She took another step down one of the endlessly long staircases of the stony, grey building she worked in, a world painted so dully with white and black, and stared outside at the darkening skies.
Rain, she thought, and in her gut she knew she was right; there was no mistaking black clouds and the heavy, low trill of thunder resonating far away. (Name)'s hand touched the glass; she breathed a foggy mist against the cool surface for a moment, leaving a blotch of grey and white, before drawing back with a sigh.
(Name) hated rain on days like these; on good days, she could bear it, and on especially cheerful and serene evenings she could even love how the water pelted rhythmically against hard cement, flooding a word of black and white and bringing it to a shimmering, soft blue life.
Tonight was not one of those nights.
No; today was one of those dark evenings, evenings where one felt that the air could crush their backs as they stalked eerily along the hallways, evenings where when one pushed open a door, it'd seem as it he'd walked into another maze, another corridor to be fruitlessly searched and wandered upon.
Today was a day where (Name) felt lost, lonely, perhaps even hateful.
It was on days like this that she hated rain. How dare it mock her, she'd think, how dare it fell upon her head when she already felt as if the weight of gravity itself could already push her down.
She hated the rain, how it soaked her clothes and made her steps heavier, soggier. She hated how it weighed her down.
She sighed, pushed a lock of hair from her face. Her shift was nearly over... then she could abandon this lab for the day and call it a night at last. How she hated worked in such a dull place where only white and black merged and dissolved into her soul. It was all so bland, so tedious.
And yet she was here, slaving away at a job that she could hardly count on to keep her alive. Experimentation, scientific research--it was all part of the job that she worked.
Funny thing, she thought to herself. You work here, but I don't recall you ever knowing what the hell they're making in that laboratory, anyways.
It was true; (Name) had only snagged the nearest job she could when university had ended, struggling to keep afloat in this sea of drenching water where she could be washed away at any time. It had been essential to find a job where no one could, to make for herself a barely scratched-out living carved into her lifeless mind and heart.
"I hate the rain." Yes, (Name) hated it. Especially right now, right here. "Can't it ever fucking stop?"
The heavy rhythm of thump, thump, thump, falling from celestial beings and landing upon hard earth with an ever-gnawing vengeance at her soul.
It was empty in the building tonight.
"I barely get enough pay to keep my apartment, and they make me run around all over the damned place," she groaned, keys jangling at her belt as she silently stepped down the dimly lit hallway. "Do this, do that, find this, find that, lock up the building, lock up the labs... I'm sick of it all."
Yes, she was sick of it. And yet she was afraid of quitting, afraid that the economy would rise against her in fits of tantrum and drown her, quickly, as well as it had the most of the younger population. She couldn't afford to give up this job, and openings and interviews were lesser and lesser in number as of lately.
There was no way she could quit, no matter how much this job tortured her inside, how the white of the floors, walls, and ceilings made her want to faint.
Add to that the steady drip of rain, and she had a formula for instant insanity.
Footsteps clomped down the halls noisily.
Weren't they so much louder than a moment before? she wondered. How strange, how strange indeed.
The heavy pounding of footsteps, footsteps that seemed to remind her in every aspect of the rain itself, thundering and pelting rooftops and floors, and her own shoes clacked against the tiles annoyingly.
Clack, clack... clomp clack, clack... clomp clomp clack, clack.
She paused. There were strange noises, noises that did not belong here, noises that filtered in among her quick footsteps against hard floors. She turned, gazed down an endless corridor.
The lights flickered.
I hate this job. was all she could think, and she began to run for the electrical panel in the closet down the hall, she wanted to rush, to hurry along before she was plunged into a wholesome darkness, lost and alone.
She whipped out her phone.
She'd have no light if the bulbs in the building where to flicker and vanish suddenly.
Clack, clack... clomp clack, clack... clomp clomp clack, clack.
There it was that haunting clomp in her steps that should not be there. She wanted to twist and to see what it was, to turn and to glimpse, just a bit, of what could be making that dreadful clomp that sent shivers up her spine.
Clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp clomp clompclompclomp
Her own footsteps had faded altogether, the noise the only thing in her mind, wood striking tiled floors, not the fashionable leather of today, not the rubber soles of shoes, no, this was hard, plain wood.
She hesitated, just a moment, and let out a sharp cry--she went
The drops of glistening water began to fall from the sky.
A light at the end of the corridor. She did not hesitate to run towards it, even as somewhere in the back of her mind, a voice pleaded for her to turn and come back the way she came.
"Hello?" she called out, and suddenly there was a flicker of white. And then the swishing of a light-coloured robe. A boy stood before her, black bangs shadowing large brown eyes and thin lips pressed together in thought. "Who are you," were the only words to escape her lips.
All she can register is the calm and innocence that rests upon his face. The serene and somehow blank expression that settles across almost distorted features. It's just the rain, she told herself. Just the rain that makes this boy look so much more... peaceful than he really is.
He reminded her of a small Japanese boy she once knew. Kiku? Was that his name? She took a moment to ponder this. It was clear that she knew him from somewhere before. But hadn't his parents moved away after he fell at the bridge ages ago, when he was run over by a truck...?
But he began to step down the hall, and she followed.
Up the stairs, up another flight of steps, then another and another. She could not draw her eyes off the stark-white yukata before her, at the hakama that was clearly too large for the boy, the hem pooling around his feet and covering his shoes entirely.
Wooden shoes, she thought as she followed. The swishing of the yukata, of black hair that reflected the dim blue of the rain falling outside, sloshing against the numerous windows that lined the staircases as she followed.
Once or twice (Name) wondered: Why am I going after him? Why am I running away...? Because in the back of her mind, there was fear. Terror. Terror at what this boy was, why he was here... If this is Kiku... then he should be... dead?
I remember playing with him when he was just a baby. Then he was a boy, and he went to school... he was the neighbor's only son. And I was... one of Kiku's best friends... then this shouldn't be real?
But she continued to follow.
On the rooftops. The rain thundered against the stone of the ground at its worst, and droplets pounded lightly against the (hair colour) of her drenched locks as she looked out at the child who seemed to flicker and flutter in his movements, in his form... no, it must be her imagination.
There. He had vanished to the edge of the rooftops. What is he... no...
It looks like he's about to jump off. "No," she choked lightly. "No... don't..." And then she was suddenly rushing, slipping in the wetness of the rain-soaked rooftop, running towards this short, little boy that she barely knew.
A hand reached out to grasp at his yukata.
And then she trips.
And then she was falling, tumbling off the rooftop ever so gracefully--her hand just missed the cloth of his hakama as she slipped off the edge and fell down, down, twenty stories to the cement before.
Above her, white teeth are bared in a victorious smile.
The hollow lunges above the form of the small Asian boy as the child smirks with the pride of his triumph.
Another prize to be eaten by the Grand Fisher.
Girl's souls were oh, so very delicious, after all. Although Honda Kiku's young soul hadn't been much of a feast, he was quite the lure for this pretty little catch.