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Shift - Chapter 20 - Waking the Courage

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‘…Yuki…’ Saki stepped forward towards the man showing that she was not afraid of him and willing to go with him unchallenged. She had questions of her own that she needed to discover and cooperating with him could get her closer. ‘I have to get Hitomi out of this…’ When the cell door opened and the vines came to grab Saki she stepped forward letting them wrap around her arm and waist. She was not as covered in plants as Hitomi had been making her believe that there was a degree of respect that she was being given for her attitude. Saki walked out of the cell on her leash that she had been granted and stood next to him waiting for him to move.

The man closed the cell door and began walking down the aisle followed up by Saki a moment later. All of the others trapped held back half trying to keep from sight and half puzzled by Saki’s reactions. ‘…I’ll come back for you…’

Chapter 20 – Waking the Courage

The heavy steel door at the far end of the warehouse that had only been heard and barely seen stood before them ajar waiting. The man of vines pulled the door open giving Saki the lead for the moment. He followed behind her bringing the door to a tight close and placing the thick locking mechanism into place.

The room behind the door was bright from an exposed bulb hanging from the ceiling by only the electrical wiring. It was accompanied by several other bulbs attached at the walls of the room painting all of the surfaces in a bleached white. The amount of light made it difficult to see details or judge the scale of the room. At the center of the room, there were two chairs. One of the chairs had straps at the arm rest and back of the chair as well as where the legs would lay. The other was a simple metal chair that was just out of the main pool of light from the ceiling.

Saki looked back towards the door out of the corner of her eye when the echoing noise of the door behind her pounded against the wall. She tried to look around the room in the short moments that she had, but it proved to be futile. ‘It looks like an interrogation with all of the lights and the chair. It’s making it so hot…’

The man passed by her, keeping the vines wrapped around her, going to the chair that would be meant for Saki. He arranged the straps attached to the chair getting it prepared for use. Once it was readied the vines pulled on Saki forcing her to walk towards the chair. The intention was made clear before by the appearance. Saki had cooperated so far that she was not going to start disobeying even though there was a heavy uncertainty weighing on her shoulders. ‘What’s he planning?’ She sat down in the chair allowing him to tie her down, but she was curious to know the purpose if it was going to be an interrogation.

He released the vines from Saki when he was finished with her. Afterwards, the man walked over to the second chair sitting down staring through the void of the black gaps in the vines at Saki. A minute in silence passed before a light shined between them turning into form. Out of the ground came a rectangular box that slowly morphed into a rounded smoothed surface that attached itself with a bolted leg to the cement ground. The still changing form soon became a monitor screen and panel with several holes along the back pointing towards Saki. There was a semi-organic appearance in the strange object that was made from plastic and metal.

The man leaned forward placing his hands on the panel that lit up upon his contact glowing from beneath. In front of him a static filled screen shined in his face awaiting an image. His fingers tapped across the panel making a series of low noises before a final louder beep could be heard that signaled an accepted task. Out of the holes came wires with a life of their own flying towards Saki setting her off guard. The wires expanded at the end into flat circles that attached themselves to Saki’s forehead and face.

‘What’s going on? What’s he going to do to me?’ Saki did not feel any pain from the wires, but the strange sense that something was about to happen that carried a black dread. She heard beeping sounds from out of the thick light that surrounded her preventing her from seeing. The uncertainty that she had grew to fill her entire body weighing her down and making her start to sweat. ‘I can handle this…’

The static on the monitor warped for a moment and cycled starting to warm up in preparation. The final commands were input into the machine by the man. The screen sharply snapped to an image of Saki along with data and vitals running across the bottom. A jolt from the machine sparked through into Saki shaking her body and widening her eyes suddenly as she felt like a needle was being stabbing into her eye. The stabbing pain pierced through scrapping along her mind making her pull and turn in the straps trying to get the through the pain. ‘It feels…like…something is…invading me…I can’t…stop it…’

The first wave of pain came to a stop giving Saki a moment to breath. She leaned against her bindings panting heavily trying to recover herself knowing that it would not be the end. ‘What was that? What is he doing to me?’ Saki could feel the sweat over her body soaking into her cloths. It had only been a few seconds, but it was the most excruciating pain she had ever felt before. ‘I feel it returning…’ Saki grounded her teeth together making them whine under the pressure and drip blood. The next wave was like dozens of needles all stabbing into her from different sides probing deeper into her brain and twisting uncaring through each corner ripping up everything as it passed. She tried to hold back her voice, but the pain was overcoming her threshold to withstand.

