World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 37: Seen and Unseen
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April 9, 11:00 am, London, England
The first week of April has gone by, and I am quite interested in where things will head from here.
Firstly, the Gamer storyline has gotten a little...unpredictable, to put it nicely. To put it not nicely, I have no idea what this character wants, or what she will do.
That said, I do have an idea for how to progress the story.
"If it's to try and force it again, I would highly advise against it," said Ms. Kang when I told her I had a plan. It was late morning, and the sun's light filled up my office with warm, yellow light. She was sitting in front of me, legs crossed, looking over various papers. She was wearing a professional pencil skirt that definitely covered everything, and yet...I couldn't keep my eyes off her legs.
I coughed and changed the subject.
Next, we had the superhero storyline.
That one was also moving along slowly, but surely, and didn't need much input from us. We had about a year and a half of set up already going along; it shouldn't be too difficult to get the plot rolling.
"I am a little concerned with Gadiel's reactions, however," said Ms. Kang absently. "He doesn't seem very...into it all."
We discussed out characters a bit more. Indeed, Gadiel seemed a little more unwilling than I had expected, and I wasn't exactly sure why. I'd thought that having powers and killing monsters would have made anyone happy. Just look at Irade.
"Well, there are some who don't even like to kill animals to eat," said Ms. Kang absently, still looking through various papers, changing the position of her legs. "Vegetarians, for example. Though I never took Gadiel for the squemish type."
Well, I suppose if the storyline failed, it failed. We could always start it up again.
And finally, we have the thriller storyline.
"So she doesn't remember anything?"
For the first time, Ms. Kang looked up at me, peering down through her glasses.
"I've planted the seed, don't worry," I said. "If she doesn't react how we want, then I will be very surprised."
Ms. Kang nodded, and went back to the papers.
"She's handling it pretty much how I expected too," she mused. "Maybe I should throw her a bit of a curveball."
"Oh? How so?" I asked.
Ms. Kang grinned that evil grin of hers, and for some reason, I found it difficult to breathe all of a sudden.
April 10, 2:22 pm, Tokyo, Japan
Michi didn't look back until he was two blocks away from the lab. Only then did he let out a sigh of relief.
"I did it. We did it," he said. "I don't think I can feel my legs, but I think we did it."
"Good job Michi," said Sakura through his earpiece. "Very good improving there with the secretary."
"I'm never doing that again. My place is behind the stage. Props and make up. Being an actor is not for me."
"If you say so."
It had been a week since the antenna/case had been delivered, and Sakura had gotten over it.
At the time, she had immediately called Michi and Bunta, and confessed to them that she thought she might be a clone.
"Or maybe they did something to me, or, or-"
"Okay first off, you're gonna give yourself a heart attack like that, so calm down."
Surprisingly, it was Bunta talking on the other line. He talked her through some breathing exercises, and helped her relax a little. Once she was calm, he continued.
"Second off, tell us exactly what happened."
Sakura recounted what happened not five minutes ago, in excruciating detail.
"You didn't need to describe the expresions," she heard Michi mutter on the other side.
"No, that's useful," said Bunta. "You said he was surprised, right?"
Sakura made a noise of affirmation. She wondered why-
Oh. Oh of course.
"That means he wasn't expecting that," said Michi, realizing the same thing Sakura had.
"He wasn't expecting to see a vase. Therefore, he didn't think that I could do something like that."
Which meant that he and the lab probably didn't have anything to do with this whole...thing.
"Also, why do you think you did that?" Asked Bunta.
Sakura blinked in confusion, then realized he was right. Why had she assumed that she had been the one to change the antenna into a vase and back again?
In the back of her mind, she seemed to remember something. Something about a university lecture...and a professor...the truth...
No. No, she didn't want this. Sakura averted her train of thought, trying to think of something else.
"Because the vase was exactly the same as the one I was thinking about," answered Sakura. "If it wasn't somehow me, who else?"
Bunta went silent.
"Coincidence?" Michi offered.
Possible, but highly unlikely.
"In any case, I think we can rule out that it was the lab," said Bunta. Sakura eventually agreed, once she realized that she was being maybe a tad paranoid. But after talking it over with Bunta and Michi, she decided to move on for now. She was still determined to find out what the hell was going on, but had decided to put her freak out about it on hold.
