Ch.1 - The World of Dreams
The sky was dark with storm clouds while the sea rocked a lone ship precariously during its maiden voyage.† A storm was brewing overhead; heavy rain was imminent.† Twin gunshots pierced the air, just as a thunderclap sounded nearby.† Two figures, one masculine, the other feminine, silhouetted by the lightning, slowly bent forward, by no will of their own, and toppled into the raging sea.† Another figure in a long overcoat was standing near the edge of the boat's cabin wall, a gun in each hand.† The figure silently put the guns in the holster pockets of his cowboy-fringe pants, and walked inside the cabin to the ongoing party.† Meanwhile, the two figures were dropping lower and lower into the depths of the ocean until nothing could be seen of them...
Haruna Shouri woke up with a start, sweating like a cold drink during a heat wave.† Her eyes were still wide with the horrific misery that her latest dream had presented to her.† Wondering if she was still dreaming, Haruna looked around in icy apprehension, heart pounding harder than ever.† Looking to her left, the first thing she saw was a crystal-clear window and many more like it on that same wall.† Outside, she glimpsed an ongoing basketball game, most likely for a P.E. class.† Her heart made a few sound beats.† Suddenly, she faintly heard something repetitively screeching, and someoneís monotonous voice, a female voice.† Haruna whirled her attention to what was almost directly in front of her.† Squinting, she slowly recognized the back of the figure; Ms. Dortsmouth, her English teacher, was writing something on the whiteboard while talking at the same time.† English teacher?† That must mean...Haruna looked quickly around the rest of the room.
Five rows of five seats were all occupied by listless students, between her and her teacher.† To her right, a student was trying to scribble notes as quickly as he could.† One seat over, Haruna found relief as she looked into the bright blue eyes of her near identical sister, Haruki.† Harukiís chin was resting on her right hand, elbow on desk and head turned to face Haruna.† Her wavy black hair cascaded down along the back of her hand.† Seeing that Haruna had finally noticed her, Haruki mouthed the question of whether Haruna was okay or not.† Haruna nodded shakily in response; she had not fully recovered, but she didnít want her sister to worry about her.† Apparently, this had not convinced her sister, but casting one uneasy glance at Haruna, she nodded and turned back to listening to the teacher.† Haruna continued her survey of what she now knew was her English classroom.
She felt a sense of security wash over her when she caught sight of her only other sister, Haruka, staring at the slowly ticking clock with her ankles crossed on the surface of her desk.† Her hands were clasped underneath the high ponytail that pulled together her straight, jet-black hair, as she leaned her chair on the small bookcase behind her.
As if by instinct, Haruna, too, turned her attention to the clock.† With another small tick of the little red hand, it was now just barely...fifteen minutes into class.† Spacing off as she usually did after having strange dreams, Haruna rested her chin between her two propped up hands.† It was now that she pondered what had brought this dream to the surface of her subconscious.† Maybe not in those exact words, but she did wonder why she dreamt what she did.† After several minutes passed, something clicked within her memory.† For some strange reason, unapparent to her now, she remembered the day she heard that her parents were leaving on a trip, one that was much longer than expected.† Constantly slipping between happy and sad moments, Haruna made a quick trip down memory lane concerning her parents.
Haruna and her sisters were only five at the time of their parentsí disappearance.† The few happy memories they had were vague, only going to the extent of the feeling of happiness; no pictures, no videos, no known confidantes of their parents, nothing whatsoever to look towards for comfort.† Even their precious home had been sold, and the family inheritance gone with the wind.† Virtually nothing had been left to the three little girls, not even each other, at one point.† They had been brought to the same orphanage, and had been adopted on the same day, but each by a different type of person.† The day they left the orphanage, they vowed that they would someday reunite and live their lives anew.
Haruna smiled upon remembering that promise.† By next Friday, it would be seven years that they had lived together, without the interruption of death.† Bringing this to mind, Haruna also remembered that today was the "anniversary" of the death of the last caretaker who had taken them all in.† She sniffed in memory of that kind old lady who let them live on her sonís property, her retirement home.† Her son was the president of a very large oiling company, and the mansion they stayed in was really just his summer home.† Haruna lost herself in memories of the past, mesmerized in a dream-like state.
†††† All of a sudden, the door near the front of the room slid open, snapping Haruna out of her reverie.† The teenage male that entered looked to be the stereotypical gangster or punk.† His black hair was smoothed back with slick mousse; his piercing black eyes were shadowed by his sunken eyelids; a spiked collar fit his neck like a pit bull; he wore a black leather vest over a torn sleeveless white shirt; leather pants fit tightly around his lower body; ending with worn black loafers.† To top it all off, he wore a black bandana with a red design over his hair.