On the monitor were displayed grainy images to the man that poorly lit his eyes that hid behind the vines. Each of the images did not last for long, but showed a young Yuki playing as well as Saki’s mother. There were pictures of a classroom filled with elementary students. An annoyed twist in the vines rolled across his face as he began to manipulate the panel. The images began to gray and blurred suddenly rapidly changing.

Striking pain racked through her head pushing deeper fighting against Saki’s weakening resolve. The surge that struck her broke the last efforts she had to hold back in silence her suffering bringing tears and screams. ‘I can’t…take this…my head is…being pulled apart…’ Saki tried to pull at the chair to get free from the invasion, but it was too strong for her. It was too much for her to endure anymore. It had to stop or she would die.

The images on the screen slowed down once more becoming clearer showing an older Yuki and classroom from her high school. A pleased roll in the vines poured out as the monitor flipped through images into the depths of Saki’s mind reaching closer to the present. It was becoming clear that the subject was weakening making it easier to scan, but not much time remained. The monitor went through pictures quickly. Then everything came to a stop suddenly sitting on image that had Yuki and Ayumi walking in a school hall together.

All of the pain came to an abrupt end for Saki as she was able to drop back in the chair slumped over with the straps being the only thing keeping her from falling over. ‘Is it over? I can’t feel…anything…’ Saki tried to pull herself together, but nothing was moving for her. She could not even feel the sweat that was thinly coating her entire skin. Every nerve ending on her body was raw and ringing. It was as though static was flowing through her. ‘I-I…Hitomi…’

The man stood up from his chair letting the monitor and everything with it retract and disappear into the ground. He stepped over to the chair that held Saki beginning to undo the straps on her. His vines were surrounding her waiting until she was free to be taken away. When the last strap on her Saki’s leg was being loosened Saki eyes came into focus and summoned her body back together. Her leg ripped through the strap, already nearly freed, striking the man in the chest knocking him back. Saki stood up on the chair using it for height, since it was anchor to the ground by bolts, launching herself with her knee up connecting it with the man’s chest up to his chin. He fell backwards over his chair to the ground with the vines laying still. ‘He’s still awake… got to hurry…’

Saki came to a landing on the floor rolling into the wall not having planned after throwing everything she had left into her leg. It had been enough to momentarily stun the man, but she knew from Yuki and his fight that the power remains until they are dead or unconscious. ‘Anything? This light is too bright…’ Saki pulled herself up while she scanned the room trying to get a better view, but still only seeing the bleached walls. She ran her hands over the walls feeling out for anything that she could find until she discovered glass. Saki ran over picking up the metal chair that the man had been using and threw it at the glass scattering it.

The hole breathed fresh cool air into the humid room and gave her an exit. Saki climbed up without a second thought getting halfway through the window before her leg was grabbed by a vine from the man starting to act. ‘No! I got to get out!’ Saki struggled against the plant that was tightly wrapped around her ankle pulling at her. Her waist that was on the window seal pressed against the broken glass tearing into her school uniform. Saki braced her arms against the outside wall putting all of her weight against the leg feeling it start to stretch slightly like it would pop out on her. She bit through the pain knowing it was paling in comparison to what she had already been through. The struggle gained Saki more ground getting her body almost out of the window. On the ground out of the corner of her eye a shard of glass that she broke was in reach of her.

She lowered her arm down fighting against the strain on her to reach the glass. Her fingers rolled over the edge bringing it a little closer to her grasp. A bit more stretching was all Saki needed as her fingers quickly picked up the shard. Saki bent up to the window getting the glass against the vine that was holding on to her and cut through it using it like a knife quickly dropping her to the grass. Out of the window countless vines suddenly appeared grasping out for her. Saki rolled across the grass getting up to her feet and running away from the warehouse as fast as her legs could take her.

The man pulled the vines back from the window looking out from the hole watching her disappear into the street. There seemed to be a satisfied and uncaring noise coming out of him as he turned away and walked to the door to the main warehouse.

“And I ran until I heard the train and got on it taking it back here. I was trying to get to your house, Yuki. I needed to tell you what had happened.” Saki leaned back against the couch becoming a little tired from her story. The memories of what happened to her still were fresh and familiar. Her body still was singing from the attack by that man.

Hiroshi coughed to himself and stood up stretching his legs out. “Well that was quite the tale. All little weird, but sounds like a serial kidnapper to me.”

