11 • INDISCRETIONS
The door burst open and slammed against the adjacent bookshelf on the interior wall. The man that stood heaving in the doorway was tall and slender. The library was dimly lit and did little to reveal his features. As soon as he appeared, he was gone again. Panting and running with heavy steps, I could hear him rampaging down the hallway.
She dropped her book and looked up at me with a stunned expression. I bent my eyebrows in response and opened my mouth to speak just as she stood up from her chair and ran out of the room. I held my mouth open for a moment to make it clear that I really did have something to say, but no one was there to benefit from my exaggeration. So, I stood up and threw my book on the chair behind me.
“Now what?” I asked out loud.
I went after her only to find an empty hallway. I turned right, as I had seen her and the man before her do. All of the doors were still shut as I ran past them. Finally, I reached the stairwell at the end of the hallway. I frantically looked up and down for any sign of movement. Leaning on the handrail, I tried to breathe much needed oxygen into my lungs in giant gasps. I stopped and held my breath to listen for any sounds of the chase. There was nothing. There were no footsteps, no panting breaths, no slamming doors, and no creaking floors. It was perfectly silent. The emptiness settled in around me and made me feel more alone in the house than I had been before meeting my companion. I panicked. I had lost her.
“Tresa!” I screamed as loud and long as my lungs would allow. The sound echoed up and down the stairwell. Only the emptiness came back to me. “Tresa! Where are you?”
I stepped back and slammed my back against the wall, sliding down to the floor. I sat huddled in the dark and let the emptiness consume me. It moved in and made the air cold. I had to find her, but the more I let the emptiness in, the more impossible it became for me to stand. I was crippled by the weight of my own despair. My head was pressed against my knees in a posture of defeat. Out of the emptiness, a voice grew into a whisper and repeated itself over and over. I couldn’t make out what it was saying, but it sounded close. I lifted my head and listened.
“Please come back to me. Please come back to me. Please come back to me. Please come back…”
I crushed my mouth shut and leapt to my feet in shock. The words were the same as the ones spoken by the woman we had heard in the security room, but the voice was my own.
“What the fu…”
I was cut off by the distant sound of a door slamming closed. The sound hurdled down from above and before my brain could fully process the data, my legs were carrying me up the stairs. I reached the next floor and peered down the long hallway. Again, I was confronted by the emptiness. I hurriedly walked to the first door and pushed it open. The room was lit by a single hanging bulb that seemed to bounce illumination around the room in strange arcs. The room itself had no shape. It stretched and closed in at impossible angles. The room looked like it was collapsing in on itself. Directly in front of me, a figure was standing in a small doorway. I took a step forward and at the same time the short man in front of me did the same. I froze and so did the man. He raised a hand just as I did the same and I stopped again, stunned. I inched forward and squinted, trying to make out the form of my doppelgänger. The light slowly gave his face form and features. I leaned in a little more and watched the man continue to mimic me. Suddenly, I found myself staring at the form and features of what I suspected was my own face. It was the first time I had clearly seen my own face since finding myself in this house. With no memory I what I looked like, I had nothing to compare the image to. It wasn’t what I expected. The man staring back at me looked much younger than someone of my years. His cheeks were slightly sunken in and there was a heaviness around his eyes as evidenced by the prominent crows feet in the corners. The face was covered in bruises in various states of healing. Several thin paper bandages covered broken skin under his right eye and a square of folded gauze poked out from underneath Tresa’s makeshift head dressing just above his left ear. The injuries seemed too extensive to be the result of the clock room door incident. What had happened to me? Why couldn’t I remember? There was something off about the face. It wasn’t entirely unfamiliar, but it didn’t align with the identity that I had begun to carve out for myself here. I looked around the room and saw dozens of twisted and warped reflections of the face. Mirrors. The walls of the room were mirrors, jutting and retreating in a chaotic feat of geometry fit for the Pythagoreans. I waved my arms around like an idiot just to be sure. Mirrors…check. Idiot…check.
I didn’t have time to waste. I left the door open as I fled the mirror-filled room and ran to the next door in the hallway. “Tresa,” I shouted again, hoping for a response. Nothing.
