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Shift - Chapter 19 - Forgotten Child

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“You saved me, Yuki! Thank you!” a young Saki said to a young Yuki in the middle of a park playground. There were three slightly older boys, a year older, laying in the grass bruised and slightly blooded from an altercation with Yuki. Saki had tears in her eyes and covered in dirt from behind thrown around by the boys.

Yuki was grinning partly with pride and partly embarrassed by the praise. He patted Saki trying to comfort her and keep her from crying. “I promise…”

The fog around Saki’s head began to clear making her start to sense her surroundings. She attempted to budge from wherever she was laying, but everything felt stiff to her. All of her body was barely responding to her, unwilling to move to her requests. Saki was forced to stay on the hard cold floor that she slowly began to feel with her senses warming up and returning to her. It left her with a deep solitude that she had not remembered for a long time. The old forgotten feelings were coming over her slow crawling uncertainty and concern for the unknown. She hated those emotions and had tried to leave them behind her in the past along with the little girl.

‘I promise…’ said the little boy Yuki, ‘I promise that I will always protect you. So you don’t have to cry anymore.’

‘Yuki…’ Saki thought not certain why memories of her past were suddenly being recalled by her.

Chapter 19 – Forgotten Child

The room was beginning to become clear to Saki as her vision returned to focus. She was able see where she was finally, no longer in a void of confusion. The cement floor that she was laying on stretched out for the entire room that was hardly even a room when she examined it. It looked like she was warehouse or some large storage facility that there was only one room, but it was the entire structure. Around her, there were iron bars that were meant as a prison or jail cell for her, but she was not the only one to be in the warehouse. As she searched the modestly empty space (there were only a few crates and machines laying around) she saw other cells like hers lined along the wall and in another row across from her. There seemed to be too many for her count clearly, but at least twenty or more. Most of the cells seemed to be empty, but there was a variety of people young, adult and old left to wait until their fate was decided. “What is this place? Who are all these people?”

Saki took a chance to move again starting to get the feeling back into her legs enough that she had confidences in standing this time. Her legs were slow to move for her as though she had never used them before, but after a moment they remembered and quickly turned. As she began to stand up her head quickly lost balance feeling light. She fell back against the iron bars as she tried to recover herself causing an uneasy rattling through the bars that echoed through the room alerting the others to the new resident. However, Saki was not about to give up and used the pain in her back to force herself back up. The bruises along her skin were pushed off and her feet slapped the ground firmly planting in defiance. A determined expression rolled across Saki’s face as she cautiously walked, rather dragged, herself over to the edge of the cell that was connected to the next.

“Hello?” Saki called out to the person that was her neighbor. When she looked closely she recognized that they were wearing a girl’s school uniform from Monou High School. Upon seeing this Saki pressed against the bars trying to see better. “Hello? Can you hear me?”

There was a slight movement from the girl, but Saki kept trying to get her attention. Eventually, the girl turned over revealing to be bruised and battered as though she had been dragged behind a car through the dirt. “Who’s there?”

“Excuse me… Huh… You go to Monou High School right?”

“Yeah?” The girl’s hair covered most of her face preventing her from being recognized.

Saki gave a sigh of relief to know that there was someone that she might know that was in the same situation as her. She had not been able to find Hitomi in her search making this the first person that might be able to help her out. “That’s good.”

“No! No!” The girl had suddenly backed away pushing herself across the floor with her hands into the opposite corner of the cell away from Saki. “Please! No more! I’ll do…anything…please…” The girl tried to bury her face in her legs making herself as small as possible. She could not look at Saki for more than a second before she had run away. Her entire body was shaking against the bars making the bolts rattle. “Please…no…”

“But I…” Saki stretched out her arm through the bars knowing that it could not reach, but hoped that she could calm her down. When she saw that it was only making matters worse for her she drew back looking down pensive. ‘She so scared of something… what happened to her? Was it that dark shadow I saw before?’ Saki walked away letting the girl have peace from her. The room was staring back at her with many soulless eyes that did not seem to have a light of hope in them. They looked like they were just waiting to accept their end and were no longer living, but simply existing in their bodies. ‘What’s going on? Why am I here?’ All the room felt like it was quietly screaming that slowly drained away the chance of escape and built chains around each person.

A sound of something being unlocked far to the distance bounced through the warehouse alerting everyone breaking them into muddled crackle of fear. Saki watched the people crawl into the corners of their cells away from the door as much as possible. The door far at the end of the warehouse opened complaining to be oiled. Out of the entrance two shadowed figures appeared to block the light that was being cast.

