“Lilith, are you okay? Lilith!?!”
These voices…Jorn…and Vich…?
She felt someone shaking her shoulders. When she opened her eyes, Jorn and Vich were in her vision. A distance away was a piece of scrap metal that was once a motorcycle, crashed into the pole with hot smoke coming off from it. The wheels pointed to the sky, and a crowd gathered a safe distance away.
“Vich…are you safe…?”
“You moron! Think of yourself first!”
Vich yelled with worry, his body covered in cuts and scrapes, but was alright. Lilith was worse. She didn’t wear a helmet and her head crashed right into the ground.
But…at least Vich was alive.
Lilith felt a tremendous amount of joy, but…
“I’ll drive you to the hospital.”
Jorn stood up, but Lilith grabbed his arm.
“Jorn! You can’t go! Don’t go!”
She saved Vich, but Jorn was a target too. If she let him go alone, something might happen.
“Please… stay here for a moment.”
Jorn and Vich looked at each other before sighing.
“Okay. Vich, you can drive, right? Get my car, please.”
Jorn handed him the key. Vich took it and rushed to the carpark.
When Vich was out of sight, Jorn tried to comfort her.
“Okay, you’re fine now. I was worried sick. Suddenly, Vich called and told me the brake was not working and the car crashed into an electric pole, while you were unconscious. I thought something bad happened.” He stroked Lilith’s forehead, and she felt a jolt of pain.
“Luckily it was just a scratch, but you should go to the hospital anyway.”
Lilith nodded. Jorn took out his phone and pressed call.
“Hey, Vich? You found the car? The black one, plate number…yeah, yeah.”
As he talked, the mentioned car drove towards them. Jorn felt relief and waved his hand.
“Here he comes…”
There was a thundering noise as the black car exploded, the windows shattered and the doors went flying. Flames licked the entire surface, and grey smoke gushed outside from the engine which was now a twisted carcass.
That second, something leapt out from the wreck.
It was a human body on fire. It screamed and rolled on the ground. Although it was impossible to see its original form, Lilith knew.
His skin boiled, producing a disgusting burning smell. His eyes bulged and seemed to pop out any moment. Those eyes stared at Lilith, his animal screams were pleas for help.
“Vich!!!! Vich!!! Vichhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!”
“No, Lilith! You can’t!”
Jorn held his underclassman to stop her from rushing towards the body.
Lilith could do nothing but watch the hand that reached out towards her fall to the ground.
The blackened body did not move anymore.
No…no…this can’t be real…right?
Vich was safe…I saved him…
No…I did not. The Shadow Vigilante targeted both Jorn and Vich, so a bomb was planted in Jorn’s car too. Although she could save Jorn, because of her own carelessness, Vich had died instead.
Because of me…Vich…
Cacophony echoed around her, but none could reach her. Myriad of faces passed by, but she could not see them. In the midst of all those people, one face could take her attention.
A face that held off the crowd from the scene.
A worried and anguished face of Ariya…
But Lilith knew it was a mask. The second she stared into the eyes that watched Vich’s dead body….
She remembered now, those eyes…she had seen them before.
Long ago…when she first met Ariya.
The day Lilith knew this man called Ariya was during freshmen orientation.
Lilith’s group lost a game, and the upperclassmen ordered them to play a punishment game by fetching an urn filled with bone ashes from forensics room number 3.
Lilith and co hesitated in the hallway to the forensics building. The place was filled with rooms that stored cadavers for studies. She knew one day she had to do this, but for a freshman, it was hard to get used to. Lilith could not help but feel scared.
It was daylight outside, but the windows were blocked with black curtains. It was silent inside, so light or sound other than the candle in their hands.
“We lost because of you. Go get it.”
“I won’t go no matter what!”
The people in her group threw the hot potato between themselves. Lilith saw signs of trouble, so she tried to get all of them to cooperate.
“Don’t argue. Let’s all go together…please.”
All of them stared at her as if to eat her alive.
“Don’t act like a saint, can you? We got into trouble because of this bitch, and why should we take the burden?”
“Yeah, if you’re not scared, go in alone.”
Words rained down on Lilith, and she could not reply.
“If no one is going, I will go alone.”
A calm voice drew everyone’s attention.
It came from a polite young man who did not stand out.
During these events, the freshmen tried to make themselves known to others, but he acted no different from air. If he didn’t speak, nobody would notice his presence.
Lilith could not recall his name…not only her, but no one knew.
“You…what’s your name?”
He smiled and replied.
The name that will be imprinted in Lilith’s memory until the day she died.
“Then, Ariya…Can I go with you?”
Sweat covered her entire body, but Lilith asked to join him.
“Are you sure? I can go alone and you can stay here.”
“I know but, I can’t let Ariya go alone, can I?”
“Then, thank you, Lilith.”
Ariya had a kind smile, and she knew she made the right choice.
The two held a candle each and walked along the dark corridor that contained rows of labs. It was silent except for their footsteps.
Finally, they reached their destination.
It was cold inside forensics lab number 3. One side was lined with silver cabinets, and multiple bodies were stored inside.
Lilith looked away from the creepy cabinets, then glanced towards the center where a table stood. An urn was on it.
Lilith felt a jolt, and her voice retreated back down her throat.
Next to the urn was something covered in blue fabric. It had the shape of a human.
“It’s okay, I will go get it. Please wait here.”
Ariya consoled her. He probably noticed Lilith’s fear and went on alone, before reaching out towards the urn slowly.
“Ah!” Suddenly, Lilith cried out.
“Yes? Is something wrong?”
What was that…?
Maybe it was the candle’s light, the picture she saw might be distorted…
But… Ariya’s face turned into a different man.
Those eyes fascinated by the item under the blue cloth…
That’s…Ariya’s true face…
She saw it before…but kept it to herself.
The gentle and righteous Ariya was the ideal man.
Because she was afraid of losing that image, she never looked at who he really was.
She was scared that her ideal person would shatter into dust.
But…because she ran away from the truth, it all turned into this.
Lilith closed her eyes, guilt piercing her heart.