Whether it was for minutes or for hours I don't know, but I was hunched in that fetal position when Machi came outside to get me.
From the moment of my revelation to the moment of her arrival I didn't move, I didn't think. I just bathed in the knowledge that I existed. Each breath was slow and even and cherished. Because it meant despite whatever event caused this weird, unscientific circumstance, I was alive. And for the moment, in my overwhelmed state, that was enough.
I let Machi lead me back inside for lunch, my silent demeanor written off by her as me just not wanting to talk. Despite her leading me with a hand on my back I was having trouble moving forward. My legs were struggling with my command to walk, feet dragging on the ground and knees stiff. It wasn't until I crossed the building's threshold that my mind refocused.
The living area was void of people, tv muted and toys abandoned on the ground. My skin felt unusually warm, a clear sign of a budding sunburn. Sounds of laughter and clicking cutlery drifted in from the kitchen. I could smell meat and cooked vegetables and it made my stomach grumble, while my mouth starting to salivate in preparation to eat. We continued to the kitchen and she lead me to an empty seat at the kids table. When I entered the kitchen I thought I felt eyes train on me, and now sitting down I could see in my peripheral vision that heads were indeed turned in my direction.
While Machi turned to retrieve my lunch I felt my cheeks flush. Of course they're staring. I blew up at one of our caretakers. They were probably wondering what was wrong with me.
But whatever they thought was wrong with me was only scratching the surface.
My plate of food was set in front of me, and after a moment I picked up my fork with my hands, skewering the thin slice of pork and putting it in my mouth.
By the sandbox I had come to the conclusion that I was a child again with little fanfare; it is what it is. Just accept it. But now that my brain was done short circuiting, I was really wanting to know 'why' and 'how'.
Swallowing, I looking at my hand, at how small it was. The fork I held just seemed so disproportionate in comparison. The piece of meat I had just swallowed was miniscule in size but it had filled my mouth to the brim. My legs dangled from my chair, feet far above the floor.
I will have to go to school again. I will have to go through puberty again. Oh god, school and puberty together. I did not want to go through those both at the same time at all. And don't get me started on growing pains. Or starting my period all over again. So many things I have long moved past are suddenly right back in front of me.
I started to feel very dizzy.
With pained focus I set my fork on my napkin. Then, turning my hips I jumped down from the chair with a wobble. On my way to the door I could just vaguely register some glances sent my way. It made walking all the more difficult to do, my arms beginning to tremble at my sides with each step I took. .
With a swimming head I used my hand to support myself against the wall as I continued my trek. But I only got a few more steps in before I was stopped by Machi.
"Where are you going little one? Aren't you hungry?"
After a pause I turned my head to look at her. A worried frown marred her face. I never skip a meal unless I was feeling very ill, and Machi was rightly worried I was skipping it now for the same reason.
"I'm not feeling well," I said, or, well, attempted to say. The words were understandable but the way I said it just sounded weird.
My furrowed brow matched hers in confusion. My tongue felt odd.. Like it wasn't settling in the right place. It was wrong. This was wrong. It was all wrongwrongwrong.
The soft warmth of Machi's hand against my forehead snapped me out of my budding panic. Her hand was so large against me it was unsettling. I involuntarily flinched away from her touch, eyes avoiding hers.
"I wanna take a nap," there it was again. My vowels were coming out too fast.
Oh god, I can't even speak anymore! What is going on!?
My breathing started to speed up as I turned from her and left the kitchen.
The bedroom for the young females was two doors from the kitchen, not that far at all.
But it felt like an eternity.
I struggled to get my breathing under control while my anxiety burned my chest and hollowed my stomach. My vision was blurring and I knew Machi was close. However, she sounded so far away.
Then my knees buckled and I fell forward. Everything went dark and the last thing I remembered was my tiny nails as they scratched the wall in my descent.
Machi was tucking my form into my bed when I came to, so I wasn't out for long. But damn I was still dizzy.
While my mind was trying to catch up to my situation, I tried to open my eyes to more than a crack. It didn't go well and I gave a faint groan that alerted her to my awakened state.
Softly, she stroked my hair, "You fainted little one. You don't seem to have a fever, but you do need rest. I'm going to get you some water, I'll be right back."
