This is another piece of short fiction I’ve written for my campus magazine. It is the direct sequel from my previous piece titled “Partings”. Hope you enjoy!
“Who is this? How did you get this number?”
A loud crackling sound was all I heard.
“zzhhh… *crackle*… Mi…ya”
My legs felt limp. Cold sweat trickled down my neck. As I felt my heart pounding, my brain focused on one question: Who was this person?
Four years have passed since Taku’s death. I’ve been living my life in the United States as a college student. I’ve finally achieved my bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Stanford University. I have to admit though, even after four years, it hasn’t been easy letting go of Taku. His death left a rather large hole in my life. But, I didn’t let any of those feelings interfere with my studies. I managed to graduate with a GPA of 3.8 and I’m thinking of going back to Japan to put my skills to use. Taku’s uncle set me up in a research facility in Tokyo, which was a stone’s throw away from my house. I couldn’t wait to finally go home!
Chiba prefecture, Greater Tokyo, Japan
As I stepped out of the plane, I took a deep breath. The crisp winter air of Narita rekindled a lot of memories inside me. My mother and father, looking older than their photos on Facebook, were right there waiting for me. I couldn’t control the torrent of emotions dwelling inside me. My right hand started twitching. Before I knew it, tears started flowing down my cheeks and I ran towards them. With open arms they welcomed me, and the three of us rejoiced in a warm embrace.
Arisato Engineering Industries, BIOTECK Division, Minato Ward, Tokyo
“Could you hand me that sample of river water, Haruka?”
“I’ve checked three times already, there are no contaminants in it!”
“But we still have to be sure…”
With a grunt, the beaker changed hands. As I examined the water, Haruka started talking.
“Have you heard the newest urban legend? It’s a buzz all over the Internet,” she asked. As expected from Haruka, the girl who spends most of her free time on the Net. Trying to be polite, I responded.
“No… what is it?”
“Well, you know Kamezuka Park?”
When she mentioned that familiar name, I felt a tingle. I used to play in that park when I was still in primary school. I would climb the giant rock that looked like a turtle’s shell and sit on top of it with my friends. It was illegal to do so; we were shooed by the caretaker of the park, but we always came back. “Yeah I know that place, what of it?”
“It’s known as the ‘Midnight Calling’. The legend says that if you stand by the stone monument at midnight on a Friday, you can get a call from a dead person. And when you answer it, you get spirited away. But, they also say that you can actually talk to the person calling you. I heard it was always the person closest to you,” My ears went temporarily deaf when Haruka let out a high-pitch scream of mock terror.
Friday, 11.45 PM, Kamezuka Park
I must be an idiot for believing Haruka, but she had me at “the person closest to you”. Last week, I visited Taku’s grave and cried like a little baby. I needed some closure, and if a stupid urban legend would help me get that, so be it. My watch told me it was ten minutes to midnight. I cupped my hands and put them in front of my mouth. White vapor billowed as I blew into them. A sudden burst of chilling wind forced me to tighten my scarf. I regret not wearing a heavier jacket. As I shivered, the clock finally hit midnight and the moment of truth near. I took out my cellphone, its light blinding me for a second. Nothing. It was 12.00 AM.
10 minutes passed… still nothing.
I felt stupid. I should have known better than to believe Haruka. Besides, I would freeze to death if I stood by any longer. Just as I turned, I felt my hands vibrating. An eerie monophonic tone started playing though my phone was on silent. I checked the screen. No caller ID on the screen. The clock showed 12:13 AM. I stood there, frozen. Was this it? Was this the fabled “Midnight Calling”? I gulped. Should I answer it? Though my hands were shaking uncontrollably, my right thumb managed to press the ‘answer’ button. I held the phone to my ear.
Silence. Total silence.
I started speaking. “He-hello?”
A blast of noise pierced my eardrums. It sounded like screaming and static jumbled together. I jumped, almost losing grip of the phone. “What was that?” I panted. Cold sweat started trickling down the back of my neck. “I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in ghosts…” I chanted under my breath. Hands trembling, I put the phone near my ear again.
I heard faint hissing and the sound of crackling static. The sounds went on for a few seconds. When the crackles subsided, I heard a faint voice beckoning me.
Upon hearing this particular voice, feelings of nostalgia and warmth started simmering inside me. I couldn’t believe my ears. Could it possibly be?
“Taku, is… this really you?”
“Yes… it’s me, Taku,” His voice started becoming clearer, though it was still echoing.
A single tear ran down my right cheek. I have finally heard the voice I yearned for years.
“You… idiot…” I said between sniffles. “You finally talk to me after 4 years…”
The first rays of dawn bathed my body with glistening warmth. My phone was still attached to my ear. The warmth tickled me, reminding me of the fatigue my body had to endure all night long. As though he could read my mind, Taku told me to hang up. “Miya… it’s been great talking to you, but you need to live on. Don’t ever think of joining me here. There’s no Wi-Fi in Hell,” I let out a burst of laughter. “No, really. I mean it. Don’t come and join me. You have a bright future in front of you. I was just your passing fancy. You’re bound to meet someone special real soon,” I knew he was smiling on the other side.
Half of me did not want to hang up. I wanted to talk to him more. But, I knew that we were both two beings on different planes. With a sniffle, I asked him, “Can I call you again?”
A brief silence ensued.
“No. You can’t. This is just a one-time deal,” Taku said heavily.
“Goodbye forever, Miya,”
And with that, Taku left me standing in the middle of the park. I buried my head in my hands, letting my tears flow freely, kneeling on the fresh snow…
One week later…
“Urgh, time to pay the bills…” I opened the mailbox, which was filled to the top with envelopes. I tossed out the junk mail and took in the bills.
“How did I manage to use up 7,000 yen in gas and electricity? Oh yeah, it’s winter…” I wrote down the expense in my ledger and continued on to the next bill. It was my cellphone bill. When I read the numbers on the bill, I felt a large weight smack me right in the face. My hands started quivering and I felt malicious rage bubbling inside me.
“DAMN IT, TAKU! You made me pay the phone bill!” I hollered at the top of my voice, shaking the entire second floor of my apartment.