Part 3: Seal, Part 3
As soon as I reached the hallway, I fell to my knees with a thud.
*gag* *cough* No! No, no, no! What was that? A person?! It was pitch black, but I swear it was shaped like a person!
The school infirmary door hung open near me, and in my panicked state, I swore I'd seen a black, shadowy figure within it.
Sound Effect: "I'll kill you."
Sound Effect: Running
*pant* *pant* *gasp* *spew*
*sputter* *wheeze* Nnng...
My mind had been completely overtaken with fear. What was that?! What just happened? That dark, misty entity came toward me, and entered my body from every orifice. It came in through my ears, through my mouth... I felt an enormous lump in my throat, blocking the flow of air into my lungs and momentarily teetering me on the brink of unconsciousness. I was...almost killed.
It felt as if a cold hand reached into my body and grabbed hold of my life's energy, turning all my internal organs inside-out and leaving me for dead. My stomach was churning, my bowels were on fire and my legs were all twisted around themselves. Can pressure alone disrupt the human body this much? The odor and flavor of my own gastric juices still gnawing at the back of my throat, I felt like I was going to throw up again...but I held it in.
(I remember this. This place... These circumstances...)
There was no sign of Satoshi, of Ms. Shishido, of the class rep or anyone else. Only Seiko was still near me, collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Just as our last shreds of hope had begun to vanish, we suddenly heard Satoshi's little sister, Yuka, cry out from somewhere just out of sight. I'd sprained my ankle pretty badly and couldn't walk very well, so Seiko went off alone to find her while I rested up in the infirmary.
And that's when the dark, shadowy figure showed up and began attacking.
I was scared. So scared, so scared, so scared, so very scared! My teeth were chattering and my lips were quivering as if they had a mind of their own. Why would she leave me alone like that?
I told her I'd go with her to look for Yuka...so why? Why did she leave me behind? Was I going to slow her down? Was I going to get in her way?!
Video: Seiko and Naomi
Sound Effect: Running
Just seeing Seiko's face quelled my shivers. Whenever she's around, I feel so at ease. And at that moment, I just wanted to cling onto her and cry my eyes out. I should've just done it, but instead...
Music: Cold Tears
I'm... I'm sorry, Naomi. Come on, let's try to find a way out of here together!
What's the point? Just forget about it. Leave it alone. We're never getting out of here!
Maybe it was the safety of Seiko's presence that did it, but all the fear welling up within me suddenly turned to anger. I was like a spoiled child. Nothing good could come of lashing out like this. Seiko didn't do anything wrong, I knew that. But I couldn't stop myself from saying what I said. She was genuinely concerned about me, and I'd sworn to myself that I'd protect her...but my sense of reason was fighting a losing battle.
You realize we've gone missing, right? How do you think my mother's going to feel? She's going to be worried sick about me! And there's nothing I can do.
Naomi, please, don't say things like that. It's going to be all right!
Like hell it is! She's going to keep searching for me until the day I finally come home! And she has work, you know?! This whole situation...it's not right. As long as I'm here, I'm nothing but a nuisance to her. I'm a terrible daughter... And we're just going to die here anyway, so all that time she spends looking for me will be wasted!
(No. I know how this ends...)
Families aren't like that. It won't be a nuisance. It won't be a burden. And you're not terrible. I don't know exactly how to say this...but when there are loved ones involved, you'll do anything for them.
There it was again. Deja vu. Everything was falling into place. I knew what was going to happen. I knew what fate had in store if we continued down this road...
But I guess I can see where you're coming from. Your mother is a really kind person. The last thing you'd want to do is worry her. That's why we need to make sure that doesn't happen. Right, Naomi? We need to get back home.
I don't know how it is for you and your family, but normal people don't work that way!
(No. It's happening...)
(Seiko's going to get hanged. She's going to die!)
Music: Deciding One's Destiny
(I have to apologize!)
...No... I don't want you, of all people, to speak to me that way! Please, Naomi! Tell me that's now how you really feel!
If I didn't say something to calm her down, Seiko would run off. And I knew she couldn't be by herself right now. So I pulled myself together and tried apologizing to her. But the words...
*cough* *cough* *cough* *hack* *cough*
The words wouldn't come. As soon as I tried to find them, something caught itself in my throat. I found myself unable to breathe and doubled over in a fit.