†††† Raising a hand only high enough for his fingertips to be parallel to his broad shoulders, while he set his weight on his opposite hip, he addressed the teacher with a sense of boredom, "Yo.† The nameís Anrui Nanashi; call me Anri.† Iím new here-- where do I sit?"
†††† Ms. Dortsmouth stopped writing and nodded.† Looking over the array of students who had suddenly straightened up when the door first opened, the teacher spotted the only empty seat left--right between Haruki and Haruka.† When the teacher told him to sit at that seat, he looked over and did a visible double take.
†††† "Whoa.† I mustíve drunk too much last night Ďcause Iím seeiní double here."
†††† Haruka scoffed as she rolled her eyes.† Haruki heard her mutter that with a voice like that, he could be "mistaken" for a drunk beer addict.† Haruki only smiled while Ms. Dortsmouth quickly explained that they had a set of triplets in the room.† Anri nodded and walked to his new seat with a carefree air about him.† As soon as he slumped into his appointed seat, Ms. Dortsmouth continued her lesson.† Anri immediately tried to talk to Haruki.
†††† "Triplets huh?† Well then, how Ďbout a triple date with me?"
†††† Haruki rolled her eyes a little and sighed as she shook her head.† She kept her eyes on the teacher in front of the class.† Anri persisted a little more but was only ignored.† Giving up on asking Haruki for the moment, he turned and was about to ask Haruka a similar question when he was cut off by Harukaís slowly-enunciated reply.† "Just shut up."
†††† This, however, only seemed to intrigue Anri further.† He was even more insistent with Haruka, saying that he "liked Ďem feisty."† At one point, Ms. Dortsmouth turned and gave Anri a dangerous glare that said, "Be quiet or leave."† She enforced this look with the actual words, in a menacing tone.
†††† Anri mockingly faced forward with hands clasped together on his desk, and spine as straight as the back of his chair.† Once Ms. Dortsmouth turned around again, he slouched in his seat and stared at Haruka with a dreamy look in his eyes.† Haruka ignored him, but it made time seem to pass a lot slower, from Harukaís point of view anyway.
†††† A few minutes before the bell rang for lunch, Haruki looked over at Haruna.† She was startled by what she saw.† Hunched over the desk, Harunaís eyes were bloodshot; her right hand was clutching at her heart; her other hand had the edge of the desk in a death grip; and she was taking several laboring breaths of air at a time as if trying to steady her breathing in vain.† Glancing at the clock, Haruki wondered if she should just wait until the bell rang, or excuse both of them a few minutes early as to not waste time.† When Haruna made a sound as if she might throw up, Haruki decided instantly.† She signaled Haruka to look over in Harunaís direction.† Haruka caught it and understood.† Standing up, she quickly asked the teacher for permission.† "Excuse me, Ms. Dortsmouth?† I think Haruna really needs to see the school nurse.† Is it alright if I go take her?"
†††† Ms. Dortsmouth looked at Haruna, started, and then quickly glanced at the clock like Haruki had just done.† She nodded in assent.† "Be quick, and take your things.† Now class, before I forget, for homework, you are to write a 5,000 word essay on..."
†††† As the class copied down their homework, Haruka ran over and helped Haruna up.† Shakily, Haruna got to her feet, stumbled, got back up, and was escorted back across the room.† As they passed her, Haruki whispered, "Donít worry about your things; Iíll get them for you."
†††† Haruka nodded before she and Haruna made it out the door.† Once the door slid closed again, Haruka told Haruna that sheíd give her a piggyback ride to the nurseís office, since itíd be much quicker.† Haruna was in no condition to complain.
†††† Before long, the lunch bell rang its usual toll.† A deluge of students emptied into the hallways, all pushing and shoving to get a good spot on the schoolís spacious lawn.† Haruki collected her sistersí and her belongings and headed out the door with the rest.† Whether it was known to her or not, Haruki was followed.† Haruki trusted Haruka to take care of Haruna and tell her what had happened when they met up later on.† With this trust, Haruki made her way to where the triplets had chosen to sit every day, as it was the best place.
†††† Even with 5,000 square yards of green grass to sit on, there was only one cherry blossom tree that was surrounded by a stone wall.† This stone wall was just the right size to sit on and have lunch or simply talk with someone.† The tree itself was the oldest tree at the high school, having been planted when the school had first opened fifty years ago.