‘Everyone’s terrified… who is this person?’ Saki stared from the middle of her cell as the dark figure came closer into the pathway between the two rows of cells. As they approached it became clear to Saki that one was being carried or dragged along when they were unable to keep up with the leading figure. When the large figure finally came into a pool of light that illuminated their face Saki tried to trap her gasp of surprise from seeing what was coming towards her.

The figure that had to be a man from the shape of his body masked his face away behind a twist of vines and flowers. The moving plants wrapped around his head leaving only small slits for eyes. Along his shoulders the vines thinned out undulating along his body draped each with a life of their own slowly migrating over the surface of a white shirt and pants. A thick vine wrapped around the man’s left arm extending behind him covering up the other almost beyond recognition.

Saki could only manage to catch small amounts of the person exposed through the vine that tightly held on. It was in continual movement over the person’s body changing every few seconds what she could see. She stared on trying not to look at the man hoping to know who the person was. ‘That’s our school uniform!’ Saki had seen enough that put it together for her, but she had still not been able to see the person’s face. ‘Hitomi!’ she thought nearly shouting when she saw the vines move away from her face long enough to be seen. Saki rushed to edge of her cell, still several cells away from Hitomi, pressing against the bars trying to see if she was hurt. Once Hitomi was within reach of Saki she stretched out her arm through the bars trying to get to the unconscious Hitomi. “Hitomi! Can you hear me?”

Her actions drew the attention of the man that was dragging her through the floor. He turned his hand towards her and stretched out his fingers letting vines suddenly grow from down his arm towards Saki. She drew back, but not in time to avoid all of the vines that were grabbing at her. The plants took her by the arms tying them together and picking her up by the waist. Saki futilely struggled against the thick vines until they threw her against the back of the cell releasing to fall to the ground. Battered and bruised more Saki could barely move feeling fuzzy from the impact. “Hitomi…”

The man continued on dragging Hitomi behind him with her unable to keep up the pace. When he came to an empty cell the vines opened the door for him and those holding her tossed her inside unceremoniously. She slid without resistance across the cement coming to a stop after faint ripping of cloth was heard. All that left her lips was a dull cough as though she was not awake. The cell door closed behind and the man left the warehouse.

Saki dragged herself across the floor to the cell bars that were closer to Hitomi. She struggled lifting her head up to see Hitomi, but she felt a little better seeing that Hitomi was still breathing. ‘She looks so drained. What did he do to her? Did he do this to all of them? What is with those vines…its like he can control them…’ Saki’s eyes had opened wide when her thoughts finally came together piecing the images of the assassin that attacked Yuki in the school yard and the man with the vines. ‘Their clothes are the same and that circle emblem on their shoulder too. Then he is like that assassin. Why is he not going after Yuki? Is he preparing since the other one lost?’ The questions that were spinning in her head made her feel weak again suddenly. She dropped her head to the floor no longer able to keep the strength up. ‘…Yuki…’

‘Back then it was different. I was so helpless that I couldn’t do anything to protect myself from the bullies. They always seemed to pick on me for the stupidest reasons. It was usually because I was different looking than they were. My father is Japanese, but my mother is American. Children can find anything to fight about.’

“Are you hurt Saki?” Yuki, age six, said after he beat up the bullies, age seven. He helped Saki stand back up and returned her toy back to her that the other boys had taken.

“Thank you, Yuki! I’m fine.” Saki turned around after nodding to Yuki and walked back to her sister, age five. “Here, Noriko. Yuki got back your doll!” She bent over showing it to Noriko who had been crying the entire time. Saki wiped away her tears when she stopped crying after seeing it in front of her.

‘I had tried to get her doll back from the bullies, but they were older than me. All I had was my mouth and it easily got me into trouble. But Yuki protected me as he did every time I got into trouble. Ever since we first met he was always standing between them and me so I didn’t get hurt. I never understood until later why he did it.’

As the sun went down they finished playing and stood up having been free to play without interruption. Saki and Noriko began walking back to their apartment with Yuki following alongside them. He walked with them to the fork in the street and then turned with them. Saki quickly came to a stop staring at him confused. “Did you forget, your house is up there, Yuki.”

“I want go home with you!”

“Is it okay?”

“Yeah, mom and dad are too busy with Jun.” Yuki walked up nonchalantly to encourage them to go ahead with him. Saki was not going to argue as she was happy with the idea of spending more time with Yuki.

