After they managed to calm Jun down, they moved back into their hallway. Jun promptly fell asleep on Tomoe's shoulder, possibly due to getting very little rest the prior evening. Out of respect for Jun, Saki and Tomoe kept quiet.

Silence aggravated Saki. Having too much time to think was unhealthy. It took worry no time at all to find its way to the front of Saki's attention. She imagined her mother was in hysterics. Saki never went anywhere without telling her parents. It was an unspoken rule. At least they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something terrible had happened to her.

She needed to take her own advice. Giving it when she had a chance to act as the leader of a merry band of wayward souls and practicing it without being in the spotlight were two different sets of circumstances. It was hard to be optimistic about anything other than the overall health of the group. Even that was on a steady decline thanks to Eiko, whose breathing had become more rapid and audible.

Saki noticed nothing peculiar about the air she was breathing in, aside from the odor. They still had plenty of oxygen left. Probably. All of it had to be in Eiko's head. She was working herself into a frenzy. Another shouting match would soon arrive. Fatigue had staked its claim on Saki's mental state. She didn't feel up to dealing with Eiko unless she changed her tune, which wasn't going to happen.

As if on cue, the lock on the only occupied stall slid open with an audible click. Saki caught Tomoe looking at her for support. They could ignore her. Eiko would storm over to them, hurl insults, present some new contrived theory about how they were victims of a physical entity, and leave. There was no reason to get worked up.

Eiko grunted as she slammed her hands into the wall. Glass shattered. Jun stirred as Saki stood to meet the new challenge. Eiko was expecting her. She held a lengthy piece of jagged glass in her left hand. Since she hadn't thought of using her shoes to safely break the mirror, a small amount of blood leaked from the new cuts on her hands and dripped to the floor. She was breathing erratically and somehow looked worse than she had earlier.

"Tell your boyfriend that I'm done playing his little game," Eiko said.

Saki needed to be careful since a weapon had just been introduced to their little play. Fortunately, a means to resolve the situation with diplomacy was readily apparent to her. "I don't know what you're talking about. Did you form that theory based on the joke I made yesterday? I wasn't serious."

Eiko waved the piece of glass around. "He's got microphones pointed right at this room because he's too much of a coward to watch the misery he's caused me. I've had enough. Tell him to let me out of here right now."

"You need to calm down." Before she did something she would regret. Saki chose her words carefully. "You are going to have a panic attack."

"Stop telling me what to do!" Eiko said. "I'm done playing around, Saki. Tell him to have a calendar handy the next time he does this after you two get out of prison in thirty years. You should get life, but I think you'll be able to talk your way out of it. Now, if the next words out of your mouth don't call this off, I won't stop until he comes in."

Too many thoughts were running through Saki's head. She kept perfect eye contact with Eiko. There wasn't enough time to figure out how playing along might help. Tomoe and Jun watched the scene unfold in stunned silence. Just like two mice.

Saki needed to say the right thing. It had to come to her. She only had one last chance to talk her way out of a fight. "Put down that piece of glass, and I'll see what I can do."

Eiko charged at her with surprising speed. Saki managed to avoid an attack meant for her chest. She bumped into the hand dryer, activating it. Eiko recovered quickly and swung again, aiming beneath Saki's breasts. The piece of glass sliced through Saki's uniform in search of flesh, finding none. Eiko banged her arm against the wall. The shard of glass fell to the ground. She went right after it.

"Stop it!" Tomoe screamed. A brave yet pointless request.

Saki raised her boot. All Eiko needed was a little bit of pain to bring her to her senses. Eiko recovered the shard and turned just in time to be met with the heel of Saki's boot. A crunch followed. Like stepping on a fat cricket. The back of Eiko's head slammed into the wall. She screamed.

Blood poured down Eiko's face. Saki had accidentally broken her nose, which ruined any chance she had of calming her down. Eiko charged, ready to stab until she got tired. Saki ducked out of the way. Eiko slammed into the side of the first stall while Saki moved towards the broken mirror. Another shard of glass long enough to be used as a weapon was in the sink. Saki reached in and nicked her fingers. The pain only stopped her for a second.

Eiko let out a shriek as she came for Saki. Something had to be done. Saki closed her eyes. It was a mistake she couldn't help. Instinct took over. She lashed out in defense and struck her attacker. The shard of glass got stuck, causing Saki to lose her grip on the weapon. Eiko collided into Saki, pushing her into the corner she loved so much. One shard of glass clattered as it fell to the ground.

