Halo Sixteen: Chikako:
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Chikako complained as she looked over her notes. She had been used to seeing strange things in her office. But these latest cases were doing her head in. Chikako went back to the beginning in her notes. She started with the Blue Square suicides. Those were open and shut cases. But, Chikako performed the autopsies as routine. The boys’ bodies matched up to their causes of death. However, one detail stood out to the coroner.
Chikako looked over her pictures of the boys’ wrists. Each one had this black flower marked deep into the skin. She hadn’t caught it on the first victim, Gin, until she was about to wrap up her report. At first, Chikako thought that she was seeing things out of the corner of her eye. When she looked up and turned over the boy’s right wrist, that’s when she saw the dark flower. The coroner couldn’t sworn that wasn’t there before. She studied the markings under UBV light. To her surprise, the flowers had the same characteristics as a standard tattoo. Even the cuts from wrist to elbow fell naturally where the flower was tattooed on. What baffled her was how did she miss it until now?
She would’ve chalked it up to missing little details if it was a one-off.
How did six boys all have the same flower markings on their wrists? Chikako did bring up the questions among her colleagues, but they didn’t think much about it.
“It’s probably gang symbols or something like that,” her mentor, Hirose-sensei, said. “Maybe a sign of initiation.” Chikako started to doubt that the more she looked at the pictures. It felt more like a an initiation of a cult or a suicide pact. She would’ve left it at that, but something about those flower markings didn’t seem right.
Next came the Oni Onna murders. Five victims so far. All hacked to death with a cleaver. The victims didn’t have anything in common to the naked eye. The last one was rumored to be a human trafficker. Maybe the kill was looking for revenge. But that didn’t explain the two salarymen, a drug dealer, and this random old man. The other four made sense in a way, but the old man, not so much. The police couldn’t find out much about him either.
Chikako sat back and rubbed her forehead. But this latest case topped them all.
Akabayashi Mizuki was about in his forties when he died. Things about the autopsy didn’t make any sense. It looked like his heart just stopped and the rest of his organs looked like ninety-year-old man’s. She couldn’t find any traces of drugs or poison in his blood. His toxicology came back negative three things. Plus, he didn’t have any known heart problems or other health problems. And was with the deep purple bruising on this skin? The biggest mystery of all so far was the female skeleton found with him. Who was this woman? Dental records showed that she was supposed to be Sonohara Sayaka, but that couldn’t be right.
Chikako read through her notes again when she heard plastic dropping on the floor. She looked up and saw a single tape cassette laying on the floor near the exit.
“What the…?” the coroner asked as she stood up. She looked around as she walked over to the tape. Chikako picked it up and looked it back and front. The coroner looked above her and saw a box tipped over on one of the shelves. She recognized the label on the side of the box.
“What’s an evidence box from 1987 doing in here?” Chikako asked. She put the tape into her pocket and pulled down the box. It would be the right thing to take it back to the evidence room. Maybe somebody put the box in here while they got distracted and never came back for it. That had to be it. It had to be.
“You’re still in here?” Hirose-sensei asked as he walked into the coroner’s office when he saw the light on. “That’s just like you, Nakata-san. Sometimes the guys in station wonder if you even have a social life.” The old man broke into laughter.
“I don’t mind that about you, myself,” he said. “Yuuki-san is pregnant again. That makes about seven kids now. At this rate, I don’t think the country’s at risk for a low birth rate anymore with that woman.”
“Come quickly,” he heard a childlike-woman saying on a tape. “Come quickly. I’m scared. So cold… So cold… Please come get me. Hurry.” Hirose-sensei frowned as a feeling of dread came over him.
“What are you listening to?” he asked. He walked over to the other side of the room. Chikako sat at her desk listening to the tape she found earlier. She looked like she was out in a daze. The coroner even mumbled along with the words.
“Don’t let the devil get me,” the voice on the tape said. Hirose-sensei hobbled over to his fledging and hit stop on the tape play as fast as he could. Chikako snapped out of it and turned her head.
“Hirose-sensei?” she asked. Her mentor ripped the tape out of the tape player and stomped on it as fast as he could. Chikako gave him a blank stare.
“What are you doing?” she asked. Hirose-sensei finally stopped and panted.
“Where did you get this tape?!” he asked.
“Uh… I found it on the floor over there,” she said, pointing near the exit. Her mentor sighed and threw back his head.