†††† The school as a whole had a generally artistic design to it.† Coming in from the black steel gates, one cobblestone path broke into three near the end.† At the end of each fork was a seven story, square, gray building similar to the other two, but each was for a different grade level.† The one to the left was for freshmen and Home Ec. classes; the middle for the faculty and juniors; and the far right for the seniors and lab equipment.† Regardless of grade, Home Economics was only taken in the freshmen building, while the science labs could only be used in the seniorsí building.
†††† Right in front of the far left path was a straight row of ten perfectly spread cherry blossom trees, identical to the ones along the far right path.† Bordering the stone walls of the school perimeter were tall willow trees planted for shade.† Behind the school buildings was the two part gymóan inside basketball court and inside swimming pool.† Adjacent to this gym was a pair of soccer fields, a couple of baseball diamonds, and one long football field separating the two sets.† The remaining space on school grounds was scattered with randomly placed oak trees, fewer in number, but just as shady.
†††† Meanwhile, Harukiís stalker, Anri, was called over by a male classmate of the triplets.† The huge quarterback slung his arm over the leaner, shorter new student.† In a deep voice fitting for his appearance, he greeted, "Hey, whatís up?† Anri, right?† Call me Benji.† So how you likiní our school so far?† Dig any chicks yet?"
†††† "Well actually, Iím startiní to like those set of triplets in muh class.† Ya know Ďem?"
†††† The quarterback backed up and put his hands in front of him, as if gesturing him to go no further.† "Dude, you serious?"† When he nodded, Benji shook his head as if Anri were too far gone to save.† "Youíd best back off now, Anri, before itís too late."
†††† "Whaddaya mean?"
†††† "I mean, stop now before Haruka comes after you."
†††† "Whoís that?"
†††† "Ah Geez...you donít even know their names yet?"
†††† "Itís only been like an hour since I met them..."
†††† Benji let out a small sigh before launching into a quick description.† "Harukaís one of the triplets.† You noticed the one with a lot of spunk and attitude, right?"
†††† "Oh!† You mean the one that took the other one out of there right before the bell rang?"
†††† "Thatís the one."
†††† "I could take her."
†††† "Trust me, no guy could.† Even less so for a girl, but she goes easy on most of them."
†††† "What makes you say that?"
†††† "The triplets have been here since last year.† Most guys saw in them what you see; beautiful triplets each with a desirable quality.† Well, they ignored everybody but each other the first day, though some people were more persistent than others.† Those guys came to school the next day with a bruise or two or three somewhere on their body.† And that mustíve been at least fifty guys who were my friends."
†††† "Harsh.† But how do you know Haruka did it?"
†††† "For one, I heard that on her first day here, after school, she challenged and beat every single team captain from every sport here, one-on-one, and beat them all within ten minutes each.† We have ten of the best sports teams in the state, too.† Second, the bullies at this school give her the money theyíve taken, even if she doesnít ask for it.† Sheís gotta be trouble if even school bullies do her untold bidding.† And lastly, Iíve never heard of any one of them going on second dates, and the ones that are lucky enough to date one of them never tell why there hasnít been a second date.† Dude, Iím telliní you, itís like a ghost is haunting you until sheís out of your sight."
†††† Anri raised an eyebrow as if his interest was highly piqued.† "Really?† Well, I love a challenge.† The one sitting over there isnít Haruka though, right?"
†††† Benji looked to where he pointed and shook his head.† "Nope.† Thatís Haruki.† You can tell by their hairstyles, if not by their attitude.† Haruki always has wavy hair and she's the smart one.† Haruka has straight hair in a ponytail; she's the fighter.† Haruna lets her hair down, but sometimes puts a bow in it; she's really friendly and a great cook.† But be warned, since Haruki's the smartest of the bunch, or the school for that matter, she can easily defend herself verbally, if need be.† I heard my friend once say that if she had the desire to, her words could hurt just as much as a pummeling by three thugs."
†††† Anri started to walk towards her with a few last words to Benji.† "Good, a study buddy then.† Well, Iíll take my chances.† Later Benji."
†††† Benji sighed and shook his head hopelessly before going back to his friends.
†††† While this was all happening, Haruka was holding Harunaís hand in the nurseís office.† Haruna had calmed down considerably, but she was far from being fully recovered.† Seated on a nearby chair, Haruka asked what had happened.
†††† Between deep breaths, Haruna explained that she had a strange dream where there was a big ocean liner in the middle of a storm at sea.† Two people, she couldnít see who they were, were shot by this other figure, and they fell overboard.† When Haruka asked if this was the extent of the dream, Haruna shakily nodded and continued to the events of the classroom.† When Anri had entered, she felt an incredibly large sense of dťjŗ vu come over her.† That was what overwhelmed her, along with waves upon waves of danger and fear churning inside of her.† Haruka was alarmed by this.† It had happened once before, as she remembered it.