The adjacent door was already standing wide open and revealed the security room that we had been in just a little while ago. The room was empty, filled only by the flickering pale light from the wall of monitors. I looked at the next two doors down the hall. The second one was the clock room. My attention was distracted by the light from the monitors glaring on the face of the metal filing cabinets on the opposite wall. The light danced across the surface as the images filtered through the room. Neither of us had looked in the cabinets when we were in the room before. My investigations thus far had been half-assed at best. My journal was full of omissions and incomplete findings. I knew that I needed to find Tresa but something compelled me to enter. I walked into the small security office and pulled open the drawer of the nearest filing cabinet. It slid open smoothly.
The contents of the drawer shifted and clattered as I jerked the drawer fully open. Inside, I found stacks of small videocassettes, some labeled and some not. There was a red plastic binder standing upright adjacent to one of the stacks of the videotapes. I pulled it out and flipped open the front cover. It was a log for the security room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary about it. I skimmed through the pages. Dates and times matched up with cassette numbers and labels. Some of the labels were missing and the boxes in the “Initials” column of each page were all blank. It didn’t strike me as odd. Incompetence and lazy record keeping were as real to me as gravity and income tax. As I began to close the cover of the binder, a date on one of the labels caught my eye. 1979. Who would keep security tapes from that far back? I flipped the binder wide open again and browsed the other labels. The years continued in sequence, spanning from 1977 until 1980. I set the binder on top of the cabinet and opened the next drawer. Sure enough, there was another binder shoved along the inside of the cabinet. This time, the binder was orange and covered the years 1981 through 1984. I pulled open the remaining five drawers and examined the logs inside. Each one covered a similar period, advancing forward in time.
I pulled one of the videotapes labeled “December 1984” out of its sleeve and blew several layers of dust from the surface of the black plastic. I turned around and scanned the console for the tape deck when I heard the squeak of rubber soles followed by a cascade of large thuds and crashes from down the hall. I set the tape down on the console and rushed down the hall toward the source of the sounds. I passed the open door of the mirror room and arrived again at the stairwell. I looked down the stairs at the landing and saw a tall man laying in a contorted pile across the bottom few steps. He was moving slightly and groaning in a deep muddled voice. His eyes were closed, but he moved his head back and forth as if he was surveying his surroundings. I darted down the stairs and knelt down next to him on the landing.
“Take it easy. Can you move everything?” I asked in a low voice. I didn’t want to startle him.
He blinked erratically and then slowly opened his eyes wide. His expression turned sour and he scrambled to move away from me. He didn’t get far along the floor before he succumbed to the pain he was obviously feeling and gave up. He let out a huge growl and dropped his head back to the landing with a loud thud. He closed his eyes and wore a pained expression on his leathery face, which was covered in tiny folds and wrinkles.
“Dou shita?” he said in an uncertain voice.
“You don’t speak English. Fantastic.”
He opened his eyes and scowled at me as if he recognized the sarcasm in my voice. He was wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and a pair of beaten up old Chucks, all black. The weathered look of his face placed him in his 50’s, but he appeared slightly younger in his simple clothes.
“Up?” I said in an over-enunciated question, making exaggerated upward gestures with my arms.
He began to reach up with his right hand, but then quickly stopped and retracted it as if he had just remembered something. He laid his right arm across his stomach and reached up with his left instead. I grabbed hold and pulled him clumsily to his feet. He steadied himself on my shoulder as he straightened his back. He was enormous, at least six inches taller than me, but slender. He kept his right arm wrapped around his midsection with his palm against his stomach.
“Is your stomach okay?” I questioned slowly, pointing at him and patting my stomach.
He nodded and said, “okay…okay.”
He finally seemed comfortable again on his own legs and he let up on my shoulder. Aside from a few nicks and scrapes here and there, he had come out of the fall in relatively good shape. Nothing looked broken or seriously injured, though he continued to keep his right arm pressed against his torso.
“Name. What is your name?” I asked, trying futilely to make a gesture for the word “name.” I had no idea what I was doing.
A pained expression crossed his face again as if trying to recall his name was causing him physical discomfort.
“I’m Charlie,” I said, trying to rescue him from the effects of the house.
“Close enough. How about some water?”
He wore a blank expression as he waited for further explanation.
“Water.” I used the unmistakable drinking gesture.
A nervous look emerged and he nodded hesitantly.
“C’mon,” I said, gesturing for him to follow me.
We walked down two flights of stairs and entered the dining area adjacent to the kitchen. He followed slowly behind me. I occasionally looked back to see how he was fairing after the fall, but he seemed to have no problem walking. So, we pressed on into the kitchen. He hovered in the entryway while I looked for a glass in the cabinets above the island. I took down two glasses and filled them both with water from the tap. I remembered that San Francisco city water was surprisingly good. At least it had been in my San Francisco. I handed him one of the glasses and took a sip from mine. It was surprisingly good. He didn’t drink. He just held the glass in his left hand with the same nervous expression on his face.