Machi stood up from my bedside and left the bedroom with one final reassuring smile in my direction. Now alone, I just lied there, unthinking, feeling the rhythm of my own heartbeat as it continued to pound against my chest. It felt steady now.
It wasn't long before Machi returned with a small glass of water in her hand. Gently, she eased her free palm under my back and helped me into a sitting position. I obediently opened my mouth as she brought the rim of the glass to my lips and, after a few sips, I turned my head slightly to let her know I was done.
"How are you feeling?" Machi asked once she set the glass on the nearby dresser. I blinked once, trying to assess myself.
"Tired," I answered with an unnatural croakiness to my voice. I positioned my tongue back a bit and, thankfully, the word flowed more smoothly.
But it still wasn't quite right.
"Alright," she said in response, "I'll be back in an hour or so to see how you're doing, ok?" I nodded and plopped my head back onto the pillow. Once again she got up, turned off the lights, and after one more look towards me closed the door.
It took awhile before I started thinking about how I got into this situation. The day so far has been an emotional roller coaster and it was great to just stop for a moment. But too soon anxiety gripped my insides once more and I was forced to confront reality; I am a new person in a new body with a new name and I don't. Know. Why!
Sure, I believe in reincarnation. But if this is what that is I didn't expect to have memories of my old life.
There was a momentary lull to my thoughts. How did I die? I tried to think back to the last thing I remembered from Before, my teeth grazing my bottom lip as my most recent memories flashed through my mind.
Seconds quickly stretched into minutes while I tried to remember. But I wasn't getting anything concrete. Maybe it was coming home from the movie theatre with dad. Or was it driving to my new job? I huffed in annoyance, wiggling a bit to sink deeper into the mattress. I knew my memory was never great but you'd think I'd remember how I died.
Maybe I had more memories that were locked away? I've had repressed memories before. What happened today was similar to how I recalled them last time; high emotional stress on the subdued subject. But I don't know enough on the subject of repressed memories to deduce why I didn't remember everything.
But this is a subject to explore another time. There were more pressing issues to address.
Honestly, this whole situation was so surreal. Being a kid again? I inwardly scoffed. It's like I'm in an oddly realistic dream-
I shakily released a breath I didn't know I was holding, a wide relieved grin stretching my lips. It's a dream! All just a long dream. I'll wake up and I'll be back in my body and it will all be over. Reincarnated my ass, it's just a weird ass dream! I've never had a dream that was so long and coherent before but hey, there's a first time for everything. And a lucid dream at that!
Now that I was sure this was a dream I attempted to open my real eyes. I was ready to see the time projected on the textured ceiling of my bedroom. Ready for the soft breeze of my fan on my face.
I was ready.
My eyes wouldn't open.
I was still a small Japanese girl laying in a small bed, with a blank ceiling above me and warm summer air barely being tamed by the window's air conditioner. I wasn't back home.
This setback didn't deter me from my goal, although dread was starting to bloom in the pit if my stomach. If voluntarily opening my eyes wouldn't work, I would have to force them to. And to do that I will attempt to wake up another way.
If I get hurt in my dreams and the pain is great enough I wake up. Simple as that.
Sitting up I took my right arm in my hand and angled it so the side was facing me. Then with all my jaw strength I bit my arm. My eyes closed in pain as my arm slipped out of my mouth. I waited a second. Then another. I wasn't feeling the telltale pull of my eyes trying to open from a deep sleep.
I opened my eyes slowly, then assessed the damage to my arm. Even in the dark I could see the indents if my teeth in my flesh. But the continuous sharp aching pain was what caught my attention the most.
It should've woken me up.
The thrum of panic was back, and it beat in time with my quickening heartbeat. I slowly lowered myself back into the bed, forcing myself to take deep even breaths. This isn't a dream? What? How?!
My beacon of hope just crumbled. And in its place was dawning realization.
This isn't a dream.
My dreams have always been fast paced and nonsensical. The fact that I can actually lay down and think should've been a red flag that this isn't a dream. But if it's not a dream what is it? Coma? No, people don't dream in comas. What could it be? Because this being real is out of the question. It's just not possible. It's something else...a drug induced hallucination? No, I've never held an interest in trying drugs, not even weed. So that's not…
My thoughts paused and my eyes widened. Because there was one I had wanted to try, but never have because I knew I'd get addicted to it. For the moment I couldn't remember it's name, but the drug causes dreamlike hallucinations. And in the hallucinations it can feel like years have gone by.
