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“What the hell?” I mumbled to myself. I ran over to the painting, abandoning my bag in the process. I stared at the painting like it would catch on fire at any point in time. “Where did they…?” I tried looking at the painting deeply, like I would find their images somehow “drawn” in, or something like that. When I couldn’t find them, I smacked my face a few times. Was I hallucinating?
I was way too confused and a bit stunned. Part of me wanted to know what happened while another part of me screamed to go find someone and bring them there. Not sure what that would have done, but I didn’t want to be alone at that moment. Then, a stupid, a very stupid idea entered my mind.
I began to slowly extend my hand out to the painting. My fingers just barely brushed the surface. It was rough, but there was nothing unusual about it at first glance. Then, I leaned into it. My hand went through the colors and passed the exterior. I was inside the painting!
Fearfully, I retracted my hand. I scanned it, but my hand was normal, like nothing had happened. I was breathing very heavily at this point, admittedly scared. What was going on? But…I wanted to know. I put my hand into the painting again, slowly absorbing it as reality. One timid step at a time, I walked into the painting. Closing my eyes, I didn’t realize I was no longer in my classroom. I only opened them when I felt a cold wind rip through me. I shot my eyes open and realized that the painting I believed I was in had entirely changed.
The landscape was bright and glowing. A beach with a shimmering ocean, the sun barely breaking over the horizon. The sand was white and beautiful. I saw the waves were gently moving and washing away the shore. Then, it clicked. I knew exactly where I was. I was on the southern shore!
I began panting. Did I actually teleport to the southern shore? There was no way! But in spite of what I believed, the cold air felt too real. I bent down and felt the sand. It was grainy and rough, and very real. What the hell was going on? The water washed over my hand, the sudden chill startling me. I felt that too. Oh, my god. What was this?
Just out of my sight, I heard laughter, though faint. I turned to my left and saw two boys sitting by the shore laughing and smiling. From my distance, I couldn’t make out the faces. I decided to observe closer and began walking closer to them. After a few seconds, I realized I did, in fact, recognized the faces. I had to cover my mouth so they could not hear me as I gasped.
One of the boys was Haruka Ono. What I didn’t expect was the person he was with. Levi Anderson, actually happy, and enjoying another person’s company. Haruka was pointing at something over the ocean. Levi, though, had a sketchbook and he was making little doodles whenever Haruka spoke. How was I watching this in real time? Wasn’t Haruka missing? And I just saw Levi with Yukio. Speaking of, where were they?
Just then, I could hear faint voices coming from the wooded area outlining the beach. Leaving Levi and Haruka, I went into the woods, following the voices to the best of my abilities. Within seconds, I could distinguish the voices easily. Levi, definitely, and Yukio. Hiding behind a few trees, I managed to catch up with them, just barely staying out of sight. I snuck up on the voices and attempted to listen in. As I grew closer, I could hear the conversation clearly.
I hid behind a trunk and peeked around it. There they were. Levi and Yukio were just as real as everything around me, but they weren’t panicking as much as me. Yukio had his arms crossed as Levi paced around. He was very anxious about something.
Levi glared at Yukio. “I didn’t need to see this,” he growled. “Why did you bring me here?”
“To remind you,” Yukio answered intensely. I couldn’t help but shudder. Levi exhaled sharply. “It was an average September day, no classes and all the time in the world. And rather than sulk in your room, you accepted Haruka’s invitation to hang out. I wonder why that is.”
“So, what exactly do you want to know?” Levi snapped at him, changing the subject instantly.
Calmly, Yukio humored him, “I want to know what you know about Haru. Simple as that,” he said. “Wouldn’t hurt if you explained the extent of your relationship either.” Despite the situation, his voice was still cool and smooth.
“I already told you, I don’t know anything and we were just classmates,” he claimed.
“That’s not what I see!” Yukio leaned closer to Levi. “Just tell me where he is.”
“I already told you!” he repeated. “I don’t know where he is and, frankly, I don’t care.”
“Oh, really? That’s not what I saw.”
“You don’t know anything, Yukio! I don’t know what happened to your brother!” His brother? So, there was a relation.
Yukio continued to peacefully address Levi. “I won’t turn you in if you had something to do with his disappearance, but I’m not leaving until you tell me something.”