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ToKyotchi Chapter 7

“You Know Who I Am”

Che willed his limbs to move. He didn’t know whether to run from or charge at Yokan, but it didn’t matter. His body refused to respond. The memory of yesterday afternoon flashed in his mind.

He’d left the interview, looked down at his phone at the rejection email, and a man appeared in front of him. Che remembered how disheveled he looked with his tattered clothes and messy, bright red hair. The man looked as if he’d just come out of a warzone and hadn’t bathed or slept in weeks. Che remembered being startled and taking a step back, noticing a growing dark spot on the man’s shirt. He looked down at the ground and could make out a cluster of red droplets, with new ones continuing to drip onto the pavement.

Che tried to run away. He should have gotten away from him.

He remembered feeling a quick, sharp pain and crying out to passing pedestrians as he slumped to the ground, his hand stretched out and trembling. The man had stabbed something into Che’s back. He was certain it was a knife, but he couldn’t see it. Within seconds, everything had faded to black, and that’s all he could remember.

“Chetachi!” Nikki started to run towards them but stopped, her eyes trained on Yokan. “You know this guy? Who is he?”

Yokan glared at Nikki before stretching his hand out towards her.

“No, don’t!” Che shouted.

He watched as Nikki was flung backward into the air, hitting her head on a nearby tree branch and falling unconscious to the ground.

“Nikki!” Che wanted to run, but his body remained frozen in place. He turned to see Yokan smirking at him.

“She’ll wake up soon,” he reassured, though his smile didn’t reach his eyes. “I didn’t come here to hurt any of you.”

“You…” Che’s voice was low and shaking. “It was you. The day of my interview. You’re the reason I’m here!”

Yokan’s expression became unreadable, his brown eyes glowing in the sunlight. “Chetachi…I understand why you’re upset.”

“Shut up!” Che shouted. “Why? What is this place?”

“This place?” Yokan looked around as if he had forgotten where he was. “Chetachi…this place is our chance. We wanted a better life, you and I. We wanted an actual future! This is it!”

Che’s breath caught in his throat. What in the world was he talking about? “You’re insane. I don’t even know who you are!”

Yokan’s eyes narrowed in response, and he grit his teeth. “I am not, and you know who I am, Chetachi. Stop acting like you don’t.”

“SHUT UP!” Che shouted. “I DON’T KNOW YOU! You’re a psychotic murderer!”

Che looked down at his hands, which were trembling again. He’d tried to run. He’d tried to run, and this monster stabbed him in the back in broad daylight after he’d hurt himself. He’d likely been watching him from the moment he’d left his house that morning, waiting for him to leave the interview before attacking. But why? Che shook his head. He couldn’t begin to comprehend this man’s reasons.

“Send me back.”

Yokan blinked, a confused expression on his face. “What?”

“My mother, my friends, my neighbors,” Che insisted. “They probably think I’m dead. They’re probably mourning me right now. No.”

He clenched his fists, preparing to fight. “I won’t let you keep me here. Send. Me. Back.”

“I can’t.”

Che froze, taken aback by Yokan’s sincere tone.

Yokan’s expression softened as if dejected by Che’s refusal to accept his words. “Che, I’m sorry. I should have told you where we were going. This place is called Eden, and there’s no way we can ever go back to Earth.”

Che took a step back, feeling dizzy. He leaned against a nearby tree for support and slid to the ground. “Eden? But why?”

“Because we died, Chetachi,” Yokan said calmly. “And when we died, we were chosen to be reincarnated here. We can’t go back. It’s impossible.”

Che stared at him, disbelieving. “No, that can’t be. There has to be a way! I’ll find it, even if you won’t tell me!”

He stood up, determination in his eyes. “I’m going back to Earth! I’m going back to my family and friends!”

“Your family, your friends, they never saw your true potential,” Yokan explained, his voice still as calm as before. “I always did, Chetachi. I always knew you and I were capable of so much more. Then I learned about a place where you could become anything you wanted, and I decided I would go there. Except, I couldn’t leave you behind. I’m sorry –“

It happened quickly, Che charging towards Yokan, and Yokan stretching out his hand to knock Che back with an invisible force. Che got up again, and Yokan repeated the process, sending Che flying back with each attempt.

“You won’t stop me!” Che cried out and lunged again. This time, Yokan pinned his back against a tree. Che struggled to free himself, but it was pointless. Yokan had complete control over him.

“I know this is a lot to take in,” Yokan slowly walked up to Che, who desperately squirmed against his invisible grip, “but in time you’ll understand. You belong here.”

He pulled something out of his pocket, holding up what looked like an ID card. On it was a picture of a boy who looked similar to Che. He had brown skin, dark eyes, and a confident smile. His name read “Rowan,” and underneath his photo was a description that said “Legaros Academy Student ID” with a logo next to it. As he examined the logo, Che’s blood ran cold.

It was the name of the company he’d interviewed with, Legaros, Inc.

Yokan dropped the ID on the ground in front of Che and turned away. “Come and find me at the academy. Take all the time you need.”

Che watched as the unconscious bodies of Vista and Reagan began to float in the air, carried by Yokan’s telekinetic ability. Yokan looked up towards the sky as his feet left the ground, and he slowly ascended towards the clouds with Reagan and Vista.

“No! Come back!” Che shouted as he struggled to get free, but he was still pinned to the tree. All he could do was watch helplessly as Yokan disappeared into the clouds, taking the two Legaros soldiers with him.

He was gone. They were all gone.

Che slid down the tree, finally released from Yokan’s telekinetic grasp, and buried his face in his hands as he sobbed. He was alone now. There was no way back to Earth. He was stuck in this place called Eden forever.

He looked back up towards the sky, searching for any sign of Yokan and the others, and screamed in frustration when he saw nothing but blue. He pounded his fist into the dirt and continued to weep.

He didn’t know how much time had passed before he felt someone’s hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Nikki, her expression full of sympathy.

“Chetachi…” she whispered.

“It’s like I told you before,” Che said. “It’s useless. There’s no point in fighting. None.”

He gasped as Nikki lifted up his chin, kneeling so that their faces were inches apart from each other.

“Listen to me,” Nikki said. “You fought for us. Bella and Kim lost, and you could have run, but you didn’t. You know what that means? You’re a fighter, Chetachi, and you can still win.”

She rose to her feet, dusting herself off.

“That weirdo back there…” she continued. “He said you’re both from a place called Earth and that you’re dead. I think he’s lying, messing with you, but I also think he knows how to get you back. So, stop crying and get up.”

She extended her hand toward him.

“I’ll help you,” she nodded. “I’ll help you find him and get your answers, but you have to fight, Chetachi. You can’t just give up.”

Che looked over at Bella and Kim, who were beginning to stir. It seemed they’d be okay after all. He looked down at the ID Yokan had left him before returning his gaze to Nikki.

“All right, but I think you should call me Rowan for a while.”