It helped that Sakura had other things to think about. For example; getting the USB back. The longer it stayed at the lab, the higher likelihood of the lab workers discovering and confiscating it, leaving Sakura with a lot less evidence.
Of course, she still had the video, but even videos could be edited these days, and people were used to seeing monsters on their screens. She needed this evidence, and she needed the evidence to be convincing.
Thankfully, everything had gone smoothly. Michi and Bunta had somehow pulled it off.
"Okay, I'm in the car now," said Michi. "Did I mention I have a car now? It's a green Toyota."
Sakura rolled her eyes. It was all he could talk about these days; his new car and license.
"Okay, so we all saw this wasn't a trap," said Sakura. "Does this mean I can come over now? And see Michi's new car?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," said Michi. "We stopped thinking you were a clone ages ago."
"Wait, what? When?!"
After a few more minutes of teasing banter, Sakura hung up and got ready to go out. The weather was nice, but a little cloudy, so she dressed in something a little more warm. She had a nice, bold, green overcoat she had only worn once; maybe it was time to try it on. She giggled at her reflection when she saw herself – if it weren't for the color, she could've passed herself off as some sort of private detective.
Once she was done, Sakura headed out. She locked her door, then took a look over the balcony, to the street below, before heading down.
Sure enough, it was there.
Maybe it was because she had gotten a little paranoid, but for the past few days, Sakura had been keeping a close eye on the cars outside her apartment complex. She noticed that there were three cars that usually parked there. Two of them were family cars, not that surprising.
The third was mobile ramen stall that seemed to be there from lunch til dinnertime. Sakura had been pretty suspicious when she first saw it; this location wasn't exactly crawling with foot traffic, nor was it a business area. However, her suspicions lessened when she saw that the truck was actually selling ramen at lunchtime.
The thing was, the truck closed up at three. And then stayed there for another three hours before leaving.
Was that weird? Sakura felt like that was weird.
Still. It never hurt to be cautious. For that reason, as Sakura passed the food truck, she snapped a selfie, making sure to get the truck's plates in the shot. Then, she headed off towards Bunta and Michi's place.
Their place was actually quite close, only a few blocks away. It had been a while since Sakura had walked over; she had forgotten how busy the roads were. Her apartment was only one street away from a large intersection; one that she had to cross in order to get to Michi's. It was always busy, so much that they even had a policeman man it at night.
At this time of day, it wasn't too bad, as most people were at work or coming back from lunch. That said, Sakura did have to navigate a crowd, and ended up having to wait a while for the light to change.
Not that she minded. Ever since she was little, Sakura had always taken the opportunity to people watch while waiting at the intersection. People were always interesting. For example, there was an old lady in a pink hat walking her cat for some reason. The man next to her was reading an honest-to-goodness newspaper. Not the online version on his phone, an actual newspaper, in print and everything. Also, it looked like it was written in Korean or something. Then there was the parents, taking care of their kids, who were fidgeting and looking around like she was. Sakura smiled at one of the kids as they locked eyes.
Sakura looked away, and noticed a woman in a black pantsuit with shades, just...staring ahead. Wow. She must really want to cross.
At that moment, the light turned green.
Sakura walked ahead, a little surprised that the woman didn't go ahead of her. She had been staring at the light so intently. Maybe she'd been looking at something else, Sakura reasoned. The woman had been wearing sunglasses after all.
In this cloudy weather.
Not to mention, the woman seemed a little familiar. Sakura frowned as she walked, trying to remember. She took out her phone again, and pretended to check her hair while she walked. Sure enough, the woman was there in the background, going the same direction as her.
No. The woman was following her.
Sakura finally realized who she was. She had seen her once before, with the foreigner. This woman had been in the van with him the time she had faked the body for them to investigate. Sure, Sakura hadn't paid much attention to her at the time, but she had filed away that this organization employed men and women equally. Which meant that she should be wary of men and women equally.
