Kazuo Yokoyama groaned as he was roused from unconsciousness by a barrage of pain. At once he knew something was wrong; he found himself splayed out on the floor between his bed and his full-body mirror — shattered so thoroughly that nary a piece clung to the frame. At once he looked to the ground, wary for sharp pieces of mirror — but there were none. Cautiously, he pulled himself up from the carpet and his head began to swim in a nauseous haze. After sitting on his bed, he felt around his entire head for injuries. His first assumption was that he had somehow tripped and fell through his mirror, concussing him, but there wasn't a single wound on his body.
He thought back on what might have happened, but his head ached too much for him to think deeply. All he knew for sure was that he must have been getting ready for school, since he was wearing his navy blue Tenshiki High uniform — sans the blazer, since they had just switched to summer uniforms. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and saw that it was 8:20; he was running increasingly late to school. He grabbed his bag from his desk, put on his glasses, and slung his bow around his back, then quickly went through his house to the door for his outdoor shoes. The house was quiet, but Kazuo was used to this. His mother was overseas in America, and his father left for work long before Kazuo woke to get ready for school. As he stepped outside his head flared up with pain, and he gritted his teeth. If it still persisted when he made it to school, he would go to the nurse.
The sky was a foreboding dark gray that threatened to unleash a thunderstorm, but not a single drop yet fell. He was almost thankful it wasn't so bright, on account of his pulsing headache. One thing that did weird him out, though, was how quiet it was outside. He checked his phone again: it was 8:22. His road was a fairly busy one in the suburbs that should be rife with foot traffic — schoolchildren, housewives, businessmen, maybe a police officer. There was nothing, only an atmospheric rumbling overhead. Kazuo looked at the neighbouring houses. It wasn't just quiet, it was desolate. Like the whole block had been abandoned. A cold chill crept up his spine and settled around his head as he began the walk to school. He couldn't bring himself to run; his head was still unbearably foggy. Maybe I have a fever, he thought. I probably should have stayed home.
When Kazuo arrived at the crossing and looked ahead, across the street, he was surprised to find that he was no longer alone — but this person was far from normal. It was a young woman wearing some sort of black, skin-tight outfit. With it she only wore a white fur coat and oddly enough, a long white tail. Her hair was long and brown, and her eyes were golden and slitted like a cat's. Her cheeks had cartoonish whiskers on them, and the suit seemed to also include a pair of cat ears.
"Hello ~nyan!" she called to Kazuo, prancing through the street towards him without looking both ways. "I'm so glad I was the first one to find you! Now your spirit's all mine ~nyan!"
Kazuo rubbed his dark eyes and looked at the young woman again as she came to stop where the sidewalk met the road. "Cosplay?" he wondered out loud, in astonishment.
The catgirl tilted her head to one side, and then clapped her hands together. "Oh, I've heard of that! Like pretending, right?" She laughed. "Nope! I'm the real thing ~nyan! My name's Nekomata!"
Kazuo looked around. There was still nobody else in sight — nobody to confirm if what he was seeing was real or not. He chuckled dryly. "I get it, I must have a really high fever, and I'm still dreaming. This is a very dream-like setting, come to think of it. No people, a familiar place, something out of a video game in front of me . . ."
The young woman, Nekomata, placed her hands on her hips. "So it's going to be like this, is it?" She sighed. "Everyone thinks it's a dream ~nyan," she pouted. "Well, take this ~nyan! Agi!"
Kazuo saw a red light, and suddenly his body snapped into action. Every nerve told him to jump — somewhere, anywhere — to avoid this red light. So, he dove to his left. His left shoulder dug into the concrete and his bow shook in its holster on his back. His eyes widened as he watched the place where he was standing erupt into flames, the heat washing over him. His shoulder bled through his white shirt and stung with pain where it had scraped against the concrete. His head felt clearer, but it didn't hurt any less. Slowly, Kazuo began to consider this might not be a dream.
The catgirl was impressed. "Ooh, nice dodge!"
Kazuo saw her finger nails extend, becoming steel-like claws. He knew this was no girl — it was a monster. Regardless of if this was a dream or not, he had no desire to let some maniac cat monster get to him. He scrambled to his feet and started running back towards his home as fast as he could.
"Now this is more like it!" she called after him. "Keep running!"
Kazuo turned behind him and saw she was right behind him, a smile on her face, her yellow ears bearing down on him. She was likely toying with him, as cats were wont to do. He looked back ahead to his home, rapidly coming into view. No, he couldn't make it inside. By the time he had his key in the door, she would already be on him. He would simply have to keep running, and hope that this nightmare would end or that there was someone else here — hopefully someone friendlier.