the window swayed in the wind as a cool breeze passed by. She turned her head to her right and saw a small table with a pitcher and a glass of water on top of it. She then stared at herself and saw that she was covered with thick white blankets to protect her from the cold. She also wore a mint green hospital gown that further supported her speculation.

She's in a hospital.

She tried reaching for the glass of water on the top of the table but a sharp pain pierced her left shoulder. She almost forgot the reason why she was admitted in the first place. Her hand touched her shoulder gently as to not to apply too much pressure on the wound. She slowly went back to her previous position with her artificial hand on her shoulder.

Soon after, a soft click was heard and the door opened for her to see a familiar frog faced doctor entering the room.

"So you're finally awake. You sure took quite a rest."

"How long was I asleep?"

"You're unconscious for three days.'

"Three... days?"

She glanced again at her surroundings and saw a small calendar at a corner. Yep, it's been three days alright.

"Your body is still not ready to do some strenuous activity, and it seems that you overworked yourself."

Well, climbing buildings, controlling guns and bullets, and being stabbed on the shoulder were things that a person who was just discharged from the hospital shouldn't do because it causes overwork. Lesson learned.

But she can do all of that before without getting this much exhausted. Maybe because she went out of the hospital earlier than needed. Yeah, that's it.

"But what about work?"

She voiced out in a weird tone. It was not like she enjoyed going there, yet she could feel that a certain old man needed her help. He needed her help.

"Don't worry, Yoshitaka said that you can rest as much as you want."

Mikoto stared at the doctor's face. His face didn't always give away any emotions except his normal one (his old froggy smile) most of the time, but this time, he looked like he was troubled with something. The way his forehead creased showed that something was bothering the old man. He stared straight into her eyes and opened his mouth to speak.

"Are you sure you're not going to change your mind?"

"That question again?"

She said tiredly. She had heard this sentence from him for a hundred times already, yet the doctor wouldn't still get her point. Once she has made a decision, there's no way that she would turn back. Moving forward was the only choice that she had.

"You're the one who endorsed me to that job, right? Why are you worrying your head so much?"

The man paused for a while before answering with his head tilted slightly downwards.

"I'm not worried about you working under Yoshitaka's company."

"Then what-"

"I'm worried about your actions."

"Huh?"

She was a bit surprised that the doctor actually cut her off. Heaven Canceller now stared at her with stern eyes and his face stiffened into a serious expression.

'Heh. It doesn't suit him.'

"Don't pretend that you didn't know what I'm talking about."

"..."

She remained silent. Her eyes gazed at her left as she withdrew her hand from her shoulder. She saw a red stain then poked curiously at it.

"Yoshitaka told me about the incident that happened before you were brought here."

"Ah, the stitch popped..."

"Stop doing that and listen to me."

She stopped her hands and lifted her gaze towards the old doctor. Because of her poking, the red stain had stretched further, spreading on the fabric on her shoulder.

"What about it?"

Her piercing gaze collided with his scolding eyes. The girl's statement itself sounded out of place, and now that she was staring eye to eye with him really bothered the old man.

"He said that the mission's sole objective was to copy the data from the database then leave immediately."

"So?"

"He also stated that there was a lot of unnecessary casualties, and it actually saddened him."

"Oh, that? Miyamoto-san did most of the work."

"That's not the point."

"Then say it directly, that would make it a lot easier to understand."

She shifted her position and let her legs dangle freely on the side of the bed. Her gaze still pierced straight at him, an amused glint present on her hazel eyes. The old man breathed in deeply before replying from her sly remark.

"Hagane Shinichi."

"..."

She didn't answer, but the amusement in her face became more obvious. The corners of her lips slowly curved upwards and her eyes started to look condescending.

"What did you do to him?"

"Hmm... You knew the answer, right? Yoshitaka-san should have told you that much."

Heaven Canceller breathed out a sigh as he heard her response. His wrinkly face carried sadness and disappointment on what the girl has become. He didn't knew her that much before that incident, but he definitely knew in his gut that the previous Misaka Mikoto was a person of great morals and pure kindness based on the few times he saw her. He didn't expect to see her change into this person, apathetic and unpredictable. When she was still using 10032's body as a medium for her consciousness, she was still the cheerful and caring young lady that he knew. But after she got her body back, her overall demeanor started to change. As time passed by, the light in her eyes slowly dimmed and the way she smiled felt a bit off. This made a question pop in his mind as he continued to stare at the girl's smirking face.