With that in mind, Sakura quickened her pace, thinking about the way to Michi's place. Unfortunately, it was just a straight line – past the intersection, then up the hill by the convenience store, at the second set of apartment buildings, on the fifth floor. No place where she could conceivably lose her tail.
There wasn't even a crowd of people to get lost in. For the first time in her life, Sakura wished she lived in central Tokyo – at least there, she would be lost in a crowd more easily. She cursed her need for space and quiet.
Well, if there wasn't any place to lose her tail, Sakura would just have to go somewhere where she could. And if that didn't help...
Sakura looked in her purse, and gripped her hand around the can of mace she always kept, just in case. She hoped that she wouldn't have to use it.
With that, Sakura headed towards the train station, changing her route slightly, as if it had been her destination all along. She kept track of her tail occasionally, stopping to look at things in stores while secretly looking back, or pretending to take selfies every now and then. It looked like the woman was talking with someone every now and then, through some sort microphone in her sleeve.
That was a little worrying.
What was even more worrying was when Sakura realized that there were more people following her now. They would stop when she stopped, moved when she moved, and they all seemed to know each other; every now and then, they would all nod or make signs at each other.
Sakura got the feeling they knew she was heading for the train station. She also had a sneaking suspicion that they weren't going to let her reach it. The reason?
They were all starting to walk faster, towards her. Now.
Sakura also quickened her pace. She was near the station now, but she realized that she was not going to reach it, not with that big guy coming towards her from the station. Damnit.
She looked around to see if there was anywhere else for her to move. On her left was the street; no intersection in sight. On her right were a bunch of cafes and stores, and none of them had any people in them. If she went in, they would catch her with no problems. After all, she would have to leave at some point…
Wait. An alleyway.
Without thinking, Sakura broke into a run and slid into the alleyway. She heard the woman behind her yell something, and the big guy in front also broke into a run. She could tell he saw her slip into the alleyway, but she didn't have time to think about that.
Because the alleyway was a dead end.
She should've went into a shop.
Too late to regret. Options, what were her options?
Only garbage cans, and one large bin, next to a door that probably belonged to the shop. She had literally no other choice. Sakura opened the bin, and jumped in.
The lid slammed down behind her, and her world went dark. The smell was atrocious, enough to make her eyes water. But it wasn't the worst. It didn't make her throw up and faint, at least.
Worse off was her sense of touch. Her back was slick with something slimy and a little wet, and her foot was in something that felt warm and furry. Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting, ick! She did not want to know what any of this was. But she grit her teeth and bared with it, digging herself in deeper. If she wanted any chance of this to work, then she needed to immerse herself in the garbage until she couldn't be seen.
The problem was that she couldn't go any deeper. It felt like she had already hit the bottom of the bin. What kind of store had so little, yet such disgusting trash??
Slowly, she heard the sound of footsteps coming closer. She knew they would check in the bin, there was nowhere else for her to be. She also knew that they would obviously see her. There was no way to avoid it.
At that moment, Sakura wished she was invisible. Completely unseeable to the world.
The lid opened, and she made herself as small as possible, projecting thoughts of being unseen, being unknowable. Maybe if she wished it hard enough, it would become the truth.
Four people looked down at her. She locked eyes with the woman.
Ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump-
Sakura's heat beat like a tribal drum as the four people stared at her. She noticed that their eyes were traveling all over her body. What would they do? Where would they take her?
What exactly did they have planned for her?
Then one of the men swore.
"She went into this alley, I saw her!" said the big guy, turning away.
"We all saw her go in."
"Then where is she?"
"Check the trash cans," said the woman.
With that, they closed the lid.
Sakura blinked in the darkness. She heard them all checking the trash cans, looking for her. She heard as they all started arguing about where she had gone, their voices getting more distant and their footsteps faded.
She stayed in that bin until she was certain they were gone, but all the while wondering what the hell had just happened. They all had looked really confused. Plus, thinking back, their eyes had been wandering all over her. At the time, she had just thought they were all thinking...well…
But now with the benefit of hindsight, she realized that there was another explanation; it was if they couldn't actually see her.
Was this related to the antenna/vase incident?
What was happening to her?
"First, maybe I should get out of this bin," Sakura muttered to herself, as she felt the warm, furry thing move slightly under her foot.
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