Someone was gurgling. Saki opened her eyes and spotted the ceiling. Eiko's weight pressed down on her, letting up frequently as Eiko trembled. Something quite warm was all over Saki's chest. She felt no pain, but that didn't mean anything. Getting stabbed happened so fast. There wouldn't be any pain. At first. Saki shoved Eiko off, crawled away, and got to her feet.

A bloody reflection greeted her. Saki felt her chest in search of a wound and came up with nothing. The blood didn't belong to her. Eiko hadn't moved. Blood pooled out beneath her. So much of it. More than seemed possible. A gallon didn't look like much. Until it was anywhere but a jug. Saki rushed to Eiko's side and flipped her over. She hid her eyes, looked away, and screamed.

The shard Saki had used managed to find a spot directly to the right of Eiko's throat.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Saki only meant to cause enough harm to get Eiko to back off. She should not have closed her eyes. Would have, could have, should have. It would have to wait. Eiko needed help. If nothing was done, she would die. And then their problems would really begin.

Saki rushed back to Eiko. "Tomoe! Tomoe, get over here now!"

Tomoe hastily undid her blazer and dress shirt. She draped them over the side of a stall to avoid getting blood on anything but her bra. More tears had turned her face red. Blood continued pouring from the wound in Eiko's throat, occasionally shooting out in a spurt in sync with the beating of her heart.

"What do we do?" Saki asked. "We've got to think of a way to get that piece of glass out of her throat and put pressure on the wound. Right? Tomoe!"

Tomoe found room to speak between sobbing. "We can't do anything. We don't have the proper equipment. I'm so sorry. She's going to bleed out."

"No! We can't let her die. We've got to do something."

"I'm sorry, Saki. All we can do is just be with her."

Saki could think of nothing more to say. Eiko looked right at her as a seemingly endless amount of blood escaped from her throat and nose. Her complexion was beginning to pale. Saki had failed. Things had been bad before, but they were going to get exponentially worse with a rotting corpse in the room.

Regret and guilt broke her. She cried for the first time. "Eiko, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to. It was an accident."

Eiko managed to spit a spray of blood directly at Saki's face. It was enough to get her to stop crying. Saki had earned the insult and could do nothing but endure it. Half a smile formed on Eiko's lips. She uttered a noise somewhere in-between a chuckle and a moan. Her eyes drifted from Saki towards the front of the room where the exit should have been. It was the last thing she would see.

Saki was about to look away when Eiko's expression changed. Her eyes widened, and her lips contorted into a grimace. Saki checked where Eiko's gaze was focused and saw nothing. Eiko moved her head back, gurgling. Light faded from her eyes. Eiko exhaled, fully deflating as her last breath left her body. And that was it.

A wave of nausea overtook Saki. She stumbled into the nearest stall, which happened to be Eiko's. Strands of black hair were on the floor. Everyone had a unique way of dealing with stress. Saki fell on her hands and knees, nearly banging her mouth on the closed lid. She managed to open it and stick her head into the bowl before expelling a full cup of bile mixed with water from her stomach. A second spasm rocketed through her body, causing a jolt of pain that made her feel physically older and much sicker. There was nothing left to puke, but she still gagged three more times before she could recover.

The hand she had used to hold the glass shard stung. Saki leaned against the bowl and brought it around to her face. Fresh blood obscured the locations of her wounds, but she managed to spy quite a few cuts after flexing her fingers. Saki pulled herself to her feet. She undid her ruined blazer and dress shirt. They landed on the floor with a wet slap. Her skirt didn't have as much blood on it, but she still would have taken it off if she was alone. Before her life had changed, she chose to liven up her day by going to school wearing a cute pair of matching pink undergarments. They looked positively ridiculous now.

Eiko's body would need to be moved out of sight. Tomoe had already put her clothes back on and shut Eiko's eyes for her. Saki went to the third sink, turned it on full blast, and started washing the blood off her hands. The wounded one burned nearly to the point of being unbearable. Saki tolerated it. She deserved it.

Tomoe hesitantly appeared at her side. "Let me see your hand."

Saki finished cleaning her hand before she let Tomoe examine it.

"It doesn't look too bad," Tomoe said.

"I'm going to need stitches," Saki said, seeing through the lie.