"Are you really the Misaka Mikoto that I knew?"

The question made the wounded girl jolt in her position. The thrilled expression on her face ceased and was replaced with a sad smile. Actually, sad was an understatement. It was a mixture of a lot of emotions that seemed impossible to put into words. She averted her eyes and glanced at her left, hiding herself from the warm sunlight peeking through the window. Misaka Mikoto finally replied, her hand gripping her other arm in a firm hold.

"I'm not really sure myself."

The doctor was quite perplexed from the change in tone, like there was an internal switch that was unknowingly flipped in the depths of her mind. She finally glanced up and stared at the doctor with her hazel eyes. She almost looked like she was about to cry.

"It's just that I don't feel like myself anymore."

"...?!"

Heaven Canceller was greatly alarmed by her quick change of emotions for the umpteenth time. It was proved to be difficult to catch up with her mood swings, but this sudden burst of emotions made the doctor stumble back slightly. He was expecting the girl to reply with another of her sarcastic and sly words, but instead he received a vague answer with tears on her eyes.

"What do you mean?"

As he recovered from his shock, the girl clarified her words without much hesitation.

"In the past few days, a sharp sensation would claw the back of my head. I wanted it to stop, but it would only cease if I let it for a while."

She moved her hand to touch her head and bury her fingers in her hair. Her fingers traced the scalp at the back of her head as she remembered where the sensation would always strike. She brought her hand back down to latch on her arm again.

"I'm starting to enjoy the things that I would normally hate, which silently torments me in the inside. And also..."

The doctor listened patiently as she stated her thoughts. Talking to her like this brought back the persona of a young girl that she was before. He could feel that this girl was still Misaka Mikoto, but he couldn't understand why and how could the girl change in such a brief amount of time.

On the other hand, Mikoto's grip on her arm tightened. Something was stopping her to continue her words. She gritted her teeth in frustration for she couldn't understand herself.

" ... Nevermind. I'll tell you another time."

The doctor sighed once again. He thought he was going to find some answers soon but things didn't go the way he wanted it. In front of him, the girl looked like she was deep in thought as her eyebrows furrowed slightly.

"Is something in your mind?"

"Hey, doctor..."

Heaven Canceller raised an eyebrow. He braced himself from what she's going to say for he could feel that the girl's attitude changed again.

"W-what are we... what are we talking about earlier...?"

If he had not readied himself, the doctor would have shouted in disbelief. He just stared wide eyed at the girl, who was also staring back at him. He considered the possibility of it being caused by anesthesia, but what if there's something greater behind it? The girl was holding her arm again, but with more gentleness compared to earlier. Her facial expression was a bit strained as her teeth were clenched tightly.

The doctor cleared his throat and decided to end the topic completely.

"Let's forget about it. We should stitch your wound first."

"Uhh... doctor...?"

"What is it?"

He went a bit nervous when the girl called for his attention again.

"My arm hurts. I must have held onto it too tightly."

She raised her left arm, and there were dark bruises on it. That was the arm that she was gripping tightly during their conversation. The old man just sighed and helped her lie back on her bed gently.

"Just stay there. I'll be back to treat you."

"Thank you, doctor."

"Just doing my job."

Then he went out of the private room and closed the door with a click. His mind was entirely filled with questions without answers in sight. One day, he will put the puzzle piece by piece and solve it with the clues that he was given.

But just like what people used to say, it was easier said than done.


Ever since that day, Shirai Kuroko has been really silent. Her thoughts were scattered everywhere that she was losing her focus. She would always stare far away in a dazed state even at work, making her coworkers worry at her. Even at school, her teachers would note about her lost enthusiasm in studying. Her classmates would dismiss it as an effect of overwork with her duties in Judgement and advised her to take it easy. She would just nod her head and reply no more after that.