And my best friend told me that if I ever wanted to try it he could get it for me. So maybe my curiosity had overwhelmed my common sense and I decided to try it. For all I know I could be lying on his couch in a trance with no hope of coming to until the drugs effects wore off, which I knew averaged 15 minutes. So hopefully it was soon.
My heartbeat gradually slowed to a steady rhythm while my body untensed. I let out a long, slow breath.
It would all be over soon.
Machi returned two hours later. In that time I practiced speaking japanese properly like I did before my freakout outside. My mouth kept wanting to say the words in the way an American would. But for the time being I wasn't American. I was Japanese. So I had to move my lips and tongue differently then I would while speaking english.
But this is a hallucination, so who knows if what I'm speaking is really Japanese? I probably just think it's Japanese because my mind wants me to think it is. Whatever, I'll play along.
When I heard the bedroom door opening I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. It would be more believable that I was better if it seemed like I slept off my dizziness. I heard the click of the lights turning on and footsteps coming towards me, then the rustle of clothes as the person kneeled next to my bed.
"Little one," I felt Machi's hand lightly touch my shoulder, "are you feeling better?" I feigned grogginess as I opened my eyes. I took in her otherworldly black eyes and horns that towered a good foot and a half over her head. Here in this hallucination it was normal, but I couldn't help my eyes from lingering on her horns.
"I'm not dizzy anymore," I told her after a moment to make it look like I was really assessing myself. Machi nodded her head and moved her hand to stroke my hair. I felt the impression of her knobby fingers moving through my locks and suppressed a shiver, "but I think I have a sunburn."
"You have gotten very pink. Were you so excited to get out in the sun you forgot your sunscreen?" this temporary body burns like a motherfucker in the sun, regardless if the clouds are hiding it from view. I need to put on sunscreen every time I go outside. But it takes so long to put it on and it makes me feel so slick and sticky; it's gross. As a kid I thought 'maybe it won't be so bad this time'. But now with my memories recovered I realized what a stupid decision that was.
"It was dry outside so I wanted to play in the sand box," a soft smile graced Machi's lips as she reached for the aloe lotion on my bedside table, right next to the neglected sunscreen. Knowing what she was going to do I sat up and dangled my legs over the side of the bed.
She uncapped the tube and squirted a liberal amount on her fingers, then started gently working it into my arm. The cool gel brought near immediate relief, which was quickly washed away when Machi began to speak again.
"I heard what happened outside this morning," oh god. If my face wasn't already flushed from the sun my cheeks would be red in embarrassment and shame.
Attacking the new kid, Ryouta, was a very petty thing to do. But honestly, I'm surprised none of the other kids stopped him because I have a reputation for wanting to play alone. And a tendency to lash out when bothered. I never had the patience for children, and I guess it leaked into my kid brain and I reacted in turn.
All in all I really created an environment where I'm not well liked by my peers.
She finished rubbing in the aloe and moved to the next arm, "I know you were frustrated little one, but I also know that you know better. And I believe that you're going to apologize to Ryouta. Right?"
Her eyes met mine, and I was only able to hold eye contact for a moment before I had to avert my gaze, "...I will,"
"I talked to Ryouta about his behavior too, so he will be apologizing as well. I want you to accept it, ok?" I nodded my head and sat in silence as she finished my arm and shoulders.
All the while my eyes had drifted up and rested on her horns. They had the texture of ram horns and were nearly just as thick. It was weird, they looked as if they belonged atop her head. It was...natural.
I expected discombobulated hallucinations of aliens or something when taking this drug. Something fast and without meaning. But I was here, feeling as real as ever in a world where no one bats an eye at a woman with horns and where powers are the norm.
Machi paused her ministrations suddenly and gripped my arm firmly, the softest gasp escaping her lips as her eyes widened. I looked down at my arm to see what she was so surprised at and winced at the obvious markings which I had naively forgotten . On my right forearm was a ring of bruises. Evidence of where I bit myself in my attempt to jar myself awake, the green and purple was a beacon on a sea of pallid flesh.
"Little one what happened?" Machi asked, her confusion and surprise clearly conveyed in her tone.