“Oh dear…” Ayumi said leaning in on Saki with tearing up eyes as though she was able to feel the pain that she was feeling. “You’re so strong, Saki… I don’t know if I could have been so brave.”

Saki and Yuki stared at Ayumi sweating in embarrassment before snapping back to normal when Ayumi looked back confused at them. “You should get some rest, Saki,” Yuki said.

Saki looked down at Yuki catching his hand balling up into a fist. ‘He’s going to go…’ She tried to put on a simple smile for everyone.

Yuki stood up from the front of the couch looking around the living room for something. He stepped around everyone leaving them a little puzzled as his mind turned. A pad of paper on the shelf on the wall disappeared into his hand and he returned to Saki’s side. “Do you remember where the warehouse is?”

“Yuki?!” Hiroshi said in shock thinking what the others were soon thinking as well. “You can’t be thinking that you-“

“No…” Yuki said with a narrowed face stopping Hiroshi in mid-sentence. He fought against his hand from breaking the pencil that he was holding. Yuki smoothed out his face and looked back to Hiroshi with a smile. “You think I’m going to go try to get that guy that kidnapped and hurt Saki, right? I wouldn’t stand a chance against a criminal like that. I’m too weak to do anything directly. But I can still call the police and give them directions. It’s the least that I can do. Right, Saki?” Yuki looked down at her keeping his gentle smile.

She had seen that smile before and it would have calmed her. However, she could see past it in the shaking of his hands. ‘He’s fighting it. He’s going to go. It’s another assassin after him.’ Saki smiled back at him nodding in agreement. “Right, Yuki. Hitomi’s still there. She needs to be rescued along with all of those other people.”

Yuki nodded back to her and took down what Saki could remember of the location of the warehouse. It was not exact, but it would be enough. He put the pencil on the table and stood up. “Thanks. I got it. I’ll give the police a call now.” Yuki walked away from the center of the room, but stopped turning back to everyone. “Hiroshi?”


“We don’t have enough in the first aid kit to treat all of the injures that Saki has. Could you run down to the store and get some more supplies? Ayumi, can you watch Saki?”

Hiroshi stared at Yuki for a moment in silence and then nodded back to him. “Alright. I’ll be back as fast as I can!”

Ayumi agreed to Yuki’s request allowing Yuki to go into the kitchen. Hiroshi rushed to the front door and left the house running down the store. Once Saki had lain back down, Ayumi walked into the kitchen catching Yuki tearing the paper out of the pad and shoving it in his pocket. “You coming?” Yuki said to Ayumi as though he was expecting to her.

“Yeah. I’m not going to let you face an assassin alone in your state.”

“Figured you say something like that.” He smiled back to her feeling the burning in his hands growing stronger. Yuki walked back into the living room staring at Saki sleeping on the couch. He burned the image into his mind to keep as a reminder. ‘I’ll make him pay for doing this to her.’ Yuki walked to the front door where he was greeted by Jun along with Ken at the top of the stairs. Jun clung on to Yuki’s school uniform with a concerned expression plainly planted on his face. “Don’t worry, Jun. I’m just going out to the store to get things for Saki. Can you keep an eye on her for me?”

Jun narrowed his eyes as though he did not agree with what Yuki was doing. His small hands pulled tighter on Yuki’s clothes wrinkling them.

Yuki knelt down looking Jun in the eyes directly. “Hey…it’s alright. You don’t need to worry.” He could see that Jun was still not willing to let him go. Jun was speaking to him and Yuki knew he was against him leaving the house. “Jun, please. I need you to watch Saki for me. This is important to me. You understand? I need you to do this for me, okay?”

Jun was fighting the conflict that was beset in his mind and voice. However, Jun let go of Yuki looking down at the floor.

“Thank you, Jun. I’ll be going now. Watch Saki for me.” Jun nodded to Yuki not keeping eye contact with him. Yuki stood up as Ayumi opened the door for them. He waved to his brothers and walked outside closing the door behind him.

Saki laid on the couch with her eyes closed with a cross frown on her face hearing Yuki leaving. “Yuki you idiot…” she said softly.

Ayumi waited for Yuki in the street. When he met her she turned looking down to the city that was visible from the hill of the road in the neighborhood. “Ready?”

“Yeah… I’ll make him suffer for hurting Saki! This is supposed to be between him and me. He’s dragging in innocent people that have nothing to do with this. I can’t forgive him for that.”

To be continued…

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