Naomi! A-Are you okay?!
*wheeze* *wheeze* *hack*
I'm sorry, Naomi. If I'm bothering you...I'll go. I hate to leave your side, but if that's what you want, I won't argue.
Sound Effect: Running
Seiko ran off into the distance, her figure growing smaller and darker until it vanished altogether. I knew I'd made an awful, irreversible mistake.
That sense of dread I'd felt moments before had come back full force. I could sense a malevolence within me -- an outside hand that made me lash out at Seiko. It felt like...something was in my mouth. I had no idea what, but there was definitely something in there. I stuck my finger in and tried to dig it out.
My finger found something and pulled...and out from my throat came large clumps of long, black hair.
*gasp* *gag* *cough*
I just kept pulling and pulling. I couldn't believe how much there was! The strands stretched all the way from my stomach through my esophagus and into my hands. And even then, there was still more to pull! The motion was unnatural, and was creating a repulsive, sickening sensation along my tonsils. I felt like I was going to throw up again.
Ulllgh... *cough* *cough* *spew* *pant* Wh-Where the hell...did all this hair...come from? Was this all stuck in my throat?!
Seiko flashes on screen for a fraction of a second.
It was only a faint notion before, but now I was certain. I was remembering some future event. I didn't know why or how, but I was repeating time.
Am I just...not allowed to apologize?
I could feel a dark will guiding me. Someone or something wanted Seiko to be killed in this timeline as well. But I wasn't going to let it happen. Not without a fight!
Video: Naomi and Seiko ends here.
Music: Depths of Space and Time
I ran, as quickly as I could, in the direction Seiko had gone. But then...
Background Sound: Quake
A fierce earthquake began shaking the building. It was so violent, I couldn't even stay standing. I crouched along the ground, waiting for it to pass. Everything was moving, and there were sounds of objects cracking and breaking all around me. Glass was shattering, ceiling tiles were raining down upon me... I was scared for my life. So scared...so very, very afraid...
I was certain I was going to die. Maybe a big chunk of ceiling would fall on me, or the floor would open up at my feet and swallow me whole. I kept wondering how it was going to end. Was I going to be crushed? How badly would it hurt? How long would it go on before I finally died? My head was swimming with all kinds of worst case scenarios, while my body just remained motionless on the ground. I'd never felt so helpless before. I didn't even care anymore. I'd take any release I could get. Just make it stop!
But there was no release for me. All I could do was curl up in a ball...and pray.
Background Sound: None
After a few more moments, the shaking finally subsides.
...! *shiver* *shake*
I wondered how much time had passed. It couldn't been only a moment, a few minutes or even a few hours, for all I know. But it did finally end, and the dark corridors were silent once more.
I gradually loosened my stiff body, uncurling from the floor. Blotches of dust and wood chips fell from my hair. Some of the finer debris had gotten into my clothing and was crunching around like sand with my every movement. It was...not pleasant. I brushed myself off as best as I could and slowly rose to my feet, slapping my skirt in vain to clear away any excess dust and dirt. The particles in the air were like a white smoke billowing through the pitch black hallway. It took me a moment to get my bearings. Once I finally did, though, I almost wished I hadn't. The sight before my eyes instantly washed away what little hope I may have had.
The earthquake had completely caved in part of the floor. It was no longer possible to continue this hall. No longer possible to trail Seiko. If I had been cowering from the quake only a few feet ahead, I'd be dead for sure -- swallowed up into whatever hell lay down there.
I knelt down by the edge of the hole and peered within. It was too dark to tell for sure, but if what I thought I saw was correct, then the ceilings in this school were unreasonably high. To make matters worse, it seemed like the floor directly below had fallen out as well. I didn't dare consider just how deep this pit might go. All I knew was, I couldn't risk falling into it. Shivering in terror, I pulled myself up.
What can I do? Can I get around it? I have to hurry!
I definitely had to hurry. If I didn't, Seiko would commit suicide. But there was still time... I was determined not to let it happen. No matter what, I was going to save her! I was going to change her horrible fate!
Music: Depths of Space and Time
At last, we've reached the first instance of gameplay in Book of Shadows. Things are a little bit different than they were in the last game.