"Probably. Your ring finger has a nasty cut. All you can do is keep it clean."

And hope it wouldn't fall off. There was still a lot of blood to wash off, but a bit of unpleasant business needed to be taken care of first. Without asking for help, Saki shut the sink off and stood over Eiko's corpse. She hooked her arms underneath Eiko's armpits and pulled.

There were many noises Saki would call unmistakable. A police siren. The subway. Her favorite ringtone. She would never have guessed that shoes attached to a dead body dragging across the floor would also be one of them. Saki pulled the body into the fourth stall. She was about to consider the job done when a thought occurred to her.

Saki put a knee on Eiko's chest. She grabbed the piece of glass sticking out of Eiko's throat with her damaged hand and pulled. It was stuck, but she wouldn't give up. The shard eventually came out. She used her elbow, which wasn't covered in blood, to close the door to the stall. A quick scan of the floor revealed the shard Eiko had wielded. Saki used her boot to move it out into the open and dropped the shard she had murdered Eiko with right next to it. The sink still had a few nice chunks in it. Saki tossed them on the floor as well.

She smashed her feet down on the glass, trying to break it up into smaller pieces.

"What are you doing?"

Tomoe had spoken. Saki checked to make sure Jun wasn't watching. She was nowhere to be seen. Without saying a word, Saki nodded over to where she believed Jun was sitting. She then looked at the broken glass. Saki put her undamaged hand out in front and then traced a line straight down her arm with her other hand. Tomoe helped her step on the glass.

Once the glass was in small pieces, Saki knelt to gather the stubborn fragments that weren't thoroughly crushed. She dumped them into the first available stall. Tomoe continued assisting her. It took two flushes to get the glass out of the room. Saki wandered back to the sink, turned the water on, and continued cleaning herself.

Tomoe touched her blazer. "I think we might be the same size. You can wear my shirt if you want to."

"Go make sure Jun is alright," Saki said.

She wouldn't be, but it didn't hurt to check. Just in case Saki happened to be wrong. If anything, Jun should be relieved. Tomoe, too. The troublesome member of their quartet had gone into early retirement. Tomoe seemed to want to say something, but thought better of it and disappeared around the corner.

"Is it over?" Jun asked, her tone teetering on the edge of breaking.

"Yes," Tomoe replied.

"Is Eiko. . .dead?"

Sniffling. And then wailing. The news was out. Saki stopped washing her hands. An invisible residue of death stuck to her hands. They were clean of Eiko's blood, but the cut on her ring finger continued to bleed. It hurt enough to nearly convince her that she was still holding a piece of glass.

Jun's voice drifted from the hallway, "All she had to do was keep quiet and wait."

"Not everyone can sit still when they're trapped," Tomoe said.

"Oh, like we're any better. She should have thought of a way. Now she's gone and caused trouble for all of us just because she wasn't the center of attention. It already smells awful in here. Can you imagine how much worse it's going to get when she starts to rot?"

She glanced back at the fourth stall. Eiko's feet and a section of her legs jutted out from underneath the door. That wouldn't do. It was best to move the body before rigor mortis set in. Saki went back into the stall. Heat had left Eiko's skin. Touching the corpse made it nearly impossible to forget what she had done. Saki was a murderer. Guilt had her gagging into the toilet. Nothing came up. Saki shoved Eiko's head into the corner next to the bowl, grabbed her feet, and tucked them in. A perfect fit.

"We're going to die in here, aren't we?" Jun asked.

"Don't talk like that," Tomoe replied.

"Why not? It might be the truth. Maybe we should face it."

Saki stumbled out of the stall, making sure to close it with her unwounded hand to avoid smearing blood on the door. She hurried back to a sink and rewashed her hands. Having touched death a second time, they felt even dirtier. An invisible residue clung to her fingers that probably wouldn't come off.

Eiko's blood still clung to Saki's torso. The only way to get it off was a bath in the sink. Drying herself off with toilet paper wasn't an option since each stall came packed with the cheapest available brand. Repeated trips to the hand dryer would be in order. It was less than ideal but not as bad as how it would feel to remain covered in someone else's blood.

She needed to be quick in case their supply of water was limited. Saki used her unwounded hand to cover herself in a light layer of soap. Tomoe appeared from around the corner and stepped in to help. Saki didn't object.