Kuroko sat in front of the computer screen, staring blankly at the piles of words on the display. Her hands remained still even though she was tasked to write a letter to their supervisors. Her usual vigor was unseen in her eyes, which was replaced with a shrilling feeling of dread. The girl beside her took a worried glance at her which she didn't even notice.

The worried girl named Uiharu Kazari knew the reason why Kuroko was acting like this. A few days before, her completely distraught friend went up to her and Saten and told her everything about what she found out in a certain investigation. The overly detailed information that she stated sent a chill down her spine. As she visualized the scene in her head, she fought back the urge to vomit that was rising from her stomach. Saten's face also paled in response, her hands and feet feeling cold all of a sudden. She shrugged the memory off and put on a determined face. She will try to be strong for her friends if that's what it takes to bring them back together again.

Uiharu placed a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder. The teleporter jolted in her position then stared at her.

"Wh-what is it, Uiharu?"

"It's alright, Shirai-san."

"What do you mean..?"

The flowery headed girl nodded and stared at her straight in the eyes.

"We just need to work hard. That case didn't say anything about Misaka-san, right? So, we can still find her in other ways, there's still a ray of hope somewhere."

She stated with conviction glowing in her eyes. Uiharu may be physically weak, but what's strong in her is her determination to do what is right; whether it would include being beaten up or acting as a drag chute.

Kuroko smiled a little as she nodded, bringing her attention back to the computer screen.

"Thank you."

As soon as she pressed the keys on the keyboard, the loud sound of the door suddenly opening made them jump in their positions. Even Konori Mii, who was standing at the corner, almost choked on her drink (milk, as usual).

"Hey Uiharu, Shirai-san! Er... Did something happen?"

The three Judgement officers stared at the newcomer blankly then breathed out a sigh. At the doorway stood Saten Ruiko, the girl who loves urban legends so much that she researches them very seriously. She had a confused expression on her face, wondering about the blank look that they gave her.

"Nothing much, Saten-san. We were just surprised of your sudden entrance."

"I-is that so? Sorry about that."

She grabbed the nearest chair and sat beside Uiharu, who was busying herself from typing some reports.

"No information yet?"

"Yes... We couldn't get that much clue."

"This thing is quite difficult..."

Her face drops a bit, but as soon as she reached for her pockets a smile suddenly broke out from her face.

"Hey, do you want to hear another crazy story?"

"Ugh... Another of those baseless rumors?"

Kuroko grumbled as she heard her friend's usual line. She always denies the existence of those legends, but every time they would investigate it, something outrageous happens... Just like the other day. In spite of her protests, Saten continued regardless.

"Last night when I was helping out in researching some facts that Uiharu gathered, I came across this interesting article."

"You're ignoring me?! And how can urban legends help in this case?!"

"That's rude! It's with my knack for legit urban legends that we came at this point!"

"N-now that you mention it..."

The girl in twin tails had her mind taken away from the horrible memory as she argued with her eccentric friend.

"Ahem. Continuing my story, there was this rumor about a dumpsite monster."

"Dumpsite monster..?"

"Yes, a dumpsite monster."

She stood up from her chair as a part of her storytelling for added effect. Uiharu tore her gaze away from the computer screen as her friend's story took her interest.

"One day, there was a poor man who used to go to different dumpsites in search for some valuable objects for a living, whether they were broken computer parts or scrap metal. When he climbed the mountain of trash, he heard something move from his left. He approached it cautiously, and then..."

Uiharu gulped in anticipation, while Kuroko had a slightly irritated look on her face. She could notice a few flaws from the story that made her cringe internally. This was the thing that she hated with urban legends. Saten continued with a grin on her face as she went for the best part (according to her).

"... he saw a weird silhouette climbing up the piles of trash. It wriggled up like a worm, slowly and creepily. From what he could see, it was about the size of a human's torso with short tentacle-like appendages."

"W-what is that?!"

Uiharu yelped in fear, her mental image of the said monster taking shape in her mind. The teleporter just huffed and shook her head, but it was evident from the look on her face that she was listening to the whole story.

"The poor man felt cold, no, EXTREMELY COLD all of a sudden. His fingertips froze and his teeth chattered in synch with the trembling of his entire body. And then..."