“Not thirsty? Are you hungry?” I was basically talking to myself. “Food?” I said, patting my stomach again.
I didn’t wait for a reply. I stepped toward the refrigerator and took hold of the handle. As I began to pull, he dropped the glass and violently slammed the door shut again with his left hand. It broke my grip on the handle and knocked the refrigerator back a few inches.
“What the hell?” I yelled, surprised and confused.
He kept his hand against the door and said, “no.”
“Well, you could’ve just said that. At any rate, I am hungry. So, if you don’t mind.” I placed my hand on the handle of the door again.
“No.” He didn’t move an inch.
“What are you worried about? There is no Zuul, only Charlie.” He had no idea what I was saying. What a waste of a good Ghostbusters reference.
He kept his tight-jawed expression and pulled his right arm away from his midsection. He held it up between us and turned his hand over. I retched slightly at the sight of it. His index, middle, and ring fingers and the upper half of his palm had strange looking burns covering them. The flesh was blistered and charred and bordered by sickly yellow skin that extended to his wrist. Amid the burns, there were several open wounds where the skin had been consumed completely, revealing grotesque layers of yellow and pink tissue that oozed some kind of dark discharge. It hardly looked human.
“Holy shit! What is that? What happened?”
He dropped his arm back to his stomach and sighed.
“Your hand,” I said, repeatedly pointing at the arm huddled around his waist. “How…did…it…happen?” I shrugged and exaggerated the confusion on my face. “…h-o-w…”
He pushed me gently away from the refrigerator and started rummaging through the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen. I thought I should offer to help him find whatever it was he was looking for, but I realized that it would probably take twice as long for him to explain with gestures and pantomime as it would if I just let him look on his own. The longer it took, the louder and clumsier his search became. It soon became clear that I had mistaken clumsiness for violence. He was clearly not a man of great patience. He was frustrated. He ripped open drawers and flung their contents across the countertops, shouting short foreign syllables in staccato. Finally, he muttered something in his native tongue and held up a spatula. Considering how vigorous and thorough his search had been, the spatula struck me as somewhat anticlimactic.
He positioned himself between the fridge and me and slowly opened the door toward me. From where I was standing, the open door blocked my view of the refrigerator’s interior. What was he doing? Using only his left arm, he carefully reached into the fridge with the spatula. After some scraping and clanging around inside, he delicately retracted his arm and revealed a book balancing on the spatula. His arm shook slightly while trying to balance the old-looking hardcover on the flimsy metal utensil. For some reason, when I saw how cautiously he was treating the book, my first instinct was to freeze. On some evolutionary level, I was convinced that the book was dangerous. Monkey see, monkey do. I felt ridiculous. Certainly, the book was not about to explode. My attention shifted back to the mutilated arm that he kept wrapped around his torso and I reconsidered my lax in caution; maybe there was something to this evolution business after all.
He set the book down on the island countertop and removed the spatula, kicking the refrigerator door shut with his foot. Next, he slipped the spatula between the pages. I watched in silence and took a step back. It was undoubtedly one of the oddest things I had ever seen. And I had seen a Morimura show at the Friedman Gallery. This was the same; I couldn’t look away. With great care, he slowly opened the volume and held the pages down against the countertop with the spatula. The inside of the book was a mess. The pages had huge holes in them as if they had been simply scooped out like pumpkin guts. What remained of the pages was discolored, scarred, and illegible. There was a thick, black, strangely textured substance that was covering most of the interior of the book. It looked like mold and clung to the ruined pages of the text. I took a step forward to get a better look, even though I didn’t really want to see more. It was exactly like the Morimura show. As I leaned in, he raised his elbow to my chest and pressed me away from the book.
“No,” he said sternly. He set the spatula down on the counter and took his right arm away from his torso again to show me the burns on his hand and fingers. He pointed to the black mold-like substance on the book and then at his mangled hand.
“That’s what did this?” I asked, pointing at the mold.
A thought started in my head and then exited my mouth halfway through. Did he put the, “book in the fridge?”
He looked at me quizzically. Even if he’d had a native command of English, he would still have had no idea what I was trying to say. Such was my abuse of the conversational narrative. I explained myself in gesture and waited for the grand look of recognition. To my surprise, it came immediately.