"I was having a weird dream," I lied with practiced ease, "something bit my arm, I guess I bit it in my sleep," The woman clicked her tongue against her teeth and put the aloe gel over the bruise with a feather light touch. I merely sat still and watched her fingers glide against the pallid flesh.
She began working on my legs when I started talking again,"Did Shimiko tell you that the shovel disappeared?" it had been pushed to the back of my mind since my revelation, but it still confused me, "I thought my quirk was phasing through things. It doesn't make sense."
Machi just smiled as she continued to rub the gel into my skin, "You are young, little one. You have hardly had enough time to learn the ins and outs of your own quirk. You will discover new sides of your abilities, and while it doesn't make sense now, it will after you've viewed it from all possible angles."
If I was any other four year old, that cryptic message would have confused me further. But Machi has known long before me that I wasn't an ordinary child. She knew I would understand.
Too bad she wasn't real. I liked her.
I was left to digest her words while she finished with my legs and face. Then, when everything was in place and to her liking, Machi held my hands and looked me in the eyes, "Now, it's time to apologize, little one."
Ryouta was sitting at a small plastic table against a wall in the living room, scribbling furiously with some crayons on a large piece of paper. I watched him for a moment from the hallway, trying to string together an acceptable apology in my mind while Machi's hand rested on my shoulder.
He hadn't noticed our arrival, which was good on my end. More time for thinking. I didn't want to walk towards him head on. It would be awkward with him noticing and staring at me while I approached him. After I had rehearsed my words in my mind a few times I made my way towards him, stopping quietly behind him.
Looking over his shoulder I could see his drawing; the sky and the ground weren't touching. Thick trees had green cloudlike leaves and the sun had a crooked smiley face. A very typical children's drawing of the outside world. I waited a few seconds to see if he would notice me.
The crayon in Ryouta's grip stopped drawing the outline of a house as his eyes widened in shock and his mouth opened up a fraction. He mustn't of thought I would approach him so soon.
Ryouta turned his body so it was angled towards me, but he hunched in on himself slightly and brought his arms stiffly across his chest, a clear sign that he was uncomfortable. His eyes darted to the side under my intense stare before returning to mine, his mouth opening a bit wider before snapping closed like a fish. After a short pause I decided I would have to be the one to apologize first since he was clearly too shellshocked to do so.
"I'm sorry for telling you you couldn't play in the sandbox," I began, "it was wrong of me. And I'm really sorry for hitting you. You didn't deserve that." There. A little stilted but it got the point across. Now I just needed to wait for his apology then scurry away to who knows where and wait out this drug trip. It couldn't be long now. It just couldn't.
Ryouta's eyes widened further before darting to the ground, "um…" his round eyes were back on mine and his posture got a bit straighter, "I'm sorry for ruining your castle. It was really good and looked like you took forever making it. I wanted to help make it look good too."
Wow. This kid had the puppy dog eyes down pat. He even stuck out his lower lip a tad to accentuate the look.
"Ok. Apology accepted." I said. A wide relieved grin stretched his lips and his body untensed.
It was so easy for children to forgive others for their misdeeds. But whatever. Maybe I would see what was on tv. The kids that are old enough for school haven't gotten back yet so I pretty much had free reign of the remote...
"Do you want to draw with me?" the hopeful tone of Ryouta's voice snapped my mind back into focus. He was fully turned in his seat towards me now, all traces of nervousness gone.
Now that apologies were out of the way he wanted to attempt to play with me. Again.
I'd have at least waited a while before trying to approach the person again to make sure everything had indeed cooled off. Assess the person during that time to see if they were, in fact, cool.
But children didn't have that type of critical thinking. They'd just jump the gun and hope it worked out in their favor.
Suddenly, the front door opened and the kids who didn't loiter after school with their friends came streaming in. Two particular boys made a beeline straight to the couch and plopped on its cushions, one reaching for the remote.
Well damn. I should have looked at the clock earlier.
I glanced back at Ryouta, who was still staring at me, waiting for my answer. My plan A had fallen apart before it could even begin. I guess drawing with him would pass the time as well. And it would be a way to atone for my assault on his face.
"...Sure." I reluctantly answered finally.
I swore, if he smiled any wider than he already was, his face would split.