"And then w-what..?"

Saten inhaled deeply in her short pause, her flowery friend staring at her with eager eyes. She breathed out a warm breath, and then-

"He ran away from the dumpsite and decided to work as a construction worker instead."

"Hhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeee-!"

"That was, how do you call it... a bit anticlimactic..?"

"Is that so? Well, endings like that are quite the trend nowadays"

Everyone was absolutely calm after the story, except for Uiharu who was clutching her chest and was breathing heavily from shock. The story might have ended, but a wide grin was still present on Saten's face.

"Fufufu..."

"What now?"

Kuroko had a weird feeling with that playful snicker.

"I know the story is quite intriguing, but that's not the reason why I told you that."

"It's not, and I'm not interested."

"Actually, the people at the forums stated that the dumpsite was owned by a large corporation, namely..."

Uiharu and Kuroko gulped and held their breaths. An ominous feeling spread in their guts and twisted painfully, knowing that the few words that Saten said would lead to the incident from a few days ago.

"...Yoshitaka Corporation."

"A-are you sure?"

The teleporter stuttered in her words; hearing that organization's name sent a chill down her spine. Her friend had a serious look on her face as she placed a hand on her chin.

"That's what they said, but I'm not really sure myself. And it's probably a coincidence, right?"

Then the conversation ended. A deafening silence permeated the room as the three of them had their minds occupied with a single thought:

What is this corporation's true colors?

Every investigation that they made lead to this certain name. At first, they were just searching for a special friend, but now they're suddenly involved in an organization's mess. Was this company really connected to a certain level 5?

They all knew what happened at their latest investigation, and if the #3 was involved in this, then they're close in finding out her exact location. But that thought utterly scared them. The gruesome image carved in Kuroko's mind was definitely not a joke.

What is Misaka Mikoto's connection to all of this?

The three of them knew that their friend wouldn't do such a crime no matter the reason. She would always try to do what is right and consider the best result with everyone happy in the end. She would even try to save her enemies sometimes.

Was she really connected to this incident?

Or did they find themselves in another separate issue instead?

The last one was more likely, but something in their gut told them that the first one was something that they shouldn't ignore.

No matter what.


"..."

Misaka Mikoto found herself sitting alone in her room with nothing to do. Usually, she would be busying herself with a lot of things at this hour, but being confined in a hospital room wouldn't let her do anything that she wanted. She just stared at the wall with a bored expression, her vision swimming together with her thoughts.

She breathed out a sigh. Her sisters visited her earlier, but they left immediately for some stuff (probably some medical check-ups and random errands). There was no one else left to visit her, and that made her breathe out another sigh.

But, deep inside, she actually felt relieved. She felt like herself today. Literally. Her mind was free from the disturbances that she experienced a few days ago. No random scratching. No red spots. Just nothing. Everything seemed to be normal, and it made her feel lighter.

Thinking about it, she couldn't understand herself at times. She acted out of her own accord, but after doing it, she would either get confused or regret the things that she did.

Especially with that man named Hagane Shinichi.

"I..."

She killed a man with her own hands.

With a smile on her face, even.

She placed a hand on her forehead, her palm feeling moist against her skin. She didn't know what led her to do that crime, and her own view of herself has tainted further. The memory was a bit hazy in her mind but she could exactly remember the emotions that filled her chest during that time. The wild thumping of her heart, the blood rushing through her veins, her ragged breathing, everything.

She felt like her head was over the clouds, gazing down in disgust at everything that her condescending eyes could see. She wanted to know how it felt like to crush the things that she held dear with her own hands, crumpling their bodies and ceasing their vital signs. She wanted to feel that heavy feeling in her chest, to despair once again, and to destroy her own being from the inside.

She wanted to know how insanity feels like.

She wanted to understand what's going on in 'their' heads as they do the things that she deeply hated.

She wanted to understand 'them' in her own perspective.

Those were the thoughts that swirled in her mind on that day. She stared at her hands then flinched slightly. She could remember the smell of the warm liquid that once covered her hands, its vibrant color haunted her in her every breath.

