It’s Tuesday and this is the final part of Chapter 1 from Ruins of Sapphire, book 1 in the young adult scifi/fantasy trilogy by J.A. Dowsett (me). You can find part 1 here, or pick up your copy of the ebook or paperback in our online store.
CHAPTER 1 – ENOUGH
The sound of the alarm buzzing in my head turned into the ringing of my cell phone. I already knew what it was trying to tell me; it was Tuesday morning, eight fifteen A.M. I got up, grabbed my clothes, and left the room, the cell phone ringing insistently behind me.
I met Hotaru outside my apartment door. Our determined expressions were identical. We didn’t waste time with greetings. The two of us left Hyuski Heights immediately, picked up some lunch at a convenience store for later, and headed straight to the hospital. We knew now where the answers lay.
Once at the hospital, we split up. Hotaru, in an effort to follow her plan through, went up to Chi-sama’s room to lie in the second bed and pretend to be another patient. I wished her luck, told her to be careful, and then headed to the second floor to lower the fire escape ladder for myself.
It was a long and careful climb up eight stories to the roof. I was immensely glad for the rudimentary climbing skills I had acquired in Phys Ed this year as I finally made it to the top. I had lunch on the windswept rooftop with its beautiful view of the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and then I hunched behind an air duct to wait out the day.
If I had hoped to end this on the rooftop, I wasn’t disappointed. However, the conclusion of this strange series of events was if anything more puzzling than enlightening.
Just before the time when Shuzhue and her mother would sign in to the hospital’s guest registry, the door to the roof opened without the alarm sounding. I hoped I wouldn’t be spotted, but I was beyond caution at this point – I needed to know what happened up here – so I leaned out of my hiding place to see who had joined me.
It was one of the four from the park – I could tell by his clothes – but it was the one I least recognized. He was of medium build and height with short black hair in an average male cut. His clothes were black, of course, but plain. The only thing about him that stood out was the katana sheathed on his back and the telltale ruby necklace they all seemed to wear. He appeared bored as if, like me, he was waiting for something to happen. Behind him, the sun was beginning to set.
It would be full dusk when the others would arrive.
The wind picked up right on cue. Here, high above Tokyo, I saw the storm that was gathering above us, which was strange, as I didn’t recall rain on the Tuesday night I had actually lived through.
He’s coming. I heard a familiar, yet undeniably strange voice come from behind me. It wasn’t in my mind this time, it was coming from the air duct. Without moving the rest of my body, I pressed my ear to the duct to better make out what the voice was saying. He will ruin everything.
Reset the program. The metallic voice echoed off the air duct vent in a predictable fashion. It sounded clearer now than it had before, though no less strange. It was almost certainly a robot or a computer speaking.
There is not enough time. The Vile Emperor is almost here. If we do not get them out, they will die.
I took in a sharp breath. It was too windy for anyone to hear me. Die? I had the sinking suspicion they meant us – as in Hotaru and I – not my companion on the roof, or the false doctor, or even Shuzhue and her family, though that was also a possibility.
Turning myself ever so slightly, I tried to peer down into the vent. Were they just voices or were they actually down there?
What I saw didn’t match with the reality of the building at all, but it was undeniably as real as anything else was. I was instantly reminded of Hotaru’s pipe as I gazed down upon two beings standing in a metal room, bending over a pool of still water held in a large basin. The one on the left was a robot as I had surmised, but he was man-shaped, so I assumed the correct term was android. On the right was what appeared to be some sort of frog-man; he was as large, if not larger, than the robot and dun-coloured – so a toad-man then.
In the pool was a reflection. I recognized the scene displayed, though it was from an aerial view. There I was, behind a duct on the roof of the hospital building and behind me was a man approaching with a katana held threateningly in his hand.
Agreed, the metal voice decided finally. Terminating the program.
I, unfortunately, had more important things to worry about than the state of the robot and the toad’s program. Using the knowledge I had gained from gazing into that pool, I managed to roll out of the way before the katana sliced into the air duct where my head had been only a moment before.
Once I was clear, I looked up to face my assailant and noted the rage and hatred on his face, before the air duct exploded and filled my vision with a searingly intense blue light.