Figments of Imagination
By Carter Tachikawa
(I've returned! A new character is going to be introduced here and he'll be important from this point on. This chapter definitely has more dialogue than usual. But I guess it does fuel the story more. Besides, our latest adventure is about to end. Enjoy reading!)
* * *
"Are you sure she headed this way, Kiku?" Kouji asked. Time was starting to fly and there was no sign of Umi anywhere. Just about everyone in the neighborhood had gone to bed. Kikuno and Kouji had refused without finding her, dead or alive (preferably alive).
"I'm sure." Kikuno insisted. "She went the other way."
Together they began walking the other way and everything seemed quiet. And that was a bad sign. Kikuno remembered what happened earlier, being stalked by someone, and she shuddered. Thank goodness Kouji had shown up or she'd be in bigger trouble. Perhaps the stalker had been scared away by him. Whatever the reason, she was glad the stalked had left. Now everything was peaceful but that didn't mean everything was okay. Something was going to happen. She knew it.
All of a sudden, a piercing scream interrupting the silence and a young boy suddenly ran into Kouji like a bullet, knocking him down.
"Whoa! Hey, kid! What's wrong?" Kouji demanded. The boy had also fallen to the ground but he stood in place and continued to bawl.
"Bachao! Bachao!" (Save me! Save me!) The kid was screaming. Kouji tried his best to calm him down.
"Kid! Hey kid!" He put his hands on the boy's shoulders. "What's wrong?"
The kid continued to cry and scream. His black hair looked as if it hadn't been combed in days and his clothes were covered with mud. There was something red on his pants. Kikuno feared that the red spot could be blood but didn't say a word. One of his knees had been badly scratched and he had a band-aid on two of his fingers. In addition, the sandals he wore were old and falling apart. The boy finally stopped wailing and looked at the other two. His black eyes, once willed with fear, now were soft and lost. Kouji finally took his arms off the boy.
"Good." He said. "What happened to you? Who were you running from?"
The boy still looked lost. "Are? Apnara ke?" (Huh? Who are you?)
Kikuno and Kouji blinked. Whatever he said, it wasn't in Japanese.
Kouji tried again. "Hello. Who are you? And what were you running from?"
"Oikane…" (There) The boy pointed to the end of the street. "Era amar ke koon corte chay chilo. Ami plaichi are hariegechi." (They were going to kill me. So I fled and I got lost.)
"Okay…" Kikuno sighed. "This is going to be very difficult. First we are having trouble finding Umi. Now we have this kid and we can't understand a thing he's saying. Great. This is just fantastic."
"Well, we can't leave the kid behind. He might get hurt out here." Kouji said, holding out his hand. The boy hesitated at first, then realized that these two people weren't going to hurt him. He gingerly touched Kouji's hand and then squeezed it.
"So you're suggesting we take him?" Kikuno was skeptical. "I don't know, Kouji. Shouldn't we send him to his parents instead? They're probably worrying about him."
"I'm sure if we go to the police, they'll help us find his parents." Kouji assured her. Then he turned to the dark-haired boy who was smiling at them. "You're okay now. My name is Kouji and that's Kikuno. We won't hurt you. I promise."
"What's your name?" Kikuno asked. The boy blinked, finally recognizing the question. He still didn't know exactly what they said but he understood 'Kouji' and 'Kikuno'. He could also understand the gestures they were using. That meant they were telling him their names.
"Billoo." He replied. "Amar nam Billoo." (My name is Billoo)
"I think I got through with him!" Kikuno exclaimed. "Billoo?"
The boy looked up.
"Yup, that's his name." Kouji agreed. "Now, Billoo, did you see a girl? One with light blue hair? She's a pretty girl…"
"Kouji!" Kikuno snapped. "That's not going to help him."
"Fine!" Kouji rolled his eyes. Then he turned back to Billoo. "Anyway, did you see someone like that?"
Billoo stared at them for a long time. Finally, he began dragging Kouji down the street. Confused, Kikuno began to follow them.
"Do you think he understood you?" She asked.
"I don't know." Kouji sighed. "But we're going to find out sooner or later."