Quickly he turned back to the table and ripped out a page from the drawing pad he got his original piece of paper from,setting it across from his. Then, he placed the box of thirty-two crayons between us, an item coveted by many in my youth.
Repressing a sigh I walked to the plastic little tykes chair across from him and sat down. Before I could even reach for a crayon he began prattling on. However, my attention was too divided to really take in what he was saying. All I could register came in bits and pieces, like how his favorite color was purple, he was five years old (well, five and a quarter), and that he liked construction trucks. He was trying so hard to be my friend. So earnest. I wasn't used to it and it made me more uncomfortable then I'd like to admit.
What my mind was really focusing on was what to draw. I just sat there with a green crayon held limply in my hand while my eyes were ready to burn a hole in the paper from their intensity. I was here to draw for a lack of better things to do, not because I was inspired or had a real need too. I just...really wasn't feeling it.
My eyes drifted back to Ryouta's drawing where he was finishing up the house he had already started. It was crooked and massively disproportionate to the trees towering over it. Like a house for ants.
Seeing it planted a thought in my head. I've been alive for four years in this drug trip. Four months is enough to seriously impair my drawing skills to the point where it takes weeks to build it back up. But four years...yikes. How bad have I gotten?
I was scared to find out.
When I finally snapped out of it will all of this fade away like a dream, or will it genuinely feel like I've lived four years in another world? Will all of the memories I've gathered here be as vivid as the ones I have in my other body? All of these question pricked the corners of my mind viciously, not allowing me to let them go for even a second.
But, in the meantime, I was curious as to how far behind my drawing skills had fallen. These hands were untrained and small, but my mind was sharp. Hopefully it would balance out to be a fair test of my skills.
I quickly decided I would recreate Ryouta's picture, with proportionate trees and a house with a stable foundation. Partially because I knew I could easily do it. But, mainly because I was petty and still a little salty over my ruined sand castle.
But the crayons were too thick for fine details. The paper had a much finer tooth than what I have become used to. And the colors did. Not. Blend. Maybe this test had too many unfamiliar variables to be a fair trial.
"Wow that looks amazing!" Ryouta had stopped talking long enough to take notice of my pitiful creation.
I guess it looked amazing compared to his. But amazement was subjective and easy to write off as someone being too naive to know any better. Because this was a monstrosity. My trained artist eye was floored that my honed skills had rusted so far, even with the inferior materials.
It's like I straight up took a piss on my BFA. And handed it back to my professors as a custom made 'fuck you' for their guidance.
"Little one, did you make that?" I jumped at the noticeable tone of Machi's voice.
Her beautiful locks nearly brushed the top of my head as she bent over me to see my drawing. My eyes glanced at the trees I tried in vain to make look like they had bark.
"...yeah" I carefully kept my growing disappointment out of my voice.
"It's so beautiful! You're quite the little artist, aren't you?" I mentally grumbled at that statement, "why don't I hang it up in your room with the other girls pictures?"
The other young girls I roomed with started putting up their drawings across from their beds, the pictures hung up crookedly with scotch tape until Machi secured them herself. However, the wall across from my bed was bare of any sign of creativity.
Guess not for much longer.
"Sure," I answered dismissively, not really caring with what she did with my little experiment.
"You gotta sign it first though," Ryouta pointed out excitedly. It then occurred to me that the kid never asked for my name. Sure, he heard Shimiko call me 'Majiko', but he also heard me tell her that wasn't my name. You'd think he'd ask for clarification.
Hastily, I took a black crayon and drew a sloppy X in the bottom right corner, "Done," I picked up the picture and held it above my head for Machi to grab. My stomach picked that time to grumble loudly, for I didn't eat lunch.
"Oh!" Machi exclaimed, "I had almost forgotten that you haven't eaten a proper lunch. After I hang this I'll heat up your food," then she was gone, briskly walking to her office for some tape.
"Hey Machan?"...oh my god. Machan? That's what he's decided to call me? Yeah. Sure. Fine. Whatever. It doesn't bother me at all. I turned my eyes from Machi's retreating form to Ryouta, who was looking overtly confused, "why didn't you sign your name?"
Because I obviously didn't want to, "I didn't feel like it."
It was then I started to feel the familiar ache of social exhaustion, when I saw his face retain that confused expression. He had used up his usefulness of passing the time, and now it was time for me to move on. On to the kitchen.
