Images formed around her, enclosing her in a dark room that she remembered all too well. She saw her parents, happy and laughing together. Her mother wore the dark shabby dress that she had always worn, save for special occasions, with a dirt brown skirt with a burnt orange bodice; snippets of earthy green and blue fabric were patched over areas that had been worn and weathered. Unlike Hataru’s free-flowing curly brass locks, her mother’ dark chocolate hair was pulled back into a single loose braid with small strands sticking out at odd intervals. The girl’s father was tall and well built. His arms were huge, toned from his smithing job and perfect for holding his wife close. He wore similar drab apparel along with a thick, knee length leather apron. The way the couple gazed into each other’s eyes with such passion melted Hataru’s heart into a slippery puddle of gooey goodness. She herself was a child, dressed in a downy gown, softened by age. This was what her life looked like before even old enough to speak: happiness and joy all around, no pain or sorrow, bliss.
As if swept away by the wind, her fond memory was gone in an instant and replaced by another. A pair of once fulgurant eyes now clouded over with misery gazed up at her. Their eyelids drooped ever so slowly, lower and lower, until they were closed and did not open again. Hataru felt her tears slip from her own eyes and onto her passed mother’s cheek. Running, as if to escape the sorrow, Hataru fled from the cold room full of dust and death. She came to another room, even dirtier than the one before, but better lit because of two broken windows that let pass warm sunbeams, only to be chilled down by the bitter wind which they also allowed entrance. Tears still streaming down her face, Hataru leaped backward when the door, situated between the windows, was struck down by a powerful force, letting more light pour into the room. Men by the dozens rushed in, as uniform and fluid as liquid water, and surrounded a lump in the corner of the room, paying no attention to the crying little girl. The lump, it turned out, was a man crumpled on the floor, whimpering like a dog about to be beaten by its master. The men grabbed at him roughly, sneers of disgust on their faces, leading him out the door they had just broken down. The man’s once strong and mighty arms were no use to him now. He couldn’t even dream of fighting back, so they led him down the empty street, golden leaves dancing all around them, leaving Hataru all alone.
Again, this vision blurred, found herself, now a young teenager, enclosed in utter nothingness. The cold, colorless caves on the top of the mountain had had more detail than this place. There, you could hear water droplets kerplink onto the slippery ground. Here, there was nothing. There, you could see reflections of the lanterns on the glistening walls. Here, there was nothing. There, you could feel the sudden chill of coolness as you stepped into the shade that the caves provided. Here, there was nothing. There, you smell the clean air provided by a face mask. Here, there was nothing. There, you could taste the years of mold and mildew lingering in every droplet that touched your lips as you run back to the lifeboats. Here, there was nothing. Hataru had never felt this isolated in all of her life. She couldn’t tell if she was in a wide open space or confined within a small box. The silence, the stillness, the senselessness, began eating away at her. What if she was to be trapped here forever? Hataru would not be able to bear it! Just as she was about to lose her mind in the agony of the nothingness, there was something.