He nodded in quick jerks and said, “…yes.”
His rounded pronunciation of the word excluded the “y” sound entirely. It sounded more like he had individually pronounced the letters “e” and “s.” However, his English was far superior to my…my? Well, he was obviously of Asian decent and, considering the recurring setting of the books in the library, I decided to go with Japanese. His English was much better than my Japanese. I could hardly throw stones. The truth was I had no idea what language he spoke or even where he had come from. The language barrier would make said information difficult to extract. First things first, I had to deal with the literature-eating sludge on the countertop.
“Where did you get this book?” With both hands, I pointed at the floor and synchronized my gesture with my question-intoned syllables, “in…the…kit…chen?”
He smiled, repeated my gesture, and said, “kit…chen.”
Dammit. He didn’t get it. Next, I pointed at the book, “book…” then, at him, “you…” then I repeated my question gesture, “kit…chen?”
He thought about it for a minute. Then, he held up his hands and said, “no.” He pointed up toward the ceiling, thrusting his arm up and down.
He widened his eyes and shook his head slightly.
“Uhhh…” I pointed at the book on the counter and said, “book.” Then, I raced around the kitchen, running my open hands along the cabinets and walls as I went, “books…books…books…books.”
He began nodding rapidly and pointing toward the ceiling again, “sou sou sou sou.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s go,” I said, ending my full body library pantomime in the kitchen entryway and giving him the thumb over the shoulder routine. “First, we need to find a first aid kit and do something about your hand.”
As I turned to lead the way, he grabbed me by the shoulder with his huge hand and stopped me dead in my tracks. When I looked back, he was saying something in Japanese and gesturing toward the open book on the countertop. He held his hands out in front of him palms up, asking me what to do with the book.
“Leave it. There’s nobody here but…” halfway through the sentence, I remembered Tresa. “Wait! Did you see a black woman in a suit chasing after you before?” He didn’t have time to respond before I dove in again. “Upstairs,” pointing up, “woman,” gesturing breasts, “black,” circling my face with my hand, “chasing,” pantomiming running, “you,” I finished with my finger outstretched toward him. I waited.
He raised one eyebrow and repeated the breast gesture. It was the obvious one to pick out. Then, he slowly repeated the circular gesture around his face and said, “bu-ra-ku?”
“Yeah, did you see her?” I asked pointing to my eyes.
He narrowed his eyes and shook his head in response to the question. Either he didn’t see her or he had no idea what I was talking about. At this point, neither option was likely to be helpful. I needed to find Tresa, but I couldn’t just abandon him in such a state. The burns on his hand were serious.
“Okay. Screw the library. We need to get you some first aid and then find Tresa…”
“To-re-sa?” he asked in staggered syllables, cutting me off.
“Yeah. Do you know her? Do you know where she is?”
“Toresa no ie?”
“Toresa ha-u-su…house,” he spit in frustration.
“Yes. She’s in the house…somewhere.”
I didn’t wait for him to respond before I started off toward the stairs. I wondered where to find a first aid kit. None of the rooms I had explored were likely to have one. The security room seemed like the best place to look. I never looked back to see if he was following, but I could hear his heavy steps close behind me. We climbed the stairs back to landing where I first found him and up to the third floor. We headed into the hallway and before we reached the security room, I heard his footsteps stop. I turned around to see what had happened. He was standing in the open doorway of the mirror room with a puzzled look on his face. I backtracked and leaned up against the wall near the door.
“Yeah, I don’t get it either.”
He looked over at me with a pale face and said something in Japanese, pointing in at the room with his left hand. I leaned around the corner and looked into the room. It looked the same as it had before, but the mirrors were empty. He was standing exactly where I had been standing when I saw my reflection and thought it was another person. Now, the only image in the mirrors was me, leaning halfway out from behind the wall. He had no reflection. What did that mean? I didn’t believe in vampires. I reached into my pocket and took out the journal I was carrying. I held it out, gesturing for him to take it. As he reached out to take it from me, I looked at the mirrors and held the journal up, waving it back and forth slowly. The journal cast no reflection either. The only thing the mirrors showed was me, waving my empty hand around in the air. I shoved the journal back into my pocket and, looking only at the mirror, put my hand into the empty space next to me. My hand connected with his shoulder and stopped, but in the mirror, my hand just stopped in midair. He looked at me again as if waiting for an explanation.
“I got nothin’.”
