Chapter 13 - You're Not HereMature

Outside the confines of the school, she preferred to be known as Yoko. Kocho Aida was what everyone called her at school and with it, came a measure of respect and honor. When she dressed in her casual t shirt and jeans, she was even more comfortable with how she were treated like any other civilian. Her hair was long and flowing, as opposed to the tight bun she kept during work hours. Her clothing was rarely smart; today she was dressed in a Yuko Ando t shirt from an early tour she was lucky to see her on. Aida was odd in a sense she preferred to be known by her forename; she even requested strangers not address her by her surname.

Mostly this was due to the disintegration of her marriage. Her former husband, Ikuo Aida, was a sweet yet aloof man who prided himself on his image. She had meet him during her sprawling twenties where she believed time was infinite and that she had little use for a life plan. Maybe it was how together he was or that he had a smile that made her feel warm inside, but whatever it was caused her to say yes after he proposed. They had only been together for five months yet she felt her life was already planned out perfectly. Her subsequent pregnancy felt like another part of this grand plan.

Her home was a design stylist's dream. Though she was often out on business, she spent enough to make sure the place was welcoming when she returned. The walls were neutral and stenciled with various kanji. Her furniture was from the popular furniture store of the moment. It was her white leather sofa she collapsed into as she pondered the day's events. Hearing about that site again had rattled her.

An oversized flat screen leered at her from her wall. She switched it realizing how quiet it was. A tanned, smiling face greeted her; Newsreader Kitano as many a swooning housewife would later compare favourably to their husbands.

"Two more deaths have been reported in the Kyoto Prefecture as officers struggle to deal with the-" he said before Aida flicked the television off once more. His gleaming teeth remained in her vision before she stood up.

What to do, she thought. Her phone rested on the sofa's arm but who would she call? Her colleagues maintained a respectful distance from her outside of work, many of her social circle sided with her former husband and she'd hardly get any joy from that damn Detective. Loneliness is a horrible certainty in life and it never gets any easier. She thought of making dinner but her wandering hand found the imagined swell of her stomach. Suddenly she lost her appetite.

She caught a glance of the dreary weather outside her window. The patter of rain both angered and upset her. Rather than watch the late Summer weather, she walked down her hall. Pictures of various European cities decorated the pale white; she'd always wanted to travel to each of these but time was not on her side. Only three doors dotted the hall; her bedroom, her ex husband's former office and the room she hadn't entered in years.

Perhaps it was the recent events, but she felt compelled to reach out for the brass handle. She pushed the door open and revealed her daughter's bedroom.

Her first impression was soured by the layer of dust that coated every surface. A rose of guilt bloomed inside her.

"I'm sorry I let it get so dusty, Sakiko. I was just.. afraid." she said. Her voice could have been part of the soft patter of rain.

She fell to the ground as a wave of tears broke. For the first time in ages, she felt as though her daughter was standing before her. The bookcase full of Manga and CD's, the posters of various Idol musicians and her rainbow bedspread reminded her of the times she could never have back. She had the same kind eyes of her father yet her words were always gentle. Aida wiped her eyes as her face reddened. The scent of her favourite perfume even lingered causing another wave of sadness to crash down on her.

It was a few minutes before she composed herself and stood. A plush rabbit with disproportionate eyes stared causing a strange gurgle of laughter to rise in her throat. Aida hated that toy but Sakiko had loved it ever since Ikuo had bought it her. She'd always hoped Sakiko would grow out of it and chuck it but now she was gone. Funnily enough, she found the stuffed animal to be a weird source of comfort.

The centrepiece of the room was an old, blocky computer. It too was covered in dust though it looked as new as the day Ikuo had bought it for her. The melancholy in her suddenly dissolved as it was replaced by a dull, ancient anger. Sakiko had spent a disproportionate amount of time on this computer in her final months. She approached it, for the first time wanting to destroy the device. Aida was known to be stern but no one ever saw her raise her fist in anger. It seems there was a first time for everything. A flash of red coloured her vision as she slammed her palm onto the keyboard.

The screen blinked and a spidery typeface crawled across the screen.

Hey Kocho. How's Sakiko?

Aida backed away. Her lips retracted angrily.

I'll ask Toshi to send his regards, shall I?

She froze. This has to be some prank.

I despise a coward.

She shook her head. Suddenly, several words were desperate to escape her lips.

"You fucking coward. Hiding behind a screen. You're just afraid of what I'd do to you." she snarled.

A baseball bat lay next to Sakiko's bed. For a time, she had wanted to join the school's team but it was short lived. For months, the bat lay ignored. Earning it's keep, Aida scooped it and took a professional swing at the screen. It exploded into shards killing the mocking remarks.

Aida turned around before dropping the bat. A shadow formed in the doorway as two pale white eyes cut into her vision.

The Vague Person was stood in the holding Sakiko's lifeless body. She was dripping wet.

Aida could only watch in horror. Then Sakiko's head turned with a clunk. Her eyes were just like the vague person's.

"Help me Mommy." she whispered. A salacious smile broke out on the Vague Person's face. He threw her to the ground as a wheezy, mechanical laugh broke out of him. Aida cringed from the rising sound. Sakiko began crying.

An instinct took over Aida. She reached for the baseball bat and took an even harder swing at the Vague Person.  The laughter stopped as he disappeared in a wisp. Aida succeeded in damaging the door frame and nothing else.

Whatever it was had gone. Aida did not notice the stale wetness on the floor as she hurried out of her daughter's bedroom.

The End

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