Chapter 18 - Voiceless ScreamingMature

Michi dabbed at his eyes as Kenta respectfully looked away. Though tales of bullying were hardly surprising anymore, he'd never known a student to willingly take their life in such a fashion. Teen suicides were a scary norm but, maybe due to his ignorance, he had purposefully avoided such cases. However, Michi's story did not answer all of his questions. As much as he wanted Michi to grieve, he wanted more information.

"I apologize for pressing but..." said Kenta. He broke off as per his habit.

Michi cleared his throat and nodded. Lacing his fingers over his knee, he looked like an uncertain teenager.

"Well, they cleared up the body and that was the last time I saw Ren. That night I received an email from him."

His words hung in the air. Kenta narrowed his eyes in thought.

"Just an email? What's so special about that?" asked Kenta.

"It was sent to me that evening. After Ren had killed himself."

"It may have been that bully. Someone with a dark sense of humour?" said Kenta.

Michi shook his head. "It was him. It was a link to The Raining Room and well, a week after Tetsuya and his friends all died of an aneurysm."

"I remember. I dealt with this case back then and.. you never once told anyone? I had no leads on this case and you could have helped saved plenty of lives." said Kenta. His voice was rising. He still dreamed of the angry families begging for him to solve the case. He remembered the corpse of a student who was found barely alive.

"Who would have believed me?" Michi replied. The dull finality in his voice suggested defeat. "He kept talking to me on that Goddamn site. I asked him about Tetsuya and he would just say karma was a bitch. So yeah, I avoided the site for a week. When I came back, he wasn't happy."

Kenta sat upright. Suddenly, his words carried more weight than before.

"He.. said I betrayed him. That I broke my promise and whatnot. Two days after, my Dad dies from a heart attack." continued Michi. His voice became very bitter; his tears gave way to a sullen anger. "So I trashed my PC, left my life and lived off the land ever since."

When Michi raised his head, he instantly aged ten years in Kenta's eyes. He thought of what he had told him; all the pieces lay before him except a vital one: where would PMR be found? He's just a wisp, a memory. Impersonating some dead kid. Doesn't explain those deaths... coincidence? Kenta mused. Would be pretty easy to chalk this up to superstition.

"So, say I wanted to find this PMR. Where would I need to look?" Kenta inquired. All business now.

Michi scratched at the spiky thatch of hair on his cheek. "It's not PMR you should be looking for. Find The Raining Room and you can stop this."

"And where would I find this Raining Room then?"

"I don't know. I only see it in my dreams."

Kenta gripped the torn sofa with a mixture of frustration at Michi. He also felt he was missing something but he did not know what. Knowing he had tried to draw blood from a stone, he stood ready to return more confused than before. He cast his eyes over the shell of a room and felt a stab of pity. The lone tape caught his attention once more; the torn label seemed to invite questioning.

"Sugai-san, what's with the tape?" he asked. His question was blunt but after what they spoke about, he felt the bar was set.

Michi shrugged. "That's another story, Detective."

He bowed to Michi and left swiftly. Michi remained in his seat awaiting solitude once more. Although outside was cloudy and dry, he could hear the metronome of a million raindrops. Ren had always enjoyed the rain which he never understood until now. For the first time in years, he didn't feel alone. The softer shade of brown still lingered in his eyes as his face, a lined canvas of age, felt more like a mask than his own flesh. I know this sorrow but why does it comfort me? It's painful and wonderful all at the same time.

Michi looked at up the doorway. An unknown shadow crossed over him as he buried his face into his hands.

The End

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