Halo Twenty: Chiharu:
She grabbed the sides of her head. Chiharu took in slow breaths. Lately, she started having nightmares that she couldn’t explain. The scent of blood was strong enough to knock her out. Every few minutes or so, Chiharu would see flashes dismembered body parts. Teeth gnawing at flesh and organs made her stomach turn.
“Chi? Chi? Chi!” someone said. Chiharu jerked her head upwards. Masaomi had his face inches away from hers.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Why are you so close?” Chiharu asked.
“I’ve been calling you for the past five minutes,” Masaomi said. “You looked like you were away in Lala Land.”
“Lala Land?” she asked. The girl shook her head. “Never mind. Why aren’t you with Ryugamine?”
“He’s in his own classroom,” Masaomi said. The girl blinked at him. The blonde shogun gave her a strange look of his own.
“What?” he asked. Chiharu rubbed her forehead.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately.” She tried to chase out the images of fangs tearing into the skin of a middle-aged torso. Why did she feel like she could taste the iron from the blood pouring into her mouth?
“What do you mean?” Masaomi asked.
“I can’t explain it, to be truthful with you. I keep seeing weird things.” Chiharu held up her hand. “Sometimes, I see blood on my hands.”
Masaomi looked around for a moment before leaning in closer. “Did you kill anyone?”
“No… At least, I don’t think so.” Her eyes shifted away from the blonde-haired boy. Should I tell him that I see myself eating human flesh? Chiharu moved her hand her to her stomach.
“I haven’t eaten in days because of the things I have been saying,” she admitted.
“Why is that?” Masaomi asked.
“If I said it out loud, I might vomit,” she said. “Look, can we just drop it for now. My skin’s crawling just thinking about blood and eating human bodies.”
“What?” Masaomi asked.
“Just forget it.”
“I will not. Are you saying that you’re going to be a cannibal now?”
“No! I won’t do that!” Her voice lingered as if asking herself if she truly believed it herself. “At least, I think I wouldn’t.”
Masaomi took a step backwards. “Uh… what does that mean?”
“I don’t know!” Chiharu threw back her head and groaned. That one just had to slip out, didn’t it? She didn’t even want to see the look on her friend’s face.
In the hallway, Junko watched Masaomi and Chiharu talking to each other. The nurse smirked as she had her eyes locked on her target.
“Pretty soon,” she muttered to herself. “Soon.” Junko reached into her coat pocket and rubbed the small bottle she had kept by her side for eight cycles now. So far, it’s never been the right time to use it on her target. Too many times had this game had come unraveled after the fourth gate was opened.
But might this time, they had the advantage. Junko turned and walked back to her office.
-Shadows in the Sky-
Mika had been able to see the shadows hovering in the sky for weeks now. They didn’t do anything. But she would see them floating over certain tall buildings, the streets, or even the police station.
“Why do you keep looking up at the skies so much?” Seiji asked.
“No reason,” she said. Mika had her reasons not to tell her boyfriend what was going on. It didn’t help that she started to remember more and more things as the gates were being opened. The less he knew, the better.
“You’re been acting strange lately,” he spoke up. His girlfriend turned her head.
“What are you talking about?” Mika asked. Seiji pulled her into his arms.
“You seem to be on edge about something,” he said. “What’s on your mind?” It hurt to look into his eyes. But something told her to let him into the loop in bite-size pieces.
“You’ve asked me this before,” Mika said in a low voice.
“What?” Seiji asked.
“Look up,” she said. Her boyfriend looked up.
“What do you see?” Mika asked. Seiji narrowed his eyes as he stared at the dim morning sky.
“Just the sky,” he said.
He shook his head. “Nothing else. What am I looking at?” Mika looked up at the sky with him. She saw the floating shadows over the crosswalk. Their weeping rang in her ears. But this time, a flash of black filled her green eyes.
Mika saw a different sky. Everything was so dark that she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. Balls of fire exploded in the endless dark sky. She couldn’t smell sulfur and burning flesh around her. There was no ground underneath, just empty space. Her body felt so cold that she was burning from the inside. She found herself unable to move. This feeling felt so familiar.
Am I going to die here?
She wouldn’t be alone for long. A man stood over her. Mika couldn’t see his face. But he grinned at her as a long, thin needle was pushed into her right eye. He said something, but she couldn’t hear his voice.
A sharp pain shot through her right eye as she collapsed in Seiji’s arms.
“Mika-chan?” he asked. “Are you okay?” She looked up at her boyfriend like a hurt little deer.
“No,” she said. “I’m just tired.” Mika could feel her body trembling.
“Can we just go home?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said. Seiji had to pull her along underneath the shadows hovering in the sky. Mika drew her eyes closed as their wailing flowed through her ears.
I am Fukan’yo. You like the markings on my body? I have every religious symbol on my skin. But, they are not together. The human race has always puzzled me. Why must human always fight? They hate each other for one reason or another. I look down at the people of Ikebukuro and can’t help but feel sorry for the misery that they will endure.