I got out of my seat and walked towards the kitchen to wait for Machi without looking back.
I really wish I had taken a nap earlier. Because then after eating lunch I wouldn't have passed out on the couch and missed Ikamori coming in for his shift after school.
When I woke up my face was smushed into the back of the couch, the top of my head pressed against the armrest. I was groggy and disoriented and way too warm. Rolling onto my back, I sat up, slightly registering being covered in a sheen of sweat. After a long moment my head stopped swimming and I look at the clock hanging above the entrance to the kitchen.
I wasn't asleep for that long, but it felt like someone disturbed me from my grave. Clicking my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I realized I was extremely thirsty. So, I slid off of the large cushion and walked slowly to the kitchen to get myself a glass of water. Once the cold liquid entered my mouth my mind was shocked awake. I'm still a kid. I'm still tripping.
'Dammit Tay, wake up already,' I internally scolded myself. Again I tried to open my real eyes. But the effort was in vain. I still wasn't close to being lucid enough to shake myself awake.
While contemplating all of this I walked back into the living room, only to notice Ikamori patching up a small hole in one of the walls. I was so out of it a minute ago I walked right past him without realizing. I stood there several feet away from him just watching him work with the sealant.
When he was close to being done smoothing up the hole he finally asked, "Whatcha doing?"
After a beat I answered, "I'm not really sure."
I'm existing, which isn't really a conscience task, but I knew he didn't know about my unusual inner turmoil. Telling him that wouldn't really accomplish anything. Maybe just bring up questions I wasn't willing to answer.
He gave a huffy chuckle at my response, "Yeah, I don't know what I'm doing either."
With a final scrape of his pallet knife the hole was filled. Now he just had to wait for it to dry then sand the area down. Then it would be time for a coat of paint to make it blend seamlessly with the undamaged wall.
"Hayato accidentally activated his quirk and punctured the wall," Ikamori explained, reading my curious mind, "he tore his clothes and everything. I'm surprised you slept through the uproar he caused."
Yeah, I have been known to occasionally sleep through anything.
But really, it's odd I can keep sleeping and waking up in this hallucination. It's interesting, but now that I'm aware of it it's getting old fast.
I walked to the front of the couch and sat at the end closest to Ikamori, who was cleaning up his work tools. Slowly, my eyes wandered to the table where Ryouta and I were drawing earlier.
The table was now bare of our drawing materials, though the chairs were slightly askew. After my late lunch I silently dismissed Ryouta's attempts at my attention and took a nap on the couch. He seemed to have wandered somewhere else.
"Dinner is going to be ready soon," Ikamori stated after he was done putting away the materials, "want to watch the news until then?"
"Yeah," I replied right away, picking up the discarded remote on the couch and turning on the tv.
Quickly I changed the channel to the local news, which had started just a few minutes ago. As soon as Ikamori plopped on the couch's other end the news anchor began to talk about a new hero that stopped a villain in southeastern Nara.
"At 2 pm today the recent sidekick-turned hero, Residue, took down the longtime villain that has been terrorizing Kansai for the last 2 years, Matrix. She was apprehended while using her quirk to hack into the main internet server in Ikoma," the news anchor reported, using his hands to gesture a bit over dramatically while his eyes glowed with excitement and relief.
Meanwhile my mind started to turn at the word 'quirk.' Why did that word in this context raise so many red flags?
"After a short battle on location Residue gave chase when Matrix fled the scene. She only made it as far Ikoma Station before being cut off. We have some footage of her capture, and we apologize for the quality, but her quirk was interfering with the camera," the tv cut away from the news anchor to show a clip from a security camera.
At first there was nothing out of the ordinary on the screen. Then a woman in a black and green tron-esque spandex suit appeared in a bolt of lightning. For half a second the footage glitched, then when it cleared a large mass of black liquid came rushing in from the right, leaving a trail of dark grey where it touched the concrete. The liquid wrapped around her back and around her neck, then in a blink formed into a man who had Matrix in a sleeperhold.
That man...is made of water? How...that's not...
