As fast as her legs could carry her, Ayumi ran down the street, hoping to make it to school in time. Her school bag swayed back and forth, which seemed more like a burden to her than a method of using the bag's inertia as an additional speed bonus, even if only minimally, due to the momentum she took up for it. This time she took one of the short cuts that enabled her to skip a large section of the trail, so that she could save about two minutes. And while she ran, she always kept her eyes on the skyscraper. The closer it felt to her, the more relieved she was to finally be there, so that she could pick up her homework and run back to school. Her thoughts, however, wandered from one thing to another, be it Conan's serious look while he was thinking about something, as he so often did, or what he so urgently wanted to talk about with Ai and her thoughts always ended with one topic. She realized she was distracting herself with it and ran even harder, eyes still on the building.
Finally she crossed the last traffic light and stood in front of the front door. She opened it with her key, which she had attached to the key ring in her Detective Boys Remitter, and began hastily to climb the stairs. Gradually, she realized how exhausting it had become for her, now that she had run all the way here in a hurry and was out of breath, but she didn't give up and made her way to the fifth floor.
Arriving on the sixth floor, she heard from above how a door opened and two voices of two men were revealed. The first voice sounded rough and his tone was very similar to that of a bank robber. The second voice, however, whined, sounding like someone was beating him up with their fists. Ayumi suddenly shook when she was startled, then stopped for a while and only crept slowly forward. She made it to the seventh floor, as the voices grew louder and turned into shouts. Filled with fear, she hesitated a little, then gathered up her courage.
Carefully crouching forward, she made it to the stairs that lead to the next floor, where she could watch the action. Two men stood in front of the front door, one gripping the other by the neck while the other fought against it with all his might. The man was dressed in a brown jacket, with which Ayumi could neither see his face nor his exact stature, but only the back of the head, which had full jet black hair.
"I already told you, I don't have the money, damn it! I will take care of it as soon as possible, I promise!", said the slightly whimpering voice, while his voice slowly became hoarse as he tried desperately to free himself from the man's grip.
"What did I tell you last week, you little rat, huh?! I. Want. That. Goddamn. Money. Returned! Do you understand me, man? "The other man called as he underlined each word with a poke from his finger on his chest. Finally he let go of him and threw him to the ground, where he hit hard, his face contorted with pain.
The somewhat skinny man, who was now lying on the floor with tears on his face, groped his way forward; he seemed to be looking for something. The man in the jacket turned around, but made no move to leave. Instead, he took a cigarette out of his jacket pocket and lit it while he spoke without turning around.
"You had a whole six days, no wait nine... nine fucking days, to return the money you borrowed from me. And what did you use it for, huh?! Fo 'Shit you used it! Taxes too high? You've been denied for credit? Hahah, that I'm not laughing! You little puke have been hanging around the entertainment districts and the pachinko halls of Akihabara the entire time. I felt sorry for you and what did you make of it, huh?"
While the thickly clad man was giving his sermon, Ayumi suddenly realized from her cold that she had to sneeze. Not that too. All she could do now was hold her nose silently. She felt her nose start to itch like crazy. Just not now, otherwise it will be over. Fortunately, she was able to catch herself at the last second and hold back her cold.
The man turned to the man lying on the ground. Ayumi ducked to not to be seen by him. Beads of sweat appeared on her fearful face and she noticed how much her knees were shaking. Still, she didn't make a sound or a move.
"What's going to become of you, huh?", he laughed maliciously and blew the smoke out of his mouth. "I trusted you. You were kind of a friend to me. Did you hear me? A friend, I said. I didn't expect you to cheat me like that. But okay."
He paused a little to let the remaining ash fall from his cigarette.
"You have the choice, either you bring me the money now and we'll be Quitt, oooor I'll sue you in court and we'll see you in jail in a few months, the only difference being that this time I'm the one, who's coming to visit you." Heheh. Isn't it nice? I mean, that's what friends do, they're there for each other, that's the way it is, or am I wrong?", this man continued, as if he were playing with him.
"I-I...", the man lying on the floor stammered and slowly got up. The tears he left dripped from his chin onto the floor on the puddles that had already formed. He wiped his eyelids with a dripping nose and glared at his adversary.
"What I? Now say something clever. Come on, I can't understand you at all anymore, with your lump in my throat.", he said and sighed, while rolling his eyes in pure annoyance.
"Oh and by the way, I'll take my back for you for taking my wife from me four years ago. I told you that, didn't I? Did you idiot really think I had forgotten that?", he paused for a moment, until he added with a laugh," Yes, yes, sometimes I myself wonder why I am still friends with you."
"I-I'm really sorry. I don't know why I did this anymore. B-But everything I've done, I've only done for you.", The man stuttered to himself, while he seemed to be looking for something in his trouser pockets.
"DON'T FUCK WITH ME!", he shouted all of a sudden with such anger that Ayumi and the man, who was whimpering in front of him startled again. "Did everything for me? Are you serious? Don't talk nonsense. Where did you do all this for me, huh?! Damn it, think again before you open your mouth."