†††† Once, Haruna told her sisters after she had an attack similar to this one, that she had recently dreamt of a black cat with a scar across its eye, and then later on saw the same black cat run past her.† Suddenly, Harukaís memory locked onto something Haruna said before.
†††† "Wait, you mean to say-"
†††† Haruna nodded before Haruka could finish.† Haruka didnít finish that sentence, but instead gripped her hand tighter around Harunaís to show her firm support.† Trying a feeble attempt to joke, Haruka chuckled as she said, "Maybe youíre just afraid of the color black.† If you couldnít see the figures, they were shadows basically, right?† And shadows are just about as black as the cat you saw before.† Same goes for Anri."
†††† Haruna realized that there was some truth to that, even if it was meant to just lighten the mood a bit.† As if suddenly thinking of something, Haruka took from behind her back, a wolf plushie.† Harunaís eyes lit up with glee.† "I know you sleep better with this little guy, so I took him for you just before we left the apartment, in case something happened.† You should try to get some more sleep; not scary dreams though, okay?"
†††† Just as the nurse came in, Haruna nodded as she snuggled with her wolf plushie.† Haruka took this as her signal to leave.† "I have to go tell Haruki what you told me, okay?† Iíll pick you up after my club meeting.† Sleep tight, and think happy thoughts!"
†††† With that, Haruka waved and was out the door.† After the nurse checked her temperature and breathing pattern, she diagnosed that Haruna was just a little under the weather and a little sleep should do the trick.† Having done her part, the nurse, too, left the little bed to resume her paperwork half a wall over.† Haruna got into a comfortable position in bed and easily fell sound asleep.
†††† Anriís debonair style was evident as he made his way towards Haruki.† In the distance, girls swooned, giggled, and/or whispered excitedly.† Haruki simply continued to eat her lunch while reading a large book, as if she didnít know what or who was coming.† With the elegance of a male during mating season, Anri seated himself right next to Haruki.† He decided to make his move through academia.
†††† "Hey, Haruki, I hear youíre the smartest girl in school.† Wanna be study buddies?"
†††† Haruki looked at him with a single look of disdain before turning her head the opposite way, to look at the front gate of the school.
†††† "Aw come on.† I could really learn a lot from you."
†††† Her reply was swift and past the border of being judgmental.† "Itíd be a waste of my time.† A rat could learn faster than you." As an afterthought, she added, "Itís more decent, too."
†††† Anri drew back a hiss through his teeth.† "Ouch.† That guy was right, your insults sting like a punch to the stomach."
†††† Haruki didnít respond to this as she started to pack up her lunch and book.† When she stood up, Anri stood up as well.† "Wait, at least let me take you out on a date; I know this really cool place downtown."
†††† As Haruki started to walk away, Anri followed her.† Harukiís answer was firm.† "I donít date liars."
†††† When Anri asked how she knew if he was lying or not, Haruki replied, "Your heart is beating a lot faster than it should, youíre sweating, and this town has no Ďdowntowní.† You'd know that if you were telling the truth."
†††† Anri stopped in his tracks at that.† He was impressed by how right Haruki really was. Surprisingly, he still refused to leave her be.† Slumping his arm around her shoulder, he tried to regain his usual cool composure, and not act like a needy little wimp.
†††† "Whaddaya say to some one-on-one tutoring time then?† You can teach me some honest geography of the city.† Your place or mine?"
†††† Haruki stopped.† Eyes closed in his self-pride of his redeeming sentences, he didnít notice that for the slightest second, his hand moved a little, unguided by the body it belonged to.
†††† With a voice as sweet as poisoned honey, she suggested, "Alright, but for now, letís go somewhere a little more private, hmm?"
†††† Inside Anriís mind, the words "Alright!† Score!" rang loudly.†
†††† With a hint of sultriness, she added, "Oh, and could you keep your eyes closed?† I want to show you something."
†††† Ego blown sky high, Anri quickly agreed and allowed her to lead him by the hand to wherever she wanted.† Anri heard snippets of whispered conversations, and caught some phrases like "heís in for it" and "I feel almost sorry for him".
†††† A few minutes later, she told him he could open his eyes.† His first observation was that they seemed to be in something like a dark alley, so probably between the school buildings.† His second observation was the distinct gut reaction that the girl with him was not Haruki.† Anriís assumption was enforced by the fist that met his stomach, and the menacing words that now came out of her mouth.† "Look, maybe you had some trouble listening before: Stay away from my sisters.† I heard from Haruki that Benji recently warned you the same thing, and you ignored that warning.† Maybe this warning will leave a more lasting impact on you.† Know this: I really donít like you right now.† In fact, Iíd go as far as to say I hate you, and believe that you are lower and more loathsome than a pile of garbage in the sewers.† So if you donít do as I say as far as staying away from us..." Haruka stopped to make sure her dangerous glare was locked with Anriís eyes.† "Youíll really learn the meaning of Ďtroubleí."