She suddenly lurched forward, her hand immediately clasped on her mouth. Her whole body was drenched in cold sweat. As she steadied herself, she lifted her gaze and noticed that she was not alone anymore.

"So, how are you feeling?"

Mikoto frowned at the figure that suddenly appeared before her.

"You know it better than I do."

That person chuckled then smiled wider as it sat on the side of her bed with legs crossed.

"You're no fun, you know?"

"..."

'So much for normalcy...'

Misaka Mikoto almost sighed as she glared at its back. Short chestnut colored hair reached down its shoulders and contrasted with its fair white skin. Hazel eyes stared back at her as she flinched slightly.

It has appeared again.

She thought that she would be spending the day normally without these disturbances of unknown origin, but she was proved wrong.

And speaking of normal, this apparition meant the exact opposite. No normal person in the right state of mind could see an illusion of one's self. She's not even sure why it kept on appearing every time she was left alone for herself.

"You're back in this hospital room again. How reckless can you be?"

"Shut up."

It grabbed the knife and the apple from the side table then proceeded to peel the red fruit. She could see that it flinched slightly as it did the act, maybe because of the wound on its shoulder (they both had one).

"Why are you here?"

"Because you're here, I can't go anywhere without you."

It stated like it was the most obvious fact in the world. Well, what it said was true, but that's not the answer that she wanted to hear. She just glared at the figure for a while then averted her gaze to stare at the window. It continued to peel the red fruit, leaving a spiral pattern on a small plate as the knife circled around.

"What do you plan to do after this?"

"..."

She ignored it, and the figure didn't look pleased with her actions. It cut a piece from the fruit and offered it to her.

"Want some?"

"No."

"Come on, fruits are good for the body, especially to a healing patient."

"..."

"Hey, I don't really like it when I'm being ignored."

"..."

"Uhh... Hello?"

"..."

The figure clicked its tongue, then Mikoto felt the bed suddenly shifting. She didn't have the time to react as the being suddenly grabbed the collar of her hospital clothes and pinned her against the headboard.

"STOP FUCKING IGNORING ME, DAMMIT!"

She just stared at the apple stabbed on the knife as the being pointed it near her face. Its legs were resting beside her own, straddling her with no escape. Her teeth gritted and a grimace made its way to her face, mirroring the expression of the being on top of her.

"I said I hate being ignored, right?"

"I forgot to tell you that I don't like being bothered more than being ignored."

They glared at each other's eyes, until the being leaned away a bit and detached the piece of fruit from the knife. It took a bite angrily then pointed the knife back at her again. She just stared, completely unfazed by the glinting metal near her face.

"You know what? I hate you."

'I know.'

She pressed her lips into a thin line. The being glared down at her in disgust and pointed the sharp object nearer to her face.

"Why do you think I'm here?"

"..."

Silence stretched inside the sterile room. No sound could be heard aside from the rhythmic, sharp intake of air and the occasional tweeting of the birds passing by the window.

But that silence was suddenly cut off by a creaking sound. The sound was produced by the sudden shifting of weight by the two quarreling on top of the bed. The tides took a different turn as Mikoto managed to overpower the being and exchange their places, with her now on top. She restrained it from moving by pinning its wrists against the fluffy mattress with one hand and forcing her weight down on its body. The knife was also in her possession as she raised it high in the air. Her hazel eyes stared empty, like the spiraling darkness of an abyss.

"I don't know how to answer your question..."

She gripped the handle tighter and steadied her arm while the being stared stoically at her without wavering.

"But if you're planning to take my place, then I certainly know what I need to do."

She swung the knife down forcibly and stabbed the being's chest. It flinched slightly in response, but reacted no more after that.

"It's all your fault."

She stabbed it once again, and she could feel the knife piercing smoothly through its flesh.

"I didn't kill him. It's you. It's not my fault. You did it to him."

Yes, that's right. It's not my fault.

It's all your fault.

It's all your fault.

It's all your fault. It's all your fault. It's all your fault. It'sallyourfaultIt'sallyourfaultIt'sallyourfaultIt'sallyourfaultIt'sallyourfaultIT'SALLYOURFAULTIT'SALLYOURFAULTIT'SALLYOURFAULTIT'SALLYOURFAULTIT'SALLYOURFAULT!