He turned his back on him again and blew a cloud of smoke out of his mouth again. Ayumi looked back over the stairs and watched the action with fear. The man who was looking for something earlier seemed to have found it.
"I know, b-but... I j-just want to tell you, I-I'm really sorry for everything I've done," he replied, hiding his arm in front of his face and his crying face changed into a sardonic grin.
"That you're sorry for something, huh? Tell me what you are sorry for! Come on, tell me in the face, you eyesore!", he replied.
"That what I'm going to do to you now, YOU NASTY BASTARD!", he shouted, ran towards him and took out his pocket knife, which he had previously held in his trouser pocket. Ayumi closed her eyes with her hands and turned around as tears welled up in her eyes. Still, she didn't force herself to make a sound to get the two men's attention.
Everything will be fine, Ayumi. The others are probably already-
She stopped. The Detective Boys are probably already at school and are probably worried about her. They could help her, as they often do. They are always there when she needs them. And he too will rush to her aid. Then why isn't he coming right now? These two men are on the verge of killing each other in cold blood and in the worst case scenario, she would be next if caught. What to do?
The remitter, of course! With the help of the professor's invention, it is easy to get in touch with him. Sure, she would just have to run down the stairs unnoticed and let him know that she is in possible mortal danger here and now.
She took the device out of her jacket pocket and took advantage of the noise of their death throes and ran quickly to her apartment to hide there as quickly as possible. She was just about to close the door behind her, when she suddenly heard a short scream from above, then a whistling noise and then everything around her fell silent. A whistle and then silence. Nothing but silence. Ayumi stared into space before she hastily locked the door and slumped in front of the door.
She was still staring like she was elsewhere. Somewhere but not here. None of this would have happened to her, if she hadn't forgotten her homework here. She put her hands over her head and tried to control her rapid breathing. Her heart raced wildly, louder than anything else around her and her tears finally began to flow from her eyes down her cheeks as she began to howl softly to herself.
A small part of her wondered why she was reacting so emotional to it. In her adventures with the Detective Boys, she has seen many, if not much worse, murders, crimes and many with them solved. Why is it so hard for her to calm down now? Is it maybe that wherever she was she was never alone? Or is it just because of Conan? Because he wasn't where she urgently needed him?
Ayumi tried to think clearly again and clung to her remitter, when suddenly...
BAMM! BAMM! BAMM!
"Hey, is someone there?", it came from the door.
Ayumi was so startled by the hammering of the man on the door, that she fell back and stumbled. She ordered herself to be quiet, hoping he would finally leave, everything would be back to normal and she could finally leave this room and finally walk towards the school, to Genta, Mitsuhiko, Conan and Ai. To all the others she longed for now more than anything.
BOMM! BAMM! BAMM! DOMM!
"Damn it, what the hell is going on here, you fucking dimwit! Come out and introduce yourself!"
It felt like her heart stopped a second time. The blood pumped up to her head. She felt her own precious Pulse throbbing through her whole body, which, because of the fear and tension, did not even dare to move. Even breathing was difficult.
Silence again. A minute. Two minutes. Her throat felt so dry, that she couldn't speak properly, until she'd have to drink to get rid of it. Three minutes. She heard him lighting another cigarette and blowing out a few clouds of smoke. Then he lost patience.
"Argh, that shit again. I thought..." It sighed again from the outside. "Looks like nobody's there. Tsk.", It came from the door.
Are you serious? That's a trap, isn't it? It can't be that he's leaving, now that she's in such a tight spot. Has he just given up by now?!
She forced herself not to move, until it was clear. But when is it clear? That question shot through her mind in a split second. She couldn't do it anymore, she didn't want to anymore and she was fed up with lingering here.
She took all of her courage and listened with her ear pressed to the door and, now that her sense of hearing was sharpened to the limit, paid attention to every single little detail, every little sound, every noise or anything else of importance to her could be. Nothing. It was nothing. Only the arrogant rapid pounding of her heart could be heard.
She wasn't finished yet. After gathering up all her leftover courage, she opened the door, if only a crack. The hallway was empty. No fight. No murder has taken place. No shots were fired. Nothing. She could only perceive visually the glaring light that shone down through the windows onto the floor and reflected them onto the opposite wall.
She waited a little longer until she finally locked the door and collapsed in relief in front of her. Her heart was still beating wildly. She took a deep breath to calm herself down. Her right hand was still shaking, which made it difficult to turn on the device, but she still managed.
A low beep came from this device and the microphone turned on. The beeping repeated itself. About 50 seconds passed, consisting of bitter, reserved sobs and endless beeping sounds, until someone finally spoke up. It was Mitsuhiko.
"Hello? Is that you, Ayumi?", his voice cracked from the remitter.
Ayumi lifted her head in relief and stared up at the ceiling with a sigh. She held the remitter tightly as if she were worried about losing it.
"Heyooo? Ayumi, are you there? Say something. Are you not feeling well?", she heard Mitsuhiko's voice, which pulled her out of her thoughts and to which she promptly replied.
"Mitsuhiko! Yes, I'm still there!", she shouted, like a shot from a pistol.
"Whoa, thank God! I was worried about you.", He laughed, being relieved to hear her voice as well.