Tomoe had to gather her courage to speak. "I know you're upset with me because I didn't help. I couldn't think of anything to say. If you couldn't talk her out of it, nobody could."

Saki flooded the sink with hot water. "Yeah."

"What happened wasn't your fault. It was all in self-defense," Tomoe said. "Anyone would agree."

Except for Eiko's family.

Pain twisted Saki's stomach. "She told me to stop telling her what to do. And I asked her to put down the glass. This could have been avoided. Somehow." Saki looked at Tomoe. "I don't want to talk about this anymore. What's done is done. I can't take it back."

Tomoe provided more tears. "Please don't blame yourself. It's not like you."

It was tempting to point out that they had known each other for less than three days. Or was it two days? Hunger made it challenging to keep track of time. They had slept once. Thus, it had been two days. Forty-eight hours. Probably. So long as the time everyone had spent unconscious before the show had started wasn't considered.

Being a mouse, Tomoe still desired a leader. Saki could fill that role. Tomoe was fine so long as Saki would be there. On the other hand, Jun was starting to crack, and Eiko's demise hadn't helped. Saki, not Tomoe, had to think of a way to convince her that she didn't deserve to endure any of this, and it couldn't come fresh from a murder. If the mood hadn't improved by the time Eiko ripened, it wasn't going to. It certainly wouldn't stay elevated after Eiko began rotting.

Most of Eiko's blood had come off Saki's torso. She wandered over to the hand dryer. Tomoe helped shove hot air up unto Saki's skin. It took a while, and the results were not satisfactory, but they were the best she could get.

Jun rocked herself in the corner of the short hallway, her head buried in her arms. Not a good sign. Tomoe sat down a few feet from her. Saki took up a position in the other corner. Her attempt to use diplomacy had failed once already. She wasn't sure if she should push her luck. Tomoe still looked at Saki expectantly.

"Jun-" Saki didn't have a chance to finish.

"Yeah, I know!" Jun said, waving her hand dismissively at nothing. "Keep your chin up, Jun! It's going to be okay, Jun! Everything has a way of working itself out!" Her head popped out of the nest her arms provided. "Remember earlier when you said you aren't sure what you want to do after high school? You should look into becoming a therapist, Saki. You sound just like mine." Jun's head collapsed into her arms. "If I close my eyes and think I'm somewhere else, part of me won't be here, so that's exactly what I'm going to do. Goodbye."

It could have been a lot uglier. Saki dropped the matter entirely. Tomoe seemed satisfied someplace underneath the despair contorting her face.

The first thought to greet Saki in the silence that followed concerned the look on Eiko's face right before she had passed on. Something was in the room with them. Either that or the trauma Eiko had endured hadn't allowed her brain to experience anything other than terror. People saw all kinds of things when their time was running out. Usually, they were pleasant, but there were still cases like Eiko's. It had to have been a hallucination.

Saki experienced a flash of inspiration as a new idea occurred to her. Mirrors were said to be portals into another world. The same friend who had scared her with Tomoe's story had once told her that. Never gaze into a mirror at three in the morning. Or something to that effect. If an evil entity was in the room with them, it might show up in the mirror. It was a stretch, but the remaining mirrors could hold a clue, and Saki needed to keep her mind off the likelihood of her impending demise.

She got to her feet and went over to the mirrors. Thankfully, Tomoe didn't follow. A close inspection of the first revealed nothing out of the ordinary. The second was more of the same. She expected nothing out of the third and received just that. Perhaps she would have better luck at three in the morning. Whenever that was.

Another dead end. Saki gave up. It was a stupid idea, anyway. She blinked. Eiko stood at the entrance to the fourth stall, looking down at her own dead body. Saki gasped and stepped away from the mirror, nearly tripping over herself.

Tomoe came running from around the corner. "What's wrong? What happened?"

Staring directly into a mirror could produce all kinds of results. Usually in the dark. Had she seen something real? Or did it come from the guilt hanging over her heart? Tomoe was just as desperate for an answer.

"Nothing," Saki said. "Everything is fine. I hurt myself while tending to the cut on my finger."

"Oh." Tomoe bought the lie, visibly upset by the lack of positive news.

After Tomoe had vanished around the corner, Saki went back to the third mirror. All she saw was herself. It had to be a clue. Nothing else in the room made any sense.

She stopped herself. She might be cracking up. No. She was more careful than that.

The mirrors held the answer.