Book of Shadows' gameplay is in the style of a first-person point-and-click adventure game. Using the dpad or analog stick, we move the cursor around on-screen to investigate things. When the cursor is hovering over something that can be investigated, it turns blue.
Hitting the L button brings up a map, which we use to move around. For the most part, the hallways are completely empty, and we only need to worry about the rooms. When something important is in a hallway, the game will normally stop you and point it out. Normally.
For now, we head east one square, into the infirmary where Naomi was nearly killed mere minutes ago. I always make good decisions.
The infirmary was where I'd been attacked. I didn't want to stay in there any longer than I had to. That horrible sensation of my body being overcome by that hair-like mist...was something I never hoped to experience again as long as I lived.
We set about exploring the infirmary.
We start with the poster on the wall.
[Proper Procedure for Dissection]
First and foremost, you must ensure that both arms and both legs are firmly pinned down, such that the subject is completely unable to move. Next, make a clean incision across the stomach and carefully peel the skin on both sides, exposing the subject's innards. Use pins to keep the op__i__--
The remainder of the page is so stained and faded that it's completely illegible.
Next, we take a look at the desk in the center of the room.
Hmm? There's a photo here.
The paper was cracked and warped in various spots, and the picture itself was in black and white. Clearly, this was not a recent photograph. It was just a simple shot of a man, looking directly at the camera. It had a formal air to it, as if it were used for an arranged marriage interview.
I wonder who this is. Was he the man who worked at this desk? Or a family member, maybe?
There's nothing else of note in the infirmary, so we head out.
Background Sound: Flies
We head up toward the lab, but Naomi stops in this part of the hallway.
There was a mess of blood and entrails on the wall, as if someone were launched from across the corridor at tremendous speed and splattered on impact. The smell was positively vile. Seiko had commented on it before, but it was really hitting me now. Every breath I took was triggering my gag reflex. It was all I could do not to vomit again.
After a quick look at some poor soul's splattered remains, we continue north and attempt to enter the lab.
Background Sound: None
Music: Depths of Space and Time
It's locked, however. We head one space to the north, instead.
It felt like a fog of uneasiness was swirling around me with each step I took. And that fog was growing thicker and thicker, to such an extent that I began fearing the darkness might swallow me whole...and I'd cease to exist. I could feel my sanity slipping away. I didn't know how much longer it could hold out and I was starting to lose patience. I just wanted to get it over with. Fear was like a slime covering my entire being. No matter how much I wiped, I was only squishing it around. It wouldn't come off. It was stuck fast.
Naomi takes a step forward.
Seiko! Where are you?! Please, answer me! I wasn't thinking straight. I want to apologize! ...?!
Up ahead, I swore I saw light glinting off of something. It looked, for a moment, like a web of sinewy strings stretched all across the hall.
I slowly crept forward until I could confirm that they were, in fact, strands of wire. Gently, I reached out a finger and touched the closest one.
I pulled my hand away. Looking down at it, there was now a very fine, clean slice right on the tip of my finger. Tiny red beads were beginning to form. Those beads just kept getting bigger and bigger as I watched, eventually swelling into one another and forming a single drop of blood. And that drop quickly became too heavy for its perch. It began weeding its way down my hand, toward my wrist.
Music: Unrest (B)
Piano...wire? No, it's a little different...
I couldn't believe it had cut so deeply from just that one faint touch. Had it...been sharpened? It really stung. If I hadn't noticed those wires strung up across the hall and had just kept walking, I shudder to think of what might have happened... Death not from malevolent spirits, but from a mere booby trap! Who could have done this?! There was definitely a planned malice behind it. I could sense an ill will in the air and began to tremble. Was...someone watching me, even at that very moment? Was someone just waiting for me to fall into their trap and die so they could gloat about it?!
Naomi spins around in place.
It was like an unconscious shout. I couldn't control myself. I was scared...and whoever did this was heartless. I couldn't just let it go.
Stop this! Please! You're scaring me! Don't... Don't do these awful things to people!
A bevy of negative emotions began swimming through my head. I suddenly realized I was crying. And I know that this corridor, with its web of razor-sharp piano wire, was effectively impassable. At least, for the moment. I needed to find some way to cut these wires...or some means of disabling the trap, at any rate. I decided to go back the way I came and search the rest of the school for answers.
The third floor is inaccessible until we can do something about those wires, so we set about exploring the rest of the school...