"I'll go get my things quickly and then I'll come here as soon as possible, okay?" She said with a trembling voice and ran into her room to fumble her homework out of her drawers.
"Ayumi, are you sure about that?"
She heard Ai's voice. She was probably right there and overheard everything. Ai probably noticed from her voice that something was wrong and was therefore very sensitive to it.
She wanted to answer, but she just couldn't. She didn't know what to say about it and just concentrated on packing her homework.
"Ayumi, answer me, are you okay?" Ai prodded, this time with a louder tone. Meanwhile Ayumi had already packed her things and ran towards the door with her bag in her hand.
"Dammit. Hey Ayumi! Do you hear us?", Both of them shouted to her. It was getting annoying and she was stressed, because of that hide-and-seek game, but those on the other side of the remitter couldn't know that.
"I'm fine, okay?" She replied.
She opened the door slowly and looked around the stairwell. Sheer curiosity spread. What happened up there? Why did it suddenly become so quiet? Where is the heavily dressed man now?
"Ayumi, tell me what happened. We're worried about you here."
Now Conan joined them as well and his voice echoed in the stairwell, whereupon Ayumi replied with a "Shhhh, not so loud", which provoked Conan's curiosity even more. His expression changed. Now's not the time for any jokes.
The sun shining through the window panes blinded her and forced her to cover her eyes with her hand. She felt her way up the stairs, always keeping her eyes on the floor above. She gulped and mentally prepared herself for the worst...
Meanwhile, Ai, Conan and Mitsuhiko sat across from each other and stared spellbound at the remitter in his hand. Ayumi's labored gasping could be heard softly as he climbed the stairs.
"I did not expect that she would react so annoyed to us. Something like that doesn't look like her at all.", Mitsuhiko mumbled thoughtfully.
"That's true, and she usually talks to us more about her problems than she does now. She's been acting like that for a long time and that's exactly what makes it strange.", Ai replied with a serious expression.
"I think something happened to her, that under certain circumstances it is impossible for her to speak to us. She's scared, that's why she reacts without thinking.", Conan combined quickly and finally turned to his teacher.
"Ms. Kobayashi, something is wrong with Ayumi, I think she's not doing well.", he called in his forced child's voice, which he honestly wasn't really proud of. Still, this method of deliberately pretending to be stupid always worked and was sometimes helpful in getting to important information successfully. But he didn't care about it at this moment.
"Oh really? But Ayumi has not yet contacted me or Ms. Wakasa.", she answered him.
"Please, Ms. Kobayashi, please.", Conan tried again before she could say anything about it. She sighed.
"Well, you can help her," she gave in.
"Thank you again, teacher! Genta, Ai and Mitsuhiko are also coming, right?", he replied.
"Yes, but that should only-"
Before she could comment on it, he turned his back on her and left her with a questionable face while he gathered up all the remaining detective boys and they left school together.
On the way, Conan picked up the transmitter and called to her while he ran to her aid as fast as they could.
"Don't worry, Ayumi, we'll be there soon!"
"Conan? Are you already on your way?", Ayumi's voice came from the remitter.
"Yes, we will be there in a moment! We'll be there in about 5 minutes! Wait for us and if anything, let me know, will you?"
"Everything's fi- ah- UWAAAAAAHHH!", it suddenly came from the remitter and gave Conan a huge shock, whereupon he stared fearfully into the microphone. He feared the worst. It could be someone attacking her right now, or worse. SHIT!
No, wait. Hold on, something is wrong. It can't be that no one would react like this, unless they were in the apartment, where it's reasonably soundproof, which would attract less noise and then less attention. So why is she being attacked in the stairwell and not in the room? It just doesn't make sense. Otherwise there are only two options. First, the killer is not around right now, or second, he's still in the building, but he's been hiding and is just waiting for her screams to bait other people out of their rooms. If that's the case, then- oh no!
"Whatever happens, stay calm, Ayumi and don't do anything rash, did you understand me?!", he called to her through the remitter. He had to hurry. Faster, otherwise it might be too late. He couldn't imagine what would have happened if she hadn't taken her remitter with her. Damn it, what should you do in a situation like this?
He could hear the tremor in her voice as she breathed in and out, despite her running nose, trying to calm down on his advice.
Meanwhile, Ayumi stared at the frozen eyes of the body, which spread right in front of her, slowly losing color and becoming increasingly pale. She crawled forward and saw that a slightly viscous bright red liquid was emerging from the jacket pocket. Then she switched her gaze to her hands and watched the color keep touching her skin covered and flowed over her hand down to her arm. Without wanting to, she sniffed it and a strong metallic smell penetrated her nasal mucous membranes. It was still warm.
Ayumi's eyelids widened. She wanted to scream one more time just to make this sight disappear, but her voice failed again and she felt dizzy. She gasped several times and found that her heart started pumping adrenaline ceaselessly through her body again. That was just too much for her. She hyperventilated. Tears blocked her view more and more. Everything around her faded, turned around and got darker and darker until she finally lost her footing and inexorably fell into nowhere. The only last thing she could perceive was the faint dripping of blood.
- Chapter 2 END -