Fourth…HEARING VOICES

"Roshi?"

"Yeah…?"

"My dad said we'll be leaving for Australia next week…"

"What? You're leaving?!"

"Ah…! I'm sure we'll meet again. We'll just stay there for a year or two…then we'll come back…I promise!"

"Really? OK! I'll hold you to that promise! I'll be waiting for you…"

"Roshi…"

"Hmm…?"

"We'll still be playmates when I come back, right?"

"Of course we would! Hah-hah…silly!"

He found himself in another alley. Yes, he made another stroll around the block—searching for his sanctuary. He needed a place for peace—for comfort. To his dismay, there was none he could find…he was going back home—to his new home…

"Roshi" his eyes met a girl he couldn't recognize.

Her appearance seemed so innocent—an enchanting beauty. Though she was a stranger to him, he felt at ease merely gazing into her. He scolded himself, how could I forget such a beautiful face? He couldn't understand why, yet he felt that she was always beside him ever since he was young.

"I've always been waiting for you…" she finally said.

"Waiting? I—I can't remember, I'm sorry…who are you?"

At this she put on a puffy face as if she were slightly mad. She playfully punched his shoulder. Sensitive as he was, he still felt pain after being punched by a girl. He rubbed it tenderly.

She giggled momentarily at the sight and hugged his hurt arm. "You're mean…Roshi…how could you forget about me—your playmate."

He was having other thoughts while he felt her body close to his arm. But he shook his head in denial of the stirring inside him. Tried as he might—he couldn't remember having a playmate. In fact, he never had any friends in his childhood years. He had always been a loner—ever since he was four years old. I was always shy, he recalled, no one wanted to talk me…

She noticed his pained expression in attempting to recover his past memories. She sniffed angrily and hit his arm again—a little harder this time.

She tiptoed to get a closer look at him, "I'm sure you couldn't forget this…"

She was now only inches away from him. She stared into his anxious eyes, her finger tracing the outlines of his face. As her touch reached his cheek, she smirked abruptly and kissed it. She breathed heavily afterwards, then wrapped her arms around his waist.

Hiroshi was still in the process of analyzing what just occurred—his fingers gliding unknowingly through his cheek. Weird. He could still feel her lips. It doesn't ring a bell though, he sighed, even how hard I try, I'm getting nothing—zero. Did she take me for the right person? Was there another guy who looks like me and has the same name?

He thought he was in a convulsion; her body was again in contact with his…her soft slim body—so warm against his loathsome skinny body. But this time it felt stronger—as if she was rubbing herself against him…

Dear Lord…save me…! We wanted to rasp.

She leaned her head on his chest, "Roshi-kun…I missed you so much…"

"I—I think…you have the wrong—" he seemed to have lost the words—he felt so light-headed with all the heightening sensations.

"I—I love you…" it was as if he regurgitated all his internal organs. It wasn't a lovely sight for anyone. And he didn't know why he felt that way—a terrible move.

"I…I love l-love you…too…Ma…Ma—!"

Mayaaaaaaah!

It was one of the best dreams I ever had…I don't know why I woke up from it. I even screamed with excitement—that would have been a great experience—even if it was only a dream. It felt so real…her lips seemed to have actually touched me. And I really—trully—felt her soft hot—!"

It's so frustrating! Why did I have to wake up?!

Evaluating it, however, it makes me think a lot about my past. I don't have a photographic memory—heck, I just don't have a good memory—but I'm certain I've never had a playmate. Nope, I don't recall anyone telling me she was leaving for Australia. So I guess it was my imagination kicking in again. Shucks. I wish it were real; such an elating feeling to have a childhood sweetheart. It'll fix a lot of problems for me—and I wouldn't have trouble looking for girlfriends.

Although…even if it was a dream I sure wanted to know her name. I know everything of this sounds stupid but I hope I dream about her again…

Fool.

You already have Mamiko-chan to think about and you're still drooling about another girl! You're hopeless…

A thick haze began to emerge from Hiroshi's back. It seemed like smoke that moved in a spiral gesture as it grew larger and denser. Soon the bloating mist made out shapes—stretching into different angles—and gradually becoming a definite form. Within moments, the haze resembled a man.

"Hey butt-wipe," Yo wrapped his arms around Hiroshi's neck in a guillotine lock, "you writing in your stupid journal again?"

"What is your—!" his voice was cut short. His eyes seemed to have a chance to pop out with all the exertion..

Yo was amused with Hiroshi's purple face and bulging eyes that he let go of him with a satisfied smile.

It took a minute or two before Hiroshi came to his senses.

He glared at the ghost, "What the hell is wrong with you?!"

Yo shrugged, "Just a friendly greeting between two guys…"

"Oh…So attempting to kill someone is a friendly greeting?!"

Yo laughed heartily, "Don't be so upset…you're fine now aren't you?"

But Hiroshi's shadowed mien grew even darker, "Upset…? Oh, I'm beyond upset! I'm furious! What if I died there?!"

"You wouldn't die…and I'd instantly know if you would…"

"You…! You useless piece of dead garbage!" he vented out.

His smile turned into a grin, "I didn't know you were easily annoyed…it's just a spice of life Hiroshi…"

Words weren't enough to express his deep aggravation on the ghost. He simply led himself to the bathroom with his head almost on fire. Yo leisurely took a seat on the couch and began watching TV

…that was totally satisfying…

As he poured cool water on his face, Hiroshi thought of ways on how to kill a dead person. It would definitely take a lot of effort, but he'll find a way to torture that so-called spirit of god. Afterwards, he searched for his pen again.