‘He seemed happy then, but he would be looking for the next fight. Yet he only would when one of his friends was in trouble. Even though he seemed angry underneath it was only ever in defense that he fought. It was just me to start, but then others. As he grew we all looked to him to save us from our troubles, especially me. I ran to him, but things had to change.’

“Wow Yuki, you really saved me!” a friend of Yuki’s said.

“It’s alright. They were punks,” Yuki, age ten, said back to his friend. He ran his hands deep into his pockets and marched off away from the elementary school. His face was slightly red painting his rough angled face an almost rosy hue.

“Yuki! You heading home?” Saki, age ten, said as she rushed out of the school grounds with her long hair blowing behind her catching in her face a little. Once she had caught up to him she pulled the strains of hair out of her face letting them settle back.


“You should really stop picking so many fights, Yuki.”


“Yuki!” Saki narrowed her eyes in frustration knowing that he was ready for a fight and just needed a reason. Several older boys from the neighboring middle school stood in the sidewalk block their path. Saki stopped becoming hesitant from the looming glares that were etched across their faces. It was clear that they were looking for trouble and Yuki continued on past them as though they were not even in his way. Saki did not know what to think becoming almost embarrassed.

“Hey! You’re that tough kid from Nayoi aren’tcha?” The boys were becoming frustrated for being ignored by Yuki. “Hey, I’m talking to you!” Yuki continued down the sidewalk not even twitching. “You can’t ignore me!” The boy charged from the group with him going after Yuki with his fist held out. The fist had hit Yuki hard in the back of his head knocking him to the ground forcing his schoolbag to fly into the air. “Huh? Not so tough?” The boy kicked Yuki in the ribs getting a painful groan from him that seemed to draw out great pleasure for the middle school student.

‘He had been getting worse in his fighting, but would simply brush off those that were looking to fight him. If they came to him wanting to fight he just ignored them. He would go so far as to let them hit him and look like he didn’t care. I never understood. Yet if someone was in trouble he never hesitated a second carrying a grin the entire time.’

Saki tried to run through to help Yuki, but she was stopped by the other boys. “Yuki!” The boys grabbed her arms holding to back as she flailed struggling against them. “Help me, Yuki!” she said coming to tears. The words made it to his ears as he lay on the ground and his eyes snapped open wide. The boy’s leg that was going for another swing was suddenly brought to a stop by Yuki’s hand. Saki smiled in relief to see that he was not hurt.

‘I wasn’t in any real danger, but I knew if I said something he would fight back. I couldn’t let him just take it. It was then that I realized… I knew that it was me…’

All of the boys laid across the sidewalk bloodied and sore, but more wounded in pride for having been beaten by an elementary student. Yuki walked over to Saki helping her up from the ground where she had watched it all happened staring in surprise. She looked up at Yuki feeling sad suddenly. “Why?”

“I promised you. I would never let anyone make you cry.”

‘I knew that he would use me for his fights and I would use him to protect me. I couldn’t let that continue. I promised myself that day I would become stronger so that he didn’t have to protect me. So that he would be able to stop his fighting and I wouldn’t need to be saved. I promised myself that I wouldn’t need to be protected.’

“What?! Are you sure dear?” Saki’s mother said shocked by Saki out of the blue announcement.

Saki stared up at her mother determined and not willing to back down from what she had decided. “Yes! I want to learn martial arts!”

‘I was determined and mom tried many times to change my mind. But I was going to learn how to protect myself. I cut my long hair that I was so proud of and confirmed my resolve that night that I would change. I began taking classes when I was ten. Later I took up track in middle school and I still practice at the dojo today all so Yuki no longer has to fight. He can stay the way he is now.’

Saki opened her eyes feeling the strength returning back to her body. The pain across her back spiked with needles, but she bit through it to stand up. She did not have the luxury of lying on the ground while she was locked away.

From the far side of the warehouse wall the door unlocked and opened. The man covered in plants appeared once more walking down the aisle of cells. He came to stop in front of Saki’s cell staring at her with a hollow glow from the darkness behind the vines that covered his eyes.

Saki stared back the man not fearing what she was seeing having a better understanding now of what he was. There was some uncertainty still in her, but she was ready. ‘I don’t need you to keep that promise anymore. I can stand on my own. Yuki.’

To be continued…

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  1. Leon's Avatar
    And so it begins. I loved how you revealed more of Yuki's past in this chapter.
  2. Andromeda's Avatar
    Yuki and Saki are very closely tied together. So it makes sense that you would learn more about him as you learn about Saki. They spent most of their childhood together.