"IT'S NOT MY FAULT!"

She suddenly shouted out loud, her breaths coming in heaves and gasps. Beads of sweat dripped from her forehead down to her cheeks. She didn't know why those words suddenly slipped from her mouth. She couldn't almost hear herself from the wild thumping of her heart that rang in her ears.

The being just stared at her with pitying eyes that made her want to stab it a few times more.

"Don't misunderstand."

Blood pooled in its mouth and spilled from the corner of its lips, but it continued to talk regardless.

"What is it that you see before your eyes?"

"H-huh...?"

The being's wrists was unknowingly free from her grip as it reached its bloodied hands to her face. She held back her breath, loosening her grip on the knife's handle.

"You've realized it, haven't you?"

Her eyes widened, then she breathed out a restrained breath. Realized? Realized what? She couldn't understand it, but that simple sentence resonated deep inside her. It wiped the tears falling freely down her cheeks with its thumb, smearing the red liquid on her face. It just stared at her, waiting for her reply, until she finally noticed something. She blinked once, twice, then thrice; but she could still see the same.

The being in front of her was translucent, and the knife in her hand stabbed a white pillow behind it. The sheets were completely white, even though illusory blood pooled on its surface.

But that's not the point. Chestnut colored hair, fair skin, and a slim build. Everything that defined her could be seen, almost like a perfect copy. Unlike those people created from her own DNA, this being knew everything about her, even what she was currently thinking about. She knew that it was because of 'it' being made from her twisted imagination, but she still couldn't identify why would it even exist in the first place.

"Guilt can do wonders."

The being smiled softly, a rare occurrence that made her stomach twist painfully. She relaxed her shoulders and breathed out a shaky breath. The knife clattered on the floor as she felt lost from the sudden emotions that burst inside her.

"For every little thing that happened around you, you've always been blaming yourself."

Mikoto gripped the white sheets tightly that she could almost hear the fabric rip in her hands. The being in front of her just stared at her, its unwavering gaze conveying a mosaic of emotions.

"You got tired of everything, yet you couldn't even make it in your self to blame others because you knew that you're at fault too."

Her breath felt stuck in her throat and her heartbeat rang loudly in her ears. She couldn't do anything to stop it from talking. It just smiled at her then continued.

"So you searched for an outlet to escape from this endless cycle, and from there I was created. It's hilarious, isn't it?"

"Shut up..."

She muttered silently and the being halted at once. It just ruffled her hair then smiled apologetically.

"I'm sorry for being harsh on you. Even illusions feel tired, you know?"

"Huh..?"

"I'll be taking my leave. You seem to have a visitor."

"W-wait!"

She reached her hand out, but the sound of the door opening made her halt her movements. She glanced at the doorway and saw a black haired teen with glasses and emerald green eyes. He looked a bit surprised as he saw how a mess her room was, but soon gathered himself as he cleared his throat and inquired.

"Uhh... Are you accepting visitors..?"

"Ueda-san."


HEY GUYS I'M FREAKIN' BACK! It's been a while. Hope you're still following this even though I only update randomly with long intervals... I'm really sorry. College is killing me, and I don't have much tolerance from stress, so I ended up organizing my thoughts for a while. I'm really sorry for the delay (and expect another delay after this XD lol I'm screwed)

Uhh... I would probably end this chapter here for now. I planned this to be longer, but I already reached 6000+ words. I was actually conveying something in here (and probably in the next chapter, too), but I want to keep it vague as possible. I want to instill a feeling of mystery to the readers, and I hope I kinda achieved it (somehow). (And secretly, I want you guys to feel empty inside after reading this gehehehehe... Oh crap, you're still reading?!)

Thank you guys for reading this. I know this is just a crappy story that I created in a whim, but seeing a few people appreciating this makes me extremely happy, especially with the reviews (and I wonder who those guests that reviewed lately are? They kind of appeared out of nowhere and sent a review at the same hour. I really appreciate it, I'm just wondering how they sent a review almost simultaneously. It's kinda amazing because it's super rare).

AGAIN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!