Both Chikako and Hirose-sensei stood on the roof of the police station. The other man trembled under the gray clouds.
“You do remember the Isobe murders, don’t you?” he asked.
“Not really,” she said. “I was only about four or five at the time.”
“But you’ve heard the stories, yes?”
Hirose-sensei sighed. “Ever since that case, strange things have been happening. Too many people have gone missing because of it.” He looked out the city below.
“I don’t understand,” Chikako said. Her mentor looked over his shoulder.
“Understand what?” he asked. His fledging looked down at her hands.
“None of it makes any sense,” she admitted. “I’ve looked over my notes many times. There are several pieces don’t make any sense. I know it shouldn’t mean anything, but something inside of me won’t stop nagging at me.” Hirose-sensei shook his head.
“You are just like Detective Asari,” he said. Chikako tilted her head.
“Who is that?” she asked.
“Heh,” he said. “He was before your time. Ambitious young detective. Had a strong sense of justice too. He got assigned to the case Isobe case. He found the older daughter’s journal while searching the apartment. Shortly after reading it, he started getting strange phone calls.”
“Was the tape the…?”
Hirose-sensei sighed. “He didn’t show up for work after that. A few of the boys went around to his apartment. They found him pinned to the ceiling dead.”
“We still couldn’t figure it out. He’s not been the only one to die because of this case either.”
“What?” Chikako asked.
“Since then, everyone that has come to live in apartment 27 in Kinko Sekai Apartment Complex has either gone insane, missing or wound up dead,” Hirose-sensei said. “Before he died, Detective Asari believed that there was something bigger at work.” The older coroner clutched his cane with his shaking hand.
“Don’t get involved,” he said. “Walk away while you still can.” Hirose-sensei held out the crushed tape.
“What are you going to do?” his fledging asked.
“I’m going to destroy again,” the older coroner said. “I did this before. Six years, in a fire, on the side of a mountain.” Chikako watched as he walked away.
Later that evening, Chikako looked over the archived files about the Isobe murders. The victims were fifteen-year-old Isobe Hisayo and six-year-old Isobe Toshiko. The older sister’s body was found in a clear tarp in the ceiling of her bedroom. The autopsy report revealed that she had been beaten and stabbed. Hisayo’s right ankle was twisted and her neck broken. The most telling of injuries was a long, deep cut in her stomach. Meanwhile, Toshiko had gone missing and since hadn’t been found to this day. Who couldn’t done such a thing? The culprit turned out to be their mother, Asuka. Speaking of which, she was found dead on the Mutsumata-rikkyo Overpass. Her toxicology came back positive with high concentration of sleeping pills. It was on clear if that was the cause of death.
Chikako froze when the lights flickered.
“Hm?” she asked. The room suddenly felt cold.
“Hello?” the coroner asked. Chikako stood up and looked out into the hallway. She didn’t notice the blackened school girl standing in the corner of the office when she walked out of the room. The coroner walked outside of the police station. That same chill down her body caused her to look up. Chikako saw several shadowy figures that looked like human-shaped floating in the sky. The sight of them made her stomach turn. She began to remember a time with her father when she was eight years old. He carried around this drunk-looking woman on his shoulders. Her nails dug deep into his shoulders. But, nobody else saw this woman, except for Chikako herself.
The floating shadow-like figures weren’t alone, though.
Chikako noticed a dragon flying by in the sky. But it wasn’t the silvery one covered in many eyes as she started to seeing as of late. This dragon was dark red with religious symbols covering its body. The sight of this dragon made her heart jump into her throat.
Across the street, Kaori watched Chikako through her black and gold binoculars. Bakeneko sat around her feet.
“Uh-oh,” she said. “Coroner lady knows too much…”
In the skies, Henshuubyou stood in his human form, waiting. His light blue suit didn’t have his many eyes. No, his eyes were hidden in his skin under his clothes. He turned when he heard footsteps approaching him. Immediately, his eyes lit up.
“Fukan’yo?” he asked. “Brother?” A man with a similar suit stood inches away from him. Henshuubyou smiled at the red silk clinging to his skin.
“Brother, it’s you!” he said. The dragon walked over and hugged the older man.
“I missed you!” he said. “Where are our other brothers?” Fukan’yo embraced his younger brother.
“Soon,” he whispered. “They will be reunited with us soon.” Henshuubyou closed his eyes and embraced the long lost warmth of his brother.