* * *
"Uoua…" Was the first thing Umi said when she woke up. The next thought that entered her mind was that something was wrong. It felt like she was out of place. Something happened while she was unconscious but she didn't know what. All she remembered was Kellan yelling at her and telling her he would help her.
What did he mean? He can't do a thing. She wondered. It's like I told him. He's just a figment of my imagination.
No. Kellan replied. I'm very much alive like you. You've only seen me once but I know a lot about you. I know who you are and I know what you've been up to.
Umi groaned. Figured that Kellan would still be around and contradicting everything she thought. What do you want?
Nothing. I just helped you take care of your problem.
Problem? Slowly, it began to dawn on Umi. Someone had been stalking her and she finally ran into a dead end. Then Kellan offered to help her and the next thing she knew, she had fallen into a deep sleep. Looking around, she saw what 'problem' Kellan was talking about. Two guys, knocked unconscious and hurled into some trash cans, were probably the ones who were stalking her. Kellan apparently took care of them. But how?
She didn't have to wait long for his reply. Simple. I borrowed you for a few seconds.
Huh? Borrowed me?
You'll find out what that means sooner or later. I'll be borrowing you every now and then. Be prepared.
I don't get it. And I don't want you borrowing me! What do you mean by borrowing anyway?
Before Kellan could answer back, someone else shouted. "Umi! Umi, where are you?!"
Umi recognized those voices. "Kouji! Kikuno! How did they…"
Just shut up and go to them. Kellan sighed. Obeying his order, Umi did run towards their voices. She saw them coming towards her. With them was a dark-haired boy that Umi had never seen before. But it didn't matter. She ran towards them and gave them both a hug.
"What took you so long?!" She demanded. "I've been here for…who knows? Where were you?"
"That's what I want to know!" Kikuno exclaimed. But she still embraced Umi. "I'm so glad to see you again. I'm sorry about what happened earlier."
"It's okay." Umi remembered what happened and was embarrassed herself. The fight had been pointless. Hell, she didn't even remember what the fight was about. "I'm sorry too. I don't know what came over me."
"Just forget about it now." Kouji said. The boy that was holding his hand smiled.
"Who's the kid?" Umi asked.
The boy turned to Kouji and pointed to Umi. "Eta ke?" (Who's that?)
Kikuno gave her a strange smile. "That's Billoo. We found him while were looking for you. We're going to help find his parents now."
"What did he say just now?"
"We don't know." Kouji admitted. "That's why we're going back home and taking him to the police. Maybe they'll be able to find his parents."
"In the meantime, who are they?" Kikuno pointed to the two unconscious men lying beside the trashcans.
Umi shuddered. Those were the same creeps who had been stalking her and someone they were beaten up. Did Kellan do it? Or did someone else come to her rescue? Either way, they still needed to turn them in.
"They are a couple of jerks who got their just desserts." Umi replied simply. She didn't want to sound scared in front of her friends. "But I took care of them."
Billoo started to laugh for no reason. Kikuno and Kouji almost burst out laughing as well. "You?!" Umi was the ten times smaller than both guys and was as strong as a grape. She could easily have been crushed by them. The thought that they lost to her was unbelievable.
"Me." Umi admitted. "Is there something wrong with me trying to protect myself?"
"No." Kikuno said. "It's just…no offense but you're not one to defend yourself. You're not the type to beat up guys twice your size."
"Forget about it now!" Kouji stepped in. "Let's just call the police and get back home. We can take care of Billoo's problem as well."
The girls nodded in agreement. As Umi walked away from the scene with her friends, she heard Kellan speak up again. I'm glad they found you. But be careful around the kid.
Why? Umi asked. He's about seven years old and doesn't understand a thing we're saying. How much harm can he do?
Just trust me on this. Watch the kid carefully. He's hiding something. And sooner or later, he might turn against you.
* * *
(Hey, if Ranma ½ can have Shampoo speaking in Chinese, why not have a character that speaks in Bengali? Of course, you saw the subtitles. I chose Bengali for two reasons.
1) It's a language that I know very well even though it looks weird using the English alphabet.
2) It's a language I don't think anyone would use and I wanted Billoo to be different. So here we go! Enter the Bengali.
Well, this adventure is over. What else lies ahead for our group? Find out next time on FOI!)