Maybe I could use the liquor again…

Nah…That was only temporary… I think I'll need a good research background to get back at him. The city library would do the trick…if I could only—. Why am I fooling myself? I can never get away from them—they'll always be like imps clamped to my shoulders. Yo must even be reading what I'm writing right now!

He turned his head from left and onwards. Nothing. No one else.

That bully. I'm sure he's planning something as well. The difference is that I can never hide my own strategies from him, but he can! Unfair! How could I win against a cheater like him?!

"You can't…and I'm no cheater."

"Yo!" he shot burning glances at the cocky spirit.

"What?"

"Quit doing that!"

"Doing what?"

"Just bursting out of nowhere behind my back!"

"That's how ghosts always appear…"

Frustration blazed within him, "Can't you bother anyone else?! Why don't you go to your pal Kenta!"

"I can't…"

"Why the hell not?!"

"He's meditating…Can't disturb a guy who's trying to find inner peace…"

"How about me?! Don't I look like a guy who needs inner peace?"

"You?" Yo sniffed in amusement, "you don't need inner peace…you need a social life…"

A vein kept popping out from Hiroshi's forehead, and his fingers kept twitching—eager to strangle someone…if he could only touch Yo, he would have done everything he could to induce physical harm.

Hiroshi breathed hoarsely, as if trying to calm his violent thoughts on Yo. But the ghost just grinned at him—a jeering grin.

Then all the lights went off. Hiroshi would have thrown anything at him—even though it would simply pass through—if the lights didn't go off. If he wasn't insane yet, Yo would have already probably driven him into it.

With agitated determination, he left his room and visited the apartment owner. The old woman hadn't heard of any power shortages this morning so something must have snapped in the fuse box. He asked her where the outlet was and she directed him to the basement. Hiroshi wondered why she didn't want to accompany him into the lowest floor. But she probably had to attend to the other tenants of the apartment—if there was any.

With a nifty flashlight, Hiroshi ventured into the basement. Treading cautiously through an unknown terrain, he had difficulty finding the main fuse box. Everything seemed out of luster. All he could form out were dust-caked boxes, fleeting roaches and rat-packs. It was a horrid view—but not as horrid as Yo, he said to himself.

He kept walking forward, kicking off boxes away and wincing at the dirt and dust present in the humid air. The basement was quite large; he was having trouble finding his way. He cursed himself for not asking the owner where exactly the fuse box was.

Without the minimal light his flashlight provided, this would have been a frightening sight…frightening? Just recently, he has started speaking to ghosts. What else could be more frightening?

As he walked deeper into the mess, he was beginning to hear faint sounds. At first he couldn't distinguish what they were, and concluded they were mice squeaking. But the sounds were getting louder—more frequent—a little clearer. He was too absorbed in tracking where the sounds came from that he stumbled over another old box. Contraptions and other objects he couldn't name vaulted out of it.

A music box came into view. He almost screamed like a sissy when it suddenly came to life. The gears seemed so rusty and old that the device kept creaking— releasing a melody with no certain rhythm.

He breathed a sigh of relief and sat momentarily on one of the boxes until he heard a woman crying meekly by a corner. He couldn't believe it, there was another person in the basement with him. She's probably one of the tenants, he thought, and she went down here to fix the problem. She probably got lost in the process and now she's crying here all alone. Poor girl, he grimaced. It's good I'm here to save the damsel in distress! He snickered stupidly. He was actually amused with himself.

Yo immediately interrupted his daydreaming, "I don't like this…it seems odd."

"You again?! Quit badgering me! Let me be, will you?"

"Fine…" Yo began fading into nothingness, but his sarcastic grin couldn't seem to disappear, "Don't say I didn't warn you…" then he was completely gone.

Hiroshi snorted. Without much hesitation, he ran like a valiant hero in his quest to save his princess. He ran foolishly towards the cries, tripping through debris and more boxes. He dropped to his face—kissing the rancid floor—as he reached his goal. He spit violently and wiped his mouth several times before he looked up to see his prize.

The dust flew everywhere that she seemed like a muddled figure. But he could still perceive her enchanting appearance.

Long brown tresses that fell to her hips were tousled—shielding most of her face and intertwining in opposite ways. Yet it did not portray such a horrible picture. Her eyes—though red with incessant tears—seemed gold-flecked, as if they were luminous through the shadowy atmosphere. Her tiny pink lips trembled, she was no doubt frightened…or in an emotional breakdown.

She hugged herself as if trying to relieve her quivering. She hadn't noticed him stumble right in front of her shoes.

He hastily dusted himself off and tested his manly voice.

"Are—uh…uhm…are you alright?" he croaked. So much for the manly voice…

She lay there motionless, as if his words stabbed her right in the heart. She turned to face who just called out and didn't expect who she'd see…

Her eyes widened, "Roshi?"

He was surprised that she knew his name. "Uh…do I…know you?"

"Roshi!" she screamed with unexpected joy and literally jumped towards him, as if expecting to be caught by the other.

"Uh—! W-wait…I think you have the wrong—!"

She hugged his waist…this seems familiar…

She felt cold—quite freezing. Damn, she must have been so frightened she froze with fear…

"I missed you so much…" she sighed while her head rested on his chest

…too familiar…too cold…

W-wait a minute! Why does she seem dead-cold?

It was he's turn to start quivering. He bit his lip as he forced his eyes to the girl again. The dust had already settled… B-but her face! It was still blurry—translucent!

His mind shouted. I could see through you!!

"Do you know how long I waited for you?"

No!

"Hmm…?"

No!!

"Do you…?"

Nooooooo!

"Let go of meeeee!!"