It is not my fault that the human race hates each other for shallow reasons. They can’t communicate because they can’t understand each other. Now, there is a new breed of humans roaming the city below. The tadpoles will stand out too much. They already are in subtle ways. They are desired by the opposite sex. They are much smarter than a supercomputer. Now, they can see the future. My brother has already seen their future. Those tadpoles will both be loved and hated. They will be worth more than all of the money in the world. So much pain they will have to suffer.
I want to weep for them. But, I cannot get attached to these humans. Not yet, anyway. My brother and I are still waiting for our other brothers to show up. They will be arriving soon. I can feel it this time.
For now, my brother and I fly through the skies that we once ruled.
Everyone can see the countdown from the Dis Program. Except for the Tandeki Group, they wonder what the purpose is. Many guesses float through the message boards and chat rooms. Almost everyone in Ikebukuro spent their nights staring at their screens, trying to take a guess. They couldn’t look away from the numbers counting down faster and faster. Satsu now has a new obsession.
“I’m home,” Aoi said one evening.
“Welcome home,” her girlfriend said, not taking her eyes off her screen. Aoi wandered back into their bedroom.
“You watching DeathVine videos again?” she asked.
“No,” Satsu said. Her girlfriend raised an eyebrow as she walked over to her girlfriend’s laptop. A confused look came over her face when she saw the red digital numbers counting down.
“What is that?” she asked.
“A clock,” Satsu said. “It’s counting down to something.”
“Counting down to what?” Aoi asked.
“I don’t know,” her girlfriend said. She swallowed back her drool as she started panting. Aoi slowly started backing away. At least, her beloved wasn’t looking at those creepy gory films. But something told her that this was much worse.
“Babe,” she said.
“Yeah?” Satsu asked. Her girlfriend shifted in place. Should I say anything? Aoi clenched her fists at her sides as she struggled to come up with something to say.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah,” her girlfriend said. “Why do you ask?”
“It’s just…” Aoi said.
“Your video and internet history are creeping me out.”
Satsu turned around to her. “Babe.” She stood up and pulled Aoi into her arms. “I’m still here. You haven’t lost me.”
“You sure about that?” her girlfriend asked. Satsu opened her eyes and looked in the mirror. She still looked like the same woman she had before she first visited DeathVine. Would she start to look like a deranged serial killer if she continued down with this path? Maybe Aoi was right to be worried.
The demons are starting to reach out to the children more and more each day.
A five-year-girl sat in her living room coloring a picture. The only colors she used were black and red. She hummed to herself as she blended the colors on the large white sheet of paper on the coffee table. Her creature’s black fangs about disappeared into the wide open red mouth. The eyes were the size of tea cups. The rest of his body began to disappear in the heavy black crayon. She smiled like she was proud of her artwork. The little girl’s mother walked into the living room, talking on her phone. She broke down trembling when she caught a glance of what her daughter was drawing.
“Honey, I’m going to call you back,” she said in a soft voice. The woman slowly hung up her phone.
“Sweetie,” she said to her daughter.
“Yes, mama?” the little girl asked.
“What are you drawing?”
“My friend, An-san.”
Her mother’s eyes widened as she started to have flashbacks. She had seen this monster before. An-san used to live in her closet when she was a little girl in the countryside. This creature watched her sleep with the open crack in the door. An-san was the one who killed her little brother, but she couldn’t prove it. Her mother said that she never had a son.
The mother grabbed the drawing from her daughter and tore it to pieces.
“Momma! What are you doing?!” she cried.
“Pack up your things!” the mother said. “We can’t stay here tonight!” Her daughter stared at her with big eyes.
“Momma?” she asked.
“Now!” the woman screamed. The child rose to her feet, shaking and ran to her room. Her mother sank to her knees as the color drained from her face.
I can’t let this happen again. I can’t… let this happen… again.
Chiharu stood in front of her bathroom mirror in the dark. Now she can’t sleep anymore. Her own face reminded her of an old woman’s. The images and the smell of blood started to haunt her dreams more frequently. She panted as she looked in the mirror.
“I will not let it take me,” she muttered. “I will fight this if I have to.” The girl tried not to look down at her sink filled with blood. Was that even real blood? She didn’t care to find out. How long before all of her memories returned?
It wouldn’t be long before the Wasteland pulled her back into Tandeki’s twisted game as the second round was drawing to a close.
-Scent of Blood-
Celty was out on another late-night job. Same client. They didn’t leave her a name like last time. She still didn’t know what to do with that bag the client had her to pick up. The dullahan kept it hidden in the closet from Shinra. Celty wondered why she hadn’t tried to take a look inside yet. For now, she would get through this job to maybe find a clue about this client of hers.
Celty was about to pass the intersection when she spotted someone sitting in the middle of the road. She slowed to a stop to see a girly-looking man with fox ears dressed in a red kimono. He took a short knife and disemboweled himself. Celty winced as blood came up from the man’s mouth. His innards on full display. The man turned to her and only muttered two words.
“Chaos reigns,” he whispers.