Night had fallen by the time that I even contemplated leaving the room again. It was strange to think that I refused to go out because Asuma was stood out there.
He seemed happy to see me at first as well…
I stand up on the floor and walk over to the door. Surely he was going to be bored out there on his one. Stopping outside of the door I push it open and peer outside. I take a step out once I realise how empty the corridor was.
“Is everything ok Aiko?”
I spin around to face the brown haired male. Asuma smiled and gave me a small wave. He took a small box of cigarettes out of his flak jacket pocket and stuck it into his pocket. He lit it quickly and took some in.
“Shouldn’t it be me asking you this?” I reply, “You were the one that seemed distressed when we spoke a few hours ago. I was just wondering if everything was ok.”
“Yeah, I just had to take over guard duty.”
He turned to look at the wall opposite and frowned at it. It almost looked pained.
That can’t be all…I’ve seen that look before…
Shaking my head, I make my way back in to the room and close the door behind me. This rooms as good as the last with a chair by the window and draws against the wall near the bed. With a sigh I flop onto the bed and lift my hand up.
What the hell is going on around here…?
The sound of a stone hitting my window knocks me out of my thoughts. Sitting up I look around. A small rock hits the window a second time causing my curiosity to stir. I get off the bed and walk over to the window. Opening it fully I curse silently as a stone hit me square on the forehead. Whispers erupt from below me causing me to turn my attention down to them. The blonde boy from earlier is stood down there with two other students. One tall male with brown hair that was put back into a pineapple type hairstyle. The other, also male, with a bag of chips in one hand and red swirls on his cheeks.
“Sorry Old Lady!” The blonde whisper-shouts, “I didn’t mean to hit you!”
A vein twitches under my skin as I narrow my eyes at him and lean out of the window. The blonde stares back at me bemused as his two friends take a step back. I turn to look at the tree that is outside of my window and slowly size up the distance between the window and the tree branch. Earlier, when Asuma had left, the woman who had been outside of the door with him had brought my clothes. Her name was Kurenai, I think, and she seemed generally ok.
As I said…nothing worth salvaging…
“Hey Old Lady!”
I ignore the boy and walk over to where my things had been placed when she brought them with her. Picking up my sandals I slip them onto my feet and walk over to the window again. The blonde boy watched me as I slowly climbed onto the ledge.
“Whoa! Hey, Old Lady wait!”
The ledge isn’t as wide as I would like it to be…
I pushed myself of the ledge and reached out for the branch. I grabbed hold of it flung my other arm up around it. I swung a few times before wrapping my lower body around the top of the branch. The boy, from what I could see, was starting to freak out while his two other friends talked to each other. Turning my attention back to the branch I slowly manoeuvre myself to sit on top of the branch.
“Hey, Old Lady! Be careful!” He shouted, “Please, you’ll get hurt!”
“Stupid kid,” I hiss, “I don’t need you to draw any unwanted attention to me!”
I hear a few knock on the door to my room. Hoping it’s only Asuma I lie flat against it and watch the door. The door creaks open slowly as a feeling of dread creeps over me. Fear sets in as I watch as a brown set of hair moves through the door. I let out a breath of relief as Asuma scans the room and glances at me. Our eyes meet causing him to smirk slightly before dropping it and turning back out of the door.
“She’s asleep,” He says, “Just as I told you she would be.”
Who’s he talking to…?
I try to push the dread down only to have it escalate as a flash of silver is spotted. I scream internally and slowly let go of the branch. Hoping the black sky covers me as I move a little to the side, I see Asuma glance at me. A slight twitch shows at the corner of his mouth as he turns his attention back to the silver male. Dread rises more as the silver male gently strokes where my head should be.
Why hasn’t he noticed yet…?
Not wasting much more time I move a little to the side and hold onto it underneath. The blonde boy makes no move to come any closer as I cling to it and straighten myself out.