†††† With that, Haruka took her hand off of Anriís shirt, and took a step back.† Giving him one more meaningful glare, Haruka turned and left the alleyway.† Anri watched, hands still plastered against the wall, as Haruka flung her shining black hair over her shoulder, and walked off.† After regaining some breath and sense of movement, Anri unruffled his shirt, shook off any remaining sense of burden, and sauntered off to find some perhaps "easier prey", for the time being.
†††† Haruka sighed.† Looking back at Haruki, she said, "Now that thatís taken care of, I should finish telling you what Haruna told me.† According to her, she dreamt that two people were killed and fell overboard during a storm at sea.† She couldnít see any of the faces, or much detail of the figures at all.† But, Haruna did say that when Anri over there came into the room, she had that nauseous dťjŗ vu attack again."
†††† Haruki gasped.† "Are you serious?† Oh my g- Wait.† Are you saying that-"
†††† Haruka nodded.† "She must sense that heís related to her dream somehow." Both sisters turned to watch Anri making moves on the head cheerleader, who giggled and purposely appeared flustered to his comments.† "He doesnít look like the killing type, and heís obviously not dead..."
†††† "A friend maybe?† Or a relative of some sort?"
†††† "Thatíd be the most likely case, I think.† What do you think we should do?"
†††† Haruki sighed.† "Thereís nothing we can do.† Thereís no evidence to do anything to Anri,
so the most we can do is wait things out and see what happens."
†††† "I have a bad feeling about this," Haruki stated as she ran her fingers through her hair.
†††† "Me too," Haruka responded, "Me too."
†††† The triplets watched Anri from afar the rest of the lunch period.† From what they witnessed, Anri managed to get a date with Kyoko, the head cheerleader, and make fast friends with the football team.† When the bell rang, they joined the slower rush of students walking back into the classrooms.† It turned out that Anri shared their PE and Science class as well.† The two sisters did everything in their power to make sure that Anri did not get anywhere near them, as did he.
After school, Haruki and Haruka ran to make a quick check on Haruna.† She was still sleeping, but the nurse told them that she could go home with them later.† Agreeing to this, they both rushed their goodbyes as they headed off to their after-school activities.† Haruki had gymnastics, while Haruka took off to her fencing club.† Both were the co-captains of their sports team.† As for Haruna, she was the star player with the flute in orchestra.
†††† After club, Haruka picked up Haruna and left the school grounds for home.† Haruki had extra practice to do because of an upcoming competition, so she had to stay a bit longer.† Soon enough, the two sisters arrived at home.† They had stopped at a large pagoda-style apartment complex.† Waving a quick Ďhelloí to the receptionist, they went clear across the clean black marble floor to the elevator in the center of the building.† The outside may have looked like a traditional pagoda, but it was almost just as modern as an American five-star hotel on the inside.† Haruka and Haruna came out on the fifth floor, where they only had one other neighbor.
†††† By the time they had reached their apartment, Haruna insisted on making a full-course dinner.† Haruka verified with Haruna to make sure she was feeling well enough.† Haruna assured her sister that she had rested more than enough and wanted to thank her sisters for taking care of her.† Far be it from her to complain, Haruka closed and locked their front door and excused herself to go take a nice long bath.
†††† Upon returning, she found that the table was already set, Haruna and Haruki were at the table, and delicious food sent their enticing aromas directly to Harukaís sensitive nose.† Roasted chicken marinated with a special teriyaki blend was the main course, to be complimented by a supple salad with Romanian Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and other such toppings.† Haruna had further shown her mastery at swift cooking by baking a chocolate cake for dessert.† Haruka immediately sat down, and dinner was served.
†††† It turned out that Harunaís sisters had also remembered that today was the death anniversary of Mrs. VanSchneider.† Together, they shared the happy memories that they had of the time spent with her.† Even just with reminiscing, it was long past ten before they headed for bed.† Haruki wouldnít allow any of them to stay awake any longer than they already had, considering the dayís events.† Haruka may have been born two minutes earlier, but Haruki held the decisive control in the family.
†††† The three sisters went to bed relatively early from certain peopleís perspective.† However, Haruka and Haruki were awakened in the dead of the night by a scream that pierced the still air like a knife through the heart.