I stepped into the room and toward the mirror that was immediately in front of us. I walked slowly and cautiously. The dim light and strange shape of the room made me nervous and I couldn’t tell how far from or close to me objects in the room were. I held my hands out in front of me as my reflection got bigger and bigger. My hands finally met with the cold glass surface. I ran my hands along the smooth flat mirror, looking for something unusual. There was nothing strange about it. I ran my fingers along the edges. Adjacent to the edges, there was another mirror; and another and another. The walls of the room itself were mirrors. They weren’t embedded in the walls or hanging from the walls. The mirrors were the walls, and they were crafted in various shapes and sizes that made up the unusual geometry of the room. It didn’t make any sense and it didn’t seem to serve any purpose. What could possibly have been the difference between my new companion and I that would cause an optical illusion like this? The only difference I could see were the burns on his hand. The burns. I was getting distracted again.
“C’mon. Let’s get out of here,” I said, turning and narrowly avoiding the hanging bare bulb with my head.
He followed me into the hallway and down to the security room. I pulled out one of the office chairs and rolled it toward him, gesturing for him to sit down. He hesitantly sat, his eyes transfixed on the TV monitors. I ransacked the filing cabinets one after one, looking for something to treat and bandage his hand. In the far right bottom drawer, I found a long heavy flashlight, a pair of walkie-talkies, a key, another 1977 penny, and a first aid kit. Jackpot.
“Hey,” I said, holding up the kit and smiling.
He didn’t smile or say a word. He looked back at the monitors and stared blankly at them. I rooted through the first aid kit, looking for something to put on his burns. He scanned the monitors and played with a few of the faders and knobs on the console.
“Zinc oxide ointment. Hmmm…sounds good,” I said, talking to myself.
I figured it would probably be better to wash the burns with water before bandaging his hand. I didn’t want to drag him back down to the kitchen with me. Besides, he was glued to the TV screens like an eight-year old watching Saturday morning cartoons. All he needed was a bowl of cereal and a blanket to complete the image.
“Hey. Stay…here. In this room…stay!” I said with stern gestures.
He hardly seemed interested and just nodded faintly as he turned his attention back to the screens. I walked back out to the hall, leaving the door open. I headed back downstairs and into the kitchen. The half-eaten book was still lying open on the island countertop. It was almost completely covered in the black mold now and barely resembled a book at all. I tossed a small dishrag over the mess and started looking through the drawers and cabinets for a clean towel and a large bowl. I navigated the kitchen with some difficulty, stepping on and tripping over the remnants of my companion’s spatula search that were strewn across the floor. I found a drawer with towels in it. I took one out and sniffed it, the same method I used to determine the condition of socks and underwear. The towel smelled fine and I continued my search for a bowl. Underneath the sink, I found a large glass bowl that would do nicely. I set it in the sink and turned on the faucet. The sound of crickets and the bell of a streetcar drew my attention up to the window over the sink. It was dark outside. Streetlights were illuminating the little slice of civilization outside that may or may not have been San Francisco. There were people passing by down on the street, walking their dogs, carrying their groceries, and talking on their cell phones. It looked like I could just walk right outside and back into my hometown, but the memory of what happened at the front door was still fresh in my mind and told me that it was pointless to try.
As I watched the passers-by, I noticed a small boy hiding timidly behind a light post on the opposite side of the street. He was staring at me with obvious interest. His hair was short and brown. He was wearing shorts and a hooded sweatshirt. I couldn't see his feet at all; they were engulfed by a hard line of shadows cast in contrast by the nearby streetlight. He had small glasses with rectangular lenses that sat too far down on his nose. The entire time I was surveying his appearance, his gaze was fixed on me. I stared back, smiled, and gave a little wave. He smiled and stepped out in front of the post. Then, he gave a big smile and his little body perked up as if he had been struck by lightning. He started waving vigorously back at me with his big grin still drawn across his face.
The splash of cold water on my pants and shoes shook me out of the exchange and I looked down at the sink to see the bowl and sink both overflowing. The bowl was covering the drain and water was spilling over the countertop and on to the floor, soaking the front of my pants and my socks.
I quickly turned the faucet off and lifted the bowl off of the drain, spilling even more water on myself. I watched to make sure the water was draining properly and then looked back up at the boy. He was gone. Creepy. However, I now knew that the people outside were aware of me and that I could interact with them. There was a real world out there. I just couldn’t get to it. I had to figure out a way, but I was getting distracted again.