Now or never…
Letting go of the branch I drop to the ground and fall to my back. All of the air leaves me as I meet with the ground. I lay there for a few seconds before scrambling up as the boy started to shout loudly again.
“Careful Old Lady!” He shouts, “You don’t want to break anything do you?”
I place my finger to my lips as a gesture for him to silence before creeping towards him slowly. He raises an eyebrow at me as I creep past him and grab hold of his collar.
“Hey! What are you doing? Old Lady!”
When will he be quiet…?
“Quiet,” I hiss, “Or you’re going to get his attention!”
Man this kid is annoying…
We walk for a bit longer. His friends are somewhere behind us, I think, but glancing around I couldn’t see them. Ahead of us is a small store. Material fell down the front of the store acting like a door. There was a nice smell coming from the store causing my stomach to rumble a little. I hear the boy laugh. He disappears for a second before reappearing in front of me again.
“That’s Ichiraku Ramen!” He exclaims, “This place sells the best Ramen ever! Believe it!”
What’s with the new catchphrase…?
His grip tightens on me as he dashes into the store dragging me behind him. He carries on rambling for a while. He occasionally throws that catchphrase in causing me to roll my eyes. We quickly come to the front of the shop and the boy grins at me. He pushes the material aside and wanders in still pulling me with him.
“Hey, Old Man!”
An older man turns to look at the brat. He smiles before turning to a younger woman behind him and whispers something to her.
“Naruto!” He responds to the greeting, “What is it today? The usual?”
Naruto…that must be the brats name…
The boy nodded excitedly and finally let go of me to take a seat at the bar. I watched as they interacted with each other.
“Who’s that? Is she your friend?”
The boy, Naruto, turned to look at me and grinned. He jabbed his thumb in my direction before loudly exclaiming:
“Oh, yeah! She’s called…” He pauses, “Hey, Old Lady! What is your name anyway?”
I glance at him before taking a seat beside him. The smell is enticing as it fills the room. Naruto, the brat, stares at me for a while before turning his attention to the freshly cooked bowl of ramen that is placed in front of him.
“My name is only given on a need to know basis,” I tell him, “This is not a need to know moment.”
All three of them stare at me awkwardly as I looked away from them. The material behind us shifts. Footsteps walk up behind us. They were soft and stopped a few seconds after entering. A bony hand reached beside me and moved the stool next to me a little back. Grey rags, torn by time, extended as they sat down beside me. The brat and the other two didn’t seem to notice the new presence. The brat was chatting loudly and happily with them as he slurped his Ramen.
I roll my eyes and ignore them as I raise my hand slowly.
“They can’t see you…”
“Excuse me? Can I order now please?”
“They can’t hear you…”
“Oh will you shut-”
I pause as I look at them. I thought the bony hand had been imagined at first. That maybe there was some sort of thin layer of skin covering them. I was so wrong. Well, right about one thing…thin layer of skin. Almost as thin as a spider’s web and yet almost as strong as the strongest desire. How does one describe the living dead? Just like that. No eyes could be seen under the hood and yet it gave off the impression that whatever was under there was watching me. The web-like skin stretched as they opened their hands. A small cloud of smoke shot up from its hand. It solidified slowly into a small brown wooden cup. Black liquid filled the cup to the brim.
“This could give you power…”
“What-what do you want?”
“Or bring chaos…”
Fear rose within me as their bony hands reached up and grasped the material hood. The light around us darkened. It was like a vacuum had sucked the light out. Grasping it tighter they pulled it slowly backwards. My breath became stuck in my throat. It felt as though hands were clamped to my throat.
A strangled wheeze left my lips as the brown wooden cup moved itself to the table. They turned slowly as they pulled the hood down. My eyes widened slowly as the hood came down.
“Don’t you remember…?”
My head felt lighter as their empty sockets bore into mine. Everything spins quickly around me. My eyes close slowly allowing the last image I see to be…a childhood nightmare.