The bottom of the footage shook as Residue wrestled her to the ground. She tried desperately to struggle out of his grip, arcs of electricity sparking from her body. The footage was then masked by static for several seconds, and when it cleared Matrix was on the ground, unmoving. Residue stood looking at her unconscious body for a moment before stepping back and letting the stations security surround her.
The footage was over and the news flipped back to their news anchor, but by then my mind was in another place entirely. I was looking at my arm propped up against the armrest. And slowly, so slowly, I sunk the tips of my fingers through the thinning fabric and the cotton beneath it. My fingers just went through the armrest.
Quirks. Heros. Superpowers. Shimiko's speckles. Machi's horns and eyes.
My powers. Powers…quirks…
My eyes zeroed on to a discarded All Might action figure on the floor. His eternal smile mocking me for taking so long figuring it out.
Was...was I hallucinating that I was in the world of My Hero Academia?
I removed my fingers from the armrest in tandem with my realization. Why? Why this world? Why My Hero Academia and not a series I was more familiar with? I barely skimmed the anime and have only read what was available for the manga twice.
Why not Naruto? Or One Piece? I've reread and rewatched One Piece so many times, hell, I've even dreamed of that world before. So why did my mind place me here?
I sunk my fingers into the armrest a few more times as my thought process stuttered to a halt. All I was left with was an emotion I couldn't quite place.
"Dinner's ready," Ikamori cut in, lifting himself off the couch and stretching.
He grabbed the remote off the cushion and muted the tv. Through the sudden silence my ears could pick up the sounds of feet of varying sizes heading towards the kitchen, and the noise of Machi setting out the silverware. I wasn't really hungry, but I was willing to try and eat.
I needed to go to bed.
I needed to wake up.
I needed this to be over.
I followed Ikamori's lead and headed to the kitchen.
It was time for bed. Everyone was taking turns using the bathrooms to brush their teeth and relieve themselves one more time before turning in. The teenagers, needing less sleep, would no doubt chill in their rooms for another hour or two before going to bed. But for us younguns, we had no choice in the matter. Growing bodies needed rest.
I tended to wait till the rush to use the bathroom had died down before occupying it myself. Listening to people banging on the door for me to hurry up was not exactly a noise I wanted to hear before going to sleep. Or at all.
And now it was my time. The bustle had settled down to a trickle and I had no one else waiting to use the bathroom closest to my bedroom.
I closed the door behind me and relieved myself on the toilet, all the while trying to do the math of how long I have been in this world compared to how long the maximum time hallucination on this drug was. But I had no definite time table for how fast my hallucinations felt because I have never hallucinated before. Plus, if there was one thing I definitely wasn't good at, it was math.
This might just have to be something I have to wait out, much to my numbing distress.
After hopping off of the toilet and flushing, I turned towards the sink to wash my hands. Then, I grabbed my green toothbrush and dipped it in the still running water before putting a generous bead of toothpaste on it. Shoving it in my mouth I started brushing and reflexively looked in the mirror.
And saw...someone that was not me.
My hand halted its ministrations and toothpaste tainted saliva began to drip over my lower lip. I was transfixed; my wrong colored eyes took in my wrong colored skin and my wrong colored hair. My eyes were the wrong shape. My nose had no bridge. My freckles were gone. My skin, and my skin…
Too stressed to feel how wrong I felt I lowered my hand and really took in what I saw. I was pale. Too pale. So pale the blue veins beneath my skin were as vibrant as cerulean rivers criss-crossing a meadow.
My eyes darted back to the mirror and saw that the veins were as noticeable there too. They traveled along the side of my face and into the corner of my lips, filling them with the blood that made them so rosy.
This was not my skin.
I'm in the wrong skin.
I'm in the wrong body.
This is not my body.
I dropped the toothbrush as my arms began to shake. My knees were weak as I clung to the porcelain sink, trying desperately to gather my bearings. The heat of this subpar air conditioned house was making my head whirl.
Not my body.
Not my body.
Not my body.
My mouth began to flood with saliva as my stomach gave a painful lurch.
I only just reached the toilet before my dinner spilled from my mouth.
The lights were off. My roommates were sleeping. Machi had rested a cool, damp cloth against my forehead to try and ward off my fever before leaving. She would be back, but when I did not know.
My eyes began to well up as my chest tightened while letting out a silent sob.
'Wake me up Brian,' I silently pleaded my best friend, 'please, wake me up.'