“Priority one: treat the Japanese guy’s burns. Priority two: find Tresa. Priority three: find a way out of here. Got it!” I was giving myself orders like some kind of schizophrenic drill sergeant. “On the double!” I went with it.
The bowl was heavy and the water sloshed around precariously as I carried it slowly back upstairs. I lost a few drops here and there along the way, but I made it back to the security room with most of the contents still in the bowl and the towel slung over my shoulder.
“Okay. Let’s do this,” I said as I shuffled back into the room.
He was sitting in the same chair as when I had left, but there was sound coming from the speakers on the console. The volume was loud and he didn’t even hear me come into the room. I set the bowl and towel down on the top of the filing cabinets and pulled out the other office chair. He jumped when I entered his periphery. He obviously hadn’t seen me come in.
“Sorry. Sorry,” I said, sitting down. “What’s this?” I asked as I pointed to one of the speakers.
He pointed at the other speaker and then at one of the monitors that had previously been off. It was on and showing what looked like home video footage shot from a first-person perspective. The scene showed the interior of a house as the camera jerked this way and that. There was a medium-sized Christmas tree in one corner of the room on which the cameraman seemed to focus most of his attention. There were voices and music playing in the background. I picked the music out immediately, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” I couldn’t stand Christmas music, but it was hard to hate Bing. The voices, one close and one distant, were both somewhat high-pitched. Once was clearly feminine and the other was not so clearly masculine. The cameraman’s voice was that of a young boy. My Japanese companion and I watched the scene unfold in silence:
“Mom…why do we have to go to church?” said the voice behind the camera. The camera was still fixed on the Christmas tree. The tree was brimming with lights of different colors and decorations that bowed the fragile branches.
“Because it’s important to your dad,” yelled the woman from off camera. She sounded like she was in another room.
The cameraman groaned and the camera fell over on its side with a thud. The floor was a rug of oriental design and looked very dirty in the foreground.
“He’s not my dad…” the cameraman whimpered in a hushed voice.
“I heard that!”
Footsteps made by high heels echoed from off camera and got steadily louder until they became muffled by the rug and a woman’s shoes and legs came into view on the camera.
“C’mon. Get up, please,” she said warmly.
A tiny arm came into view and she reached down, took hold of it, and pulled the camera back to a normal orientation. She knelt down in front of the camera, but her head was still out of frame. The camera was focused on her neck and shoulders. She was slender and wore a low cut brown dress with white and beige borders that hung from her bony figure.
“Look. I know you’re still getting used to this, but you have to give him a chance. He’s really trying, you know. Things will change a little, but I love you and that will never change. I will always be here for you. You know that, right?” she asked, the muscles in her neck contracting and sliding around under her pale skin as she spoke.
“Yeah, I know,” the little cameraman’s voice was wrapped in the intonation of a young boy’s disgust for all things affectionate. “But I don’t wanna go to church again. I don’t understand anything the bathrobe guy says.”
She laughed pleasantly and her shoulders shook, “Priest. He’s called a priest. And, honestly, I don’t understand anything he says either. But Peter really wants us to go with him,” she paused and gave a little sigh. “Will you go for me?”
She reached her hand up over the camera and jerked it back and forth. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now go get dressed, okay?”
“Okaaaaay…” repeated the cameraman as the camera spun around and ran up a flight of hardwood stairs, stomping loudly.
The camera turned down a hallway at the top of the stairs and passed several doors before entering a room on the right side of the hall. The bed was haphazardly made and covered by a Transformers bedspread. There were various toys and clothes strewn about the room and the walls were covered in homemade drawings of every kind. The camera jostled around rapidly. The view was briefly obstructed by blue material being pulled up and over the lens and then again by brown material from above. The cameraman was changing his shirt over the camera. It was odd, but not out of the realm of strangeness for a young boy. Next, the camera angled down at his little legs as he pulled on some navy slacks and unmatched socks. The camera moved over to the open door, which the cameraman pulled shut to reveal a mirror hanging on the backside. The mirror reflected a young boy with short brown hair wearing small rectangular-framed glasses. There was no camera.
I stood up, sending the office chair rolling back into the filing cabinets behind me with a large metallic crash. My companion looked up at me with surprised eyes. It was the boy I had seen outside the kitchen window not five minutes before. He’d waved at me.
“Okay. What the hell is going on?” I shouted, fed up with the house’s little surprises.
He leaned over the console and paused the video. Then he stood up next to me, pointed at the screen, and spoke calmly, “Matto-chan.”
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